Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/102

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76 Collectanea.

superior, — that nothing must be allowed to upset the possi- bilities of " Hope." So, when the gardener came to the veranda in my absence with the cry to the Mem-sahib that a particular brute of a parrot was eating the best vegetables and had come back time and again, despite the gardener's shouts, Sultan chuprassi hurried out with the gun he had been ordered to hold and fired at the parrot while his mistress was putting her sun hat on. There are some who, on the instigation of the gunner anxious to practise, would have beaten that chuprassi full sore, but could I do it when I understood the kindly idea underlying the action ?

However, from Evil Eye or mosquito-born germs my wife developed a very serious fever, which in the end meant for me and my brother-in-law a twelve-hour walk by her doolie and a thirty-six hour railway journey, and Tahla Ram was with us all the time. Before we determined to move her to Simla I was in a great state of distress, as the fever persisted. I knew by experience how to bang out fever from myself with great doses of quinine abnormally applied, but how to cure a woman " in Hope " was beyond me. Tahla came to me one day and propounded his method of relief. "The Mem-sahib has been overlooked by evil eyes which were astounded at her shooting ; allow me to perambulate seven times round her bed, burning pepper, and all will be well." I would have allowed it, as a good folklorist, but burnt red pepper seemed to have possibilities of annoyance, and so the matter dropped.

In the end, despite the serious troubles beforehand, " Hope " turned into perfect maturity, and a small son was born who from the first, (and, as we say in Mianwali, to avoid the Evil Eye, " till tomorrow "), has been a fine specimen of the race. But Tahla Ram was dissatisfied at the approbation bestowed on him by all alike in the early days, and we found him strongly discountenancing the practice which brought the infant out into the veranda in the mornings to be observed by servants, orderlies, police constables, and others. Finally, as he found the practice did not cease, he was not going to allow the child to risk the effect of the Evil Eye, and so with much ceremony and prayer he tied a red thread round his little wrist. We let it remain on some hours, and then ex- plained that one tying would have all the effect needed. Tahla