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my portion for five strenuous years, ing. We were climbing, my mare and until the everlasting plough-land had I, through a pass in the hills which become a weariness to the eye and the curve round the plain of Ahrora like rare patches of fallow as welcome as tiers of seats in an amphitheatre. To oases in a desert. Besides this, to our right was a wall of rock, but on the District officer in India wheat the left of the track the hillside fell spells work, for over the wheat-lands away in slopes and precipices down to men wrangle for ever and ever, and a vast gulf of misty jungle, on the far where the King's subjects have most side of which forest heaped upon to fight about, there is the scantiest forest rose in enormous banks to the leisure for the King's servants who sky-line. Green and brown and gold administer the law. But the long- were the colors of the jungle, with here delayed retirement of an elderly “D. and there the scarlet of an earlyI. G.” had sent a ripple of transfers blossoming Palas tree. The track itself from end to end of the Province. was studded with star-like flowers Carried on the crest of that wave, I as blue as English forget-me-nots, and had passed from a tract where young with every breath one inhaled the India rode upon a bicycle and drank piercing scent of wild thyme. A lemonade from an aluminum mug, to cairn gay with little red and white a District two-thirds of which was flags marked the summit of the pass. under virgin forest, where real bread This I duly hailed as the altar of Debimade out of wheat was often hard to of-the-stone-heap, the guardian goddess come by, and the problem of keeping of anxious travellers, and certainly the roads clear of man-eating tigers her office here was no sinecure. For had reduced my predecessor in office the road is perhaps the most notorious to a morbid condition of felicidal mono- in the Province, and Debi, assisted by mania. On that divine morning I had the forest officer with a pound of already ridden for three hours with strychnine, had only recently succeeded out passing a single human habitation in settling accounts with a pair of or a ploughed field, and the novelty of stealthy striped man-hunters, which this experience inspired in me an im- had discovered that the Government moral satisfaction. For though to be mail-runners crossed the path daily idle on a holiday is torment, to ride with pleasing punctuality. Before the on duty with no work to do, no descent was finished I was reminded liquor-shops or police-outposts to in. of this incident by the pug-marks of a spect on the way, is as sweet as stolen tigress and two cubs which had preapples, and as rare, in these days of ceded me in the early hours, before the "Efficiency," as a fat District officer. ground had dried. Where the path

Therefore I was in no manner of was broken by watercourses all three haste to arrive at Ahrora, my journey's had "skated” down the slippery banks, end. The village is the capital of an carving the mud into astonishing unpopular subdivision, three days' scrolls and arabesques. The mother march from headquarters. On this, had slid willy-nilly by reason of her the third day out, I had originally weight, but her children, I felt sure, intended to reach the tents before had tobogganed for sheer fun. My eleven o'clock, in good time for break- interest in the family party owned no fast. But the joy of loitering was too

sinister afterthought,-indeed, was aldelicious to forego. The magic of the most affectionate; for though it was a morning had laid hold on me, and the fine day, I had no desire to kill anybeauty of the world was past all tell- thing. And the pound of strychnine had ensured the safety of harmless reply from a poor cultivator with travellers for long to come.

plough on shoulder. “O thou from The hills gave way to grassy prairie, Jagannath-Puri” should always be and the bridle-path widened to a cart- cried when the presence of a palm-leaf track. Far ahead of me down the umbrella denotes that the bearer is a road something glittered across the pilgrim from the famous shrine in plain, something that moved in the di- Orissa; but men and women who have rection of Ahrora, and moved very come from the well of the water of slowly. From half a mile away I life, the amritpani, at Bandakpur, judged it to be a laden pack-pony. where the temple-gongs beat in honor Nearer inspection revealed a biped, and of the great god Mahadeo, are hailed a little later the apparition took the with the mystic monosyllable "Bom!" form of an old man who limped. He Pat comes the countersign: “Bom, bom. travelled like a human caddis, with Mahadeo!" from the dusty file of pildingy bundles and little pots in basket- grims who hold their heads the higher work covers slung round his body for the recognition by a stranger of from the waist upwards, the apex of their merit and the toil that went to the load consisting of an empty kero- win it. “O little old human woman!" sene oil-tin shining new. Even with is called, with no hint of discourtesy, the assistance of a tall staff he was to the village crone, who, being hard of making heavy weather of it. The hearing, elects to walk in the very veins of one calf, knotted into a tense middle of the roadway. When all but swollen projection, were, I imagined, the sex of the wayfarer is uncertain, the chief source of his trouble, but he there are many colorless makeshifts was very thin, the bundles appeared to to fall back on, such as “O person with contain little in the way of victuals, boots!" or, as a last resort, "O goer and his rags and wretched apologies along the road!” a form which argues for shoes bespoke abject, 'homeless pov. contemptible lack of resource in the erty. The mare's nose drew level with individual who employs it. Now, the his shoulder, and as he still seemed human caddis whom I was studying unconscious of my presence, I reined was certainly a Hindu, and, as his back a little to consider a suitable outfit showed, a pilgrim from or to mode of attracting his attention.

