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Cata of India

Introduction

By J P Ronan

Upon the unexpected circumstance and before the unrecognizable ploy the most humble can be thrust above the mighty, the poor to gain beyond the wealthy, and the good to place their feet on the wicked. Here in the tale begins for such a soul. The only child of a commoner enters the worlds of the Far East to meet a most infrequent destiny. The cultures of the Indian continent are brought to life. Beliefs, taboos, and rites of various regions of the land are tasted.

NSBN 1526373849 C Published by Ronan’s Press in 2008

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Dedicated to the Sisters of the Poor Child Jesus

Personae:

Captain Oliver Watson….medical officer Colonel Geoffrey Davies…..aide at Fort Janjira Lt. W. E. Broadfoot….slight muscular member of the 5Th Light Cavalry Lt. W. G. Chambers…..dark handsome member of the Bengal Horse Artillery Lt. W. T. Tombs…..tall slender member of the 44th Regiment Afoot Lt. W. Richards….British military aide Major General Harold Oliver Cromwell…..military commander of Bombay General Reginald Hadwell……commandant Fort Albert, Mysore 3

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General Edger Smoot …commander at Fort Isinghood.”

Sandeeptha….Brahman holy man

Master Sergeant Hook….scout from Fort Isinghood

Neta Sonjii….the ruler of the province of

Sergeant Cribbs….aide to Lt Col tombs

Pushpa Singh…. the young daughter of the powerful warlord Swami Kaspa

Anuradha….. the Nawab of Andhra Pradesh

Percival Smyd….chief custom’s officer of Bombay

Bandarlapal …a tiny village in the province of Karnataka Dunleep….the Rajpoot of Andhra Pradesh Magnus Calhoun…..guardian to Cait Briyani Chopra…elder statesman for the Maharaja of Mysore Suman …Villian from Rumi Swami Kaspa….ruler of the district of Kaspa and father to Pushpa Surkha ( The Red Troll) Chakkara…slave trader of Bombay Dumgi…medicine women of the Siddi Lady Moira Hull….attractive widow Imran…..teenage boy gifted in speaking many languages Jafara Khan….. Ruler of the Raigadh District near Bombay James R McManus III…Laird of Blair Gowrie Cait (Cata ) McManus…. Heiress to the Calhoun fortune Amanda (Mandy) Pine-Coffin…. young Scottish woman who becomes Lady Broadfoot Tristram Pine-Coffin… official in Her Majesty’s Custom Office Iyreem…Siddi bodyguard to Amanda Miss Penny Stockdale….heiress to the Stockdale fortune Mukhiya…..chief of a criminal band of Nakayas B N Ravi…. owner of the Moon’s Slipper

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Loci:

Chapter One Blair Gowrie

Bandarlapal…small forest hamlet on the Deccan Plateau Blair Gowrie …village in the Scottish Highlands Bombay…island port on the west coast of India Chittagong…village on the northern border of Andhra Pradesh Fort Albert……Mysore City, Karnataka Fort Isinghood…British hilltop fort near Janjira Fort St George………Madras, Tamil Nadu Janjira…. island fort south of Bombay Murud…a local capital of the Siddi population

In 18th Century Scotland, fortune is gained or enhanced by marriage. This has been so for

Mysore…capital city of a Mysore district

thousands of years.

Madras…western seaport in south of India

James R McManus III has been Laird of Blair Gowrie for over seventy years.

Pranapal…. diamond center in the province of Tamil Nadu

He has outlived three wives and produced 19 children. The oldest of his progeny, Fergus

River Krishna… a holy river

is now sixty five years of age.

Rumi….village near Mysore City

James’ third and final wife was the young Mara Kathleen Calhoun. She was the only heir

Tirupati…southern gateway to Andhra Pradesh

to the vast Calhoun estates that bordered the McManus’ lands. Upon James marriage to Mara, his fortune multiplied ten fold. The Calhoun Clan is vastly more prosperous by any measure to the McManus Clan.

Figures:

James took ownership of the enormous Calhoun Manor with his marriage to Mara. In doing so James became the sole laird over many thousands of acres filled with rich woodlands, verdant meadows, and deep salmon filled rivers.

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Strategically, his combined lands now surround three sides of the ancient Dun Keld. Here

The eagle screams warning as it passes overhead. Its wings flap to quicken pace.

the kings of Scotland come to be crowned

The long days of summer permit extended grazing.

The Clan of McManus has now joined the private counsel to the King of Scotland.

The stomachs of the domesticated animals bulge as night falls. They’ll gather close aside in the field when it is time to lie down. A small fire will keep the girl’s comfort during the short night.

~~~~

~~~~ Upon a moor high above the River Tyre, a herd of black face sheep mull along the slopes. Moving about the heather, the animals graze in the late summer sunshine. In a tree stand that looks out upon the river below, a young lass sits and watches. An eagle soars at the approach.

In the Calhoun Manor there is much concern.

“He’s on his way to Lorna Dun! Be there in an hour or more” The girl calls out to one

The Laird has been suffering from dropsy for the past several years.

lamb that keeps near her side.

His health has taken a turn for the end.

Her arm extends west in the direction of the bird’s flight.

He wanes between conscious and comatose states.

“It’s a full day’s ride on a fast horse…three days walk for the likes of yee.” She laughs as

“The Laird will soon pass on. His final time has come.” The physician tells the elder son

the lamb’s tail shakes in response to her voice.

Fergus.

As the eagle nears, the young girl stands and moves out from under the trees.

“How soon?” Fergus asks.

She gathers in one hand a thin wooden lance with a sharp metal point at one end.

“Days no more….much sooner than later.”

The lamb takes alarm and races out onto the meadow to find its mother.

Fergus nods in acceptance.

“If yee fall to take me sheep then I’ll collect yee feathers to decorate me cap.” The lass

“Yee will be Laird soon enough.” The doctor understands the man. “I’ll return late

shouts skyward as she makes out from under cover onto the pasture to mingle with her

tomorrow to see how the lord of the manor progresses. Keep him as comfortable as

herd.

possible. He shall drift off at the very last.”

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As the physician departs, Fergus’ brother Liam arrives. “Father is awake and he wishes to

James looks long upon his eldest child.

speak with yee!”

“Have me Cait brought to the manor in the morning so that I can say me last to the dear

“Is his mind clear?” Fergus inquires.

child.”

“Aye! He’s called for a pint of stout.”

“She’s on the moors with her sheep. I not sure she can be located so quickly.” The son

All have marveled at James’s great thirst for ale and the juice of the barley.

replies.

The old Laird sits up in his bed atop a mound of pillows.

“Send Padraig on our swiftest steed. Have him ride along the valley of the Tyre toward

He sips a large tumbler of whiskey.

Dun Keld. The girl will hold the sacred place in her view if I know me daughter.”

“The drink is na good for yee da.” Fergus greets as he enters.

“Why Padraig father…I should go me self.”

“Lad I’m to be dead this fortnight. It’s been a grand time.” More whiskey is consumed.

“Padraig is the only one who has no cause to fear her lance.” James laughs.

Fergus stands at his father’s side.

Fergus nods in acquiescence.

“Son, me will is gone to the magistrate this day.”

“Have the child safely here!” The words and look of the Laird are stern and given with

Fergus is surprised and disappointed that he was not consulted before hand.

warning.

“Me lasts duties as Laird are near to done.” James is long aware of his son’s ambitions. “Its me passing wish that the peace among the clans continue.”

~~~~

Fergus understands his father’s desire that the McManus Clan and the Calhoun Clan are not to be allowed to fall into conflict. “Me dying desire is for yee to keep all the conditions of me will.” James is concerned

The early sun brings the impatient bleeping of the lambs for their mothers’ milk. This

over the cunning of his son’s mind.

commotion rouses the lass from her night’s sleep.

“Yee will finally become Laird as it is proper by the customs and laws of Scotland.”

The girl’s first effort is to count the lambs and insure none are missing or dead during the

James enjoys another swallow of the fine brew. “Have na fear all yee siblings are well

night.

considered.”

The same effort is given to the mature sheep before her breakfast of dried meat and hard

“I shall keep yee final wishes da.” Fergus bows in respect.

muffins are to be consumed.

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Warm tea is made in a small metal bowl.

The sheep move off quickly.

The sheep must be moved to water before the heat of day begins.

Magnus dismounts and strides into the pasture from whence the animals dispersed.

Down from the high moors into the vale of the Tyre River, the sheep will be taken to sip

“Cait of the Calhoun!” He roars.

at the stream’s bank.

“It is yee mother’s brother, Magnus.”

The slow descent has been underway for about an hour when the girl spies a column of

The giant stands with his hands upon his hips.

men approaching rapidly on horseback.

His long hair blows about in the wind.

The girl is quick to take refuge among the bush.

His great red beard glows brilliantly in the early sunshine.

A score of men ride along the Tyre behind the lead of one massive form.

The lass studies the intent of the man.

The bright blue tartan of the kilts and caps of the band nearing is soon recognized as

“We come to take thee to yee father’s bed.” Magnus let’s the sound of his words linger

belonging to members of the Calhoun Clan.

before he speaks again.

An armed escort that shares her mother’s blood has been dispatched to escort the

“The Laird is ill. His daughter needs to be at his side.” There is less command in his

youngest child of the Laird to her home.

voice.

“Magnus!” Calls a rider. “Sheep be there!”

This brings the girl to step out into view.

The column halts.

“Why have so many with yee come then when one messenger should do?”

A huge shape of a man inspects the view of the black faced sheep striding down from a

The number of men is meant to ensure a safe escort.

distant moor.

The Calhoun Clan fear treachery after the Laird’s passing.

“That be her keep lads. The girl is about.” The large man turns his horse.

They have arrived without advance notice.

“Be careful Magnus.” Another rider warns. “The child is deadly with a lance!”

Magnus is the head of the contingent of her bodyguard.

The girl’s skill with taking hare, grouse, and the careless wolf with her thin pike is well

“We come to pay our respect.” Magnus is no fool.

known.

The girl looks to her sheep.

“Ha! That wee thing of a lassie can no hurt a man full grown such as we.” The leader

Her uncle reads her mind.

calls aloud as he speeds onward.

“They’ll keep for a time. Help will be sent straight off lassie.”

Up near to sheep the armed group arrives.

Her uncle points to a steed with empty saddle.

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The lass together with her large escort of close kin makes straight for the highway.

He will not let the heiress out of the safety of his reach.

The ride to the Calhoun Manor is not long.

He will not let the heiress out from under the safety of his sword.

Upon the way, a lone rider sent from the manor approaches the group. “Hold!” Padraig McManus calls as he encounters Magnus and his band. The cavalry of Calhoun warriors comes to a stop.

~~~~

They are intent to make to the Laird’s manor with Cait in their midst. “The Larid has sent me to bring Cait to the manor.” Padraig demands. Magnus nods in respect.

The arrival of the young girl at the manor precedes her escort.

“Lead the way laddie. We are bound there as well.”

At the front entrance Cait dismounts frantically and rushes into the manor.

Cait moves forward to Padraig’s side.

She hurries through the main hall where family and associates of the Laird gather in

The young girl is slow to take alarm.

patient wait.

“Padraig! Why the hurry?” She asks.

Fergus moves to intercept the lass.

Padraig is her youngest stepbrother and closest friend.

Cait has long held the oldest of the Laird’s children as officious. She has never hidden

Padraig knows Cait will sense any miss information.

her contempt.

He pauses and looks comfortingly into the eyes of the lass.

Fergus considers the child’s potential inheritance as the most serious interference with his

“Da is dying Cait.” The young McManus lad tells with much anguish.

future plans.

The Laird is much loved by his children, his clan, and all his wives’ relations.

“Young woman…”

Tears swell in the eyes of the many present with this pronouncement.

The girl brushes past Fergus with out pause.

Cait looks to her uncle.

Indifferent to his person, she makes straight to her father’s room.

There is grief in the face of the hefty man.

Upon entering the private residence of the Laird she finds two nurses seated at the watch.

Her response is to kick her mount into full pace.

Her father’s appearance is sunken and frail.

The stunned men watch as the girl leaves them with their horses at the still.

Kneeling at his bedside, she folds her hands and lowers her head in prayer.

Magnus is the first to follow at the full.

The complexion of the Laird is ashen.

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His breath is short and labored in his sleep.

“Yee have thee mother’s wit and me own temperament.”

She begins her daily prayer.

These words the girl has enjoyed all her days.

“Thank yee for the love and kindness of our Laird.”

“Na child of mine is more like me than yee.”

The nurses rise quietly.

The Laird’s health resurges on the moment with the joy of her presence.

“Thank yee for the love of me good mother.”

Cait looks upon her father’s face.

The nurses step softly toward the door.

She is comforted by his love.

“Thank yee for the love and protection of me clan.”

“Lass I go to join thee mother now.”

The nurses keep near the open door just without.

His words are weak.

“Thank yee for thee love and forgiveness me Lord.”

His voice is dry.

Nearing the end of her entreaty to heaven, the girl takes the Laird’s hand into hers.

His hands do not leave their hold.

She kisses his palm and holds his soft warm hand against her face.

“I have waited to view thee and say me last on this earth.”

“I share the same warmth and tenderness that me mother felt in her life.”

Tears stream down his child’s face.

Tears stream from the eyes of the nurses who overlook.

“All is in ready for me passing save for thee.”

“Allow us Lord; eternally together to be with mother in heaven’s gain.”

Her eyes give question.

“Amen.”

“I must see to thee coming of age as a woman.”

This contact stirs the Laird to consciousness.

His voice assumes a commanding tone.

He is slow to wake.

“Thee are too young and too plain a woman at this time to be left to just any one’s

The appearance of the girl revives him

charge.”

“Lass, I feared that I should not see thee again in this world.”

This sentiment is new to the girl.

Cait understands their moment is final.

“Yee mother came slowly in life to be a beautiful woman. This was a grand fortune for

His look upon her lingers as he prepares his closing journey.

me.”

“Yee have been me greatest treasure upon this earth.”

The child waits to understand.

Both his hands enfold her cheeks.

“So it shall be for thee to come late into bloom”.

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Cait trusts her father.

The child’s eyes widen and her mouth gapes.

His voice grows cautionary.

The Laird understands her alarm.

“Lass, all the former lands of the Calhoun shall return to yee alone upon me passing.”

“It will not be safe for yee in Scotland or anywhere near by even to England. Some will

This business is unknown to her.

try to do yee hurt.”

She has difficulty to comprehend.

The girl suspects Fergus.

Purpose and vigor fill the Laird.

“Fergus will do yee no harm. He will however engage yee immediately into an unsuitable

He takes her hands into his.

marriage to assure his end.”

“Yee shall be sent to stay with a most trusted member of thee mother’s family until yee

The girl puzzles.

are of age.”

“There are ambitious men among the Calhoun as well as the McManus that shall not

She understands that she is to leave the manor.

hesitate to do yee injury to gain thee wealth.”

“Yee must be kept safe.”

Cait can not speak.

She understands that she is to leave the moors.

She cannot think.

“Yee go to a place far from the reach of any McManus or Calhoun that would do thee

There are no words, no reply for her father.

harm.”

She leaps into her father’s arms and sobs.

She understands that she is to leave the highlands.

“Ah lass do nay fear! I shall see that mischief shall nay come to yee… even when I be

“All preparations have been made. Yee leave within the hour for Perth and board a ship.

gone to join thee mother in heaven, please God.”

She understands that she is to leave Scotland.

He holds her as the child she is yet.

“Yee will travel to your aunt’s home. There to remain so that thee may be finished as a

“Da, I love yee! I shall pray for yee each day.”

lady.”

“Me love and thee mother’s love go with yee always.”

“When yee have come of proper age yee shall return to take possession of thee rightful

He feels the child tremble.

heritage.”

“Yee shall nay go alone Cait. Your Uncle Magnus will keep me place until yee return to

Her eyes give question.

thee rightful home.”

“Yee are going to India!” The Laird makes command.

“What of Padraig?” She asks.

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“Na one knows of me plan save Magnus alone. Padraig will be made keeper of the manor

As he rushes past Cait he calls. “I shall have words with yee lass. Wait here for me!”

until thee return.”

Cait disdains his command as do most Calhoun.

With deep emotion, she kisses her father’s cheek for the last time.

She spies Magnus.

She views his face for the last time.

Her uncle beckons her.

She grips his hands for the last time.

“Lass we go at once…hurry!”

“Have nay sorrow for thee Laird. It has been a fine long life had by me on this earth. Yee

“Where? Why?” She whispers.

shall have a fine long life as well if yee keep the way of thee da.”

“We ride to Perth. In a few hours we shall be on aboard a fast sleuth to Liverpool. Come

Cait understands that she is being dismissed.

evening we shall transfer to the ship named the Scorpion, which departs early the next

She rises.

day. In 24 hours we shall be safe far out to sea.”

She curtsies before her Laird for the concluding time.

“Why so suddenly?” She asks.

“Go now to Magnus. Leave at once! Do nay look back lass.”

“There will be nay time for others to organize against yee…including the king’s men.”

Fatigue returns to her father.

Magnus advises.

The Laird slips back into unconsciousness.

