A legend is a fairy tale told to men when men were sane.
– G. K. Chesterton
When I was small, I owned a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, illustrated by the author. I recall an oddly tense relationship with that book, due in large part to the illustrations, especially the gigantic crab and the tremendous Animal that came out of the sea, which frightened me, and the elephant’s child, in his painful tug-o’-war with the crocodile, which made me feel very sorry for him. In fact, I recall all the images clearly. I remember nothing of the text except the chapter titles. (Dismayingly, the cover I recall corresponds to the 1902 edition published in London… I hope my book was a relatively recent reprint, and not a first edition, as it of course disappeared at some point.)
Recently, half a century later, I have read the book again, no longer frightened by the drawings, and enchanted by the odd exercise in which Kipling engaged, illustrating his own stories, but above all, providing extended captions in a style that has never been repeated or successfully imitated.
I confess I was intending to write something about the tone of Kipling’s writing, which is, as is usual with him, gruff and uncompromising, and in this case, where he re-invents creation and origin tales, told in a style more reminiscent of the way stories would have been told before they were meant exclusively for children. Then I stumbled on a review by none other than G. K. Chesterton, who managed to pre-empt my modest ambition’s every vaguely exploitable thought by eleven decades, and thought the better of sharing them. Here is his review:
“ELEVEN BOOKS OF THE MOMENT”.
Mr Kipling’s “Just-So Stories”.
Mr Rudyard Kipling is a most extraordinary and bewildering genius. Some of us have recently had reason to protest against certain phases of his later development, and we protested because they were pert and cockney and cruel, and full of that precocious old age which is the worst thing in this difficult cosmos, a thing which combines the brutality of youth with the disillusionment of antiquity, which is old age without its charity and youth without its hope. This rapidly aging, rapidly cheapening force of modernity is everywhere and in all things, a veritable spiritual evil: it looks out of the starved faces of a million gutter-boys, and its name is Ortheris. And just as we are in the afterglow of a certain indignation against this stale, bitter modernity which had begun to appear in Mr Kipling’s work, we come upon this superb thing, the Just-So Stories; a great chronicle of primal fables, which might have been told by Adam to Cain before murder (that artistic and decadent pastime) was known in the world.
For the character of the Just-So Stories is really unique. They are not fairy tales; they are legends. A fairy tale is a tale told in a morbid age to the only remaining sane person, a child. A legend is a fairy tale told to men when men were sane. We grant a child a fairy tale just as some savage king might grant a missionary permission to wear clothes, not understanding what we give, not knowing that it would be infinitely valuable if we kept it to ourselves, but simply because we are too kind to refuse. The true man will not buy fairy tales because he is kind; he will buy them because he is selfish. If Uncle John, who has just bought the Just-So Stories for his niece, were truly human (which, of course, Uncle John is not), it is doubtful whether the niece would ever see the book. One of the most lurid and awful marks of human degeneration that the mind can conceive is the fact that it is considered kind to play with children.
But the peculiar splendour, as I say, of these new Kipling stories is the fact that they do not read like fairy tales told to children by the modern fireside, so much as like fairy tales told to men in the morning of the world. They see animals, for instance, as primeval men saw them; not as types and numbers in an elaborate biological scheme of knowledge, but as walking portents, things marked by extravagant and peculiar features. An elephant is a monstrosity with his tail between his eyes; a rhinoceros is a monstrosity with his horn balanced on his nose; a camel, a zebra, a tortoise are fragments of a fantastic dream, to see which is not seeing a scientific species, but like seeing a man with three legs or a bird with three wings, or men as trees walking. The whole opens a very deep question, the question of the relations between the old wonder and the new wonder, between knowledge and science. The hump of a camel is very likely not so much his characteristic from a scientific point of view as the third bone in the joint of his hind leg, but to the eyes of the child and the poet it remains his feature. And it is more important in this sense that it is more direct and certain: there is a relation between the human soul and the hump of a camel, which there is not between the human soul and the bone in his hind leg. The hump still remains and the bone vanishes, if all these physical phenomena are nothing but a grotesque shadow-show, constructed by a paternal deity to amuse an universe of children.
This is the admirable achievement of Kipling, that he has written new legends. We hear in these days of continual worship of old legends, but not of the making of new; which would be the real worship of legends. Just in the same way we hear of the worship of old ceremonies, but never of the making of new ones. If men decided that Mr Gladstone’s hat was to be carried three times around the House of Commons, they would have offered the best tribute to the Eleusinian mysteries. That is the tribute which “How the Whale Got His Throat” offers to the story of Sigurd and Hercules.
