The Naulahka – V

Notes on the text

by Sharad Keskar

[Heading] This four-line verse is collected in Songs from Books (1912) where it is identified as ‘From the Libretto of Naulahka’.

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[Page 56, line 3] the retreating Bombay Mail Rawut Junction is fiction. Tarvin had been brought from Calcutta and the train was going on to Bombay. The locality is, therefore, somewhere on the east side of the Aravalli Hills (see Page 84, line 4). The account of Rajputana that follows is clearly based on Kipling’s own experiences as a special correspondent in 1887/8. (See Letters of Marque.)

[Page 56, line 5] dance the hot air above the burning hot stones appears in a hazy swirl, and the dust spins in a spiral—a dust-devil.

[Page 56, line 7] 14,000 miles more than half-way round the earth but it would have been just as far as if he had gone eastwards instead of westward. Page 64, line 19, shows that Kate went eastwards to India.

[Page 56, line 16] pinched off one of the effects of the heat haze: the railway track does not always seem to be running in parallel lines.

[Page 57, line 6] left for done never actually finished.

[Page 57, line 7] absolute complete.

[Page 57, line 15] railroad-creeper “Morning Glory”— Convolvulus Major or Ipomoea.

[Page 57, line 33] “Pathfinder” a well-known periodical in America. The name suggests its main purpose.

[Page 58, line 7] of the steep-edge of the jumping-off-place a picturesque phrase for the end of civilisation.

[Page 58, line 23] baboo babu is a more common spelling; a man of education and some social standing.

[Page 59, line 9] warlock a male witch, a sorcerer.

[Page 59, line 25] laterite red, iron-bearing rocks which crumble when wet.

[Page 60, line 14] Newfoundlands large shaggy dogs.

[Page 60, line 15] Alderneys small light-brown cattle, originally from the island of Alderney, one of the “Channel Islands” between England and France.

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[Page 60, line 25] Leadville a town in Colorado some 80 miles south-west of Denver. It was one of the most turbulent and lawless of the far western towns in Frontier days, and a famous mining camp.

[Page 61, line 22] gripsack a suitcase or handbag.

[Page 61, line 25] Challo! ‘Let’s go!’ ‘Get moving!’