Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
Pagett, M.P.
 
 The toad beneath the harrow knows
Exactly where each tooth-point goes;
The butterfly upon the road
Preaches contentment to that toad.

PAGETT, M.P., was a liar, and a fluent liar therewith,—
He spoke of the heat of India as “The Asian Solar Myth”;
Came on a four months’ visit, to “study the East” in November,
And I got him to make an agreement vowing to stay till September.
 
March came in with the köil. Pagett was cool and gay,        5
Called me a “bloated Brahmin,” talked of my “princely pay.”
March went out with the roses. “Where is your heat?” said he.
“Coming,” said I to Pagett. “Skittles!” said Pagett, M.P.
 
April began with the punkah, coolies, and prickly-heat,—
Pagett was dear to mosquitoes, sandflies found him a treat.        10
He grew speckled and lumpy—hammered, I grieve to say,
Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.
 
May set in with a dust-storm,—Pagett went down with the sun.
All the delights of the season tickled him one by one.
Imprimis—ten days’ “liver”—due to his drinking beer;        15
Later, a dose of fever—slight, but he called it severe.
 
Dysent’ry touched him in June, after the Chota Bursat 1
Lowered his portly person—made him yearn to depart.
He didn’t call me a “Brahmin,” or “bloated,” or “overpaid,”
But seemed to think it a wonder that any one ever stayed.        20
 
July was a trifle unhealthy,—Pagett was ill with fear,
Called it the “Cholera Morbus,” hinted that life was dear.
He babbled of “Eastern exile,” and mentioned his home with tears;
But I hadn’t seen my children for close upon seven years.
 
We reached a hundred and twenty once in the Court at noon,        25
[I’ve mentioned Pagett was portly] Pagett went off in a swoon.
That was an end to the business. Pagett, the perjured, fled
With a practical, working knowledge of “Solar Myths” in his head.
 
And I laughed as I drove from the station, but the mirth died out on my lips
As I thought of the fools like Pagett who write of their “Eastern trips,”        30
And the sneers of the travelled idiots who duly misgovern the land,
And I prayed to the Lord to deliver another one into my hand.
 
Note 1. The early rains. [back]
 
 
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