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though bare-legged and bare- be badly, indeed fatally, had footed, was so confident in the if he entered the deadly circle ; prowess of his champion that he would therefore have none he walked into the room and of it. Another piece of meat placed the mongoose on the was thrown, and fell just short floor not far from the cobra. of the other piece. The monThe cobra slept on, or pretended goose went up to this, and as to do so, whilst the mongoose, he arrived the cobra gave two not taking the slightest notice rapid strikes, but they fell just of him, carefully inspected the a fraction of an inch short of immaculate boots of the junior the piece of meat. The monsubaltern. These boots were goose never turned a hair or a source of justifiable pride to blinked an eye, but calmly the junior subaltern, and were, went on eating the meat, knowindeed, 80 brilliant that any ing that, one-eighth of an inch mongoose might rightly admire outside the circle, he was as them.
safe as if he were one hundred Clearly, however, some steps yards away. were required to encourage the We all thought that the latent ardour of the combatants. fight was off, and were beginTo this end the master of the ning to wonder how we were mongoose threw little bits of going to get out of the room raw meat in the direction of in safety and with dignity, and the cobra, which the mon- what was to be done about a goose, immediately neglecting loose cobra. Then something the shining boots, proceeded happened all of a flash. The to devour. This woke up the cobra, red-hot with rage, still cobra, and he stood up to his stood hissing death and destrucfull height, and used some tion; he doubtless, too, was manifestly strong language. rather sore about the gills from Whilst thus erect, he looked having hit the floor so fiercely. very menacing to the gentle. The mongoose, seeming to grow men on the ladder quite close reckless in his nonchalance, to him, and one stout Indian turned broadside on. The officer, who was seated on the cobra hissed, “Thank God, I lowest rung, looked hastily have got him!” and struck down and fervently exclaimed, hard. The next second we saw “Perchance that devil will that the mongoose had caught not seize me by the hinder the cobra by the back of the parts ?"
neck at the exact moment when And now was to be seen a his fangs, missing their aim by very curious piece of play. The a fraction, hit the floor. In thrower of meat cast one small less seconds than this sentence bit just inside the radius of the takes to write, the cobra was cobra's strike. The mongoose dead, bitten right through the went and had a look at it, back of the neck, thus severing but saw at once that he would the spine.
Strange problems sometimes about it.” But Ali Gul would face the Colonel. One day at not take the hint. He stood Durbar an Indian officer, one his ground, and looking the Ali Gul, an Afridi, brought up Colonel square in the eyes, his son for enlistment — for made answer— every one, high or low, rich or “I know what is in your poor, had to go through the heart, Sahib. You think my ranks. Side by side riding in son is not big enough or strong the ranks might be seen a enough to be a soldier in 'The prince of the blood and the Guides. But there are brave son of a peasant. But it was men who are neither big nor more usual for an Indian officer strong. Was not Lord Roberts, first to take so near a relation Sahib, such a one ? Now let as a son to the Colonel's bunga- me tell your Honour a story low, so that he might get the which will show that this lad Colonel's private opinion as to is not unworthy. A few weeks whether the lad was up to the ago my son and a young friend standard of the regiment or of his, each aged about sevennot, thus avoiding the chance teen years, were making their of having him publicly rejected way home through the mounon the grounds of poor physique tains. Each of them had a before all the men in Open Martini-Henry rifle in his hand, Durbar. Ali Gul himself was for, as your Honour knows, no a splendid fellow, of magnificent unarmed man dare pass through physique, and as brave as a the Afridi country. As they lion, who had already twice won were hurrying along a shot rang the Star for Valour in battle. out, and my boy's friend fell
His son, standing beside him, on the path grievously wounded. looked a poor creature small, My son immediately got behind thin, and apparently of no a rock and looked carefully stamina. The Colonel was around. Two more shots passed rather embarrassed; he did close to him, but he could not not like to reject offhand the see whence they came, for the son of so brave and good a powder was smokeless. Moresoldier, and thus blacken his over, his own rifle being a face before the assembled mul- Martini-Henry, which fires black titude, nor did he care to take powder and makes a smoke, a lad evidently much below would instantly give away his the usual standard to oblige position if he fired it. A few any one. So he said, “Quite more shots came, and then, as a nice boy, Ali Gul, who will the wounded boy on the path doubtless fill out. Give him did not move, the marauders another year, and lots of good thought they had killed both, food, and then we will see and that it was now safe to
come down and carry off their down the hill and passed him, rifles, each of which is worth then he heard a scrambling, nearly Rs. 500 (£50) in that and peered forth with much country. But they moved with caution. A man was running great caution, only one man away, zigzagging up the hill. advancing whilst the others He let him go from reasons of covered his advance. My boy, caution, and then, after anlying flat on the ground, wrig. other long wait, crept along gled to one side of the rock, to his companion, whom he and putting his sight at 500 found still alive. As all was yards, took careful aim and now quiet, he approached the shot the robber stone - dead, nearest dead enemy, and took and he fell headlong downwards. his rifle and ammunition, and The smoke of his rifle gave then went on and fetched the away my son's position, and rifle and ammunition of the immediately a brisk and accu- other enemy he had killed. rate fusilade hit that spot. Carrying three rifles and three But my son was not there, for bandoliers, he ran many miles to the moment he had fired he my house, and thence brought dodged away from that rock, back his uncle and brother to and like a cat worked his way help his comrade home. Now, unseen to another rock fully Sahib,” concluded