Part 2 out of 7
paying any attention to the argument. He thrust his jaw out
sidewise, as his habit is when he pulls, and changed his leg. His
voice was hard and heavy, and his ears were close to his big, plain
"How old are you?" he said to the yellow horse.
"Nigh thirteen, I guess."
"Mean age; ugly age; I'm gettin' that way myself. How long hev ye
been pawin' this firefanged stable-litter?"
"If you mean my principles, I've held 'em sence I was three."
"Mean age; ugly age; teeth give heaps o' trouble then. 'Set a colt
to actin' crazy fer a while. You've kep' it up, seemin'ly. D'ye
talk much to your neighbours fer a steady thing?"
"I uphold the principles o' the Cause wherever I am pastured."
"'Done a heap o' good, I guess?"
"I am proud to say I have taught a few of my companions the
principles o' freedom an' liberty."
"Meanin' they ran away er kicked when they got the chanst?"
"I was talkin' in the abstrac', an' not in the concrete. My
teachin's educated them."
"What a horse, specially a young horse, hears in the abstrac', he's
liable to do in the Concord. You was handled late, I presoom."
"Four, risin' five."
"That's where the trouble began. Driv' by a woman, like ez not -
"Not fer long," said the yellow horse, with a snap of his teeth.
"I heerd she never drove again."
"Buckboards full of 'em."
"I have shed conside'ble men in my time."
"Any way that come along. Fallin' back over the dash is as handy
"They must be turr'ble afraid o' you daown taown?"
"They've sent me here to get rid o' me. I guess they spend their
time talkin' over my campaigns."
"I wanter know!"
"Yes, sir. Now, all you gentlemen have asked me what I can do.
I'll just show you. See them two fellers lyin' down by the buggy?"
"Yep; one of 'em owns me. T'other broke me," said Rod.
"Get 'em out here in the open, an' I'll show you something. Lemme
hide back o' you peoples, so's they won't see what I'm at."
"Meanin' ter kill 'em?" Rod drawled. There was a shudder of horror
through the others; but the yellow horse never noticed.
"I'll catch 'em by the back o' the neck, an' pile-drive 'em a piece.
They can suit 'emselves about livin' when I'm through with 'em."
"'Shouldn't wonder ef they did," said Rod. The yellow horse had
hidden himself very cleverly behind the others as they stood in a
group, and was swaying his head close to the ground with a curious
scythe-like motion, looking side-wise out of his wicked eyes. You
can never mistake a man-eater getting ready to knock a man down.
We had had one to pasture the year before.
"See that?" said my companion, turning over on the pine-needles.
"Nice for a woman walking 'cross lots, wouldn't it be?"
"Bring 'em out!" said the yellow horse, hunching his sharp back.
"There's no chance among them tall trees. Bring out the - oh!
It was a right-and-left kick from Muldoon. I had no idea that the
old car-horse could lift so quickly. Both blows caught the yellow
horse full and fair in the ribs, and knocked the breath out of him.
"What's that for?" he said angrily, when he recovered himself; but
I noticed he did not draw any nearer to Muldoon than was necessary.
Muldoon never answered, but discoursed to himself in the whining
grunt that he uses when he is going down-hill in front of a heavy
load. We call it singing; but I think it's something much worse,
really. The yellow horse blustered and squealed a little, and at
last said that, if it was a horse-fly that had stung Muldoon, he
would accept an apology.
"You'll get it," said Muldoon, "in de sweet by-and-bye - all de
apology you've any use for. Excuse me interruptin' you, Mr. Rod,
but I'm like Tweezy - I've a Southern drawback in me hind legs."
"Naow, I want you all here to take notice, an' you'll learn
something," Rod went on. "This yaller-backed skate comes to our
"Not havin' paid his board," put in Tedda.
"Not havin' earned his board, an' talks smooth to us abaout ripplin'
brooks an' wavin' grass, an' his high-toned, pure-souled horsehood,
which don't hender him sheddin' women an' childern, an' fallin' over
the dash onter men. You heard his talk, an' you thought it mighty
fine, some o' you."
Tuck looked guilty here, but she did not say anything.
"Bit by bit he goes on ez you have heard."
"I was talkin' in the abstrac'," said the yellow horse, in an
"Abstrac' be switched! Ez I've said, it's this yer blamed abstrac'
business that makes the young uns cut up in the Concord; an' abstrac'
or no abstrac', he crep' on an' on till he come to killin' plain an'
straight - killin' them as never done him no harm, jest beca'se they
"An' knowed how to manage 'em," said Tedda. That makes it worse."
"Waal, he didn't kill 'em, anyway," said Marcus. "He'd ha' been
half killed ef he had tried."
"'Makes no differ," Rod answered. "He meant to; an' ef he hadn't
- s'pose we want the Back Pasture turned into a biffin'-ground
on our only day er rest? 'S'pose we want our men walkin' round
with bits er lead pipe an' a twitch, an' their hands full o' stones
to throw at us, same's if we wuz hogs er hooky keows? More'n that,
leavin' out Tedda here - an' I guess it's more her maouth than her
manners stands in her light -there ain't a horse on this farm that
ain't a woman's horse, an' proud of it. An' this yer bogspavined
Kansas sunflower goes up an' daown the length o' the country, traded
off an' traded on, boastin' as he's shed women - an' childern. I
don't say as a woman in a buggy ain't a fool. I don't say as she
ain't the lastin'est kind er fool, ner I don't say a child ain't
worse - spattin' the lines an' standin' up an' hollerin' - but I do
say, 'tain't none of our business to shed 'em daown the road."
"We don't," said the Deacon. "The baby tried to git some o' my
tail for a sooveneer last fall when I was up to the haouse, an' I
didn't kick. Boney's talk ain't goin' to hurt us any. We ain't
"Thet's what you think Bimeby you git into a tight corner, 'Lection
day er Valley Fair, like's not, daown-taown, when you're all het
an' lathery, an' pestered with flies, an' thirsty, an' sick o' bein'
worked in an aout 'tween buggies. Then somethin' whispers inside o'
your winkers, bringin' up all that talk abaout servitood an'
inalienable truck an' sech like, an' jest then a Militia gun goes
off; er your wheels hit, an' - waal, you're only another horse ez
can't be trusted. I've been there time an' again. Boys - fer I've
seen you all bought er broke - on my solemn repitation fer a
three-minute clip, I ain't givin' you no bran-mash o' my own fixin'.
I'm tellin' you my experiences, an' I've had ez heavy a load an'
ez high a check's any horse here. I wuz born with a splint on my
near fore ez big's a walnut, an' the cussed, three-cornered
Hambletonian temper that sours up an' curdles daown ez you git
older. I've favoured my splint; even little Rick he don't know what
it's cost me to keep my end up sometimes; an' I've fit my temper in
stall an' harness, hitched up an' at pasture, till the sweat trickled
off my hooves, an' they thought I wuz off condition, an' drenched me."
"When my affliction came," said Tweezy, gently, "I was very near to
losin' my manners. Allow me to extend to you my sympathy, suh."
Rick said nothing, but he looked at Rod curiously. Rick is a
sunny-tempered child who never bears malice, and I don't think he
quite understood. He gets his temper from his mother, as a horse
"I've been there too, Rod," said Tedda. "Open confession's good
for the soul, an' all Monroe County knows I've had my experriences."
"But if you will excuse me, suh, that pusson" - Tweezy looked
unspeakable things at the yellow horse - "that pusson who has
insulted our intelligences comes from Kansas. An' what a ho'se
of his position, an' Kansas at that, says cannot, by any stretch of
the halter, concern gentlemen of our position. There's no shadow
of equal'ty, suh, not even for one kick. He's beneath our contempt."
"Let him talk," said Marcus. "It's always interestin' to know what
another horse thinks. It don't tech us."
"An' he talks so, too," said Tuck. "I've never heard anythin' so
smart for a long time."
Again Rod stuck out his jaws sidewise, and went on slowly, as
though he were slugging on a plain bit at the end of a thirty-mile
"I want all you here ter understand thet ther ain't no Kansas, ner
no Kentucky, ner yet no Vermont, in our business. There's jest two
kind o' horse in the United States - them ez can an' will do their
work after bein' properly broke an' handled, an' them as won't.
I'm sick an' tired o' this everlastin' tail-switchin' an' wickerin'
abaout one State er another. A horse kin be proud o' his State, an'
swap lies abaout it in stall or when he's hitched to a block, ef he
keers to put in fly-time that way; but he hain't no right to let
that pride o' hisn interfere with his work, ner to make it an
excuse fer claimin' he's different. That's colts' talk, an' don't
you fergit it, Tweezy. An', Marcus, you remember that hem' a
philosopher, an' anxious to save trouble, - fer you ate,- don't
excuse you from jumpin' with all your feet on a slack-jawed, crazy
clay-bank like Boney here. It's leavin' 'em alone that gives 'em
their chance to ruin colts an' kill folks. An', Tuck, waal, you're
a mare anyways - but when a horse comes along an' covers up all his
talk o' killin' with ripplin' brooks, an wavin grass, an' eight
quarts of oats a day free, after killn' his man, don't you be run
away with by his yap. You're too young an' too nervous."
"I'll - I'll have nervous prostration sure ef there's a fight here,"
said Tuck, who saw what was in Rod's eye; "I'm - I'm that sympathetic
I'd run away clear to next caounty."
"Yep; I know that kind o' sympathy. Jest lasts long enough to start
a fuss, an' then lights aout to make new trouble. I hain't been
ten years in harness fer nuthin'. Naow, we're goin' to keep school
with Boney fer a spell."
"Say, look a-here, you ain't goin' to hurt me, are you? Remember,
I belong to a man in town," cried the yellow horse, uneasily.
Muldoon kept behind him so that he could not run away.
"I know it. There must be some pore delooded fool in this State
hez a right to the loose end o' your hitchin'-strap. I'm blame
sorry fer him, but he shall hev his rights when we're through with
you," said Rod.
If it's all the same, gentlemen, I'd ruther change pasture. Guess
I'll do it now."
"'Can't always have your 'druthers. 'Guess you won't," said Rod.
"But look a-here. All of you ain't so blame unfriendly to a
stranger. S'pose we count noses."
"What in Vermont fer?" said Rod, putting up his eyebrows. The
idea of settling a question by counting noses is the very last
thing that ever enters the head of a well-broken horse.
