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Mr. Isaacs
by F. Marion Crawford
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"I see you have entirely comprehended me," I said. "But as for the Asiatic mind—you seem to deny to it the use of the ealculus of thought, and yet you denned adepts as attempting to acquire specific knowledge by general and transcendental methods. Here is a real contradiction."

"No; I see no confusion, for I do not include the higher adepts in either class, sinoe they have the wisdom to make use of the learning and of the methods of both. They seem to me to be endeavouring, roughly speaking, to combine the two. They believe absolute knowledge attainable, and they devote much time to the study of nature, in which pursuit they make use of highly analytical methods. They subdivide phenomena to an extent that would surprise and probably amuse a Western thinker. They count fourteen distinct colours in the rainbow, and invariably connect sound, even to the finest degrees, with shades of colour. I could name many other peculiarities of their mode of studying natural phenomena, which displays a much more minute subdivision and classification of results than you are accustomed to. But beside all this they consider that the senses of the normal man are susceptible of infinite refinement, and that upon a greater or less degree of acquired acuteness of perception the value of his results must depend. To attain this high degree of sensitiveness, necessary to the perception of very subtle phenomena, the adepts find it necessary to train their faculties, bodily and mental, by a life of rigid abstention from all pleasures or indulgences not indispensable in maintaining the relation between the physical and intellectual powers."

"The common fakir aims at the same thing," I remarked.

"But he does not attain it. The common fakir is an idiot. He may, by fasting and self-torture, of a kind no adept would approve, sharpen his senses till he can hear and see some sounds and sights inaudible and invisible to you and me. But his whole system lacks any intellectual basis: he regards knowledge as something instantaneously attainable when it comes at last; he believes he will have a vision, and that everything will be revealed to him. His devotion to his object is admirable, when he is a genuine ascetic and not, as is generally the case, a good-for-nothing who makes his piety pay for his subsistence; but it is devotion of a very low intellectual order. The true adept thinks the training of the mind in intellectual pursuits no less necessary than the moderate and reasonable mortification of the flesh, and higher Buddhism pays as much attention to the one as to the other."

"Excuse me," said I, "if I make a digression. I think there are two classes of minds commonly to be found among thinkers all over the world. The one seek to attain to knowledge, the others strive to acquire it. There is a class of commonplace intellects who regard knowledge of all kinds in the light of a ladder; one ladder for each science, and the rungs of the ladders are the successive facts mastered by an effort and remembered in the order they have been passed. These persons think it is possible to attain to high eminence on one particular ladder, that is, in one particular science, without having been up any of the other ladders, that is, without a knowledge of other branches of seience. This is the mind of the plodder, the patient man who climbs, step by step, in his own unvarying round of thought; not seeing that it is but the wheel of a treadmill over which he is labouring, and that though every step may pass, and repass, beneath his toiling feet, he can never obtain a birdseye view of what he is doing, because his eyes are continually fixed on the step in front."

"But," I continued, as Isaacs assented to my simile by a nod, "there is another class of minds also. There are persons who regard the whole imaginable and unimaginable knowledge of mankind, past, present, and future, as a boundless plain over which they hang suspended and can look down. Immediately beneath them there is a map spread out which represents, in the midst of the immense desert, the things they themselves know. It is a puzzle map, like those they make for children, where each piece fits into its appointed place, and will fit nowhere else; every piece of knowledge acquired fits into the space allotted to it, and when there is a piece, that is, a fact, wanting, it is still possible to define its extent and shape by the surrounding portions, though all the details of colour and design are lacking. These are the people who regard knowledge as a whole, harmonious, when every science and fragment of a science has its appointed station and is necessary to completeness of perfect knowledge. I hope I have made clear to you what I mean, though I am conscious of only sketching the outlines of a distinction which I believe to be fundamental."

"Of course it is fundamental. Broadly, it is the difference between analytic and synthetic thought; between the subjective and the objective views; between the finite conception of a limited world and the infinite ideal of perfect wisdom. I understand you perfectly."

"You puzzle me continually, Isaacs. Where did you learn to talk about 'analytic' and 'synthetic,' and 'subjective' and 'objective,' and transcendental analysis, and so forth?" It seemed so consistent with his mind that he should understand the use of philosophical terms, that I had noi realised how odd it was that a man of his purely Oriental education should know anything about the subject. His very broad application of the words 'analytic' and 'synthetic' to my pair of illustrations attracted my attention and prompted the question I had asked.

"I read a good deal," he said simply. Then he added in a reflective tone, "I rather think I have a philosophical mind. The old man who taught me theology in Istamboul when I was a boy used to talk philosophy to me by the hour, though I do not believe he knew much about it. He was a plodder, and went up ladders in search of information, like the man you describe. But he was very patient and good to me; the peace of Allah be with him."

It was late, and soon afterwards we parted for the night. The next day was Sunday, and I had a heap of unanswered letters to attend to, so we agreed to meet after tiffin and ride together before dining with Mr. Ghyrkins and the Westonhaughs.

I went to my room and sat a while over a volume of Kant, which I always travel with—a sort of philosopher's stone on which to whet the mind's tools when they are dulled with boring into the geological strata of other people's ideas. I was too much occupied with the personality of the man I had been talking with to read long, and so I abandoned myself to a reverie, passing in review the events of the long day.

* * * * *



CHAPTER VII.

The Sabbatarian tendency of the English mind at home and abroad is proverbial, and if they are well-behaved on Sunday in London they are models of virtue in Simla on the same day. Whether they labour and are well-fed and gouty in their island home, or suffer themselves to be boiled for gain in the tropical kettles of Ceylon and Singapore; whether they risk their lives in hunting for the north pole or the northwest passage, or endanger their safety in the pursuit of tigers in the Terai, they will have their Sunday, come rain, come shine. On the deck of the steamer in the Red Sea, in the cabin of the inbound Arctic explorer, in the crowded Swiss hotel, or the straggling Indian hill station, there is always a parson of some description, in a surplice of no description at all, who produces a Bible and a couple of well-thumbed sermons from the recesses of his trunk or his lunch basket, or his gun-case, and goes at the work of weekly redemption with a will. And, what is more, he is listened to, and for the time being—though on week days he is styled a bore by the old and a prig by the young—he becomes temporarily invested with a dignity not his own, with an authority he could not claim on any other day. It is the dignity of a people who with all their faults have the courage of their opinions, and it is the authority that they have been taught from their childhood to reverence, whenever their traditions give it the right to assert itself. Not otherwise. It is a fine trait of national character, though it is one which has brought upon the English much unmerited ridicule. One may differ from them in faith and in one's estimate of the real value of these services, which are often only saved from being irreverent in their performance by the perfect sincerity of parson and congregation. But no one who dispassionately judges them can deny that the custom inspires respect for English consistency and admiration for their supreme contempt of surroundings.

I presume that the periodical manifestations of religious belief to which I refer are intimately and indissolubly connected with the staid and funereal solemnity which marks an Englishman's dress, conversation, and conduct on Sunday. He is a different being for the nonce, and must sustain the entire character of his dual existence, or it will fall to the ground and forsake him altogether. He cannot take his religion in the morning and enjoy himself the rest of the day. He must abstain from everything that could remind him that he has a mind at all, besides a soul. No amusement will he tolerate, no reading of even the most harmless fiction can he suffer, while he is in the weekly devotional trance.

I cannot explain these things; they are race questions, problems for the ethnologist. Certain it is, however, that the partial decay of strict Sabbatarianism which seems to have set in during the last quarter of a century has not been attended by any notable development of power in English thought of that class. The first Republic tried the experiment of the decimal week, and it was a failure. The English who attempt to put off even a little of the quaint armour of righteousness, which they have been accustomed to buckle on every seventh day for so many generations, are not so successful in the attempt as to attract many to follow them. They are not graceful in their holiday gambols.

Meditating somewhat on this wise I lay in my long chair by the open door that Sunday morning in September. It was a little warmer again and the sun shone pleasantly across the lawn on the great branches and bright leaves of the rhododendron. The house was very quiet. All the inmates were gone to the church on the mall, and the servants were basking in the last few days of warmth they would enjoy before their masters returned to the plains. The Hindoo servant hates the cold. He fears it as he fears cobras, fever, and freemasons. His ideal life is nothing to do, nothing to wear, and plenty to eat, with the thermometer at 135 degrees in the verandah and 110 inside. Then he is happy. His body swells with much good rice and dal, and his heart with pride; he will wear as little as you will let him, and whether you will let him or not, he will do less work in a given time than any living description of servant. So they basked in rows in the sunshine, and did not even quarrel or tell yarns among themselves; it was quiet and warm and sleepy. I dozed lazily, dropped my book in my lap, struggled once, and then fairly fell asleep.

