Special Sub-Topic: "The Jungle Book" Pt.7
|The action in the story of "Her Majesty's Servants" starts at Rawal Pindi in India. The scene is set with a description of the gathering of thirty thousand men with all their pack animals and armaments. Why were all these personnel gathered together in one place?|
They were to be reviewed by the Viceroy of India. In 1885 Kipling, as a newspaper reporter for the "Civil and Military Gazette", was covering the meeting between the Viceroy of India and the Amir of Afghanistan. This was during a time when the Russian empire was trying to expand south into Afghanistan and India. The meeting between Lord Dufferin, the Viceroy, and Abdur Rahman, the Afghan Amir, was an attempt to find some form of relationship based on mutual respect and need.
|"Get out, quick! They're coming! My tent's gone!". Our narrator is warned of a coming disaster. He is warned that "they're coming!" Who are "they"?|
Baggage-camels. The baggage-camels were part of the melange of animals and men gathered at Rawal Pindi. They are easily spooked and are not as disciplined as the animals in the British Army. During one particularly wet night the baggage-camels panicked and stampeded. Their explanation for their behaviour was that they had had bad dreams!
|So, in his haste to vacate his tent, our narrator went out into the slush covered ground while his dog, Little Vixen, went out through the other end of the tent. What type of dog is Little Vixen?|
Fox Terrier. The fox terrier in the story is based on Kipling's own dog, Vixen. The dog has also appeared in another Kipling book called "Actions and Reactions" in a story entitled "Garm-- A Hostage." At the end of the story the dog "Vixen" frightens the elephant and forces it to leave.
|Using the muzzle of an artillery gun and two rammers our narrator makes a sort of wigwam with his waterproof as the roof. He is able to understand "camp-beast language" and listens into a conversation between a number of the camp animals. Which animal did NOT take part in the conversation?|
Hawk. After the mêlée is over a collection of animals gather and start to discuss their relative experiences of war. Each has its own specific role during a military engagement and each knows how close to the opposition they are supposed to get.
|One of the animals gathered close to the narrator belongs to an officer in the Ninth Lancers. Which officer does the animal name as his owner?|
Dick Cunliffe. There was a man called Cunliffe who was a friend of Kipling who was in the 9th Lancers. "Dick" Cunliffe also appears in "Soldiers of the Queen". According to "Kipling and the British Army in India", by Charles Carrington, Cunliffe was a Westward Ho! boy who worked his way up through the ranks until he became a general during the First World War.
Charles Dodgson is more famously known as the great writer Lewis Carroll.
|The most fearful of the animals are the baggage-camels. What was it that made the camels afraid that night?|
Bad dreams. During a wet stormy night the ill-disciplined camels stampede through the camp after panicking because of "bad dreams". This is a regular occurrence amongst the undisciplined and nervous camels and it leads to lots of animals running amok throughout the camp. During the meeting between the animals the camels tell how, during a battle, they sit down to form a square and the soldiers fire over them.
|During the night the older of the two mules is called a name by the younger mule. What name is he called?|
Billy. Amongst the gathering of the various animals used by the British Army there are two mules who are caught up in the conflagration caused by the camels. The older mule, Billy, has just kicked the camel who started all the ruckus when he hears the younger mule calling his name. He is in the company of two gun-bullocks who have also left their posts.
The mule, Billy, tells of the need to keep their nerve and do their duty even in the most dangerous places.
|Nearly all the troop horses in the English cavalry in India come from one specific country. Which Commonwealth country do these horses come from?|
Australia. During the tale the troop-horse comes out with the phrase "By the Blue Gums of the Back Blocks." This phrase is used to emphasise the horse's origins. The "Blue Gums" are Australian trees and the "Back Blocks" represent the Australian outback.
Also during an argument between one of the mules and the troop-horse the mule calls the horse a "Brumby"(an Australian wild horse). The troop-horse is furious with the mule and they nearly come to blows.
|The troop-horse was aghast that the mules were not "bridle-wise". What did he mean by this phrase?|
A horse's sensitivity, through the reins, to what its rider wants. "Bridle-wise" was a phrase borrowed by Lt-Col I G Goldschmidt for the title of a book that was published in 1927. Kipling would, of course, have known the phrase from his many friends in the British cavalry regiments although he, himself, was not an expert horseman. The troop-horse tells of the trust between horse and rider that must exist for him to hold his position in the midst of the enemy ranks.
|According to the troop-horse what is the worst kind of cowardice?|
Being angry after being afraid. "Anybody can be forgiven for being scared in the night, I think, if they see things they don't understand." This is said by the troop-horse after the younger of the mules snaps his teeth at the gun-bullocks for saying that "there was nothing to be afraid of" and then laughing at him. To be angry after being afraid is wasted energy and showed the young mule's immaturity.
|The troop-horse tells a story of one of the times when he was injured in combat. He states that he had been slashed across the chest once when a man who was lying on the ground wasn't actually dead. The horse had stretched himself not to step on him. In light of this action what did the horse decide to do, from now on, in battle?|
"I shall step on him - hard.". The horse tells how he had instinctively stretched himself so as not to tread on what, he thought, was a dead or injured man. This was in the way of an explanation for the dependence of movement between horse and rider. In no way does the horse blame the rider for his injury and puts the incident down to a lesson learnt. Step on the body in case they are alive!
|"They say that when a mule trips you can split a hen's ear". What did Billy mean by this?|
A mule never trips. Hens do not have external ears so it would be impossible to split one. The older of the mules is explaining his role in the army and how he is counted upon to carry supplies to the front batteries. To him it is important not to be seen, unlike the troop-horse who wishes to charge the enemy. Mules are known for their sure-footedness unless their saddles are badly packed.
|The gun-bullocks refer to a particular animal disparagingly as "Two Tails". Who, or what, is "Two Tails"?
Elephants. The gun-bullocks have no respect for "Two Tails". According to them he trumpets "to show that he is not going any nearer to the smoke on the other side". Also the trumpet signals the yokes of bullocks to move the big guns, such as the 40 pounder siege gun in use with the British Army in India. The elephant, however, disclaims the label of cowardice stating that he can comprehend the effect of a shell bursting amidst carnage it will cause. He can see the blood and damage it would cause to his massive build and is wisely afraid. It is the elephant who is the most intelligent of the animals for he can "see" what can happen in battle and will go no further.
|The cavalry horse insulted the mule by referring to his parentage on his father's side. The mule, with great indignation, insulted the horse back. What did the mule call the horse that came close to starting a fight?|
"you big brown Brumby!". A "Brumby" is the name for a feral horse found running wild in Australia. It is believed that they are descended from many types of horse that were brought to the Antipodes but that had managed to escape from their owners. To the troop-horse, who considered itself to be from pedigree stock, the slight of the term "Brumby" would have been a grave insult.
|At the start of the story there is a four line verse mentioning Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee. But who originally created these two eponymous characters?|
John Byrom. The names appear in a verse at the start of the story and were originally from a satirical look at two quarrelling schools of music whose differences were negligible to behold.
They are more widely known for appearing in Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There" which was published in 1871. Lewis Carroll's real name was Charles Dodgson.
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