Just when the reasons were drowsy with blood-sucking I heard the regular—“Let-us-take-and-heave-him-over” grunt of doolie-bearers in the compound. First one doolie came in, then a second, and then a third. I heard the doolies dumped on the ground, and the shutter in front of my door shook. “That’s some one trying to come in,” I said. But no one spoke, and I persuaded myself that it was the gusty wind. The shutter of the room next to mine was attacked, flung back, and the inner door opened. “That’s some Sub-Deputy Assistant,” I said, “and he has brought his friends with him. Now they’ll talk and spit and smoke for an hour.”

This is from 'MY OWN TRUE GHOST STORY' by Rudyard Kipling.

I can not understand the meaning of the sentence.
the regular—“Let-us-take-and-heave-him-over”

  • 2
    Doolie or litter bearers belonged to a Hindu guild and there was a tradition of chanting as they carried their loads. The words were not the long English hyphenated phrase Kipling showed; rather that shows the rhythm and intonation. May 4, 2021 at 6:08
  • 2
    What @MichaelHarvey said. The rhythmic chanting is akin to marching soldiers: Hup two three four,... May 4, 2021 at 15:41
  • Also sailors used to chant when hauling ropes, etc, to keep everybody coördinated, as the New Yorker would say. May 4, 2021 at 17:10
  • Thank you so much for your examples. They are so helpful! May 4, 2021 at 23:40

1 Answer 1


As Michael says, it is the sound of the words rather than their meaning that Kipling is indicating.

'Take and heave' seems to have been a common formula in the second half of the C19th. Dickens uses it in David Copperfield (1850), Mrs. Gummidge is handed an old shoe to toss after the departing newly-weds in order to confer luck and prosperity upon them.

"Come, old gal!" cried Mr. Peggotty. "Take and heave it."

"if it wasn't for the danger of a scuffle, I'd take and heave you into the sea, sink or swim." [Silas the Conjuror in The Boys' Own Magazine. 1865.]

Henry Boozer: It's no good, Mother. He says you can't "bite his ear" for no more liquor.
Widow Boozer: The willin'! ('villain'?) Never mind. When it's dark, Henery, you take and heave a stone through his winder.
[The Bulletin, Australia. 19 Dec 1885]

And of course, taking and heaving wounded bodies on and off the doolies is what they did.

  • Very interesting answer. It's like: Let's go and do that now. Except I disagree with the sound business...
    – Lambie
    May 4, 2021 at 16:17
  • Thank you so much for your answer! I understand the usage of the sentence. May 4, 2021 at 23:42

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