Rudyard Kipling's Memory

Rudyard Kipling, Valerian Gribayedoff.jpg

Rudyard Kipling, Drawing By Valerian Gribayedoff

Rudyard Kipling's Letter To Robert Barr

[28 July 1894]

Arundell House/Tisbury

Dear Barr,

A regular weather-breeder of a day to-day -- real warmth at last and it waked in me a lively desire to be back in Main Street Brattleboro Vt. U. S. A. and hear the sody water fizzing in the drug-store and to discuss the outlook for the Episcopalian Church with the clerk; and get a bottle of lager in the basement of the Brooks house and hear the doctor tell fish yarns and have the iron-headed old farmers loaf up and jerk out: -- "Bin in Yurope haint yer?" and then go home, an easy gait, through the deep white dust with the locust trees just stinking to heaven and the fire flies playing up and down the swamp road and the Katydids giving oratorios free-gratis and for nothing to the whip-poorwill and everybody sitting out in the verandah after dinner smoking Durham tobacco in a cob pipe with our feet on the verandah railings and the moon coming up behind Wantastiquet.

The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, ed. Thomas Pinney, Volume 2

(Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1990).

Rudyard Kipling spent days and hours with Dave Carey, the railroad stationmaster at the Brattleboro depot, asking questions about the mechanics and movements of all the trains, and questioning the arriving and departing passengers about their travels. Dave Carey lived nearby at 6 Canal Street with his wife Nellie A. Murray.

David Stephen Carey (February 9, 1870 to March 16, 1939) addressed Kipling familiarly as "Kip", in the American manner of giving nicknames. Carey also remembered the author sitting quietly in the background at the station, smoking either a cheroot, or his black briar pipe, and observing his surroundings carefully.

The detailed technical information that Kipling learned from David Stephen Carey here in Brattleboro provided the basis for his short story "007", which is the number of an American locomotive that is able to converse with other locomotives. This story "007; The Story of An American Locomotive" was first published in Scribner's Magazine for August 1897---

The red paint was hardly dry on his spotless bumper-bar, his headlight shone like a fireman's helmet, and his cab might have been a hard-wood-finish parlour. They had run him into the round-house after his trial - he had said good-bye to his best friend in the shops, the overhead travelling-crane - the big world was just outside; and the other locos were taking stock of him. He looked at the semicircle of bold, unwinking headlights, heard the low purr and mutter of the steam mounting in the gauges - scornful hisses of contempt as a slack valve lifted a little - and would have given a month's oil for leave to crawl through his own driving-wheels into the brick ash-pit beneath him. 007 was an eight-wheeled "American" loco, slightly different from others of his type, and as he stood he was worth ten thousand dollars on the Company's books. But if you had bought him at his own valuation, after half an hour's waiting in the darkish, echoing round-house, you would have saved exactly nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars and ninety-eight cents.


Rudyard Kipling also drew a map in 1895 of the Three Bridges area by the West River for the benefit of the Boston & Maine Railroad. He was concerned for the safety of carriages travelling through the covered bridge when trains were passing by and often frightening the horses. Kipling passed this way when going between Naulakha and Brattleboro.

Prominent in the foreground of this map is a marble tombstone with the warning, "In the midst of life we are in death".


Josephine Kipling




The Kipling Society has the text of this story, along with description, annotation, and commentary, edited by Alastair Wilson and John W. Reading. This is available here---








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