Wohl auf, my bully cavaliers,
We ride to church to-day,
The man that hasn't got a horse
Must steal one straight away.
Be reverent, men, remember
This is a Gottes haus.
Du, Conrad, cut along der aisle
And schenck der whiskey aus.
HANS BREITMANN'S RIDE TO CHURCH.
Once upon a time, very far from England, there lived three men who
loved each other so greatly that neither man nor woman could come
between them. They were in no sense refined, nor to be admitted to the
outer- door mats of decent folk, because they happened to be private
soldiers in Her Majesty's Army; and private soldiers of our service
have small time for self-culture. Their duty is to keep themselves and
their accoutrements specklessly clean, to refrain from getting drunk
more often than is necessary, to obey their superiors, and to pray for
a war. All these things my friends accomplished; and of their own
motion threw in some fighting-work for which the Army Regulations did
not call. Their fate sent them to serve in India, which is not a
golden country, though poets have sung otherwise. There men die with
great swiftness, and those who live suffer many and curious things. I
do not think that my friends concerned themselves much with the social
or political aspects of the East. They attended a not unimportant war
on the northern frontier, another one on our western boundary, and a
third in Upper Burma. Then their regiment sat still to recruit, and
the boundless monotony of cantonment life was their portion. They were
drilled morning and evening on the same dusty parade-ground. They
wandered up and down the same stretch of dusty white road, attended
the same church and the same grog- shop, and slept in the same
lime-washed barn of a barrack for two long years. There was Mulvaney,
the father in the craft, who had served with various regiments from
Bermuda to Halifax, old in war, scarred, reckless, resourceful, and in
his pious hours an unequalled soldier. To him turned for help and
comfort six and a half feet of slow-moving, heavy-footed Yorkshireman,
born on the wolds, bred in the dales, and educated chiefly among the
carriers' carts at the back of York railway- station. His name was
Learoyd, and his chief virtue an unmitigated patience which helped him
to win fights. How Ortheris, a fox-terrier of a Cockney, ever came to
be one of the trio, is a mystery which even to- day I cannot explain.
'There was always three av us,' Mulvaney used to say. 'An' by the
grace av God, so long as our service lasts, three av us they'll always
be. 'Tis betther so.'
They desired no companionship beyond their own, and it was evil for
any man of the regiment who attempted dispute with them. Physical
argument was out of the question as regarded Mulvaney and the
Yorkshireman; and assault on Ortheris meant a combined attack from
these twain—a business which no five men were anxious to have on
their hands. Therefore they flourished, sharing their drinks, their
tobacco, and their money; good luck and evil; battle and the chances
of death; life and the chances of happiness from Calicut in southern,
to Peshawur in northern India.
Through no merit of my own it was my good fortune to be in a
measure admitted to their friendship—frankly by Mulvaney from the
beginning, sullenly and with reluctance by Learoyd, and suspiciously
by Ortheris, who held to it that no man not in the Army could
fraternise with a red- coat. 'Like to like,' said he. 'I'm a bloomin'
sodger—he's a bloomin' civilian. 'Tain't natural—that's all.'
But that was not all. They thawed progressively, and in the thawing
told me more of their lives and adventures than I am ever likely to
Omitting all else, this tale begins with the Lamentable Thirst that
was at the beginning of First Causes. Never was such a
thirst—Mulvaney told me so. They kicked against their compulsory
virtue, but the attempt was only successful in the case of Ortheris.
He, whose talents were many, went forth into the highways and stole a
dog from a 'civilian'— videlicet, some one, he knew not who, not in
the Army. Now that civilian was but newly connected by marriage with
the colonel of the regiment, and outcry was made from quarters least
anticipated by Ortheris, and, in the end, he was forced, lest a worse
thing should happen, to dispose at ridiculously unremunerative rates
of as promising a small terrier as ever graced one end of a leading
string. The purchase-money was barely sufficient for one small
outbreak which led him to the guard-room. He escaped, however, with
nothing worse than a severe reprimand, and a few hours of punishment
drill. Not for nothing had he acquired the reputation of being 'the
best soldier of his inches' in the regiment. Mulvaney had taught
personal cleanliness and efficiency as the first articles of his
companions' creed. 'A dhirty man,' he was used to say, in the speech
of his kind, 'goes to Clink for a weakness in the knees, an' is
coort-martialled for a pair av socks missin'; but a clane man, such as
is an ornament to his service—a man whose buttons are gold, whose
coat is wax upon him, an' whose 'coutrements are widout a speck— THAT
man may, spakin' in reason, do fwhat he likes an' dhrink from day to
divil. That's the pride av bein' dacint.'
We sat together, upon a day, in the shade of a ravine far from the
barracks, where a watercourse used to run in rainy weather. Behind us
was the scrub jungle, in which jackals, peacocks, the gray wolves of
the North-Western Provinces, and occasionally a tiger estrayed from
Central India, were supposed to dwell. In front lay the cantonment,
glaring white under a glaring sun; and on either side ran the broad
road that led to Delhi.
It was the scrub that suggested to my mind the wisdom of Mulvaney
taking a day's leave and going upon a shooting-tour. The peacock is a
holy bird throughout India, and he who slays one is in danger of being
mobbed by the nearest villagers; but on the last occasion that
Mulvaney had gone forth, he had contrived, without in the least
offending local religious susceptibilities, to return with six
beautiful peacock skins which he sold to profit. It seemed just
'But fwhat manner av use is ut to me goin' out widout a dhrink? The
ground's powdher-dhry underfoot, an' ut gets unto the throat fit to
kill,' wailed Mulvaney, looking at me reproachfully. 'An' a peacock is
not a bird you can catch the tail av onless ye run. Can a man run on
wather—an' jungle-wather too?'
Ortheris had considered the question in all its bearings. He spoke,
chewing his pipe-stem meditatively the while:
'Go forth, return in glory,
To Clusium's royal 'ome:
An' round these bloomin' temples 'ang
The bloomin' shields o' Rome.
You better go. You ain't like to shoot yourself—not while there's
a chanst of liquor. Me an' Learoyd'll stay at 'ome an' keep
shop—'case o' anythin' turnin' up. But you go out with a gas-pipe gun
an' ketch the little peacockses or somethin'. You kin get one day's
leave easy as winkin'. Go along an' get it, an' get peacockses or
'Jock,' said Mulvaney, turning to Learoyd, who was half asleep
under the shadow of the bank. He roused slowly.
