"What a scoundrel!"
"I should say he was. He never gave us enough to eat, and sometimes we
were so thirsty that we used to drink salt-water. I can taste that
"Now tell me something about the harbor where the fight was fought."
"I didn't dream about that. I know it was a harbor, though; because we
were tied up to a ring on a white wall and all the face of the stone under
water was covered with wood to prevent our ram getting chipped when the
tide made us rock."
"That's curious. Our hero commanded the galley, didn't Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница he?"
"Didn't he just! He stood by the bows and shouted like a good 'un. He was
the man who killed the overseer."
"But you were all drowned together, Charlie, weren't you?"
"I can't make that fit quite," he said, with a puzzled look. "The galley
must have gone down with all hands, and yet I fancy that the hero went on
living afterward. Perhaps he climbed into the attacking ship. I wouldn't
see that, of course. I was dead, you know." He shivered slightly and
protested that he could remember no more.
I did not press him further, but Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница to satisfy myself that he lay in
ignorance of the workings of his own mind, deliberately introduced him to
Mortimer Collins's "Transmigration," and gave him a sketch of the plot
before he opened the pages.
"What rot it all is!" he said, frankly, at the end of an hour. "I don't
understand his nonsense about the Red Planet Mars and the King, and the
rest of it. Chuck me the Longfellow again."
I handed him the book and wrote out as much as I could remember of his
description of the sea-fight, appealing to him from time to time for
confirmation of fact Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница or detail. He would answer without raising his eyes
from the book, as assuredly as though all his knowledge lay before him on
the printed page. I spoke under the normal key of my voice that the
current might not be broken, and I know that he was not aware of what he
was saying, for his thoughts were out on the sea with Longfellow.
"Charlie," I asked, "when the rowers on the gallies mutinied how did they
kill their overseers?"
"Tore up the benches and brained 'em. That happened when a heavy sea was
running. An overseer on the lower deck slipped from the Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница centre plank and
fell among the rowers. They choked him to death against the side of the
ship with their chained hands quite quietly, and it was too dark for the
other overseer to see what had happened. When he asked, he was pulled down
too and choked, and the lower deck fought their way up deck by deck, with
the pieces of the broken benches banging behind 'em. How they howled!"
"And what happened after that?"
"I don't know. The hero went away--red hair and red beard and all. That
was after he had captured our galley, I think."
The sound of Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница my voice irritated him, and he motioned slightly with his
left hand as a man does when interruption jars.
"You never told me he was red-headed before, or that he captured your
galley," I said, after a discreet interval.
Charlie did not raise his eyes.
"He was as red as a red bear," said he, abstractedly. "He came from the
north; they said so in the galley when he looked for rowers--not slaves,
but free men. Afterward--years and years afterward--news came from another
ship, or else he came back"--
His lips moved in silence. He was rapturously retasting some Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница poem before
"Where had he been, then?" I was almost whispering that the sentence might
come gentle to whichever section of Charlie's brain was working on my
"To the Beaches--the Long and Wonderful Beaches!" was the reply, after a
minute of silence.
"To Furdurstrandi?" I asked, tingling from head to foot.
"Yes, to Furdurstrandi," he pronounced the word in a new fashion. "And I
too saw"----The voice failed.
"Do you know what you have said?" I shouted, incautiously.
He lifted his eyes, fully roused now, "No!" he snapped. "I wish you'd let
a chap go on reading. Hark to Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница this:
"'But Othere, the old sea captain,
He neither paused nor stirred
Till the king listened, and then
Once more took up his pen
And wrote down every word,
"'And to the King of the Saxons
In witness of the truth,
Raising his noble head,
He stretched his brown hand and said,
"Behold this walrus tooth."'
By Jove, what chaps those must have been, to go sailing all over the shop
never knowing where they'd fetch the land! Hah!"
"Charlie," I pleaded, "if you'll only be sensible for a minute or two I'll
make our hero in our tale every Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница inch as good as Othere."
"Umph! Longfellow wrote that poem. I don't care about writing things any
more. I want to read." He was thoroughly out of tune now, and raging over
my own ill-luck, I left him.
