The Story of the Gadsby
Part 1 out of 2
The Story of the Gadsby
by Rudyard Kipling
Poor Dear Mamma
The World Without
The Tents of Kedar
With Any Amazement
The Garden of Eden
The Valley of the Shadow
The Swelling of Jordan
To THE ADDRESS OF
CAPTAIN J. MAFFLIN,
Duke of Derry's (Pink) Hussars.
DEAR MAFFLIN,-You will remember that I wrote this story as an
Awful Warning. None the less you have seen fit to disregard it and
have followed Gadsby's example--as I betted you would. I
acknowledge that you paid the money at once, but you have
prejudiced the mind of Mrs. Mafflin against myself, for though I
am almost the only respectable friend of your bachelor days, she
has been darwaza band to me throughout the season. Further, she
caused you to invite me to dinner at the Club, where you called me
"a wild ass of the desert," and went home at half-past ten, after
discoursing for twenty minutes on the responsibilities of
housekeeping. You now drive a mail-phaeton and sit under a
Church of England clergyman. I am not angry, Jack. It is your
kismet, as it was Gaddy's, and his kismet who can avoid? Do not
think that I am moved by a spirit of revenge as I write, thus
publicly, that you and you alone are responsible for this book. In
other and more expansive days, when you could look at a magnum
without flushing and at a cheroot without turning white, you
supplied me with most of the material. Take it back again-would
that I could have preserved your fatherless speech in the
telling-take it back, and by your slippered hearth read it to the late
Miss Deercourt. She will not be any the more willing to receive
my cards, but she will admire you immensely, and you, I feel sure,
will love me. You may even invite me to another very bad
dinner-at the Club, which, as you and your wife know, is a safe
neutral ground for the entertainment of wild asses. Then, my very
dear hypocrite, we shall be quits.
P. S.-On second thoughts I should recommend you to keep the
book away from Mrs. Mafflin.
POOR DEAR MAMMA
The wild hawk to the wind-swept sky, The deer to the wholesome
wold, And the heart of a man to the heart of a maid, As it was in
the days of old. Gypsy Song.
SCENE. - Interior of Miss MINNIE THREEGAN'S Bedroom at
Simla. Miss THREEGAN, in window-seat, turning over a
drawerful of things. Miss EMMA DEERCOURT, bosom - friend,
who has come to spend the day, sitting on the bed, manipulating
the bodice of a ballroom frock, and a bunch of artificial lilies of
the valley. Time, 5:30 P. M. on a hot May afternoon.
Miss DEERCOURT. And he said: "I shall never forget this
dance," and, of course, I said: "Oh, how can you be so silly!" Do
you think he meant any-thing, dear?
Miss THREEGAN. (Extracting long lavender silk stocking from
the rubbish.) You know him better than I do.
Miss D. Oh, do be sympathetic, Minnie! I'm sure he does. At least
I would be sure if he wasn't always riding with that odious Mrs.
Miss T. I suppose so. How does one manage to dance through
one's heels first? Look at this-isn't it shameful? (Spreads
stocking-heel on open hand for inspection.)
Miss D. Never mind that! You can't mend it. Help me with this
hateful bodice. I've run the string so, and I've run the string so, and
I can't make the fulness come right. Where would you put this?
(Waves lilies of the valley.)
Miss T. As high up on the shoulder as possible.
Miss D. Am I quite tall enough? I know it makes May Older look
Miss T. Yes, but May hasn't your shoulders. Hers are like a
BEARER. (Rapping at door.) Captain Sahib aya.
Miss D. (Jumping up wildly, and hunting for bodice, which she has
discarded owing to the heat of the day.) Captain Sahib! What
Captain Sahib? Oh, good gracious, and I'm only half dressed!
Well, I sha'n't bother.
Miss T. (Calmly.) You needn't. It isn't for us. That's Captain
Gadsby. He is going for a ride with Mamma. He generally comes
five days out of the seven.
AGONIZED VOICE. (Prom an inner apartment.) Minnie, run out
and give Captain Gadsby some tea, and tell him I shall be ready in
ten minutes; and, O Minnie, come to me an instant, there's a dear
Miss T. Oh, bother! (Aloud.) Very well, Mamma.
Exit, and reappears, after five minutes, flushed, and rubbing her
Miss D. You look pink. What has happened?
Miss T. (In a stage whisper.) A twenty-four-inch waist, and she
won't let it out. Where are my bangles? (Rummager on the
toilet-table, and dabs at her hair with a brush in the interval.)
Miss D. Who is this Captain Gadsby? I don't think I've met him.
Miss T. You must have. He belongs to the Harrar set. I've danced
with him, but I've never talked to him. He's a big yellow man, just
like a newly-hatched chicken, with an enormous moustache. He
walks like this (imitates Cavalry swagger), and he goes
"Ha-Hmmm!" deep down in his throat when he can't think of
anything to say. Mamma likes him. I don't.
Miss D. (Abstractedly.) Does he wax that moustache?
Miss T. (Busy with Powder-puff.) Yes, I think so. Why?
Miss D. (Bending over the bodice and sewing furiously.) Oh,
nothing-only-Miss T. (Sternly.) Only what? Out with it, Emma.
Miss D. Well, May Olger-she's engaged to Mr. Charteris, you
know-said-Promise you won't repeat this?
Miss T. Yes, I promise. What did she say?
Miss D. That-that being kissed (with a rush) with a man who
didn't wax his moustache was-like eating an egg without salt.
Miss T. (At her full height, with crushing scorn.) May Olger is a
horrid, nasty Thing, and you can tell her I said so. I'm glad she
doesn't belong to my set-I must go and feed this man! Do I look
Miss D. Yes, perfectly. Be quick and hand him over to your
Mother, and then we can talk. I shall listen at the door to hear what
you say to him.
Miss T. 'Sure I don't care. I'm not afraid of Captain Gadsby.
In proof of this swings into the drawing-room with a mannish
stride followed by two short steps, which Produces the effect of a
restive horse entering. Misses CAPTAIN GADSBY, who is sitting
in the shadow of the window-curtain, and gazes round helplessly.
CAPTAIN GADSBY. (Aside.) The filly, by Jove! 'Must ha'
picked up that action from the sire. (Aloud, rising.) Good evening,
Miss T. (Conscious that she is flushing.) Good evening, Captain
Gadsby. Mamma told me to say that she will be ready in a few
minutes. Won't you have some tea? (Aside.) I hope Mamma will
be quick. What am I to say to the creature? (Aloud and abruptly.)
Milk and sugar?
CAPT. G. No sugar, tha-anks, and very little milk. Ha-Hmmm.
Miss T. (Aside.) If he's going to do that, I'm lost. I shall laugh. I
know I shall!
CAPT. G. (Pulling at his moustache and watching it sideways
down his nose.) Ha-Hamm. (Aside.) 'Wonder what the little beast
can talk about. 'Must make a shot at it.
Miss T. (Aside.) Oh, this is agonizing. I must say something.
Both Together. Have you Been-CAPT. G. I beg your pardon. You
were going to say-Miss T. (Who has been watching the moustache
with awed fascination.) Won't you have some eggs?
CAPT. G. (Looking bewilderedly at the tea-table.) Eggs! (Aside.)
O Hades! She must have a nursery-tea at this hour. S'pose they've
wiped her mouth and sent her to me while the Mother is getting on
her duds. (Aloud.) No, thanks.
Miss T. (Crimson with confusion.) Oh! I didn't mean that. I
wasn't thinking of mou-eggs for an instant. I mean salt. Won't you
have some sa-sweets? (Aside.) He'll think me a raving lunatic. I
wish Mamma would come.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) It was a nursery-tea and she's ashamed of it. By
Jove! She doesn't look half bad when she colors up like that.
(Aloud, helping himself from the dish.) Have you seen those new
chocolates at Peliti's?
Miss T. No, I made these myself. What are they like?
CAPT. G. These! De-licious. (Aside.) And that's a fact.
Miss T. (Aside.) Oh, bother! he'll think I'm fishing for
compliments. (Aloud.) No, Peliti's of course.
CAPT. G. (Enthusiastically.) Not to compare with these. How
d'you make them? I can't get my khansamah to understand the
simplest thing beyond mutton and fowl.
Miss T. Yes? I'm not a khansamah, you know. Perhaps you
frighten him. You should never frighten a servant. He loses his
head. It's very bad policy.
CAPT. G. He's so awf'ly stupid.
Miss T. (Folding her hands in her Zap.) You should call him
quietly and say: "O khansamah jee!"
CAPT. G. (Getting interested.) Yes? (Aside.) Fancy that little
featherweight saying, "O khansamah jee" to my bloodthirsty Mir
Miss T Then you should explain the dinner, dish by dish.
CAPT. G. But I can't speak the vernacular.
Miss T. (Patronizingly.) You should pass the Higher Standard and
CAPT. G. I have, but I don't seem to be any the wiser. Are you?
