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George Orwell > Burmese Days > Chapter 6

Burmese Days

Chapter 6

The morning sunlight slanted up the maidan and struck, yellow as
goldleaf, against the white face of the bungalow. Four black-
purple crows swooped down and perched on the veranda rail, waiting
their chance to dart in and steal the bread and butter that Ko S'la
had set down beside Flory's bed. Flory crawled through the
mosquito net, shouted to Ko S'la to bring him some gin, and then
went into the bathroom and sat for a while in a zinc tub of water
that was supposed to be cold. Feeling better after the gin, he
shaved himself. As a rule he put off shaving until the evening,
for his beard was black and grew quickly.

While Flory was sitting morosely in his bath, Mr Macgregor, in
shorts and singlet on the bamboo mat laid for the purpose in his
bedroom, was struggling with Numbers 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of
Nordenflycht's 'Physical Jerks for the Sedentary'. Mr Macgregor
never, or hardly ever, missed his morning exercises. Number 8
(flat on the back, raise legs to the perpendicular without bending
knees) was downright painful for a man of forty-three; Number 9
(flat on the back, rise to a sitting posture and touch toes with
tips of fingers) was even worse. No matter, one must keep fit! As
Mr Macgregor lunged painfully in the direction of his toes, a
brick-red shade flowed upwards from his neck and congested his face
with a threat of apoplexy. The sweat gleamed on his large, tallowy
breasts. Stick it out, stick it out! At all costs one must keep
fit. Mohammed Ali, the bearer, with Mr Macgregor's clean clothes
across his arm, watched through the half-open door. His narrow,
yellow, Arabian face expressed neither comprehension nor curiosity.
He had watched these contortions--a sacrifice, he dimly imagined,
to some mysterious and exacting god--every morning for five years.

At the same time, too, Westfield, who had gone out early, was
leaning against the notched and ink-stained table of the police
station, while the fat Sub-inspector interrogated a suspect whom
two constables were guarding. The suspect was a man of forty, with
a grey, timorous face, dressed only in a ragged longyi kilted to
the knee, beneath which his lank, curved shins were speckled with

'Who is this fellow?' said Westfield.

'Thief, sir. We catch him in possession of this ring with two
emeralds very-dear. No explanation. How could he--poor coolie--
own a emerald ring? He have stole it.'

He turned ferociously upon the suspect, advanced his face tomcat-
fashion till it was almost touching the other's, and roared in an
enormous voice:

'You stole the ring!'


'You are an old offender!'


'You have been in prison!'


'Turn round!' bellowed the Sub-inspector on an inspiration. 'Bend

The suspect turned his grey face in agony towards Westfield, who
looked away. The two constables seized him, twisted him round and
bent him over; the Sub-inspector tore off his longyi, exposing his

'Look at this, sir!' He pointed to some scars. 'He have been
flogged with bamboos. He is an old offender. THEREFORE he stole
the ring!'

'All right, put him in the clink,' said Westfield moodily, as he
lounged away from the table with his hands in his pockets. At the
bottom of his heart he loathed running in these poor devils of
common thieves. Dacoits, rebels--yes; but not these poor cringing
rats! 'How many have you got in the clink now, Maung Ba?' he said.

'Three, sir.'

The lock-up was upstairs, a cage surrounded by six-inch wooden
bars, guarded by a constable armed with a carbine. It was very
dark, stifling hot, and quite unfurnished, except for an earth
latrine that stank to heaven. Two prisoners were squatting at the
bars, keeping their distance from a third, an Indian coolie, who
was covered from head to foot with ringworm like a coat of mail. A
stout Burmese woman, wife of a constable, was kneeling outside the
cage ladling rice and watery dahl into tin pannikins.

'Is the food good?' said Westfield.

'It is good, most holy one,' chorused the prisoners.

The Government provided for the prisoners' food at the rate of two
annas and a half per meal per man, out of which the constable's
wife looked to make a profit of one anna.

Flory went outside and loitered down the compound, poking weeds
into the ground with his stick. At that hour there were beautiful
faint colours in everything--tender green of leaves, pinkish brown
of earth and tree-trunks--like aquarelle washes that would vanish
in the later glare. Down on the maidan flights of small, low-
flying brown doves chased one another to and fro, and bee-eaters,
emerald-green, curvetted like slow swallows. A file of sweepers,
each with his load half hidden beneath his garment, were marching
to some dreadful dumping-hole that existed on the edge of the
jungle. Starveling wretches, with stick-like limbs and knees too
feeble to be straightened, draped in earth-coloured rags, they were
like a procession of shrouded skeletons walking.