Conceive yourself at the door of the world's treasure-house guarded by a
child--an idle irresponsible child playing knuckle-bones--on whose favor
depends the gift of the key, and you will imagine one half my torment.
Till that evening Charlie had spoken nothing that might not lie within the
experiences of a Greek galley-slave. But now, or there was Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница no virtue in
books, he had talked of some desperate adventure of the Vikings, of
Thorfin Karlsefne's sailing to Wineland, which is America, in the ninth or
tenth century. The battle in the harbor he had seen; and his own death he
had described. But this was a much more startling plunge into the past.
Was it possible that he had skipped half a dozen lives and was then dimly
remembering some episode of a thousand years later? It was a maddening
jumble, and the worst of it was that Charlie Mears in his normal condition
was the last person in the world to clear it Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница up. I could only wait and
watch, but I went to bed that night full of the wildest imaginings. There
was nothing that was not possible if Charlie's detestable memory only held
I might rewrite the Saga of Thorfin Karlsefne as it had never been written
before, might tell the story of the first discovery of America, myself the
discoverer. But I was entirely at Charlie's mercy, and so long as there
was a three-and-six-penny Bohn volume within his reach Charlie would not
tell. I dared not curse him openly; I hardly dared jog his memory, for I
was dealing with the experiences Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница of a thousand years ago, told through the
mouth of a boy of to-day; and a boy of to-day is affected by every change
of tone and gust of opinion, so that he lies even when he desires to speak
I saw no more of him for nearly a week. When next I met him it was in
Gracechurch Street with a billhook chained to his waist. Business took him
over London Bridge and I accompanied him. He was very full of the
importance of that book and magnified it. As we passed over the Thames we
paused to Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница look at a steamer unloading great slabs of white and brown
marble. A barge drifted under the steamer's stern and a lonely cow in that
barge bellowed. Charlie's face changed from the face of the bank-clerk to
that of an unknown and--though he would not have believed this--a much
shrewder man. He flung out his arm across the parapet of the bridge and
laughing very loudly, said:
"When they heard _our_ bulls bellow the Skroelings ran away!"
I waited only for an instant, but the barge and the cow had disappeared
under the bows of the steamer before I answered Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница.
"Charlie, what do you suppose are Skroelings?"
"Never heard of 'em before. They sound like a new kind of seagull. What a
chap you are for asking questions!" he replied. "I have to go to the
cashier of the Omnibus Company yonder. Will you wait for me and we can
lunch somewhere together? I've a notion for a poem."
"No, thanks. I'm off. You're sure you know nothing about Skroelings?"
"Not unless he's been entered for the Liverpool Handicap." He nodded and
disappeared in the crowd.
Now it is written in the Saga of Eric the Red or that Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница of Thorfin
Karlsefne, that nine hundred years ago when Karlsefne's galleys came to
Leif's booths, which Leif had erected in the unknown land called Markland,
which may or may not have been Rhode Island, the Skroelings--and the Lord
He knows who these may or may not have been--came to trade with the
Vikings, and ran away because they were frightened at the bellowing of the
cattle which Thorfin had brought with him in the ships. But what in the
world could a Greek slave know of that affair? I wandered up and down
among the streets trying to unravel the mystery, and the more I Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница considered
it, the more baffling it grew. One thing only seemed certain, and that
certainty took away my breath for the moment. If I came to full knowledge
of anything at all it would not be one life of the soul in Charlie Mears's
body, but half a dozen--half a dozen several and separate existences spent
on blue water in the morning of the world!
Then I walked round the situation.
