First printed in The Week’s News of 30 June 1888 (Martindell has 23 June) and collected in Soldiers Three and Other Stories.
In the words of Norman Page’s summary in A Kipling Companion (Macmillan, 1981): A year has passed since the marriage, and Minnie’s baby has been born and died. Minnie falls seriously ill, and is delirious. Gadsby speaks to her for what he believes to be the last time, and they declare their love for each other. Against all expectations, she recovers, and the epilogue shows her convalescent five weeks later.
Some critical comments
Edmund Gosse praised ‘the pathos of the little bride’s delirium’. Andrew Lang, in his Essays in Little (London, 1891) reprinted in Kipling and the Critics Ed. Elliot L Gilbert (Peter Owen, 1966) writes of: ‘these tiny masterpieces of prose and verse …. poured into the columns of Anglo-Indian newspapers’, and continues:
We know that “Gaddy” is is a brave, modest, and hard-working soldier, and, when his little. silly bride …. lies near to death, certainly I am nearer to tears than when I am obliged to attend the bed of Little Dombey or of Little Nell. (pp. 2-4).
Charles Carrington has commented that:
The Essay is well worth reading for a contemporary view of a new writer. Little Dombey and Little Nell are children who suffer early and tragic deaths in novels by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) with whom Kipling was, at one time, favourably compared. [Carrington, pp. 506 / 7]
[J H McG]
©John McGivering 2005 All rights reserved