Buckshee said hurriedly
and with effort, the words sounding strange on his lips, be
not afraid. I want only to beg of you a few grains of rice. I wish you
It seemed to him that a weight lifted from the earth and the tension
in the air broke. The travelers laughed and, putting their knives away,
came close to Buckshee.
We mistook you, one said, smiling
at his own folly, for a dacoit. Coming so suddenly
out of the trees like that, you gave us a start. You are in need? Forgive
us. This road is dangerous; one must be cautious. And all the
while, each traveler was undoing his bundle and putting into Banshee's
bowl a little rice from a small supply.
Were travelers always thus, Buckshee wondered trusting and simple as
children and good as parents? Could it always have been thus? Was it only
his own eyes that had made them fools and hypocrites? It seemed to him
that he had entered a new world; and it was one in which he did not yet
know how to act. Instead of thanking the travelers, tears flowed down
his face and he said: Forgive me.
For what? one of the group asked.
He means, guessed another, because
he frightened us out of our wits. The first man laughed. You
were not to blame. It is told that there is a fierce and ruthless dacoit
who sometimes waits at this part of the road to waylay travelers. It was
he whom we mistook you for. He alone is to blame for our fear.