(Feb 13th to 19th)

Format: Triple

The little house … was just big enough to hold Lalun, and her maid, and a pussycat with a silver collar. A big pink-and-blue cut-glass chandelier hung from the ceiling of the reception room … The floor of the room was of polished chunam, white as curds. A latticed window of carved wood was set in one wall; there was a profusion of squabby pluffy cushions and fat carpets everywhere …


This is from “On the City Wall” in In Black and White in Soldiers Three and Other Stories.

Lalun, the beautiful courtesan, has her house on the City Wall, from where she hears all the gossip of Lahore. While the streets are tutbulent with a religious festival she enlists the help of an innocent Englishman to secure the escape of an important prisoner from the Fort.

There were unaging pitch-pine doors of Gothic design in it; there were inlaid marble mantel-pieces and cut-steel fenders; there were stupendous wall-papers, and octagonal, medallioned Wedgewood what-nots, and black-and-gilt Austrian images holding candelabra, with every other refinement that Art had achieved or wealth had bought between 1851 and 1878. And everything reeked of varnish.


This is from “The Dog Hervey” in A Diversity of Creatures.

Miss Sichcliffe, a shy and ungainly, but wealthy young woman, lives in her father’s house, where he had made a good living by treating disturbed young men. She has a squinting tortured little dog, on which she focuses her affection …

They entered the hall—just such a high light hall as such a house should own. A slim-balustered staircase, wide and shallow and once creamy-white, climbed out of it under a long oval window. On either side delicately moulded doors gave on to wool-lumbered rooms, whose sea-green mantelpieces were adorned with nymphs, scrolls, and Cupids in low relief … From the broad landing they entered a long, green-panelled room lighted by three full-length windows …


This is from “An Habitation Enforced” in Actions and Reactions.

A young American businessman has had a breaksown from overwork, and he and his wife have taken refuge deep in the English countryside. Here, exploring, they happen on a deserted house, beautiful in its dereliction. Later, they fall in love with it, and settle there.