(July 10th to 16th)

Format: Triple

There are not many happinesses so complete as those that are snatched under the shadow of the sword. They sat together and laughed, calling each other openly by every pet name that could move the wrath of the gods. The city below them was locked up in its own torments.


This is from “Without Benefit of Clergy” in Life’s Handicap. John Holden, a British official, has fallen in love with Ameera, a young Muslim girl, and for a time they are innocently happy together. But tragedy is hanging over them, for there is cholera in the city. Ameera falls ill, and dies in Holden’s arms. Soon the house where they met is in ruins, and its as if it had never been.

‘…I went, crying like a jackal, to the appointed place which was near the byre of the headman’s house. But my love was already there, weeping. She feared that the flood had swept my hut at the Barwhi Ford. When I came softly through the ankle-deep water, She thought it was a ghost, and would have fled, but I put my arms round her …’


This is from “In Flood Time” in Soldiers Three and Other Stories. An old man, a Hindu, is telling a tale of how in his youth, he had loved a Muslim girl, and how he had fought his way through a river in flood for a tryst with her. On the way he had found a drowned corpse, floating in the river, and had used it to help his passage through the rushing waters. When he reached the other side, he found it was the body of his rival.

Janki Meah took a second wife – a girl of the Jolaha main stock of the Meahs, and singularly beautiful. Janki Meah could not see her beauty; wherefore he took her on trust, and forbade her to go down the pit. He had not worked for thirty years in the dark without knowing that the pit was no place for pretty women.


This is from “At Twenty-two” in Soldiers Three and Other Stories. Janki Meah is an old blind miner, mean, grasping, and hot-tempered, who has worked in the Jimahari Colliery for many years. He knows the workings better than his sighted mates, and when the river rises and floods the workings, he leads his gang to safety, including his wife’s handsome young lover. Soon after, though, the two run away together, leaving him alone and impotent.