“This Secret Society Business”

  • William B. Dillingham


The subject of secret service, that indispensable responsibility of the creed hero and the lifework for which the young protagonist is being schooled in Kim, continues to occupy center stage in much of Kipling’s later writings, especially four stories involving a Masonic Lodge, “Faith and Works No. 5837 E. C.” In these works, “In the Interests of the Brethren” (1918), “The Janeites” (1924), “A Madonna of the Trenches” (1924), and “Fairy-Kist” (1927), the children of the zodiac have become “middle-aged people,” as one of them says, older men who are not so much involved in intricate exploits and dangerous intrigue but in a quieter, but nonetheless heroic, way of thwarting the forces of fear, confusion, and despair, which threaten to debase and destroy the human spirit. Ritual is the sword used against these pernicious, hellish forces by the older heroes. It takes the form of Masonic ceremonies and practices related to or derived from them; what a character in “The Janeites” calls “this secret society business.”


Great Darkness Secret Society Secret Service Detective Story Biblical Passage 
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© William B. Dillingham 2005

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  • William B. Dillingham

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