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by Rudyard Kipling


Jain 'Ardin' was a Sargint's wife

A Sargint's wife wus she.

She married of 'im in Orldershort

An' comed acrost the sea.

(Chorus ) * 'Ave you never 'eard tell o' Jain 'Ardin'?

Jain 'Ardin'?

Jain 'Ardin'?

'Ave you never 'eard tell o' Jain 'Ardin'?

The pride o' the Companee?

-Old Barrack-Room Ballad. -

* In DOS versions italicized text is enclosed in chevrons . -

'A GENTLEMAN who doesn't know the Circasian Circle ought not to stand up forit- puttin' everybody out.' That was what Miss McKenna saidand the Sergeantwho was my vis-a-vis looked the same thing. I was afraid of Miss McKenna. Shewas six feet highall yellow freckles and red hairand was simply clad inwhite satin shoesa pink muslin dressan apple-green stuff sashand blacksilk gloveswith yellow roses in her hair. Wherefore I fled from Miss McKennaand sought my friend Private Mulvaneywho was at the cant- refreshment-table.

'So you've been dancin' with little Jhansi McKennaSorr- she that's goin' tomarry Corp'ril Slane? Whin you next conversh wid your lorruds an' your ladiestell thim you've danced wid little Jhansi. 'Tis a thing to be proud av.'

But I wasn't proud. I was humble. I saw a story in Private Mulvaney's eye;and besidesif he stayed too long at the barhe wouldI knewqualify formore pack-drill. Now to meet an esteemed friend doing pack-drill outside theguard-room is embarrassingespecially if you happen to be walking with hisCommanding Officer.

'Come on to the parade-groundMulvaneyit's cooler thereand tell me aboutMiss McKenna. What is sheand who is sheand why is she called "Jhansi"?'

'D'ye mane to say you've niver heard av Ould Pummeloe's daughter? An' youthinkin' you know things! I'm wid ye in a minut' whin me poipe's lit.'

We came out under the stars. Mulvaney sat down on one of the artillerybridgesand began in the usual way: his pipe between his teethhis big handsclasped and dropped between his kneesand his cap well on the back of his head-

'Whin Mrs. Mulvaneythat iswas Miss Shadthat wasyou were a daleyounger than you are nowan' the Army was dif'rint in sev'ril e-senshuls. Bhoyshave no call for to marry nowadaysan' that's why the Army has so few ralegoodhonustswearin'strap-agin'tinder-heartedheavy-futted wives as utused to have whin I was a Corp'ril. I was rejuced aftherwards- but no matther- Iwas a Corp'ril wanst. In thim timesa man lived an' died wid his rigiment; an'by natur'he married whin he was a man . Whin I was Corp'ril- Mother av Hivinhow the rigimint has died an' been borrun since that day!- my Colour-Sar'jintwas Ould McKennaan' a married man tu. An' his woife- his first woifefor hemarried three times did McKenna- was Bridget McKennafrom Portarlingtonlikemesilf. I've misremembered fwhat her first name wasbut in B Comp'ny we calledher "Ould Pummeloe" by reason av her figurewhich was entirelycir-cum-fe-renshill. Like the big dhrum! Now that woman- God rock her sowl torest in glory!- was for everlastin' havin' childher; an' McKennawhin the fifthor sixth come squallin' on to the musther-rollswore he wud number thim off infuture. But Ould Pummeloe she prayed av him to christen them after the names avthe stations they was borrun in. So there was Colaba McKennaan' Muttra McKennaan' a whole Presidincy av other McKennasan' little Jhansidancin' over yonder.Whin the childher wasn't bornin'they was dyin'; forav our childher die likesheep in these daysthey died like flies thin. I lost me own little Shad- butno matther. 'Tis long agoand Mrs. Mulvaney niver had another.

'I'm digresshin. Wan divil's hot summerthere come an order from some madijjitwhose name I misrememberfor the rigimint to go up-country. Maybe theywanted to know how the new rail carried throops. They knew! On me sowltheyknew before they was done! Old Pummeloe had just buried Muttra McKenna; an'theseason bein' onwholesimonly little Jhansi McKennawho was four year ould thinwas left on hand.

'Five childher gone in fourteen months. 'Twas harrdwasn't ut?

'So we wint up to our new station in that blazin' heat- may the curse avSaint Lawrence conshume the man who gave the ordher! Will I iver forget thatmove? They gave us two wake thrains to the rigimint; an' we was eight hundher'and sivinty strong. There was ABCan' D Companies in the secon' thrainwidtwelve womenno orficers' ladiesan' thirteen childher. We was to go sixhundher' milesan' railways was new in thim days. Whin we had been a night inthe belly av the thrain- the men ragin' in their shirts an' dhrinkin' anythingthey cud findan' eatin' bad fruit-stuff whin they cudfor we cudn't stop 'em-I was a Corp'ril thin- the cholera bruk out wid the dawnin' av the day.

'Pray to the Saintsyou may niver see cholera in a throop-thrain! 'Tis likethe judgmint av God hittin' down from the nakid sky! We run into a rest-camp- asut might have been Ludiannybut not by any means so comfortable. The OrficerCommandin' sent a telegrapt up the linethree hundher' mile upaskin' forhelp. Faithwe wanted utfor ivry sowl av the followers ran for the dear lifeas soon as the thrain stopped; an' by the time that telegrapt was writtherewasn't a naygur in the station exceptin' the telegrapt-clerk- an' he only bekazehe was held down to his chair by the scruff av his sneakin' black neck. Thin theday began wid the noise in the carr'gesan' the rattle av the men on theplatform fallin' overarms an' allas they stud for to answer the Comp'nymuster-roll before goin' over to the camp. 'Tisn't for me to say what like thecholera was like. Maybe the Doctor cud ha' touldav he hadn't dropped on to theplatform from the door av a carriage where we was takin' out the dead.

