Abaft the Funnel - Letters On Leave - Rudyard Kipling, Book, etext

 

Abaft the Funnel

Letters On Leave

Rudyard Kipling


I

TO Lieutenant John McHail,
151st (Kumharsen) P.N.I.,
Hakaiti via Tharanda,
Assam.

DEAR OLD MAN: Your handwriting is worse than ever, but as far as I can see among the loops and fish-hooks, you are lonesome and want to be comforted with a letter. I knew you wouldn’t write to me unless you needed something. You don’t tell me that you have left your regiment, but from what you say about “my battalion,” “my men,” and so forth, it seems as if you were raising military police for the benefit of the Chins. If that’s the case, I congratulate you. The pay is good. Ouless writes to me from some new fort something or other, saying that he has struggled into a billet of Rs. 700 (Military Police), and instead of being chased by writters as he used to be, is ravaging the country round Shillong in search of a wife. I am very sorry for the Mrs. Ouless of the future.

That doesn’t matter. You probably know more about the boys yonder than I do. If you’ll only send me from time to time some record of their movements I’ll try to tell you of things on this side of the water. You say “You don’t know what it is to hear from town.” I say “You don’t know what it is to hear from the dehat,” Now and again men drift in with news, but I don’t like hot-weather khubber. It’s all of the domestic occurrence kind. Old “Hat” Constable came to see me the other day. You remember the click in his throat before he begins to speak. He sat still, clicking at quarter-hour intervals, and after each click he’d say: “D’ye remember Mistress So-an’-So? Well, she’s dead o’ typhoid at Naogong.” When it wasn’t “Mistress So-an’-So” it was a man. I stood four clicks and four deaths, and then I asked him to spare me the rest. You seem to have had a bad season, taking it all round, and the women seem to have suffered most. Is that so?

We don’t die in London. We go out of town, and we make as much fuss about it as if we were going to the Neva. Now I understand why the transport is the first thing to break down when our army takes the field. The Englishman is cumbrous in his movements and very particular about his baskets and hampers and trunks—not less than seven of each—for a fifty-mile journey. Leave season began some weeks ago, and there is a burra-choop along the streets that you could shovel with a spade. All the people that say they are everybody have gone—quite two hundred miles away. Some of ’em are even on the Continent—and the clubs are full of strange folk. I found a Reform man at the Savage a week ago. He didn’t say what his business was, but he was dusty and looked hungry. I suppose he had come in for food and shelter.

Like the rest I’m on leave too. I converted myself into a Government Secretary, awarded myself one month on full pay with the chance of an extension, and went off. Then it rained and hailed, and rained again, and I ran up and down this tiny country in trains trying to find a dry place. After ten days I came back to town, having been stopped by the sea four times. I was rather like a kitten at the bottom of a bucke chasing its own tail. So I’m sitting here under a grey, muggy sky wondering what sort of time they are having at Simla. It’s August now. The rains would be nearly over, all the theatricals would be in full swing, and Jakko Hill would be just Paradise. You’re probably pink with prickly heat. Sit down quietly under the punkah and think of Umballa station, hot as an oven at four in the morning. Think of the dak-gharry slobbering in the wet, and the first little cold wind that comes round the first comer after the tonga is clear of Kalka. There’s a wind you and I know well. It’s blowing over the grass at Dugshai this very moment, and there’s a smell of hot fir trees all along and along from Solon to Simla, and some happy man is flying up that road with fragments of a tonga-bar in his eye, his pet terrier mider his arm, his thick clothes on the back-seat and the certainty of a month’s pure joy in front of him. Instead of which you’re being stewed at Hakaiti and I’m sitting in a second-hand atmosphere above a sausage-shop, watching three sparrows playing in a dirty-green tree and pretending that it’s summer, I have a view of very many streets.and a river. Except the advertisements on the walls, there isn’t one speck of colour as far as my eye can reach. The very cat, who is an amiable beast, comes off black under my hand, and I daren’t open the window for fear of smuts. And this is better than a soaked and sobbled country, with the corn-shocks standing like plover’s eggs in green moss and the oats lying flat in moist limips. We haven’t had any summer, and yesterday I smelt the raw touch of the winter. Just one little whiff to show that the year had turned. “Oh, what a happy land is England!”

