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by Rudyard Kipling

Kim Chapter 13 Summary

Onward And Upward

  • As they start climbing the foothills of the Himalayas, the lama could not be happier; he feels like he is on his own turf at last.
  • Kim, meanwhile, is hungry, cold, and tired—definitely off his game.
  • Still, as Kim keeps climbing and keeps breathing all this fresh mountain air, he gets stronger.
  • The Babu follows them on the road—he seems to know this whole area very well.
  • Finally they reach a valley in the middle of high mountains, damp with streams that flow into the river Sutluj.
  • As Kim and the lama spend the night in the valley, the Babu races on ahead to meet the two Europeans (one French and one Russian).
  • They want someone local to help get them to Simla, and the Babu offers to guide them.
  • The Babu also puts on a convincing display of hating the English, which the two European guys buy completely.
  • As the Babu leads these two foreigners and their coolies (which is a racist term meaning cheap, unskilled workers; these are the guys carrying the baggage, so we will call them bearers), he finds Kim and the lama on the road.
  • He secretly signals Kim that these two guys are The Guys, the ones they've been looking for.
  • The Babu also invites the two men to look at the lama's drawing of the Great Wheel of existence.
  • The lama starts explaining about the Buddhist model of human existence—the Russian quickly says that he can't understand the lama, but he wants to buy his drawing.
  • The lama refuses, and the Russian reaches out as though he is going to grab the drawing.

Wow, Stuff Gets Serious Really Fast

  • The Russian hits the lama right in the face, and Kim leaps at him.
  • All the bearers run off into the hills ASAP—they know that it's super bad luck to hit a holy man, and they don't want to be around when the gods start throwing lightning bolts.
  • The Babu jumps on Kim as though he is defending the Russian guy, but really, he's warning Kim to run after the bearers and get their papers.
  • A shot hits a rock near Kim as he runs, so Kim pulls out the gun he got from Mahbub Ali and shoots back.
  • He and the lama find cover behind some trees.
  • The bearers all want to shoot the two Europeans in revenge for the act of sacrilege they have just seen (since, again, hitting a holy man = very bad luck).
  • The lama orders the bearers not to kill anybody, but confesses to Kim that he was tempted to shoot the men and he feels deeply shaken by his moral weakness.
  • He sinks to the ground, partly thanks to his injury, but also because of his disappointment in himself.
  • The bearers decide to divide up the European men's loot.
  • Kim steps in and says that they shouldn't take the bag full of books and instruments—it's got magic tools that only Kim can handle safely.
  • Meanwhile, the Babu accompanies the two Europeans.
  • He keeps telling them they have no choice now but to sneak from village to village until they can get to a city.
  • Their luggage is long gone, and they will be in so much trouble if they contact the Kings—after all, hitting a holy man is the worst thing you can do around here.
  • The Babu's strong words convince the Europeans, who immediately fall to fighting with each other.
  • And the whole threat of the Russian spies falls apart.

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