But it was not written that the knife should ever enter the flesh of Langur Dass.
The elephant never forgets, and Muztagh was monarch of his breed. He turned back two paces, and struck with his trunk. Ahmad Din was knocked aside as the wind whips a straw.
For an instant elephant and man stood front to front. To the left of them the gates of the stockade dropped shut behind the herd. The elephant stood with trunk slightly lifted, for the moment motionless. The long-haired man who saved him stood lifting upstretched arms.
It was such as scene as one might remember in an old legend, wherein beasts and men were brothers, or such as sometimes might steal, likely something remembered from another age, into a man’s dreams. Nowhere but in India, where men have a little knowledge of the mystery of the elephant, could it have taken place at all.
For Langur Dass was speaking to my lord the elephant:
“Take me with thee, Muztagh! Monarch of the hills! Thou and I are not of the world of men, but of the jungle and the rain, the silence, and the cold touch of rivers. We are brothers, Muztagh. O beloved, wilt thou leave me here to die!”
The elephant slowly turned his head and looked scornfully at the group of beaters bearing down on Langur Dass, murder shining no less from their knives than from their lighted eyes.
“Take me,” the old man pleaded; “thy herd is gone.”
The elephant seemed to know what he was asking. He had lifted him to his great shoulders many times, in the last days of his captivity. And besides, his old love for Langur Dass had never been forgotten. It all returned, full and strong as ever. For an elephant never can forget.
It was not one of the man-herd that stood pleading before him. It was one of his own jungle people, just as, deep in his heart, he had always known. So with one motion light as air, he swung him gently to his shoulder.
The jungle, vast and mysterious and still, closed its gates behind them.
BY FRANCES GILCHRIST WOOD
From Pictorial Review
The old mail-sled running between Haney and Le Beau, in the days when Dakota was still a Territory, was nearing the end of its hundred-mile route.
It was a desolate country in those days; geographers still described it as The Great American Desert, and in looks it deserved the title. Never was there anything so lonesome as that endless stretch of snow reaching across the world until it cut into a cold grey sky, excepting the same desert burned to a brown tinder by the hot wind of summer.
Nothing but sky and plain and its voice, the wind, unless you might count a lonely sod shack blocked against the horizon, miles away from a neighbour, miles from anywhere, its red-curtained square of window glowing through the early twilight.