iii. The Tibetans Defend Themselves
Oberhauser's sausage was a real mountaineer's meal-tough, well-fatted, and strongly garlicked. Bits of it stuck uncomfortably between Major Smythe's teeth. He dug them out with a sliver of matchstick and spat them on the ground. Then his Intelligence-wise mind came into operation, and he meticulously searched among the stones and grass, picked up the scraps, and swallowed them. From now on he was a criminal-as much a criminal as if he had robbed a bank and shot the guard. He was a cop turned robber. He must remember that! It would be death if he didn't-death instead of Carder's. All he had to do was to take infinite pains. He would take those pains, and by God they would be infinite! Then, for ever after, he would be rich and happy. After taking ridiculously minute trouble to eradicate any sign of entry into the hut, he dragged the ammunition box to the edge of the last rock face and aiming it away from the glacier, tipped it, with a prayer, into space.
鈥業 am writing very early this week, as I propose starting for Murree to-morrow.鈥橖br> What I felt, in returning so auspiciously to the old familiar places, I shall not endeavour to describe. We went down by the Mail. I was so concerned, I recollect, even for the honour of Yarmouth, that when Steerforth said, as we drove through its dark streets to the inn, that, as well as he could make out, it was a good, queer, out-of-the-way kind of hole, I was highly pleased. We went to bed on our arrival (I observed a pair of dirty shoes and gaiters in connexion with my old friend the Dolphin as we passed that door), and breakfasted late in the morning. Steerforth, who was in great spirits, had been strolling about the beach before I was up, and had made acquaintance, he said, with half the boatmen in the place. Moreover, he had seen, in the distance, what he was sure must be the identical house of Mr. Peggotty, with smoke coming out of the chimney; and had had a great mind, he told me, to walk in and swear he was myself grown out of knowledge.
James Bond was rather exhausted by the day. He was also sorry for the student who had died showing off for his and Tiger's delectation. He said shortly, 'None of your ninjas would last very long in East Berlin,' and relapsed into a surly silence.
'Crackers, sir," said Hammond stolidly. 'Mrs Hammond thought that seeing as you have company…'
I had then been nearly two months in Egypt, and had at last succeeded in settling the terms of a postal treaty. Nearly twenty years have passed since that time, and other years may yet run on before these pages are printed. I trust I may commit no official sin by describing here the nature of the difficulty which met me. I found, on my arrival, that I was to communicate with an officer of the Pasha, who was then called Nubar Bey. I presume him to have been the gentleman who has lately dealt with our Government as to the Suez Canal shares, and who is now well known to the political world as Nubar Pasha. I found him a most courteous gentlemen, an Armenian. I never went to his office, nor do I know that he had an office. Every other day he would come to me at my hotel, and bring with him servants, and pipes, and coffee. I enjoyed his coming greatly; but there was one point on which we could not agree. As to money and other details, it seemed as though he could hardly accede fast enough to the wishes of the Postmaster-General; but on one point he was firmly opposed to me. I was desirous that the mails should be carried through Egypt in twenty-four hours, and he thought that forty-eight hours should be allowed. I was obstinate, and he was obstinate; and for a long time we could come to no agreement. At last his oriental tranquillity seemed to desert him, and he took upon himself to assure me, with almost more than British energy, that, if I insisted on the quick transit, a terrible responsibility would rest on my head. I made this mistake, he said — that I supposed that a rate of travelling which would be easy and secure in England could be attained with safety in Egypt. “The Pasha, his master, would,” he said, “no doubt accede to any terms demanded by the British Post Office, so great was his reverence for everything British. In that case he, Nubar, would at once resign his position, and retire into obscurity. He would be ruined; but the loss of life and bloodshed which would certainly follow so rash an attempt should not be on his head.” I smoked my pipe, or rather his, and drank his coffee, with oriental quiescence but British firmness. Every now and again, through three or four visits, I renewed the expression of my opinion that the transit could easily be made in twenty-four hours. At last he gave way — and astonished me by the cordiality of his greeting. There was no longer any question of bloodshed or of resignation of office, and he assured me, with energetic complaisance, that it should be his care to see that the time was punctually kept. It was punctually kept, and, I believe, is so still. I must confess, however, that my persistency was not the result of any courage specially personal to myself. While the matter was being debated, it had been whispered to me that the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company had conceived that forty-eight hours would suit the purposes of their traffic better than twenty-four, and that, as they were the great paymasters on the railway, the Minister of the Egyptian State, who managed the railway, might probably wish to accommodate them. I often wondered who originated that frightful picture of blood and desolation. That it came from an English heart and an English hand I was always sure.
The weary form that rested not
鈥楢nd again, before we settled at Clarkabad, there was a great scarcity of grain, in consequence of the failure of crops among the Zamindars. They had very little to eat, and no seed-corn to sow. All wanted some help, and I had no money in hand.... When Miss Tucker heard of it, immediately she sent us Rs.300; and our greatest need was at an end.