Obviously if I used my knowledge I should stand alone and unapproachable
until all men were as wise as myself. That would be something, but manlike
I was ungrateful. It seemed bitterly unfair Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница that Charlie's memory should
fail me when I needed it most. Great Powers above--I looked up at them
through the fog smoke--did the Lords of Life and Death know what this
meant to me? Nothing less than eternal fame of the best kind, that comes
from One, and is shared by one alone. I would be content--remembering
Clive, I stood astounded at my own moderation,--with the mere right to
tell one story, to work out one little contribution to the light
literature of the day. If Charlie were permitted full recollection for one
hour--for sixty short minutes--of existences Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница that had extended over a
thousand years--I would forego all profit and honor from all that I should
make of his speech. I would take no share in the commotion that would
follow throughout the particular corner of the earth that calls itself
"the world." The thing should be put forth anonymously. Nay, I would make
other men believe that they had written it. They would hire bull-hided
self-advertising Englishmen to bellow it abroad. Preachers would found a
fresh conduct of life upon it, swearing that it was new and that they had
lifted the fear of death from all mankind. Every Orientalist in Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница Europe
would patronize it discursively with Sanskrit and Pali texts. Terrible
women would invent unclean variants of the men's belief for the elevation
of their sisters. Churches and religions would war over it. Between the
hailing and re-starting of an omnibus I foresaw the scuffles that would
arise among half a dozen denominations all professing "the doctrine of the
True Metempsychosis as applied to the world and the New Era"; and saw,
too, the respectable English newspapers shying, like frightened kine, over
the beautiful simplicity of the tale. The mind leaped forward a
hundred--two hundred--a thousand years. I saw with sorrow that men would
mutilate and Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница garble the story; that rival creeds would turn it upside down
till, at last, the western world which clings to the dread of death more
closely than the hope of life, would set it aside as an interesting
superstition and stampede after some faith so long forgotten that it
seemed altogether new. Upon this I changed the terms of the bargain that I
would make with the Lords of Life and Death. Only let me know, let me
write, the story with sure knowledge that I wrote the truth, and I would
burn the manuscript as a solemn sacrifice. Five minutes after the last
line was written Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница I would destroy it all. But I must be allowed to write it
with absolute certainty.
There was no answer. The flaming colors of an Aquarium poster caught my
eye and I wondered whether it would be wise or prudent to lure Charlie
into the hands of the professional mesmerist, and whether, if he were
under his power, he would speak of his past lives. If he did, and if
people believed him ... but Charlie would be frightened and flustered, or
made conceited by the interviews. In either case he would begin to lie,
through fear or vanity. He was safest in my Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница own hands,
"They are very funny fools, your English," said a voice at my elbow, and
turning round I recognized a casual acquaintance, a young Bengali law
student, called Grish Chunder, whose father had sent him to England to
become civilized. The old man was a retired native official, and on an
income of five pounds a month contrived to allow his son two hundred
pounds a year, and the run of his teeth in a city where he could pretend
to be the cadet of a royal house, and tell stories of the brutal Indian
bureaucrats who ground the faces of the poor.
Grish Chunder was Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница a young, fat, full-bodied Bengali dressed with
scrupulous care in frock coat, tall hat, light trousers and tan gloves.
But I had known him in the days when the brutal Indian Government paid for
his university education, and he contributed cheap sedition to _Sachi
Durpan_, and intrigued with the wives of his schoolmates.
"That is very funny and very foolish," he said, nodding at the poster. "I
am going down to the Northbrook Club. Will you come too?"
I walked with him for some time. "You are not well," he said. "What is
there in your mind? You do not talk."
"Grish Chunder, you Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница've been too well educated to believe in a God, haven't
"Oah, yes, _here!_ But when I go home I must conciliate popular
superstition, and make ceremonies of purification, and my women will
"And hang up _tulsi_ and feast the _purohit_, and take you back into caste
again and make a good _khuttri_ of you again, you advanced social
Free-thinker. And you'll eat _desi_ food, and like it all, from the smell
in the courtyard to the mustard oil over you."
"I shall very much like it," said Grish Chunder, unguardedly, "Once a
Hindu--always a Hindu Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница. But I like to know what the English think they
"I'll tell you something that one Englishman knows. It's an old tale to
I began to tell the story of Charlie in English, but Grish Chunder put a
question in the vernacular, and the history went forward naturally in the
tongue best suited for its telling. After all it could never have been
told in English. Grish Chunder heard me, nodding from time to time, and
then came up to my rooms where I finished the tale.
"_Beshak,_" he said, philosophically. "_Lekin darwaza band hai_. (Without
doubt, but the door is shut.) I have Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница heard of this remembering of previous
existences among my people. It is of course an old tale with us, but, to
happen to an Englishman--a cow-fed _Malechh_--an outcast. By Jove, that is
"Outcast yourself, Grish Chunder! You eat cow-beef every day. Let's think
the thing over. The boy remembers his incarnations."
