(June 24th to 30th)

Format: Triple

‘I was going on fowls and boiled corn, but my Tommies wanted their pound of fresh meat, and their half ounce of this, and their two ounces of t’other thing, and they used to come to me and badger me for plug-tobacco when we were four days in jungle. I said: “I can get you Burma tobacco, but I don’t keep a canteen up my sleeve.” They couldn’t see it. They wanted all the luxuries of the season, confound ‘em.’


This is from “A Conference of the Powers” in Many Inventions. The Infant, a massive young infantry officer, is telling an elderly writer friend of the narrator about the life of a subaltern, hunting terrorist dacoits in the Burmese jungle.

‘A sais or groom met me on the Simla Mall with this extraordinary note:
’Please give bearer a box of cheroots – Supers, No.1 for preference. They are freshest at the Club. I’ll repay when I reappear; but at present I’m out of society !’


This is from “Miss Youghal’s Sais” in Plain Tales from the Hills. Strickland, the legendary police inspector, has disguised himself as a groom so as to be able to woo Miss Youghal.

‘It breaks my heart to give them the tobaccos they ask for. On the other hand, not one man in five thousand has a tobacco-palate. Preference, yes. Palate, no. Here’s your pipe, again. It deserves better treatment than it’s had. There’s a procedure, a ritual, in all things.’


This is from “In the interests of the Brethren” in Debits and Credits. The narrator is making the acquaintance of Mr Burges, whose glittering tobacconist’s shop is a shrine to the ancient rituals and pleasures of smoking. In his spare time Mr Burges is active in the rituals of the Masonic Lodge ‘Faith and Works 5837’ a famous sanctuary for shell-shocked men from the trenches. Whereby hang many strange tales…