(September 2nd to 8th)

Format: Triple

One of the many curses of our life in India is the want of atmosphere in the painter’s sense. There are no half tints worth noticing. Men stand out all crude and raw, with nothing to tone them down and nothing to scale them against.…


This is from the introduction to ‘Wressley of the Foreign Office’ in ‘Plain Tales from the Hills’. It is the tale of an obsessive hard-working official who falls in love with a frivolous girl and devotes his great book to her, a massive study of Native Rule in India. When he presents it to her after a year of intensive work, she takes no interest. Despairing, he destroys it.

Some people have a gift which secures them infinite toleration, and others have not. The Man’s Wife had not. If she looked over the garden wall, for instance, women taxed her with stealing their husbands. She complained pathetically that she was not allowed to choose her own friends. When she put up her big white muff to her lips, and gazed over it and under her eyebrows at you as she said this thing, you felt that she had been infamously misjudged …


This is from ‘At the Pit’s Mouth’ in ‘Wee Willie Winkie’, a story of an illicit love affair which ends in tragedy.

The couple meet in a graveyard, during the rains, to avoid gossip, and the man shivers at the thought of the water-logged graves. Soon after, a narrow mountain road gives way under his horse, and he crashes nine hundred feet to his death. He is buried in eighteen inches of water.

Advancing cautiously to the river front, Gunga Dass stepped from tussock to tussock until he had reached a smooth patch of sand directly in the line of the boat’s fire. The occupants of the boat took no notice. Here he stopped, and with a couple of dexterous turns of the wrist, pegged the bird on its back with outstretched wings…Half a dozen wild crows flew over at once to see what was going on, and also, as it proved, to attack the pinioned bird..


This is from ‘The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes’, in ‘Wee Willie Winkie and other stories’.
Out on a ride near the Sutlej river, Jukes has fallen into a sand trap. It is a sort of prison for the living dead, where people who are thought to have died, but have recovered when their bodies are already on the burning ghats, are incarcerated. The only way out, the sand flats by the river, are guarded by quicksands, and by soldiers armed with rifles. The people live in sand burrows and eat crows.