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perform this feat of horsemanship with fancying Anna Harding. She was an exCavendish--the thoroughbred in question. ceptionally beautiful and attractive girl.
He reflected that the station had not Unformed, of course. One could n't exappeared to notice anything. But the sta- pect "form" of a girl who had never been tion was, just then, made up of men, and in England. And character-at her age, men-Englishmen, at any rate-once past with her surroundings, one could n't suptheir infancy, were not famed for "taking pose she would have much of that. Still, notice.” But you could trust the bazaar the Padre was man enough beneath his for seeing that to which the station's eye cassock to have observed that Anna Harwas blind. Its instinct was unerring and ding was a charming girl. And being the its channels of information always took only girl in sight would, naturally, multithe shortest route. Stations had never yet ply her charms. But when it came to famaccounted for the way bazaars knew things ily, well, “least said, soonest mended," - before they happened. The station gen- was the phrase for that. erally knew a thing when it had seen it. Anna Harding was what the natives The bazaar seemed to have a way of see- call “this country English," and what the ing a thing because it knew it. The Padre English deem a shade worse than being a was aware that there were large discrep- native-an Eurasian. She was not “pukka.” ancies in the sums of knowledge obtained A pukka coin is one turned out from the by these two methods, from these two government mint, of standard weight and sources, with the balance on the side of value, no counterfeit about it. It is genuthe bazaar.
ine if it is pukka. It had required but the The Padre determined to look at the lightest play of fancy and no humor for case impartially, by which he meant look- the Englishman in India to appropriate ing at it from Cavendish's point of view. that most expressive word to denote the He was a fine chap, was Cavendish. His obvious distinction between himself and family was one of the best in England. his half-brother, the Eurasian. The EuraHis service was the best in India, in the sian is the false coin. The Englishman world, in fact-the Indian Civil Service. may be responsible for turning him out, (Ordinary capitals can really do little in but he cannot accept him in circulation, the way of justice to the size of those He, the creator, beholding his creation initials, I.C.S., in India, and in the Pa- and seeing that it is not good (not having dre's mind.) Cavendish was an A i offi- been made in his own exact image), spurns cer, too.
With his talents, birth, and him as a spurious coin, and brands him with backing, he would have a career before the phrase, “Only fourteen annas to the him, the only thing that made it worth rupee.” The Englishman is the standard, one's while to come to India. When it the sixteen anna, pukka, genuine rupee, came to marrying, he could take his “pick." and the Eurasian falls, by natural graviHe was attractive, too. Not handsome, tation, into the debased currency class. It -at least, not in a romantic way. You was to this class that Anna Harding bewould hardly look for beauty in a chap longed. Would George Cavendish, purest who went about habitually in a riding suit coin of the realm, so limited in the output of khaki and a battered old brown helmet. that comparatively few were in the market, Hawkins, now, was handsome. Even identify himself with a "fourteen anna" Towers went Cavendish one better in his coin? The Padre knew that it was neither looks. Still, there was something about to be expected nor desired. Cavendish. It might be his erectness. His He had turned by this time into the ear, shoulder, hip, and ankle were in line. broad white track of beveled road that ran His trousers never bagged at the knees. from the bazaar to the European quarter, He never slouched. There was something and had paused among the myriad rootindicative of the man in that. You could lets of a hoary banian to survey the scene. n't blame a girl for fancying Cavendish. The way was lined with bright-hued naHe had everything to give her-present tives, squatting along the route, some talkprecedence, post-mortem pension. Those ing and gesticulating eagerly, the others P's would weigh with any woman. Anna listening stolidly. The Padre knew that Harding would be dazzled by them.
not a white man, from the Neither could one blame a man for Himalayas down to Tuticorin, who could have told him, had he "brayed him in a had a genius for ferreting out dakoits, mortar," what it was that they were say- and for laying his finger on the man, that ing. It made him shiver in the midday had made a great impression on the naheat to think that Anna Harding's name tives, by whom his achievements were might, even then, be passing down the line. ascribed to magic. If any one knew what It seemed to him that his course was plain. was being said in the bazaar, he did, and It was his duty to interfere before it was you could depend upon him not to talk. too late.
