Destiny’s Drum Glossary
Stories from the Golden Age reflect the words and expressions used in the 1930s and 1940s, adding unique flavor and authenticity to the tales. While a character’s speech may often reflect regional origins, it also can convey attitudes common in the day. So that readers can better grasp such cultural and historical terms, uncommon words or expressions of the era, the following glossary has been provided.
Anglo-Egyptian: Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was the name of Sudan between 1899 and 1956, when it was jointly ruled by the United Kingdom and Egypt (which was then under British influence).
Banda Sea: the sea of the south Moluccas (a group of about one hundred and fifty islands) in Indonesia, technically part of the Pacific Ocean but separated from it by the islands.
bandolier: a broad belt worn over the shoulder by soldiers and having a number of small loops or pockets for holding cartridges.
beard: boldly confront or challenge (someone formidable).
blackbirded: engaged in the slave trade, especially in the Pacific.
bob: shilling; a coin used in the United Kingdom worth one-twentieth of a pound.
bolo: a kind of machete, used particularly in the jungles.
carpet, pulling you on the: variation of “to call on the carpet”; censure severely or angrily.
casque: a piece of defensive or ornamental armor for the head and neck.
chain gang: a group of prisoners chained together to perform menial or physically challenging labor.
Cosmoline: a substance obtained from the residues of the distillation of petroleum, essentially the same as Vaseline, but of heavy grade. Used as a protective coating for firearms, metals, etc.
datto: Malay tribal chieftain.
Dinka: cattle-herding people of the Nile basin in southern Sudan. The men are warriors and guardians of the camp against predators: lions, hyenas and other enemy raiders.
drill: a strong, twilled cotton fabric.
EEA: Equatorial East Africa; the region of eastern Africa near the equator, primarily including Kenya and northern Tanzania.
G-men: government men; agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
governador: (Portuguese) governor.
Gulliver in Lilliput: refers to a satire, Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift in 1726. Lemuel Gulliver, an Englishman, travels to exotic lands, including Lilliput (where the people are six inches tall), Brobdingnag (where the people are seventy feet tall), and the land of the Houyhnhnms (where horses are the intelligent beings, and humans, called Yahoos, are mute brutes of labor).
hepped: greatly interested.
Java Sea: a shallow sea, formed as sea levels rose at the end of the last ice age, that lies between the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Java.
Lee-Enfield: a standard bolt-action magazine-fed repeating rifle; the British Army’s standard rifle for over sixty years from 1895 until 1956, although it remained in British service well into the early 1960s and is still found in service in the armed forces of some Commonwealth nations.
light out: to leave quickly; depart hurriedly.
line, the: the equator.
Luger: a German semiautomatic pistol introduced before World War I and named after German firearms expert George Luger (1849–1923).
Malay States: the nine states of Peninsular Malaysia (now Malaysia) that have hereditary rulers. In practice, these rulers are figureheads and follow the principles of constitutional monarchy. The nine rulers of the Malay states elect the king of Malaysia from among their number.
Mannlicher: a type of rifle equipped with a manually operated sliding bolt for loading cartridges for firing, as opposed to the more common rotating bolt of other rifles. Mannlicher rifles were considered reasonably strong and accurate.
Mombasa: the second largest city in Kenya, lying on the Indian Ocean. In 1894 the British government declared a protectorate over Kenya, calling it the East African Protectorate. In 1901 the first railway line was completed from Mombasa to Kisumu, a city in the southwestern part of Kenya.
Nairobi: the capital and largest city of Kenya in the south central part of the country. Founded in 1899, it became the seat of government for British East Africa in 1905 and capital of independent Kenya in 1963.
pannikin: a small metal drinking cup.
pipe-clayed: clean and smart; pipe clay is a fine white clay used in whitening leather. It was at one time largely used by soldiers for making their gloves, accouterments and clothes look clean and smart.
pith helmet: a lightweight hat made from dried pith, the soft spongelike tissue in the stems of most flowering plants. Pith helmets are worn in tropical countries for protection from the sun.
Polynesian: a native or inhabitant of Polynesia, a large grouping of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean.
por Dios: (Spanish) for God’s sake.
Princess Pat manual: a rifle drill associated with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry regiment (named after a member of the British Royal Family, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria). A manual is a prescribed series of movements made with a rifle or other military item, as during a drill or as part of a ceremony.
pull a boner: make a blunder.
punk wood: wood that is decayed.
ragtag and bobtail: the lowest social class; the rabble.
