Pig by Rudyard Kipling
Go, stalk the red deer o'er the heather
Ride, follow the fox if you can!
But, for pleasure and profit together,
Allow me the hunting of Man,--
The chase of the Human, the search for the Soul
To its ruin,--the hunting of Man.
The Old Shikarri.
I believe the difference began in the matter of a horse, with a
twist in his temper, whom Pinecoffin sold to Nafferton and by whom
Nafferton was nearly slain. There may have been other causes of
offence; the horse was the official stalking-horse. Nafferton was
very angry; but Pinecoffin laughed and said that he had never
guaranteed the beast's manners. Nafferton laughed, too, though he
vowed that he would write off his fall against Pinecoffin if he
waited five years. Now, a Dalesman from beyond Skipton will forgive
an injury when the Strid lets a man live; but a South Devon man is as
soft as a Dartmoor bog. You can see from their names that Nafferton
had the race-advantage of Pinecoffin. He was a peculiar man, and his
notions of humor were cruel. He taught me a new and fascinating form
of shikar. He hounded Pinecoffin from Mithankot to Jagadri, and from
Gurgaon to Abbottabad up and across the Punjab, a large province and
in places remarkably dry. He said that he had no intention of
allowing Assistant Commissioners to "sell him pups," in the shape of
ramping, screaming countrybreds, without making their lives a burden
Most Assistant Commissioners develop a bent for some special work
after their first hot weather in the country. The boys with
digestions hope to write their names large on the Frontier and
struggle for dreary places like Bannu and Kohat. The bilious ones
climb into the Secretariat. Which is very bad for the liver. Others
are bitten with a mania for District work, Ghuznivide coins or Persian
poetry; while some, who come of farmers' stock, find that the smell of
the Earth after the Rains gets into their blood, and calls them to
"develop the resources of the Province." These men are enthusiasts.
Pinecoffin belonged to their class. He knew a great many facts
bearing on the cost of bullocks and temporary wells, and
opium-scrapers, and what happens if you burn too much rubbish on a
field, in the hope of enriching used-up soil. All the Pinecoffins
come of a landholding breed, and so the land only took back her own
again. Unfortunately--most unfortunately for Pinecoffin--he was a
Civilian, as well as a farmer. Nafferton watched him, and thought
about the horse. Nafferton said:--"See me chase that boy till he
drops!" I said:--"You can't get your knife into an Assistant
Commissioner." Nafferton told me that I did not understand the
administration of the Province.
Our Government is rather peculiar. It gushes on the agricultural
and general information side, and will supply a moderately
respectable man with all sorts of "economic statistics," if he speaks
to it prettily. For instance, you are interested in gold- washing in
the sands of the Sutlej. You pull the string, and find that it wakes
up half a dozen Departments, and finally communicates, say, with a
friend of yours in the Telegraph, who once wrote some notes on the
customs of the gold-washers when he was on construction-work in their
part of the Empire. He may or may not be pleased at being ordered to
write out everything he knows for your benefit. This depends on his
temperament. The bigger man you are, the more information and the
greater trouble can you raise.
Nafferton was not a big man; but he had the reputation of being
very earnest." An "earnest" man can do much with a Government. There
was an earnest man who once nearly wrecked . . . but all India knows
THAT story. I am not sure what real "earnestness" is. A very fair
imitation can be manufactured by neglecting to dress decently, by
mooning about in a dreamy, misty sort of way, by taking office-work
home after staying in office till seven, and by receiving crowds of
native gentlemen on Sundays. That is one sort of "earnestness."
Nafferton cast about for a peg whereon to hang his earnestness, and
for a string that would communicate with Pinecoffin. He found both.
