My Own True Ghost Story

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.


[Page 156, line 3] pobby This is a dialect word, still used in Yorkshire in the north of England, meaning ‘swollen’.

[Page 156, line 6] women who have died in childbed This is the churel, described by Kipling as “a particularly malignant ghost .. she haunts lonely roads, her feet are turned backwards on the ankles, and she leads men to torment”. (see Kim, page 197, line 9).

[Page 156, line 12] children … thrown into wells see “Little Tobrah” in Life’s Handicap.

[Page 156, line 21] Station in this context, the area where the English families of a District lived, usually laid out with wide roads and modern bungalows on the outskirts of an existing town. It can also mean the society of such a place

[Page 157, line 2] the bellows Can this be a primitive form of air-conditioning like the thermantidote ? See the Note to “In the House of Suddhoo” (Plain Tales from the Hills, page 150, line 8) [any information on this point will be welcomed; Ed.]

[Page 157, lines 3-8] Syree … the Old Road … Mussoorie … Lahore… Dalhousie … Murree These places in northern India would have been well-known to Kipling’s Indian readers. We have not traced Syree or the Old Road.

[Page 157, line 11] Mian Mir later known as ‘Lahore Cantonment’, four or five miles outside the city (Pronounced Cantoonment).

[Page 157, line 15] Peshawar capital of the North-West Frontier Province.

[Page 157, line 17] Allahabad (‘The City of God’) Capital of the United Provinces.

[Page 157, line 18] older Provinces Bengal, Bombay and Madras.

[Page 157, line 21] dâk-bungalows rest-houses for travellers maintained by the Government of India and placed some 10–15 miles apart on principal thoroughfares.

(dâk is Hindi for ‘post’. Bangalá were Bengal fashion-houses. [Hobson-Jobson] See also Early Verse, p. 394 for “A Ballade of Bad Entertainment” with the alternative title “ A Ballade of Dak-Bungalows”

[Page 157, line 21] Grand Trunk Road The road from Calcutta to Peshawar – see the notes on Kim, Page 64, line 10.

[Page 157, line 28] khansamah a house-steward, from the Persian khänsänäm.

[Page 158, line 2] mows In this context, ‘pulls a face’ or ‘grimaces’. Used in the expression ‘mopping and mowing’, both words meaning much the same thing.

[Page 158, line 8] rail ceilings Perhaps these were of timber rather than the usual cloth. See “The Return of Imray” in Life’s Handicap. [any information on this point will be welcomed; Ed.]

[Page 159, line 1] Katmal Not traced – perhaps a fictitious name.

[Page 159, line 13] rain on the face of the land an echo of Genesis, 1, 2: “…darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

[Page 159, line 15] toddy-palms the sap of various such trees provides an intoxicating liquor

[Page 159, line 21] daguerreotype an early form of photography invented by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1789–1851).

[Page 160. line 22] Sadducee a member of one of the three sects into which the Jews were divided in the time of Christ. They denied the immortality of the soul. (The others were the Pharisees and the Essenes)

[Page 161, line 6] doolie-bearers a doolie is a covered cot slung from a bamboo pole and carried by two or four men. It is also used as the ambulance of the Indian Army.

[Page 161, line 29] slate The bed of a billiard-table is made of slate, covered with baize.

[Page 162, line 4] cannon in this context, two billiard-balls meeting and rebounding, making a characteristic clicking sound.

[Page 163, line 2] uvula the fleshy flap at the back of the throat.

[Page 163, line 23] things in the bed presumably assorted bugs which should have been kept out by his mosquito-net. He would probably travel with his own bedding, which would be put on the bedstead provided, but the woodwork of that might well be infested as well.

[Page 163, line 28] marker in this context, the man who keeps the score and puts the balls back onto their spots after they have been struck into the pockets.

[Page 164, line 14] Black Pool a game of billiards for several players in which a black ball is used as well as the other colours.

[Page 164, line 15] the owner of the Big Black Pool the Devil.

[Page 164, line 26] brandy-shrab probably from the Arabic sharab via Italy and France (sorbetto and sorbet) and, in India, applied to all wines and spirits. [Hobson-Jobson]

[Page 164, line 30] Kabul capital of Afghanistan.

[Page 165, line 1] brandy-pani do Bring brandy and water ! (Hindi)

[Page 165, line 12] Society for Psychical Research the Incorporated Society for Psychical Research, founded in 1882, published accounts of experiments in telepathic communications etc. It still exists, though it is no longer ‘incorporated’.

[Page 165, line 30] fifty breaks scores of 50.

[Page 166, line 6] Kadir Baksh Kipling’s servant. The “Introduction” to the Allahabad Edition purports to be his work and he appears as ‘Kadir Buksh’ in “Garm – a Hostage” in Actions and Reactions. See also Something of Myself, pages 60-62.

[Page 166, line 15] Oorias The Land of the Odras was Orissa, the name of the ancient kingdom and modern Province which lies between Bengal and the Coromandel coast. Four Ooryas from there are in the retinue of the Old Lady of Kulu in Kim (pages 92-5).

[J. McG.]