"But surely I saw Marigold wreaths floating off the edge of the Ghaut only this noon," said the Adjutant.
There is one very unpleasant peculiarity about the Adjutant. At uncertain times he suffers from acute attacks of the fidgets or cramp in his legs, and though he is more virtuous to behold than any of the cranes, who are all immensely respectable, he flies off into wild, cripple-stilt war-dances, half opening his wings and bobbing his bald head up and down; while for reasons best known to himself he is very careful to time his worst attacks with his nastiest remarks.
The Adjutant was a most notorious coward, but the Jackal was worse.
"We are not ALL jackals here," said the Adjutant. Was it the shoal made where the stone-boats sank in the year of the great drouth--a long shoal that lasted three floods?"
A channel divided them, and later dried up again," said the Adjutant, who prided himself on his memory.
"All are very good eating," said the Adjutant, clattering his beak.
"They are too close--too narrow in the hand for my crop," croaked the Adjutant. "They waste not the polish on the cow"s horn, as the saying is; and, again, who can glean after a Malwai?"
"Now, in Calcutta of the South, in the old days," the Adjutant went on, "everything was thrown into the streets, and we picked and chose.
"Ah, but the white-faces are there--the English, and they bring dogs from somewhere down the river in boats--big fat dogs--to keep those same jackals lean," said the Adjutant.
"That was better than my case," said the Adjutant. "When I was in my third season, a young and a bold bird, I went down to the river where the big boats come in.
The Mugger opened his left eye, and looked keenly at the Adjutant.
The Adjutant had done his very best to describe his feelings after swallowing a seven-pound lump of Wenham Lake ice, off an American ice-ship, in the days before Calcutta made her ice by machinery; but as he did not know what ice was, and as the Mugger and the Jackal knew rather less, the tale missed fire.
The Jackal looked at the Adjutant and the Adjutant looked at the Jackal.
"Whatever it is, it is white-face work," said the Adjutant; "and for my own part, I would not lie out upon a place so near to it as this bar."
I was young then," said the Adjutant, clattering his beak significantly.