Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kim - First Chapter - 2

by Rudyard Kipling

The first minutes of the movie; the first pages of the book.

The half-caste woman who looked after him (she smoked opium, and pretended to keep a second-hand furniture shop by the square where the cheap cabs wait) told the missionaries that she was Kim's mother's sister; but his mother had been nursemaid in a Colonel's family and had married Kimball O'Hara, a young colour-sergeant of the Mavericks, an Irish regiment. He afterwards took a post on the Sind, Punjab, and Delhi Railway, and his Regiment went home without him. The wife died of cholera in Ferozepore, and O'Hara fell to drink and loafing up and down the line with the keen-eyed three-year-old baby. Societies and chaplains, anxious for the child, tried to catch him, but O'Hara drifted away, till he came across the woman who took opium and learned the taste from her, and died as poor whites die in India. His estate at death consisted of three papers--one he called his 'ne varietur' because those words were written below his signature thereon, and another his 'clearance-certificate'. The third was Kim's birth-certificate. Those things, he was used to say, in his glorious opium-hours, would yet make little Kimball a man. On no account was Kim to part with them, for they belonged to a great piece of magic--such magic as men practised over yonder behind the Museum, in the big blue-and-white Jadoo-Gher--the Magic House, as we name the Masonic Lodge.

Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.

More About This Book

Kipling's novel of India and the British empire, published in 1900.

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