It was an open secret that Government had As if on purpose to confirm him in this its eye upon him for its “Keep it Dark" resolution, his meditations were disturbed, Department, and that, like Cavendish, just here, by a pounding noise behind him, though in a lesser sphere, he had a career and by the Aight before him, like bright before him. The Padre had been glad to feathered fowl, of native cloths and pug- see him riding that morning with Cavengrees. Anna Harding dashed by on horse- dish and Anna, not only as having a tenback, followed by two men, one almost dency to frighten native gossip, but as neck and neck beside her, the other in the offering the prospect of a competent opinrear. In the foremost man the Padre rec- ion based upon the observations of an exognized George Cavendish, and in the one pert. who was following on Hawkins of the The three men sat out after dinner in Police. With British absorption in them- the middle of the drive, where, full in selves, the cavalcade saw nothing in the Orion's light and free of foliage, the afterstreet, while every one in the street, with dinner dozer might enjoy the maximum native absorption in the spectacle of the of breezes and the minimum of snakes. passer-by, gazed wide-eyed after them. Their long arm-chairs with teakwood The Padre, who saw all, wondered that he rests formed the radii of a circle to which had not seen it all before, so obvious did it the center was a teapoy, on which the butnow appear.
ler and the Padre's boy placed whisky and He determined that he would talk it soda "pegs," matches and cheroots, and over with Captain Towers that evening, then withdrew to balance themselves after dinner; that he would get Hawkins's adroitly on their heels, in company with opinion; that, if necessary, he would drop Hawkins's peon, a short distance down a hint to Cavendish; and, if it came to the drive, where they awaited, with no that, that he would speak to Anna Har- more refreshing aids than patience and a ding.
lantern, the separation of their sahibs for The Padre was chumming with Sur- the night. The breeze wafted the followgeon Captain Towers, of the Indian Med- ing conversation toward them: ical Service, in the absence of their wives “Has it occurred to you that Cavendish in England. Their bungalow, with the and Anna Harding are too much toothers in the European quarter, backed up gether?” It was the Padre's voice. against a hill, one of a group round which Surgeon Captain Towers, six foot three, the highway ran, ascending till it reached and weighing fifteen stone, having cut a a sandy plateau in the midst of them, pair of legs off earlier in the day, and feelwhere it came to a dead standstill in front ing thereby justified in affording to his of a cemetery gate. The standstill was own all possible ease, had deposited those not really dead, but was only a case of sus- members on the rests of his arm-chair and pended animation, for the road eventually was preparing to enjoy his usual postrecovered and went on again; but the prandial repose. He did not wish to talk, cemetery and the gate remained, accentu- but the Padre's question was too startling ating by their dreary isolation the stillness to ignore. and the deadness of the dead, upon whose What put that idea into your head ?" silence, as a rule, the only noise that broke he asked. was the wild laughter of hyena packs “I have reason to believe that there is a among the hills at night.
rumor in the bazaar about them," said the Dining that evening with the Padre Padre. and Captain Towers was Hawkins of the "That 's nothing," said Captain TowPolice, a reserved and reticent man whose “The bazaar is always full of rupersonality suited his department. He
It 's where they make them."
Then, after a pause, he asked, “How did “Yes, but Harding is n't dead. And it reach you? Through your boy?" what is he? Just a Local Fund engineer,
“I never gossip with native servants," and a poor one, at that. The strain of said the Padre, somewhat stiffly. “I was the "country" in him shows in his looks, passing through the bazaar, and I over- shows still more in his speech, shows most heard some Brahmans talking. I distinctly of all in his roads. What sort of family heard them use her name. We know what connection would he make for a man like that means. She was out with Cavendish Cavendish ?” at the time. Of course, the natives would “Cavendish would n't marry Harding." talk. Such freedom between men and The remark came in a cool, quiet tone women is incomprehensible to them. But from the depths of Hawkins's arm-chair. they are familiar, of course, with English “Yes, he would. It amounts to that, in customs, and I feel that their talking must India. An Englishman can't afford to mean something more than idle gossip. I marry an Eurasian, however charming she blame myself for not foreseeing it. She's may chance to be. He outcastes himself in my parish and I feel a responsibility.” by doing it. It 's that sort of eruption “Were they out alone?"
that 's spoiling the complexion of Anglo“No. Hawkins was with them." Indian society. A first-class man ought n't “Had it occurred to you, Hawkins ?" to marry a second-class wife. She's too
Had what occurred to me?" The heavy a weight to carry. She blocks his voice came
as from one aroused from way to the top, every time.” private meditation.
"It has been done." The cool, delib"That the bazaar has any reason, be- erate voice came again from Hawkins's yond its love of scandal, to talk about chair. Cavendish and Anna Harding."
