[Page 48, line 2] salting-time horses, and other grazing animals, need mineral salts in much the same way as humans, and in the wild have their own sources for obtaining them. When they have been domesticated, and are living on a limited pasture, they need to have their dietary supplements, in the form of ‘salt’. Today, in Britain anyway, most stables will have a block of mineral salt fixed conveniently for the horse to lick as it requires. In the 1890s, the arrangements were a bit more basic, with the salt being thrown in handfuls for the horses to pick up off the ground.
[Page 48, line 13] water-ram a particularly useful form of pump which uses the energy of a larger mass of water to lift a comparatively smaller amount of water to supply a building, or tank. In the days before the general availability of piped water, or of compact power units or electricity, it was frequently used in country districts to supply larger houses, or groups of houses.
[Page 48, line 24 green streaks of brake brake is bracken, a form of fern abundant on heaths: hence any large fern or mass of ferns.
[Page 49, line 2] that are turned down there certainly today, one would say ‘turned out‘, rather than just ‘turned’: one ‘turns out’ a horse into a paddock, or pasture, meaning ‘admit the horse to the field to graze’.
[Page 49, line 3] fifty cents a week the ORG felt it necessary to explain that 50 cents was about two shillings in English money then. 50 cents, in December 2006, is about 50 pence in modern currency. See later note on Page 50, line 19.
[Page 49, line 5] buggy a buggy was a very light, four-wheeled, one horse vehicle, usually covered, particularly to be found in the eastern U.S.A. The present-day Amish and Mennonite sects still use them.
[Page 49, line 7] coupé a small closed, horse-drawn carriage of the brougham type (i.e., like an old London four-wheeled cab), with four wheels and seats for two persons. (‘Coupé’ means, literally, ‘cut’: and a coupé might be fairly described as being like the back half of a carriage for four people). In fact, a coupé and a buggy were not dissimilar to look at.
The term survived into the era of motor traction, and indicated a closed vehicle for two people (perhaps more if auxiliary seating were fitted), the driver being accommodated outside without protection from the weather. The term was also used of a railway compartment with seats on one side only (no longer to be found on railways in Britain, other than on a preserved line).
[Page 49, line 7] buckboard a primitive type of horse-drawn vehicle devised for use in rough, hilly, districts of the U.S.A. It is four-wheeled without springs, with long elastic (i.e., springy) boards joining the front and rear axles, on which seats are mounted.
Older readers of these notes may recall the 1948 film The Paleface with Bob Hope and Jane Russell, and the song, ‘Buttons and Bows’ which contains the lines:
“My bones denounce,
The buckboard’s bounce
And the cactus hurts my toes”
[Page 49, line 18] Tedda Gabler the name is a play on words. It is an echo of Hedda Gabler, the eponymous heroine of Ibsen’s famous play, which was then much in the notice of the public, having been first produced in 1890. Tedda, as is mentioned in the next line, relates to a ‘tedder’ a machine for turning and spreading grass in haymaking.
[Page 49, line 23] switching flies when bothered by flies and other insects, which usually gather round a horse’s head, and particularly its eyes, a pair of horses will stand head to tail, and swish their tails so that each discourages the other’s flies.
[Page 49 line 29] steam rollers, grade-crossings, and street processions a horse would be ‘warranted quiet to ride or drive’. It is an unusual horse which will not ‘spook’ (jib) at a sudden noise, or be frightened by any loud unusual noise: if one encountered a street procession, with a brass band, one would turn down a side street to avoid it. A grade-crossing was a railway level crossing. In America these are rarely, if ever, protected by gates, as in Europe, and a horse might be expected to stand steady within yards of a thundering train roaring past him.
[Page 49, line 32] dreffle dreadfully.
[Page 49, line 33] cramp the modern term for this operation might well be to ‘park’, which incidentally derives from the military practice of disposing of guns in a ‘park’ – ‘the artillery park’.
[Page 50, line 1] ‘It draws turr’ble this weather’ it is difficult to pull it in this weather. Possibly because it was so hot that the grease had run out of the axle-trees, and so increased the friction.
[Page 50, line 3] ner haow no how. In English as spoken in England, ‘not at all’.
[Page 50, line 5] het up hot and bothered.
