The Works of Rudyard Kipling One Volume Edition
by Rudyard Kipling
VOLUME I DEPARTMENTAL DITTIES AND OTHER VERSES
Study of an Elevation, in Indian Ink A Legend of the Foreign Office
The Story of Uriah
The Post that Fitted
The Man Who Could Write
A Code of Morals
The Last Department
To the Unknown Goddess
The Rubaiyat of Omar Kal’vin
La Nuit Blanche
The Lovers’ Litany
A Ballad of Burial
The Masque of Plenty
The Mare’s Nest
Christmas in India
Pagett, M. P.
The Song of the Women
A Ballad of Jakko Hill
The Plea of the Simla Dancers
Ballad of Fisher’s Boarding-House
“As the Bell Clinks”
An Old Song
Certain Maxims of Hafiz
The Grave of the Hundred Head
The Moon of Other Days
The Overland Mail
What the People Said
The Undertaker’s Horse
The Fall of Jock Gillespie
Arithmetic on the Frontier
One Viceroy Resigns
A Tale of Two Cities
VOLUME II BALLADS AND BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS
The Ballad of East and West
The Last Suttee
The Ballad of the King’s Mercy
The Ballad of the King’s Jest
The Ballad of Boh Da Thone
The Lament of the Border Cattle Thief The Rhyme of the Three Captains
The Ballad of the “Clampherdown”
The Ballad of the “Bolivar”
The English Flag
An Imperial Rescript
The Widow at Windsor
The Young British Soldier
Ford O’ Kabul River
VOLUME III THE PHANTOM ‘RICKSHAW AND OTHER GHOST STORIES
The Phantom ‘Rickshaw
My Own True Ghost Story
The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes The Man Who Would Be King
“The Finest Story in The World”
VOLUME IV UNDER THE DEODARS
The Education of Otis Yeere
At the Pit’s Mouth
A Wayside Comedy
The Hill of Illusion
A Second-rate Woman
Only a Subaltern
In the Matter of a Private
The Enlightenments of Pagett. M. P.
VOLUME V PLAIN TALES FROM THE HILLS
Three And an Extra
Miss Youghal’s Sais
“Yoked With an Unbeliever”
The Rescue of Pluffles
His Chance in Life
Watches of The Night
The Other Man
The Conversion of Aurellan McGoggin A Germ-destroyer
The Arrest of Lieutenant Golightly
In The House of Suddhoo
His Wedded Wife
The Broken-link Handicap
Beyond The Pale
A Bank Fraud
In The Pride of His Youth
The Rout of The White Hussars
The Bronckhorst Divorce-case
The Bisara of Pooree
A Friend’s Friend
The Gate of The Hundred Sorrows
The Story of Muhammad Din
On The Strength of a Likeness
Wressley of The Foreign Office
By Word of Mouth
To Be Filed For Reference
The Last Relief
VOLUME VI THE LIGHT THAT FAILED
VOLUME VII THE STORY OF THE GADSBYS
Poor Dear Mamma
The World Without
The Tents of Kedar
With Any Amazement
The Garden of Eden
The Valley of the Shadow
The Swelling of Jordan
VOLUME VIII from MINE OWN PEOPLE
The Recrudescence Of Imray
VOLUME I DEPARTMENTAL DITTIES AND OTHER VERSES
I have eaten your bread and salt,
I have drunk your water and wine, The deaths ye died I have watched beside, And the lives that ye led were mine.
Was there aught that I did not share
In vigil or toil or ease,
One joy or woe that I did not know, Dear hearts across the seas?
I have written the tale of our life
For a sheltered people’s mirth,
In jesting guise–but ye are wise,
And ye know what the jest is worth.
We are very slightly changed
From the semi-apes who ranged
India’s prehistoric clay;
Whoso drew the longest bow,
Ran his brother down, you know,
As we run men down today.
“Dowb,” the first of all his race,
Met the Mammoth face to face
On the lake or in the cave,
Stole the steadiest canoe,
Ate the quarry others slew,
Died–and took the finest grave.
When they scratched the reindeer-bone Someone made the sketch his own,
Filched it from the artist–then, Even in those early days,
Won a simple Viceroy’s praise
Through the toil of other men.
Ere they hewed the Sphinx’s visage
Favoritism governed kissage,
Even as it does in this age.
Who shall doubt the secret hid
Under Cheops’ pyramid
Was that the contractor did
Cheops out of several millions?
Or that Joseph’s sudden rise
To Comptroller of Supplies
Was a fraud of monstrous size
On King Pharoah’s swart Civilians?
Thus, the artless songs I sing
Do not deal with anything
New or never said before.
As it was in the beginning,
Is today official sinning,
And shall be forevermore.
Old is the song that I sing–
Old as my unpaid bills–
Old as the chicken that kitmutgars bring Men at dak-bungalows–old as the Hills.
Ahasuerus Jenkins of the “Operatic Own” Was dowered with a tenor voice of super-Santley tone.
His views on equitation were, perhaps, a trifle queer; He had no seat worth mentioning, but oh! he had an ear.
He clubbed his wretched company a dozen times a day, He used to quit his charger in a parabolic way, His method of saluting was the joy of all beholders, But Ahasuerus Jenkins had a head upon his shoulders.
He took two months to Simla when the year was at the spring, And underneath the deodars eternally did sing.
He warbled like a bulbul, but particularly at Cornelia Agrippina who was musical and fat.
She controlled a humble husband, who, in turn, controlled a Dept., Where Cornelia Agrippina’s human singing-birds were kept From April to October on a plump retaining fee, Supplied, of course, per mensem, by the Indian Treasury.
Cornelia used to sing with him, and Jenkins used to play; He praised unblushingly her notes, for he was false as they: So when the winds of April turned the budding roses brown, Cornelia told her husband: “Tom, you mustn’t send him down.”
They haled him from his regiment which didn’t much regret him; They found for him an office-stool, and on that stool they set him, To play with maps and catalogues three idle hours a day, And draw his plump retaining fee–which means his double pay.
Now, ever after dinner, when the coffeecups are brought, Ahasuerus waileth o’er the grand pianoforte; And, thanks to fair Cornelia, his fame hath waxen great, And Ahasuerus Jenkins is a power in the State.
STUDY OF AN ELEVATION, IN INDIAN INK
This ditty is a string of lies.
But–how the deuce did Gubbins rise?
POTIPHAR GUBBINS, C. E.,
Stands at the top of the tree;
And I muse in my bed on the reasons that led To the hoisting of Potiphar G.
Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
Is seven years junior to Me;
Each bridge that he makes he either buckles or breaks, And his work is as rough as he.
Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
Is coarse as a chimpanzee;
And I can’t understand why you gave him your hand, Lovely Mehitabel Lee.
Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
Is dear to the Powers that Be;
For They bow and They smile in an affable style Which is seldom accorded to Me.
Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
Is certain as certain can be
Of a highly-paid post which is claimed by a host Of seniors–including Me.
Careless and lazy is he,
Greatly inferior to Me.
What is the spell that you manage so well, Commonplace Potiphar G.?
Lovely Mehitabel Lee,
Let me inquire of thee,
Should I have riz to what Potiphar is, Hadst thou been mated to me?
