The Works of Rudyard Kipling One Volume Edition
Part 16 out of 18
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 fetterless 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
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.
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 anything, 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. Hagan.
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
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 lopsided.
Miss T. Yes, but May hasn't your shoulders. Hers are like a hock-bottle.
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 girl!
Miss T. Oh, bother! (Aloud.) Very well, Mamma.
Exit, and reappears, after five minutes, flushed, and rubbing her fingers.
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? (Rummages 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 presentable?
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
CAPTAIN GADSBY. (Aside.) The filly, by Jove! 'Must ha' picked up that action
from the sire. (Aloud, rising.) Good evening, Miss Threegan.
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
Capt. G. (Pulling at his moustache and watching it sideways down his nose.) Ha-
Hmmm. (Aside.) 'Wonder what the little beast can talk about. 'Must make a shot
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 lap.) You should call him quietly and say: 'O
Capt. G. (Getting interested.) Yes? (Aside.) Fancy that little featherweight
saying, 'O khansamah jee' to my bloodthirsty Mir Khan!
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 try.
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
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
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 Mall.
Miss T. (Aside.) I haven't passed him more than fifty times. (Aloud.) Nearly
Capt. G. By Jove! I didn't know that. Ha-Hmmm (Pulls at his moustache 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!
Wha-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 nursery-tea!
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
Capt. G. (Aside.) They don't keep dogs here. (Aloud.) "Didn't sound like a dog,
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 CAPTAIN
Capt. G. (Aside.) Superb eyes! I wonder that I never noticed them before!
(Aloud.) There's going to be 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 beautifully.
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
Miss T. (Wickedly.) Why? Won't Mamma dance with you any more?
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 pardon. 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 b--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 Gamsby, you won't take poor
dear Mamma twice round Jakko any more. It tires her so.
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 Gamsby,
promise me you won't!
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 saying?
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 riding boots.)
Miss T. They're beautifully shiny. I can almost see my face in them.
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 them down?
Miss T. I don't get so many dances that I shall confuse them. You will be the
Capt. G. Wait and see! (Aside.) She doesn't dance perfectly, perhaps, but--
Miss T. Your tea must have got cold by this time. Won't you have another cup?
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 with a moustache.
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
POOR DEAR MAMMA. (Entering, habited, hatted, and booted.) Ah, Captain Gamsby?
'Sorry to keep you waiting. 'Hope you haven't been bored. 'My little girl been
talking to you?
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.) Goodbye, 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
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
Capt. G. (Aside.) How the dickens should I know what she prefers? She told me
that she doted on horses. (Aloud.) I think it is.
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? (Loosens 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 admiration.
Poor Dear Mamma. (Tartly to Miss T.) You've forgotten your guest, I think,
Miss T. Good gracious! So I have! Goodbye. (Retreats indoors hastily.)
Poor Dear Mamma. (Bunching reins in fingers hampered by too tight gauntlets.)
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 seven 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 out of the garden. The Captain falls back.
Capt. G. (Aside.) How that habit catches her under the arms! Ugh!
Poor Dear Mamma. (With the worn smile of sixteen seasons, the worse for
exchange.) You're dull this afternoon, Captain Gadsby.
Capt. G. (Spurring up wearily.) Why did you keep me waiting so long?
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
(AN INTERVAL OF THREE WEEKS.)
GILDED YOUTH. (Sitting on railings opposite Town Hall.) Hullo, Gadsby! 'Been
trotting out the Gorgonzola! We all thought it was the Gorgon you're mashing.
Capt. G. (With withering emphasis.) You young cub! What the--does it matter to
Proceeds to read GILDED YOUTH a lecture on discretion and deportment, which
crumbles latter like a Chinese Lantern. Departs fuming.
(FURTHER INTERVAL OF FIVE WEEKS.) SCENE. Exterior of New Simla Library on a
foggy evening. Miss THREEGAN 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 T. (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 tomorrow. (Gets into 'rickshaw.)
