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The Winds of the World   By: (1879-1940)

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THE WINDS OF THE WORLD

By TALBOT MUNDY

THE WINDS OF THE WORLD

Ever the Winds of the World fare forth (Oh, listen ye! Ah, listen ye!), East and West, and South and North, Shuttles weaving back and forth Amid the warp! (Oh, listen ye!) Can sightless touch can vision keen Hunt where the Winds of the World have been And searching, learn what rumors mean? (Nay, ye who are wise! Nay, listen ye!) When tracks are crossed and scent is stale, 'Tis fools who shout the fast who fail! But wise men harken Listen ye!

YASMINI'S SONG.

CHAPTER I

A watery July sun was hurrying toward a Punjab sky line, as if weary of squandering his strength on men who did not mind, and resentful of the unexplainable a rainy weather field day. The cold steel and khaki of native Indian cavalry at attention gleamed motionless between British infantry and two batteries of horse artillery. The only noticeable sound was the voice of a general officer, that rose and fell explaining and asserting pride in his command, but saying nothing as to the why of exercises in the mud. Nor did he mention why the censorship was in full force. He did not say a word of Germany, or Belgium.

In front of the third squadron from the right, Risaldar Major Ranjoor Singh sat his charger like a big bronze statue. He would have stooped to see his right spur bettor, that shone in spite of mud, for though he has been a man these five and twenty years, Ranjoor Singh has neither lost his boyhood love of such things, nor intends to; he has been accused of wearing solid silver spurs in bed. But it hurt him to bend much, after a day's hard exercise on a horse such as he rode.

Once in a rock strewn gully where the whistling Himalayan wind was Acting Antiseptic of the Day a young surgeon had taken hurried stitches over Ranjoor Singh's ribs without probing deep enough for an Afghan bullet; that bullet burned after a long day in the saddle. And Bagh was as the big brute's name implied a tiger of a horse, unweakened even by monsoon weather, and his habit was to spring with terrific suddenness when his rider moved on him.

So Ranjoor Singh sat still. He was willing to eat agony at any time for the squadron's sake for a squadron of Outram's Own is a unity to marvel at, or envy; and its leader a man to be forgiven spurs a half inch longer than the regulation. As a soldier, however, he was careful of himself when occasion offered.

Sikh soldier wise, he preferred Bagh to all other horses in the world, because it had needed persuasion, much stroking of a black beard to hide anxiety and many a secret night ride to sweat the brute's savagery before the colonel sahib could be made to see his virtues as a charger and accept him into the regiment. Sikh wise, he loved all things that expressed in any way his own unconquerable fire. Most of all, however, he loved the squadron; there was no woman, nor anything between him and D Squadron; but Bagh came next.

Spurs were not needed when the general ceased speaking, and the British colonel of Outram's Own shouted an order. Bagh, brute energy beneath hand polished hair and plastered dirt, sprang like a loosed Hell tantrum, and his rider's lips drew tight over clenched teeth as he mastered self, agony and horse in one man's effort. Fight how he would, heel, tooth and eye all flashing, Bagh was forced to hold his rightful place in front of the squadron, precisely the right distance behind the last supernumerary of the squadron next in front.

Line after rippling line, all Sikhs of the true Sikh baptism except for the eight of their officers who were European, Outram's Own swept down a living avenue of British troops; and neither gunners nor infantry could see one flaw in them, although picking flaws in native regiments is almost part of the British army officer's religion.

To the blare of military music, through a bog of their own mixing, the Sikhs trotted for a mile, then drew into a walk, to bring the horses into barracks cool enough for watering... Continue reading book >>




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