In Black and White
IN BLACK AND WHITE.
Messrs. A. H. WHEELER & CO.
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON Ld
St. Dunstan's House
FETTER LANE, LONDON, E.C.
KADIR BAKSH, KHITMATGAR.
Through your favour this is a book written by my Sahib. I know that he wrote it because it was his custom to write far into the night; I greatly desiring to go to my house. But there was no order: therefore it was my fate to sit without the door until the work was accomplished. Then came I and made shut all the papers in the office box, and these papers, by the peculiar operation of Time and owing to the skilful manner in which 'I picked them up from the floor, became such a book as you now see. God alone knows what is written therein, for I am a poor man, and the Sahib is my father and my mother, and I have no concern with his writings until he has left his table and gone to bed.
Nabi Baksh, the clerk, says that it is a book about the black men—common people. This is a manifest lie, for by what road can my Sahib have acquired knowledge of the common people? Have I not, for several years, been perpetually with the Sahib: and throughout that time have I not stood between him and the other servants who would persecute him with complaints or vex him with idle tales about my work? Did I not smite Dunnoo, the groom, only yesterday in the matter of the badness of the harness composition which I had procured? I am the head of the Sahib's household and hold his purse. Without me he does not know where are his rupees or his clean collars. So great is my power over the Sahib and the love that he bears to me! Have I ever told the Sahib about the customs of servants or black men? Am I a fool? I have said "very good talk" upon all occasions. I have cut always smooth his wristbands with scissors, and timely warned him of the passing away of his tobacco that he might not be left smokeless upon a Sunday. More than this I have not done. The Sahib cannot go out to dinner lacking my aid. How then should he know aught that I did not tell him? Certainly Nabi Baksh is a liar.
None the less this is a book, and the Sahib wrote it, for his name is in it and it is not his washing-book. Now, such is the wisdom of the Sahib-log that, upon opening this thing, they will instantly discover the purport. Yet I would of their favour beg them to observe how correct is the order of the pages, which I have counted, from the first to the last. Thus, One is followed by Two and Two by Three, and so forward to the end of the book. Even as I picked the pages one by one with great trouble from the floor, when the Sahib had gone to bed, so have they been placed: and there is not a fault in the whole account. And this is my work. It was a great burden, but I accomplished it; and if the Sahib gains reputation by that which he has written—and God knows what he is always writing about—I, Kadir Baksh, his servant, also have a claim to honour.