"The Bold
'Prentice"

Notes on the text

These notes, edited by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and,, line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides, as published and frequently reprinted between 1923 and 1950.



[April 16 2007]

[Page 197, Title] ‘Prentice an abbreviation for apprentice, a young person who is formally bound to serve a master / instructor for an agreed number of years to learn a trade or craft.

[Page 197, line 3] D.I.R. based on the East Indian Railway, the first line of which opened in 1854 and later comprised a standard-gauge line from Calcutta to Delhi with branches to Ranigan, Gaya etc, and Allahabad to Jabalpur, a junction with the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. (This was only 24 years after the opening in 1830 of the world's first inter-city railway, from Liverpool to Manchester, built by George Stephenson). [Harmsworth's Encyclopedia, Volume 3, p. 2053]. See “Among the Railway Folk” in From Sea to Sea Volume 2. For a photograph of the yard in 1897, see Satow & Desmond, p.73.

[Page 197, line 4] Young Ottley the child of European parents but born in India where he acquired the characteristic lilting accent discussed in “The Comprehension of Private Copper” (Traffics and Discoveries) See also C A Bodelsen, p. 158.

[Page 197, line 10] Ajaibpore Jamalpur in “Among the Railway Folk” Chapter 1, workshops of the East Indian Railway and capital of the District of the same name.

See Satow & Desmond, p. 35 for reasons for selecting this locality for the workshops – one being a good supply of local labour accustomed to working in metal and and another the fact that an isolated site away from the distractions of a town would make the employees more dependent on the company. Here also is located the Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, established in 1888.

See also “The Giridih Coalfields" (From Sea to Sea Volume 2, p. 304.) There is another town with a similar name and various spellings, on the line from Calcutta to Allahabad.

[Page 198, line 8] nuts in this context the (usually) hexagonal pieces of metal with an interior screw thread that screw onto bolts for fixing metal when not riveted.

[Page 198, line 14] Steam Road ran the length of the town, other roads were given English names like Church Road…. Albert Road etc. The works employed over 5,000 men in the 1880s and some 10,000 by 1906. (Satow & Desmond, p.36.)

[Page 198, line 25] six or eight hundred a year unusually, Kipling seems to have quoted a salary in pounds sterling per annum which would be equal to some £5,000 - £6,700 at 1995 prices which is as far as the scale goes. (The Oxford Companion to British Railway History, Oxford, 1997.)

[Page 199, line 27] Hawthornes locomotives manufactured by the British company R & W Hawthorne & Leslie & Co. Ltd. which became part of English Electric in 1955.

[Page 199, line 28] Spaulding and Cushman not traced.

[Page 200, line 16] Past Master he had been Master of his Masonic Lodge.

[Page 200, line 17] St. Duncan’s in the East , Volume 2, p. 904 believes the Lodge at Jamalpur is 'St. George’s in the East', No.1526 mentioned in “Among the Railway Folk”, Chapter 1, “Among the Railway Folk.”

[Page 200, line 18] Drivers’ Provident Association a form of insurance club whereby members paid a regular subscription and were assisted when ill and so off work.

[Page 200, line 19] D.I.R. Volunteer Corps it was usually a condition of service for the men to belong to the Railway Volunteers (Satow & Desmond, p. 36)

[Page 201, line 2] The Art of Road-Locos Repair or the Young Driver’s Vademecome. A vade mecum, from the Latin, literally meaning 'go with me', is a small handbook intended to be carried by the owner at all times as a ready reference. In his preface to this story Kipling says that there was such a book, but we have not been able to trace it. [Information from readers would be appreciated; Ed.] .

[Page 202, line 28] Agra The ancient Moghul capital in Rajasthan, the site of the Taj Mahal, and mentioned in Kim.

Bandikui a railway junction between Agra and Jaipur, further to the west.

[Page 203, line 8] Supreme Legislative Council the Viceroy of India in Council – seen in session and in lighter mood in “Tods’ Amendment” (Plain Tales from the Hills.) See Niall Ferguson, Empire (Penguin, 2003) p. 163.

[Page 203, line 9] General Pass Directors of railway companies and some others had the privilege of free travel and wore a token on their watch-chains, as a ticket which would take them anywhere.

[Page 203, line 12] cup-hunting in this context, competing for a silver (or plated) trophy awarded to the winner of a match.

[Page 203, line 15] Martini-Henry the rifle issued to the British Army in 1871; the breech mechanism was by Frederic Martini (1832-1897), the barrel by Alexander Henry (1828-1894)

[Page 203, line 22] iron ties known in Britain as sleepers.

[Page 203, line 28] prickly heat a most unpleasant rash caused by blocking of the sweat glands – see Dr. Sheehan’s Notes.

