"In the Rukh"

Notes on the text


These notes, by Alan Underwood, are partly new, but mostly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Many Inventions, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.






[May 11th 2012]

"The Only Son"

Seventeen lines of verse beginning and entitled thus; expanded to 26 lines when collected in Songs from Books. In Many Inventions the first line has nothing to rhyme with, but in Songs from Books it becomes the fourth line and rhymes with the third. It is possible that there was a draft of the full poem which was tailored to fit onto the page. There are also small variations between the two, e.g. 'blackbuck' for 'sambhur'.

[line 10] steep soak. (P.H.)

[line 11] riven dragged. byre farm-shed. (P.H.)

[lines 11-14] The Only Son has the keen sight, hearing and sense of smell of a wolf. See “Kaa’s Hunting” The Jungle Book p. 46 line 9: 'Eyes that can see in the dark; ears that can hear the winds in their lairs…. these things are the marks of our brothers.'

And “Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack” verse 3 line 4, 'and Eyes that can see in the dark – the dark!' .

[line 15] tyre curdled milk or cream beginning to turn sour. From the Tamil, tayir.

[line 22] Sambhur a large Indian deer, genus Rusa. The best known of the five species within this genus, Rusa unicolor is a very massive animal standing as much as 54 inches (some 140 cm) at the shoulder, with, in the case of some stags, antlers up to 45 or 50 inches (130 cm) in length.


"In the Rukh"


[Page 200, Title] Rukh Properly means 'an eagle', but is also used to mean 'forest'. Pronounced 'ruck'.

[Page 201, line 4] reboisement French for re-afforestation.

[Page 201, line 8] wattling interleaving twigs and small branches on the sides of dunes to prevent earth or sand from shifting.

[Page 201, line 10] spindling growing into long stems, here long growing saplings.

[Page 201, line 10] rules of Nancy
In France the National School of Forestry was opened in 1824 at Nancy in the north-east. Candidates for the Indian Forestry Service may have been sent there in the absence of a similar institution in Great Britain.

[Page 201, line 11] all the timber The state forests, under the control of the Forest Department, amount to 227,500 square miles, more than one fifth of the land area of Brtish India.

[Page 201, line 16] blue gum The Blue Gum Tree of Victoria and Tasmania, in Australia, (Eucalyptus globulus) is a very quick-growing tree, with many uses besides the production of its oil.

[Page 201, line 23] poll and lop To poll is to cut the top from a tree. To lop is to trim the branches for correct tree management.

[Page 201, line 29] gall nuts the fruit of Terminalia chebula a tree known in the English timber market as 'Indian Laurel'.

[Page 202, line 2] wild dog See the note on "Red Dog" in the Second Jungle Book page 225, line 11.

[Page 202, line 2] all the deer all varieties of deer.

[Page 203, line 7] little band a modest establishment for an official compared with some in towns and cities of India at that time.

[Page 203, line 25] tushes tusks

[Page 203, line 32] fetch a long stretch.

[Page 204, line 13] re-capping machine a small hand-operated machine for for insereting new percussion caps into spent shot-gun cartridge cases/

[Page 204, line 29] shikar hunting, usually for big game.

[Page 205, line 63] sal trees Shorea robusta, found especially in the Sub-Himalayan tracts of the former United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), eastern Bengal (now Bangladesh), and Assam. A valuable timber tree, its wood resembling teak.

[Page 205, line 13] koss at that time a koss varied between one mile and three. Now standardised at two miles. In this case probably closer to a mile.

[Page 206, line 2] before his time Not old enough to be so weak and toothless as to turn to man-eating.

[Page 206, line 17] 'from the north' It is usually assumed (see the ORG) that this story is located in the forests of the Doon, on the south flank of the Himalayas, spreading south-easterly from Simla past Dehra Dun into the Kumaon. When he came to write the Mowgli stories for the Jungle Books Kipling originally located the jungle of Mowgli's childhood in Rajputana, but then moved it to Seoni in the Central Provinces, both are several hundred miles south of the foothils of the Himalayas. (See the note on the Site of Mowgli's Jungle by John Slater)

With the hindsight of having read the later stories, one can see this as an inconsistency, or simply a reference to Mowgli's latest wanderings, which might have meandered all over the place, from village to village, on the way to Gisborne's Rukh.

[Page 207, line 13] clomb Not in the dictionary, but clearly means 'climbed', either an archaic form, or coined by Kipling. Retained through all later editions, including the Sussex.

[Page 207, line 21] mangy Suffering from mange, a skin disease in hairy or wooly animals caused by a parasite. The itching causes victims to scratch off their coats, in patches, like a worn-out rug. It is eventually fatal in the wild.

[Page 208, line 6] whiskers A greatly prized trophy, removed as soon as possible after the kill. and believed to have aphrodisiac or magical powers. In "Tiger! Tiger!" (The Jungle Book, page 111, line 9) Buldeo, the village hunter, singes Shere Khan's whiskers after Mowgli has killed him, to prevent his ghost hunting them.

[Page 209, line 6] neither catch nor fall The essential components of a trap.

[Page 210, line 2] Classical Dictionary Almost certainly the great work of Sir William Smith (1813-1893), but possibly Lempriere's Classical Dictionary of 1788. Both have illustrations.

[Page 210, line 20] nilghai the largest antelope (Boselaphus tragocamelus) found in India, where it is the equivalent of the kudu and eland group of Africa. Only the bulls have horns and these are short. The colour of the old bulls is blue-grey, but younger bulls and cows are browner. It can grow to about 5ft 2ins. (“The Nilghai” is the nick-name of a corpulent and physically formidable war correspondent covering the Sudan Expedition in The Light that Failed.)

