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Ch. 4: With Any Amazement

And are not afraid with any amazement. -Marriage Service.

SCENE.-A bachelor's bedroom-toilet-table arranged with
unnatural neat-ness. CAPTAIN GADSBY asleep and snoring
heavily. Time, 10:30 A. M.- a glorious autumn day at Simla. Enter
delicately Captain MAFFLIN of GADSBY's regiment. Looks at
sleeper, and shakes his head murmuring "Poor Gaddy." Performs
violent fantasia with hair-brushes on chairback.

CAPT. M. Wake up, my sleeping beauty! (Roars.)

"Uprouse ye, then, my merry merry men! It is our opening day! It
is our opening da-ay!"

Gaddy, the little dicky-birds have been billing and cooing for ever
so long; and I'm here!

CAPT. G. (Sitting up and yawning.) 'Mornin'. This is awf'ly good
of you, old fellow. Most awf'ly good of you. 'Don't know what I
should do without you. 'Pon my soul, I don't. 'Haven't slept a wink
all night.

CAPT. M. I didn't get in till half-past eleven. 'Had a look at you
then, and you seemed to be sleeping as soundly as a condemned
criminal.

CAPT. G. Jack, if you want to make those disgustingly worn-out
jokes, you'd better go away. (With portentous gravity.) It's the
happiest day in my life.

CAPT. M. (Chuckling grimly.) Not by a very long chalk, my son.
You're going through some of the most refined torture you've ever
known. But be calm. I am with you. 'Shun! Dress!

CAPT. G. Eh! Wha-at?

CAPT. M. Do you suppose that you are your own master for the
next twelve hours? If you do, of course-(Makes for the door.)

CAPT. G. No! For Goodness' sake, old man, don't do that! You'll
see through, won't you? I've been mugging up that beastly drill,
and can't remember a line of it.

CAPT. M. (Overturning G.'s uniform.) Go and tub. Don't bother
me. I'll give you ten minutes to dress in.

interval, filled by the noise as O/ one splashing in the bath-room..

CAPT. G. (Emerging from dressing-room.) What time is it?

CAPT. M. Nearly eleven.

CAPT. G. Five hours more. O Lord!

CAPT. M. (Aside.) 'First sign of funk, that. 'Wonder if it's going
to spread. (Aloud.) Come along to breakfast.

CAPT. G. I can't eat anything. I don't want any breakfast.

CAPT. M. (Aside.) So early! (Aloud) CAPTAIN Gadsby, I order
you to eat breakfast, and a dashed good break -fast, too. None of
your bridal airs and graces with me!

Leads G. downstairs and stands over him while he eats two chops.

CAPT. G. (Who has looked at his watch thrice in the last five
minutes.) What time is it?

CAPT. M. Time to come for a walk. Light up.

CAPT. G. I haven't smoked for ten days, and I won't now. (Takes
cheroot which M. has cut for him, and blows smoke through his
nose luxuriously.) We aren't going down the Mall, are we?

CAPT. M. (Aside.) They're all alike in these stages. (Aloud.) No,
my Vestal. We're going along the quietest road we can find.

CAPT. G. Any chance of seeing Her? CAPT. M. Innocent! No!
Come along, and, if you want me for the final obsequies, don't cut
my eye out with your stick.

CAPT. G. (Spinning round.) I say, isn't She the dearest creature
that ever walked? What's the time? What comes after "wilt thou
take this woman"?

CAPT. M. You go for the ring. R'clect it'll be on the top of my
right-hand little finger, and just be careful how you draw it off,
because I shall have the Verger's fees somewhere in my glove.

CAPT. G. (Walking forward hastily.) D- the Verger! Come along!
It's past twelve and I haven't seen Her since yesterday evening.
(Spinning round again.) She's an absolute angel, Jack, and She's a
dashed deal too good for me. Look here, does She come up the
aisle on my arm, or how?

CAPT. M. If I thought that there was the least chance of your
remembering anything for two consecutive minutes, I'd tell you.
Stop passaging about like that!

