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. The page numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of Stalky & Co. (1899), the collection in which this story first appeared.

[Page 130, line 20] spadger-hunt spadger is a dialect or colloquial word for sparrow.

[Page 130, line 22] stalky cf. p. 133. ‘stalky’, in their school vocabulary, meant clever, well-considered and wily, as applied to plans of action; and ‘stalkiness’ was the one virtue Corkran toiled after.

[Page 130, line 28] potwallopers roughly speaking, it means householders, property owners, as opposed to labourers, vagrants, and people who own nothing. In the eighteenth century it meant someone who `dressed his own victuals’, i.e. `boiled his own pot’ in his own house, and in certain places was entitled to vote for a member of parliament. In the nineteenth century it went down in public esteem and from meaning, more or less, a respectable villager, it came to mean someone rough, rude, and clumsy.

[Page 131, line 22] Corky Corkran’s nickname until this episode gave him the name of Stalky.

[Page 134, line 8] thrown out any pickets sent out anyone to keep a look-out. According to the OED, pickets are `a small detached body of troops, sent out to watch for the approach of the enemy, or his scouts’. In the Army Regulations it is spelt `piquets’.

[Page 136, line 11] quickset hedge made of living plants set in the ground to grow, especially hawthorn.

[Page 142, line 19] Tweakons let us tweak (schoolboy compound of English and French). Shoot with catapult – a ‘tweaker’ in USC slang.

[Page 143, line 9] Gig A light, two-wheeled vehicle drawn by a pony, for one or two passengers.

[Page 144, line 18] A people sitting in darkness and the shadow … echo of Isaiah 9: 2: `The people that walked in darkness … they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death.’

[Page 149, line 5] swottin’ dumb-bells working furiously hard; dumb-bells being clubs for exercising, with weights on each end.

[Page 152, line 15] ‘Pon my Sam’ jocular asseveration, perhaps from “pon my sang’ (blood).

[Page 155, line 1] Sweeter than honey echo of Psalm 19: 10: `sweeter than honey and the honeycomb’.

[I. Q.]