Miss T. I never passed the Higher Standard. But the khansamah is
very patient with me. He doesn't get angry when I talk about
sheep's topees, or order maunds of grain when I mean seers.
CAPT. G. (Aside with intense indignation.) I'd like to see Mir
Khan being rude to that girl! Hullo! Steady the Buffs! (Aloud.)
And do you understand about horses, too?
Miss T. A little-not very much. I can't doctor them, but I know
what they ought to eat, and I am in charge of our stable.
CAPT. G. Indeed! You might help me then. What ought a man to
give his sais in the Hills? My ruffian says eight rupees, because
everything is so dear.
Miss T. Six rupees a month, and one rupee Simla allowance-
neither more nor less. And a grass-cut gets six rupees. That's
better than buying grass in the bazar.
CAPT. G. (Admiringly.) How do you know?
Miss T. I have tried both ways.
CAPT. G. Do you ride much, then? I've never seen you on the
Miss T. (Aside.) I haven't passed him more than fifty times.
(Aloud.) Nearly every day.
CAPT. G. By Jove! I didn't know that. Ha-Hamm (Pulls at his
mousache and is silent for forty seconds.) Miss T. (Desperately,
and wondering what will happen next.) It looks beautiful. I
shouldn't touch it if I were you. (Aside.) It's all Mamma's fault for
not coming before. I will be rude!
CAPT. G. (Bronzing under the tan and bringing down his hand
very quickly.) Eh! What-at! Oh, yes! Ha! Ha! (Laughs uneasily.)
(Aside.) Well, of all the dashed cheek! I never had a woman say
that to me yet. She must be a cool hand or else-Ah! that
VOICE PROM THE UNKNOWN. Tchk! Tchk! Tchk!
CAPT. G. Good gracious! What's that?
Miss T. The dog, I think. (Aside.) Emma has been listening, and
I'll never forgive her!
CAPT. G. (Aside.) They don't keep dogs here. (Aloud.) 'Didn't
sound like a dog, did it?
Miss T. Then it must have been the cat. Let's go into the veranda.
What a lovely evening it is!
Steps into veranda and looks out across the hills into sunset. The
CAPT. G. (Aside.) Superb eyes! I wonder that I never noticed
them before! (Aloud.) There's going to he a dance at Viceregal
Lodge on Wednesday. Can you spare me one?
Miss T. (Shortly.) No! I don't want any of your charity-dances.
You only ask me because Mamma told you to. I hop and I bump.
You know I do!
CAPT. G. (Aside.) That's true, but little girls shouldn't understand
these things. (Aloud.) No, on my word, I don't. You dance
Miss T. Then why do you always stand out after half a dozen
turns? I thought officers in the Army didn't tell fibs.
CAPT. G. It wasn't a fib, believe me. I really do want the pleasure
of a dance with you.
Miss T. (Wickedly.) Why? Won't Mamma dance with you any
CAPT. G. (More earnestly than the necessity demands.) I wasn't
thinking of your Mother. (Aside.) You little vixen!
Miss T. (Still looking out of the window.) Eh? Oh, I beg your par
don. I was thinking of something else.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) Well! I wonder what she'll say next. I've never
known a woman treat me like this before. I might be--Dash it, I
might be an Infantry subaltern! (Aloud.) Oh, please don't trouble.
I'm not worth thinking about. Isn't your Mother ready yet?
Miss T. I should think so; but promise me, Captain Gadsby, you
won't take poor dear Mamma twice round Jakko any more. It tires
CAPT. G. She says that no exercise tires her.
Miss T. Yes, but she suffers afterward. You don't know what
rheumatism is, and you oughtn't to keep her out so late, when it
gets chill in the evenings.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) Rheumatism. I thought she came off her horse
rather in a bunch. Whew! One lives and learns. (Aloud.) I'm
sorry to hear that. She hasn't mentioned it to me.
Miss T. (Flurried.) Of course not! Poor dear Mamma never would.
And you mustn't say that I told you either. Promise me that you
won't. Oh, CAPTAIN Gadsby, promise me you won't I
CAPT. G. I am dumb, or-I shall be as soon as you've given me that
dance, and another-if you can trouble yourself to think about me
for a minute.
Miss T. But you won't like it one little bit. You'll be awfully sorry
CAPT. G. I shall like it above all things, and I shall only be sorry
that I didn't get more. (Aside.) Now what in the world am I
Miss T. Very well. You will have only yourself to thank if your
toes are trodden on. Shall we say Seven?
CAPT. G. And Eleven. (Aside.) She can't be more than eight
stone, but, even then, it's an absurdly small foot. (Looks at his own
Miss T. They're beautifully shiny. I can almost see my face in
CAPT. G. I was thinking whether I should have to go on crutches
for the rest of my life if you trod on my toes.
Miss T. Very likely. Why not change Eleven for a square?
CAPT. G. No, please! I want them both waltzes. Won't you write
Miss T. J don't get so many dances that I shall confuse them. You
will be the offender.
CAPT. G. Wait and see! (Aside.) She doesn't dance perfectly,
Miss T. Your tea must have got cold by this time. Won't you have
CAPT. G. No, thanks. Don't you think it's pleasanter out in the
veranda? (Aside.) I never saw hair take that color in the sunshine
before. (Aloud.) It's like one of Dicksee's pictures.
Miss T. Yes I It's a wonderful sunset, isn't it? (Bluntly.) But what
do you know about Dicksee's pictures?
CAPT. G. I go Home occasionally. And I used to know the
Galleries. (Nervously.) You mustn't think me only a Philistine
Miss T. Don't! Please don't. I'm so sorry for what I said then. I was
horribly rude. It slipped out before j thought. Don't you know the
temptation to say frightful and shocking things just for the mere
sake of saying them? I'm afraid I gave way to it.
CAPT. G. (Watching the girl as she flushes.) I think I know the
feeling. It would be terrible if we all yielded to it, wouldn't it? For
instance, I might say-POOR DEAR MAMMA. (Entering, habited,
hatted, and booted.) Ah, Captain Gadsby? 'Sorry to keep you
waiting. 'Hope you haven't been bored. 'My little girl been talking
Miss T. (Aside.) I'm not sorry I spoke about the rheumatism. I'm
not! I'm NOT! I only wished I'd mentioned the corns too.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) What a shame! I wonder how old she is. It
never occurred to me before. (Aloud.) We've been discussing
"Shakespeare and the musical glasses" in the veranda.
Miss T. (Aside.) Nice man! He knows that quotation. He isn't a
Philistine with a moustache. (Aloud.) Good-bye, Captain Gadsby.
(Aside.) What a huge hand and what a squeeze! I don't suppose he
meant it, but he has driven the rings into my fingers.
POOR DEAR MAMMA. Has Vermillion come round yet? Oh,
yes! Captain Gadsby, don't you think that the saddle is too far
forward? (They pass into the front veranda.)
CAPT. G. (Aside.) How the dickens should I know what she
prefers? She told me that she doted on horses. (Aloud.) I think it
Miss T. (Coming out into front veranda.) Oh! Bad Buldoo! I
must speak to him for this. He has taken up the curb two links,
and Vermillion bates that. (Passes out and to horse's head.)
CAPT. G. Let me do it!
Miss. T. No, Vermillion understands me. Don't you, old man?
(Looses curb-chain skilfully, and pats horse on nose and throttle.)
Poor Vermillion! Did they want to cut his chin off? There!
Captain Gadsby watches the interlude with undisguised
POOR DEAR MAMMA. (Tartly to Miss T.) You've forgotten
your guest, I think, dear.
Miss T. Good gracious! So I have! Good-bye. (Retreats indoors
POOR DEAR MAMMA. (Bunching reins in fingers hampered by
too tight gauntlets.) CAPTAIN Gadsby!
CAPTAIN GADSBY stoops and makes the foot-rest. POOR
DEAR MAMMA blunders, halts too long, and breaks through it.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) Can't hold up even stone forever. It's all your
rheumatism. (Aloud.) Can't imagine why I was so clumsy.
(Aside.) Now Little Featherweight would have gone up like a bird.
They ride oat of the garden. The Captain falls back.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) How that habit catches her under the arms!
POOR DEAR MAMMA. (With the worn smile of sixteen
seasons, the worse for exchange.) You're dull this afternoon,
CAPT. G. (Spurring up wearily.) Why did you keep me waiting so
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
(AN INTERVAL OF THREE WEEKS.)
GILDED YOUTH. (Sitting on railings opposite Town Hall.)
Hullo, Gandy! 'Been trotting out the Gorgonzola! We all thought it
was the Gorgan you're mashing.
CAPT. G. (With withering emphasis.) You young cub! What the-
does it matter to you?
Proceeds to read GILDED YOUTH a lecture on discretion and
deportment, which crumbles latter like a Chinese Lantern. Departs
(FURTHER INTERVAL OF FIVE WEEKS.) SCENE.-Exterior of
New Simla Library
on a foggy evening. Miss THREECAN and Miss DEERCOURT
meet among the 'rickshaws. Miss T. is carrying a bundle of books
under her left arm.
