He is a very methodical old man. He rises at an early hour, strolls down to the club on the Mall—perhaps the Wheler Club, perhaps some other—has his tea, newspaper, and gossip there, and then back to his small bungalow, [where he turns out his servants for swearing parade. Each one gets it pretty hot; and then breakfast]. After breakfast he arrays himself for the day in some nondescript white uniform, and with a forage cap stuck gaily on one side of his head, a cheroot in his mouth, and a large white umbrella in his hand, he again sallies forth to the Club. An old horse is led behind him.
Now the serious business of life again begins—to get through the day. There are six newspapers to read, twelve pegs to drink, four-and-twenty Madras cheroots to smoke, there is kindly tiffin to linger over, forty winks afterwards, a game of billiards, the band on the Mall, dinner, and over all, incessant chatter, chatter, old scandal, old jokes, and old stories. Everyone likes the old Colonel, of course. Everyone says, “Here comes poor old Smith; what an infernal bore he is!” “Hulloa, Colonel, how are you? glad to see you! what’s the news? how’s exchange?”
The old Colonel is not avaricious, but he saves money. He cannot help it. He has no tastes and he draws very large pay. His mind, therefore, broods over questions relating to the investment of money, the depreciation of silver, and the saving effected by purchasing things at co-operative stores. He never really solves any problem suggested by these topics. His mind is not prehensile like the tail of the Apollo Bundar; everything eludes its grasp, so its pursuits are terminable. The old Colonel’s cerebral caloric burns with a feeble flicker, like that of Madras secretariats, and never consumes a subject. The same theme is always fresh fuel. You might say the same thing to him every morning, at the same hour till the crack of doom, and he would never recollect that he had heard your remark before. This certainly must give a freshness to life and render eternity possible.
The old Colonel is not naturally an indolent man, but the prominent fact about him is that he has nothing to do. If you gave him a sun-dial to take care of, or a rain-gauge to watch, or a secret to keep, he would be quite delighted. I once asked Smith to keep a secret of mine, and the poor old fellow was so much afraid of losing it that in a few hours he had got everybody in the station helping him to keep it. It always surprises me that men with so much time on their hands do not become Political Agents.
Sometimes our old Colonel gets into the flagitious habit of writing for the newspapers. He talks himself into thinking that he possesses a grievance, so he puts together a fasciculus of lop-sided sentences, gets the ideas set straight by the Doctor, the spelling refurbished by the Padre, and fires off the product to the Delhi Gazette or the Himalayan Chronicle. Then days of feverish excitement supervene, hope alternating with fear. Will it appear? Will the Commander-in-Chief be offended? Will the Government of India be angry? What will the Service say?