Now those foolish hunters, whose pay is less than my pay, have spoken to Petersen Sahib of the matter." Little Toomai was frightened.
"They have said my name to Petersen Sahib, and perhaps--and perhaps--and perhaps--who knows?
Petersen Sahib came in on his clever she-elephant Pudmini; he had been paying off other camps among the hills, for the season was coming to an end, and there was a native clerk sitting at a table under a tree, to pay the drivers their wages.
Now Petersen Sahib had ears all over him, as a man must have who listens to the most silent of all living things--the wild elephant.
Machua Appa pointed at Little Toomai, and Petersen Sahib looked, and Little Toomai bowed to the earth.
Little one, what is thy name?" said Petersen Sahib.
Little Toomai was too frightened to speak, but Kala Nag was behind him, and Toomai made a sign with his hand, and the elephant caught him up in his trunk and held him level with Pudmini's forehead, in front of the great Petersen Sahib.
"Oho!" said Petersen Sahib, smiling underneath his mustache, "and why didst thou teach thy elephant that trick?
Petersen Sahib had noticed him, and given him money, so he felt as a private soldier would feel if he had been called out of the ranks and praised by his commander-in-chief.
"What did Petersen Sahib mean by the elephant dance?" he said, at last, softly to his mother.
Why should Petersen Sahib have chosen me to go down with you donkeys of the rice fields?
Then the elephants were chained by their hind legs to their big stumps of pickets, and extra ropes were fitted to the new elephants, and the fodder was piled before them, and the hill drivers went back to Petersen Sahib through the afternoon light, telling the plains drivers to be extra careful that night, and laughing when the plains drivers asked the reason.