(notes edited by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)


The story was published in the Civil and Military Gazette on December 9th 1886, in the first Indian edition of Plain Tales from the Hills in 1888, and in subsequent editions of that collection. See David Alan
p. 17, passim.

The story

Tarrion is an able, charming young officer, who wants an appointment in Simla. He makes friends with Mrs Hauksbee, who promises to do what she can for him. When, by chance, some confidential papers fall into her hands, she shows them to him. Confidential information is a valuable currency under a Viceroy who believes strongly in reticence on official matters, and Tarrion uses the information in the papers to talk his way into an official post. He points out to the senior official he sees that, unlike some, he has no influential relation to speak for him. He is appointed, and prospers.

Mrs Hauksbee

In “Three—and an Extra” Mrs Hauksbee is described as :

‘a little, brown, thin, almost skinny, woman, with big, rolling, violet-blue eyes, and the sweetest manners in the world. You had only to mention her name at afternoon teas for every woman in the room to rise up and call her not blessed. She was clever, witty, brilliant, and sparkling beyond most of her kind; but possessed of many devils of malice and mischievousness. She could be nice, though, even to her own sex.’ (Plain Tales, p. 10 l.3)

Thomas Pinney writes (Letters vol I . p. 144)

Mrs Burton (d. 1916), the wife of Major Francis Charles Burton, is identified with Mrn Hauksbee, the clever, witty, and cynical heroine of a number of RK’s Simla stories. She must have been wholly a Simla acquaintance, for the Major was never stationed at Lahore in RK’s day. Major Burton was a staff officer with the 1st Bengal Cavalry ui’ Peshawar in 1887; he later commanded the 2nd Bengal Lancers, and returned to England in 1901.

Mrs Burton was Irish, dressed by preference (it is said) in yellow ul black, and was the mother of four sons and two daughters, none of whom surviw,1 her. RK acted with her and her husband in A Scrap of Paper (an adaptation from Sardou) at Simla in September 1887, the earliest documented evidence of RK’s acqua.intafu•,, with Mrs Burton. But that acquaintance must precede 17 November 1886, when ti”‘ first of the Mrs Hauksbee stories (“Three and – an Extra”) was published.

See also pp. 231-232 in the paperback edition of Kipling Sahib, by Charles Allan.

Mrs Hauksbee figures in seven other Simla stories

A Second-rate Wooman
Three and an Extra
The Rescue of Pluffles
The Education of Otis Yeere
A Supplementary Chapter.
Mrs Hauksbe Sits Out.


She is also mentioned in a number of other stories. See ORG vol;1 pp. 5-6






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