In England the Collector is to be found riding at anchor in the Bandicoot Club. He makes two or three hurried cruises to his native village, where he finds himself half forgotten. This sours him. The climate seems worse than of old, the means of locomotion at his disposal are inconvenient and expensive; he yearns for the sunshine and elephants of Gharibpur, and returns an older and a quieter man. The afternoon of life is throwing longer shadows, the Acheron of promotion is gaping before him; he falls into a Commissionership; still deeper into an officiating seat on the Board of Revenue. Facilis est descensus, etc. Nothing will save him now; transmigration has set in; the gates of Simla fly open; it is all over. Let us pray that his halo may fit him.—ALI BABA, K.C.B.
BABY IN PARTIBUS
[October 11, 1879.]
The Empire has done less for Anglo-Indian Babies than for any class of the great exile community. Legislation provides them with neither rattle nor coral, privilege leave nor pension. Papa has a Raja and Star of India to play with; Mamma the Warrant of Precedence and the Hill Captains; but Baby has nothing—not even a missionary; Baby is without the amusement of the meanest cannibal.
Baby is debarred from the society of his compatriots. His father is cramped and frozen with the chill cares of office; his mother is deadened by the gloomy routine of economy and fashion; custom lies upon her with a weight heavy as frost and deep almost as life; the fountains of natural fancy and mirth are frozen over; so Baby lisps his dawn paeans in soft Oriental accents, wakening harmonious echoes amongst those impulsive and impressionable children of Nature that masque themselves in the black slough of Bearers and Ayahs; and Baby blubbers in Hindustani.
These Ayah and Bearer people sit with Baby in the verandah on a little carpet; broken toys and withered flowers lie around. They croon to Baby some old-world katabaukalesis, while beauty, born of murmuring sound, passes into Baby’s eyes. The squirrel sits chirruping familiarly on the edge of the verandah with his tail in the air and some uncracked pericarp in his uplifted hands, the kite circles aloft and whistles a shrill and mournful note, the sparrows chatter, the crow clears his throat, the minas scream discordantly, and Baby’s soft, receptive nature thus absorbs an Indian language. Very soon Baby will think from right to left, and will lisp in the luxuriant bloom of Oriental hyperbole. [Presently, when Baby grows a little older, Baby will say to the Bearer, through his sweet little nose, “Arreh! Ulu ka bacha, tu kya karta hai?” Which being interpreted, is, “Ah! Child of night’s sweet bird, what dost thou now?” Afterwards Baby will learn to say many other things which it is not good to repeat here.]