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After the Lives of the Saints, life she astonished those who thought Chateaubriand, and after Chateau- they knew her by the volcanic energy briand, Rousseau. The daughter of which was usually concealed beneath Victoire Delaborde, the granddaughter a quiet indifferent manner. of the Voltairean Madame Dupin was
The death of her grandmother not of the stuff of which saints are left her in possession of Nohant, made. Yet her experiences had the with the recommendation that she effect of making her tender and should have respectful to every form of sincere tection her father's family. religious belief.
They did not, however, see fit to •At the age of sixteen her grand countenance her when she went to mother took her away from the con- live with Madame Maurice Dupin. vent, and began to think about She soon found that her mother's establishing her in marriage. But faults of temper had grown upon her the activities of the gallant old to such an extent as to make her gentlewoman were nearly at an end. almost an impossible companion. It Soon after the return of Aurore to is not surprising that she should have Nohant, Madame Dupin had a para- sought to escape from these unsatislytic stroke. The day after the factory conditions of existence by a attack Aurore was told that in all marriage which seemed to promise probability her grandmother would be comparative independence and a quiet “ childish” for the remainder of her life. life. The girl, who, when all was As Madame Dudevant she lived said and done, loved passionately the for some years not unhappily. The woman who had brought her up, care of her two children absorbed her, rushed out into the garden to be and for the time she was all mother. alone with her grief, and the in- Then there awoke in her the spirit of difference of Nature struck her to her lawless ancestry,—the scorn of the heart. Years afterwards, she re- convention, the hatred of restraint, membered the “insolent" beauty and the craving for adventure, which she calm of that summer morning.
lends to all her heroines, even the most During Madame Dupin's lingering reasonable and respectable, to Conillness Aurore was left very much to suelo and Caroline as well as to Lelia herself. She read all the books she and Indiana The rest of her life could lay her hands on with the zest belongs to the history of the Romantic of a newly awakened intellectual movement in French literature; but passion, she rode about the country it all lies in germ in the games of the unchaperoned, and scandalised the girl who played with the village neighbourhood by her disregard of children in the meadows of Nohant, convention and gossip. The Superior
or dreamed vague dreams of imof the English nuns had called her possible self-devotion in the garden Sleeping Water, and through all her of the Couvent des Anglaises.
HIS FIRST PANTHER.
bered with pride a lesson learned far
back in the last rains when as yet he The Assistant Collector and Magis- was new to the country. Riding out trate of the First Class, aged twenty- of some scrub-jungle on to the cultifour, tilted his crazy office chair as far vated lands he had come upon a gang back as he knew to be compatible with of brown beady-eyed little men busy safety, and dispassionately scrutinised setting snares for a herd of antethe two hand-cuffed specimens of lope feeding hard by. They worked native humanity that stood before silently, driving in their long pegs him. The evidence for the prosecution by thumps and blows with the palms was complete. Caught red-handed of their right hands. An hour later, stealing a goat from the village the sight of a fine black-buck kicking grazing-ground the two thieves could in the toils had enormously raised only offer a bare denial of the charge; these children of Esau in the Englishand as the denial was not backed man's estimation.
“ Hard on
the by a shred of probability, it only hands, your trade," he had observed remained to award sentence.
to a patriarch of the tribe. WhereThe taller of the two criminals was upon, being simple folk and knowing whining in a dull monotone the usual a friend when they saw one, they platitudes indulged in by his class on had all pressed round his skewbald such occasions, his shifty eye roaming Arab to show how every male of the round the office-tent as the monotone tribe bore in the right palm the proceeded. “The police have thrown hall-mark of the Ratia, – a horny a net round me, an unfortunate and grey callosity about the size of a innocent man. These witnesses have shilling. all perjured themselves. We Ratias He had the hand-cuffs opened and are hunters and trappers and jungle- examined the four perspiring palms folk, and why should I steal a goat?” held out for inspection. Those of Here his glance fell on the Court the taller prisoner were plump and Flogger untying a bundle of canes smooth, the hands of a thief. Delay outside. Fascinated by the sight, in this case was superfluous; “Thirty he paused abruptly.
stripes,” the sentence rang out and But at the word Ratia the smaller the man was taken away. But in thief, a beady-eyed, cheerful-looking the palm of the little prisoner there little man protested in a shrill cracked the mark right enough. The voice : “This is no Ratia but an out- Assistant Commissioner
discaste of some city. If he be a Ratia, tressed. Why, with the Central let him show, the Ratia mark. As Indian Jungle teeming with edible for me, I am & Ratia indeed, and roots and berries barely two miles this son of shame is a liar also.” away, and around him the black and
The Assistant Commissioner started yellow antelope roaming in herds from his reverie. This might be worth through the fields of ripening grain, investigating, and further, he remem- had this man stooped to steal an old
village goat? He put the question the blue tank and dropped like plumpoint-blank.
