Friday, February 26, 2016


The evening dragged out slowly. We did not know what the morrow would decide for us - our course here was at an end. It was not likely that we would all be together, though we hoped we would be. We walked about for quite a long time, and by well past the supper time we reached back to the restaurant, just as the kitchen boy was pulling down the shutters.

As we neared the hut we heard loud voices in heated argument - one voice was that of Walker, the other we could not place.

We entered and we saw: The others must have left - only Walker was there toying with the remnants of food, and gesticulating about something. The other was a brownish young man in a blue shirt and khaki shorts, and he sported a small beard.

"No, I am not mistaken, I tell you, Walker does not make mistakes," said Walker.

"One of us is mistaken," said the other, "and I know when I have seen a place."

"What is the trouble," asked Joan.

The kitchen boy brought us our food, very kind of him.

"You have come in the right time lady," said Walker, "You just listen and see which of us is plain crazy. Me, I never let anyone hoax me!"

"What is the hoax about?" asked Ram.

"Why, the thing I was telling you about. The Kingdom To Come and this Compass are one and the same. Don't ask how, they are one and the same - only the people are not the same, and they refuse to mention about this queen. There is a bald fellow, there, calls himself the Director - he looks fishy to me," said Walker.

"What on earth are your talking about," said Joan, Kingdom To Come and Compass are one and the same! Well, you yourself said it was about fifty miles away!"

"There you are!" remarked the young man. "I tell you, Walker, something has happened to you."

"Sure it has, but nothing happened to my eyes. There is a hoax, mesmerism or something, or they hypnotised me - I must have been brought here by the rear side, and shown some hocus-pocus carnival, like the settings at a cinema shoot. This must be exposed," asserted Walker.

"Which must be exposed - the Kingdom To Come or the Compass," asked the young man.

"Both! the queen must have hypnotised me, and she must be exposed; and this bald dome refuses to admit and he must be exposed," said Walker, "But this Hari, here," and he pointed to the young man, "says that this is not Kingdom To Come because he has seen it, himself; that is talking big, I should say. Ask him about it and you will see for yourself."

"If Walker does not interrupt me," said Hari.

We shared out some of our food into the plate before Walker, and asked him to eat it while Hari explained. Our heads were in a whirl. Tacitly we seemed to agree that Joan should guide the matter.

"I have seen this Kingdom To Come," said Hari.

"We have heard that before," said Walker.

Hari turned his chair away from the table. Joan asked Walker to eat his food, and coaxed Hari to start all over again.

"Well, I have been to this Kingdom To Come. It is not the same place, nor is it any similar to what Walker said of it."

Walker choked an oath.

"Well, I have seen it and lost it. It is not Compass. I have been there and met and talked to the people there. I did not hear mention of the queen. I am hunting for the place now," Hari said. "But come to think of it, there is something in the Compass that strikes a card - maybe that green bowl of earth - can't say, confused."

"I am glad you agree, lad; quite confused, that's what it is! There is some mischief afoot and we must expose it. Let us join hands," said Walker, considerably mollified.

"How can you expose a thing you can't find," asked Domby.

"Well, that is the first thing to do," said Joan, "let us see if Hari can tell us a little more of how he went in and came out! And something of what he saw there; we heard Walker last night."

The kitchen boy was waiting to close the place and so all of us adjourned to our hut. Hari had come late, and not yet fixed up his place - we offered to let him sleep on the floor, what he was anyhow going to do in the kitchen verandah.

We sat around on the floor, leaning against the cots.

"I don't take any drugs," said Hari.

"Neither do I," said Walker.

"Let Hari tell his bit," pleaded Joan.

"Well, it is like this, seems to me I can remember being sent out or thrown out of the place - am still hazy - I remember wanting something very badly something I had seen there, or there was something which I very badly wanted to do with something or other. Then someone seemed to shout in my ears - 'Alright go to the market, then; another voice I remember as I stumbled out was 'change', something about change. Well, there I was in front of our market."

"Maybe they wanted you to go to market and get the right change," said Joan, helpfully. "Remember anything about going in to the Kingdom? What were you doing and so on?"
"Well, let me see, I think I was walking about, somewhere; I was getting fed up with everything and everybody, and found this world nasty and ugly. I thought man was just horrible. I fervently wanted to be something different; I thought that I at least should be different without waiting for others to change. I felt so deeply about this - to be different, to be better, and I think I was praying hard. -If all that went on around - wars, killings, pious speeches, lies from the highest sources - if this was to be human I didn't want to be one. I aspired and I prayed, oh, so intensely! And suddenly there I was in the Kingdom," said Hari.

"What was the place like? What about the people?" asked Joan.

"Well, let me see, vague but beautiful - the people were like us and yet not like us, somehow. The same things did not seem to bother them. They could speak to you without much talking or shouting. I saw funny things too. Buildings were growing around persons at will: There seemed to be no ordering and following, things seemed to be happening in a most harmonious way. There was melody in the air, and smiles everywhere. Ah, I now remember - it was one of those fancy, self-developing houses I wanted to own, have it as a gift, very badly. Yes, I remember; and the other, I wanted badly to organise the persons and things so that they could grow more profitably, more efficiently - you see things were happening without any head or tail, and I very badly wanted to organise them.

"I think it was then that I felt myself on my way out - Yes, I am certain. Must think about it. But what a beautiful place, beautiful people and things - all one big smile, Mother Nature smiling - Now I am sick with the memory - I must find the place!"

"Maybe Walker can tell us the things that happened when he went in and came out," prompted Joan.

"Well, let me see," said Walker, "it all started in New York, the scent - all sorts of glossy literature talking of this Kingdom and the New Man, but somehow, one could never get to the source of all this, and I was asked to look into it. Well, I was always the one for a good joke and I thought here was another gimmick sprung on the world, and I should give it a look. I always had a good laugh out of the serious things politicians and philanthropists talked about, never malicious in my writings, only seeing the fun. Here was another and I came, following the trail to somewhere around these parts.

"The last thing I remember is buying some tickets at a railway station, and a fellow telling me that there was no vacant berth; no tickets either, but that they could attach an extra seat and print an extra ticket if I met the expenses. Boy, did I laugh, the guy was in need of money and I had it, and I paid for having two extra seats made and attached and an extra ticket printed! I gave him another rupee and laughed. Boy, money works; and I wondered if it would be any different in the Kingdom To Come. It wouldn't surprise me, nor would I feel hurt about it. Let people have their fun, I say.

"Somewhere around this point I found myself in Kingdom To Come, and I didn't bother to find out why and what. Then I found myself paying for this and that and the hotel bills, and I did have the time of my life laughing. I couldn't just be angry with the fellows. And then I was called to see the queen and was I delighted, and I was in the mood to make gifts to her- but you know what happened. She haunts me.

"Then I was at the hotel trying to make my dispatches - Money at Kingdom To Come, and so on, but nothing made sense, and I could not put words together, and I was frantically trying to cook up a readable report, when I found myself at this Manogram railway station - and today I see that this Compass looks very much like it to me - but where is the queen! I think the whole thing is a masquerade of some kind - but who is at the bottom of this or what is behind it, I can't figure," Walker leaned back and closed his eyes.

"Never mind," said Joan, "You are a delightful fellow!"

"Thank you, lady," said Walker.

"So there we are," said Joan,"some place, somewhere, don't know how or why or what! Sounds the right place to go to," said Joan.

"Delightful change," said Domby.

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