Miss D. (Level intonation.) Well?
Miss 'I'. (Ascending intonation.) Well?
Miss D. (Capturing her friend's left arm, taking away all the books,
placing books in 'rickshaw, returning to arm, securing hand by
third finger and investigating.) Well! You bad girl! And you
never told me.
Miss T. (Demurely.) He-he-he only spoke yesterday afternoon.
Miss D. Bless you, dear! And I'm to be bridesmaid, aren't I? You
know you promised ever so long ago.
Miss T. Of course. I'll tell you all about it to-morrow. (Gets into
'rickshaw.) O Emma!
Miss D. (With intense interest.) Yes, dear?
Miss T. (Piano.) It's quite true- - - about-the-egg.
Miss D. What egg?
Miss T. (Pianissimo prestissimo.) The egg without the salt.
(Porte.) Chalo ghar ko jaldi, jhampani! (Go home, jhampani.)
THE WORLD WITHOUT
Certain people of importance.
SCENE.-Smoking-room of the Degchi Club. Time, 10.30 P. M. of
a stuffy night in the Rains. Four men dispersed in picturesque
attitudes and easy-chairs. To these enter BLAYNE of the Irregular
Moguls, in evening dress.
BLAYNE. Phew! The Judge ought to be hanged in his own
store-godown. Hi, khitmatgarl Poora whiskey-peg, to take the taste
out of my mouth.
CURTISS. (Royal Artillery.) That's it, is it? What the deuce
made you dine at the Judge's? You know his bandobust.
BLAYNE. 'Thought it couldn't be worse than the Club, but I'll
swear he buys ullaged liquor and doctors it with gin and ink
(looking round the room.) Is this all of you to-night?
DOONE. (P.W.D.) Anthony was called out at dinner. Mingle had
a pain in his tummy.
CURTISS. Miggy dies of cholera once a week in the Rains, and
gets drunk on chlorodyne in between. 'Good little chap, though.
Any one at the Judge's, Blayne?
BLAYNE. Cockley and his memsahib looking awfully white and
fagged. 'F('.male girl-couldn't catch the name-on her way to the
Hills, under the Cockleys' charge-the Judge, and Markyn fresh
from Simla-disgustingly fit.
CURTISS. Good Lord, how truly magnificent! Was there enough
ice? When I mangled garbage there I got one whole lump-nearly as
big as a walnut. What had Markyn to say for himself?
BLAYNE. 'Seems that every one is having a fairly good time up
there in spite of the rain. By Jove, that reminds me! I know I
hadn't come across just for the pleasure of your society. News!
Great news! Markyn told me.
DOONE. Who's dead now?
BLAYNE. No one that I know of; but Gandy's hooked at last!
DROPPING CHORUS. How much? The Devil! Markyn was
pulling your leg. Not GANDY!
BLAYNE. (Humming.) "Yea, verily, verily, verily! Verily, verily,
I say unto thee." Theodore, the gift o' God! Our Phillup! It's been
given out up above.
MACKESY. (Barrister-at-Law.) Huh! Women will give out
anything. What does accused say?
BLAYNE. Markyn told me that he congratulated him warily-one
hand held out, t'other ready to guard. Gandy turned pink and said it
CURTISS. Poor old Caddy! They all do it. Who's she? Let's hear
BLAYNE. She's a girl-daughter of a Colonel Somebody.
DOONE. Simla's stiff with Colonels' daughters. Be more explicit.
BLAYNE. Wait a shake. What was her name? Thresomething.
CURTISS. Stars, perhaps. Caddy knows that brand.
BLAYNE. Threegan-Minnie Threegan.
MACKESY. Threegan Isn't she a little bit of a girl with red hair?
BLAYNE. 'Bout that-from what from what Markyn said.
MACKESY. Then I've met her. She was at Lucknow last season.
'Owned a permanently juvenile Mamma, and danced damnably. I
say, Jervoise, you knew the Threegans, didn't you?
JERVOISE. (Civilian of twenty-five years' service, waking up
from his doze.) Eh? What's that? Knew who? How? I thought I was
at Home, confound you!
MACKESY. The Threegan girl's engaged, so Blayne says.
JERVOISE. (Slowly.) Engaged-en-gaged! Bless my soul! I'm
getting an old man! Little Minnie Threegan engaged. It was only
the other day I went home with them in the Surat-no, the Massilia-
and she was crawling about on her hands and knees among the
ayahs. 'Used to call me the "Tick Tack Sakib" because I showed
her my watch. And that was in Sixty-Seven-no, Seventy. Good
God, how time flies! I'm an old man. I remember when Threegan
married Miss Derwent-daughter of old Hooky Derwent-but that
was before your time. And so the little baby's engaged to have a
little baby of her own! Who's the other fool?
MACKESY. Gadsby of the Pink Hussars.
JERVOISE. 'Never met him. Threegan lived in debt, married in
debt, and 'll die in debt. 'Must be glad to get the girl off his hands.
BLAYNE. Caddy has money-lucky devil. Place at Home, too.
DOONE. He comes of first-class stock. 'Can't quite understand
his being caught by a Colonel's daughter, and (looking cautiously
round room.) Black Infantry at that! No offence to you, Blayne.
BLAYNE. (Stiffly.) Not much, thaanks.
CURTISS. (Quoting motto of Irregular Moguls.) "We are what we
are," eh, old man? But Gandy was such a superior animal as a rule.
Why didn't he go Home and pick his wife there?
MACKESY. They are all alike when they come to the turn into
the straight. About thirty a man begins to get sick of living alone.
CURTISS. And of the eternal muttony-chop in the morning.
DOONE. It's a dead goat as a rule, but go on, Mackesy.
MACKESY. If a man's once taken that way nothing will hold him,
Do you remember Benoit of your service, Doone? They transferred
him to Tharanda when his time came, and he married a platelayer's
daughter, or something of that kind. She was the only female
about the place.
DONE. Yes, poor brute. That smashed Benoit's chances of
promotion altogether. Mrs. Benoit used to ask "Was you gem' to
the dance this evenin'?"
CURTISS. Hang it all! Gandy hasn't married beneath him. There's
no tarbrush in the family, I suppose.
JERVOISE. Tar-brush! Not an anna. You young fellows talk as
though the man was doing the girl an honor in marrying her.
You're all too conceited-nothing's good enough for you.
BLAYNE. Not even an empty Club, a dam' bad dinner at the
Judge's, and a Station as sickly as a hospital. You're quite right.
We're a set of Sybarites.
DOONE. Luxurious dogs, wallowing in-
CURTISS. Prickly heat between the shoulders. I'm covered with
it. Let's hope Beora will be cooler.
BLAYNE. Whew! Are you ordered into camp, too? I thought the
Gunners had a clean sheet.
CURTISS. No, worse luck. Two cases yesterday-one died-and if
we have a third, out we go. Is there any shooting at Beora, Doone?
DOONE. The country's under water, except the patch by the
Grand Trunk Road. I was there yesterday, looking at a bund, and
came across four poor devils in their last stage. It's rather bad
from here to Kuchara.
CURTISS. Then we're pretty certain to have a heavy go of it.
Heigho! I shouldn't mind changing places with Gaddy for a while.
'Sport with Amaryllis in the shade of the Town Hall, and all that.
Oh, why doesn't somebody come and marry me, instead of letting
me go into cholera-camp?
MACKESY. Ask the Committee.
CURTISS. You ruffian! You'll stand me another peg for that.
Blayne, what will you take? Mackesy is fine on moral grounds.
Done, have you any preference?
DONE. Small glass Kummel, please. Excellent carminative, these
days. Anthony told me so.
MACKESY. (Signing voucher for four drinks.) Most unfair
punishment. I only thought of Curtiss as Actaeon being chivied
round the billiard tables by the nymphs of Diana.
BLAYNE. Curtiss would have to import his nymphs by train. Mrs.
Cockley's the only woman in the Station. She won't leave Cockley,
and he's doing his best to get her to go.
CURTISS. Good, indeed! Here's Mrs. Cockley's health. To the
only wife in the Station and a damned brave woman!
OMNES. (Drinking.) A damned brave woman
BLAVNE. I suppose Gandy will bring his wife here at the end of
the cold weather. They are going to be married almost
immediately, I believe.
CURTISS. Gandy may thank his luck that the Pink Hussars are all
detachment and no headquarters this hot weather, or he'd be torn
from the arms of his love as sure as death. Have you ever noticed
the thorough-minded way British Cavalry take to cholera? It's
because they are so expensive. If the Pinks had stood fast here,
they would have been out in camp a. month ago. Yes, I should
decidedly like to be Gandy.
MACKESY. He'll go Home after he's married, and send in his
papers-see if he doesn't.
BLAYNE. Why shouldn't he? Hasn't he money? Would any one of
us be here if we weren't paupers?
DONE. Poor old pauper! What has become of the six hundred you
rooked from our table last month?