This is the reason why Rustum Beg,
Rajah of Kolazai,
Drinketh the “simpkin” and brandy peg, Maketh the money to fly,
Vexeth a Government, tender and kind, Also–but this is a detail–blind.
RUSTUM BEG of Kolazai–slightly backward native state Lusted for a C. S. I.,–so began to sanitate. Built a Jail and Hospital–nearly built a City drain– Till his faithful subjects all thought their Ruler was insane.
Strange departures made he then–yea, Departments stranger still, Half a dozen Englishmen helped the Rajah with a will, Talked of noble aims and high, hinted of a future fine For the state of Kolazai, on a strictly Western line.
Rajah Rustum held his peace; lowered octroi dues a half; Organized a State Police; purified the. Civil Staff; Settled cess and tax afresh in a very liberal way; Cut temptations of the flesh–also cut the Bukhshi’s pay;
Roused his Secretariat to a fine Mahratta fury, By a Hookum hinting at supervision of dasturi; Turned the State of Kolazai very nearly upside-down; When the end of May was nigh, waited his achievement crown.
When the Birthday Honors came,
Sad to state and sad to see,
Stood against the Rajah’s name nothing more than C. I. E.! * * * * *
Things were lively for a week in the State of Kolazai. Even now the people speak of that time regretfully.
How he disendowed the Jail–stopped at once the City drain; Turned to beauty fair and frail–got his senses back again; Doubled taxes, cesses, all; cleared away each new-built thana; Turned the two-lakh Hospital into a superb Zenana;
Heaped upon the Bukhshi Sahib wealth and honors manifold; Clad himself in Eastern garb–squeezed his people as of old.
Happy, happy Kolazai! Never more will Rustum Beg Play to catch the Viceroy’s eye. He prefers the “simpkin” peg.
THE STORY OF URIAH
“Now there were two men in one city;
the one rich and the other poor.”
Jack Barrett went to Quetta
Because they told him to.
He left his wife at Simla
On three-fourths his monthly screw: Jack Barrett died at Quetta
Ere the next month’s pay he drew.
Jack Barrett went to Quetta.
He didn’t understand
The reason of his transfer
From the pleasant mountain-land:
The season was September,
And it killed him out of hand.
Jack Barrett went to Quetta,
And there gave up the ghost,
Attempting two men’s duty
In that very healthy post;
And Mrs. Barrett mourned for him
Five lively months at most.
Jack Barrett’s bones at Quetta
Enjoy profound repose;
But I shouldn’t be astonished
If now his spirit knows
The reason of his transfer
From the Himalayan snows.
And, when the Last Great Bugle Call
Adown the Hurnal throbs,
When the last grim joke is entered
In the big black Book of Jobs,
And Quetta graveyards give again
Their victims to the air,
I shouldn’t like to be the man
Who sent Jack Barrett there.
THE POST THAT FITTED
Though tangled and twisted the course of true love This ditty explains,
No tangle’s so tangled it cannot improve If the Lover has brains.
Ere the steamer bore him Eastward, Sleary was engaged to marry An attractive girl at Tunbridge, whom he called “my little Carrie.”
Sleary’s pay was very modest; Sleary was the other way. Who can cook a two-plate dinner on eight poor rupees a day?
Long he pondered o’er the question in his scantly furnished quarters– Then proposed to Minnie Boffkin, eldest of Judge Boffkin’s daughters.
Certainly an impecunious Subaltern was not a catch, But the Boffkins knew that Minnie mightn’t make another match.
So they recognised the business and, to feed and clothe the bride, Got him made a Something Something somewhere on the Bombay side.
Anyhow, the billet carried pay enough for him to marry– As the artless Sleary put it:–“Just the thing for me and Carrie.”
Did he, therefore, jilt Miss Boffkin–impulse of a baser mind? No! He started epileptic fits of an appalling kind.
[Of his modus operandi only this much I could gather:– “Pears’s shaving sticks will give you little taste and lots of lather.”]
Frequently in public places his affliction used to smite Sleary with distressing vigour–always in the Boffkins’ sight.
Ere a week was over Minnie weepingly returned his ring, Told him his “unhappy weakness” stopped all thought of marrying.
Sleary bore the information with a chastened holy joy,– Epileptic fits don’t matter in Political employ,– Wired three short words to Carrie–took his ticket, packed his kit– Bade farewell to Minnie Boffkin in one last, long, lingering fit.
Four weeks later, Carrie Sleary read–and laughed until she wept– Mrs. Boffkin’s warning letter on the “wretched epilept.” . . .
Year by year, in pious patience, vengeful Mrs. Boffkin sits Waiting for the Sleary babies to develop Sleary’s fits.
Walpole talks of “a man and his price.” List to a ditty queer–
The sale of a Deputy-Acting-Vice-
Bought like a bullock, hoof and hide, By the Little Tin Gods on the Mountain Side.
By the Laws of the Family Circle ’tis written in letters of brass That only a Colonel from Chatham can manage the Railways of State, Because of the gold on his breeks, and the subjects wherein he must pass; Because in all matters that deal not with Railways his knowledge is great.
Now Exeter Battleby Tring had laboured from boyhood to eld On the Lines of the East and the West, and eke of the North and South; Many Lines had he built and surveyed–important the posts which he held; And the Lords of the Iron Horse were dumb when he opened his mouth.
Black as the raven his garb, and his heresies jettier still– Hinting that Railways required lifetimes of study and knowledge– Never clanked sword by his side–Vauban he knew not nor drill– Nor was his name on the list of the men who had passed through the “College.”
Wherefore the Little Tin Gods harried their little tin souls, Seeing he came not from Chatham, jingled no spurs at his heels, Knowing that, nevertheless, was he first on the Government rolls For the billet of “Railway Instructor to Little Tin Gods on Wheels.”
Letters not seldom they wrote him, “having the honour to state,” It would be better for all men if he were laid on the shelf. Much would accrue to his bank-book, an he consented to wait Until the Little Tin Gods built him a berth for himself,
“Special, well paid, and exempt from the Law of the Fifty and Five, Even to Ninety and Nine”–these were the terms of the pact: Thus did the Little Tin Gods (long may Their Highnesses thrive!) Silence his mouth with rupees, keeping their Circle intact;
Appointing a Colonel from Chatham who managed the Bhamo State Line (The which was one mile and one furlong–a guaranteed twenty-inch gauge), So Exeter Battleby Tring consented his claims to resign, And died, on four thousand a month, in the ninetieth year of his age!
We have another viceroy now,–those days are dead and done Of Delilah Aberyswith and depraved Ulysses Gunne.
Delilah Aberyswith was a lady–not too young– With a perfect taste in dresses and a badly-bitted tongue, With a thirst for information, and a greater thirst for praise, And a little house in Simla in the Prehistoric Days.
By reason of her marriage to a gentleman in power, Delilah was acquainted with the gossip of the hour; And many little secrets, of the half-official kind, Were whispered to Delilah, and she bore them all in mind.
She patronized extensively a man, Ulysses Gunne, Whose mode of earning money was a low and shameful one. He wrote for certain papers, which, as everybody knows, Is worse than serving in a shop or scaring off the crows.
