“Golly!” exploded Jeremy, forgetting not to talk English. “There’s a swine for you! Yussuf Dakmar’s the son of a sea-cook who used to sell sheep to the Army four times over—drive ’em into camp and get a receipt—drive ’em out again next night—bring ’em back in the morning— get a receipt again—drive ’em off—bring ’em back—us chaps too busy shifting brother Turk to cotton on. He’ll be the boy I kicked out of camp once. Maybe remembers it too. I’ll bet his backbone’s twanging yet! Lead me to him, Grim, old cock, I’d like another piece of him!”
But Grim was humming to himself, playing piano on the bed-sheet with his fingers.
“Is that man not an Arab?” asked the fellow in bed, taking alarm all over again.
“Arab your aunt!” laughed Jeremy: “I eat Arabs! I’m the only original genuine woolly bad man from way back! I’m the plumber who pulled the plug out of Arabia! You know English? Good! You know what a dose of salts is then? You’ve seen it work? Experienced it, maybe? Hah! You’ll understand me. I’m a grain of the Epsom Salt that went through Beersheba, time the Turks had all the booze in sight and we were thirsty. Muddy booze it was too—oozy booze—not fit for washing hogs! Ever heard of Anzacs? Well, I’m one of ’em. Now you know what the scorpion who stung you’s up against! You lie there and think about it, cocky; I’ll show you his shirt tomorrow morning.”
“Suppose we go now,” suggested Grim. “I’ve got the drift of this thing. Get the rest elsewhere.”
“You can fan that Joskins for a lot more yet,” Jeremy objected. “The plug’s pulled. He’ll flow if you let him.”
“Sure he would. Don’t want too much from him. Don’t want to have to arrest him. Get me?”
“Come on then,” answered Jeremy, “I’ve promised him a shirt!”
Beyond the screen Narayan Singh stood like a statue, deaf, dumb, immovable. Even his eyes were fixed with a blank stare on the wall opposite.
“How much did you hear?” Grim asked him.
“I, sahib? I am a sick man. I have been asleep.”
“As your honour pleases!”
“Hospital’s stuffy, isn’t it? Think you could recover health more rapidly outdoors? Sick-leave continued of course, but—how about a little exercise?”
The Sikh’s eyes twinkled.
“Sahib, you know I need exercise!”
“I’ll speak to the doctor for you. In case he signs a new certificate, report to me tonight.”
“Atcha, Jimgrim sahib! Atcha!”
“Hum Dekta hai”