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A Sticky Situation


“Well” said Rahimtulla sitting on the verandah of the little house which was the dwelling of the forest Ranger “that the long and short of it. Rehmat has threatened to kill me if we don’s leave the place to his jezails. And the second difficulty is – there’s a man eater about. Rehmats more dangerous than a mere tiger though”
The Forest anger’s deputy young Chandarana who had an English education nodded. He was very thoughtful. For Rehmat was the most vicious dacoit in India. Burgling burning looting he had spread terror through the area till Rahimtulla took up the job of Forest Ranger. Then he and his deputy young Chandarana had bought off a miracle – got the government to instate police action. Most of Rehmats gangsters had been mopped up but the big gun himself was roving in the jungle still. Bent on revenge he was laying plans for the elimination of Rahimtulla. It was one of Rahintulla’s spies who had brought the news that morning. Now young Chandarana looked up “I say old sir I say excellency …..” Chanda had a colourful childish way of addressing the Ranger. “Yes?” growled that worthy. “Well I mean to say old sir an ‘excellency with all due respect you’d better leave the tiger to me. Old Chanda’a s genius dear old sir an’ excellency s far as tigers are concerned …..”
“What the deuce do you mean?” exploded his superior in an a irritable mood Don’t talk rot!”
“Rot old sir an’ excellency? Rot?” asked Chanda in reproachful tones. “Now don’t be scared of the tiger sir, old Chanda will protect you. Trust old Chanda and fly paper to get you out of this old sir”
“What the duce are you gibbering about you idiotic blighter?” roared Rahimtulla. “Hang the bally tiger! I want Rehmat!”
“Now now now dear old sir and excellency” chid Chanda “don’t get hysterical Remember …..”
“Hysterical? You blithering idot! Get out of here before I chuck my boot at you! …..” Chanda went. Next day the servant brought the news that during the night Chandrarana Sahib had surrounded the house with flypapers. Chanda smiled sheepishly in response to an irate inquiry as to what the so and so he was up to. “Well to tell the truth dear old pal and your honour the bleating of the kid excites the tiger Ahem. In other words sir the idea is to get the tiger gummed up in the flypapers. When he’s stuck you see we make an entrance and shoot the jolly old king of beasts.
“The tiger isn’t as idiotic as you you forget” said Rahimtulla drily. But he dismissed the matter from his mind as another of Chanda’s foibles. That evening Rahimtulla dined in thoughtful mood though Chanda was voluble. And it was during the night that the Ranger was awakened from a sound sleep by noises outside his window. He fumbled for his rifle, stubbed his toe on it swore and went to the window. What he saw made his heart jump. Rehmat was there in the moonlight grinning at him. Rahimtualla made up his mind in a moment. Pyjamaed and rifled he leapt over the window sill but the dacoit with a wave of his hand slipped into the jungle. Rahimtulla in a blind fury rushed wildly after him. He heard a cry and at the moment tripped and went down. The rifle went off with a thunderous report leaving Rahimtulla grouping at the sticky papers gummed on his feet; his hand came away with another paper attached to it and mumbling imprecations Rahitulla rolled away – into another mass of pasty paper. At that moment Chandarana pyjamaed and distraught sped from the house, followed by two servants and received a roar from Rahimtulla’s raging mouth. “you infernal idiot” road the Ranger. “I had my hands on Rahmat when your blasted papers tripped me up” “Calm down, excellency” advised Chanda anxiously and what Rahimtulla replied is not for me to chronicle. It took them half an hour to free him from the fly-paper, and he rose to his feet speechless with fury. And just as he emptied the vials of his wrath upon Chanda a servant called from the fringe of he jungle “Sahib yah anakar dekhna”
Rahimtulla went and saw dug across the path a pit. And the pit was full of spears that stuck stiffly from the groung. “He meant to entice me to chase him; so that I’d fall into the pit” he said aloud. “I m sorry Chanda for what I said. It was your infernal papers that saved me. Only wish I’d got the blighter. Thanks very much, Chanda” he added gruffly “you saved my life”
At that moment the servant called “Sahib! Sahib! Rehimat yahan hai!” Rahimtulla gasped. Then he set off at a sprint. Chanda on his heels.
Slayer had met slayer in the end. The tiger’s jaws had crushed all semblance of life from Rehimat and the dacoit did not make a pretty corpse. Rahimtulla reflected that the yell he had herd must have been Rehimats death-cry. And four yards from the tiger dacoit was the tiger. He was dead for the shot of the rifle that Rahimtulla had accidentally fired had pierced through his grim head and he must died at once. Neither would slay again.
“Two birds with one stone” said Rahimtulla grimly as he stared at the corpses. :And all through that – fly- paper! I congratulate you old chap. It was a sticky situation in both senses. Oh sorry” he hurriedly added.
“Puns” said Chanda unetuously looking at the tiger. “Puns dear old Excellency are odious”