Notes on the text
Edited by Alastair Wilson, who writes:
as with previous notes for the New Reader's Guide, I am deeply indebted to the Editor of the notes on this tale in the Old Reader's Guide (ORG), R.E. Harbord, the Society's Secretary and the man behind the production of the ORG. His first notes on "Mrs. Bathurst" appeared in the Kipling Journal in March 1960: they do not seem to have been published completely in the Journal, but other contributors, notably Professor Elliott L. Gilbert, and Rear-Admiral P.W Brock wrote KJ articles in 1961-64 which suggest that their contributions to the ORG notes must have been substantial..
notes on the text
One wonders whether Kipling realised that warrant officers did not normally retire until they were fifty. It has also been suggested that a Sergeant of Marines would not have been likely to refer to a warrant officer as “a service man" and that this is another example that Kipling did not recognise the status of a Naval W.O.To this Editor, the first part of that comment is entirely valid, though its relevance is not clear, since Vickery's age is never an issue. The second part of the comment is, perhaps, unfair. We will see, in the next two pages, that Pritchard is being circumspect in his references to Vickery, because he is not really sure who Hooper may be. He had been introduced merely as “Mr. Hooper of the Railway" (page 341), and he is clearly a man in authority. He does not seem to have been wearing a uniform, and Pritchard is merely 'closing ranks' to protect the reputation of his Service, as he might do to any inquisitive civilian. On the next page, when Hooper starts to ask questions, it becomes apparent that Pritchard suspects that Hooper may indeed be a policeman, although nobody has yet suggested that he is. However, as has been explained in the note on page 339, line 10, Hooper was a locomotive inspector, not a police Inspector.
this had been said to be the most implausible incident in the story. In the first place, it would take a lot of ribbon to tie a bow round each of four bottles of beer (page 351, line 9); secondly, and more important, after five years the beer would surely be too sour to be drinkable.As regards the first point, it would require at least two feet of ribbon (600 mm) to tie four individual bows round the necks of four bottles, so, if she did wear a long ribbon in her hair, it would seem that she gave up the majority of her ribbon to the identification of Pritchard's beer. As regards the second point, bottled beer certainly would keep for an appreciable length of time, since it was exported all round the empire (hence Allsopp's India Pale Ale), but whether it would last for five years must be debatable.
(1) News ItemIt will be seen that on a Grand Fashionable Box Night the prices were higher than Kipling mentions. The Grand Parade extended from the Castle to what is now Adderley Street. For many years previously, the Circus was near the Town Pier at the bottom of Adderley Street.
The management of Fillis's Circus have arranged to make tonight a fashionable box night, and on Saturday afternoon a grand matinee performance will be given.
GRAND PARADE. IN THE NEW BUILDING, ERECTED AT A COST OF £2,000
BY MR. JAMES MAXWELL, BUILDER
THE COOLEST RESORT IN CAPE TOWN
During the terrible south-easter of Tuesday night, the building stood firm, and the audience, except for the sound of the wind outside, sat as if unaware of the storm.
GRAND FASHIONABLE BOX NIGHT
DEDICATED TO THE ELITÉ
PRICES OF ADMISSION
Box Seats, 7s. 6d. each: Stalls, 6s.
Second Stalls, 5s: Pit, 3s.: Gallery, 2s. Early doors to all
Parts from 7 to 7.30, 6d. extra.
No half prices to Evening Performance.
'a member who has made a special study of disciplinary “incidents" in the Royal Navy does not recall a recorded instance of throwing gun-sights overboard between two cases in the Mediterranean Fleet in 1877, and one in a battleship in China in 1900. He has always regarded this passage as an example of Kipling's insight and eye for detail.'This Editor had, in the 1960s, to represent a disgruntled young stoker who had done the 20th century equivalent, by putting sand into the bearing of a pump.
