Isaacs spoke a few words in a low voice to the jemadar at the door, and we were admitted into a small room in the side of the house, opening, as all rooms do in India, on to the verandah. There were low wooden charpoys around the walls, and we sat down, waiting till the maharajah should be advised of our arrival.
Ask the Tehsildar of Rohestri how the hen-stealing came to be known, Sahib. It fell upon a night that we of the Thana slept according to custom upon our charpoys, having eaten the evening meal and drunk tobacco. When we awoke in the morning, behold, of our six rifles not one remained! Also, the big Police-book that was in the Havildar's charge was gone.
After looking round the fortress and admiring the skill and knowledge with which it was built, we were conducted by the khan to the shade of some beautiful chenar trees, which grew near a little spring not far from the walls of the fort. Here were a number of charpoys, or native bedsteads, very comfortable, but usually full of bugs, and on these we sat.
Inside the shed, reclining on their charpoys, the men continued their performance, changing their song, though not, as it seemed to Desmond, the tune. He, however, was perhaps not sufficiently attentive to the monotonous strains; for, as soon as the warder had left the yard, he had unlocked his fetters and begun to work in the darkness.
We had wandered off the main thoroughfare, where the trams, hurtling past the Irani's tea shop, drown from time to time the chatter of Khoda Behram's clientele; and skirting a group of Mahomedans who nightly sit in solemn conclave, some on the 'otlas, others on charpoys or chairs placed well in the fairway of traffic, we reached at length a sombre and narrow 'gali, seemingly untenanted save by the shadows.
However at this stage we were introduced to mainly Indian words, charpoys for rope beds, chatties for unglazed urns, pani for water, jaldi for quick and many, many more. We met some of the regular army characters who had spent years in India and gleaned snippets of information from them. Were there any poisonous creatures around? Well, yes, scorpions for one thing. What about snakes?
Surendra Nath Chuckerbutti glanced anxiously around, as if fearful that the others might understand. But they lay listless on their charpoys; they knew no English, and there was nothing in Desmond's tone to quicken their hopelessness. "No, sahib," said the Bengali; "such escapade, if successful, is beyond my ken. There have been attempts; cui bono? Nobody is an anna the better.
During our short stay draft RDGFA suffered its first casualty, Cfn Love was whisked off to hospital and later succumbed to a brain tumour. Our accommodation was in long huts that in memory appeared to be permanent; we found the charpoys quite comfortable and the bell-shaped mosquito nets that dangled from the ceiling gave us uninterrupted nights.
Bit of a job, isn't it?" "We'll manage all right," replied the young host. "I told the servants to spread all the mattresses and charpoys that they could raise anywhere out on the verandah and in the spare rooms. I'm short of mosquito curtains, though. Some of you will get badly bitten tonight." "I'll go to old Parr's bungalow and steal his," said Granger.
Putting a couple of charpoys outside, we managed a few hours' sleep AL FRESCO, in spite of the flies and mosquitoes innumerable, who lost no time in taking possession of their new property.