The mali was breaking ground for a new flower-bed, down by the
pigeon-cote that stood near the gate. He was a lymphatic, half-
witted Hindu youth, who lived his life in almost complete silence,
because he spoke some Manipur dialect which nobody else understood,
not even his Zerbadi wife. His tongue was also a size too large
for his mouth. He salaamed low to Flory, covering his face with
his hand, then swung his mamootie aloft again and hacked at the dry
ground with heavy, clumsy strokes, his tender back-muscles quivering.

A sharp grating scream that sounded like 'Kwaaa!' came from the
servants quarters. Ko S'la's wives had begun their morning
quarrel. The tame fighting cock, called Nero, strutted zigzag down
the path, nervous of Flo, and Ba Pe came out with a bowl of paddy
and they fed Nero and the pigeons. There were more yells from the
servants' quarters, and the gruffer voices of men trying to stop
the quarrel. Ko S'la suffered a great deal from his wives. Ma Pu,
the first wife, was a gaunt hard-faced woman, stringy from much
child-bearing, and Ma Yi, the 'little wife', was a fat, lazy cat
some years younger. The two women fought incessantly when Flory
was in headquarters and they were together. Once when Ma Pu was
chasing Ko S'la with a bamboo, he had dodged behind Flory for
protection, and Flory had received a nasty blow on the leg.

Mr Macgregor was coming up the road, striding briskly and swinging
a thick walking-stick. He was dressed in khaki pagri-cloth shirt,
drill shorts and a pigsticker topi. Besides his exercises, he took
a brisk two-mile walk every morning when he could spare the time.

'Top o' the mornin' to ye!' he called to Flory in a hearty
matutinal voice, putting on an Irish accent. He cultivated a
brisk, invigorating, cold-bath demeanour at this hour of the
morning. Moreover, the libellous article in the Burmese Patriot,
which he had read overnight, had hurt him, and he was affecting a
special cheeriness to conceal this.

'Morning!' Flory called back as heartily as he could manage.

Nasty old bladder of lard! he thought, watching Mr Macgregor up the
road. How his bottom did stick out in those tight khaki shorts.
Like one of those beastly middle-aged scoutmasters, homosexuals
almost to a man, that you see photographs of in the illustrated
papers. Dressing himself up in those ridiculous clothes and
exposing his pudgy, dimpled knees, because it is the pukka sahib
thing to take exercise before breakfast--disgusting!

A Burman came up the hill, a splash of white and magenta. It was
Flory's clerk, coming from the tiny office, which was not far from
the church. Reaching the gate, he shikoed and presented a grimy
envelope, stamped Burmese-fashion on the point of the flap.

'Good morning, sir.'

'Good morning. What's this thing?'

'Local letter, your honour. Come this morning's post. Anonymous
letter, I think, sir.'

'Oh bother. All right, I'll be down to the office about eleven.'

Flory opened the letter. It was written on a sheet of foolscap,
and it ran:


SIR,--I the undersigned beg to suggest and WARN to your honour
certain useful pieces of information whereby your honour will be
much profited, sir.

Sir, it has been remarked in Kyauktada your honour's great
friendship and intimacy with Dr Veraswami, the Civil Surgeon,
frequenting with him, inviting him to your house, etc. Sir, we beg
to inform you that the said Dr Veraswami is NOT A GOOD MAN and in
no ways a worthy friend of European gentlemen. The doctor is
eminently dishonest, disloyal and corrupt public servant. Coloured
water is he providing to patients at the hospital and selling drugs
for own profit, besides many bribes, extortions, etc. Two
prisoners has he flogged with bamboos, afterwards rubbing chilis
into the place if relatives do not send money. Besides this he is
implicated with the Nationalist Party and lately provided material
for a very evil article which appeared in the Burmese Patriot
attacking Mr Macgregor, the honoured Deputy Commissioner.

He is also sleeping by force with female patients at the hospital.

Wherefore we are much hoping that your honour will ESCHEW same Dr
Veraswami and not consort with persons who can bring nothing but
evil upon your honour.

And shall ever pray for your honour's long health and prosperity.

(Signed) A FRIEND.

The letter was written in the shaky round hand of the bazaar
letter-writer, which resembled a copybook exercise written by a
drunkard. The letter-writer, however, would never have risen to
such a word as 'eschew'. The letter must have been dictated by a
clerk, and no doubt it came ultimately from U Po Kyin. From 'the
crocodile', Flory reflected.