mets amid a shower of diamond spray. The answer was satisfactory. The The crumbling fort of some by gone police of the District, hot on the aboriginal Rajah took up half the track of a dacoity, had raided the village side of the sheet of water, and Ratias' camp a month ago, arrested the battlements were lined with grey the party and seized all nets and monkeys basking and blinking in the snares found on the spot together warmth. Below the monkeys, out of with two stalking-bullocks. The broken casements and ruined cell-like human portion of the spoil had been chambers, burst a wealth of tropic released, but the traps and nets grass and bush and flower. A rustle, and, above all, the priceless trained and the crest and shining eyes of bullocks, were still in custody. He, a peacock were thrust tentatively the accused, was no kisan (cultivator) through a rift in the masonry ; the nor such a one as should work for whole bird followed and with him hire; he hungered for meat, and so his four mates. They took up statuhe stole the goat.
esque poses full in the eye of the “Twenty stripes," said the Assistant declining sun and backed by a sculpCommissioner and shut the register tured slab set above a doorway. of Summary Trials with a bang. Below them, again, the lotus-covered “Having been whipped,” he added, surface of the tank crept up to the "you will be given your bullocks yellow wall. Small chuckling grebeand gear this evening.”
like creatures bustled and dived among In a little while the beast-like the vermilion flowers. A bluish-black howls of the first accused bore wit- bird, with preposterously long toes
to the assembled villagers to and a cocked-up tail, was racing over the justice of the Sirkar. The Ratia
the unsteady rafts of leaf in pursuit took his twenty stripes in silence, of an invisible prey, and two baldwriggling prodigiously. On being re- headed ibises with scarlet-rimmed eyes leased, he snorted, slipped a morsel of stood dreaming in the shallows. Over opium into his mouth and, from force all hung the fluttering kestrels, of habit, bent himself to slide into patientest of all hunters of the air. the squatting posture natural to the Not the faintest zephyr was abroad. Oriental. Half-way through the action The jungle encircled tank and village he appeared to remember something and cultivated lands with a dense and straightened himself with a jerk. wall of vegetation, and from time to Some one in the crowd (it was the time the broad teak leaves fell, dry owner of the goat) laughed ; the and clattering into eternal silence. Assistant Commissioner laughed also, The Assistant Commissioner yawned and, true flattery, the laugh became and called for his shot-gun. There general. “When your Highness goes were a few acres of snipe-ground to Durbar," asked a waggish constable below the tank among the rice-fields, of the victim, "will he be pleased to and to shoot his dinner had formed accept a chair?"
for the last month or two part of the The little crowd melted away and daily routine of his life. His silent the camp resumed its normal aspect bearer brought him his weapon and
It was the middle of the in the other hand his master's heavy afternoon. Kingfishers, emerald (the •500 Express. There was a significant smaller kind) and pied black and white gleam in his eye, as he awaited per(the larger), hovered in pairs above mission to speak.
The Assistant Commissioner looked, the Government Reserved Forest from noted, and said one word, “Why ?” the tilled village lands.
The words tumbled out of the man's mouth in his haste. “It is that
II. rogue of a thief, the twenty-stripe fellow, he says he has sure news of The social nature of the domestic a panther not a mile from here, and goat of India has gained for that if the Sahib will sit up for it, in one animal an unenviable reputation as hour from now he will obtain a shot. the best possible bait for the larger The man is a thief, but he is a jungle- carnivora of the jungle. To employ dweller, and perhaps, -- but let the the offspring of the sacred cow is in Presence himself question him.” Now a Hindu country impracticable. Your the Sahib was perfectly aware that young buffalo stands in moody silence had not the tale seemed to his servant under the tree to which he is bound, a genuine one the rifle would never or, with an indifference exasperating bave been taken from its case. “Pro- to the watcher, in the machan lies duce the man,” he said.
down quietly to sleep; but the kid of The thief stepped out from the flies the goats, separated from his fellows of the tent and salaamed. He
ap- and deserted by those who have peared but little the worse for his tethered him down, calls heaven and flogging, and in his uncouth dialect earth to witness the lonesomeness of began, “ Concerning my nets and bul- his position, till for far and wide the lock,” only to be cut short by a snort round ear of many a beast of prey of indignation from the majestic Mus- cocks as at the sound of a dinner-bell. sulman behind the Sahib's chair. Should the eye of the victim, however, "To the point, oh scum! Speak fall upon the watcher in the tree about the panther or thy head will above, the insistent bleatings cease; be broken. Thy nets-pah !” there is company, and he is not afraid.
