A little more Beef

Notes on the text

Notes by David Page. The page and line numbers below refer to the Authorised Edition of Abaft the Funnel published by Doubleday and Page, New York, in 1909.


[Page 46, lines 8 & 9] red Texan steer (Bos Texanus) the Texas Longhorn cattle had horns approximately 6 feet from tip to tip, sometimes more.
steer a bullock i.e. a castrated bull (male bovine).

[Page 47, line 19] single-stick a basket-hilted stick of about a sword’s length. It was used for training in fencing, and in demonstration bouts, but could still result in damage to the combatants if they were sufficiently aggressive. The simile links the clicking of the steers’ horns to the noise made by a fight with single-sticks.

[Page 47, lines 22 & 23] brown-leather hooded stirrups foot-supports hanging from straps attached to a saddle. The American cowboy-style stirrups described have been fitted with tapaderos or ‘taps’, i.e. leather covers to protect the rider’s feet from brush (vegetation) and weather. (https://www.cowboyshowcase.com/glossary%20saddles&tack.htm)

[Page 47, line 24] the horn of the heavy saddle the projection, often bent forward, above the pommel of a western saddle used for ‘dallying’ a rope. To ‘dally’, when roping, is wrapping the rope counter-clockwise around the saddle horn to hold the animal or object roped. (https://www.cowboyshowcase.com/glossary%20saddles&tack.htm)

[Page 48, line 13] McBrayer whisky was a genuine brand which was being distilled in Louisville, Kentucky, before 1887.

[Page 48, line 14] Corpus Christi There is a college of this name at each of the English universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The city of that name in Texas, U.S.A. did not have a university until 1935 and so it cannot be “The Corpse’s” alma mater.

[Page 48, line 19] cinched tightened a leather or fabric band (or girth) around the horse’s body just behind the front legs to hold the saddle on the horse’s back.

[Page 48, line 19 and page 52, line 12] broncho a common misspelling of bronco – a wild, untamed horse, typically used in reference to the American mustang, which can be defined as a wild horse native to the western plains of North America. Later in the story the word “cayuse” is used as well, although the Indian Cayuse Pony is a distinct breed.

[Page 48, line 20] Livingston There are several towns of this name in the U.S.A., all of some importance, but of course this is the one in the South of Montana. As recorded in From Sea to Sea, chapter XXIX, (but misspelled as Livingstone), Kipling visited there in 1889. See also Background to the story.

[Page 48, lines 19 & 20] four hundred miles south of Livingston This would indicate somewhere in the States of Utah or Colorado.

[Page 48, lines 21 & 22] sheep-eater Indians There was a Ute Indian reservation at the junction of Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. The Ute were noted for their flocks of sheep and goats.

[Page 49, line 1] tenderfoot an inexperienced newcomer or novice.

[Page 49, line 6] Wachoma Junction No location for this station has been found. However, see the discussion in the Background to the story.

[Page 49, line 10] Chicago drummer a drummer was a travelling salesman. The word had made it across the sea [from England] by 1860, since John Bartlett, in his Dictionary of Americanisms, defined drummer as a “person employed by city houses to solicit the custom of country merchants.” By 1882, they were so common throughout the land that one could say “As enterprising as a Chicago drummer.”

[Page 49, lines 16 & 18] C.M.R. an unidentified and probably invented Chicago meat company with cattle, slaughterhouses and probably meat-packing plants. Chicago is located in Illinois on the shore of Lake Michigan.

[Page 49, line 20] beeves another name for beef cattle, which includes both sexes.

[Page 50, line 2] shipment to Chicago a train journey of about 1,500 miles. [ORG]

[Page 50, lines 8 & 9] painting that town in purest vermillion or “painting the town red”. Thus, engaging in enjoyable and riotous activities that end up with much red blood being spilt.

[Page 50, line 11] they were broke had spent all their money.

[Page 50, line 11] they would hire out find another job as a cowboy.

[Page 50, line 25] barb-wire country areas of land had been fenced with barbed wire instead of being unfenced open range. The cowboys’ attitude is best summed up by the “Farmer and the Cowman” lyrics of the Rodgers and Hammerstein show, Oklahoma (1943):

Farmer: I’d like to say a word fer the farmer
Eller: Well, say it!
Farmer: He come out west and made a lot of changes
Man: That’s right!
Will: He come out west and built a lot of fences,
Curly: And built ’em right across our cattle ranges.

[Page 51, lines 1 & 2] chewed his cud regurgitated a portion of undigested food and masticated it slowly.

[Page 51, lines 4 & 5] lifted up their voices in unmelodious song At night, cowboys took turns riding herd – which meant riding slowly around the bedded cattle – and sing to reassure the animals. (https://www.nps.gov/grko/newtraildrives.htm)

[Page 51, line 10] yearlings and the three-year-olds this suggests that the “red steer” was more than three years old and, in general, well beyond the current practice of slaughtering at less than three years for beef production.

[Page 51, line 22] heifer a young cow (female bovine) that has not calved, or at most has born one calf.

[Page 51, line 24] “Timber wolves!” Canis Lupus, are the wild dogs known as Gray Wolves which inhabit(ed) many areas of North America and Eurasia. They are the largest members of the dog family attaining a height at the shoulder of up to 36 inches and a weight of 165 lbs.

[Page 52, line 12] cayuse Technically, the Indian Cayuse Pony is a distinct breed. However, Kipling is using the word as a synonym for “broncho”. (see note to page 48, line 19)

[Page 52, line 24] Whiskey Peat the “Corpse’s” cayuse. See also note to line 12 above.

[Page 53, line 1] gopher hole the hole created by a burrowing rodent of the Family Geomyidae.
near forefoot the front left foot

[Page 53, line 18] “Get the steers to the Junction first. . .” the heifers would not be destined for the Chicago slaughterhouses since they were the breeding stock.


©David Page 2006 All rights reserved