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The Courting of Dinah Shadd



The Courting of
Dinah Shadd



By

R udyard K ipling



V*



Published by Brcntano's at
31 Union Square New York



THE COURTING OF DINAH
SHADD

What did the colonel's lady think ?

Nobody never knew.
Somebody asked the sergeant's wife

An' she told 'em true.
When you git to a man in the case

They're like a row o' pins,
For the colonel's lady an' Judy O'Grady

Are sisters under their skins.

— Barrack Room Ballad.

All day I had followed at the heels of a
pursuing army, engaged on one of the finest
battles that ever camp of exercise beheld.
Thirty thousand troops had by the wisdom
of the government of India been turned
loose over a few thousand square miles of
country to practice in peace whal they would
never attempt in war. Consequently cav-
alry charged unshaken infantry at the trot;

1



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

infantry captured artillery by frontal attacks,
delivered in line of quarter columns; and
mounted infantry skirmished up to the
wheels of an armored train, which carried
nothing more deadly than a twenty-five-
pounder Armstrong, two Nordenfeldts, and
a few score volunteers, all cased in three-
eighths-inch boiler-plate. Yet it was a very
life-like camp. Operations did not cease at
sundown; nobody knew the country, and
nobody was to spare man or horse. There
was unending cavalry scouting, and almost
unending forced work over broken ground.

The Army of the South had finally pierced
the center of the Army of the North, and
was pouring through the gap, hot foot, to
capture a city of strategic importance. Its
[ extended fanwise, the sticks being rep-
1 by regiments strung out along the
line of route backward to the divisional
transport columns, and all the lumber that
trails behind an army on the move. On its
right the broken left of the Army of the

North was hying in mass, chased by the

2



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

Southern horse and hammered by the South-
ern guns, till these had been pushed far be-
yond the limits of their last support. Then
the flying Army of the North sat down to
rest, while the elated commandant of the
pursuing force telegraphed that he held it in
check and observation.

Unluckily he did not observe that three
miles to his right flank a flying column
of Northern horse, with a detachment of
Ghoorkhas and British troops, had been
pushed round as fast as the falling light al-
lowed, to cut across the entire rear of the
South •rn Army, to break, as it were, all the
ribs of the fan where they converged, by
striking at the transport reserve, ammuni-
tion, and artillery supplies. Their instruc-
tions were to go in, avoiding a few scouts
wh<< might not have been drawn off by the
1 create sufficient excitement to
impress the Southern Army with the wisdom
of guarding their own Hank- and rear before
they captured citi< 8, It was a pretty maneu-
ver, neatly carried out

8



The Court in j of Dinah Shadd

Speaking for the second division of the
Southern Army, our first intimation of it
was at twilight, when the artillery were la-
boring- in deep sand, most of the escort were
trying to help them out, and the main body
of the infantry had gone on. A Noah's ark
of elephants, camels, and the mixed menag-
erie of an Indian transport train bubbled and
squealed behind the guns, when there ap-
peared from nowhere in particular British
infantry to the extent of three companies,
who sprung to the heads of the gun horses,
and brought all to a stand-still amid oaths
and cheers.

"How's that, umpire?" said the major
commanding the attack, and with one voice
the drivers and limber gunners answered,
" Hout ! " while the colonel of artillery sput-
tered.

"All your scouts are charging our main
body, " said the major. ' ' Your flanks are un-
protected for two miles. I think we've broken
the back of this division. And listen ! there
go the Ghoorkhas ! "

4



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

A weak fire broke from the rear guard
more than a mile away, and was answered
by cheerful howlings. The Ghoorkhas, who
should have swung clear of the second divi-
sion, had stepped on its tail in the dark, but,
drawing off, hastened to reach the next line,
which lay almost parallel to us, five or six
miles away.

Our column swayed and surged irresolutely
— three batteries, the divisional ammunition
reserve, the baggage, and a section of hospi-
tal and bearer corps. The commandant rue-
fully promised to report himself "cut up"
to the nearest umpire, and commending his
cavalry and all other cavalry to the care of
Ebbs, toiled on to resume touch with the rest
of the division. t

"We'll bivouac here to-night," said the
major. " I have a notion tbat the Goorkhas
will get caught. They may want us to re-
form on. Stand easy till the transport gets
away."

A hand caught my beast's bridle and led

him out of the choking dust ; a larger hand

5



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

deftly canted me out of the saddle, and two
of the hugest hands in the world received me
sliding. Pleasant is the lot of the special
correspondent who falls into such hands as
those of Privates Mulvaney, Ortheris, and
Learoyd.