I cannot understand the white man at home. You remember when we went out together and landed at the Apollo Bunder with all our sorrows before us, and went to Watson’s Hotel and saw the snake-charmers? You said: “It’ll take me all my lifetime to distinguish one nigger from another.” That was eight years ago. Now you don’t call them niggers any more, and you’re supposed—quite wrongly—to have an insight into native character, or else you would never have been allowed to recruit for the Kumharsens. I feel as I felt at Watson’s. They are so deathlily alike, especially the more educated. They all seem to read the same books, and the same newspapers telling ’em what to admire in the same books, and they all quote the same passages from the same books, and they write books on books about somebody else’s books, and they are penetrated to their boot-heels with a sense of the awful seriousness of their own views of the moment. Above that they seem to be, most curiously and beyond the right of ordinary people, divorced from the knowledge or fear of death. Of course, every man conceives that every man except himself is bound to die (you remember how Hallatt spoke the night before he went out) , but these men appear to be like children in that respect.

I can’t explain exactly, but it gives an air of unreality to their most earnest earnestnesses; and when a young man of views and culture and aspirations is in earnest, the trumpets of Jericho are silent beside him. Because they have everything done for them they know how everything ought to be done; and they are perfectly certain that wood pavements, policemen, shops and gaslight come in the regular course of nature. You can guess with these convictions how thoroughly and cocksurely they handle little trifles like colonial administration, the wants of the army, municipal sewage, housing of the poor, and so forth. Every third common need of average men is, in their mouths, a tendency or a movement or a federation affecting the world. It never seems to occur to ’em that the human instinct of getting as much as possible for money paid, or, failing money, for threats and fawnings, is about as old as Cain; and the burden of their bat is: “Me an’ a few mates o’ mine are going to make a new world.”

As long as men only write and talk they must think that way, I suppose. It’s compensation for playing with little things. And that reminds me. Do you know the University smile? You don’t by that name, but sometimes young civilians wear it for a very short time when they first come out. Something—I wonder if it’s our brutal chaff, or a billiard-cue, or which?—takes it out of their faces, and when they next differ with you they do so without smiling. But that smile flourishes in London. I’ve met it again and again. It expresses tempered grief, sorrow at your complete inability to march with the march of progress at the Universities, and a chastened contempt. There is one man who wears it as a garment. He is frivolously young—not more than thirty-five or forty—and all these years no one has removed that smile. He knows everything about everything on this earth, and above all he knows all about men under any and every condition of life. He knows all about the aggressive militarism of you and your friends; he isn’t quite sure of the necessity of an army; he is certain that colonial expansion is nonsense; and he is more than certain that the whole step of all our Empire must be regulated by the knowledge and foresight of the workingman. Then he smiles—smiles like a seraph with an M.A. degree. What can you do with a man like that? He has never seen an unmade road in his life; I think he believes that wheat grows on a tree and that beef is dug from a mine. He has never been forty miles from a railway, and he has never been called upon to issue an order to anybody except his well-fed servants. Isn’t it wondrous? And there are battalions and brigades of these men in town removed from the fear of want, living until they are seventy or eighty, sheltered, fed, drained and administered, expending their vast leisure in talking and writing.

