I'd not give room for an Emperor—<BR>
I'd hold my road for a King.<BR>
To the Triple Crown I'd not bow down—<BR>
But this is a different thing!<BR>
I'll not fight with the Powers of Air—<BR>
Sentry, pass him through!<BR>
Drawbridge let fall—He's the Lord of us all—<BR>
The Dreamer whose dream came true!<BR>
The Siege of the Fairies.<BR>
Two hundred miles north of Chini, on the blue shale of Ladakh, lies
Yankling Sahib, the merry-minded man, spy-glassing wrathfully across
the ridges for some sign of his pet tracker—a man from Ao-chung. But
that renegade, with a new Mannlicher rifle and two hundred cartridges,
is elsewhere, shooting musk-deer for the market, and Yankling Sahib
will learn next season how very ill he has been.
Up the valleys of Bushahr—the far-beholding eagles of the Himalayas
swerve at his new blue-and-white gored umbrella—hurries a Bengali,
once fat and well-looking, now lean and weather-worn. He has received
the thanks of two foreigners of distinction, piloted not unskilfully to
Mashobra tunnel, which leads to the great and gay capital of India. It
was not his fault that, blanketed by wet mists, he conveyed them past
the telegraph-station and European colony of Kotgarh. It was not his
fault, but that of the Gods, of whom he discoursed so engagingly, that
he led them into the borders of Nahan, where the Rahah of that State
mistook them for deserting British soldiery. Hurree Babu explained the
greatness and glory, in their own country, of his companions, till the
drowsy kinglet smiled. He explained it to everyone who asked—many
times—aloud—variously. He begged food, arranged accommodation,
proved a skilful leech for an injury of the groin—such a blow as one
may receive rolling down a rock-covered hillside in the dark—and in
all things indispensable. The reason of his friendliness did him
credit. With millions of fellow-serfs, he had learned to look upon
Russia as the great deliverer from the North. He was a fearful man.
He had been afraid that he could not save his illustrious employers
from the anger of an excited peasantry. He himself would just as lief
hit a holy man as not, but ... He was deeply grateful and sincerely
rejoiced that he had done his 'little possible' towards bringing their
venture to—barring the lost baggage—a successful issue, he had
forgotten the blows; denied that any blows had been dealt that unseemly
first night under the pines. He asked neither pension nor retaining
fee, but, if they deemed him worthy, would they write him a
testimonial? It might be useful to him later, if others, their
friends, came over the Passes. He begged them to remember him in their
future greatnesses, for he 'opined subtly' that he, even he, Mohendro
Lal Dutt, MA of Calcutta, had 'done the State some service'.
They gave him a certificate praising his courtesy, helpfulness, and
unerring skill as a guide. He put it in his waist-belt and sobbed with
emotion; they had endured so many dangers together. He led them at
high noon along crowded Simla Mall to the Alliance Bank of Simla, where
they wished to establish their identity. Thence he vanished like a
dawn-cloud on Jakko.
Behold him, too fine-drawn to sweat, too pressed to vaunt the drugs in
his little brass-bound box, ascending Shamlegh slope, a just man made
perfect. Watch him, all Babudom laid aside, smoking at noon on a cot,
while a woman with turquoise-studded headgear points south-easterly
across the bare grass. Litters, she says, do not travel as fast as
single men, but his birds should now be in the Plains. The holy man
would not stay though Lispeth pressed him. The Babu groans heavily,
girds up his huge loins, and is off again. He does not care to travel
after dusk; but his days' marches—there is none to enter them in a
book—would astonish folk who mock at his race. Kindly villagers,
remembering the Dacca drug-vendor of two months ago, give him shelter
against evil spirits of the wood. He dreams of Bengali Gods,
University text-books of education, and the Royal Society, London,
England. Next dawn the bobbing blue-and-white umbrella goes forward.
On the edge of the Doon, Mussoorie well behind them and the Plains
spread out in golden dust before, rests a worn litter in which—all the
Hills know it—lies a sick lama who seeks a River for his healing.
