Quotes Strange Gods

June 18th to 24th


‘I am going back to my own people,’ said she. ‘You have killed Lispeth. There is only left old Jadéh’s daughter-the daughter of a pabari and the servant of Tarka Devi. You are all liars, you English.’

… ‘There is no law whereby you can account for the vagaries of the heathen,’ said the Chaplain’s wife, ‘


This us frpm “Lispeth”  the first of the Plain Tales from the Hills.

Lispeth was a Hill girl who was left at a mission as a baby in time of famine. She grows up, finds an Englishman suffering from fever on the road, and takes him to the mission, announcing that she will nurse him back to health and then marry him.

He flirts with her and leaves. When she finds that he has no intention of marrying her, she leaves the mission and returns to her own people

The Collector, his wife, and Gallio climbed the hill to the Mission-station. The converts were drawn up in two lines, a shining band nearly forty strong. ‘Hah!’ said the Collector, whose acquisitive bent of mind led him to believe that he had fostered the institution from the first. ‘Advancing, I see, by leaps and bounds.’

Never was truer word spoken! The Mission was advancing exactly as he had said—at first by little hops and shuffles of shamefaced uneasiness, but soon by the leaps of fly-stung horses and the bounds of maddened kangaroos


This is from The Judgement of Dungara,, collected in Soldiers Three and Other Stories.

A well meaning German has set up a Ghristian mission in remote hill country  to save the people from their belief in  the local  god Dingara.  They make many converts among young women  and decide to show them off to the Collector, the official who governs the area.

The converts are all to be clad  in in new white dresses, and Athol  Daze,  the priest of Dunfata  suggests that they be  woven from plant that grows on  hillsides.  But on the great day, in front of the Collector,  they start to writhe in agony, strip, and rush into the river. The garments have been made of a poisonous fibre.

Athon Dazé declares that this is the judgement of Dungara, and they never some back  to the Mission.

a Silver Man came out of a recess behind the image of the god. He was perfectly naked in that bitter, bitter cold, and his body shone like frosted silver, for he was what the Bible calls ‘a leper as white as snow.’

…  the Silver Man ran in under our arms, making a noise exactly like the mewing of an otter, caught Fleete round the body and dropped his head on Fleete’s breast


This is from “The Mark f the Beast“, an early tale, greeted by the London critics  with horror and revulsion.

Fleete  gets drunk at the Club on New Year’s Eve, and on the way home desecrates a temple of Hanuman  by stubbing out his cigar on the image of the God. A priest, who is a leper, clasps Fleete to him, and bites him on the breast, leaving a livid mark.

Soon after, Fleete starts to behave like a man possessed, gnawing raw meat, grovelling in the earth of the garden, and howling like a wolf. The doctor thinks he is dying of rabies, but Strickland knows better. He  and the strort-teller capture  the leper priest and force him   to take off the spell.