"that same Major Cavagnari"
Pierre Louis Napoleon Cavagnari, who features prominently in the second half of The Far Pavilions
, was a real historical character. Cavagnari was born in France in 1841 but became a British citizen and served in the East India Company. He was made deputy commissioner of Peshawar in 1877, and the following year was part of a British mission to Kabul. He and the other members of the mission were killed in Afghanistan in 1879.