[Page 50, line 14 et seq.]: for the colours of horses see the note on “The Maltese Cat”, page 252, line 11.
[Page 50, line 15] the regular road-pair the pair of horses which would be used regularly on the road, when driving into town, or to pay a call, rather than being used for haulage around the farm.
[Page 50, line 16] aged all horses of seven years and more are so classified: a horse’s age may be determined by looking at its teeth.
[Page 50, line 16] full brothers having the same mother and father, but not being twins (twin foals are rare). So there would have been at least a year’s difference in age between them.
[Page 50, line 16] a Hambletonian sire Rod and Rick’s sire was a horse by a descendant of Hambletonian 10, a celebrated American stallion of the third quarter of the 19th century, and the progenitor of nearly all American harness racing horses
today (he sired 1300 foals in 24 years at stud). Since Hambletonian 10’s last foals were born in 1876, it is quite likely that Rod and Rick were only one generation removed from him. (A horse is said to be by its sire, and out of its dam).
[Page 50, line 17] a Morgan dam another American horse breed, named after the owner, in the late 18th century, of the first stallion, ‘Figure’, of this particular blood line. In the 1890s, Vermont was a centre of Morgan horse-breeding.
[Page 50, line 17] Nip and Tuck the two names are derived from a common English phrase ‘nip and tuck’, meaning a closely contested race: it is probably derived from the action of sempstresses and tailors at their work.
[Page 50, line 17] brother and sister in Something of Myself, quoted above, we are told that they were full brother and sister: also, that they were ‘good for a three-mile clip’. This is taken to mean that they can trot continuously for three miles without needing to be eased for a breather. At page 72, line 18, Rod (see line 14 on this page), the farm’s senior horse, or so it would seem, uses the same phrase of himself.
[Page 50, line 18] Black Hawks by birth Black Hawk was another celebrated Morgan sire, a grandson of ‘Figure’ mentioned above. (In Something of Myself, they are merely described as ‘Morgans’, which is accurate enough, but in naming their particular sire, Kipling is talking up their pedigree.)
[Page 50, line 18] perfectly matched the ideal for a natty turn-out, in the days before the motor car, was a pair of horses, or a team of four, who matched each other in height, colour and paces. Since twins were rare, this was much less easy than may seem to be the case.
[Page 50, line 20] our ex-car-horse a horse who has been used for hauling streetcars, or trams. With a lot of starting and stopping, this could be hard work, and a car-horse might well be worked out by the age of six or so.
[Page 50, line 22-3] comes from Kentucky sticking my British neck out, I will say that Kentucky (the “Blue Grass State”) is the State in the U.S.A. for horse-breeding, especially of race-horses.
[Page 50, line 30] Marcus Aurelius Antoninus named after the Stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor (121-180A.D.) See the quote from Something of Myself above for a description of Marcus Aurelius’ temperament, and note that his habit of lying down in harness, described there, also features on page 60, in this tale.
According to Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher, in his Meditations, the goal to be aimed at in life is not happiness, but tranquillity or equanimity. From this statement we are able to guess why the horse was so named.
[Page 51, line 4] vice in a horse, the word means bad habits – see line 30 below.
[Page 51, line 6] a Roman nose the same characteristic, a prominent curve to the nose, applies in horses as in humans. In horses, the opposite may be seen in Arabs, of whom a characteristic is a ‘dished face’.
[Page 51, line 7] a shaving-brush of a tail she has been docked; her tail has been cut very short – a fashion not often seen today. It may improve a horse’s appearance, but is cruel for a horse living out, since it cannot dispose of flies – see above.
[Page 51, line 15] windfalls windfall apples. Horses like apples for their sweetness, but unripe apples are not good for their stomachs, any more than they are for ours.
[Page 51, line 19] ”Livery-plug” it was derogatory to imply that a horse was one used by a livery stable for hiring to the public. (Livery stables were the equivalent of a car-hire company, but they were highly individual – no Avis or Hertz equivalent – and they tended to have horses which no other owner would keep, usually for some ‘vice’ or other.) ‘Plug’ is an Americanism for a horse, from which may be derived the term ‘plug-ugly’, meaning a rowdy, unpleasant character (in Baltimore, so the ORG adds).