Route Army, Nineteenth: a type of military organization, in the Chinese Republic, that consisted of two or more corps, or a large number of divisions or independent brigades. The Nineteenth Route Army defended Shanghai during a short war (January 18, 1932 to March 3, 1932) between the armies of the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan.
RS: Reuters Service, the world news and information organization; in October 1851, Paul Julius Reuter (1816–1899), a German-born immigrant, opened an office in the city of London that transmitted stock market quotations between London and Paris. Reuters, as the agency soon became known, eventually extended its service to the whole British press as well as to other European countries. It also expanded the content to include general and economic news from all around the world.
run-over: of boots, where the heel is so unevenly worn on the outside that the back of the boot starts to lean to one side and does not sit straight above the heel.
Scheherazade: the female narrator of The Arabian Nights, who during one thousand and one adventurous nights saved her life by entertaining her husband, the king, with stories.
schooner: a fast sailing ship with at least two masts and with sails set lengthwise.
senhor: (Portuguese) a title of courtesy equivalent to Mr. or sir.
senhorita: (Portuguese) a title of address equivalent to miss; used alone or with the name of a girl or unmarried woman.
Sennar: a state in Sudan; a town on the Blue Nile and the capital of the state of Sennar.
Shanghai: city of eastern China at the mouth of the Yangtze River, and the largest city in the country. Shanghai was opened to foreign trade by treaty in 1842 and quickly prospered. France, Great Britain and the United States all held large concessions (rights to use land granted by a government) in the city until the early twentieth century.
singlet: a sleeveless undershirt.
Solomons: Solomon Islands; a group of islands northeast of Australia. They form a double chain of six large islands, about twenty medium-sized ones and numerous smaller islets and reefs.
Soroti: the main commercial and administrative center of the Soroti District in eastern Uganda, a country in East Africa bordered on the east by Kenya and the north by Sudan.
stringers: narrow veins or irregular threads of minerals.
Sudan Railway: railway system in Sudan, linking most of the major towns and cities. Sudan is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Ethiopia to the east and Kenya and Uganda to the southwest. The first line was built in the 1870s and was a commercial undertaking. It was extended in the mid-1880s and again in the mid-1890s to support the Anglo-Egyptian military campaigns.
Taku: site of forts built in the 1500s to defend Tientsin against foreign invasion. The forts are located by the Hai River, 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Tientsin.
Tanganyika: a former country of east-central Africa. A British territory after 1920, it became independent in 1961 and joined with Zanzibar to form Tanzania in 1964.
Timor: an island at the south end of a cluster of islands located between mainland southeastern Asia and Australia. The island has been politically divided in two parts for centuries: West Timor, which was known as Dutch Timor from the 1800s until 1949 when it became Indonesian Timor; and East Timor, which was known as Portuguese Timor from 1596 until 1975.
Timor Laut: a group of about thirty islands in the Maluku (Spice Islands) province of Indonesia.
trail, at: trail arms; to hold a rifle in the right hand at an oblique angle, with the muzzle forward and the butt a few inches off the ground.
transit: a surveying instrument surmounted by a telescope that can be rotated completely around its horizontal axis, used for measuring vertical and horizontal angles.
Tsavo: a region of Kenya located at the crossing of the Uganda Railway over the Tsavo River. It is the largest national park in Kenya and one of the largest in the world. Because of its size the park was split into two, Tsavo West and Tsavo East, for easy administration. Tsavo achieved fame in The Man-eaters of Tsavo, a book about lions who attacked workers building the railroad bridge.
Uganda Railway: a historical railway system linking the interiors of Uganda and Kenya to the Indian Ocean at Mombasa in Kenya. The line started at the port city of Mombasa in 1896 and reached Kisuma in 1901 on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria. Despite being called “the Lunatic Line” by its detractors, the railway was a huge logistical achievement and became strategically and economically vital for both Uganda and Kenya.
weather eye: alertness and watchfulness, especially an alertness to change.
wire gold: gold ore that looks like its description: fine, short pieces of wire, or a tangled wirelike mass. It is found mostly in pockets or veins.
witch doctor: a person who is believed to heal through magical powers.
Yank: Yankee; term used to refer to Americans in general.