G. K. Chesterton.
Of course, Just So Stories was widely reviewed and praised when it was first published. In the same issue of The Bookman, a regular feature, “The Book Mart”, included this mention dated New York, November 1st, 1902.
“Just-So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling, easily leads the juvenile publications of the month, and is even entitled to a place in the list of best selling books….”
Robert Thurston Hopkins, in Rudyard Kipling; a literary appreciation, published in 1915 by Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co. Ltd. London added:
“The countless little phrases Kipling uses in these fables show his point of view—his attitude to the world. They do not come to one in solid chunks of inconsequential description, but in innocent-looking little passages hidden in the practical wisdom of the animal. “The Cat that walked by Himself” in “Just So Stories” is a fine study.
“Cats are always interesting, because nobody has understood how much affection they are capable of feeling for their human possessors, but in this story the author has put forth a very faithful study. It is an old subject, but remarkably well treated, in spite of Kipling’s fun and twaddle, entertaining or not, according to the disposition of the reader.”…
“If you watch any cat closely, you will see that from time to time he will turn deliberately round and laugh at you. He is chuckling in remembrance of the joke of jokes in the cat world; you can almost read Kipling’s words on the lips:
‘Still I am the cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.’”
Nevertheless, if the Just So Stories are fables in disguise for adults-who-were-children-once, the illustrations and the captions are destined for children; the captions could almost have been written by a clever child. They sum up Kipling’s intense empathy for his material, a chameleon-like capacity to take on the language of his audience; there is always something of the gruff yet affable uncle in Kipling. He disguises his elegance in simple formulae, deftly inserting folk wisdom into a more ambitious format; in short, Kipling is never short of short words.
Just So Stories. Left: The cover that I so clearly recall. Centre: Title page. Right: Table of contents.
Additionally, “children’s literature” at the turn of the 20th century was a world divided between moralizing and saintly examples and sugarwater and lollipops; in this sense, as a writer for children, Kipling poses a milestone in literature that has yet to be properly appreciated. The first two volumes of Frazer’s Golden Bough had only been published a decade or so before, along with the work of the likes of Andrew Lang, Lewis Spence or Edward Hulme. The rehabilitation of folklore and the eradication of the inevitable comparison of primitive cultures to childhood in an adult (read Western European) world had only just begun. In this sense, Kipling’s novels are almost subversive in their artful artlessness. Kipling is chidingly reminding us that we had hitherto forgotten how to understand myth, legend and folklore, and lost the keys to the truths therein. It is almost as if he is saying we cannot expect to understand because we are no longer childrenand have drawn a line between intuition and intellect. Kipling’s captions, especially, are a tour de force on par with “The Green Book” from Arthur Machen’s eerie novel “The White People”.
More has probably been written on Kipling than he wrote himself, much of it, I suspect, out of frustration, as he is an impossible person to pin down or shoehorn into any convenient category. Variously labelled imperialist, apologist, colonialist in wallah’s clothing, jingoist and more, Kipling turned down a knighthood, Poet Laureate and the Order of Merit, but in 1907 accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature. He had an enchanted infancy in India, where he was born, followed by a miserable childhood straight out of Dickens in England from 1871 to 1887, where regular beatings punctuated extraordinary encounters, notably with artists such as William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, about whom he wrote “Once he descended in broad daylight with a tube of ‘Mummy Brown’ [paint] in his hand, saying that he had discovered it was made of dead Pharaohs and we must bury it accordingly. So we all went out and helped—according to the rites of Mizraim and Memphis, I hope—and—to this day I could drive a spade within a foot of where that tube lies.”
His family was unable to afford a prestigious university in England, so Kipling returned to India, and found himself the youthful assistant editor of the Civil and Military Gazette at Lahore. He wrote. He returned to England in 1890, determined to pursue a literary career. His stories, and his budding fame, had preceded him. He secretly wooed, then married Caroline Ballister in 1892, and the young family moved to the United States, returning to England in 1896, and again to the Americas several times, until his eldest daughter Josephine died of pneumonia contracted in a trans-Atlantic trip. (Tragedy pursued the Kiplings; their son Joseph was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.) They finally settled in England in 1902, in a seventeenth century house in East Sussex, where the Just So Stories took shape. Kipling, like Tolkien, entertained his own children and those of his friends by inventing the tales of such enigmas as ‘How the Camel Got His Hump’ and ‘How the Leopard Got his Spots’. One of those early listeners was Angela Thirkill, first cousin once removed of Kipling and close friend of his daughter Josephine. In her words: “The Just So Stories are a poor thing in print compared with the fun of hearing them told in Cousin Ruddy’s deep unhesitating voice. There was a ritual about them, each phrase having its special intonation which had to be exactly the same each time and without which the stories are dried husks. There was an inimitable cadence, an emphasis of certain words, an exaggeration of certain phrases, a kind of intoning here and there which made his telling unforgettable.” In 1902, the tales were published as Just So Stories by Doubleday, Page in New York and MacMillan and Company in London.
