ORG Volume 5, page 2483 records the first publication of this aa you you are a you are a you are apiece (No. 206) in the Illustrated London News Christmas Number, 1890 illustrated by A Forestier. It is collected in the Edition de Luxe (1900) , and Volume 5 of the Sussex Edition (1938).
This is in the form of a one-act play. As well as the cut and thrust of conversations it has many vivid little word-pictures of life in Simla in the old days.
Mrs Hauksbee is keen to help a young woman, May Holt, become engaged to a young officer, Lieutenant Hawley, for whom she has a high regard. May’s last chance before leaving Simla is to meet him at the Volunteer Ball that night, but she has to evade her chaperone, Mrs Scrimshaw, a pious aunt who believes that dancing is wicked. May has various mishaps in getting illicitly to the ball on horseback, but by a happy chance she meets Hawley outside and they quickly establish a perfect understanding.
At the dance. their plan is to’ sit out’ together, but they have to evade the ferocious chaperone. They manage this for much of the evening with the help of Mrs Hauksbee, who enlists a bulky and impervious Irish officer to dance with Brs Scrimshaw, and the suave and courteous Viceroy himself to flatter her.
When Mrs Scrimshaw finally catches up with the young couple, Hawley, with the encouragement of Mrs Hauksley bullies her into submission. (In the brutality of his demolition of a self-righteously pious woman, there may be an echo of Kipling’s feelings towards Mrs Holloway, who had oppressed him as a child in the ‘House of Desolation’ in Southsea) The Viceroy, who is hand in glove with Mrs Hauksbee, is impressed with the young man and offers to make him one of his ADCs.
When the curtain falls, the young couple are happily launched and Mrs Hauksbee is triumphant.
See “Three – and an Extra” in Plain Tales from the Hills page 9, line 20, and for an Essay on Mrs. Hauksbee, ORG Voume 1, page 5. It is reprinted in KJ131/05 with editorial matter. Also Mrs. Hauksbee & Co, ed. John Whitehead (Hearthstone Publications, 1998.) See also KJ 134/20, 135/06, and 136/06.
This is one of Kipling’s stories in dialogue form, which was probably not intended for the stage as it stands, as there are too many changes of scene, although, like The Light that Failed, it could be adapted.
See Charles Allen, Kipling Sahib, p. 75 passim for the origins and background of “Mrs. Hauksbee” and Carrington, p. 92.
The Kiplings were on good terms with Dufferin whose son and heir Lord Clandeboye paid attention to their daughter Trix. See Carrington, page 64 and Allen p. 175.
- “Three – and an Extra” (Wee Willie Winkie)
- “The Rescue of Pluffles” (Plain Tales from the Hills)
- “Consequences” (Plain Tales from the Hills)
- “Kidnapped “ (Plain Tales from the Hills)
- “The Education of Otis Yeere” (Wee Willie Winkie)
- “A Supplementary Chapter” (Abaft the Funnel)
- “A Second-Rate Woman” (Plain Tales from the Hills)
She was almost certainly based on Mrs Isabella Burton (the wife of Major F C Burton) who was a friend of the young Kipling, and acted with him in various theatricals. Andrew Lycett describes her (p. 182) as :
… a petite woman with a darting original intelligence. A warm Irtish smile lit up her rounded face, with its full lips, largish nose, and flashing violet eyes.
As Andrew Lycett explains (p. 183), she was an important source for Rudyard’s stories of life in Simla.
And Angus Wilson (p. 88) clearly approves of ‘Mrs Hauksbee’:
…her civilising compassionate mission, to repair broken marriages, and decure posts for gifted men instead of favourite nephews of big pots who might have git them, to prise young innocents out of the hands of deathly, predatory women, and to ward off snobbish or mercenary relatives from interferihng with the true love of their young …
See also pp. 231-232 in the paperback edition of Kipling Sahib, by Charles Allan.
Notes on the text
the imperial city of Simla the author exaggerates but there is a certain amount of truth in what he says. The town sprawled over several peaks in the foothills of the Himalayas, and was the headquarters of the Government of India during the hot weather, with a very active social life.
See also Gilmour,The Ruling Caste, Chapter 10, Marghanita Laski (p. 26), and British Life in India, ed. R.V Vernede, (OUP, 1995.) p. 68.
Where the four great rivers meet
‘And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison ….. . And the name of the second river is Gihon … the name of the third river is Hiddekel: the fourth river is Euphrates’. (Genesis 2,10-14).
Volunteer ball a non-regular regiment of part-time soldiers, similar to today’s Territorial Army; a ball, in this context, is a dance on a large scale – perhaps to raise funds or just for entertainment. There was a 2nd Punjab Volunteer Corps which was also known as the Simla Volunteer Rifle Corps. Kipling belonged to the 1st Punjab Volunteers in Lahore but never attended a parade and was asked to resign (Angus Wilson, p. 106)
A set o’ dull, conceited hashes.
Confuse their brains in college classes! …
O Thou wha gies us each guid gift!
Gie me o’ wit an’ sense a lift, …
[“A True Story”, Death and Doctor Hornbook]
Deccan Irregular Horse The 9th Royal Deccan Horse was formed un 1790 as ‘Asif Sah’s Irregular Cavalry’. Two Regiments were raised for service under the Nizam of Hyderabad in Berar, who was allied with the East India Company. Known by various titles over the years the Regiment was awarded the prefix Royal for distinguished service in the 1914-18 War and, in the Second World War became part of the 255th Indian Tank Brigade.
for ever hold your peace an echo of The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony in The Book of Common Prayer: ‘If any man can shew any just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together , let him now speak, or else hereafter hold his peace.’
hanged for a sheep as a lamb ‘it mattered not which one stole in the days when the punishment was death.’ (John Ray’, 1628-1705) The implication is that if one is going to commit a crime, one might as well commit a large one !
programme At a ball, each lady would have a programme with the dances listed, and possible partners would ask to dance with her for a particular dance; if she accepted, the lady would note them on her programme. See “Three –and an Extra” (Plain Tales from the Hills page 12, line 22.)
Before me the Deluge Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), mistress of Louis XV of France, is reported to have said: ‘Après nous le déluge’, ‘After us, the deluge’, a warning of impending disaster — but later.
Windsor chair a stiff-looking but comfortable wooden chair (right), with a curved back, originally made in the late seventeenth century in the country near High Wycombe in Buckighamshire, but named after the nearby town of Windsor. .
Now the serpent was more subtil ‘Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field/’ Genesis 3,1. See also “The Enemies to Each Other” (Debits and Credits, page 6, line 6).
God save our gracious Queen… Verse 1 of the National Anthem, played in honour of the Viceroy who represents Queen Victoria. See “The Edge of the Evening”, A Diversity of Creatures page 275 line 8.
[J.R.[J H McG]
© John Radcliffe and John McGivering 2009 All rights reserved