“That’s what Mother Gunga thinks, is it,” he said, reading. “Keep cool, young ’un. We’ve got all our work cut out for us. Let’s see. Muir wired half an hour ago: ‘Floods on the Ramgunga. Look out.’ Well, that gives us—one, two—nine and a half for the flood to reach Melipur Ghaut and seven’s sixteen and a half to Lataoli—say fifteen hours before it comes down to us.”

This is from "The Bridge Builders" by Rudyard Kipling.

I don't understand the meaning of "seven’s sixteen and a half".

1 Answer 1


The character is doing math and saying it out loud. Here, "and seven's" means "plus seven is", as in, nine and a half hours plus seven hours makes sixteen and a half hours before the flooding reaches Lataoli.

9.5 + 7 = 16.5

  • Good answer. I think it would improve the answer to clarify that "seven's" in this case is a contraction of "seven is" and not the possessive form of "seven"
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 18:10
  • 1
    @Kevin That isn't clear in my second sentence?
    – gotube
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 19:26
  • 2
    To a native speaker? Most definitely. To a non-native speaker, especially based on the title of the question, possibly not.
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 20:07
  • @gotube you were given birth in Canada, so it is typical for you. Commented Sep 13, 2022 at 14:46

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