'Sitha, Mulvaaney, go,' said he.
And Mulvaney went; cursing his allies with Irish fluency and
barrack- room point.
'Take note,' said he, when he had won his holiday, and appeared
dressed in his roughest clothes with the only other regimental
fowling-piece in his hand. 'Take note, Jock, an' you Orth'ris, I am
goin' in the face av my own will—all for to please you. I misdoubt
anythin' will come av permiscuous huntin' afther peacockses in a
desolit lan'; an' I know that I will lie down an' die wid thirrrst. Me
catch peacockses for you, ye lazy scutts—an' be sacrificed by the
He waved a huge paw and went away.
At twilight, long before the appointed hour, he returned
empty-handed, much begrimed with dirt.
'Peacockses?' queried Ortheris from the safe rest of a barrack-room
table whereon he was smoking cross-legged, Learoyd fast asleep on a
'Jock,' said Mulvaney without answering, as he stirred up the
sleeper. 'Jock, can ye fight? Will ye fight?'
Very slowly the meaning of the words communicated itself to the
half- roused man. He understood—and again—what might these things
mean? Mulvaney was shaking him savagely. Meantime the men in the room
howled with delight. There was war in the confederacy at last—war and
the breaking of bonds.
Barrack-room etiquette is stringent. On the direct challenge must
follow the direct reply. This is more binding than the ties of tried
friendship. Once again Mulvaney repeated the question. Learoyd
answered by the only means in his power, and so swiftly that the
Irishman had barely time to avoid the blow. The laughter around
increased. Learoyd looked bewilderedly at his friend—himself as
greatly bewildered. Ortheris dropped from the table because his world
'Come outside,' said Mulvaney, and as the occupants of the
barrack-room prepared joyously to follow, he turned and said
furiously, 'There will be no fight this night—onless any wan av you
is wishful to assist. The man that does, follows on.'
No man moved. The three passed out into the moonlight, Learoyd
fumbling with the buttons of his coat. The parade-ground was deserted
except for the scurrying jackals. Mulvaney's impetuous rush carried
his companions far into the open ere Learoyd attempted to turn round
and continue the discussion.
'Be still now. 'Twas my fault for beginnin' things in the middle av
an end, Jock. I should ha' comminst wid an explanation; but Jock,
dear, on your sowl are ye fit, think you, for the finest fight that
iver was— betther than fightin' me? Considher before ye answer.'
More than ever puzzled, Learoyd turned round two or three times,
felt an arm, kicked tentatively, and answered, 'Ah'm fit.' He was
accustomed to fight blindly at the bidding of the superior mind.
They sat them down, the men looking on from afar, and Mulvaney
untangled himself in mighty words.
'Followin' your fools' scheme I wint out into the thrackless desert
beyond the barricks. An' there I met a pious Hindu dhriving a bullock-
kyart. I tuk ut for granted he wud be delighted for to convoy me a
piece, an' I jumped in—'
'You long, lazy, black-haired swine,' drawled Ortheris, who would
have done the same thing under similar circumstances.
''Twas the height av policy. That naygur-man dhruv miles an'
miles—as far as the new railway line they're buildin' now back av the
Tavi river. "'Tis a kyart for dhirt only," says he now an' again
timoreously, to get me out av ut. "Dhirt I am," sez I, "an' the
dhryest that you iver kyarted. Dhrive on, me son, an glory be wid
you." At that I wint to slape, an' took no heed till he pulled up on
the embankmint av the line where the coolies were pilin' mud. There
was a matther av two thousand coolies on that line—you remimber that.
Prisintly a bell rang, an' they throops off to a big pay-shed.
"Where's the white man in charge?" sez I to my kyart-dhriver. "In the
shed," sez he, "engaged on a riffle."—"A fwhat?" sez I. "Riffle," sez
he. "You take ticket. He take money. You get nothin'."—
"Oho!" sez I, "that's fwhat the shuperior an' cultivated man calls
a raffle, me misbeguided child av darkness an' sin. Lead on to that
raffle, though fwhat the mischief 'tis doin' so far away from uts
home— which is the charity-bazaar at Christmas, an' the colonel's
wife grinnin' behind the tea-table—is more than I know." Wid that I
wint to the shed an' found 'twas pay-day among the coolies. Their
wages was on a table forninst a big, fine, red buck av a man—sivun
fut high, four fut wide, an' three fut thick, wid a fist on him like a
corn-sack. He was payin' the coolies fair an' easy, but he wud ask
each man if he wud raffle that month, an' each man sez? "Yes," av
course. Thin he wud deduct from their wages accordin'. Whin all was
paid, he filled an ould cigar-box full av gun-wads an' scatthered ut
among the coolies. They did not take much joy av that performince, an'
small wondher. A man close to me picks up a black gun-wad an' sings
out, "I have ut."—"Good may ut do you," sez I. The coolie wint
forward to this big, fine, red man, who threw a cloth off av the most
sumpshus, jooled, enamelled an' variously bedivilled sedan-chair I
'Sedan-chair! Put your 'ead in a bag. That was a palanquin. Don't
yer know a palanquin when you see it?' said Ortheris with great scorn.
'I chuse to call ut sedan-chair, an' chair ut shall be, little
man,' continued the Irishman. ''Twas a most amazin' chair—all lined
wid pink silk an' fitted wid red silk curtains. "Here ut is," sez the
red man. "Here ut is," sez the coolie, an' he grinned weakly-ways. "Is
ut any use to you?" sez the red man. "No," sez the coolie; "I'd like
to make a presint av ut to you."—"I am graciously pleased to accept
that same," sez the red man; an' at that all the coolies cried aloud
in fwhat was mint for cheerful notes, an' wint back to their diggin',
lavin' me alone in the shed. The red man saw me, an' his face grew
blue on his big, fat neck. "Fwhat d'you want here?" sez he.
