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Chapter 15
I'd not give room for an Emperor -
I'd hold my road for a King.
To the Triple Crown I'd not bow down -
But this is a different thing!
I'll not fight with the Powers of Air -
Sentry, pass him through!
Drawbridge let fall - He's the Lord of us all -
The Dreamer whose dream came true!
The Siege of the Fairies.
Two hundred miles north of Chini, on the blue shale of Ladakh, lies Yankling Sahib, the
merry-minded man, spy-glassing wrathfully across the ridges for some sign of his pet
tracker - a man from Ao-chung. But that renegade, with a new Mannlicher rifle and two
hundred cartridges, is elsewhere, shooting musk-deer for the market, and Yankling Sahib
will learn next season how very ill he has been.
Up the valleys of Bushahr - the far-beholding eagles of the Himalayas swerve at his new
blue-and-white gored umbrella - hurries a Bengali, once fat and well-looking, now lean
and weather-worn. He has received the thanks of two foreigners of distinction, piloted not
unskilfully to Mashobra tunnel, which leads to the great and gay capital of India. It was
not his fault that, blanketed by wet mists, he conveyed them past the telegraph-station and
European colony of Kotgarh. It was not his fault, but that of the Gods, of whom he
discoursed so engagingly, that he led them into the borders of Nahan, where the Rahah of
that State mistook them for deserting British soldiery. Hurree Babu explained the
greatness and glory, in their own country, of his companions, till the drowsy kinglet
smiled. He explained it to everyone who asked - many times - aloud - variously. He
begged food, arranged accommodation, proved a skilful leech for an injury of the groin -
such a blow as one may receive rolling down a rock-covered hillside in the dark - and in
all things indispensable. The reason of his friendliness did him credit. With millions of
fellow-serfs, he had learned to look upon Russia as the great deliverer from the North. He
was a fearful man. He had been afraid that he could not save his illustrious employers
from the anger of an excited peasantry. He himself would just as lief hit a holy man as
not, but ... He was deeply grateful and sincerely rejoiced that he had done his 'little
possible' towards bringing their venture to - barring the lost baggage - a successful issue,
he had forgotten the blows; denied that any blows had been dealt that unseemly first night
under the pines. He asked neither pension nor retaining fee, but, if they deemed him
worthy, would they write him a testimonial? It might be useful to him later, if others,
their friends, came over the Passes. He begged them to remember him in their future
greatnesses, for he 'opined subtly' that he, even he, Mohendro Lal Dutt, MA of Calcutta,
had 'done the State some service'.
They gave him a certificate praising his courtesy, helpfulness, and unerring skill as a
guide. He put it in his waist-belt and sobbed with emotion; they had endured so many
dangers together. He led them at high noon along crowded Simla Mall to the Alliance
Bank of Simla, where they wished to establish their identity. Thence he vanished like a
dawn-cloud on Jakko.