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‘Out he goes, looking neither right nor left, and when he was plumb in the middle of those dizzy dancing ropes, ‘Cut you beggars’ he shouts; and they cut, and old Dan fell, turning round and round and round, twenty thousand miles, for he took half an hour to fall till he struck the water, and I could see his body caught on a rock with the golden crown close beside…’

  

This is from “The Man who Would be King”, from Wee Willie Winkie and other stories. Two adventurers have gone off to make their fortunes in Kafiristan. They have persuaded the people that they are gods, not men, and have become King and Commander in Chief of a remote mountain kingdom. But their mortality is revealed when the ‘King’ wants to take a wife; the people turn on them, and send him to his death in a deep ravine. They crucify the ‘Commander in Chief’, who nonetheless lives to tell the tale before he dies, a broken man.


   

   

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