Rudyard Kipling and his father, around 1890
I’ve not been able to find any mention anywhere of the pictures themselves, or Kipling’s reason for drawing them himself, though his father, John Lockwood Kipling (6 July 1837 – 26 January 1911) was an illustrator himself, lending his talents to illustrated editions of several of his son’s books. Perhaps his audience of children spurred him on; they would certainly have relished original drawings. I wonder where the originals are today.
Any attempt to determine Kipling’s influences and visual sources seems a futile exercise at best, without the author’s own words on the subject. There may indeed be a hint of Beardsley in The Cat That walked Alone, but it is as easy to see the influences of William Strang, Herbert Cole or any number of their contemporaries who flourished at that time on both sides of the Atlantic. Kipling is decidedly as hard to pin down as an illustrator as he is a writer. The ark signature on some of the illustrations is a phonetic visualization of “RK”.
I realized that besides the pictures that I found frightening, I recall them all very clearly, as well as the edition itself. Just So Stories, along with a small dozen of other books, must have comprised my entire childhood library; the Poky Little Puppy by Gustav Tenggren, Kenneth Graeme’s The Wind in the Willows, The Adventures of Grandfather Frog by Thornton W. Burgess, along with a number of companion volumes, and a few inevitable volumes from Disney. (I still vividly remember an image of Ferdinand the Bull, reclining under a cork oak, its branches laden with corks like so many apples; I’ve never been able to decide whether the illustrator had a sense of humour or was singularly little-travelled.) There were likely a few more books, I’m sure they will reappear at some point.
Never underestimate your childhood books: long after they have been torn and tattered, unhinged and discarded, the images remain with you, patiently waiting until some clue brings them to vivid clarity once again.
Here are Kipling’s conspiratorial and avuncular captions, with the illustrations. For the stories themselves, I would honestly recommend buying an illustrated edition of the book; it should be every library.
HOW THE WHALE GOT HIS THROAT
THIS is the picture of the Whale swallowing the Mariner with his infinite-resource-and-sagacity, and the raft and the jack-knife and his suspenders, which you must not forget. The buttony-things are the Mariner’s suspenders, and you can see the knife close by them. He is sitting on the raft, but it has tilted up sideways, so you don’t see much of it. The whity thing by the Mariner’s left hand is a piece of wood that he was trying to row the raft with when the Whale came along. The piece of wood is called the jaws-of-a-gaff. The Mariner left it outside when he went in. The Whale’s name was Smiler, and the Mariner was called Mr. Henry Albert Bivvens, A.B. The little ‘Stute Fish is hiding under the Whale’s tummy, or else I would have drawn him. The reason that the sea looks so ooshy-skooshy is because the Whale is sucking it all into his mouth so as to suck in Mr. Henry Albert Bivvens and the raft and the jack-knife and the suspenders. You must never forget the suspenders.
HERE is the Whale looking for the little ‘Stute Fish, who is hiding under the Door-sills of the Equator. The little ‘Stute Fish’s name was Pingle. He is hiding among the roots of the big seaweed that grows in front of the Doors of the Equator. I have drawn the Doors of the Equator. They are shut. They are always kept shut, because a door aught always to be kept shut. The ropy-thing right across it is the Equator itself; and the things that look like rocks are the two giants Moar and Koar, that keep the Equator in order. They drew the shadow-pictures on the doors of the Equator, and they carved all those twisty fishes under the Doors. The beaky-fish are called beaked Dolphins, and the other fish with the queer heads are called Hammer-headed Sharks. The Whale never found the little ‘Stute Fish till he got over his temper, and then they became good friends again.
HOW THE CAMEL GOT HIS HUMP
THIS is the picture of the Djinn making the beginnings of the Magic that brought the Humph to the Camel. First he drew a line in the air with his finger, and it became solid: and then he made a cloud, and then he made an egg–you can see them both at the bottom of the picture– and then there was a magic pumpkin that turned into a big white flame. Then the Djinn took his magic fan and fanned that flame till the flame turned into a magic by itself. It was a good Magic and a very kind Magic really, though it had to give the Camel a Humph because the Camel was lazy. The Djinn in charge of All Deserts was one of the nicest of the Djinns, so he would never do anything really unkind.
