The Arrest of
Golightly by Rudyard Kipling
"'I've forgotten the countersign,' sez 'e.
'Oh! You 'aye, 'ave you?' sez I.
'But I'm the Colonel,' sez 'e.
'Oh! You are, are you?' sez I. 'Colonel nor no Colonel, you waits
'ere till I'm relieved, an' the Sarjint reports on your ugly old
mug. Coop!' sez I.
. . . . . . . . .
An' s'help me soul, 'twas the Colonel after all! But I was a
The Unedited Autobiography of Private Ortheris.
IF there was one thing on which Golightly prided himself more than
another, it was looking like "an Officer and a gentleman." He said
it was for the honor of the Service that he attired himself so
elaborately; but those who knew him best said that it was just
personal vanity. There was no harm about Golightly--not an ounce. He
recognized a horse when he saw one, and could do more than fill a
cantle. He played a very fair game at billiards, and was a sound man
at the whist-table. Everyone liked him; and nobody ever dreamed of
seeing him handcuffed on a station platform as a deserter. But this
sad thing happened.
He was going down from Dalhousie, at the end of his leave--riding
down. He had cut his leave as fine as he dared, and wanted to come
down in a hurry.
It was fairly warm at Dalhousie, and knowing what to expect below,
he descended in a new khaki suit--tight fitting--of a delicate
olive-green; a peacock-blue tie, white collar, and a snowy white
solah helmet. He prided himself on looking neat even when he was
riding post. He did look neat, and he was so deeply concerned about
his appearance before he started that he quite forgot to take
anything but some small change with him. He left all his notes at
the hotel. His servants had gone down the road before him, to be
ready in waiting at Pathankote with a change of gear. That was what
he called travelling in "light marching-order." He was proud of his
faculty of organization--what we call bundobust.
Twenty-two miles out of Dalhousie it began to rain--not a mere
hill- shower, but a good, tepid monsoonish downpour. Golightly
bustled on, wishing that he had brought an umbrella. The dust on the
roads turned into mud, and the pony mired a good deal. So did
Golightly's khaki gaiters. But he kept on steadily and tried to think
how pleasant the coolth was.
His next pony was rather a brute at starting, and Golightly's hands
being slippery with the rain, contrived to get rid of Golightly at a
corner. He chased the animal, caught it, and went ahead briskly. The
spill had not improved his clothes or his temper, and he had lost one
spur. He kept the other one employed. By the time that stage was
ended, the pony had had as much exercise as he wanted, and, in spite
of the rain, Golightly was sweating freely. At the end of another
miserable half-hour, Golightly found the world disappear before his
eyes in clammy pulp. The rain had turned the pith of his huge and
snowy solah-topee into an evil-smelling dough, and it had closed on
his head like a half-opened mushroom. Also the green lining was
beginning to run.
Golightly did not say anything worth recording here. He tore off
and squeezed up as much of the brim as was in his eyes and ploughed
on. The back of the helmet was flapping on his neck and the sides
stuck to his ears, but the leather band and green lining kept things
roughly together, so that the hat did not actually melt away where it
Presently, the pulp and the green stuff made a sort of slimy mildew
which ran over Golightly in several directions--down his back and
bosom for choice. The khaki color ran too--it was really shockingly
bad dye--and sections of Golightly were brown, and patches were
violet, and contours were ochre, and streaks were ruddy red, and
blotches were nearly white, according to the nature and peculiarities
of the dye. When he took out his handkerchief to wipe his face and
the green of the hat-lining and the purple stuff that had soaked
through on to his neck from the tie became thoroughly mixed, the
effect was amazing.
Near Dhar the rain stopped and the evening sun came out and dried
him up slightly. It fixed the colors, too. Three miles from
Pathankote the last pony fell dead lame, and Golightly was forced to
walk. He pushed on into Pathankote to find his servants. He did not
know then that his khitmatgar had stopped by the roadside to get
drunk, and would come on the next day saying that he had sprained his
ankle. When he got into Pathankote, he couldn't find his servants,
his boots were stiff and ropy with mud, and there were large
quantities of dirt about his body. The blue tie had run as much as
the khaki. So he took it off with the collar and threw it away. Then
he said something about servants generally and tried to get a peg. He
paid eight annas for the drink, and this revealed to him that he had
only six annas more in his pocket--or in the world as he stood at that
He went to the Station-Master to negotiate for a first-class ticket
to Khasa, where he was stationed. The booking-clerk said something
to the Station-Master, the Station-Master said something to the
Telegraph Clerk, and the three looked at him with curiosity. They
asked him to wait for half-an-hour, while they telegraphed to
Umritsar for authority. So he waited, and four constables came and
grouped themselves picturesquely round him. Just as he was preparing
to ask them to go away, the Station-Master said that he would give the
Sahib a ticket to Umritsar, if the Sahib would kindly come inside the
booking-office. Golightly stepped inside, and the next thing he knew
was that a constable was attached to each of his legs and arms, while
the Station-Master was trying to cram a mailbag over his head.