BLAYNE. It took unto itself wings. I think an enterprising
tradesman got some of it, and a shroff gobbled the rest-or else I
CURTISS. Gandy never had dealings with a shroff in his life.
DONE. Virtuous Gandy! If I had three thousand a month, paid
from England, I don't think I'd deal with a shroff either.
MACKESY. (Yawning.) Oh, it's a sweet life! I wonder whether
matrimony would make it sweeter.
CURTISS. Ask Cockley-with his wife dying by inches!
BLAYNE. Go home and get a fool of a girl to come out to-what is
it Thackeray says?-"the splendid palace of an Indian pro-consul."
DOONE. Which reminds me. My quarters leak like a sieve. I had
fever last night from sleeping in a swamp. And the worst of it is,
one can't do anything to a roof till the Rains are over.
CURTISS. What's wrong with you? You haven't eighty rotting
Tommies to take into a running stream.
DONE. No: but I'm mixed boils and bad language. I'm a regular
Job all over my body. It's sheer poverty of blood, and I don't see
any chance of getting richer-either way.
BLAYNE. Can't you take leave? DONE. That's the pull you Army
men have over us. Ten days are nothing in your sight. I'm so
important that Government can't find a substitute if I go away.
Ye-es, I'd like to be Gandy, whoever his wife may be.
CURTISS. You've passed the turn of life that Mackesy was
DONE. Indeed I have, but I never yet had the brutality to ask a
woman to share my life out here.
BLAvNE. On my soul I believe you're right. I'm thinking of Mrs.
Cockley. The woman's an absolute wreck.
DONE. Exactly. Because she stays down here. The only way to
keep her fit would be to send her to the Hills for eight months-and
the same with any woman. I fancy I see myself taking a wife on
MACKESY. With the rupee at one and sixpence. The little
Doones would be little Debra Doones, with a fine Mussoorie
chi-chi anent to bring home for the holidays.
CURTISS. And a pair of be-ewtiful sambhur-horns for Done to
wear, free of expense, presented by-DONE. Yes, it's an enchanting
prospect. By the way, the rupee hasn't done falling yet. The time
will come when we shall think ourselves lucky if we only lose half
CURTISS. Surely a third's loss enough. Who gains by the
arrangement? That's what I want to know.
BLAYNE. The Silver Question! I'm going to bed if you begin
squabbling Thank Goodness, here's Anthony-looking like a
Enter ANTHONY, Indian Medical Staff, very white and tired.
ANTHONY. 'Evening, Blayne. It's raining in sheets. Whiskey
peg lao, khitmatgar. The roads are something ghastly.
CURTISS. How's Mingle?
ANTHONY. Very bad, and more frightened. I handed him over to
Few-ton. Mingle might just as well have called him in the first
place, instead of bothering me.
BLAYNE. He's a nervous little chap. What has he got, this time?
ANTHONY. 'Can't quite say. A very bad tummy and a blue funk so
far. He asked me at once if it was cholera, and I told him not to be
a fool. That soothed him.
CURTIS. Poor devil! The funk does half the business in a man of
ANTHONY. (Lighting a cheroot.) I firmly believe the funk will
kill him if he stays down. You know the amount of trouble he's
been giving Fewton for the last three weeks. He's doing his very
best to frighten himself into the grave.
GENERAL CHORUS. Poor little devil! Why doesn't he get away?
ANTHONY. 'Can't. He has his leave all right, but he's so dipped he
can't take it, and I don't think his name on paper would raise four
annas. That's in confidence, though.
MACKESY. All the Station knows it.
ANTHONY. "I suppose I shall have to die here," he said,
squirming all across the bed. He's quite made up his mind to
Kingdom Come. And I know he has nothing more than a
wet-weather tummy if he could only keep a hand on himself.
BLAYNE. That's bad. That's very bad. Poor little Miggy. Good
little chap, too. I say-
ANTHONY. What do you say?
BLAYNE. Well, look here-anyhow. If it's like that-as you say-I
CURTISS. I say fifty.
MACKESY. I go twenty better.
DONE. Bloated Croesus of the Bar! I say fifty. Jervoise, what do
you say? Hi! Wake up!
JERVOISE. Eh? What's that? What's that?
CURTISS. We want a hundred rupees from you. You're a
bachelor drawing a gigantic income, and there's a man in a hole.
JERVOISE. What man? Any one dead?
BLAYNE. No, hut he'll die if you don't give the hundred. Here!
Here's a peg-voucher. You can see what we've signed for, and
Anthony's man will come round to-morrow to collect it. So there
will be no trouble.
JERVOISE. (Signing.) One hundred, E. M. J. There you are
(feebly). It isn't one of your jokes, is it?
BLAYNE. No, it really is wanted. Anthony, you were the biggest
poker-winner last week, and you've defrauded the tax-collector too
ANTHONY. Let's see. Three fifties and a seventy-two
twenty-three twenty-say four hundred and twenty. That'll give him
a month clear at the Hills. Many thanks, you men. I'll send round
the chaprassi to-morrow.
CURTISS. You must engineer his taking the stuff, and of course
ANTHONY. Of course. It would never do. He'd weep with
gratitude over his evening drink.
BLAYNE. That's just what he would do, damn him. Oh! I say,
Anthony, you pretend to know everything. Have you heard about
ANTHONY. No. Divorce Court at last?
BLAYNE. Worse. He's engaged!
ANTHONY. How much? He can't be!
BLAYNE. He is. He's going to be married in a few weeks. Markyn
told me at the Judge's this evening. It's pukka.
ANTHONY. You don't say so? Holy Moses! There'll be a shine in
the tents of Kedar.
CURTISS. 'Regiment cut up rough, think you?
ANTHONY. 'Don't know anything about the Regiment.
MACKESY. It is bigamy, then?
ANTHONY. Maybe. Do you mean to say that you men have
forgotten, or is there more charity in the world than I thought?
DONE. You don't look pretty when you are trying to keep a secret.
You bloat. Explain.
ANTHONY. Mrs. Herriott!
BLAYNE. (After a long pause, to the room generally.) It's my
notion that we are a set of fools.
MACKESY. Nonsense. That business was knocked on the head
last season. Why, young Mallard-
ANTHONY. Mallard was a candlestick, paraded as such. Think
awhile. Recollect last season and the talk then. Mallard or no
Mallard, did Gandy ever talk to any other woman?
CURTISS. There's something in that. It was slightly noticeable
now you come to mention it. But she's at Naini Tat and he's at
ANTHONY. He had to go to Simla to look after a globe-trotter
relative of his-a person with a title. Uncle or aunt.
BLAYNE And there he got engaged. No law prevents a man
growing tired of a woman.
ANTHONY. Except that he mustn't do it till the woman is tired of
him. And the Herriott woman was not that.
CURTISS. She may be now. Two months of Naini Tal works
DONE. Curious thing how some women carry a Fate with them.
There was a Mrs. Deegie in the Central Provinces whose men
invariably fell away and got married. It became a regular proverb
with us when I was down there. I remember three men desperately
devoted to her, and they all, one after another, took wives.
CURTISS. That's odd. Now I should have thought that Mrs.
Deegie's influence would have led them to take other men's wives.
It ought to have made them afraid of the judgment of Providence.
ANTHONY. Mrs. Herriott will make Gandy afraid of something
more than the judgment of Providence, I fancy.
BLAYNE. Supposing things are as you say, he'll be a fool to face
her. He'll sit tight at Simla.
ANTHONY. 'Shouldn't be a bit surprised if he went off to Naini to
explain. He's an unaccountable sort of man, and she's likely to be
a more than unaccountable woman.
DONE. What makes you take her character away so confidently?
ANTHONY. Primum tern pus. Caddy was her first and a woman
doesn't allow her first man to drop away without expostulation.
She justifies the first transfer of affection to herself by swearing
that it is forever and ever. Consequently-
BLAYNE. Consequently, we are sitting here till past one o'clock,
talking scandal like a set of Station cats. Anthony, it's all your
fault. We were perfectly respectable till you came in Go to bed.
I'm off, Good-night all.
CURTISS. Past one! It's past two by Jove, and here's the khit
coming for the late charge. Just Heavens! One, two, three, four,
five rupees to pay for the pleasure of saying that a poor little beast
of a woman is no better than she should be. I'm ashamed of myself.
Go to bed, you slanderous villains, and if I'm sent to Beora
to-morrow, be prepared to hear I'm dead before paying my card
THE TENTS OF KEDAR
Only why should it be with pain at all Why must I 'twix the leaves
of corona! Put any kiss of pardon on thy brow? Why should the
other women know so much, And talk together -Such the look and
such The smile he used to love with, then as now. -Any Wife to
SCENE -A Naini Tal dinner for thirty-four. Plate, wines, crockery,
and khitmatgars care fully calculated to scale of Rs. 6000 per
mensem, less Exchange. Table split lengthways by bank of
MRS. HERRIOTT. (After conversation has risen to proper pitch.)