They were Pig. Nafferton became an earnest inquirer after Pig. He
informed the Government that he had a scheme whereby a very large
percentage of the British Army in India could be fed, at a very large
saving, on Pig. Then he hinted that Pinecoffin might supply him with
the "varied information necessary to the proper inception of the
scheme." So the Government wrote on the back of the letter:--
"Instruct Mr. Pinecoffin to furnish Mr. Nafferton with any
information in his power." Government is very prone to writing
things on the backs of letters which, later, lead to trouble and
Nafferton had not the faintest interest in Pig, but he knew that
Pinecoffin would flounce into the trap. Pinecoffin was delighted at
being consulted about Pig. The Indian Pig is not exactly an
important factor in agricultural life; but Nafferton explained to
Pinecoffin that there was room for improvement, and corresponded
direct with that young man.
You may think that there is not much to be evolved from Pig. It
all depends how you set to work. Pinecoffin being a Civilian and
wishing to do things thoroughly, began with an essay on the Primitive
Pig, the Mythology of the Pig, and the Dravidian Pig. Nafferton filed
that information--twenty-seven foolscap sheets--and wanted to know
about the distribution of the Pig in the Punjab, and how it stood the
Plains in the hot weather. From this point onwards, remember that I
am giving you only the barest outlines of the affair--the guy-ropes,
as it were, of the web that Nafferton spun round Pinecoffin.
Pinecoffin made a colored Pig-population map, and collected
observations on the comparative longevity of the Pig (a) in the sub-
montane tracts of the Himalayas, and (b) in the Rechna Doab.
Nafferton filed that, and asked what sort of people looked after Pig.
This started an ethnological excursus on swineherds, and drew from
Pinecoffin long tables showing the proportion per thousand of the
caste in the Derajat. Nafferton filed that bundle, and explained that
the figures which he wanted referred to the Cis- Sutlej states, where
he understood that Pigs were very fine and large, and where he
proposed to start a Piggery. By this time, Government had quite
forgotten their instructions to Mr. Pinecoffin. They were like the
gentlemen, in Keats' poem, who turned well-oiled wheels to skin other
people. But Pinecoffin was just entering into the spirit of the
Pig-hunt, as Nafferton well knew he would do. He had a fair amount of
work of his own to clear away; but he sat up of nights reducing Pig to
five places of decimals for the honor of his Service. He was not
going to appear ignorant of so easy a subject as Pig.
Then Government sent him on special duty to Kohat, to "inquire
into" the big-seven-foot, iron-shod spades of that District. People
had been killing each other with those peaceful tools; and Government
wished to know "whether a modified form of agricultural implement
could not, tentatively and as a temporary measure, be introduced
among the agricultural population without needlessly or unduly
exasperating the existing religious sentiments of the peasantry."
Between those spades and Nafferton's Pig, Pinecoffin was rather
Nafferton now began to take up "(a) The food-supply of the
indigenous Pig, with a view to the improvement of its capacities as a
flesh-former. (b) The acclimatization of the exotic Pig, maintaining
its distinctive peculiarities." Pinecoffin replied exhaustively that
the exotic Pig would become merged in the indigenous type; and quoted
horse-breeding statistics to prove this. The side-issue was debated,
at great length on Pinecoffin's side, till Nafferton owned that he had
been in the wrong, and moved the previous question. When Pinecoffin
had quite written himself out about flesh-formers, and fibrins, and
glucose and the nitrogenous constituents of maize and lucerne,
Nafferton raised the question of expense. By this time Pinecoffin,
who had been transferred from Kohat, had developed a Pig theory of his
own, which he stated in thirty-three folio pages--all carefully filed
by Nafferton. Who asked for more.
These things took ten months, and Pinecoffin's interest in the
potential Piggery seemed to die down after he had stated his own
views. But Nafferton bombarded him with letters on "the Imperial
aspect of the scheme, as tending to officialize the sale of pork, and
thereby calculated to give offence to the Mahomedan population of
Upper India." He guessed that Pinecoffin would want some broad,
free-hand work after his niggling, stippling, decimal details.