"An' that's all right, " said the Irishman,
calmly. " We thought we'd find you some-
wheres here by. Is there anything of yours
in the transport ? Orth'ris '11 fetch ut out."

Ortheris did "fetch ut out" from under
the trunk of an elephant, in the shape of a
servant and an animal, both laden with
medical comforts. The little man's eyes
sparkled.

"If the brutil an' licentious soldiery av
these parts gets sight av the thruck," said
Mulvaney, making practiced investigation,
' ' they'll loot ev'ry thing. They're bein' fed
on iron-filin's an' dog biscuit these days, but
glory's no compensation for a bellyache.
Praise be, we're here to protect you, sorr.
Beer, sausage, bread (soft, an' that's a cur'-
osity), soup in a tin ; whisky by the smell

6



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

av ut, an' fowls. Mother av Moses, but ye
take the field like a confectioner ! Tis scan-
d'lus."

'"Ere's a orficer," said Ortheris, signifi-
cantly. " When the sergent's done lushin',
the privit may clean the pot."

I bundled several things into Mulvaney's
haversack before the majors band fell on my
shouldei*, and he said, tenderly: "Requisi-
tioned for the queen's service. Wolseley was
quite wrong about special correspondents.
They are the best friends of the soldier.
Come an' take pot-luck with us to-night. "

And so it happened amid laugbter and
shoutings that my well-considered commis-
si riat melted away to reappear on the mess-
table, which was a water-proof sheet spread
on the ground. The flying column had taken
three day-' rations with it, and there be few
tiling nastier than government rations — es-
pecially when government is experimenting
witli German toys. Erbswurst, tinned beef,
of surpassing fdnniness, compressed vegeta-
bles> and meat biscuits may be nourishing,



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

but what Thomas Atkins wants is bulk in his
inside. The major, assisted by his brother
officers, purchased goats for the camp, and
so made the experiment of no effect. Long
before the fatigue-party sent to collect brush-
wood had returned, the men were settled
down by their valises, kettles and pots had
appeared from the surrounding country, and
were dangling over fires as the kid and
the compressed vegetables bubbled together;
there rose a cheerful clinking of mess tins,
outrageous demands for "a little more stuffin'
with that there liver wing," and gust on gust
of chaff as pointed as a bayonet and as deli-
cate as a gun-butt.

" The boys are in good temper," said the
major. "They'll be singing presently.
Well, a night like this is enough to keep
them happy."

Over our heads burned the wonderful
Indian stars, which are not all pricked in on
one plane, but preserving an orderly per-
spective, draw the eye through tbe velvet

darkness of the void up to the barred doors

8



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

of heaven itself. The earth was a gray
shadow more unreal than the sky. We
could hear her breathing lightly in the
pauses between the howling of the jackals,
the movement of the wind in the tamarisks,
and the fitful mutter of musketry fire leagues
away to the left. A native woman in some
unseen hut began to sing, the mail tram
thundered past on its way to Delhi, and a
roosting crow cawed drowsily. Then there
was a belt-loosening silence about the fires,
and the even breathing of the crowded earth
took up the story.

The men, full fed, turned to tobacco and
song— their officers with them. Happy is
the subaltern who can win the approval of
the musical critics in his regiment, and is
honored among the more intricate step dan-
By him, as by him who plays cricket
craftily, will Thomas Atkins stand in time
of need when he will let a better officer go
on alone. The ruined tombs of forgotten
Mussulman saints heard tin- ballad of 'Agra
Town," "The Buffalo Battery," "Marching

9



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

to Kabul,' 1 " The Long, Long Indian Day,"
'The Place Where the Punka Coolie Died,"
and that crashing chorus which announces

" Youth's daring spirit, manhood's fire,
Firm hand and eagle ej - e
Must he acquire who would aspire
To see the gray boar die."

To-day, of all those jovial thieves who ap-
propriated my commissariat, and lay and
laughed round that water-proof sheet, not
one remains. They went to camps that were
not of exercise and battles without umpires.
Burma, the Soudan, and the frontier fever
and fight took them in their time.

I drifted across to the men's fires in search
of Mulvaney, whom I found strategically
greasing his feet by the blaze. There is
nothing particularly lovely in the sight of a
private thus engaged after a long day's
march, but when you reflect on the exact
proportion of the "might, majesty, domin-
ion, and power " of the British Empire that
stands on those feet, you take an interest in
the proceedings.

10



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

"There's a blister — bad luck to ut! — on
the heel," said Mulvaney. "I can't touch
ut. Prick ut out, little man."

Ortheris produced his housewife, eased the
trouble with a needle, stabbed Mulvaney in
the calf with the same weapon, and was in-
continently kicked into the fire.

