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That is the question. Bullub Dass refuses any more advances of grain or cash, and unless they want to die where they are a decision must be taken, and that quickly. An old grey-beard, the oldest man in the village-some say eighty, others ninety, he himself a hundred years of age-is the first to speak. "He remembers being told by his uncle of the great famine which swept all living things off the face of the land. It was before the Company Bahadur came. There have been famines and famines since, but that remains the famine. Then the villagers had to leave their homes and their fields. It was go or die. And they went, his uncle said, across the Jumna and down towards Malwa. There they found pasture and water for the cattle, and enough corn selling for a rupee to keep a man for two months. That was the place to go to now." One or two others of the older men had heard the same story. And so it is settled that they shall go to Malwa, down into the heart of India, where the Nerbudda runs-Mother Nerbudda, the sacred stream, which some day, so prophecy says, is to rob Ganges herself of her purifying powers.
Some go to tell Pertáb Singh what the village elders have decided to do; others to their houses to warn their womenfolk and to make ready for the exodus. The Rajput has no hope to hold out and no better course to suggest. They must save themselves. He cannot support them. His father always kept in the granaries a year's supply at least for the whole village. They know that he has not been able to keep up the good old custom; debt and bad years have forced him to sell the grain as it came in. Bullub Dass is even more helpless. He cannot give them any more advances of any kind. He must keep seed grain for the next year, otherwise the village, himself included, will be ruined. Yes, this must be done, come what may; no one gainsays that. It is clearer than ever that there is only one way of escaping a lingering death from hunger, and that is instant flight. A fever of fear and excitement seizes the hitherto patient and quiet people. "To Malwa! to Malwa!" is the cry in every mouth.
It is the fifth morning after the
women started from Pertáb Singh's house for Rajputana that the exodus begins. It was about the same hour, the watch before the dawn, when the stillness of the night is broken by the barking of dogs, the voices of men, the wailing of women and children, and, above all, the strident creaking of the heavy wheels of many carts on their ungreased axles. It was a long procession, slow and sad. Men and cattle, both weakened now by days of hardly sufficient food, going most of them knew not where-more on the chance than with any hope of finding wherewithal to support life. And, if there were sad hearts in the crowd, none was sadder than that of old Pertáb Singh as he stood with his youngest son on the road outside the village and saw the carts slowly pass out. They went household by household, with all that they possessed. Old people who had never been two miles from their homes, young ones just born into this parched inhospitable earth. Everything they had in the world packed into the carts-grindstones, tools, cooking-vessels, little household gods; baskets filled with clothes and trinkets, a few worn blankets, an old rezai or two; and the delicate women, the old people, and the young children who cannot walk piled on top of all. Behind come the able-bodied men and the older children and the strong women driving along a few spare oxen, a small weedy cow with a starveling calf, the milch buffalo; and here and there a woman, for whom there was no room in the carts, on a cow-hocked pony with a child on her knee.
They file past the old man, all the people he knows, all with whom is the daily business of his life: the men who till his land and pay him his rent, the village herd, the washerman, the carpenter, the blacksmith, they are all there, and they are all going away. They greet him as they pass, and salaam with as much deference as in the best times, and he returns the words of salutation, "Rám, Rám," with a sore heart. Why is he not going too? His house will soon be the only one in the whole of Gardanpur where the evening lamp will glow. No, there will be one more. The spare old man who holds
greeted on his own threshold by the money-lender. He passes him by with a supercilious look of faint recognition, such as a smart woman bestows on an unfashionable acquaintance.
the post of village watch, and is paid three rupees a month, will be faithful to his salt. He will stick to his post, and make his reports regularly twice a week to the police station twenty miles off, so long as body and soul hold together, and his thin, black, indefatigable legs can carry him, with their small sinewy calves gathered up close to the knee into a tight ball seamed with swollen veins. As the last cart with its miscellaneous load and more miscellaneous following turns round the corner into the highroad, Pertáb Singh the Rajput leans on his long staff and weeps silently. He has lived too long.
