Then there was the cholera that came in the night to the village by the bridge works; and after the cholera smote the small-pox. The fever they had always with them. Hitchcock had been appointed a magistrate of the third class with whipping powers, for the better government of the community, and Findlayson watched him wield his powers temperately, learning what to overlook and what to look after.
Indeed, the burden of the work had fallen altogether on Findlayson and his assistant, the young man whom he had chosen because of his rawness to break to his own needs.
Now I am wise." "What?" said Findlayson, over his shoulder. Peroo went on as if he were talking to himself "Six seven ten monsoons since, I was watch on the fo'c'sle of the Rewah the Kumpani's big boat and there was a big tufan; green and black water beating, and I held fast to the life-lines, choking under the waters.
Then Peroo was at his elbow, shouting that a wire hawser had snapped and the stone-boats were loose. Findlayson saw the fleet open and swing out fanwise to a long-drawn shriek of wire straining across gunnels. "A tree hit them. They will all go," cried Peroo. "The main hawser has parted. What does the Sahib do?" An immensely complex plan had suddenly flashed into Findlayson's mind.
"The flood lessens even now," it cried. "Hour by hour the water falls, and their bridge still stands!" "My bridge," said Findlayson to himself. "That must be very old work now. What have the Gods to do with my bridge?" His eyes rolled in the darkness following the roar.
Hitchcock felt very old in the crowded experiences of the past three years, that had taught him power and responsibility. "You were rather a colt," said Findlayson. "I wonder how you'll like going back to office-work when this job's over." "I shall hate it!" said the young man, and as he went on his eye followed Findlayson's, and he muttered, "Isn't it damned good?"
Findlayson, this is two months before anything could have been expected, and the left bank is littered up with stuff still. Two full months before the time!" "That's why it comes. I've only known Indian rivers for five-and-twenty years, and I don't pretend to understand. Here comes another tar." Findlayson opened the telegram. "Cockran, this time, from the Ganges Canal: 'Heavy rains here.
Findlayson, C. E., sat in his trolley on a construction line that ran along one of the main revetments the huge stone-faced banks that flared away north and south for three miles on either side of the river and permitted himself to think of the end.
"I think we'll go up the service together," Findlayson said to himself. "You're too good a youngster to waste on another man. Cub thou wast; assistant thou art. Personal assistant, and at Simla, thou shalt be, if any credit comes to me out of the business!"
"It's great luck," murmured Findlayson, but he was none the less afraid, wondering what news might be of the bridge. The gaudy blue-and-white funnel came downstream swiftly. They could see Hitchcock in the bows, with a pair of opera-glasses, and his face was unusually white. Then Peroo hailed, and the launch made for the tail of the island.