"Standin'-room an' no more," sez I, "onless it may be fwhat ye niver
had, an' that's manners, ye rafflin' ruffian," for I was not goin' to
have the Service throd upon. "Out of this," sez he. "I'm in charge av
this section av construction."—"I'm in charge av mesilf," sez I, "an'
it's like I will stay a while. D'ye raffle much in these
parts?"—"Fwhat's that to you?" sez he. "Nothin'," sez I, "but a great
dale to you, for begad I'm thinkin' you get the full half av your
revenue from that sedan-chair. Is ut always raffled so?" I sez, an'
wid that I wint to a coolie to ask questions. Bhoys, that man's name
is Dearsley, an' he's been rafflin' that ould sedan-chair monthly this
matther av nine months. Ivry coolie on the section takes a ticket— or
he gives 'em the go—wanst a month on pay-day. Ivry coolie that wins
ut gives ut back to him, for 'tis too big to carry away, an' he'd sack
the man that thried to sell ut. That Dearsley has been makin' the
rowlin' wealth av Roshus by nefarious rafflin'. Think av the burnin'
shame to the sufferin' coolie-man that the army in Injia are bound to
protect an' nourish in their bosoms! Two thousand coolies defrauded
wanst a month!'
'Dom t' coolies. Has't gotten t' cheer, man?' said Learoyd.
'Hould on. Havin' onearthed this amazin' an' stupenjus fraud
committed by the man Dearsley, I hild a council av war; he thryin' all
the time to sejuce me into a fight with opprobrious language. That
sedan-chair niver belonged by right to any foreman av coolies. 'Tis a
king's chair or a quane's. There's gold on ut an' silk an' all manner
av trapesemints. Bhoys, 'tis not for me to countenance any sort av
wrong-doin'—me bein' the ould man—but—anyway he has had ut nine
months, an' he dare not make throuble av ut was taken from him. Five
miles away, or ut may be six—'
There was a long pause, and the jackals howled merrily. Learoyd
bared one arm, and contemplated it in the moonlight. Then he nodded
partly to himself and partly to his friends. Ortheris wriggled with
'I thought ye wud see the reasonableness av ut,' said Mulvaney. 'I
made bould to say as much to the man before. He was for a direct front
attack—fut, horse, an' guns—an' all for nothin', seein' that I had
no thransport to convey the machine away. "I will not argue wid you,"
sez I, "this day, but subsequently, Mister Dearsley, me rafflin' jool,
we talk ut out lengthways. 'Tis no good policy to swindle the naygur
av his hard-earned emolumints, an' by presint informashin'"—'twas the
kyart man that tould me—"ye've been perpethrating that same for nine
months. But I'm a just man," sez I, "an' overlookin' the presumpshin
that yondher settee wid the gilt top was not come by honust"—at that
he turned sky-green, so I knew things was more thrue than
tellable—"not come by honust, I'm willin' to compound the felony for
this month's winnin's."'
'Ah! Ho!' from Learoyd and Ortheris.
'That man Dearsley's rushin' on his fate,' continued Mulvaney,
solemnly wagging his head. 'All Hell had no name bad enough for me
that tide. Faith, he called me a robber! Me! that was savin' him from
continuin' in his evil ways widout a remonstrince—an' to a man av
conscience a remonstrince may change the chune av his life. "'Tis not
for me to argue," sez I, "fwhatever ye are, Mister Dearsley, but, by
my hand, I'll take away the temptation for you that lies in that
sedan-chair."—"You will have to fight me for ut," sez he, "for well I
know you will never dare make report to any one."—"Fight I will," sez
I, "but not this day, for I'm rejuced for want av
nourishment."—"Ye're an ould bould hand," sez he, sizin' me up an'
down; "an' a jool av a fight we will have. Eat now an' dhrink, an' go
your way." Wid that he gave me some hump an' whisky—good whisky—an'
we talked av this an' that the while. "It goes hard on me now," sez I,
wipin' my mouth, "to confiscate that piece av furniture, but justice
is justice."—"Ye've not got ut yet," sez he; "there's the fight
between."—"There is," sez I, "an' a good fight. Ye shall have the
pick av the best quality in my rigimint for the dinner you have given
this day." Thin I came hot-foot to you two. Hould your tongue, the
both. 'Tis this way. To-morrow we three will go there an' he shall
have his pick betune me an' Jock. Jock's a deceivin' fighter, for he
is all fat to the eye, an' he moves slow. Now, I'm all beef to the
look, an' I move quick. By my reckonin' the Dearsley man won't take
me; so me an' Orth'ris 'll see fair play. Jock, I tell you,'twill be
big fightin'—whipped, wid the cream above the jam. Afther the
business 'twill take a good three av us—Jock 'll be very hurt—to
haul away that sedan-chair.'
'Palanquin.' This from Ortheris.
'Fwhatever ut is, we must have ut. 'Tis the only sellin' piece av
property widin reach that we can get so cheap. An' fwhat's a fight
afther all? He has robbed the naygur-man, dishonust. We rob him honust
for the sake av the whisky he gave me.'
'But wot'll we do with the bloomin' article when we've got it? Them
palanquins are as big as 'ouses, an' uncommon 'ard to sell, as
McCleary said when ye stole the sentry-box from the Curragh.'
'Who's goin' to do t' fightin'?' said Learoyd, and Ortheris
subsided. The three returned to barracks without a word. Mulvaney's
last argument clinched the matter. This palanquin was property,
vendible, and to be attained in the simplest and least embarrassing
fashion. It would eventually become beer. Great was Mulvaney.
Next afternoon a procession of three formed itself and disappeared
into the scrub in the direction of the new railway line. Learoyd alone
was without care, for Mulvaney dived darkly into the future, and
little Ortheris feared the unknown. What befell at that interview in
the lonely pay-shed by the side of the half-built embankment, only a
few hundred coolies know, and their tale is confusing one, running
'We were at work. Three men in red coats came. They saw the Sahib—
Dearsley Sahib. They made oration; and noticeably the small man among
the red-coats. Dearsley Sahib also made oration, and used many very
strong words. Upon this talk they departed together to an open space,
and there the fat man in the red coat fought with Dearsley Sahib after
the custom of white men—with his hands, making no noise, and never at
all pulling Dearsley Sahib's hair. Such of us as were not afraid
beheld these things for just so long a time as a man needs to cook the
mid-day meal. The small man in the red coat had possessed himself of
Dearsley Sahib's watch. No, he did not steal that watch. He held it in
his hand, and at certain seasons made outcry, and the twain ceased
their combat, which was like the combat of young bulls in spring. Both
men were soon all red, but Dearsley Sahib was much more red than the
other. Seeing this, and fearing for his life—because we greatly loved
him—some fifty of us made shift to rush upon the red-coats. But a
certain man—very black as to the hair, and in no way to be confused
with the small man, or the fat man who fought—that man, we affirm,
ran upon us, and of us he embraced some ten or fifty in both arms, and
beat our heads together, so that our livers turned to water, and we
ran away. It is not good to interfere in the fightings of white men.