Ali Gul, fifty yards away. He now “ you have heard my story. knew whereabouts the enemy Is the lad good enough for were, and watched and waited. “The Guides' or is he not! After firing several more rounds His fate is in your Honour's he saw two men begin to ad- hands." vance, but very cautiously, and “Bravo !" said the Colonel ; giving no chance for a shot. “without doubt he is a fine Thus they skirmished steadily fellow, and brave of heart." on towards the spot where the Then turning to the Adjutant, wounded lad lay, and it was “Enlist him from to-day, and not till they were within 100 make him a Lance-Naick (Lanceyards that my lad got another Corporal) on the spot.” chance. He then saw a head Sometimes there are com. cautiously raised, and peering plaints made against the men intently at the rock whence by outsiders_villagers, tradesmy son had fired his first shot. men, or money-lenders. These In one second my son, who was all attend Durbar, and make on the flank, lifted his rifle and their complaints to the Colonel shot this second man dead before all assembled. The vilthrough the head. He then lagers' complaints generally rerepeated his first man@uvre ferred to the regimental grassand, without showing himself, cutters, more especially in old slipped behind another rock, days before each regiment had and waited for a long time. been given a piece of GovernA loose stone came bowling ment land on which to grow
grass. Indian cavalry horses are fed on fresh - cut grass gathered in daily for about half the year, whilst hay is stacked at the same time for the remaining period. This grass used to be obtained from the sides of roads, the borders of fields, railway or canal embankments, from anywhere and everywhere, the grass-cutters going many miles daily in Search of fresh fields. Whilst cutting the grass, their packmules or ponies, though kneehaltered, might well stray off into the villagers' crops: hence these tears. With these villagers the Colonel would take a fatherly air. He would have a little chat and banter with them, and thus get them into a good temper. Then he would point how extraordinarily lucky they were to have so fine a regiment quartered near them, a regiment which bought all their barley and oats and chickens and eggs, and was, in fact, a perfect godsend to them. Moreover, were not many of their sons and brothers soldiers too, who would never harm villagers wilfully? And he would wind up by pointing out that these were no private horses, but the horses of the great King, and that unless they are fed the soldiers could not fight and kill the enemies of the King, so that the villagers might live in peace and safety, and gather in their crops and become rich. With money - lenders the Colonel would have a very
short and sharp way. He would tell them it was against his orders that money should be lent to the men, and if they did so it was at their own risk. The Civil Courts were open to them. With tradespeople it was different. If such a one had a claim against one of the men, he had to substantiate it; and if after discussion it was judged correct, the soldier would be ordered to pay off the debt in monthly instalments. In these seemingly roughand-ready ways the affairs of an Indian regiment are managed, and with great success. The prestige of the British officer is so high, and his absolute integrity and honour so well established, that just a sprinkling of them will thus rule and keep in a state of perfect discipline a regiment of a thousand Indians. And these, be it remembered, are not like a thousand Englishmen or Scotsmen, all of one blood; but there may be amongst them half a dozen different tribes and as many castes and religions. And these various sects and classes and tribes are often fiercely antagonistic to each other, and would be at each other's throats in five minutes at the smallest provocation, but for the calm control of their British officers. It is not mere lip-service or oriental flattery, but a deeplyrooted sentiment, which will cause an Indian to murmur ofttimes, “Indeed, these Englishmen are a nation of princes!”
THE SAGA OF A SHIP.
BY DAVID HANNAY.
WHEN the expansion of Eng- in a storm of battle, fighting land was beginning there was single-handed against numbers. a certain “capital ship,” a When she was launched at gallant and famous ship. Brave Deptford her builder gave her men sailed in her to do notable the name The Malice Scourge. feats. Mighty achievements It was written with all the came from the leading they large freedom of our ancestors, gave. She was born in 1595, who had too much wit and and she carried the flag, in the wisdom to be enslaved by first attempt to take hold of spelling, “ Mallice” or “Mala place for Englishmen to keep, yce,” “Scourge,” “Scurge," not merely to plunder and “Scourdge,” or “Scurg”-the ransom, in the West Indies. “Mallescourge” in one word, Then she was the “ Admiral " or the “Mall” or “Mal Esof the “General,” chosen by courge ” in two. Pedants have “the Governor and Company thereby been led astray. Her of the Merchants of London builder knew why he baptised trading into the East Indies," her as he did. He was the to rule the first of the fleets Viking George Clifford, third they sent out “for the honour Earl of Cumberland, a profuse of their native country, and and magnificent gentleman of the advancement of the trade the great Queen's Court, who of merchandize.” In that age wasted his substance in splenAdmiral was mostly the rank did living, and strove to restore of the ship, and General was his estate by privateering. He the designation of the com- was perfectly candid touching mander-in-chief. They were his desire to make profit for not rigidly consistent in their himself, and nobody need think practice. Nicholas Downton the worse of him on that thought himself entitled to account, though Southey did write of the Admiral “she” think that a gentleman of the in one clause of his orders for Earl's dignity ought not to keeping company, and of the have confessed to mercenary Admiral “he," who was his aims. The Earl had learnt by own stout and careful stiff costly experience that a strong and bombasted self, in the warship was needed when one next. Yet the name went, had to tackle Portuguese caras a rule, to the vessel, and racks or Spanish galleons. They only by exception to the officer. alone carried the rich cargoes The life of this “ tall admiral” of jewels, plate, and fine spices. is truly saga matter, and not He had also found out by a the least because her end was bitter disappointment that to