The Naulahka – XIII

Notes on the text

by Sharad Keskar

[Heading] These eighteen lines, without the title, were first collected in 1912 in Songs from Books.

Although Tarvin did not find the Naulahka at the Cow’s Mouth, he still believes he will get it and “make our sea-washed village gay” – make Topaz a boom town. [P.H.]

[Heading, line 4] caravel a small, highly manoeuverable, two- or three-masted lateen-rigged ship with triangular sails, inventeded by the Portuguese and used by them and by the Spanish for long voyages of exploration from the 15th century. Christopher Columbus’s fleet in 1492, when he reached the Americas from Europe, consisted of three caravels.

[Heading, line 4] picaroon a pirate ship.

[Heading, line 12] plate ships these were bringing back gold and silver from South America to Spain in Elizabethan times.

[Heading, line 17] Santos Bay Santos is the port for San Paulo in Brazil.

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[Page 175, line 22] kaidies prisoners (Hindi).

[Page 177, line 9] from Arracan to the Peshin Arakan is in Lower Burma, and Pishin to the north of Quetta in Baluchistan, a distance of some 2,500 miles.

[Page 177, line 26] sand Obsolete American slang for ‘endurance’. The modern equivalent would be ‘guts’, ‘grit’, or ‘pluck’.

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[Page 183, line 30] What’s the matter with….. ? A familiar catchphrase in London of the time, which was chanted, and the ‘reply’ shouted, whoever or whatever it referred to. Thus in The Diary of a Nobody (Grossmith, 1894); ‘What’s the matter with Gladstone?’ ‘He’s all right!’

[Page 184, line 7] Rustler Rootlets…a stickful Presumably part of a column in the Topaz weekly newspaper dealing with small local matters. A stick is a printer’s tool into which a compositor collected the metal type. A ‘stickful’ would be just a few words.

[Page 184, line 30] $1,200,000 then equal to about £240,000 sterling.

[Page 185, line 14] Big Chief Mountain probably fictional.

[Page 186, line 8] Divide County Probably fictional.

[Page 186, line 15] Castoria a patent laxative , a household word in the Unites States at that time.

[Page 186, line 17] patent inside presumably the patent for the Castoria.

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[Page 186, line 31] rocker a rocking chair.

[Page 189, line 13] the hairy fist of horse-sense the hairy fist means something very forceful; horse-sense is strong common sense.

[Page 190, line 26] jellyfish soft, yielding, indecisive people.

[Page 191, line 6] tiger-beetle big predatory beetles, with striped wing cases (genus Cicindela).

[Page 191, line 7] kincob a rich Indian material embroidered with gold or silver.

[Page 191, line 32] achcha ‘good’, ‘all right’, ‘okay’. (Hindustani).

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[Page 194, line 21] A Rajputni from Kulu Kulu is nearly 500 miles to the north-east of the queen’s married home; she was of pure Rajput stock, as was the ‘Sahiba’ in Kim, also from Kulu, who befriended the Lama and Kim.

a thousand thousand koss not to be taken literally, a kos is about two miles.

[Page 195, line 30] teakwood a hard heavy wood, used for high quality furniture.