(July 16th to 22nd)

Format: Triple

…Then began a game of blind man’s buff around and between the fires, whereof Khuruk Shah has sung in verse that will not die…They tickled him gently under the armpit with the knife point. He leaped aside, screaming, only to feel a cold blade drawn lightly over the back of his neck, or a rifle muzzle rubbing his beard. He called upon his adherents to aid him, but most of these lay dead…


This is from “The Head of the District”, in Life’s Handicap. A Pathan tribe, led by a blind Mullah, has been rebelling against the British power, seizing the chance created by the ill-considered appointment of a fearful Bengali as District Officer. But the Mullah’s rival for the loyalty of the tribe respects the British, and has made alliance with the warlike Tallantire, the British Deputy District Officer. Once the the rising has been suppressed and the Bengali has fled, Tallantire is likely to take over. The tribe reject the Mullah, he is brutally killed, and order is restored.

‘… I come of land-holding stock …It were a disgrace to me to go to the public scaffold: therefore I take this way. Be it remembered that the Sahib’s shirts are correctly enumerated, and that there is an extra piece of soap in his washbasin. My child was bewitched, and I slew the wizard. Why should you seek to slay me with the rope ?’


This is from “The Return of Imray” in Life’s Handicap. After a ghostly presence has been felt in his old bungalow, Imray’s corpse has been found hidden above the ceiling cloth, in the roof. Imray had patted the child of his servant, Bahadur Khan, on the head, and soon after the child had died of fever. Bahadur Khan had believed that he must have put the evil eye on the child, and killed him. Here the servant cheats the scaffold by deliberately treading on a deadly snake.

‘…And I, being still blinded by her beauty for, O my friend, the women of the Abazai are very fair, said: “Hast thou no fear ?”. And she answered “None, but for the fear that I do not die”. Then, said I, “Have no fear”. And she bowed her head, and I smote it off at the neckbone, so that it leaped between my feet…’


This is from “Dray Wara Yow Dee”, in In Black and White.

An old Pathan horse dealer tells a tale of infidelity and revenge on the Frontier, in his youth.