Her Majesty's Servants
You can work it out by Fractions or by simple Rule of Three,
But the way of Tweedle-dum is not the way of Tweedle-dee.
You can twist it, you can turn it, you can plait it till you drop,
But the way of Pilly Winky's not the way of Winkie Pop!
It had been raining heavily for one whole month--raining on a
camp of thirty thousand men and thousands of camels, elephants,
horses, bullocks, and mules all gathered together at a place
called Rawal Pindi, to be reviewed by the Viceroy of India. He
was receiving a visit from the Amir of Afghanistan--a wild king
of a very wild country. The Amir had brought with him for a
bodyguard eight hundred men and horses who had never seen a camp
or a locomotive before in their lives--savage men and savage
horses from somewhere at the back of Central Asia. Every night a
mob of these horses would be sure to break their heel ropes and
stampede up and down the camp through the mud in the dark, or the
camels would break loose and run about and fall over the ropes of
the tents, and you can imagine how pleasant that was for men
trying to go to sleep. My tent lay far away from the camel lines,
and I thought it was safe. But one night a man popped his head in
and shouted, "Get out, quick! They're coming! My tent's gone!"
I knew who "they" were, so I put on my boots and waterproof
and scuttled out into the slush. Little Vixen, my fox terrier,
went out through the other side; and then there was a roaring and
a grunting and bubbling, and I saw the tent cave in, as the pole
snapped, and begin to dance about like a mad ghost. A camel had
blundered into it, and wet and angry as I was, I could not help
laughing. Then I ran on, because I did not know how many camels
might have got loose, and before long I was out of sight of the
camp, plowing my way through the mud.
At last I fell over the tail-end of a gun, and by that knew I
was somewhere near the artillery lines where the cannon were
stacked at night. As I did not want to plowter about any more in
the drizzle and the dark, I put my waterproof over the muzzle of
one gun, and made a sort of wigwam with two or three rammers that
I found, and lay along the tail of another gun, wondering where
Vixen had got to, and where I might be.
Just as I was getting ready to go to sleep I heard a jingle of
harness and a grunt, and a mule passed me shaking his wet ears.
He belonged to a screw-gun battery, for I could hear the rattle of
the straps and rings and chains and things on his saddle pad. The
screw-guns are tiny little cannon made in two pieces, that are
screwed together when the time comes to use them. They are taken
up mountains, anywhere that a mule can find a road, and they are
very useful for fighting in rocky country.
Behind the mule there was a camel, with his big soft feet
squelching and slipping in the mud, and his neck bobbing to and
fro like a strayed hen's. Luckily, I knew enough of beast
language--not wild-beast language, but camp-beast language, of
course--from the natives to know what he was saying.
He must have been the one that flopped into my tent, for he
called to the mule, "What shall I do? Where shall I go? I have
fought with a white thing that waved, and it took a stick and hit
me on the neck." (That was my broken tent pole, and I was very
glad to know it.) "Shall we run on?"
"Oh, it was you," said the mule, "you and your friends, that
have been disturbing the camp? All right. You'll be beaten for
this in the morning. But I may as well give you something on
I heard the harness jingle as the mule backed and caught the
camel two kicks in the ribs that rang like a drum. "Another
time," he said, "you'll know better than to run through a mule
battery at night, shouting `Thieves and fire!' Sit down, and keep
your silly neck quiet."
The camel doubled up camel-fashion, like a two-foot rule, and
sat down whimpering. There was a regular beat of hoofs in the
darkness, and a big troop-horse cantered up as steadily as though
he were on parade, jumped a gun tail, and landed close to the mule.
"It's disgraceful," he said, blowing out his nostrils. "Those
camels have racketed through our lines again--the third time
this week. How's a horse to keep his condition if he isn't
allowed to sleep. Who's here?"
"I'm the breech-piece mule of number two gun of the First
Screw Battery," said the mule, "and the other's one of your
friends. He's waked me up too. Who are you?"