The indisputable deductions from this seem to be that:At this stage, the reader is unaware of any death connected with Vickery, so the idea of murder must come as a surprise. Was it a surprise to Pyecroft? Vickery goes on to indicate that the only death with which he is concerned is that of his wife, who died in childbed, a few months ago. But it may be suggested that Vickery is looking to the future, and the consequences of actions he is about to take. Pyecroft suspects, and we are beginning to get an inkling, but Vickery knows, that he is going to desert – perhaps he hopes subsequently to meet Mrs. Bathurst, maybe not.
(a) There were prima facie reasons for supposing that he might perhaps have been guilty of his wife's death – presumably so that he might marry again
(b) In fact, he was innocent of that, but guilty of other things.
Some critics suppose it is significant that in the original appearance of this story in the Windsor Magazine, Mrs. Vickery died “in 'er bed" rather than “in childbed". But as Professor Bodelsen has pointed out ... the Windsor Magazine version was so puritanically censored that the alteration proves nothing. Quite likely it is a return to what Kipling wrote in the first place.[Page 362, line 12] The rest … is silence Hamlet, Act V, Scene 2, line 369. Vickery clearly had more than a board school education - again “a superior man".
I am quite prepared to share your doubt that Kipling invented the effect which you quote. However, he may have been misled by some stories which he was not in a position to check.[Page 364, line 26] foul anchor the Admiralty badge, and the badge of rank of a Leading Rating, is a foul anchor – that is, an anchor with a rope twisted about it (a Petty Officer's badge is two foul anchors, crossed). An anchor is said to be foul when it becomes entangled in some obstruction on the sea-bed: in the days of rope cables, this might quite frequently be the cable itself, caused by the ship's movement as it swung with the tide or wind.
The energy dissipated in a lightning stroke is so small that it is very rare to see any burn marks on the body of a person struck by lightning. I have seen many such photographs and I have spoken to people who have received direct lightning strikes, including the medical man who had that unfortunate experience on a Scottish golf course. [Now that must be a story …! Ed.]
The only marks left on such bodies usually disappear within a few hours and real burn marks, if any, are confined to points which were in contact with metal objects such as a bunch of keys or a necklace. The step from these tiny burn marks to a whole body being completely charred is too large to be acceptable.
I have seen a crow which caused an electrical short circuit on a high-voltage distribution line which, to all intents and purposes, was converted into charcoal. I also witnessed once a servant-girl having her finger wedged in a live electrical fitting with the result that part of her finger was burnt to charcoal. However, in both these cases the electrical fault current lasted for several seconds before it was switched off.
|Gow (addressing Ferdinand)||Now had it been the Prince who had been caught and hanged instead of this poor groom, you can bet that every astrologer …|
|Prince (soliloquising)||Only yesterday we were in the city, in command of events: now it has fallen, and the enemy has sacked it.|
|Gow (answering him)||Yes, but it's not my fault – you can bet that every astrologer would have said that he foretold the disaster: but since it's only poor Jack of the Straw who has been strung up, no one has bothered to cast his horoscope to see if it was all in the stars.|
|Prince (to Gow)||Another of my men – after the assault and the sack, were there any of the garrison left to be taken and hanged? How did it happen?|
|Gow (ticking off the characters on his fingers)||In a nutshell, he was betrayed by his leman, who didn't know what she was doing, else she had not done it, for she truly loved him. As for the hangman, he was just carrying out the Duke's orders. To the Duke, Jack was just another heretic, for whom there could be no mercy. And lastly there is Jack, who now lies in Hell, wondering why fate picked him out to be hanged.|
|Prince (suddenly sleepy)||Ferdinand, let me have your cloak – I must sleep now – I cannot think straight.|
|Ferdinand||There you are, then. (To Gow) Was Jack so enamoured of life that he did not want to die, but live under an alien religion?|
|Gow||He was born into this world like any of us, but, having been betrayed, as he thought, deliberately by his woman, life meant no more to him. When he was taken, he said “Why me? It's not me you want, but the King. When I last saw him he was cursing his luck and all women.|
|Ferdinand||Ah! Woman's love! (Aside) Fortune is impartial: one moment she's at some court banquet, toppling a throne – the next she's after some poor clown in a field, using the same weapons to trap him as she did a King yesterday.|