CAPT. G. (Halting in *he middle of the road.) I say, Jack.

CAPT. M. Keep quiet for another ten minutes if you can, you
lunatic; and walk!

The two tramp at five miles an hour for fifteen minutes.

CAPT. G. What's the time? How about the cursed wedding-cake
and the slippers? They don't throw 'em about in church, do they?

CAPT. M. In-variably. The Padre leads off with his boots.

CAPT. G. Confound your silly soul! Don't make fun of me. I can't
stand it, and I won't!

CAPT. M. (Untroubled.) So-ooo, old horse You'll have to sleep
for a couple of hours this afternoon.

CAPT. G. (Spinning round.) I'm not going to be treated like a
dashed child. understand that

CAPT. M. (Aside.) Nerves gone to fiddle-strings. What a day
we're having! (Tenderly putting his hand on G.'s shoulder.) My
David, how long have you known this Jonathan? Would I come up
here to make a fool of you-after all these years?

CAPT. G. (Penitently.) I know, I know, Jack-but I'm as upset as I
can be. Don't mind what I say. Just hear me run through the drill
and see if I've got it all right:-"To have and to hold for better or
worse, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world
without end, so help me God. Amen."

CAPT. M. (Suffocating with suppressed laughter.) Yes. That's
about the gist of it. I'll prompt if you get into a hat.

CAPT. G. (Earnestly.) Yes, you'll stick by me, Jack, won't you?
I'm awfully happy, but I don't mind telling you that I'm in a blue
funk!

CAPT. M. (Gravely.) Are you? I should never have noticed it.
You don't look like it.

CAPT. G. Don't I? That's all right. (Spinning round.) On my soul
and honor, Jack, She's the sweetest little angel that ever came
down from the sky. There isn't a woman on earth fit to speak to
Her.

CAPT. M. (Aside.) And this is old Gandy! (Aloud.) Go on if it
relieves you.

CAPT. G. You can laugh! That's all you wild asses of bachelors
are fit for.

CAPT. M. (Drawling.) You never would wait for the troop to
come up. You aren't quite married yet, y'know.

CAPT. G. Ugh! That reminds me. I don't believe I shall be able to
get into any boots Let's go home and try 'em on (Hurries forward.)

CAPT. M. 'Wouldn't be in your shoes for anything that Asia has to
offer.

CAPT. G. (Spinning round.) That just shows your hideous
blackness of soul-your dense stupidity-your brutal
narrow-mindedness. There's only one fault about you. You're the
best of good fellows, and I don't know what [ should have done
without you, but-you aren't married. (Wags his head gravely.)
Take a wife, Jack.

CAPT. M. (With a face like a wall.) Va-as. Whose for choice?

CAPT. G. If you're going to be a blackguard, I'm going on- What's
the time?

CAPT. M. (Hums.)-

An' since 'twas very clear we drank only ginger-beer, Faith, there
must ha' been some stingo in the ginger."

Come back, you maniac. I'm going to take you home, and you're
going to lie down.

CAPT. G. What on earth do I want to lie down for?

CAPT. M. Give me a light from your cheroot and see.

CAPT. G. (Watching cheroot-butt quiver like a tuning-fork.)
Sweet state I'm in!

CAPT. M. You are. I'll get you a peg and you'll go to sleep.

They return and M. compounds a four-finger peg.

CAPT. G. O bus! bus! It'll make me as drunk as an owl.

CAPT. M. 'Curious thing, 'twon't have the slightest effect on you.
Drink it off, chuck yourself down there, and go to bye-bye.

CAPT. G. It's absurd. I sha'n't sleep, I know I sha'n'tl

Falls into heavy doze at end of seven minutes. CAPT. M. watches
him tenderly.