[Page 51, line 22] a wall-eyed, yellow frame-house of a horse ‘wall-eyed’ is the opposite of squinting – the eyes are divergent; ‘yellow’ – the ORG says ‘implies a cowardly spirit’, as indeed it does; but at this stage of anyone’s knowledge of this particular animal, it must refer only to its colour. ‘Yellow’ is not a recognised description of a horse’s colour, but a dun horse can be a yellowish colour. We may take it that this livery plug would have been described as a ‘dun’, by a horseman. And ‘frame-house’ suggests a gaunt, angular, clumsily-shaped animal, with little flesh on him. From line 24 we know his name was “The Lamb”, but it becomes apparent that the other horses call him “Boney”.
[Page 51, line 30] man-eater given to biting and savaging his riders, grooms and other humans; usually without obvious reason. As a grass-eater, a horse’s teeth are not, as a rule, particularly sharp, but the chances of infection from any such bite is high.
[Page 51, line 31] Western horse in this context, and at this date, ‘western’ means what today would be called ‘mid-western’. (Angus Wilson, above, refers to Far Western, which is scarcely accurate. Setting California aside, Kansas was not then the westernmost State: Colorado, immediately west of Kansas was already a State of some 18 years standing, then there was a gap of the Territory of Utah, then Nevada, already a State, and then California.
[Page 51. line 33] His feet showed that he had not worked for weeks and weeks a horse’s shoes would be taken off if he was being turned out to pasture, and the hoof grows, and continues to grow, much as your toe-nails do, dear reader. Similarly, if you neglected your toe-nails for several weeks they would become over-long and unsightly: so too with horses.
[Page 53, line 31/2] among the sunflowers the sunflower is the state flower of Kansas.
[Page 54, line 4] quadroon a person of quarter ‘negro’ blood. Half-blood is ‘Mulatto’ (from ‘mule’). ‘Octoroon’ is one-eighth blood.
[Page 54, line 13] siahs sires, with a Southern accent. Tweezy is ‘a Southern gentleman’ – see his speech at page 62, lines 8-22.
[Page 54, line 14] Paduky Paducah, a town in Kentucky.
[Page 54, line 20 crip his shoes the ORG says ‘the word “crip” seems obviously to be an American past tense dialect form, of the same kind as “fit” for “fought”. Beyond that its meaning can only be guessed at”. Here is an educated guess. A horse’s shoes are said to be crimped, or cramped, when the nails are turned over on the top of the hoof as the final act of the farrier in fastening the shoes to the horse’s foot. Possibly this is a variant of this word: in other words, a horse is wise to get out of Kansas, before they set it to work, having been shod for that purpose.
[Page 54, line 21] Ioway the Southern pronunciation of Iowa.
[Page 54, line 24] Belt Line stables the accommodation for the horses that pulled the tramcars of the Line operating in the district of New York known as The Belt.
[Page 54, line 25] Hoffman House ‘House’ being a normal American term for hotel, this was probably a well-known establishment of the kind.
[Page 54, line 25] Vanderbilt’s one of the very rich families of America.
[Page 55, line 5] quidding over munching grass in the manner of a man chewing a quid of tobacco.
[Page 55, line 25] Pegasus act In Classical mythology, Pegasus was the winged horse ridden by Bellerophon against the Chimaera, a monster. The reference here is to a rearing horse, i.e., in an attempt to leave the groiund.
[Page 55, line 28] a bran-mash a standard food for horses in stables, rather like an uncooked porridge. Here the meaning is ‘all stirred up’.
[Page 55, line 31] We go to pole or single literally, we pull either a carriage or wagon as one of a pair (a pair horse vehicle has a single pole, with a horse on each side), or on our own (between a pair of shafts). Rick means ‘we do as we’re told’. It is the horse equivalent (invented by Kipling) of ‘we know our station in life, and are content in it’.
[Page 56, line 11] sperrity spirited, lively.
[Page 56, line 13] Monroe County, Noo York part of New York state, right up north, on the shores of Lake Ontario, some 250 miles from New York City: we British tend to forget that many Americans make a point of distinguishing between state and city in everyday speech; we assume that “I come from New York” means from the city of New York, whereas, in this Editor’s observation, it is more likely to be the state that is meant, usually accompanied by the city or district name, as here.
