The Satisfaction of a Gentleman

Notes on the text

These notes are based on those written by Isabel Quigly for the OXFORD WORLD’S CLASSICS edition of The Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) with the kind permission of Oxford University Press, with some additions from Alastair Wilson.  The page numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Stalky & Co. (1899), the collection in which this story first appeared.


[Page 361, line 1] Cyrano de Bergerac play, 1897, by Edmond Rostand, 1868-1918, on a seventeenth-century author famous for the largeness and redness of his nose.

[Page 361, line 12] fags see note to “In Ambush” page 4 line 14.

[Page 362, line 7] `burning marl’ Milton, Paradise Lost, 1, 295-6; Satan’s `uneasy steps/Over the burning marle’.

[Page 362, line 13] coals of fire Proverbs 25, 22.

[Page 362, line 16] blue-snouted Mandrill large, hideous, and ferocious baboon.

[Page 362, line 22] Royal Line of Ashantee King Prempahl of Coomassie then represented the royal line.

[Page 362, line 22] His naval uncle had fought in those parts in the Ashantee War of 1873-4.

[Page 362, line 27] The Temple of Janus was opened war was declared. Janus, the most ancient king in Italy, and according to some the son of Apollo, was shown with two faces because he knew the past and the future. The gates of his temples were opened in times of war, closed in peacetime.

[Page 363, line 1] Cartel written challenge to a duel.

[Page 363, line 4] the Gaboon a river in West Africa, which gave its name to the delta district.

[Page 363, line 4] Dahomey a large country in the Gulf of Guinea, famous for its Customs, an annual festival in October at which human victims were put to death. Dick `robed in a tablecloth’ may have been imitating the way victims were dressed in white shirts and long white nightcaps.

[Page 363, line 5] Fantee large tribe living south of Ashantee, whose language, also called Fantee, was used widely on the Gold Coast.

[Page 366, line 12] The Lord’s Anointed king by divine right; in other words, indescribably grand, don’t touch him’.

[Page 366, line 29] `slugs in a saw-pit’ from Marryat’s Peter Simple. The midshipman challenges Peter to a duel: `Then sir, as a gentleman, I demand satisfaction’. Slugs in a saw-pit. Death before dishonour’.

[Page 367, line 1] sally saloon pistol’.  A smooth-bore pistol adapted for short range, most often indoors, that uses only a very small charge of fulminate of mercury as the propellant for a light projectile.

[Page 367, line 16-17] Plica Polonica … Polish plat a matted, filthy condition of the hair, due to disease (Polish plait).

[Page 367, line 23] Marryat See note to “The Propagation of Knowledge”, in Debits and Credits page 274.

[Page 368, line 22] Braunton Sands Braunton was the other side of the Taw/Torridge estuary, at least five miles away.

[Page 369, line 12] Selah! Hebrew word of unknown origin, supposed to be a musical direction and used in the psalms’.

[Page 370, line 25] the King of Coomassie Dick Four. Coomassie was the capital of Ashantee.

[Page 371, line 21] `I’ve drilled the Mandrill . . .’ to drill was a slang term in duelling; see Peter Simple, chapter 4: `Being winged implied being shot through the arm or leg, whereas being drilled was to be shot through the body’:’

[Page 372, line 25] in absentia in his absence’.

[Page 372, line 31] scrabbling, like King David when he pretended to be mad, fearing Achish the King of Gath. 1 Samuel 21, 13.

[Page 373, line 9] mots justes ‘just the right words’

[Page 374, line 7] lousy Fenians in this case, merely `Irish’; strictly, members of the league founded in 1858 among the Irish in America to promote revolution and overthrow English rule in Ireland.

[Page 374, lines 17 and 22] Burbler, chortled These words were invented by Lewis Carroll in his nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” in Through the Looking Glass (1871), and were much used at USC. In the poem The Jabberwock ‘came whiffling through the tulgey wood and burbled as it came’. After the Jabberwock was slain, the Beamish Boy’s father ‘chortled in his joy’.

[Page 375, line 6] Goosey Pool See “The Song of an Outsider”

[Page 375, line 25] nott not a misprint but M‘Turks Irish intonation.

[Page 377, line 3] Rabbit’s Eggs see J. C. Dunsterville, Stalky’s Reminiscences (London, 1928), p. 45: `His nickname of “Rabbit’s-Eggs” was due to his having offered for sale six partridge eggs which he stoutly maintained were “rabbut’s aigs”. He genuinely believed them to be so. He was passing a clump of bushes when a rabbit ran out of them, and for some reason or another he peered into the bushes, and there, sure enough, were the six eggs, obviously the produce of the rabbit!’

[Page 378, line 9] R.E. Royal Engineers.

[Page 378, line 24] he tipped like Croesus Croesus, 560-46 BC, was king of Lydia and immensely rich.

[Page 379, line 8] House of Rimmon see note to p. 153.

[Page 379, line 20] in Abraham’s bosom dead. Luke 16, 22.

[Page 381, line 29] Non omnis moriar ‘I shall not altogether die’. Horace, Odes III, 6.

[Page 384, line 16] Cathay China. General Dunsterville (Stalky) served there in 1900-2.

[Page 384, line 23] Sinim Isaiah’s name for the land at the back of the Orient, therefore usually taken to mean China’. Isaiah 49, 12.

[I. Q.]