"To see how many's on my side. Here's Miss Tuck, anyway; an'
Colonel Tweezy yonder's neutral; an' Judge Marcus, an' I guess the
Reverend [the yellow horse meant the Deacon] might see that I had
my rights. He's the likeliest-lookin' Trotter I've ever set eyes
on. Pshaw. Boys. You ain't goin' to pound me, be you? Why,
we've gone round in pasture, all colts together, this month o'
Sundays, hain't we, as friendly as could be. There ain't a horse
alive I don't care who he is - has a higher opinion o' you, Mr.
Rod, than I have. Let's do it fair an' true an' above the exe.
Let's count noses same's they do in Kansas." Here he dropped his
voice a little and turned to Marcus: "Say, Judge, there's some green
food I know, back o' the brook, no one hain't touched yet. After
this little fracas is fixed up, you an' me'll make up a party an'
'tend to it.
Marcus did not answer for a long time, then he said: "There's a
pup up to the haouse 'bout eight weeks old. He'll yap till he gits
a lickin', an' when he sees it comin' he lies on his back, an'
yowls. But he don't go through no cirkituous nose-countin' first.
I've seen a noo light sence Rod spoke. You'll better stand up to
what's served. I'm goin' to philosophise all over your carcass."
I'm goin' to do yer up in brown paper," said Muldoon. "I can fit
you on apologies."
"Hold on. Ef we all biffed you now, these same men you've been so
dead anxious to kill 'u'd call us off. 'Guess we'll wait till they
go back to the haouse, an' you'll have time to think cool an' quiet,"
"Have you no respec' whatever fer the dignity o' our common
horsehood?" the yellow horse squealed.
"Nary respec' onless the horse kin do something. America's paved
with the kind er horse you are -jist plain yaller-dog horse -
waitin' ter be whipped inter shape. We call 'em yearlings an'
colts when they're young. When they're aged we pound 'em - in
this pastur'. Horse, sonny, is what you start from. We know all
about horse here, an' he ain't any high-toned, pure souled child
o' nature. Horse, plain horse, same ez you, is chock-full o'
tricks, an' meannesses, an' cussednesses, an' shirkin's, an'
monkey-shines, which he's took over from his sire an' his dam,
an' thickened up with his own special fancy in the way o' goin'
crooked. Thet's horse, an' thet's about his dignity an' the size
of his soul 'fore he's been broke an' rawhided a piece. Now we
ain't goin' to give ornery unswitched horse, that hain't done
nawthin' wuth a quart of oats sence he wuz foaled, pet names that
would be good enough fer Nancy Hanks, or Alix, or Directum, who
hev. Don't you try to back off acrost them rocks. Wait where
you are! Ef I let my Hambletonian temper git the better o' me I'd
frazzle you out finer than rye-straw inside o' three minutes, you
woman-scarin', kid-killin', dash-breakin', unbroke, unshod,
ungaited, pastur'-hoggin', saw-backed, shark-mouthed,
hair-trunk-thrown-in-in-trade son of a bronco an' a sewin'-machine!"
" I think we'd better get home," I said to my companion, when Rod
had finished; and we climbed into the coupe, Tedda whinnying, as we
bumped over the ledges: "Well, I'm dreffle sorry I can't stay fer
the sociable; but I hope an' trust my friends'll take a ticket fer
"Bet your natchul!" said Muldoon, cheerfully, and the horses
scattered before us, trotting into the ravine.
Next morning we sent back to the livery-stable what was left of the
yellow horse. It seemed tired, but anxious to go.
THE SHIP THAT FOUND HERSELF
It was her first voyage, and though she was but a cargo-steamer
of twenty-five hundred tons, she was the very best of her kind,
the outcome of forty years of experiments and improvements in
framework and machinery; and her designers and owner thought as
much of her as though she had been the Lucania. Any one can make
a floating hotel that will pay expenses, if he puts enough money
into the saloon, and charges for private baths, suites of rooms,
and such like; but in these days of competition and low freights
every square inch of a cargo-boat must be built for cheapness,
great hold-capacity, and a certain steady speed. This boat was,
perhaps, two hundred and forty feet long and thirty-two feet
wide, with arrangements that enabled her to carry cattle on her
main and sheep on her upper deck if she wanted to; but her great
glory was the amount of cargo that she could store away in her
holds. Her owners - they were a very well known Scotch firm -
came round with her from the north, where she had been launched
and christened and fitted, to Liverpool, where she was to take
cargo for New York; and the owner's daughter, Miss Frazier, went
to and fro on the clean decks, admiring the new paint and the
brass work, and the patent winches, and particularly the strong,
straight bow, over which she had cracked a bottle of champagne
when she named the steamer the Dimbula. It was a beautiful
September afternoon, and the boat in all her newness - she was
painted lead-colour with a red funnel - looked very fine indeed.
Her house-flag was flying, and her whistle from time to time
acknowledged the salutes of friendly boats, who saw that she was
new to the High and Narrow Seas and wished to make her welcome.
"And now," said Miss Frazier, delightedly, to the captain, "she's
a real ship, isn't she? It seems only the other day father gave
the order for her, and now - and now - isn't she a beauty!" The
girl was proud of the firm, and talked as though she were the
"Oh, she's no so bad," the skipper replied cautiously. "But I'm
sayin' that it takes more than christenin' to mak' a ship. In
the nature o' things, Miss Frazier, if ye follow me, she's just
irons and rivets and plates put into the form of a ship. She has
to find herself yet."
"I thought father said she was exceptionally well found."
"So she is, said the skipper, with a laugh. "But it's this way wi'
ships, Miss Frazier. She's all here, but the parrts of her have
not learned to work together yet. They've had no chance."
"The engines are working beautifully. I can hear them."
"Yes, indeed. But there's more than engines to a ship. Every
inch of her, ye'll understand, has to be livened up and made to
work wi' its neighbour - sweetenin' her, we call it, technically."
"And how will you do it?" the girl asked.
"We can no more than drive and steer her and so forth; but if we
have rough weather this trip - it's likely - she'll learn the
rest by heart! For a ship, ye'll obsairve, Miss Frazier, is in
no sense a reegid body closed at both ends. She's a highly
complex structure o' various an' conflictin' strains, wi' tissues
that must give an' tak' accordin' to her personal modulus of
elasteecity." Mr. Buchanan, the chief engineer, was coming towards
them. "I'm sayin' to Miss Frazier, here, that our little Dimbula
has to be sweetened yet, and nothin' but a gale will do it. How's
all wi' your engines, Buck?"
"Well enough - true by plumb an' rule, o' course; but there's no
spontaneeity yet." He turned to the girl. "Take my word, Miss
Frazier, and maybe ye'll comprehend later; even after a pretty
girl's christened a ship it does not follow that there's such a
thing as a ship under the men that work her."
"I was sayin' the very same, Mr. Buchanan," the skipper interrupted.
"That's more metaphysical than I can follow," said Miss Frazier,
"Why so? Ye're good Scotch, an' - I knew your mother's father,
he was fra' Dumfries - ye've a vested right in metapheesics, Miss
Frazier, just as ye have in the Dimbula," the engineer said.
"Eh, well, we must go down to the deep watters, an' earn Miss
Frazier her deevidends. Will you not come to my cabin for tea?"
said the skipper. "We'll be in dock the night, and when you're
goin' back to Glasgie ye can think of us loadin' her down an'
drivin' her forth - all for your sake."
In the next few days they stowed some four thousand tons dead-weight
into the Dimbula, and took her out from Liverpool. As soon as she
met the lift of the open water, she naturally began to talk. If
you lay your ear to the side of the cabin, the next time you are
in a steamer, you will hear hundreds of little voices in every
direction, thrilling and buzzing, and whispering and popping, and
gurgling and sobbing and squeaking exactly like a telephone in a
thunder-storm. Wooden ships shriek and growl and grunt, but iron
vessels throb and quiver through all their hundreds of ribs and
thousands of rivets. The Dimbula was very strongly built, and
every piece of her had a letter or a number, or both, to describe
it; and every piece had been hammered, or forged, or rolled, or
punched by man, and had lived in the roar and rattle of the shipyard
for months. Therefore, every piece had its own separate voice, in
exact proportion to the amount of trouble spent upon it. Cast-iron,
as a rule, says very little; but mild steel plates and wrought-iron,
and ribs and beams that have been much bent and welded and riveted,
talk continuously. Their conversation, of course, is not half as
wise as our human talk, because they are all, though they do not
know it, bound down one to the other in a black darkness, where
they cannot tell what is happening near them, nor what will overtake
As soon as she had cleared the Irish coast, a sullen, grey-headed
old wave of the Atlantic climbed leisurely over her straight bows,
and sat down on the steam-capstan used for hauling up the anchor.
Now the capstan and the engine that drove it had been newly painted
red and green; besides which, nobody likes being ducked.
"Don't you do that again," the capstan sputtered through the
teeth of his cogs. "Hi! Where's the fellow gone?"
The wave had slouched overside with a plop and a chuckle; but
"Plenty more where he came from," said a brother-wave, and went
through and over the capstan, who was bolted firmly to an iron
plate on the iron deck-beams below.
"Can't you keep still up there?" said the deckbeams. "What's the
matter with you? One minute you weigh twice as much as you ought
to, and the next you don't!"
"It isn't my fault," said the capstan. "There's a green brute
outside that comes and hits me on the head."
"Tell that to the shipwrights. You've been in position for months
and you've never wriggled like this before. If you aren't careful
you'll strain us."
"Talking of strain," said a low, rasping, unpleasant voice, are
any of you fellows - you deck-beams, we mean - aware that those
exceedingly ugly knees of yours happen to be riveted into our
structure - ours?"
"Who might you be?" the deck-beams inquired.
"Oh, nobody in particular," was the answer. "We're only the port
and starboard upper-deck stringers; and if you persist in heaving
and hiking like this, we shall be reluctantly compelled to take
Now the stringers of the ship are long iron girders, so to speak,
that run lengthways from stern to bow. They keep the iron frames
(what are called ribs in a wooden ship) in place, and also help
to hold the ends of the deck-beams, which go from side to side of
the ship. Stringers always consider themselves most important,
because they are so long.