He praised her “queenly beauty” first; and, later on, he hinted At the “vastness of her intellect” with compliment unstinted. He went with her a-riding, and his love for her was such That he lent her all his horses and–she galled them very much.
One day, THEY brewed a secret of a fine financial sort; It related to Appointments, to a Man and a Report. ‘Twas almost worth the keeping,–only seven people knew it– And Gunne rose up to seek the truth and patiently pursue it.
It was a Viceroy’s Secret, but–perhaps the wine was red– Perhaps an Aged Councillor had lost his aged head– Perhaps Delilah’s eyes were bright–Delilah’s whispers sweet– The Aged Member told her what ’twere treason to repeat.
Ulysses went a-riding, and they talked of love and flowers; Ulysses went a-calling, and he called for several hours; Ulysses went a-waltzing, and Delilah helped him dance– Ulysses let the waltzes go, and waited for his chance.
The summer sun was setting, and the summer air was still, The couple went a-walking in the shade of Summer Hill. The wasteful sunset faded out in Turkish-green and gold, Ulysses pleaded softly, and– that bad Delilah told!
Next morn, a startled Empire learnt the all-important news; Next week, the Aged Councillor was shaking in his shoes. Next month, I met Delilah and she did not show the least Hesitation in affirming that Ulysses was a “beast.” * * * * *
We have another Viceroy now, those days are dead and done– Of Delilah Aberyswith and most mean Ulysses Gunne!
Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, pride of Bow Bazaar, Owner of a native press, “Barrishter-at-Lar,” Waited on the Government with a claim to wear Sabres by the bucketful, rifles by the pair.
Then the Indian Government winked a wicked wink, Said to Chunder Mookerjee: “Stick to pen and ink. They are safer implements, but, if you insist, We will let you carry arms wheresoe’er you list.”
Hurree Chunder Mookerjee sought the gunsmith and Bought the tubes of Lancaster, Ballard, Dean, and Bland, Bought a shiny bowie-knife, bought a town-made sword, Jingled like a carriage-horse when he went abroad.
But the Indian Government, always keen to please, Also gave permission to horrid men like these– Yar Mahommed Yusufzai, down to kill or steal, Chimbu Singh from Bikaneer, Tantia the Bhil;
Killar Khan the Marri chief, Jowar Singh the Sikh, Nubbee Baksh Punjabi Jat, Abdul Huq Rafiq– He was a Wahabi; last, little Boh Hla-oo Took advantage of the Act–took a Snider too.
They were unenlightened men, Ballard knew them not. They procured their swords and guns chiefly on the spot; And the lore of centuries, plus a hundred fights, Made them slow to disregard one another’s rights.
With a unanimity dear to patriot hearts All those hairy gentlemen out of foreign parts Said: “The good old days are back–let us go to war!” Swaggered down the Grand Trunk Road into Bow Bazaar,
Nubbee Baksh Punjabi Jat found a hide-bound flail; Chimbu Singh from Bikaneer oiled his Tonk jezail; Yar Mahommed Yusufzai spat and grinned with glee As he ground the butcher-knife of the Khyberee.
Jowar Singh the Sikh procured sabre, quoit, and mace, Abdul Huq, Wahabi, jerked his dagger from its place, While amid the jungle-grass danced and grinned and jabbered Little Boh Hla-oo and cleared his dah-blade from the scabbard.
What became of Mookerjee? Soothly, who can say? Yar Mahommed only grins in a nasty way,
Jowar Singh is reticent, Chimbu Singh is mute. But the belts of all of them simply bulge with loot.
What became of Ballard’s guns? Afghans black and grubby Sell them for their silver weight to the men of Pubbi; And the shiny bowie-knife and the town-made sword are Hanging in a Marri camp just across the Border.
What became of Mookerjee? Ask Mahommed Yar Prodding Siva’s sacred bull down the Bow Bazaar. Speak to placid Nubbee Baksh–question land and sea– Ask the Indian Congressmen–only don’t ask me!
They are fools who kiss and tell”–
Wisely has the poet sung.
Man may hold all sorts of posts
If he’ll only hold his tongue.
Jenny and Me were engaged, you see,
On the eve of the Fancy Ball;
So a kiss or two was nothing to you Or any one else at all.
Jenny would go in a domino–
Pretty and pink but warm;
While I attended, clad in a splendid Austrian uniform.
Now we had arranged, through notes exchanged Early that afternoon,
At Number Four to waltz no more,
But to sit in the dusk and spoon.
I wish you to see that Jenny and Me
Had barely exchanged our troth;
So a kiss or two was strictly due
By, from, and between us both.
When Three was over, an eager lover,
I fled to the gloom outside;
And a Domino came out also
Whom I took for my future bride.
That is to say, in a casual way,
I slipped my arm around her;
With a kiss or two (which is nothing to you), And ready to kiss I found her.
She turned her head and the name she said Was certainly not my own;
But ere I could speak, with a smothered shriek She fled and left me alone.
Then Jenny came, and I saw with shame She’d doffed her domino;
And I had embraced an alien waist– But I did not tell her so.
Next morn I knew that there were two
Dominoes pink, and one
Had cloaked the spouse of Sir Julian House, Our big Political gun.
Sir J. was old, and her hair was gold, And her eye was a blue cerulean;
And the name she said when she turned her head Was not in the least like “Julian.”
THE MAN WHO COULD WRITE
Shun–shun the Bowl! That fatal, facile drink Has ruined many geese who dipped their quills in ‘t; Bribe, murder, marry, but steer clear of Ink Save when you write receipts for paid-up bills in ‘t.
There may be silver in the “blue-black”–all I know of is the iron and the gall.
Boanerges Blitzen, servant of the Queen, Is a dismal failure–is a Might-have-been. In a luckless moment he discovered men
Rise to high position through a ready pen. Boanerges Blitzen argued therefore–“I,
With the selfsame weapon, can attain as high.” Only he did not possess when he made the trial, Wicked wit of C-lv-n, irony of L–l.
[Men who spar with Government need, to back their blows, Something more than ordinary journalistic prose.]
Never young Civilian’s prospects were so bright, Till an Indian paper found that he could write: Never young Civilian’s prospects were so dark, When the wretched Blitzen wrote to make his mark. Certainly he scored it, bold, and black, and firm, In that Indian paper–made his seniors squirm, Quoted office scandals, wrote the tactless truth– Was there ever known a more misguided youth? When the Rag he wrote for praised his plucky game, Boanerges Blitzen felt that this was Fame; When the men he wrote of shook their heads and swore, Boanerges Blitzen only wrote the more:
Posed as Young Ithuriel, resolute and grim, Till he found promotion didn’t come to him; Till he found that reprimands weekly were his lot, And his many Districts curiously hot.
Till he found his furlough strangely hard to win, Boanerges Blitzen didn’t care to pin:
Then it seemed to dawn on him something wasn’t right– Boanerges Blitzen put it down to “spite”;
Languished in a District desolate and dry; Watched the Local Government yearly pass him by; Wondered where the hitch was; called it most unfair. * * * * * * * * *
That was seven years ago–and he still is there!