Villages have almost come to blows over the honour of bearing it, for
not only has the lama given them blessings, but his disciple good
money—full one-third Sahibs' prices. Twelve miles a day has the dooli
travelled, as the greasy, rubbed pole-ends show, and by roads that few
Sahibs use. Over the Nilang Pass in storm when the driven snow-dust
filled every fold of the impassive lama's drapery; between the black
horns of Raieng where they heard the whistle of the wild goats through
the clouds; pitching and strained on the shale below; hard-held between
shoulder and clenched jaw when they rounded the hideous curves of the
Cut Road under Bhagirati; swinging and creaking to the steady jog-trot
of the descent into the Valley of the Waters; pressed along the steamy
levels of that locked valley; up, up and out again, to meet the roaring
gusts off Kedarnath; set down of mid-days in the dun gloom of kindly
oak-forests; passed from village to village in dawn-chill, when even
devotees may be forgiven for swearing at impatient holy men; or by
torchlight, when the least fearful think of ghosts—the dooli has
reached her last stage. The little hill-folk sweat in the modified
heat of the lower Siwaliks, and gather round the priests for their
blessing and their wage.
'Ye have acquired merit,' says the lama. 'Merit greater than your
knowing. And ye will return to the Hills,' he sighs.
'Surely. The high Hills as soon as may be.' The bearer rubs his
shoulder, drinks water, spits it out again, and readjusts his grass
sandal. Kim—his face is drawn and tired—pays very small silver from
his belt, heaves out the food-bag, crams an oilskin packet—they are
holy writings—into his bosom, and helps the lama to his feet. The
peace has come again into the old man's eyes, and he does not look for
the hills to fall down and crush him as he did that terrible night when
they were delayed by the flooded river.
The men pick up the dooli and swing out of sight between the scrub
The lama raises a hand toward the rampart of the Himalayas. 'Not with
you, O blessed among all hills, fell the Arrow of Our Lord! And never
shall I breathe your airs again!'
'But thou art ten times the stronger man in this good air,' says Kim,
for to his wearied soul appeal the well-cropped, kindly Plains. 'Here,
or hereabouts, fell the Arrow, yes. We will go very softly, perhaps, a
koss a day, for the Search is sure. But the bag weighs heavy.'
'Ay, our Search is sure. I have come out of great temptation.'
It was never more than a couple of miles a day now, and Kim's shoulders
bore all the weight of it—the burden of an old man, the burden of the
heavy food-bag with the locked books, the load of the writings on his
heart, and the details of the daily routine. He begged in the dawn,
set blankets for the lama's meditation, held the weary head on his lap
through the noonday heats, fanning away the flies till his wrists
ached, begged again in the evenings, and rubbed the lama's feet, who
rewarded him with promise of Freedom—today, tomorrow, or, at furthest,
the next day.
'Never was such a chela. I doubt at times whether Ananda more
faithfully nursed Our Lord. And thou art a Sahib? When I was a man—a
long time ago—I forgot that. Now I look upon thee often, and every
time I remember that thou art a Sahib. It is strange.'
'Thou hast said there is neither black nor white. Why plague me with
this talk, Holy One? Let me rub the other foot. It vexes me. I am
not a Sahib. I am thy chela, and my head is heavy on my shoulders.'
'Patience a little! We reach Freedom together. Then thou and I, upon
the far bank of the River, will look back upon our lives as in the
Hills we saw our days' marches laid out behind us. Perhaps I was once
'Was never a Sahib like thee, I swear it.'
'I am certain the Keeper of the Images in the Wonder House was in past
life a very wise Abbot. But even his spectacles do not make my eyes
see. There fall shadows when I would look steadily. No matter—we
know the tricks of the poor stupid carcass—shadow changing to another
shadow. I am bound by the illusion of Time and Space. How far came we
today in the flesh?'
'Perhaps half a koss.' (Three quarters of a mile, and it was a weary
'Half a koss. Ha! I went ten thousand thousand in the spirit. How,
we are all lapped and swathed and swaddled in these senseless things.'
He looked at his thin blue-veined hand that found the beads so heavy.
'Chela, hast thou never a wish to leave me?'
Kim thought of the oilskin packet and the books in the food-bag. If
someone duly authorized would only take delivery of them the Great Game
might play itself for aught he then cared. He was tired and hot in his
head, and a cough that came from the stomach worried him.
