The Kiplings and India: A Collection of Writings from British India, 1870-1900

Army Head-Quarters (Rudyard Kipling)


   Old is the song that I sing—
      Old as my unpaid bills—
   Old as the chicken that Kitmutgars bring
      Men at dak-bungalows—old as the Hills.

Ahasuerus Jenkins of the "Operatic Own"
Was dowered with a tenor voice of super-Santley tone.
His views on equitation were, perhaps, a trifle queer;
He had no seat worth mentioning, but Oh! he had an ear.

He "clubbed" his wretched company a dozen times a day,
He used to quit his charger in a parabolic way,
His method of saluting was the joy of all beholders,
But Ahasuerus Jenkins had a head upon his shoulders.

He took two months to Simla, when the year was at the spring,
And underneath the deodars eternally did sing.
He warbled like a bul-bul, but particularly at
Cornelia Agrippina who was musical and fat.

She controlled a humble husband, who, in turn, controlled a Dept.
Where Cornelia Agrippina's human singing-birds were kept
From April to October on a plump retaining fee,
Supplied, of course, per mensem, by the Indian Treasury.

Cornelia used to sing with him, and Jenkins used to play.
He praised unblushingly her notes, for he was false as they;
So when the winds of April turned the verdant doabs brown,
Cornelia told her husband: "Tom, you mustn't send him down."

They haled him from his regiment which didn't much regret him;
They found for him an office stool, and on that stool they set him,
To play with maps and catalogues three idle hours a day,
And draw his plump retaining fee—I mean his double pay.

Now, ever after dinner, when the coffee cups are brought,
Ahasuerus waileth o'er the grand pianoforte;
And, thanks to fair Cornelia, his fame hath waxen great,
And Ahasuerus Jenkins is a Power in the State.

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