Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Ch. 7: The Valley of the Shadow

Knowing Good and Evil.

SCENE.-The GADSBYS' bungalow in the Plains, in June.
Punkah-coolies asleep in veranda where Captain GADBY is
walking up and down. DOCTOR'S trap in porch. JUNIOR
CHAPLAIN drifting generally and uneasily through the house.
Time, 3:4O A. M. Heat 94 degrees in veranda.

DOCTOR. (Coming into veranda and touching G. on the
shoulder.) You had better go in and see her now.

CAPT. G. (The color of good cigar-ash.) Eb, wha-at? Oh, yes, of
course. What did you say?

DOCTOR. (Syllable by syllable.) Go -in-to-the -room -and- see-
her. She wants to speak to you. (Aside, testily.) I shall have him
on my hands next.

JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (In half-lighted dining room.) Isn't there
any?-

DOCTOR. (Savagely.) Hsb, you little fool!

JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. Let me do my work. Gadsby, stop a minute
I (Edges after G.)

DOCTOR. Wait till she sends for you at least-at least. Man alive,
he'll kill you if you go in there! What are you bothering him for?

JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (Coming into veranda.) I've given him a
stiff brandy-peg. He wants it. You've forgotten him for the last
ten hours and-forgotten yourself too.

CAPT. G. enters bedroom, which is lit by one night-lamp. Ayak on
the
floor pretending to be asleep.

VOICE. (From the bed.) All down the street-such bonfires! Ayah,
go and put them out! (Appealingly.) How can I sleep with an
installation of the C.I.E. in my room? No-not C.I.E. Something
else. What was it?

CAPT. G. (Trying to control his voice.) Minnie, I'm here.
(Bending over bed.) Don't you know me, Mmnie? It's me-it's
Phil-it's your husband.

VOICE. (Mechanically.) It's me-it's Phil-it's your husband.

CAPT. G. She doesn't know mel-It's your own husband, darling.

VOICE. Your own husband, darling. AYAH. (With an inspiration.)
Memsahib understanding all I saying.

CAPT. G. Make her understand me then-quick!

AYAH. (Hand on Mas. G.'s fore-head.) Memsahib! Captain Sahib
here.

VOICE. Salaem do. (Fretfully.) I know I'm not fit to be seen.

AYAH. (Aside to G.) Say "marneen" same as breakfash.

CAPT. G. Good-morning, little woman. How are we to-day?

VOICE. That's Phil. Poor old Phil. (Viciously.) Phil, you fool, I
can't see you. Come nearer.

CAPT. G. Minnie! Minnie! It's me -you know me?

VOICE. (Mockingly.) Of course I do. Who does not know the
man who was so cruel to his wife-almost the only one he ever had?

CAPT. G. Yes, dear. Yes-of course, of course. But won't you
speak to bim? He wants to speak to you so much.

VOICE. They'd never let him in. The Doctor would give darwaza
bund even if he were in the house. He'll never come.
(Despairingly.) O Judas! Judas! Judas!

CAPT. G. (Putting out his arms.) They have let him in, and he
always was in the house Oh, my love-don't you know me?

VOrCE. (In a half chant.) "And it came to pass at the eleventh
hour that this poor soul repented." It knocked at the gates, but they
were shut-tight as a plaster-a great, burning plaster They had
pasted our marriage certificate all across the door, and it was made
of red-hot iron-people really ought to be more careful, you know.

CAPT. G. What am I to do? (Taking her in his arms.) Minnie!
speak to me-to Phil.

VOICE. What shall I say? Oh, tell me what to say before it's too
late! They are all going away and I can't say anything.

CAPT. G. Say you know me! Only say you know me!

DOCTOR. (Who has entered quietly.) For pity's sake don't take it
too much to heart, Gadsby. It's this way sometimes. They won't
recognize. They say all sorts of queer things-don't you see?

CAPT. G. All right! All right! Go away now; she'll recognize me;
you're bothering her. She must-mustn't she?

DOCTOR. She will before- Have I your leave to try?-

CAPT. G. Anything you please, so long as she'll know me. It's
only a question of-hours, isn't it?

DOCTOR. (Professionally.) While there's life there's hope
y'know. But don't build on it.

