Little Foxes

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 Actions and Reactions, as published and frequently reprinted between 1907 and 1950.

[Title] Take us, the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines…’ The Song of Solomon, 2, 15.”_See KJ021/26 /032/110 & 118 036/115 109/03 for Kipling’s use of the Bible for headings etc.

[Page 227 line 3] dhurra stalks usually spelt ‘durra’ – a variety of millet (Panicum miliaccum) which grows in poor soil where other grains will not.

[Page 227 line 18] River Gihon ‘And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison … and the name of the second is Gihon, the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.’ Genesis 2,10-13. ORG (Volume 6, p. 2860) believes that the scene of the story is in a Northern province of the Sudan, what is now Dongola

[Page 227 line 20] a loud and searching cry probably ‘Tally-Ho!’

[Page 227 line 22] right forefinger … right ear some folk-singers do this as well

[Page 228 line 21] a ditch in Ireland He remembers jumping such obstacles when hunting in Ireland.

[Page 228 line 22] a razor-topped bank in distant Kildare Kildare is hunting country in Ireland. See Somerville and Ross, Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. (1890), and Further Experiences (1980).

[Page 229 line 6] bullet-speckled stern-wheel steamer some were built in the United Kingdom, shipped out in sections and re-assembled on the Nile where they were operated by the Royal Navy, patrolling the River and, amongst other activities, giving covering fire at the battle of Omdurman (1898).

[Page 229 line 13] Oppression the Sudan was ruled by Egypt from 1819 but in 1881 Muhammad Ahmed (1843-c. 1885) proclaimed himself the ‘Mahdi’ (The Second Great Prophet) and the tribes of the West rallied to his call for a holy war; by 1884 he was master of the country except for Khartoum which he captured and destroyed, killing the British General Gordon in the process. He died of typhoid and his successor was defeated by General Kitchener at the battle of Omdurman in 1898. The next year Great Britain and France signed a ‘condominion’ by which they jointly governed the country.

[Page 229 line 13] the Emirs from the Arabic Amir, meaning ‘commanding’, and so ‘a commander, chief or lord’. See Hobson-Jobson, p. 17.

[Page 229 line 27] El Mahdi see the note to line 13 above.

[Page 229 line 30] Dervish from the Persian darwish, meaning ‘poor’; a Muslim friar dedicated to poverty and also one of the fanatical followers of El Mahdi.

[Page 230 line 3] John Jorrocks, M.F.H. a sporting grocer and Master of Foxhounds created by R S Surtees (1803-1864) whose novels include Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities (1838), Handley Cross (1843) and others which are widely quoted in Stalky & Co. and read by Midmore in “My Son’s Wife” (A Diversity of Creatures).

[Page 230 line 7] Whip in this context, ‘Whipper-in’. He must be a loyal and intellinent support to the huntsman (Harmsworth, where his duties are set forth; a formidable list !)

[Page 230 line 12] capivi the Governor is quoting Jorrocks who always got it wrong and said ‘capivi’ instead of ‘peccavi’ (Latin for ‘I have sinned’). [Famously used in a punning dispatch by Sir Charles Napier (1782-1853) when he completed the conquest of Scinde in 1843].

[Page 230 line 15] melodious hounds in full cry sound like a peal of bells.

[Page 230 line 24] Cottesmore a famous Hunt whose country includes Leicestershire, Rutland and Lincolnshire.

[Page 230 line 26] betch an alternative pronunciation of ‘bitch’, a female hound.

[Page 230 line 31] scent hounds are trained to follow a fox by scent.

[Page 231 line 9] choppin’ ‘em in cover hounds killing the fox under cover of crops, undergrowth etc. and so spoiling the chance of a good chase.

[Page 231, line 15] byes in this context, extra days hunting.

[Page 231 line 24] terriers sporting dogs used by hunts to chase foxes out of their earths when they have gone to ground.
earths in this context, the proper name of the foxes holes or lairs.

[Page 231, lines 26-27] chastised them with whips. Scorpions… an echo of 1 Kings 12,11: My father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.

[Page 231 line 32] Belvoir (pronounced ‘beaver’) another famous Eng;ish hunt.

[Page 232 line 10] body-snatcher when surgeons required bodies for teaching students in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries criminals provided them at a price by robbing the graves of newly-buried corpses.

[Page 232 line 29] good goin’ ground ‘good going’, a good surface for horses to gallop over.

[Page 233 line 11] a black battalion to stop for us a locally-enlisted regiment to be used to stop up the earths. See the note at page 235 line 16 below.