"I've bruk the best av my toes over you,
ye grinnin' child av disruption ! " said Mul-
vaney, sitting cross-legged and nursing his
feet; then, seeing me: " Oh, ut's you, sorr!
Be welkim, an' take that maraudin' scutt's
place. Jock, hold him down on the cindhers
for a bit."

But Ortheris escaped and went elsewhere
as I took possession of the hollow he had
scraped for himself and lined with bis great-
coat. Learoyd, on the other side of the fire,
grinned affably, and in a minute fell asleep.

"There's the heightav politeness for you,"
said Mulvaney. lighting his pipe withaflam-
ine branch. " Bui Jock'seaten half a box av

D

your sardines at wan gulp, an' I think the
tin t«>u. What '.> the best wid you, sorr ; an'

11



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

how did you happen to be on the losin' side
this day when we captured you ? "

"The Army of the South is winning all
along the line," I said.

"Then that line's the hangman's rope,
savin' your presence. You'll learn to-mor-
row how we rethreated to dhraw thim on
before we made thim trouble, an' that's what
a woman does. By the same tokin, we'll
be attacked before the dawnin', an' ut would
be betther not to slip your boots. How do I
know that ? By the light av pure reason.
Here are three companies av us ever so far
inside av the enemy's flank, an' a crowd av
roarin', t'arin', an' squealin' cavalry gone on
just to turn out the whole nest av thim. Av
course the enemy will pursue by brigades
like as not, an' then we'll have to run for ut.
Mark my words. I am av the opinion av
Polonius whin he said, ' Don't figbt vid ivry
scutt for the pure joy av fightin' ; but if you
do, knock the nose av him first an' frc-
quint ! ' We ought to ha' gone on an'

helped the Goorkhas."

12



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

' ' But what do you know about Polonius ? "
I demanded. This was a new side of Mul-
vaney's character.

"All that Shakespeare ever wrote, an' a
dale more than the gallery shouted," said
the man of war, carefully lacing his boots.
"Did I not tell you av Silver's Theater in
Dublin whin I was younger than I am now
an' a patron av the drama ? Ould Silver
wud never pay actor, man or woman, their
just dues, an' by consequence his comp'nies
was collapsible at the last minut'. Then the
bhoys would clamor to take a part, an' oft
as not ould Silver made thim pay for the fun.
Faith, I've seen Hamlut played wid a new
black eye, an' the queen as full as a cornu-
copia. I remember wanst Hogin, that 'listed
in the Black Tyrone an' Avas shot in South
Africa, he sejuced ould Silver intogivin' him
Hamlut's part instead av me, that had a fine
fancy for rhetoric in those days. Av course
I wint into the gallery an' began to fill the
pit wid other people's hats, an' I passed the

time av day to Hogin walkin' through Den-

13



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

mark like a hamstrung mule wid a pall on
his back. 'Hamlut,' sez I, 'there's a hole
in your heel. Pull up your shtockins, Ham-
lut,' sez I. 'Hamlut, Hamlut, for the love
av decincy dhrop that skull, an' pull up
your shtockins.' The whole house began to
tell him that. He stopped his soliloquishms
mid between. ' My shtockino may be comin'
down or they may not,' sez he, screwin' his
eye into the gallery, for well he knew who
I was ; ' but afther the perform ince is over
me an' the Ghost '11 trample the guts out av
you, Terence, wid your ass's bray.' An'
that's how I come to know about Hamlut.
Eyah ! Those days, those days ! Did you
iver have onendin' developmint an' nothin' to
pay for it in your life, sorr ?"

"Never without having to pay," I said.

" That's thrue. 'Tis mane, whin you con-
sidher on ut ; but ut's the same wid horse or
f ut. A headache if you dhrink, an' a belly-
ache if you eat too much, an' a heartache to
kape all down. Faith, the beast only gets

the colic, an' he's the lucky man."

14



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

He dropped his head and stared into the
fire, fingering his mustache the while. From
the far side of the bivouac the voice of Cor-
bet Nolan, senior subaltern of B Company,
uplifted itself in an ancient and much-appre-
ciated song of sentiment, the men moan-
ing melodiously behind him :

" The north wind blew coldly, she drooped from
that hour,
My own little Kathleen, my sweet little Kathleen,
Kathleen, my Kathleen, Kathleen O'Moore !"

"with forty-five o's in the last word. Even at
that distance you might have cut the soft
South Irish accent with a shovel.

"For all we take we must pay ; but the
price is cruel high," murmured Mulvaney
when the chorus had ceased.

"What's the trouble?" I said, gently, for
I knew that he was a man of an inextinguish-
able sorrow.