Pinecoffin handled the latest development of the case in masterly
style, and proved that no "popular ebullition of excitement was to be
apprehended." Nafferton said that there was nothing like Civilian
insight in matters of this kind, and lured him up a bye- path--"the
possible profits to accrue to the Government from the sale of
hog-bristles." There is an extensive literature of hog- bristles, and
the shoe, brush, and colorman's trades recognize more varieties of
bristles than you would think possible. After Pinecoffin had wondered
a little at Nafferton's rage for information, he sent back a
monograph, fifty-one pages, on "Products of the Pig." This led him,
under Nafferton's tender handling, straight to the Cawnpore factories,
the trade in hog-skin for saddles--and thence to the tanners.
Pinecoffin wrote that pomegranate-seed was the best cure for
hog-skin, and suggested--for the past fourteen months had wearied
him--that Nafferton should "raise his pigs before he tanned them."
Nafferton went back to the second section of his fifth question.
How could the exotic Pig be brought to give as much pork as it did in
the West and yet "assume the essentially hirsute characteristics of
its oriental congener?" Pinecoffin felt dazed, for he had forgotten
what he had written sixteen month's before, and fancied that he was
about to reopen the entire question. He was too far involved in the
hideous tangle to retreat, and, in a weak moment, he wrote:--"Consult
my first letter." Which related to the Dravidian Pig. As a matter of
fact, Pinecoffin had still to reach the acclimatization stage; having
gone off on a side-issue on the merging of types.
THEN Nafferton really unmasked his batteries! He complained to the
Government, in stately language, of "the paucity of help accorded to
me in my earnest attempts to start a potentially remunerative
industry, and the flippancy with which my requests for information
are treated by a gentleman whose pseudo-scholarly attainments should
at lest have taught him the primary differences between the Dravidian
and the Berkshire variety of the genus Sus. If I am to understand
that the letter to which he refers me contains his serious views on
the acclimatization of a valuable, though possibly uncleanly, animal,
I am reluctantly compelled to believe," etc., etc.
There was a new man at the head of the Department of Castigation.
The wretched Pinecoffin was told that the Service was made for the
Country, and not the Country for the Service, and that he had better
begin to supply information about Pigs.
Pinecoffin answered insanely that he had written everything that
could be written about Pig, and that some furlough was due to him.
Nafferton got a copy of that letter, and sent it, with the essay on
the Dravidian Pig, to a down-country paper, which printed both in
full. The essay was rather highflown; but if the Editor had seen the
stacks of paper, in Pinecoffin's handwriting, on Nafferton's table, he
would not have been so sarcastic about the "nebulous discursiveness
and blatant self-sufficiency of the modern Competition-wallah, and his
utter inability to grasp the practical issues of a practical
question." Many friends cut out these remarks and sent them to
I have already stated that Pinecoffin came of a soft stock. This
last stroke frightened and shook him. He could not understand it;
but he felt he had been, somehow, shamelessly betrayed by Nafferton.
He realized that he had wrapped himself up in the Pigskin without
need, and that he could not well set himself right with his
Government. All his acquaintances asked after his "nebulous
discursiveness" or his "blatant self-sufficiency," and this made him
He took a train and went to Nafferton, whom he had not seen since
the Pig business began. He also took the cutting from the paper, and
blustered feebly and called Nafferton names, and then died down to a
watery, weak protest of the "I-say-it's-too-bad-you-know" order.
Nafferton was very sympathetic.
"I'm afraid I've given you a good deal of trouble, haven't I?" said
"Trouble!" whimpered Pinecoffin; "I don't mind the trouble so much,
though that was bad enough; but what I resent is this showing up in
print. It will stick to me like a burr all through my service. And
I DID do my best for your interminable swine. It's too bad of you,
on my soul it is!"
"I don't know," said Nafferton; "have you ever been stuck with a
horse? It isn't the money I mind, though that is bad enough; but
what I resent is the chaff that follows, especially from the boy who
stuck me. But I think we'll cry quite now."
Pinecoffin found nothing to say save bad words; and Nafferton
smiled ever so sweetly, and asked him to dinner.