The Kipling Reader eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Kipling Reader.

’Or thou canst, discarding the impiety of the cow-maiming, raise him to honour in thy Army.  He comes of a race that will not pay revenue.  A red flame is in his blood which comes out at the top of his head in that glowing hair.  Make him chief of the Army.  Give him honour as may befall, and full allowance of work, but look to it, O King, that neither he nor his hold a foot of earth from thee henceforward.  Feed him with words and favour, and also liquor from certain bottles that thou knowest of, and he will be a bulwark of defence.  But deny him even a tuft of grass for his own.  This is the nature that God has given him.  Moreover he has brethren——­’

The State groaned unanimously.

’But if his brethren come, they will surely fight with each other till they die; or else the one will always give information concerning the other.  Shall he be of thy Army, O King?  Choose.’

The King bowed his head, and I said, ’Come forth, Namgay Doola, and command the King’s Army.  Thy name shall no more be Namgay in the mouths of men, but Patsay Doola, for as thou hast said, I know.’

Then Namgay Doola, new christened Patsay Doola, son of Timlay Doola, which is Tim Doolan gone very wrong indeed, clasped the King’s feet, cuffed the standing Army, and hurried in an agony of contrition from temple to temple, making offerings for the sin of cattle maiming.

And the King was so pleased with my perspicacity that he offered to sell me a village for twenty pounds sterling.  But I buy no villages in the Himalayas so long as one red head flares between the tail of the heaven-climbing glacier and the dark birch-forest.

I know that breed.


        Pleasant it is for the Little Tin Gods
          When great Jove nods;
        But Little Tin Gods make their little mistakes
        In missing the hour when great Jove wakes.

As a general rule, it is inexpedient to meddle with questions of State in a land where men are highly paid to work them out for you.  This tale is a justifiable exception.

Once in every five years, as you know, we indent for a new Viceroy; and each Viceroy imports, with the rest of his baggage, a Private Secretary, who may or may not be the real Viceroy, just as Fate ordains.  Fate looks after the Indian Empire because it is so big and so helpless.

There was a Viceroy once who brought out with him a turbulent Private Secretary—­a hard man with a soft manner and a morbid passion for work.  This Secretary was called Wonder—­John Fennil Wonder.  The Viceroy possessed no name—­nothing but a string of counties and two-thirds of the alphabet after them.  He said, in confidence, that he was the electro-plated figurehead of a golden administration, and he watched in a dreamy, amused way Wonder’s attempts to draw matters which were entirely outside his province into his own hands.  ’When we are all cherubims together,’ said His Excellency once, ’my dear, good friend Wonder will head the conspiracy for plucking out Gabriel’s tail feathers or stealing Peter’s keys. Then I shall report him.’

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The Kipling Reader from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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