Three Quotations

(April 1st to 7th)


1. Then came the cholera from all four quarters of the compass. It struck a pilgrim-gathering of half a million at a sacred shrine. Many died at the feet of their god; the others broke and ran over the face of the land carrying the pestilence with them. This is from "Without Benefit of Clergy" in Life's Handicap.

This is a tragic love story. John Holden, a young official, has fallen in love with Ameera, a young Indian woman, he lives secretly with her in idyllic happiness, and she bears him a child. But then comes the cholera. The English wives can be sent up to hill stations out of harm's way. But Ameera refuses to go. The child dies, and then Ameera. Holden is left desolate.


2. 'That summer the Ould Rig’ment did not use their own Clink, bekase the cholera was hangin’ about there like Mildew on wet boots, an’ ‘twas murdher to confine in ut. We borrowed the Clink that belonged to the Holy Christians (the rig’ment that has never seen service yet) and that lay a matther av a mile away, acrost two p’rade-grounds an’ the main road...' This is from "My Lord the Elephant" in Many Inventions.

Sitting by the elephant lines, Mulvaney is recalling the days of his adventurous youth. One day he had been on his way to jail after breaking his sergeant's nose after a difference of opinion. On the way he had encountered an enraged elephant, which ran away with him. But Mulvaney had subdued the elephant, and made a friend of him for life.


3. At last the Major dried his eyes openly, and said, “Nice sort of thing to spring on an English family! What shall we do?”

I said, knowing what the Major had brought me out for, - ”The Boy died of cholera. We were with him at the time. We can’t commit ourselves to half-measures. Come along.”
This is from "Thrown Away" in Plain Tales from the Hills.

A young officer, who had been criticised, and felt humilated and ashamed, had shot himself, leaving desperate letters to his family. His friends decide to hush the matter up; they bury the young man, burn the letters, and report that he has died of cholera.