There was a very fair scuffle all round the booking-office, and
Golightly received a nasty cut over his eye through falling against a
table. But the constables were too much for him, and they and the
Station-Master handcuffed him securely. As soon as the mail-bag was
slipped, he began expressing his opinions, and the head-constable
said:--"Without doubt this is the soldier-Englishman we required.
Listen to the abuse!" Then Golightly asked the Station-Master what
the this and the that the proceedings meant. The Station-Master told
him he was "Private John Binkle of the ---- Regiment, 5 ft. 9 in.,
fair hair, gray eyes, and a dissipated appearance, no marks on the
body," who had deserted a fortnight ago. Golightly began explaining
at great length; and the more he explained the less the Station-Master
believed him. He said that no Lieutenant could look such a ruffian as
did Golightly, and that his instructions were to send his capture
under proper escort to Umritsar. Golightly was feeling very damp and
uncomfortable, and the language he used was not fit for publication,
even in an expurgated form. The four constables saw him safe to
Umritsar in an "intermediate" compartment, and he spent the four-hour
journey in abusing them as fluently as his knowledge of the
At Umritsar he was bundled out on the platform into the arms of a
Corporal and two men of the ---- Regiment. Golightly drew himself up
and tried to carry off matters jauntily. He did not feel too jaunty
in handcuffs, with four constables behind him, and the blood from the
cut on his forehead stiffening on his left cheek. The Corporal was
not jocular either. Golightly got as far as--"This is a very absurd
mistake, my men," when the Corporal told him to "stow his lip" and
come along. Golightly did not want to come along. He desired to stop
and explain. He explained very well indeed, until the Corporal cut in
with:--"YOU a orficer! It's the like o' YOU as brings disgrace on the
likes of US. Bloom-in' fine orficer you are! I know your regiment.
The Rogue's March is the quickstep where you come from. You're a
black shame to the Service."
Golightly kept his temper, and began explaining all over again from
the beginning. Then he was marched out of the rain into the
refreshment-room and told not to make a qualified fool of himself.
The men were going to run him up to Fort Govindghar. And "running
up" is a performance almost as undignified as the Frog March.
Golightly was nearly hysterical with rage and the chill and the
mistake and the handcuffs and the headache that the cut on his
forehead had given him. He really laid himself out to express what
was in his mind. When he had quite finished and his throat was
feeling dry, one of the men said:--"I've 'eard a few beggars in the
click blind, stiff and crack on a bit; but I've never 'eard any one
to touch this 'ere 'orficer.'" They were not angry with him. They
rather admired him. They had some beer at the refreshment-room, and
offered Golightly some too, because he had "swore won'erful." They
asked him to tell them all about the adventures of Private John
Binkle while he was loose on the countryside; and that made Golightly
wilder than ever. If he had kept his wits about him he would have
kept quiet until an officer came; but he attempted to run.
Now the butt of a Martini in the small of your back hurts a great
deal, and rotten, rain-soaked khaki tears easily when two men are
jerking at your collar.
Golightly rose from the floor feeling very sick and giddy, with his
shirt ripped open all down his breast and nearly all down his back.
He yielded to his luck, and at that point the down-train from Lahore
came in carrying one of Golightly's Majors.
This is the Major's evidence in full:--
"There was the sound of a scuffle in the second-class refreshment-
room, so I went in and saw the most villainous loafer that I ever set
eyes on. His boots and breeches were plastered with mud and
beer-stains. He wore a muddy-white dunghill sort of thing on his
head, and it hung down in slips on his shoulders, which were a good
deal scratched. He was half in and half out of a shirt as nearly in
two pieces as it could be, and he was begging the guard to look at
the name on the tail of it. As he had rucked the shirt all over his
head, I couldn't at first see who he was, but I fancied that he was a
man in the first stage of D. T. from the way he swore while he
wrestled with his rags. When he turned round, and I had made
allowance for a lump as big as a pork-pie over one eye, and some
green war-paint on the face, and some violet stripes round the neck,
I saw that it was Golightly. He was very glad to see me," said the
Major, "and he hoped I would not tell the Mess about it. I didn't,
but you can if you like, now that Golightly has gone Home."
Golightly spent the greater part of that summer in trying to get
the Corporal and the two soldiers tried by Court-Martial for arresting
an "officer and a gentleman." They were, of course, very sorry for
their error. But the tale leaked into the regimental canteen, and
thence ran about the Province.