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…He drank, and the tune rose louder, and he straightened himself yet more. Then he put out his long-taloned hands to a piece of plate opposite, and fingered it lovingly…he found the spring, pressed it, and laughed weakly. He rose from his chair and inspected a picture on the wall, then moved on to another picture, the mess watching him without a word…


This is from “The Man who Was” from Life’s Handicap. A ruined ragged figure of a man has been caught wandering through the barracks of a Hussar regiment in India. He proves to be an officer of the regiment from many years back, who had been taken prisoner by the Russians in the Crimea, imprisoned in Siberia, and beaten like a common criminal. After many years he has escaped, and found his way back to the officers’ mess where he had sat years ago.