Her Majesty's Servants by Rudyard Kipling
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
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 account now."
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 in 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 mule.
"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
"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
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
"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 at 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
"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 being
"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
"That depends," said the troop-horse. "Generally I have to go 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
"Don't the knives hurt?" said the young mule.
"Well, I got one cut across the chest once, but that wasn't Dick's fault—"
"A lot I should have cared whose fault it was, if it hurt!" said the young
"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
"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.
"We sat down—a hundred of us," the camel went on, "in a big 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
"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 in 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 can 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
"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 bullocks can't."
"I can," said the troop-horse. "At least a little bit. I try not to think
"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 Dick."
"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
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 my back."
"But it is not here," said the camel and the bullocks. "Why are you so
"It's vile stuff," said Billy. "I don't want to run, but I 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 Two Tails means."
"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 minute."
"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 me feel as
though I had hornets where my saddle ought to be. Don't begin again."
"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 at all."
"Because we're told to," said the troop-horse, with a snort of contempt.
"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 somewhere about."
"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
"Huah! Ouach! Ugh!" said the bullocks. "Let us get away quickly."
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 troop-horse.
"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
"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
her 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 officer.
"Now," said he, "in what manner was this wonderful thing done?"
And the officer answered, "An order was given, and they obeyed."
"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