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language calculated to provoke a breach of the peace. I think that is what it's called.'
* And as it happens,' said the subaltern, I particularly
' warned you to mind your manners. If you go on like this, you will never get back to the House of Commons.'
Mr. Luxford modified his manner somewhat.
* There is no use in our losing our tempers,' he said, with an effort; “I should like to talk this matter out with you. I feel that it is my duty to see it through, as a simple matter of justice to the natives. I am sorry if I was rude.'
'Well,' said the Major in mollified tones, you will perhaps excuse me for saying that you were rude, very rude indeed. If you take that tone again I shall have to leave you to the tender mercies of Charles-of Mr. Lambert.'
The Major smiled; so did Mr. Lambert.
. And,' continued the former, 'I had better tell you at once that you must not try to come between me and these villagers. If you think that I have maltreated them, your course is to report me to the Deputy Commissioner of the district; his name is Jeffreys, and he lives at Malpur. But don't, please, take that tone again with me. Mr. Lambert will tell you that I have a perfectly beastly temper-haven't 1, Charles?'
It is pretty thick at times, Major. But he hardly ever swears.'
The latter somewhat irrelevant sentence was addressed to Mr. Luxford, who wore the air of one who is a prey to astonishment.
' Of course,' said the Major, being an M.P.--you did say M.P., didn't you—you are a stranger to the country, and so can hardly be expected to know much about things out here.'
'I am hardly a stranger to India,' broke in the M.P., 'for I have been out here for four months.'
He spoke as one who had said the last word, and the subaltern smiled.
That is not a very great deal of time,' the Major replied. . But it is nearly enough to teach you that things are not always what they seem or are said to be in India. But never mind; you must really not interfere in my business, or at least if you wish to do so, you must do it via the Deputy Commissioner. Charles, write down the D.C.'s name and address and give it to Mr. Luxford.'
The subaltern extracted a ponderous army pocket-book from his haversack, and making an entry tore out the leaf and handed it to Mr. Luxford. The latter held it so that the firelight fell upon it and read what was written.
* Thanks,' he said, 'that is quite clear. I am afraid I shall have to report the matter. I need hardly say, Major, that I had sifted it thoroughly before I came to you about it and—'
* Oh, all right,' answered the Major. “Please don't say any more about it. Write to Jeffreys. I don't know him myself, so he will be quite unbiassed. And now that that is settled, won't you have a drink?'
* Thanks, I am an abstainer,' Luxford replied.
'That's all right,' said the subaltern; 'we are on the tack, too, for the next few days. But we can give you some hot milk, I expect-goat's milk, if you don't mind that.'
• What is it like?' asked Mr. Luxford.
He was rather cold, and the prospect of hot milk was alluring; but he jibbed slightly at the idea of its source.
"Oh, it's all right; especially if you put some sugar in it to take off the taste.'
At this moment three soldiers approached, bearing food.
The foremost carried with great care two chupatties, one in each hand, upon which were piled small heaps of meat. Untempting meat, Mr. Luxford thought. The second man bore a quantity of chupatties, and the third an earthen jar full of hot milk.
' Here is food, Sahib,' said the first man. . We have brought goat-brains and chupatties. It is not like the food of the officers' mess, but be pleased to eat it.'
He and his companions beamed upon the officers as hosts smile upon their guests, and noticing Mr. Luxford, one asked if the other Sahib would like food also. The Major said that the Sahib had already eaten and dismissed the food-bearers with polite thanks. They saluted and vanished in the darkness.
The subaltern produced a couple of tin tumblers, and filling one with the milk gave it to Luxford.
' It probably is sweetened already,' he said, and considerately forebore to add that a soldier had very likely stirred in the sugar with his forefinger.
* Excuse our eating,' said the Major; 'we have had very
little since breakfast, and we are pretty hungry. At least I am, and I suppose you are, too, Charles?'
· Deuce of a twist,' said the latter, as he fell upon the goat's brains and leathery chupatti.
Luxford watched them eating in astonishment. He would never have believed that officers of the British Army could consent to devour goat's brains at any time, still less when served in such an untempting fashion. Being himself full-fed he was inclined to be disgusted.
' By gad,' said the subaltern with his mouth full, 'I am mighty hungry.'
* This milk is really delicious,' said Luxford, cherishing the tin tumbler in both hands. “I had no idea that goat's milk was so good.'
' Depends how much you want it,' said the subaltern with laconic indistinctness.
'Well, I certainly was wanting it very much,' answered Luxford.
