They tell little stories of his weaknesses and eccentricities, and his wife is considered a person entitled “to give herself airs” (within the district) if she feels so disposed; while to their high dinners is allowed the use of champagne and “Europe” talk on aesthetic subjects. The Collector is not, however, permitted to wear a chimney-pot hat and gloves on Sunday (unless he has been in the Provincial Secretariat as a boy); a Terai hat is sufficient for a Collector.
A Collector is usually a sportsman; when he is a poet, a co-respondent, or a neologist it is thought rather a pity; and he is spoken of in undertones. Neology is considered especially reprehensible. The junior member of the Board of Revenue, or even the Commissioner of a division (if he be pukka)[M], may question the literal inspiration of Genesis; but it is not good form for a Collector to tamper with his Bible. A Collector should have no leisure for opinions of any sort.
I have said that a Collector is usually a sportsman. In this capacity he is frequently made use of by the Viceroy and long-shore Governors, as he is an adept at showing sport to globe-trotters. The villagers who live on the borders of the jungle will generally turn out and beat for the Collector, and the petty chief who owns the jungle always keeps a tiger or two for district officers. A Political Agent’s tiger is known to be a domestic animal suitable for delicate noble Lords travelling for health; but a Collector’s tiger is often [believed to be almost] a wild beast, although usually reared upon buffalo calves and accustomed to be driven. [Of course the tiger which the Collector and his friends shoot is quite an inferior article; a fierce, roaming creature that lives upon spotted deer when it can get them, but is often quite savage from hunger.] The Collector, who is always the most unselfish and hospitable of men, only kills the fatted tiger for persons of distinction with letters of introduction. Any common jungle tiger, even a man-eater, is good enough for himself and his friends.
The Collector never ventures to approach Simla, when on leave. At Simla people would stare and raise their eye-brows if they heard that a Collector was on the hill. They would ask what sort of a thing a Collector was. The Press Commissioner would be sent to interview it. The children at Peterhoff would send for it to play with. So the clodhopping Collector goes to Naini Tal or Darjiling, where he is known either as Ellenborough Higgins, or Higgins of Gharibpur in territorial fashion. Here he is understood. Here he can bubble of his Bandobast,[N] his Balbacha[O] and his Bawarchikhana;[P] and here he can speak in familiar accents of his neighbours, Dalhousie Smith and Cornwallis Jones. All day long he strides up and down the club verandah with his old Haileybury chum Teignmouth Tompkins; and they compare experiences of the hunting-field and office, and denounce in unmeasured terms of Oriental vituperation the new sort of civilian who moves about with the Penal Code under his arm and measures his authority by statute, clause, and section.