"Number Fifteen, E troop, Ninth Lancers--Dick Cunliffe's
horse. Stand over a little, there."
"Oh, beg your pardon," said the mule. "It's too dark to see
much. Aren't these camels too sickening for anything? I walked
out of my lines to get a little peace and quiet here."
"My lords," said the camel humbly, "we dreamed bad dreams
the night, and we were very much afraid. I am only a baggage
camel of the 39th Native Infantry, and I am not as brave as you
are, my lords."
"Then why didn't you stay and carry baggage for the 39th
Native Infantry, instead of running all round the camp?" said the
"They were such very bad dreams," said the camel. "I am
sorry. Listen! What is that? Shall we run on again?"
"Sit down," said the mule, "or you'll snap your long
stick-legs between the guns." He cocked one ear and listened.
"Bullocks!" he said. "Gun bullocks. On my word, you and your
friends have waked the camp very thoroughly. It takes a good deal
of prodding to put up a gun-bullock."
I heard a chain dragging along the ground, and a yoke of the
great sulky white bullocks that drag the heavy siege guns when the
elephants won't go any nearer to the firing, came shouldering
along together. And almost stepping on the chain was another
battery mule, calling wildly for "Billy."
"That's one of our recruits," said the old mule to the troop
horse. "He's calling for me. Here, youngster, stop squealing.
The dark never hurt anybody yet."
The gun-bullocks lay down together and began chewing the cud,
but the young mule huddled close to Billy.
"Things!" he said. "Fearful and horrible, Billy! They came
into our lines while we were asleep. D'you think they'll kill us?"
"I've a very great mind to give you a number-one kicking,"
said Billy. "The idea of a fourteen-hand mule with your training
disgracing the battery before this gentleman!"
"Gently, gently!" said the troop-horse. "Remember they are
always like this to begin with. The first time I ever saw a man
(it was in Australia when I was a three-year-old) I ran for half a
day, and if I'd seen a camel, I should have been running still."
Nearly all our horses for the English cavalry are brought to
India from Australia, and are broken in by the troopers themselves.
"True enough," said Billy. "Stop shaking, youngster. The
first time they put the full harness with all its chains on my
back I stood on my forelegs and kicked every bit of it off. I
hadn't learned the real science of kicking then, but the battery
said they had never seen anything like it."
"But this wasn't harness or anything that jingled," said the
young mule. "You know I don't mind that now, Billy. It was
Things like trees, and they fell up and down the lines and
bubbled; and my head-rope broke, and I couldn't find my driver,
and I couldn't find you, Billy, so I ran off with--with these
"H'm!" said Billy. "As soon as I heard the camels were loose
I came away on my own account. When a battery--a screw-gun mule
calls gun-bullocks gentlemen, he must be very badly shaken up.
Who are you fellows on the ground there?"
The gun bullocks rolled their cuds, and answered both
together: "The seventh yoke of the first gun of the Big Gun
Battery. We were asleep when the camels came, but when we were
trampled on we got up and walked away. It is better to lie quiet
in the mud than to be disturbed on good bedding. We told your
friend here that there was nothing to be afraid of, but he knew so
much that he thought otherwise. Wah!"
They went on chewing.
"That comes of being afraid," said Billy. "You get laughed
by gun-bullocks. I hope you like it, young un."
The young mule's teeth snapped, and I heard him say something
about not being afraid of any beefy old bullock in the world. But
the bullocks only clicked their horns together and went on chewing.
"Now, don't be angry after you've been afraid. That's the
worst kind of cowardice," said the troop-horse. "Anybody can be
forgiven for being scared in the night, I think, if they see
things they don't understand. We've broken out of our pickets,
again and again, four hundred and fifty of us, just because a new
recruit got to telling tales of whip snakes at home in Australia
till we were scared to death of the loose ends of our head-ropes."
"That's all very well in camp," said Billy. "I'm not above
stampeding myself, for the fun of the thing, when I haven't been
out for a day or two. But what do you do on active service?"