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. (Forte.) 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,
khitmatgar! Pour a 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 tonight?
DOONE. (P.W.D.) Anthony was called out at dinner. Mingle had a pain in his
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. Cockley and his memsahib looking awfully white and fagged. "F(".male
girl--couldn'tcatch 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'tcome 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 Gadsby's hooked at last!
DROPPING CHORUS. How much? The Devil! Markyn was pulling your leg. Not GADSBY!
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
Blayne. Markyn told me that he congratulated him warily--one hand held out,
t'other ready to guard. Gadsby turned pink and said it was so.
Curtiss. Poor old Caddy! They all do it. Who's she? Let's hear the details.
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. Three--
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 Sahib" 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 Gadsby 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 mutton--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.
Doone. Yes, poor brute. That smashed Benoit's chances of promotion altogether.
Mrs. Benoit used to ask "Was you goin' to the dance this evenin'?"
Curtiss. Hang it all! Gadsby hasn't married beneath him. There's no tar-brush
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
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?
Doone. 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
Blayne. I suppose Gadsby will bring his wife here at the end of the cold
weather. They are going to be married almost immediately, I believe.
Curtiss. Gadsby 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 Gadsby.
Mackesy. He'll go Home after he's married, and send in his papers--see if he
Blayne. Why shouldn't he? Hasn't he money? Would any one of us be here if we
Doone. 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 spent it.
Curtiss. Gadsby never had dealings with a shroff in his life.
Doone. Virtuous Gadsby! 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.
Doone. 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
Blayne. Can't you take leave?
Doone. 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 Gadsby, whoever his wife may be.
Curtiss. You've passed the turn of life that Mackesy was speaking of.
Doone. Indeed I have, but I never yet had the brutality to ask a woman to share
my life out here.
Blayne. On my soul I believe you're right. I'm thinking of Mrs. Cockley. The
woman's an absolute wreck.
Doone. 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 those terms.
Mackesy. With the rupee at one and sixpence. The little Doones would be little
Debra Doones, with a fine Mussoorie
to bring home for the holidays.
Curtiss. And a pair of be-ewtiful sambhur--horns for Doone to wear, free of
expense, presented by--Doone. 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 our pay.
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 ghost.
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 Fewton. 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.
Curtiss. Poor devil! The funk does half the business in a man of that build.
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
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.
Anthony. What do you say?
Blayne. Well, look here--anyhow. If it's like that--as you say--I say fifty.
Curtiss. I say fifty.
Mackesy. I go twenty better.
Doone. Bloated Croesus of the Bar! I say fifty. Jervoise, what do you say? Hi!
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, but 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
tomorrow 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 long. Sign!
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 tomorrow.
Curtiss. You must engineer his taking the stuff, and of course you mustn't--
Anthony. Of course. It would never do. He'd weep with gratitude over his
Blayne. That's just what he would do, damn him. Oh! I say, Anthony, you pretend
to know everything. Have you heard about Gadsby?
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
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?
Doone. You don't look pretty when you are trying to keep a secret. You bloat.
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,
Anthony. Mallard was a candlestick, paraded as such. Think awhile. Recollect
last season and the talk then. Mallard or no Mallard, did Gadsby 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 Tal and he's at Simla.
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
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 wonders.
Doone. 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 Gadsby 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
Doone. What makes you take her character away so confidently?
Anthony. Primum tempus. 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 tomorrow, 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 'twixt the leaves of coronal
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 any Husband.
SCENE. A Naini Tal dinner for thirty-four. Plate, wines, crockery, and
khitmatgars carefully calculated to scale of Rs. 6000 per mensem, less
Exchange. Table split lengthways by bank of flowers.
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
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 unpleasant.
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 your coming.
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.
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
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
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 worst.
Mrs. H. Upon my word, you are the very rudest man in the world! I'll never do
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 Simpkin do.
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 apology?
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
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 fur.
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 now.