He died wid the rest. Some bhoys had died in the night. We tuk out sivenand twenty more was sickenin' as we tuk thim. The women was huddled up anywaysscreamin' wid fear.

'Sez the Commandin' Orficer whose name I misremember"Take the womenover to that tope av trees yonder. Get thim out av the camp. 'Tis no place forthim."

'Ould Pummeloe was sittin' on her beddin'-rowlthryin' to kape little Jhansiquiet. "Go off to that tope!" sez the Orficer. "Go out av themen's way!"

'"Be damned av I do!" sez Ould Pummeloean' little Jhansisquattin' by her mother's sidesqueaks out"Be damned av I do" tu.Thin Ould Pummeloe turns to the women an' she sez"Are ye goin' to let thebhoys die while you're picnickin'ye sluts?" sez she. "'Tis watherthey want. Come on an' help."

'Wid thatshe turns up her sleeves an' steps out for a well behind therest-camp- little Jhansi trottin' behind wid a lotah an' stringan' the otherwomen followin' like lambswid horse-buckets and cookin' pots. Whin all thethings was fullOuld Pummeloe marches back into camp- 'twas like a battlefieldwid all the glory missin'- at the hid av the rigimint av women.

'"McKenname man!" she sezwid a voice on her like grand-roun'schallenge"tell the bhoys to be quiet. Ould Pummeloe's comin' to lookafther thim- wid free dhrinks."

'Thin we cheeredan' the cheerin' in the lines was louder than the noise avthe poor divils wid the sickness on thim. But not much.

'You seewe was a new an' raw rigimint in those daysan' we cud makeneither head nor tail av the sickness; an' so we was useless. The men was goin'roun' an' about like dumb sheepwaitin' for the nex' man to fall overan'sayin' undher their spache"Fwhat is ut? In the name av Godfwhat isut?" 'Twas horrible. But through ut allup an' downan' down an' upwintOuld Pummeloe an' little Jhansi- all we cud see av the babyundher a dead man'shelmut wid the chin-strap swingin' about her little stummick- up an' down widthe wather an' fwhat brandy there was.

'Now an' thin Ould Pummeloethe tears runnin' down her fatred facesez"Me bhoysme poordeaddarlin' bhoys!" Butfor the mostshe wasthryin' to put heart into the men an' kape thim stiddy; and little Jhansi wastellin' thim all they wud be "betther in the mornin'." 'Twas a thrickshe'd picked up from hearin' Ould Pummeloe whin Muttra was burnin' out wid fever.In the mornin'! 'Twas the iverlastin' mornin' at St. Pether's Gate was themornin' for siven-an'-twenty good men; and twenty more was sick to the death inthat bitterburnin' sun. But the women worked like angils as I've saidan'themen like divilstill two doctors come down from aboveand we was rescued.

'Butjust before thatOuld Pummeloeon her knees over a bhoy in my squad-right-cot man to me he was in the barrick- tellin' him the worrud av the Churchthat niver failed a man yetsez"Hould me upbhoys! I'm feelin' bloodysick!" 'Twas the sunnot the choleradid ut. She misremembered she wasonly wearin' her ould black bonnetan' she died wid "McKennameman" houldin' her upan' the bhoys howled whin they buried her.

'That nighta big wind blewan' blewan' blewan' blew the tents flat.But it blew the cholera away an' niver another case there was all the while wewas waitin'- ten days in quarantin'. Av you will belave methe thrack av thesickness in the camp was for all the wurruld the thrack av a man walkin' fourtimes in a figur-av-eight through the tents. They say 'tis the Wandherin' Jewtakes the cholera wid him. I believe ut.

'An' that' said Mulvaneyillogically'is the cause why little JhansiMcKenna is fwhat she is. She was brought up by the Quartermaster Sergeant's wifewhin McKenna diedbut she b'longs to B Comp'ny; and this tale I'm tellin' you-wid a proper appreciashin av Jhansi McKenna- I've belted into ivry recruity avthe Comp'ny as he was drafted. 'Faith'twas me belted Corp'ril Slane intoaskin' the girl!'

'Not really?'

'ManI did! She's no beauty to look atbut she's Ould Pummeloe's daughteran' 'tis my juty to provide for her. Just before Slane got his promotion I sezto him"Slane" sez I"to-morrow 'twill be insubordinashin avme to chastise you; butby the sowl av Ould Pummeloewho is now in gloryavyou don't give me your wurrud to ask Jhansi McKenna at wanstI'll peel theflesh off yer bones wid a brass huk to-night. 'Tis a dishgrace to B Comp'nyshe's been single so long!" sez I. Was I goin' to let a three-year-ouldpreshume to discoorse wid me- my will bein' set? No! Slane wint an' asked her.He's a good bhoy is Slane. Wan av these days he'll get into the Com'ssariat an'dhrive a buggy wid his- savin's. So I provided for Ould Pummeloe's daughter; an'now you go along an' dance agin wid her.'

And I did.

I felt a respect for Miss Jhansi McKenna; and I went to her wedding later on.

Perhaps I will tell you about that one of these days. - -