He did not like the tone of the letter. Under its appearance of
servility it was obviously a covert threat. 'Drop the doctor or we
will make it hot for you', was what it said in effect. Not that
that mattered greatly; no Englishman ever feels himself in real
danger from an Oriental.

Flory hesitated with the letter in his hands. There are two things
one can do with an anonymous letter. One can say nothing about it,
or one can show it to the person whom it concerns. The obvious,
the decent course was to give the letter to Dr Veraswami and let
him take what action he chose.

And yet--it was safer to keep out of this business altogether. It
is so important (perhaps the most important of all the Ten Precepts
of the pukka sahib) not to entangle oneself in 'native' quarrels.
With Indians there must be no loyalty, no real friendship.
Affection, even love--yes. Englishmen do often love Indians--
native officers, forest rangers, hunters, clerks, servants. Sepoys
will weep like children when their colonel retires. Even intimacy
is allowable, at the right moments. But alliance, partisanship,
never! Even to know the rights and wrongs of a 'native' quarrel is
a loss of prestige.

If he published the letter there would be a row and an official
inquiry, and, in effect, he would have thrown in his lot with the
doctor against U Po Kyin. U Po Kyin did not matter, but there were
the Europeans; if he, Flory, were too conspicuously the doctor's
partisan, there might be hell to pay. Much better to pretend that
the letter had never reached him. The doctor was a good fellow,
but as to championing him against the full fury of pukka sahibdom--
ah, no, no! What shall it profit a man if he save his own soul and
lose the whole world? Flory began to tear the letter across. The
danger of making it public was very slight, very nebulous. But one
must beware of the nebulous dangers in India. Prestige, the breath
of life, is itself nebulous. He carefully tore the letter into
small pieces and threw them over the gate.

At this moment there was a terrified scream, quite different from
the voices of Ko S'la's wives. The mali lowered his mamootie and
gaped in the direction of the sound, and Ko S'la, who had also
heard it, came running bareheaded from the servants' quarters,
while Flo sprang to her feet and yapped sharply. The scream was
repeated. It came from the jungle behind the house, and it was an
English voice, a woman's, crying out in terror.

There was no way out of the compound by the back. Flory scrambled
over the gate and came down with his knee bleeding from a splinter.
He ran round the compound fence and into the jungle, Flo following.
Just behind the house, beyond the first fringe of bushes, there was
a small hollow, which, as there was a pool of stagnant water in it,
was frequented by buffaloes from Nyaunglebin. Flory pushed his way
through the bushes. In the hollow an English girl, chalk-faced,
was cowering against a bush, while a huge buffalo menaced her with
its crescent-shaped horns. A hairy calf, no doubt the cause of the
trouble, stood behind. Another buffalo, neck-deep in the slime of
the pool, looked on with mild prehistoric face, wondering what was
the matter.

The girl turned an agonized face to Flory as he appeared. 'Oh, do
be quick!' she cried, in the angry, urgent tone of people who are
frightened. 'Please! Help me! Help me!'

Flory was too astonished to ask any questions. He hastened towards
her, and, in default of a stick, smacked the buffalo sharply on the
nose. With a timid, loutish movement the great beast turned aside,
then lumbered off followed by the calf. The other buffalo also
extricated itself from the slime and lolloped away. The girl threw
herself against Flory, almost into his arms, quite overcome by her

'Oh, thank you, thank you! Oh, those dreadful things! What ARE
they? I thought they were going to kill me. What horrible
creatures! What ARE they?'

They're only water-buffaloes. They come from the village up


'Not wild buffaloes--bison, we call those. They're just a kind of
cattle the Burmans keep. I say, they've given you a nasty shock.
I'm sorry.'

She was still clinging closely to his arm, and he could feel her
shaking. He looked down, but he could not see her face, only the
top of her head, hatless, with yellow hair as short as a boy's.
And he could see one of the hands on his arm. It was long,
slender, youthful, with the mottled wrist of a schoolgirl. It was
several years since he had seen such a hand. He became conscious
of the soft, youthful body pressed against his own, and the warmth
breathing out of it; whereat something seemed to thaw and grow warm
within him.

'It's all right, they're gone,' he said. 'There's nothing to be
frightened of.'

The girl was recovering from her fright, and she stood a little
away from him, with one hand still on his arm. 'I'm all right,'
she said. 'It's nothing. I'm not hurt. They didn't touch me. It
was only their looking so awful.'

