Short summary - The Man Who Would Be King - Sir Joseph Rudyard Kipling

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - The Man Who Would Be King
Sir Joseph Rudyard Kipling

The narrator, a British journalist in India, travels through the Indian states and meets two dirty travelers, Daniel Drevot and Pichi Carnehan. He immediately likes them, but then he dissuades them from blackmailing one insignificant Raja.

A few months later they appear in the storyteller’s office in Lahore and dedicate it to their plan - to go to Kafirstan to proclaim themselves kings there. Drevot can pass for the local, and they have two hundred guns. Their task is to find a king or leader, help overcome his enemies, and then become either kings or leaders themselves. They ask the storyteller whether maps and books are needed in the area.

Two years later, on a rainy, hot summer night, Carnehan crawls into the narrator's office. This broken man, a lame beggar in rags, tells an amazing story.

Drevot and Carnehan managed to become kings: they found infidels who turned out to be white-skinned, gathered an army, captured villages and dreamed of building a single nation. Dravot’s fearlessness in front of local idols made him a god - the reincarnation of Alexander the Great. The infidels practiced some form of Masonic rituals (and our heroes were Masons), and Drevot’s reputation was strengthened even more when he flashed his knowledge in this area.

Their plan collapsed when Drevot decided to marry a kafir girl. Afraid of marrying a god, the girl hit Drevot when he tried to kiss her. Seeing his blood, the priests began to shout that he was "Neither God nor the Devil, but a man." Many Kafir people were opposed to Drevot and Karnhan. Despite the fact that some of their people remained loyal, the “kings" were captured.

Kafirs set Drevot in a crown on a rope bridge over a cliff, cut the ropes, and he crashed to death. Carnehan was crucified between two pines. The next day, he was still alive. This seemed to Kiphara a miracle, and they let him go. He returned to India.

As proof of her story, Carnehan shows the narrator Drevot's head with a golden crown on his head.

Carnehan leaves, taking his head with him. The next day, the narrator sees him crawling along the road in the afternoon sun, without a hat. He is crazy. The narrator sends him to a local mental hospital. Two days later, he learns that Carnehan died of a sunstroke. There were no things with him.