HERE is the picture of the Djinn in charge of All Deserts guiding the Magic with his magic fan. The camel is eating a twig of acacia, and he has just finished saying “humph” once too often (the Djinn told him he would), and so the Humph is coming. The long towelly-thing growing out of the thing like an onion is the Magic, and you can see the Humph on its shoulder. The Humph fits on the flat part of the Camel’s back. The Camel is too busy looking at his own beautiful self in the pool of water to know what is going to happen to him.
Underneath the truly picture is a picture of the World-so-new-and-all. There are two smoky volcanoes in it, some other mountains and some stones and a lake and a black island and a twisty river and a lot of other things, as well as a Noah’s Ark. I couldn’t draw all the deserts that the Djinn was in charge of, so I only drew one, but it is a most deserty desert.
HOW THE RHINOCEROS GOT HIS SKIN
THIS is the picture of the Parsee beginning to eat his cake on the Uninhabited Island in the Red Sea on a very hot day; and of the Rhinoceros coming down from the Altogether Uninhabited Interior, which, as you can truthfully see, is all rocky. The Rhinoceros’s skin is quite smooth, and the three buttons that button it up are underneath, so you can’t see them. The squiggly things on the Parsee’s hat are the rays of the sun reflected in more-than-oriental splendour, because if I had drawn real rays they would have filled up all the picture. The cake has currants in it; and the wheel-thing lying on the sand in front belonged to one of Pharaoh’s chariots when he tried to cross the Red Sea. The Parsee found it, and kept it to play with. The Parsee’s name was Pestonjee Bomonjee, and the Rhinoceros was called Strorks, because he breathed through his mouth instead of his nose. I wouldn’t ask anything about the cooking-stove if I were you.
THIS is the Parsee Pestonjee Bomonjee sitting in his palm-tree and watching the Rhinoceros Strorks bathing near the beach of the Altogether Uninhabited Island after Strorks had taken off his skin. The Parsee has put the cake-crumbs into the skin, and he is smiling to think how they will tickle Strorks when Strorks puts it on again. The skin is just under the rocks below the palm-tree in a cool place; that is why you can’t see it. The Parsee is wearing a new more-than-oriental-splendour hat of the sort that Parsees wear; and he has a knife in his hand to cut his name on palm-trees. The black things on the islands out at sea are bits of ships that got wrecked going down the Red Sea; but all the passengers were saved and went home.
The black thing in the water close to the shore is not a wreck at all. It is Strorks the Rhinoceros bathing without his skin. He was just as black underneath his skin as he was outside. I wouldn’t ask anything about the cooking-stove if I were you.
HOW THE LEOPARD GOT HIS SPOTS
THIS is Wise Baviaan, the dog-headed Baboon, Who is Quite the Wisest Animal in All South Africa. I have drawn him from a statue that I made up out of my own head, and I have written his name on his belt and on his shoulder and on the thing he is sitting on. I have written it in what is not called Coptic and Hierogliphic and Cuneiformic and Bengalic and Burmic and Hebric, all because he is so wise. He is not beautiful, but he is very wise; and I should like to paint him with paint-box colours, but I am not allowed. The umbrella-ish thing about his head is his Conventional Mane.
THIS is the picture of the Leopard and the Ethiopian after they had taken Wise Baviaan’s advice and the Leopard had gone into other spots and the Ethiopian had changed his skin. The Ethiopian was really a negro, and so his name was Sambo. The Leopard was called Spots, and he has been called Spots ever since. They are out hunting in the spickly-speckly forest, and they are looking for Mr. One-Two-Three-Where’s-your-Breakfast. If you look a little you will see Mr. One-Two-Three not far away. The Ethiopian has hidden behind a splotchy blotchy tree because it matches his skin, and the Leopard is lying beside a spickly-speckly bank of stones because it matches his spots. Mr. One-Two-Three-Where’s-your-Breakfast is standing up eating leaves from a tall tree. This is really a puzzle-picture like ‘Find the Cat.’
