The Garden of Eden

The Story of the Gadsbys  (5)


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 Soldiers Three and Other Stories, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.


First published in The Week’s News of 30 June 1888 (Martindell’s Bibliography has 16 June) collected in The Story of the Gadsbys (A. H. Wheeler & Co., Allahabad, 1888). The first English paper edition by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington Ltd., with Wheelers, also in 1888.

The Story

Gadsby and Minnie are on their honeymoon, in the first sweet days of married life. They swear eternal devotion in sentimental terms. Each confesses a former attachment which each swears is dead. But Minnie warns Gadsby never to tell her anything he doesn’t want her to recall and think about all her days.

Notes on the text

[Title] Genesis, 2, 8 and the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden.

[Heading] Genesis 3, 5; the serpent tempts Eve to eat the apple: …. and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Also over “The Valley of the Shadow” later in this volume.

[Page 171, line 1] Thymy the grass is mixed with Thyme, (Thymus Vulgaris) an aromatic herb used in cookery.

Mahasu South of Mashobra, near Simla.

[Page 171, line 3] the Dead Forest of Fagoo (Fagu) nine miles to the east of Simla, on the way to Narkunda, on the road to Tibet mentioned in “Lispeth” (Plain Tales from the Hills)

[Page 171, line 6] the pipe of peace the calumet, smoked by the North American Indians and presented to guests as a sign of hospitality and good-will.

[Page 171, line 7] banjo a stringed musical instrument with a somewhat strident tone, popular with amateur musicians. See the poem “The Song of the Banjo.”

[Page 173, line 1] you gave me tea see “Poor Dear Mamma” earlier in this volume.

[Page 175, line 6] takes it they kiss.

[Page 175, line 15] A hundred and fifty years Eagles are unlikely to live longer than fifty years.

[Page 175, line 24] Snows the height at which there is perpetual snow – in the Himalayas usually about 16,000 feet above-sea-level.

[Page 179, line 1] pincushion heaven an intriguing reference that has not been traced. [information will be welcomed; Ed.]

[Page 179, line 4] pukka Hindi pakka – ripe, ready, cooked, but having a host of meanings, including, in this context, “real.”

[Page 179, line 9] langurs monkeys of the genus Semnopithecus common in most of India. See the verses “The Legends of Evil” and the uncollected story “Collar-Wallah and the Poison-Stick” in Vol. 3 of the Sussex Edition.

[Page 179, line 10] Darwin Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), naturalist. His famous On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection appeared in 1859. The theory that man is descended from apes caused much controversy as shown in Gadsby’s remark at lines 14 and 15: “You shouldn’t read those books”, which continues to this day.

See Seymour-Smith, pp. 105 and 244 for observations on Social Darwinism. Kipling’s own verses “The Benefactors”, “The Legends of Evil” and the uncollected prose item “Collar- Wallah and the Poison-Stick” (Sussex Edition), which take a fairly sympathetic view of monkeys, are not reflected in the Bandar-Log in The Jungle Books.

[Page 180, lines 9-12] never tell your wife anything you do not wish her to remember… This seems a rather knowing remark for a young writer in his early twenties with no experience of matrimony.

[Page 182, line 24] the Sphinx an enigmatic colossal statue of a lion with a human head, which has been eroded by the years, among the Pyramids in Egypt. The Greeks have a female version who killed herself when Oedipus answered her Riddle correctly. It is not clear which mythological creature Kipling had in mind; but Sphinxes have become symbols of anything
puzzling and mysterious.

[Page182, line 25] The spirit moveth me an echo of the beginning of Morning and Evening Prayer and elsewhere: The Scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness.

[Page 183, lines 6-11] Vanity, all is Vanity etc ”The House of Poetry” by Charles MacKay (1814-1889) which echoes the words of Ecclesiastes 1, 2: Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher…. All is vanity.

The music is by Henry Russell.(1813-1900) composer of some eight hundred songs, including “A Life on the Ocean Wave”, the regimental march of the Royal Marines.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2005 All rights reserved