“Why is my District death-rate low?” Said Binks of Hezabad.
“Well, drains, and sewage-outfalls are “My own peculiar fad.
“I learnt a lesson once, It ran
“Thus,” quoth that most veracious man:–
It was an August evening and, in snowy garments clad, I paid a round of visits in the lines of Hezabad; When, presently, my Waler saw, and did not like at all, A Commissariat elephant careering down the Mall.
I couldn’t see the driver, and across my mind it rushed That that Commissariat elephant had suddenly gone musth.
I didn’t care to meet him, and I couldn’t well get down, So I let the Waler have it, and we headed for the town.
The buggy was a new one and, praise Dykes, it stood the strain, Till the Waler jumped a bullock just above the City Drain; And the next that I remember was a hurricane of squeals, And the creature making toothpicks of my five-foot patent wheels.
He seemed to want the owner, so I fled, distraught with fear, To the Main Drain sewage-outfall while he snorted in my ear– Reached the four-foot drain-head safely and, in darkness and despair, Felt the brute’s proboscis fingering my terror-stiffened hair.
Heard it trumpet on my shoulder–tried to crawl a little higher– Found the Main Drain sewage outfall blocked, some eight feet up, with mire; And, for twenty reeking minutes, Sir, my very marrow froze, While the trunk was feeling blindly for a purchase on my toes!
It missed me by a fraction, but my hair was turning grey Before they called the drivers up and dragged the brute away.
Then I sought the City Elders, and my words were very plain. They flushed that four-foot drain-head and–it never choked again!
You may hold with surface-drainage, and the sun-for-garbage cure, Till you’ve been a periwinkle shrinking coyly up a sewer.
I believe in well-flushed culverts. . . .
This is why the death-rate’s small; And, if you don’t believe me, get shikarred yourself. That’s all.
A CODE OF MORALS
Lest you should think this story true I merely mention I
Evolved it lately. ‘Tis a most Unmitigated misstatement.
Now Jones had left his new-wed bride to keep his house in order, And hied away to the Hurrum Hills above the Afghan border, To sit on a rock with a heliograph; but ere he left he taught His wife the working of the Code that sets the miles at naught.
And Love had made him very sage, as Nature made her fair; So Cupid and Apollo linked , per heliograph, the pair. At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise– At e’en, the dying sunset bore her husband’s homilies.
He warned her ‘gainst seductive youths in scarlet clad and gold, As much as ‘gainst the blandishments paternal of the old; But kept his gravest warnings for (hereby the ditty hangs) That snowy-haired Lothario, Lieutenant-General Bangs.
‘Twas General Bangs, with Aide and Staff, who tittupped on the way, When they beheld a heliograph tempestuously at play. They thought of Border risings, and of stations sacked and burnt– So stopped to take the message down–and this is what they learnt–
“Dash dot dot, dot, dot dash, dot dash dot” twice. The General swore.
“Was ever General Officer addressed as ‘dear’ before? “‘My Love,’ i’ faith! ‘My Duck,’ Gadzooks! ‘My darling popsy-wop!’ “Spirit of great Lord Wolseley, who is on that mountaintop?”
The artless Aide-de-camp was mute; the gilded Staff were still, As, dumb with pent-up mirth, they booked that message from the hill; For clear as summer lightning-flare, the husband’s warning ran:– “Don’t dance or ride with General Bangs–a most immoral man.”
[At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise– But, howsoever Love be blind, the world at large hath eyes.] With damnatory dot and dash he heliographed his wife Some interesting details of the General’s private life.
The artless Aide-de-camp was mute, the shining Staff were still, And red and ever redder grew the General’s shaven gill.
And this is what he said at last (his feelings matter not):– “I think we’ve tapped a private line. Hi! Threes about there! Trot!”
All honour unto Bangs, for ne’er did Jones thereafter know By word or act official who read off that helio.
But the tale is on the Frontier, and from Michni to Mooltan They know the worthy General as “that most immoral man.”
THE LAST DEPARTMENT
Twelve hundred million men are spread About this Earth, and I and You
Wonder, when You and I are dead,
“What will those luckless millions do?”
None whole or clean, ” we cry, “or free from stain Of favour.” Wait awhile, till we attain
The Last Department where nor fraud nor fools, Nor grade nor greed, shall trouble us again.
Fear, Favour, or Affection–what are these To the grim Head who claims our services? I never knew a wife or interest yet
Delay that pukka step, miscalled “decease”;
When leave, long overdue, none can deny; When idleness of all Eternity
Becomes our furlough, and the marigold Our thriftless, bullion-minting Treasury
Transferred to the Eternal Settlement, Each in his strait, wood-scantled office pent, No longer Brown reverses Smith’s appeals, Or Jones records his Minute of Dissent.
And One, long since a pillar of the Court, As mud between the beams thereof is wrought; And One who wrote on phosphates for the crops Is subject-matter of his own Report.
These be the glorious ends whereto we pass– Let Him who Is, go call on Him who Was;
And He shall see the mallie steals the slab For currie-grinder, and for goats the grass.
A breath of wind, a Border bullet’s flight, A draught of water, or a horse’s fright– The droning of the fat Sheristadar
Ceases, the punkah stops, and falls the night
For you or Me. Do those who live decline The step that offers, or their work resign? Trust me, Today’s Most Indispensables,
Five hundred men can take your place or mine.
(A Victorian Ode)
God of our fathers, known of old–
Lord of our far-flung battle line– Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine–
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget–lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies–
The Captains and the Kings depart– Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget–lest we forget!
Far-called our navies melt away–
On dune and headland sinks the fire– Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget–lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe– Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law–
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget–lest we forget!
For heathen heart that puts her trust In reeking tube and iron shard–
All valiant dust that builds on dust, And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!
The verses–as suggested by the painting by Philip Burne Jones, first exhibited at the new gallery in London in 1897.
A fool there was and he made his prayer (Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair (We called her the woman who did not care), But the fool he called her his lady fair (Even as you and I!)
Oh the years we waste and the tears we waste And the work of our head and hand,
Belong to the woman who did not know (And now we know that she never could know) And did not understand.
A fool there was and his goods he spent (Even as you and I!)
Honor and faith and a sure intent
But a fool must follow his natural bent (And it wasn’t the least what the lady meant), (Even as you and I!)
Oh the toil we lost and the spoil we lost And the excellent things we planned,
Belong to the woman who didn’t know why (And now we know she never knew why)
And did not understand.
The fool we stripped to his foolish hide (Even as you and I!)
Which she might have seen when she threw him aside– (But it isn’t on record the lady tried)
So some of him lived but the most of him died– (Even as you and I!)
And it isn’t the shame and it isn’t the blame That stings like a white hot brand.
It’s coming to know that she never knew why (Seeing at last she could never know why) And never could understand.
TO THE UNKNOWN GODDESS
Will you conquer my heart with your beauty; my soul going out from afar? Shall I fall to your hand as a victim of crafty and cautious shikar?
Have I met you and passed you already, unknowing, unthinking and blind? Shall I meet you next session at Simla, O sweetest and best of your kind?
Does the P. and O. bear you to meward, or, clad in short frocks in the West, Are you growing the charms that shall capture and torture the heart in my breast?