I

But the real fun begins much lower down the line. I’ve been associating generally and very particularly with the men who say that they are the only men in the world who work—and they call themselves the workingman. Now the workingman in America is a nice person. He says he is a man and behaves accordingly. That is to say, he has some notion that he is part and parcel of a great country. At least, he talks that way. But in this town you can see thousands of men meeting publicly on Sundays to cry aloud that everybody may hear that they are poor, downtrodden helots—in fact, “the pore workin’man.” At their clubs and pubs the talk is the same. It’s the utter want of self-respect that revolts. My friend the tobacconist has a cousin, who is, apparently, sound in mind and limb, aged twenty-three, clear-eyed and upstanding. He is a “skibbo” by trade—a painter of sorts. He married at twenty, and he has two children. He can spend three-quarters of an hour talking about his downtrodden condition. He works under another Raj-mistri, who has saved money and started a little shop of his own. He hates that Raj-mistri; he loathes the police; and his views on the lives and customs of the aristocracy are strange. He approves of every form of lawlessness, and he knows that everybody who holds authority is sure to be making a good thing out of it. Of himself as a citizen he never thinks. Of himself as an Ishmael he thinks a good deal. He is entitled to eight hours’ work a day and some time off—said time to be paid for; he is entitled to free education for his children—and he doesn’t want no bloomin’ clergyman to teach ’em; he is entitled to houses especially built for himself because he pays the bulk of the taxes of the country. He is not going to emigrate, not he; he reserves to himself the right of multiplying as much as he pleases; the streets must be policed for him while he demonstrates, immediately under my window, by the way, for ten consecutive hours, and I am probably a thief because my dothes are better than his. The proposition is a very simple one. He has no duties to the State, no personal responsibility of any kind, and he’d sooner see his children dead than soldiers of the Queen. The Government owes him everything because he is a pore workin’man. When the Guards tried their Board-school mutiny at the Wellington Barracks my friend was jubilant. “What did I tell your he said. “You see the very soldiers won’t stand it.”

“What’s it?”

“Bein’ treated like machines instead of flesh and blood. ’Course they won’t.”

The popular evening paper wrote that the Guards, with perfect justice, had rebelled against being treated like machines instead of flesh and blood. Then I thought of a certain regiment that lay in Mian Mir for three years and dropped four hundred men out of a thousand. It died of fever and cholera. There were no pretty nursemaids to work with it in the streets, because there were no streets. I saw how the Guards amused themselves and how their sergeants smoked in uniform. I pitied the Guards with their cruel sentry-goes, their three nights out of bed, and their unlimited supply of love and liquor.

Another man, not a workman, told me that the Guards’ riot—it’s impossible, as you know, to call this kick-up of the fatted flunkies of the army a mutiny—was only “a schoolboy’s prank”; and he could not see that if it was what he said it was, the Guards were no regiment and should have been wiped out decently and quietly. There again the futility of a sheltered people cropped up. You mustn’t treat a man like a machine in this country, but you can’t get any work out of a man till he has learned to work like a machine. D—— has just come home for a few months from the charge of a mountain battery on the frontier. He used to begin work at eight, and he was thankful if he got off at six; most of the time on his feet. When he went to the Black Mountain he was extensively engaged for nearly sixteen hours a day; and that on food at which the “pore workin’man” would have turned up his state-lifted nose. D—— on the subject of labour as understood by the white man in his own home is worth hearing. Though coarse—considerably coarse! But D—— doesn’t know all the hopeless misery of the business. When the small pig, oyster, furniture, carpet, builder or general shopman works his way out of the ruck he turns round and makes his old friends and employes sweat. He knows how near he can go to flaying ’em alive before they kick; and in this matter he is neither better nor worse than a bunnia or a havildar of our own blessed country. It’s the small employer of labour that skins his servant, exactly as the forty-pound householder works her one white servant to the bone and goes to drop pennies into the plate to convert the heathen in the East.

