The men of the old days—they are now Commissioners—come riding to me through the crops—high upon horses so that all the village sees—and we talk out the old skirmishes, one dead man’s name leading to another.’

‘And after?’ said the lama.

‘Oh, afterwards they go away, but not before my village has seen.’

‘And at the last what wilt thou do?’

‘At the last I shall die.’

‘And after?’

‘Let the Gods order it. I have never pestered Them with prayers. I do not think They will pester me. Look you, I have noticed in my long life that those who eternally break in upon Those Above with complaints and reports and bellowings and weepings are presently sent for in haste, as our Colonel used to send for slack-jawed down-country men who talked too much. No, I have never wearied the Gods. They will remember this, and give me a quiet place where I can drive my lance in the shade, and wait to welcome my sons: I have no less than three Rissaldar—majors all—in the regiments.’

‘And they likewise, bound upon the Wheel, go forth from life to life—from despair to despair,’ said the lama below his breath, ‘hot, uneasy, snatching.’

‘Ay,’ the old soldier chuckled. ‘Three Rissaldar—majors in three regiments.