[Page 204, line 9] G.W.M. Reynolds George William McArthur Reynolds (1814-1879) started Reynolds Miscellany (1846), and Reynold’s Weekly Newspaper (1850), and wrote several sensational novels.

[Page 204, line 12] Parsee a follower of the religion Zoroastrianism. The Parsees fled from Persia to India in the 8th Century. One of them, Pestonjee Bomanjee is immortalised in “How the Rhinoceros Got his Skin” (Just So Stories.) See also Green, Kipling and the Children, p.24.

[Page 204, line 18] crown-sheet the upper plate of the locomotive's firebox.

[Page 205, line 24] between the spokes of the right-hand driver this indicates an engine with inside cylinders.

[Page 206, line 12] Serai Rajgara perhaps Rajgara, just north of Bhopal.

[Page 206, line 18] reconstructed Mutiny engine … presumably built about 1857 and later modernised.

[Page 207, line 11]...the men crawled and knelt and levered and pushed and hauled and turned spanners under the engine... (right)

[Page 208, line 7] bottle-imp an echo of the story by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894): 'a ... bottle with a long neck; the glass of it was white like milk with changing rainbow colours in the grain. Withinsides, something obscurely moved, like a shadow and a fire...' . Philip Mason uses the image for the title of his book Kipling, the Glass, the Shadow and the Fire.

[Page 208, line 11] jigamaroo a portmanteau word like 'thing-a-ma-jig' – perhaps invented by Kipling, meaning 'thing'.

[Page 208, line 24] stoked … spreading them thin it is important to have a thin even layer of coal burning brightly in a boiler. In steam locomotives there was a stoker on the footplate. shovelling coal continuously into the furnace.

[Page 208, line 28] switching locomotive another Americanism – see “·007” (The Day’s Work). In Britain theu are called shunting-engines.

[Page 209, line 4] distant signal usually a quarter-mile or so ahead of, and showing the same as, the home signal, so warning the driver if he has to stop.

[Page 209, line 21] switch in this context the lever that works the 'points' to transfer the train to another line.

[Page 209, line 23] forty-five-ton, six-wheel, coupled etc. a large engine for the period but we have not traced it.

[Page 210, line 2] Giridih coal see “The Giridih Coalfields”. (From Sea to Sea, Volume 2)

[Page 210, line 23] Swedenborg Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772} Military engineer, psychologist and sectary.

[Page 211, line 13] Purnool Road not traced.

[Page 212, line 1] Ajaibpore see the note to page 197, line 10 above.

[Page 212, line 22] Atami Junction not traced.

[Page 212, line 27] Raneegunge See “In the Giridih Coal-Fields” (From Sea to Sea Volume 2. p. 307.)

Calcutta then the capital of India, on the River Hugli, the subject of “An Unqualified Pilot” earlier in this volume.



"The Nurses"


This poem first appeared in Land and Sea Tales with “The Bold ‘Prentice” in 1923 and was collected in the Sussex Edition on page 161 of Volume 16 and page 354 of Volume 34; the Burwash Edition volumes 14 and 27; and, with variations, in Collected Verse, Definitive Verse and The Works of Rudyard Kipling, (Wordsworth Poetry Library, 1994.)

As explained in the last verse:

They have so utterly mastered their work that they work without thinking;
Holding three-fifths of their brain in reserve...
Notes on the text


[Verse 1] When with a pain The baby has colic; see below.

The six-months-old Mother she is, of course, not six months old – that is the age of the baby ! This is a literary device also used by T.S.Eliot A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (p. 32) who calls Connie Sperrit in “My Son’s Wife” (A Diversity of Creatures) 'the speechless solicitor’s daughter' even though he should, like Kipling, have known better.

[Verse 2] The Nurse successfully diagnoses the problem Dr. Gillian Sheehan writes – this is Colic – a severe spasmodic griping pain in the stomach; she gives him a few drops of warm water in a spoon and, putting him over her shoulder, pats him gently on the back which releases the wind. G.S.

[Verse 3]The grade in this context, used on American railways to indicate what we would call a gradient – the slope of the, line.

[Verse 4] handles For handles read nurses in other editions.

[Verse 5] Barque a sailing vessel having three masts, square-rigged on the fore and main, fore-and-aft on the mizzen (for barque read ship in other editions – at that time ship usually signified a sea-going sailing-vesses with a bowsprit and square-rigged on all three masts, but this usage has changed over the years to mean a large vessel of any type.)

[Verse 6] thrice-reefed but still buckling the yard ! carrying the smallest amount of sail a sail as possible, but it is still too much !

[Verse 7] gunnel the pronunciation of gunwale, the upper edge of the ship’s side that prevents water flooding the deck when she heels over.


[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2007 All rights reserved