Consequences by Rudyard Kipling
In the Orient had rise;
Ye may find their teachers still
Under Jacatala's Hill.
Seek ye Bombast Paracelsus,
Read what Flood the Seeker tells us
Of the Dominant that runs
Through the cycles of the Suns--
Read my story last and see
Luna at her apogee.
There are yearly appointments, and two-yearly appointments, and
five-yearly appointments at Simla, and there are, or used to be,
permanent appointments, whereon you stayed up for the term of your
natural life and secured red cheeks and a nice income. Of course,
you could descend in the cold weather; for Simla is rather dull then.
Tarrion came from goodness knows where--all away and away in some
forsaken part of Central India, where they call Pachmari a
"Sanitarium," and drive behind trotting bullocks, I believe. He
belonged to a regiment; but what he really wanted to do was to escape
from his regiment and live in Simla forever and ever. He had no
preference for anything in particular, beyond a good horse and a nice
partner. He thought he could do everything well; which is a beautiful
belief when you hold it with all your heart. He was clever in many
ways, and good to look at, and always made people round him
comfortable--even in Central India.
So he went up to Simla, and, because he was clever and amusing, he
gravitated naturally to Mrs. Hauksbee, who could forgive everything
but stupidity. Once he did her great service by changing the date on
an invitation-card for a big dance which Mrs. Hauksbee wished to
attend, but couldn't because she had quarrelled with the A.-D.-C.,
who took care, being a mean man, to invite her to a small dance on
the 6th instead of the big Ball of the 26th. It was a very clever
piece of forgery; and when Mrs. Hauksbee showed the A.-D.-C. her
invitation-card, and chaffed him mildly for not better managing his
vendettas, he really thought he had made a mistake; and--which was
wise--realized that it was no use to fight with Mrs. Hauksbee. She
was grateful to Tarrion and asked what she could do for him. He said
simply: "I'm a Freelance up here on leave, and on the lookout for what
I can loot. I haven't a square inch of interest in all Simla. My
name isn't known to any man with an appointment in his gift, and I
want an appointment--a good, sound, pukka one. I believe you can do
anything you turn yourself to do. Will you help me?" Mrs. Hauksbee
thought for a minute, and passed the last of her riding-whip through
her lips, as was her custom when thinking. Then her eyes sparkled, and
she said:--"I will;" and she shook hands on it. Tarrion, having
perfect confidence in this great woman, took no further thought of the
business at all. Except to wonder what sort of an appointment he
Mrs. Hauksbee began calculating the prices of all the Heads of
Departments and Members of Council she knew, and the more she thought
the more she laughed, because her heart was in the game and it amused
her. Then she took a Civil List and ran over a few of the
appointments. There are some beautiful appointments in the Civil
List. Eventually, she decided that, though Tarrion was too good for
the Political Department, she had better begin by trying to get him in
there. What were her own plans to this end, does not matter in the
least, for Luck or Fate played into her hands, and she had nothing to
do but to watch the course of events and take the credit of them.
All Viceroys, when they first come out, pass through the
"Diplomatic Secrecy" craze. It wears off in time; but they all catch
it in the beginning, because they are new to the country. The
particular Viceroy who was suffering from the complaint just
then--this was a long time ago, before Lord Dufferin ever came from
Canada, or Lord Ripon from the bosom of the English Church--had it
very badly; and the result was that men who were new to keeping
official secrets went about looking unhappy; and the Viceroy plumed
himself on the way in which he had instilled notions of reticence
into his Staff.
Now, the Supreme Government have a careless custom of committing
what they do to printed papers. These papers deal with all sorts of
things--from the payment of Rs. 200 to a "secret service" native, up
to rebukes administered to Vakils and Motamids of Native States, and
rather brusque letters to Native Princes, telling them to put their
houses in order, to refrain from kidnapping women, or filling
offenders with pounded red pepper, and eccentricities of that kind.
Of course, these things could never be made public, because Native
Princes never err officially, and their States are, officially, as
well administered as Our territories. Also, the private allowances to
various queer people are not exactly matters to put into newspapers,
though they give quaint reading sometimes. When the Supreme Government
is at Simla, these papers are prepared there, and go round to the
people who ought to see them in office- boxes or by post. The
principle of secrecy was to that Viceroy quite as important as the
practice, and he held that a benevolent despotism like Ours should
never allow even little things, such as appointments of subordinate
clerks, to leak out till the proper time. He was always remarkable
for his principles.
There was a very important batch of papers in preparation at that
time. It had to travel from one end of Simla to the other by hand.
