Little Shikara trembled and raised his eyes. “Only sometimes to ride with thee, in thy howdah, as thy servant, when thou again seekest the tiger.”
The whole circle laughed at this. They were just human, after all. Their firebrands were held high, and gleamed on Little Shikara’s dusky face, and made a lustre in his dark eyes. The circle, roaring with laughter, did not hear the sahib’s reply, but they did see him nod his head.
“I would not dare go without thee now,” Warwick told him.
And thus Little Shikara’s dreams came true—to be known through many villages as a hunter of tigers, and a brave follower and comrade of the forest trails. And thus he came into his own—in those far-off glades of Burma, in the jungles of the Manipur.
THE MAN WHO CURSED THE LILIES
By CHARLES TENNEY JACKSON
From Short Stories
Tedge looked from the pilot-house at the sweating deckhand who stood on the stubby bow of the Marie Louise heaving vainly on the pole thrust into the barrier of crushed water hyacinths across the channel.
Crump, the engineer, shot a sullen look at the master ere he turned back to the crude oil motor whose mad pounding rattled the old bayou stern-wheeler from keel to hogchains.
“She’s full ahead now!” grunted Crump. And then, with a covert glance at the single passenger sitting on the fore-deck cattle pens, the engineman repeated his warning, “Yeh’ll lose the cows, Tedge, if you keep on fightin’ the flowers. They’re bad f’r feed and water—they can’t stand another day o’ sun!”
Tedge knew it. But he continued to shake his hairy fist at the deckhand and roar his anathemas upon the flower-choked bayou. He knew his crew was grinning evilly, for they remembered Bill Tedge’s year-long feud with the lilies. Crump had bluntly told the skipper he was a fool for trying to push up this little-frequented bayou from Cote Blanche Bay to the higher land of the west Louisiana coast, where he had planned to unload his cattle.
Tedge had bought the cargo himself near Beaumont from a beggared ranchman whose stock had to go on the market because, for seven months, there had been no rain in eastern Texas, and the short-grass range was gone.
Tedge knew where there was feed for the starving animals, and the Marie Louise was coming back light. By the Intercoastal Canal and the shallow string of bays along the Texas-Louisiana line, the bayou boat could crawl safely back to the grassy swamp lands that fringe the sugar plantations of Bayou Teche. Tedge had bought his living cargo so ridiculously cheap that if half of them stood the journey he would profit. And they would cost him nothing for winter ranging up in the swamp lands. In the spring he would round up what steers had lived and sell them, grass-fat, in New Orleans. He’d land them there with his flap-paddle bayou boat, too, for the Marie Louise ranged up and down the Inter-coastal Canal and the uncharted swamp lakes and bays adjoining, trading and thieving and serving the skipper’s obscure ends.