The Naulahka – VII

Notes on the text

by Sharad Keskar

[Heading] This fifteen-line verse ascribed to “Op. 3” is sometimes known as “The Lie” or “Lyric of Lies”, first collected in Songs from Books, 1912. It was set to music by Paul N Edmonds as “The Lie” in 1919. (see The Musical Settings of Kipling’s Verse by Brian Mattinson).
Philip Holberton comments: “There is pleasure in the wet, wet clay ….” Tarvin lies, saying he has come prospecting for gold, to deflect suspicion that he has come for the Naulahka or for Kate’s sake. It does not seem much of a lie to deserve the description in the poem.

[Heading, line 6] Royal Academy the Royal Academy of Arts was founded in 1768 for the annual exhibition of works by contemporary artists. It is now (2009) housed in Burlington House, Piccadilly, London.

[Heading, line 7] Chalk to…cheese “As different as chalk from cheese” is a common English saying of long standing.

[Heading, line 13] private hansom a private cab drawn by a single horse indicated a man of considerable standing in the London of the 1890’s, but not so important as [line 14] one who was driven in a brougham with a pair of horses. The former, named after Mr Joseph Aloysius Hansom (1803-1882), was a low-hung, two-wheeled cabriolet for two—the driver being mounted on a dickey behind and the reins going over the roof.

A brougham was a one-horse closed carriage with two or four wheels.

[Heading, lines 15 and 16] a man with a little place at Tooting was merely a respectable middle-class man, whereas someone with a country-house with shooting, a ringed-in park and a deer-park, would have been a rich person of considerable importance.

[Page 83, line 26] aloes a bitter tasting plant, hence a bad taste.

[Page 84, line 23] should again set his face westward We know Tarvin had travelled westward from Topaz and was now assuming he would return home by the other route—the shorter one by which Kate had come. But it may simply have an East/West connotation and mean a return to America in the Western Hemisphere from India in the Eastern Hemisphere (see page 104, line 27 also).

[Page 85, line 10] Maine state on the Atlantic seaboard of the U.S.A.

[Page 86, line 19] pop-overs a very American kind of muffin, served hot. This breakfast food is crisp, brown and glossy on the outside, but soft and soggy inside.

[Page 86, line 25] Waffles a batter cake baked in an iron mould—a breakfast food much more used in America than in Britain.

[Page 87, fine 32] 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 89, line 4] Amet River no doubt the small river that runs through the town of that name, near Bhilwara and Kota in Rajputana, but there is little to gain from speculating which of the Indian States is referred to as Gokral Seetarun and the city of Rhatore. The evidence given on pages 56, 89, 91-143, etc., is not conclusive and is purposely misleading, but it is certainly useful to read this book in conjunction with Kipling’s “Letters of Marque”.

[Page 89, line 8] Gungra Hills again we suggest the Aravalli Hills. The best known town of the name is in the Punjab, a long way from, Rajputana, but Gungra is a common place name in India.