It had been raining heavily for one whole month--raining on a camp of thirty thousand men and thousands of camels, elephants, horses, bullocks, and mules all gathered together at a place called Rawal Pindi, to be reviewed by the Viceroy of India.
I heard a chain dragging along the ground, and a yoke of the great sulky white bullocks that drag the heavy siege guns when the elephants won't go any nearer to the firing, came shouldering along together.
The gun bullocks rolled their cuds, and answered both together: "The seventh yoke of the first gun of the Big Gun Battery.
There was a long silence, and then one of the gun bullocks lifted up his big head and said, "This is very foolish indeed.
The bullocks and the camel said, half aloud, "Afraid of Two Tails--what nonsense!" And the bullocks went on, "We are sorry that you heard, but it is true.
"We don't, but we have to pull the guns," said the bullocks.
I can see inside my head what will happen when a shell bursts, and you bullocks can't."
"We do," said the bullocks. "It is red stuff that soaks into the ground and smells."
"But it is not here," said the camel and the bullocks. "Why are you so stupid?"
"M--yes, a new kind of bullock," the Mugger repeated ponderously, to make himself quite sure in his own mind; and "Certainly it is a bullock," said the Jackal.
That flood was no more than comes every five years-- a handful of drowned strangers, some chickens, and a dead bullock in muddy water with cross-currents.