"You will take steps - will you?" This was a long echoing
rumble. It came from the frames - scores and scores of them,
each one about eighteen inches distant from the next, and each
riveted to the stringers in four places. "We think you will have
a certain amount of trouble in that"; and thousands and thousands
of the little rivets that held everything together whispered: "You
Will! You will! Stop quivering and be quiet. Hold on, brethren!
Hold on! Hot Punches! What's that?"
Rivets have no teeth, so they cannot chatter with fright; but they
did their best as a fluttering jar swept along the ship from stern
to bow, and she shook like a rat in a terrier's mouth.
An unusually severe pitch, for the sea was rising, had lifted the
big throbbing screw nearly to the surface, and it was spinning
round in a kind of soda-water - half sea and half air - going
much faster than was proper, because there was no deep water for
it to work in. As it sank again, the engines - and they were
triple expansion, three cylinders in a row - snorted through all
their three pistons. "Was that a joke, you fellow outside? It's
an uncommonly poor one. How are we to do our work if you fly off
the handle that way?"
"I didn't fly off the handle," said the screw, twirling huskily
at the end of the screw-shaft. "If I had, you'd have been
scrap-iron by this time. The sea dropped away from under me, and
I had nothing to catch on to. That's all."
That's all, d'you call it?" said the thrust-block, whose business
it is to take the push of the screw; for if a screw had nothing to
hold it back it would crawl right into the engine-room. (It is
the holding back of the screwing action that gives the drive to a
ship.) "I know I do my work deep down and out of sight, but I warn
you I expect justice. All I ask for is bare justice. Why can't
you push steadily and evenly, instead of whizzing like a whirligig,
and making me hot under all my collars?" The thrust-block had six
collars, each faced with brass, and he did not wish to get them
All the bearings that supported the fifty feet of screw-shaft as
it ran to the stern whispered: "Justice - give us justice."
"I can only give you what I can get," the screw answered. "Look
out! It's coming again!"
He rose with a roar as the Dimbula plunged, and "whack - flack -
whack - whack" went the engines, furiously, for they had little
to check them.
"I'm the noblest outcome of human ingenuity - Mr. Buchanan says
so," squealed the high-pressure cylinder. "This is simply
ridiculous!" The piston went up savagely, and choked, for half
the steam behind it was mixed with dirty water. "Help! Oiler!
Fitter! Stoker! Help I'm choking," it gasped. "Never in the
history of maritime invention has such a calamity over-taken one
so young and strong. And if I go, who's to drive the ship?"
"Hush! oh, hush!" whispered the Steam, who, of course, had been
to sea many times before. He used to spend his leisure ashore in
a cloud, or a gutter, or a flower-pot, or a thunder-storm, or
anywhere else where water was needed. "That's only a little
priming, a little carrying-over, as they call it. It'll happen
all night, on and off. I don't say it's nice, but it's the best
we can do under the circumstances."
"What difference can circumstances make? I'm here to do my work
- on clean, dry steam. Blow circumstances!" the cylinder roared.
"The circumstances will attend to the blowing. I've worked on the
North Atlantic run a good many times - it's going to be rough
"It isn't distressingly calm now," said the extra strong frames -
they were called web-frames - in the engine-room. "There's an
upward thrust that we don't understand, and there's a twist that
is very bad for our brackets and diamond-plates, and there's a
sort of west-northwesterly pull, that follows the twist, which
seriously annoys us. We mention this because we happened to cost
a good deal of money, and we feel sure that the owner would not
approve of our being treated in this frivolous way."
I'm afraid the matter is out of owner's hands for the present,"
said the Steam, slipping into the condenser. "You're left to
your own devices till the weather betters."
"I wouldn't mind the weather," said a flat bass voice below;
"it's this confounded cargo that's breaking my heart. I'm the
garboard-strake, and I'm twice as thick as most of the others,
and I ought to know something."
The garboard-strake is the lowest plate in the bottom of a ship,
and the Dimbula's garboard-strake was nearly three-quarters of an
inch mild steel.
"The sea pushes me up in a way I should never have expected," the
strake grunted, "and the cargo pushes me down, and, between the
two, I don't know what I'm supposed to do."
"When in doubt, hold on," rumbled the Steam, making head in the
"Yes; but there's only dark, and cold, and hurry, down here; and
how do I know whether the other plates are doing their duty?
Those bulwark-plates up above, I've heard, ain't more than
five-sixteenths of an inch thick - scandalous, I call it."
"I agree with you," said a huge web-frame, by the main cargo-hatch.
He was deeper and thicker than all the others, and curved half-way
across the ship in the shape of half an arch, to support the deck
where deck-beams would have been in the way of cargo coming up and
down. "I work entirely unsupported, and I observe that I am the
sole strength of this vessel, so far as my vision extends. The
responsibility, I assure you, is enormous. I believe the
money-value of the cargo is over one hundred and fifty thousand
pounds. Think of that!"
"And every pound of it is dependent on my personal exertions."
Here spoke a sea-valve that communicated directly with the water
outside, and was seated not very far from the garboard-strake.
"I rejoice to think that I am a Prince-Hyde Valve, with best Para
rubber facings. Five patents cover me - I mention this without
pride - five separate and several patents, each one finer than
the other. At present I am screwed fast. Should I open, you
would immediately be swamped. This is incontrovertible!"
Patent things always use the longest words they can. It is a
trick that they pick up from their inventors.
"That's news," said a big centrifugal bilge-pump. "I had an idea
that you were employed to clean decks and things with. At least,
I've used you for that more than once. I forget the precise number,
in thousands, of gallons which I am guaranteed to throw per hour;
but I assure you, my complaining friends, that there is not the
least danger. I alone am capable of clearing any water that may
find its way here. By my Biggest Deliveries, we pitched then!"
The sea was getting up in workmanlike style. It was a dead westerly
gale, blown from under a ragged opening of green sky, narrowed on
all sides by fat, grey clouds; and the wind bit like pincers as it
fretted the spray into lacework on the flanks of the waves.
"I tell you what it is," the foremast telephoned down its
wire-stays. "I'm up here, and I can take a dispassionate view
of things. There's an organised conspiracy against us. I'm
sure of it, because every single one of these waves is heading
directly for our bows. The whole sea is concerned in it - and
so's the wind. It's awful!"
"What's awful?" said a wave, drowning the capstan for the
"This organised conspiracy on your part," the capstan gurgled,
taking his cue from the mast. "Organised bubbles and spindrift!
There has been a depression in the Gulf of Mexico. Excuse me!"
He leaped overside; but his friends took up the tale one after
"Which has advanced - "That wave hove green water over the funnel.
"As far as Cape Hatteras - " He drenched the bridge.
"And is now going out to sea - to sea - to sea!" The third went
out in three surges, making a clean sweep of a boat, which turned
bottom up and sank in the darkening troughs alongside, while the
broken falls whipped the davits.
"That's all there is to it," seethed the white water roaring through
the scuppers. "There's no animus in our proceedings. We're only
"Is it going to get any worse?" said the bow-anchor chained down
to the deck, where he could only breathe once in five minutes.
"Not knowing, can't say. Wind may blow a bit by midnight.
Thanks awfully. Good-bye."
The wave that spoke so politely had travelled some distance aft,
and found itself all mixed up on the deck amidships, which was a
well-deck sunk between high bulwarks. One of the bulwark-plates,
which was hung on hinges to open outward, had swung out, and
passed the bulk of the water back to the sea again with a clean
"Evidently that's what I'm made for," said the plate, closing
again with a sputter of pride. "Oh, no, you don't, my friend!"
The top of a wave was trying to get in from the outside, but as
the plate did not open in that direction, the defeated water
"Not bad for five-sixteenths of an inch," said the bulwark-plate.
"My work, I see, is laid down for the night"; and it began opening
and shutting, as it was designed to do, with the motion of the ship.
"We are not what you might call idle," groaned all the frames
together, as the Dimbula climbed a big wave, lay on her side at
the top, and shot into the next hollow, twisting in the descent.
A huge swell pushed up exactly under her middle, and her bow and
stern hung free with nothing to support them. Then one joking
wave caught her up at the bow, and another at the stern, while
the rest of the water slunk away from under her just to see how
she would like it; so she was held up at her two ends only, and
the weight of the cargo and the machinery fell on the groaning
iron keels and bilge-stringers.
"Ease off! Ease off; there!" roared the garboard-strake. "I want
one-eighth of an inch fair play. D' you hear me, you rivets!"
"Ease off! Ease off!" cried the bilge-stringers. "Don't hold us
so tight to the frames!"
"Ease off!" grunted the deck-beams, as the Dimbula rolled
fearfully. "You've cramped our knees into the stringers, and we
can't move. Ease off; you flat-headed little nuisances."
Then two converging seas hit the bows, one on each side, and fell
away in torrents of streaming thunder.
"Ease off!" shouted the forward collision-bulkhead. "I want to
crumple up, but I'm stiffened in every direction. Ease off; you
dirty little forge-filings. Let me breathe!"
All the hundreds of plates that are riveted to the frames, and
make the outside skin of every steamer, echoed the call, for
each plate wanted to shift and creep a little, and each plate,
according to its position, complained against the rivets.
"We can't help it! We can't help it!" they murmured in reply.
"We're put here to hold you, and we're going to do it; you never
pull us twice in the same direction. If you'd say what you were
going to do next, we'd try to meet your views.
"As far as I could feel," said the upper-deck planking, and that
was four inches thick, "every single iron near me was pushing or
pulling in opposite directions. Now, what's the sense of that?
My friends, let us all pull together."
"Pull any way you please," roared the funnel, "so long as you
don't try your experiments on me. I need fourteen wire-ropes,
all pulling in different directions, to hold me steady. Isn't
We believe you, my boy!" whistled the funnel-stays through their
clinched teeth, as they twanged in the wind from the top of the
funnel to the deck.
"Nonsense! We must all pull together," the decks repeated. "Pull
"Very good," said the stringers; "then stop pushing sideways when
you get wet. Be content to run gracefully fore and aft, and curve
in at the ends as we do."
"No - no curves at the end. A very slight workmanlike curve from
side to side, with a good grip at each knee, and little pieces
welded on," said the deck-beams.
"Fiddle!" cried the iron pillars of the deep, dark hold. "Who
ever heard of curves? Stand up straight; be a perfectly round
column, and carry tons of good solid weight - like that! There!"
A big sea smashed on the deck above, and the pillars stiffened
themselves to the load.
