Reingelder and the German flag

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 Life’s Handicap, as published and frequently reprinted between 1891 and 1950.


[Page 308, line 6] Scairt Skat, a popular German card-game for three people, played with a special pack of thirty-two cards.

[Page 308, line 11] Bilsner Pilsner, a celebrated lager-type beer brewed in Pilzen in the Czech Republic.

[Page 308, line 24] the wheel this story is presumably told on the poop-deck near the after steering position, which is only used in emergencies.

[Page 309, line 7] kingcrabs large arachnids with horse-shoe- shaped shells.

[Page 309, line 13] Uruguay the Republic of Uruguay in South America.

[Page 309, line 24] Sherman Flag At the time this story was written the colours of the German national flag were black white and red. Since 1949 they have been black red and gold; oddly enough, there are also coral snakes which share that colouring. We have not, however, come across any mention of this comparison other than Kipling’s.

The coral snake is a highly poisonous member of the Colubridæ, which include the cobra – see “Rikki-Tikki-Tavvi” (The Jungle Book) and “The King’s Ankus” (The Second Jungle Book).

The type species is Elaps corallinus, found in the forests of South America. The colouring is black and white or yellow bands on a red ground. It has a small mouth and no fangs, so is obliged to chew the skin for a while to inject the venom. Death occurs within two hours if the patient is not treated.

[Page 310, line 1] bickle-bottle see Something of Myself, p. 67, for a viper in a pickle-bottle and a man who nearly committed suicide with it.

[Page 310, line 24] Yates [We have been unable to trace such an authority on snakes and would appreciate any information from readers; Ed.]

[Page 310, line 25] sack of boison he means sac of poison – a bag-like membrane in the snake’s body.

[Page 310, line 32] sack Breitmann does mean ‘sack’ in this instance, slang for being discharged from employment, or – in this case – from life itself.

[Page 311, line 15 onwards] permanganat-potash etc. permananate of potash – see Dr. Sheehan’s Notes on “Sudden Deaths and Poisoning – Snakebite”.

[Page 311, line 25] clavicle collar-bone.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2006 All rights reserved