After that Dearsley Sahib fell and did not rise, these men jumped upon
his stomach and despoiled him of all his money, and attempted to fire
the pay-shed, and departed. Is it true that Dearsley Sahib makes no
complaint of these latter things having been done? We were senseless
with fear, and do not at all remember. There was no palanquin near the
pay-shed. What do we know about palanquins? Is it true that Dearsley
Sahib does not return to this place, on account of his sickness, for
ten days? This is the fault of those bad men in the red coats, who
should be severely punished; for Dearsley Sahib is both our father and
mother, and we love him much. Yet, if Dearsley Sahib does not return
to this place at all, we will speak the truth. There was a palanquin,
for the up-keep of which we were forced to pay nine-tenths of our
monthly wage. On such mulctings Dearsley Sahib allowed us to make
obeisance to him before the palanquin. What could we do? We were poor
men. He took a full half of our wages. Will the Government repay us
those moneys? Those three men in red coats bore the palanquin upon
their shoulders and departed. All the money that Dearsley Sahib had
taken from us was in the cushions of that palanquin. Therefore they
stole it. Thousands of rupees were there—all our money. It was our
bank-box, to fill which we cheerfully contributed to Dearsley Sahib
three-sevenths of our monthly wage. Why does the white man look upon
us with the eye of disfavour? Before God, there was a palanquin, and
now there is no palanquin; and if they send the police here to make
inquisition, we can only say that there never has been any palanquin.
Why should a palanquin be near these works? We are poor men, and we
Such is the simplest version of the simplest story connected with
the descent upon Dearsley. From the lips of the coolies I received it.
Dearsley himself was in no condition to say anything, and Mulvaney
preserved a massive silence, broken only by the occasional licking of
the lips. He had seen a fight so gorgeous that even his power of
speech was taken from him. I respected that reserve until, three days
after the affair, I discovered in a disused stable in my quarters a
palanquin of unchastened splendour—evidently in past days the litter
of a queen. The pole whereby it swung between the shoulders of the
bearers was rich with the painted papier-mache of Cashmere. The
shoulder-pads were of yellow silk. The panels of the litter itself
were ablaze with the loves of all the gods and goddesses of the Hindu
Pantheon—lacquer on cedar. The cedar sliding doors were fitted with
hasps of translucent Jaipur enamel and ran in grooves shod with
silver. The cushions were of brocaded Delhi silk, and the curtains
which once hid any glimpse of the beauty of the king's palace were
stiff with gold. Closer investigation showed that the entire fabric
was everywhere rubbed and discoloured by time and wear; but even thus
it was sufficiently gorgeous to deserve housing on the threshold of a
royal zenana. I found no fault with it, except that it was in my
stable. Then, trying to lift it by the silver-shod shoulder- pole, I
laughed. The road from Dearsley's pay-shed to the cantonment was a
narrow and uneven one, and, traversed by three very inexperienced
palanquin-bearers, one of whom was sorely battered about the head,
must have been a path of torment. Still I did not quite recognise the
right of the three musketeers to turn me into a 'fence' for stolen
'I'm askin' you to warehouse ut,' said Mulvaney when he was brought
to consider the question. 'There's no steal in ut. Dearsley tould us
we cud have ut if we fought. Jock fought—an', oh, sorr, when the
throuble was at uts finest an' Jock was bleedin' like a stuck pig, an'
little Orth'ris was shquealin' on one leg chewin' big bites out av
Dearsley's watch, I wud ha' given my place at the fight to have had
you see wan round. He tuk Jock, as I suspicioned he would, an' Jock
was deceptive. Nine roun's they were even matched, an' at the
tenth—About that palanquin now. There's not the least throuble in the
world, or we wud not ha' brought ut here. You will ondherstand that
the Queen—God bless her!—does not reckon for a privit soldier to
kape elephints an' palanquins an' sich in barricks. Afther we had
dhragged ut down from Dearsley's through that cruel scrub that near
broke Orth'ris's heart, we set ut in the ravine for a night; an' a
thief av a porcupine an' a civet-cat av a jackal roosted in ut, as
well we knew in the mornin'. I put ut to you, sorr, is an elegint
palanquin, fit for the princess, the natural abidin' place av all the
vermin in cantonmints? We brought ut to you, afther dhark, and put ut
in your shtable. Do not let your conscience prick. Think av the
rejoicin' men in the pay-shed yonder— lookin' at Dearsley wid his
head tied up in a towel—an' well knowin' that they can dhraw their
pay ivry month widout stoppages for riffles. Indirectly, sorr, you
have rescued from an onprincipled son av a night- hawk the peasanthry
av a numerous village. An' besides, will I let that sedan-chair rot on
our hands? Not I. 'Tis not every day a piece av pure joolry comes into
the market. There's not a king widin these forty miles'—he waved his
hand round the dusty horizon—'not a king wud not be glad to buy ut.
Some day meself, whin I have leisure, I'll take ut up along the road
an' dishpose av ut.'
'How?' said I, for I knew the man was capable of anything.
'Get into ut, av coorse, and keep wan eye open through the
curtains. Whin I see a likely man av the native persuasion, I will
descind blushin' from my canopy and say, "Buy a palanquin, ye black
scutt?" I will have to hire four men to carry me first, though; and
that's impossible till next pay-day.'
Curiously enough, Learoyd, who had fought for the prize, and in the
winning secured the highest pleasure life had to offer him, was
altogether disposed to undervalue it, while Ortheris openly said it
would be better to break the thing up. Dearsley, he argued, might be a
many-sided man, capable, despite his magnificent fighting qualities,
of setting in motion the machinery of the civil law—a thing much
abhorred by the soldier. Under any circumstances their fun had come
and passed; the next pay-day was close at hand, when there would be
beer for all. Wherefore longer conserve the painted palanquin?
'A first-class rifle-shot an' a good little man av your inches you
are,' said Mulvaney. 'But you niver had a head worth a soft-boiled
egg. 'Tis me has to lie awake av nights schamin' an' plottin' for the
three av us. Orth'ris, me son, 'tis no matther av a few gallons av
beer—no, nor twenty gallons—but tubs an' vats an' firkins in that
sedan-chair. Who ut was, an' what ut was, an' how ut got there, we do
not know; but I know in my bones that you an' me an' Jock wid his
sprained thumb will get a fortune thereby. Lave me alone, an' let me
Meantime the palanquin stayed in my stall, the key of which was in
Pay-day came, and with it beer. It was not in experience to hope
that Mulvaney, dried by four weeks' drought, would avoid excess. Next
morning he and the palanquin had disappeared. He had taken the
precaution of getting three days' leave 'to see a friend on the
railway,' and the colonel, well knowing that the seasonal outburst was
near, and hoping it would spend its force beyond the limits of his
jurisdiction, cheerfully gave him all he demanded. At this point
Mulvaney's history, as recorded in the mess-room, stopped.
