Study Guide

Kim Chapter 12

By Rudyard Kipling

Chapter 12

Wow, Who Isn't A Spy in This Book?

  • E23's disguise helps him to avoid the people who are looking for him, but he still needs to find a way to get out the information about where he buried the letter that caused all of this to-do.
  • A white man appears—a District Superintendent of Police.
  • E23 bumps into him and then shouts filthy abuse at him.
  • The District Superintendent thinks that he's drunk, and looks like he might arrest him, but then E23 hands him his train ticket and sucks up to him as best he can.
  • Kim slips after E23 because he recognizes the District Superintendent: it's the same guy who bantered with the Kulu woman in Chapter 4.
  • E23 whispers to Kim that everything's okay—the District Superintendent of Police has gotten his message, so the letter will be safe.
  • It turns out that this guy is also part of the Secret Service.
  • (Seriously, is there anyone in all of India who isn't part of the Secret Service in this book?)
  • E23 thanks Kim for saving his life and then sends him off about his business.
  • Back with the lama, the lama scolds Kim for his "prideful workings" (11.31) in transforming the Mahratta just to cause mischief.
  • Kim is hurt by the lama's judgment, but they move on, traveling towards the Kulu woman's house.
  • The lama believes that Kim should cure the sick if he can, because that is a good deed, but otherwise he should avoid acting, because to do so keeps you tied to this life.
  • Kim tells the lama that he has been taught to act—how can you not?
  • The lama warns Kim that he shouldn't be deceived by differences between people: we are all moving through life together, looking for understanding.

To Grandmother's House We Go

  • The lama and Kim finally arrive at the Kulu woman's house.
  • She welcomes them warmly and teases Kim about being a young ladykiller, but then she immediately starts nagging the lama about charms to protect the health of her grandsons.
  • As she is talking on, the lama goes off to his room to sleep.
  • Kim sticks around and hears the Kulu woman talking about a traveling hakim (a Muslim doctor) who is staying on her property; her servant goes to bring this hakim inside to meet Kim.
  • As the hakim arrives, he and Kim quickly fall into an exchange of insults about the quality of his products.
  • (As always, Kim likes to use his skill with words to insult people—it's a thing.)
  • It's only once the Kulu woman and the servants leave the room that the hakim reveals himself: it's the Babu.
  • It turns out that the Babu was the one sent to pick up the letter E23 hid while his enemies were chasing him.
  • Everyone is happy with Kim at the Secret Service: E23, Lurgan—everybody.

Kim Remains Unable To Stay Out Of Trouble

  • Kim basically tells the Babu to cut the crap—Why would the Babu come all of this way from Simla just to pat Kim on the back and tell him that he's doing a good job?
  • The Babu admits that it all has to do with "the pedigree of a white stallion" (12.133).
  • Kim thought all of that stuff with the secret message from Mahbub Ali to Creighton was over long ago—like, around Chapter 5.
  • The Babu explains:
  • (1) The Five Kings at the northern border of India and Afghanistan were threatening a war.
  • (2) The government sent a bunch of troops, but then they ordered those troops to stand down.
  • (3) They assumed that the Five Kings were probably intimidated by this show of military strength.
  • (4) So they made a deal with two of these five kings, Hilas and Bunar, to hold the northern mountain passes against anyone coming down to India from the north.
  • (5) In exchange for this support from Hilas and Bunar, the government invested in roads and infrastructure for their regions.
  • (6) It's been the Babu's job to oversee all of this construction.
  • (7) But now, the Babu has heard news of two people coming down from the North in disguise as goat-hunters.
  • (8) These "hunters" also carry compasses and other devices for map-making.
  • (9) These men represent the Russians, and it seems like they are convincing Hilas and Bunar to join their side.
  • The government won't act against these men, so the Babu has been planning to join them as an interpreter or something, but now he's actually feeling kind of… frightened. He doesn't want to get too close.
  • So the Babu wants Kim to come along with him and help.
  • Kim and the Babu both get together to convince the lama to travel north into the hills.
  • Kim tells the lama there will be fewer people there to distract him from his search for the River of the Arrow, and the Babu tells him happy stories about Northerners who love religion and who need a teacher.
  • The lama decides to head north.