CAPT. M. Poor old Gandy! I've seen a few turned off before, but
never one who went to the gallows in this condition. 'Can't tell how
it affects 'em, though. It's the thoroughbreds that sweat when
they're backed into double-harness.-And that's the man who went
through the guns at Amdheran like a devil possessed of devils.
(Leans over G.) But this is worse than the guns, old pal-worse than
the guns, isn't it? (G. turns in his sleep, and M. touches him
clumsily on the forehead.) Poor, dear old Gaddy I Going like the
rest of 'em-going like the rest of 'em-Friend that sticketh closer
than a brother-eight years. Dashed bit of a slip of a girl-eight
weeks! And-where's your friend? (Smokes disconsolately till
church clock strikes three.)

CAPT. M. Up with you! Get into your kit.

CAPT. C. Already? Isn't it too soon? Hadn't I better have a shave?

CAPT. M. No! You're all right. (Aside.) He'd chip his chin to
pieces.

CAPT. C. What's the hurry?

CAPT. M. You've got to be there first.

CAPT. C. To be stared at?

CAPT. M. Exactly. You're part of the show. Where's the
burnisher? Your spurs are in a shameful state.

CAPT. G. (Gruffly.) Jack, I be damned if you shall do that for
me.

CAPT. M. (More gruffly.) Dry' up and get dressed! If I choose to
clean your spurs, you're under my orders.

CAPT. G. dresses. M. follows suit.

CAPT. M. (Critically, walking round.) M'yes, you'll do. Only don't
look so like a criminal. Ring, gloves, fees-that's all right for me.
Let your moustache alone. Now, if the ponies are ready, we'll go.

CAPT. G. (Nervously.) It's much too soon. Let's light up! Let's
have a peg! Let's-CAPT. M. Let's make bally asses of ourselves!

BELLS. (Without.)-

"Good-peo-ple-all To prayers-we call."

CAPT. M. There go the bells! Come an-unless you'd rather not.
(They ride off.)

BELLS.-

"We honor the King And Brides joy do bring- Good tidings we tell,
And ring the Dead's knell."

CAPT. G. (Dismounting at the door of the Church.) I say, aren't
we much too soon? There are no end of people inside. I say, aren't
we much too late? Stick by me, Jack! What the devil do I do?

CAPT. M. Strike an attitude at the bead of the aisle and wait for
Her. (G. groans as M. wheels him into position he/ore three
hundred eyes.)

CAPT. M. (Imploringly.) Gaddy, if you love me, for pity's sake,
for the Honor of the Regiment, stand up! Chuck yourself into your
uniform! Look like a man! I've got to speak to the Padre a minute.
(G. breaks into a gentle Perspiration.) your face I'll never man
again. Stand up! visibly.) If you wipe your face I'll never be your
best man again. Stand up! (G. Trembles visibly.)

CAPT. M. (Returning.) She's commg now. Look out when the
music starts. There's the organ beginning to clack.

Bride steps out of 'rickshaw at Church door. G. catches a glimpse
o/ her and takes heart.

ORGAN.-

"The Voice that breathed o'er Eden, That earliest marriage day,
The primal marriage-blessing, It hath not passed away."

CAPT. M. (Watching G.) By Jove! He is looking well. 'Didn't
think he had it in him.

CAPT. G. How long does this hymn go on for?

CAPT. M. It will be over directly. (Ansiously.) Beginning to
vleach and gulp. Hold on, Gabby, and think o' the Regiment.

CAPT. G. (Measuredly.) I say there's a big brown lizard crawling
up that wall.

CAPT. M. My Sainted Mother! The last stage of collapse!

Bride comes Up to left of altar, lifts her eyes once to G., who is
suddenly smitten mad.

CAPT. G. (TO himself again and again.) Little Featherweight's a
woman-a woman! And I thought she was a little girl.

CAPT. M. (In a whisper.) Form the halt-inward wheel.

CAPT. G. obeys mechanically and the ceremony proceeds.

PADRE. . . . only unto her as ye both shall live?

CAPT. G. (His throat useless.) Ha-hmmm!

CAPT. M. Say you will or you won't. There's no second deal here.

Bride gives response with perfect coomess, and is given away by
the father.

CAPT. G. (Thinking to show his learning.) Jack give me away
now, quick!

CAPT. M. You've given yourself away quite enough. Her right
hand, man! Repeat! Repeat! "Theodore Philip." Have you
forgotten your own name?