Just at present, as you have read, the person who calls himself the pore workin’man—the man I saw kicking fallen men in the mud by the docks last winter—has discovered a real, fine, new original notion; and he is workhlg it for all he is worth. He calls it the solidarity of labour bundobast; but it’s caste—four thousand years old, caste of Menu—with old shetts, mahajuns, guildtolls, excommunication and all the rest of it. All things considered, there isn’t anything much older than caste—it began with the second generation of man on earth—but to read the “advance” papers on the subject you’d imagine it was a revelation from Heaven. The real fun will begin—as it has begun and ended many times before—when the caste of skilled labour—that’s the pore workin’man—are pushed up and knocked about by the lower and unrecognised castes, who will form castes of their own and outcaste on the decision of their own punchayats. How these castes will scuffle and fight among themselves, and how astonished the Englishman will be!

He is naturally lawless because he is a fighting animal; and his amazingly sheltered condition has made him inconsequent. I don’t like inconsequent lawlessness. I’ve seen it down at Bow Street, at the docks, by the G.P.O., and elsewhere. Its chief home, of course, is in that queer place called the House of Commons, but no one goes there who isn’t forced by business. It’s shut up at present, and the persons who belong to it are loose all over the face of the country, I don’t think—but I won’t swear—that any of them are spitting at policemen. One man appears to have been poaching, others are advocating various forms of murder and outrage—and nobody seems to care. The residue talk—just heavens, how they talk, and what wonderful fictions they tell! And they firmly believe, being ignorant of the mechanism of Government, that they administer the country. In addition, certain of their newspapers have elaborately worked up a famine in Ireland that could be engineered by two Deputy Commissioners and four average Stunts into a “woe” and a “calamity” that is going to overshadow the peace of the nation—even the Empire. I suppose they have their own sense of proportion, but they manage to keep it to themselves very successfully. What do you, who have seen half a countryside in deadly fear of its life, suppose that this people would do if they were chukkered and gabraowed? If they really knew what the fear of death and the dread of injury implied? If they died very swiftly, indeed, and could not count their futile lives enduring beyond next sundown? Some of the men from your—I mean our—part of the world say that they would be afraid and break and scatter and run. But there is no room in the island to run. The sea catches you, midwaist, at the third step. I am curious to see if the cholera, of which these people stand in most lively dread, gets a firm foothold in London. In that case I have a notion that there will be scenes and panics. They live too well here, and have too much to make life worth clinging to—clubs, and shop fronts, and gas, and theatres, and so forth—things that they affect to despise, and whereon and whereby they live like leeches. But I have written enough. It doesn’t exhaust the subject; but you won’t be grateful for other epistles. De Vitre of the Poona Irregular Moguls will have it that they are a tiddy-iddy people. He says that all their visible use is to produce loans for the colonies and men to be used up in developing India. I honestly believe that the average Englishman would faint if you told him it was lawful to use up human life for any purpose whatever. He believes that it has to be developed and made beautiful for the possessor, and in that belief talkatively perpetrates cruelties that would make Torquemada jump in his grave. Go to Alipur if you want to see. I am off to foreign parts—forty miles away—to catch fish for my friend the char-cat; also to shoot a little bird if I have luck.

Yours,                                                

RUDYARD KIPLING.                    

 

 

 

II

To Lieutenant John McHail,
151st (Kumharsen) N.I.,
Hakaiti via Tharanda.

Captain Sahib Bahadur! The last Pi gives me news of your step, and I’m more pleased about it than many. You’ve been “cavalry quick” in your promotion. Eight years and your company! Allahu! But it must have been that long, lean horse-head of yours that looks so wise and says so little that has imposed upon the authorities. My best congratulations. Let out your belt two holes, and be happy, as I am not.

Did I tell you in my last about going to Woking in search of a grave? The dust and the grime and the grey and the sausage-shop told on my spirits to such an extent that I solemnly took a train and went grave-hunting through the Necropolis—locally called the Necrapolis. I wanted an eligible, entirely detached site in a commanding position—six by three and bricked throughout. I found it, but the only drawback was that I must go back to town to the head office to buy it. One doesn’t go to town to haggle for tomb-space, so I deferred the matter and went fishing. All the same, there are very nice graves at Woking, and I shall keep my eye on one of ’em.