The girl appreciates that Fergus is the prime reason for the enfolding intrigue to secure

He will wake no more.

her safety.

When Cait reenters the main hall, Magnus stands at the entrance.

“Have nay fret lass. All will be made clear straight away. Now we must ride rapidly. Na

“What is the meaning of these men carrying shield and sword?” Fergus demands to

one will guess our plan until night when it will too late. There shall be nay treachery

know.

today.”

“We be an honor guard summoned by the Larid.” Magnus answers calmly.

“Me father’s plan?”

“For what purpose I ask!” Fergus senses his father’s deception.

“Aye lass…there’s na one more shrewd in the whole of Scotland!”

“I can nay answer for the Laird.” Magnus can hardly hide his pleasure from the excited and befuddled lord designate. “I shall see at once…nay one shall leave without my permission!” Fergus storms toward

~~~~

his father’s room.

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In late night their sleuth approaches the coast of England.

“Will we stop soon? I’ve never been so far from home. I’ve never been out from

The pair sits comfortably in a small cabin.

Scotland.” She notes.

There is a gentle knock at Cait’s door.

“The Scorpion is moored close to the docks. We shall board her this night. The last of her

“Liverpool on the hour!” A sailor calls.

passengers and cargo will load at first light.”

“Lass let’s get out and see Liverpool as we make to port.”

Magnus knows the nearest of the danger will then be passed.

The girl has been eager and apprehensive the entire day. She has not exited her cabin

“Where do we get back on land?” The young woman asks.

since boarding the ship.

“Bombay, India!”

“We nay shall let ourselves be seen about during the day.” Magnus advises.

“Do we have to hide for the whole trip?” Cait is unhappy at the notion.

He offers Cait a large woolen wrap.

“We shall emerge only at dark. None is to mark yee presence. Any who may follow will

“The air is heavy with a chill. Lass come let us have some enjoyment on deck. It will

find nay one to render an account of we to aide in their search.”

make a long voyage pass more quickly.”

On the Scorpion, Cait has a corner compartment on the upper most deck with a small

“Why do we need to hide during the day?” Cait is use to the freedom of the moors.

circular window. The view from her cabin looks out over the ocean. It also has a partial

“We’ll let nay eyes mark our presence till we be well on our way inside of India.”

view of the narrow promenade on the same deck that offers an unobstructed view of the

The pair takes a place along the railing.

broad seascape

The shy is clear and the Milky Way dazzles above.

Magnus occupies the adjoining compartment.

‘”Have you previously been to Liverpool Uncle Magnus? “Aye Lass long before yee were born.” “Been to India as well?” She adds.

~~~~~

“Aye! Been everywhere a ship can sail and some unheard of places that be distant from any shore.” “Were yee a very young man then?” The girl surmises.

The Yellow Dog Pub overlooks the docks at Liverpool. The inside of the public house

“Just come of the age when I took to the sea…. thirteen as I recall!”

bustles with the servings of breakfast.

The first lights from the seaport come to view.

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Immediately before the pub’s view is the sea going vessel identified as the Scorpion,

“To our first duty stations as officers in Her Majesty’s Military Command.” Puts the

which is concluding its preparations for the coming of a long sea voyage.

third.

She is a sleek beauty of a vessel. Her black haul shines brilliantly in the first light of day.

The liquor arrives.

The two mast schooner is a speedy ship. She is soon to hoist her anchor and sail straight

Glasses are raised.

to Bombay.

“To our first assignments …may we all be successful!” Announces the tall officer.

Under a present contract with Her Majesty’s Navy, the vessel is to deliver military

“Cheers!” All three men call out.

supplies to Asia. Her hull is now being filled with the last of the goods for her ensuing

“Our wager my good fellows?” The slight commander continues.

journey.

“To the first of us to be wounded…five quid to be won from each of the other two!”

Normally civilian passengers fill her cabins with only the rare portage allotted for special

Replies the first officer.

military personnel. Today three army officers wait to sail with the Scorpion. They are

A moment passes as all reflect.

fresh from graduation at their military academy.

“To he who is to be killed under fire. The two survivors are to form an honor guard and

Seated in the pub with tea and scones, the uniformed classmates enjoy the first meal

mark his loss by saluting his regiment’s colors.” The tall man puts forth.

before boarding the Scorpion.

This real possibility sobers the moment.

“Capt’n says we sail on the hour! You gentlemen best get on the top deck or be left to

“Any who survive will mark this day by gathering for a toast to all who fall under our

swim, says he.” An older salty looking man calls out from the front door of the Yellow

commands.” The first officer concludes.

Dog.

“Here! Here!” The others reply.

“Let’s have a toast before we sail!” A dark haired officer offers.

“Grand idea old boy!” States the slight officer.

“It’s just tea old boy…better to have a drop of the pure for a proper toast.” Replies a

“Bloody right on!” The tall man adds.

slight red haired officer.

All drink dry their glass.

“Let us make a wager as well.” A tall blond officer replies. “Barmaid…three glasses of port!” The first officer demands. “What shall we toast and what shall we wager?” The second officer inquires.

~~~~~

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The sound of heavy boots returns Cait’s attention to the pier. Cait has discovered that her cabin’s view permits observance of all at the point of

“Those are soldiers.” She notes.

boarding upon the Scorpion.

The three officers move aboard the Scorpion.

Much is enjoyed from her pastime at keeping watch.

“Why are men so attractive in uniform?” She ponders.

Indeed much is to be learned by the sounds that enter through her open portal as well.

The officers move to their cabins below deck as the anchor is hoisted.

She watches as a handsome carriage arrives.

The ship begins to sway gently as it moves free from its moorings.

A middle aged man slender in form steps down. He is partially gray with large puffs of

The sails are lowered and the ship lurches to speed away into the open sea.

black hair about the temples of his head.

Cait takes to her bed.

He holds open the carriage door.

She says a prayer for a safe journey.

A young woman emerges.

She settles for a nap.

Her beauty is not hidden from Cait by the distance.

It is midday.

The lovely lady is shaped in the form of a goddess. He long golden hair hangs upon her

Later the highland girl is awakened by male voices out side her cabin.

shoulders. She is dressed in a blue long skirt and jacket with pink accents.

The three officers are walking about enjoying cigars after a luncheon.

Cait has never seen a more gorgeous woman.

“This side will have the best view of sunset.” The tall officer indicates.

“Oh father what a beautiful boat.” The arriving woman cries.

“Perfect for a smoke after dinner this evening.” States the slighter.

“Ship! My dear…boats are toys. This is a sea vessel.” Remarks the man.

“And a large glass of brandy before cards.” The darker officer adds. “What will it be

Cait is surprised to over hear these words.

tonight? Poker?”

Her cabin provides unobstructed audience.

“If we keep playing for silver some of us will be in debt long before we reach India?”

“Her voice is angelic …so musical …so vibrant.” Cait thinks of the incoming female

The tall man complains.

passenger.

“Points! The one with the most points collected at the journey’s end is to be paid one

The father and daughter’s progress unfolds before Cait’s observation. They take cabins

quid from each.” The slight man recommends.

on the same platform nearby.

“Done!”

“I have to meet this girl.” Cait plans.

“You are on!”

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Reply his companions.

The soldiers fuss at their first close look upon the passing beauty.

Cait is delighted by the accident of her hidden presence.

The men pause to enjoy her departing form.

“Am I being rude by listening to their private conversation?” She asks of herself.

The scent of her perfume lingers.

The sounds and voices of the crew at work arrive into her cabin.

“Toast!” Commands the darker officer.

“No privacy at sea!” The girl is relieved from any possible offense.

Three glasses of brandy are made ready.

This evening at sunset the beautiful woman and her father stroll outside of Cait’s

“To a real beauty of a woman!” Calls the tall officer.

window.

“To love!” The slight man calls out.

“The sea is so inviting, so powerful, so grand father.” Tells the woman.

“Here! Here!” The other two approve as the first taste is made of their drinks.

“I’m not fond of travel dear. I’m delighted that you are enjoying the voyage however.”

“What a woman? The slight man calls.

“I want to see the sun go down…I’ve never see the sunset so low on such a vast horizon

“What an opportunity?” The tall man announces.

father.”

“What an empire?” Remarks the dark man.

“Satisfy yourself dear. I’m returning to my cabin. There is a great deal of official work to

“What a voyage?” Calls Cait in silence.

be done before we arrive.”

“A bet!” One officer calls

The man turns to leave. “Don’t be out in the dark dear.”

“Another bet?” Notes Cait from inside her room.

“I won’t be long father. Just a few minutes more.”

“What have you in mind old sport?” Asks the tall one.

Cait is strained to view the heavenly vision through her portal. Only the back of the

“I’ll bet that I get a kiss from that lady before we dock in Bombay.” The thin one boasts.

woman’s shoulders is to be seen.

“The bet is that one or all get a kiss.” The darker one concludes.

The last saffron rays mark the disappearing sun. The three military men arrive upon the

“Doesn’t make sense chaps. If we all get a kiss then no one may win.” The slight one

upper deck.

puzzles.

Startled from her revelry, the blond lady is quick to make her exit before the men.

“Ah! It’s easy! Only one shall be allowed a second kiss if she favors any one of us.” The

“Good evening!”

dark one makes reason.

“Hello Miss!

“What is the wager?” The tall soldier asks.

“Good night!”

The men contemplate.

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Cait giggles at their boyish intrigue. She wonders if any man will ever gamble for her

“By rank!” Declares the dark one.

favor.

“We are all lieutenants and all of us have enlisted in the same year.” The slight one

“Cash?” The dark officer proposes.

disapproves.

“No!” The others remark.

“Ah yes but not in the same month!” The tall one realizes.

More contemplation is needed.

“May!” Informs the dark man.

“I would want more private time.” Cait adds in silence from her retreat.

“June!” Informs the slighter.

“Leave time?” The dark man offers a second prize.

“January!” Smiles the taller.

“No!” The others remark.

“Cheater!”

“Why do not the losers arrange a private rendezvous with the woman for the winner?”

“You fixed the results!”

Cait recommends to herself. “That’s what I’d wish to win.”

The others complain immediately.

The dark man makes a smile. “A private meeting between the winner and the pretty

“This one is a dangerous adversary.” Cait concludes.

blond!” He announces.

“I did not suggest rank!” Gloats the winner.

“He must read minds!” Cait believes.

“I’m second!” Pouts the dark one.

“The two who fail to win her true affection must assist the winner in a more substantial

“I’m third again!” The slight one moans.

opportunity.” The dark one continues.

“Each man gets five suitable sunsets upon which to engage the opponent…ah the

“Done!”

woman.” The tall one recommends.

“Agreed!”

“Agreed!” Says the darker.

The others blurt in excitement.

“Agreed!” Says the slighter.

“Another toast!” Cait predicts.

“Agreed.” Cait says quietly.

“Another toast!” The dark officer proposes. “To romance!” “He can read my mind.” Cait muses. ~~~~~ The three sip their brandy. “Who goes first?” Asks the slight one.

31

32


Upon each eve the military keeps watch aboard the ship.

“I shall learn to paint so that I may capture your wish on canvas.” Lt. Tombs replies and

Field intelligence is gathered upon which the assault for the lovely lady’s attention is to

lowers his head as he bends.

be made.

“Hardly!” Cait decides.

Fact one, their target dines one hour and a half before close of day.

“I’m sure that there is not enough time to become so accomplished. You are so very

Fact two, she emerges for the viewing of sunset upon a clear and calm evening only.

sweet!” Amanda giggles.

Fact three, her father no longer accompanies her upon the promenade. She arrives alone.

“You take the air every sunset?” Tombs asks.

Fact four, only the passengers and the stewards are permitted upon the upper deck.

“As if yee didn’t know.” Cait mutters to her self.

Fact five, there is sufficient privacy outside Cait’s cabin for deployment.

“I love the ocean. I love to travel.” Amanda responds. “Why are you going to India?”

Within a forth night, the military plan is ready.

“What? Look at his uniform woman!” Cait is miffed.

A few minutes after the woman takes to the air near Cait’s room, the tall officer

“I go to serve in Her Majesty’s Armed Service.” He states proudly.

approaches.

“I don’t know anything about the military.” Amanda laughs.

Cait is alerted and listens inside.

“Or just about anything else it seems.” Cait moans softly.

“Lt. William Tombs of Her Majesty’s 44th Regiment Afoot at your service.” He

“You are traveling with your family?” The lieutenant is struggling.

introduces as he nears the blond lady.

“My father! He is going on official business of the Crown…. Customs Office Inspector

The woman is not disturbed.

you see.”

She has noticed the handsome tall officer on many occasions.

“Sounds very interesting.” Tombs replies.

“Miss Amanda Pine-Coffin.” She smiles to invite the man closer.

“Not to me!” Cait mummers.

“Í would have never guessed Amanda to be her name. She’s an Abigail or a Melissa for

“Not to me!” Amanda declares.

sure.” Cait muses.” William fits him though.”

“And what may I ask holds you interest…presently?” Tombs is not coy.

“I just love the sunsets upon the ocean.” She looks off into the distance. “I wish there was

More giggling from his attending companion. “Why single handsome officers of course.”

some way to capture this beautiful image to take home to England to brighten a dreary

“She is asking for his martial status!” Cait is stunned.

day.”

“I’m single…not married.” Tombs is uncomfortable. “What is your father‘s business?” The woman inquires.

33

34


“He is a physics teacher in a secondary school in Cardiff, Wales.”

The next few days the weather turns foul.

“I knew he has a dangerous mind.” Cait assures.

Heavy dark clouds threaten and the wind blusters across the decks.

“So you have no interest in science? Is this why you joined the army?” The blond woman

All but the sailors at their duties keep retreat.

asks.

Amanda is anxious to return to the chance for romance.

“Actually I do…military science! Ever science I read Cesar’s Accounts. I knew I would

Cait is frantic to see further flirtation by the officers with the ship’s beauty.

become a field commander of an armed force.”

All suffer from the depression of confinement.

“In original Latin I’ll bet.” Cait guesses.

From desperation for relief, the officers venture onto the deck. They are covered in rain

“You read Latin?” The beauty asks the lieutenant.

gear.

The officer nods in the affirmative.

“Fresh air!” The slight officer sighs.

“How long will you be staying in India?” He inquires.

“The stench of the haul finds no relief when the ship is battened down.” The dark one

“For two years. Where will you be stationed?” She replies.

answers.

“All about I suppose…one can find you through Customs?” He presses.

“Only the upper decks have relief.” Lt. Tombs assumes.

The sun sets at this moment.

“Try the stale musky air in here!” Cait complains softly.

“Oh my! I must go! My father waits for my return.” The girl squeals.

“I believe we are soon to the half way point in our journey?” The dark one poses.

“May I meet you again on tomorrow’s eve?” Tombs hopes.

“Several weeks more ahead I’m afraid.” Lt. Tombs supposes.

“Yes of course.” Cait predicts.

“A bet!” The slight one puffs.

“Yes of course!” Amanda is delighted for more diversion as well as the officer’s

“More gambling!” Cait is amazed.

attention.

“The first to spot another vessel!” The slight officer suggests. “The first to see the coast of Asia!” The tall man recommends. “The first to see…no speak to a person of India!” The dark officer suggests. “The winner

~~~~~

gets a cigar from each loser.” “Not much of a bet.” Cait is disappointed. “Either at sea or upon land.” The Tall officer adds.

35

36


“Agreed” All the men call forth.

Cait is quick to indicate silence.

This night the air turns warm.

She points to her ear and then points to the window of a nearby cabin.

Unseen Magnus enters into Cait’s apartment.

Magnus asks for her bundle.

“We’ve are now in the temperate water’s of the Indian Ocean.” He informs.

“It’s all going into the ocean lass.” He whispers.

He hands to Cait a set of silken garments.

Cait nods in understanding.

“Put these on! Gather all garments that shows the Tartan of the Calhoun or any thing that

She watches her wardrobe fall into the dark waters.

tells of Scotland. Bring these and meet me out side upon the deck.”

“Why?” She indicates with her hands.

The huge man unfolds a blue silken roll of cloth.

“None shall find a trace of Scots from Blair Gowrie passing aboard this ship.” Magnus

He wraps it about Cait’s head in the manor of a turban that covers all her hair.

mutters quietly.

“When yee come to deck wear this is to cover thee head and look nay one in the eye.” He

The two highlanders inspect the appearance of one another.

instructs.

“We nay look like the two who first came aboard in Perth.” Magnus whispers.

“Wear only these sandals as well.”

“I wouldn’t know yee but for that red beard.” Cait announces softly.

Into a long white silk tunic made with long sleeves, and silken slacks the Scottish lass

“When we leave this ship me beard will be black. I have a lotion to darken our skins.”

dresses.

Magnus informs in near silence.

Her highland clothes are collected and tied into a bundle.

Cait must chuckle at the length her uncle has undertaken to keep them hidden from

Out on the deck, she finds her uncle. He is also dressed in native garments and wearing a

others’ view.

turban.

“Nay worry lass…we are to be invisible to all….Europeans as well as the natives in

The large man is busy throwing packages over board into the sea.

India.” The large man says in a faint breath.

