فصل 03

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فصل 03

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  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER THREE

The Te-rain

It was still dark when Kim and the lama arrived at the Lahore train station. It looked like a fort. Everything was dark. Hundreds and hundreds of people lay on the ground sleeping.

‘This is the work of devils!’ said the lama, who was afraid of the big dark building.

‘This is where the te-rain comes,’ explained Kim. ‘And over there is where you buy the tickets.’

‘Here,’ said the lama and gave Kim his purse filled with rupees. Kim was amazed by his incredible simplicity and trust.

Just then the 3.25 a.m. train came in. All the people got up from the floor of the station. Women called their families together, street sellers shouted what they were selling and policemen shouted.

Kim went and bought two tickets - one to Umballa for the lama, and one to the town of Amritzar. Amritzar was the next stop on the train to Umballa, and Kim was not going to spend money for something as ridiculous as a train ticket!

Kim and the lama hesitated in front of a crowded third-class carriage.

‘Maybe we should walk,’ the lama said timidly.

A big Sikh man looked out of the carriage and said, ‘Is he afraid? Do not be afraid. I remember when I was afraid of the te-rain. Come in!’

‘I am not afraid,’ said the lama. ‘Is there room for two?’

‘There is not room for even a mouse,’ said the wife of a Hindu farmer.

‘Oh, mother of my son, we can make room,’ said her husband who wore a blue turban.

‘Come in! Come in!’ said a fat business man.

There were also a couple of soldiers and a young woman from the town of Amritzar.

Kim and the lama went in and sat on the ground.

The train started, and soon it arrived in Amritzar, where a guard came to check the tickets.

‘Get off now! Your ticket is for Amritzar,’ said the guard to Kim.

‘This holy man is like my father, my mother,’ cried Kim. ‘He will die without my help!’

But the guard took him off the train.

‘I am very poor. My father is dead - my mother is dead. If I am left here, who will look after the old man?’ cried Kim to the other passengers. ‘Is no one generous? Will no one help us?’

‘What is this?’ said the lama. ‘He is my chela. He must come with me. If it is only a question of money, I have…’

‘Be quiet,’ whispered Kim quickly to the lama. ‘Are we so rich?’

Just then the girl from Amritzar offered to pay for Kim’s ticket. Her mother, she said, was from the mountains where the lama came from.

The rest of the journey went well. They talked, joked, ate and generally enjoyed each other’s company. The wife of the Hindu farmer even offered Kim and the lama a place to sleep in Umballa. Kim, of course, accepted.

When they arrived in Umballa, Kim left the lama with the Hindu farmers, and went off to look for the bungalow of Mahbub Ali’s English officer. He had no trouble finding it. He hid behind some bushes and watched the officer on the veranda.

‘Protector of the poor!’ said Kim to get the man’s attention.

The man moved towards Kim.

‘Mahbub Ali says…’ continued Kim.

‘What does Mahbub Ali say?’

‘The white stallion is the very best,’ answered Kim.

‘Are you certain?’ asked the officer.

‘Yes,’ said Kim and threw the paper at the man’s feet. The officer quickly picked up the paper and threw a few coins towards the bushes. Kim was happy to be paid, but he was also very curious - this was becoming quite an adventure - and so he waited to see what would happen.

He saw the surprised look of the officer as he read the note, and soon an important older officer came out on the veranda. They began to talk.

‘It is not a question of weeks. It is a question of days - hours almost. I knew it would happen, but this confirms it,’ said the older officer.

‘How many soldiers will we need?’ asked Mahbub’s officer.

‘Eight thousand should be enough,’ said the older officer.

‘So it means war?’

‘No. Punishment,’ said the older officer.

‘But perhaps C25 lied,’ suggested the young officer.

‘No, his information confirms what others have said. I thought it was coming. It’s punishment - not war.’

Kim left quietly and went back to the lama. He was very proud and excited to be part of such important events.

The next day Kim and the lama began their walk across the countryside through miles and miles of vegetable gardens. They checked every stream they saw to be certain it was not the River of the Arrow. Each time they walked through a village, dogs came out and barked at them, the villagers asked them what they wanted, and the lama gave his simple and sincere answer: ‘We are looking for a river - a river that washes away all sins. Is there a river like that near here?’

Sometimes men laughed at him, but generally they listened to the lama’s story and then offered him a place in the shade, a drink of milk and a meal. The women were always kind, and the little children were like children all over the world, sometimes shy and sometimes not.

The first evening they stopped to rest in a village with mud walls and mud roofs. They met the headman and priest of the village, and they all talked as the cattle come back for the night and the women prepared the last meal of the day.

After hearing of the lama’s search for the river, the priest said, ‘Six miles to the west is the great road to Calcutta.’

‘But I want to go to Benares,’ said the lama.

‘It goes to Benares too,’ continued the priest. ‘It crosses all the rivers and streams in this part of India. You can test each stream that it crosses.’

‘Very good,’ said the lama, who was very impressed by this plan. ‘We will begin tomorrow.’

After a minute or two of silence, the lama said, ‘Do you see my chela? He too has a search. He is looking for a bull - a red bull on a green field that will someday bring him to honour. He is, I think, a kind of a spirit: he was sent to me to help me in my search. His name is Friend of all the World.’

‘A kind of a spirit?’ laughed the priest.

‘Well, no,’ replied Kim with a smile, ‘because I am hungry, and spirits don’t eat, do they? But I do know something important about the future.’

‘What is that?’ asked the headman.

‘War!’ said Kim - he remembered what the two officers had said.

‘That is easy to say,’ said a deep voice. ‘There are always wars along the border of India. I know.’

It was the voice of an old man, who had served the British Government in the days of the Mutiny. Later the Government had rewarded him with some land near this village. He was even respected by the English officials, who often came to visit him.

‘But this will be a great war - a war of eight thousand!’ cried Kim, as the other people of the village came to listen.

‘British or Indian soldiers?’ asked the old man.

‘British soldiers,’ guessed Kim. He was beginning to enjoy his performance very much.

‘Do you know the man who gives the orders to begin a war?’ continued Kim.

‘I have seen him,’ answered the old man.

‘Would you know him again?’ asked Kim.

‘Yes, I have known him since he was just a young lieutenant,’ I said the old man.

‘Well then,’ said Kim, and he began to do a wonderful imitation of the commanding officer at the bungalow. He finished his performance by saying, ‘Not war - but punishment!’

The old man was amazed, ‘Yes, that is the great man! You really do know the future!’

Kim then listened as the old man told tales of brave young captains and the Mutiny.

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