I'm listening to "Lucifer's Hammer" and more than once book mentions hand signals based on Kipling's books.

Something along the line of this: one person is manning a barricade, another man in a hide-out with a scoped rifle. And man on barricade meets people and depending on obscure hand signals rifle-man knows what is happening down there. In one case both hands were up - a signal to shoot the incoming party.

So the question is - what are the signals? Anywhere I can read about them? And what is the book by Kipling that explains these?

(I'm new here, not sure about the appropriate tags yet. Please add as you see fit)


While googling this, I stumbled on what seems to be a copy of Lucifer's Hammer, and the part immediately around one hand signal seems to be this:

"Okay.” Al raised his hands. And the shot went through the city councilman’s head, neat and clean, because of course the signal was Al raising his right hand. Pity the councilman had never read his Kipling:

Twas only by favour of mine, quoth he, ye rode so long alive,
There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree,
But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.
If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,
The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row.
If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,
The Kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly…

This bit of poetry is from "The Ballad of the East and West". Other mentions of Kipling on that copy seems to be of the dog, who's also named Kipling.

  • That's the exact bit in Lucifer's Hammer I'm referring too, though I'm sure there were other mentions of hand-gestures.
    – trailmax
    Oct 9 '18 at 23:28
  • 2
    There seems to be a small discrepancy here: "the signal was Al raising his right hand." But the poems refers to raising the bridle-hand which the online OED defines as "the hand which holds the bridle in riding, the left hand."
    – user14111
    Oct 10 '18 at 4:23
  • 2
    @user14111 a little before this passage, it does say Al Hardy "didn’t ride very well" and "clung grimly to the horse"... Maybe Al doesn't know which hand is supposed to be the bridle hand? Or maybe the author slipped up.
    – muru
    Oct 10 '18 at 4:42

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