His son takes him by the hand and leads im gently home through the deserted village. No human voice breaks the stillness of the early morning. There is no sound telling of life and toil from the grindstone or the cotton-gin. Nothing is to be heard but an occasional yell from some ownerless curs who have stayed to quarrel over their scavengering trade, and the agonizing creak, creak of the receding carts.
Bullub Dass is standing at the door of the Rajput's house as the old man and his son come up. His right-hand man and agent, Bansi Lal, is with him. Bansi Lal is a short round man of comfortable aspect, with a complexion described in Indian language as "wheaten," and trim black whiskers and moustache. He is dressed in white, with a neat pink turban on his head. He transacts the disagreeable parts of Bullub's business, goes round dunning defaulting clients, taking with a smile the hard words which he receives often when he asks for rupees. He attends the civil courts, fiiles suits, gives the usual formal evidence in corroboration of his master's books and deeds, and takes execution of decrees. All this and more also does Bansi, and what he is paid no one but himself and Bullub Dass knows. In his income-tax returns he enters his earnings as fifteen rupees a month. If the statement is true, Bullub Dass has made a profitable bargain, and Bansi, like a good Arab horse, is able to live well where a worse beast would starve. Pertáb Singh is not in an amiable mood this morning; even at his best he does not much care to be VOL. XV. 774
"Stay, Pertáb Singh Sahib," says Bullub. "What is all this? Whither are all the people gone? What fool's work is this? How are you and I to live if the people run away?"
"They have gone to get food and save their lives," retorts the Rajput. "If it is a fool's work, you are the fool. Why don't you open your pits and your money boxes and keep the people in the village? You are the fool, I say, Bania Sahib."
The banker's eyes flash and his lips quiver, but he answers smoothly.
"Thakur Sahib," he says, using a title of respect which in the fallen fortunes of his house Pertáb Singh hears rarely from any but the men of his own clan"Thakur Sahib, in my poor judgment it is the duty of the lord of the soil to keep grain enough to feed the people in a time like this. Your grandfather, ay, and your respected father, always did their duty in this matter."
The old man feels the thrust and turns fiercely, clutching his staff; but his son takes him by the arm, saying, "Don't be angry, sir: what does it matter what this scoundrel of a bania says?" and leads him inside. Bullub Dass moves away homewards, followed by his man. Had he meant to suggest some way of bringing back and keeping the people? Who can tell? At any rate he will do nothing now. He will move neither hand nor foot to help Pertáb Singh or his tenants, not even if their ruin is to involve his own. Malice is in his eye and desire for revenge in his heart.
Nevertheless, it is not a pleasant business for Bullub Dass. He has a great deal of money out to loan in Gardanpur, not only to the Rajput landowner but to nearly every farmer in the village. Off they have gone with carts and cattle, and everything they possess that might be seized in execution of a decree. There is nothing left but the baked dusty soil and the empty mud huts. What if they do not come back? Where is his capital gone, and where the comfortable profit of twenty-five per cent.
which one way or another, bad years a true ministering angel, and without with good, he had managed to gather any pretence of being a specialist or a in? Where too is Pertáb Singh to find philanthropist. People said that he was the money to pay the mortgage interest half crazy over the subject of disease, if there are no rents? Then again he and followed the development of a does not care to be left like this in a de- fever with the same interest that others serted village. His grain pits have listened to or read a dramatic work, but much more in them than is wanted for with this exception, that it was not althe next season's seed, and although his ways necessary to be a mere spectator, women and their valuables and most of that by discreetly intervening somehis ready money have gone to his native times, he prepared cheerful and unexplace in Marwara long ago, yet he has a pected comedy, where otherwise there good deal in his house, not to speak of would have been the deepest tragedy. all his account books and securities. The people of Gardanpur he can trust. He has lived on terms of give-and-take with them for years, and they are a respectable law-abiding set. But there are wild and evil-living men in neighboring villages who might like to make him their prey. He begins to wish he had not been so summary in refusing advances. It would have been better to risk more than to lose all, perhaps life as well. He is daring and brave enough in his own line, but violence and personal danger he cannot face: for he is the product of many generations of men whose weapons have been thrift and carefulness-and perhaps trickery-the sword never.
