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Kim Chapter 15 Summary
This Is The End, Beautiful Friend, The End
The Babu leads the two Europeans on a long road back to Simla, all the while claiming that he is a loyal servant of Russia. (Incidentally, this is what Simla looks like. We really want to go…) They are taken in by all of his fine talk, and never suspect him of making their road harder than it has to be. Meanwhile, Kim and the lama travel down and out of the mountains. At every village along the way, people know that there is a sick lama who needs to be carried in a litter south. They all line up for the opportunity, since he is a holy man (and Kim pays pretty well). Once they leave the hills (breaking the lama's heart—he loves the mountains) they begin to walk again as they look for the River. As the lama and Kim travel, the lama asks if Kim has ever wanted to leave him; Kim says no, absolutely not. Kim has written to the Kulu woman asking that she send a litter to carry the lama—he is worried that the lama is getting weaker with all of this walking. Kim also appears to be getting sick, and he is "tired and hot in his head, and a cough that came from his stomach worried him" (15.20). Wow, Kim, Calm Down, Man
Kim suddenly freaks out (like, majorly). He blurts out to the lama that he made the lama walk too much, that he hasn't fed him well… Kim starts crying at the lama's feet. The lama asks Kim why he is making all this fuss—Kim has never been anything other than loyal and loving, and the only problem here is the Body, which is weak and frail. The lama comforts Kim, who eventually calms down. The Kulu woman arrives, and the lama explains that he has been struggling with a "sickness of soul," while Kim has had a "sickness of body" (15.35). The Kulu woman promises to look after them both. The lama offers to make her all the charms she wants for her grandsons, because she is helping Kim and Kim is like a grandson to the lama. Kim lies in bed while the Kulu woman nurses him. The locked box full of the Russian agents' papers sits under his bed. Kim Takes A Sick Day
Kim sleeps for thirty-six hours, totally exhausted from all of the hard travel and from lugging the locked box around the Himalayas with him. When he wakes up he feels great again, and he immediately asks where the lama is. The Kulu woman says that he's fine—wandering around being a pain, but fine. The Kulu woman also tells Kim to consider her as a mother, since his own mother died when he was young. She mentions that the hakim is here (remember him—the Babu in disguise?); Kim asks her to bring him to him. Once Kim sees the Babu, he tells him that he's got all of the Russian agents's papers. Apparently, the Babu has brought Mahbub Ali into town. (In fact, if Kim happened to die, the Babu was going to have Mahbub Ali break in to steal the papers.) The Babu leaves to take the train to Umballa with all of his vital information. Salvation
And as Kim looks out at the world, he suddenly realizes his place in it. It is Kim's jobs to travel the roads and to meet people—that's what he was born for, and that's what he'll do as part of the Great Game. The lama and Mahbub Ali talk about Kim. The lama has found his River, and he plans to take Kim to bathe in it; he has found Enlightenment, as has Kim, and now Kim must be a great teacher. Mahbub Ali congratulates the lama on his goodness and on his virtue. But Mahbub Ali has no intention of following in his path. He walks off into the dark, and the lama goes to find Kim. The lama tells Kim the news: after two days and two nights without food and water, the lama had a great vision. He saw all the world, and he joined the Great Soul of the universe. But as he was looking down, a voice said to him, what will happen to Kim if you disappear? And so the lama left the Great Soul. A voice told him where to find the River of the Arrow, and the lama plunged into it, only to have the hakim (a.k.a. the Babu) pull him out. And so the lama has returned from the "Threshold of Freedom" (15.169) to bring Kim to his salvation. (For analysis of this awesome, cosmic ending to Kim's spy story, check out our section " What's Up With the Ending?")
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