[Page 56, line 19] top buggy a buggy with a top, or hood. A buggy in England is two-wheeled; in America, four-wheeled.
[Page 56, line 19] winkers in English, ‘blinkers’. The aim of this piece of harness is to prevent the horse seeing sideways, and thus makes the horse concentrate on where he/she is going. It also prevents the horse being ‘spooked’ by something seen out of the corner of the eye.
[Page 56, line 25] harr hair. ‘Suit me to a hair’ is an old saying, implying total satisfaction.
[Page 57, line 3] Jiminy Christmas a mild sort of profanity, as will be understood from the initials J.C. Sometimes rendered as ‘Jiminy Cricket’ – hence the name of the character in Walt Disney’s animated film, ‘Pinocchio’.
[Page 57, line 5] plain bar bit it is the pressure of the bit, or lack of it, which largely indicates to the horse whether or not the rider wishes to move. A light pressure, in most well-mannered horses, will suffice to indicate ‘stop’. But a horse ‘with the bit between its teeth’ may take more to stop it, and there are some very severe bits used, one of which poor Tedda apparently suffered from with her previous owner.
[Page 57, line 10] open bridle a bridle without blinkers.
[Page 58, line 7] Ef (if) the shoe fits, clinch it Kipling has adopted the English phrase, ‘If the cap fits, wear it’, and adapted it for his horse-language. To clinch, or clench, is to burr over a rivet or nail. The clinching of the nails would be one of the last acts of shoeing ( a good farrier will complete the shoeing by using a rasp to make sure that there are no sharp edges remaining on the nail, and to even off the edges of the hoof to the shoe). ‘Crimp’ is an alternative word to ‘clinch’ (see note to p. 54, line 20).
[Page 58, line 22] limbo a region on the borders of Hell where the pre-Christian just men and unbaptised children are confined. In its present sense it means cast into oblivion.
[Page 59, line 2/3] sun … falls impartially … cf Matthew 5,45: ‘for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust’.
[Page 59, line 4] pampered machines o’ the trotting track trotting horses pull a very light two-wheeled carriage, on which the jockey perches, when racing.
[Page 59, line 7] ‘Not by a bushel and a half,’ a bushel is an old measure of dry volume, most frequently used of cereal grains, e.g., oats, with which the Deacon and the other horses would have been familiar. The phrase is Kipling again, devising his horse-language: we humans might say ‘not by a long chalk’, or ‘not by a mile-and-a-half’.
[Page 59, line 27] brichin’ breeching. That part of the harness of a shaft horse which goes round the quarters (vulgarly, the backside) and enables him to push back.
[Page 59, line 30] That don’t feel like teeth, though. Maybe he busted a shaft, an’ it pricked him the Deacon is trying, somewhat facetiously, to find a reason for the yellow horse’s cantankerousness. He might have had an accident when the breeching broke, or he might have bad teeth (though quite why Kipling had the Deacon say ‘that don’t feel like teeth’ is obscure), or a splintered shaft might have pricked him – probably rather more than pricked, in reality.
[Page 60, line 2] pure-minded high-toned horses echoes of Eric, or Little by Little, as quoted in Stalky and Co.
[Page 60, line 18] Brahmas a large domestic fowl of Asiatic origin, with feathered shanks, introduced into America in about 1846.
[Page 60, line 25] Lie down in the shafts (see page 50, line 30 above) Marcus lay down between the shafts for a well-justified rest, but the suggestion made by the Walking Delegate is to lie down on them to smash them.
[Page 60, line 25] and woller and wallow; thrash around and break all the harness, and the carriage.
[Page 60, line 28] eight quarts o’ oats the quart and the gallon were also units of dry volume, as well as being a liquid measure: four quarts to the gallon, eight gallons to the bushel.
[Page 61, line 5] weigh like Sam Hill it would seem that this is a euphemism for ‘like Hell’ – but this Editor is firm in his belief that he was once told, or read, that Sam Hill was an immensely fat politician of this period.
[Page 62, line 3] a frowy buff’lo atop “frowy” is an American word meaning “musty”, and “buff’lo” refers to a buffalo skin rug, placed on the soapbox for padding.