CAPT. G. stumbles through Affirmation, which Bride repeats
without a tremor.

CAPT. M. Now the ring! Follow the Padre! Don't pull off my
glove! Here it is! Great Cupid, he's found his voice.

CAPT. G. repeats Troth in a voice to be heard to the end of the
Church and turns on his heel.

CAPT. M. (Desperately.) Rein back! Back to your troop! 'Tisn't
half legal yet.

PADRE. . . . joined together let no man put asunder.

CAPT. G. paralyzed with fear jibs after Blessing.

CAPT. M. (Quickly.) On your own front-one length. Take her
with you. I don't come. You've nothing to say. (CAPT. G. jingles
up to altar.)

CAPT. M. (In a piercing rattle meant to be a whisper.) Kneel, you
stiff-necked ruffian! Kneel!

PADRE. . . whose daughters are ye so long as ye do well and are
not afraid with any amazement.

CAPT. M. Dismiss! Break off! Left wheel!

All troop to vestry. They sign.

CAPT. M. Kiss Her, Gaddy.

CAPT. G. (Rubbing the ink into his glove.) Eh! Wha-at?

CAPT. M. (Taking one pace to Bride.) If you don't, I shall.

CAPT. G. (Interposing an arm.) Not this journey!

General kissing, in which CAPT. G. is pursued by unknown
female.

CAPT. G. (Faintly to M.) This is Hades! Can I wipe my face
now?

CAPT. M. My responsibility has ended. Better ask Misses
GADSAY.

CAPT. G. winces as though shot and procession is Mendelssohned
out of Church to house, where usual tortures take place over the
wedding-cake.

CAPT. M. (At table.) Up with you, Gaddy. They expect a speech.

CAPT. G. (After three minutes' agony.) Ha-hmmm. (Thunders Of
applause.)

CAPT. M. Doocid good, for a first attempt. Now go and change
your kit while Mamma is weeping over_"the Missus." (CAPT. G.
disappears. CAPT. M. starts up tearing his hair.) It's not half legal.
Where are the shoes? Get an ayah.

AVAH. Missie Captain Sahib done gone band karo all the jutis.

CAPT. M. (Brandishing scab larded sword.) Woman, produce
those shoes Some one lend me a bread-knife. We mustn't crack
Gaddy's head more than it is. (Slices heel off white satin slipper
and puts slipper up his sleeve.)

Where is the Bride? (To the company at large.) Be tender with
that rice. It's a heathen custom. Give me the big bag.

* * * * * *

Bride slips out quietly into 'rickshaw and departs toward the
sun-set.

CAPT. M. (In the open.) Stole away, by Jove! So much the
worse for Gaddy! Here he is. Now Gaddy, this'll be livelier than
Amdberan! Where's your horse?

CAPT. G. (Furiously, seeing that the women are out of an earshot.)
Where the-is my Wife?

CAPT. M. Half-way to Mahasu by this time. You'll have to ride
like Young Lochinvar.

Horse comes round on his hind legs; refuses to let G. handle him.

CAPT. G. Oh you will, will you? Get 'round, you brute-you
hog-you beast! Get round!

Wrenches horse's head over, nearly breaking lower jaw: swings
himself into saddle, and sends home both spurs in the midst of a
spattering gale of Best Patna.

CAPT. M. For your life and your love-ride, Gaddy -And God bless
you!

Throws half a pound of rice at G. who disappears, bowed forward
on the saddle, in a cloud of sun-lit dust.

CAPT. M. I've lost old Gaddy. (Lights cigarette and strolls off,
singing absently):-

"You may carve it on his tombstone, you may cut it on his card,
That a young man married is a young man marred!"

Miss DEERCOURT. (From her horse.) Really, Captain Mafflin!
You are more plain spoken than polite!

CAPT. M. (Aside.) They say marriage is like cholera. 'Wonder
who'll be the next victim.

White satin slipper slides from his sleeve and falls at his feet. Left
wondering.

Rudyard Kipling

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