[Page 210, line 20] changing their feeding ground ORG asserts. on the advice of two Indian Forestry Service men, that nilghai do not move according to the moon, and that pig do not avoid them because they do not compete for the same food. Kipling may have received contrary advice, or simply been exercising his imagination.

[Page 211, line 29] dress for dinner These days the tendency of Victorian empire builders in remote places to dress for dinner in black jacket and stiff shirt, is a familiar joke, though they undoubtedly did so, so as to 'keep up appearances'. But one cannot help wondering which member of Gisborne's small household (page 203, line 7) laundered his stiff shirts.

[Page 214, line 1] lusus naturae Latin for 'a freak of nature'.

[Page 214, line 22] the fling of a branch Where the branch stretches out from the trunk of the tree.

[Page 216, line 9] sal Shorea robusta, found especially in the Sub-Himalayan tracts of the former United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), eastern Bengal (now Bangladesh), and Assam. A valuable timber tree, its wood resembling teak.

[Page 220, line 31] warlock wizard

[Page 220, line 32] Huzrut Highness

[Page 222, line 22] Muller Thought to have been based on an Inspector-General of Indian Forests of German extraction called Ribbentrop. He was large and thick-set, though not a giant in stature. It is said that his character as presented by Kipling was not exaggerated, and that the talk about Worcester sauce was a tradition handed down in the service. His diction in the story may have been influenced by the Breitmann Ballads of the German-American Charles G Leland, which Kipling clearly relished, and parodied during his time in India.

[Page 222, line 23] Changamanga Rukh On the edge of the Rechna Doab, some 50 miles south west of Lahore. A long was from Gisborne's forest.

[Page 223, line 12] brass hat From the gilt additions around the flat service cap to indicate high rank, most often applied to army officers; but see "The Bonds of Disicipline" (Traffics and Discoveries) Page 3, line 11. According to Eric Partridge in the Dictionary of Slang the term came into popular use during the Boer War (1899-1902) but had been used ny Kipling in 1893, presumably here.

[Page 223, line 17] Belial The Devil.

[Page 223, line 17] Worcester Sauce Worcestershire Sauce on the label, but always called 'Worcester Sauce' by the English, a tradition the American Wilton Sargent failed to master in "An Error in the First Dimension" (The Day's Work page 321, line 7) but which Muller could evidently handle.

[Page 224, line 7] Bikaneer Desert Part of the 'Thar', the Great Indian Desert of the North-West.

[Page 224, line 20] Devilled Highly spiced.

[Page 225, line 5] Heine Celebrated German poet (1797-1856).

[Page 225, line 15] Christian Gods howl loudly In his notes to the Oxford World Classics edition of The Jungle Book (1992), Professor WW Robson locates the reference to miracles to Heine's Buch der Lieder. He also notes that this phrase is better translated as 'Christian Gods whimper' (wimmern), rather than 'howl', though the sense of 'howl' as children crying is perhaps close in meaning to 'whimper'. Robson also notes (p. 372) that: 'These allusions, together with the reference to 'Faunus' (below) and to Swinburne's "Dolores" (p. 230 below) make it clear that neo-pagan, explicitly anti-Christian, ideas were in Kipling's mind when he arrived at his first conception of Mowgli.'

[Page 225, line 19] Faunus One of the oldest of the gods in ancient Italy, the protecting deity of farmers and shepherds; identified later with the Greek god Pan.

[Page 226, line 21] Normally they die young Muller has alread gusessed that Mowgli was a wolf-child, and confirms it later (page 227, lines 1-9). There were a number of cases of children who had managed to survive in the jungle, and were thought to have been brought up by wolves, but they usually did not live long after returning to human society.

[Page 226, line 12] Poney An unusual spelling, possibly related to Muller's accented English. The First English Edition has 'poney', carried through in later English Standard Editions; but the First American Edition has 'pony' as does the definitive Sussex Edition.

[Page 227, line 12] Where are they ? Having checked that Mowgli is a wolf-boy, who can drive animals at a distance, Muller is asking about his wolves, and Mowgli indicates that they are nearby in the jungle.

[Page 227, line 25] Australian imported from Australia, as were many horses in india at that time, such as 'walers' from New South Wales.

[Page 228, line 20] Black Water the Ocean. This probably implies that Muller was in charge of forests in Burma as well as India.

[Page 230, lines 14-17] 'Dough we shivt...' From the seventh stanza of "Dolores", by A C Swinburne (1837-1909), mangled and slightly misquoted. The original reads:

Though we shift and bedeck and bedrape us
Thou art noble and rude and antique;
Libitina thy mother, Priapus
Thy father, a Tuscan and Greek.
[Page 230, line 16] Libitina In Roman mythology, Libitina was the goddess of death, corpses and funerals, but in some traditions was identified with Venus, the goddess of love and earthly delights. Swinburne - and Muller - probably had the second association in mind.

[Page 230, line 16] Priapus Son of Dionysus and Aphrodite. A rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia.

[Page 233, line 15] Drove me from that village This must have been a different village from the one in "Tiger! Tiger!", but of course Mowgli refers to his having been in many different villages. Note how Mowgli assures the girl that it was an old woman who saw him playing with the wolves.

[Page 234, line 1] Dogs and unclean J Lockwood Kipling (p. 294) devotes several pages to the loathing for dogs felt by both Hindus and Muslims.

[Page 235, line 21] Eblis In Arabian mythology a ruler of the fallen angels.

[Page 236, line 11 wood-god Mowgli has said that the jungle is his house.

[Page 236, line 20] mlech One without caste, foreigner. See: 'Mlech from the north' in "What the People Said" (Departmental Ditties).

[Page 236, line 25] shadi Ceremonial in preparation for marriage.

[Page 237, line 3] I am thy cow a common form of self-abasement.


[F.A.U.]

©Alan Underwood 2009 All rights reserved