A Menagerie Aboard

(notes edited by David Page)

Publication history

First published in the Civil and Military Gazette, 30 March 1889. Collected Volume V, No. 37 of Turn-overs, 1889, and in Abaft the Funnel (Unauthorised and Authorised Editions), 1909. (Story No. 1). In the Sussex and Burwash editions, the story was re-titled “One Lady at Large”.

The story

The Captain of the Madura relates an anecdote about one of his voyages when he was transporting a menagerie “—a whole turnout, lock, stock, and barrel, from the big bear to the little hippopotamus; . . .” One of the sixteen giraffes which were up on deck, broke free during the night and first put its head through the window of the Captain’s cabin whilst he was asleep before eventually withdrawing it and then trying to climb over the stern rail. The quartermaster saved it by hauling on its tail.


The story is told on board a ship crossing the Bay of Bengal from India towards the East [Page 22, line 9] – “orchid-hunter on route to Siam”. Kipling crossed the Bay in March 1889 from Calcutta to Rangoon as recounted in From Sea to Sea chapter I.


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