[Page 233 line 17] dollar this may be the Egyptian silver piece of 20 piastres which was known as a riel or a dollar. It may equally have been the famous Maria Theresa Dollar originally issued in Vienna in 1780 and circulated – officially or unofficially – in North Africa and elsewhere ever since.

[Page 234 line 3] licked In this context, schoolboy slang for ‘beaten’, often used in the ‘Stalky’ stories. ‘

[Page 235 line 9] accolade a tap on the shoulder with the flat of a sword, part of the ceremony of conferring knighthood, here used as a mark of approval.

[Page 235 line 12] pock-marked he had suffered from smallpox which often leaves the patient with scars. See Dr. Gillian Sheehan’s Notes , and “The Tomb of His Ancestors” (The Day’s Work).

[Page 235 line 24] flagitious criminal, heinous, villainous.

[Page 236 line 6] Binjamin (Benjamin Brady) a mischievous urchin created by Surtees and employed by Jorrocks – appears in many of the stories. See Robert L Collison A Jorrocks Handbook, Coole Book Service Ltd 1964, p. 20.

[Page 236 line 7] James Pigg employed by Jorrocks as a huntsman – see Collison, p. 104.

[Page 236 line 16] Dervish a member of an Islamic religious brotherhood of which here are several orders, each with its own ritual.

[Page 236 line 23] Arab in this context, a spirited horse, fiery and airy, possessed of great intelligence, bold, loyal and enduring. See Caroline Silver, Guide to the Horses of the World, Treasure Press, 1976, p,132)

[Page 237 line 4] zoetrope a mechanical toy with images showing successive moving objects inside a cylinder which revolves to give the impression of movement; an ancestor of the motion picture.

[Page 237 line 32] the field in this context those following the hunt, in this case applied to the spectators.
throw tongue bay, the term for the bark of a hound.

[Page 238 line 24] anthropophagous man-eating (see page 231, lines 30 and overleaf above.)

[Page 238 line 25] harrier a slower hound for hunting hares

[Page 239 line 6] Sha-ho Show – a (usually) annual gathering for exhibition and judging of puppies. There are also shows for agricultural produce, fruit and vegetables etc

[Page 240 line 6] broken it up ORG suggests the hounds would not eat the body of the fox as they did not pull it to pieces themselves. [Information would be appreciated; Ed.]

[Page 240 line 10] horn in this context the hunting-horn, used by the huntsman to signal to the hounds and the field.

[Page 240 line 25] forty-nine brace 98 hounds. A brace, in this context, is two.

[Page 241 line 8] goat chop and Worcester sauce dreadful local meat made slightly more palatable with a strongly-flavoured and famours sauce still made in Worcestershire by Messrs. Lee and Perrin.

[Page 241 line 10] seat in this context, a large country house.

[Page 241 line 16] tariff generally a tax on goods imported into a country to protect local industries but also a scale of charges which is probably the sense here.

[Page 241 lines 29 –30] big blue double-chinned man this is Lethabie Groombride M.P. – see page 245 lines 20 onwards.

[Page 242 line 9] kourbash as explained in the text, a whip used by camelmen etc., in Turkey and Egypt.

[Page 242 line 16] gangrene decay of body tissue due to bacterial action.

[Page 242 line 20] copperas hydrated ferrous sulphate.

[Page 242 line 26] earth-stoppers a party of men sent along the likely route of the hunt to stop the earths (see page 235 line 5 onwards)

[Page 243 line 2] bastinado A beating with a stick; a word probably developed from the Spanish bastonada – a baton or stick.

[Page 243 line 8] one short adhesive word much ink has been spilt and much breath expended in futile speculation – it is anybody’s guess as to what it could be. [ORG Volume 6, p. 2872 suggests ‘ma aris’, meaning ‘pimp’ but we feel it is not amusing enough to cause the outbreak of mass hysteria described on page 256 line 16 onwards; Ed.]

[Page 243 line 10] cuff Groombride would, like the other men, be in evening dress, with starched shirt-fronts and cuffs; one could write on the latter with a pencil and it would wash out in the laundry.

[Page 243 line 30] khaki from the Hindi, meaning ‘dusty’ or ‘dust-coloured’: the drab cloth with a greenish tinge to it worn by the newly-raised Corps of Guides in India in 1846 and adopted by several regiments in India over the years. It came into wider use in the Omdurman campaign (recently finished before the time this story is set) and more widely in the South African War of 1899-1902.
puttees bandages of (usually) khaki cloth about four inches wide wound around the legs from ankle to just below the knee and worn by infantrymen in lieu of gaiters or high boots. Horseman wound them the other way.

[Page 244 line 1] riding straight to hounds following hounds closely and not taking an easier line.

[Page 244 line 3] sealed land-titles the certificates issued by the Land Registry to owners of land.