I was roused by Kiramat Ali pulling at my foot, as natives will when they are afraid of the consequences of waking their master. When I opened my eyes he presented a card on a salver, and explained that the gentleman wanted to see me. I looked, and was rather surprised to see it was Kildare's card. "Lord Steepleton Kildare, 33d Lancers "—there was no word in pencil, or any message. I told Kiramat to show the sahib in, wondering why he should call on me. By Indian etiquette, if there was to be any calling, it was my duty to make the first visit. Before I had time to think more I heard the clanking of spurs and sabre on the verandah, and the young man walked in, clad in the full uniform of his regiment. I rose to greet him, and was struck by his soldierly bearing and straight figure, as I had been at our first meeting. He took off his bearskin —for he was in the fullest of full dress—and sat down.

"I am so glad to find you at home," he said: "I feared you might have gone to church, like everybody else in this place."

"No. I went early this morning. I belong to a different persuasion. I suppose you are on your way to Peterhof?"

"Yes. There is some sort of official reception to somebody,—I forget who,—and we had notice to turn out. It is a detestable nuisance."

"I should think so."

"Mr. Griggs, I came to ask you about something. You heard of my proposal to get up a tiger-hunt? Mr. Ghyrkins was speaking of it."

"Yes. He wanted us to go,—Mr. Isaacs and me,—and suggested leaving his niece, Miss Westonhaugh, with Lady Smith-Tompkins."

"It would be so dull without a lady in the party. Nothing but tigers and shikarries and other native abominations to talk to. Do you not think so?"

"Why, yes. I told Mr. Ghyrkins that all the little Smith-Tompkins children had the measles, and the house was not safe. If they have not had them, they will, I have no doubt. Heaven is just, and will not leave you to the conversational mercies of the entertaining tiger and the engaging shikarry."

"By Jove, Mr. Griggs, that was a brilliant idea: and, as you say, they may all get the measles yet. The fact is, I have set my heart on this thing. Miss Westonhaugh said she had never seen a tiger, except in cages and that kind of thing, and so I made up my mind she should. Besides, it will be no end of a lark; just when nobody is thinking about tigers, you go off and kill a tremendous fellow, fifteen or sixteen feet long, and come back covered with glory and mosquito bites, and tell everybody that Miss Westonhaugh shot him herself with a pocket pistol. That will be glorious!"

"I should like it very much too; and I really see no reason why it should not be done. Mr. Ghyrkins seemed in a very cheerful humour about tigers last night, and I have no doubt a little persuasion from you will bring him to a proper view of his obligations to Miss Westonhaugh." He looked pleased and bright and hopeful, thoroughly enthusiastic, as became his Irish blood. He evidently intended to have quite as "good" a "time" as Isaacs proposed to enjoy. I thought the spectacle of those rivals for the beautiful girl's favour would be extremely interesting. Lord Steepleton was doubtless a good shot and a brave man, and would risk anything to secure Miss Westonhaugh's approval; Isaacs, on the other hand, was the sort of man who is very much the same in danger as anywhere else.

"That is what I came to ask you about. We shall all meet there at dinner this evening, and I wanted to secure as many allies as possible."

"You may count on me, Lord Steepleton, at all events. There is nothing I should enjoy better than such a fortnight's holiday, in such good company."

"All right," said Lord Steepleton, rising, "I must be off now to Peterhof. It is an organised movement on Mr. Ghyrkins this evening, then. Is it understood?" He took his bearskin from the table, and prepared to go, pulling his straps and belts into place, and dusting a particle of ash from his sleeve.

"Perfectly," I answered. "We will drag him forth into the arena before three days are past." We shook hands, and he went out.

I was glad he had come, though I had been waked from a pleasant nap to reeeive him. He was so perfectly gay, and natural, and healthy, that one could not help liking him. You felt at once that he was honest and would do the right thing in spite of any one, according to his light; that he would stand by a friend in danger, and face any odds in fight, with as much honest determination to play fair and win, as he would bring to a cricket match or a steeple-chase. His Irish blood gave him a somewhat less formal manner than belongs to the Englishman; more enthusiasm and less regard for "form," while his good heart and natural courtesy would lead him right in the long-run. He seemed all sunshine, with his bright blue eyes and great fair moustache and brown face; the closely fitting uniform showed off his erect figure and; elastic gait, and the whole impression was fresh and exhilarating in the extreme. I was sorry he had gone. I would have liked to talk with him about boating and fishing and shooting; about athletics and horses and tandem-driving, and many things I used, to like years ago at college, before I began my wandering life; I watched him as he swung himself: into the military saddle, and he threw up his hand in a parting salute as he rode away. Poor fellow! was he, too, going to be food for powder and Afghan knives in the avenging army on its way to Kabul? I went back to my books and remained reading until the afternoon sun slanted in through the open door, and falling across my book warned me it was time to keep my appointment with Isaacs.

As we passed the church the people were coming out from the evening service, and I saw Kildare, once more in the garb of a civilian, standing near the door, apparently watching for some one to appear. I knew that, with his strict observance of Catholic rules—often depending more on pride of family than on religious conviction, in the house of Kildare—he would not have entered the English Church at such a time, and I was sure he was lying in wait for Miss Westonhaugh, probably intending to surprise her and join her on her homeward ride. The road winds down below the Church, so that for some minutes after passing the building you may get a glimpse of the mall above and of the people upon it—or at least of their heads—if they are moving near the edge of the path. I was unaccountably curious this evening, and I dropped a little behind Isaacs, craning my neck and turning back in the saddle as I watched the stream of heads and shoulders, strongly foreshortened against the blue sky above, moving ceaselessly along the parapet over my head. Before long I was rewarded; Miss Westonhaugh's fair hair and broad hat entered the field of my vision, and a moment later Lord Steepleton, who must have pushed through the crowd from the other side, appeared struggling after her. She turned quickly, and I saw no more, but I did not think she had changed colour.

I began to be deeply interested in ascertaining whether she had any preference for one or the other of the two young men. Kildare's visit in the morning—though he had said very little—had given me a new impression of the man, and I felt that he was no contemptible rival. I saw from the little incident I had just witnessed that he neglected no opportunity of being with Miss Westonhaugh, and that he had the patience to wait and the boldness to find her in a crowd. I had seen very little of her myself; but I had been amply satisfied that Isaacs was capable of interesting her in a tete-a-tete conversation. "The talker has the best chance, if he is bold enough," I said to myself; but I was not satisfied, and I resolved that if I could manage it Isaacs should have another chance that very evening after the dinner. Meanwhile I would involve Isaacs in a conversation on some one of those subjects that seemed to interest him most. He had not seen the couple on the mall, and was carelessly ambling along with his head in the air and one hand in the pocket of his short coat, the picture of unconcern.

I was trying to make up my mind whether I would open fire upon the immortality of the soul, matrimony, or the differential calculus, when, as we passed from the narrow street into the road leading sound Jako, Isaacs spoke.

"Look here, Griggs," said he, "there is something I want to impress upon your mind."

"Well, what is it?"

"It is all very well for Ram Lal to give advice about things he understands. I have a very sincere regard for him, but I do not believe he was ever in my position. I have set my heart on this tiger-hunt. Miss Westonhaugh said the other day that she had never seen a tiger, and I then and there made up my mind that she should."

I laughed. There seemed to be no essential difference of opinion between the Irishman and the Persian in regard to the pleasures of the chase. Miss Westonhaugh was evidently anxious to see tigers, and meant to do it, since she had expressed her wish to the two men most likely to procure her that innocent recreation. Lord Steepleton Kildare by his position, and Isaacs by his wealth, could, if they chose, get up such a tiger-hunt for her benefit as had never been seen. I thought she might have waited till the spring—but I had learned that she intended to return to England in April, and was to spend the early months of the year with her brother in Bombay.

"You want to see Miss Westonhaugh, and Miss Westonhaugh wants to see tigers! My dear fellow, go in and win; I will back you."

"Why do you laugh, Griggs?" asked Isaacs, who saw nothing particularly amusing in what he had said.

"Oh, I laughed because another young gentleman expressed the same opinions to me, in identically the same words, this morning."

"Mr. Westonhaugh?"

"No. You know very well that Mr. Westonhaugh cares nothing about it, one way or the other. The little plan for 'amusing brother John' is a hoax. The thing cannot be done. You might as well try to amuse an undertaker as to make a man from Bombay laugh. The hollowness of life is ever upon them. No. It was Kildare; he called and said that Miss Westonhaugh had never seen a tiger, and he seemed anxious to impress upon me his determination that she should. Pshaw! what does Kildare care about brother John?"

