'They'

Notes on the text

In compiling these notes the Editor has been grateful to draw on those written by Lisa Lewis for the OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS edition of "Mrs Bathurst and Other Stories" (1991), with the kind permission of Oxford University Press, and on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Traffics and Discoveries, as published and frequently reprinted between 1904 and 1950.



[August 16 2012]

[Title] The title is probably explained by Kipling’s frequent use of the word (some twenty-six times) to refer to the children. See also “Swept and Garnished” (A Diversity of Creatures) for the ghosts of children killed in the 1914-18 War.

[Page 303 line 5] wheels the wheels of his motor-car – at that time a Lanchester (Charles Carrington p. 367, Something of Myself p. 176, and Meryl Macdonald, The Long Trail, (Tideway House 1999) p.139.

[Page 303 line 12] marks landmarks, usually used by seamen to describe lighthouses, headlands etc.

[Page 303 line 13] godmother there is a village called Washington in Sussex and several towns and cities here and in the United States, including the capital, named after George Washington (1732-1799) the first President. Kipling is referring to the custom of naming a child after a godparent.

[Page 303 line 18] heavier traffic guns were made in Sussex – see “Hal o’the Draft” (Puck of Pook’s Hill) and carried to the coast for shipment until mining for coal on a large scale began in Wales.

[Page 303 line 22] Knights of the Temple the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, a Christian military organisation - founded in Jerusalem in 1119, which owned property in Sussex and is said to have built the church at Shipley.

[Page 304 line 4] the great Down Chanctonbury Ring, a notable feature of the landscape between Washington and Steyning.

[Page 304 line 23] a keeper in this context a game-keeper employed to look after the wild-life on the estate and keep an eye out for poachers; see “A Deal in Cotton” (Actions and Reactions) page 173, line 22.

[Page 305 line 6] mullioned windows with the glass divided by (usually) stone shafts, as at Bateman's.

[Page 305 line 7] rose-red an echo of Burgon’s Petra : A rose-red city, half as old as time’. which itself echoes Italy, a Farewell by Samuel Rogers. There has been much speculation as to the identity of the house which may be an amalgamation of several such great houses, such as Great Dixter, or Brickwell at Northiam on the Kent border, scene of some of the action of “Gloriana” where it is called “Brickwall” (Rewards and Fairies).

[Page 305 line 9] box a close-growing shrub, Boxus, favoured for hedges and clipping into decorative shapes.

[Page 307 line 19] star-sapphire a transparent gem, variety Corundum from Sri Lanka. Small amounts of iron and titanium give it a delicate shade of blue, sometimes with a star of six rays.

[Page 307 line 28] Pit in this context, Hell.

[Page 308 line 32] how could I dream about colours ORG suggests s that those blind from birth have no conception of colour.

[Page 310 line 22] lead-figures there were lead statues of a boy and a girl in Kipling’s garden at Bateman’s.

[Page 312 line 5] armour-plated conning tower of his caste See A Fleet in Being page 53, line 20. Butlers were often depicted in fiction as having a very formal and somewhat chilly manner.

[Page 312 line 17] carriage -folk upper-class people of wealth, position and education. Like many of all social classes at the time, however, she obviously looks upon motorists as the lowest of the low, perhaps because they frightened the horses !

[Page 313 line 5] way-waste grass verge at the side of the road.

[Page 313 line 8] a six-inch Ordnance-map a map at the scale of six inches to the mile.

[Page 313 line 20] rang my bell early cars often had a bell instead of a horn.

[Page 314 line 31] a Red Indian a native of North America.

[Page 316 line 7] West Coast nigger an offensive epithet for a man from West Africa, not now used.

[Page 316 line 20] Those Colours which you saw Kipling’s sister (Alice, 1868-1948, always known as 'Trix', who married John Fleming) claimed to have seen these phenomena as Kipling describes them. She became a well-known 'psychic' and medium under the pseudonym of “Mrs. Holland.”

[Page 317 line 6] the figure of the Egg Derek Greatrex writes:

I believe this refers to the human aura, an egg-shaped field surrounding the body, which psychics (like Kipling's sister) claim to perceive through clairvoyant vision. Kipling was probably familiar with the concept through Trix and other contacts; he was obviously interested in the paranormal, despite his warnings against mediumship in 'The Road to En-dor' and at the end of this story.

The colours in the aura are said to reflect the spiritual and emotional state of the person: the lady of the house, though blind, perceives the narrator's anger with himself and others. They are not of course physical colours, but produce a similar effect on the mind. Probably the best account is in Theosophy, by Rudolf Steiner (various editions). [D.G.]
[Page 319 line 4] walk in the wood The narrator does not yet understand that bereaved parents in that village would see their dead children in the woods.

[Page 319 line 28] the horns of Jericho See Joshua 6,20 'It came to pass when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down.'

[Page 320 line 8] tax cart a light two-wheeled horse-drawn cart – exempt from tax if under £21 in value.

