A British colonel under the Raj fell captive to mountain tribes. When he tried to escape, he fell down a mountain ravine and was crippled for life. Villagers carried him to their hut, where they fed him scraps and kept him alive in a basket.
The Ambitious Colonel; or, Wiki Trek
by Tom Crippen
Years later a visiting group of British officials discovered the colonel. They were astonished by all aspects of his story, but especially by what he had done during his captivity. The man had begged and scrounged the stems of local fruit and knotted them together to form tiny busts of characters from Dickens. Seventy-four of these characters stood in a row on the shelf above the colonel’s basket, and he was on the lookout for likely stems from which he could form particular characters he still had in mind. One end of his basket had been slashed open so that he could reach over and sort stems into small mounds according to their size and manageability.
It was the colonel’s ambition to model every character Dickens had ever invented, and he was desperate for his visitors to fill the gaps in his memory of the novelist’s work. The officials were taken aback.
“My God, man,” one asked at last, “but why? Why fashion a miniature bust of fruit stems for every character that Dickens ever invented?”
The colonel lay in his basket and thought for a moment, then for another moment. Then he gave his answer. “I like to keep busy,” he said.