My association with Kipling began when I was young and perhaps because of this, and with the remembrance of his own precocity, he was very kind to me. I had written a play or two which had found their way to the stage, and one or two young novels which had had their little day. I could no more remember their titles now than fly over the moon. I loved and admired Kipling, had sung those of the Barrack-Room Ballads to which lilting tunes had been set while on the march with the cadet corps with which I trained for years — usefully as it happened according to the ways of Fate — and became obsessed with a desire to dramatise ‘The Story of the Gadsbys’,1 though I dared not mention it. For months I nursed this pain, this secret and growing urge, until an optimistic morning sent my courage up. Before it could grow cold and leave me in the shade I dashed to pen and ink, wrote a letter to Kipling, begged him to permit me to have a shot at it and dropped it in the box. I expected to hear nothing, though I prayed that I might. I could see my letter diverted from the master by a scoffing secretary. For two whole days I suffered from an attack of bated breath. Then came a blue card in a neat blue envelope and on the card in the small neat writing of the man whose work I loved the following thrilling words: ‘I’ve had several shots at it but my efforts have been awful and I’ve chucked ’em all away.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.