quotes_may5_2002.htm

(May 5th to 11th)



Format: Triple

‘…the whole country was humming with dacoits. I used to send out spies, and act on their information. As soon as a man came in and told me of a gang in hiding, I’d take thirty men with some grub, and go and look for them, while the other subaltern lay doggo in camp’…

  

This is from ‘A Conference of the Powers’ in ‘Many Inventions’. Three young subalterns, on leave in London, are reminiscing about their life on active service, to an elderly and distinguished writer, for whom all this is a revelation.


…’I will therefore stay among you till I see that Smallpox is conquered, and I will not go away until the men and the women and the litle children show me upon their arms such marks as I have even now showed you. I bring with me two very good guns, and a man whose name is known among beasts and men. We will hunt together, I and he and your young men ‘…

   

This is from ‘The Tomb of his Ancestors’ in ‘The Day’s Work’. John Chinn, a young officer with a native regiment drawn from the Bhils, a remote hill tribe, has gone to keep the peace out in the villages, where there is incipient revolt when a Government vaccinator is sent out to immunise the people. Chinn has authority over them, because they believe he is the reincarnation of his grandfather, who had pacified the Bhil people two generations before.


…It had been the merest nervous flick of an exasperated boy, but quite enough to forfeit his commission, since it had been dealt in anger to a volunteer and no pressed man, who could not under the rules of the service reply…

   

This is from ‘His Private Honour’ in ‘Many Inventions’. Under the stress of an unsuccessful drill, a young subaltern has struck a marching soldier with his cane. The soldier, Private Ortheris, is mortally insulted. The officer gives him the satisfaction of a gentleman by taking him out shooting, and fighting him with bare fists, man to man.

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