She is stunned at the transformation in his look.

“When do we return to behaving in a normal way and stop hiding?” Cait asks in a low

Gone is the Scottish warrior.

tone.

Gone is his fierce look.

“When we arrive safely at me sister’s house. There yee shall stay until yee may claim

He stands now with the image of a bulky native porter.

thee heritage.” Magnus whispers.

“Hurry!” He calls.

“What kind of woman is me aunt?’ Cait whispers.

37

38


“She is much in disposition like yee mother just as are yee?” Magnus says softly.

“That’s what yee are to be learning at thee aunt’s residence. She is a strict matron as was

This pleases Cait.

thee mother. None other may help yee as much.”

“Was me mother beautiful?” Cait whispers.

Cait now understands her father’s decision to send her to India.

“Aye! There was none more fair in the whole of Scotland lass.” The large Scot says

“I best pay attention to me lessons!” Cait states

faintly.

She turns sad.

“I don’t look like her.” Cait knows she is not special in appearance.

“My father must be departed by now.” Her tears begin to fall.

Their conversation continues mutedly.

“Aye lass. The Laird has gone to his just reward I’m sure.” Magnus answers.

“You nay look like thee aunt either but yee have the looks from the Calhoun side that’s

“I loved da…I’ll miss him.” She adds.

for sure. Yee be much like me grandmother I’d say. She were a McMillan. They be fierce

“A good man such as your da will be missed by all.” Magus assures.” He had a fine long

warriors. There’s where yee get thee skill with the bow and lance.”

life and a fine death with all the Clan to keep his wake. The Laird will be proud.”

“Whose looks do yee favor?”

“Me father liked me?”

“Me da said I were a throw back to the early ancestors, straight from the first Calhoun.

The huge man’s hand takes hold of her shoulder. His thick arm pulls her gently to the

Me great granddad’s father was a large man as well. He was always fit for battle.”

side of his massive chest.

“Where did me mother get her beauty?” Cait thinks Magnus is ordinary in face as well.

“Oh child! The Laird delighted in yee all of his days. Nay other ever had his heart as did

“They say from the French blood that mixes in the highlands. Yee are mighty young yet

yee. So it is that his last thoughts where filled with concern and plans for thee future.”

lass. Much of yee mother’s likeness may yet emerge as yee become a woman full

The girl hugs the large man and sobs.

developed.”

“Best get some rest now. It’s late. Time to bed lass.” He whispers in her ear. “The whole

This notion gives the girl much hope.

clan loves yee as much as they did yee da. Only a few black hearted villains nay want to

“When shall I marry?”

see yee return.”

Magnus is surprised by this question.

The child in encouraged.

“When yee are Lady of the Manor… It shall be for yee to choose a man to become Laird

She takes much comfort in her uncle’s protection.

of the Calhoun’s estates.”

“Uncle Magnus! Why do men gamble…bet?”

Cait is shocked. “I don’t know how to choose a Laird!”

39

40


“Chance lass! Sport makes opportunity for some ready cash.” The large man is delighted

She peeks.

by the child’s question.

The tall officer towers over the blond beauty.

“I mean a bet for who is first or last at something?” The girl explains.

“He is very close to her.” Thinks Cait as she returns to concealment.

“Ah! That be the way healthy men keep close friendship. Women kiss and hug each

“The weather was foul.” Amanda tries.

other. This would nay do between the men folk.”

“I understand we just passed the Tip of Africa.” He answers.

“Someone must lose the bet?” She is confused.

“Oh!” Amanda mutters.

“It’s nay the winning, nay the losing that makes friends from this form of betting. It‘s the

“She doesn’t understand what that means.” Guesses Cait.

thrill that comes from trying to win with a wish that will better a man over his others.

“What does that mean?” Asks Amanda.

“I’ll never understand men.” She moans.

“We are more than half way to India.” The officer advises. “Did you learn all this navigation ability in the army?” Amanda smiles. Lt. Tombs is amused.

~~~~

He becomes comfortable near her. “We in the military must keep our bearings at all time.” “Tell me William, why have you never married?”

The next warm clear eve, Amanda is early to her post near the rail outside Cait’s cabin.

“I don’t believe her. How brazen!” Cait comments to herself.

She waits for the chance at romance.

“Never found the right woman.” Answers the lieutenant.

Cait is alerted to her presence by the arrival of Amanda’s perfume. “That’s a new scent.”

“Perfect retort! I knew he is dangerous. He’ll get his kiss from her for certain.” Cait

She peeks at Amanda from her window. “Oh! Her dress is showing her neckline.” Cait is

analyzes.

excited by the possibilities upon the arrival of the lieutenant.

“Will your father place a marriage for you while in India?” Tombs asks.

“Miss Amanda.” Greets Lt. Tombs.

“My father has no idea what day it is. He couldn’t have the least notion that I am now a

Please call me Amanda, Lt. William.”

woman. If there is ever to be an arrangement made for my marriage, I shall have to

“Call me William.” Retunes the tall officer.

organize it for him.”

The thrill in Amanda’s voice has Cait on her feet near the window.

“That affords all of us who are a bachelor equal hope.” He comments.

41

42


“She’ll love this!” Cait concludes.

“Thank you William but I must go immediately.” Amanda wishes to retire. “I promised

“Oh! What a divine notion.” Grins Amanda.

father that I would be brief on deck.”

Her eyes lift to search the lieutenant’s face.

William is relieved.

There is silence.

He is anxious to inform his comrades of his success.

“Ooh! “ Moans Cait as she peeks outward “Here it comes.” The tall officer’s head drops toward Amanda’s face. Amanda’s head tilts back to receive his lips.

~~~~

Cait is about to squeal as she views all. She bits her lip and folds her hands in anticipation. Amanda’s eyes close with permission.

The next day is the warmest yet.

Lt. Tombs studies her countenance.

The sky is clear and blue during the day.

He gauges his choice.

In the evening, Amanda returns for her view of the coming sunset.

He remembers his wager.

There is no sign of any military officer.

He calculates the best way to insure a second kiss upon another occasion.

The light begins to wane as the sun drops below the sea on the horizon.

“Passion, lad passion!” Cheers Cait within her mind.

Cait cannot resist.

His kiss is timid and lacking.

With her head bound in a turban, she makes outside her cabin and approaches Amanda

“You are done!” Cait judges.

who stands near the handrail.

“Oh!” Amanda mumbles in disappointment.

Cait’s approach is noticed.

The ladies are aware of the man’s inadequacy albeit he does not.

The vision of a native on the deck causes Amanda’s mouth to droop.

Beaming in assumed victory with the kiss, he is confident in his wager.

She is speechless.

You are more than beautiful. You are warm and loving.” He tells.

Cait nears with her head lowered.

“Too late!” Cait sits. There is no more to see. “She’ll dump him at once.”

Occasionally she glimpses Amanda’s face and form. The woman is more than lovely. Cait feels inadequate before the splendor of the woman.

43

44


“You are a native?” Amanda greets. “Native boy!”

“You’ve come to witness the sunset as well?” Amanda extends her hospitality.

Cait does not respond. “What does it take for this woman to get it right?” She ponders.

“Pleasant enough of a woman.” She thinks. “Men must respond to her inviting manner.”

“Do you speak English?”

Sounds of approaching feet upon the stairs alarms Cait.

Cait shakes her head in negation.

She rushes to exit the walk.

“Do you understand English?”

She bumps into an arriving officer.

Cait nods her head in affirmation. “Not the brightest woman.” She entertains in her

“Excuse me!” The man announces as he gathers his composure. “I say a native boy.”

thoughts.

The officer is ecstatic.

“Oh splendid! What is your name?” Amanda asks.

“Your name! I must have your name.” He shouts.

“Ca…. t.” Her eyes never lift.

Cait is captivated by the large waves in the man’s dark hair. His black eyes shine

“Cata…how Indian!” Amanda is delighted.

immaculately. His chin is hard and his face is most rugged.

“You are traveling as a servant on this boat?”

“He is even more gorgeous than Amanda.” She realizes.

Cait considers the service to her father’s last wish.

“By Saint Edward’s Sword, I have seen the first native.” He bursts.

She nods yes.

“His damn bet!” Cait is irritated by her circumstance.

“How grand…missionaries? Retuning to India?” Amanda continues.

“Your name!” He demands as he holds Cait’s shoulder in a strong grip.

During this conversation Cait gages the shapely form and manner of her companion. She

“Cata!” She answers as she struggles to be freed.

is deciding what features and virtues the officers fancy.

“Cata!” He repeats as his grip loosens. “I’ve won! Here’s two…no three pence. I feel

“Are you with a missionary?” Amanda persists.

generous.”

Magnus is on a mission and she is with her uncle. She nods yes.

Cait disappears.

“I must say hello to the parson.” Amanda suggests.

She tosses her three coins over board. “I feel generous as well.” She grunts under her

Cait shakes her head vigorously in opposition.

breath.

“Not well at present?” Amanda supposes. “Not everyone can travel at sea comfortably. I

The officer notes that the comely blond is observing him.

shall not add further to his distress.”

“A native!” Did you see him?” He asks Amanda.

Cait gauges the woman to be only several years her elder.

45

46


Cait races inside to her room and to her window. She must see more and learn more of

“Amanda…that’s my favorite name. My mother’s name was Amanda.” Lt. Chambers

this officer.

offers.

“Yes!” Amanda replies nonchalantly.

“I’ll bet it isn’t.” Cait distains.

“The lad is named Cata!” .He continues.

“Shall I call you William as well?” Amanda is confused.

“No man has ever been so exciting. Maybe there is something to this betting thing men

“Please!” He requests.

have.” Cait considers.

“I’m getting confused!” Cait moans lowly.

“Yes!” Amanda replies nonchalantly.

“The sun has set already! Oh bother! I missed it!” Amanda complains.

“You spoke with the boy?” His excitement does not dim.

“My apologies Miss. I am responsible for your disappointment. Permit me to make good

He realizes his intrusion.

my mistake on tomorrow’s eve and further permit me to be your escort for the next

“Oh pardon my interference!” He offers.

viewing at the day’s end?”

The woman does not reply.

“Certainly! I’m unsettled by all the persons coming and going tonight.” She sighs.

“Lt. William Chambers of Her Majesty’s Bengal Horse Artillery.” He bends at the waist

“Just wait! There is more confusion to follow.” Cait warns in a soft voice.

in courtesy. “A horsemen!” Cait’s silent interest grows “Another William. This will not do!” “You are an acquaintance of Lt. Tombs?” Amanda inquires.

~~~~

“Really Amanda!” Cait’s thoughts tell of disappoint in the woman. “Yes it is because of him that I have come.” He blurts. “William is not coming it seems.” The woman looks over the man’s shoulder.

It is early in the day.

“Tombs turn is over…eh… he has taken a turn.” He stammers.

The sun is near to rising.

“I’m sorry that Lt. Tombs is not well.” The woman replies.

Only the crew stirs.

“You’re not sorry he isn’t with you.” Cait whispers in her room.

The three officers have risen early.

“He sends his regrets Miss…”

Lt. Tombs carries a small telescope and an astronomical compass.

“Amanda …Please call me Amanda.”

His two comrades follow.

47

48


“Let’s get to that upper deck right off chaps.” He directs.

The fellow officers’ expressions are dull.

“See here old boy, why have you pulled us out of our beds so early.” Lt. Chambers asks.

They glance one to the other in confusion.

“Venus lads…. the morning star!” Returns the tall officer.

The tall officer waits but no response is forth coming. “The horizon has grown about a

Up onto Cait’s deck they march.

half of degree in height over night!” He points to the northeast.

The pounding on the wooden flooring under a line of military boots wakes Cait from her

“Land! There is a coast line.” He barks. “Asia! I win the bet for the first to see the Asian

slumber.

Continent.”

“It can’t be those silly officers out after another bet.” She groans with need for more

“We dropped that bet” The dark officer responds.

sleep.

“Sorry lad. We bet the first to see a native instead…and to have words.” The slight

Lt Tombs lifts his telescope to the horizon.

officer recalls.

He sets and marks the compass.

The tall officer is disappointed. “I understood we had two bets.”

The telescope is raised slightly upwards to the havens where one small celestial object

“Sorry Tombs they are right! I’m a witness…. ah an audience.” Cait whispers.

shines brightly.

“Now that it’s mentioned, I spoke with a native, a boy last evening just here.” Lt.

The compass is adjusted.

Chambers informs.

“Ah ha!” Lt. Tombs exclaims. “Precisely thirteen and one half degrees.”

“Couldn’t possibly!” The tall man stammers.

Cait is again disturbed. “My goodness. Is he going to win a wager?”

“I don’t believe it.” Calls the slight man.

“What does all this measurement of angles have to do with our loss of sleep?” The slight

“I do!” Giggles Cait quietly.

officer inquires.

“The boy’s name was Cata or some such.” Lt. Chambers tells proudly. “And Miss

“Am I the only one that understands anything?” Cait angrily mutters. “They must have

Amanda Pine-Coffin was my witness.”

bet on the first sighting of land.”

“And so was Miss Cait McManus.” The heiress announces in a low voice.

“Yesterday mourning, Venus was fifteen degrees above the horizon. That is a loss of one

“Did you see the native’s face?” Asks Lt. Tombs.

and one half degrees of elevation. Deducting one degree loss by the planet’s normal

Lt. Chambers pauses.

transient per day, that allows for a resultant rise in the horizon by a half degree.”

“Ah…. not really! Seems the bloke kept his head lowered. He never really looked me in

“Land ho!” Cait mimics in sarcasm.

the eye.”

49

50


“Quite right! The caste system and all that!” Remarks the tall officer. “He must truly be a

“The lowest of the low socially. These are the people of India that live by doing unclean

citizen of Indian.”

work. They are hired to kill rats. They bury the dead, and perform all unseemly duties.”

“Caste?” What do you mean?” The slight officer asks.

Lt. Tombs teaches.

“India has very strict social class structures that are not permitted to interact, intermarry,

“If the shadows of an Untouchable reaches a member of a caste then that individual must

etc.” Tombs explains.

bath immediately. He must regain his purity.’

“Why do you suppose they have such a system?” Lt. Chambers ponders.

Cait is disturbed by the story.

“’An Indian strives to become pure. His cleanliness marks his purity. The more pure

Chambers is uncomfortable by the tale.

one’s soul is rendered the higher his caste.” Tombs adds.

“Is there no one above the caste system?” The slight man asks.

“How does one get to be pure? Doesn’t one have to be born into a caste?” Chambers

“Yes. A special breed of person called a saint. An individual, who forgoes worldly

puzzles.

pleasures, remains chaste, and owns no property. These holy persons are praised as living

Lt. Tombs continues. “One is born many times, reincarnated. If one lives a pure life then

deities.” Tombs asserts.

one may be reborn in to a higher caste. Unclean ways or ignoring social taboos results in

“We have saints.” Cait whispers.

one being reborn into a lower caste.”

“We have saints” Chambers replies.

“Where dose one finally end when they become totally clean and keep all the rules?” The

“Unlike our saints these people are very much alive. Members of all castes revere them,

slight officer asks.

provide them drink, food, and shelter as they need."

“One attains salvation. No rebirth, no reincarnation is needed.” Tombs answers. Cait is very attentive to the men’s discussion. “Are there any people outside the caste system?” The slight man asks.

~~~~

“Yes! Europeans are of course are not members of any caste.” Answers Tombs. “Any Indians themselves not in the caste?” Chambers persists. “The Untouchables compose the largest group outside the caste system.”

The tall officer was correct.

“Untouchables?” Asks Cait.

Later in the day the sailors call land ho.

“Untouchables?” Asks Lt. Tombs.

The coast of India is sighted in the distance.

51

52


The mood upon the ship becomes jovial.

This is noticed.

This night well after dark the good mood continues.

Tombs is unmotivated by the game but enjoys the comradeship.

Below deck in a cabin shared by the three officers a card game is in progress.

The first mate is here for the liquor.

The captain, first mate, and the ships surgeon join in a game of chance.

Chambers loves the competition but is a poor player. He too is loosing a huge numbers of

“The ante is 100 points each.” Lt. Tombs states as he deals out the cards.

points.

“I’m 10,000 points at the loss since we started this voyage.” The captain complains.

The surgeon is amiable and not a good card player.

“If you can’t pay your points don’t gamble!” Chuckles the first mate.

The slight officer is skilled and winning. “Luck my good fellows, luck!” He states as he

The men laugh at the irony of meaningless debts.

claims another victory. “I’m buying!”

“I’ll payoff my gambling loans with a bottle of rum!” The captain produces a fresh

More drinks are enjoyed.

charge of liquor.

“Do you know what day is tomorrow?” Tombs asks at large.

“Cheers!” The men call in return.

“Day after today!” Chides Chambers.

Cigars are burning.

“Day before the day after tomorrow.” Laughs the captain.

Smoke bellows about the table.

“Fish is to be served in the mess.” The first mate is mocking.

“How soon to port, captain?” Asks the slight officer.

“The Queen’s Birthday!” Answers the surgeon.

“Less than a week if the wind holds and the sea stays calm.” The old seaman answers as

The moment is sobering.

he refreshes his drink.