So he spoke of the panther. At Hence the black and white kid was dawn that day he had come upon the elaborately
elaborately blindfolded before the beast licking his bloody chops over Assistant Commissioner climbed up the body of a dead heifer in a field into the acacia tree, when, the bandhard by the jungle-line. He had age removed, the natives departed, scared it off its prey and at evening, talking loudly, accordingly to custom, when the fields were deserted, it would in order to impress on any neighbourcertainly return to the kill. No time ing panther the fact that they had was to be lost. Let the Sahib start, really and truly quitted the scene. and let a kid also be taken along, for, The goat tugged and strained at the if the kill had been dragged into the cord in his effort to follow them ; jungle, as was probably the case, the then he lifted up his voice in a shrill kid could be tethered in the field near incessant stream of bleatings. & convenient tree and by its bleating The watcher sat like a graven lure the panther into the open where image and abandoned himself to a a clear shot was possible.
mental attitude of pure receptiveness. The plan was approved and at once To right and left before him stretched the expedition started. Snipe rose in the line of Government jungle, a wall whisps at their feet as the party picked of forest cut off sharply from the their way along the narrow rice em- fields by the regulation forty foot bankments out towards the drier burnt fire-line. Somewhere behind fields and the fire-line that divides that screen was moving the beast he No. 536.- VOL. XC.
had come to kill. Mysterious noises, watcher's head. The pea-fowl had rustlings, and scamperings over the ceased calling. Then a solitary moncarpet of dried leaves, told of the pres- key coughed and barked behind the ence of the smaller folk of the jungle screen of trees, jerking out his obserwhose play-hour it was.
As the sun
vations not, as it seemed, at random, sank lower so the voices of the jungle but with an objective. The little goat acquired new character in the un- no longer bleated. It stood staring earthly stillness of the evening. Pea- at the fire-line, and now and again fowl called like great cats from one
nervous fore-foot. forest giant to another, as they as- Slowly, very slowly, the Assistant cended with leaps and flappings to Commissioner raised his head and his their immemorial roosts in the higher eyes followed the direction of the branches. A sambhur stag, a full glassy gaze of the goat. The beast mile away, sent a challenge to his rival across the river; the call, half With head sunk below his massive bellow, half roar, was taken up vigor- shoulders he stood on the blackened ously, and the echoes of the river-bed fire-line, an old and heavy panther. played fantastic tricks with the sound. The dying sun shone full on his broad Near at hand a family of mongooses, chest and bowed fore-legs which at hot on the trail, hunted along the fire- fifty paces distant seemed a pinkish line, doubling in and out of the forest- white. So still was he that, save for screen like monster weasels. And the the eyes, the sleek dappled body goat, in an agony of loneliness, tugged might have been of moulded bronze; at the cord and shook the air with but the eyes, malignant, intense, long quavering bleatings.
inscrutable, were fixed in an unblinkThe sun was now so low that its ing stare upon the goat. The goat, rays seemed to strike the wall of with the pluck of its kind, faced the jungle in horizontal shafts, lighting beast in silence, stamping and chalup dark alleys where the screen of lenging with pathetically useless little verdure was thinnest, and flooding horns. the cultivated lands with a
A fine perspiration burst from the amber-coloured glow.
the palms of the watcher in the tree, hour of perfect peace, when, for a until it seemed impossible to him to brief space, time becomes
hold the rifle firmly. On a sudden, without meaning and seconds are too, the weight of the barrel resting interchangeable with years.
Then upon his thigh became intolerable. there came a change.
Cramp threatened his bent limbs, yet A band of spotted deer (three hinds to move or shoot at this stage was headed by a stag) broke at full gallop out of the question. from the forest, and dashed recklessly motion of breathing made the creakacross the fire-line and over the bare ing of his leggings horribly audible fields, heading for the further belt of
to his quickened sense of hearing. jungle. They passed within gun-shot Minutes passed like hours and still of the Assistant Commissioner, the the beast stood, staring. stag's antlers thrown back almost to The sun dropped into the ocean of his haunches, his liquid eye distended forest in the West. Then, stepping with terror. The noise of flying hoofs delicately with noiseless pads, the died away and was succeeded by a beast walked
the fire-line, silence unbroken but for the reedy The ground was thick with last shrilling of a tree-cricket above the year's teak-leaves, but the heavy