'No.' he said almost sternly. 'I am not a dog or a snake to bite when
I have learned to love.'
'Thou art too tender towards me.'
'Not that either. I have moved in one matter without consulting thee.
I have sent a message to the Kulu woman by that woman who gave us the
goat's milk this morn, saying that thou wast a little feeble and
wouldst need a litter. I beat myself in my mind that I did not do it
when we entered the Doon. We stay in this place till the litter
'I am content. She is a woman with a heart of gold, as thou sayest,
but a talker—something of a talker.'
'She will not weary thee. I have looked to that also. Holy One, my
heart is very heavy for my many carelessnesses towards thee.' An
hysterical catch rose in his throat. 'I have walked thee too far: I
have not picked good food always for thee; I have not considered the
heat; I have talked to people on the road and left thee alone ... I
have—I have ... Hai mai! But I love thee ... and it is all too late
... I was a child ... Oh, why was I not a man? ...' Overborne by
strain, fatigue, and the weight beyond his years, Kim broke down and
sobbed at the lama's feet.
'What a to-do is here!' said the old man gently. 'Thou hast never
stepped a hair's breadth from the Way of Obedience. Neglect me? Child,
I have lived on thy strength as an old tree lives on the lime of a new
wall. Day by day, since Shamlegh down, I have stolen strength from
thee. Therefore, not through any sin of thine, art thou weakened. It
is the Body—the silly, stupid Body—that speaks now. Not the assured
Soul. Be comforted! Know at least the devils that thou fightest.
They are earth-born—children of illusion. We will go to the woman
from Kulu. She shall acquire merit in housing us, and specially in
tending me. Thou shalt run free till strength returns. I had
forgotten the stupid Body. If there be any blame, I bear it. But we
are too close to the Gates of Deliverance to weigh blame. I could
praise thee, but what need? In a little—in a very little—we shall
sit beyond all needs.'
And so he petted and comforted Kim with wise saws and grave texts on
that little-understood beast, our Body, who, being but a delusion,
insists on posing as the Soul, to the darkening of the Way, and the
immense multiplication of unnecessary devils.
'Hai! hai! Let us talk of the woman from Kulu. Think you she will
ask another charm for her grandsons? When I was a young man, a very
long time ago, I was plagued with these vapours—and some others—and I
went to an Abbot—a very holy man and a seeker after truth, though then
I knew it not. Sit up and listen, child of my soul! My tale was told.
Said he to me, "Chela, know this. There are many lies in the world,
and not a few liars, but there are no liars like our bodies, except it
be the sensations of our bodies." Considering this I was comforted,
and of his great favour he suffered me to drink tea In his presence.
Suffer me now to drink tea, for I am thirsty.'
With a laugh across his tears, Kim kissed the lama's feet, and set
about the tea-making.
'Thou leanest on me in the body, Holy One, but I lean on thee for some
other things. Dost know it?'
'I have guessed maybe,' and the lama's eyes twinkled. 'We must change
So, when with scufflings and scrapings and a hot air of importance,
paddled up nothing less than the Sahiba's pet palanquin sent twenty
miles, with that same grizzled old Oorya servant in charge, and when
they reached the disorderly order of the long white rambling house
behind Saharunpore, the lama took his own measures.
Said the Sahiba cheerily from an upper window, after compliments: 'What
is the good of an old woman's advice to an old man? I told thee—I
told thee, Holy One, to keep an eye upon the chela. How didst thou do
it? Never answer me! I know. He has been running among the women.
Look at his eyes—hollow and sunk—and the Betraying Line from the nose
down! He has been sifted out! Fie! Fie! And a priest, too!'
Kim looked up, over-weary to smile, shaking his head in denial.
'Do not jest,' said the lama. 'That time is done. We are here upon
great matters. A sickness of soul took me in the Hills, and him a
sickness of the body. Since then I have lived upon his
'Children together—young and old,' she sniffed, but forbore to make
any new jokes. 'May this present hospitality restore ye! Hold awhile
and I will come to gossip of the high good Hills.'
At evening time—her son-in-law was returned, so she did not need to go
on inspection round the farm—she won to the meat of the matter,
explained low-voicedly by the lama. The two old heads nodded wisely
together. Kim had reeled to a room with a cot in it, and was dozing
soddenly. The lama had forbidden him to set blankets or get food.
