THE autumn batch of recruits for the Old Regiment had just been uncarted. As usual they were said to be the worst draft that had ever come from the Depôt. Mulvaney looked them over, grunted scornfully, and immediately reported himself very sick.
‘Is it the regular autumn fever?’ said the doctor, who knew something of Terence’s ways. Your temperature’s normal.’
‘“Tis wan hundred and thirty-seven rookies to the bad, sorr.”
This is from the introductory scene-setting passage of “His Privare Honour” in Many Inventions.
The Old Regiment, out in India, has had to accept a draft of raw recruits out from England, and it will be the thankless task of the old soldiers to knock them into shape. Later in the tale a company is drilling, so badly that the un-nerved young officer hits out with his cane at a wheeling line, and happens to strike Ortheris, an experienced old soldier, who feels mortally insulted. By mutual agreement he and the officer go shooting together, and the officer gives Ortheris the chance tio get his own back with his fists. The insult is wiped out, and Ortheris continues to be a good example to the new recruits.