somewhere, but these facts marked the There is a peculiar pleasure in doing limit of my deductive powers. Accordlittle things properly, and in India the ingly leaning towards him from the etiquette of addressing a stranger on saddle and using a title applicable to the road, from behind or from a dis- elderly Hindus who have adopted, tance, is too important to be ignored from choice, an ascetic life, I said in a by any man who has the least regard loud voice, "Hey Baba!” for the conventions. Briefly, in local- Instant disaster followed. Startled ities uncorrupted by the bad manners from his torpor, the old man lurched of large towns, the precise form of sideways with an exclamation, tripped salutation is determined by the re- over his staff, and fell crashing upon ligion, caste, occupation, social posi- his pots and bundles and kerosene tion, and sex of the person addressed. oil-tin. Pearl of the World, not withThus, there is a wide range of high- out excuse, fung up her head and flown Arabic titles appropriate to a bolted, vanishing from under me with Mohammedan. “Maharaj” will fit an the uncanny velocity of the fairy horse obvious Brahman; “Patel," meaning of Oisin, which "went away like a "yeoman squire,” beguiles a cheerful summer iy," leaving the hero sprawl.

ing in the sand. Exulting like a heifer into a dialect familiar to me in the in spring-time, with side-long unequine early years of my service. The tract kicks and antics of utter abandonment, where it was current lay far to the the shameless mare disappeared in a west, bordering on the Maratha councloud of dust towards Ahrora, while try, crammed between an unfordable her master, seated on the ground, was river and the steep sides of the Vindaware of feeble hands patting his head hyan plateau. It was on my lips to and shoulders, and a voice that mur- surprise him with the mention of cermured in despairing apology the names tain villages, the naming of which, I of many heathen dieties-Ram-Ram, guessed, would fall like chiming music Sita-Ram, Mahadeo, Narayan.

on his ear,-Imlidol, Jhinfinni, Ron; So the peace of the morning was but somewhere at the back of my brain shattered, and by the time I had con- -every magistrate and policeman vinced the old fellow that I was knows the feeling-a warning signal neither injured in bod nor offended in sounded, and I held my tongue. My spirit, the sun was shining from a first impression had been correct. He clear sky, and the ribbed veils of cloud was, he informed me, on a journey of bad melted into the infinite æther. I religion, bound for the bathing-ghats helped him to refasten the oil-tin of Amarkantak, “the Navel of Hind," (picked up, he explained, on the road, where, shrunken to a rivulet, Nerand worth two annas in Ahrora), to- budda-Mother the holy trickles from gether with various other excrescences the sacred hill. He would strike the which had broken loose in his fall. northern bank at Ahrora and work up Ahrora was five straight miles to our along it to the sources, washing his front. Besides ourselves and a herd body in the river thrice on every day of antelope, petrified spectators of our of the march, as custom and the mishap, there was no living creature priestly rule prescribed. Then, when in sight. Then I said to myself that so he had said so much, I praised his long as my road-fellow's conversation piety and stubborn resolution, and was entertaining, we two would trudge waited to hear more. Ten years of together, but when he ceased to inter- police work sharpen a man's discernest me I would lengthen my stride ment of certain symptoms. It was and leave him to his own company. pitifully obvious that this wreck of Little I dreamed that before our jour humanity was talking wastefully to ney was ended the gulf of the inscruta- gain time, fending off inquiry on my ble Hindu mind, deep and dim as the part with an uncalled-for prodigality of misty forest ravines below the tiger- words, that he was nervous and ill-athaunted pass in the hill, that gulf into ease during the intervals of silence. which we Westerns peer and sound in Such a man in the dock or witness-box vain with foolish fathom-lines of im- will pour

out his soul to the pertinent conjecture, would be illum- dregs, if given time. He swings like a ined for me in one brief revealing hour pendulum between two fears. Has he by the flare of a human soul in agony. not said too much? Then he must

Frail, old, and also, it appeared, lead the hunt into blind issues and racked with asthma, he gasped out his confuse the trail with more talking. replies to my questions eagerly, with But he dare not pause where he infrequent pauses to take breath, shaken, tended to, for, thinks he, here or there, I supposed in mind and body, by the the narrative will seem suspiciously shock of the fall. And my interest in incomplete. In the end he falls to the him quickened when his speech slipped truth in sheer weariness. The old man whom I had called “Baba” had any four points in India well can be. something to conceal, and when I The first is the far-famed temple of looked at the wicker bottle-covers, Jagannath, on the shore of the Bay of frayed ragged with much rubbing at Bengal. The second is at Rameshtheir sides, smooth as old ivory where waram, eight hundred miles down the they swung against his back and coast, which is the take-off of Hanushoulders, I deduced therefrom an in- man the monkey-god's leap across the ference. There is but one use for these strait into Ceylon. Dwarka in Kathiabottles, the carriage of sacred waters; war, a round thousand miles from they are bought and sealed for no Rameshwaram, is the third; and other purpose, and never bought at thence the road leads to the glacial second-hand. His dialect had provided head-springs of the sacred Ganges in a clue to a point hitherto not men- Garhwal, under the Himalayas. This tioned by him-namely, the region of is the shortest lap of the tour as reckhis home, and thence to his present oned from Dwarka, but yet a clear position on the map the journey by seven hundred miles. Two and a half road, even for such a poor goer as he, thousand miles is the measure of the was a matter of weeks only. But the full circuit, and having accomplished bottles bore mute witness to an entire it the pilgrim has still his journey Odyssey of travel antecedent to this lat- home to face, bringing with him holy est and surely most painful pilgrimage water from each of the four shrines. of all. Old men sometimes vanish down The message of the frayed basketthe long roads of India for other rea- work was now plain. Nevertheless I sons than to bathe in lustral waters, had seen enough of pilgrims and their and a policeman's business is the ways to know that in these days the business of all the world. And whole round is never, in ordinary yet, I own, it was no professional circumstances, performed foot, prompting, but rather a lazy curiosity when for a third-class railway fare a akin to cruelty, that held me silent by month of weary footwork can be shortthe Baba's side. I had only to wait. ened into a twenty-four hours' ride. There is a torture of silence more Stationmasters are an indulgent compelling than the pain of rods.

