The Half-Hearted eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 273 pages of information about The Half-Hearted.

“But people come over here sometimes.”

“Yes, from the south, or by Afghanistan.”

“Not always.  What about the Korabaut Pass into Chitral?  Ianoff and the Cossacks came through it.”

“That’s true,” said the man, as if in deep thought.  “I had forgotten, but the band was small and the thing was a real adventure.”

“And then you have Gromchevtsky.  He brought his people right down through the Pamirs.”

For a second the man’s laughing ease deserted him.  He leaned his head forward and peered keenly into Lewis’s face.  Then, as if to cover his discomposure, he fell into the extreme of bluff amusement.  The exaggeration was plain to both his hearers.

“Oh yes, there was poor old Gromchevtsky.  But then you know he was what you call ‘daft,’ and one never knew how much to believe.  He had hatred of the English on the brain, and he went about the northern valleys making all sorts of wild promises on the part of the Tsar.  A great Russian army was soon to come down from the hills and restore the valleys to their former owners.  And then, after he had talked all this nonsense, and actually managed to create some small excitement among the tribesmen, the good fellow disappeared.  No man knows where he went.  The odd thing is that I believe he has never been heard of again in Russia to this day.  Of course his mission, as he loved to call it, was perfectly unauthorized, and the man himself was a creature of farce.  He probably came either by the Khyber or the Korabaut Pass, possibly even by the ordinary caravan-route from Yarkand, but felt it necessary for his mission’s sake to pretend he had found some way through the rock barrier.  I am afraid I cannot allow him to be taken seriously.”

Lewis yawned and reached out his hand for the cigars.  “In any case it is merely a question of speculative interest.  We shall not fall just yet, though you think so badly of us.”

“You will not fall just yet,” said Marker slowly, “but that is not your fault.  You British have sold your souls for something less than the conventional mess of pottage.  You are ruled in the first place by money-bags, and the faddists whom they support to blind your eyes.  If I were a young man in your country with my future to make, do you know what I would do?  I would slave in the Stock Exchange.  I would spend my days and nights in the pursuit of fortune, and, by heaven, I would get it.  Then I would rule the market and break, crush, quietly and ruthlessly, the whole gang of Jew speculators and vulgarians who would corrupt a great country.  Money is power with you, and I should attain it, and use it to crush the leeches who suck our blood.”

“Good man,” said George, laughing.  “That’s my way of thinking.  Never heard it better put.”

“I have felt the same,” said Lewis.  “When I read of ‘rings’ and ‘corners’ and ‘trusts’ and the misery and vulgarity of it all, I have often wished to have a try myself, and see whether average brains and clean blood could not beat these fellows on their own ground.”

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The Half-Hearted from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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