[Page 62, lines 9 & 10] a fox-trot, an’ single-foot, an’ rack, an’ pace, an’ amble these are all slightly differing gaits of a trotting horse. In fox-trot. single-foot and rack, each foot strikes the ground separately, but in different rhythms. In the pace and amble, two legs on the same side of the horse are in the air at once.
The ballroom dance known as the foxtrot had not then been introduced.
[Page 62, line 31] yank a cable-car out of a manhole not to be taken literally: a tramcar was hardly likely to fall down a manhole – but it’s a nice piece of hyperbole. A cable-car was a tramcar whose motive power was provided by a rope cable, running in a tough below the road surface, and driven by a steam-engine at one end or other of the system. The best-known system still operating is that in San Francisco – but there is one in Great Britain; the Great Orme Tramway, at Llandudno, in North Wales.
[Page 63, line 5] Oh, go an’ unscrew your splints! You’re talking through your bandages the meaning is clear – ‘Oh, use your loaf (head): you’re talking through your hat’. To unscrew your splint is an impossibility – a splint being a callus on the splint-bone, a bone in a horse’s leg.
The rest of this paragraph is a splendidly concise view of what traffic was like in New York in the days of horsepower. We are used to seeing representations on television or film of, say, a London Square in the 19th century, with about three hansom cabs and a single horse-drawn wagon, or a baker’s van, and a few pedestrians. But in reality, our present London mayor would have had far greater cause to introduce a congestion charge had he been in office in the 1890s – the major London thoroughfares were jammed with buses, lorries, drays, vans, cabs, carriages, hand carts: there was no effective rule of the road, and little police presence for traffic control. New York would appear to have been the same.
[Page 63, line 9] Paris comin’ in an’ de Teutonic goin’ out two celebrated Atlantic liners of the period. The Paris, then the holder of the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic had just been transferred to the American flag in 1893: while the Teutonic, belonging to the British White Star Line was the previous holder of the Blue Riband.
[Page 63, line 11] de heavy freight movin’ down for de Boston boat an interesting sidelight, showing that, on the eastern seaboard, despite having a highly developed railway/railroad system, which was capable of handling heavy freight in enormous quantities, there was still a substantial coastwise seaborne trade still in existence (as there was in Great Britain).
[Page 63, line 13] Kanucks slang for Canadians – nowadays frequently spelt ‘canucks’.
[Page 63, line 16] loaded drunk, or at the least, ‘drink-taken’.
[Page 63, line 21] cop slugs you on de bone o’ yer nose a policeman hits the horse on the nose with his truncheon/nightstick, to make it stop.
[Page 63, line 29/30] an’ an English coachman English horsemen were much in demand in the United States – indeed Kipling had recently hired his own – Matthew Howard.
[Page 63, line 30] a star-hitch a much admired carriage turn-out.
[Page 63, line 32] checks’em this refers to the use of the check rein, or bearing-rein, which is used, usually with a more severe bit, both in riding and driving, to produce an improvement of the paces and of the carriage of the head. It is now condemned as being cruel.
[Page 63, line 33] bangs their tails cut the horse’s tail short (see the note on page 51, line 7).
[Page 64, line 4] Wisht I was in de Fire Department presumably because everyone gets out of your way when you’re galloping through the streets to attend a fire.
[Page 64, line14] Barnum’s a reference to the Barnum and Bailey Circus, then at the height of its popularity. Muldoon is saying, it is suggested, I’m not a circus horse, capable of fancy tricks.
[Page 64, line 23] buttons, mucilage made from the bones and hooves of horses after death. Strictly, mucilage means gum, whereas horses hooves are made into glue.
[Page 64, line 24] Barren Island Barren Island is a part of Brooklyn, New York City. It was an island, but is now connected to the rest of Brooklyn by a causeway. The island housed a plant that rendered horse bones (supplied from the streets of New York City, and elsewhere) into glue. Hence the name Dead Horse Bay to the still extant water body on the western shore.
[Page 65, line 14] Keene a town over the State line in New Hampshire, about 42 miles E by N from Brattleborough.
