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“Pansay went off the handle,” says Heatherlegh, “after the stimulus of long leave at Home. He may or he may not have behaved like a blackguard to Mrs. Keith-Wessington. My notion is that the work of the Katabundi Settlement ran him off his legs, and that he took to brooding and making much of an ordinary P. & O. flirtation. He certainly was engaged to Miss Mannering, and she certainly broke off the engagement. Then he took a feverish chill and all that nonsense about ghosts developed. Overwork started his illness, kept it alight, and killed him poor devil. Write him off to the System—one man to take the work of two and a half men.

This is from "THE PHANTOM ‘RICKSHAW" by Radyard Kipling.
http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/rg_phantom_notes.htm

I can't understand the meaning of the sentence below.

My notion is that the work of the Katabundi Settlement ran him off his legs, and that he took to brooding and making much of an ordinary P. & O. flirtation.

Whatdoes "ran him off his legs" mean?

And "take to brooding"?

As to P. & O. flirtation
I have read the note of the Kipling Society"
http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/rg_phantom_notes.htm

I am glad if someone would kindly teach me.


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For them to

ran him off his legs

means they worked him very hard -- the metaphor (or perhaps the literal fact) is of a worker who has to run around all the time, until his legs feel like they would fall off. Hence, this is the "Overwork" referred to later.

Then he

took to brooding

as he might take to drink: he indulged, and over-indulged in brooding.

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  • Thank you so much ,Mary! your answer is very helpful. – Hiroshi Inagaki Mar 13 at 4:14

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