Your tiercel's too long at hack, Sire. He's no eyass
But a passage-hawk that footed ere we caught him,
Dangerously free o' the air. Faith! were he mine
(As mine's the glove he binds to for his tirings)
I'd fly him with a make-hawk. He's in yarak
Plumed to the very point - so manned, so weathered ...
Give him the firmament God made him for,
And what shall take the air of him?
Lurgan Sahib did not use as direct speech, but his advice tallied with Mahbub's; and the
upshot was good for Kim. He knew better now than to leave Lucknow city in native garb,
and if Mahbub were anywhere within reach of a letter, it was to Mahbub's camp he
headed, and made his change under the Pathan's wary eye. Could the little Survey paint-
box that he used for map-tinting in term- time have found a tongue to tell of holiday
doings, he might have been expelled. Once Mahbub and he went together as far as the
beautiful city of Bombay, with three truckloads of tram-horses, and Mahbub nearly
melted when Kim proposed a sail in a dhow across the Indian Ocean to buy Gulf Arabs,
which, he understood from a hanger- on of the dealer Abdul Rahman, fetched better
prices than mere Kabulis.
He dipped his hand into the dish with that great trader when Mahbub and a few co-
religionists were invited to a big Haj dinner. They came back by way of Karachi by sea,
when Kim took his first experience of sea-sickness sitting on the fore-hatch of a coasting-
steamer, well persuaded he had been poisoned. The Babu's famous drug-box proved
useless, though Kim had restocked it at Bombay. Mahbub had business at Quetta, and
there Kim, as Mahbub admitted, earned his keep, and perhaps a little over, by spending
four curious days as scullion in the house of a fat Commissariat sergeant, from whose
office-box, in an auspicious moment, he removed a little vellum ledger which he copied
out - it seemed to deal entirely with cattle and camel sales - by moonlight, lying behind
an outhouse, all through one hot night. Then he returned the ledger to its place, and, at
Mahbub's word, left that service unpaid, rejoining him six miles down the road, the clean
copy in his bosom.
'That soldier is a small fish,' Mahbub Ali explained, 'but in time we shall catch the larger
one. He only sells oxen at two prices - one for himself and one for the Government which
I do not think is a sin.'
'Why could not I take away the little book and be done with it?'
Then he would have been frightened, and he would have told his master. Then we should
miss, perhaps, a great number of new rifles which seek their way up from Quetta to the
North. The Game is so large that one sees but a little at a time.'
'Oho!' said Kim, and held his tongue. That was in the monsoon holidays, after he had
taken the prize for mathematics. The Christmas holidays he spent - deducting ten days for