Three and—an Extra

(notes edited by John Radcliffe and John McGivering)


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

Plain Tales from the Hills is available from Amazon with these notes as an e-book, price £1.56, and in many paperback editions.

The story

Mrs Cusack-Bremmil loses her baby, and her grief estranges her husband’s affections. Mrs Hauksbee sees the situation and flirts outrageously with him. Gossip reaches Mrs Cusack-Bremmil, and she, deciding that the memory of a dead child is not worth a lost husband, buys a magnificent new frock, and attends a ball at which she is not expected. She makes a superb entrance, and carries her husband off again. This is the first appearance of Mrs Hauksbee, described here as ‘a little, brown, thin, almost skinny, woman, with big, rolling, violet-blue eyes, and the sweetest manners in the world.’

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
The Rescue of Pfuffles
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

There have been numerous references to Mrs Hauksbe in the Kipling Journal over the years.


[J.R./J McG.]