The Madness of Private Ortheris (Unabridged)
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First published in Plain Tales from the Hills in 1888, and in successive subsequent editions of this collection, in which it was the fourth of the Mulvaney stories. Private Stanley Ortheris, small, tough, a crack shot, Cockney to his bones, and serving the Queen in India, is plunged in suicidal gloom. He is overcome with homesickness for London, '...sick for the sounds of 'er and the stinks of 'er; orange-peel and hasphalte an' gas comin' in over Vaux'all Bridge. Sick for the rail goin' down to Box 'ill, with your gal on your knee an' a new clay pipe to your face...'. To jerk him out of his depression, the narrator offers to help him desert, get to Karachi, and take ship for England. Ortheris agrees to rendezvous in the long grass by the riverbank, dressed in civlian clothes, to pick up a rail ticket. But when they meet him at dusk, the mood has left him, he is contrite and desperate to get back into uniform, to the life he knows with Mulvaney and Learoyd.
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