The captain scratches his head.

“The raining season is just ending about Bombay.” The captain adds.

Chambers is surprised by the neglect at his remembrance.

“Fowl weather possible as we near!” States the first mate.

The first mate is Portuguese and is indifferent.

“The rains and winds be heavy there?” Chambers wonders.

“Dress whites at dinner!” Tombs reminds.

“On the season but that is passing now.” Warns the captain.

“There should be a military salute.” The slight officer reminds.

The cards are dispersed.

“We have no cannon on board this vessel.” Notes the captain.

Much study for the play to come unfolds.

“Muskets! Old boy!” Tombs suggests.

The captain likes his cards. He becomes anxious.

“We keep no long arms on board either.” The captain informs as well.

53

54


“Then it is up to us.” Chambers declares. “Side arms!”

Immediately the fair skin of the child is hidden under a deep brown tone.

“Six Salvos after God Save The Queen?” Tombs looks to the captain for permission.

“When the singing ends, step out from behind the crowd. Nay look up to let any one see

“Before dinner! On the main deck, I shall have notice given to all passengers.” The

thee blue eyes.”

captain complies.

“Won’t the captain be suspicious of me?” Cait asks.

“Three cheers for the Scorpion, her captain, and her crew.” The officers answer.

“Take this with yee. Hold it high for all to view and walk straight to the captain.” Magnus hands the girl a large bottle of very old Scotch. “His thirst will fix his eyes on thee offering. His notice of yee shall be lost we trust. I nay

~~~~~

know not what the other passengers will think!” Cait has already been seen. She is unconcerned.

The stewards serve midday meals upon the upper decks.

At five bells all aboard assemble on the main deck.

Written invitations are being presented to a celebration of the Queen’s Birthday at the

The honor guard of the three officers hoists the Union Jack.

sounding of five bells.

Each lieutenant is dressed in white tunic decorated in gold buttons and insignias.

Cait is anxious.

They wear dark blue slacks with wide red vertical strips.

She calls upon her uncle’s cabin. “Uncle Magnus, we are expected to appear for the

“Those uniforms are gorgeous. The appearance of the officers is stunning.” Cait notes.

celebration in daylight.”

The slight officer steps forward. In a beautiful tenor’s voice begins to sing God Save the

“Aye lass we can nay both be missing.”

Queen.

The huge man ponders.

At the conclusion, the officers pull their revolvers and lift them to point far out to sea.

“I can nay appear. My size will tell of our travel for sure.”

Lt. Tombs calls out. “Fire!”

The man produces a small vial.

In unison the pistols discharge their rounds then pause.

A few drops are mixed with clear water.

“Fire!”

“Here lass! Wash thee face and hands in this. It will darken thee skin so that the Laird

The second fusillade is loosed.

himself would not be able to recognize yee. God bless him.”

Cait has never seen such an exquisite spectacle.

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A round of discharge from the weapons follows each of six commands. The officers

“My turn must come soon!” Demands the slight officer.

holster their pistols, and draw their sabers.

“Tonight lads I strike.” Boasts Chambers.

The militia comes to attention before the crowd.

Cait is anxious to quit the crowd.

“Three Cheers!” Lt. Tombs calls.

“Come to the upper deck tonight Cata? I should like to know more of your homeland.”

“Hip hip! He shouts.

Amanda begs.

“Hooray!” Answers the gathering.

Cait’s head does not lift. She makes no reply.

At the end of the third chorus, all present erupt in applause and merriment.

“I have to entertain one of those officers at sun set but we can meet for a few moments

Cait seizes the moment of confusion.

prior.” Amanda directs.

Arriving before the captain without his notice, she thrusts the offering into his face.

Cait nods obligingly and exits.

With out hesitation, the affable old skipper confiscates the gift while he remains immersed in a throng of congratulating souls. The crowd yet mingles as Cait disappears before the captain may fully view her.

~~~~~

Amanda does not fail to notice. She is quick to call. “Cata!” She calls.” How is you vicar?”

This evening, Cait appears on deck as soon as she senses the presence of Amanda’s

Cait bends her head upon her folded hands to suggest sleep.

fragrance.

“Still recuperating?”

Amanda is delighted to gain experience with the indigenous folk of India before her

Cait nods agreeably.

arrival.

Chambers notes the meeting of the two.

“Do you come from a large family? Many siblings?” The woman indulges.

“There is that native boy!” He points to his comrades.

The clan is large. Cait nods yes than yes again.

More attention is given to Miss Amanda’s radiant appearance.

“Are you the oldest child?”

“I would concern myself with that beautiful woman and our current bet old chap.” Tombs

Cait nods no.

encourages.

“The youngest?”

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58


Cait nods yes.

“Oh no! He can’t!” Cait springs to glimpse out upon the couple.

“Oh my! Your mother must be quiet old. Is she well?”

Amanda has become quite uncertain. “The ceremony for Her Majesty was quite

Cait responds in the negative.

thrilling.” She states awkwardly.

“Amanda understands. “I lost my mother when I was very young. We have much in

“Yes!” Replies the lieutenant.

common. Are you compensated well by your master?”

His eyes do not leave the woman’s face

Cait nods yes.

“This man is not interested in a conversation.” Cait identifies.

“Is your family from Bombay or farther inside India?”

“Your father…what is his occupation?” Amanda is straining.

Cait points far away.

“Constable!” Boldness swells in the man.

“I should like you to consider working for my father if the vicar doesn’t mind. I should

His intention is decided.

love to have someone near that I feel I can trust …a native that is.”

“She is going to be overpowered.” Cait is strained to see all.

Before the child can answer, Lt Chambers arrives.

“Your home?” The woman is spell bound upon the moment.

“Best you go now. We shall talk again.” Amanda suggests.

She is confused.

Cait retreats toward her cabin.

“Shuemy, Wales.” Chambers says as he steps very close to the woman.

Again she must brush pass the handsome lieutenant.

“He’s going to kiss her with out her invitation. What an animal!” Cait is nervous.

As he slips past the fine-looking officer, a scintillating sensation races up her spine.

Amanda squirms from indecision.

Cait is sure that the officer felt the same intimate feeling. She hurries into her retreat and

The officer removes his dress white helmet.

positions herself near her portal.

He reaches round the back of the woman and pulls her firmly close to him.

“My compliments Miss Amanda.” Lt. Chambers begins.

Cait’s mouth opens in astonishment at the virile act. New emotions rise within her.

“Please call me Amanda.”

Amanda is stunned.

”Is she inviting him?” Cait ponders. “Please call me William…that will be new.” She

Amanda’s arms open.

mutters sarcastically.

She is lost to speak.

“Please call me William.” The officer responds.

Instantly his lips cover hers.

There is much silence outside Cait’s cabin window.

He holds her.

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Cait is astonished at the powerful feelings that stir with in her. “Am I jealous?”

Inside Cait deals with her caring that may never be told. She cries from the overpowering

Amanda struggles.

sentiment of peace evoked by the brilliance in the colors of the passing sunset.

“Too much passion! Too much aggression for Amanda from this rendition of William.”

The rare extravaganza they witness overcomes the two ladies with divine calm and the

Cait observes.

pleasure of being in life.

“Not too much of either for me!’ Cait grows quite warm.

A pair of gentle feet make up on the deck.

Amanda is not comfortable in his grip nor does she enjoy his kiss.

The slight officer arrives.

Amanda pulls away.

He is moved by the touching state of Miss Pine-Coffin.

Chambers presumes he has conquered.

Quietly he stands.

“Your bet is lost William from Shuemy.” Cait withdraws

The sun disappears.

The woman gathers herself. She has been attacked. “Really!”

The woman takes sense of another’s presence. She is disturbed to find the third officer in

“I should like to stay longer but I must see to my duties that end the Queen’s

her company.

Celebration.” Lt. Chambers interrupts.

The man is aware of her discomfort.

He hurriedly departs

“Please accept my apology for the conduct of my comrades.” He states.

The ocean surprises this evening.

“We are fine fellows but the coming war, the long sea voyage, and the nearness of a most

The horizon is sharp and clear as never before.

beautiful woman prove too much for all of us.” The man continues.

“The rays of the sun are bending into shades of color upon the sea!” Cait observes.

Amanda finds his voice and demeanor appealing.

Amanda has been deserted upon the deck.

His words are welcomed.

Her feelings have been ignored.

“May I inquire to whom I speak?” She poses.

She cries.

“Lt. William Broadfoot of Her Majesty’s 5Th Light Cavalry.”

Her abused affections give way to a reassuring joy provided by the rare beauty of the sea

“Impossible! How many Williams can there be in the English Army?” Cait is bewildered.

this eve.

The light is dimming.

The spectrum in ocean’s glow comforts her.

Amanda finds the man honest and sincere. She steps closer to search his eyes.

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He adds further to his apology. “Forgive the roguish actions of my mates.”

Her hug tightens.

“Why should you not act in the same naughty manner?” Amanda asks.

Above a whisper he admits. ”Your beauty hides the great caring and loving person that

“I certainly have no idea.” Cait moans quietly.

you are truly.”

“I am several years the senior of my fellow officers.” Broadfoot informs.

He returns her hold in a most adoring way.

Cait has little light to continue her surveillance.

Amanda is grateful.

“Is there a reason you delayed the start of your military career?”

His masculine voice and his tender words are needed.

The eyes of the lieutenant burn bright. “My mother asked me to put off my service for a

Amanda’s longing for true affection and her want to be secure are fulfilled at this

time while she was….”

moment. She fears to release this man.

Cait senses tragedy.

Her lips search for his.

Amanda senses tragedy.

She presses against his mouth.

She presses closer to the man.

All her need and desire, all her want for gentleness and love is conveyed in her caress.

“Her health was failing. She wanted family close to her. I am her only child... I could not

Cait is astonished as these tender most sentiments are being shared. “I can’t believe this.

refuse.” He details further.

She has determined the winner of the bet.”

“You staid by her side for her final days.” Amanda is touched.

“Will you make the army your career?” Amanda asks.

“I was devoted to mother. She was my best friend, my champion. It was my honor…my

“At the conclusion of this campaign I shall be made a colonel and return to Wales and

pleasure to see to her every need until the end.”

assume my family’s status with the Home Guard.”

“He is sweet.” Cait determines.

Their loving hold does not quite.

“How sweet! How wonderful!” Amanda is over come.

“Your family status?” Amanda ponders.

Her arms enfold about the man in consolation.

“Family status?’ Cait echoes.

Her lips gently kiss his cheek in sympathy.

“I am the son of Lord Broadfoot.” He answers.

Cait is moved as well. “He needs that hug.”

Amanda’s eyes flicker wildly. ”Lord?”

The emotion of the loss of his mother revisits the man as he is held in Amanda’s arms.

“Lord?” Cait echoes.

The woman senses his weakness.

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“Upon my return I must assume my father’s office over our businesses.” He states casually.

Chapter Two

“Businesses?” Amanda’s eyes are full wide. “Businesses?” Cait echoes.

The Isle of Bombay

“Yes, agriculture, mining, ship building, railroads, the usual for one of the largest enterprises in the United Kingdom.” Amanda’s legs weaken. The officer’s grip tightens. ”I wish you to return with me as my wife.” He proposes. “Yes…I...” Her words fail. “Who would have bet on this?” Cait is dumbfounded. “I shall become Lord upon my return, and assume an advisory position to the Queen.” He adds. “My God! He knows the Queen!” Cait blurts. “You …know the Queen?” Amanda asks sheepishly. “Of course! She is my father’s first cousin. Amanda faints.

t first light, the sailor atop the main mask identifies parts of tree and bush floating upon the approaching sea. “Land near!” He calls to those below. The captain is quick to mark the ship’s place on the map.

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“Midday we make to the port of Bombay.” He advises the first mate. “How do you read

Magnus makes his way into Cait’s cabin.

the sky due east?”

“We are soon to land at Bombay.” He informs.

“Clear as far as the eye can see captain.” The first mate replies.

Magnus’ beard and complexion are now stained dark.

“We have made good time…two days ahead of schedule.” The captain calculates.

“Yee will pass easily as a native…but what of the local language?” Cait asks.

“There a good deal of debris afloat. That’s quite far out to sea for so many bits of land to

“Languages yee mean! There be over four hundred dialects used in the land ahead.”

be a drift.” The mate concludes.

“How shall we communicate? English?” The girl asks.

“There must have been devastating storms what cut a path along the Asian Coast,” fears

“We nay will use English but in private. In public we shall use the Old Gaelic tongue

the skipper. “Are the seas calm ahead?”

from the highlands.” He requests.

“Aye captain! Calm as in a doldrums.”

Cait is agitated. “What if the locals don’t understand Gaelic?”

“Keep a watch on the horizon for any disturbance in the sky or sign of ruff water,” orders

“Then we use hand signals like everyone else in India. Nay one expects to be able to

the captain.

understand everyone’s language. I can mange a few local words that are widely

The captain continues to figure upon his map.

understood.”

“We shall soon be over the continental shelf of Asia and move into more shallow

“Won’t we be noticed as we depart the ship today?” Cait wonders.

waters.”

“In port, the locals will come aboard to remove cargo and luggage. We shall collect our

The first mate looks on as the captain points to the ship’s intended locus on the nautical

bags and mix with the native workers. Just move directly off the ship and keep close

chart.

beside thee uncle, lass.”

“We shall soon see muddied waters if a typhoon have devastated parts near Bombay.” The skipper advises. ~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~ Below in the passengers’ mess hall, the three officers sit with tea and crackers. “We shall reach port early.” Lt. Tombs announces.

67

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“Have you been at your compass?” Lt. Chambers asks. “No! I heard the first mate tell the helmsman.” He smiles. “I suppose there will be proper English Security about the port.” Lt. Broadfoot suggests.

“Father…I have organized my marriage.” Amanda tells in her cabin.

“We need to present our orders to the Commandant of the British Headquarters for the

“Marriage my dear? You are too young! Marriage to whom?” Mr. Pine-Coffin replies.

Military District of Bombay straight away.” Lt. Chambers reminds.

“Lord Broadfoot of Wales!” She states empathically. “I am a year older than my mother’s

“What about Miss Pine-Coffin?” Lt. Tombs wonders.

age when she became a wife.”

“I need to speak with her before we disembark.” Lt. Broadfoot insists.

Her father puffs in confusion.

“Here’s my quid old boy”. Lt. Tombs offers.

“I intend to complete all the arrangements before we are settled in India…. where will

“Mine as well!” Lt. Chambers adds.

you be posted initially?” Amanda inquires.

“I must refuse. Our bet was cancelled when I asked Miss Amanda to be my wife.” Lt.

“Bombay! Where did you meet this Lord?” The man struggles to comprehend.

Broadfoot determines.

“It’s not important! I have also taken on a personal servant and guide from the locals.”

His two comrades are shocked.

The woman is busy separating items.

They hesitate.

“Servant? Locals? Guide?” He stammers.

“A toast! “

“Really father please. Juts pay attention and do as I say. I shall see that our stay in India

“A bet!” The two shout together.

is correct.” Amanda decides that she must begin to assume her place as Lady Broadfoot.

“To the happy couple!” Lt. Tombs lifts his glass.

“Our new station requires your cooperation only!”

“The last man to arrange his marriage gets the two quid from the previous wager.” Lt. Chambers raises his glass. “Done and done!” Lt. Broadfoot‘s glass is ready.

~~~~~~~~

“Cheers!” They call.

The ship begins to make the preparations for arrival at its final destination. ~~~~~~~~

The cargo hatch covers are cleared from obstructions.

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70


Unnecessary ropes and tools are put to long term storage.

Magnus does not respond.

Gear needed for work on the open sea and unwanted for the task of bringing the ship to

Cait does not respond.

its mooring is stowed.

“Parson, if you are well enough, I am desperate to have my marriage performed at

Extra ships’ hands are put to scrubbing and polish.

once…before we arrive at shore.” The woman is determined.

“Make her shine lads.” The first mate barks across the decks.

“Nil a fhios agam!” Magnus answers in Gaelic that he is not well and able

The sailors are anxious to drop anchor and make leave a shore. Their pay buys much in

“Oh!” Amanda stutters. “You are a foreign preacher!”

the local Asian economy.

She turns to Cait. “He is not speaking English!”

The first mate announces to all passengers to be ready for off boarding by late afternoon.

Cait nods to confirm.

“None depart until the Scorpion is put to her mooring proper like.” He assures the sailors.

“This will never do! William shall simply not understand his vows.” The man’s words sound like German to her “Isn’t there another on board who can perform a proper English marriage?” Amanda

~~~~~~~~

puzzles. Cait nods yes vigorously and points to the captain’s quarters. “The captain?” Amanda ponders. “Of course! He has the necessary authority while we

Magnus is helping Cait inside when a tapping is made on the cabin door.

are upon the sea.”

“Cata?” Calls Amanda. “I know this is your compartment.”

Cait nods to confirm.

Magnus looks to his niece.

“Your master sounds much improved.” Amanda surmises. “I will speak with him again

He nods to the lass as instruction for her to open the door.

about your employment with my father.”