'They're quite harmless really. Their horns are set so far back
that they can't gore you. They're very stupid brutes. They only
pretend to show fight when they've got calves.'

They had stood apart now, and a slight embarrassment came over them
both immediately. Flory had already turned himself sidelong to
keep his birthmarked cheek away from her. He said:

'I say, this is a queer sort of introduction! I haven't asked yet
how you got here. Wherever did you come from--if it's not rude to

'I just came out of my uncle's garden. It seemed such a nice
morning, I thought I'd go for a walk. And then those dreadful
things came after me. I'm quite new to this country, you see.'

'Your uncle? Oh, of course! You're Mr Lackersteen's niece. We
heard you were coming. I say, shall we get out on to the maidan?
There'll be a path somewhere. What a start for your first morning
in Kyauktada! This'll give you rather a bad impression of Burma,
I'm afraid.'

'Oh no; only it's all rather strange. How thick these bushes grow!
All kind of twisted together and foreign-looking. You could get
lost here in a moment. Is that what they call jungle?'

'Scrub jungle. Burma's mostly jungle--a green, unpleasant land, I
call it. I wouldn't walk through that grass if I were you. The
seeds get into your stockings and work their way into your skin.'

He let the girl walk ahead of him, feeling easier when she could
not see his face. She was tallish for a girl, slender, and wearing
a lilac-coloured cotton frock. From the way she moved her limbs he
did not think she could be much past twenty. He had not noticed
her face yet, except to see that she wore round tortoise-shell
spectacles, and that her hair was as short as his own. He had
never seen a woman with cropped hair before, except in the
illustrated papers.

As they emerged on to the maidan he stepped level with her, and she
turned to face him. Her face was oval, with delicate, regular
features; not beautiful, perhaps, but it seemed so there, in Burma,
where all Englishwomen are yellow and thin. He turned his head
sharply aside, though the birthmark was away from her. He could
not bear her to see his worn face too closely. He seemed to feel
the withered skin round his eyes as though it had been a wound.
But he remembered that he had shaved that morning, and it gave him
courage. He said:

'I say, you must be a bit shaken up after this business. Would you
like to come into my place and rest a few minutes before you go
home? It's rather late to be out of doors without a hat, too.'

'Oh, thank you, I would,' the girl said. She could not, he
thought, know anything about Indian notions of propriety. 'Is this
your house here?'

'Yes. We must go round the front way. I'll have the servants get
a sunshade for you. This sun's dangerous for you, with your short

They walked up the garden path. Flo was frisking round them and
trying to draw attention to herself. She always barked at strange
Orientals, but she liked the smell of a European. The sun was
growing stronger. A wave of blackcurrant scent flowed from the
petunias beside the path, and one of the pigeons fluttered to the
earth, to spring immediately into the air again as Flo made a grab
at it. Flory and the girl stopped with one consent, to look at the
flowers. A pang of unreasonable happiness had gone through them

'You really mustn't go out in this sun without a hat on,' he
repeated, and somehow there was an intimacy in saying it. He could
not help referring to her short hair somehow, it seemed to him so
beautiful. To speak of it was like touching it with his hand.

'Look, your knee's bleeding,' the girl said. 'Did you do that when
you were coming to help me?'

There was a slight trickle of blood, which was drying, purple, on
his khaki stocking. 'It's nothing,' he said, but neither of them
felt at that moment that it was nothing. They began chattering
with extraordinary eagerness about the flowers. The girl 'adored'
flowers, she said. And Flory led her up the path, talking
garrulously about one plant and another.

'Look how these phloxes grow. They go on blooming for six months
in this country. They can't get too much sun. I think those
yellow ones must be almost the colour of primroses. I haven't seen
a primrose for fifteen years, nor a wallflower, either. Those
zinnias are fine, aren't they?--like painted flowers, with those
wonderful dead colours. These are African marigolds. They're
coarse things, weeds almost, but you can't help liking them,
they're so vivid and strong. Indians have an extraordinary
affection for them; wherever Indians have been you find marigolds
growing, even years afterwards when the jungle has buried every
other trace of them. But I wish you'd come into the veranda and
see the orchids. I've some I must show that are just like bells of
gold--but literally like gold. And they smell of honey, almost
overpoweringly. That's about the only merit of this beastly
country, it's good for flowers. I hope you're fond of gardening?
It's our greatest consolation, in this country.'

'Oh, I simply adore gardening,' the girl said.