"Brother John, as you call him, is a better fellow than he looks. I owe a great deal to brother John." Isaacs' olive skin flushed a little, and he emphasised the epithet by which I had designated Mr. John Westonhaugh as if he were offended by it.

"I mean nothing against Mr. Westonhaugh," said I half apologetically. "I remember when you met yesterday afternoon you said you had seen him in Bombay a long time ago."

"Do you remember the story I told you of myself the other night?"

"Perfectly."

"Westonhaugh was the young civil servant who paid my fine and gave me a rupee, when I was a ragged sailor from a Mocha craft, and could not speak a word of English. To that rupee I ultimately owe my entire fortune. I never forget a face, and I am sure it is he—do you understand me now? I owe to his kindness everything I possess in the world."

"The unpardonable sin is ingratitude," I answered, "of which you will certainly not be accused. That is a very curious coincidence."

"I think it is something more. A man has always at least one opportunity of repaying a debt, and, besm Illah! I will repay what I can of it. By the beard of the apostle, whose name is blessed, I am not ungrateful!" Isaacs was excited as he said this. He was no longer the calm Mr. Isaacs, he was Abdul Hafiz the Persian, fiery and enthusiastic.

"You say well, my friend," he continued earnestly, "that the unpardonable sin is ingratitude. Doubtless, had the blessed prophet of Allah lived in our day, he would have spoken of the doom that hangs over the ungrateful. It is the curse of this age; for he who forgets or refuses to remember the kindness done to him by others sets himself apart, and worships his miserable self, and he makes an idol of himself, saying, 'I am of more importance than my fellows in the world, and it is meet and right that they should give and that I should receive.' Ingratitude is selfishness, and selfishness is the worship of oneself, the setting of oneself higher than man and goodness and God. And when man perishes and the angel Al Sijil, the recorder, rolls up his scroll, what is written therein is written; and Israfil shall call men to judgment, and the scrolls shall be unfolded, and he that has taken of others and not given in return, but has ungratefully forgotten and put away the remembrance of the kindness received, shall be counted among the unbelievers and the extortioners and the unjust, and shall broil in raging flames. By the hairs of the prophet's beard, whose name is blessed."

I had not seen Isaacs so thoroughly roused before upon any subject. The flush had left his face and given place to a perfect paleness, and his eyes shone like coals of fire as he looked upward in pronouncing the last words. I said to myself that there was a strong element of religious exaltation in all Asiatics, and put his excitement down to this cause. His religion was a very beautiful and real thing to him, ever present in his life, and I mused on the future of the man, with his great endowments, his exquisite sensitiveness, and his high view of his obligations to his fellows. I am not a worshipper of heroes, but I felt that, for the first time in my life, I was intimate with a man who was ready to stand in the breach and to die for what he thought and believed to be right. After a pause of some minutes, during which we had ridden beyond the last straggling bungalows of the town, he spoke again, quietly, his temporary excitement having subsided.

"I feel very strongly about these things," he said, and then stopped short.

"I can see you do, and I honour you for it. I think you are the first grateful person I have ever met; a rare and unique bird in the earth."

"Do not say that."

"I do say it. There is very little of the philosophy of the nineteenth century about you, Isaacs. Your belief in the obligations of gratitude and in the general capacity of the human race for redemption, savours little of 'transcendental analysis.'"

"You have too much of it," he answered seriously. "I do not think you see how much your cynicism involves. You would very likely, if you are the man I take you for, be very much offended if I accused you of not believing any particular dogma of your religion. And yet, with all your faith, you do not believe in God."

"I cannot see how you get at that conclusion," I replied. "I must deny your hypothesis, at the risk of engaging you in an argument." I could not see what he was driving at.

"How can you believe in God, and yet condemn the noblest of His works as altogether bad? You are not consistent."

"What makes you think I am so cynical?" I inquired, harking back to gain time.

"A little cloud, a little sultriness in the air, is all that betrays the coming khemsin, that by and by shall overwhelm and destroy man and beast in its sandy darkness. You have made one or two remarks lately that show little faith in human nature, and if you do not believe in human nature what is there left for you to believe in? You said a moment ago that I was the first grateful person you had ever met. Then the rest of humanity are all selfish, and worshippers of themselves, and altogether vile, since you yourself say, as I do, that ingratitude is the unpardonable sin; and God has made a world full of unpardonable sinners, and unless you include yourself in the exception you graciously make in my favour, no one but I shall be saved. And yet you say also with me that God is good. Do you deny that you are utterly inconsistent?"

"I may make you some concession in a few minutes, but I am not going to yield to such logic. You have committed the fallacy of the undistributed middle term, if you care to know the proper name for it. I did not say that all men, saving you, were ungrateful. I said that, saving you, the persons I have met in my life have been ungrateful. You ought to distinguish."

"All I can say is, then, that you have had a very unfortunate experience of life," retorted Isaacs warmly.

"I have," said I, "but since you yield the technical point of logic, I will confess that I made the assertion hastily and overshot the mark. I do not remember, however, to have met any one who felt so strongly on the point as you do."

"Now you speak like a rational being," said Isaacs, quite pacified. "Extraordinary feelings are the result of unusual circumstances. I was in such distress as rarely falls to the lot of an innocent man of fine temperament and good abilities. I am now in a position of such wealth and prosperity as still more seldom are given to a man of my age and antecedents. I remember that I obtained the first step on my road to fortune through the kindness of John Westonhaugh, though I could never learn his name, and I met him at last, as you saw, by an accident. I call that accident a favour, and an opportunity bestowed on me by Allah, and the meeting has roused in me those feelings of thankfulness which, for want of an object upon which to show them, have been put away out of sight as a thing sacred for many years. I am willing you should say that, were my present fortune less, my gratitude would be proportionately less felt—it is very likely—though the original gift remain the same, one rupee and no more. You are entitled to think of any man as grateful in proportion to the gift, so long as you allow the gratitude at all." He made this speech in a perfectly natural and unconcerned way, as if he were contemplating the case of another person.

"Seriously, Isaacs, I would not do so for the world. I believe you were as grateful twelve years ago, when you were poor, as you are now that you are rich." Isaacs was silent, but a look of great gentleness crossed his face. There was at times something almost angelic in the perfect kindness of his eyes.

"To return," I said at last, "to the subject from which we started, the tigers. If we are really going, we must leave here the day after to-morrow morning—indeed, why not to-morrow?"

"No; to-morrow we are to play that game of polo, which I am looking forward to with pleasure. Besides, it will take the men three days to get the elephants together, and I only telegraphed this morning to the collector of the district to make the arrangements."

"So you have already taken steps? Does Kildare know you have sent orders?"

"Certainly. He came to me this morning at daybreak, and we determined to arrange everything and take uncle Ghyrkins for granted. You need not look astonished; Kildare and I are allies, and very good friends." What a true Oriental! How wise and far-sighted was the Persian, how bold and reckless the Irishman! It was odd, I thought, that Kildare had not mentioned the interview with Isaacs. Yet there was a certain rough delicacy—contradictory and impulsive—in his silence about this coalition with his rival. We rode along and discussed the plans for the expedition. All the men in the party, except Lord Steepleton, who had not been long in India, had killed tigers before. There would be enough of us, without asking any one else to join. The collector to whom Isaacs had telegraphed was an old acquaintance of his, and would probably go out for a few days with us. It all seemed easy enough and plain sailing. In the course of time we returned to our hotel, dressed, and made our way through the winding roads to Mr. Currie Ghyrkins' bungalow.

We were met on the verandah by the old commissioner, who welcomed us warmly and praised our punctuality, for the clock was striking seven in the drawing-room, as we divested ourselves of our light top-coats. In the vestibule, Miss Westonhaugh and her brother came forward to greet us.

"John," said the young lady, "you know I told you there was some one here whom you got out of trouble ever so many years ago in Bombay. Here he is. This is a new introduction. Mr. John Westonhaugh, Mr. Abdul Hafiz-ben-Isak, commonly known to his friends as Mr. Isaacs." Her face beamed with pleasure, and I thought with pride, as she led her brother to Isaacs, and her eyes rested long on the Persian with a look that, to me, argued something more than a mere interest. The two men clasped hands and stood for some seconds looking at each other in silence, but with very different expressions. Westonhaugh wore a look of utter amazement, though he certainly seemed pleased. The good heart that had prompted the good action twelve years before was still in the right place, above any petty considerations about nationality. His astonishment gradually changed to a smile of real greeting and pleasure, as he began to shake the hand he still held. I thought that even the faintest tinge of blood coloured his pale cheek.

"God bless my soul," said he, "I remember you perfectly well now. But it is so unexpected; my sister reminded me of the story, which I had not forgotten, and now I look at you I remember you perfectly. I am so glad."