Since that date I seem to have been in four or five places, because there are labels on the bag. One of the places was Plymouth, where I found half a regiment at field exercises on the Hoe. They were practising the attack in three lines with the mixed rush at the end, even as it is laid down in the drill-book, and they charged subduedly across the Hoe. The people laughed. I was much more inclined to cry. Except the Major, there didn’t seem to be anything more than twenty years old in the regiment; and oh! but it was pink and white and chubby and undersized—just made to die succulently of disease. I fancied that some of our battalions out with you were more or less young and exposed, but a home battalion is a crêche, and it scares one to watch it. Eminent and distinguished Generals get up after dinner—I’ve listened to two of ’em—and explain that though the home battalion can only be regarded as a feeder to the foreign, yet all our battalions can be regarded as efficient; and if they aren’t efficient we shall find in our military reserve the nucleus—how I loath that lying word!—of the Lord knows what, but the speeches always end with allusions to the spirit of the English, their glorious past, and the certainty that when the hour of need comes the nation will “emerge victorious.” If (sic) the Engineer of the Hungerford Bridge told the Southeastern Railway that because a main girder had stood for thirty years without need of renewal it was therefore sure to stand for another fifty, he would probably get the sack. Our military authorities don’t get the sack. They are allowed to make speeches in public. Some day, if we live long enough, we shall see the glories of the past and the “sublime instinct of an ancient people” without one complete army corps, pitted against a few unsentimental long-range guns and some efficiently organised troops. Then the band will begin to play, and it will not play Rule Britannia until it has played some funny tunes first.

Do you remember Tighe? He was in the Deccan Lancers and retired because he got married. He is in Ireland now, and I met him the other day, idle, unhappy and dying for some work to do. Mrs. Tighe is equally miserable. She wants to go back to Poona instead of administering a big barrack of a house somewhere at the back of a bog. I quote Tighe here. He has, you may remember, a pretty tongue about him, and he was describing to me at length how a home regiment behaves when it is solemnly turned out for a week or a month training under canvas:

“About four in the mornin’, me dear boy, they begin pitchin’ their tents for the next day—four hours to pitch it, and the tent ropes a howlin’ tangle when all’s said and sworn. Then they tie their horses with strings to their big toes and go to bed in hollows and caves in the earth till the rain falls and the tents are flooded, and then, me dear boy, the men and the horses and the ropes and the vegetation of the country cuddle each other till the morning for the company’s sake. And next day it all begins again. Just when they are beginning to understand how to camp they are all put back into their boxes, and half of ’em have lung disease.”

But what is the use of snarling and grumbling? The matter will adjust itself later on, and the one nation on earth that talks and thinks most of the sanctity of human life will be a little astonished at the waste of life for which it will be responsible. In those days, my captain, the man who can command seasoned troops and have made the best use of those troops will be sought after and petted and will rise to honour. Remember the Hakaiti when next you measure the naked recruit.