THE ELEPHANT’S CHILD
THIS is the Elephant’s Child having his nose pulled by the Crocodile. He is much surprised and astonished and hurt, and he is talking through his nose and saying, ‘Led go! You are hurtig be!’ He is pulling very hard, and so is the Crocodile: but the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake is hurrying through the water to help the Elephant’s Child. All that black stuff is the banks of the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River (but I am not allowed to paint these pictures), and the bottly-tree with the twisty roots and the eight leaves is one of the fever-trees that grow there.
Underneath the truly picture are shadows of African animals walking into an African ark. There are two lions, two ostriches, two oxen, two camels, two sheep, and two other things that look like rats, but I think they are rock-rabbits. They don’t mean anything. I put them in because I thought they looked pretty. They would look very fine if I were allowed to paint them.
THIS is just a picture of the Elephant’s Child going to pull bananas off a banana-tree after he had got his fine new long trunk. I don’t think it is a very nice picture; but I couldn’t make it any better, because elephants and bananas are hard to draw. The streaky things behind the Elephant’s Child mean squoggy marshy country somewhere in Africa. The Elephant’s Child made most of his mud-cakes out of the mud that he found there. I think it would look better if you painted the banana-tree green and the Elephant’s Child red.
THE SING-SONG OF OLD MAN KANGAROO
THIS is a picture of Old Man Kangaroo when he was the Different Animal with four short legs. I have drawn him grey and woolly, and you can see that he is very proud because he has a wreath of flowers in his hair. He is dancing on an outcrop (that means a ledge of rock) in the middle of Australia at six o’clock before breakfast. You can see that it is six o’clock, because the sun is just getting up. The thing with the ears and the open mouth is Little God Nqa. Nqa is very much surprised, because he has never seen a Kangaroo dance like that before. Little God Nqa is just saying, ‘Go away,’ but the Kangaroo is so busy dancing that he has not heard him yet.
The Kangaroo hasn’t any real name except Boomer. He lost it because he was so proud.
THIS is the picture of Old Man Kangaroo at five in the afternoon, when he had got his beautiful hind legs just as Big God Nqong had promised. You can see that it is five o’clock, because Big God Nqong’s pet tame clock says so. That is Nqong, in his bath, sticking his feet out. Old Man Kangaroo is being rude to Yellow-Dog Dingo. Yellow-Dog Dingo has been trying to catch Kangaroo all across Australia. You can see the marks of Kangaroo’s big new feet running ever so far back over the bare hills. Yellow-Dog Dingo is drawn black, because I am not allowed to paint these pictures with real colours out of the paint-box; and besides, Yellow Dog Dingo got dreadfully black and dusty after running through the Flinders and the Cinders.
I don’t know the names of the flowers growing round Nqong’s bath. The two little squatty things out in the desert are the other two gods that Old Man Kangaroo spoke to early in the morning. That thing with the letters on it is Old Man Kangaroo’s pouch. He had to have a pouch just as he had to have legs.
THE BEGINNING OF THE ARMADILLOS
THIS is an inciting map of the Turbid Amazon. It hasn’t anything to do with the story except that there are two Armadillos in it up by the top. The inciting part are the adventures that happened to the men who went along the road marked by the double line. I meant to draw Armadillos when I began the map, and I meant to draw manatees and spider-tailed monkeys and big snakes and lots of Jaguars, but it was more inciting to do the map and the venturesome adventures. You begin at the bottom lefthand corner and follow the little arrows all about, and then you come quite round again to where the adventuresome people went home in a ship called the Royal Tiger. This is a most adventuresome picture, and all the adventures are told about in writing, so you can be quite sure which is an adventure and which is a tree or a boat.
THIS is a picture of the whole story of the Jaguar and the Hedgehog and the Tortoise and the Armadillo all in a heap. It looks rather the same any way you turn it. The Tortoise is in the middle, learning how to bend, and that is why the shelly plates on his back are so spread apart. He is standing on the Hedgehog, who is waiting to learn how to swim. The Hedgehog is a Japanesy Hedgehog, because I couldn’t find our own Hedgehogs in the garden when I wanted to draw them. (It was daytime, and they had gone to bed under the dahlias.) Speckly Jaguar is looking over the edge, with his paddy-paw carefully tied up by his mother, because he pricked himself scooping the Hedgehog. He is much surprised to see what the Tortoise is doing, and his paw is hurting him. The snouty thing with the little eye that Speckly Jaguar is trying to climb over is the Armadillo that the Tortoise and the Hedgehog are going to turn into when they have finished bending and swimming. It is all a magic picture, and that is one of the reasons why I haven’t drawn the Jaguar’s whiskers. The other reason was that he was so young that his whiskers had not grown. The Jaguar’s pet name with his Mummy was Doffles.