As Isaacs answered, his voice trembled, and his face was very pale. There was a moisture in the brilliant eyes that told of genuine emotion.

"Mr. Westonhaugh, I consider that I owe to you everything I have in the world. This is a greater pleasure than I thought was in store for me. Indeed I thank you again."

His voice would not serve him. He stopped short and turned away to look for something in his coat.

"Indeed," said Westonhaugh, "it was a very little thing I did for you." And presently the two men went together into the drawing-room, Wostonhaugh asking all manner of questions, which Isaacs, who was himself again, began to answer. The rest of us remained in the vestibule to meet Lord Steepleton, who at that moment came up the steps. There were more greetings, and then the head khitmatgar appeared and informed the "Sahib log, protectors of the poor, that their meat was ready." So we filed into the dining-room.

Isaacs was placed at Miss Westonhaugh's right, and her brother sat on his other side. Ghyrkins was opposite his niece at the other end, and Kildare and I were together, facing Westonhaugh and Isaacs, a party of six. Of course Kildare sat beside the lady.

The dinner opened very pleasantly. I could see that Isaacs' undisguised gratitude and delight in having at last met the man who had helped him had strongly predisposed John Westonhaugh in his favour. Who is it that is not pleased at finding that some deed of kindness, done long ago with hardly a thought, has borne fruit and been remembered and treasured up by the receiver as the turning-point in his life? Is there any pleasure greater than that we enjoy through the happiness of others—in those rare cases where kindness is not misplaced? I had had time to reflect that Isaacs had most likely told a part of his story to Miss Westonhaugh on the previous afternoon as soon as he had recognised her brother. He might have told her before; I did not know how long he had known her, but it must have been some time. Presently she turned to him.

"Mr. Isaacs," said she, "some of us know something of your history. Why will you not tell us the rest now? My uncle has heard nothing of it, and I know Lord Steepleton is fond of novels."

Isaacs hesitated long, but as every one pressed him in turn, he yielded at last. And he told it well. It was exactly the narrative he had given me, in every detail of fact, but the whole effect was different. I saw how true a mastery he had of the English language, for he knew his audience thoroughly, and by a little colour here and an altered expression there he made it graphic and striking, not without humour, and altogether free of a certain mystical tinge he had imparted to it when we were alone. He talked easily, with no more constraint than on other occasions, and his narrative was a small social success. I had not seen him in evening dress before, and I could not help thinking how much more thoroughly he looked the polished man of the world than the other men. Kildare never appeared to greater advantage than in the uniform and trappings of his profession. In a black coat and a white tie he looked like any other handsome young Englishman, utterly without individuality. But Isaacs, with his pale complexion and delicate high-bred features, bore himself like a noble of the old school. Westonhaugh beside him looked washed-out and deathly, Kildare was too coarsely healthy, and Ghyrkins and I, representing different types of extreme plainness, served as foils to all three.

I watched Miss Westonhaugh while Isaacs was speaking. She had evidently heard the whole story, for her expression showed beforehand the emotion she expected to feel at each point. Her colour came and went softly, and her eyes brightened with a warm light beneath the dark brows that contrasted so strangely yet delightfully with the mass of flaxen-white hair. She wore something dark and soft, cut square at the neck, and a plain circlet of gold was her only ornament. She was a beautiful creature, certainly; one of those striking-looking women of whom something is always expected, until they drop quietly out of youth into middle age, and the world finds out that they are, after all, not heroines of romance, but merely plain, honest, good women; good wives and good mothers who love their homes and husbands well, though it has pleased nature in some strange freak to give them the form and feature of a Semiramis, a Cleopatra, or a Jeanne d'Arc.

"Dear me, how very interesting!" exclaimed Mr. Ghyrkins, looking up from his hill mutton as Isaacs finished, and a little murmur of sympathetic applause went round the table.

"I would give a great deal to have been through all that," said Lord Steepleton, slowly proceeding to sip a glass of claret.

"Just think!" ejaculated John Westonhaugh. "And I was entertaining such a Sinbad unawares!" and he took another green pepper from the dish his servant handed him.

"Upon my word, Isaacs," I said, "some one ought to make a novel of that story; it would sell like wildfire."

"Why don't you do it yourself, Griggs?" he asked. "You are a pressman, and I am sure you are welcome to the whole thing."

"I will," I answered.

"Oh do, Mr. Griggs," said the young lady, "and make it wind up with a tiger-hunt. You could lay the scene in Australia or the Barbadoes, or some of those places, and put us all in—and kill us all off, if you like, you know. It would be such fun." Poor Miss Westonhaugh!

"It is easy to see what you are thinking about most, Miss Westonhaugh," said Lord Steepleton: "the tigers are uppermost in your mind; and therefore in mine also," he added gallantly.

"Indeed, no—I was thinking about Mr. Isaacs." She blushed scarlet—the first time I had ever seen her really embarrassed. It was very natural that she should be thinking of Isaacs and the strange adventures he had just recounted; and if she had not cared about him she would not have changed colour. So I thought, at all events.

"My dear, drink some water immediately, this curry is very hot—deuced hot, in fact," said Mr. Ghyrkins, in perfectly good faith.

John Westonhaugh, who was busy breaking up biscuits and green peppers and "Bombay ducks" into his curry, looked up slowly at his sister and smiled.

"Why, you are quite a griffin, Katharine," said he, "how they will laugh at you in Bombay!" I was amused; of course the remarks of her uncle and brother did not make the blush subside—on the contrary. Kildare was drinking more claret, to conceal his annoyance. Isaacs had a curious expression. There was a short silence, and for one instant he turned his eyes to Miss Westonhaugh. It was only a look, but it betrayed to me—who knew what he felt—infinite surprise, joy, and sympathy. His quick understanding had comprehended that he had scored his first victory over his rival.

As her eyes met those of Isaacs, the colour left her cheeks as suddenly as it had come, leaving her face dead white. She drank a little water, and presently seemed at ease again. I was beginning to think she cared for him seriously.

"And pray, John," she asked, "what may a griffin be? It is not a very pretty name to call a young lady, is it?"

"Why, a griffin," put in Mr. Ghyrkins, "is the 'Mr. Verdant Green' of the Civil Service. A young civilian—or anybody else—who is just out from home is called a griffin. John calls you a griffin because you don't understand eating pepper. You don't find it as chilly as he does! Ha! ha! ha!" and the old fellow laughed heartily, till he was red in the face, at his bleared old pun. Of course every one was amused or professed to be, for it was a diversion welcomed by the three men of us who had seen the young girl's embarrassment.

"A griffin," said I, "is a thing of joy. Mr. Westonhaugh was a griffin when he gave Mr. Isaacs that historical rupee." I cast my little bombshell into the conversation, and placidly went on manipulating my rice.

Isaacs was in too gay a humour to be offended, and he only said, turning to Miss Westonhaugh—

"Mr. Griggs is a cynyic, you know. You must not believe anything he says."

"If doing kind things makes one a griffin, I hope I may be one always," said Miss Westonhaugh quickly, "and I trust my brother is as much a griffin as ever."

"I am, I assure you," said he. "But Mr. Griggs is quite right, and shows a profound knowledge of Indian life. No one but a griffin of the greenest ever gave anybody a rupee in Bombay—or ever will now, I should think."

"Oh, John, are you going to be cynical too?"

"No, Katharine, I am not cynical at all. I do not think you are quite sure what a 'cynic' is."

"Oh yes, I know quite well. Diogenes was a cynic, and Saint Jerome, and other people of that class."

"A man who lives in a tub, and abuses Alexander the Great, and that sort of thing," remarked Kildare, who had not spoken for some time.

"Mr. Griggs," said John Westonhaugh, "since you are the accused, pray define what you mean by a cynic, and then Mr. Isaacs, as the accuser, can have a chance too."

"Very well, I will. A man is a cynic if he will do no good to any one because he believes every one past improvement. Most men who do good actions are also cynics, because they well know that they are doing more harm than good by their charity. Mr. Westonhaugh has the discrimination to appreciate this, and therefore he is not a cynic."

"It is well you introduced the saving clause, Griggs," said Isaacs to me from across the table. "I am going to define you now; for I strongly suspect that you are the very ideal of a philosopher of that class. You are a man who believes in all that is good and beautiful in theory, but by too much indifference to good in small measures—for you want a thing perfect, or you want it not at all—-you have abstracted yourself from perceiving it anywhere, except in the most brilliant examples of heroism that history affords. You set up in your imagination an ideal which you call the good man, and you are utterly dissatisfied with anything less perfect than perfection. The result is that, though you might do a good action from your philosophical longing to approach the ideal in your own person, you will not suffer yourself to believe that others are consciously or unconsciously striving to make themselves better also. And you do not believe that any one can be made a better man by any one else, by any exterior agency, by any good that you or others may do to him. What makes you what you are is the fact that you really cherish this beautiful ideal image of your worship and reverence, and love it; but for this, you would be the most insufferable man of my acquaintance, instead of being the most agreeable."

