The Grave of the Hundred Head

by Rudyard Kipling.

  •  
    There's a widow in sleepy Chester
    Who weeps for her only son;
    There's a grave on the Pabeng River,
    A grave that the Burmans shun;
    And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri
    Who tells how the work was done.
     
    A Snider squibbed in the jungle-
    Somebody laughed and fled,
    And the men of the First Shikaris
    Picked up their Subaltern dead,
    With a big blue mark in his forehead
    And the back blown out of his head.
     
    Subadar Prag Tewarri,
    Jemadar Hira Lal,
    Took command of the party,
    Twenty rifles in all,
    Marched them down to the river
    As the day was beginning to fall.
     
    They buried the boy by the river,
    A blanket over his face-
    They wept for their dead Lieutenant,
    The men of an alien race-
    They made a samadh1 in his honour,
    A mark for his resting-place.
     
    For they swore by the Holy Water,
    They swore by the salt they ate,
    That the soul of Lieutenant Eshmitt Sahib
    Should go to his God in state,
    With fifty file of Burmans
    To open him Heaven's Gate.
     
    The men of the First Shikaris
    Marched till the break of day,
    Till they came to the rebel village
    The village of Pabengmay-
    A jingal2 covered the clearing,
    Caltrops hampered the way.
     
    Subadar Prag Tewarri,
    Biddin8 them load with ball,
    Halted a dozen rifles
    Under the village wall;
    Sent out a flanking-party
    With Jemadar Hira Lal.
    The men of the First Shikaris
    Shouted and smote and slew,
    Turning the grinning jingal
    On to the howling crew.
    The Jemadar's flanking-party
    Butchered the folk who flew.
     
    Long was the morn of slaughter,
    Long was the list of slain,
    Five score heads were taken,
    Five score heads and twain;
    And the men of the First Shikaris
    Went back to their grave again,
     
    Each man bearing a basket
    Red as his palms that day,
    Red as the blazing village-
    The village of Pabengmay
    And the "drip-drip-drip" from the baskets
    Reddened the grass by the way
     
    They made a pile of their trophies
    High as a tall man's chin,
    Head upon head distorted,
    Set in a sightless grin,
    Anger and pain and terror
    Stamped on the smoke-scorched skin.
     
    Subadar Prag Tewarri
    Put the head of the Boh
    On the top of the mound of triumph,
    The head of his son below-
    With the sword and the peacock banner
    That the world might behold and know.
    Thus the samadh was perfect,
    Thus was the lesson plain
    Of the wrath of the First Shikaris-
    The price of white man slain;
    And the men of the First Shikaris
    Went back into camp again.
     
    Then a silence came to the river,
    A hush fell over the shore,
    And Bohs that were brave departed,
    And Sniders squibbed no more;
    For the Burmans said
    That a white man's head
    Must be paid for with heads five-score.
     
     
  • There's a widow in sleepy Chester
    Who weeps for her only son;
    There's a grave on the Pabeng River,
    A grave that the Burmans shun;
    And there's Subadar Prag Tewarri
    Who tells how the work was done.
     

    1A memorial. 2 Native cannon.

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