Ortheris carried it not much further. 'No, 'e wasn't drunk,' said
the little man loyally, 'the liquor was no more than feelin' its way
round inside of 'im; but 'e went an' filled that 'ole bloomin'
palanquin with bottles 'fore 'e went off. 'E's gone an' 'ired six men
to carry 'im, an' I 'ad to 'elp 'im into 'is nupshal couch, 'cause 'e
wouldn't 'ear reason. 'E's gone off in 'is shirt an' trousies,
swearin' tremenjus— gone down the road in the palanquin, wavin' 'is
legs out o' windy.'
'Yes,' said I, 'but where?'
'Now you arx me a question. 'E said 'e was goin' to sell that
palanquin, but from observations what happened when I was stuffin' 'im
through the door, I fancy 'e's gone to the new embankment to mock at
Dearsley. 'Soon as Jock's off duty I'm goin' there to see if 'e's
safe—not Mulvaney, but t'other man. My saints, but I pity 'im as
'elps Terence out o' the palanquin when 'e's once fair drunk!'
'He'll come back without harm,' I said.
''Corse 'e will. On'y question is, what 'll 'e be doin' on the
road? Killing Dearsley, like as not. 'E shouldn't 'a gone without Jock
Reinforced by Learoyd, Ortheris sought the foreman of the
coolie-gang. Dearsley's head was still embellished with towels.
Mulvaney, drunk or sober, would have struck no man in that condition,
and Dearsley indignantly denied that he would have taken advantage of
the intoxicated brave.
'I had my pick o' you two,' he explained to Learoyd, 'and you got
my palanquin—not before I'd made my profit on it. Why'd I do harm
when everything's settled? Your man DID come here—drunk as Davy's sow
on a frosty night—came a-purpose to mock me—stuck his head out of
the door an' called me a crucified hodman. I made him drunker, an'
sent him along. But I never touched him.'
To these things, Learoyd, slow to perceive the evidences of
sincerity, answered only, 'If owt comes to Mulvaaney 'long o' you,
I'll gripple you, clouts or no clouts on your ugly head, an' I'll draw
t' throat twistyways, man. See there now.'
The embassy removed itself, and Dearsley, the battered, laughed
alone over his supper that evening.
Three days passed—a fourth and a fifth. The week drew to a close
and Mulvaney did not return. He, his royal palanquin, and his six
attendants, had vanished into air. A very large and very tipsy
soldier, his feet sticking out of the litter of a reigning princess,
is not a thing to travel along the ways without comment. Yet no man of
all the country round had seen any such wonder. He was, and he was
not; and Learoyd suggested the immediate smashment of Dearsley as a
sacrifice to his ghost. Ortheris insisted that all was well, and in
the light of past experience his hopes seemed reasonable.
'When Mulvaney goes up the road,' said he, ''e's like to go a very
long ways up, specially when 'e's so blue drunk as 'e is now. But what
gits me is 'is not bein' 'eard of pullin' wool off the niggers
somewheres about. That don't look good. The drink must ha' died out in
'im by this, unless 'e's broke a bank, an' then—Why don't 'e come
back? 'E didn't ought to ha' gone off without us.'
Even Ortheris's heart sank at the end of the seventh day, for half
the regiment were out scouring the country-side, and Learoyd had been
forced to fight two men who hinted openly that Mulvaney had deserted.
To do him justice, the colonel laughed at the notion, even when it was
put forward by his much-trusted adjutant.
'Mulvaney would as soon think of deserting as you would,' said he.
'No; he's either fallen into a mischief among the villagers—and yet
that isn't likely, for he'd blarney himself out of the Pit; or else he
is engaged on urgent private affairs—some stupendous devilment that
we shall hear of at mess after it has been the round of the
barrack-rooms. The worst of it is that I shall have to give him
twenty-eight days' confinement at least for being absent without
leave, just when I most want him to lick the new batch of recruits
into shape. I never knew a man who could put a polish on young
soldiers as quickly as Mulvaney can. How does he do it?'
'With blarney and the buckle-end of a belt, sir,' said the
adjutant. 'He is worth a couple of non-commissioned officers when we
are dealing with an Irish draft, and the London lads seem to adore
him. The worst of it is that if he goes to the cells the other two are
neither to hold nor to bind till he comes out again. I believe
Ortheris preaches mutiny on those occasions, and I know that the mere
presence of Learoyd mourning for Mulvaney kills all the cheerfulness
of his room. The sergeants tell me that he allows no man to laugh when
he feels unhappy. They are a queer gang.'
'For all that, I wish we had a few more of them. I like a
well-conducted regiment, but these pasty-faced, shifty-eyed,
mealy-mouthed young slouchers from the depot worry me sometimes with
their offensive virtue. They don't seem to have backbone enough to do
anything but play cards and prowl round the married quarters. I
believe I'd forgive that old villain on the spot if he turned up with
any sort of explanation that I could in decency accept.'
'Not likely to be much difficulty about that, sir,' said the
adjutant. 'Mulvaney's explanations are only one degree less wonderful
than his performances. They say that when he was in the Black Tyrone,
before he came to us, he was discovered on the banks of the Liffey
trying to sell his colonel's charger to a Donegal dealer as a perfect
lady's hack. Shackbolt commanded the Tyrone then.'
'Shackbolt must have had apoplexy at the thought of his ramping
war- horses answering to that description. He used to buy unbacked
devils, and tame them on some pet theory of starvation. What did
'That he was a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals, anxious to "sell the poor baste where he would get
something to fill out his dimples." Shackbolt laughed, but I fancy
that was why Mulvaney exchanged to ours.'
'I wish he were back,' said the colonel; 'for I like him and
believe he likes me.'
