The Queen’s Square

The page numbers are from “Lord Peter” published by Harper & Row. The excerpts are copyrighted 1972 by Harper & Row.

329 ~ “You Jack o’ Di’monds, you Jack o’ Di’monds . . . I know you of old . . . You rob my pocket, yes, you rob-a my pocket, you rob my pocket of silver and go-ho-hold”
“Jack of Diamonds”:A 19th century American folk song, with the melody based on the Scottish song “Farewell to Tarwathie.”

“Jack of Diamonds”

This common gambling lyric, in an uncommon form, as learned from an old record by Jules Verne Allen.

Jack of Diamonds, Jack of Diamonds, I know you of old
You’ve robbed my poor pockets of silver and gold.

It’s whiskey you villain, you’ve been my down-fall
You’ve kicked me, you’ve cuffed me but I love you for all.

Oh baby oh baby I’ve told you before
You make me a pallet I’ll lay on the floor.

Your parents don’t like me they say I’m too poor,
They say I’m not worthy to enter your door.

They say I drink whiskey but my money’s my own,
And if they don’t like me they can leave me alone.

It’s beefsteak when I’m hungry rye whiskey when I’m dry
Greenbacks when I’m hard-up and heaven when I die.

Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey I cry,
If I can’t get rye whiskey I surely will die.

Oh baby oh baby I’ve told you before
To make me a pallet, I’ll lay on the floor.

I’ll build me a castle on yonder mountain high
Where my true love can see me as she goes riding by.

Where my true love can see me and help me to mourn
For I’m just a young cowboy and a long way from home.

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck
I would dive to the bottom to get one sweet sup.

But the ocean ain’t whiskey and I ain’t no duck,
So I’ll play Jack of Diamonds and try to change my luck.

Oh baby oh baby I’ve told you before
To make me a pallet I’ll lay on the floor.

I’ve rambled I’ve gambled all my money away
So it’s on the old cow-trail now Molly I must stay.

It’s on the old cow-trail now Molly I must roam
For I’m just a young cowboy and a long way from home.

Jack of diamonds, Jack of diamonds, I know you of old,
You’ve robbed my poor pockets of silver and gold.

Rye whiskey, rye whiskey, rye whiskey I cry
If I don’t get rye whiskey I know I must die.

Oh baby oh baby I’ve told you before,
To make me a shake down I’ll lay on the floor.

“Five-seventeen-six”
In today’s currency, 5 pounds, 17 shillings and 6 pence would be worth a little more than 2 pounds.


330 ~ It cuts out all those wearisome pierrots and columbines
Pierrots and columbines are stock characters from pantomime and the Italian Commedia dell’Arte, and common figures at 1920s English costume parties. In “Murder Must Advertise,” Wimsey eschewed these characters in favor of Harlequin.

333 ~ looking like Casabianca
Casabianca: A character in the Felicia Hemans’ poem, based on an incident during the Battle of the Nile, about the boy who “stood upon the burning deck,” awaiting the order to abandon ship from his father, the ship captain. In the poem, first published in 1826, the boy did not know that his father was dead, yet stayed true to his post and perished, leading to great debate among students: either Casabianca exhibited great bravery, courage and faithfulness to duty, or was a right prat for letting himself get burnt up.

“Casabianca”

The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck
Shone round him o’er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though child-like form.

The flames rolled on–he would not go
Without his Father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

He called aloud–’say, Father, say
If yet my task is done?’
He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.

‘Speak, father!’ once again he cried,
‘If I may yet be gone!’
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath,
And in his waving hair,
And looked from that lone post of death
In still yet brave despair.

And shouted but once more aloud,
‘My father! must I stay?’
While o’er him fast, through sail and shroud,
The wreathing fires made way.

They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,
They caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child,
Like banners in the sky.

There came a burst of thunder sound–
The boy–oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea!–

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
That well had borne their part–
But the noblest thing which perished there
Was that young faithful heart.

The waits will begin at two o’clock . . . Sir Roger and the waits — quite medieval . . . and a Yule log in the hall
the waits: A tradition, especially popular at Christmas, for musicians to band together and sing outside peoples’ doors in hopes of a warming drink or a tip. Abuse of this practice, from the sometimes late hour or terrible din of half-drunk or competent musicians, led some towns to ban the waits.
Sir Roger: A dance — full name Sir Roger de Coverly — that’s similiar to the Virginia reel, in which men and women face off in two lines and individuals pair off to dance in the center. As you can imagine, this is a dreadfully simple explanation.
Yule log: A Christmas tradition in which a green log is lit and made burning throughout the season. When the log is burnt, shards from it are saved to light next year’s log. Possibly derived from pagan traditions, the Yule log has been updated; now, in some cities, you can watch the Yule log burning on television, or you can buy a DVD for your own traditional Christmas celebrations.

334 ~ “White King and Queen, Badminton and Diabolo”
Diabolo: A toy similar to a yo-yo in which a modified cylinder is balanced on a cord with a stick at each end. It’s trickier to learn than a yo-yo, and offers a wider array of tricks.

“My love,” sighed Wimsey, “was clad in the black velvet, and I myself in cramoisie”
A line from the ballad “Jaime Douglas.” This version is from the “Home Book of Verse” by Burton Egbert Stevenson.

“Forsaken”

O waly waly up the bank,
And waly waly down the brae,
And waly waly yon burn-side
Where I and my Love wont to gae!
I leaned my back unto an aik,
I thought it was a trusty tree;
But first it bowed, and syne it brak,
Sae my true Love did lichtly me.

O waly waly, but love be bonny
A little while when it is new;
But when ’tis auld, it waxeth cauld
And fades awa’ like morning dew.
O wherefore should I busk my head?
Or wherefore should I kame my hair?
For my true Love has me forsook,
And says he’ll never loe me mair.

Now Arthur-seat sall be my bed;
The sheets shall ne’er be pressed by me:
Saint Anton’s well sall be my drink,
Since my true Love has forsaken me.
Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blaw
And shake the green leaves aff the tree?
O gentle Death, when wilt thou come?
For of my life I am wearie.

‘Tis not the frost, that freezes fell,
Nor blawing snaw’s inclemencie;
‘Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry,
But my Love’s heart grown cauld to me.
When we cam in by Glasgow town
We were a comely sight to see;
My Love was clad in black velvet.
And I mysel in cramasie.

But had I wist, before I kissed,
That love had been sae ill to win;
I had locked my heart in a case of gowd
And pinned it with a siller pin.
And, O! if my young babe were born,
And sat upon the nurse’s knee,
And I mysel were dead and gane,
And the green grass growing over me!

335 ~ “Bezique,” said Wimsey; “double Bezique”
Wimsey is riffing off the card suits that meet during the dance. Bezique is a trick-taking game similar to piquet and pinochle. Winning the queen of spades and the jack of diamonds means you’ve taken a Bezique for 40 points. Capturing two of each earns you double Bezique and 500 ponts.

340 ~ Bring me flesh and bring me wine
A line from the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas.”

343 ~ tipping it into the hypo
A tray containing either sodium hyposulfite or sodium thiosulfate. Dipping a photo print into this liquid causes the image to be fixed to the paper.

obviate halation
This phrase means that Bunter wants to prevent a blurring or spreading of light around the bright areas of a print. Halation is caused by light passing through the emulsion being reflected into the print from the back of the plate.

(c) 1995-2016 by Bill Peschel