Magnus hurriedly removes his turban. Amanda enters to find the native boy attending a man resting in bed and shrouded in a blanket.

~~~~~~~~

“Oh vicar! I did not realize this is your cabin!” Amanda is taken back by the lack in appearance of the man. Forgive my intrusion please?”

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“Land ho!” The mizzen mate calls from atop.

“William, I do not choose to wait to become Lady…. your wife.” She whispers as her lips

“Did you hear that chaps?’ Lt. Tombs bellows with joy.

meet his.

“To be on firm ground at last.” Lt. Chambers cries in joy.

Her soft form and warm desire melts any hesitancy.

“Oh! Miss Amanda will expect me to speak with her before the ship makes dock.” Lt.

“The captain is waiting. He will marry us at once!” She details.

Broadfoot worries. “There’s very little time.”

“This is very sudden!” He hesitates.

“Hurry old boy.”

Amanda is not deterred. “If you wish me to return as your wife then there is absolutely no

His friends recommend.

reason we should now wait.”

At once the slight officer bounds to the upper deck, and appears at the apartments of the

Lt. Broadfoot has no reply.

Pine-Coffins.

“Then it’s settled.” She sings. “Go prepare at once William! I’ll meet you on that stern

“William! I…we need to talk.” Amanda has been waiting impatiently.

place straight away. Bring your comrades.”

“Dear Amanda, we shall be put off to India soon.” Lt Broadfoot is lacking at his

“Where will we honeymoon?” He questions.

goodbye. “I must say fare…”

“That shall depend entirely on your army. How can anyone know where or when until

“There is something more important than goodbyes. “ Amanda is resolved.

you army deploys you?”

William is put to attention.

“Yes dear!” The man replies. “I’ll go at once…. what of a ring?”

“Our wedding may not be allowed to wait!” She informs.

“I have my mother’s wedding band. Thank you very much.”

“Wedding...but my army?” He blunders. Her hand waves in dismissal of any military interference in her plans. “I shall simply join you when you are settled at your assigned military station.”

~~~~~~~~

The stunned look of the officer is ignored. “My father is preparing now. Your fellow officers will sign as witnesses. Yes! Choose your best man.” The woman rushes to gather him into her arms.

The formalization of matrimony is under way.

Her hug again weakens the lieutenant.

William is again in his dress white uniform.

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Lt. Tombs is stationed as the best man but Lt. Chambers stands directly at his side as well.

For an hour and more the ship bobs about in slight swells left by the exit of a major

The entire ship is in attendance but for Magnus.

tropical storm.

Cait watches from a safe distance. “I don’t believe that woman is traveling with a full

The coast comes into view as the waves begin to subside.

length gown of white lace.”

The Scorpion has arrived to the Isle of Bombay.

In the midst of the ceremony the crew calls out the notice of a sighting.

A small skip makes toward the Scorpion. She flies the Union Jack.

“Muddy waters…white caps dead ahead.” The first mate interrupts.

“Hail there! Who be thee and where be thee bound.” The port officer calls.

“I now pronounce you man and wife.” The captain announces abruptly.

“We be the Scorpion bound for Bombay,” answers the first mate.

Cheers rise for the newly wedded pair.

“There is damage in the harbor!” The skip informs. “Make dock near the port’s southern

“The waters are to be a might choppy as we near port.” The captain warns. “Keep to your

most shore.”

cabins until we dock.”

The Scorpion’s captain calls. “Drop all but the main sail. Make slow to port.”

“Horizon is clear enough captain.” The first mate advises.

“Aye! Aye! Captain.” The first mate jumps to action.

The three army officers turn to begin their retreat below.

“The damage to Bombay is heavy with flooding and much material destruction.” The port

Amanda is being deserted.

officer continues.

“William?” She calls.

“Place eyes on the bow and keep watch for obstructions afloat.” The Scorpion’s captain

All three men respond.

calls to his crew.

“Lt. Broadfoot!” Amanda waits for his arm. “ We shall linger in my…our cabin.”

“Looters be ashore!” The port officer warns. “Follow us to your berth.”

“Quite right my dear…I must return below and fetch my things.” The newly married man

The skip turns to lead the Scorpion inward.

is uncomfortable.

The Scorpion nears shore. Debris chokes much of the harbor. Heavy ocean currents have cleared the section of the port in the south.

~~~~~~

Cait observes the recovery activities being conducted by native barges and ships. Salvageable goods are collected from the water for reuse.

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Bodies are pulled from the brine to be taken a shore.

“Best gather our goods.” He points to her small bundle. “As soon as stores collect on the

In the Scorpion’s view funeral pyres are burning all along the coast of the island.

ferry’s deck off we go.”

The Scorpion’s anchor falls.

Cait is worried.

The ship is pulled by the anchor’s chain to a full stop with a brief shudder.

“Nay be concerned. We will be invisible once on land.” He comforts. “Stay by me side.

The Scorpion slides to rest with her hull comfortably pressed by the ocean’s breeze.

We shall walk to the base of that hill in the distance.” In the far stands a three covered mound that rises above the sprawl of the dwellings and streets of the crowded city.

~~~~~~

“Ravi’s place be found there.” He pauses. “If we should become separated the Moon’s Slipper is easy to find. It has the look of a long ship’s hull with open rows of hammocks under a thatch roof and a dining hall in its middle.”

“Where are we headed?” Cait asks. “Today we shall make our way to the home of an old sea mate of mine who keeps a Hindu version of a hotel and pub called by the name of the Moon’s Slipper. Her uncle

~~~~~

divulges. “Why did he choose such a name?” “Ah lass that be the way of B N Ravi. Its meaning be kept to his own. He makes fancy

"Her majesty’s escort has arrived.” Lt. Chambers informs.

the most simple of notions. However, he is as true and loyal a friend as ever a body may

“Let’s get top side and help old Broadfoot and his Mrs.” Both officers are uncomfortable

ever know.” Magnus is anxious to see his old mate.

with the change in their comradeship.

Clamor reigns off the starboard.

“We shall share transport with the Pine-Coffins to the Custom’s House then the three of

A sea ferry is heading toward the Scorpion.

us will travel on to Military Headquarters together.” The dark officer suggests. “We shall

It is empty save for a gathering of slender dark males dressed in local traditions, and a

soon all be on our separate ways. What say we share a night out?”

detachment of Royal Navy Marine Guard.

“Broadfoot’s days of going on the town with the lads are over…Ladyship and all that.”

“That is to be our way to shore lass.” The huge man indicates.

Lt. Tombs reminds.

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The officers reach the main deck.

Bombay is in the midst of enormous economic growth with the present expansion of the

They wear holsters with side arms.

British Empire. It is dense in migrant population, and expanding slums that surround the

Amanda answers the call upon her cabin’s door. She is stunned by the presence of the

port, business, and traditional residential sections of the city.

armed visitors.

Pungent odors, crowded streets, and deafening noise greet the passengers of the Scorpion

“Your honor guard!” The two announce.

as they take their first steps upon the Asian Continent.

Amanda observes her husband as he attaches his gun belt.

The activity about the open section of the docks has tightly compressed the people

“Good show!” Lt. Broadfoot replies. “Dear let us to the ferry. Your father will follow at

employed there.

once.”

Bundles of cotton stored for export are found everywhere.

The woman senses the danger to which her William must face. Her arm tenderly holds

Damage goods caused by the high winds from the typhoon are strewn about the land.

his. Her body presses to provide comfort.

Horse and cart barely progress in the heightened congestion. They move more slowly

The ship’s stewards are busy directing the native porters in the collection of luggage as

than a person afoot.

Amanda and her companions descend upon the ferry’s deck.

The size of Magnus is as a Goliath among the thin small natives. His large mass compels

Cait and her uncle arrive with the first wave of local attendants deposing the Scorpion of

the lesser forms to yield way.

personal baggage.

Cait follows just behind in her uncle’s shadow.

The large form of Magnus is given no special notice by the Europeans.

The warmth of the sun and the humidity of the land are new to the girl.

“Cata!” Amanda calls. “I wish to speak with you.”

The pervasive scents of waste, sweat, and aromatic smoke are new to the girl.

The woman approaches.

The shapes, manners, and dress of the throng of indigenous peoples are new to the girl.

She hands a written note to the young girl.

The forms, colors, and decorative carvings of the buildings as well as the Asian order

“Please give this to the vicar. I will take temporary quarters at the Lodge at the Custom

about the city are new to the girl.

House. I desire that you join me there tomorrow as my personal assistant.” She smiles.

The ensuing human efforts are not new.

Cait nods in understanding.

Humanity crowds about Cait as sheep in a stockade.

The small ferry is choked with human forms and goods. It makes off from the Scorpion

The local populace is gentle and polite.

and to the shore.

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Much communication between the citizens about the dock is done with the motion of the

Normally a ten minute ride, it will take over an hour for the carriage to arrive at the door

hand. Most she readily understands.

to the Custom House. The jamming multitudes are unyielding.

There are sufficient landmarks that rise to provide clear navigation.

“The odors are overpowering!” Amanda holds a scented handkerchief to her face.

The girl is quickly adapting.

“India is one of the poorest counties of the world. There shall be little here to remind us

In old Gaelic, Magnus states, “The Malabar Hills are our destination. Ravi’s place is near

of our English home,” remarks her husband.

the Mahalaxmi Temple. It is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess of Wealth. It is precisely the

The carriage separates from the noise of the throngs as it enters the walled and private

most suitable location for old Ravi to make his home.”

complex of the Raja’s Ministries.

“As good as any place from which to start!” Cait concludes.

Mixed between large buildings of oriental structure are massive gardens and water

“Ce mhead am?” She asks how long to their destination.

fountains that cool and comfort.

Their ancient tongue is similar in sound and their dress is common to India. None about

“It is simply divine!” Amanda exclaims.

them give attention to the pair of disguised Scots.

The beauty of the royal ground and the heavenly colors of the many flowers fill their

“Uair ag cos…tri uair ag capall.” He bellows one hour by foot, three by horse.

view.

The dimensions of the swirling human throng amaze the young Scottish girl.

“Nothing like this back home!” Chides Lt. Tombs. “There cannot be another place like it in the world I suppose.” Lt. Chambers stutters as he swirls about taking in the sight of the exclusive section of the city into which they have

~~~~~

just entered. “Most suitable!” Sings Amanda as she steps down from the carriage. “Greetings! This way!” A handsomely dressed attendant at the entrance to the Custom

The Royal Custom House is located in the city’s midst near the British Embassy at a

House invites. “The Mahan Raja welcomes you.”

secluded palace of the Raja of Bombay.

“Mr. Pine-Coffin, I am here to see the director at once!” Amanda’s father expresses.

Access is made to the paved streets about the government buildings through a heavy iron

Mr. Perceval Smyd is the head of customs for the India District of Maharashtra

gate guarded by the Raja’s army.

He is in his mid thirties with long thin hair hanging at the side of a balding head. Unmatched in his ability with figures and accounts, Mr. Smyd is most absent minded.

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The Home Office has sent Mr. Pine-Coffin with the explicit order to immediately oversee

“Father! Occupy your new office. I shall join you for our midday meal after I see to our

and assist the very capable but unsociable Mr. Smyd.

accommodations.” Amanda orders.

The newly arrived are immediately shown into the director’s office.

“William best you register with your army people and return here as soon as possible so

Deeply absorbed in legers and his pen busy in hand, the director takes little notice of his

that we can make plans.” She adds.

guests.

“I not sure what my orders will demand….”

“No lunch at present…too busy just now. Thank you otherwise.” The intensely active

“Every soldier is permitted time to speak with their wife before starting whatever the

man remarks in a pleasant tone.

army has in mind, I’m sure. I’ll expect you and your friends for brandy by evening.”

“Your new assistant, Mr. Pine Coffin has arrived.” The secretary announces. “Hmm!” Responds the director as his heads bobs between columns and pages with his pen marking his progress. “No Coffin… not hungry!”

~~~~~

“The gentleman is here to begin his work.” The secretary persists. “Perceval! I must begin a review of this quarter immediately. My first report is due at its end.” Mr. Pine-Coffin interrupts.

Into the main market of Bombay the two disguised Scots walk.

“The quarterly…my new assistant will take charge of this upon his arrival.” The little

Stands of fruit and vegetables are spotted everywhere.

man remains bent over his books.

Cooking fires are burning in every corner. Rice, tea, curies, hot fried breads are sold.

“Ah! Just as I thought! The raja likes to mark his credits in pounds sterling but accounts

Magnus buys a small metal teapot, and a little cooking kettle.

his debits in rupees.” Corrective notes are scribbled into a ledger.

Cait is surprised at the grand displays of flowers sold in garlands, in bundles, and

“The quarterly?” The office secretary persists.

individually by the stem.

Smyd points to the adjoining office. Without once looking upon the visitors, he waves his

The two Scots enjoy hot tea mixed with honey, and warm toast.

hand for those in his presence to be dismissed.

“We shall drink only hot tea and beer!” Informs Magnus.

“I must begin work at once.” Mr. Pine-Coffin announces.

Cait is puzzled.

“Your residence is in the guest house just behind the ministry. Luncheon will be served in

“Cholera!” Warns Magnus. “Drinking water must be boiled…especially after a typhoon.”

the salon sharply at noon not before.” The attendant details.

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Exiting the market areas, the two Scots make way deeply into a section of narrow alleyways. Here the crowds have come to a stop.

~~~~~

In the distance the sounds of bells, chimes, and song indicate the arrival of a procession. “India has many religious festivals through out the year.” Magnus informs. “One comes now!”

The Military Headquarters for the District of Bombay is found inside the Raja’s

Cait and Magnus are forced flush against the wall of a small metal working shop.

compound as well.

Half dressed natives with their heads and bodies colored in shades of red and gold stride

It is walking distance from the Custom’s House.

in unison.

Here the three newly arrived lieutenants are to present their military orders.

“Tanka tanka tun.” They chant repeatedly.

Commanding officer, Major General Harold Oliver Cromwell receives them.

Men covered in various flowers of red are members of the pageant. They sprinkle drops

“Welcome gentlemen!” The tall thin Major General returns salute as the three officers

of red paint upon the watching crowd.

enter and come to attention.

The intense Hindu ritual mesmerizes Cait.

“Her majesty has ordered a series of major military initiatives across the whole of India.

Following behind the musicians is a line of several dozens of elephants with their head,

Now that the typhoon season is concluding, military columns shall be assembled and

ears, and trunks individually decorated with bright images and prayers.

dispatched from our main fort outside of Bombay.”

Cait has never seen such a huge mammal.

The Major General studies the look of the new officers.

Cait has never seen a tusk.

“You shall take bivouac here at Head Quarters until your orders have been properly

“The elephant god Ganeesha.” Magnus whispers in Cait’s ear. “The god of success and

reviewed.”

prosperity is being honored.”

“Permission to speak?” Broadfoot requests.

As the first pachyderm passes just before Cait her arm reaches.

The attending Major General nods in consent.

Magnus stops her attempt to feel the side of the beast.

“My wife is now at the Lodge of the Custom House. May I join her?”

“Nay lass! Only those who feed and tend are permitted by the beast to touch.” He states

“Wife? Your papers indicate you to be unmarried!”

sternly.

“I was married aboard ship just today Major General!”

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“Most unusual lieutenant.” The commanding officer puffs. “Her Majesty has not made

The density of the population on the streets has lessened.

accommodations for an officer’s family here on the further most frontier of Her Empire.”

Open sections of land are now encountered.

“I can afford to provide all of Lady Broadfoot’s personal needs,” replies the young

Palm trees rise on unused parcels of land that show amidst rows of more affluent homes.

officer.

Monkeys race down from the top of the palm trees to earth. They fuss and scurry about

“A local woman?” The Major General is confused.

before they ascend back to the treetops.

“The former Miss Pine-Coffin! Her father has just arrived to assume a senior post in Her

Untended cattle stroll about consuming any found stand of grass.

Majesty’s Custom House.”

Sitting about are gatherings of mothers with small children.

“Romance at sea…quite right Broadfoot.”

They have no goods.

The commanding officer pauses.

They have no supplies

“Gentlemen as you have arrived early, you are ordered to appear at my office tomorrow.

They have no cover, nor shelter.

At 8 o’clock sharp, you shall assume your duties as commissioned officers in Her

Cait look piteously on the abandoned.

Majesty’s Military Service.”

“Homeless! Their men and older children are about seeking work, and food.” Magnus

The senior commander makes salute.

tells.

“Dismissed but do not leave this compound without permission of the officer on duty!”

Cait turns to Magnus.

The three return salute and begin to take leave.

“The need is too great lass. They have no medicine, no hope. This is the way of the

“Gentlemen wear your side arms at all times when in public even about the streets of the

poorest in a meager country.”

Raja’s compound here.” The Major General warns.