[Page 65, lines 23-26] Kin you keep your feet through the West River Bridge, with the narrer-gage comin’ in on one side, an’ the Montreal flyer the other, and the old bridge teeterin’ between? Stuart Murray’s book, Rudyard Kipling in Vermont (Images from the Past, Bennington, Vt, 1997) has an illustration on p. 122 which shows precisely what the Deacon meant, and shows that Kipling was, indeed, describing exactly how things might have looked to a horse.
Between Brattleborough and ‘Naulakha’ lay the confluence of the Connecticut River – running north and south – and the West river, which ran into it at right angles from the west (“natchully”). At that point lay the Three Bridges, two railroad bridges and a typical New England covered bridge carrying the road along which Kipling drove when he went into town. The bridges formed, as it were, a trident, with the three prongs joining on the south side of the West River. The eastern prong, running north-south, carried the Vermont Valley Railroad’s track leading to the Canadian border and Montreal; the western prong carried a narrow-gauge track running North-West – South-East. This was the West River Railroad, running some 25 miles north-west to South Londonderry, Vt. The central prong, which was somewhat bent towards the narrow-gauge bridge, carried the road.
Both the railroad bridges were iron or steel truss bridges, and the passage of a train over them would have created a roaring, rumbling sound. If a horse-drawn vehicle were inside the covered bridge when a train was crossing either of the bridges, the horse couldn’t see the source of the noise, and would undoubtedly have been very frightened, to the extent that it might well bolt. The Deacon is implying that it takes training and nerve to keep calm when you’ve got ‘the Montreal Flyer’ on the eastern bridge, and a narrow-gauge train on the western bridge, and you’re in the middle, unable to see either train, and the covered bridge swaying.
In fact, this was a serious problem, and Stuart Murray describes how Kipling wrote to the railroad’s President, asking that the engineers (engine-drivers) be instructed to sound their whistles when approaching these bridges, so that horsemen could be warned of a train’s approach, and to beware of entering the covered bridge until the train had passed.
Today, only the eastern bridge remains, carrying New England Central freight trains and Amtrak passenger trains. But only the abutments of the old covered road bridge, and of the “narrer-gage” bridge are still there. [Information by courtesy of an authority on the American railway system, John W. Reading.]
[Page 65, line 27] cow-catcher the v-shaped guard at the front end of a locomotive. North American railways were unfenced, and so the possibility of livestock straying on to the railway was very real, and the guard was fitted as a matter of course. For some reason, Kipling has used the English expression – the American word was ‘pilot’. Nor is it clear why the Deacon should have had to put his “nose down on the cow-catcher”. To do so he would have had to be standing in the middle of the track. Again, American depots (railway stations) did not have platforms in the British manner, but no sensible driver left his horse and vehicle actually on a track.
[Page 65, line 29] ”Curfew shall not ring tonight” a reference to the famous poem by Rose Harburck Thorpe (1850-1939).
[Page 65, line 30] big brass bell American locomotives all had a bell mounted, usually on top of the boiler, as well as a whistle. The bell had to be rung when the locomotive was in motion within the confines of the depot – but the Deacon is being facetious when he talks about “the Curfew shall not ring tonight” – the bell had but one note.
[Page 65, line 32] nigh hind near hind leg (left).
[Page 66, line 20] A Power-machine a form of horse-treadmill, used in this case to power a circular saw.
[Page 66, line 22] three cord a cord of wood is a measure of volume of sawn wood, 128 cubic feet.
[Page 66, line 25] Concord there are several towns called Concord in the U.S.A., but the most likely one, from which this vehicle would have been named, was the village of Concord, in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Concord, Mass., was where the first battle of the American Revolution took place “where the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world” (Emerson).
The vehicle Marcus Aurelius is talking about was a light four-wheeled vehicle, not unlike a phaeton but more solidly built for the dirt roads of rural New England, and whose full name was a Concord buggy. It should not be confused with the American Concord stage-coach, which spread over the whole country, and today always features in ‘Western’ films.
[Page 66, line 27] throat-lash part of a horse’s bridle.
[Page 67, line 22] span in the U.S.A., a pair of horses driven together: originally, the term was a mediaeval one, and referred to a pair of oxen yoked to a plough, or a wagon. The derivation is clear, as is the similar use of the South African word “inspan” or “outspan” for the harnessing, or un-harnessing of a team of oxen.