[Page 244 line 11] …a great cloud of witnesses ‘Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us’. Hebrews,12,1.

[Page 245 line 8] new masters in the parish of Westminster the Liberals won the General Election of 1906, much to Kipling’s disgust (see Andrew Lycett, p. 370)

[Page 245 line 10] stripes in this context, the marks left on the body after a caning – see “The Impressionists” (Stalky & Co. p. 128.)

[Page 245 line 21] Mr. Lethabie Groombride the member of Parliament first encountered at the dinner described on page 241; he resembles Kipling’s “Pagett M.P “ in the verses of the same name, and “The Enligthenments of Pagett, M.P.” collected in the Sussex and Burwash Editions. [He is also immortalized in the Concise Oxford Dictionary].

[Page 246 line 21] an uncoded cable a telegram sent in plain language so that it could be read by anyone who saw it – most discourteous and an insult to the recipient.

[Page 246 line 32] saloon in this context the main day-cabin of the vessel reserved for first-class passengers or, in this case, officers; known as the wardroom in a ship of the Royal Navy.

[Page 249 line 5] slavered f rothed at the mouth – a symptom of several diseases in dogs

[Page 250 line 3] ‘Ware riot a warning to the huntsman to calm the hounds.

[Page 250 line 4] a three-pounder in this context a gun firing a shell of three poinds in weight with a short, sharp explosion. See the verse “Screw Guns”.

[Page 250 line 14] Abu Hussein’s wife in the breeding season vixens are not hunted when they are pregnant or rearing cubs.

[Page 250 line 23] The Field and Country Life two important and influential illustrated magazines, as their titles imply, dealing with country and sporting matters and still (2006) flourishing.

[Page 250 line 29] I have often heard the Inspector tell the tale bur see page 245 lines 24-25 above.

[Page 251 line 4] allocution a formal address by a Roman general to his soldiers and the public addresses by the Pope to his clergy. Here used sarcastically.

[Page 251 line 22] cow in this context, overawe

[Page 251 line line 26] Salvation Army an important world-wide charity extablished by William Booth (1829-1912) who met Kipling on several occasions.

[Page 252 line 20] white and shining mange a disease of dogs; Groombride was bald, with a shining pate !

[Page 253 line 11] Demah-Kerazi democracy – Kipling had strong views on ‘the voice of the people’ and was not particularly in favour of it. See “As Easy as A.B.C.” (A Diversity of Creatures).

[Page 253 line 15] the Evil Eye an ancient and wide-spread belief that the possessor could harm or kill with a glance. See “The Return of Imray” (Life’s Handicap).

[Page 254 line 12] a hair of any one of their heads an echo of Matthew 10,30: ‘ But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.’

[Page 254 line 15] The dark places of the earth…. an echo of Jeremiah 3,6: ‘He hath set me in dark places as they that be dead of old. There are similar references elsewhere in the Bible.

[Page 254 line 18] serfs the legal status of peasants under the feudal system in the Middle Ages; they could not be sold like slaves but were not allowed to leave their lord’s land. See “Old Men at Pevensey” p.112 and “Cold Iron” (Rewards and Fairies).

[Page 254 line 29] Farag interpreted he has suddenly learned English or is being diplomatic as instructed by the Governor. The elaborate language of the conversation on page 250 lines 22 onwards sounds as if it is conducted in the vernacular. A smilar misunderstanding arises in “A Deal in Cotton” earlier in this volume (page 194) where Imam Din reports a conversation in English when it is not made clear that he understands the language. [It would, however, be extremely small-minded to quibble at such minor errors in rattling good yarns !; Ed.]

[Page 255 line 10] thrown out losing the line of the fox during a chase.

[Page 255 line 22] vie intime private life (French)

[Page 256 line 2] argot jargon or slang.

[Page 256 line 4] the short adhesive word see the note to Page 243, line 8.

[Page 256 line 9] his name red-lettered… his laundry mark.

[Page 256 line 16 onwards] such mirth… this is the cataclysmic laughter discussed by J M S Tompkins in her Chapter 2 (p.33) Dobrée p. 37 and passim, and others See also “The Legend of Mirth”.

[Page 257 line 19] the House in this context the House of Commons in London.

[Page 257 line 25] I am not without honour…. an echo of Matthew 13,57: ‘A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house’ , quite the opposite of what Mr Groombride means.

[Page 257 line 32] Gehenna – a valley near Jerusalem used for the worship of the idol Moloch and where the rubbish was burned so it was regarded as a place, like Hell, of eternal punishment. See the verse “The Winners”: Down to Ghenna or up to the Throne, / He travels the fastest who travels alone.
“Gallio’s Song”