HOW THE FIRST LETTER WAS WRITTEN
THIS is the story of Taffimai Metallumai carved on an old tusk a very long time ago by the Ancient Peoples. If you read my story, or have it read to you, you can see how it is all told out on the tusk. The tusk was part of an old tribal trumpet that belonged to the Tribe of Tegumai. The pictures were scratched on it with a nail or something, and then the scratches were filled up with black wax, but all the dividing lines and the five little rounds at the bottom were filled with red wax. When it was new there was a sort of network of beads and shells and precious stones at one end of it; but now that has been broken and lost–all except the little bit that you see. The letters round the tusk are magic–Runic magic,–and if you can read them you will find out something rather new. The tusk is of ivory–very yellow and scratched. It is two feet long and two feet round, and weighs eleven pounds nine ounces.
ONE of the first things that Tegumai Bopsulai did after Taffy and he had made the Alphabet was to make a magic Alphabet-necklace of all the letters, so that it could be put in the Temple of Tegumai and kept for ever and ever. All the Tribe of Tegumai brought their most precious beads and beautiful things, and Taffy and Tegumai spent five whole years getting the necklace in order. This is a picture of the magic Alphabet-necklace. The string was made of the finest and strongest reindeer-sinew, bound round with thin copper wire.
Beginning at the top, the first bead is an old silver one that belonged to the Head Priest of the Tribe of Tegumai; then came three black mussel-pearls; next is a clay bead (blue and gray); next a nubbly gold bead sent as a present by a tribe who got it from Africa (but it must have been Indian really); the next is a long flat-sided glass bead from Africa (the Tribe of Tegumai took it in a fight); then come two clay beads (white and green), with dots on one, and dots and bands on the other; next are three rather chipped amber beads; then three clay beads (red and white), two with dots, and the big one in the middle with a toothed pattern. Then the letters begin, and between each letter is a little whitish clay bead with the letter repeated small. Here are the letters–
A is scratched an a tooth–an elk-tusk I think.
B is the Sacred Beaver of Tegumai on a bit of old glory.
C is a pearly oyster-shell–inside front.
D must be a sort of mussel shell–outside front.
E is a twist of silver wire.
F is broken, but what remains of it is a bit of stag’s horn.
G is painted black on a piece of wood. (The bead after G is a small shell, and not a clay bead. I don’t know why they did that.)
H is a kind of a big brown cowie-shell.
I is the inside part of a long shell ground down by hand. (It took Tegumai three months to grind it down.)
J is a fish hook in mother-of-pearl.
L is the broken spear in silver. (K aught to follow J of course, but the necklace was broken once and they mended it wrong.)
K is a thin slice of bone scratched and rubbed in black.
M is on a pale gray shell.
N is a piece of what is called porphyry with a nose scratched on it. (Tegumai spent five months polishing this stone.)
O is a piece of oyster-shell with a hole in the middle.
P and Q are missing. They were lost, a long time ago, in a great war, and the tribe mended the necklace with the dried rattles of a rattlesnake, but no one ever found P and Q. That is how the saying began, ‘You must mind your P’s. and Q’s.’
R is, of course, just a shark’s tooth.
S is a little silver snake.
T is the end of a small bone, polished brown and shiny.
U is another piece of oyster-shell.
W is a twisty piece of mother-of-pearl that they found inside a big mother-of-pearl shell, and sawed off with a wire dipped in sand and water. It took Taffy a month and a half to polish it and drill the holes.
X is silver wire joined in the middle with a raw garnet. (Taffy found the garnet.)
Y is the carp’s tail in ivory.
Z is a bell-shaped piece of agate marked with Z-shaped stripes. They made the Z-snake out of one of the stripes by picking out the soft stone and rubbing in red sand and bee’s-wax. Just in the mouth of the bell you see the clay bead repeating the Z-letter.
These are all the letters.
The next bead is a small round greeny lump of copper ore; the next is a lump of rough turquoise; the next is a rough gold nuggct (what they call water-gold); the next is a melon-shaped clay bead (white with green spots). Then come four flat ivory pieces, with dots on them rather like dominoes; then come three stone beads, very badly worn; then two soft iron beads with rust-holes at the edges (they must have been magic, because they look very common); and last is a very very old African bead, like glass–blue, red, white, black, and yellow. Then comes the loop to slip over the big silver button at the other end, and that is all.
I have copied the necklace very carefully. It weighs one pound seven and a half ounces. The black squiggle behind is only put in to make the beads and things look better.