Will you stay in the Plains till September–my passion as warm as the day? Will you bring me to book on the Mountains, or where the thermantidotes play?
When the light of your eyes shall make pallid the mean lesser lights I pursue, And the charm of your presence shall lure me from love of the gay “thirteen- two”;
When the peg and the pig-skin shall please not; when I buy me Calcutta-build clothes;
When I quit the Delight of Wild Asses; forswearing the swearing of oaths ; As a deer to the hand of the hunter when I turn ‘mid the gibes of my friends; When the days of my freedom are numbered, and the life of the bachelor ends.
Ah, Goddess! child, spinster, or widow–as of old on Mars Hill whey they raised
To the God that they knew not an altar–so I, a young Pagan, have praised The Goddess I know not nor worship; yet, if half that men tell me be true, You will come in the future, and therefore these verses are written to you.
THE RUPAIYAT OF OMAR KAL’VIN
[Allowing for the difference ‘twixt prose and rhymed exaggeration, this ought to reproduce the sense of what Sir A– told the nation sometime ago, when the Government struck from our incomes two per cent.]
Now the New Year, reviving last Year’s Debt, The Thoughtful Fisher casteth wide his Net; So I with begging Dish and ready Tongue Assail all Men for all that I can get.
Imports indeed are gone with all their Dues– Lo! Salt a Lever that I dare not use,
Nor may I ask the Tillers in Bengal– Surely my Kith and Kin will not refuse!
Pay–and I promise by the Dust of Spring, Retrenchment. If my promises can bring
Comfort, Ye have Them now a thousandfold– By Allah! I will promise Anything!
Indeed, indeed, Retrenchment oft before I swore–but did I mean it when I swore? And then, and then, We wandered to the Hills, And so the Little Less became Much More.
Whether a Boileaugunge or Babylon,
I know not how the wretched Thing is done, The Items of Receipt grow surely small; The Items of Expense mount one by one.
I cannot help it. What have I to do
With One and Five, or Four, or Three, or Two? Let Scribes spit Blood and Sulphur as they please, Or Statesmen call me foolish–Heed not you.
Behold, I promise–Anything You will. Behold, I greet you with an empty Till– Ah! Fellow-Sinners, of your Charity
Seek not the Reason of the Dearth, but fill.
For if I sinned and fell, where lies the Gain Of Knowledge? Would it ease you of your Pain To know the tangled Threads of Revenue, I ravel deeper in a hopeless Skein?
“Who hath not Prudence”–what was it I said, Of Her who paints her Eyes and tires Her Head, And gibes and mocks the People in the Street, And fawns upon them for Her thriftless Bread?
Accursed is She of Eve’s daughters–She Hath cast off Prudence, and Her End shall be Destruction . . . Brethren, of your Bounty Some portion of your daily Bread to Me.
LA NUIT BLANCHE
A much-discerning Public hold
The Singer generally sings
And prints and sells his past for gold.
Whatever I may here disclaim,
The very clever folk I sing to
Will most indubitably cling to
Their pet delusion, just the same.
I had seen, as the dawn was breaking
And I staggered to my rest,
Tari Devi softly shaking
From the Cart Road to the crest.
I had seen the spurs of Jakko
Heave and quiver, swell and sink.
Was it Earthquake or tobacco,
Day of Doom, or Night of Drink?
In the full, fresh fragrant morning
I observed a camel crawl,
Laws of gravitation scorning,
On the ceiling and the wall;
Then I watched a fender walking,
And I heard grey leeches sing,
And a red-hot monkey talking
Did not seem the proper thing.
Then a Creature, skinned and crimson, Ran about the floor and cried,
And they said that I had the “jims” on, And they dosed me with bromide,
And they locked me in my bedroom–
Me and one wee Blood Red Mouse–
Though I said: “To give my head room You had best unroof the house.”
But my words were all unheeded,
Though I told the grave M.D.
That the treatment really needed
Was a dip in open sea
That was lapping just below me,
Smooth as silver, white as snow,
And it took three men to throw me
When I found I could not go.
Half the night I watched the Heavens
Fizz like ’81 champagne–
Fly to sixes and to sevens,
Wheel and thunder back again;
And when all was peace and order
Save one planet nailed askew,
Much I wept because my warder
Would not let me set it true.
After frenzied hours of waiting,
When the Earth and Skies were dumb, Pealed an awful voice dictating
An interminable sum,
Changing to a tangle story–
“What she said you said I said”–
Till the Moon arose in glory,
And I found her . . . in my head;
Then a Face came, blind and weeping,
And It couldn’t wipe its eyes,
And It muttered I was keeping
Back the moonlight from the skies; So I patted it for pity,
But it whistled shrill with wrath, And a huge black Devil City
Poured its peoples on my path.
So I fled with steps uncertain
On a thousand-year long race,
But the bellying of the curtain
Kept me always in one place;
While the tumult rose and maddened
To the roar of Earth on fire,
Ere it ebbed and sank and saddened
To a whisper tense as wire.
In tolerable stillness
Rose one little, little star,
And it chuckled at my illness,
And it mocked me from afar;
And its brethren came and eyed me,
Called the Universe to aid,
Till I lay, with naught to hide me, ‘Neath the Scorn of All Things Made.
Dun and saffron, robed and splendid,
Broke the solemn, pitying Day,
And I knew my pains were ended,
And I turned and tried to pray;
But my speech was shattered wholly, And I wept as children weep.
Till the dawn-wind, softly, slowly,
Brought to burning eyelids sleep.
I go to concert, party, ball–
What profit is in these?
I sit alone against the wall
And strive to look at ease.
The incense that is mine by right
They burn before her shrine;
And that’s because I’m seventeen
And She is forty-nine.
I cannot check my girlish blush,
My color comes and goes;
I redden to my finger-tips,
And sometimes to my nose.
But She is white where white should be, And red where red should shine.
The blush that flies at seventeen
Is fixed at forty-nine.
I wish I had Her constant cheek;
I wish that I could sing
All sorts of funny little songs,
Not quite the proper thing.
I’m very gauche and very shy,
Her jokes aren’t in my line;
And, worst of all, I’m seventeen
While She is forty-nine.
The young men come, the young men go
Each pink and white and neat,
She’s older than their mothers, but They grovel at Her feet.
They walk beside Her ‘rickshaw wheels– None ever walk by mine;
And that’s because I’m seventeen
And She is forty-nine.
She rides with half a dozen men,
(She calls them “boys” and “mashers”) I trot along the Mall alone;
My prettiest frocks and sashes
Don’t help to fill my programme-card, And vainly I repine
From ten to two A.M. Ah me!
Would I were forty-nine!
She calls me “darling,” “pet,” and “dear,” And “sweet retiring maid.”
I’m always at the back, I know,
She puts me in the shade.
She introduces me to men,
“Cast” lovers, I opine,
For sixty takes to seventeen,
Nineteen to forty-nine.
But even She must older grow
And end Her dancing days,
She can’t go on forever so
At concerts, balls and plays.
One ray of priceless hope I see
Before my footsteps shine;
Just think, that She’ll be eighty-one When I am forty-nine.