CAPT. G. I don't. Pull her together if it's possible. (Aside.) What
have I done to deserve this?

DOCTOR. (Bending over bed.) Now, Mrs. Gadsby! We shall be
all right tomorrow. You must take it, or I sha'n't let Phil see you. It
isn't nasty, is it?

Voice. Medicines! Always more medicines! Can't you leave me
alone?

CAPT. G. Oh, leave her in peace, Doc!

DOCTOR. (Stepping back,-aside.) May I be forgiven if I've none
wrong. (Aloud.) In a few minutes she ought to be sensible; but I
daren't tell you to look for anything. It's only-

CAPT. G. What? Go on, man.

DOCTOR. (In a whisper.) Forcing the last rally.

CAPT. G. Then leave us alone.

DOCTOR. Don't mind what she says at first, if you can. They- they
-they turn against those they love most sometimes in this.-It's hard,
but-

CAPT. G. Am I her husband or are you? Leave us alone for what
time we have together.

VOICE. (Confidentially.) And we were engaged quite suddenly,
Emma. I assure you that I never thought of it for a moment; but,
oh, my little Me!-I don't know what I should have done if he hadn't
proposed.

CAPT. G. She thinks of that Deercourt girl before she thinks of
me. (Aloud.) Minnie!

VOICE. Not from the shops, Mummy dear. You can get the real
leaves from Kaintu, and (laughing weakly) never mind about the
blossoms-Dead white silk is only fit for widows, and I won't wear
it. It's as bad as a winding sheet. (A long pause.)

CAPT. G. I never asked a favor yet. If there is anybody to listen to
me, let her know me-even if I die too!

VOICE. (Very faintly.) Pip, Pip dear.

CAPT. G. I'm here, darling.

VOICE. What has happened? They've been bothering me so with
medicines and things, and they wouldn't let you come and see me.
I was never ill before. Am I ill now?

CAPT. G. You-you aren't quite well.

VOICE. How funny! Have I been ill long?

CAPT. G. Some day; but you'll be all right in a little time.

VOICE. Do you think so, Pip? I don't feel well and- Oh! what
have they done to my hair?

CAPT. G. I d-d-on't know.

VOICE. They've cut it off. What a shame!

CAPT. G. It must have been to make your head cooler.

VOICE. Just like a boy's wig. Don't I look horrid?

CAPT. G. Never looked prettier in your life, dear. (Aside.) How
am I to ask her to say good-bye?

VOICE. I don't feel pretty. I feel very ill. My heart won't work.
It's nearly dead inside me, and there's a funny feeling in my eyes.
Everything seems the same distance-you and the almirah and the
table inside my eyes or miles away. What does it mean, Pip?

CAPT. G. You're a little feverish, Sweetheart-very feverish.
(Breaking down.) My love! my love! How can I let you go?

VOICE. I thought so. Why didn't you tell me that at first?

CAPT. G. What?

VOICE. That I am going to-die.

CAPT. G. But you aren't! You sha'n't.

AYAH to punkah-coolie. (Stepping into veranda after a glance at
the bed. ). Punkah chor do! (Stop pulling the punkah.)

VOICE. It's hard, Pip. So very, very hard after one year-just one
year.

(Wailing.) And I'm only twenty. Most girls aren't even married at
twenty. Can't they do anything to help me? I don't want to die.

CAPT. G. Hush, dear. You won't.

VOICE. What's the use of talking? Help me! You've never failed
me yet. Oh, Phil, help me to keep alive. (Feverishly.) I don't
believe you wish me to live. You weren't a bit sorry when that
horrid Baby thing died. I wish I'd killed it!

CAPT. G. (Drawing his hand across his forehead.) It's more than a
man's meant to bear-it's not right. (Aloud.) Minnie, love, I'd die for
you if it would help.

VOICE. No more death. There's enough already. Pip, don't you die
too.

CAPT. G. I wish I dared.

VOICE. It says: "Till Death do us part." Nothing after that-and so
it would be no use. It stops at the dying. Why does it stop there?
Only such a very short life, too. Pip, I'm sorry we married.

CAPT. G. No! Anything but that, Mm!

VOICE. Because you'll forget and I'll forget. Oh, Pip, don't forget!
I always loved you, though I was cross sometimes. If I ever did
anything that you didn't like, say you forgive me now.

