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Kim danced with impatience when the slim young Kayeth hove in sight. As soon as his voice could carry he cursed him volubly.

‘First I will take my pay,’ the letter-writer said. ‘Bad words have made the price higher. But who art thou, dressed in that fashion, to speak in this fashion?’

‘Aha! That is in the letter which thou shalt write. Never was such a tale. But I am in no haste. Another writer will serve me. Umballa city is as full of them as is Lahore.’

‘Four annas,’ said the writer, sitting down and spreading his cloth in the shade of a deserted barrack-wing.

Mechanically Kim squatted beside him—squatted as only the natives can—in spite of the abominable clinging trousers.

The writer regarded him sideways.

‘That is the price to ask of Sahibs,’ said Kim. ‘Now fix me a true one.’

‘An anna and a half.’

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