Page:The Days Work (1899).djvu/159

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

THE TOMB OF HIS ANCESTORS

ing confidence men, women, and children stole away to their villages as the little army passed by. They carried news that it was good and right to be scratched with ghost-knives that Jan Chinn was indeed reincarnated as a god of free food and drink, and that of all nations the Satpura Bhils stood first in his favour, if they would only refrain from scratching. Henceforward that kindly demi-god would be connected in their minds with great gorgings and the vaccine and lancets of a paternal Government.

"And to-morrow I go back to my home," said Jan Chinn to his faithful few, whom neither spirits, over-eating, nor swollen glands could conquer. It is hard for children and savages to behave reverently at all times to the idols of their make-belief, and they had frolicked excessively with Jan Chinn. But the reference to his home cast a gloom on the people.

"And the Sahib will not come again?" said he who had been vaccinated first.

"That is to be seen," answered Chinn, warily.

"Nay, but come as a white man—come as a young man whom we know and love; for, as thou alone knowest, we are a weak people. If we again saw thy—thy horse—" They were picking up their courage.

"I have no horse. I came on foot—with Bukta, yonder. What is this?"

"Thou knowest—the thing that thou hast chosen for a night-horse." The little men squirmed in fear and awe.

"Night-horses? Bukta, what is this last tale of children?"

[147]