Study Guide

Kim Chapter 7

By Rudyard Kipling

Chapter 7

Heading South

  • Kim dictates another letter, this time to the lama.
  • He tells the lama where he will be going to school in Lucknow.
  • Colonel Creighton spots Kim talking to this letter writer at the marketplace, and he asks Kim to bring him his "cheroot-case " (7.16), which he left on a table at Father Victor's, this evening.
  • Kim asks where Creighton's house is, and Creighton says that he can find it by asking at the market.
  • But here's the thing: we know that Kim knows where Creighton's house is.
  • He delivered Mahbub Ali's message there just five chapters ago.
  • Kim is hiding what he knows because that's his habit, and Creighton approves of his secrecy.
  • Once Kim gets to Father Victor's house, he realizes he can't find the cheroot-case anywhere.
  • Kim is thrilled: Creighton is playing a game with him, a game of hidden knowledge.
  • After three days, Father Victor takes Kim to the train station for the trip south to Lucknow.
  • Kim and Creighton are sharing the same train, and they have several long conversations.
  • Creighton advises Kim not to let St. Xavier's change him too much, and encourages Kim to keep up his sympathy and interest in local cultures, in spite of school.
  • Once they arrive in Lucknow, Kim is sad not to see the lama.
  • But he is excited to be in a new city.

The Lama Reappears

  • The driver of Kim's carriage takes him on a little tour of the city.
  • As they head to Kim's new school, Kim spots a familiar figure: the lama.
  • The lama tells Kim that he really just couldn't stand to be around the Kulu woman and her endless demands for charms for grandchildren anymore, so the lama took the train south.
  • He is currently studying sacred manuscripts in Benares, looking for notes about the River of the Arrow.
  • Kim wants the lama to stay and live in Lucknow, but the lama won't.
  • The lama promises to send letters and to visit sometimes, but he is being quite cold to Kim; he doesn't want to grow too attached to worldly things—or to people—on his quest for the River.
  • Kim is bummed out—he misses the lama, and the lama doesn't seem to feel the same way.
  • But as Kim enters the gates of St. Xavier's, the lama promises that he will come back to Lucknow soon.
  • (We think the lama misses Kim a lot more than he is letting on, honestly.)

St. Xavier May Be Fun, But It's No Hogwarts

  • Actually, Kim's school experience at St. Xavier's is pretty great.
  • Even though they are all of European descent, most of the students have been born in India and are used to living there; thankfully they aren't as boring as the regiment's stupid drummer-boy, who kept thinking about England all the time (when he wasn't beating up poor Kim).
  • And then, when the summer holidays come, Kim more or less has the run of the place.
  • Most of the kids have gone home to their families, but Kim sticks around St. Xavier's.
  • He sneaks off to a prostitute to get her help in dressing himself up as an Indian boy, telling her a tall tale about needing the disguise to seduce a local girl without freaking out her father.
  • (We're having trouble figuring out how old Kim is supposed to be here, but since this whole girl story is all a lie anyway, we'll try not to worry about it.)
  • In his costume as a Hindu boy, Kim travels to Umballa by train and then goes to the village where the old soldier lives. (Remember him from Chapter 3?)
  • Creighton is currently in Simla (now Shimla; this city used to be the summer capital of British India), and he gets a telegram from the school saying that Kim has up and disappeared.
  • Mahbub Ali tells Creighton not to worry—Kim is just feeling his oats.
  • In fact, Kim has already written a letter to Mahbub Ali from Umballa promising that he'll go back to school when the fall term starts; he just wants to get away from that life for a while.
  • Creighton continues to worry about Kim being off on his own, but Mahbub Ali promises that it will all be fine.
  • After a month, Mahbub Ali runs into Kim begging on the road near Umballa.
  • Kim has been having a grand old time, obviously.
  • Still, the next time Kim feels the need to get moving, Mahbub Ali wants to go along, too—Kim is still a little young for this whole disappearing business.