It was not put into an official envelope, but a large, square,
pale-pink one; the matter being in MS. on soft crinkley paper. It
was addressed to "The Head Clerk, etc., etc." Now, between "The Head
Clerk, etc., etc.," and "Mrs. Hauksbee" and a flourish, is no very
great difference if the address be written in a very bad hand, as this
was. The chaprassi who took the envelope was not more of an idiot
than most chaprassis. He merely forgot where this most unofficial
cover was to be delivered, and so asked the first Englishman he met,
who happened to be a man riding down to Annandale in a great hurry.
The Englishman hardly looked, said: "Hauksbee Sahib ki Mem," and went
on. So did the chaprasss, because that letter was the last in stock
and he wanted to get his work over. There was no book to sign; he
thrust the letter into Mrs. Hauksbee's bearer's hands and went off to
smoke with a friend. Mrs. Hauksbee was expecting some cut-out pattern
things in flimsy paper from a friend. As soon as she got the big
square packet, therefore, she said, "Oh, the DEAR creature!" and tore
it open with a paper-knife, and all the MS. enclosures tumbled out on
Mrs. Hauksbee began reading. I have said the batch was rather
important. That is quite enough for you to know. It referred to
some correspondence, two measures, a peremptory order to a native
chief and two dozen other things. Mrs. Hauksbee gasped as she read,
for the first glimpse of the naked machinery of the Great Indian
Government, stripped of its casings, and lacquer, and paint, and
guard-rails, impresses even the most stupid man. And Mrs. Hauksbee
was a clever woman. She was a little afraid at first, and felt as if
she had laid hold of a lightning-flash by the tail, and did not quite
know what to do with it. There were remarks and initials at the side
of the papers; and some of the remarks were rather more severe than
the papers. The initials belonged to men who are all dead or gone
now; but they were great in their day. Mrs. Hauksbee read on and
thought calmly as she read. Then the value of her trove struck her,
and she cast about for the best method of using it. Then Tarrion
dropped in, and they read through all the papers together, and
Tarrion, not knowing how she had come by them, vowed that Mrs.
Hauksbee was the greatest woman on earth. Which I believe was true, or
"The honest course is always the best," said Tarrion after an hour
and a half of study and conversation. "All things considered, the
Intelligence Branch is about my form. Either that or the Foreign
Office. I go to lay siege to the High Gods in their Temples."
He did not seek a little man, or a little big man, or a weak Head
of a strong Department, but he called on the biggest and strongest
man that the Government owned, and explained that he wanted an
appointment at Simla on a good salary. The compound insolence of
this amused the Strong Man, and, as he had nothing to do for the
moment, he listened to the proposals of the audacious Tarrion. "You
have, I presume, some special qualifications, besides the gift of
self-assertion, for the claims you put forwards?" said the Strong Man.
"That, Sir," said Tarrion, "is for you to judge." Then he began, for
he had a good memory, quoting a few of the more important notes in the
papers--slowly and one by one as a man drops chlorodyne into a glass.
When he had reached the peremptory order-- and it WAS a peremptory
order--the Strong Man was troubled.
Tarrion wound up:--"And I fancy that special knowledge of this kind
is at least as valuable for, let us say, a berth in the Foreign
Office, as the fact of being the nephew of a distingushed officer's
wife." That hit the Strong Man hard, for the last appointment to the
Foreign Office had been by black favor, and he knew it. "I'll see
what I can do for you," said the Strong Man. "Many thanks," said
Tarrion. Then he left, and the Strong Man departed to see how the
appointment was to be blocked.
. . . . . . . . .
Followed a pause of eleven days; with thunders and lightnings and
much telegraphing. The appointment was not a very important one,
carrying only between Rs. 500 and Rs. 700 a month; but, as the
Viceroy said, it was the principle of diplomatic secrecy that had to
be maintained, and it was more than likely that a boy so well supplied
with special information would be worth translating. So they
translated him. They must have suspected him, though he protested
that his information was due to singular talents of his own. Now,
much of this story, including the after-history of the missing
envelope, you must fill in for yourself, because there are reasons why
it cannot be written. If you do not know about things Up Above, you
won't understand how to fill it in, and you will say it is impossible.
What the Viceroy said when Tarrion was introduced to him was:--"So,
this is the boy who 'rusked' the Government of India, is it?
Recollect, Sir, that is not done TWICE." So he must have known
What Tarrion said when he saw his appointment gazetted was:--"If
Mrs. Hauksbee were twenty years younger, and I her husband, I should
be Viceroy of India in twenty years."
What Mrs. Hauksbee said, when Tarrion thanked her, almost with
tears in his eyes, was first:--"I told you so!" and next, to
herself:--"What fools men are!"