"The Great
Play Hunt"

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. We have been grateful to Alan Underwood for advice on a number of points relating to hunting. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Uniform Edition of Thy Servant a Dog and Other Dog Stories, published in 1938.

[May 16th 2009]

[Page 41 line 16] keep hands down, and bump, and fall off proper basic riding techniques – any rider is bound to be thrown or otherwise fall off at some stage, so should learn how to fall without breaking anything.

[Page 41 line 20] Meet the assembly of hounds, riders, and hunt followers before the hunt begins.

[Page 42 line 3] kennel-that-moves motor-car.

[Page 42 line 14] new Nursey which is called Guvvey Nurse has been replaced by a Governess who begins the education of the child until he goes to school.

[Page 44 line 15] Frilly Smalls probably a couple of little girls

[Page 44 line 27] meddy medicine.

[Page 45 line 10] brush in this context his tail

[Page 45 line 11] steel-trap he had been caught in a type of rabbit-trap that is now illegal. He was biting off two toes on his left front foot to escape from it.

[Page 46 line 20] as lame as trees extremely lame, since trees cannot walk at all. Partridge's Dictionary of Slang suggests that the expression relates to the noisy walking of a man with a wooden leg.

[Page 47 line 3] ham-juice bacon-fat.

[Page 48 lines 7-9] being taught … House
an old and discredited method of house-training a puppy. See the second verse of “His Apologies”:

Master, behold a Sinner! He hath committed a wrong.
He hath defiled Thy Premises through being kept in too long.
Wherefore his nose has been rubbed in the dirt, and his self-respect has been bruised.
Master, pardon Thy Sinner, and see he is properly used.
[Page 50 line 18] Shiny Plate the full moon.

[Page 50 line 2] not chicken probably 'He was no chicken', implying that he was fully grown at the time.

[Page 50 line 23] We went for walk-abouts an echo of Kipling’s younger days Often the night got into my head … and I would wander till dawn in all manner of odd places. (Something of Myself, page 53)

[Page 51 line 8] strange new ‘stemper-dog inside Ravager distemper – in this context a dangerous disease of dogs and other animals.

[Page 52 line 1] Ravager’s place on sleepy-bench the kennels have a bench for hounds to sleep on, and the Dominant Hound of the pack would sleep in the most comfortable place on it, away from draughts etc. A younger hound would occasionally fight him for it - see page 55, lines 10-24 and page 95, lines 10-15.

[Page 52 line 2] all-of-a-nuproar uproar – a disturbance.

[Page 52 line 7] Vet-Peoples a veterinary surgeon, or 'vet'.

[Page 52 line 21] the Cotswold country The Cotswolds is an upland area of great beauty in westerm England, in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, and extending into parts of Wiltshire, Somerset and Worcestershire. It includes Cirencester Park, Lord Bathurst’s estate, on which the setting of these stories is based. It is also the name of a famous Hunt based in Gloucestershire, and the part of the country in which it operates

[Page 52 line 25] leaves-on April, the end of the hunting season in the United Kingdom

[Page 53 line 3] the Cotswold and Heythrop two Hunts.

[Page 54 line 8] winds me gets my scent.

[Page 54 line 14] They skidded kennel … because they talked conversation distracted the woman who was driving.

[Page 55 line 5] four-year-old in this context a young horse.

[Page 55 line 26 and overleaf] Magistrate’s girths was slack the men are overcome by emotion at seeing Ravager lose his place as Dominant Hound.

[Page 56 line 11] thick leg lymphangitis a swelling of (usually) a rear leg of a horse, now treated with antihistamines etc and exercise, See Lameness by Peter Gray, M.V.B., F.R.C.V.S. (J. A. Allen, 1994), p. 192.

[Page 56 lines 16-19] Romeo and Regan etc This seems unlikely – see Note to “Thy Servant a Dog” for Page 22 line 16, earlier in this volume. This is usually a healthy breed which occasionally has hip dysplasia, renal disease, and epilepsy. The lifespan is typically 10-13 years, although British hunts would probably put working hounds down after 6-7 years hunting.

[Page 56 line 21] rumpet trumpet.

