Part I: The
I am a popular man
and withal I am not vain. To the people who know me I am an acquaintance of
importance. This is due to a combination of circumstances.
First of all, I am
a youthful (aged thirty-five) major in that smart cavalry regiment, the 1st
Royal Light Hussars, commonly called the "Chestnuts."
Secondly, I am an
excellent polo player, standing practically at the top of that particular tree
of sport; and, again, I am an unusually brilliant cricketer. In the hunting
field I am well known as one of the hardest riders across country living; and
this statement, so far from being my own, emanates from my father's land agent,
a poor relative of ours, and himself a fair performer in the saddle. As a shot,
I will only refer you to my own game book; and if, after examining the records,
you can show me an equally proficient man in that special line, well—I'll take
off my hat to him.
In fact, I am
"Jacky Gore," and although the War Office addresses me officially as
"Major the Honorable John William Wentworth Gore, 1st Royal Light
Hussars," nothing is sweeter to my ear than to hear, as I often do, a
passing remark such as "There goes good old Jacky Gore, the finest
I take it for
granted that the reader will accept this candor as to my performances in the
spirit which inspires it, and not as a stupid form of self-conceit. Were these
pages designed only for the eyes of sportsmen, there would appear no other
description of myself than the laconic intimation, "I am Jacky Gore."
That, I know, would be sufficient to arrest electrically the ears of the
sporting world. But as I desire my singular story to interest the whole range
of human beings, from the Psychical Research Society down to the schoolboy who
wonders if he will see a ghost, I must be explicit.
First, then, I am
not a snob; I have no occasion to be one. I am the younger son of one of
England's oldest earls, Lord Goresby, and my mother is the daughter of one of
our newest marquises, Lord Dundrum. My friends are all of the very best,
socially and otherwise.
If there is one
thing that jars on me more than another, it is when a person of lower social
status than my own presumes to associate with me in a style and with a manner
that imply equality. I will frankly own that I often shoot, fish, or yacht with
those nouveaux riches whose lacquer of gold so ineffectually conceals the real
underlying metal. Still, a breadth of view of life, which has always been one
of my characteristics, inspires me with the hope that the association of such
people with one of my own type may in the process of time tend to the refining
of the class from which they spring. Besides, one need not know people all
My means, viewed
in proportion to those of my friends, are sufficient. For, although my
allowance is nominally but �2,000 a year, my father has such a morbid sense of
family honor that he is always ready to pay up the casual debts that spring
from daily intercourse with the best of everything. And as he enjoys an income
of quite �150,000 a year, mainly derived from coal mines in Wales, there really
seems no reason why I should not occasionally, indeed frequently, furnish him
with an opportunity for indulging in his harmless hobby of keeping the family
And now, my
reader, before we plunge in medias res, I approach a subject which, if treated
with candor, must also be handled with delicacy.