Isaacs was gifted with a marvellous frankness of speech. He always said what he meant, with a supreme indifference to consequences; but he said it with such perfect honesty and evident appreciation of what was good, even when he most vehemently condemned what he did not like, that it was impossible to be annoyed. Every one laughed at his attack on me, and having satisfied my desire to observe Miss Westonhaugh, which had prompted my first remark about griffins, I thought it was time to turn the conversation to the projected hunt.

"My dear fellow," I said, "I think that in spite of your Parthian shaft, your definition of a cynic is as complimentary to the school at large as to me in particular. Meanwhile, however," I added, turning to Mr. Ghyrkins, "I am inclined to believe with Lord Steepleton that the subject uppermost in the thoughts of most of us is the crusade against the tigers. What do you say? Shall we not all go as we are, a neat party of six?"

"Well, well, Mr. Griggs, we shall see, you know. Now, if we are going at all, when do you mean to start?"

"The sooner the better of course," broke in Kildare, and he launched into a host of reasons for going immediately, including the wildest statistics about the habits of tigers in winter. This was quite natural, however, as he was a thorough Irishman and had never seen a tiger in his life. Mr. Currie Ghyrkins vainly attempted to stem the torrent of his eloquence, but at last pinned him on some erratic statement about tigers moulting later in the year and their skins not being worth taking. Kildare would have asserted with equal equanimity that all tigers shed their teeth and their tails in December; he was evidently trying to rouse Mr. Ghyrkins into a discussion on the subject of tiger shooting in general, a purpose very easily accomplished. The old gentleman was soon goaded to madness by Kildare's wonderful opinions, and before long he vowed that the youngster had never seen a tiger,—not one in his whole life, sir,—and that it was high time he did, high time indeed, and he swore he should see one before he was a week older. Yes, sir, before he was a week older, "if I have to carry you among 'em like a baby in arms, sir, by gad, sir—I should think so!"

This was all we wanted, and in another ten minutes we were drinking a bumper to the health of the whole tiger-hunt and of Miss Westonhaugh in particular. Isaacs joined with the rest, and though he only drank some sherbet, as I watched his bright eyes and pale cheek, I thought that never knight drank truer toast to his lady. Miss Westonhaugh rose and went out, leaving us to smoke for a while. The conversation was general, and turned on the chase, of course. In a few minutes Isaacs dropped his cigarette and went quietly out. I determined to detain the rest as long as possible, and I seconded Mr. Ghyrkins in passing the claret briskly round, telling all manner of stories of all nations and peoples—ancient tales that would not amuse a schoolboy in America, but which were a revelation of profound wit and brilliant humour to the unsophisticated British mind. By immense efforts—and I hate to exert myself in conversation—I succeeded in prolonging the session through a cigar and a half, but at last I was forced to submit to a move; and with a somewhat ancient remark from Mr. Ghyrkins, to the effect that all good things must come to an end, we returned to the drawing-room.

Isaacs and Miss Westonhaugh were looking over some English photographs, and she was enthusiastically praising the beauties of Gothic architecture, while Isaacs was making the most of his opportunity, and taking a good look at her as she bent over the album. After we came in, she made a little music at the tuneless piano—there never was a piano in India yet that had any tune in it—playing and singing a little, very prettily. She sang something about a body in the rye, and then something else about drinking only with the eyes, to which her brother sang a sort of second very nicely. I do not understand much about music, but I thought the allusion to Isaacs' temperance in only drinking with his eyes was rather pointed. He said, however, that he liked it even better with a second than when she sang it alone, so I argued that it was not the first time he had heard it.

"Mr. Isaacs," said she, "you have often promised to sing something Persian for us. Will you not keep your word now?"

"When we are among the tigers, Miss Westonhaugh, next week. Then I will try and borrow a lute and sing you something."

It was late for an Indian dinner-party, so we took our departure soon afterwards, having agreed to meet the following afternoon at Annandale for the game of polo, in which Westonhaugh said he would also play. He and Isaacs made some appointment for the morning; they seemed to be very sympathetic to each other. Kildare mounted and rode homeward with us, though he had much farther to go than we. If he felt any annoyance at the small successes Isaacs had achieved during the evening, he was far too courteous a gentleman to show it; and so, as we groped our way through the trees by the starlight, chiefly occupied in keeping our horses on their legs, the snatches of conversation that were possible were pleasant, if not animated, and there was a cordial "Good-night" on both sides, as we left Kildare to pursue his way alone.

* * * * *



CHAPTER VIII.

It was nearly four o'clock in the afternoon when Isaacs and I emerged from the narrow road upon the polo ground. We were clad in the tight-fitting garments which are necessary for the game, and wrapped in light top-coats; as we came out on the green we saw a number of other men in similar costume standing about, and a great many native grooms leading ponies up and down. Miss Westonhaugh was there in her gray habit and broad hat, and by her side, on foot, Lord Steepleton Kildare was making the most of his time, as he waited for the rest of the players. Mr. Currie Ghyrkins was ambling about on his broad little horse, and John Westonhaugh stood with his hands in his pockets and a large Trichinopoli cheroot between his lips, apparently gazing into space. Several other men, more or less known to us and to each other, moved about or chatted disconnectedly, and one or two arrived after us. Some of them wore coloured jerseys that showed brightly over the open collars of their coats, others were in ordinary dress and had come to see the game. Farther off, at one side of the ground, one or two groups of ladies and their escorting cavaliers haunted at a short distance by their saices in many-coloured turbans and belts, or cummer-bunds, as the sash is called in India, moved slowly about, glancing from time to time towards the place where the players and their ponies were preparing for the contest.

Few games require so little preparation and so few preliminaries as polo, descended as it is from an age when more was thought of good horsemanship and quick eye than of any little refinements depending on an accurate knowledge of fixed rules. Any one who is a firstrate rider and is quick with his hands can learn to play polo. The stiffest of arms can be limbered and the most recalcitrant wrist taught to turn nimbly in its socket; but the essential condition is, that the player should know how to ride. This being established, there is no reason why anybody who likes should not play the game, if he will only use a cetrain amount of caution, and avoid braining the other players and injuring the ponies by too wild a use of his mallet. Presently it was found that all who were to play had arrived—eight of us all told. Kildare had arranged the sides and had brought the other men necessary to make the number complete, so we mounted and took up our positions on the ground. Kildare and Isaacs were together, and Westonhaugh and I on the other side, with two men I knew slightly. We won the charge, and Westonhaugh, who was a celebrated player, struck the ball off cleverly, and I followed him up with a rush as he raced after it. Isaacs, on the other side, swept along easily, and as the ball swerved on striking the ground bent far over till he looked as though he were out of the saddle and stopped it cleverly, while Kildare, who was close behind, got a good stroke in just in time, as Westonhaugh and I galloped down on him, and landed the ball far to the rear near our goal. As we wheeled quickly, I saw that one of the other two men on our side had stopped it and was beginning to "dribble" it along. This was very bad play, both Westonhaugh and I being so far forward, and it met its reward. Isaacs and Kildare raced down on him, but the latter soon pulled up on finding himself passed, and waited. Isaacs rushed upon the temporising player and got the ball away from him in no time; eluded the other man, and with a neat stroke sent the ball right between the poles. The game had hardly lasted three minutes, and a little sound of clapping was heard from where the spectators were standing, far off on one side. I could see Miss Westonhaugh plainly, as she cantered with her uncle to where the victors were standing together on the other side, patting their ponies and adjusting stirrup and saddle. Isaacs had his back turned, but wheeled round as he heard the sound of hoofs behind him and bowed low in his saddle to the fair girl, whose face, I could see even at that distance, was flushed with pleasure. They remained a few minutes in conversation, and then the two spectators rode away, and we took up our positions once more.

The next game was a much longer one. It was the turn of the other party to hit off, for Kildare won the charge. There were encounters of all kinds; twice the ball was sent over the line, but outside the goal, by long sweeping blows from Isaacs, who ever hovered on the edge of the scrimmage, and, by his good riding, and the help of a splendid pony, often had a chance where another would have had none. At last it happened that I was chasing the ball back towards our goal, from one of his hits, and he was pursuing me. I had the advantage of a long start, and before he could reach me I got in a heavy "backhander" that sent the ball far away to one side, where, as good luck would have it, Westonhaugh was waiting. Quick as thought he carried it along, and in another minute we had scored a goal, amidst enthusiastic shouts from the spectators, who had been kept long in suspense by the protracted game. This time it was to our side that the young girl came, riding up to her brother to congratulate him on his success. I thought she had less colour as she came nearer, and though she smiled sweetly as she said, "It was splendidly played, John," there was not so much enthusiasm in her voice as the said John, who had really won the game with masterly neatness, might have expected. Then she sat quietly looking over the ground, while we dismounted from our ponies, breathless, and foaming, and lathery, from the hard-fought battle. The grooms ran up with blankets and handfuls of grass to give the poor beasts a rub, and covering them carefully after removing the saddles, led them away.

