March 14th to 20th


An elderly gentleman called away from his lunch put an end to my search by holding the notepaper between finger and thumb and sniffing at it scornfully. ‘What does it mean? H’mm,’ said he. ‘So far as I can ascertain it is an attempt to write extremely corrupt Greek on the part’–here he glared at me with intention–‘of an extremely illiterate–ah–person.’



This is from: “The Finest Story in the World” from Many Inventions.

Charlie Mears is an aspiring writer who attaches himself to the narrator in hopes of launching his literary career. But aongside his trite efforts, Charlie is also channeling memories of his past lives–fascinatingly detailed episodes of dramatic events in ancient times.   The narrator  tries to draw out more from Charlie; who reproduces some marks he had  scratched as a galley slave.

Here the narrator has taken them to the British Museum, and they are identified as crude Greek.

‘I was nearly fired out,’ he said furiously at lunch. ‘As soon as I mentioned you, the old man said that I was to tell you that they didn’t want any more of your practical jokes, and that you knew the hours to call if you had anything to sell, and that they’d see you condemned before they helped to puff one of your infernal yarns in advance. Say, what record do you hold for truth in this city, anyway?’


This is rom: “A Matter of Fact”, in Many Inventions. The narrator and two other reporters have been on a ship in the Atlantic when there is a volcanic eruption under the sea. A great sea monster is thrown up, and they witness its death throes. The narrator and one of his companions realise that the story is so fantasic that it will never be believed. The third, and American, hoping to scoop the world, takes it to a newspaper editor recommended by the narrator, and is shown the door.

it happened and sell it as fiction–the present story. The American reporter insists on trying to have it published as news–a tremendous scoop. Kipling, pressed, gives him the names of some on Fleet Street whom he might approach. The quote is the American’s report of the results.

Then he thought for a minute, and said, ‘Can you lie?’

‘You know best,’ I answered, ‘It’s my profession.’

‘Very well,’ said the Major, you come out with me now–at once–in an ekka< to the Canal to shoot black-buck. Go and put on  shikar -kit– quick — and drive here with a gun.



Thius is from “Thrown Away” one of the Plain Tales from the Hills.

A young British officer  cannot adjust to his life in his regiment, and feels he is a failure.  Eventually, he goes off by himself, on a ‘shooting trip’. The Major realizes that the boy plans to shoot himself, and recruits the narrator’s help.

They arrive too late, but arrange things so that the manner of his death does not become known, and his parents receive a fine account of his career and painless death from disease.