Beyond the Pale

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.

[Title] The Pale was an area of Ireland where the supremacy of English rule and law was acknowledged after the invasion of 1172. (The area varied over the years, but generally included most of the eastern counties from Dundalk in the north to just south of Dublin and up to some 50 miles inland.) Outside it – beyond the pale – things were different. Figuratively speaking, it implies the limits of acceptable social behaviour.

[Heading] we are seeking information about the provenance of this ‘Hindu Proverb’. It may be authentic, or simply written by Kipling.

[Page 171, line 13] the City Lahore.

[Page 171, line 14] bustee an inhabited quarter, a village; from the Sanskrit vas – dwell.

[Page 171, line 14] Gully in this context an alley or narrow passage

[Page 171, line 16] cowbyre in Indian cities – as Kipling reported when he investigated milk production in Lahore – the cows or buffalos kept for their milk seldom left their sheds but stood on an ever-rising floor of manure. See Pinney, p. 69.

[Page 172, line 17] Arabian Nights The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, or The Thousand and One Nights: a collection of stories believed to be the Arabic version of a Persian book, Hazá r Afsá nah (translated into English in 1840 with an unexpurgated edition published by Sir Richard Burton in 1885-88.)

The story tells of the king who killed every wife after the consummation of their marriage until he married Scheherazade, who cleverly saved her life by telling him a story every night, with a “more to follow tomorrow” technique now used by modern television writers. The best known are probably Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp, Sindbad the Sailor and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, still performed as pantomimes in Britain today.

[Page 172, line 19] Love Song of Har Dyal Kipling’s rendering of “The Love Song of Har Dyal” is to be found in Definitive Verse p. 637, slightly amended in stanza one so as to refer to ‘lightnings, rather than ‘lightning’.

[Page 172, line 24] bracelets Sharad Keskar writes:

A widow’s bangles [“bracelets”] are broken by her in-laws or, in her distress, by the widow herself. From then on she is forbidden to wear jewellery or colour–and especially in those more tradition-bound times of Kipling–just plain white and bare arms. However the message in objects is fairly authentic. A broken bangle would indicate widowhood. [S.K.]

[Page 172, line 33] bowmen in this context men armed with longbows for shooting arrows – archers

[Page 173, line 6] dogcart a two-wheeled cart hauled by a horse or pony, with a dog-compartment under the seats.

[Page 173, line 8] dhak Butea frondosa, the dhak genus of papilionaceous trees, named after the third Lord Bute (1713-1792) Prime-minister and botanist, and sometimes called “Flame of the Forest”. It is used for dyeing, and for making a red powder with which Hindu revellers are pelted at the Spring festival of Holi.

[Page 173, line 8] bhusa the husks and straw of various kinds of corn beaten into chaff by the feet of the oxen on the thrashing-floor, used as cattle-feed.

[Page 173, line 9] cardamoms the dried ripe fruit of several Indian plants used as spices (elettaria cardamomum and amomum cardamomum). The Lama sings a song about them for a child in Kim Chapter 3.

[Page 173, line 19] bracelets are broken but see 172/24 above.

[Page 174, line 11] boorka a gown covering the head and whole body, with holes for .the eyes. [One cannot help wondering, however, if a woman would go out alone at night, boorka or no boorka ? If not, Trejago’s disguise might not have been very credible. Perhaps a reader can assist ? Ed.]

[Page 174, line 15] Panthan/Pathan In some editions of Plain Tales from the Hills this reads ‘Pathan’ and in others ‘Panthan’. We believe that ‘Panthan’ is a misprint which in some editions has not been corrected.

[Page 175, line 10] calling-clothes smart clothing for social visits.

[Page 175, line 11] Station in this context the European quarter of a town or villsge – not necessarily with a railway-station.

[Page 175, line 12] how long they would know him if Trejago’s liaison with an Indian girl became common knowledge, he would be ostracised.

[Page 176, line 6] exigencies pressures, emergencies

[Page 177, line 31] cut off … nearly healed a not uncommon punishment in Islamic countries a century ago. Dr. Gillian Sheehan, who has contributed the medical notes on these tales, thinks the stumps would probably be nearly healed in three weeks if they had not become infected when amputated – if so, she would have been dead by then.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2012 All rights reserved