`There is no room even for a mouse,' shrilled the wife of a well-to-do cultivator - a Hindu Jat from the rich Jullundur district. Our night trains are not as well looked after as the day ones, where the sexes are very strictly kept to separate carriages.

`Oh, mother of my son, we can make space,' said the blue-turbaned husband. `Pick up the child. It is a holy man, see'st thou?'

`And my lap full of seventy times seven bundles! Why not bid him sit on my knee, Shameless? But men are ever thus!' She looked round for approval. An Amritzar courtesan near the window sniffed behind her head drapery.

`Enter! Enter!' cried a fat Hindu money-lender, his folded account-book in a cloth under his arm. With an oily smirk: `It is well to be kind to the poor.'

`Ay, at seven per cent a month with a mortgage on the unborn calf,' said a young Dogra soldier going south on leave; and they all laughed.

`Will it travel to Benares?' said the lama.

`Assuredly. Else why should we come? Enter, or we are left,' cried Kim.

`See!' shrilled the Amritzar girl. `He has never entered a train. Oh, see!'

`Nay, help,' said the cultivator, putting out a large brown hand and hauling him in. `Thus is it done, father.'

`But - but - I sit on the floor. It is against the Rule to sit on a bench,' said the lama. `Moreover, it cramps me.'

`I say,' began the money-lender, pursing his lips, `that there is not one rule of right living which these te- rains do not cause us to break. We sit, for example, side by side with all castes and peoples.'

`Yea, and with most outrageously shameless ones,' said the wife, scowling at the Amritzar girl making eyes at the young sepoy.

`I said we might have gone by cart along the road,' said the husband, `and thus have saved some money.'

`Yes - and spent twice over what we saved on food by the way. That was talked out ten thousand times.'

`Ay, by ten thousand tongues,' grunted he.

`The Gods help us poor women if we may not speak. Oho! He is of that sort which may not look at or reply to a woman.' For the lama, constrained by his Rule, took not the faintest notice of her. `And his disciple is like him?'

`Nay, mother,' said Kim most promptly. `Not when the woman is well-looking and above all charitable to the hungry.'

`A beggar's answer,' said the Sikh, laughing. `Thou hast brought it on thyself, sister!' Kim's hands were crooked in supplication.

`And whither goest thou?' said the woman, handing him the half of a cake from a greasy package.

`Even to Benares.'

`Jugglers belike?' the young soldier suggested. `Have ye any tricks to pass the time? Why does not that yellow man answer?'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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