“Why don’t they eat cows or monkeys?” She asks. “Hindus do not eat meat!” Magnus replies. “They will starve first.” “How can one help them?”

~~~~

“The Crown has increased the number of jobs and added the first railroads. As the commerce in trade expands within India, meaningful help is arriving. The task is very large, difficult, and very long awaited.”

The two costumed highlanders are nearing their destination.

“What if we butcher a cow and make some thing to eat for these people?” Cait presses.

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The Hindu will kill any who harm a cow. The animal is considered holy.”

“These orchids are more beautiful than those on display at Her Majesty’s Botanical

“We can’t feed those children?” She begs.

Gardens in London. There they have no such assortment in types and colors as you have

“Lass, we are homeless and traveling alone in a needy country.”

here.” Amanda compliments. His love of these plants and the genuine praise by his visitor causes the accountant to

~~~~

forget his bashfulness and beam with joy. “I have collected all these specimens myself while traveling on assignment here in India. Oh, the flowers here are rare and so delicate. I have sent several specimens on to London.

Amanda has discovered a special garden off to the side of the path that joins her

Indeed some now reside in Her Majesty’s private residence.” He states proudly.

apartment and the Ministry of Customs.

“You…you know the queen?” Amanda asks timidly.

Hidden behind a tall hedge, the scent of wild orchids has drawn her attention.

“We are both devoted collectors of the orchid family. She writes me often actually.” The

A small water flow winds about moss covered stones in a crowded patch that is flush

book keeper is unpretentious with his relationship to the Crown.

with many forms and versions of orchid.

“I see you love orchids as well.” The little man has found a friend. “Come let me show

It is just after luncheon.

you!”

Amanda is surprised to find the person of Perceval Smyd busy about tending the plants.

The man points to blue flowers of a thin plant that has attached onto the branches of a

“I thought you never left your work?” Her question is used for announcement.

small willowy shrub.

The small fellow is surprised.

“Vanda Coerulea!” He states excitedly. ”From the northeast of India.”

“No one ever comes here!” He stammers. “I am just taking a respite from my duties with

Next on a mossy rock grows a delicate white blossom.

the accounts to check on my garden.”

“Coelogyne Nitida.” He states. ”From the northwest of India.”

The small man does not glance at his visitor but ends his attention at the orchids.

“I know this one Perceval! I saw it in London last summer.” She looks upon the man with

Amanda realizes that the chief custom’s administrator is not only absentminded but

satisfaction

extremely shy.

“You sent this orchid to London?”

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“I sent it to Her Majesty. It was she that had it placed upon display.” He shines with

“You stay here at the lodge? I shall be most delighted to have your company anytime.

Amanda’s recognition of one his favorites.

Mrs…”

“This one you may well see in London soon!” He indicates a yellow orchid with maroon

“Amanda! Please call me Amanda.” The woman feels uncommonly welcomed and very

centers attached to the top of a wet rock. “I have to send the moss on first. These orchids

special. “Thank you my dear Perceval.”

are very keen for this particular lichen.”

“My dear Amanda, I must write Victoria of your presence here among my orchids.”

Amanda and Mr. Smyd become enthralled with the garden’s offerings.

“Victoria…you address the Queen as Victoria?’ Cait is dumbfounded and her hands

“Oh how do you know so much about orchids?” Amanda is overjoyed at all the beauty

tremble with a slight palsy.

about her.

“Oh my yes…Victoria insists. She will be most pleased to learn of your opinions. She

For the first time Smyd looks into Amanda’s face.

may even write to you herself!” Smyd responds.

“Because I love them so!” He answers. “I spend most of my free time here with my

Amanda’s knees now tremble as well.

beauties.” “Here is a ground orchid…not only most rare it is extremely rare. It comes from the south of India and this is called Paphiopedilium. It is found in three colors. This pink version is

~~~~

the only one that I have been able to grow. The queen is anxious for me to send one on.” His bald head sags in disappointment. “I haven’t mastered growing it well enough as yet.”

The temples of India are busy through the day. Pilgrims from near and far appear to make

“May I come again? Please!”

offerings to one or other Hindu deity.

The private man is touched deeply by the true pleasure shared with the lovely woman.

During holy festivals, the religious will spend days in collective prayer and ritual.

“Do you work here? Should I know you?”

B N Ravi offers affordable room and board for all travelers to Bombay for spiritual

“I am Lady…Mrs. Amanda Broadfoot. My husband is in the army. My father is Mr.

celebrations. His business is thriving.

Pine-Coffin your new assistant.”

“We are close enough to have a late lunch at Ravi’s.” Magnus tells his niece. “And some

Uninterested in the others, he is eager to know more of Amanda.

fine homemade ale if I’m not mistaken.”

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Approaching the holy sites near the Malabar Hills, many suitable structures are found for

The small Hindu woman shakes her head no.

the letting of rooms.

“My husband has gone to market. He returns for midday meal soon.” She indicates with

Their prices are marked upon displays with replicas of the coin of the realm. Two rupees

her hands.

or more are the standard fair asked by the innkeepers with meals additionally charged.

“Yee are Ravi’s wife?” Magnus asks with hand signals.

The better inns have signs picturing their name above the entrance.

Yes she nods.

“How would yee expect the image of a Moon’s Slipper to be portrayed?” Cait asks as

“We are in the right place lass.” Magnus tells Cait.

they pass several commercial boarding establishments.

“Garma cha?” He requests the Hindu woman in her language.

“Be a moon showing for sure lass, perhaps with a wee slipper as well.” Magnus guesses.

Yes nods Ravi’s wife.

“How about a sign that shows the moon in the background with a small schooner in the

Cait puzzles at her uncle.

foreground?’ Cait asks as she points to the left side of the avenue.

“Hot tea.” He repeats.

“By the saints that image looks to be the slip, H.M.S. Bullwinkle if I am nay going blind.

Cait makes motion with her hand to indicate food. “I’m famished!”

I served with Ravi aboard her for three years across the Pacific and back several times,”

“Bhrojana!” Magnus calls out to the woman in Hindi.

Magnus states.

Yes nods Ravi’s wife.

“That must be Ravi’s place for sure.” The large Scot laughs. “It’s a grand distance to go

Magnus and Cait take seats on a matt in the open air.

for a wee bit of a stay.” He is pleased with the success of the long journey and their safe

Tea with honey is served hot in small bowls.

arrival.

Placed banana leaves are to be used for dinner plates. Fingers must do as the eating

A narrow open structure made of vertical wood beams covered by a wooden deck at the

utensils.

top stands in the manner of ship’s haul. It sits under the designated sign.

Large servings of boiled saffron rice are spooned out followed by a generous portion of a

Several dozen rows of hammocks hang in columns between the beams. Bamboo mats are

curried mix of vegetables.

laid to cover the floors. They are used for sleep as well.

Flat round bread is fried in oil and served quite hot.

In the center of the structure is a closed area for cooking and the serving of meals.

This is Cait’s first encounter with Hindu cuisine.

As the two Scots approach, a Hindu woman is sweeping out the dirt floor of the inn.

She is euphoric. The taste, the texture, and the composition provide her with a new

“Ravi?” Asks Magnus.

weakness.

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Magnus enjoys the return to Hindu pleasures.

Ravi pulls a six inch curved blade from its holding place and waves it hysterically about

“Biyara?” He commands loudly in Hindi.

shouting.

A large sipping bowl of warm beer is hurriedly delivered.

“Surkha Chakkara must die!”

Lost in sumptuous dinning, the Scots note not the arrival a small dark man with thick

The furious keeper begins to move away from his inn.

black hair and heavy mustache.

“Ravi wait! It is I, Magnus.” The Scot blurts as he rises to face the Hindu who is

B N Ravi has returned.

determined to undertake murder.

No special recognition is made of the two locals eating at his establishment.

Silently Ravi turns to look upon the large form of the native that calls him.

Ravi is very agitated as he calls.

Ravi is displaced from his present intent. The innkeeper searches for familiarity from the

“The girl has been taken to the Surkha Chakkara.” He informs his wife.

visitor to his dinning area.

The woman is much shaken. “Savi! My poor cousin! What shall we do?” The woman

Ravi steps closer and inspects the eyes of his company.

cries in terror.

Pausing for the moment to search for Magnus’ soul, the small Hindu forgets his

The thin arms of Ravi swirl about in desperation.

difficulties.

“I can do nothing. No one can do anything!”

“Magnus! It is you.”

“The police!” His wife begs.

The arm that grips the long knife falls to the side.

“I have asked for their help. They will do nil. They are afraid.”

“I never expected that one day you should come here.”

“The Raja then!” The woman demands in anger.

Ravi steps closer.

“Ha! He will have me taken away. Have me put to work as a slave for being a nuisance.

“I was not able to dream that you would ever arrive to Bombay. “

You will lose your husband as well as your cousin.” Ravi argues in despair.

Ravi calms.

Magnus watches as his old friend quarrels with the native woman.

He smiles.

Cait is distracted by the excited antics and boiling emotions of her hosts.

“It is my long dream come true. Old friend welcome to my home.”

“I shall take my knife and cut the heart from the chest of that Surkha Chakkara!” Ravi’s

Ravi’s arms open to receive the great bear hug of his friend.

rage will not end.

Magnus lifts the small Hindu in his greeting now just as he has many times in the past.

Over hearing all, Magnus waits for a quiet moment to speak.

“Yee are the same spitfire as when we sailed together.” Roars the delighted Magnus.

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“What fate sends you to India and to me?” Ravi immediately resumes their old

“Yes! No one else will be daring to encroach on the enterprise of Surkha Chakkara or

friendship.

they will be dead soon.”

“My niece!” Magnus points to the one who remains seated.

“Perhaps they have sold her already? It may be too late to find her?” Magnus is not

“Why are you passing as Hindu?” The inn’s owner studies the lass.

hopeful.

“Why is she disguised as a man?” The present surprise confuses Ravi.

“The sales are made only on tomorrow day then again each week it is to be the same. I

“We are escaping danger. We travel north to family and safety!” Magnus advises.

was asking in the market place this today.” Ravi replies.

“You have come at a difficult time.” Ravi replies.

“Women are sold in the market place in Bombay? We just passed through there earlier

“Where do yee go now?” Magnus asks.

today.” Magnus cries.

“To slay the one they call the Red Troll…Surkha Chakkara.” He cries in anguish.

“Just to one side street in an old row of sheds used to store goods for trade. This is the

“What has this man done to you?”

place the girls shall be taken tonight. This is the place of Surkha Chakkara.” Ravi points

“My young cousin has been visiting. Yesterday we had many men staying here from

back toward the center of Bombay.

Bangladesh. Today Savi, my cousin is missing.” Ravi details.

“Why not just pay the 1500 rupees as a ransom and recover thee cousin?” Cait interrupts.

“She has been taken to Bangladesh?” Magnus guesses.

“He is a pig. I will not give to Surkha Chakkara when it is preferred to slay him at no

Ravi’s head waves side to side apologetically.

expense.” Ravi is resolute.

“Only here in Bombay can such thieves prosper. From everywhere come scoundrels,

“I must go with yee!” Magnus states.

cheats, and ruffians to Bombay. No one goes to a place that is totally wanting like

“Why don’t we just steal the girl back from the Hindu Troll?” Cait suggests.

Bangladesh to make a profit”.

“Surkha Chakkara is no Hindu. He is from Arabia!” Ravi informs.

“What will they do with yee cousin?” Magnus worreies.

“How comes his name of Red Troll?” Magnus asks.

“They shall sell her as a slave to concubine, or servant. You can buy a woman in Bombay

“He has a red beard. He is a short, round, and ugly man. He is mean and very dangerous.”

for 1500 rupees only. No questions are ever asked.”

Reports Ravi.

“Who is this Red Troll that yee are after?” Magnus questions.

Magnus is excited by the chance for risky adventure. “A plan is needed. We can go and

“He is the one who runs the black market in slaves for all of Bombay.”

rescue this child. It is preferable to planning a homicide.”

“He has thee cousin?”

“The two of us can surely succeed!” Ravi smiles for the first time.

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“It will take all three of us!” Cait will not be left out.

The three officers are stunned. Amanda continues. “The largest British Military Column ever assembled on this continent is going to move

~~~~~

north by north East through the heart of the Indian Continent. Massive amounts of stores, administrative personnel and their families are included along with several enormous detachments of the military.”

It is a warm evening.

“How could you possibly know all this?” Her dazed husband asks.

Lt. Broadfoot and his companions enjoy brandy in the company of his wife and father in

“It is common news about the Customs.” Amanda answers.

law.

“I hadn’t heard of such a venture.” Replies her father

“Tomorrow we discover our immediate futures in Her Majesty’s Service.” Lt. Tombs

“Perhaps you are not aware that tomorrow you shall be made the interim head of the

announces.

Customs Ministry.” Amanda replies to her father.

“A toast fellows!” Lt. Chambers proposes. “To our first commands in India.”

“What of Chief Administrator Smyd?” Mr. Pine-Coffin inquires excitedly.

“Here! Here!”

“Mr. Perceval Smyd will be busy acting on the personal interests of the Crown.” The lady

The men call out then sip from their glasses together.

tells. “His delegation shall be part of the forth coming expedition to depart for Janjira.”

“I wonder what authority we begin tomorrow.” Broadfoot asks.

All four men remain frozen and stare with wonder upon the lovely woman.

The three fresh officers ponder their impending fate.

“Are you certain of this information?” Lt. Broadfoot asks of his wife.

“In a fortnight we shall march due north!” Lt. Tombs produces. “I’ll wager a quid.”

“Certainly, Perceval has informed me personally.” He states assuredly. “I saw the request

“East! Old boy…straight into the heart of India.” Lt. Chambers offers.” A quid it is.”

in writing from Victoria…the Queen herself.”

“I say we sail around the tip of India to West Bengal.” Lt. Broadfoot counters.

“Are you part of Smyd’s Royal Delegation?” Her father guesses.

“One of us must be right.” Lt. Tombs surmises. “Only the Major General knows for

“Yes!” She answers with the palms of her hands held high and open. “The Chief

sure!”

Administrator of the Customs Ministry absolutely insisted!”

“None of you are correct.” Amanda informs. “In two days there will be a forced march due south to Fort Isinghood at Janjira where a major convoy is gathering.”

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~~~~

“The poor must keep someone awake to watch. One who is by themselves awake or not is in greater danger. Those who sleep alone out of doors are in gravest danger.” He continues.

It is midnight.

“So we shall move easily this night!” Magnus adds.

The moon is nearly full.

“I am borrowing a hand cart to carry away our Savi. She must be totally frightened and

The sky is clear.

very weak indeed.” Ravi plans.

The city is dark. There are no streetlights.

“Lass yee are in safe keeping with thee uncle.” Magnus advises.

Here and there a torch flames.

“Our plan is set!” Cait determines.

Oil lamps shine out from inside an occasional building on the horizon.

The streets of Bombay are quiet and dark as the trio embarks upon their rescue mission.

“We go soon!” Ravi advises. “The moon is all the light we shall have to guide us.”

Back toward the center of Bombay they march.

Magnus and Cait listen attentively.

Unobstructed is the way at night. Clear are the roads and streets. Their transit is rapid in

“My wife shall keep a fire here till our return.”

advance.

“Is there much danger afoot?” Asks Magnus.

Magnus carries a long knife.

“Much!” Answers Ravi.

Cait carries a heavy stick with a sharpened point.

“From robbers?” Asks Cait.

Ravi has his blade but carries a small bundle as well.

“Brigands are the least of our worries.” Ravi turns and points into the pitch-black hills.

The moon’s light provides choice in their path.

“The leopards come at this time during the night to feed!”

Cait notes the many human forms asleep upon the ground. Some rest directly upon the

“Leopards?” Exclaims Cait. “What do they hunt?”

barren earth without the benefit of mat. Others rest within doorways.

“Anything that they can eat…dogs, monkeys, cows, and people.”

They pass within feet of a dozen tired souls under the awning of a store.

“How does the population protect themselves?” Magnus asks.

“What do these folks due in the rain…or while a typhoon rages?” She asks her uncle.

“Those that can afford keep a monkey. This animal can sense the nearness of the big cats

“Lass they struggle to survive…. as long as they may.”

then they scream and wake their owners.” Ravi details.

Half way to their destination, Ravi stops in the middle of a line of small shops. ”This one is the home of my brother Mahmuta. He is a carpenter.”

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“Has he been to sea as well?” Asks Magnus.

In the distance several men walk about carrying torch lights. The men are carrying long

“Mahmuta worked in the naval shipyards in America until our father took seriously ill.

clubs.

He has returned home and now keeps the family business.”

“Turn left away from these fellows.” Ravi directs. “They are untouchables out killing

“Is he happy to be returned?” Cait asks.

rats.”

“Yes but his wife in not satisfied here. She is a Native American of the Mingo Tribe. She

“Why?” Cait asks.

wishes to take the children back to Virginia.”

“The city pays a bounty on each rat killed as well as the size of the rat. These men will

“So he goes soon?” Magnus guesses.

make a few rupees each plus they will consume the rats at their dinner tables this very

“Our father has died and our mother is eighty eight years of age and not well. Yes soon

day.”

Mahmuta will sell the shop and return to America.” Ravi states.

“Why are they searching in this area? “ Cait ponders.

“What of Ravi? Will yee go to America?” Cait asks.

“We are near the large grain houses of the market.” Ravi announces.

“Perhaps! If the gods may wish it then I go.”