"And how has it turned out? Badly, "Heaven forbid," said Hawkins, "that every time. No man with a 'country' wife I should repeat everything that occurs to reaches the top of the ladder. Besides, me, or anything that comes from the ba- it 's bad for the race. We 're raising up zaar.”
a mongrel breed in India that will be a Both Captain Towers and the Padre serious problem some day. It 's neither understood, from what Hawkins did not 'fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring.' say, that he knew that the bazaar was Government is beginning to realize it, too. talking. The Padre, in particular, felt It does n't like such marriages. It would confirmed in the wisdom of his morning's be seriously annoyed if a man like Cavenresolutions. “Do you suppose that Cav- dish were to make such a mistake. We endish means to marry her?” asked the should get a 'wigging,' all round, if we Padre, after an interval of silence.
encouraged it." “Of course not. How could a man in "What has Government to do with a Cavendish's position marry a girl in Anna man's private affairs?” asked Hawkins. Harding's?" answered Captain Towers. "Nothing. But it has a good deal to
"She 's an exceptionally attractive girl. do with a man's promotion. It wants the A good sort, altogether. She 's not at all blood of the ruling class kept pure.' the usual ‘fourteen anna' kind. In fact, “It 's rather late in the day to talk she's quite English, you know." The about that,” said Hawkins, dryly. Padre made this statement in the tone of “Well, it won't help matters to encourone who utters the final word in praise of age the other thing. I 'm opposed, as a a human being.
medical man, to all such marriages. I'm “Yes, but she is n't English. The Har- confident Cavendish would n't think of it. dings are n't pukka."
It would seriously affect his career.” “Her mother is dead," said the Padre, And Captain Towers refreshed himself in the tone of one who mentions a provi- with another whisky and soda "peg,” redential dispensation. Anna's mother had lighted his cheroot, and, elevating his legs been "country" rather more than "bred," once more to their high station, indicated, and the Padre, like the most of us, be- by falling asleep, that, for him, the conlieved in the doctrine that "the Lord versation was at an end. knows best" when He removes impedi- The Padre felt that he would like to menta from our pathway.
know more definitely Hawkins's opinion.
There could be little doubt that his matters had gone very far. That rumor trained faculty of observation had taken cannot more than have just started." in the status of the case. Hawkins's opin- Hawkins made no reply. ion, he was aware, was hard to get, and, "Well," said the Padre, finally, "you when obtained, did not always bear the have given me your opinion. What is hall-mark of unquestionable value. But
your advice ?" the Padre was a conscientious man, and “To keep hands off,” said Hawkins. he was thoroughly in earnest about this “They are not in 'swaddling bands.'" matter of Cavendish and Anna Harding. The butler, the boy, and the peon, still No stone should lie unturned that he could balancing themselves upon their tireless turn in time to prevent that stumbling in heels, betrayed no sign of slumber or imthe pasture.
patience so long as the conversation lasted. "Hawkins," he said, as soon as certain The lighted lantern was waiting to show sounds denoted that Captain Towers was Hawkins Sahib home. Orion in the zeabsent in the spirit, “what do you think nith, shoulders forward, sword and belt about this rumor in the bazaar?"
ablaze, his dog behind him belching forth "To which rumor in the bazaar do you a stream of light, might have seemed comrefer?" asked Hawkins, calmly.
petent to perform that service, but the “To the one about Cavendish and Anna conduct of a cobra in the hedge proved the Harding, of course," replied the Padre. utility of the lantern and the peon. The
“Is there such a rumor ?" asked Haw- cobra, too, was going home. It cared kins, in a non-committal tone.
nothing for Orion or his dog in space, and “I think I mentioned it awhile ago," little for the sahibs in the chairs, but it said the Padre, once more rather stiffly. looked with thoughtful consideration at
“Ah, yes. Well, what about it?" the lantern and the peon, and decided to
“That's the very thing I 'm asking take another route. In doing so, it passed you," said the Padre, beginning to feel close to Hawkins Sahib's hand, which hung the heat of the climate suddenly.
down limp beside his chair. The cobra “How should I know anything about saw it, reared its head, adjusted its specit?" demanded Hawkins. "Do I live in tacles, and eyed it carefully as it went by. the bazaar, or spend my time in gossiping Had Hawkins moved, it would have with natives?"
struck. But Hawkins did not move. The Padre's patience showed signs of a Presently, since there was no more condecline, but his inexorable twins still urged versation, the peon coughed gently once, him on
then twice. Then he was seized with a “Look here, Hawkins,” he said, “this paroxysm of great violence. Hawkins rose. is a serious matter. If any white man “The peon wants to go. I am off for knows what is being said in the bazaar, camp at daybreak. I don't know when I you do, and what I want is your opinion shall be back. Good night,” he said, and and advice. Do you believe that there is went, the peon holding the lantern low anything between George Cavendish and before him all the starlit way. Anna Harding ?"