THE LOVERS’ LITANY
Eyes of grey–a sodden quay,
Driving rain and falling tears,
As the steamer wears to sea
In a parting storm of cheers.
Sing, for Faith and Hope are high–
None so true as you and I–
Sing the Lovers’ Litany:
“Love like ours can never die!”
Eyes of black–a throbbing keel,
Milky foam to left and right;
Whispered converse near the wheel
In the brilliant tropic night.
Cross that rules the Southern Sky!
Stars that sweep and wheel and fly, Hear the Lovers’ Litany:
Love like ours can never die!”
Eyes of brown–a dusty plain
Split and parched with heat of June, Flying hoof and tightened rein,
Hearts that beat the old, old tune.
Side by side the horses fly,
Frame we now the old reply
Of the Lovers’ Litany:
“Love like ours can never die!”
Eyes of blue–the Simla Hills
Silvered with the moonlight hoar;
Pleading of the waltz that thrills, Dies and echoes round Benmore.
“Mabel,” “Officers,” “Goodbye,”
Glamour, wine, and witchery–
On my soul’s sincerity,
“Love like ours can never die!”
Maidens of your charity,
Pity my most luckless state.
Four times Cupid’s debtor I–
Bankrupt in quadruplicate.
Yet, despite this evil case,
And a maiden showed me grace,
Four-and-forty times would I
Sing the Lovers’ Litany:
“Love like ours can never die!”
A BALLAD OF BURIAL
(“Saint @Proxed’s ever was the Church for peace”)
If down here I chance to die,
Solemnly I beg you take
All that is left of “I”
To the Hills for old sake’s sake,
Pack me very thoroughly
In the ice that used to slake
Pegs I drank when I was dry–
This observe for old sake’s sake.
To the railway station hie,
There a single ticket take
Shall not mind delay or shake.
I shall rest contentedly
Spite of clamor coolies make;
Thus in state and dignity
Send me up for old sake’s sake.
Next the sleepy Babu wake,
Book a Kalka van “for four.”
Few, I think, will care to make
Journeys with me any more
As they used to do of yore.
I shall need a “special” break–
Thing I never took before–
Get me one for old sake’s sake.
After that–arrangements make.
No hotel will take me in,
And a bullock’s back would break
‘Neath the teak and leaden skin
Tonga ropes are frail and thin,
Or, did I a back-seat take,
In a tonga I might spin,–
Do your best for old sake’s sake.
After that–your work is done.
Recollect a Padre must
Mourn the dear departed one–
Throw the ashes and the dust.
Don’t go down at once. I trust
You will find excuse to “snake
Three days’ casual on the bust.”
Get your fun for old sake’s sake.
I could never stand the Plains.
Think of blazing June and May
Think of those September rains
Yearly till the Judgment Day!
I should never rest in peace,
I should sweat and lie awake.
Rail me then, on my decease,
To the Hills for old sake’s sake.
It was an artless Bandar, and he danced upon a pine, And much I wondered how he lived, and where the beast might dine, And many, many other things, till, o’er my morning smoke, I slept the sleep of idleness and dreamt that Bandar spoke.
He said: “O man of many clothes! Sad crawler on the Hills! Observe, I know not Ranken’s shop, nor Ranken’s monthly bills; I take no heed to trousers or the coats that you call dress; Nor am I plagued with little cards for little drinks at Mess.
“I steal the bunnia’s grain at morn, at noon and eventide, (For he is fat and I am spare), I roam the mountain side, I follow no man’s carriage, and no, never in my life Have I flirted at Peliti’s with another Bandar’s wife.
“O man of futile fopperies–unnecessary wraps; I own no ponies in the hills, I drive no tall-wheeled traps; I buy me not twelve-button gloves, ‘short-sixes’ eke, or rings, Nor do I waste at Hamilton’s my wealth on ‘pretty things.’
“I quarrel with my wife at home, we never fight abroad; But Mrs. B. has grasped the fact I am her only lord.
I never heard of fever–dumps nor debts depress my soul; And I pity and despise you!” Here he poached my breakfast-roll.
His hide was very mangy, and his face was very red, And ever and anon he scratched with energy his head. His manners were not always nice, but how my spirit cried To be an artless Bandar loose upon the mountain side!
So I answered: “Gentle Bandar, an inscrutable Decree Makes thee a gleesome fleasome Thou, and me a wretched Me. Go! Depart in peace, my brother, to thy home amid the pine; Yet forget not once a mortal wished to change his lot for thine.”
THE MASQUE OF PLENTY
Argument.–The Indian Government being minded to discover the economic condition of their lands, sent a Committee to inquire into it; and saw that it was good.
Scene.–The wooded heights of Simla. The Incarnation of the Government of India in the raiment of the Angel of Plenty sings, to pianoforte accompaniment:–
“How sweet is the shepherd’s sweet life! From the dawn to the even he strays–
And his tongue shall be filled with praise.
(adagio dim.) Filled with praise!”
(largendo con sp.) Now this is the position, Go make an inquisition
Into their real condition
As swiftly as ye may.
(p) Ay, paint our swarthy billions The richest of vermillions
Ere two well-led cotillions Have danced themselves away.
Turkish Patrol, as able and intelligent Investigators wind down the Himalayas:–
What is the state of the Nation? What is its occupation? Hi! get along, get along, get along–lend us the information! (dim.) Census the byle and the yabu–capture a first-class Babu, Set him to file Gazetteers–Gazetteers . . .
(ff) What is the state of the Nation, etc., etc.
Interlude, from Nowhere in Particular, to stringed and Oriental instruments.
Our cattle reel beneath the yoke they bear– The earth is iron and the skies are brass– And faint with fervour of the flaming air The languid hours pass.
The well is dry beneath the village tree– The young wheat withers ere it reach a span, And belts of blinding sand show cruelly
Where once the river ran.
Pray, brothers, pray, but to no earthly King– Lift up your hands above the blighted grain, Look westward–if they please, the Gods shall bring Their mercy with the rain.
Look westward–bears the blue no brown cloud-bank? Nay, it is written–wherefore should we fly? On our own field and by our cattle’s flank Lie down, lie down to die!
By the plumed heads of Kings
Where the tall corn springs
O’er the dead.
If they rust or rot we die,
If they ripen we are fed.
Very mighty is the power of our Kings!
Triumphal return to Simla of the Investigators, attired after the manner of Dionysus, leading a pet tiger-cub in wreaths of rhubarb-leaves, symbolical of India under medical treatment.
We have seen, we have written–behold it, the proof of our manifold toil! In their hosts they assembled and told it–the tale of the Sons of the Soil.
We have said of the Sickness–“Where is it?”–and of Death–“It is far from our ken,”–
We have paid a particular visit to the affluent children of men.
We have trodden the mart and the well-curb–we have stooped to the field and the byre;
And the King may the forces of Hell curb for the People have all they desire!
Castanets and step-dance:–
Oh, the dom and the mag and the thakur and the thag, And the nat and the brinjaree,
And the bunnia and the ryot are as happy and as quiet And as plump as they can be!
Yes, the jain and the jat in his stucco-fronted hut, And the bounding bazugar,
By the favour of the King, are as fat as anything, They are–they are–they are!