"Oh, that's quite another set of new shoes," said the troop
horse. "Dick Cunliffe's on my back then, and drives his knees
into me, and all I have to do is to watch where I am putting my
feet, and to keep my hind legs well under me, and be bridle-wise."
"What's bridle-wise?" said the young mule.
"By the Blue Gums of the Back Blocks," snorted the
troop-horse, "do you mean to say that you aren't taught to be
bridle-wise in your business? How can you do anything, unless you
can spin round at once when the rein is pressed on your neck? It
means life or death to your man, and of course that's life and
death to you. Get round with your hind legs under you the instant
you feel the rein on your neck. If you haven't room to swing
round, rear up a little and come round on your hind legs. That's
"We aren't taught that way," said Billy the mule stiffly.
"We're taught to obey the man at our head: step off when he says
so, and step in when he says so. I suppose it comes to the same
thing. Now, with all this fine fancy business and rearing, which
must be very bad for your hocks, what do you do?"
"That depends," said the troop-horse. "Generally I have to
in among a lot of yelling, hairy men with knives--long shiny
knives, worse than the farrier's knives--and I have to take care
that Dick's boot is just touching the next man's boot without
crushing it. I can see Dick's lance to the right of my right eye,
and I know I'm safe. I shouldn't care to be the man or horse that
stood up to Dick and me when we're in a hurry."
"Don't the knives hurt?" said the young mule.
"Well, I got one cut across the chest once, but that wasn't
"A lot I should have cared whose fault it was, if it hurt!"
said the young mule.
"You must," said the troop horse. "If you don't trust your
man, you may as well run away at once. That's what some of our
horses do, and I don't blame them. As I was saying, it wasn't
Dick's fault. The man was lying on the ground, and I stretched
myself not to tread on him, and he slashed up at me. Next time I
have to go over a man lying down I shall step on him--hard."
"H'm!" said Billy. "It sounds very foolish. Knives are dirty
things at any time. The proper thing to do is to climb up a
mountain with a well-balanced saddle, hang on by all four feet and
your ears too, and creep and crawl and wriggle along, till you
come out hundreds of feet above anyone else on a ledge where
there's just room enough for your hoofs. Then you stand still and
keep quiet--never ask a man to hold your head, young un--keep
quiet while the guns are being put together, and then you watch
the little poppy shells drop down into the tree-tops ever so far below."
"Don't you ever trip?" said the troop-horse.
"They say that when a mule trips you can split a hen's ear,"
said Billy. "Now and again perhaps a badly packed saddle will
upset a mule, but it's very seldom. I wish I could show you our
business. It's beautiful. Why, it took me three years to find
out what the men were driving at. The science of the thing is
never to show up against the sky line, because, if you do, you may
get fired at. Remember that, young un. Always keep hidden as
much as possible, even if you have to go a mile out of your way.
I lead the battery when it comes to that sort of climbing."
"Fired at without the chance of running into the people who
are firing!" said the troop-horse, thinking hard. "I couldn't
stand that. I should want to charge--with Dick."
"Oh, no, you wouldn't. You know that as soon as the guns are
in position they'll do all the charging. That's scientific and
neat. But knives--pah!"
The baggage-camel had been bobbing his head to and fro for
some time past, anxious to get a word in edgewise. Then I heard
him say, as he cleared his throat, nervously:
"I--I--I have fought a little, but not in that climbing
way or that running way."
"No. Now you mention it," said Billy, "you don't look as
though you were made for climbing or running--much. Well, how
was it, old Hay-bales?"
"The proper way," said the camel. "We all sat down--"
"Oh, my crupper and breastplate!" said the troop-horse under
his breath. "Sat down!"
"We sat down--a hundred of us," the camel went on, "in a
square, and the men piled our packs and saddles, outside the
square, and they fired over our backs, the men did, on all sides
of the square."