" Hear now.*" said be. "Ye know what I
an now. I know what I mint to beat the
beginnin' av my service. I've tould yon

15



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

time an' again, an' what I have not, Dinah
Shadd has. An' what am I ? Oh, Mary
Mother av Hiven ! an ould dhrunken, un-
trustable baste av a privit that has seen the
regiment change out from colonel to drum-
mer-boy, not wanst or twicet, but scores av
times ! Ay, scores ! An' me not so near
gettin' promotion as in the furst. An' me
livin' on an' kapin' clear o' Clink not by my
own good conduck, but the kindness av some
orficer — bhoy young enough to be son to me !
Do I not know ut ? Can I not tell whin I'm
passed over at p'rade, tho' I'm rockin' full av
liquor an' ready to fall all in wan piece, such
as even a suckin' child might see, bekaze,
' Oh, 'tis only ould Mulvaney ! ' An' whin
I'm let off in the ord'ly-room, through some
thrick av the tongue an' a ready answer an'
the ould man's mercy, is ut smilin' I feel
whin I fall away an' go back to Dinah Shadd,
thryin' to carry ut all off as a joke ? Not I.
Tis hell to me — dumb hell through ut all ;
an' the next time whin the fit comes I will
be as bad again. Good cause the reg'ment

16



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

has to know me for tho best soldier in ut.
Better cause have I to know mesilf for the
worst man. I'm only fit to tache the new
drafts what I'll never learn myself ; an 1 I
am sure as tho' I heard ut, that the minut
wan av these pink-eyed recruities gets away
from my ' Mind ye, now,' an' ' Listen to this,
Jim, bhoy,' sure I am that the sergint houlds
me up to him for a warnin'. So I tache, as
they say at musketry instruction, by direct
an' ricochet fire. Lord be good to me ! for
I have stud some trouble."

"Lie down and go to sleep," said I, not
being able to comfort or advise. "You're
the best man in the regiment, and, next to
Ortheris, the biggest fool. Lie down, and
wait till we're attacked. What force will
tlic.v turn out? Guns, think you f"

"Thry that wid your lorrds an' ladies,

twi.stin' an* turnin 1 the talk, tho' you mint

ut well. Ye cud say nothin' to help me ;

>t ye never km- w what cause I had to

lx- wh.it I am."

"Begin at th< beginning and go on to the
2 17



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

end," I said, regally. "But rake up the fire
a bit first.'' I passed Ortheris's bayonet for
a poker.

' ' That shows how little you know what to
do," said Mulvaney, putting it aside. "Fire
takes all the heart out av the steel, an' the
next time, may be, that our little man is
fightin' for his life his brad-awl '11 break,
an' so you'll 'ave killed him, manin' no
more than to kape yourself warm. "lis a
recruitie's thrick that. Pass the cl'anin'-
rod, sorr."

I snuggled down, abashed, and after an
interval the low, even voice of Mulvaney
began.

"Did I ever tell you how Dinah Shadd
came to be wife av mine? "

I dissembled a burning anxiety that I had
felt for some months — ever since Dinah
Shadd, the strong, the patient, and the in-
finitely tender, had, of her own good love
and free-will, washed a sliirt for me, mov-
ing in a barren land where washing was
not.

18



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

"I can't remember," I said, casually.
"Was it before or after you made love to
Annie Bragin, and got no satisfaction."

The story of Annie Bragin is written in
another place. It is one of the many epi-
sodes in Mulvaney's checkered career.

" Before— before— long before was that
business av Annie Bragin an' the corp'ril's
ghost. Never woman was the worse for me
whin I had married Dinah. There's a time
for all things, an' I know how to kape all
things in place — barrin 1 the dhrink, that
kapes me in my place, wid no hope av comin'
to be aught else."

"Begin at the beginning," I insisted.
'Mrs. Mulvaney told me that you married
her when you were quartered in Krab Bokhar
barracks."

"An' the same is a cess-pit," said Mul-
vaney, piously. "She spoke thrue, did
Dinah. Twaa this way. TalMn' av that,
have y Lver fallen in love, sorr?"

I preserved tin- silence of the damned.