Passing through the heart of the bazaar and into the southern edge, the rescuers enter an

Inside the open yard of Mahmuta’s home is found a small handcart used to haul wood

exceptionally dingy segment of the city composed of dilapidated structures used for

members.

varied commercial needs.

This the trio clears of Mahmuta’s goods.

“Here!” Whispers Ravi.

“What of this?” Cat holds a long wrap of chord.

He points to a narrows lane that moves through the abandoned buildings.

“A Hindu rope.” Whispers Magnus.

“All will be asleep inside as well as the guards outside.” Ravi advises.

Cait returns it upon the cart.

As the trio enters the lane, Cait notices the sign of the cross painted on the door of a small

Ravi covers himself in a woman’s sari and head cover. He appears now as a slight form

structure. It is more of a tool shed than a domicile.

of a Hindu woman.

A light shines from within.

Without disturbing the residents, the trio departs. Magnus pulls the handcart upon which

Cait hears the movement of a person inside. Her hand reaches to halt Ravi’s progress.

Cait and Ravi are seated.

“What is this place? Is it a chapel?” She asks.

A sense of purpose now drives the band. All eyes keep watch as they progress into the

“A sadhu…. a Christian holy man lives here.” The Hindu announces. “He is here for

heart of the market district of Bombay.

many years now.”

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“These brigands have not hurt this man?” Cait asks.

“The roads to the north are closed due to damage from the recent typhoon. Even the

“No Hindu will harm a sadhu. No Hindu will permit any harm to a sadhu. The Surkha

railroad lines are washed out. It could be months before the northern routes are fully

Chakkara himself fears for his life should his people harm any sadhu.”

restored.” Rev. Cattlemoore informs.

“Let us speak with this man,” She whispers.

“How come yee to be in Bombay…in this desolate part of the city?” Cait inquires.

Magnus shrugs his shoulders in acceptance.

“Years back I was praying in the Anglican Church of St. Edwards in Leeds, England. It

Ravi nods his head side to side in reluctance.

was late at night. I was deep in prayer with the Lord as I am tonight. God told me to pack,

“He may be able to help us.” She continues as she steps to the front of the chapel.

sell all my goods, and come to Bombay. I had a vision. So I have come.”

She raps gently at the door.

“Why now”? Cait wonders.

It opens and an old minister answers to find three apparent locals at his door.

“At my age?” The reverend guesses.

“May I help you? Is very late! Is there an emergency?” He asks in perfect Hindi.

“Our God is the God of care, sentiment, and concern.” He replies.

“Reverend we are here to find the cousin of B N Ravi who has been taken by the Red

“Ever been to India before?” Magnus asks.

Troll. We believe she is kept near here in one of these warehouses.” Cait answers in

“I never heard of Bombay. I had to ask the bishop where in the world my destination was

perfect English.

to be found.”

The old man is surprised to hear English from any local about this section of the city in

“You know the place where my cousin is being held?” Ravi returns to the task at hand.

the midst of the night, let alone spoken with a Scottish accent.

“Quite well! I preach there every day that the young girls are there. I ask God to end this

“Please come in…I can help!” The preacher invites.

sinful practice.”

The chapel is a one room cabin holding a single bed, one table with a chair. Cait notes the

“We hope to break in and release Savi from her captors.” Ravi informs.

old shed has a strong new wooden floor.

“It is the last warehouse in this row. It is easy to enter as the structure is in very bad

“I am the Reverend Oliver Cattlemoore originally of Liverpool. To whom do I have the

shape. Many birds make their home inside.” The Chaplin answers. “It is not easy to get

pleasure of speaking?”

away though.”

Magnus stands forward. “We are travelers on our way north to visit family.”

“The roof must be worn. We can lower a rope down and pull the girl up and make away.”

The vicar again notes a Scottish accent and one he recognizes as from the highlands. He

Cait decides.

will not compel more information from his visitors.

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“I can descend and find Savi. No one will notice the figure of a woman moving about.

coach to take me to prayer service, Ravi and his cousin will be free. For the others, we

Ravi agrees.

shall find a safe retreat as well.”

“I can pull yee both back up to the roof at one time.” Magnus offers.

Cait is satisfied. “We two shall head to the Royal Custom House and find employment

All look upon the reverend for his advice.

until we can make our final travel arrangements.”

“Occasionally, a girl will sneak away from her captors. Some child will find her way here

The three liberators make their way toward the place were Savi waits.

or to one of my friends. Such a girl can be saved.”

The storehouse used by the Surkha Chakkara is completely silent. None there are found

Cait stomps upon the chapel floor to indicate a hiding place.

awake.

The old preacher winks to her in response.

The rear of the structure is but a shoulder’s width separated from its neighbor.

“If one girl breaks out of the building then all the other girls will scream and run after

Ravi ascends on to the roof nimbly with Magnus’ assistance. He carries one end his

her. The alarm brings many of the Red Troll’s men. They quickly round up those who

brother’s rope around his waist.

flee.” The sadhu reveals.

Sliding carefully about the roof he searches for an opening suitable for his descent.

”We can not get away quickly.” Ravi fears all is hopeless.

At the same time Cait feels about the planking that serves as wall to the human depot.

“Not if we hide Savi with yee here in Reverend Cattlemoore’s chapel and move both to

The main access to the aviary through the roof is found. Ravi tugs upon his rope. Magnus

safety later.” Cait suggest.

begins to brace.

The reverend nods in agreement.

The relative of Savi begins a slow still drop.

“Uncle Magnus will lower Ravi down through the roof to find Savi, and then we pull

The outline of a woman swirls in measured fall.

open a section of the warehouse wall to release as many girls as possible. Ravi will send

No one takes notice.

as many girls here as possible.” Cait concludes.

Cait has found a section of wall boards that are damp and slack in attachment. With her

“The two of us will then gather the cart and pull away. Nay one will stop two men.”

stick these will be separated with little effort.

Magnus understands.

The fortress that holds the stolen girls has been breached from above.

“Load the cart with some firewood as if you were out stealing. The other thieves will

Crawling cautiously Ravi finds his cousin bound and gagged.

suspect nothing.” The preacher adds. “Tomorrow when my parishioners arrive with a

He whispers. “It is I, Ravi. We are here to bring you home.” The young woman whimpers piteously.

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Ravi embraces the child. He comforts her.

“Uncle Magnus and I must leave at once.” Cait determines.

“We must free all the others without detection. All must be silent or some will die here.”

“I shall go with you!” A young girl calls.

Ravi requests.

“We can not protect yee as well as the reverend while yee are here in the chapel.”

Savi’s free arms grip tightly her savior.

Magnus advises.

Ravi whistles.

The slight young woman of age near 19 has great comportment. She is not intimidated.

Cait pries open the boards and she enters at the side portal.

“My name is Pushpa Singh. I am the daughter of the Swami Kaspa from north of this

She mimics the call of the nightingale from her highlands in response.

province. I was taken during the typhoon. My father worries much. I shall not rest till I

It is enough to give Ravi the bearings for the secretive egress.

am retuned to him.”

One child at a time is freed and assisted to the waiting protection of Cait and her uncle

Cait understands her concern. “Yee cannot dress as a man!”

Magnus.

“She may hide in the cart covered by the wood.” The reverend adds.

In groups of two or three the captives are escorted to the Rev. Cattlemoore’s residence.

“Both must ride the cart as well. I will make away at a hard run. In but an hour or more

Sleep this night is deep and restful for all others.

we will be near the ministry.” Magnus tells his niece.

Some two dozen girls from the ages of nine into their teens have escaped bondage.

The cart is ready.

“We have them all reverend.” Cait declares.

“Do not fear!” The Pushpa tells Cait. “My father has many soldiers. They will be in

“The guards will awake in a few hours at the latest. Most of the girls can be hidden away

Bombay soon looking for the Surkha Chakkara. They will not leave without his head to

under my floor in a safety.” The preacher is ecstatic at the circumstances.

show their Swami.”

“Savi will go under ground and assist the small ones.” Ravi advises. “I will stay here in

With ease the load is pulled by Magnus who strides at the full to cover as much ground as

the chapel with the oldest girls.”

possible before the guards awake and discover the missing girls.

“The Surkha Chakkara will have great anger at the loss of his entire collection. His men will search everywhere in Bombay. He has many spies.” The reverend warns. “Will all be safe inside thee chapel?” Magnus asks.

~~~~~

“The place of the sadhu is taboo. None will risk an uprising by the people in revenge for such a blasphemy.” Ravi assures.

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110


At precisely 8:00 am of the next day, the three junior officers are present at H.Q.

“Will there be any civilians in the column?”

The Major General Cromwell presents written orders for each man.

“Yes! Administrative agents will be added and displaced as ordered.”

“Tomorrow a large convoy leaves for Fort Isinghood. Lt. Tombs as senior infantry officer

“Is it safe for the civilians?” Lt. Broadfoot inquires.

you will have the executive command. Your will have three company of men afoot.”

“There will be no organized action against this expedition. The occasional brigand or a

The other officers cringe with jealousy.

small lot of thieves may be encountered. Any civilians will be kept under armed guard at

“Lt. Broadfoot will take command of the four squads of Her Majesty Cavalry and two

all times.” The Major General responds.

platoons of mounted Bengal Lancers.”

“Do we take any civilians from the ministry here?” Lt. Tombs asks.

Their spirits of the new officers soar with the hope for military action.

“Presently a Mr. Smyd has a group that will accompany you all the way north. They shall

“Lt. Chambers you have two sections of light artillery and all the supply wagons to

return by sea.” Answers the Major General.

direct.” Orders the Major General.

“What is the purpose?” Lt. Broadfoot is nervous.

“When you arrive at Fort Isinghood supplies will be exchanged and additional troops will

“Smyd will be executing the personal wishes of Her Majesty. All his needs, any of his

be attached for the eventual movement north. You will resupply and deploy arms,

requests will be complied with immediately save for a compromise of safety or that

materials, and personnel according to the numbers, locations, and schedule in your

which may cause risk to the completion of your mission.”

written orders.”

The Major General is satisfied.

The Major General waits for his words to have effect. “This will be the largest

“Gentlemen it is time for you to meet with your commands, organize, and gather your

undertaking of its kind in India. You shall march up through the center of the continent

supplies. I shall see you on the parade ground at first light tomorrow for final inspection!”

demonstrating the power of the empire. Are there any questions?” Lt. Tombs steps forward. “Rules for engagement?” He asks.

~~~

“You will maintain the column’s directed transit at all times. Any hostile action that may be required will be undertaken in order to disperse the enemy. Do not make pursuit. You are a supply convoy only. The local command will deal with the suppression of hostiles.”

Since before first light Cait, Pushpa, and Magnus have been hiding hear the Raja’s

Lt. Broadfoot steps forward.

compound that holds the British Ministry of Customs.

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As the streets swell with people at the beginning of the day’s work, the escapees make to

“I must get to Amanda at once.” The girl tells her uncle.

the door of the compound.

“If you race around behind the stable, the guard will not prevent you from speaking with

The imperial guards of the Raja bar the three street rogues.

her.” Magnus suggests as he lifts open a shutter to a window in the wall opposite the

“I have a letter from the daughter of Mr. Pine-Coffin from the British Customs House.”

entrance to their confinement

Cait shows.

Now free Cait makes hurriedly to circumvent the guard’s watch.

“I am to report in her employ today.” She indicates with hand gestures.

Midway along the path to the ministry, Amanda is aware of a native approaching in

“Lass it will do na good. “ Magnus asserts. “Best wait till someone shows at the gate that

haste. It takes but a moment for her to recognize the servant from the ship.

we know.”

“Cata! I am delighted to see you.” She begins as the girl comes to a stop before her. “So

Pushpa steps forward to face the heavily armed sentries.

you have accepted my offer?”

“I am the child of Swami Kaspa, and cousin to the house of the Raja. We seek sanctuary

Cait nods agreeably.

until my father comes for me.” She barks in rich Hindi.

“Good then your first assignment is to find a native porter…a large strong man to

The sentinels are much impressed and jabber amongst them to decide what course of

accompany us on an expedition that begins tomorrow quite early.” Lady Broadfoot

action is needed.

requests.

“You may take shelter in the servant’s area near the stable only.” The oldest guard

Immediately Cait beckons the woman to follow her to the stable where upon Magnus is

informs.” We shall send a message on to Swami Kaspa telling of your presence.” He

introduced.

answers in English.

The guard has no choice but to accede to the lady’s wishes.

The sentry escorts Pushpa and her companions to a room holding tools, and leather

The massive form of Magnus in a Hindu disguise emerges.

harness stored for use in the stable. He remains outside.

Amanda hands fold at her breast as she measures the proportions of the brute.

The visitors are not free.

Cait senses Amanda’s concern. She pets her uncle upon his head in the gentle manner

“He may send a message to Surkha Chakkara instead of thee father.” Magnus realizes

that one would reward a canine.

In the distance Amanda Broadfoot is leaving her apartment and walking to the ministry

“Oh a tender giant is he?” Much relieved she asks. ”His name?”

for first meal.

“Mag…Magnus!” Cait replies.

Cait recognizes the lady’s presence in the distance.

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114


“Oh thank heavens that sounds so English. It will be easy to recall.” Amanda notices the young girl in the background. “Your sister Cata?”

Chapter Three

Pushpa has a powerful father, as once did she. This makes them sisters at large. Cait nods yes. “Pushpa!” She introduces.

The Fort at Janjira

“Well then we have all the personal help that Perceval and I shall need. Assuming Pushpa can cook?” Cait nods yes. “Excellent! Then all of you must come with me…do they all understand English as well?” Cait nods yes.

It is just before sunrise. The British Military has been busy since last evening forming its convoy.

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116


Armaments, supplies, and personnel are gathered.

“Conditions of the road ahead?” Lt. Tombs asks. “Any damage from the typhoon?”

Wagons, carts, mules, and horses are being tethered.

“Some trees down. Congestion mostly.” Sgt. Hook responds.

Lt. Tombs and his fellow commanders are gathered at the side of the parade ground that

“Your recommendation upon the march?” Lt. Tombs continues.

holds those soon to begin the military procession.

“Elephants sir! If they appear on the highway best give way. The beast can be

A young sergeant approaches.

unpredictable and dangerous.”

“Major Sergeant Hook!” The burley man introduces. “I am reporting as your lead scout!”

“Very good Sgt.” Lt. Tombs excuses his guide.

“At ease Major Sergeant” Lt. Tombs replies. ”How soon to Janjira?”

“Chambers old chap! If we see any of these creatures have a suitable perimeter of

“An easy two days march sir.”

infantry at the ready. I want any malicious beast shot before injury or damage can ensue!”

“What can you tell us of Fort Isinghood, Major Sergeant?” Lt. Broadfoot requests.

The commanding Officer Tombs directs.

“The ancient island fort at Janjira is presently used by Her Majesty’s Navy to suppress

“Yes sir!” Snaps Lt. Chambers. He is delighted at the competency of his commander.

piracy in the Arabian Sea. Fort Isinghood is located nearby. It is the main military

“Broadfoot! Have your point elements mounted and dispatched at first light. Keep them

compound for the Raigadh District of the Province of Maharashtra.” He answers.

five miles out at best. I want any narrows swept thoroughly before the column’s

“Nearest city?” Lt. Chambers asks.

advance.”

“Murud sir. This is the home of Jafara Khan, the district’s ruler.” The Sergeant informs.

“Right you are sir!” Cracks Lt. Broadfoot.

“What of the locals? Any trouble makers?” Lt. Tombs inquires.

“See to your wife before we begin the march.” Lt. Tombs adds.

“Ah that would be the Siddi, the black untouchables of India. These people are

“Thank you sir!” Amanda’s husband answers as he departs.

mercenaries originally come from Africa several centuries past.”

Light begins on the eastern horizon.

“Are they problematic?” Broadfoot asks.

Personnel commence the boarding of coach and wagon.

“Hot tempered, clannish, and dishonest sir…as well as damn fine fighters.” The guide

Cavalry detachments become fully mounted.

gives answer.

Platoons of infantry gain their formations.

“Should we expect any resistance?” Chambers measures.

Major General Cromwell arrives. “Lt. Tombs these dispatches are to be handed to

“Not against the main column sir, but individually one must be on guard at all times”

General Edger Smoot immediately upon your arrival at Fort Isinghood.”

The officers weigh the non commissioned soldier’s words.

Lt. Tombs salutes smartly in return.

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“You will have a goodly march ahead Lieutenant. Keep a sharp eye on the horizon for

“Chambers can you make our position by the stars tonight?” Lt. Tombs asks.

trouble and see to it that Mr. Smyd gets the Queen’s business done.” The Major General

“Yes, while the sky is clear!” Lt. Chambers agrees.

reminds.

The Indian sun is high and the temperature rises.

Lt. Tombs gives the final command and the column advances outward.