"Straight up and down is not bad," said the frames, who ran that
way in the sides of the ship, "but you must also expand yourselves
sideways. Expansion is the law of life, children. Open out! open
"Come back!" said the deck-beams, savagely, as the upward heave
of the sea made the frames try to open. "Come back to your bearings,
you slack-jawed irons!"
"Rigidity! Rigidity! Rigidity!" thumped the engines. "Absolute,
unvarying rigidity - rigidity!"
"You see!" whined the rivets, in chorus. "No two of you will ever
pull alike, and - and you blame it all on us. We only know how to
go through a plate and bite down on both sides so that it can't,
and mustn't, and sha'n't move."
"I've got one fraction of an inch play, at any rate," said the
garboard-strake, triumphantly. So he had, and all the bottom of
the ship felt the easier for it.
"Then we're no good," sobbed the bottom rivets. "We were ordered
- we were ordered - never to give; and we've given, and the sea
will come in, and we'll all go to the bottom together! First
we're blamed for everything unpleasant, and now we haven't the
consolation of having done our work."
"Don't say I told you," whispered the Steam, consolingly; "but,
between you and me and the last cloud I came from, it was bound
to happen sooner or later. You had to give a fraction, and you've
given without knowing it. Now, hold on, as before."
"What's the use?" a few hundred rivets chattered. "We've given -
we've given; and the sooner we confess that we can't keep the ship
together, and go off our little heads, the easier it will be. No
rivet forged can stand this strain."
"No one rivet was ever meant to. Share it among you," the Steam
"The others can have my share. I'm going to pull out," said a rivet
in one of the forward plates.
"If you go, others will follow," hissed the Steam. "There's
nothing so contagious in a boat as rivets going. Why, I knew a
little chap like you - he was an eighth of an inch fatter, though
- on a steamer - to be sure, she was only twelve hundred tons,
now I come to think of it in exactly the same place as you are.
He pulled out in a bit of a bobble of a sea, not half as bad as
this, and he started all his friends on the same butt-strap, and
the plates opened like a furnace door, and I had to climb into
the nearest fog-bank, while the boat went down."
"Now that's peculiarly disgraceful," said the rivet. "Fatter than
me, was he, and in a steamer not half our tonnage? Reedy little
peg! I blush for the family, sir." He settled himself more firmly
than ever in his place, and the Steam chuckled.
"You see," he went on, quite gravely, " a rivet, and especially a
rivet in your position, is really the one indispensable part of
The Steam did not say that be had whispered the very same thing
to every single piece of iron aboard. There is no sense in telling
And all that while the little Dimbula pitched and chopped, and
swung and slewed, and lay down as though she were going to die,
and got up as though she had been stung, and threw her nose
round and round in circles half a dozen times as she dipped, for
the gale was at its worst. It was inky black, in spite of the
tearing white froth on the waves, and, to top everything, the
rain began to fall in sheets, so that you could not see your hand
before your face. This did not make much difference to the
ironwork below, but it troubled the foremast a good deal.
"Now it's all finished," he said dismally. "The conspiracy is too
strong for us. There is nothing left but to - "
"Hurraar! Brrrraaah! Brrrrrrp!" roared the Steam through the
fog-horn, till the decks quivered. "Don't be frightened, below.
It's only me, just throwing out a few words, in case any one
happens to be rolling round to-night."
"You don't mean to say there's any one except us on the sea in
such weather?" said the funnel, in a husky snuffle.
"Scores of 'em," said the Steam, clearing its throat. "Rrrrrraaa!
Brraaaaa! Prrrrp! It's a trifle windy up here; and, Great
Boilers! how it rains!"
"We're drowning," said the scuppers. They had been doing nothing
else all night, but this steady thrash of rain above them seemed
to be the end of the world.
"That's all right. We'll be easier in an hour or two. First the
wind and then the rain. Soon you may make sail again! Grrraaaaaah!
Drrrraaaa! Drrrp! I have a notion that the sea is going down
already. If it does you'll learn something about rolling. We've
only pitched till now. By the way, aren't you chaps in the hold a
little easier than you were?"
There was just as much groaning and straining as ever, but it was
not so loud or squeaky in tone; and when the ship quivered she
did not jar stiffly, like a poker hit on the floor, but gave
with a supple little waggle, like a perfectly balanced golf-club.
"We have made a most amazing discovery," said the stringers, one
after another. "A discovery that entirely changes the situation.
We have found, for the first time in the history of ship-building,
that the inward pull of the deck-beams and the outward thrust of
the frames locks us, as it were, more closely in our places, and
enables us to endure a strain which is entirely without parallel
in the records of marine architecture."
The Steam turned a laugh quickly into a roar up the fog-horn.
"What massive intellects you great stringers have," he said
softly, when he had finished.
"We also," began the deck-beams, "are discoverers and geniuses.
We are of opinion that the support of the hold-pillars materially
helps us. We find that we lock up on them when we are subjected
to a heavy and singular weight of sea above."
Here the Dimbula shot down a hollow, lying almost on her side;
righting at the bottom with a wrench and a spasm.
"In these cases - are you aware of this, Steam? - the plating at
the bows, and particularly at the stern - we would also mention
the floors beneath us - help us to resist any tendency to spring.
"The frames spoke, in the solemn awed voice which people use when
they have just come across something entirely new for the very
"I'm only a poor puffy little flutterer," said the Steam, "but I
have to stand a good deal of pressure in my business. It's all
tremendously interesting. Tell us some more. You fellows are so
"Watch us and you'll see," said the bow-plates, proudly. "Ready,
behind there! Here's the father and mother of waves coming! Sit
tight, rivets all!" A great sluicing comber thundered by, but
through the scuffle and confusion the Steam could hear the low,
quick cries of the ironwork as the various strains took them -
cries like these: "Easy, now - easy! Now push for all your
strength! Hold out! Give a fraction! Hold up! Pull in! Shove
crossways! Mind the strain at the ends! Grip, now! Bite tight!
Let the water get away from under - and there she goes!"
The wave raced off into the darkness, shouting, "Not bad, that,
if it's your first run!" and the drenched and ducked ship throbbed
to the beat of the engines inside her. All three cylinders were
white with the salt spray that had come down through the engine-room
hatch; there was white fur on the canvas-bound steam-pipes, and
even the bright-work deep below was speckled and soiled; but the
cylinders had learned to make the most of steam that was half water,
and were pounding along cheerfully.
"How's the noblest outcome of human ingenuity hitting it?" said
the Steam, as he whirled through the engine-room.
"Nothing for nothing in this world of woe," the cylinders answered,
as though they had been working for centuries, "and precious little
for seventy-five pounds head. We've made two knots this last hour
and a quarter! Rather humiliating for eight hundred horse-power,
"Well, it's better than drifting astern, at any rate. You seem
rather less - how shall I put it - stiff in the back than you
"If you'd been hammered as we've been this night, you wouldn't be
stiff - iff - iff; either. Theoreti - retti - retti - cally, of
course, rigidity is the thing. Purrr - purr - practically, there
has to be a little give and take. We found that out by working on
our sides for five minutes at a stretch - chch - chh. How's the
"Sea's going down fast," said the Steam.
"Good business," said the high-pressure cylinder. "Whack her up,
boys. They've given us five pounds more steam"; and he began
humming the first bars of "Said the young Obadiah to the old
Obadiah," which, as you may have noticed, is a pet tune among
engines not built for high speed. Racing-liners with twin-screws
sing "The Turkish Patrol" and the overture to the "Bronze Horse,"
and "Madame Angot," till something goes wrong, and then they
render Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette," with variations.
"You'll learn a song of your own some fine day," said the Steam,
as he flew up the fog-horn for one last bellow.
Next day the sky cleared and the sea dropped a little, and the
Dimbula began to roll from side to side till every inch of iron
in her was sick and giddy. But luckily they did not all feel ill
at the same time: otherwise she would have opened out like a wet
The Steam whistled warnings as he went about his business: it is
in this short, quick roll and tumble that follows a heavy sea that
most of the accidents happen, for then everything thinks that the
worst is over and goes off guard. So he orated and chattered till
the beams and frames and floors and stringers and things had
learned how to lock down and lock up on one another, and endure
this new kind of strain.
They found ample time to practise, for they were sixteen days at
sea, and it was foul weather till within a hundred miles of New
York. The Dimbula picked up her pilot, and came in covered with
salt and red rust. Her funnel was dirty-grey from top to bottom;
two boats had been carried away; three copper ventilators looked
like hats after a fight with the police; the bridge had a dimple
in the middle of it; the house that covered the steam steering-gear
was split as with hatchets; there was a bill for small repairs in
the engine-room almost as long as the screw-shaft; the forward
cargo-hatch fell into bucket-staves when they raised the iron
cross-bars; and the steam-capstan had been badly wrenched on its
bed. Altogether, as the skipper said, it was "a pretty general
"But she's soupled," he said to Mr. Buchanan. "For all her
dead-weight she rode like a yacht. Ye mind that last blow off
the Banks - I am proud of her, Buck."
"It's vera good," said the chief engineer, looking along the
dishevelled decks. "Now, a man judgin' superfeecially would say
we were a wreck, but we know otherwise - by experience."
Naturally everything in the Dimbula fairly stiffened with pride,
and the foremast and the forward collision-bulkhead, who are
pushing creatures, begged the Steam to warn the Port of New York
of their arrival. "Tell those big boats all about us," they said.
"They seem to take us quite as a matter of course."
It was a glorious, clear, dead calm morning, and in single file,
with less than half a mile between each, their bands playing and
their tugboats shouting and waving handkerchiefs, were the Majestic,
the Paris, the Touraine, the Servia, the Kaiser Wilhelm II, and
the Werkendam, all statelily going out to sea. As the Dimbula
shifted her helm to give the great boats clear way, the Steam
(who knows far too much to mind making an exhibition of himself
now and then) shouted:
Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Princes, Dukes, and Barons of the High Seas!
Know ye by these presents, we are the Dimbula, fifteen days nine
hours from Liverpool, having crossed the Atlantic with four thousand
ton of cargo for the first time in our career! We have not
foundered. We are here. 'Eer! 'Eer! We are not disabled. But
we have had a time wholly unparalleled in the annals of ship-building!
Our decks were swept! We pitched; we rolled! We thought we were
going to die! Hi! Hi! But we didn't. We wish to give notice that
we have come to New York all the way across the Atlantic, through the
worst weather in the world; and we are the Dimbula! We are - arr
- ha - ha - ha-r-r-r!"
