Quotes Shared Stress

August 6th to 12th


I hear a thud in the engine-room. Then the noise of machinery falling down—like fire-irons—and then two most awful yells. They’re more like hoots, and I know—I know while I listen—that it means that two men have died as they hooted. It was their last breath hooting out of them—in most awful pain.


This is from “In the Same Boat”  in A Diversity of Creatures (1916)

Conroy is plagued by terrible recurrent dreams, and to escape them he has become addicted to drugs. His doctor introduces him to a young woman who has the same experience. They take long night-time  train journeys together and help each other get through  the crisis without turning  to the drugs.

They tell of their dreams,   and find  that, for both, the nightmares are replaying traumatic  experiences  of their mothers, before they were born.

This discovery liberates  them both, and they go their separate ways.


He said there was blood on everything that he ate. He said he’d been guilty of the murder of a certain number of men because he hadn’t operated on ’em properly. He had their names down in a pocket-book. He said he might have saved ’em if he hadn’t knocked off for a cigarette or a doss.


This is from “The Tender Achilles” in Kipling’s last collection, Limits and Renewals” (1932)

After an Annual Dinner, two  doctors are reminiscing about the appalling experience of operating on wounded and often dying men behind the Great War battlefields.

They recall the case of ‘Wilkie’, a brilliant scientist thiugh not a very good surgeon. He had become obsessed by his failures to d=save men he thinks he could have saved. It had destroyed his confidence in himself as a doctor,

He has a badly inflamed ankle, To save him his colleagues deliberatly mis-dagnos3 his case. He disagrees  with them, and when he is proved correct his confidence is restored.

He went down into his own cellar, he said, and waited there, with his revolver, ready to blow his brains out when the warrant came. What a month! Think of it! A cellar and a candle, a file of gardening papers, and a loaded revolver for company!


This is from “Fairy Kist“. which like many of Kipling’s late stories is concerned with how the horrors of the Great War have scarred men’s minds.

Wollin came back from the trenches  a broken man, gassed, wounded, near death, heavily drugged to ease his pain,  A keen gardener, he feels a compulsion  to go out and plant flowers by the waysides, indeed he thinks he hears voices telling  him to do so, He doubts his own sanity/

One night, out planting away from home, he finds the body of a young woman, just killed. He panics and flees, leaving a trowel behind him. When people from near where the girl had lined call on him unexpectedly, he is terrified, expecting  arrest and contemplating  suicide.

Only when one of his visitors explains  that his dreams come from a book read to him in his delirium by a nurse, does he realise   that he is neither guilty nor mad.