"Stalky"

Notes on the text

These notes are based on those written by Isabel Quigly for the OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS edition of The Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) with the kind permission of Oxford University Press. The page numbers below refer to Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides (1923), the collection in which this story first appeared.





[Draft of Apr 2 2003]

[Page 130, line 20] spadger-hunt spadger is a dialect or colloquial word for sparrow.

[Page 130, line 22] stalky cf. p. 133. 'stalky', in their school vocabulary, meant clever, well-considered and wily, as applied to plans of action; and 'stalkiness' was the one virtue Corkran toiled after.

[Page 130, line 28] potwallopers roughly speaking, it means householders, property owners, as opposed to labourers, vagrants, and people who own nothing. In the eighteenth century it meant someone who `dressed his own victuals', i.e. `boiled his own pot' in his own house, and in certain places was entitled to vote for a member of parliament. In the nineteenth century it went down in public esteem and from meaning, more or less, a respectable villager, it came to mean someone rough, rude, and clumsy.

[Page 131, line 22] Corky Corkran's nickname until this episode gave him the name of Stalky.

[Page 134, line 8] thrown out any pickets sent out anyone to keep a look-out. According to the OED, pickets are `a small detached body of troops, sent out to watch for the approach of the enemy, or his scouts'. In the Army Regulations it is spelt `piquets'.

[Page 136, line 11] quickset hedge made of living plants set in the ground to grow, especially hawthorn.

[Page 142, line 19] Tweakons let us tweak (schoolboy compound of English and French). Shoot with catapult - a 'tweaker' in USC slang.

[Page 143, line 9] Gig A light, two-wheeled vehicle drawn by a pony, for one or two passengers.

[Page 144, line 18] A people sitting in darkness and the shadow ... echo of Isaiah 9: 2: `The people that walked in darkness ... they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death.'

[Page 149, line 5] swottin' dumb-bells working furiously hard; dumb-bells being clubs for exercising, with weights on each end.

[Page 152, line 15] 'Pon my Sam' jocular asseveration, perhaps from "pon my sang' (blood).

[Page 155, line 1] Sweeter than honey echo of Psalm 19: 10: `sweeter than honey and the honeycomb'.


[I. Q.]