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A Holiday in the Happy Valley with Pen and Pencil

To be that rascal the Lord High Admiral Satarah


The

flowers all along our path to-day were much in evidence after the rain. Little prickly rose-bushes (_R. Webbiana_) were covered with pink blossoms just bursting into full glory; bushes of white may, yellow berberis, Daphne (_Oleoides?_), and many another flowering shrub grew in tangled profusion, while pimpernel (red and blue), a small androsace (_rotundifolia_), hawks-bit, stork's bill, wild geranium, a tiny mallow, eye-bright, forget-me-not, a little yellow oxalis, a speedwell, and many another, to me unknown, blossom starred the roadside. In the fields round Kunis the poppies flared, and the iris bordered the fields with a ribbon of royal purple.

We reached Kunis at two o'clock, and found the village half submerged, the water being up and over the low shores from the recent rain. Our boats were moored in a clump of willows, whose feet stood so deeply in the water that we had to embark on pony-back! After lunch came the usual difference of opinion with the Admiral, who seems to have great difficulty in grasping the fact that our will is law as to times and seasons for sailing. He always assumes the role of passive resister, and is always defeated with ignominy. He insisted that it was too late to think of reaching Bandipur, but we maintained that we could get at any rate part of the way; so he cast off from his willow-tree, and sulkily poked and poled out into the Wular, taking uncommon good care to hug the shore with fervour.

justify;">Here and there a group of willows standing far out into the lake, or a half-drowned village, drove us out into the open water, and once when, like a latter-day Vasco de Gama, the Admiral was striving to double the dreadful promontory of a water-logged fence, a puff of wind fell upon us, lashing the smooth water into ripples, whereupon the crew lost their wits with fright, and the lady mariners in the cook-boat set up a dismal howling; the ark, taking charge, crashed through the fence, her way carrying us to the very door of a frontier villa of an amphibious village. With amazing alacrity the crew tied us up to the door-post, and prepared to go into winter quarters.

This did not suit us at all, and

"The harmless storm being ended,"

we ruthlessly broke away from our haven of refuge, and safely arrived at Alsu.

_Friday, May_ 19.--An ominous stillness and repose at 3 o'clock this morning sent me forth to see why the windlass was not being manned. A thing like a big grey bat flapping about, proved, on inspection, to be that rascal the Lord High Admiral Satarah. He said he could not start, as the hired coolies from Kunis had been so terrified by the horrors of yesterday that they had departed in the night, sacrificing their pay rather than run any more risks with such daredevils as the mem-sahib and me. This was vexatious and entirely unexpected, as I had never before known a coolie to bolt before pay-day. Sabz Ali and Satarah were promptly despatched on a pressgang foray, while I put to sea with the first-lieutenant to show that I meant business. A crew was found in a surprisingly short time, and a frenzied dart was made for the mouth of the Jhelum.

All day we poled round the shore of the lake, over flooded fields where the mustard had spread its cloth of gold a short week ago, over the very hedges we had scrambled through when duck-shooting in April, until in the evening we entered the river just below Sumbal.


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