Let us revisit calmer scenes. I’ve been down for three perfect days to the seaside. Don’t you remember what a really fine day means? A milk-white sea, as smooth as glass, with blue-white heat haze hanging over it, one little wave talking to itself on the sand, warm shingle, four bathing machines, cliff in the background, and half the babies in Christendom paddling and yelling. It was a queer little place, just near enough to the main line of traffic to be overlooked from morning till night. There was a baby—an Ollendorfian baby—with whom I fell madly in love. She lived down at the bottom of a great white sunbonnet; talked French and English in a clear, bell-like voice, and of such I fervently hope will the Kingdom of Heaven be. When she found that my French wasn’t equal to hers she condescendingly talked English and bade me build her houses of stones and draw cats for her through half the day. After I had done everything that she ordered she went off to talk to some one else. The beach belonged to that baby, and every soul on it was her servant, for I know that we rose with shouts when she paddled into three inches of water and sat down, gasping: “Mon Dieu! Je suis mort!” I know you like the little ones, so I don’t apologise for yarning about them. She had a sister aged seven and one-half—a lovely child, without a scrap of self-consciousness, and enormous eyes. Here comes a real tragedy. The girl—and her name was Violet—had fallen wildly in love with a little fellow of nine. They used to walk up the single street of the village with their arms round each other’s necks. Naturally, she did all the little wooings, and Hugh submitted quietly. Then devotion began to pall, and he didn’t care to paddle with Violet. Hereupon, as far as I can gather, she smote him on the head and threw him against a wall. Anyhow, it was very sweet and natural, and Hugh told me about it when I came down. “She’s so unrulable,” he said. “I didn’t hit her back, but I was very angry.” Of course, Violet repented, but Hugh grew suspicious, and at the psychological moment there came down from town a destroyer of delights and a separator of companions in the shape of a tricycle. Also there were many little boys on the beach—rude, shouting, romping little chaps—who said: “Come along!” “Hullo!” and used the wicked word “beastly!” Among these Hugh became a person of importance and began to realise that he was a man who could say “beastly,” and “Come on!” with the best of ’em. He preferred to run about with the little boys on wars and expeditions, and he wriggled away when Violet put her arm round his waist. Violet was hurt and angry, and I think she slapped Hugh. Relations were strained when I arrived because one morning Violet, after asking permission, invited Hugh to come to lunch. And that bad, Spanish-eyed boy deliberately filled his bucket with the cold seawater and dashed it over Violet’s pink ankles. (Joking apart, this seems to be about the best way of refusing an invitation that civilisation can invent. Try it on your Colonel.) She was madly angry for a moment, and then she said: “Let me carry you up the beach, ’cause of the shingles in your toes.” This was divine, but it didn’t move Hugh, and Violet went off to her mother. She sat down with her chin in her hand, looking out at the sea for a long time very sorrowfully. Then she said, and it was her first experience: “I know that Hugh cares more for his horrid bicycle than he does for me, and if he said he didn’t I wouldn’t believe him.”

Up to date Hugh has said nothing. He is running about playing with the bold, bad little boys, and Violet is sitting on a breakwater, trying to find out why things are as they are. It’s a nice tale, and tales are scarce these days. Have you noticed how small and elemental is the stock of them at the world’s disposal? Men foregathered at that little seaside place, and, manlike, exchanged stories. They were all the same stories. One had heard ’em in the East with Eastern variations, and in the West with Western extravagances tacked on. Only one thing seemed new, and it was merely a phrase used by a groom in speaking of an ill-conditioned horse: “No, sir; he’s not ill in a manner o’ speaking, but he’s so to speak generally unfriendly with his innards as a usual thing.”

I entrust this to you as a sacred gift. See that it takes root in the land. “Unfriendly with his innards as a usual thing.” Remember. It’s better than laboured explanations in the rains. And I fancy it’s raw.

And now. But I had nearly forgotten. We’re a nation of grumblers, and that’s why other people call Anglo-Indians bores. I write feelingly because M——, just home on long leave, has for the second time sat on my devoted head for two hours simply and solely for the purpose of swearing at the Accountant-General. He has given me the whole history of his pay, prospects and promotion twice over, and in case I should misunderstand wants me to dine with him and hear it all for the third time. If M—— would leave the A.-G. alone he is a delightful man, as we all know; but he’s loose in London now, button-holing English friends and quoting leave and paycodes to them. He wants to see a Member of Parliament about something or other, and I believe he spends his nights rolled up in a rezai on the stairs of the India Office waiting to catch a secretary. I like the India Office. They are so beautifully casual and lazy, and their rooms look out over the Green Park, and they are never tired of admiring the view. Now and then a man comes in to report himself, and the secretaries and the under-secretaries and the chaprassies play battledore and shuttlecock with him until they are tired.