THE CRAB THAT PLAYED WITH THE SEA
THIS is a picture of Pau Amma the Crab running away while the Eldest Magician was talking to the Man and his Little Girl Daughter. The Eldest Magician is sitting on his magic throne, wrapped up in his Magic Cloud. The three flowers in front of him are the three Magic Flowers. On the top of the hill you can see All-the-Elephant-there-was, and All-the-Cow-there-was, and All-the-Turtle-there-was going off to play as the Eldest Magician told them. The Cow has a hump, because she was All-the-Cow-there-was; so she had to have all there was for all the cows that were made afterwards. Under the hill there are Animals who have been taught the game they were to play. You can see All-the-Tiger-there-was smiling at All-the-Bones-there-were. and you can see All-the-Elk-there-was, and All-the-Parrot-there-was, and All-the-Bunnies-there-were on the hill. The other Animals are on the other side of the hill, so I haven’t drawn them. The little house up the hill is All-the-House-there-was. The Eldest Magician made it to show the Man how to make houses when he wanted to. The Snake round that spiky hill is All-the-Snake-there-was, and he is talking to All-the-Monkey-there-was, and the Monkey is being rude to the Snake, and the Snake is being rude to the Monkey. The Man is very busy talking to the Eldest Magician. The Little Girl Daughter is looking at Pau Amma as he runs away. That humpy thing in the water in front is Pan Amma. He wasn’t a common Crab in those days. He was a King Crab. That is why he looks different. The thing that looks like bricks that the Man is standing in, is the Big Miz-Maze. When the Man has done talking with the Eldest Magician he will walk in the Big Miz-Maze, because he has to. The mark on the stone under the Man’s foot is a magic mark: and down underneath I have drawn the three Magic Flowers all mixed up with the Magic Cloud. All this picture is Big Medicine and Strong Magic.
THIS is the picture of Pau Amma the Crab rising out of the sea as tall as the smoke of three volcanoes. I haven’t drawn the three volcanoes, because Pau Amma was so big. Pau Amma is trying to make a Magic, but he is only a silly old King Crab, and so he can’t do anything. You can see he is all legs and claws and empty hollow shell. The canoe is the canoe that the Man and the Girl Daughter and the Eldest Magician sailed from the Perak river in. The sea is all black and bobbly, because Pan Amma has just risen up out of Pusat Tasek. Pusat Tasek is underneath, so I haven’t drawn it. The Man is waving his curvy kris-knife at Pau Amma. The Little Girl Daughter is sitting quietly in the middle of the canoe. She knows she is quite safe with her Daddy. The Eldest Magician is standing up at the other end of the canoe beginning to make a Magic. He has left his magic throne on the beach, and he has taken off his clothes so as not to get wet, and he has left the Magic Cloud behind too, so as not to tip the boat over. The thing that looks like another little canoe outside the real canoe is called an outrigger. It is a piece of wood tied to sticks, and it prevents the canoe from being tipped over. The canoe is made out of one piece of wood, and there is a paddle at one end of it.
THE CAT THAT WALKED BY HIMSELF
THIS is the picture of the Cave where the Man and the Woman lived first of all. It was really a very nice Cave, and much warmer than it ]ooks. The Man had a canoe. It is on the edge of the river, being soaked in the water to make it swell up. The tattery-looking thing across the river is the Man’s salmon-net to catch salmon with. There are nice clean stones leading up from the river to the mouth of the Cave, so that the Man and the Woman could go down for water without getting sand between their toes. The things like black-beetles far down the beach are really trunks of dead trees that floated down the river from the Wet Wild Woods on the other bank. The Man and the Woman used to drag them out and dry them and cut them up for firewood. I haven’t drawn the horse-hide curtain at the mouth of the Cave, because the Woman has just taken it down to be cleaned. All those little smudges on the sand between the Cave and the river are the marks of the Woman’s feet and the Man’s feet.
The Man and the Woman are both inside the Cave eating their dinner. They went to another cosier Cave when the Baby came, because the Baby used to crawl down to the river and fall in, and the Dog had to pull him out.
THIS is the picture of the Cat that Walked by Himself, walking by his wild lone through the Wet Wild Woods and waving his wild tail. There is nothing else in the picture except some toadstools. They had to grow there because the woods were so wet. The lumpy thing on the low branch isn’t a bird. It is moss that grew there because the Wild Woods were so wet.