The beautiful line of boats swept by as steadily as the procession
of the Seasons. The Dimbula heard the Majestic say, "Hmph!" and
the Paris grunted, "How!" and the Touraine said, "Oui!" with a
little coquettish flicker of steam; and the Servia said, "Haw!" and
the Kaiser and the Werkendam said, "Hoch!" Dutch fashion - and that
was absolutely all.
"I did my best," said the Steam, gravely, "but I don't think they
were much impressed with us, somehow. Do you?"
"It's simply disgusting," said the bow-plates. "They might have
seen what we've been through. There isn't a ship on the sea that
has suffered as we have - is there, now?"
"Well, I wouldn't go so far as that," said the Steam, "because
I've worked on some of those boats, and sent them through
weather quite as bad as the fortnight that we've had, in six
days; and some of them are a little over ten thousand tons, I
believe. Now I've seen the Majestic, for instance, ducked from
her bows to her funnel; and I've helped the Arizona, I think she
was, to back off an iceberg she met with one dark night; and I
had to run out of the Paris's engine-room, one day, because
there was thirty foot of water in it. Of course, I don't deny - "
The Steam shut off suddenly, as a tugboat, loaded with a political
club and a brass band, that had been to see a New York Senator off
to Europe, crossed their bows, going to Hoboken. There was a
long silence that reached, without a break, from the cut-water to
the propeller-blades of the Dimbula.
Then a new, big voice said slowly and thickly, as though the
owner had just waked up: "It's my conviction that I have made a
fool of myself."
The Steam knew what had happened at once; for when a ship finds
herself all the talking of the separate pieces ceases and melts
into one voice, which is the soul of the ship.
"Who are you?" he said, with a laugh.
"I am the Dimbula, of course. I've never been anything else
except that - and a fool!"
The tugboat, which was doing its very best to be run down, got
away just in time; its band playing clashily and brassily a
popular but impolite air:
In the days of old Rameses - are you on?
In the days of old Rameses - are you on?
In the days of old Rameses,
That story had paresis,
Are you on - are you on - are you on?
"Well, I'm glad you've found yourself," said the Steam. "To tell
the truth, I was a little tired of talking to all those ribs and
stringers. Here's Quarantine. After that we'll go to our wharf
and clean up a little, and - next month we'll do it all over again."
THE TOMB OF HIS ANCESTORS
Some people will tell you that if there were but a single loaf of
bread in all India it would be divided equally between the Plowdens,
the Trevors, the Beadons, and the Rivett-Carnacs. That is only one
way of saying that certain families serve India generation after
generation, as dolphins follow in line across the open sea.
Let us take a small and obscure case. There has been at least one
representative of the Devonshire Chinns in or near Central India
since the days of Lieutenant-Fireworker Humphrey Chinn, of the
Bombay European Regiment, who assisted at the capture of
Seringapatam in 1799. Alfred Ellis Chinn, Humphrey's younger
brother, commanded a regiment of Bombay grenadiers from 1804 to
1813, when he saw some mixed fighting; and in 1834 John Chinn of
the same family - we will call him John Chinn the First - came to
light as a level-headed administrator in time of trouble at a
place called Mundesur. He died young, but left his mark on the
new country, and the Honourable the Board of Directors of the
Honourable the East India Company embodied his virtues in a
stately resolution, and paid for the expenses of his tomb among
the Satpura hills.
He was succeeded by his son, Lionel Chinn, who left the little
old Devonshire home just in time to be severely wounded in the
Mutiny. He spent his working life within a hundred and fifty miles
of John Chinn's grave, and rose to the command of a regiment of
small, wild hill-men, most of whom had known his father. His son
John was born in the small thatched-roofed, mud-walled cantonment,
which is even to-day eighty miles from the nearest railway, in the
heart of a scrubby, tigerish country. Colonel Lionel Chinn served
thirty years and retired. In the Canal his steamer passed the
outward-bound troop-ship, carrying his son eastward to the family
The Chinns are luckier than most folk, because they know exactly
what they must do. A clever Chinn passes for the Bombay Civil
Service, and gets away to Central India, where everybody is glad
to see him. A dull Chinn enters the Police Department or the Woods
and Forest, and sooner or later he, too, appears in Central India,
and that is what gave rise to the saying, "Central India is
inhabited by Bhils, Mairs, and Chinns, all very much alike." The
breed is small-boned, dark, and silent, and the stupidest of them
are good shots. John Chinn the Second was rather clever, but as
the eldest son he entered the army, according to Chinn tradition.
His duty was to abide in his father's regiment for the term of his
natural life, though the corps was one which most men would have
paid heavily to avoid. They were irregulars, small, dark, and
blackish, clothed in rifle-green with black-leather trimmings;
and friends called them the "Wuddars," which means a race of
low-caste people who dig up rats to eat. But the Wuddars did not
resent it. They were the only Wuddars, and their points of pride
Firstly, they had fewer English officers than any native regiment.
Secondly, their subalterns were not mounted on parade, as is the
general rule, but walked at the head of their men. A man who can
hold his own with the Wuddars at their quickstep must be sound in
wind and limb. Thirdly, they were the most pukka shikarries
(out-and-out hunters) in all India. Fourthly-up to one-hundredthly
- they were the Wuddars - Chinn's Irregular Bhil Levies of the
old days, but now, henceforward and for ever, the Wuddars.
No Englishman entered their mess except for love or through family
usage. The officers talked to their soldiers in a tongue not two
hundred white folk in India understood; and the men were their
children, all drawn from the Bhils, who are, perhaps, the strangest
of the many strange races in India. They were, and at heart are,
wild men, furtive, shy, full of untold superstitions. The races
whom we call natives of the country found the Bhil in possession of
the land when they first broke into that part of the world thousands
of years ago. The books call them Pre-Aryan, Aboriginal, Dravidian,
and so forth; and, in other words, that is what the Bhils call
themselves. When a Rajput chief whose bards can sing his pedigree
backwards for twelve hundred years is set on the throne, his
investiture is not complete till he has been marked on the forehead
with blood from the veins of a Bhil. The Rajputs say the ceremony
has no meaning, but the Bhil knows that it is the last, last shadow
of his old rights as the long-ago owner of the soil.
Centuries of oppression and massacre made the Bhil a cruel and
half-crazy thief and cattle-stealer, and when the English came he
seemed to be almost as open to civilisation as the tigers of his
own jungles. But John Chinn the First, father of Lionel,
grandfather of our John, went into his country, lived with him,
learned his language, shot the deer that stole his poor crops, and
won his confidence, so that some Bhils learned to plough and sow,
while others were coaxed into the Company's service to police
When they understood that standing in line did not mean instant
execution, they accepted soldiering as a cumbrous but amusing kind
of sport, and were zealous to keep the wild Bhils under control.
That was the thin edge of the wedge. John Chinn the First gave
them written promises that, if they were good from a certain date,
the Government would overlook previous offences; and since John
Chinn was never known to break his word - he promised once to hang
a Bhil locally esteemed invulnerable, and hanged him in front of
his tribe for seven proved murders - the Bhils settled down as
steadily as they knew how. It was slow, unseen work, of the sort
that is being done all over India to-day; and though John Chinn's
only reward came, as I have said, in the shape of a grave at
Government expense, the little people of the hills never forgot him.
Colonel Lionel Chinn knew and loved them, too, and they were very
fairly civilised, for Bhils, before his service ended. Many of
them could hardly be distinguished from low-caste Hindoo farmers;
but in the south, where John Chinn the First was buried, the
wildest still clung to the Satpura ranges, cherishing a legend
that some day Jan Chinn, as they called him, would return to his
own. In the mean time they mistrusted the white man and his ways.
The least excitement would stampede them, plundering, at random,
and now and then killing; but if they were handled discreetly they
grieved like children, and promised never to do it again.
The Bhils of the regiment - the uniformed men - were virtuous in
many ways, but they needed humouring. They felt bored and
homesick unless taken after tiger as beaters; and their
cold-blooded daring - all Wuddars shoot tigers on foot: it is
their caste-mark - made even the officers wonder. They would
follow up a wounded tiger as unconcernedly as though it were a
sparrow with a broken wing; and this through a country full of
caves and rifts and pits, where a wild beast could hold a dozen
men at his mercy. Now and then some little man was brought to
barracks with his head smashed in or his ribs torn away; but his
companions never learned caution; they contented themselves with
settling the tiger.
Young John Chinn was decanted at the verandah of the Wuddars'
lonely mess-house from the back seat of a two-wheeled cart, his
gun-cases cascading all round him. The slender little, hookey-nosed
boy looked forlorn as a strayed goat when he slapped the white dust
off his knees, and the cart jolted down the glaring road. But in
his heart he was contented. After all, this was the place where
he had been born, and things were not much changed since he had
been sent to England, a child, fifteen years ago.
There were a few new buildings, but the air and the smell and the
sunshine were the same; and the little green men who crossed the
parade-ground looked very familiar. Three weeks ago John Chinn
would have said he did not remember a word of the Bhil tongue, but
at the mess door he found his lips moving in sentences that he did
not understand - bits of old nursery rhymes, and tail-ends of such
orders as his father used to give the men.
The Colonel watched him come up the steps, and laughed.
"Look!" he said to the Major. "No need to ask the young un's
breed. He's a pukka Chinn. 'Might be his father in the Fifties
"'Hope he'll shoot as straight," said the Major. "He's brought
enough ironmongery with him."
"'Wouldn't be a Chinn if he didn't. Watch him blowin' his nose.
'Regular Chinn beak. 'Flourishes his handkerchief like his father.
It's the second edition - line for line."
"'Fairy tale, by Jove!" said the Major, peering through the slats
of the jalousies. "If he's the lawful heir, he'll .... Now
old Chinn could no more pass that chick without fiddling with it
"His son!" said the Colonel, jumping up.
"Well, I be blowed!" said the Major. The boy's eye had been
caught by a split-reed screen that hung on a slew between the
veranda pillars, and, mechanically, he had tweaked the edge to
set it level. Old Chinn had sworn three times a day at that
screen for many years; he could never get it to his satisfaction.
His son entered the anteroom in the middle of a fivefold silence.
