The Beginning of the Armadilloes

Notes on the text

These notes draw on those written by Lisa Lewis for the OXFORD WORLD’S CLASSICS edition of Just So Stories (1995) with the kind permission of Oxford University Press, together with material from the Kipling Society’s ORG. The page numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Just So Stories.

[Page 94, line 14] are told about in writing Elizabethan spelling was variable. For initial “y” read “th,” so that “ye” = “the,” and “yt” is a contraction of “that.” The scroll at the bottom of the map reads [sic]:

YE MANIE MOUTHES OF YE AMAZONS RIVER. This was ye whollie desprate essaie and venture of ye Gyant Shipp Sir Mat Vows hys fitting – which conceive in ranke follie engendured evil. Of ye fifty-seven adventurers wh leaved Bristol – Ap. 17. 1503 returned no more than eleven to yt towne and these in such case yt ye verie swine had cause rather for to mock them in streetes (their bellies being at ye least filled) and their skinnes unslitted than to envie them their state of grace as mere men. Ye tracke of our wavering and lamentable vyage towards ye E. Indies – now a vission far removed is set down in red.
[Lancelot Mayhew A M]

The other writings read, taken anticlockwise from the left-hand bottom corner of the map (following the arrows):

And here as near as maybe ye sterne came ashoar.
Here was oure 1st Camp after yt shee broke apeeces 19 of us onlie.
River yt we called Rumbullion River
On ye second night Sir M Vowse here broacht all ye rumbullion
[an old name for rum, traditional drink of British sailors] for good cawse.
Here did wee all take ye Othe to Sir Mtw Vowse wh. J. Hanper hee broke.
And so by pirogues across much mud.
Much fever in ye airs heere.
Here is onlie Mud and Crabbes.
Batts Hill.
Little river of ye Tsluci.
Tsluci, a meer village.
A great field of corne, wh Nick Dyer wd trompe and misuse being then dronke.
Wee were pressed here.
Here was buried N. Dyer, a prophane man but a stoute sailor (of an arrow).
Here we burned ye pinnace.
IMOXATLAN a vaste towne of ye Indians where we were all lovinglie held for 5 (five) days.
Here is all hie forest with Monkies.
Wee wente by ye River-banke to avoide ye forest but soe did not avoid ye fever.
Heere do they mine Gold.
Ye mines wh. we were forbid to see.
Here are hid the Idols of Imoxatlan.
For meddling with a Pagod wh. hee conceived to be pure Golde Sam Batts of ye Gyant (Sir M. Vowse his venture) was so handled by ye thinges Preestes yt hee dyed in III daies.
S. Batts hys grave hee was borne over ye maine River in a pirogue ye Indians howlinge but soon dyed.
A Pagod wh wee founde upon a tower on a hill & ye Indians burned offerents
[offerings?] before.
Here is more forest.

In large scroll at top of map:

All heere is starke unknowne: our Indians reniginge
[refusing] guidance for yt they were afearde of Divvels and we sicklie and few did perfors turne backe to ye Coaste agen after all these peynes wel-persuaded yt Here is no coming att ye Indies at least by lande Lancet. Mayhew.

Sir Mattw Vowse having put on hys back & front pieces [of armour – see drawing underneath scroll] after cleansing of ‘em brighte was here worshipt as a Pagod by divers sillie Indians.

The writing continues:

Here we turned southe having got oure bellyful in II assalts on ye Citie (with three hurt).
A greate Citie whence we were beet. Our first assault itt was for takinge and halinge forth Indians for guides and came neere to be our ende so we carried East by Northe with yt we had.
Wee took four piroges upon ye shore, our need justifying.


Here liveth Armourdilla or Hog-in-harnesse.

Jno. Hamper – a mutineer alsoe for stealing of ye stores before.

Fort Towne and Palisadoe of ye Chief Imoxotlanchuatl.
Fields and gardens of ye Indiens.
All here is an evil & stinking Marsh or Quagg, yt goes west ye Indians affirme 314 Spanish Leeagues.
Rivers out of ye marsh of Ilolotiputl.
Ye 2nd pirogue got so far seeking a waie out but came back nothing further except wee count the fever. Four sicke.
Here are horned Birdes and have also crownes.
Nat Thomas his grave (of a calenture).
Matheusec – a guinea-man yt trod on a serpente was left here to his owne drugges and ye Mercie.
Here is all rough reede – a man highe.

Here is a Jaguyar like to a great Catt.
Here is found Pekkary, a littel feerce pigg, and with him Tapyr, ye lesser Elephant.
Here by God’s great Mercy the Royal Tiger was careened and we took up.

[Page 101, line 4] a regular whale In the Ladies’ Home Journal version, this read “a Gangetic Porpoise.”

[Page 107, line 15] there are some in my garden This phrase is not in the Ladies’ Home Journal version. Hedgehogs are not native to the U.S.A. The tortoises were presumably pets in the Kiplings’ garden at The Elms, Rottingdean.

[Page 109, line 3] Don and Magdalena Steamships of the Royal Mail Packet Company. They were “white and gold” because at that time they had white hulls and buff upperworks.

©Lisa Lewis 2005 All rights reserved