They went into the veranda. Ko S'la had hurriedly put on his ingyi
and his best pink silk gaungbaung, and he appeared from within the
house with a tray on which were a decanter of gin, glasses and a
box of cigarettes. He laid them on the table, and, eyeing the girl
half apprehensively, put his hands flat together and shikoed.

'I expect it's no use offering you a drink at this hour of the
morning?' Flory said. 'I can never get it into my servant's head
that SOME people can exist without gin before breakfast.'

He added himself to the number by waving away the drink Ko S'la
offered him. The girl had sat down in the wicker chair that Ko
S'la had set out for her at the end of the veranda. The dark-
leaved orchids hung behind her head, with gold trusses of blossom,
breathing out warm honey-scent. Flory was standing against the
veranda rail, half facing the girl, but keeping his birthmarked
cheek hidden.

'What a perfectly divine view you have from here,' she said as she
looked down the hillside.

'Yes, isn't it? Splendid, in this yellow light, before the sun
gets going. I love that sombre yellow colour the maidan has, and
those gold mohur trees, like blobs of crimson. And those hills at
the horizon, almost black. My camp is on the other side of those
hills,' he added.

The girl, who was long-sighted, took off her spectacles to look
into the distance. He noticed that her eyes were very clear pale
blue, paler than a harebell. And he noticed the smoothness of the
skin round her eyes, like a petal, almost. It reminded him of his
age and his haggard face again, so that he turned a little more
away from her. But he said on impulse:

'I say, what a bit of luck you coming to Kyauktada! You can't
imagine the difference it makes to us to see a new face in these
places. After months of our own miserable society, and an
occasional official on his rounds and American globe-trotters
skipping up the Irrawaddy with cameras. I suppose you've come
straight from England?'

'Well, not England exactly. I was living in Paris before I came
out here. My mother was an artist, you see.'

'Paris! Have you really lived in Paris? By Jove, just fancy
coming from Paris to Kyauktada! Do you know, it's positively
difficult, in a hole like this, to believe that there ARE such
places as Paris.'

'Do you like Paris?' she said.

'I've never even seen it. But, good Lord, how I've imagined it!
Paris--it's all a kind of jumble of pictures in my mind; cafes and
boulevards and artists' studios and Villon and Baudelaire and
Maupassant all mixed up together. You don't know how the names of
those European towns sound to us, out here. And did you really
live in Paris? Sitting in cafes with foreign art students,
drinking white wine and talking about Marcel Proust?'

'Oh, that kind of thing, I suppose,' said the girl, laughing.

'What differences you'll find here! It's not white wine and Marcel
Proust here. Whisky and Edgar Wallace more likely. But if you
ever want books, you might find something you liked among mine.
There's nothing but tripe in the Club library. But of course I'm
hopelessly behind the times with my books. I expect you'll have
read everything under the sun.'

'Oh no. But of course I simply adore reading,' the girl said.

'What it means to meet somebody who cares for books! I mean books
worth reading, not that garbage in the Club libraries. I do hope
you'll forgive me if I overwhelm you with talk. When I meet
somebody who's heard that books exist, I'm afraid I go off like a
bottle of warm beer. It's a fault you have to pardon in these

'Oh, but I love talking about books. I think reading is so
wonderful. I mean, what would life be without it? It's such a--
such a--'

'Such a private Alsatia. Yes--'

They plunged into an enormous and eager conversation, first about
books, then about shooting, in which the girl seemed to have an
interest and about which she persuaded Flory to talk. She was
quite thrilled when he described the murder of an elephant which he
had perpetrated some years earlier. Flory scarcely noticed, and
perhaps the girl did not either, that it was he who did all the
talking. He could not stop himself, the joy of chattering was so
great. And the girl was in a mood to listen. After all, he had
saved her from the buffalo, and she did not yet believe that those
monstrous brutes could be harmless; for the moment he was almost a
hero in her eyes. When one does get any credit in this life, it is
usually for something that one has not done. It was one of those
times when the conversation flows so easily, so naturally, that one
could go on talking forever. But suddenly, their pleasure
evaporated, they started and fell silent. They had noticed that
they were no longer alone.

At the other end of the veranda, between the rails, a coal-black
moustachioed face was peeping with enormous curiosity. It belonged
to old Sammy, the 'Mug' cook. Behind him stood Ma Pu, Ma Yi, Ko
S'la's four eldest children, an unclaimed naked child, and two old
women who had come down from the village upon the news that an
'Ingaleikma' was on view. Like carved teak statues with footlong
cigars stuck in their wooden faces, the two old creatures gazed at
the 'Ingaleikma' as English yokels might gaze at a Zulu warrior in
full regalia.

