When it came time to go ashore the next day, Rajkumar would be red-eyed and Saya John fresh, heartily breakfasted and eager to get his cargo unloaded, to be on his way to the camp where he was headed. The first part of the journey was usually by ox-cart. They would breast rivers of mud as they went creaking towards the distant mountains. When everything went as planned, these journeys would end at some tiny inland hamlet, with a team of elephants waiting to relieve them of their cargo, leaving them free to turn back. But all too often they would arrive at their roadhead only to learn that the camp ahead could spare no elephants; that they would have to find their own porters to carry their cargo into the mountains. Then Rajkumar too had to yoke a basket to his back, a wickerwork pah with a deep cover and a forehead-strap. To his particular charge would fall the small bespoke luxuries that were specially ordered by the forest Assistants who ran the timber camps—cigars, bottles of whisky, tins of canned meat and sardines, once even a crystal decanter sent up by Rowe & Co., the big Rangoon department store.

I haven't understood the bold part of the sentence - To his particular charge would fall ...

What is the meaning of this?

My Guess -

His task was to deliver those goods.

Am I right? If not please tell me the meaning of that part.

  • 1
    Collins dictionary charge sense 8a or 8b. It is talking about his responsibility or duty regarding the cargo.
    – user3169
    Sep 4, 2014 at 4:53
  • @Man_From_India I think it's a heavy-NP shift, which is reasonable because [the small bespoke luxuries that ... department store] is so heavy! It could be read as: those luxuries would fall to his particular charge; but you probably already know that. Sep 4, 2014 at 6:35
  • 1
    It took me 5 seconds to realize that a) it's a heavy-NP shift, and b) I had already commented on this one. :-) Feb 25, 2015 at 7:09

1 Answer 1


This is an inverted sentence. The subject comes at the end.

There are luxury items that specific people order for their personal use. These are the "bespoke luxuries". The complete subject is the long-winded phrase "the small bespoke luxuries that were specially ordered by the forest Assistants who ran the timber camps". Everything after the dash is a compound appositive which lists examples of these luxuries. For now, let's abbreviate this subject as "the luxuries".

The subject is "the luxuries". The verb is "would fall". The rest is an adverbial prepositional phrase which modifies the verb. The old-fashioned phrase "to his particular charge" means much the same as the more modern "under his specific (or sole) responsibility".

The sentence before this one suggests that Rajkumar would carry the merchandise. This sentence states that his job was to see that the expensive, fragile merchandise was delivered safely.

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