The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows

Notes on the text

These notes, 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 Plain Tales from the Hills, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.

[Heading] pice a small copper coin (Hind. Pais} one-quarter of an anna and one-sixty-fourth of a rupee; at the time it was worth a fraction of a farthing and unlikely to be enough for a pipe of opium. Older readers will remember that a farthing was a quarter of a penny in pre-decimal days when there were 240 pence to the pound sterling instead of only one hundred.

[Page 277, line 1] This is no work of mine … Gabral Misquitta The author is using the device of crediting another – possibly of Portuguese extraction – with the story, to make it clear that he himself is not the narrator.

[Page 277, line 8] the Mosque of Wazir Khan this almost certainly fixes the story in Lahore where Kipling was working at the time of publication. See Something of Myself Chapter III, and Kipling’s India (ed. Pinney, following p 146 plate 6, for a picture of the city from the mosque.

[Page 277, line 14] ‘The Gully of the Black Smoke’ “Opium Alley”

[Page 277, line 16] a loaded donkey he would have panniers or bags on his back and so would be wider than usual.

[Page 278, line 3] bazaar–rum a local drink made from fermented sugar-cane.

[Page 278, line 7] pukka substantial, well-cooked, permanent, first-class. Also applied to buildings of brick or masonry. From Hindi pakka. (Hobson-Jobson).

[Page 278, line 8] chandoo-khana chandoo is an extract or preparation of opium for smoking. khana is the Persian for a house, room or receptacle etc.

[Page 278, line 15] touched by the Smoke affected by opium.

[Page 278, line 24] gone back to China the Chinese would have their bodies shipped home for burial.

[Page 278, line 28] Joss an idol or household god, from the Portuguese Deos (God) via the ‘Pidgin’ dialect of the Portuguese ports. Europeans would probably have thought this to be a Chinese word. (Hobson-Jobson)

[Page 278, line 30] sticks incense

[Page 278, line 32.] coffin ready for his death.

[Page 279, line 30] Agra on the right bank of the Jumna, once the seat of government of the Mogul emperor Akbar. Here is the magnificent Taj Mahal.

[Page 279, line 23] some people that the Smoke doesn’t touch opium can act as a painkiller but has a deleterious effect on the respiratory and other systems so that the user eventually dies of suffocation. Andrew Lycett (p. 96) reports that Kipling’s excruciating stomach-cramps were cured by his servant giving him a pipe of opium, though this left him with a hangover the next day. See Charles Allen for Kipling’s accout of this episode in a ltter to Miss Edith Macdonald, and also Something of Myself pp.53-34.

[Page 280, line 20] Babus Bengali clerks

[Page 280, line 21] Anarkulli a quarter of Lahore below the city wall.

[Page 280, line 27] MacSomebody Macintosh Jellaludin – see “To be Filed for Reference” later in this volume.

[Page 280, line 31] Eurasian usually the result of union between an European father and an Indian mother. (See “His Chance in Life” earlier in this volume.)

[Page 280, line 32] Madras major industrial port in southern India, and capital of the former Madras Presidency on the Bay of Bengal

[Page 281, line 25] three hundred and fifty rupees a month and pickings his salary plus perquisites

[Page 281, line 26] Calcutta the seat of government of British India from 1773 to 1912.

[Page 282, line 13 chandoo-khanas (see the note to p. 278, line 8 above.)

[Page 283, line 16] bran possibly used to adulterate the opium, or it may be ‘the bran-like poppy-trash’ used to pack the cakes mentioned at p. 337 of “In an Opium Factory” in From Sea to Sea vol. II.

[Page 283, lines 21, 22] The coffin is gone …. Smoke the coffin, with the body of Fung–Tching, together with grave-goods for the after-life, would have been shipped to China for burial.

[Page 284, line 25] ‘first-chop’ in this context, ‘best quality’, indicated by the impression of a seal or brand. Of doubtful etymology, it seems to have come from the pidgin English dialect of the Chinese Treaty–ports via the Portuguese chapa “a thin plate of metal”. (Hobson-Jobson)

[Page 284, line 30] a white a European

[Page 284, line 31] a mixed skin a half-caste

[Page 285, line 18] bangles rings of coloured glass worn on the wrist by women and applied to any such ornament worn on the ankle or leg. From the Hindi bangri.

[J. McG.]