Tiglath Pileser

(notes edited by David Page)

Publication history

First published in the Civil and Military Gazette, 16 October 1888. Collected Volume IV, No.35 of Turn-overs, 1888, and in Abaft the Funnel (Unauthorised and Authorised Editions), 1909.

This was one of the stories in the 1890 volume, The City of Dreadful Night and other Stories, the publication of which was suppressed by Kipling.

The story

This is an equine tale of suffering and revenge. But unlike Nafferton in “Pig” (Plain Tales from the Hills), the narrator took his ultimate revenge on the horse and not on Staveley, the man from whom he had bought it.

I bought him, his vices as thick as his barsati, for a hundred and seventy rupees, a five-chambered muzzle-loading revolver, and a Cawnpore saddle.
“Of course, for that price,” said Staveley “you can’t expect everything. He’s not what one could call absolutely sound y’ know . . .”

And so it proves. The horse suffers from many minor defects, and one major one – ‘carriagecidal mania’. It attempts to destroy all the carriages that it meets, whilst the owners informed the narrator of the ‘details of the little bills which I had to pay to their coach-builders.’

Neither kindness nor cruelty will teach Tiglath to behave, and eventually, in desperation, the narrator shoots the horse and it is carted off by the municipality.


©David Page 2006 All rights reserved