The Last Lap

(notes edited by John McGivering)


First published in Land and Sea Tales (1923) where it follows “The Burning of the Sarah Sands; collected in the Sussex Edition at page 125 of Volume 16 and page 350 of Volume 34; also the Burwash Edition Volumes 14 and 27, with slight variations. In Collected Verse, Definitive Verse; also The Works of Rudyard Kipling (The Wordsworth Poetry Library, 199, and the Cambridge Edition of 2013.

See also the “The Nurses” following “The Bold ‘Prentice” later in this volume.

Notes on the Text

[Line 6] freshet: a flood of a river from rain or melted snow.

[Line 9] drift: in this context, a river-crossing or ford (South Africa).

[Line 10] wheel-chained wagons: the rear wheels are secured so the vehicle will not go down the bank too quickly

[Line 10]  slue swing round ,slew  [D.H.]

[Line 14] moored: strictly speaking, in this context, lying to two anchors with a swivel so the cables do not become foul, but here meaning lying to one anchor.

[Line 19] capstans clink together: A capstan is a machine then used for hoisting anchors, etc., and consisted of a vertical revolving drum. driven by men walking around it, pushing on bars inserted into apertures in the head. The ‘clink’ is a surprisingly musical note made by pawls moving over a ratchet ring – a non-return device that prevents the load from running away. Present-day equivalents are driven by power.

[Line 21] pennon: usually spelled pendant but always pronounced pennant; a triangular flag of varying size, here probably at a masthead to indicate the direction of the wind.


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