by John McGivering)
|notes on the text|
"I don't get many home letters and this particular one was in a hand-writing I knew, unfortunately a good deal too well. Whereat I, suspecting all manner of things the most unreasonable and impossible, opened it in a whirl and found it was .... you. Then I lifted up my voice and swore, for a likeness of face is bad enough, but an identity of handwriting is too bad..."Later in the letter Kipling offers to send Mrs Maunsell "On the Strength of a Likeness", which had been published five months earlier. He had started the story by saying, rather knowingly, that "Next to a requited attachment, one of the most convenient things that a young man can carry about with him at the beginning of his career, is an unrequited attachment. It makes him feel important and business-like and blasé and cynical...". Louis Cornell (p. 132), who quotes the letter, believes that Kipling was referring to a troubling similarity between Flo Garrard and Mrs Maunsell. He compares Kipling’s position to that of the unfortunate Dicky Hatt in "In the Pride of his Youth" (earlier in this volume) had he married Miss Garrard before leaving England. (This would have been a little far-fetched considering that he was only sixteen when he took up his post on the CMG. Ed.) Andrew Lycett (p. 145) refers to the same letter, and sees Mrs Maunsell as "a strong candidate" as the model for Mrs Landys-Haggert.