The story and poem were first published in the Civil and Military Gazette on March 5th 1888, and collected in Plain Tales from the Hills in the same year.. The poem was collected in:
Songs from Books
The Sussex and Burwash editions of Kipling’s works
[Page 15] As printed in Plain Tales from the Hills the heading is subtitled “Toolungala Stockyard Chorus.” This name, made up by Kipling, has an Australian ring to it. At that time most horses for the Indian Army were imported from New South Wales and known as “Walers”. In the heading the Boy is likened to a horse being broken in; in the tale the comparison is to an untrained puppy.
For highly trained cavalry mounts see “Her Majesty’s Servants” in The Jungle Book.
[line 2] Steady! Stand still, you! What a horse-breaker might say to a plunging horse.
See also “Captain Hayes and the Horse” .
[line 3] gentle treat kindly, soothe.
lunge make a horse move round the trainer on the end of a long rope.
[line 4] There! There! Who wants to kill you? What a trainer might say to soothe a horse.
[line 6] bitted taught to accept a bit in its mouth
made fully trained.
[Page 15, line 11] Old Brown Windsor a well-known Victorian brand of soap. In more recent days, and rather confusingly, a meat soup called ‘Brown Windsor’ has also been devised.
[Page 16, line 13] Sandhurst The Royal Military College at Sandhurst in Surrey where officers are trained for the Army.
[Page 16, line 21] came out passed out at the end of the course .
[Page 16, line 25] third-rate depôt battalion a very poor battalion with incompetent officers that remains in barracks. The remainder of this page and most of the next display a remarkably cynical view of life by the young Kipling, aged twenty-two, so recently returned to India.
It should have been the duty of one of the senior officers to keep an eye on the welfare of the young officers – this young man should not have been permitted to get into such a state. See also “Georgie Porgie” for irregular liaisons .
[Page 17, line 17] eight hours between death and burial corpses do not keep long in the climate of the Indian Plains. See Chapter 3,“Seven Years’ Hard” in Something of Myself, Kipling’s autobiography.
[Page 17, line 18] Home-furlough leave in the United Kingdom. (From the Dutch vurlof)
[Page 17, line 18] acting-allowances extra pay for doing the job of a senior without being promoted.
[Page 17, line 25] old as the Hills a nice play upon words; ‘as old as the hills’ (with a small “H”) is a proverbial saying meaning ‘of a great age’, but with a capital letter in Kipling’s work usually refers to the foothills of the Himalayas which figure in much of his Indian prose and verse.
[Page 17, line 29] to call upon in this context a social visit, usually for afternoon tea.
[Page 18, line 8] whist a card game, popular before the invention of bridge.
[Page 18, line 8] gymkhanas sports meetings with or without mounted events, from the Hindi gend-khana (ball-house, the name usually given to a racquets-court. [Hobson-Jobson]
[Page 18, line 11] head the hangover or headache that follows over indulgence in alcohol.
[Page 18, line 15] two-goldmohur the chief gold coin of British India was the Mohur, worth 16 Rupees [Hobson-Jobson]
[Page 18, line 16] maiden ekka-ponies ponies under 14 hands (4 feet, 8 inches at the shoulder who have never won a race. An ekka is a light two-wheeled carriage.
[Page 18, line 16] manes hogged clipped.
[Page 18, line 17) the Derby the leading English race, run over one and a half miles at Epsom, Surrey established in 1780 and named after the 12th Earl of Derby.
[Page 18, line 28) colt an entire (uncastrated) young male horse under four years old.
[Page 19, line 20] wigging a reprimand.
[Page 19, line 23] kicked the beam tilted the balance.
[[Page 19, line 31] Rest House See the article by
Lt-Col. Stanford on dak bungalows in India.
[Page 20, line 2] partridge a small game-bird, family Phasianidae and very good flavour when properly cooked and served. (Or, as old Naval friends of mine used to say of particularly good food or drink, “Salubrious !” or “Succulent!)
[Page 20, line 12] leaving cards in this context a social call as the Narrator (who may or may not be Kipling.) has probably recently arrived on the Station, he is leaving visiting-cards with his name and address.
[Page 21, line 29] took off his helmet a mark of respect for the dead.
[Page 23, line 12] cholera an unpleasant, infectious and then usually fatal disease prevalent in India at the time. See the verse “Cholera Camp.)
[Page 24, line 6] locket and rings the locket, worn round the neck on a gold chain would probably contain a picture of his sweetheart – men often wore a signet-ring on a little finger.
[Page 25, line 6] Burial of the Dead The Order for the Burial of the Dead in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England.
[J H McG]
©Philip Holberton and ohn McGivering 2012 All rights reserved