The Shadow of his Hand

Notes on the text

Notes by David Page. The page and line numbers below refer to the Authorised Edition of Abaft the Funnel published by Doubleday and Page, New York, in 1909.

[Page 38, line 1] San José a town about 40 miles SE of San Francisco in Calaveras County, California. Mentioned in Bret Harte’s “The Adventure of Padre Vicentio” (<1872). It is now frequently written with an unaccented ‘e’ as San Jose.

However, Sean Willard who lives just one mile north of the Santa Clara County border, points out that a glance at a California map will show that Kipling was playing fast and loose with his geography; San Jose is indeed 40 miles SE of San Francisco, but it’s in Santa Clara County, some 140 miles from Calaveras County, which is in the Sierra Nevada foothills (and hence a plausible setting for mining camp tales from the likes of Bret Harte and Samuel Clemens). On the other hand, the Calaveras Fault (and the Calaveras Creek it’s named for) does pass quite close to San Jose; perhaps this led to Kipling’s confusion.

[Page 38, line 4] Calaveras County see above. Frequently mentioned in the stories of Bret Harte. Also by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens, 1835-1910) in “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1865).

[Page 38, line 4] Bret Harte the American author (1836-1902) of humorous verse and prose which impressed and influenced Kipling considerably in his earlier days. “The Luck of Roaring Camp” (1867), a prose tale, and the verse “The Heathen Chinee” (1870) are his two best known works. (See also Background to the story.)

[Page 38, line 9] Colonel Starbottle another Bret Harte character who appeared in at least six stories including “Brown of Calaveras” (1870).

[Page 38, lines 10 & 11] San Luis Obispo a county and town in California about 250 miles SE of San Francisco. Mentioned in Bret Harte’s “The Adventure of Padre Vicentio”(<1872).

[Page 38, lines 11 & 12] chewing the plug of meditation chewing a plug of tobacco.

[Page 39, lines 1 to 3] White Rye and Bourbon were the two most popular of the 100% proof whiskeys in the United States. Rye whiskey by law must be made from a minimum of 51% rye, with the balance usually corn and malted barley. Bourbon, on the other hand, must be made from a minimum of 51% corn or maize with the remainder usually being wheat, rye and malted barley.

[Page 39, line 4] quart the U.S. quart, equivalent to 0.946353 of a litre or 0.8326725 of an Imperial (British) quart.

[Page 39, line 25] ’Frisco San Francisco, in California.

[Page 40, line 2] Kearney Street a street in San Francisco, also mentioned in Chapter XXIII of From Sea to Sea.

[Page 40, line 4] naturalised Irishman probably an Irish immigrant who had taken U.S. Citizenship.

[Page 40, line 7] a stoop can be a small porch, platform, or staircase leading from the sidewalk to the entrance of a building. It derives from the Dutch, stoep.

[Page 40, line 11] besoms brooms usually made with a handle from a hazel stick and the head from birch twigs. They are the traditional “witches’ broomsticks”.

[Page 40, line 18] domiciliary visits visits to Dougherty’s home.

[Page 40, line 25 & Page 41, line1] ‘run this thing through with our hands’ fight each other to determine whether Lot could win and therefore be allowed to marry Dougherty’s daughter.

[Page 41, line 6] Lot whipped Lot beat Dougherty in the fight.

[Page 41, lines 24 & 25] He painted Lot’s house crimson. Dougherty shed a quantity of blood in the fight.

[Page 43, line 23] boss pugilist first class fist-fighter, probably bare-knuckle still.

[Page 44, line 6] Invitation to the dance challenge to a fight. [ORG]

[Page 44, line 10] plug chewing tobacco. [ORG]


©David Page 2006 All rights reserved