Private Learoyd’s Story

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

[Heading] This is probably from one of the Jatakas, or Birth Stories of Buddha. (ORG).

[Page 16, line 6] a twisted pepal tree Sanskrit pipala; the great fig-tree of India (Ficus religiosa) often occupying a prominent place in a village or near a temple. The villagers meet under “a great fig-tree” in “‘Tiger ! Tiger!‘ “ (The Jungle Book)

[Page 16, line 11] Houdin pullets a breed of French poultry.

[Page 16, line 14] neat-handed

Of herbs, and other country messes,
Which the neat-handed Phyllis dresses.

Milton, L’Allegro 1, 85.

[Page 16, line 19] the niche in this context, a space under the well-wheel and between its supports. (ORG)

[Page 16, line 20] ‘tykes’ Yorkshire dialect for ‘dogs’.

[Page 17, line 3] ‘little stuff bird – shop’ strictly speaking, ‘a little shop for the sale of stuffed birds’ – not to eat, but for teaching or ornament ! In “The Madness of Private Ortheris in Plain Tales from the Hills he considers what might have been – marrying a girl and keeping a taxidermist’s shop in Hammersmith High Street in London. See the note to Page 24, line 11 below.

[Page 17, line 7] Ulysses the Roman name for Odysseus, Homer’s Greek hero
noted for his courage and ingenuity.

[Page 17, line 8] the earthwork of a Central India line a railway embankment under construction; see “The Big Drunk Draf’” later in this volume and “The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney” (Life’s Handicap).

[Page 17, line 10] allus always.

[Page 17, line 12] Hewrasian Eurasian; a person of mixed European and Indian blood.

[Page 17, line 13] doosky dusky.

[Page 17, line 26] bairns of her awn children of her own.

[Page. 18, line 4] flag-signallin’ signalling with one flag which is waved in small and large arcs of a circle to signify the dots and dashes of the Morse code.

[Page 18, line 7] tees him oop ties him up.

[Page 18, line 9] one o’ t’ Ten Commandments The Tenth Commandment rules: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Exodus 20,17).

[Page 18, line 17] addled his brass i’ jute made his money out of jute; two fibrous plants of the genus Corchorus – C. capsularis and C. olitorius used for sacking, upholstery, stage canvas, etc.

[Page 18, lines 25 – 30] libbaty an’ coompany…a Christian ‘what he wants is his liberty and companionship like the rest of us .. perhaps a rat or two would liven him up… passing the time of day and having a fight…’

[Page 19, line 5] t’ Widdy the ‘Widow’, Queen Victoria, who was widowed by the death of her beloved Prince Albert part-way through her reign, and wore mourning ever after. See the poem “The Widow at Windsor”.

[Page 19, line 7] a-tewin tew is a Workshire dialect word for ‘bustle’ or ‘work into a mass’ – here probably meaning ‘chasing’.

[Page 19, lines 23–28] pariah dogs … t’cat agate o’ runnin’ he ran at ownerless curs like an arrow out of a bow, and although a light-weight he bowled them over suddenly like skittles in a skittle-alley; when they ran he chased them as if they were rabbits – the same with cats. (‘skittles’, or ‘ninepins’ at that time, was a popular game in public-houses in England.)

[Page 19, line 30] mongooses – small carnivores (Herpestes mungo) and efficient destroyers of snakes and rats; they are readily tamed and make excellent and useful pets as described in “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” (The Jungle Book.).

[Page 19, line 33] parasel parasol – a light and elegant ornamental umbrella usually covered in a patterned material used as a sunshade.

[Page 20, line 10] lovelee lovely.

[Page 20, line 8] nivver a hauporth shy nor okkord never a half-pennyworth shy or awkward.

[Page 20, lines 10–11] clippin’ an’ chantin’ … them sooart has o’ their awn ‘clipping and chanting that sort has of their own’; in other words ‘a characteristic form of speech of those of mixed race’.

[Page 20, line 16] swagger-stick a short cane carried by soldiers when walking out of barracks. See the reproduction of the cover of Soldiers Three at the headnote above.

[Page 20, line 22] sheep’s eyes to regard someone or something in a wistful and sheepish manner

[Page 20, line 26] t’drawn-room the drawing-room.

[Page 20, line 27] gurt great

[Page 22, line 24] poor but honest “My friends were poor but honest”. (Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well I, iii, 203.)

[Page 22, line 25] t’ Andamming Islands the Andaman Islands – a group in the Bay of Bengal, some of which were used as a penal colony from 1858 to 1942. (Harmsworth reports some 11,000 convicts in 1901)

[Page 22, line 30] backin’ an’ fillin’ backing and filling – a nautical evolution which keeps a sailing vessel more or less stationary by filling the mainsail with wind and then spilling it. Possibly an unlikely term for a soldier to use?

[Page 23, line 4] three hundher rupees three hundred rupees, a substantial sum, two month’s pay for Kipling when he started as a journalist.

[Page 23, line 17] Munsooree Pahar not traced.

[Page 23, line 27] Damming Islands Andaman Islands. See the note to page 22, line 25 above.

[Page 23, line 32] Hamilton’s the jewellers in Simla.

[Page 24, line 3] Sitha Old English but now regarded as dialect; ‘See thou!’ or ‘See thee!’ – ‘Look here!’

[Page 24, line 10] duff pudding.

[Page 24, line 11] Taxidermist one who prepares, stuffs and mounts the skins of birds and animals in order to preserve them in their natural appearance. (See the note to page 17, line 3 above.)

[Page 24, line 15] bad cess to him an Anglo-Irish phrase meaning ‘may evil befall him’.

[Page 24, line 23] ring-straked with bands of colour

[Page 25, line 8] fettled dialect – to make ready, arrange etc.

[Page 25, line 7] Royal Academies the Royal Academy of Art, Piccadilly, London, founded in 1768 to further the teaching of painting, sculpture etc.

[Page 25, line 32] Howrah the main railway-station in Calcutta.

[Page 26, line 20] three hundred and fifty rupees about a month’s pay for Kipling after a year on the Civil and Military Gazette.

[Page 26, line 21] we melted it we spent it – most probably on drink !

[Page 26, line 26] janius genius.

[Page 26, line 30] Father Victor the Roman Catholic Regimental Chaplain of the Mavericks, who also plays an important part in Kim.

[Page 27, line 4] Pindi Rawal Pindi – an important military station in the Punjab – scene of one of Kiplings early assignments for his paper – the meeting between the Viceroy and the Emir of Afghanistan. See Pinney (page 77).

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2004 All rights reserved