'May no ill dreams disturb my rest, Nor Powers of Darkness me molest.' --Evening Hymn.
One of the few advantages that India has over England is a certain great Knowability. After five years' service
a man is directly or indirectly acquainted with the two or three hundred Civilians in his Province, all the
Messes of ten or twelve Regiments and Batteries, and some fifteen hundred other people of the non-official
castes. In ten years his knowledge should be doubled, and at the end of twenty he knows, or knows something
about, almost every Englishman in the Empire, and may travel anywhere and everywhere without paying
Globe-trotters who expect entertainment as a right, have, even within my memory, blunted this
open-heartedness, but, none the less, to-day if you belong to the Inner Circle and are neither a bear nor a black
sheep all houses are open to you and our small world is very kind and helpful.
Rickett of Kamartha stayed with Polder of Kumaon, some fifteen years ago. He meant to stay two nights only,
but was knocked down by rheumatic fever, and for six weeks disorganized Polder's establishment, stopped
Polder's work, and nearly died in Polder's bed-room. Polder behaves as though he had been placed under
eternal obligation by Rickett, and yearly sends the little Ricketts a box of presents and toys. It is the same
everywhere. The men who do not take the trouble to conceal from you their opinion that you are an
incompetent ass, and the women who blacken your character and misunderstand your wife's amusements, will
work themselves to the bone in your behalf if you fall sick or into serious trouble.
Heatherlegh, the Doctor, kept, in addition to his regular practice, a hospital on his private account--an
arrangement of loose-boxes for Incurables, his friends called it--but it was really a sort of fitting-up shed for
craft that had been damaged by stress of weather. The weather in India is often sultry, and since the tale of
bricks is a fixed quantity, and the only liberty allowed is permission to work overtime and get no thanks, men
occasionally break down and become as mixed as the metaphors in this sentence.
Heatherlegh is the nicest doctor that ever was, and his invariable prescription to all his patients is 'lie low, go
slow, and keep cool.' He says that more men are killed by overwork than the importance of this world
justifies. He maintains that overwork slew Pansay who died under his hands about three years ago. He has, of
course, the right to speak authoritatively, and he laughs at my theory that there was a crack in Pansay's head
and a little bit of the Dark World came through and pressed him to death. 'Pansay went off the handle,' says
Heatherlegh, 'after the stimulus of long leave at Home. He may or he may not have behaved like a blackguard
to Mrs. Keith-Wessington. My notion is that the work of the Katabundi Settlement ran him off his legs, and
that he took to brooding and making much of an ordinary P. & O. flirtation. He certainly was engaged to Miss
Mannering, and she certainly broke off the engagement. Then he took a feverish chill and all that nonsense
about ghosts developed itself. Overwork started his illness, kept it alight, and killed him, poor devil. Write
him off to the System--one man to do the work of two-and-a-half men.'
I do not believe this. I used to sit up with Pansay sometimes when Heatherlegh was called out to visit patients
and I happened to be within claim. The man would make me most unhappy by describing in a low, even voice
the procession of men, women, children, and devils that was always passing at the bottom of his bed. He had a
sick man's command of language. When he recovered I suggested that he should write out the whole affair
from beginning to end, knowing that ink might assist him to ease his mind. When little boys have learned a
new bad word they are never happy till they have chalked it up on a door. And this also is Literature.
He was in a high fever while he was writing, and the blood-and-thunder Magazine style he adopted did not
calm him. Two months afterwards he was reported fit for duty, but, in spite of the fact that he was urgently
needed to help an undermanned Commission stagger through a deficit, he preferred to die; vowing at the last
that he was hag-ridden. I secured his manuscript before he died, and this is his version of the affair, dated