The story takes us to Maplewood Cottage in Mussorie where the writer wrote many of his tales.
He reminds us of the natural beauty especially the forest surrounding the cottage that was under
the supervision of an 86 year old English lady, Ms Mackenzie.
Bond is thankful to the place because it was kind to him when he left his job and the city of
Delhi to start his life as a freelance writer and hopefully build a future. He expresses the pain of
seeing the forest cut down for the requirements of modernization especially for someone who
flourished in the place. Through his memories he pines for Maplewood and its sweet people.
The story narrates Bond's escape from Batavia, now Java during World War 2. He lived with his
father and after the Japanese attacked the island they were in the process of moving.
He writes about his friendship with their neighbor’s son Sono the only kid who spoke English.
He shares his experience of near fatal incident when they both survived a bomb drop by one of
the Japanese fighter planes.
Bond and his father take a seaplane off of the Island two days after the incident. Sono gives
Bond a blue jade sea horse as a lucky charm and it comes in handy when their plane they have to
ditch their plane in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
They survive on a dinghy (floating boat) with seven other passengers from the plane for days
before they are picked up by a Burmese fishing boat.
Bond and his father go to Bombay where his father pawns his stamps to get enough money to
afford a hotel. After that he gets a job with RAF (British Army) while young Ruskin is sent to a
boarding school in Simla, Himachal Pradesh.
Bond carries Sono’s gift with him and his final words to him, “We will go everywhere. No one
can stop us.”
The story is about Ganpat, a beggar with a bent back. He has man with a lot of tales and wisdom.
The narrator is intrigued by various rumors about him like he was rich and had a European wife
once or that he was CID spy.
To uncover the man behind the lore, the narrator asks him about he became a beggar. He
promises to give him money if he believed the story.
He narrates a story about a ghost named Bipin which possessed him and gave him immense
amount of wealth. When pressed by his relatives to divulge the secret behind his new found
wealth, Ganpat discloses the truth about Bipin to them. This angers Bipin and he retaliates by
cursing him with a bend back. After that his wife left him and he could not work on his fields
and had to become a beggar. The narrator gives him the money even if he did not believe the
tale, just in case he was a government spy!
Ganpat has many astute and wise words to give like, “'It is difficult to love your enemies. Much
simpler not to have enemies” or “In this life, all our desires are fulfilled, on the condition that
they do not bring the happiness we expected from them.”