[Page 67, line 25] haw across his eye the haw is the third eyelid of the horse and of the dog. It is a cartilaginous membrane within the inner corner, and can be moved at will by the animal.
[Page 68, line 9] fer (for) a steady thing as a matter of course.
[Page 69, line 26] swaying his head close to the ground Colonel J.K. Stanford, O.B.E., M.C., wrote:
I once in the Kachin Hills (Burma) saw a pony knock down and savage a mussulman sowar (native cavalryman) in exactly the way Kipling describes, and realised what an uncommon sight we had both been privileged to witness.
Colonel Stanford (1892-1971) wrote extensively on country matters from 1944 onwards. The suggestion must be that Kipling must have seen this happening, to be able to give so accurate a description, and the remark that follows, by ‘his companion’ (Beatty) was actually made on some occasion.
[Page 69, line 33] cross lots across the field.
[Page 70, line 20] in de sweet by-and-by a reference to the hymn by Ira David Sankey (1840-1908), of the famous pair of revivalist preachers, Moody and Sankey: “In the sweet by-and-by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore”.
[Page 71, line 6] be switched! nonsense (emphatic), as a human might say “be blowed!”, or “my eye!”
[Page 71, line 19] biffin’-ground from “biff”, American (and for a long time now, British) slang for a smart blow.
[Page 71, line 21] lead pipe an’ a twitch lead pipe as a cosh, while a twitch is a simple device, consisting of a stout stick, about eighteen inches long with a loop of cord at one end. When twisted tightly over a horse’s loose upper lip it will make the most recalcitrant horse stand still.
[Page 71, line 23] hogs pigs.
[Page 71, line 23] hooky keows angular cows (from the Dutch hoek, corner).
[Page 71, line 27] bog-spavined a defect in a horse’s leg, when the hock swells. It does not of itself cause lameness, but it may lead to it.
[Page 71, line 33] spattin’ the lines flapping the reins on the horse’s back, to encourage him to go faster.
[Page 72, line 7] Bimeby by-and-by.
[Page 72, line 12] inside o’ yer winkers literally, between your blinkers (on each side of the head), hence, inside your head.
[Page 72, line 17] bought er broke bought or broken-in: I’ve known you for a long time, in some cases since you were very young.
[Page 72, line 19] I ain’t givin’ you no bran-mash o’ my own fixin’ I’m not making this up; I’m not telling you lies.
[Page 72, line 22] splint see note on p. 65, line 5. There are two splint-bones in a horse’s leg, and a ‘splint’ is a callus, which is painful, which forms on one or the other, due to disease. Normally, they go away if the horse is worked lightly – Rod’s clearly hasn’t.
[Page 72, line 30] drenched given a dose of medicine – usually for the treatment of worms.
[Page 73, line 32] wickerin’ wickering, onomatopoeic: the noise made by a horse, rather less than a full-blown neigh.
[Page 74, line 10] clay-bank the ‘walking delegate’ was described (Page 51, line 22) as being yellow.
[Page 74, line 33] hitchin’-strap an additional piece of harness, used to hitch a horse to a rail. With a riding horse, you threw the reins over the horse’s head and used them to hitch the horse to the rail (cf. John Wayne and others, outside countless saloons, in countless Western films). However, in the case of a driven horse, the reins are led through rings on the collar, or the driving saddle, and the horse cannot then be hitched by the head.
[Page 75, line 5] ’druthers a contraction of “I’d rather(s)”; preferences.
[Page 75, line 25] above the exe this is probably a piece of slang indicating the part of a deed or other legal document above the signature of the person executing the document.
[Page 76, line 17] nary not any, not a bit of. A word in English usage, as well as American.
[Page 76, line 28] monkey-shines Anglice; monkey-tricks.
[Page 76. line 32] raw-hided a piece beaten a little with a raw-hide whip.
[Page 77, line 3/4] Nancy Hanks, Alix, Directum the names of three celebrated trotting horses of the period. Nancy Hanks was named after Abraham Lincoln’s mother, and later gave her name to a train.
[Page 77, line 17] sociable party.
[Page 77, line 18] take a ticket for me give him one for me.
[Page 77, line 19] Bet your natchul you bet your natural life; I certainly will.
©Alastair Wilson 2005 All rights reserved