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 believed you.
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
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
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 do.
Mrs. H. You call yourself a man of the world, don't you? Do men of the world
behave like Devils when they do 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
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
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
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- stricken?
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 tonight--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 been 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.
Mrs. H. Lie the first. I wish I knew a coarser word. Lie seems so ineffectual
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,
Capt. G. Yes. (Aside.) I think I deserve this.
Mrs. H. Lie number two. Before the next glass chokes you, tell me her name.
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 round.
Capt. G. I wish I had. There would have been an end to this business.
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. You 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
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
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 British 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. I 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 at you.
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
Mrs. H. In common politeness I--We have got beyond that!
Capt. G. (Aside.) Old ground means fresh trouble. (Aloud.) On my honor--
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
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
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
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 right,
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 console 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 another punishment.
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.
SCENE. bachelor's bedroom-toilet-table arranged with unnatural neatness.
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 all night.
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 criminal.
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 me through,
won't you? I've been mugging up that beastly drill, and can't remember a line
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 of 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 breakfast, 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'c'lect 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
Capt. G. (Halting in the 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. Invariably. 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
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.
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
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 funk!
Capt. M. (Gravely.) Are you? I should never have noticed it. You don't look
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 Her.
Capt. M. (Aside.) And this is old Gadsby! (Aloud.) Go on if it relieves you.
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 offer.
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 I should have done
without you, but--you aren't married. (Wags his head gravely.) Take a wife,
Capt. M. (With a face like a wall.) Ya-as. Whose for choice?
Capt. G. If you're going to be a blackguard, I'm going on--What's the time?
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
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't!
Falls into heavy doze at end of seven minutes. Capt. M. watches him tenderly.
Capt. M. Poor old Gadsby! 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! 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 pieces.
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 me.
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!
Capt. M. Let's make bally asses of ourselves!
"Good-peo-ple-all To prayers-we call."
Capt. M. There go the bells! Come on--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 before three hundred eyes.)
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.) If you wipe your face I'll never be your best man again. Stand
up! (G. trembles visibly.)
Capt. M. (Returning.) She's coming 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 of her and
"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
Capt. G. How long does this hymn go on for?
Capt. M. It will be over directly. (Anxiously.) (Beginning to bleach 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
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 coolness, and is given away by the father.
Capt. G. (Thinking to show his learning.) Jack give me away now, quick!
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
PADRE. . . whose daughters are ye so long as ye do well and are not afraid with
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 female.
Capt. G. (Faintly to M.) This is Hades! Can I wipe my face now?
Capt. M. My responsibility has ended. Better ask Misses GADSBY.
Capt. G. winces as though shot and procession is Mendelssohned out of Church to
house, where usual tortures take place over the wedding-cake.
Capt. M. (At table.) Up with you, Gaddy. They expect a speech.
Capt. G. (After three minutes" agony.) Ha-hmmm. (Thunders Of applause.)
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.
AYAH. 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 sunset.
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
d -'s my Wife?
Capt. M. Half-way to Mahasu by this time. You'll have to ride like Young
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
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
Capt. M. For your life and your love--ride, Gaddy--And God bless you!
Throws half a pound of rice at G. who disappears, bowed forward on the saddle,
in a cloud of sunlit dust.
Capt. M. I've lost old Gaddy. (Lights cigarette and strolls off, singing
"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
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 the 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.) Eh, 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 moustache and making him sit up.) "A-little-beast!"
Stop laughing over your crime! And yet you had the--the--awful cheek to propose
Capt. C. I'd changed my mind then. And you weren't a little beast any more.
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 you.
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 terms.
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
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
Capt. G. Me! I'm not fit to put my arm around you. (Puts it round.)
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 Queen!
Mrs. G. That's nothing. Any one would do that. They cou--couldn'thelp 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
Capt. G. Little witch! I believe you know me thoroughly already.
Mrs. G. I think I can guess. You're selfish?
Capt. G. Yes.