Underneath the truly picture is a picture of the cozy Cave that the Man and the Woman went to after the Baby came. It was their summer Cave, and they planted wheat in front of it. The Man is riding on the Horse to find the Cow and bring her back to the Cave to be milked. He is holding up his hand to call the Dog, who has swum across to the other side of the river, looking for rabbits.
THE BUTTERFLY THAT STAMPED
THIS is the picture of the Animal that came out of the sea and ate up all the food that Suleiman-bin-Daoud had made ready for all the animals, in all the world. He was really quite a nice Animal, and his Mummy was very fond of him and of his twenty-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine other brothers that lived at the bottom of the sea. You know that he was the smallest of them all, and so his name was Small Porgies. He ate up all those boxes and packets and bales and things that had been got ready for all the animals, without ever once taking off the lids or untying the strings, and it did not hurt him at all. The sticky-up masts behind the boxes of food belong to Suleiman-bin-Daoud’s ships. They were busy bringing more food when Small Porgies came ashore. He did not eat the ships. They stopped unloading the foods and instantly sailed away to sea till Small Porgies had quite finished eating. You can see some of the ships beginning to sail away by Small Porgies’ shoulder. I have not drawn Suleiman-bin-Daoud, but he is just outside the picture, very much astonished. The bundle hanging from the mast of the ship in the corner is really a package of wet dates for parrots to eat. I don’t know the names of the ships. That is all there is in that picture.
THIS is the picture of the four gull-winged Djinns lifting up Suleiman-bin-Daoud’s Palace the very minute after the Butterfly had stamped. The Palace and the gardens and everything came up in one piece like a board, and they left a big hole in the ground all full of dust and smoke. If you look in the corner, close to the thing that looks like a lion, you will see Suleiman-bin-Daoud with his magic stick and the two Butterflies behind him. The thing that looks like a lion is really a lion carved in stone, and the thing that looks like a milt-can is really a piece of a temple or a house or something. Suleiman-bin-Daoud stood there so as to be out of the way of the dust and the smote when the Djinns lifted up the Palace. I don’t know the Djinns’ names. They were servants of Suleiman-bin-Daoud’s magic ring, and they changed about every day. They were just common gull-winged Djinns.
The thing at the bottom is a picture of a very friendly Djinn called Akraig. He used to feed the little fishes in the sea three times a day, and his wings were made of pure copper. I put him in to show you what a nice Djinn is like. He did not help to lift the Palace. He was busy feeding little fishes in the Arabian Sea when it happened.
 From a review of the “Just So Stories” by English writer and critic G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) from the American periodical “The Bookman, An Illustrated Magazine of Literature and Life”, December 1902.
 About which, more another time.
 The two Jungle Books were written in the United States.
 For a concise biography and an exhaustive bibliography of Kipling, see: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/rudyard-kipling
 Angela was also a privileged first listener to many of the fairy tales of Mary de Morgan, along with a certain… Rudyard Kipling. De Morgan’s three volumes of fairy tales On a Pincushion (1877); The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde (1880); and The Windfairies (1900) were more recentlt republished together in the collection The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde – The Complete Fairy Stories of Mary de Morgan by Victor Gollancz Ltd in 1963. Mary de Morgan’s brother was the famous Pre-Raphaelite ceramist and tile designer William de Morgan. William’s wife was the remarkable Evelyn de Morgan, one of England’s greatest turn-of-the-century painters. What a world in which to listen to children’s stories!
 From “Rudyard Kipling: A Life” by Harry Ricketts, Carroll & Graff Publishers, New York, 1999
 A newsletter on the remarkable life of Tenggren is in the works.
SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY
So what’s talent? Here are a couple of pages from an attempt to define it a century ago from “Talent in drawing; an experimental study of the use of tests to discover special ability” by T. Manuel Herschel, head of the Department of Education, Colorado State Normal School. Bloomington, Ill., Public school publishing Company, 1919 – pages 132 & 133.
(The same text was also published as a thesis (Ph. D.) at the University of Illinois, 1917, under the title: A study of talent in drawing.)
Whatever it may be worth as a study, (it is admittedly, as well, designed to identify and supply talent to all the trades that have since been replaced first by photography and subsequently by the digital revolution) you’d be hard-pressed today to actually find any real interest in discerning and promoting drawing talent in today’s public education system. Drawing at school age is not a skill that can be easily quantified, and to actually evaluate and promote it seems far removed from today’s focus on making sure kids can get jobs when they get graduate. Ignoring the fact that talent in all domains is to be encouraged at all levels, independently of the practical application, is an unfortunate error. Just a thought.