Ah! 'Didn't see you in the crush in the drawing-room. (Sotto voce.)
Where have you been all this while, Pip?
CAPTAIN GADSBY. (Turning from regularly ordained dinner
partner and settling hock glasses.) Good evening. (Sotto voce.)
Not quite so loud another time. You've no notion how your voice
carries. (Aside.) So much for shirking the written explanation. It'll
have to be a verbal one now. Sweet prospect! How on earth am I
to tell her that I am a respectable, engaged member of society and
it's all over between us?
MRS. H. I've a heavy score against you. Where were you at the
Monday Pop? Where were you on Tuesday? Where were you at
the Lamonts' tennis? I was looking everywhere.
CAPT. G. For me! Oh, I was alive somewhere, I suppose.
(Aside.) It's for Minnie's sake, but it's going to be dashed
MRS. H. Have I done anything to offend you? I never meant it if I
have. I couldn't help going for a ride with the Vaynor man. It was
promised a week before you came up.
CAPT. G. I didn't know-
MRS. H. It really was.
CAPT. G. Anything about it, I mean.
MRS. H. What has upset you today? All these days? You haven't
been near me for four whole days-nearly one hundred hours. Was
it kind of you, Pip? And I've been looking forward so much to
CAPT. G. Have you?
MRS. H. You know I have! I've been as foolish as a schoolgirl
about it. I made a little calendar and put it in my card-case, and
every time the twelve o'clock gun went off I scratched out a square
and said: "That brings me nearer to Pip. My Pip!"
CAPT. G. (With an uneasy laugh). What will Mackler think if you
neglect him so?
MRS. H. And it hasn't brought you nearer. You seem farther away
than ever. Are you sulking about something? I know your temper.
CAPT. G. No.
MRS. H. Have I grown old in' the last few months, then? (Reaches
forward to bank of flowers for menu-card.)
PARTNER ON LEFT. Allow me. (Hands menu-card. MRS. H.
keeps her arm at full stretch for three seconds.)
MRS. H. (To partner.) Oh, thanks. I didn't see. (Turns right again.)
Is anything in me changed at all?
CAPT. G. For Goodness's sake go on with your dinner! You must
eat something. Try one of those cutlet arrangements. (Aside.)
And I fancied she had good shoulders, once upon a time! What an
ass a man can make of himself!
MRS. H. (Helping herself to a paper frill, seven peas, some
stamped carrots and a spoonful of gravy.) That isn't an answer.
Tell me whether I have done anything.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) If it isn't ended here there will be a ghastly
scene some- where else. If only I'd written to her and stood the
racket-at long range! (To Khitmatgar.) Han! Simpkin do. (Aloud.)
I'll tell you later on.
MRS. H. Tell me now. It must be some foolish misunderstanding,
and you know that there was to be nothing of that sort between us.
We) of all people in the world, can't afford it. Is it the Vaynor
man, and don't you like to say so? On my honor-CAPT. G. I haven't
given the Vaynor man a thought.
MRS. H. But how d'you know that I haven't?
CAPT. G. (Aside.) Here's my chance and may the Devil help me
through with it. (Aloud and measuredly.) Believe me, I do not care
how often or how tenderly you think of the Vaynor man.
MRS. H. I wonder if you mean that! Oh, what is the good of
squabbling and pretending to misunderstand when you are only up
for so short a time? Pip, don't be a stupid!
Follows a pause, during which he crosses his left leg over his right
and continues his dinner.
CAPT. G. (In answer to the thunderstorm in her eyes.) Corns-my
MRS. H. Upon my word, you are the very rudest man in the
world! I'll never do it again.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) No, I don't think you will; but I wonder what
you will do before it's all over. (To Khitmatgar.) Thorah ur
MRS. H. Well! Haven't you the grace to apologize, bad man?
CAPT. G. (Aside.) I mustn't let it drift back now. Trust a woman
for being as blind as a bat when she won't see.
MRS. H. I'm waiting; or would you like me to dictate a form of
CAPT. G. (Desperately.) By all means dictate.
MRS. H. (Lightly.) Very well. Rehearse your several Christian
names after me and go on: "Profess my sincere repentance."
CAPT. G. "Sincere repentance."
MRS. H. "For having behaved"-
CAPT. G. (Aside.) At last! I wish to Goodness she'd look away.
"For having behaved"-as I have behaved, and declare that I am
thoroughly and heartily sick of the whole business, and take this
opportunity of making clear my intention of ending it, now,
henceforward, and forever. (Aside.) If any one had told me I
should be such a blackguard!-
MRS. H. (Shaking a spoonful of potato chips into her plate.) That's
not a pretty joke.
CAPT. G. No. It's a reality. (Aside.) I wonder if smashes of this
kind are always so raw.
MRS. H. Really, Pip, you're getting more absurd every day.
CAPT. G. I don't think you quite understand me. Shall I repeat it?
MRS. H. No! For pity's sake don't do that. It's too terrible, even in
CAPT. G. I'll let her think it over for a while. But I ought to be
MRS. H. I want to know what you meant by what you said just
CAPT. G. Exactly what I said. No less.
MRS. H. But what have I done to deserve it? What have I done?
CAPT. G. (Aside.) If she only wouldn't look at me. (Aloud and
very slowly, his eyes on his plate.) D'you remember that evening
in July, before the Rains broke, when you said that the end would
have to come sooner or later-and you wondered for which of US it
would come first?
MRS. H. Yes! I was only joking. And you swore that, as long as
there was breath in your body, it should never come. And I
CAPT. G. (Fingering menu-card.) Well, it has. That's all.
A long pause, during which MRS. H. bows her head and rolls the
bread-twist into little pellets; G. stares at the oleanders.
MRS. H. (Throwing back her head and laughing naturally.) They
train us women well, don't they, Pip?
CAPT. G. (Brutally, touching shirt-stud.) So far as the expression
goes. (Aside.) It isn't in her nature to take things quietly. There'll
be an explosion yet.
MRS. H. (With a shudder.) Thank you. B-but even Red Indians
allow people to wriggle when they're being tortured, I believe.
(Slips fan from girdle and fans slowly: rim of fan level with chin.)
PARTNER ON LEFT. Very close tonight, isn't it? 'You find it too
much for you?
MRS. H. Oh, no, not in the least. But they really ought to have
punkahs, even in your cool Naini Tal, oughtn't they? (Turns,
dropping fan and raising eyebrows.)
CAPT. G. It's all right. (Aside.) Here comes the storm!
MRS. H. (Her eyes on the tablecloth: fan ready in right hand.) It
was very cleverly managed, Pip, and I congratulate you. You
swore-you never contented yourself with merely Saying a
thing-you swore that, as far as lay in your power, you'd make my
wretched life pleasant for me. And you've denied me the
consolation of breaking down. I should have done it-indeed I
should. A woman would hardly have thought of this refinement,
my kind, considerate friend. (Fan-guard as before.) You have
explained things so tenderly and truthfully, too! You haven't
spoken or written a word of warning, and you have let me believe
in you till the last minute. You haven't condescended to give me
your reason yet. No! A woman could not have managed it half so
well. Are there many men like you in the world?
CAPT. G. I'm sure I don't know. (To Khitmatgar.) Ohe! Simpkin
MRS. H. You call yourself a man of the world, don't you? Do men
of the world behave like Devils when they a woman the honor to
get tired of her?
CAPT. G. I'm sure I don't know. Don't speak so loud!
MRS. H. Keep us respectable, O Lord, whatever happens. Don't
be afraid of my compromising you. You've chosen your ground far
too well, and I've been properly brought up. (Lowering fan.)
Haven't you any pity, Pip, except for yourself?
CAPT. G. Wouldn't it be rather impertinent of me to say that I'm
sorry for you?
MRS. H. I think you have said it once or twice before. You're
growing very careful of my feelings. My God, Pip, I was a good
woman once! You said I was. You've made me what I am. What
are you going to do with me? What are you going to do with me?
Won't you say that you are sorry? (Helps herself to iced asparagus.)
CAPT. G. I am sorry for you, if you Want the pity of such a brute
as I am. I'm awf'ly sorry for you.
MRS. H. Rather tame for a man of the world. Do you think that
that admission clears you?
CAPT. G. What can I do? I can only tell you what I think of
myself. You can't think worse than that?
MRS. H. Oh, yes, I can! And now, will you tell me the reason of
all this? Remorse? Has Bayard been suddenly conscience-
CAPT. G. (Angrily, his eyes still lowered.) No! The thing has
come to an end on my side. That's all. Mafisch!
MRS. H. "That's all. Mafisch!" As though I were a Cairene
Dragoman. You used to make prettier speeches. D'you remember
when you said?-
CAPT. G. For Heaven's sake don't bring that back! Call me
anything you like and I'll admit it-
MRS. H. But you don't care to be reminded of old lies? If I could
hope to hurt you one-tenth as much as you have hurt me
to-night-No, I wouldn't-I couldn't do it-liar though you are.