"What sort of men? Any men that came along?" said the
troop-horse. "They teach us in riding school to lie down and let
our masters fire across us, but Dick Cunliffe is the only man I'd
trust to do that. It tickles my girths, and, besides, I can't see
with my head on the ground."
"What does it matter who fires across you?" said the camel.
"There are plenty of men and plenty of other camels close by, and
a great many clouds of smoke. I am not frightened then. I sit
still and wait."
"And yet," said Billy, "you dream bad dreams and upset the
camp at night. Well, well! Before I'd lie down, not to speak of
sitting down, and let a man fire across me, my heels and his head
would have something to say to each other. Did you ever hear
anything so awful as that?"
There was a long silence, and then one of the gun bullocks
lifted up his big head and said, "This is very foolish indeed.
There is only one way of fighting."
"Oh, go on," said Billy. "Please don't mind me. I suppose
you fellows fight standing on your tails?"
"Only one way," said the two together. (They must have been
twins.) "This is that way. To put all twenty yoke of us to the
big gun as soon as Two Tails trumpets." ("Two Tails" is camp
slang for the elephant.)
"What does Two Tails trumpet for?" said the young mule.
"To show that he is not going any nearer to the smoke on the
other side. Two Tails is a great coward. Then we tug the big gun
all together--Heya--Hullah! Heeyah! Hullah! We do not climb
like cats nor run like calves. We go across the level plain,
twenty yoke of us, till we are unyoked again, and we graze while
the big guns talk across the plain to some town with mud walls,
and pieces of the wall fall out, and the dust goes up as though
many cattle were coming home."
"Oh! And you choose that time for grazing?" said the young mule.
"That time or any other. Eating is always good. We eat till
we are yoked up again and tug the gun back to where Two Tails is
waiting for it. Sometimes there are big guns in the city that
speak back, and some of us are killed, and then there is all the
more grazing for those that are left. This is Fate. None the
less, Two Tails is a great coward. That is the proper way to
fight. We are brothers from Hapur. Our father was a sacred bull
of Shiva. We have spoken."
"Well, I've certainly learned something tonight," said the
troop-horse. "Do you gentlemen of the screw-gun battery feel
inclined to eat when you are being fired at with big guns, and Two
Tails is behind you?"
"About as much as we feel inclined to sit down and let men
sprawl all over us, or run into people with knives. I never heard
such stuff. A mountain ledge, a well-balanced load, a driver you
can trust to let you pick your own way, and I'm your mule. But--
the other things--no!" said Billy, with a stamp of his foot.
"Of course," said the troop horse, "everyone is not made
the same way, and I can quite see that your family, on your
father's side, would fail to understand a great many things."
"Never you mind my family on my father's side," said Billy
angrily, for every mule hates to be reminded that his father was a
donkey. "My father was a Southern gentleman, and he could pull
down and bite and kick into rags every horse he came across.
Remember that, you big brown Brumby!"
Brumby means wild horse without any breeding. Imagine the
feelings of Sunol if a car-horse called her a "skate," and you
imagine how the Australian horse felt. I saw the white of his eye
glitter in the dark.
"See here, you son of an imported Malaga jackass," he said
between his teeth, "I'd have you know that I'm related on my
mother's side to Carbine, winner of the Melbourne Cup, and where I
come from we aren't accustomed to being ridden over roughshod by
any parrot-mouthed, pig-headed mule in a pop-gun pea-shooter
battery. Are you ready?"
"On your hind legs!" squealed Billy. They both reared up
facing each other, and I was expecting a furious fight, when a
gurgly, rumbly voice, called out of the darkness to the right--
"Children, what are you fighting about there? Be quiet."
Both beasts dropped down with a snort of disgust, for neither
horse nor mule can bear to listen to an elephant's voice.
"It's Two Tails!" said the troop-horse. "I can't stand him.
A tail at each end isn't fair!"
"My feelings exactly," said Billy, crowding into the
troop-horse for company. "We're very alike in some things."
