matins orig., the first of the seven canonical hours, recited between midnight and dawn or, often, at daybreak; here, a morning church service at which the choir sang.
mold here, loose, soft, easily worked soil.
mucking about [Slang, Chiefly Brit.] wasting time; puttering around.
nuts a slang exclamation of disgust, scorn, disappointment, refusal, etc.
One for his nob a hit on his head.
pax peace, here meant as a call for a truce.
phosphorescence a continuing luminescence without noticeable heat.
pills [Vulgar Brit Slang] the testicles.
pinch [Slang] to steal.
pinnacles pointed formations; peaks, as at the tops of mountains.
plinth a course of brick or stone, often a projecting one, along the base of a wall.
polyp any of various cnidarians, as the sea anemone or hydra, having a mouth fringed with many small, slender tentacles bearing stinging cells at the top of a tubelike body.
precentor a person who directs a church choir or congregation in singing.
prefect in some private schools, esp. in England, an older student with disciplinary authority.
propititate win or regain the good will of; appease or conciliate.
queer differing from what is usual or ordinary; odd; singular; strange.
rating an enlisted man in the Navy.
rebuke to blame or scold in a sharp way; reprimand.
Reds [Slang] Communists.
round the bend [Brit. Informal] crazy; insane.
rugger [Brit. Informal] rugby.
scurfy having a condition, as dandruff, in which the skin sheds little, dry scales.
shop here, conversation about one's work or business, esp. after hours.
smashing [Informal] outstandingly good; extraordinary.
sod you a vulgar British slang phrase showing extreme contempt.
stern sheets the space at the stern of an open boat.
stockings closefitting coverings, usually knitted, for the feet and, usually, much of the legs.
sucks to your auntie a British slang expression of derision or contempt; here, "forget your auntie" or "your auntie be damned."
Swallows and Amazons the first (1930) of a series of adventure books by Arthur Ransome, about a group of children on vacation.
taken short informal phrase for having diarrhea.
talisman anything thought to have magic power; a charm.
toilet the process of dressing or grooming oneself.
torrid so hot as to be parching or oppressive; scorching.
Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 novel about a heroic boy's search for buried gold and his encounter with pirates.
trebles the boys who sing the highest part in musical harmony.
truculent fierce; cruel; savage; ferocious.
ululate to howl, hoot, or wail.
wacco [Brit. Slang] excellent.
waxy [Brit. Informal] enraged.
white drill a coarse linen or cotton cloth with a diagonal weave, used for work clothes, uniforms, etc.
windy long-winded, pompous, boastful.
wizard [Brit. Informal] excellent.