CAPT. G. You never did, darling. On my soul and honor you never
did. I haven't a thing to forgive you.

VOICE. I sulked for a whole week about those petunias. (With a
laugh.) What a little wretch I was, and how grieved you were!
Forgive me that, Pp.

CAPT. G. There's nothing to forgive. It was my fault. They were
too near the drive. For God's sake don't talk so, Minnie! There's
such a lot to say and so little time to say it in.

VOICE. Say that you'll always love me-until the end.

CAPT. G. Until the end. (Carried away.) It's a lie. It must be,
because we've loved each other. This isn't the end.

VOICE. (Relapsing into semi-delirium.) My Church-service has
an ivory-cross on the back, and it says so, so it must be true. "Till
Death do us part."-but that's a lie. (With a parody of G.'s manner.)
A damned lie! (Recklessly.) Yes, I can swear as well as a Trooper,
Pip. I can't make my head think, though. That's because they cut
off my hair. How can one think with one's head all fuzzy?
(Pleadingly.) Hold me, Pip! Keep me with you always and always.
(Relapsing.) But if you marry the Thorniss girl when I'm dead, I'll
come back and howl under our bedroom window all night. Oh,
bother! You'll think I'm a jackall. Pip, what time is it?

CAPT. G. A little before the dawn, dear.

VOICE. I wonder where I shall be this time to-morrow?

CAPT. G. Would you like to see the Padre?

VOICE. Why should I? He'd tell me that I am going to heaven;
and that wouldn't be true, because you are here. Do you recollect
when he upset the cream-ice all over his trousers at the Gassers'
tennis?

CAPT. G. Yes, dear.

VOICE. I often wondered whether he got another pair of trousers;
but then his are so shiny all over that you really couldn't tell unless
you were told. Let's call him in and ask.

CAPT. G. (Gravely.) No. I don't think he'd like that. 'Your head
comfy, Sweetheart?'

VOICE. (Faintly with a sigh of contentment.) Yeth! Gracious, Pip,
when did you shave last? Your chin's worse than the barrel of a
musical box.-No, don't lift it up. I like it. (A pause.) You said
you've never cried at all. You're crying all over my cheek.

CAPT. G. I-I-I can't help it, dear.

VOICE. How funny! I couldn't cry now to save my life. (G.
shivers.) I want to sing.

CAPT. G. Won't it tire you? 'Better not, perhaps.

VOICE. Why? I won't be bothered about. (Begins in a hoarse
quaver)

"Minnie bakes oaten cake, Minnie brews ale, All because her
Johnnie's coming home from the sea. (That's parade, Pip.) And she
grows red as a rose, who was so pale; And 'Are you sure the
church-clock goes?' says she."

(Pettishly.) I knew I couldn't take the last note. How do the bass
chords run? (Puts out her hands and begins playing piano on the
sheet.)

CAPT. G. (Catching up hands.) Ahh! Don't do that, Pussy, if you
love me.

VOICE. Love you? Of course I do. Who else should it be? (A
pause.)

VOICE. (Very clearly.) Pip, I'm gomg now. Something's choking
me cruelly. (Indistinctly.) Into the dark-without you, my heart -But
it's a lie, dear-we mustn't believe it.-Forever and ever, living or
dead. Don't let me go, my husband-hold me tight.-They can't-
whatever happens. (A cough.) Pip-my Pip! Not for always-and-
so-soon! (Voice ceases.)

Pause of ten minutes. G. buries his face in the side of the bed while
AYAH bends over bed from opposite side and feels Mas. G.'s
breast and forehead.

CAPT. G. (Rising.) Doctor Sahib ko salaam do.

AYAH. (Still by bedside, with a shriek.) Ail Ail Tuta-phuta! My
Memsahib! Not getting-not have got! -Pusseena agyal (The sweat
has come.) (Fiercely to G.) TUM jao Doctor Sahib ko jaldi! (You
go to the doctor.) Oh, my Memsahib!

DOCTOR. (Entering hastily.) Come away, Gadsby. (Bends over
bed.) Eb! The Dev- What inspired you to stop the punkab? Get out,
man-go away-wait outside! Go! Here, Ayab! (Over his shoulder to
G.) Mind I promise nothing.