[Page 56 line 22] Horn-on-a-fine-hunting-morn an echo of 'We'll all go a-hunting today' a hunting song of seven verses and chorus composed by W. Wilson for the North Warwickshire Hunt. (See Roy Palmer, Everyman's Book of English Country Songs, p. 213.)

[Page 57 line 20] Taffy is all grass-belly the pony is too fat.

[Page 58 line 1] Brecknock a former county and town in South Wales with beautiful scenery.

[Page 58 line 22] Berkeley Country a market-town in Gloucestershire which gives its name to a Hunt and the part of the country in which it operates (pronounced barkly).

[Page 58 line 26] thick-leg see the note on page 56 line 11 above.

[Page 59 line 8] hand behind ear a usual gesture in the hunting-field.

[Page 59 line 11] thing in Old Nursery a rocking-horse.

[Page 60 line 1] pecked in this context stumbled.

[Page 62 line 4] bull was which we hunted See “Thy Servant a Dog” at page 30 in this volume.

[Page 62 line 8] fly cattle-bars jump over gates.

[Page 62 lines 14 – 19] If I were lame Fox etc the child is thinking like a fox as Disko Troop, the successful skipper of a fishing schooner, thinks like a cod, in Captains Courageous (p. 127).

[Page 62 line 26] music in this context the melodious sound of hounds in full cry on the scent of a fox. 'The finest sound to my mind that there can be is the noise that hounds makewhen they are running.' [Foxhunting, by the Duke of Beaufort, page 1, David and Charles 1980].

[Page 63 line 1] preferred her work to her company she was content to run her line of scent alone so did not give tongue to attract the other hounds.

[Page 65 line 5] snipey-nose-man he probably has a narrow face – see “Thy Servant a Dog”, page 25 line 23.

[Page 65 line 7] whip in this context, 'Whipper-in'. The Master is in charge of the hunt as a whole, while the Huntsman is in charge of the hounds. The 'whip' or 'whipper-in' assists the Huntsman, to whom he needs to give loyal and intelligent support. (see Harmsworth, where his duties are set forth; a formidable list !)

Bathsheba Lady-pack 'Bathsheba Spooner, née Ruggles, daughter of Brigadier Ruggles, grew up amid the luxuries of her father's house in Massachusetts, for the old brigadier was a colonial aristocrat. A pack of hounds, a park of deer, and other unusual signs of wealth and luxury, surrounded his estate.' (The Year ‘Round, A Victorian Miscellany. [This is the only reference we have found – further information will be appreciated: Ed.]

[Page 65 line 23] Fan Dringarth a mountain in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.

[Page 65 line 27] brush in this context, the fox's tail. See page 35 line 20 earlier in this volume.

[Page 66 line 6] Badgers Meles meles, a big burrowing animal of the weasel family, still common in Europe and Asia. More than a match for a fox.

[Page 67] illustration Moore appears to be wearing his scarlet jacket ,which is surprising since he is just out for exercise outside the hunting season

[Page 69 line 21] making-much-of
patting his pony and calling him a 'Good Fellow'.

[Page 69 line 25] took off cap it is the civil thing to greet the Master like this – here perhaps somewhat sarcastically !

[Page 69 line 26] Bowfront Hunt another touch of sarcasm - referring to the Beaufort Hunt

[Page 69 line 27] Your Grace Dukes of Beaufort have either hunted hounds themselves or have been Masters since the title was created in 1682; the hounds, kennels and stables still belong to them. The 10th Duke was Master from 1924 to 1984.

[Page 70 line 13] multum-in-parvo Latin – much in little.

[Page 70 line 21] babes-and-sucklings 'Out of the mouths of very babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength. " Psalms 8,2.

[Page 70 line 25] County road a road maintained by the County Council.

"The Supplication of
the Black Aberdeen"


Appeared in the Strand Magazine January 1928, and in the same month, the Metropolitan, where the title was "A Poem About a Dog" (The Supplication of the Black Aberdeen). Collected in Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse, the Sussex Edition Volume 35, page 274, the Burwash Edition, Volume 28 and The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library.)

See also KJ 005/02 and 243/50.

"Notes on the Text"

[Verse 6] That Cat awaits the Judgement the eternal feud between cats and dogs reflected in “The Cat that Walked by Himself” in Just So Stories and Kipling's various other dog stories.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2008 All rights reserved