"I suppose we've inherited them from our mothers," said the
troop horse. "It's not worth quarreling about. Hi! Two Tails,
are you tied up?"
"Yes," said Two Tails, with a laugh all up his trunk. "I'm
picketed for the night. I've heard what you fellows have been
saying. But don't be afraid. I'm not coming over."
The bullocks and the camel said, half aloud, "Afraid of Two
Tails--what nonsense!" And the bullocks went on, "We are sorry
that you heard, but it is true. Two Tails, why are you afraid of
the guns when they fire?"
"Well," said Two Tails, rubbing one hind leg against the
other, exactly like a little boy saying a poem, "I don't quite
know whether you'd understand."
"We don't, but we have to pull the guns," said the bullocks.
"I know it, and I know you are a good deal braver than you
think you are. But it's different with me. My battery captain
called me a Pachydermatous Anachronism the other day."
"That's another way of fighting, I suppose?" said Billy, who
was recovering his spirits.
"You don't know what that means, of course, but I do. It
means betwixt and between, and that is just where I am. I can see
inside my head what will happen when a shell bursts, and you
"I can," said the troop-horse. "At least a little bit. I
not to think about it."
"I can see more than you, and I do think about it. I know
there's a great deal of me to take care of, and I know that nobody
knows how to cure me when I'm sick. All they can do is to stop my
driver's pay till I get well, and I can't trust my driver."
"Ah!" said the troop horse. "That explains it. I can trust
"You could put a whole regiment of Dicks on my back without
making me feel any better. I know just enough to be
uncomfortable, and not enough to go on in spite of it."
"We do not understand," said the bullocks.
"I know you don't. I'm not talking to you. You don't know
what blood is."
"We do," said the bullocks. "It is red stuff that soaks into
the ground and smells."
The troop-horse gave a kick and a bound and a snort.
"Don't talk of it," he said. "I can smell it now, just
thinking of it. It makes me want to run--when I haven't Dick on
"But it is not here," said the camel and the bullocks. "Why
are you so stupid?"
"It's vile stuff," said Billy. "I don't want to run, but
don't want to talk about it."
"There you are!" said Two Tails, waving his tail to explain.
"Surely. Yes, we have been here all night," said the bullocks.
Two Tails stamped his foot till the iron ring on it jingled.
"Oh, I'm not talking to you. You can't see inside your heads."
"No. We see out of our four eyes," said the bullocks. "We
see straight in front of us."
"If I could do that and nothing else, you wouldn't be needed
to pull the big guns at all. If I was like my captain--he can
see things inside his head before the firing begins, and he shakes
all over, but he knows too much to run away--if I was like him I
could pull the guns. But if I were as wise as all that I should
never be here. I should be a king in the forest, as I used to be,
sleeping half the day and bathing when I liked. I haven't had a
good bath for a month."
"That's all very fine," said Billy. "But giving a thing a
long name doesn't make it any better."
"H'sh!" said the troop horse. "I think I understand what
"You'll understand better in a minute," said Two Tails
angrily. "Now you just explain to me why you don't like this!"
He began trumpeting furiously at the top of his trumpet.
"Stop that!" said Billy and the troop horse together, and I
could hear them stamp and shiver. An elephant's trumpeting is
always nasty, especially on a dark night.
"I shan't stop," said Two Tails. "Won't you explain that,
please? Hhrrmph! Rrrt! Rrrmph! Rrrhha!" Then he stopped
suddenly, and I heard a little whimper in the dark, and knew that
Vixen had found me at last. She knew as well as I did that if
there is one thing in the world the elephant is more afraid of
than another it is a little barking dog. So she stopped to bully
Two Tails in his pickets, and yapped round his big feet. Two
Tails shuffled and squeaked. "Go away, little dog!" he said.
"Don't snuff at my ankles, or I'll kick at you. Good little dog
--nice little doggie, then! Go home, you yelping little beast!