CAPT. G. I've spoken the truth.
MRS. H. My dear Sir, you flatter yourself. You have lied over the
reason. Pip, remember that I know you as you don't know
yourself. You have heen everything to me, though you are-
(Fan-guard.) Oh, what a contemptible Thing it is! And so you are
merely tired of me?
CAPT. G. Since you insist upon my repeating it-Yes.
Mas. H. Lie the first. I wish I knew a coarser word. Lie seems so
in-effectual in your case. The fire has just died out and there is no
fresh one? Think for a minute, Pip, if you care whether I despise
you more than I do. Simply Mafisch, is it?
CAPT. G. Yes. (Aside.) I think I deserve this.
MRS. H. Lie number two. Before the next glass chokes you, tell
CAPT. G. (Aside.) I'll make her pay for dragging Minnie into the
business! (Aloud.) Is it likely?
MRS. H. Very likely if you thought that it would flatter your
vanity. You'd cry my name on the house-tops to make people turn
CAPT. G. I wish I had. There would have been an end to this
MRS. H. Oh, no, there would not-And so you were going to be
virtuous and blase', were you? To come to me and say: "I've done
with you. The incident is clo-osed." I ought to be proud of having
kept such a man so long.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) It only remains to pray for the end of the
dinner. (Aloud.) You know what I think of myself.
MRS. H. As it's the only person in he world you ever do think of,
and as I know your mind thoroughly, I do. Vou want to get it all
over and-Oh, I can't keep you back! And you're going-think of it,
Pip-to throw me over for another woman. And you swore that all
other women were-Pip, my Pip! She can't care for you as I do.
Believe me, she can't. Is it any one that I know?
CAPT. G. Thank Goodness it isn't. (Aside.) I expected a cyclone,
but not an earthquake.
MRS. H. She can't! Is there anything that I wouldn't do for you-or
haven't done? And to think that I should take this trouble over you,
knowing what you are! Do you despise me for it?
CAPT. G. (Wiping his mouth to hide a smile.) Again? It's entirely
a work of charity on your part.
MRS. H. Ahhh! But I have no right to resent it.-Is she better-
looking than I? Who was it said?-
CAPT. G. No-not that!
MRS. H. I'll be more merciful than you were. Don't you know that
all women are alike?
CAPT. G. (Aside.) Then this is the exception that proves the rule.
MRS. H. All of them! I'll tell you anything you like. I will, upon
my word! They only want the admiration-from anybody-no matter
who-anybody! But there is always one man that they care for more
than any one else in the world, and would sacrifice all the others
to. Oh, do listen! I've kept the Vaynor man trotting after me like a
poodle, and he believes that he is the only man I am interested in.
I'll tell you what he said to me.
CAPT. G. Spare him. (Aside.) I wonder what his version is.
MRS. H. He's been waiting for me to look at him all through
dinner. Shall I do it, and you can see what an idiot he looks?
CAPT. G. "But what imports the nomination of this gentleman?"
MRS. H. Watch! (Sends a glance to the Vaynor man, who tries
vainly to combine a mouthful of ice pudding, a smirk of
self-satisfaction, a glare of intense devotion, and the stolidity of a
Bntish dining countenance.)
CAPT. G. (Critically.) He doesn't look pretty. Why didn't you
wait till the spoon was out of his mouth?
MRS. H. To amuse you. She'll make an exhibition of you as I've
made of him; and people will laugh at you. Oh, Pip, can't you see
that? It's as plain as the noonday Sun. You'll be trotted about and
told lies, and made a fool of like the others. j never made a fool of
you, did I?
CAPT. G. (Aside.) What a clever little woman it is!
MRS. H. Well, what have you to say?
CAPT. G. I feel better.
MRS. H. Yes, I suppose so, after I have come down to your level.
I couldn't have done it if I hadn't cared for you so much. I have
spoken the truth.
CAPT. G. It doesn't alter the situation.
MRS. H. (Passionately.) Then she has said that she cares for you!
Don't believe her, Pip. It's a lie-as bad as yours to me!
CAPT. G. Ssssteady! I've a notion that a friend of yours is looking
MRS. H. He! I hate him. He introduced you to me.
CAPT. G. (Aside.) And some people would like women to assist
in making the laws. Introduction to imply condonement. (Aloud.)
Well, you see, if you can remember so far back as that, I couldn't,
in' common politeness, refuse the offer.
MRS. H. In common politeness I We have got beyond that!
CAPT. G. (Aside.) Old ground means fresh trouble. (Aloud.) On
MRS. H. Your what? Ha, ha!
CAPT. G. Dishonor, then. She's not what you imagine. I meant to-
MRS. H. Don't tell me anything about her! She won't care for you,
and when you come back, after having made an exhibition of
yourself, you'll find me occupied with-
CAPT. G. (Insolently.) You couldn't while I am alive. (Aside.) If
that doesn't bring her pride to her rescue, nothing will.
MRS. H. (Drawing herself up.) Couldn't do it? I' (Softening.)
You're right. I don't believe I could-though you are what you are-a
coward and a liar in grain.
CAPT. G. It doesn't hurt so much after your little lecture-with
MRS. H. One mass of vanity! Will nothing ever touch you in this
life? There must be a Hereafter if it's only
for the benefit of-But you will have it all to yourself.
CAPT. G. (Under his eyebrows.) Are you certain of that?
MRS. H. I shall have had mine in this life; and it will serve me
CAPT. G. But the admiration that you insisted on so strongly a
moment ago? (Aside.) Oh, I am a brute!
MRS. H. (Fiercely.) Will that con-sole me for knowing that you
will go to her with the same words, the same arguments, and
the-the same pet names you used to me? And if she cares for you,
you two will laugh over my story. Won't that be punishment heavy
enough even for me-even for me?-And it's all useless. That's
CAPT. G. (Feebly.) Oh, come! I'm not so low as you think.
MRS. H. Not now, perhaps, but you will be. Oh, Pip, if a woman
flatters your vanity, there's nothing on earth that you would not tell
her; and no meanness that you would not do. Have I known you so
long without knowing that?
CAPT. G. If you can trust me in nothing else-and I don't see why I
should be trusted-you can count upon my holding my tongue.
MRS. H. If you denied everything you've said this evening and
declared it was all in' fun (a long pause), I'd trust you. Not
otherwise. All I ask is, don't tell her my name. Please don't. A man
might forget: a woman never would. (Looks up table and sees
hostess beginning to collect eyes.) So it's all ended, through no
fault of mine-Haven't I behaved beautifully? I've accepted your
dismissal, and you managed it as cruelly as you could, and I have
made you respect my sex, haven't I? (Arranging gloves and fan.) I
only pray that she'll know you some day as I know you now. I
wouldn't be you then, for I think even your conceit will be hurt. I
hope she'll pay you back the humiliation you've brought on me. I
hope- No. I don't! I can't give you up! I must have something to
look forward to or I shall go crazy. When it's all over, come back
to me, come back to me, and you'll find that you're my Pip still!
CAPT. G. (Very clearly.) False move, and you pay for it. It's a girl!
MRS. H. (Rising.) Then it was true! They said-but I wouldn't insult
you by asking. A girl! I was a girl not very long ago. Be good to
her, Pip. I daresay she believes in' you.
Goes out with an uncertain smile. He watches her through the
door, and settles into a chair as the men redistribute themselves.
CAPT. G. Now, if there is any Power who looks after this world,
will He kindly tell me what I have done? (Reaching out for the
claret, and half aloud.) What have I done?
WITH ANY AMAZEMENT
And are not afraid with any amazement. -Marriage Service.
SCENE.-A bachelor's bedroom-toilet-table arranged with
unnatural neat-ness. CAPTAIN GADSBY asleep and snoring
heavily. Time, 10:30 A. M.- a glorious autumn day at Simla. Enter
delicately Captain MAFFLIN of GADSBY's regiment. Looks at
sleeper, and shakes his head murmuring "Poor Gaddy." Performs
violent fantasia with hair-brushes on chairback.
CAPT. M. Wake up, my sleeping beauty! (Roars.)
"Uprouse ye, then, my merry merry men! It is our opening day! It
is our opening da-ay!"
Gaddy, the little dicky-birds have been billing and cooing for ever
so long; and I'm here!
CAPT. G. (Sitting up and yawning.) 'Mornin'. This is awf'ly good
of you, old fellow. Most awf'ly good of you. 'Don't know what I
should do without you. 'Pon my soul, I don't. 'Haven't slept a wink
CAPT. M. I didn't get in till half-past eleven. 'Had a look at you
then, and you seemed to be sleeping as soundly as a condemned
CAPT. G. Jack, if you want to make those disgustingly worn-out
jokes, you'd better go away. (With portentous gravity.) It's the
happiest day in my life.
CAPT. M. (Chuckling grimly.) Not by a very long chalk, my son.
You're going through some of the most refined torture you've ever
known. But be calm. I am with you. 'Shun! Dress!
