Study Guide

Kim Chapter 9

By Rudyard Kipling

Chapter 9

At The Mini-Wonder House

  • Kim commits to the role of the Sahib.
  • He calls to a small Hindu boy at the side of the road to demand directions to Lurgan's house; once there, Kim finds a man with a black beard and a green visor counting pearls and putting them on a string.
  • His room is filled with Tibetan devil dance masks and Japanese suits of armor.
  • The black-bearded man tells Kim that he will have to sleep in this room tonight, and Kim realizes that the black-bearded man is testing to see if he will become frightened of all of these strange and unfamiliar things.
  • Kim curls up in a corner of the room.
  • He asks the small Hindu boy (who apparently lives here) if that black-bearded guy is Lurgan.
  • When the Hindu boy doesn't answer, Kim hits him. (Not cool, Kim.)
  • Kim asks out loud if the Hindu boy has been ordered not to speak to Kim; Lurgan unexpectedly answers from behind Kim that yes, he has given orders that the boy can't speak to Kim.
  • So Kim stops hitting the Hindu boy, at least for now.
  • That night, Kim can't sleep.
  • He keeps thinking he hears his name, and then he hears something like voices.
  • It turns out that the voices are coming from a box (and Kipling doesn't actually say so, but this box sounds a lot like a wax cylinder player, an early version of a record player).
  • Kim stuffs his jacket into the noisy box and then goes back to sleep.

Lurgan And Kim Make Friends

  • The next morning, Lurgan shakes Kim's hand—he seems impressed by Kim's creativity in destroying the box that was bothering him.
  • Lurgan also tells Kim that the little Hindu boy wants to stab or poison Kim, and that Lurgan has put him in a time-out for his bad behavior.
  • Lurgan's shop is an amazing place, packed with strange objects like the Wonder House back in Lahore (remember the Lahore Museum where Kim and the lama met?).
  • But what Kim really likes about spending time there is that he and Lurgan are alike: Lurgan also has multiple sides to his identity—he can speak Urdu absolutely fluently, and culturally, he doesn't seem English.
  • Lurgan slides a jar across a table to Kim and asks him to slide it back.
  • Kim does, and the jar crashes off the table and breaks.
  • Or—does it?
  • Lurgan does some real David Copperfield-style stuff, encouraging Kim to keep his eye on the jar and see that it is whole, it is growing whole… can't he see it?
  • As Kim looks, he can almost see the shadowy outline of the jar, but he keeps telling himself that it must be smashed, no matter what.
  • And finally, Lurgan agrees that yes, it is smashed.
  • Lurgan has been trying to encourage Kim to believe what he knows isn't true—that the jar is still whole—and Kim has resisted his suggestion.
  • Lurgan tells Kim that he is the only one in Lurgan's experience who has ever done this on his own, without any training.

Is Anyone Worried That This Boy Seems To Be A Homicidal Maniac?

  • Lurgan turns to the Hindu boy, who swears that he will not try to poison either Lurgan or Kim (how nice of him), but begs Lurgan to send Kim away.
  • It turns out that the Hindu boy is deeply jealous, because it seems like Lurgan (who the boy calls "my father and my mother" (9.83)) might prefer Kim.
  • Lurgan reassures the boy, telling him he can act as Kim's teacher in the Play of the Jewels.
  • Lurgan lays out about fifteen different stones on a tray.
  • He asks the boys to remember what they can about the stones, and then he covers them up.
  • Kim stumbles and forgets, but the Hindu boy remembers all of them perfectly.
  • They keep playing rematches, but the Hindu boy always wins.
  • Finally, he generously offers to teach Kim how to improve.
  • So Kim spends the next ten days playing what is basically a version of the game Memory.
  • Lurgan also makes Kim and the Hindu boy sit and watch while he entertains a wide range of people at his shop—he wants them to become good at judging people's characters by looking at them.
  • And Kim also shows off his skills in disguise and imitation, which deeply impress Lurgan.
  • Lurgan introduces Kim to the Babu, an Indian man who also works as a spy for the government.
  • The Babu is very fat, and he doesn't seem to have the language skills or the smarts of Lurgan or Mahbub Ali—Kim has no idea how someone as obvious as the Babu can also be a secret agent.
  • Kim heads back to St. Xavier's full of plans for his future as a spy.
  • The Babu goes with him to Lucknow, and they eat together.
  • The Babu is full of self-important advice about the kind of education Kim should get (though he keeps making mistakes about the authors he mentions).
  • The Babu gives Kim a present: a box filled with a stock of pill bottles, which Kim can use if he ever needs to pretend to be a traveling medicine salesman.

Meanwhile, Back With The Lama…

  • While Kim has been continuing on at school, the lama has also been living his life.
  • The lama has gone to all of the sacred places in India that have to do with Buddhism, and the only quest he has left is to find the River of the Arrow.
  • But he can't do that until he has his disciple back.
  • He tells everybody at the monasteries he visits about this famous disciple.
  • At a Jain temple, the lama tells a parable about an elephant captured by hunters.
  • This elephant breaks free, but he still has an iron ring stuck on his leg.
  • The elephant is filled with rage and hatred—the ring is hurting him, but none of his fellow elephants can get it off.
  • He only forgets his pain when he sees a newborn elephant whose mother has just died.
  • The elephant realizes that he has to help this newborn elephant, so he goes to find milk for it.
  • For thirty-five years, this iron ring bites into the elephant's leg, but it doesn't bother him because he is busy raising this younger elephant.
  • When the younger elephant grows up, he sees the iron ring buried in his friend's leg; he puts his trunk on the iron ring, and the ring springs open.
  • So the moral of the story is that because the older elephant waited for relief and did good things with his life, he was ultimately freed by the baby elephant that he had saved.
  • (We think the parallel is pretty clear here. The lama = the older elephant with the leg ring; Kim = the baby elephant who brings him salvation.)
  • The lama hears from the old soldier near the Grand Trunk Road that Kim is well, and growing up; he believes that the two of them will go back on the road together, when the time is right.