That evening, to cheer our souls, Learoyd, Ortheris, and I went
into the waste to smoke out a porcupine. All the dogs attended, but
even their clamour—and they began to discuss the shortcomings of
porcupines before they left cantonments—could not take us out of
ourselves. A large, low moon turned the tops of the plume-grass to
silver, and the stunted camelthorn bushes and sour tamarisks into the
likenesses of trooping devils. The smell of the sun had not left the
earth, and little aimless winds blowing across the rose-gardens to the
southward brought the scent of dried roses and water. Our fire once
started, and the dogs craftily disposed to wait the dash of the
porcupine, we climbed to the top of a rain-scarred hillock of earth,
and looked across the scrub seamed with cattle paths, white with the
long grass, and dotted with spots of level pond-bottom, where the
snipe would gather in winter.
'This,' said Ortheris, with a sigh, as he took in the unkempt
desolation of it all, 'this is sanguinary. This is unusually
sanguinary. Sort o' mad country. Like a grate when the fire's put out
by the sun.' He shaded his eyes against the moonlight. 'An' there's a
loony dancin' in the middle of it all. Quite right. I'd dance too if I
wasn't so downheart.'
There pranced a Portent in the face of the moon—a huge and ragged
spirit of the waste, that flapped its wings from afar. It had risen
out of the earth; it was coming towards us, and its outline was never
twice the same. The toga, table-cloth, or dressing-gown, whatever the
creature wore, took a hundred shapes. Once it stopped on a
neighbouring mound and flung all its legs and arms to the winds.
'My, but that scarecrow 'as got 'em bad!' said Ortheris. 'Seems
like if 'e comes any furder we'll 'ave to argify with 'im.'
Learoyd raised himself from the dirt as a bull clears his flanks of
the wallow. And as a bull bellows, so he, after a short minute at
gaze, gave tongue to the stars.
'MULVAANEY! MULVAANEY! A-hoo!'
Oh then it was that we yelled, and the figure dipped into the
hollow, till, with a crash of rending grass, the lost one strode up to
the light of the fire and disappeared to the waist in a wave of joyous
dogs! Then Learoyd and Ortheris gave greeting, bass and falsetto
together, both swallowing a lump in the throat.
'You damned fool!' said they, and severally pounded him with their
'Go easy!' he answered; wrapping a huge arm round each. 'I would
have you to know that I am a god, to be treated as such—tho', by my
faith, I fancy I've got to go to the guard-room just like a privit
The latter part of the sentence destroyed the suspicions raised by
the former. Any one would have been justified in regarding Mulvaney as
mad. He was hatless and shoeless, and his shirt and trousers were
dropping off him. But he wore one wondrous garment—a gigantic cloak
that fell from collar-bone to heel—of pale pink silk, wrought all
over in cunningest needlework of hands long since dead, with the loves
of the Hindu gods. The monstrous figures leaped in and out of the
light of the fire as he settled the folds round him.
Ortheris handled the stuff respectfully for a moment while I was
trying to remember where I had seen it before. Then he screamed, 'What
'AVE you done with the palanquin? You're wearin' the linin'.'
'I am,' said the Irishman, 'an' by the same token the 'broidery is
scrapin' my hide off. I've lived in this sumpshus counterpane for four
days. Me son, I begin to ondherstand why the naygur is no use. Widout
me boots, an' me trousies like an openwork stocking on a gyurl's leg
at a dance, I begin to feel like a naygur-man—all fearful an'
timoreous. Give me a pipe an' I'll tell on.'
He lit a pipe, resumed his grip of his two friends, and rocked to
and fro in a gale of laughter.
'Mulvaney,' said Ortheris sternly, ''tain't no time for laughin'.
You've given Jock an' me more trouble than you're worth. You 'ave been
absent without leave an' you'll go into cells for that; an' you 'ave
come back disgustin'ly dressed an' most improper in the linin' o' that
bloomin' palanquin. Instid of which you laugh. An' WE thought you was
dead all the time.'
'Bhoys,' said the culprit, still shaking gently, 'whin I've done my
tale you may cry if you like, an' little Orth'ris here can thrample my
inside out. Ha' done an' listen. My performances have been stupenjus:
my luck has been the blessed luck av the British Army—an' there's no
betther than that. I went out dhrunk an' dhrinkin' in the palanquin,
and I have come back a pink god. Did any of you go to Dearsley afther
my time was up? He was at the bottom of ut all.'
'Ah said so,' murmured Learoyd. 'To-morrow ah'll smash t' face in
upon his heead.'
'Ye will not. Dearsley's a jool av a man. Afther Ortheris had put
me into the palanquin an' the six bearer-men were gruntin' down the
road, I tuk thought to mock Dearsley for that fight. So I tould thim,
"Go to the embankmint," and there, bein' most amazin' full, I shtuck
my head out av the concern an' passed compliments wid Dearsley. I must
ha' miscalled him outrageous, for whin I am that way the power av the
tongue comes on me. I can bare remimber tellin' him that his mouth
opened endways like the mouth av a skate, which was thrue afther
Learoyd had handled ut; an' I clear remimber his takin' no manner nor
matter av offence, but givin' me a big dhrink of beer. 'Twas the beer
did the thrick, for I crawled back into the palanquin, steppin' on me
right ear wid me left foot, an' thin I slept like the dead. Wanst I
half-roused, an' begad the noise in my head was tremenjus—roarin' and
rattlin' an' poundin' such as was quite new to me. "Mother av Mercy,"
thinks I, "phwat a concertina I will have on my shoulders whin I
wake!" An' wid that I curls mysilf up to sleep before ut should get
hould on me. Bhoys, that noise was not dhrink, 'twas the rattle av a
There followed an impressive pause.
'Yes, he had put me on a thrain—put me, palanquin an' all, an' six
black assassins av his own coolies that was in his nefarious
confidence, on the flat av a ballast-thruck, and we were rowlin' an'
bowlin' along to Benares. Glory be that I did not wake up thin an'
introjuce mysilf to the coolies. As I was sayin', I slept for the
betther part av a day an' a night. But remimber you, that that man
Dearsley had packed me off on wan av his material-thrains to Benares,
all for to make me overstay my leave an' get me into the cells.'
The explanation was an eminently rational one. Benares lay at least
ten hours by rail from the cantonments, and nothing in the world could
have saved Mulvaney from arrest as a deserter had he appeared there in
the apparel of his orgies. Dearsley had not forgotten to take revenge.
