Page 277. " Someone had brought a long cane from the fire tipped with lighted tow and the Judas was being set afire. Its raggedy clothes were packed with squibs and rockets and as the fire took hold it began to blow apart piece by piece in a shower of burning rags and straw. "

The Burning of Judas is an Easter-time ritual in many Orthodox and Catholic Christian communities, where an effigy of Judas Iscariot is burned. Other related mistreatments of Judas effigies include hanging, flogging, and exploding with fireworks.

Though not an official part of the Easter liturgical cycle, the custom is typically a part of the reenactment of the story of the Passion that is practiced by the faithful during Easter. Customs vary, but the effigy of Judas is typically hanged (reenacting Matthew 27:5) on Good Friday, then burned on the night of Easter Sunday.

The burning of Judas was once widely practiced across Europe, and is still practiced in parts of Mexico and other Orthodox or Catholic Christian countries.

 

Hanging of Judas in Mexico City (c. late 19th or early 20th century)
Public DomainHanging of Judas in Mexico City (c. late 19th or early 20th century) - Credit: Library of Congress
Burning of Judas at Juiz de Fora, Brazil (1909)
Public DomainBurning of Judas at Juiz de Fora, Brazil (1909) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Page 279. " When they reached the wells at Alamo Mucho the sun was low before them "
1850 illustration of the well at Alamo Mucho
Creative Commons Attribution1850 illustration of the well at Alamo Mucho - Credit: Rice Digital Scholarship Archive

Alamo Mucho was a small shallow lake basin, located among the sand dunes of Baja California, south of the Mexican-U.S. border.

It was one of a number of ephemeral sloughs made by the spring overflowing of the Colorado River. Following these annual flood events, water remained in these channels and formed small ponds and lakes, where water percolated into the soil. At such places wells could be sunk to obtain water, in the otherwise waterless desert, during the rest of the year.

It was an important source of water for the Butterfield Overland Mail company, who established the Alamo Mucho Station there before abandoning the line in 1861. Agricultural development and the canalizing of the Colorado River waters during the 20th century has since completely obscured the site of the station and well.

Page 287. " like some geat balden Archimandrite "

An archimandrite is a superior abbot in Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Page 290. " Howitzer "

Page 297. " like some scurrilous king stripped of his vestitude and driven together with his fool into the wilderness to die. "

This seems to be a reference Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Lear descends into madness after handing over his estate to his two least likeable daughters.  His only companion for a while is his court fool, and the two of them end up on a "blasted heath".