The dawn breaks as G. stumbles into the garden.

CAPT. M. (Rehung up at the gate on his way to parade and very
soberly.) Old man, how goes?

CAPT. G. (Dazed.) I don't quite know. Stay a bit. Have a drink
or something. Don't run away. You're just getting amusing. Ha!
ha!

CAPT. M. (Aside.) What am I let in for? Gaddy has aged ten years
in the night.

CAPT. G. (Slowly, fingering charger's headstall.) Your curb's too
loose.

CAPT. M. So it is. Put it straight, will you? (Aside.) I shall be late
for parade. Poor Gaddy.

CAPT. G. links and unlinks curb-chain aimlessly, and finally
stands staring toward the veranda. The day brightens.

DOCTOR. (Knocked out of professional gravity, tramping across
flower-beds and shaking G's hands.) It'-it's-it's !-Gadsby, tbere's a
fair chance-a dashed fair chance. The flicker, y'know. The sweat,
y'know I saw how it would be. The punkab, y'know. Deuced
clever woman that Ayah of yours. Stopped the punkab just at the
right time. A dashed good chance! No-you don't go in. We'll pull
her through yet I promise on my reputation-under Providence.
Send a man with this note to Bingle. Two heads better than one.
'Specially the Ayah! We'll pull her round. (Retreats hastily to
house.)

CAPT. G. (His head on neck of M.'s charger.) Jack! I bub-bu-
believe, I'm going to make a bu-bub-bloody exhibitiod of byself.

CAPT. M. (Sniffing openly and feelmg in his left cuff.) I
b-b-believe, I'b doing it already. Old bad, what cad I say? I'b as
pleased as-Cod dab you, Gaddy! You're one big idiot and I'b
adother. (Pulling himself together.) Sit tight! Here comes the
Devil-dodger.

JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (Who is not in the Doctor's confidence.)
We-we are only men in these things, Gadsby. I know that I can say
nothing now to help

CAPT. M. (fealously.) Then don't say it Leave him alone. It's not
bad enough to croak over. Here, Gaddy, take the chit to Bingle
and ride hell-for-leather. It'll do you good. I can't go.

JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. Do him good! (Smiling.) Give me the chit
and I'll drive. Let him lie down. Your horse is blocking my
cart-please!

CAPT. M. (Slowly without reining back.) I beg your pardon-I'll
apologize. On paper if you like.

JUNIOR CHAPLAIN. (Flicking M.'s charger.) That'll do, thanks.
Turn in, Gadsby, and I'll bring Bingle back-ahem-"hell-for-
leather."

CAPT. M. (Solus.) It would have served me right if he'd cut me
across the face. He can drive too. I shouldn't care to go that pace in
a bamboo cart. What a faith he must have in his Maker-of harness!
Come hup, you brute! (Gallops off to parade, blowing his nose, as
the sun rises.)

(INTERVAL OF' FIVE WEEKS.)

MRS. G. (Very white and pinched, in morning wrapper at break
fast table.) How big and strange the room looks, and how glad I am
to see it again! What dust, though! I must talk to the servants.
Sugar, Pip? I've almost forgotten. (Seriously.) Wasn't I very ill?

CAPT. G. Iller than I liked. (Tenderly.) Oh, you bad little Pussy,
what a start you gave me'

MRS. G. I'll never do it again.

CAPT. G. You'd better not. And now get those poor pale cheeks
pink again, or I shall be angry. Don't try to lift the urn. You'll
upset it. Wait. (Comes round to head of table and lifts urn.)

Mas. G. (Quickly.) Khitmatgar, howarchikhana see kettly lao.
Butler, get a kettle from the cook-house. (Drawing down G.'s face
to her own.) Pip dear, I remember.

CAPT. G. What?

Mas. G. That last terrible night.

CAPT'. G. Then just you forget all about it.

Mas. G. (Softly, her eyes filling.) Never. It has brought us very
close together, my husband. There! (Interlude.) I'm going to give
Junda a saree.

CAPT. G. I gave her fifty dibs.

Mas. G. So she told me. It was a 'normous reward. Was I worth
it? (Several interludes.) Don't! Here's the khitmatgar.-Two lumps
or one Sir?

Rudyard Kipling

Sorry, no summary available yet.