They made him welcome for his father's sake and, as they took stock
of him, for his own. He was ridiculously like the portrait of the
Colonel on the wall, and when he had washed a little of the dust
from his throat he went to his quarters with the old man's short,
"So much for heredity," said the Major. "That comes of four
generations among the Bhils."
"And the men know it," said a Wing officer. "They've been waiting
for this youth with their tongues hanging out. I am persuaded
that, unless he absolutely beats 'em over the head, they'll lie
down by companies and worship him."
"Nothin' like havin' a father before you," said the Major. "I'm
a parvenu with my chaps. I've only been twenty years in the
regiment, and my revered parent he was a simple squire. There's
no getting at the bottom of a Bhil's mind. Now, why is the
superior bearer that young Chinn brought with him fleeing across
country with his bundle?" He stepped into the verandah, and
shouted after the man - a typical new-joined subaltern's servant
who speaks English and cheats in proportion.
What is it?" he called.
Plenty bad man here. I going, sar," was the reply. "'Have taken
Sahib's keys, and say will shoot."
"Doocid lucid - doocid convincin'. How those up-country thieves
can leg it! He has been badly frightened by some one." The Major
strolled to his quarters to dress for mess.
Young Chinn, walking like a man in a dream, had fetched a compass
round the entire cantonment before going to his own tiny cottage.
The captain's quarters, in which he had been born, delayed him for
a little; then he looked at the well on the parade-ground, where
he had sat of evenings with his nurse, and at the ten-by-fourteen
church, where the officers went to service if a chaplain of any
official creed happened to come along. It seemed very small as
compared with the gigantic buildings he used to stare up at, but
it was the same place.
>From time to time he passed a knot of silent soldiers, who saluted.
They might have been the very men who had carried him on their
backs when he was in his first knickerbockers. A faint light
burned in his room, and, as he entered, hands clasped his feet,
and a voice murmured from the floor.
"Who is it?" said young Chinn, not knowing he spoke in the Bhil
"I bore you in my arms, Sahib, when I was a strong man and you
were a small one - crying, crying, crying! I am your servant,
as I was your father's before you. We are all your servants."
Young Chinn could not trust himself to reply, and the voice went
"I have taken your keys from that fat foreigner, and sent him
away; and the studs are in the shirt for mess. Who should know,
if I do not know? And so the baby has become a man, and forgets
his nurse; but my nephew shall make a good servant, or I will
beat him twice a day."
Then there rose up, with a rattle, as straight as a Bhil arrow, a
little white-haired wizened ape of a man, with medals and orders
on his tunic, stammering, saluting, and trembling. Behind him a
young and wiry Bhil, in uniform, was taking the trees out of
Chinn's eyes were full of tears. The old man held out his keys.
"Foreigners are bad people. He will never come back again. We
are all servants of your father's son. Has the Sahib forgotten
who took him to see the trapped tiger in the village across the
river, when his mother was so frightened and he was so brave?"
The scene came back to Chinn in great magic-lantern flashes.
"Bukta!" he cried; and all in a breath: "You promised nothing
should hurt me. Is it Bukta?"
The man was at his feet a second time. "He has not forgotten. He
remembers his own people as his father remembered. Now can I die.
But first I will live and show the Sahib how to kill tigers. That
that yonder is my nephew. If he is not a good servant, beat him
and send him to me, and I will surely kill him, for now the Sahib
is with his own people. Ai, Jan haba - Jan haba! My Jan haba!
I will stay here and see that this does his work well. Take off
his boots, fool. Sit down upon the bed, Sahib, and let me look.
It is Jan haba."
He pushed forward the hilt of his sword as a sign of service,
which is an honour paid only to viceroys, governors, generals,
or to little children whom one loves dearly. Chinn touched the
hilt mechanically with three fingers, muttering he knew not what.
It happened to be the old answer of his childhood, when Bukta in
jest called him the little General Sahib.
The Major's quarters were opposite Chinn's, and when he heard his
servant gasp with surprise he looked across the room. Then the
Major sat on the bed and whistled; for the spectacle of the
senior native commissioned officer of the regiment, an "unmixed"
Bhil, a Companion of the Order of British India, with thirty-five
years' spotless service in the army, and a rank among his own
people superior to that of many Bengal princelings, valeting the
last-joined subaltern, was a little too much for his nerves.
The throaty bugles blew the Mess-call that has a long legend
behind it. First a few piercing notes like the shrieks of
beaters in a far-away cover, and next, large, full, and smooth,
the refrain of the wild song: "And oh, and oh, the green pulse
of Mundore - Mundore!"
"All little children were in bed when the Sahib heard that call
last," said Bukta, passing Chinn a clean handkerchief. The call
brought back memories of his cot under the mosquito-netting, his
mother's kiss, and the sound of footsteps growing fainter as he
dropped asleep among his men. So he hooked the dark collar of
his new mess-jacket, and went to dinner like a prince who has
newly inherited his father's crown.
Old Bukta swaggered forth curling his whiskers. He knew his own
value, and no money and no rank within the gift of the Government
would have induced him to put studs in young officers' shirts, or
to hand them clean ties. Yet, when he took off his uniform that
night, and squatted among his fellows for a quiet smoke, he told
them what he had done, and they said that he was entirely right.
Thereat Bukta propounded a theory which to a white mind would
have seemed raving insanity; but the whispering, level-headed
little men of war considered it from every point of view, and
thought that there might be a great deal in it.
At mess under the oil-lamps the talk turned as usual to the
unfailing subject of shikar - big game-shooting of every kind
and under all sorts of conditions. Young Chinn opened his eyes
when he understood that each one of his companions had shot
several tigers in the Wuddar style - on foot, that is - making no
more of the business than if the brute had been a dog.
"In nine cases out of ten," said the Major, "a tiger is almost as
dangerous as a porcupine. But the tenth time you come home feet
That set all talking, and long before midnight Chinn's brain was
in a whirl with stories of tigers - man-eaters and cattle-killers
each pursuing his own business as methodically as clerks in an
office; new tigers that had lately come into such-and-such a
district; and old, friendly beasts of great cunning, known by
nicknames in the mess-such as "Puggy," who was lazy, with huge
paws, and "Mrs. Malaprop," who turned up when you never expected
her, and made female noises. Then they spoke of Bhil superstitions,
a wide and picturesque field, till young Chinn hinted that they
must be pulling his leg.
"'Deed, we aren't," said a man on his left. "We know all about
you. You're a Chinn and all that, and you've a sort of vested
right here; but if you don't believe what we're telling you, what
will you do when old Bukta begins his stories? He knows about
ghost-tigers, and tigers that go to a hell of their own; and
tigers that walk on their hind feet; and your grandpapa's
riding-tiger, as well. 'Odd he hasn't spoken of that yet."
"You know you've an ancestor buried down Satpura way, don't you?"
said the Major, as Chinn smiled irresolutely.
"Of course I do," said Chinn, who had the chronicle of the Book
of Chinn by heart. It lies in a worn old ledger on the Chinese
lacquer table behind the piano in the Devonshire home, and the
children are allowed to look at it on Sundays.
"Well, I wasn't sure. Your revered ancestor, my boy, according
to the Bhils, has a tiger of his own - a saddle-tiger that he
rides round the country whenever he feels inclined. I don't call
it decent in an ex-Collector's ghost; but that is what the Southern
Bhils believe. Even our men, who might be called moderately cool,
don't care to beat that country if they hear that Jan Chinn is
running about on his tiger. It is supposed to be a clouded animal
- not stripy, but blotchy, like a tortoise-shell tom-cat. No
end of a brute, it is, and a sure sign of war or pestilence or
- or something. There's a nice family legend for you."
"What's the origin of it, d' you suppose?" said Chinn.
"Ask the Satpura Bhils. Old Jan Chinn was a mighty hunter before
the Lord. Perhaps it was the tiger's revenge, or perhaps he's
huntin' 'em still. You must go to his tomb one of these days and
inquire. Bukta will probably attend to that. He was asking me
before you came whether by any ill-luck you had already bagged
your tiger. If not, he is going to enter you under his own wing.
Of course, for you of all men it's imperative. You'll have a
first-class time with Bukta."
The Major was not wrong. Bukta kept an anxious eye on young Chinn
at drill, and it was noticeable that the first time the new officer
lifted up his voice in an order the whole line quivered. Even the
Colonel was taken aback, for it might have been Lionel Chinn
returned from Devonshire with a new lease of life. Bukta had
continued to develop his peculiar theory among his intimates, and
it was accepted as a matter of faith in the lines, since every
word and gesture on young Chinn's part so confirmed it.
The old man arranged early that his darling should wipe out the
reproach of not having shot a tiger; but he was not content to
take the first or any beast that happened to arrive. In his own
villages he dispensed the high, low, and middle justice, and when
his people - naked and fluttered - came to him with word of a
beast marked down, he bade them send spies to the kills and the
watering-places, that he might be sure the quarry was such an one
as suited the dignity of such a man.
Three or four times the reckless trackers returned, most truthfully
saying that the beast was mangy, undersized - a tigress worn with
nursing, or a broken-toothed old male - and Bukta would curb young
At last, a noble animal was marked down - a ten-foot cattle-killer
with a huge roll of loose skin along the belly, glossy-hided,
full-frilled about the neck, whiskered, frisky, and young. He
had slain a man in pure sport, they said.
"Let him be fed," quoth Bukta, and the villagers dutifully drove
out a cow to amuse him, that he might lie up near by.
Princes and potentates have taken ship to India and spent great
moneys for the mere glimpse of beasts one-half as fine as this
"It is not good," said he to the Colonel, when he asked for
shooting-leave, "that my Colonel's son who may be - that my
Colonel's son should lose his maidenhead on any small jungle
beast. That may come after. I have waited long for this which
is a tiger. He has come in from the Mair country. In seven days
we will return with the skin."