Recitative, Government of India, with white satin wings and electro-plated harp:–
How beautiful upon the Mountains–in peace reclining, Thus to be assured that our people are unanimously dining.
And though there are places not so blessed as others in natural advantages, which, after all, was only to be expected, Proud and glad are we to congratulate you upon the work you have thus ably effected.
(Cres.) How be-ewtiful upon the Mountains!
Hired Band, brasses only, full chorus:–
God bless the Squire
And all his rich relations
Who teach us poor people
We eat our proper rations–
We eat our proper rations,
In spite of inundations,
And casual starvations,
We have, we have, they say we have– We have our proper rations!
Chorus of the Crystallised Facts
Before the beginning of years
There came to the rule of the State Men with a pair of shears,
Men with an Estimate–
Strachey with Muir for leaven,
Lytton with locks that fell,
Ripon fooling with Heaven,
And Temple riding like H–ll!
And the bigots took in hand
Cess and the falling of rain,
And the measure of sifted sand
The dealer puts in the grain–
Imports by land and sea,
To uttermost decimal worth,
In the houses of death and of birth.
And fashioned with pens and paper, And fashioned in black and white,
With Life for a flickering taper And Death for a blazing light–
With the Armed and the Civil Power, That his strength might endure for a span– From Adam’s Bridge to Peshawur,
The Much Administered Man.
In the towns of the North and the East, They gathered as unto rule,
They bade him starve his priest And send his children to school.
Railways and roads they wrought,
For the needs of the soil within; A time to squabble in court,
A time to bear and to grin.
And gave him peace in his ways,
Jails–and Police to fight,
Justice–at length of days,
And Right–and Might in the Right.
His speech is of mortgaged bedding, On his kine he borrows yet,
At his heart is his daughter’s wedding, In his eye foreknowledge of debt.
He eats and hath indigestion,
He toils and he may not stop;
His life is a long-drawn question Between a crop and a crop.
THE MARE’S NEST
Jane Austen Beecher Stowe de Rouse
Was good beyond all earthly need;
But, on the other hand, her spouse
Was very, very bad indeed.
He smoked cigars, called churches slow, And raced–but this she did not know.
For Belial Machiavelli kept
The little fact a secret, and,
Though o’er his minor sins she wept, Jane Austen did not understand
That Lilly–thirteen-two and bay
Absorbed one-half her husband’s pay.
She was so good, she made him worse;
(Some women are like this, I think;) He taught her parrot how to curse,
Her Assam monkey how to drink.
He vexed her righteous soul until
She went up, and he went down hill.
Then came the crisis, strange to say, Which turned a good wife to a better.
A telegraphic peon, one day,
Brought her–now, had it been a letter For Belial Machiavelli, I
Know Jane would just have let it lie.
But ’twas a telegram instead,
Marked “urgent,” and her duty plain To open it. Jane Austen read:
“Your Lilly’s got a cough again.
Can’t understand why she is kept
At your expense.” Jane Austen wept.
It was a misdirected wire.
Her husband was at Shaitanpore.
She spread her anger, hot as fire,
Through six thin foreign sheets or more.
Sent off that letter, wrote another
To her solicitor–and mother.
Then Belial Machiavelli saw
Her error and, I trust, his own,
Wired to the minion of the Law,
And traveled wifeward–not alone.
For Lilly–thirteen-two and bay–
Came in a horse-box all the way.
There was a scene–a weep or two–
With many kisses. Austen Jane
Rode Lilly all the season through,
And never opened wires again.
She races now with Belial. This
Is very sad, but so it is.
Ay, lay him ‘neath the Simla pine–
A fortnight fully to be missed,
Behold, we lose our fourth at whist, A chair is vacant where we dine.
His place forgets him; other men
Have bought his ponies, guns, and traps. His fortune is the Great Perhaps
And that cool rest-house down the glen,
Whence he shall hear, as spirits may, Our mundane revel on the height,
Shall watch each flashing ‘rickshaw-light Sweep on to dinner, dance, and play.
Benmore shall woo him to the ball
With lighted rooms and braying band; And he shall hear and understand
“Dream Faces” better than us all.
For, think you, as the vapours flee
Across Sanjaolie after rain,
His soul may climb the hill again
To each field of victory.
Unseen, who women held so dear,
The strong man’s yearning to his kind Shall shake at most the window-blind,
Or dull awhile the card-room’s cheer.
@In his own place of power unknown,
His Light o’ Love another’s flame, And he an alien and alone!
Yet may he meet with many a friend–
Shrewd shadows, lingering long unseen Among us when “God save the Queen”
Shows even “extras” have an end.
And, when we leave the heated room,
And, when at four the lights expire, The crew shall gather round the fire
And mock our laughter in the gloom;
Talk as we talked, and they ere death– Flirt wanly, dance in ghostly-wise,
With ghosts of tunes for melodies, And vanish at the morning’s breath.
CHRISTMAS IN INDIA
Dim dawn behind the tamarisks–the sky is saffron-yellow– As the women in the village grind the corn, And the parrots seek the riverside, each calling to his fellow That the Day, the staring Easter Day is born.
Oh the white dust on the highway! Oh the stenches in the byway! Oh the clammy fog that hovers o’er the earth; And at Home they’re making merry ‘neath the white and scarlet berry– What part have India’s exiles in their mirth?
Full day behind the tamarisks–the sky is blue and staring– As the cattle crawl afield beneath the yoke, And they bear One o’er the field-path, who is past all hope or caring, To the ghat below the curling wreaths of smoke.
Call on Rama, going slowly, as ye bear a brother lowly– Call on Rama–he may hear, perhaps, your voice! With our hymn-books and our psalters we appeal to other altars, And today we bid “good Christian men rejoice!”
High noon behind the tamarisks–the sun is hot above us– As at Home the Christmas Day is breaking wan. They will drink our healths at dinner–those who tell us how they love us, And forget us till another year be gone!
Oh the toil that knows no breaking! Oh the Heimweh, ceaseless, aching! Oh the black dividing Sea and alien Plain! Youth was cheap–wherefore we sold it. Gold was good–we hoped to hold it,
And today we know the fulness of our gain.
Grey dusk behind the tamarisks–the parrots fly together– As the sun is sinking slowly over Home; And his last ray seems to mock us shackled in a lifelong tether. That drags us back howe’er so far we roam.
Hard her service, poor her payment–she is ancient, tattered raiment– India, she the grim Stepmother of our kind. If a year of life be lent her, if her temple’s shrine we enter, The door is shut–we may not look behind.
Black night behind the tamarisks–the owls begin their chorus– As the conches from the temple scream and bray. With the fruitless years behind us, and the hopeless years before us, Let us honor, O my brother, Christmas Day!
Call a truce, then, to our labors–let us feast with friends and neighbors,
And be merry as the custom of our caste; For if “faint and forced the laughter,” and if sadness follow after, We are richer by one mocking Christmas past.
The toad beneath the harrow knows
Exactly where each tooth-point goes. The butterfly upon the road
Preaches contentment to that toad.