CAPT. G. Eh! Wha-at?
CAPT. M. Do you suppose that you are your own master for the
next twelve hours? If you do, of course-(Makes for the door.)
CAPT. G. No! For Goodness' sake, old man, don't do that! You'll
see through, won't you? I've been mugging up that beastly drill,
and can't remember a line of it.
CAPT. M. (Overturning G.'s uniform.) Go and tub. Don't bother
me. I'll give you ten minutes to dress in.
interval, filled by the noise as O/ one splashing in the bath-room..
CAPT. G. (Emerging from dressing-room.) What time is it?
CAPT. M. Nearly eleven.
CAPT. G. Five hours more. O Lord!
CAPT. M. (Aside.) 'First sign of funk, that. 'Wonder if it's going
to spread. (Aloud.) Come along to breakfast.
CAPT. G. I can't eat anything. I don't want any breakfast.
CAPT. M. (Aside.) So early! (Aloud) CAPTAIN Gadsby, I order
you to eat breakfast, and a dashed good break -fast, too. None of
your bridal airs and graces with me!
Leads G. downstairs and stands over him while he eats two chops.
CAPT. G. (Who has looked at his watch thrice in the last five
minutes.) What time is it?
CAPT. M. Time to come for a walk. Light up.
CAPT. G. I haven't smoked for ten days, and I won't now. (Takes
cheroot which M. has cut for him, and blows smoke through his
nose luxuriously.) We aren't going down the Mall, are we?
CAPT. M. (Aside.) They're all alike in these stages. (Aloud.) No,
my Vestal. We're going along the quietest road we can find.
CAPT. G. Any chance of seeing Her? CAPT. M. Innocent! No!
Come along, and, if you want me for the final obsequies, don't cut
my eye out with your stick.
CAPT. G. (Spinning round.) I say, isn't She the dearest creature
that ever walked? What's the time? What comes after "wilt thou
take this woman"?
CAPT. M. You go for the ring. R'clect it'll be on the top of my
right-hand little finger, and just be careful how you draw it off,
because I shall have the Verger's fees somewhere in my glove.
CAPT. G. (Walking forward hastily.) D- the Verger! Come along!
It's past twelve and I haven't seen Her since yesterday evening.
(Spinning round again.) She's an absolute angel, Jack, and She's a
dashed deal too good for me. Look here, does She come up the
aisle on my arm, or how?
CAPT. M. If I thought that there was the least chance of your
remembering anything for two consecutive minutes, I'd tell you.
Stop passaging about like that!
CAPT. G. (Halting in *he middle of the road.) I say, Jack.
CAPT. M. Keep quiet for another ten minutes if you can, you
lunatic; and walk!
The two tramp at five miles an hour for fifteen minutes.
CAPT. G. What's the time? How about the cursed wedding-cake
and the slippers? They don't throw 'em about in church, do they?
CAPT. M. In-variably. The Padre leads off with his boots.
CAPT. G. Confound your silly soul! Don't make fun of me. I can't
stand it, and I won't!
CAPT. M. (Untroubled.) So-ooo, old horse You'll have to sleep
for a couple of hours this afternoon.
CAPT. G. (Spinning round.) I'm not going to be treated like a
dashed child. understand that
CAPT. M. (Aside.) Nerves gone to fiddle-strings. What a day
we're having! (Tenderly putting his hand on G.'s shoulder.) My
David, how long have you known this Jonathan? Would I come up
here to make a fool of you-after all these years?
CAPT. G. (Penitently.) I know, I know, Jack-but I'm as upset as I
can be. Don't mind what I say. Just hear me run through the drill
and see if I've got it all right:-"To have and to hold for better or
worse, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world
without end, so help me God. Amen."
CAPT. M. (Suffocating with suppressed laughter.) Yes. That's
about the gist of it. I'll prompt if you get into a hat.
CAPT. G. (Earnestly.) Yes, you'll stick by me, Jack, won't you?
I'm awfully happy, but I don't mind telling you that I'm in a blue
CAPT. M. (Gravely.) Are you? I should never have noticed it.
You don't look like it.
CAPT. G. Don't I? That's all right. (Spinning round.) On my soul
and honor, Jack, She's the sweetest little angel that ever came
down from the sky. There isn't a woman on earth fit to speak to
CAPT. M. (Aside.) And this is old Gandy! (Aloud.) Go on if it
CAPT. G. You can laugh! That's all you wild asses of bachelors
are fit for.
CAPT. M. (Drawling.) You never would wait for the troop to
come up. You aren't quite married yet, y'know.
CAPT. G. Ugh! That reminds me. I don't believe I shall be able to
get into any boots Let's go home and try 'em on (Hurries forward.)
CAPT. M. 'Wouldn't be in your shoes for anything that Asia has to
CAPT. G. (Spinning round.) That just shows your hideous
blackness of soul-your dense stupidity-your brutal
narrow-mindedness. There's only one fault about you. You're the
best of good fellows, and I don't know what [ should have done
without you, but-you aren't married. (Wags his head gravely.)
Take a wife, Jack.
CAPT. M. (With a face like a wall.) Va-as. Whose for choice?
CAPT. G. If you're going to be a blackguard, I'm going on- What's
CAPT. M. (Hums.)-
An' since 'twas very clear we drank only ginger-beer, Faith, there
must ha' been some stingo in the ginger."
Come back, you maniac. I'm going to take you home, and you're
going to lie down.
CAPT. G. What on earth do I want to lie down for?
CAPT. M. Give me a light from your cheroot and see.
CAPT. G. (Watching cheroot-butt quiver like a tuning-fork.)
Sweet state I'm in!
CAPT. M. You are. I'll get you a peg and you'll go to sleep.
They return and M. compounds a four-finger peg.
CAPT. G. O bus! bus! It'll make me as drunk as an owl.
CAPT. M. 'Curious thing, 'twon't have the slightest effect on you.
Drink it off, chuck yourself down there, and go to bye-bye.
CAPT. G. It's absurd. I sha'n't sleep, I know I sha'n'tl
Falls into heavy doze at end of seven minutes. CAPT. M. watches
CAPT. M. Poor old Gandy! I've seen a few turned off before, but
never one who went to the gallows in this condition. 'Can't tell how
it affects 'em, though. It's the thoroughbreds that sweat when
they're backed into double-harness.-And that's the man who went
through the guns at Amdheran like a devil possessed of devils.
(Leans over G.) But this is worse than the guns, old pal-worse than
the guns, isn't it? (G. turns in his sleep, and M. touches him
clumsily on the forehead.) Poor, dear old Gaddy I Going like the
rest of 'em-going like the rest of 'em-Friend that sticketh closer
than a brother-eight years. Dashed bit of a slip of a girl-eight
weeks! And-where's your friend? (Smokes disconsolately till
church clock strikes three.)
CAPT. M. Up with you! Get into your kit.
CAPT. C. Already? Isn't it too soon? Hadn't I better have a shave?
CAPT. M. No! You're all right. (Aside.) He'd chip his chin to
CAPT. C. What's the hurry?
CAPT. M. You've got to be there first.
CAPT. C. To be stared at?
CAPT. M. Exactly. You're part of the show. Where's the
burnisher? Your spurs are in a shameful state.
CAPT. G. (Gruffly.) Jack, I be damned if you shall do that for
CAPT. M. (More gruffly.) Dry' up and get dressed! If I choose to
clean your spurs, you're under my orders.
CAPT. G. dresses. M. follows suit.
CAPT. M. (Critically, walking round.) M'yes, you'll do. Only don't
look so like a criminal. Ring, gloves, fees-that's all right for me.
Let your moustache alone. Now, if the ponies are ready, we'll go.
CAPT. G. (Nervously.) It's much too soon. Let's light up! Let's
have a peg! Let's-CAPT. M. Let's make bally asses of ourselves!
"Good-peo-ple-all To prayers-we call."
CAPT. M. There go the bells! Come an-unless you'd rather not.
(They ride off.)
"We honor the King And Brides joy do bring- Good tidings we tell,
And ring the Dead's knell."
CAPT. G. (Dismounting at the door of the Church.) I say, aren't
we much too soon? There are no end of people inside. I say, aren't
we much too late? Stick by me, Jack! What the devil do I do?
CAPT. M. Strike an attitude at the bead of the aisle and wait for
Her. (G. groans as M. wheels him into position he/ore three
CAPT. M. (Imploringly.) Gaddy, if you love me, for pity's sake,
for the Honor of the Regiment, stand up! Chuck yourself into your
uniform! Look like a man! I've got to speak to the Padre a minute.
(G. breaks into a gentle Perspiration.) your face I'll never man
again. Stand up! visibly.) If you wipe your face I'll never be your
best man again. Stand up! (G. Trembles visibly.)
CAPT. M. (Returning.) She's commg now. Look out when the
music starts. There's the organ beginning to clack.
Bride steps out of 'rickshaw at Church door. G. catches a glimpse
o/ her and takes heart.