"Does he know that?" said Grish Chunder, quietly, swinging his legs as he
sat on my table. He was speaking in English now.
"He does not know anything. Would I speak to you if he did? Go on!"
"There is no going on at all. If you Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница tell that to your friends they will
say you are mad and put it in the papers. Suppose, now, you prosecute for
"Let's leave that out of the question entirely. Is there any chance of his
being made to speak?"
"There is a chance. Oah, yess! But _if_ he spoke it would mean that all
this world would end now--_instanto_--fall down on your head. These things
are not allowed, you know. As I said, the door is shut."
"Not a ghost of a chance?"
"How can there be? You are a Christian, and it is forbidden to Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница eat, in
your books, of the Tree of Life, or else you would never die. How shall
you all fear death if you all know what your friend does not know that he
knows? I am afraid to be kicked, but I am not afraid to die, because I
know what I know. You are not afraid to be kicked, but you are afraid to
die. If you were not, by God! you English would be all over the shop in an
hour, upsetting the balances of power, and making commotions. It would not
be good. But no fear. He will remember a little and a Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница little less, and he
will call it dreams. Then he will forget altogether. When I passed my
First Arts Examination in Calcutta that was all in the cram-book on
Wordsworth. Trailing clouds of glory, you know."
"This seems to be an exception to the rule."
"There are no exceptions to rules. Some are not so hard-looking as others,
but they are all the same when you touch. If this friend of yours said
so-and-so and so-and-so, indicating that he remembered all his lost lives,
or one piece of a lost life, he would not be in the bank another Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница hour. He
would be what you called sack because he was mad, and they would send him
to an asylum for lunatics. You can see that, my friend."
"Of course I can, but I wasn't thinking of him. His name need never appear
in the story,"
"Ah! I see. That story will never be written. You can try,"
"I am going to."
"For your own credit and for the sake of money, _of_ course?"
"No. For the sake of writing the story. On my honor that will be all."
"Even then there is no chance. You cannot play with Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница the Gods. It is a very
pretty story now. As they say, Let it go on that--I mean at that. Be
quick; he will not last long."
"How do you mean?"
"What I say. He has never, so far, thought about a woman."
"Hasn't he, though!" I remembered some of Charlie's confidences.
"I mean no woman has thought about him. When that comes;
_bus_--_hogya_--all up! I know. There are millions of women here.
Housemaids, for instance."
I winced at the thought of my story being ruined by a housemaid. And yet
nothing was more probable.
Grish Chunder grinned.
"Yes Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница--also pretty girls--cousins of his house, and perhaps _not_ of his
house. One kiss that he gives back again and remembers will cure all this
nonsense, or else"--
"Or else what? Remember he does not know that he knows."
"I know that. Or else, if nothing happens he will become immersed in the
trade and the financial speculations like the rest. It must be so. You can
see that it must be so. But the woman will come first, _I_ think."
There was a rap at the door, and Charlie charged in impetuously. He had
been released from office, and by the look in Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница his eyes I could see that he
had come over for a long talk; most probably with poems in his pockets.
Charlie's poems were very wearying, but sometimes they led him to talk
about the galley.
Grish Chunder looked at him keenly for a minute.
"I beg your pardon," Charlie said, uneasily; "I didn't know you had any
one with you."
"I am going," said Grish Chunder,
He drew me into the lobby as he departed.
"That is your man," he said, quickly. "I tell you he will never speak all
you wish. That is rot--bosh. But he Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница would be most good to make to see
things. Suppose now we pretend that it was only play"--I had never seen
Grish Chunder so excited--"and pour the ink-pool into his hand. Eh, what
do you think? I tell you that he could see _anything_ that a man could
see. Let me get the ink and the camphor. He is a seer and he will tell us
very many things."
"He may be all you say, but I'm not going to trust him to your gods and
"It will not hurt him. He will only feel a little stupid and dull when he
wakes Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница up. You have seen boys look into the ink-pool before."
"That is the reason why I am not going to see it any more. You'd better
go, Grish Chunder."