Mrs. G. Foolish?
Capt. G. Very.
Mrs. G. And a dear?
Capt. G. That is as my lady pleases.
Mrs. G. Then your lady is pleased. (A pause.) D'you know that we're two solemn,
serious, grown-up people--
Capt. G. (Tilting her straw hat over her eyes.) You grown-up! Pooh! You're a
Mrs. G. And we're talking nonsense.
Capt. G. Then let's go on talking nonsense. I rather like it. Pussy, I'll tell
you a secret. Promise not to repeat?
Mrs. G. Ye-es. Only to you.
Capt. G. I love you.
Mrs. G. Re-ally! For how long?
Capt. G. Forever and ever.
Mrs. G. That's a long time.
Capt. G. 'Think so? It's the shortest I can do with.
Mrs. G. You're getting quite clever.
Capt. G. I'm talking to you.
Mrs. G. Prettily turned. Hold up your stupid old head and I'll pay you for it.
Capt. G. (Affecting supreme contempt.) Take it yourself if you want it.
Mrs. G. I've a great mind to--and I will! (Takes it and is repaid with
Capt. G, Little Featherweight, it's my opinion that we are a couple of idiots.
Mrs. G. We're the only two sensible people in the world. Ask the eagle. He's
Capt. G. Ah! I dare say he's seen a good many sensible people at Mahasu. They
say that those birds live for ever so long.
Mrs. G. How long?
Capt. G. A hundred and twenty years.
Mrs. G. A hundred and twenty years! O-oh! And in a hundred and twenty years
where will these two sensible people be?
Capt. G. What does it matter so long as we are together now?
Mrs. G. (Looking round the horizon.) Yes. Only you and I--I and you--in the
whole wide, wide world until the end. (Sees the line of the Snows.) How big and
quiet the hills look! D'you think they care for us?
Capt. G. 'Can't say I've consulted 'em particularly. I care, and that's enough
Mrs. G. (Drawing nearer to him.) Yes, now--but afterward. What's that little
black blur on the Snows?
Capt. G. A snowstorm, forty miles away. You'll see it move, as the wind carries
it across the face of that spur and then it will be all gone.
Mrs. G. And then it will be all gone. (Shivers.)
Capt. G. (Anxiously.) 'Not chilled, pet, are you? 'Better let me get your
Mrs. G. No. Don't leave me, Phil. Stay here. I believe I am afraid. Oh, why are
the hills so horrid! Phil, promise me that you'll always love me.
Capt. G. What's the trouble, darling? I can't promise any more than I have; but
I'll promise that again and again if you like.
Mrs. G. (Her head on his shoulder.) Say it, then--say it! N-no--don't! The--
the--eagles would laugh. (Recovering.) My husband, you've married a little
Capt. G. (Very tenderly.) Have I? I am content whatever she is, so long as she
Mrs. G. (Quickly.) Because she is yours or because she is me mineself?
Capt. G. Because she is both. (Piteously.) I'm not clever, dear, and I don't
think I can make myself understood properly.
Mrs. G. I understand. Pip, will you tell me something?
Capt. G. Anything you like. (Aside.) I wonder what's coming now.
Mrs. G. (Haltingly, her eyes lowered.) You told me once in the old days--
centuries and centuries ago--that you had been engaged before. I didn't say
Capt. G. (Innocently.) Why not?
Mrs. G. (Raising her eyes to his.) Because--because I was afraid of losing you,
my heart. But now--tell about it--please.
Capt. G. There's nothing to tell. I was awf'ly old then--nearly two and twenty-
-and she was quite that.
Mrs. G. That means she was older than you. I shouldn't like her to have been
Capt. G. Well, I fancied myself in love and raved about a bit, and--oh, yes, by
Jove! I made up poetry. Ha! Ha!
Mrs. G. You never wrote any for me! What happened?
Capt. G. I came out here, and the whole thing went phut. She wrote to say that
there had been a mistake, and then she married.
