Three Quotations

(May 17th to 31st)




1. ...The Mullah sprang to his feet, glaring with withered eyeballs at the drawn death he could not see, and calling down the curses of God and Mahomed on the tribe. Then began a game of blind man's buff round and between the fires... This is from "The Head of the District" in Life's Handicap.

An experienced British Deputy Commissioner on the North West Frontier has died, and been replaced by a Bengali, who knows nothing of the local people. The Blind Mullah has inspired his tribe to take advantage of the change to rise against the British. But the system holds. The rising is firmly put down, and the tribe take a bloody vengeance on the Mullah.



2. ...It seems to them that they stood through the days and nights slowly sliding a bar backwards and forwards through a white glow that was part of the ship. They remember an intolerable noise in their heads from the walls of the stoke-hole, and remember being savagely beaten by men whose eyes seemed asleep... This is from "The Devil and the Deep Sea" in The Day's Work.

A British vessel, illicitly gathering pearls in Malay waters, has been caught by the local navy, who have fired a shell which wrecks the ship's engines. The crew are at first imprisoned, and then allowed to return to their damaged and pillaged ship. After huge efforts they get the engines going, so as to put to sea and seek revenge ...



3. ..."Please do something with that fire. They won't let me play with it, but I can feel it's behaving badly. Hit it!"
I looked on either side of the deep fireplace, and found but a half-charred hedge-stake with which I punched a black log into flame...
This is from "They" in Traffics and Discoveries.

The narrator, driving through the Sussex countryside, has chanced on a stately old house, where there lives a beautiful blind woman. The garden is full of sunlight and the half-seen figures of children playing. He sits by the fire with her, and as they talk he realises that 'They' are the ghosts of dead children, including his own lost little daughter.