First published in the Civil and Military Gazette (Lahore) on 18 May 1888, under the title “In Gilded Halls” and in the Pioneer Mail on 27 May the same year.
See Martindell pp. 21 ff. for various Indian and English collections over the years as separate volumes — Soldiers Three, The Story of the Gadsbys and In Black and White, finally all three were issued in one volume as Soldiers Three and Other Stories in 1892.
with a verse heading from Coleridge’s poem, “Xanadu”:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea…
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
A group of men sit drinking in the Club late on a hot stuffy night during the Rains. They chat, as always, about the heat and the floods, the state of the rupee, the cholera and the prickly heat, and the insufferable well-being of a friend who has just come down from the cool of Simla. They talk, too, rather cynically, of Captain Gadsby’s recent engagement. He has been caught, he could probably have done better than a colonel’s daughter, the regiment might ‘cut up rough’, and there is a Mrs Herriott, who ‘Gaddy’ had been very attached to …
ORG prints “In Gilded Halls” (pp. 299 ff) which is set in the smoking-room of the Degchi Club with similar dialogue, but the characters are given numbers instead of names.
A critical comment
Philip Mason (page 78) sees little merit in this series but examines it fairly sympathetically in his Forward to the R. S. Surtees Society Reprint of 1986, calling it at the same time sentimental and cynical.
[J H McG]
©John McGivering 2005 All rights reserved