Mrs. G. Did she care for you much?
Capt. G. No. At least she didn't show it as far as I remember.
Mrs. G. As far as you remember! Do you remember her name? (Hears it and bows
her head.) Thank you, my husband.
Capt. G. Who but you had the right? Now, Little Featherweight, have you ever
been mixed up in any dark and dismal tragedy?
Mrs. G. If you call me Mrs. Gadsby, p'raps I'll tell.
Capt. G. (Throwing Parade rasp into his voice.) Mrs. Gadsby, confess!
Mrs. G. Good Heavens, Phil! I never knew that you could speak in that terrible
Capt. G. You don't know half my accomplishments yet. Wait till we are settled
in the Plains, and I'll show you how I bark at my troop. You were going to say,
Mrs. G. I--I don't like to, after that voice. (Tremulously.) Phil, never you
dare to speak to me in that tone, whatever I may do!
Capt. G. My poor little love! Why, you're shaking all over. I am so sorry. Of
course I never meant to upset you Don't tell me anything, I'm a brute.
Mrs. G. No, you aren't, and I will tell--There was a man.
Capt. G. (Lightly.) Was there? Lucky man!
Mrs. G. (In a whisper.) And I thought I cared for him.
Capt. G. Still luckier man! Well?
Mrs. G. And I thought I cared for him--and I didn't--and then you came--and I
cared for you very, very much indeed. That's all. (Face hidden.) You aren't
angry, are you?
Capt. G. Angry? Not in the least. (Aside.) Good Lord, what have I done to
deserve this angel?
Mrs. G. (Aside.) And he never asked for the name! How funny men are! But
perhaps it's as well.
Capt. G. That man will go to heaven because you once thought you cared for him.
'Wonder if you'll ever drag me up there?
Mrs. G. (Firmly.) 'Sha'n't go if you don't.
Capt. G. Thanks. I say, Pussy, I don't know much about your religious beliefs.
You were brought up to believe in a heaven and all that, weren't you?
Mrs. G. Yes. But it was a pincushion heaven, with hymn-books in all the pews.
Capt. G. (Wagging his head with intense conviction.) Never mind. There is a
Mrs. G. Where do you bring that message from, my prophet?
Capt. G. Here! Because we care for each other. So it's all right.
Mrs. G. (As a troop of langurs crash through the branches.) So it's all right.
But Darwin says that we came from those!
Capt. G. (Placidly.) Ah! Darwin was never in love with an angel. That settles
it. Sstt, you brutes! Monkeys, indeed! You shouldn't read those books.
Mrs. G. (Folding her hands.) If it pleases my Lord the King to issue
Capt. G. Don't, dear one. There are no orders between us. Only I'd rather you
didn't. They lead to nothing, and bother people's heads.
Mrs. G. Like your first engagement.
Capt. G. (With an immense calm.) That was a necessary evil and led to you. Are
Mrs. G. Not so very much, am I?
Capt. G. All this world and the next to me.
Mrs. G. (Very softly.) My boy of boys! Shall I tell you something?
Capt. G. Yes, if it's not dreadful--about other men.
Mrs. G. It's about my own bad little self.
Capt. G. Then it must be good. Go on, dear.
Mrs. G. (Slowly.) I don't know why I'm telling you, Pip; but if ever you marry
again--(Interlude.) Take your hand from my mouth or I'll bite! In the future,
then remember--I don't know quite how to put it!
Capt. G. (Snorting indignantly.) Don't try. "Marry again," indeed!
Mrs. G. I must. Listen, my husband. Never, never, never tell your wife anything
that you do not wish her to remember and think over all her life. Because a
woman--yes, I am a woman--can't forget.
Capt. G. By Jove, how do you know that?
Mrs. G. (Confusedly.) I don't. I'm only guessing. I am--I was--a silly little
girl; but I feel that I know so much, oh, so very much more than you, dearest.
To begin with, I'm your wife.
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