[Page 320 line 20] not as a menial should lift his eyes to his divinely appointed superior In Kipling's day there was a strong sense of social hierarchy as something sanctioned by God. In the Catechism of the Church of England 'to be learned of every person before he be brought to confirmation by the Bishop', the child promised 'to hold myself lowly and reverently to all my betters ...To do my duty in that state of life which it shall please God to call me'. The narrator is ironic, but he is making the point that Madden is looking at him as an equal, rather than a social superior.

[Page 320 line 31] shruck Sussex dialect for shriek.

[Page 321 line 28] the Oath of Æsculapius the Hippocratic Oath which obliges a doctor to observe medial ethics.

[Page 322 line 1] cerebro-spinal meningitis an inflammation of the tissues of the brain or spinal cord, or both, often fatal. (Black)

[Page 322 line 11] Borzois Russian wolfhounds, very handsome large dogs.

[Page 322 line 17] tonneau the passenger compartment of an early motor-car, usually open to the elements.

telling her beads using her Rosary – a string of beads of various sizes – to assist her prayers.

[Page 323 line 16] dene or dean, Sussex dialect for a valley.

[Page 323 line 21] groins in this context timber or masonry walls which run out to sea at right-angles to the beach to prevent the sideways drift of sand and shingle along the coast. Usually spelt groynes.

[Page 323 line 22] Ushant Ouessant - the most Westerly point of France, with its lighthouse, an important landfall or departure for mariners.

[Page 323 line 25] bellowing sounding their foghorns to warn others of their approach.

our perilous gates the many rocks, shoals and other dangers to navigation lying in wait for mariners approaching the shores of England.

[Page 324 line 5] pip-pip a greeting or farewell not often heard nowadays which imitates the sound of early motor-horns

[Page 324 line 13] insure such stray lives the baby’s life could only have been insured against the usual funeral expenses.

[Page 324 line 21] evergreen not in the Scribner’s version of the story.

[Page 325 line 1] all the Fathers in this context usually taken to refer to a group of ecclesiastical writers of the early Christian Church

[Page 325 line 17 onwards] Men and women have sometimes … lived in it not in the Scribner’s version.

[Page 325 line 24] adzed timber shaped with an adze, a type of axe with a curved blade at right-angles to the shaft. Still used by shipwrights and others.

[Page 325 lines 31-32] And all my early summer … not in the Scribner’s version.

[Page 326 line 1] In the pleasant orchard-closes etc from “The Lost Bower” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861). The so-called ‘marring fifth line‘ runs: 'Listen, gentle – ay and simple ! Listen, children on the knee !'

[Page 328 line 9] an unstopped warren when ferreting for rabbits it was usual to secure netting over the holes before sending in the ferret

[Page 328 line 23] I haven’t seen her Scribner’s has: 'seen Evie'.

[Page 329 line 13] lamp the house has no electricity so oil (paraffin / kerosene) lamps would have been used. Only after the Kipling's moved in was electric lighting installed at Bateman’s. See “Below the Mill Dam” in this volume and Something of Myself, p. 179.

[Page 329 line 22] tallies wooden sticks used as records of transactions by cutting notches on them in a particular manner; the stick was then split and each party had a piece as a record which was proved by marrying them together so that they 'tallied'.

[Page 330 line 8] in hand not let to a tenant but farmed by the owner as did Kipling and his wife at Bateman's.

[Page 330 line 11] Turpin … a highway robber there was indeed a highwayman named Dick Turpin, born 1706, hanged in 1739, so the name had villainous associations.

[Page 331 line 13] overstocked running more cattle than the grazing will stand.

[Page 331 line 15] cake in this context concentrated food for cattle, made from the compressed seeds of soya bean, groundnuts and various other substances.

[Page 331 line 16] You’ve broken the lease Charles Cowap, rural practice consultant at the College of Estate Management and Principal Lecturer at Harper Adams University College writes: 'the lease may contain express terms on any of the above matters, e.g. as to level of stocking, treatment of awaygoing valuations or entitlement to improvements. The Sussex custom for repairs to buildings was for the landlord to provide materials and the tenant to pay for labour and carriage.'

[Page 331 line 17] dragging the heart out of the farm exhausting the nutrients in the soil.

[Page 331 line 19] superphosphates natural phosphates converted into fertiliser by treatment with sulphuric acid.

[Page 332 line 1] the covered manure Kipling is probably referring to the value of the muck which the farmer could sell. Having been covered it will be more fertile because the rain will not have leached out some of its nutrients.

[Page 332 line 28] Then I returned … screen This sentence is not in the Scribner’s version, which instead has: It was a curiously mottled piece of birch, the layers of bark grilled by the heat.'

[Page 332 line 32] Yes, I understand – now not in Scribner’s.

[Page 333 line 31] no impassable iron iron was supposed to stop spirits from entering a dwelling – see “Cold Iron” (Rewards and Fairies) and the poem of the same name.

[Page 334 line 6] I didn’t know … jealous not in Scribner’s.

[Page 334 line 28] For me it would be wrong the narrator realises that he must not communicate with the dead, for that way lies madness. [Birkenhead, p. 194, Andrew Lycett pp. 117, 315, and the poem "En-Dor".]


[L.L./J. H. McG]

©Lisa Lewis and John McGivering 2007 All rights reserved