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Chapter 6
Now I remember comrades -
Old playmates on new seas -
Whenas we traded orpiment
Among the savages.
Ten thousand leagues to southward,
And thirty years removed -
They knew not noble Valdez,
But me they knew and loved.
Song of Diego Valdez.
Very early in the morning the white tents came down and disappeared as the Mavericks
took a side-road to Umballa. It did not skirt the resting-place, and Kim, trudging beside a
baggage-cart under fire of comments from soldiers' wives, was not so confident as
overnight. He discovered that he was closely watched - Father Victor on the one side, and
Mr Bennett on the other.
In the forenoon the column checked. A camel-orderly handed the Colonel a letter. He
read it, and spoke to a Major. Half a mile in the rear, Kim heard a hoarse and joyful
clamour rolling down on him through the thick dust. Then someone beat him on the back,
crying: 'Tell us how ye knew, ye little limb of Satan? Father dear, see if ye can make him
A pony ranged alongside, and he was hauled on to the priest's saddlebow.
'Now, my son, your prophecy of last night has come true. Our orders are to entrain at
Umballa for the Front tomorrow.'
'What is thatt?' said Kim, for 'front' and 'entrain' were newish words to him.
'We are going to "thee War," as you called it.'
'Of course you are going to thee War. I said last night.'
'Ye did; but, Powers o' Darkness, how did ye know?'
Kim's eyes sparkled. He shut his lips, nodded his head, and looked unspeakable things.
The Chaplain moved on through the dust, and privates, sergeants, and subalterns called
one another's attention to the boy. The Colonel, at the head of the column, stared at him
curiously. 'It was probably some bazar rumour.' he said; 'but even then -' He referred to
the paper in his hand. 'Hang it all, the thing was only decided within the last forty-eight
Are there many more like you in India?' said Father Victor, 'or are you by way o' being a
lusus naturae?'