To beg the price of a ticket is "Andata,” he continued (“giver of sus- easy; it is easier still for a frail and tenance” is the meaning of this rare pious palmer to sit in the train without old-time title: no one had called me a ticket at all. If he rejects both Andata since I had left my first dis- alternatives, the public which pays trict), "who would think, to look at policemen to protect it has a right to me, that I had traversed the way of ask questions. Therefore, I said noththe Four Corners on foot, every kos of ing and waited. the weary round? Seven years have I The aching sunlit silence closed in been on the road, and now, to crown upon us once more. For the bodily ear merit with merit, I go to bathe at there was no sound but the old man's Amarkantak the Centre. This achieved, labored breathing, the faint creak of I shall rest, and never wear shoes wicker on wicker, the thud of his staff again. The sun grows hotter every and the shuffle of ragged foot-wear in day, and the nights are colder than the dust. But the mental atmosphere, when I was young."

which in some mysterious fashion was Now, the pilgrimage of the Four thickening round us two at every step, Corners is certainly a prodigious jour- throbbed loudly with a great unspoken ney, the shrines lying as far apart as "Why?” I held him, held him as





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surely as a fish is held on a gut line sophic mind, at least disillusionment. thin as thought but strong as drawn "Not guilty" the Assessors had said, steel. The tramping seconds were and bowing stiffly, cramped with long wearing him down for me while I sitting, had stumbled from the Court waited. And now a certain instinct of to climb upon their elephants and deshame awoke in me, a presentiment part. But they and the whole District that the curtain was about to rise on knew the man to be a murderer, and some tragedy of more than common my witnesses, of course, had been pity and horror at which, an idle spec- bribed and intimidated into giying the tator, I had no right to be present. case away. Verily it is a hard thing

The hurried, gasping voice resumed. in a Hindu province to bring a BrahWhere had I heard it long ago? And man to the rope! why was that warning signal, more “Ah," said I, without turning my insistent than at first, ringing from head, and speaking smoothly that the some buried cell of subconscious shock of interruption might be no memory?

crueller than need be, "you are Chinta"Andata, the men of the high snow- man Rao, son of Wasdeo Brahman, mountains

god-fearing folk, sometime of Hardua, in the District of stricter and more honorable that the the Forty Forts. You were tried for people of the plains. In Garhwal I the murder of your daughter and acdropped a bag of meal on the road, quitted. Why did you kill her?” and a month later, on my way down, "Sahib,” he gasped, “I am that man. one who had found it returned it to me When you called from behind I knew unopened. Oppressors of the poor are your voice, and my feet stumbled for not found there, nor thieves, nor ex- ar. This was a double folly, since the tortioners. Even the police are helpers law having once acquitted me cannot of the unfortunate. The courthouse hang me now, and my life, as you see, and the jail stand empty"

is not so sweet that I should wish to But I had heard enough. Clear as prolong it. I killed my daughter with a lantern picture thrown on a dazzling my own hands, yet hear me, Sahib, to sheet the scene of a long-forgotten trial the end, and judge not until you have leapt to my inward eye. The stilling heard all, Sessions-court crowded to the last “I was left alone when she married, inch of standing-room, the tired judge but in a little while she returned to my on the dais, and nodding in their chairs roof a childless widow, and of such of honor at his side two somnolent undimmed beauty that even the shaven white-clad Brabman Assessors, title- head and squalid garments of widowbolders of the District, called in to hood could not serve to avert men's assist the judge to a proper finding. A glances when she went abroad. Brahman, too, was the accused whose Wherefor, mindful of the weakness of life hung in the balance that day, and woman, my enemies also being watchbe was an old man with the affliction ful, I kept her in close surveilof asthma sore upon him. I was young lance. Heavy tasks and scanty fare and keen then, and my bitter dis- were her portion, and ever I prayed appointment at hearing an honest and that either she might quickly age and apparently invincible case for the pros- grow unlovely, or that death might ecution crumble under cross-examina- overtake me before the flame of scantion into hopeless ruin had been an dal should smirch the honor of my amusing memory in the after years house. And yet I loved her, rememwhich had brought, if not the pbilo- bering the years when her chatter

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