"The old woman," he said softly, "made a to-do over me as if I had been her own son. They put me into an immense bed her state bed and she ran in and out wiping her eyes to give me pats on the back. I must have been a pitiful object. I just lay there like a log for I don't know how long." 'He seemed to have a great liking for Doramin's old wife. She on her side had taken a motherly fancy to him.
Without the weight of Doramin's authority, and his son's fiery enthusiasm, he would have failed. Dain Waris, the distinguished youth, was the first to believe in him; theirs was one of those strange, profound, rare friendships between brown and white, in which the very difference of race seems to draw two human beings closer by some mystic element of sympathy.
'But it had been taken, though. That had been his idea. He had mounted Doramin's old ordnance on the top of that hill; two rusty iron 7-pounders, a lot of small brass cannon currency cannon. But if the brass guns represent wealth, they can also, when crammed recklessly to the muzzle, send a solid shot to some little distance. The thing was to get them up there.
Four men carried it in, covered decently with a white sheet which the old mother had sent out down to the gate to meet her son on his return. They laid him at Doramin's feet, and the old man sat still for a long time, one hand on each knee, looking down. The fronds of palms swayed gently, and the foliage of fruit trees stirred above his head.
But everything redounded to his glory; and it was the irony of his good fortune that he, who had been too careful of it once, seemed to bear a charmed life. 'You must know he had left Doramin's place very soon after his arrival much too soon, in fact, for his safety, and of course a long time before the war.
They had simply let him go don't you know? but he couldn't stand. At the foot of the slope random shots were fired, and above the roofs of the settlement there rose a dull roar of amazement. But he was safe. Doramin's people were barricading the gate and pouring water down his throat; Doramin's old wife, full of business and commiseration, was issuing shrill orders to her girls.
"Forgive me," he cried. "Never! Never!" she called back. 'Tamb' Itam took the paddle from Jim's hands, it being unseemly that he should sit while his lord paddled. When they reached the other shore his master forbade him to come any farther; but Tamb' Itam did follow him at a distance, walking up the slope to Doramin's campong. 'It was beginning to grow dark. Torches twinkled here and there.
A sense of utter insecurity as during an earthquake pervaded the minds of men, who whispered their suspicions, looking at each other as if in the presence of some awful portent. 'The sun was sinking towards the forests when Dain Waris's body was brought into Doramin's campong.
Jim as far as I could follow the conversation was improving the occasion by the delivery of a lecture. Some poor villagers had been waylaid and robbed while on their way to Doramin's house with a few pieces of gum or beeswax which they wished to exchange for rice. "It was Doramin who was a thief," burst out the Rajah. A shaking fury seemed to enter that old frail body.
"Not so angry as many," he said to me, but struck with a great awe and wonder at the "suddenness of men's fate, which hangs over their heads like a cloud charged with thunder." He told me that when Dain Waris's body was uncovered at a sign of Doramin's, he whom they often called the white lord's friend was disclosed lying unchanged with his eyelids a little open as if about to wake.