‘She—she never scrupled to feed a lame duck or set ’er foot on a scorpion at any time of ’er life,’
This is from “Mrs Bathurst”, collected in Traffics and Discoveries., an enigmatic story which has intrigue and baffled generations of kipling’s readers.
Vickery, a Warrant Officer in the Royal Navy was in love with Mrs Bathurst, an attractive young widow, regarded with much affection by the British sailors who knew her bar in Aukland.
Vickery was obsessed with her, but had lost touch. He caught sight of her at a London railway station. in a newsreel film, which he went to see repeatedly. Then. when his ship was in South African waters, he persuaded his Captain to send him on a mission up country.
He evidently deserted and was later found dead, with a companion, struck by lightning in a remote railway siding. Was this Mrs Bathurst ? Where were they going, and why ? Nobody knows.