Some time since, when I was better, more serious and earnest than I am now, I preached a jehad up and down those echoing corridors, and suggested the abolition of the India Office and the purchase of a four-pound-ten American revolving bookcase to hold all the documents on India that were of public value or could be comprehended by the public. Now I am more frivolous because I am dropping gently into that grave at Woking; and yet I believe in the bookcase. India is bowed down with too much duftar as it is, and the House of Correction, Revision, Division and Supervision cannot do her much good. I saw a committee or a council file in the other day. Only one desirable tale came to me out of that office. If you’ve heard it before stop me. It began with a cutting from an obscure Welsh paper, I think, A man—a gardener—went mad, announced that Lord Cross was the Messiah and burned himself alive on a pile of garden refuse. That’s the first part. I never could get at the second, but I am credibly informed that the work of the India Office stood still for three weeks, while the entire staff took council how to break the news to the Secretary of State. I believe it still remains unbroken.

.     .     .     .     .

Decidedly, leave in England is a disappointing thing. I’ve wandered into two stations since I wrote the last. Nothing but the labels on the bag remain—oh, and a memory of a weighing-in at an East End fishing club. That was an experience. I foregathered with a man on the top of a ’bus, and we became great friends because we both agreed that gorgetackle for pike was only permissible in very weedy streams. He repeated his views, which were my views, nearly ten times, and in the evening invited me to this weighing-in, at, we’ll say, rooms of the Lea and Chertsey Piscatorial Anglers’ Benevolent Brotherhood. We assembled in a room at the top of a publichouse, the walls ornamented with stuffed fish and water-birds, and the anglers came in by twos and threes, and I was introduced to all of ’em as “the gen’elman I met just now.” This seemed to be good enough for all practical purposes. There were ten and five shilling prizes, and the affable and energetic clerk of the scales behaved as though he were weighing-in for the Lucknow races. The take of the day was one pound fifteen ounces of dace and roach, about twenty fingerlings, and the winner, who is in charge of a railway bookstall, described minutely how he had caught each fish. As a matter of fact, roach-fishing in the Lea and Thames is a fine art. Then there were drinks—modest little drinks—and they called upon me for a sentiment. You know how things go at the sergeants’ messes and some of the lodges. In a moment of brilliant inspiration I gave “free fishing in the parks” and brought down the whole house. Sah! free fishing for coarse fish in the Serpentine and the Green Park water would hurt nobody and do a great deal of good to many. The stocking of the water—but what does this interest you? The Englishman moves slowly. He is just beginning to understand that it is not sufiicient to set apart a certain amount of land for a lung of London and to turn people into it with “There, get along and play,” unless he gives ’em something to play with. Thirty years hence he will almost allow cafés and hired bands in Hyde Park.

To return for a moment to the fish club. I got away at eleven, and in darkness and despair had to make my way west for leagues and leagues across London. I was on the Mile End Road at midnight and there lost myself, and learned something more about the policeman. He is haughty in the East and always afraid that he is being chaffed. I honestly only wanted sailing directions to get homeward. One policeman said: “Get along. You know your way as well as I do.” And yet another: “You go back to the country where you comed from. You ain’t doin’ no good ’ere!” It was so deadly true that I couldn’t answer back, and there wasn’t an expensive cab handy to prove my virtue and respectability. Next time I visit the Lea and Chertsey Affabilities I’ll find out something about trains. Meantime I keep holiday dolefully. There is not anybody to play with me. They have all gone away to their own places. Even the Infant, who is generally the idlest man in the world, writes me that he is helping to steer a ten-ton yacht in Scottish seas. When she heels over too much the Infant is driven to the O.P. side and she rights herself. The Infant’s host says: “Isn’t this bracing? Isn’t this delightful?” And the Infant, who lives in dread of a chill bringing back his Indian fever, has to say “Ye-es,” and pretend to despise overcoats. Wallah! This is a cheerful worid.

RUDYARD KIPLING.                


Abaft the Funnel - The Adoration of the Mage


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