Oh, why doesn't someone take her away? She'll bite me in a
"Seems to me," said Billy to the troop horse, "that our friend
Two Tails is afraid of most things. Now, if I had a full meal for
every dog I've kicked across the parade-ground I should be as fat
as Two Tails nearly."
I whistled, and Vixen ran up to me, muddy all over, and licked
my nose, and told me a long tale about hunting for me all through
the camp. I never let her know that I understood beast talk, or
she would have taken all sorts of liberties. So I buttoned her
into the breast of my overcoat, and Two Tails shuffled and stamped
and growled to himself.
"Extraordinary! Most extraordinary!" he said. "It runs in
our family. Now, where has that nasty little beast gone to?"
I heard him feeling about with his trunk.
"We all seem to be affected in various ways," he went on,
blowing his nose. "Now, you gentlemen were alarmed, I believe,
when I trumpeted."
"Not alarmed, exactly," said the troop-horse, "but it made
feel as though I had hornets where my saddle ought to be. Don't
"I'm frightened of a little dog, and the camel here is
frightened by bad dreams in the night."
"It is very lucky for us that we haven't all got to fight in
the same way," said the troop-horse.
"What I want to know," said the young mule, who had been quiet
for a long time--"what I want to know is, why we have to fight
"Because we're told to," said the troop-horse, with a snort of
"Orders," said Billy the mule, and his teeth snapped.
"Hukm hai!" (It is an order!), said the camel with a gurgle,
and Two Tails and the bullocks repeated, "Hukm hai!"
"Yes, but who gives the orders?" said the recruit-mule.
"The man who walks at your head--Or sits on your back--Or
holds the nose rope--Or twists your tail," said Billy and the
troop-horse and the camel and the bullocks one after the other.
"But who gives them the orders?"
"Now you want to know too much, young un," said Billy, "and
that is one way of getting kicked. All you have to do is to obey
the man at your head and ask no questions."
"He's quite right," said Two Tails. "I can't always obey,
because I'm betwixt and between. But Billy's right. Obey the man
next to you who gives the order, or you'll stop all the battery,
besides getting a thrashing."
The gun-bullocks got up to go. "Morning is coming," they
said. "We will go back to our lines. It is true that we only see
out of our eyes, and we are not very clever. But still, we are
the only people to-night who have not been afraid. Good-night,
you brave people."
Nobody answered, and the troop-horse said, to change the
conversation, "Where's that little dog? A dog means a man
"Here I am," yapped Vixen, "under the gun tail with my man.
You big, blundering beast of a camel you, you upset our tent. My
man's very angry."
"Phew!" said the bullocks. "He must be white!"
"Of course he is," said Vixen. "Do you suppose I'm looked
after by a black bullock-driver?"
"Huah! Ouach! Ugh!" said the bullocks. "Let us get away
They plunged forward in the mud, and managed somehow to run
their yoke on the pole of an ammunition wagon, where it jammed.
"Now you have done it," said Billy calmly. "Don't struggle.
You're hung up till daylight. What on earth's the matter?"
The bullocks went off into the long hissing snorts that Indian
cattle give, and pushed and crowded and slued and stamped and
slipped and nearly fell down in the mud, grunting savagely.
"You'll break your necks in a minute," said the troop-horse.
"What's the matter with white men? I live with 'em."
"They--eat--us! Pull!" said the near bullock. The yoke
snapped with a twang, and they lumbered off together.
I never knew before what made Indian cattle so scared of
Englishmen. We eat beef--a thing that no cattle-driver touches
--and of course the cattle do not like it.
"May I be flogged with my own pad-chains! Who'd have thought
of two big lumps like those losing their heads?" said Billy.
"Never mind. I'm going to look at this man. Most of the
white men, I know, have things in their pockets," said the
"I'll leave you, then. I can't say I'm over-fond of 'em
myself. Besides, white men who haven't a place to sleep in are
more than likely to be thieves, and I've a good deal of Government
property on my back. Come along, young un, and we'll go back to
our lines. Good-night, Australia! See you on parade to-morrow, I
suppose. Good-night, old Hay-bale!--try to control your
feelings, won't you? Good-night, Two Tails! If you pass us on
the ground tomorrow, don't trumpet. It spoils our formation."