“Hawkins does not approve of our po“They have not honored me with their sition. He evidently thinks it unfair to confidence," said Hawkins, “but I am Anna Harding," said the Padre to Capwilling to say this: if they wish to marry tain Towers, as they were parting for the each other, I see no reason why Govern- night. ment, or any one else, should interfere." “It's hard to tell what Hawkins
“It would ruin his career,” declared thinks,” said Captain Towers. “I somethe Padre. “And, if he does not marry times suspect that he has imbibed a bit of her, it will ruin her reputation. I must the 'country' himself, through his departinterfere before it is too late.”
ment." "And if it should already be too late?" He says he sees no reason why Cavensaid Hawkins, with a rising, cynical in- dish should n't marry her," continued the Aection.
Padre. "That can hardly be," replied the Pa- "Well, he might see differently, if he dre. “We, who are closest to them can- were Cavendish. Such a marriage would not all have been so blind as not to see, if seriously affect the career of any English
man in India, and Hawkins cares as much The Padre, whose mind was still refor his career as any one I know. If I verting gloomily to the dropping problem, were you, Padre, I should drop a hint to admitted that he was somewhat less than Cavendish."
fiddle fit. The Padre decided that he would drop "That 's India," said Cavendish, cheera hint to Cavendish, but when he called fully. “I'm sorry you 're feeling down.” upon him for that purpose, he found that “Do you never feel 'down,' yourself, it belonged to the class of operations of Cavendish?" asked the Padre, trying to which we often hear that they are easier feel his way. said than done. He had no idea that it “I? Oh, I 'm always fit, thanks. I could be so difficult to drop anything. If take a lot of exercise, you know. There's any one had asked him how to drop a hint, nothing like exercise in India to keep one's he would have said that it was like drop- liver right, they say." ping anything else that all you would The Padre began to see a way, if not have to do would be to “just drop it, you to drop the hint, at least, to drag it in. know." But when he found himself “Quite so. There 's no exercise like seated opposite that straight-limbed, clean- riding, I suppose. Are you out every shaven, just-out-of-the-tub young man, it day?" seemed, to his surprise, a rather compli- “Of course. The horses have to be excated sort of thing. Cavendish gave him ercised, you know.” no fair chance. He was full of a run he “I believe you do not ride alone,” the had had that morning in which his hounds Padre said, an inflection of accusation in had nearly cornered a very wily jack, and his voice. he ran on about rice-fields, tank-bunds, Alone ?" said Cavendish, "why should and prickly-pear hedges, none of them I? Hawkins rides, and Miss Harding suitable places in which to drop anything likes a mount. There 's not much sport with the expectation that any one would in going out alone.” see it, and cleared them all without giving "Sport," said the Padre, “is not always the Padre a chance in edgewise. Once he the first consideration." threw in an aside about how his horse had “It is to me,” said Cavendish, “when just missed putting a foot in “one of Har- I 'm out for it." ding's holes," on the Kartari road, but be- “There,” thought the Padre, “is the fore the Padre could cut in, the hole closed key-note to his character," and a wave of over, and nothing had been dropped in it. indignation sweeping through him made it
The Padre had never realized before what easy for him to broach the subject on his a talkative chap Cavendish was—so full mind. In his turn, giving Cavendish no of life and energy and vigor.
chance to get a word in edgewise, he stated plainly, not the sort from whom one could
as precisely as was convenient expect much, in the way either of fore- with a young man blushing furiously in thought or of retrospection. He was just front of him, and showing a disposition the kind to sow in haste and reap at lei- to interrupt with exclamations. sure. The Padre began to feel annoyed When the Padre had concluded, Caventhat so much of high-spirits and good- dish rose, walked round the room with his humor should accompany conduct involv- hands thrust deep into his trousers pocking such responsibility. He would have ets, spoke severely to several hounds that preferred Cavendish to behave more like lay about upon the floor engaged in those a man with something on his mind. The researches incidental to the country, made ultimate psychological effect of this was a number of remarks about bazaars and that it occurred, at last, to Cavendish that natives, and then came back and stood bethe Padre was behaving like a man with fore the Padre. something on his mind - liver, probably. “Do I understand,” said he, “that this He knew that the liver has a way in India rumor in the bazaar involves an injury to of getting into the cranial cavity. He be- Miss Harding's reputation?” came sympathetic at once.
"You know as well as I do, Cavendish, “Is anything wrong, Padre? You don't that a rumor about any girl, in any Indian seem quite fit this morning," he said, with zaar, involves an injury to her reputafriendly solicitude in his tone.
tion," said the Padre, firmly.