The Man Who Would Be King

By Rudyard Kipling, retold by A L Stringer
Level: upper intermediate
Wordcount: 8279

For six months of the year in India the weather is pleasant and the newspaper office is never quiet. The telephone rings constantly and visitors walk in every minute of the day. They ask for free advertising or complain that you have treated them unfairly in an article or ask you to review their books or write about their new inventions or give them jobs as proof-readers. That is the enjoyable part of the year.

For the other six months of the year there are no visitors. The temperature climbs higher and higher and the shutters on the windows make the office so dark you can hardly read. The printing machines are red-hot to touch and when the telephone rings, you fear one of your friends has died.

This is the terrible Indian hot season and you have to experience it to believe it. When the hot weather starts, you write about an outbreak of disease in some district or the other. You report that a few people have died and everything is under control. Then disease really breaks out and you don’t report anything in case you frighten your readers. And up in the hill stations, where the weather is cool and there is no disease, the rich complain that the newspaper is boring.