Billy the Mule stumped off with the swaggering limp of an old
campaigner, as the troop-horse's head came nuzzling into my
breast, and I gave him biscuits, while Vixen, who is a most
conceited little dog, told him fibs about the scores of horses
that she and I kept.
"I'm coming to the parade to-morrow in my dog-cart," she said.
"Where will you be?"
"On the left hand of the second squadron. I set the time for
all my troop, little lady," he said politely. "Now I must go back
to Dick. My tail's all muddy, and he'll have two hours' hard work
dressing me for parade."
The big parade of all the thirty thousand men was held that
afternoon, and Vixen and I had a good place close to the Viceroy
and the Amir of Afghanistan, with high, big black hat of astrakhan
wool and the great diamond star in the center. The first part of
the review was all sunshine, and the regiments went by in wave
upon wave of legs all moving together, and guns all in a line,
till our eyes grew dizzy. Then the cavalry came up, to the
beautiful cavalry canter of "Bonnie Dundee," and Vixen cocked
ear where she sat on the dog-cart. The second squadron of the
Lancers shot by, and there was the troop-horse, with his tail like
spun silk, his head pulled into his breast, one ear forward and
one back, setting the time for all his squadron, his legs going as
smoothly as waltz music. Then the big guns came by, and I saw Two
Tails and two other elephants harnessed in line to a forty-pounder
siege gun, while twenty yoke of oxen walked behind. The seventh
pair had a new yoke, and they looked rather stiff and tired. Last
came the screw guns, and Billy the mule carried himself as though
he commanded all the troops, and his harness was oiled and
polished till it winked. I gave a cheer all by myself for Billy
the mule, but he never looked right or left.
The rain began to fall again, and for a while it was too misty
to see what the troops were doing. They had made a big half
circle across the plain, and were spreading out into a line. That
line grew and grew and grew till it was three-quarters of a mile
long from wing to wing--one solid wall of men, horses, and guns.
Then it came on straight toward the Viceroy and the Amir, and as
it got nearer the ground began to shake, like the deck of a
steamer when the engines are going fast.
Unless you have been there you cannot imagine what a
frightening effect this steady come-down of troops has on the
spectators, even when they know it is only a review. I looked at
the Amir. Up till then he had not shown the shadow of a sign of
astonishment or anything else. But now his eyes began to get
bigger and bigger, and he picked up the reins on his horse's neck
and looked behind him. For a minute it seemed as though he were
going to draw his sword and slash his way out through the English
men and women in the carriages at the back. Then the advance
stopped dead, the ground stood still, the whole line saluted, and
thirty bands began to play all together. That was the end of the
review, and the regiments went off to their camps in the rain, and
an infantry band struck up with--
The animals went in two by two,
The animals went in two by two,
The elephant and the battery mul',
and they all got into the Ark
For to get out of the rain!
Then I heard an old grizzled, long-haired Central Asian chief,
who had come down with the Amir, asking questions of a native
"Now," said he, "in what manner was this wonderful thing
And the officer answered, "An order was given, and they
"But are the beasts as wise as the men?" said the chief.
"They obey, as the men do. Mule, horse, elephant, or bullock,
he obeys his driver, and the driver his sergeant, and the sergeant
his lieutenant, and the lieutenant his captain, and the captain
his major, and the major his colonel, and the colonel his
brigadier commanding three regiments, and the brigadier the
general, who obeys the Viceroy, who is the servant of the Empress.
Thus it is done."
"Would it were so in Afghanistan!" said the chief, "for there
we obey only our own wills."
"And for that reason," said the native officer, twirling his
mustache, "your Amir whom you do not obey must come here
and take orders from our Viceroy."
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