Learoyd, drawing back a little, began to place soft blows over
selected portions of Mulvaney's body. His thoughts were away on the
embankment, and they meditated evil for Dearsley. Mulvaney continued—
'Whin I was full awake the palanquin was set down in a street, I
suspicioned, for I cud hear people passin' an' talkin'. But I knew
well I was far from home. There is a queer smell upon our
cantonments—a smell av dried earth and brick-kilns wid whiffs av
cavalry stable- litter. This place smelt marigold flowers an' bad
water, an' wanst somethin' alive came an' blew heavy with his muzzle
at the chink av the shutter. "It's in a village I am," thinks I to
mysilf, "an' the parochial buffalo is investigatin' the palanquin."
But anyways I had no desire to move. Only lie still whin you're in
foreign parts an' the standin' luck av the British Army will carry ye
through. That is an epigram. I made ut.
'Thin a lot av whishperin' divils surrounded the palanquin. "Take
ut up," sez wan man. "But who'll pay us?" sez another. "The
Maharanee's minister, av coorse," sez the man. "Oho!" sez I to mysilf,
"I'm a quane in me own right, wid a minister to pay me expenses. I'll
be an emperor if I lie still long enough; but this is no village I've
found." I lay quiet, but I gummed me right eye to a crack av the
shutters, an' I saw that the whole street was crammed wid palanquins
an' horses, an' a sprinklin' av naked priests all yellow powder an'
tigers' tails. But I may tell you, Orth'ris, an' you, Learoyd, that av
all the palanquins ours was the most imperial an' magnificent. Now a
palanquin means a native lady all the world over, except whin a
soldier av the Quane happens to be takin' a ride. "Women an' priests!"
sez I. "Your father's son is in the right pew this time, Terence.
There will be proceedin's." Six black divils in pink muslin tuk up the
palanquin, an' oh! but the rowlin' an' the rockin' made me sick. Thin
we got fair jammed among the palanquins—not more than fifty av
them—an' we grated an' bumped like Queenstown potato-smacks in a
runnin' tide. I cud hear the women gigglin' and squirkin' in their
palanquins, but mine was the royal equipage. They made way for ut,
an', begad, the pink muslin men o' mine were howlin', "Room for the
Maharanee av Gokral-Seetarun." Do you know aught av the lady, sorr?'
'Yes,' said I. 'She is a very estimable old queen of the Central
Indian States, and they say she is fat. How on earth could she go to
Benares without all the city knowing her palanquin?'
''Twas the eternal foolishness av the naygur-man. They saw the
palanquin lying loneful an' forlornsome, an' the beauty av ut, after
Dearsley's men had dhropped ut and gone away, an' they gave ut the
best name that occurred to thim. Quite right too. For aught we know
the ould lady was thravellin' incog—like me. I'm glad to hear she's
fat. I was no light weight mysilf, an' my men were mortial anxious to
dhrop me under a great big archway promiscuously ornamented wid the
most improper carvin's an' cuttin's I iver saw. Begad! they made me
blush—like a—like a Maharanee.'
'The temple of Prithi-Devi,' I murmured, remembering the monstrous
horrors of that sculptured archway at Benares.
'Pretty Devilskins, savin' your presence, sorr! There was nothin'
pretty about ut, except me. 'Twas all half dhark, an' whin the coolies
left they shut a big black gate behind av us, an' half a company av
fat yellow priests began pully-haulin' the palanquins into a dharker
place yet—a big stone hall full av pillars, an' gods, an' incense,
an' all manner av similar thruck. The gate disconcerted me, for I
perceived I wud have to go forward to get out, my retreat bein' cut
off. By the same token a good priest makes a bad palanquin-coolie.
Begad! they nearly turned me inside out draggin' the palanquin to the
temple. Now the disposishin av the forces inside was this way. The
Maharanee av Gokral- Seetarun—that was me—lay by the favour av
Providence on the far left flank behind the dhark av a pillar carved
with elephints' heads. The remainder av the palanquins was in a big
half circle facing in to the biggest, fattest, an' most amazin'
she-god that iver I dreamed av. Her head ran up into the black above
us, an' her feet stuck out in the light av a little fire av melted
butter that a priest was feedin' out av a butter-dish. Thin a man
began to sing an' play on somethin' back in the dhark, an 'twas a
queer song. Ut made my hair lift on the back av my neck. Thin the
doors av all the palanquins slid back, an' the women bundled out. I
saw what I'll niver see again. 'Twas more glorious than
thransformations at a pantomime, for they was in pink an' blue an'
silver an' red an' grass green, wid di'monds an' im'ralds an' great
red rubies all over thim. But that was the least part av the glory. O
bhoys, they were more lovely than the like av any loveliness in hiven;
ay, their little bare feet were betther than the white hands av a
lord's lady, an' their mouths were like puckered roses, an' their eyes
were bigger an' dharker than the eyes av any livin' women I've seen.
Ye may laugh, but I'm speakin' truth. I niver saw the like, an' niver
I will again.'
'Seeing that in all probability you were watching the wives and
daughters of most of the Kings of India, the chances are that you
won't,' I said, for it was dawning on me that Mulvaney had stumbled
upon a big Queens' Praying at Benares.
'I niver will,' he said mournfully. 'That sight doesn't come twist
to any man. It made me ashamed to watch. A fat priest knocked at my
door. I didn't think he'd have the insolince to disturb the Maharanee
av Gokral- Seetarun, so I lay still. "The old cow's asleep," sez he to
another. "Let her be," sez that. "'Twill be long before she has a
calf!" I might ha' known before he spoke that all a woman prays for in
Injia—an' for matter o' that in England too—is childher. That made
me more sorry I'd come, me bein', as you well know, a childless man.'
He was silent for a moment, thinking of his little son, dead many
'They prayed, an' the butter-fires blazed up an' the incense turned
everything blue, an' between that an' the fires the women looked as
tho' they were all ablaze an' twinklin'. They took hold av the
she-god's knees, they cried out an' they threw themselves about, an'
that world- without-end-amen music was dhrivin' thim mad. Mother av
Hiven! how they cried, an' the ould she-god grinnin' above thim all so
scornful! The dhrink was dyin' out in me fast, an' I was thinkin'
harder than the thoughts wud go through my head—thinkin' how to get
out, an' all manner of nonsense as well. The women were rockin' in
rows, their di'mond belts clickin', an' the tears runnin' out betune
their hands, an' the lights were goin' lower an' dharker. Thin there
was a blaze like lightnin' from the roof, an' that showed me the
inside av the palanquin, an' at the end where my foot was, stood the
livin' spit an' image o' mysilf worked on the linin'. This man here,
He hunted in the folds of his pink cloak, ran a hand under one, and
thrust into the firelight a foot-long embroidered presentment of the
great god Krishna, playing on a flute. The heavy jowl, the staring
eye, and the blue-black moustache of the god made up a far-off
resemblance to Mulvaney.
