Notes on the text
These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the notes on this tale in the ORG. The notes on the history of the British Army have been contributed by Lt-Col Roger Ayers. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Plain Tales from the Hills, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.
It is perhaps not surprising that the narrator got in a muddle and put everybody out. Many versions have evolved over the years and from various countries – this is one that would be danced to a jolly reel or other music in quick time. Circasian comes from the country in between the Black Sea and Mt. Elbruz which was the Russian Province of Kuban: the men were noted for their independence, the women for their beauty and many were taken to Baghdad as slaves and dancing-girls. Sergeants’ Mess dances frequently adopted some new formal steps of the type of La Volita.
- Form a circle on the floor, lady on gent's right, join hands.
- All advance four steps, then back four.
- Release hands, ladies four steps forward, clap, then return.
- Gentlemen four steps forward, clap, turn, return to partner.
- Turn partner clockwise for 16 beats.
- Release hold, take shadow hold, (side by side)
- Promenade anti clockwise for 16 beats, release and re-form starting circle holds.
- Repeat all ad lib