The Naulahka – VI

Notes on the text

by Sharad Keskar

[Heading] The second of the four attributed by Kipling to ‘The Libretto of Naulahka’, uncollected in Kipling’s time. It consists of a modified version of the first six lines of a poem “The Law of Libel” which appeared unsigned in the Pioneer on 22nd December, 1888, and Pioneer Mail on 26th December, 1888, and was collected in Early Verse (1900). The last two lines were rewritten for this heading so as to refer to Tarvin’s activities in the state. The first verse of “The Law of Libel” runs as follows:

To the State of Kot-Kumharsen where the wild dacoits abound,
And the Barons live in castles on the hills,
Where the tiger and the cactus in alternate streaks are found,
And the Raja cannot meet his monthly bills,
Where the Agent’ Sahib Bahadur shoots the black-buck for his larder
From the tonga which he uses as machan,
Babu Bunkum Bandar Bose took his Harrilds and his Hoes,
And proprieted the Bewaquf Tufan…

[Heading, line 1] Kot-Kumharsen a name for one of the small states of Rajasthan.

dacoits professional gangs of thieves and murderers.

[line 2] Thakurs Rajput land-owners.

[line 3] bunnia merchant and money lenders.

bunjara nomad or gipsy.

[line 5] agent Sahib a senior British official, representing the Indian Government. See the notes on Chapter XI.

Bahadur A brave man; a great or distinguished man. See
Kipling’s poem “Bobs”, verse 2:
‘Then ‘ere’s to Bobs Bahadur’.

[line 6] tonga a light two-wheeled horse-drawn cart.

machan a platform built in a tree for big game shooting.

[Page 63, line 7] grey cranes with scarlet heads called Sarus and standing man-height, liveing in pairs among cultivation and marshes.

[Page 63, line 9] snipe and the quail the former usually singly and the latter in “flocks”.

[Page 63, line 15] sword the Rajput sword was straight and called a khanda.

[Page 64, line 1] the glorious East more usually ‘the gorgeous East’ vide Milton’s (1608-1674) Paradise Lost, Book II, line 3; and Wordsworth’s sonnet beginning: ‘Once did she hold the gorgeous East in fee’.

[Page 64, line 25] Zenana Mission ‘Zenana’ means ‘women’s quarters’, thus this would have been a mission undertaken by American and British women for women of India whose lives were constrained by having to live in seclusion.

[Page 65, line 20] Continental Divide the Rocky Mountains. This is the main divide between the Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio complex of river basins, which drain into the Atlantic, and those which drain westwards into the Pacific.

[Page 65, line 27] placer-mining pan washing of minerals out of alluvial deposits.

[Page 66, line 11] “charming conspiracy” an amusing plot for both of them—Mrs. Mutrie and Tarvin—not quite taken seriously by them, when it was first mentioned.

[Page 66, line 20] undressed excessively they had very few clothes on.

[Page 66, line 29] cutaway a coat with the skirt cut back from the waist in a slope or curve.

[Page 67, line 6] Tussur Silk or ‘Tussore Silk’, a strong coarse silk.

[Page 67, line 7] ill fitting as the shuck on a dried cob the ‘shuck’ is the outer husk of a ripe ear of maize (‘Indian Corn’), native to the Americas.

[Page 67, line 17] lotus-eaters described in Homer’s Odyssey as living on the fruit of the lotus or its wine, and so overcome by lassitude and luxurious ease.

[Page 67, line 27] twelve inches of whisky and soda this seems to indicate three tumblers full in one glass. It should be noted that the mixture is usually made with a tot of whisky and then the whole glass filled up with soda water—not a very strong mixture, but three such tots do contain nearly a tumbler of whisky in all.

[Page 68, line 28] pig-shooting this is not sport so much as a way of replenishing the larder.

[Page 69, line 6] scruple 20 grains or a third of a drachm—a very small quantity.

[Page 69, line 9] phaetons light, open, four-wheeled carriages, not very suitable for tropical conditions.

four-in-hand a vehicle with four horses driven by one person. The famous old mail and other coaches on the roads of England were “four-in-hands”.

[Page 69, line 31] pig-sticking a fast sport on horseback, killing wild boar with lances.

[Page 70, line 7] imperial order such as a “Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of India”—instituted by Queen Victoria after the Sepoy Rebellion, and the taking over of IndiaV
the East India Company by the British Government in the 1850’s.

[Page 70, line 19] mosey along go about one’s business and manage somehow.

[Page 74, line 17] tallow-drop a style of cutting gems.

[Page 74, line 20] water in a stone the colour or lustre of a diamond or other precious stone; thus ‘a diamond of the first water’ means a stone that is perfectly pure and transparent.

[Page 76, line 4] the Jericho the land of promise, iike Jericho in Palestine for the Israelites in ancient times.

[Page 76, line 8] Sauguache Range see the map of West Central Colorado, U.S.A.: there is a town Saguache near the north of the San Luis Valley with the Sangre de Cristo Range to the east, the Sawatch Mountains to the north and the La Garita Mountains to the west.

[Page 77, line 14] Western Union this great communications company is still in operation.

[Page 77, line 25] ticker a telegraph instrument which made a tick or click to mark out the signals of messages sent by morse code.

[Page 79, line 20] milk the wires to intercept the messages.

[Page 79, line 22] judeecious judicious, careful sensible treatment.

[Page 80, line 2] cabalistic the more usual spelling is “cabbalistic”, to do with secret lore and hidden meanings. The clerk did not understand the literal meaning of ‘rush it’ but understood Tarvin’s drift.

[Page 81] salaam an Eastern salutation, a bow and a touching of the forehead with the right hand.

[S.K.]