The mess gnashed their teeth enviously. Bukta, had he chosen,
might have invited them all. But he went out alone with Chinn,
two days in a shooting-cart and a day on foot, till they came to
a rocky, glary valley with a pool of good water in it. It was a
parching day, and the boy very naturally stripped and went in for
a bathe, leaving Bukta by the clothes. A white skin shows far
against brown jungle, and what Bukta beheld on Chinn's back and
right shoulder dragged him forward step by step with staring
"I'd forgotten it isn't decent to strip before a man of his
position," said Chinn, flouncing in the water. "How the little
devil stares! What is it, Bukta?" "The Mark!" was the whispered
"It is nothing. You know how it is with my people!" Chinn was
annoyed. The dull-red birth-mark on his shoulder, something like
a conventionalised Tartar cloud, had slipped his memory or he
would not have bathed. It occurred, so they said at home, in
alternate generations, appearing, curiously enough, eight or nine
years after birth, and, save that it was part of the Chinn
inheritance, would not be considered pretty. He hurried ashore,
dressed again, and went on till they met two or three Bhils, who
promptly fell on their faces. "My people," grunted Bukta, not
condescending to notice them. "And so your people, Sahib. When I
was a young man we were fewer, but not so weak. Now we are many,
but poor stock. As may be remembered. How will you shoot him,
Sahib? From a tree; from a shelter which my people shall build;
by day or by night?"
"On foot and in the daytime," said young Chinn.
"That was your custom, as I have heard," said Bukta to himself "I
will get news of him. Then you and I will go to him. I will
carry one gun. You have yours. There is no need of more. What
tiger shall stand against thee?"
He was marked down by a little water-hole at the head of a ravine,
full-gorged and half asleep in the May sunlight. He was walked up
like a partridge, and he turned to do battle for his life. Bukta
made no motion to raise his rifle, but kept his eyes on Chinn, who
met the shattering roar of the charge with a single shot - it
seemed to him hours as he sighted - which tore through the throat,
smashing the backbone below the neck and between the shoulders.
The brute couched, choked, and fell, and before Chinn knew well
what had happened Bukta bade him stay still while he paced the
distance between his feet and the ringing jaws.
"Fifteen," said Bukta. "Short paces. No need for a second shot,
Sahib. He bleeds cleanly where he lies, and we need not spoil
the skin. I said there would be no need of these, but they came
- in case."
Suddenly the sides of the ravine were crowned with the heads of
Bukta's people - a force that could have blown the ribs out of
the beast had Chinn's shot failed; but their guns were hidden,
and they appeared as interested beaters, some five or six waiting
the word to skin. Bukta watched the life fade from the wild eyes,
lifted one hand, and turned on his heel.
"No need to show that we care," said he. "Now, after this, we can
kill what we choose. Put out your hand, Sahib."
Chinn obeyed. It was entirely steady, and Bukta nodded. "That
also was your custom. My men skin quickly. They will carry the
skin to cantonments. Will the Sahib come to my poor village for
the night and, perhaps, forget that I am his officer?"
"But those men - the beaters. They have worked hard, and perhaps -"
"Oh, if they skin clumsily, we will skin them. They are my people.
In the lines I am one thing. Here I am another."
This was very true. When Bukta doffed uniform and reverted to the
fragmentary dress of his own people, he left his civilisation of
drill in the next world. That night, after a little talk with his
subjects, he devoted to an orgie; and a Bhil orgie is a thing not
to be safely written about. Chinn, flushed with triumph, was in
the thick of it, but the meaning of the mysteries was hidden.
Wild folk came and pressed about his knees with offerings. He
gave his flask to the elders of the village. They grew eloquent,
and wreathed him about with flowers. Gifts and loans, not all
seemly, were thrust upon him, and infernal music rolled and
maddened round red fires, while singers sang songs of the ancient
times, and danced peculiar dances. The aboriginal liquors are
very potent, and Chinn was compelled to taste them often, but,
unless the stuff had been drugged, how came he to fall asleep
suddenly, and to waken late the next day - half a march from the
"The Sahib was very tired. A little before dawn he went to sleep,"
Bukta explained. "My people carried him here, and now it is time
we should go back to cantonments."
The voice, smooth and deferential, the step, steady and silent,
made it hard to believe that only a few hours before Bukta was
yelling and capering with naked fellow-devils of the scrub.
"My people were very pleased to see the Sahib. They will never
forget. When next the Sahib goes out recruiting, he will go to
my people, and they will give him as many men as we need."
Chinn kept his own counsel, except as to the shooting of the
tiger, and Bukta embroidered that tale with a shameless tongue.
The skin was certainly one of the finest ever hung up in the
mess, and the first of many. When Bukta could not accompany his
boy on shooting-trips, he took care to put him in good hands,
and Chinn learned more of the mind and desire of the wild Bhil
in his marches and campings, by talks at twilight or at wayside
pools, than an uninstructed man could have come at in a
Presently his men in the regiment grew bold to speak of their
relatives - mostly in trouble - and to lay cases of tribal custom
before him. They would say, squatting in his verandah at
twilight, after the easy, confidential style of the Wuddars,
that such-and-such a bachelor had run away with such-and-such a
wife at a far-off village. Now, how many cows would Chinn Sahib
consider a just fine? Or, again, if written order came from the
Government that a Bhil was to repair to a walled city of the
plains to give evidence in a law-court, would it be wise to
disregard that order? On the other hand, if it were obeyed, would
the rash voyager return alive?
"But what have I to do with these things?" Chinn demanded of Bukta,
impatiently. "I am a soldier. I do not know the law."
"Hoo! Law is for fools and white men. Give them a large and
loud order, and they will abide by it. Thou art their law."
Every trace of expression left Bukta's countenance. The idea might
have smitten him for the first time. "How can I say?" he replied.
"Perhaps it is on account of the name. A Bhil does not love
strange things. Give them orders, Sahib- two, three, four words
at a time such as they can carry away in their heads. That is
Chinn gave orders then, valiantly, not realising that a word spoken
in haste before mess became the dread unappealable law of villages
beyond the smoky hills was, in truth, no less than the Law of Jan
Chinn the First, who, so the whispered legend ran, had come back
to earth, to oversee the third generation, in the body and bones
of his grandson.
There could be no sort of doubt in this matter. All the Bhils
knew that Jan Chinn reincarnated had honoured Bukta's village
with his presence after slaying his first - in this life - tiger;
that he had eaten and drunk with the people, as he was used; and
- Bukta must have drugged Chinn's liquor very deeply - upon his
back and right shoulder all men had seen the same angry red
Flying Cloud that the high Gods had set on the flesh of Jan
Chinn the First when first he came to the Bhil. As concerned the
foolish white world which has no eyes, he was a slim and young
officer in the Wuddars; but his own people knew he was Jan Chinn,
who had made the Bhil a man; and, believing, they hastened to
carry his words, careful never to alter them on the way.
Because the savage and the child who plays lonely games have one
horror of being laughed at or questioned, the little folk kept
their convictions to themselves; and the Colonel, who thought he
knew his regiment, never guessed that each one of the six hundred
quick-footed, beady-eyed rank-and-file, to attention beside their
rifles, believed serenely and unshakenly that the subaltern on the
left flank of the line was a demi-god twice born - tutelary deity
of their land and people. The Earth-gods themselves had stamped
the incarnation, and who would dare to doubt the handiwork of the
Chinn, being practical above all things, saw that his family name
served him well in the lines and in camp. His men gave no
trouble - one does not commit regimental offences with a god in
the chair of justice - and he was sure of the best beaters in the
district when he needed them. They believed that the protection
of Jan Chinn the First cloaked them, and were bold in that belief
beyond the utmost daring of excited Bhils.
His quarters began to look like an amateur natural-history museum,
in spite of duplicate heads and horns and skulls that he sent home
to Devonshire. The people, very humanly, learned the weak side of
their god. It is true he was unbribable, but bird-skins,
butterflies, beetles, and, above all, news of big game pleased him.
In other respects, too, he lived up to the Chinn tradition. He
was fever-proof. A night's sitting out over a tethered goat in a
damp valley, that would have filled the Major with a month's malaria,
had no effect on him. He was, as they said, "salted before he was
Now in the autumn of his second year's service an uneasy rumour
crept out of the earth and ran about among the Bhils. Chinn heard
nothing of it till a brother-officer said across the mess-table:
"Your revered ancestor's on the rampage in the Satpura country.
You'd better look him up."
"I don't want to be disrespectful, but I'm a little sick of my
revered ancestor. Bukta talks of nothing else. What's the old
boy supposed to be doing now?"
"Riding cross-country by moonlight on his processional tiger.
That's the story. He's been seen by about two thousand Bhils,
skipping along the tops of the Satpuras, and scaring people to
death. They believe it devoutly, and all the Satpura chaps are
worshipping away at his shrine - tomb, I mean - like good uns. You
really ought to go down there. Must be a queer thing to see your
grandfather treated as a god."
"What makes you think there's any truth in the tale?" said Chinn.
"Because all our men deny it. They say they've never heard of
Chinn's tiger. Now that's a manifest lie, because every Bhil has."
"There's only one thing you've overlooked," said the Colonel,
thoughtfully. "When a local god reappears on earth, it's always
an excuse for trouble of some kind; and those Satpura Bhils are
about as wild as your grandfather left them, young un. It means
"Meanin' they may go on the war-path?" said Chinn.
"'Can't say - as yet. 'Shouldn't be surprised a little bit."
"I haven't been told a syllable."
"Proves it all the more. They are keeping something back."
"Bukta tells me everything, too, as a rule. Now, why didn't he
tell me that?"
Chinn put the question directly to the old man that night, and
the answer surprised him.
"Why should I tell what is well known? Yes, the Clouded Tiger is
out in the Satpura country."
"What do the wild Bhils think that it means?"
They do not know. They wait. Sahib, what is coming? Say only one
little word, and we will be content."
"We? What have tales from the south, where the jungly Bhils live,
to do with drilled men?"
"When Jan Chinn wakes is no time for any Bhil to be quiet."
"But he has not waked, Bukta."
"Sahib" - the old man's eyes were full of tender reproof - "if he
does not wish to be seen, why does he go abroad in the moonlight?
We know he is awake, but we do not know what he desires. Is it a
sign for all the Bhils, or one that concerns the Satpura folk alone?
Say one little word, Sahib, that I may carry it to the lines, and
send on to our villages. Why does Jan Chinn ride out? Who has done
wrong? Is it pestilence? Is it murrain? Will our children die?
Is it a sword? Remember, Sahib, we are thy people and thy servants,
and in this life I bore thee in my arms - not knowing."
"Bukta has evidently looked on the cup this evening," Chinn thought;
"but if I can do anything to soothe the old chap I must. It's like
the Mutiny rumours on a small scale."
He dropped into a deep wicker chair, over which was thrown his
first tiger-skin, and his weight on the cushion flapped the clawed
paws over his shoulders. He laid hold of them mechanically as he
spoke, drawing the painted hide, cloak-fashion, about him.