'The blaze was gone in a wink, but the whole schame came to me
thin. I believe I was mad too. I slid the off-shutter open an' rowled
out into the dhark behind the elephint-head pillar, tucked up my
trousies to my knees, slipped off my boots an' tuk a general hould av
all the pink linin' av the palanquin. Glory be, ut ripped out like a
woman's dhriss whin you tread on ut at a sergeants' ball, an' a bottle
came with ut. I tuk the bottle an' the next minut I was out av the
dhark av the pillar, the pink linin' wrapped round me most graceful,
the music thunderin' like kettledrums, an' a could draft blowin' round
my bare legs. By this hand that did ut, I was Khrishna tootlin' on the
flute—the god that the rig'mental chaplain talks about. A sweet sight
I must ha' looked. I knew my eyes were big, and my face was wax-white,
an' at the worst I must ha' looked like a ghost. But they took me for
the livin' god. The music stopped, and the women were dead dumb an' I
crooked my legs like a shepherd on a china basin, an' I did the
ghost-waggle with my feet as I had done ut at the rig'mental theatre
many times, an' I slid acrost the width av that temple in front av the
she-god tootlin' on the beer bottle.'
'Wot did you toot?' demanded Ortheris the practical.
'Me? Oh!' Mulvaney sprang up, suiting the action to the word, and
sliding gravely in front of us, a dilapidated but imposing deity in
the half light. 'I sang—
You'll be Mrs. Brallaghan.
Don't say nay,
Charmin' Judy Callaghan.
I didn't know me own voice when I sang. An' oh! 'twas pitiful to
see the women. The darlin's were down on their faces. Whin I passed
the last wan I cud see her poor little fingers workin' one in another
as if she wanted to touch my feet. So I dhrew the tail av this pink
overcoat over her head for the greater honour, an' I slid into the
dhark on the other side av the temple, and fetched up in the arms av a
big fat priest. All I wanted was to get away clear. So I tuk him by
his greasy throat an' shut the speech out av him. "Out!" sez I. "Which
way, ye fat heathen?"— "Oh!" sez he. "Man," sez I. "White man,
soldier man, common soldier man. Where in the name av confusion is the
back door?" The women in the temple were still on their faces, an' a
young priest was holdin' out his arms above their heads.
'"This way," sez my fat friend, duckin' behind a big bull-god an'
divin' into a passage. Thin I remimbered that I must ha' made the
miraculous reputation av that temple for the next fifty years. "Not so
fast," I sez, an' I held out both my hands wid a wink. That ould thief
smiled like a father. I tuk him by the back av the neck in case he
should be wishful to put a knife into me unbeknownst, an' I ran him up
an' down the passage twice to collect his sensibilities! "Be quiet,"
sez he, in English. "Now you talk sense," I sez. "Fwhat 'll you give
me for the use av that most iligant palanquin I have no time to take
away?"—"Don't tell," sez he. "Is ut like?" sez I. "But ye might give
me my railway fare. I'm far from my home an' I've done you a service."
Bhoys, 'tis a good thing to be a priest. The ould man niver throubled
himself to dhraw from a bank. As I will prove to you subsequint, he
philandered all round the slack av his clothes an' began dribblin'
ten-rupee notes, old gold mohurs, and rupees into my hand till I could
hould no more.'
'You lie!' said Ortheris. 'You're mad or sunstrook. A native don't
give coin unless you cut it out o' 'im. 'Tain't nature.'
'Then my lie an' my sunstroke is concealed under that lump av sod
yonder,' retorted Mulvaney unruffled, nodding across the scrub. 'An'
there's a dale more in nature than your squidgy little legs have iver
taken you to, Orth'ris, me son. Four hundred an' thirty-four rupees by
my reckonin', AN' a big fat gold necklace that I took from him as a
remimbrancer, was our share in that business.'
'An' 'e give it you for love?' said Ortheris.
'We were alone in that passage. Maybe I was a trifle too pressin',
but considher fwhat I had done for the good av the temple and the
iverlastin' joy av those women. 'Twas cheap at the price. I wud ha'
taken more if I cud ha' found ut. I turned the ould man upside down at
the last, but he was milked dhry. Thin he opened a door in another
passage an' I found mysilf up to my knees in Benares river-water, an'
bad smellin' ut is. More by token I had come out on the river-line
close to the burnin' ghat and contagious to a cracklin' corpse. This
was in the heart av the night, for I had been four hours in the
temple. There was a crowd av boats tied up, so I tuk wan an' wint
across the river. Thin I came home acrost country, lyin' up by day.'
'How on earth did you manage?' I said.
'How did Sir Frederick Roberts get from Cabul to Candahar? He
marched an' he niver tould how near he was to breakin' down. That's
why he is fwhat he is. An' now—' Mulvaney yawned portentously. 'Now I
will go an' give myself up for absince widout leave. It's eight an'
twenty days an' the rough end of the colonel's tongue in orderly room,
any way you look at ut. But 'tis cheap at the price.'
'Mulvaney,' said I softly. 'If there happens to be any sort of
excuse that the colonel can in any way accept, I have a notion that
you'll get nothing more than the dressing-gown. The new recruits are
'Not a word more, sorr. Is ut excuses the old man wants? 'Tis not
my way, but he shall have thim. I'll tell him I was engaged in
financial operations connected wid a church,' and he flapped his way
to cantonments and the cells, singing lustily—
'So they sent a corp'ril's file,
And they put me in the gyard-room
For conduck unbecomin' of a soldier.'
And when he was lost in the midst of the moonlight we could hear
Bang upon the big drum, bash upon the cymbals,
As we go marchin' along, boys, oh!
For although in this campaign
There's no whisky nor champagne,
We'll keep our spirits goin' with a song, boys!'
Therewith he surrendered himself to the joyful and almost weeping
guard, and was made much of by his fellows. But to the colonel he said
that he had been smitten with sunstroke and had lain insensible on a
villager's cot for untold hours; and between laughter and goodwill the
affair was smoothed over, so that he could, next day, teach the new
recruits how to 'Fear God, Honour the Queen, Shoot Straight, and Keep