Colonel Quaritch, V.C.

H. Rider Haggard
Colonel Quaritch, V.C.

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Title: Colonel Quaritch, V.C. A Tale of Country Life
Author: H. Rider Haggard
Release Date: April 3, 2004 [EBook #11882]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by John Bickers and Dagny

COLONEL QUARITCH, V.C. By H. Rider Haggard
First Published 1888.
Etext prepared by John Bickers, [email protected] and Dagny,
[email protected]


I Dedicate
This Tale of Country Life
My Friend and Fellow-Sportsman,

This text was prepared from an 1889 edition published by Longmans,
Green and Co., printed by Kelly and Co., Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn
Fields, W.C.; and Middle Mill, Kingston-on-Thames.


There are things and there are faces which, when felt or seen for the
first time, stamp themselves upon the mind like a sun image on a
sensitized plate and there remain unalterably fixed. To take the instance
of a face--we may never see it again, or it may become the companion
of our life, but there the picture is just as we /first/ knew it, the same
smile or frown, the same look, unvarying and unvariable, reminding us
in the midst of change of the indestructible nature of every experience,
act, and aspect of our days. For that which has been, is, since the past
knows no corruption, but lives eternally in its frozen and completed
These are somewhat large thoughts to be born of a small matter, but
they rose up spontaneously in the mind of a soldierly-looking man who,
on the particular evening when this history opens, was leaning over a
gate in an Eastern county lane, staring vacantly at a field of ripe corn.
He was a peculiar and rather battered looking individual, apparently
over forty years of age, and yet bearing upon him that unmistakable

stamp of dignity and self-respect which, if it does not exclusively
belong to, is still one of the distinguishing attributes of the English
gentleman. In face he was ugly, no other word can express it. Here
were not the long mustachios, the almond eyes, the aristocratic air of
the Colonel of fiction--for our dreamer was a Colonel. These were--alas!
that the truth should be so plain--represented by somewhat scrubby
sandy-coloured whiskers, small but kindly blue eyes, a low broad
forehead, with a deep line running across it from side to side,
something like that to be seen upon the busts of Julius Caesar, and a
long thin nose. One good feature, however, he did possess, a mouth of
such sweetness and beauty that set, as it was, above a very square and
manly-looking chin, it had the air of being ludicrously out of place.
"Umph," said his old aunt, Mrs. Massey (who had just died and left him
what she possessed), on the occasion of her first introduction to him
five-and-thirty years before, "Umph! Nature meant to make a pretty girl
of you, and changed her mind after she had finished the mouth. Well,
never mind, better be a plain man than a pretty woman. There, go along,
boy! I like your ugly face."
Nor was the old lady peculiar in this respect, for plain as the
countenance of Colonel Harold Quaritch undoubtedly was, people
found something very taking about it, when once they became
accustomed to its rugged air and stern regulated expression. What that
something was it would be hard to define, but perhaps the nearest
approach to the truth would be to describe it as a light of purity which,
notwithstanding the popular idea to the contrary, is quite as often to be
found upon the faces of men as upon those of women. Any person of
discernment looking on Colonel Quaritch must have felt that he was in
the presence of a good man--not a prig or a milksop, but a man who
had attained by virtue of thought and struggle that had left their marks
upon him, a man whom it would not be well to tamper with, one to be
respected by all, and feared of evildoers. Men felt this, and he was
popular among those who knew him in his service, though not in any
hail-fellow-well-met kind of way. But among women he was not
popular. As a rule they both feared and disliked him.
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