"LOOK, MY DEAR! Did you ever in your life see such an absurdly comic creature!"
A smartly dressed woman, first-class passenger on the Rawalpindar, about to sail from Liverpool on the long voyage to Calcutta, made this remark, in a high, "well-bred" voice, to her companion, a young man with a military yet foppish air, as they stood before me on the liner's upper deck. Following their amused gaze, my eyes came to rest upon a squat, very ugly native seaman, with short legs and a large disproportionate head, scarred by a cicatrice which ran from ear to temple, whom I recognised as the Indian serang, or quartermaster of the ship. He was quietly superintending the crew of lascars now completing the loading of baggage into the hold from the Mersey lighter alongside.
"Looks hardly human," agreed the man of Mars, twisting his embryo moustache, with a superior smile. "Inclines a chap to believe, don't you know, that dear old Darwin was not altogether wrong . . . what?"
I turned away silently and went below to my cabin. Three weeks before, to my inexpressible joy, I had taken my medical degree. Never shall I forget that breathless moment when, in a fever of anxiety and suspense, scanning the list pinned upon the University notice board, knowing that my small store of money was finally exhausted, that I had neither the funds nor the energy to repeat that culminating effort -- sitting up night after night over my text-