"The Rescue of Pluffles"

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the notes on this tale in the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Plain Tales from the Hills, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.



[July 20th 2012]

[Page 54 heading] this verse is collected in the Sussex Edition, Volume XXXIV, p. 215 and Definitive Verse, p. 507. (with one “n” in “debonnaire")

[Page 54, line 4] Unmentionables a 19th Century would-be humorous name for trousers, which were also sometimes called “inexpressibles” but here used to disguise the name of a real regiment or as the nickname of a fictitious one.

[Page 54, line 5] callow in this context, ‘inexperienced’

[Page 54, lines 9-10] Papa, Mamma an old-fashioned form of ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’

[Page 54, line 16] seat or hands the ability to remain elegantly and firmly in the saddle, with gentle but firm hands to control the horse. Today Pluffles would be called a bad driver.

[Page 55, line 6] ‘rickshaw a small two-wheeled hooded carriage pulled by men from the Japanese ‘Jinrickshaw - ’ see “The Phantom ‘Rickshaw”.

[Page 55, line 6] Mrs. Reiver
she also appears in “Kidnapped,” “The Broken-link Handicap,” “In Error” and “Venus Annodomini,” all later in this volume; also in “A Supplementary Chapter” in Abaft the Funnel.

[Page 55, line 10] started life on a Brittany girl's head Brittany is a region of north-west France – Bretagne. Women then often grew their hair, had it cut off and sold it to eke out the thinning hair of others.

[Page 55, line 17] Anglo–Indian in this context a person of British descent who lives in India; later to signify the descendant of a mixed marriage. (See “His Chance in Life” below) 55/32 see KJ185/12 and 239/60

[Page 55, line 32] Captain Hayes Captain Matthew Horace Hayes (1842-1904), famous as a trainer of horses, was touring India to demonstrate his methods, which Kipling had witnessed and reported on with much interest. He was the author of such works as A Guide to Training and Horse Management in India, 1875, and Illustrated Horse Breaking, 1889.

See Kipling's India edited by Thomas Pinney, pp. 154-8 and 160-3. See also correspondence and editorial comments in the Kipling Journal of September 1986 (239/60). See also KJ185/12 and 239/60.

[Page 55, line 33] tonga a light two-wheeled vehicle hauled by ponies or oxen used for travel to Simla and other hill-stations from the railhead. See the verse "As the Bell Clinks" and Preface VII, “Simla” in ORG Volume 1, p. 22.

[Page 56 Line 1] setter a large, long–haired dog used for finding game.

[Page 56, line 11] Elysium the Latin version of the Greek Elysion, a happy land at the end of the world where a few favoured by the Gods live in a Paradise. (Homer’s Odyssey: Virgil places it in the Lower World where live the purified souls of those who have lead an upright life. This one is a hill to the North of Simla, believed to have been so named by Lord Auckland (Governor-General 1836-42) in honour of his sisters, the family name being Eden.

[Page 56, line 32] Colonel...detested a married subaltern Regiments in India had unofficial rules beginning “Colonels should” and ending “Subalterns must not” with various graduations between. Strictly speaking , a Captain or Major should have kept an eye on the junior officers and warned them off situations like this and the one detailed in "Thrown Away". In both these cases the Colonels arguably behaved very badly and failed in their duty towards their young officers.

[Page 57 Line 6] a bad set in this context a clique or collection of people with extravagant and probably unpleasant habits.

[Page 57 Line 32] Mrs. Cusack–Bremmil see "Three - and an Extra".

[Page 58, line 2] Seven Weeks War in 1866 the Prussians under von Moltkte beat the Austrians at Sadowa; the war - which lasted only seven weeks, was nominally about the possession of Schleswig–Holstein but in reality expressed Bismarck’s intention that Prussia should supersede Austria as the leading state in Germany.

[Page 58, ine 8] Jakko Hill East of Simla, with a shrine.

[Page 58, line 25] out–post duty away from or ahead of the main body of troops – often a place of discomfort and danger.

[Page 58, line 28] snaffle a jointed bit, less severe than the curb and so more comfortable for the horse, and, by analogy, for the man.

[Page 60 line 2] rose and opal Fashionable jewellery in Victorian times, here possibly an engagement-ring.

[Page 60 line 24] the path of Virtue perhaps an echo of : Te-Tao Ching: Ma-wang-tui ‘s Classic text from ancient China.

[Page 60 line 30] the curse of Reuben a tendency to adultery. See Genesis 35, 22.

[Page 61 line 4] ‘I wills’ responses in the marriage service.


[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2012 All rights reserved