This might have been merely scientific curiosity-we will not discuss that point—but thanks to this keen interest, if a patient were very ill, and that happened frequently, he would remain to watch by the bedside, and again-and this happened yet more frequently, for Doctor Santos devoted himself almost exclusively to poor people—there would not be money enough to buy supper for the family or broth and medicine for the sick one; then our doctor would pull out his purse and send for whatever was necessary. His patients never lacked for what was needed to restore them to health.
SIR C. H. T. CROSTHWAITE, K.C.S.I.
The doctor's greatest pleasure, as he always declared, was to cure sick children. It seemed impossible that a man who had no family and who, according to all accounts, had never married, and who had been adopted himself by a barber who took him from an orphan asylum, should be able to feel such absolute tenderness of heart towards little
Translated for THE LIVING AGE. DOCTOR SANTOS: A CHARACTER SKETCH. Every one in Madrid knew Doctor Santos. He was a little bit of a man, with his beard and hair clamoring for the use of the scissors and his clothes for benzine and a more fashionable cut. Nevertheless, he had a universal reputation for great wisdom, and his popularity in the district of Chamberi, the principal scene of his work, was beyond everything.
Possibly the peculiarities of the doctor did more than his true merit to attract the attention of the people. Perhaps some presentiment made every one consider him physically of not much account, but mentally a diamond of the purest water. It was well known that in the exercise of his profession he was
A woman, whose son the doctor had restored to health, aptly expressed the sentiments of every one: "It seems as if Doctor Santos had been a mother himself."
We will take it for granted that his life and good deeds are well known, for many a scientific work can testify to the merits of Doctor Santos; so we will not stop to give a detailed resumé or minute account of the arduous labor of many years spent in the true performance of his profession.
I am now going to speak of an event in his life which, if it were not absolutely true, would seem to many people to be altogether improbable.
Doctor Santos always said that the
elixir of long life was a very easy and simple thing to obtain, that it was not necessary to knock one's head against the wall in order that the electric spark of an idea should spring out of the brain, and that even the most stupid could give a solution of the problem to those who discussed it learnedly, but that not even this elixir nor any other could be applied in every case, that it was just as difficult to unite a head to the body from which it had been severed as to repair the ravages of some illnesses. In eighty cases out of a hundred, however, he was sure that the elixir would give good results.
When the sick man saw the doctor enter, an expression of joy passed over his features, as if now black death had no terror for him, for, in the last sad moments, a warm hand would clasp his and a loving heart would be moved to sympathy. The doctor took the sick man's hand:
"How are you Jaime?" he asked.
"I am dying, I feel sure of it, but I wish to ask one more favor of you who have already done SO many for me. Tell me how much longer I have to live. I know there is nothing that will help me, and I am almost glad that it is so, for I have suffered so much in my life. At least, I shall cease to suffer. It is true, is it not, that over there there is no more pain, all is quiet, dark, cold?"
Accustomed as Doctor Santos was to such scenes, he could scarcely keep back the tears-much to his own disgust, when he looked at the poor fellow-and he growled to himself: "A weeping doctor is a fool." But he answered the dying man very gently.
"What can I do for you, Jaime? To whom shall I write? Let me know just what you wish to be done and I promise you to do it as far as I am able, and before it slips my memory. I don't want to frighten you, but every one takes
The strangest thing was that these were not merely affirmations, but positive proofs, for in his practice he had tried the remedy and, not only eighty to a hundred, but in even greater proportion, had produced good results. He never could be made to specify the remedy, and he put an end to all questions on the subject, by saying:"Nothing, nothing, it is like, it is like things differently. Judging from the Columbus's egg, why prove it." state you are in, I am not the one just now to do you the most good, and we must soon send for one who can give you the only true consolation. After all, although this life means a great deal to us, we ought to be glad rather than sorry at the thought of leaving it, because we are all sure that God is good and will pardon us, and that he loves us. For this reason we call him father, for if he is not better than the best on earth, what other conception can we have of him?
