The horror, the confusion, and the separation of the murderer from his comrades were all over before I came. There remained only on the barrack-square the blood of man calling from the ground. The hot sun had dried it to a dusky goldbeater-skin film, cracked lozenge-wise by the heat; and as the wind rose, each lozenge, rising a little, curled up at the edges as if it were a dumb tongue.
This is from “Love o’ Women” (1895), collected in Many Inventions, a story set within a dramatic frame.
A soldier has murdered a comrade who had been making love to his wife. After the trial, in which he receives a light sentence, Mulvaney – no innocent himself – reflects on relations between men and women in the heat and dust and danger of India.
He tells the story of Larry Tighe, a handsome womanising devil of entleman ranker, who had wasted his life by throwing away his only true love. In the end he had longed for death.