He went, declaring far down the staircase that it was throwing away my
only chance of looking into the future.
This left me unmoved, for I was concerned for the past, and no peering of
hypnotized boys into mirrors and ink-pools would help me to that. But I
recognized Grish Chunder's point of view and sympathized with it.
"What a big black brute that was!" said Charlie Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница, when I returned to him.
"Well, look here, I've just done a poem; did it instead of playing
dominoes after lunch. May I read it?"
"Let me read it to myself."
"Then you miss the proper expression. Besides, you always make my things
sound as if the rhymes were all wrong."
"Read it aloud, then. You're like the rest of 'em."
Charlie mouthed me his poem, and it was not much worse than the average of
his verses. He had been reading his books faithfully, but he was not
pleased when I told him that I preferred my Longfellow undiluted with
Then we Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница began to go through the MS. line by line; Charlie parrying every
objection and correction with:
"Yes, that may be better, but you don't catch what I'm driving at."
Charles was, in one way at least, very like one kind of poet.
There was a pencil scrawl at the back of the paper and "What's that?" I
"Oh that's not poetry at all. It's some rot I wrote last night before I
went to bed and it was too much bother to hunt for rhymes; so I made it a
sort of blank verse instead."
Here is Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница Charlie's "blank verse":
"We pulled for you when the wind was against us and the sails were low.
_Will you never let us go?_
We ate bread and onions when you took towns or ran aboard quickly when
you were beaten back by the foe,
The captains walked up and down the deck in fair weather singing songs,
but we were below,
We fainted with our chins on the oars and you did not see that we were
idle for we still swung to and fro.
_Will you never let us go?_
The salt made the oar bandies Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница like sharkskin; our knees were cut to the
bone with salt cracks; our hair was stuck to our foreheads; and our lips
were cut to our gums and you whipped us because we could not row,
_Will you never let us go?_
But in a little time we shall run out of the portholes as the water runs
along the oarblade, and though you tell the others to row after us you
will never catch us till you catch the oar-thresh and tie up the winds in
the belly of the sail. Aho!
_Will you never let us go?_"
"H'm. What's oar-thresh, Charlie Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница?"
"The water washed up by the oars. That's the sort of song they might sing
in the galley, y'know. Aren't you ever going to finish that story and give
me some of the profits?"
"It depends on yourself. If you had only told me more about your hero in
the first instance it might have been finished by now. You're so hazy in
"I only want to give you the general notion of it--the knocking about from
place to place and the fighting and all that. Can't you fill in the rest
yourself? Make Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница the hero save a girl on a pirate-galley and marry her or do
"You're a really helpful collaborator. I suppose the hero went through
some few adventures before he married."
"Well then, make him a very artful card--a low sort of man--a sort of
political man who went about making treaties and breaking them--a
black-haired chap who hid behind the mast when the fighting began."
"But you said the other day that he was red-haired."
"I couldn't have. Make him black-haired of course. You've no imagination."
Seeing that I had just discovered the entire principles Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница upon which the
half-memory falsely called imagination is based, I felt entitled to laugh,
but forbore, for the sake of the tale.
"You're right _You're_ the man with imagination. A black-haired chap in a
decked ship," I said.
"No, an open ship--like a big boat."
This was maddening.
"Your ship has been built and designed, closed and decked in; you said so
yourself," I protested.
"No, no, not that ship. That was open, or half decked because--By Jove
you're right You made me think of the hero as a red-haired chap. Of course
if Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница he were red, the ship would be an open one with painted sails,"
Surely, I thought, he would remember now that he had served in two galleys
at least--in a three-decked Greek one under the black-haired "political
man," and again in a Viking's open sea-serpent under the man "red as a red
bear" who went to Markland. The devil prompted me to speak.
"Why, 'of course,' Charlie?" said I.
"I don't know. Are you making fun of me?"
The current was broken for the time being. I took up a notebook and
pretended to make many entries in Indian Tales by Rudyard Kipling 2 страница it.
"It's a pleasure to work with an imaginative chap like yourself," I said,
after a pause. "The way that you've brought out the character of the hero
is simply wonderful."
"Do you think so?" he answered, with a pleased flush. "I often tell myself
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