'I am very glad that we could do that much for you,' said the Major, whose sense of hospitality had now overcome his wrath. * But really, of course, you are making yourself particeps criminis in our extortions. But never mind; I'll not mention that to the Deputy Commissioner. Have some more, do.'
Luxford hesitated, but the spirit was stronger than the flesh, and he declined with many thanks.
'I must be going,' he said ; ' I suppose you won't both come and breakfast with me to-morrow, will you, at the rest-house?'
Thanks very much; we should like to,' said the Major; ' that is, if you will give it us pretty early. We ought to march at 8 o'clock.'
The time was agreed upon, and the two officers escorted Luxford from camp and put him on the track to the village. After leaving them he was nearly ridden down by a camelorderly, whose mount emerged from the darkness with the lurching, silent, suddenness characteristic of the beast. The camel-orderly had come from cantonments and had brought, amongst other correspondence, the English mail for the officers. Taking their letters they began to read them by the light of the fire, newly stoked for the purpose.
‘By George if that isn't a funny thing,' said the Major presently.
* What? 'asked the subaltern, looking up from a letter which, judging by his seraphic smile, must have been written by some feminine charmer overseas.
Talk about coincidences,' said the Major.
* Why, here's a letter from a friend of mine at home, mentioning a globe-trotting M.P. called Luxford—that was the chap's name, wasn't it?—and asking me to be kind to himsays he is somewhere in our part of India.'
• That's a darned rum start. Well, you have been kind to him, Major; at least I have. It was my glass the little beast drank out of. Still, it licks cock-fighting all the same.'
* This is what he says: “If you meet a travelling M.P. called Luxford, you might do what you can for him. He is rather an ass, but not at all a bad fellow when you get to know him. He has gone out to learn something about India and means to stay out for six months. The last time I heard from him he said he was going somewhere near where you are. He is a Radical and is great on the woes and injustices from which India suffers, but please be kind to him if you possibly can.
* Little beast,' ejaculated the subaltern.
* Upon my word,' said the Major, 'when I come to think of it I really am surprised at my own forbearance. I didn't think I had it in me. However, perhaps it is just as well. Anyway, you won't have to eat cold goat at breakfast to-morrow, Charles.'
After which they rolled themselves in their blankets, snuggled down in their straw, and fell fast asleep.
Next morning Mr. Luxford received his guests in the livingroom of the Public Works Department Rest-House. He evidently believed in travelling comfortably, for a quantity of baggage strewed the room and the table was covered with a fair white cloth upon which, looking absurdly out of place to the two soldiers, the silver gleamed in the bright morning sun.
The host was at first a little constrained in manner, reflecting probably upon the brutalities of his two guests and upon their somewhat cavalier treatment of himself on the previous evening. But memory of hot goat's milk forbade rancour, and he was as VOL. XXXV.-NO. 200, N.S.
cordial as he knew how to be in his greetings. When the Major told him of the letter that he had received, Luxford's surprise was equalled only by his pleasure, and the clouds of their previous interview were soon swept away, so that the traveller felt quite guilty when he thought of the slip of paper which reposed in his pocket, and upon which were inscribed the name and address of the Deputy Commissioner. He intended fully to use this slip of paper, and to forward a report as soon as possible.
It was the Major who referred to the subject of their previous unpleasantness, and he did so over a really surprisingly excellent meal.
Now that I know who you are, Mr. Luxford,' he said, 'I don't mind talking to you on the subject about which you came to see me last night.'
'I shall be delighted to discuss it with you, Major,' answered the other.
'Well,' replied the Major, ‘I own I was annoyed with you last night. You know you were a total stranger to me, and I considered your interference was an impert—was unwarranted. However, I shall be very glad if you will let me know what you have to say.'
The Major's tone was more cordial than his words, but Luxford nevertheless had the feeling that he it was, and not the Major, who was in the position of defendant. The subaltern's contribution to the conversation was confined to an amused smile.
Well, you know,' said Luxford, 'I am on my way from Buchapur to the house of a native friend of mine, a lawyer who has a place at Hansgunge. Soon after I got here the head man came and complained about you, as I told you. I tell you quite candidly, Major, that I thought it very wrong indeed that an Englishman at the head of a body of soldiery should forcibly, or at all events by threats, extort from these poor villagers supplies which they can hardly afford to part with.'
The subaltern cackled with laughter, and the Major frowned at him.
'I beg your pardon; I'm awfully sorry,' said the former to Luxford.
' Is your lawyer-friend called Mulraj? 'asked the Major. * That's the very man; do you know him?'