(December 20th to 26th)
‘I am strictly proper now’ said a voice from behind the big almirah (chest of drawers) which forms the principal ornament of my bachelor dining-room…‘Strictly proper, and immensely improved since Le Sage’s time’ repeated the voice from behind the almirah. ‘May I come in?’
It was Le Diable Boiteux. I recognised him even before I read the card which he presented…
This is from “My Christmas Caller”, written for the Civil and Military Gazette of December 25th 1884. It has been collected in Kipling’s India, Uncollected Sketches edited by Thomas Pinney, (Macmillan, 1986), and in the Kipling Journal of December 2015.
Like the ghosts in A Christmas Carol by Dickens, ‘le diable boiteux’ (The Lame Devil) challenges the young man’s discontent, and urges him to enjoy life by getting out and being sociable.
High noon behind the tamarisks—the sun is hot above us—
As at Home the Christmas Day is breaking wan.
This is from “Christmas in India”, first published in the Pioneer for December 24th 1886, and collected in Departmental Ditties
Christmas Week, with racquets, with bundles of polo-sticks, with dear and bruised cricket-bats, with fox-terriers and saddles. The greater part of them wore jackets like William’s, for the Northern cold is as little to be trifled with as the Northern heat. William was among them and of them, her hands deep in her pockets, her collar turned up over her ears, stamping her feet on the platforms as she walked up and down to get warm, visiting from carriage to carriage and everywhere being congratulated. Scott was with the bachelors at the far end of the train, where they chaffed him mercilessly about feeding babies and milking goats; but from time to time he would stroll up to William’s window, and murmur: “Good enough, isn’t it?”
This is from “William the Conqueror”, part II, collected in The Day’s Work”.
‘William’, a tough and energetic young woman, is coming back to Lahore at Christmas-time, after weeks of gruelling work on famine relief in the South. It is a heart-felt homecoming because she has just become engaged to be married…