Tuesday, March 08, 2005


The Magician's Nephew

Chapter 1
  • Coiner. An alchemist, one able to turn lead to gold: to mint one's own coin. In this context, a magician of sorts.
  • Ginger Beer. A non-alcoholic carbonated refreshment made from lime and ginger root. The carbonation is derived from yeast. Similar to Root Beer.
  • Dark Lantern. A lantern with a single closable opening, rather than open all around. Figures prominently in Poe's "Tell-tale Heart."
  • The Drains. The plumbing in London's early row houses were notoriously clogged, and the resulting seepage was credited with the spread of typhus. The explanation Polly's father offers about the vacant home, then, is that it was closed for health reasons.
Chapter 2
  • Adept. A psychic operator, similar to a medium; but where a medium passively channels spirits, an adept actively controls them.
  • White Feather. A sign of cowardice. During WW I in Britain, white feathers were given to young men who had not joined the army. It was intended as an insulting gesture.
Chapter 6
  • Pax. Latin for "peace." Children today might say "truce" or "time out."
  • Hansom. A particular type of horse-drawn cab in which the driver sat high up behind the cab. These are still in use today as a novelty.
Chapter 7
  • Sal Volatile. Smelling salts. Used to revive the fainted.
  • Bow-window. A curving window case set out from the wall, allowing a view down each direction of the exterior wall. Also "Bay Window."
  • Butcher's Boy. A young man or boy employed to assist in a butcher's shop with various tasks, including the task of deliveries.
  • Mutton. Not merely sheep's meat, but the meat of a fully grown and usually tough sheep. A poor meat for poor folks, known for its particularly strong, greasy smell.
  • Old Cove. A fairly common British euphemism for an elderly person, much like "old bat." Usually intended as an insult.
  • Brick. A helpful, reliable person. Solid, dependable.
  • Charger. A swift horse trained for use in the cavalry.
Chapter 9
  • Pawn. To exchange personal proper for money as a secured loan. A pawn shop sells unclaimed pawned goods. Glenn Miller famously pawned his trombone several times before making good.
  • Yeomanry. Historically, the yeomanry were neither serfs nor nobles, but free craftsmen, cotters, soldiers, etc. In Medieval times, they represented a large middle class already accustomed to self discipline in small businesses and trades. The class included blacksmiths, archers, shoemakers, chandlers, etc. Later, "the Yeomanry" became the title of a particular branch of the British military.
Chapter 12
  • Fledge. To grow a covering of feathers, which is what Strawberry, in a way, does.
  • Rum Go. Strange luck. In British vernacular, "rum" generally means "odd" or "bad."
Chapter 13
  • Saffron. A spice of yellow-orange color, harvested from crocus blossoms. The spice is also used as a dye.


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