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Soldiers Three is a collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling. The three soldiers of the title are Learoyd, Mulvaney and Ortheris, who had also appeared previously in the collection Plain Tales from the Hills. Soldiers Three and other stories consists of three sections which each had previously received separate publication in 1888.
The Inexpressibles gave a ball. They borrowed a seven–pounder from the Gunners, and wreathed it with laurels, and made the dancing–floor plate–glass, and provided a supper, the like of which had never been eaten before, and set two sentries at the door of the room to hold the trays of programme–cards. My friend, Private Mulvaney, was one of the sentries, because he was the tallest man in the regiment. When the dance was fairly started the sentries were released, and Private Mulvaney went to curry favour with the Mess Sergeant in charge of the supper. Whether the Mess Sergeant gave or Mulvaney took, I cannot say. All that I am certain of is that, at supper–time, I found Mulvaney with Private Ortheris, two–thirds of a ham, a loaf of bread, half a pate–de–foie–gras, and two magnums of champagne, sitting on the roof of my carriage. As I came up I heard him saying—
‘Praise be a danst doesnât come as often as Ordâly–room, or, by this an’ that, Orthâris, me son, I wud be the dishgrace av the rigâmint instid av the brightest jool in uts crown.’
‘Hand the Colonelâs pet noosance,’ said Ortheris. ‘But wot makes you curse your rations? This ‘ere fizzy stuffâs good enough.’