Wee Willie Winkie and Other Child Stories
|Author||Rudyard Kipling (English)|
|Series||Indian Railway Library|
|Publisher||A H Wheeler & Co|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
Wee Willie Winkie and Other Child Stories (published 1888) is a collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling.
Wee Willie Winkie
Percival William Williams, who is affectionately called 'Wee Willie Winkie' because of the nursery rhyme, is the only son of the Colonel of the 195th. He makes good friends with a subaltern, whom he nicknames 'Coppy'. One day Wee Willie Winkie confesses to Coppy that he saw him kissing Miss Allardyce, whose father was a Major. Coppy persuaded him to keep silent about the matter since they were engaged, but hadn't announced it, yet. Three weeks later, when Wee Willie Winkie is grounded, he sees Miss Allardyce ride her horse across the river in an attempt to prove her mettle. Wee Willie Winkie knows that the 'Bad Men' (who he equates with goblins) live on the other side of the river, so he rides out after her even though he's grounded. Miss Allardyce's horse blunders and falls, giving Miss Allardyce a twisted ankle. Wee Willie Winkie catches up to her and sends his pony, Jack, back to the cantonments. Some natives find them and consider whether to hold Miss Allardyce and Wee Willie Winkie for ransom or return them for a reward. When Wee Willie Winkie's riderless horse returns to the cantonments, E Company immediately marshals and sets out to find him. The Company frightens away the natives and Wee Willie Winkie is lauded as a hero for saving Miss Allardyce.
Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
A young boy, called Punch, and a young girl, called Judy are sent to live with their Aunt Rosa, Uncle Harry, and cousin Harry, in England, while their parents remain in Bombay, India. Uncle Harry is kind to Punch, but Aunt Rosa, a domineering Christian, treats him only with scorn and contempt. Life gets steadily worse for Punch (who is eventually renamed 'Black Sheep') and his only escape from his insufferable life is in reading. Things take a turn for the worse when Uncle Harry, the only person besides Judy who shows Black Sheep any kindness, dies. Black Sheep is then sent to school and one day gets into a fight at school. This emboldens him and he begins threatening his cousin Harry and Aunt Rosa that he will murder them. He also attempts (and fails) to commit suicide. During this time it is discovered by a visitor to the house that Black Sheep has nearly gone blind. When their mother comes to retrieve them, life quickly improves again for Black Sheep and he goes back to being known as Punch.
His Majesty the King
A child, named Toby (the eponymous 'His Majesty the King') is generally ignored by his parents and is raised by a nurse, Miss Biddums. But more than anything he wants his parents to love him. Unbeknownst to him, their coolness is the result of an affair his father once had. One afternoon a package is left at the house and he covets the string used to wrap it. He removes the string and, to his dismay, the wrapping paper falls off the box. Then, curious, he opens the box and discovers a jewel inside. He takes it to play with it, intending to give it back to his mother and apologise when she asks for it. But she never asks for it. Toby is wracked with guilt, eventually the point of becoming ill. In a delirium he confesses his theft to Miss Biddums. A note is found with the jewel which eventually leads to a reconciliation between his parents. When he wakes up from his fever, his parents give him all the love he could wish for.
The Drums of the Fore and Aft
The narrator explains that it is generally known that the regiment known facetiously as the 'Fore and Aft' suffered an embarrassing defeat on their first foray into the battlefield. Part of this was due to the inexperience of both the men and the officers. The story concerns two drummer boys, Jakin and Lew, who are generally disorderly. When news comes that their company will be sent to the front, they both convince the Colonel to let them come along. Several misunderstandings and mistakes result in the Fore and Aft rushing out to battle before they were supposed to. They are soundly defeated by their opponents, Ghazis from Afghanistan, and flee the battlefield. Jakin and Lew, who are left behind, decide to try to rouse the regiment by playing the fife and the drum. The 'Fore and Aft' rush back to the fight, but in the first volley of the Afghans both boys are killed. The 'Fore and Aft', now inspired by a thirst for revenge, drive back the Afghans and win back some respect. But the honour for the victory goes to the two drummer boys who died while showing bravery greater than that of the men they served with.
- Works by Rudyard Kipling at Project Gutenberg
- Works by Kipling at the University of Newcastle
- Note that as Kipling's writing is mostly in the public domain, a large number of individual websites contain parts of his work; these two sites are comprehensive, containing almost everything publicly available.
- Something of Myself, Kipling's autobiography
- The Kipling Society website
- Kipling Readers' Guide from the Kipling Society; annotated notes on stories and poems.