The sun leaves Annandale early, and I put on a coat and lit a cigarette, while the saice saddled our second mounts. There are few prettier sights than an English game, of any kind, on a beautiful stretch of turf. The English live, and move and have their being out of doors. A cricket-match, tennis, a racecourse, or a game of polo, show them at their greatest advantage, whether as players or spectators. Their fresh complexions suit the green of the grass and of the trees as naturally as a bed of roses, or cyclamens, or any fresh and healthy flower will combine with the grass and the ferns in garden or glen. The glorious vitality that belongs to their race seems to blossom freshly in the contact with their mother earth, and the physical capacity for motion with which nature endows them makes them graceful and fascinating to watch, when in some free and untrammelled dress of white they are at their games, batting and bowling and galloping and running; they have the same natural grace then as a herd of deer or antelopes; they are beautiful animals in the full enjoyment of life and vigour, of health and strength; they are intensely alive. Something of this kind passed through my mind, in all probability, and, combined with the delightful sensation any strong man feels in the pause after great exertion, disposed me well towards my fellows and towards mankind at large. Besides we had won the last game.

"You look pleased, Mr. Griggs," said Miss Westonhaugh, who had probably been watching me for a moment or two. "I did not know cynics were ever pleased."

"I remember who it was that promised to crown the victors of this match, Miss Westonhaugh, and I cherish some hopes of being one of them. Would you mind very much?"

"Mind? Oh dear no; you had better try. But if you stand there with your coat on, you will not have much chance. They are all mounted, and waiting for you."

"Well, here goes," I said to myself, as I got into the saddle again. "I hope he may win, but he would find me out in a minute if I tried to play into his hands." We were only to play the best out of three goals, and the score was "one all." All eight of us had fresh mounts, and the experience of each other's play we had got in the preceding games made it likely that the game would be a long one. And so it turned out.

From the first things went badly. John Westonhaugh's fresh pony was very wild, and he had to take him a breather half over the ground before he could take his place for the charge. When at last the first stroke was made, the ball went low along the ground, spinning and twisting to right and left. Both Kildare and Isaacs missed it and wheeled across to return, when a prolonged scrimmage ensued less than thirty yards from their goal. Every one played his best, and we wheeled and spun round in a way that reminded one of a cavalry skirmish. Strokes and back-strokes followed quickly, till at last I got the ball as it came rolling out between my horse's legs, and, hotly pursued, beyond the possibility of making a fair stroke, I moved away with it in front of me.

Then began one of those interminable circular games that all polo players know so well, round and round the battlefield, riding close together, sometimes one succeeding in driving the ball a little, only to be foiled by the next man's ill-delivered back-stroke; racing, and pulling up short, and racing again, till horses and riders were in a perspiration and a state of madness not to be attained by any peaceful means. At last, as we were riding near our own goal, some one, I could not see who, struck the ball out into the open. Isaacs, who had just missed, and was ahead, rode for it like a madman, his club raised high for a back-stroke. He was hotly pressed by the man who had roused my wrath in the first game by his "dribbling" policy. He was a light weight and had kept his best horse for the last game, so that as Isaacs spun along at lightning speed the little man was very close to him, his club well back for a sweeping hit. He rode well, but was evidently not so old a hand in the game as the rest of us. They neared the ball rapidly and Isaacs swerved a little to the left in order to get it well under his right hand, thus throwing himself somewhat across the track of his pursuer. As the Persian struck with all his force downwards and backwards, his adversary, excited by the chase, beyond all judgment or reckoning of his chances, hit out wildly, as beginners will. The long elastic handle of his weapon struck Isaacs' horse on the flank and glanced upward, the head of the club striking Isaacs just above the back of the neck. We saw him throw up his arms, the club in his right hand hanging to his wrist by the strap. The infuriated little arab pony tore on, and in a moment more the iron grip of the rider's knees relaxed, Isaacs swayed heavily in the saddle and fell over on the near side, his left foot hanging in the stirrup and dragging him along some paces before the horse finally shook himself clear and scampered away across the turf. The whole catastrophe occurred in a moment; the man who had done the mischief threw away his club to reach the injured player the sooner, and as we thundered after him, my pony stumbled over the long handle, and falling, threw me heavily over his head. I escaped with a very slight kick from one of the other horses, and leaving my beast to take care of himself, ran as fast as I could to where Isaacs lay, now surrounded by the six players as they dismounted to help him. But there was some one there before them.

The accident had occurred near the middle of the ground, and opposite the place where Miss Westonhaugh and her uncle had taken up their stand to watch the contest. With a shake of the reins and a blow of the hand that made the thoroughbred bound his length as he plunged into a gallop, the girl rode wildly to where Isaacs lay, and reining the animal back on his haunches, sprang to the ground and knelt quickly down, so that before the others had reached them she had propped up his head and was rubbing his hands in hers. There was no mistaking the impulse that prompted her. She had seen many an accident in the hunting-field, and knew well that when a man fell like that it was ten to one he was badly hurt.

Isaacs was ghastly pale, and there was a little blood on Miss Westonhaugh's white gauntlet. Her face was whiter even than his, though not a quiver of mouth or eyelash betrayed emotion. The man who had done it knelt on the other side, rubbing one of the hands. Kildare and Westonhaugh galloped off at full speed, and presently returned bearing a brandy-flask and a smelling-bottle, and followed by a groom with some water in a native lota. I wanted to make him swallow some of the liquor, but Miss Westonhaugh took the flask from my hands.

"He would not like it. He never drinks it, you know," she said in a quiet low voice, and pouring some of the contents on her handkerchief, moistened all his brows and face and hair with the powerful alcohol.

"Loosen his belt! pull off his boots, some of you!" cried Mr. Currie Ghyrkins, as he came up breathless. "Take off his belt—damn it, you know! Dear, dear!" and he got off his tat with all the alacrity he could muster.

Miss Westonhaugh never took her eyes from the face of the prostrate man—pressing the wet handkerchief to his brow, and moistening the palm of the hand she held with brandy. In a few minutes Isaacs breathed a long heavy breath, and opened his eyes.

"What is the matter?" he said; then, recollecting himself and trying to move his head—"Oh! I have had a tumble. Give me some water to drink." There was a sigh of relief from every one present as he spoke, quite naturally, and I held the lota to his lips. "What became of the ball?" he asked quickly, as he sat up. Then turning round, he saw the beautiful girl kneeling at his side. The blood rushed violently to his face, and his eyes, a moment ago dim with unconsciousness, flashed brightly. "What! Miss Westonhaugh—you?" he bounded to his feet, but would have fallen back if I had not caught him in my arms, for he was still dizzy from the heavy blow that had stunned him. The blood came and went in his cheeks, and he hung on my arm confused and embarrassed, looking on the ground.

"I really owe you all manner of apologies—" he began.

"Not a bit of it, my dear boy," broke in Ghyrkins, "my niece was nearest to you when you fell, and so she came up and did the right thing, like the brave girl she is." The old fellow helped her to rise as he said this, and he looked so pleased and proud of her that I was delighted with him. "And now," he went on, "we must see how much you are hurt—the deuce of a knock, you know, enough to kill you—and if you are not able to ride, why, we will carry you home, you know; the devil of a way off it is, too, confound it all." As he jerked out his sentences he was feeling the back of Isaacs' head, to ascertain, if he could, how much harm had been done. All this time the man who had done the mischief was standing by, looking very penitent, and muttering sentences of apology as he tried to perform any little office for his victim that came in his way. Isaacs stretched out his arm, while Ghyrkins was feeling and twisting his head, and taking the man's hand, held it a moment.

"My dear sir," he said, "I am not in the least hurt, I assure you, and it was my fault for crossing you at such a moment. Please do not think anything more about it." He smiled kindly at the young fellow, who seemed very grateful, and who from that day on would have risked everything in the world for him. I heard behind me the voice of Kildare, soliloquising softly.

"Faith," said he, "that fellow is a gentleman if I ever saw one. I am afraid I should not have let that infernal duffer off so easily. By-the-bye, Isaacs," he said aloud, coming up to us, "you know you won the game. Nobody stopped the ball after you hit it, and the saices say it ran right through the goal. So cheer up; you have got something for your pains and your tumble." It was quite true; the phlegmatic saices had watched the ball instead of the falling man. Miss Westonhaugh, who was really a sensible and self-possessed young woman, and had begun to be sure that the accident would have no serious results, expressed the most unbounded delight.