Mulvaney continued:

19



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

" Thin I will assume that ye have not. I
did. In the days av my youth, as I have
more than wanst tould you, I was a man
that filled the eye an' delighted the sowl av
women. Niver man was hated as I have
heen. Niver man was loved as I — no, not
within half a day's march av ut. For the
first five years av my service, whin I was
w r hat I wud give my sowl to he now, I tuk
whatever was widin my reach an' digested
ut, o,n' that's more than most men can say.
Dhrink I tuk, an' ut did me no harm. By
the hollow av hiven, I could play wid four
women at wanst, an' kape thim from findin'
out anything ahout the other three, and
smile like a full-blown marigold through ut
all. Dick Coulhan, of the battery we'll have
down on us to-night, could dhrive his team
no better than I mine ; an' I hild the worser
cattle. An' so I lived an' <30 I was happy,
till afther that business wid Annie Bragin —
she that turned me off as cool as a meat-safe,
an' taught me where I stud in the mind av an
honest woman. 'Twas no sweet dose to take.

20



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

" Afther that I sickened awhile, an' tuk
thought to my reg' mental work, conceiting
mesilf I wud study an' be a sargint, an' a
major-gineral twinty minutes afther that.
But on top o' my ambitiousness there was
an empty place in my sowl, an' me own
opinion av mesilf cud not fill ut. Sez I to
mesilf : ' Terence, you're a great man an'
the best set up in the reg'ment. Go on an'
get promotion.' Sez mesilf to me, 'What
for?' Sez I to mesilf, 'For the glory av
ut.' Sez mesilf to me, 'Will that fill these
two strong arrums av yours, Terence? ' ' Go
to the devil,' sez I to mesilf. 'Go to the
married lines,' sez mesilf to me. ' Tis the
same thing,' sez I to mesilf. 'Av you're the
same man, ut is,' sez mesilf to me. An' wid
that 1 considhered on ut a long while. Did
you iver feel that way, son*? "

I snored gently, knowing that if Mulvaney
were uninterrupted he would go on. The
clamor from tin- bivouac fires beat up to the
stars as the rival singers of the companies
were pitted against each other.

21



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

" So I felt that way, an' a bad time ut was.
"Wanst, bein' a fool, I went into the married
lines, more for the sake av spakin' to our
ould color-sai'gint Shadd than for any thruck
wid wimmen-folk. I was a corp'ril then —
rejuced aftherwards; but a corp'ril then.
I've got a photograft av mesilf to prove ut.
' You'll take a cup av tay wid us? ' sez he. ' I
will that,' I sez ; ' tho' tay is not my divarsion.'
' Twud be better for you if ut were,' sez ould
Mother Shadd. An' she had ought to know,
for Shadd, in the ind av his service, dhrank
bung-full each night.

' ' Wid that I tuk off my gloves — there was
pipe-clay in thim so that they stud alone —
an' pulled up my chair, lookin' round at the
china ornamints an' bits av things in the
Shadds' quarters. They were things that
belong to a woman, an' no camp kit, here
to-day an' dishipated next. ' You're comfort-
able in this place, sargint,' sez I. "Tis the
wife that did ut, boy,' sez he, pointin' the
stem av his pipe to ould Mother Shadd, an'
she smacked the top av his bald head apon

22



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

the compliment. ' That manes you want
money,' sez she.

"An' thin — an' thin whin the kettle was
to be filled, Dinah came in — my Dinah — her
sleeves rowled up to the elbow, an' her hair
in a gowlden glory over her forehead, the
big blue eyes beneath twinklin' like stars on
a frosty night, an' the tread of her two feet
lighter than waste paper from the colonel's
basket in ord'ly-room when ut's emptied.
Bein' but a shlip av a girl, she went pink at
seein' me, an' I twisted me mustache an'
looked at a pictui'e forninst the wall. Never
show a woman that ye care the snap av a
finger for her, an' begad she'll come bleatin'
to your boot heels."

'• I suppose that's why you followed Annie
Bragin till everybody in the married quar-
ters laughed at you," said I, remembering
that unhallowed wooing, and casting off the
use of drowaini

"I'm l.ivin' down the gin'ral theory of the
attack." said Mulvancy. driving his foot into

the dying fire. "If you read the 'Soldier's

23



The Courting of Dinah Shadd

Pocket-Book, ' which never any soldier reads,
you'll see that there are exceptions. When
Dinah was out av the door (an' 'twas as tho'
the sunlight had gone too), ' Mother av
Hiven, sargint ! ' sez I, ' but is that your
daughter?' 'I've believed that way these
eighteen years,' sez ould Shadd, his eyes
twinklin'. 'But Mrs. Shadd has her own
opinion, like ivry other woman.' "Tis wid
yours this time, for a mericle,' sez Mother
Shadd. ' Then why, in the name av fortune,
did I never see her before?' sez I. 'Bekase
you've been thraipsin' round wid the married
women these three years past. She was a
bit av a child till last year, an' she shot up
wid the spring,' sez ould Mother Shadd. ' I'll
thraipse no more,' sez I. 'D'you mane


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