Pagett, M.P., was a liar, and a fluent liar therewith– He spoke of the heat of India as the “Asian Solar Myth”; Came on a four months’ visit, to “study the East,” in November, And I got him to sign an agreement vowing to stay till September.
March came in with the koil. Pagett was cool and gay, Called me a “bloated Brahmin,” talked of my “princely pay.” March went out with the roses. “Where is your heat?” said he. “Coming,” said I to Pagett, “Skittles!” said Pagett, M.P.
April began with the punkah, coolies, and prickly-heat,– Pagett was dear to mosquitoes, sandflies found him a treat. He grew speckled and mumpy–hammered, I grieve to say, Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.
May set in with a dust-storm,–Pagett went down with the sun. All the delights of the season tickled him one by one. Imprimis–ten day’s “liver”–due to his drinking beer; Later, a dose of fever–slight, but he called it severe.
Dysent’ry touched him in June, after the Chota Bursat– Lowered his portly person–made him yearn to depart. He didn’t call me a “Brahmin,” or “bloated,” or “overpaid,” But seemed to think it a wonder that any one stayed.
July was a trifle unhealthy,–Pagett was ill with fear. ‘Called it the “Cholera Morbus,” hinted that life was dear. He babbled of “Eastern Exile,” and mentioned his home with tears; But I haven’t seen my children for close upon seven years.
We reached a hundred and twenty once in the Court at noon, (I’ve mentioned Pagett was portly) Pagett, went off in a swoon. That was an end to the business; Pagett, the perjured, fled With a practical, working knowledge of “Solar Myths” in his head.
And I laughed as I drove from the station, but the mirth died out on my lips As I thought of the fools like Pagett who write of their “Eastern trips,” And the sneers of the traveled idiots who duly misgovern the land, And I prayed to the Lord to deliver another one into my hand.
THE SONG OF THE WOMEN
How shall she know the worship we would do her? The walls are high, and she is very far. How shall the woman’s message reach unto her Above the tumult of the packed bazaar?
Free wind of March, against the lattice blowing, Bear thou our thanks, lest she depart unknowing.
Go forth across the fields we may not roam in, Go forth beyond the trees that rim the city, To whatsoe’er fair place she hath her home in, Who dowered us with wealth of love and pity. Out of our shadow pass, and seek her singing– “I have no gifts but Love alone for bringing.”
Say that we be a feeble folk who greet her, But old in grief, and very wise in tears; Say that we, being desolate, entreat her That she forget us not in after years;
For we have seen the light, and it were grievous To dim that dawning if our lady leave us.
By life that ebbed with none to stanch the failing By Love’s sad harvest garnered in the spring, When Love in ignorance wept unavailing
O’er young buds dead before their blossoming; By all the grey owl watched, the pale moon viewed, In past grim years, declare our gratitude!
By hands uplifted to the Gods that heard not, By fits that found no favor in their sight, By faces bent above the babe that stirred not, By nameless horrors of the stifling night; By ills foredone, by peace her toils discover, Bid Earth be good beneath and Heaven above her!
If she have sent her servants in our pain If she have fought with Death and dulled his sword; If she have given back our sick again.
And to the breast the waking lips restored, Is it a little thing that she has wrought? Then Life and Death and Motherhood be nought.
Go forth, O wind, our message on thy wings, And they shall hear thee pass and bid thee speed, In reed-roofed hut, or white-walled home of kings, Who have been helpen by her in their need.
All spring shall give thee fragrance, and the wheat Shall be a tasselled floorcloth to thy feet.
Haste, for our hearts are with thee, take no rest! Loud-voiced ambassador, from sea to sea Proclaim the blessing, manifold, confessed. Of those in darkness by her hand set free.
Then very softly to her presence move, And whisper: “Lady, lo, they know and love!”
A BALLAD OF JAKKO HILL
One moment bid the horses wait,
Since tiffin is not laid till three, Below the upward path and straight
You climbed a year ago with me.
Love came upon us suddenly
And loosed–an idle hour to kill– A headless, armless armory
That smote us both on Jakko Hill.
Ah Heaven! we would wait and wait
Through Time and to Eternity!
Ah Heaven! we could conquer Fate
With more than Godlike constancy
I cut the date upon a tree–
Here stand the clumsy figures still: “10-7-85, A.D.”
Damp with the mist of Jakko Hill.
What came of high resolve and great,
And until Death fidelity!
Whose horse is waiting at your gate? Whose ‘rickshaw-wheels ride over me?
No Saint’s, I swear; and–let me see Tonight what names your programme fill– We drift asunder merrily,
As drifts the mist on Jakko Hill.
Princess, behold our ancient state
Has clean departed; and we see
‘Twas Idleness we took for Fate
That bound light bonds on you and me.
Amen! Here ends the comedy
Where it began in all good will;
Since Love and Leave together flee
As driven mist on Jakko Hill!
THE PLEA OF THE SIMLA DANCERS
Too late, alas! the song
To remedy the wrong;–
The rooms are taken from us, swept and garnished for their fate.
But these tear-besprinkled pages
Shall attest to future ages
That we cried against the crime of it– too late, alas! too late!
“What have we ever done to bear this grudge?” Was there no room save only in Benmore
For docket, duftar, and for office drudge, That you usurp our smoothest dancing floor? Must babus do their work on polished teak? Are ball-rooms fittest for the ink you spill? Was there no other cheaper house to seek? You might have left them all at Strawberry Hill.
We never harmed you! Innocent our guise, Dainty our shining feet, our voices low; And we revolved to divers melodies,
And we were happy but a year ago.
Tonight, the moon that watched our lightsome wiles– That beamed upon us through the deodars– Is wan with gazing on official files,
And desecrating desks disgust the stars.
Nay! by the memory of tuneful nights– Nay! by the witchery of flying feet–
Nay! by the glamour of foredone delights– By all things merry, musical, and meet– By wine that sparkled, and by sparkling eyes– By wailing waltz–by reckless galop’s strain– By dim verandas and by soft replies,
Give us our ravished ball-room back again!
Or–hearken to the curse we lay on you! The ghosts of waltzes shall perplex your brain, And murmurs of past merriment pursue
Your ‘wildered clerks that they indite in vain; And when you count your poor Provincial millions, The only figures that your pen shall frame Shall be the figures of dear, dear cotillions Danced out in tumult long before you came.
Yea! “See Saw” shall upset your estimates, “Dream Faces” shall your heavy heads bemuse, Because your hand, unheeding, desecrates Our temple; fit for higher, worthier use. And all the long verandas, eloquent
With echoes of a score of Simla years, Shall plague you with unbidden sentiment– Babbling of kisses, laughter, love, and tears.
So shall you mazed amid old memories stand, So shall you toil, and shall accomplish nought, And ever in your ears a phantom Band
Shall blare away the staid official thought.
Wherefore–and ere this awful curse he spoken, Cast out your swarthy sacrilegious train, And give–ere dancing cease and hearts be broken– Give us our ravished ball-room back again!
THE BALLAD OF FISHER’S BOARDING-HOUSE
That night, when through the mooring-chains The wide-eyed corpse rolled free,
To blunder down by Garden Reach And rot at Kedgeree,
The tale the Hughli told the shoal The lean shoal told to me.