It was long after twelve o'clock one night, when Doctor Santos entered a miserable garret in the calle de Fuencarral. The door was partly open. A middle aged man was stretched out on a rude cot. The rest of the furniture consisted of some broken, rush bottomed chairs, and a pine table by the bedside. The sick man had no relatives in Madrid; he had arrived from Cataluña a little more than a month before and had fallen ill with pneumonia. He refused, absolutely, to go to the hospital, so a charitable neighbor, who had attended to his simple wants for some time, called in Doctor Santos. The disease had already made inroads upon the man's constitution. Although the pneumonia was helped, the doctor could not cure the quick consumption which followed and which would soon end the man's life.
"Now I will go myself to call a priest whom I know, and in the meanwhile, I will see if a neighbor will stay with you."
"Oh, don't go, I beg of you. I must talk to you!"
The doctor dared not say no, but he knew that the hour of death was swiftly approaching. A moment later he left the room, saying:
"I'll return directly."
He sent a neighbor for the priest, then returned, as he had promised, and sat down by the head of the bed.
Jaime asked the doctor to do him the favor to put his hand under the mattress and take out a packet which he would find there. After the doctor had
pulled out the packet, Jaime began to speak:
"Doctor, I ask you not to open this packet until after I am dead, and after that, with the help of your own conscience, you will decide what you think had best be done. I want you, if any persoral advantage can come to you from it, to use it all for yourself. I have no affection for any one else, nor am I in debt to any one. If this were not my last hour on earth, I should say that my soul held nothing but hatred for the evil received from those I most cherished."
The sick man seemed fatigued and the doctor told him to rest a few moments, but now the man began to make those motions of the hands, so characteristic of those about to die, and to plait and unplait the bed clothing. He did not seem to know exactly what he was saying and his eyes wandered restlessly about the room:
"She deceived me. How much I loved her! Her beautiful black eyes! How pretty she was! and he my best friend! It was infamous, shameful! I saw them! The truth is proof enough! Ah, how much blood flowed from the wound!-he did not mind dying because he knew she loved him. And I envied him after he was dead! Ah, how hard the punishment! How dark the cell, how heavy the shackles! It is shameful! I am an assassin! Every one has left me! How blue the sky is! How fresh and green the fields! I can't get out with these horrible irons on my wrists!"
The priest came in time to administer the extreme unction. Jaime died shortly after and the doctor returned home with the packet under his arm. Once in his study, before going to bed, he decided to open the bundle which Jaime had given him with so much mystery. It was an easy task. He untied the paper and out fell what seemed to be a magazine: there were hundreds of leaves, but each leaf was a banknote of four thousand reals.
Daylight glimmered through the curtains. Doctor Santos had not closed his eyes. He was the owner, the rightful owner of more than four hundred thousand pésétas (one hundred thousand dollars) and the donation was abso
lutely legitimate. Jaime's mind, as no one knew better than he, was perfectly clear at the time he made the gift. What should he do with all that money! He would be happy, all his friends would be happy, in fact, every one would be happy! What a library, what a laboratory, he would have!
Hours passed, but the doctor tossed and turned restlessly on his bed, unable to sleep for a moment. The clock struck seven. He could not stay in bed any longer; he arose, made his accustomed hasty toilet, drank his coffee and started off on his usual round of visits. He began with the very sick patients, but at ten o'clock, he said to himself, he would get a friend to accompany him to the bank that he might deposit the money. He had never kept any money in a bank. The little box in his office had always held all he had to spare, and he did not know exactly what legal forms were necessary in order to have it placed so that he could draw out certain sums when he wished.
His first patient lived several miles away, so he carried the precious package with him in order not to lose time in going and coming. He stopped at the patient's house. The sick man was a cabinet maker who had been trying to work with an injured hand, consequently, blood poisoning had set in and the symptoms were such that amputation seemed necessary. The poor man, strong as an oak, cried like a child.
"The maintenance of my wife and family lies in the skill of my five fingers," he said, "and now you are going to cut them off."
But Doctor Santos, more of an optimist than ever that day, brought the bright light of hope into the sad hearts of the afflicted family. They might rely upon him for support and help as long as they needed it.
He then went to see a talented journalist who had not prospered since he began to have ideas and tastes of his own instead of praising those of other people. The journalist had lost his place because he had published, without first consulting the director, an article in which he said that what Marruecos most needed was some powerful nation to civilize it, that our position in