'I know—I know. Who but I?' she cackled. 'We who go down to the
burning-ghats clutch at the hands of those coming up from the River of
Life with full water-jars—yes, brimming water-jars. I did the boy
wrong. He lent thee his strength? It is true that the old eat the
young daily. Stands now we must restore him.'
'Thou hast many times acquired merit—'
'My merit. What is it? Old bag of bones making curries for men who do
not ask "Who cooked this?" Now if it were stored up for my grandson—'
'He that had the belly-pain?'
'To think the Holy One remembers that! I must tell his mother. It is
most singular honour! "He that had the belly-pain"—straightway the
Holy One remembered. She will be proud.'
'My chela is to me as is a son to the unenlightened.'
'Say grandson, rather. Mothers have not the wisdom of our years. If a
child cries they say the heavens are falling. Now a grandmother is far
enough separated from the pain of bearing and the pleasure of giving
the breast to consider whether a cry is wickedness pure or the wind.
And since thou speakest once again of wind, when last the Holy One was
here, maybe I offended in pressing for charms.'
'Sister,' said the lama, using that form of address a Buddhist monk may
sometimes employ towards a nun, 'if charms comfort thee—'
'They are better than ten thousand doctors.'
'I say, if they comfort thee, I who was Abbot of Such-zen, will make as
many as thou mayest desire. I have never seen thy face—'
'That even the monkeys who steal our loquats count for again. Hee!
'But as he who sleeps there said,'—he nodded at the shut door of the
guest-chamber across the forecourt—'thou hast a heart of gold... And
he is in the spirit my very "grandson" to me.'
'Good! I am the Holy One's cow.' This was pure Hinduism, but the lama
never heeded. 'I am old. I have borne sons in the body. Oh, once I
could please men! Now I can cure them.' He heard her armlets tinkle
as though she bared arms for action. 'I will take over the boy and
dose him, and stuff him, and make him all whole. Hai! hai! We old
people know something yet.'
Wherefore when Kim, aching in every bone, opened his eyes, and would go
to the cook-house to get his master's food, he found strong coercion
about him, and a veiled old figure at the door, flanked by the grizzled
manservant, who told him very precisely the things that he was on no
account to do.
'Thou must have? Thou shalt have nothing. What? A locked box in
which to keep holy books? Oh, that is another matter. Heavens forbid
I should come between a priest and his prayers! It shall be brought,
and thou shalt keep the key.'
They pushed the coffer under his cot, and Kim shut away Mahbub's
pistol, the oilskin packet of letters, and the locked books and
diaries, with a groan of relief. For some absurd reason their weight
on his shoulders was nothing to their weight on his poor mind. His
neck ached under it of nights.
'Thine is a sickness uncommon in youth these days: since young folk
have given up tending their betters. The remedy is sleep, and certain
drugs,' said the Sahiba; and he was glad to give himself up to the
blankness that half menaced and half soothed him.
She brewed drinks, in some mysterious Asiatic equivalent to the
still-room—drenches that smelt pestilently and tasted worse. She
stood over Kim till they went down, and inquired exhaustively after
they had come up. She laid a taboo upon the forecourt, and enforced it
by means of an armed man. It is true he was seventy odd, that his
scabbarded sword ceased at the hilt; but he represented the authority
of the Sahiba, and loaded wains, chattering servants, calves, dogs,
hens, and the like, fetched a wide compass by those parts. Best of
all, when the body was cleared, she cut out from the mass of poor
relations that crowded the back of the buildings—house-hold dogs, we
name them—a cousin's widow, skilled in what Europeans, who know
nothing about it, call massage. And the two of them, laying him east
and west, that the mysterious earth-currents which thrill the clay of
our bodies might help and not hinder, took him to pieces all one long
afternoon—bone by bone, muscle by muscle, ligament by ligament, and
lastly, nerve by nerve. Kneaded to irresponsible pulp, half hypnotized
by the perpetual flick and readjustment of the uneasy chudders that
veiled their eyes, Kim slid ten thousand miles into slumber—thirty-six
hours of it—sleep that soaked like rain after drought.