"The Voice that breathed o'er Eden, That earliest marriage day,
The primal marriage-blessing, It hath not passed away."
CAPT. M. (Watching G.) By Jove! He is looking well. 'Didn't
think he had it in him.
CAPT. G. How long does this hymn go on for?
CAPT. M. It will be over directly. (Ansiously.) Beginning to
vleach and gulp. Hold on, Gabby, and think o' the Regiment.
CAPT. G. (Measuredly.) I say there's a big brown lizard crawling
up that wall.
CAPT. M. My Sainted Mother! The last stage of collapse!
Bride comes Up to left of altar, lifts her eyes once to G., who is
suddenly smitten mad.
CAPT. G. (TO himself again and again.) Little Featherweight's a
woman-a woman! And I thought she was a little girl.
CAPT. M. (In a whisper.) Form the halt-inward wheel.
CAPT. G. obeys mechanically and the ceremony proceeds.
PADRE. . . . only unto her as ye both shall live?
CAPT. G. (His throat useless.) Ha-hmmm!
CAPT. M. Say you will or you won't. There's no second deal here.
Bride gives response with perfect coomess, and is given away by
CAPT. G. (Thinking to show his learning.) Jack give me away
CAPT. M. You've given yourself away quite enough. Her right
hand, man! Repeat! Repeat! "Theodore Philip." Have you
forgotten your own name?
CAPT. G. stumbles through Affirmation, which Bride repeats
without a tremor.
CAPT. M. Now the ring! Follow the Padre! Don't pull off my
glove! Here it is! Great Cupid, he's found his voice.
CAPT. G. repeats Troth in a voice to be heard to the end of the
Church and turns on his heel.
CAPT. M. (Desperately.) Rein back! Back to your troop! 'Tisn't
half legal yet.
PADRE. . . . joined together let no man put asunder.
CAPT. G. paralyzed with fear jibs after Blessing.
CAPT. M. (Quickly.) On your own front-one length. Take her
with you. I don't come. You've nothing to say. (CAPT. G. jingles
up to altar.)
CAPT. M. (In a piercing rattle meant to be a whisper.) Kneel, you
stiff-necked ruffian! Kneel!
PADRE. . . whose daughters are ye so long as ye do well and are
not afraid with any amazement.
CAPT. M. Dismiss! Break off! Left wheel!
All troop to vestry. They sign.
CAPT. M. Kiss Her, Gaddy.
CAPT. G. (Rubbing the ink into his glove.) Eh! Wha-at?
CAPT. M. (Taking one pace to Bride.) If you don't, I shall.
CAPT. G. (Interposing an arm.) Not this journey!
General kissing, in which CAPT. G. is pursued by unknown
CAPT. G. (Faintly to M.) This is Hades! Can I wipe my face
CAPT. M. My responsibility has ended. Better ask Misses
CAPT. G. winces as though shot and procession is Mendelssohned
out of Church to house, where usual tortures take place over the
CAPT. M. (At table.) Up with you, Gaddy. They expect a speech.
CAPT. G. (After three minutes' agony.) Ha-hmmm. (Thunders Of
CAPT. M. Doocid good, for a first attempt. Now go and change
your kit while Mamma is weeping over_"the Missus." (CAPT. G.
disappears. CAPT. M. starts up tearing his hair.) It's not half legal.
Where are the shoes? Get an ayah.
AVAH. Missie Captain Sahib done gone band karo all the jutis.
CAPT. M. (Brandishing scab larded sword.) Woman, produce
those shoes Some one lend me a bread-knife. We mustn't crack
Gaddy's head more than it is. (Slices heel off white satin slipper
and puts slipper up his sleeve.)
Where is the Bride? (To the company at large.) Be tender with
that rice. It's a heathen custom. Give me the big bag.
* * * * * *
Bride slips out quietly into 'rickshaw and departs toward the
CAPT. M. (In the open.) Stole away, by Jove! So much the
worse for Gaddy! Here he is. Now Gaddy, this'll be livelier than
Amdberan! Where's your horse?
CAPT. G. (Furiously, seeing that the women are out of an earshot.)
Where the-is my Wife?
CAPT. M. Half-way to Mahasu by this time. You'll have to ride
like Young Lochinvar.
Horse comes round on his hind legs; refuses to let G. handle him.
CAPT. G. Oh you will, will you? Get 'round, you brute-you
hog-you beast! Get round!
Wrenches horse's head over, nearly breaking lower jaw: swings
himself into saddle, and sends home both spurs in the midst of a
spattering gale of Best Patna.
CAPT. M. For your life and your love-ride, Gaddy -And God bless
Throws half a pound of rice at G. who disappears, bowed forward
on the saddle, in a cloud of sun-lit dust.
CAPT. M. I've lost old Gaddy. (Lights cigarette and strolls off,
"You may carve it on his tombstone, you may cut it on his card,
That a young man married is a young man marred!"
Miss DEERCOURT. (From her horse.) Really, Captain Mafflin!
You are more plain spoken than polite!
CAPT. M. (Aside.) They say marriage is like cholera. 'Wonder
who'll be the next victim.
White satin slipper slides from his sleeve and falls at his feet. Left
THE GARDEN OF EDEN And ye shall be as-Gods!
SCENE.-Thymy grass-plot at back of t!'e Mahasu dak-bungalow,
overlooking little wooded valley. On the left, glimpse of the Dead
Forest of Fagoo; on the right, Simla Hills. In background, line of
the Snows. CAPTAIN GADSBY, now three weeks a husband, is
smoking the pipe of peace on a rug in the sunshine. Banjo and
tobacco-pouch on rug. Overhead the Fagoo eagles. MRS. G. comes
out of bungalow.
MRS. G. My husband! CAPT. G. (Lazily, with intense enjoyment.)
Eb, wha-at? Say that again.
MRS. G. I've written to Mamma and told her that we shall be back
on the 17th.
CAPT. G. Did you give her my love?
MRS. G. No, I kept all that for myself. (Sitting down by his side.)
I thought you wouldn't mind.
CAPT. G. (With mock sternness.) I object awf'ly. How did you
know that it was yours to keep?
MRS. G. I guessed, Phil.
CAPT. G. (Rapturously.) Lit-tle Featherweight!
MRS. G. I won' t be called those sporting pet names, bad boy.
CAPT. G. You'll be called anything I choose. Has it ever occurred
to you, Madam, that you are my Wife?
MRS. G. It has. I haven't ceased wondering at it yet.
CAPT. G. Nor I. It seems so strange; and yet, somehow, it doesn't.
(Confidently.) You see, it could have been no one else.
MRS. G. (Softly.) No. No one else -for me or for you. It must
have been all arranged from the beginning. Phil, tell me again
what made you care for me.
CAPT. G. How could I help it? You were you, you know.
MRS. G. Did you ever want to help it? Speak the truth!
CAPT. G. (A twinkle in his eye.) I did, darling, just at the first.
Rut only at the very first. (Chuckles.) I called you-stoop low and
I'll whisper-"a little beast." Ho! Ho! Ho!
MRS. G. (Taking him by the mous'ache and making him sit up.)
"A-little-beast!" Stop laughing over your crime! And yet you had
the-the -awful cheek to propose to me!
CAPT. C. I'd changed my mind then. And you weren't a little beast
MRS. G. Thank you, sir! And when was I ever?
CAPT. G. Never! But that first day, when you gave me tea in that
peach-colored muslin gown thing, you looked-you did indeed,
dear-such an absurd little mite. And I didn't know what to say to
MRS. G. (Twisting moustache.) So you said "little beast." Upon
my word, Sir! I called you a "Crrrreature," but I wish now I had
called you something worse.
CAPT. G. (Very meekly.) I apologize, but you're hurting me
awf'ly. (Interlude.) You're welcome to torture me again on those
MRS. G. Oh, why did you let me do it?
CAPT. G. (Looking across valley.) No reason in particular, but-if
it amused you or did you any good-you might-wipe those dear little
boots of yours on me.
MRS. G. (Stretching out her hands.) Don't! Oh, don't! Philip, my
King, please don't talk like that. It's how I feel. You're so much too
good for me. So much too good!
CAPT. G. Me! I'm not fit to put my arm around you. (Puts it
MRS. C. Yes, you are. But I-what have I ever done?
CAPT. G. Given me a wee bit of your heart, haven't you, my
MRS. G. That's nothing. Any one would do that. They
cou-couldn't help it.
CAPT. G. Pussy, you'll make me horribly conceited. Just when I
was beginning to feel so humble, too.
MRS. G. Humble! I don't believe it's in your character.
CAPT. G. What do you know of my character, Impertinence?
MRS. G. Ah, but I shall, shan't I, Phil? I shall have time in all the
years and years to come, to know everything about you; and there
will be no secrets between us.
CAPT. G. Little witch! I believe you know me thoroughly
MRS. G. I think I can guess. You're selfish?
CAPT. G. Yes.
MRS. G. Foolish?
CAPT. G. Very.
MRS. G. And a dear?
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