"Thank you, Miss Westonhaugh," said Isaacs; "you have kept your promise; you have crowned the victor."

"With brandy," I remarked, folding up a scarf which somebody had given me wherewith to tie a wet compress to the back of his head.

"There is nothing the matter," said Ghyrkins; "no end of a bad bruise, that's all. He will be all right in the morning, and the skin is only a little broken."

"Griggs," said Isaacs, who could now stand quite firm again, "hold the wet handkerchief in place, and give me that scarf." I did as he directed, and he took the white woollen shawl, and in half a dozen turns wound it round his head in a turban, deftly and gracefully. It was wonderfully becoming to his Oriental features and dark eyes, and I could see that Miss Westonhaugh thought so. There was a murmur of approbation from the native grooms who were looking on, and who understood the thing.

"You see I have done it before," he said, smiling. "And now give me my coat, and we will be getting home. Oh yes! I can ride quite well."

"That man has no end of pluck in him," said John Westonhaugh to Kildare.

"By Jove! yes," was the answer. "I have seen men at home make twice the fuss over a tumble in a ploughed field, when they were not even stunned. I would not have thought it."

"He is not the man to make much fuss about anything of that kind."

Isaacs stoutly refused any further assistance, and after walking up and down a few minutes, he said he had got his legs back, and demanded a cigarette. He lit it carefully, and mounted as if nothing had happened, and we moved homeward, followed by the spectators, many of whom, of course, were acquaintances, and who had ridden up more or less quickly to make polite inquiries about the accident. No one disputed with Isaacs the right to ride beside Miss Westonhaugh on the homeward road. He was the victor of the day, and of course was entitled to the best place. We were all straggling along, but without any great intervals between us, so that the two were not able to get away as they had done on Saturday evening, but they talked, and I heard Miss Westonhaugh laugh. Isaacs was determined to show that he appreciated his advantage, and though, for all I know, he might be suffering a good deal of pain, he talked gaily and sat his horse easily, rather a strange figure in his light-coloured English overcoat, surmounted by the large white turban he had made out of the shawl. As we came out on the mall at the top of the hill, Mr. Ghyrkins called a council of war.

"Of course we shall have to put off the tiger-hunt."

"I suppose so," muttered Kildare, disconsolately.

"Why?" said Isaacs. "Not a bit of it. Head or no head, we will start to-morrow morning. I am well enough, never fear."

"Nonsense, you know it's nonsense," said Ghyrkins, "you will be in bed all day with a raging headache. Horrid things, knocks on the back of the head."

"Not I. My traps are all packed, and my servants have gone down to Kalka, and I am going to-morrow morning."

"Well, of course, if you really think you can," etc. etc. So he was prevailed upon to promise that if he should be suffering in the morning he would send word in time to put off the party. "Besides," he added, "even if I could not go, that is no reason why you should not."

"Stuff," said Ghyrkins.

"Oh!" said Miss Westonhaugh, looking rather blank.

"That would never do," said John.

"Preposterous! we could not think of going without you," said Lord Steepleton Kildare loudly; he was beginning to like Isaacs in spite of himself. And so we parted.

"I shall not dine to-night, Griggs," said Isaacs, as we paused before his door. "Come in for a moment: you can help me." We entered the richly carpeted room, and he went to a curious old Japanese cabinet, and after opening various doors and divisions, showed a small iron safe. This he opened by some means known to himself, for he used no key, and he took out a small vessel of jade and brought it to the light. "Now," he said, "be good enough to warm this little jar in your hands while I go into the next room and get my boots and spurs and things off. But do not open it on any account—not on any account, until I come back," he added very emphatically.

"All right, go ahead," said I, and began to warm the cold thing that felt like a piece of ice between my hands. He returned in a few minutes robed in loose garments from Kashmir, with the low Eastern slippers he generally wore indoors. He sat down among his cushions and leaned back, looking pale and tired; after ordering the lamps to be lit and the doors closed, he motioned me to sit down beside him.

"I have had a bad shaking," he said, "and my head is a good deal bruised. But I mean to go to-morrow in spite of everything. In that little vial there is a powerful remedy unknown in your Western medicine. Now I want you to apply it, and to follow with the utmost exactness my instructions. If you fear you should forget what I tell you, write it down, for a mistake might be fatal to you, and would certainly be fatal to me."

I took out an old letter and a pencil, not daring to trust my memory.

"Put the vial in your bosom while you write: it must be near the temperature of the body. Now listen to me. In that silver box is wax. Tie first this piece of silk over your mouth, and then stop your nostrils carefully with the wax. Then open the vial quickly and pour a little of the contents into your hand. You must be quick, for it is very volatile. Rub that on the back of my head, keeping the vial closed. When your hand is dry, hold the vial open to my nostrils for two minutes by your watch. By that time, I shall be asleep. Put the vial in this pocket of my caftan; open all the doors and windows, and tell my servant to leave them so, but not to admit any one. Then you can leave me; I shall sleep very comfortably. Come back and wake me a little before midnight. You will wake me easily by lifting my head and pressing one of my hands. Remember, if you should forget to wake me, and I should still be asleep at one o'clock, I should never open my eyes again, and should be dead before morning. Do as I tell you, for friendship's sake, and when I wake I shall bathe and sleep naturally the rest of the night."

I carefully fulfilled his instructions. Before I had finished rubbing his head he was drowsy, and when I took the vial from his nostrils he was sound asleep. I placed the precious thing where he had told me, and arranged his limbs on the cushions. Then I opened everything, and leaving the servant in charge went my way to my rooms. On removing the silk and the wax which had protected me from the powerful drug, an indescribable odour which permeated my clothes ascended to my nostrils; aromatic, yet pungent and penetrating; I never smelt anything that it reminded me of, but I presume the compound contained something of the nature of an opiate. I took some books down to Isaacs' rooms and passed the evening there, unwilling to leave him to the care of an inquisitive servant, and five minutes before midnight I awoke him in the manner he had directed. He seemed to be sleeping lightly, for he was awake in a moment, and his first action was to replace the vial in the curious safe. He professed himself perfectly restored; and, indeed, on examining his bruise I found there was no swelling or inflammation. The odour of the medicament, which, as he had said, seemed to be very volatile, had almost entirely disappeared. He begged me to go to bed, saying that he would bathe and then do likewise, and I left him for the night; speculating on the nature of this secret and precious remedy.

* * * * *



CHAPTER IX.

The Himalayan tonga is a thing of delight. It is easily described, for in principle it is the ancient Persian war-chariot, though the accommodation is so modified as to allow four persons to sit in it back to back; that is, three besides the driver. It is built for great strength, the wheels being enormously heavy, and the pole of the size of a mast. Harness the horses have none, save a single belt with a sort of lock at the top, which fits into the iron yoke through the pole, and can slide from it to the extremity; there is neither breeching nor trace nor collar, and the reins run from the heavy curb bit directly through loops on the yoke to the driver's hands. The latter, a wiry, long-bearded Mohammedan, is armed with a long whip attached to a short thick stock, and though he sits low, on the same level as the passenger beside him on the front seat, he guides his half broken horses with amazing dexterity round sharp curves and by giddy precipices, where neither parapet nor fencing give the startled mind even a momentary impression of security. The road from Simla to Kalka at the foot of the hills is so narrow that if two vehicles meet, the one has to draw up to the edge of the road, while the other passes on its way. In view of the frequent encounters, every tonga-driver is provided with a post horn of tremendous power and most discordant harmony; for the road is covered with bullock carts bearing provisions and stores to the hill station. Smaller loads, such as trunks and other luggage, are generally carried by coolies, who follow a shorter path, the carriage road being ninety-two miles from Umballa, the railroad station, to Simla, but a certain amount may be stowed away in the tonga, of which the capacity is considerable.

