A Wayside Comedy

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.

[Heading] The first indication that this may not be a comedy after all.

[Page 43, lines 7 & 8] Kashima …. Dosehri hills These are names invented for the story.

[Page 43, line 11] jhils marshy ponds.

[Page 43, line 20] Nakarra another fictitious place.

[Page 44, lines 8 & 10] Captain Kurrell … Major Vansuythen There is no mention of other soldiers so what they are doing in Kashima is not made clear.

[Page 44, line 22] Mrs. Vansuythen A most attractive woman, discussed at pp.233/4 by Dr Tompkins together with “Mrs. Bathurst“ in Traffics and Discoveries and Mrs Delville in “A Second-rate Woman” later in this volume.

[Page 45, line 22] in camp He would be touring his District looking after his engineering works, canals etc.

[Page 46, line 7] masonry platform a terrace, perhaps with a roof or summerhouse. The ‘Shikarris’ had such a platform outside their Mess in “His Wedded Wife” in Plain Tales from the Hills.

[Page 46, line 9] a formal call a social visit or the leaving of a visiting-card at each European residence on arrival in a new Station

[Page 46, line 12] house-warming a party to welcome the residents.

[Page 46, line 25] the hate of a woman see “The Bronckhorst Divorce-Case” in Plain Tales from the Hills for a case where a husband hates his wife.

[Page 47, lines 30-31] Samson see Judges, 16, 21–30:

…the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass… and Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood … and he bowed himself with all his might and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people so the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

Kipling is ironic.

[Page 48, line 18] Home England.

[Page 48, line 19] dâk Hindi and Malay, meaning ‘transport by relays of men and horses or any arrangement for travelling’. (Hobson-Jobson).

[Page 48, line 23] bolt Normally applied to a runaway horse, but in this context, elope. See the notes to “Miss Youghal’s Sais” (page 29, line 22) in Plain Tales from the Hills, for the difficulties of eloping in India.

[Page 49, line 25] pony fed in the verandah Presumably to see that the sais did not sell the corn but gave the pony a good feed before the expected elopement. (Other suggestions would be welcomed; Ed.)

[Page 50, line 3] terai hat a wide-brimmed hat with a double crown and ventilation-holes, then worn by Europeans in the tropics. The word terai is Hindi, meaning ‘moist’ or ‘below’, and refers to a tract of marshy jungle at the foot of the Himalayas. (Hobson-Jobson).

[Page 50, line 5] Queen A magazine for ladies, now (2004) known as Harper’s and Queen.

[Page 50, line 9] purdah Hindi, from the Persian parda, a curtain, meaning the seclusion of women by some Hindus and Moslems. Examples include the sahiba in Kim, who stays behind the gold-worked curtains of her bullock-cart, and does not allow her face to be seen.

[Page 53, line 3] ‘satisfaction’ In England this used to signify a duel with rapier or pistol which had been illegal for many years. What precisely Kurrell means in this context is not really clear.

[J. McG.]