'Those people . . .' the girl said uncomfortably, looking towards

Sammy, seeing himself detected, looked very guilty and pretended to
be rearranging his pagri. The rest of the audience were a little
abashed, except for the two wooden-faced old women.

'Dash their cheek!' Flory said. A cold pang of disappointment went
through him. After all, it would not do for the girl to stay on
his veranda any longer. Simultaneously both he and she had
remembered that they were total strangers. Her face had turned a
little pink. She began putting on her spectacles.

'I'm afraid an English girl is rather a novelty to these people,'
he said. 'They don't mean any harm. Go away!' he added angrily,
waving his hand at the audience, whereupon they vanished.

'Do you know, if you don't mind, I think I ought to be going,' the
girl said. She had stood up. 'I've been out quite a long time.
They may be wondering where I've got to.'

'Must you really? It's quite early. I'll see that you don't have
to go home bareheaded in the sun.'

'I ought really--' she began again.

She stopped, looking at the doorway. Ma Hla May was emerging on to
the veranda.

Ma Hla May came forward with her hand on her hip. She had come
from within the house, with a calm air that asserted her right to
be there. The two girls stood face to face, less than six feet

No contrast could have been stranger; the one faintly coloured as
an apple-blossom, the other dark and garish, with a gleam almost
metallic on her cylinder of ebony hair and the salmon-pink silk of
her longyi. Flory thought he had never noticed before how dark Ma
Hla May's face was, and how outlandish her tiny, stiff body,
straight as a soldier's, with not a curve in it except the vase-
like curve of her hips. He stood against the veranda rail and
watched the two girls, quite disregarded. For the best part of a
minute neither of them could take her eyes from the other; but
which found the spectacle more grotesque, more incredible, there is
no saying.

Ma Hla May turned her face round to Flory, with her black brows,
thin as pencil lines, drawn together. 'Who is this woman?' she
demanded sullenly.

He answered casually, as though giving an order to a servant:

'Go away this instant. If you make any trouble I will afterwards
take a bamboo and beat you till not one of your ribs is whole.'

Ma Hla May hesitated, shrugged her small shoulders and disappeared.
And the other, gazing after her, said curiously:

'Was that a man or a woman?'

'A woman,' he said. 'One of the servants' wives, I believe. She
came to ask about the laundry, that was all.'

'Oh, is THAT what Burmese women are like? They ARE queer little
creatures! I saw a lot of them on my way up here in the train, but
do you know, I thought they were all boys. They're just like a
kind of Dutch doll, aren't they?'

She had begun to move towards the veranda steps, having lost
interest in Ma Hla May now that she had disappeared. He did not
stop her, for he thought Ma Hla May quite capable of coming back
and making a scene. Not that it mattered much, for neither girl
knew a word of the other's language. He called to Ko S'la, and Ko
S'la came running with a big oiled-silk umbrella with bamboo ribs.
He opened it respectfully at the foot of the steps and held it over
the girl's head as she came down. Flory went with them as far as
the gate. They stopped to shake hands, he turning a little
sideways in the strong sunlight, hiding his birthmark.

'My fellow here will see you home. It was ever so kind of you to
come in. I can't tell you how glad I am to have met you. You'll
make such a difference to us here in Kyauktada.'

'Good-bye, Mr--oh, how funny! I don't even know your name.'

'Flory, John Flory. And yours--Miss Lackersteen, is it?'

'Yes. Elizabeth. Good-bye, Mr Flory. And thank you EVER so much.
That awful buffalo. You quite saved my life.'

'It was nothing. I hope I shall see you at the Club this evening?
I expect your uncle and aunt will be coming down. Good-bye for the
time being, then.'

He stood at the gate, watching them as they went. Elizabeth--
lovely name, too rare nowadays. He hoped she spelt it with a Z.
Ko S'la trotted after her at a queer uncomfortable gait, reaching
the umbrella over her head and keeping his body as far away from
her as possible. A cool breath of wind blew up the hill. It was
one of those momentary winds that blow sometimes in the cold
weather in Burma, coming from nowhere, filling one with thirst and
with nostalgia for cold sea-pools, embraces of mermaids, waterfalls,
caves of ice. It rustled through the wide domes of the gold mohur
trees, and fluttered the fragments of the anonymous letter that
Flory had thrown over the gate half an hour earlier.

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