In Clive's Command eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 411 pages of information about In Clive's Command.

Another, used with a man whom he considered lazy, was the tank.  Between the dockyard and the river, separated from the latter only by a thin wall, was a square cavity about seven feet deep covered with boarding, in the center of which was a circular hole.  In the wall was a small orifice through which water could be let in from the river, while in the opposite wall was the pipe and spout of a small hand pump.  The man whom the overseer regarded as an idler was let down into the tank, the covering replaced, and water allowed to enter from the river.  This was a potent spur to the defaulter’s activity, for if he did not work the pump fast enough the water would gradually rise in the tank, and he would drown.  Desmond learned of one case where the man, utterly worn out by his life of alternate toil and punishment, refused to work the pump and stood in silent indifference while the water mounted inch by inch until it covered his head and ended his woes.

Desmond’s diligence in the dockyard pleased the overseer, whose name was Govinda, and he was by and by employed on lighter tasks which took him sometimes into the town.  Until the novelty wore off he felt a lively interest in the scenes that met his eye—­the bazaars, crowded with dark-skinned natives, the men mustachioed, clad for the most part in white garments that covered them from the crown of the head to the knee, with a touch of red sometimes in their turbans; the women with bare heads and arms and feet, garbed in red and blue; the gosains, mendicants with matted hair and unspeakable filth; the women who fried chapatis {small, flat, unleavened cakes} on griddles in the streets, grinding their meal in handmills; the sword grinders, whetting the blades of the Maratha two-edged swords; the barbers, whose shops had a never-ending succession of customers; the Brahmans, almost naked and shaved bald save for a small tuft at the back of the head; the sellers of madi, a toddy extracted from the cocoanut palm; the magicians in their shawls, with high stiff red cap, painted all over with snakes; the humped bullocks that were employed as beasts of burden, and when not in use roamed the streets untended; occasionally the basawa, the sacred bull of Siva, the destroyer, and the rath {car} carrying the sacred rat of Ganessa.  But with familiarity such scenes lost their charm; and as the months passed away Desmond felt more and more the gnawing of care at his heart, the constant sadness of a slave.

Chapter 11:  In which the Babu tells the story of King Vikramaditya; and the discerning reader may find more than appears on the surface.

Day followed day in dreary sameness.  Regularly every evening Desmond was locked with his eight fellow prisoners in the shed, there to spend hours of weariness and discomfort until morning brought release and the common task.  He had the same rations of rice and ragi {a cereal}, with occasional doles of more substantial fare.  He was carefully kept from all communication with the other European prisoners, and as the Bengali was the only man of his set who knew English, his only opportunities of using his native tongue occurred in the evening before he slept.

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In Clive's Command from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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