In three of these vehicles our party of six began the descent on Tuesday morning, wrapped in linen "dusters" of various shades and shapes, and armed with countless varieties of smoking gear. The roughness of the road precludes all possibility of reading, and, after all, the rapid motion and the constant appearance of danger—which in reality does not exist—prevent any overpowering ennui from assailing the dusty traveller. So we spun along all day, stopping once or twice for a little refreshment, and changing horses every five or six miles. Everybody was in capital spirits, and we changed seats often, thus obtaining some little variety. Isaacs, who to every one's astonishment, seemed not to feel any inconvenience from his accident, clung to his seat in Miss Westonhaugh's tonga, sitting in front with the driver, while she and her uncle or brother occupied the seat behind, which is far more comfortable. At last, however, he was obliged to give his place to Kildare, who had been very patient, but at last said it "really wasn't fair, you know," and so Isaacs courteously yielded. At last we reached Kalka, where the tongas are exchanged for dak gharry or mail carriage, a thing in which you can sit up in the daytime and lie down at night, there being an extension under the driver's box calculated for the accommodation of the longest legs. When lying down in one of these vehicles the sensation is that of being in a hearse and playing a game of funeral. On this occasion, however, it was still early when we made the change, and we paired off, two and two, for the last part of the drive. By the well planned arrangements of Isaacs and Kildare, two carriages were in readiness for us on the express train, and though the difference in temperature was enormous between Simla and the plains, still steaming from the late rainy season, the travelling was made easy for us, and we settled ourselves for the journey, after dining at the little hotel; Miss Westonhaugh bidding us all a cheery "good-night" as she retired with her ayah into the carriage prepared for her. I will not go into tedious details of the journey—we slept and woke and slept again, and smoked, and occasionally concocted iced drinks from our supplies, for in India the carriages are so large that the traveller generally provides himself with a generous basket of provisions and a travelling ice-chest full of bottles, and takes a trunk or two with him in his compartment. Suffice it to say that we arrived on the following day at Fyzabad in Oude, and that we were there met by guides and shikarries—the native huntsmen—who assured us that there were tigers about near the outlying station of Pegnugger, where the elephants, previously ordered, would all be in readiness for us on the following day. The journey from Fyzabad to Pegnugger was not a long one, and we set out in the cool of the evening, sending our servants along in that "happy-go-lucky" fashion which characterises Indian life. It has always been a mystery to me how native servants manage always to turn up at the right moment. You say to your man, "Go there and wait for me," and you arrive and find him waiting; though how he transferred himself thither, with his queer-looking bundle, and his lota, and cooking utensils, and your best teapot wrapped up in a newspaper and ready for use, and with all the other hundred and one things that a native servant contrives to carry about without breaking or losing one of them, is an unsolved puzzle. Yet there he is, clean and grinning as ever, and if he were not clean and grinning and provided with tea and cheroots, you would not keep him in your service a day, though you would be incapable of looking half so spotless and pleased under the same circumstances yourself.

On the following day, therefore, we found ourselves at Pegnugger, surrounded by shikarries and provided with every instrument of the chase that the ingenuity of man and the foresight of Isaacs and Ghyrkins could provide. There were numbers of tents, sleeping tents, cooking tents, and servants' tents; guns and ammunition of every calibre likely to be useful; kookries, broad strong weapons not unlike the famous American bowie knives (which are all made in Sheffield, to the honour, glory, and gain, of British trade); there were huge packs of provisions edible and potable; baskets of utensils for the kitchen and the table, and piles of blankets and tenting gear for the camp. There was also the little collector of Pegnugger, whose small body housed a stout heart, for he had shot tigers on foot before now in company with a certain German doctor of undying sporting fame, whose big round spectacles seemed to direct his bullets with unerring precision. But the doctor was not here now, and so the sturdy Englishman condescended to accept a seat in the howdah, and to kill his game with somewhat less risk than usual.

This first day was occupied in transferring our party, now swelled by countless beaters and numerous huntsmen, not to mention all the retinue of servants necessary for an Indian camp, to the neighbourhood of the battlefield. There is not much conversation on these occasions, for the party is apt to become scattered, and there is a general tone of expectancy in the air, the old hands conversing more with the natives who know the district than with each other, and the young ones either wondering how many tigers they will kill, or listening open mouthed to the tales of adventure reeled off by the yard by the old bearded shikarry, who has slain the king of the jungle with a kookrie in hand to hand struggle when he was young, and bears the scars of the deadly encounter on his brown chest to this day. Old Ghyrkins, who was evidently in his element, rode about on a little tat, questioning beaters and shikarries, and coming back every now and then to bawl up some piece of information to the little collector, who had established himself on one of the elephants and looked down over the edge of the howdah, the great pith hat on his head making him look like an immense mushroom with a very thin stem sprouting suddenly from the back of the huge beast. He smiled pleasantly at the old sportsman from his elevation, and seemed to know all about it. It so chanced that when he received Isaacs' telegrams he had been planning a little excursion on his own account, and had been sending out scouts and beaters for some days to ascertain where the game lay. This, of course, was so much clear gain to us, and the little man was delighted at the opportune coincidence which enabled him, by the unlimited money supplied, to join in such a hunt as he had not seen since the time when the Prince of Wales disported himself among the royal game, three years before. As for Miss Westonhaugh, she was in the gayest of spirits, as she sat with her brother on an elephant's back, while Isaacs, who loved the saddle, circled round her and kept up a fire of little compliments and pretty speeches, to which she was fast becoming inured. Kildare and I followed them closely on another elephant, discoursing seriously about the hunt, and occasionally shouting some question to John Westonhaugh, ahead, about sport in the south.

Before evening we had arrived at our first camping ground, near a small village on the outskirts of the jungle, and the tents were pitched on a little elevation covered with grass, now green and waving. The men had mowed a patch clear, and were busy with the pegs and all the paraphernalia of a canvas house, and we strolled about, some of us directing the operations, others offering a sacrifice of cooling liquids and tobacco to the setting sun. Miss Westonhaugh had heard about living in tents ever since she came to India, and had often longed to sleep in one of those temporary chambers that are set up anywhere in the "compound" of an English bungalow for the accommodation of the bachelor guests whom the house itself is too small to hold; now she was enchanted at the prospect of a whole fortnight under canvas, and watched with rapt interest the driving of the pegs, the raising of the poles, and the careful furnishing of her dwelling. There was a carpet, and armchairs, and tables, and even a small bookcase with a few favourite volumes. To us in civilised life it seems a great deal of trouble to transport a lunch basket and a novel to some shady glen to enjoy a day's rest in the open air, and we would almost rather starve than take the trouble to carry provisions. In India you speak the word, and as by magic there arises in the wilderness a little village of tents, furnished with every necessary luxury—and the luxuries necessary to our degenerate age are many—a kitchen tent is raised, and a skilled dark-skinned artist provides you in an hour with a dinner such as you could eat in no hotel. The treasures of the huge portable ice-chest reveal cooling wines and soda water to the thirsty soul, and if you are going very far beyond the reach of the large towns, a small ice-machine is kept at work day and night to increase the supply while you sleep, and to maintain it while you wake. In the connat or verandah of the tent, long chairs await you after your meal, and as you smoke the fragrant cigarette and watch the stars coming out, you feel as comfortable as though you had been dining in your own spacious bungalow in Mudnugger.

It was not long before all was ready, and having made many ablutions and a little toilet, we assembled round the dinner table in the eating tent, the same party that had dined at Mr. Currie Ghyrkins' house on Sunday night, with the addition of the little collector of Pegnugger, whose stories of his outlying district were full of humour and anecdote. The talk bending in the direction of adventure, Kildare, who had been lately in South Africa with his regiment, told some tales of Zulus and assegais and Boers in the Hibernian style of hyperbole. The Irish blood never comes out so strongly as when a story is to be told, and no amount of English education and Oxford accent will suppress the tendency. The brogue is gone, but the love of the marvellous is there still. Isaacs related the experience of "a man he knew," who had been pulled off his elephant, howdah and all, and had killed the tiger with a revolver at half arm's length.

"Ah yes," said the little collector, who had not caught the names of all the party when introduced, "I read about it at the time; I remember it very well. It happened in Purneah two years ago. The gentleman was a Mr. Isaacs of Delhi. Queer name too—remember perfectly." There was a roar of laughter at this, in which the collector joined vociferously on being informed that the man with the "queer name" was his neighbour at table.

"You see what you get for your modesty," cried old Ghyrkins, laughing to convulsions.

"And is it really true, Mr. Isaacs?" asked Miss Westonhaugh, looking admiringly across at the young man, who seemed rather annoyed.

And so the conversation went round and all were merry, and some were sleepy after dinner, and we sat in long chairs under the awning or connat. There was no moon yet, but the stars shone out as they shine nowhere save in India, and the evening breeze played pleasantly through the ropes after the long hot day. Miss Westonhaugh assured everybody for the hundredth time that day that she rather liked the smell of cigars, and so we smoked and chatted a little, and presently there was a jerk and a sputtering sneeze from Mr. Ghyrkins, who, being weary with the march and the heat and the good dinner, and on the borders of sleep, had put the wrong end of his cigar in his mouth with destructive results. Then he threw it away with a small volley of harmless expletives, and swore he would go to bed, as he could not stand our dulness any longer; but he merely shifted his position a little, and was soon snoring merrily.

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