?And some day,' she said, confusedly remembering O'Hara's prophecies, ?there will come for you a great Red Bull on a green field, and the Colonel riding on his tall horse, yes, and'?dropping into English?'nine hundred devils.'
?Ah,' said Kim, ?I shall remember. A Red Bull and a Colonel on a horse will come, but first, my father said, will come the two men making ready the ground for these matters. That is how, my father said, they always did; and it is always so when men work magic.'
Kim (Kimball O'Hara) is the orphaned son of an Irish soldier (Kimball O'Hara sr., a former colour sergeant and later an employee of an indian railway company) and a poor Irish mother (a former nanny in a colonel's household) who have both died in poverty. Living a vagabond existence in India under British rule in the late 19th century, Kim earns his living by begging and running small errands on the streets of Lahore. He occasionally works for Mahbub Ali, a Pashtun horse trader who is one of the native operatives of the British secret service. Kim is so immersed in the local culture that few realise he is a white child, although he carries a packet of documents from his father entrusted to him by an Indian woman who cared for him.