‘Certainly — most certainly,’ said Bennett.
‘But you will not go to Sanawar,’ said Kim.
’But we will go to Sanawar, little man. That’s the order of the Commander-in-Chief, who’s a trifle more important than O’Hara’s son.’
‘You will not go to Sanawar. You will go to thee War.’
There was a shout of laughter from the full tent.
’When you know your own Regiment a trifle better you won’t confuse the line of march with line of battle, Kim. We hope to go to “thee War” sometime.’
‘Oah, I know all thatt.’ Kim drew his bow again at a venture. If they were not going to the war, at least they did not know what he knew of the talk in the veranda at Umballa.
’I know you are not at thee war now; but I tell you that as soon as you get to Umballa you will be sent to the war — the new war. It is a war of eight thousand men, besides the guns.’
’That’s explicit. D’you add prophecy to your other gifts? Take him along, sergeant. Take up a suit for him from the Drums, an’ take care he doesn’t slip through your fingers. Who says the age of miracles is gone by? I think I’ll go to bed. My poor mind’s weakening.’
At the far end of the camp, silent as a wild animal, an hour later sat Kim, newly washed all over, in a horrible stiff suit that rasped his arms and legs.
‘A most amazin’ young bird,’ said the sergeant. ’He turns up in charge of a yellow-headed buck-Brahmin priest, with his father’s Lodge certificates round his neck, talkin’ God knows what all of a red bull. The buck-Brahmin evaporates without explanations, an’ the bhoy sets cross-legged on the Chaplain’s bed prophesyin’ bloody war to the men at large. Injia’s a wild land for a God-fearin’ man. I’ll just tie his leg to the tent-pole in case he’ll go through the roof. What did ye say about the war?’
‘Eight thousand men, besides guns,’ said Kim. ’Very soon you will see.’
‘You’re a consolin’ little imp. Lie down between the Drums an’ go to bye-bye. Those two boys will watch your slumbers.’
Now I remember comrades —
Old playmates on new seas —
Whenas we traded orpiment
Among the savages.
Ten thousand leagues to southward,
And thirty years removed —
They knew not noble Valdez,
But me they knew and loved.
Song of Diego Valdez.
Very early in the morning the white tents came down and disappeared as the Mavericks took a side-road to Umballa. It did not skirt the resting-place, and Kim, trudging beside a baggage-cart under fire of comments from soldiers’ wives, was not so confident as overnight. He discovered that he was closely watched — Father Victor on the one side, and Mr Bennett on the other.
In the forenoon the column checked. A camel-orderly handed the Colonel a letter. He read it, and spoke to a Major. Half a mile in the rear, Kim heard a hoarse and joyful clamour rolling down on him through the thick dust. Then someone beat him on the back, crying: ’Tell us how ye knew, ye little limb of Satan? Father dear, see if ye can make him tell.’