Page:Kim - Rudyard Kipling (1912).djvu/237

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KIM

211

breath away, by a mother-of-pearl, nickel-plated, self-extracting .450 revolver.

'I had thought of a smaller bore, but reflected that this takes Government bullets. A man can always come by those—especially across the border. Stand up and let me look.' He clapped Kim on the shoulder. 'May you never be tired, Pathan! Oh, the hearts to be broken! Oh, the eyes under the eyelashes, looking sideways!'

Kim turned about, pointed his toes, stretched, and felt mechanically for the moustache that was just beginning. Then he stooped toward Mahbub's feet to make proper acknowledgment with fluttering, quick-patting hands; his heart too full for words. Mahbub forestalled and embraced him.

'My son,' said he, 'what need of words between us? But is not the little gun a delight? All six cartridges come out at one twist. It is borne in the bosom next the skin, which, as it were, keeps it oiled. Never put it elsewhere, and please God, thou shalt some day kill a man with it.'

'Hai mai! said Kim ruefully. 'If a Sahib kills a man he is hung in the jail.'

'True: but one pace beyond the border, men are wiser. Put it away; but fill it first. Of what use is a gun unfed?'

'When I go back to the madrissah I must return it. They do not allow little guns. Thou wilt keep it for me?'

'Son, I am wearied of that madrissah, where they take the best years of a man to teach him what he can only learn upon the road. But the folly of the Sahibs has neither top nor bottom. No matter. May be thy written report shall save thee further bondage; and God He knows we need men more and more in the Game.'

They marched, jaw-bound against blowing sand, across the salt