"Now will I tell the truth, Bukta," he said, leaning forward, the
dried muzzle on his shoulder, to invent a specious lie.
"I see that it is the truth," was the answer, in a shaking voice.
"Jan Chinn goes abroad among the Satpuras, riding on the Clouded
Tiger, ye say? Be it so. Therefore the sign of the wonder is for
the Satpura Bhils only, and does not touch the Bhils who plough
in the north and east, the Bhils of the Khandesh, or any others,
except the Satpura Bhils, who, as we know, are wild and foolish."
"It is, then, a sign for them. Good or bad?"
"Beyond doubt, good. For why should Jan Chinn make evil to those
whom he has made men? The nights over yonder are hot; it is ill
to lie in one bed over-long without turning, and Jan Chinn would
look again upon his people. So he rises, whistles his Clouded
Tiger, and goes abroad a little to breathe the cool air. If the
Satpura Bhils kept to their villages, and did not wander after
dark, they would not see him. Indeed, Bukta, it is no more than
that he would see the light again in his own country. Send this
news south, and say that it is my word."
Bukta bowed to the floor. "Good Heavens!" thought Chinn, "and
this blinking pagan is a first-class officer, and as straight as
a die! I may as well round it off neatly." He went on:
"If the Satpura Bhils ask the meaning of the sign, tell them that
Jan Chinn would see how they kept their old promises of good living.
Perhaps they have plundered; perhaps they mean to disobey the
orders of the Government; perhaps there is a dead man in the jungle;
and so Jan Chinn has come to see."
"Is he, then, angry?"
"Bah! Am I ever angry with my Bhils? I say angry words, and
threaten many things. Thou knowest, Bukta. I have seen thee smile
behind the hand. I know, and thou knowest. The Bhils are my
children. I have said it many times."
"Ay. We be thy children," said Bukta.
"And no otherwise is it with Jan Chinn, my father's father. He
would see the land he loved and the people once again. It is a
good ghost, Bukta. I say it. Go and tell them. And I do hope
devoutly," he added, "that it will calm 'em down." Flinging back
the tiger-skin, he rose with a long, unguarded yawn that showed
his well-kept teeth.
Bukta fled, to be received in the lines by a knot of panting
"It is true," said Bukta. "He wrapped him-self in the skin, and
spoke from it. He would see his own country again. The sign is
not for us; and, indeed, he is a young man. How should he lie
idle of nights? He says his bed is too hot and the air is bad.
He goes to and fro for the love of night-running. He has said it."
The grey-whiskered assembly shuddered.
"He says the Bhils are his children. Ye know he does not lie. He
has said it to me."
"But what of the Satpura Bhils? What means the sign for them?"
"Nothing. It is only night-running, as I have said. He rides to
see if they obey the Government, as he taught them to do in his
"And what if they do not?"
"He did not say."
The light went out in Chinn's quarters.
"Look," said Bukta. "Now he goes away. None the less it is a
good ghost, as he has said. How shall we fear Jan Chinn, who made
the Bhil a man? His protection is on us; and ye know Jan Chinn
never broke a protection spoken or written on paper. When he is
older and has found him a wife he will lie in his bed till morning."
A commanding officer is generally aware of the regimental state of
mind a little before the men; and this is why the Colonel said, a
few days later, that some one had been putting the Fear of God into
the Wuddars. As he was the only person officially entitled to do
this, it distressed him to see such unanimous virtue. "It's too
good to last," he said. "I only wish I could find out what the
little chaps mean."
The explanation, as it seemed to him, came at the change of the
moon, when he received orders to hold himself in readiness to
"allay any possible excitement" among the Satpura Bhils, who were,
to put it mildly, uneasy because a paternal Government had sent
up against them a Mahratta State-educated vaccinator, with lancets,
lymph, and an officially registered calf. In the language of
State, they had "manifested a strong objection to all prophylactic
measures," had "forcibly detained the vaccinator," and "were on
the point of neglecting or evading their tribal obligations."
"That means they are in a blue funk - same as they were at
census-time," said the Colonel; "and if we stampede them into
the hills we'll never catch 'em, in the first place, and, in the
second, they'll whoop off plundering till further orders. 'Wonder
who the God-forsaken idiot is who is trying to vaccinate a Bhil.
I knew trouble was coming. One good thing is that they'll only
use local corps, and we can knock up something we'll call a
campaign, and let them down easy. Fancy us potting our best
beaters because they don't want to be vaccinated! They're only
crazy with fear."
"Don't you think, sir," said Chinn, the next day, "that perhaps
you could give me a fortnight's shooting-leave?"
"Desertion in the face of the enemy, by Jove!" The Colonel laughed.
"I might, but I'd have to antedate it a little, because we're
warned for service, as you might say. However, we'll assume that
you applied for leave three days ago, and are now well on your way
"I'd like to take Bukta with me."
"Of course, yes. I think that will be the best plan. You've some
kind of hereditary influence with the little chaps, and they may
listen to you when a glimpse of our uniforms would drive them wild.
You've never been in that part of the world before, have you? Take
care they don't send you to your family vault in your youth and
innocence. I believe you'll be all right if you can get 'em to
listen to you."
"I think so, sir; but if - if they should accidentally put an -
make asses of 'emselves - they might, you know - I hope you'll
represent that they were only frightened. There isn't an ounce of
real vice in 'em, and I should never forgive myself if any one of
- of my name got them into trouble."
The Colonel nodded, but said nothing.
Chinn and Bukta departed at once. Bukta did not say that, ever
since the official vaccinator had been dragged into the hills by
indignant Bhils, runner after runner had skulked up to the lines,
entreating, with forehead in the dust, that Jan Chinn should come
and explain this unknown horror that hung over his people.
The portent of the Clouded Tiger was now too clear. Let Jan Chinn
comfort his own, for vain was the help of mortal man. Bukta toned
down these beseechings to a simple request for Chinn's presence.
Nothing would have pleased the old man better than a rough-and-tumble
campaign against the Satpuras, whom he, as an "unmixed" Bhil,
despised; but he had a duty to all his nation as Jan Chinn's
interpreter; and he devoutly believed that forty plagues would fall
on his village if he tampered with that obligation. Besides, Jan
Chinn knew all things, and he rode the Clouded Tiger.
They covered thirty miles a day on foot and pony, raising the blue
wall-like line of the Satpuras as swiftly as might be. Bukta was
They began the steep climb a little after noon, but it was near
sunset ere they reached the stone platform clinging to the side of
a rifted, jungle-covered hill, where Jan Chinn the First was laid,
as he had desired, that he might overlook his people. All India
is full of neglected graves that date from the beginning of the
eighteenth century - tombs of forgotten colonels of corps long
since disbanded; mates of East India men who went on shooting
expeditions and never came back; factors, agents, writers, and
ensigns of the Honourable the East India Company by hundreds and
thousands and tens of thousands. English folk forget quickly, but
natives have long memories, and if a man has done good in his life
it is remembered after his death. The weathered marble four-square
tomb of Jan Chinn was hung about with wild flowers and nuts,
packets of wax and honey, bottles of native spirits, and infamous
cigars, with buffalo horns and plumes of dried grass. At one end
was a rude clay image of a white man, in the old-fashioned top-hat,
riding on a bloated tiger.
Bukta salamed reverently as they approached. Chinn bared his head
and began to pick out the blurred inscription. So far as he could
read it ran thus - word for word, and letter for letter:
To the Memory of JOHN CHINN, Esq.
Late Collector of............
....ithout Bloodshed or...error of Authority
Employ.only..cans of Conciliat...and Confiden.
accomplished the...tire Subjection...
a Lawless and Predatory Peop...
....taching them to...ish Government
by a Conquest over....Minds
The most perma...and rational Mode of Domini..
...Governor General and Counc...engal
have ordered thi.....erected
....arted this Life Aug. 19, 184..Ag...
On the other side of the grave were ancient verses, also very worn.
As much as Chinn could decipher said:
....the savage band
Forsook their Haunts and b.....is Command
....mended..rais check a...st for spoil.
And.s.ing Hamlets prove his gene....toil.
A Nation..ield..subdued without a Sword.
For some little time he leaned on the tomb thinking of this dead
man of his own blood, and of the house in Devonshire; then,
nodding to the plains: "Yes; it's a big work all of it even my
little share. He must have been worth knowing.... Bukta, where
are my people?"
"Not here, Sahib. No man comes here except in full sun. They
wait above. Let us climb and see."
But Chinn, remembering the first law of Oriental diplomacy, in an
even voice answered: "I have come this far only because the Satpura
folk are foolish, and dared not visit our lines. Now bid them wait
on me here. I am not a servant, but the master of Bhils."
"I go - I go," clucked the old man. Night was falling, and at any
moment Jan Chinn might whistle up his dreaded steed from the
Now for the first time in a long life Bukta disobeyed a lawful
command and deserted his leader; for he did not come back, but
pressed to the flat table-top of the hill, and called softly. Men
stirred all about him - little trembling men with bows and arrows
who had watched the two since noon.
"Where is he?" whispered one.
"At his own place. He bids you come," said Bukta.
"Rather let him loose the Clouded Tiger upon us. We do not go."
"Nor I, though I bore him in my arms when he was a child in this
his life. Wait here till the day."
"But surely he will be angry."
"He will be very angry, for he has nothing to eat. But he has said
to me many times that the Bhils are his children. By sunlight I
believe this, but - by moonlight I am not so sure. What folly have
ye Satpura pigs compassed that ye should need him at all?"
"One came to us in the name of the Government with little
ghost-knives and a magic calf, meaning to turn us into cattle by
the cutting off of our arms. We were greatly afraid, but we did
not kill the man. He is here, bound - a black man; and we think
he comes from the west. He said it was an order to cut us all
with knives - especially the women and the children. We did not
hear that it was an order, so we were afraid, and kept to our
hills. Some of our men have taken ponies and bullocks from the
plains, and others pots and cloths and ear-rings."
"Are any slain?"
"By our men? Not yet. But the young men are blown to and fro by
many rumours like flames upon a hill. I sent runners asking for
Jan Chinn lest worse should come to us. It was this fear that he
foretold by the sign of the Clouded Tiger.
He says it is otherwise," said Bukta; and he repeated, with
amplifications, all that young Chinn had told him at the conference
of the wicker chair.