He lives in a grand old bungalow, surrounded by ancient trees. Large rooms open into one another on every side in long vistas; a broad and hospitable-looking verandah girds all. Everywhere trophies of the chase meet the eye. We walk upon cool matting; we recline upon long-armed chairs; low and heavy punkahs swing overhead; a sweet breathing of wet khaskhas grass comes sobbing out of the thermantidote; and a gigantic but gentle khidmatgar is always at our elbow with long glasses on a silver tray. This man’s name is Nubby Bux, but he means nothing by it, and a child might play with him. I often say to him in a caressing tone, “Peg lao";[U] and he is grateful for any little attention of this sort.
It is near noon. My friend Mr. Great-Heart, familiarly known as “Jamie Macdonald,” has been taking me over the factory and stables. We have been out since early morning on the jumpiest and beaniest of Waler mares. I am not killed, but a good deal shaken. The glass trembles in my hand. I have an absorbing thirst, and I drink copiously, almost passionately. My out-stretched legs are reposing on the arms of my chair and I stiffen into an attitude of rest. I hear my host splashing and singing in his tub.
Breakfast is a meal conceived in a large and liberal spirit. We pass from dish to dish through all the compass of a banquet, the diapason closing full in beer. Several joyful assistants, whose appetites would take first-class honours at any university or cattle show, join the hunt and are well in at the beer. What tales are told! I feel glad that Miss Harriet Martineau, Mrs. Mary Somerville, and Dr. Watts are not present. I keep looking round to see that no bishop comes into the room. It is a comfort to me to think that Bishop Heber is dead. I gave up blushing five years ago when I entered the Secretariat; but if at this moment Sir William Jones were to enter, or Mr. Whitley Stokes with his child-like heart and his Cymric vocabulary, I believe I should be strangely affected.
The day welters on through drink and billiards. In the afternoon more joyful Planters drop in, and we play a rubber. From whist to the polo ground, where I see the merry men of Tirhoot play the best and fastest game that the world can show. At night carousals and potations pottle deep. Next morning sees the entire party in the khadar[V] of the river, mounted on Arabs, armed with spears, hunting Jamie Macdonald’s Caledonian boar. These Scotchmen never forget their nationality.
And while these joyful Planters are thus rejoicing, the indigo is growing silently all round. While they play, Nature works for them. So does the patient black man; he smokes his huqqa and keeps an eye on the rising crop.