Soldiers not on duty nap under shade of the wagons. The column’s animals graze and are taken to a near stream to refresh and drink water. Dry strips of beef and crackers are served to the soldiers as midday rations.

~~~~~

“We shall have a two hour rest.” Lt. Tombs decides. “Then we march to night’s camp.” Lt. Chambers listens. “Have the quartermaster inspect the wagons for damage and wear while we are at a halt.”

It is midday.

Lt. Broadfoot listens.

The column has progressed at a sustained pace.

“Upon the scouts return, I wish an immediate report!” Lt. Tombs concludes.

Lt. Tombs has ordered a halt to rest and refresh the animals. “No fires! A cold meal

The pause in the march passes slowly.

only!”

The officers gather and smoke cigars.

“I should like to send scouts further ahead and to the rear while we are at break.” Lt.

Sentries stride in measure along the perimeter of the camp.

Broadfoot requests.

The cavalry scouts from the front return. They report the road ahead as open and clear.

“Master Sergeant Hook?” Calls Lt. Tombs.

The scouts from the column’s rear return.

“Lt. Chambers?” Calls Lt. Tombs.

“Armed riders are following.” A corporal reports to Lt. Chambers.

The two men arrive hurriedly.

“Their number?”

“Where will we camp tonight?” Lt. Tombs asks the sergeant.

“Three maybe more…they made off when we approached.” The corporal replies.

“Later afternoon we will pass some wetlands. This is just about the midway point to Fort

“How can you be sure they are chasing us?” Lt. Tombs interrupts.

Isinghood.” Hook answers.

“Their trail lasts for a good distance behind sir.”

“We shall reach meadowlands before sunset. The column can bivouac in a farmer’s field

“Their intent?” Lt. Chambers wishes.

tonight night for 300 rupees paid.” The sergeant continues.

“They appear to be just observing sir.”

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“Chambers have the rear guard reinforced.” Lt. Tombs orders.

In a stretch of land near a large pond the local natives have gathered. They are in a frantic state. Much chatter and calls in wail are heard from the local human pack.

~~~~~

The military column struggles to pass. The army is indifferent. Pushpa hears the lamentations of the Hindus families. She abandons the wagon and

The British military convoy has been several hours in their resumed march. Into a wide

rushes to the scene where the farmers are collected.

area of low flat land they arrive.

Amanda watches as her young cook joins the neighborhood melee. “Magnus stop! Help

Ponds, pools, and wetlands spread before them.

Pushpa. Get her back.”

Abundant fields of rice and grain flow about small gatherings of huts. The collective

This abrupt interruption brings the entire rear half of the convoy to a stop.

inhabitants are too few to be called a village.

Pushpa is in conversation with the residents when Magnus arrives.

Rather hamlets of close relationships dot about the terrain.

Pushpa has become hysterical as well. “A large snake has swallowed the grandfather.”

Here the road is quite narrow and poorly maintained.

She screams in English.

The column makes steady but slower progress.

The huge Scot does not comprehend the meaning of her words.

“There must be a very large assortment of orchids here about.” Amanda directs to her

“It came from the water. The old man was fishing in the shallows with a net. His

companion.

grandson witnessed this happening and ran for help.” Pushpa interprets.

“I have searched here widely and often. One needs to go deeper into the continent and

“A snake consumed the man whole?” The confused Scot repeats.

further from Bombay before rare choices in orchid are to be found.” Perceval advises.

“Yes, the beast is just there in the depth.” Pushpa points toward a deep pool that sits

The two hunters of flora ride side by side in the front of their wagon driven by Magnus.

yards from the shore.

The wagon holds large glass jars and boxes for the collection of plants. There is precious

Without hesitation the large man from the highlands withdraws his long knife and wades

little space allocated for human needs.

into the water.

Cait and Pushpa sit in the cart’s rear.

The thin natives are frozen in watch as the bulky man thrashes about the lagoon.

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Pushpa has never witnessed such a feat of bravery. She becomes inanimate. Only her

The on watching Hindus shout their approval with chants of “Shesh Nag.” Calling upon

eyes move in observe of Magnus.

the protection of the god snake.

Cait and Amanda have arrived upon the scene. They know not the tragedy that transpires.

Magnus is now considered a proper deity by the resident folk.

All monitor Magnus as he reaches under the water in feel. Large waves are created from

“Good show!” Exclaims Lt. Broadfoot who holds his wife in safety.

the strength of his searching arms.

At once the timid farmers rush into the water and assist the removal of the serpent. A

Shortly there is a curvaceous swirl beneath the water’s surface as the serpent moves in

snake in length of more than 30 feet is hauled ashore.

escape.

Pushpa and Cait rush to Magnus’ side.

Into this twirl dives the Scot.

The large lump in the serpent’s torso informs Lt. Broadfoot of the reason for the

Lt. Broadfoot has noticed that the convoy is spilt. Only the front section remains in

emergency.

movement. He races to the scene to determine the cause.

“Corporal?” He calls.

The cavalry officer joins his wife Amanda’s side. He becomes mesmerized as well by the

A mounted dragoon rides forward.

unfolding drama.

“Get her ladyship back upon that wagon and restart this column. Have a squad of infantry

Rising from beneath, Magnus lifts above the surface while holding the head of the grand

mount upon her wagon and keep guard. Send a dozen dragoons to isolate this area.” Lt.

constrictor in his one hand.

Broadfoot commands.

Struggling against the massive strength of the serpent, Magnus tugs the animal toward the

“Amanda this is no place and no circumstance of which to on look.” He continues.

shoreline.

“My servants! I don’t want them left behind.” Amanda pleads.

The immense contest of strength between the big man and the huge snake is witnessed by

“Corporal! Have extra horses available and bring her ladyship’s servants along as soon as

the gathered Hindu kinfolk. “Only another god would dare such a task.” One framer tells.

possible.” The lieutenant provides.

In response to Magnus’ dominance the serpent attacks his handler.

As the military column resumes its advance, Magnus tends the snake. His sharp knife

Powerful coils of the reptile begin to grasp about the Scot.

makes a long slit in the snake’s abdomen.

With his free hand Magnus’s large knife slashes through the neck of the snake instantly

The body of an elderly man is freed.

killing the beast.

The old Hindu is not yet dead. He moans.

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Cait looks on to Magnus for answer.

~~~~

“Ta se ag fais bhais!” In old Gaelic, Magnus informs his niece that the aged man lives but that his injuries are too deep. He tells in their ancient tongue that the old one’s end will come soon.

It is close to darkness.

Pushpa looks over the injured grandfather who eyes show only their white.

Lt. Tombs has the column placed for a night’s rest.

She whispers to Cait. “The old man is dying!”

Magnus and the farmers have collected the remains of the large snake on to a funeral

Magnus observes that the military train of wagons is soon to be gone. “Go now and catch

pyre. The snake god will be consumed by blaze after the grandparent’s funeral.

Amanda’s wagon.” He whispers to the two women.

“Just as the serpent sloughs his skin to remain eternal in life so will the fumes of the fire

“I must stay and help!” Pushpa replies.

return this beast to the snake god.” Pushpa informs Magnus.

Cait’s eyes beg for her uncle’s understanding.

Pushpa goes to help the local women who chant prayers in wait for the end of the elder’s

Magnus says softly. ”Go now lass. We shall join the wagon later.”

life.

“I do not wish to be separated.” The girl pleads.

The corporal of the dragoons has left two horses for Magnus and Pushpa to use in their

“Nay! It’s na for yee to be staying here. I’ll see Pushpa safely back to the convoy.”

return to the column.

Cait’s eyes still plead.

In the dimming light much activity about the hamlet continues.

Magnus hugs the girl.” If we part, then keep yee way with the convoy to Delhi. There

The old man passes away before the darkness of night arrives. His injuries were indeed

find the vicar at Christ Church on the King’s Road. He’ll send word to thee aunt and yee

fatal.

will be safe.”

His body is prepared. It is bathed and dressed in white cloth. Flowers and garlands

The girl hesitates.

decorate the corpse of the old man.

Magnus pushes her away. “By the Laird’s last wish go thee securely now lass.”

Magnus has been busy building wooden piles for the funerals.

Cait runs to catch up with Amanda. Her eyes swell and tears fall as she turns away from

Pushpa has been busy gathering the wood from about the wayside.

her beloved uncle.

The funeral pyres begin soon. Magnus’ help is no longer needed. He desires to make departure and regain position with the column.

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Pushpa is not to be found.

Lt. Tombs has directed that extra fires be lit and that they be kept burning through out the

With excited gestures, he inquires of the whereabouts of the young woman.

night. He wishes to dissuade thieves from nearing the camp.

None in the hamlet know where she is to be found.

“I’m delighted you are joining us my dear.” Lt. Broadfoot tells his wife. “You shall have

“Siddi!” Suggest one farmer.

a first hand look at life for Her Majesty’s forces in the field.”

“Siddi!” All the locals agree.

The dinner served is simple beef stew with hot bread, and tea. The cloth covered table

A local woman points up into the higher ground where a rock face is exposed.

shows of more elegance then the camp’s fare.

“Caves!” Signs an older boy. He then points with his arm to the same location.

Amanda frets for her two helpers, neither of who are yet returned.

”They will keep her there until all is quiet then they shall retake the highway and escape.”

“My servants were going to introduce me to some local cuisine.” She tells her husband.

An elder tells by signs of the hand.

“Some dish they call Hagus, I believe.”

Magnus senses that Pushpa may be killed if he rides immediately after her.

“Hagus! Never heard of it! I must try it as well. Perhaps my sweet you will save a portion

He requests by hand sign for the funeral fires to continue late into the night and until he

for your husband?”

may return with Pushpa.

The couple enjoys making simple plans together.

The locals agree.

After diner brandy is served, cigars are smoked while Lt Chambers takes a sighting by

Immediately Magnus prepares.

the stars.

Naked, he paints his body in fierce ancient Celtic figures. These he will wear into the

“Smyd old boy. I am delighted you asked my wife to accompany you. Makes the trip a

next life should he perish in the coming trial.

bit of a holiday.” Lt. Broadfoot speaks privately.

When the last rays of the day’s sunlight pass, he begins the trek to find Pushpa.

Smyd is yet very shy. He words are few. “ Mandy’s idea this trip and all. I’ve sent a dispatch onto Her Majesty with our itinerary.” Mandy is a familiar name for Lady Broadfoot that her husband has not yet heard used.

~~~~

Still he understands his wife’s effort to remain near him.

Amanda, and Mr. Smyd are guests of the officers for dinner.

~~~~

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Their words contain no alarm. Magnus carries his knife, and a length of heavy branch as a club. In an instant the large A Siddi element has been following the convoy. They have seized an opportunity to

Scottish warrior is running through the camp.

prosper.

He moves toward Pushpa.

They have recognized the girl Pushpa as belonging to the people of Swami Kaspa The

He lets out a terrifying roar.

Swami is an old adversary of the Siddi.

All in the camp are stalled by the horrifying appearance of Magnus and his ferocious

The thieves hope to extract a handsome ransom.

howl.

The dark men found little resistance to her capture at dusk. They now camp without any

Passing one Siddi seated before him, the club of Magnus swings forward to crush upon

fear as the British Army has moved away.

the head of the seated vandal.

Pushpa is again held bound.

The thief falls in slump.

The Siddi bandits enjoy a warm meal over a good seized fire upon the high ground that

A second nearby Siddi is quick to his feet but is struck by the back swing of Magnus’

overlooks all below.

club.

When the lights in the hamlet fade, the bandits will retake the road back toward Bombay.

The second scoundrel drops unconscious.

Magnus has not delayed.

A third Siddi with his knife drawn is after Pushpa.

He climbs toward the high point where the Siddi make their campsite.

Pushpa is much freighted by the appearance of the wild warrior that charges into the

The Siddi are relaxed.

camp. She does not recognize Magnus in this form.

Their campfire is easily seen from a far.

She fears death.

Magnus has no difficulty to locate the place where Pushpa is captive.

Her head lowers to meet her end.

The girl is desolate.

A quick strike falls across the back of her attacker. The third Siddi falls limp from

She fears than none will save her the second time.

Magnus’ blow.

Nearing the camp, Magnus determines that five black highwaymen compose the band of

The remaining two Siddi have watched, as three of their comrades have been defeated in

thieves.

one breath by the untamed barbarian. They run and scamper away to safety in the

Closing he listens to the talk among the Siddi.

darkness.

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The pale flesh of the naked Scot confuses Pushpa. It seems to be Magnus but he is no

“If they are not with us by late tomorrow then the lady should take on new employees as I

longer a native. She concludes that her savior must be divine.

fear they shall never return.” Lt. Tombs concludes

“Who are you?” She whimpers. “It is I, Magnus. I am a warrior from Britain here on a sacred mission. No one must know.” He pleads

~~~~

~~~

Magnus and Pushpa have retuned to the hamlet in the wetlands. Here they are made warmly welcomed. Pushpa is now devoted to the man that has saved her twice. His strength and courage

Lt. Chambers has finished his celestial navigation. “At this pace we shall be at Fort

confirm him to be a god.

Isinghood mid afternoon tomorrow.” He informs Field Commander Tombs.

“Woman, we will rest a few hours then begin our leaving at first light. If we ride straight

“That seems about right.” Sgt. Hook adds.

on then we might overtake the convoy. At the least, we shall arrive just after the column

“Gentlemen I wish to be done with the highway and into the safety of the Fort Isinghood

makes Fort Isinghood.” The Scot informs.

by noon.” Lt. Tombs suggests.

“My father will be sending men to find me. He has many trusted friends in the ministries

“If the camp rises before dawn, and if we embark without first meal then two hours of

of the Raja.” Pushpa wonders what the Swami will think of this large wild being that

daylight will be saved.” Lt. Broadfoot proposes.

hides as a Hindu.

“No stopping till we arrive at Fort Isinghood shall save another hour in time as well.” Lt.

“Yee may have to hide thee appearance woman. Far too many of yee country men have a

Chambers notes.

want to take ownership of thee person.” Magnus replies.

“There we have a plan.” Lt. Tombs agrees. “I shall rise before 3:00 am. I do not wish to

“Are yee a very attractive female in a Hindu way?” He asks aloud as he studies the form

sleep at the time when the camp is most vulnerable to an attack.”

of Pushpa.

The fellow officers nod in understanding.

He finds her healthy and strong.

“What of Lady Broadfoot’s servants?” Lt. Chambers asks.

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Pushpa is not sure how to answer. “It is said my father has the most beautiful wives in all

Arriving personnel to be assigned to Fort Isinghood are detached.

of India.”

Lists of personnel to depart with the convoy are attached.

“Wives…all beautiful!” Magnus is impressed. He will study the looks of these Hindu

The convoy’s horses, and mules will be replaced with fresh animals.

women.

Lt. Tombs and his two assistant commanders are shown into General Smoot’s Office

Pushpa beams with the nature of the man’s response. “How should I conceal myself?”

immediately. The small slight general is advanced in age compared to the officers fresh

“Ah! We shall have a wee talk with Cata.” The Scot answers.

from Bombay. “Gentlemen, I see you have arrived safely and in excellent time.” Gen. Smoot opens. “I trust also that your trip was uneventful.”

~~~~

“It appears that we have been followed by several mounted armed Siddi.” Lt. Tombs obliges. “The Siddi are always armed, and they have eyes everywhere even within Fort Isinghood

The fort on the isle of Janjira is several hundreds of meters from shore.

I’m afraid.” Gen. Smoot informs.” Dammed nuisance for the Empire these black

On the overlooking hilltop, the English have placed their large armed compound, Fort

bandits.”

Isinghood. It is a sprawling complex of storehouses, ammunition depots, transportation

“How do the locals deal with them?” Lt. Chambers asks.

vehicles, and reserve forces.

“The Khan pays tribute! A hundred rupees per man are paid annually for their good

Below the army depot is a small village of fishermen.

intentions. The Siddi are hired mercenaries in many districts as well as in several

The military expedition under Lt. Tombs’ command arrives just after the fort’s midday

provinces.” Gen. Smoot states.

meal.

“How do we deal with the Khan?” Lt. Broadfoot inquires.

Immediately, the duty officer at the hill top fort inspects the manifest of goods and

“The Crown pays tribute! Some 300,000 rupees are paid annually for his cooperation.”

personnel arriving. Numerous stewards from the fort begin serving the needs of the

Notes Gen. Smoot as he offers cigars.

column.

“The Kahn could have 1500 armed men mustered overnight. That is a sizable and highly

Items to remain at Fort Isinghood are withdrawn form the convoy.

mobile force compared to Her Majesty’s presence here.” The general puffs. “However,

Items to be shipped out from the Fort Isinghood are added to the convoy.

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he is aware that his rule would collapse quickly should his army be placed before our

Pushpa recognizes the man as one of the Siddi that held her captive the past night. She

artillery.”

becomes uneasy.

“Our schedule calls for us to be off for Bangalore by the day after tomorrow.” Lt. Tombs

Magnus recognizes the wound upon the man’s head as one from his club.

confirms.

“He was traveling alone…Headed to his home in order to recover from his injury.”

“Precisely! Your convoy will there be doubled in seize.” Gen. Smoot informs. “Until then

Magnus points to the lone free horse grazing to the side of the highway.

you gentlemen have time to relax.”

“The others would not leave both he and his horse.” Magnus notes.

“I expect all officers and officials assigned to the column to dine at my home tonight.

Pushpa looks to the Scot.

Mrs. Smoot loves to meet those fresh from England and to take up new gossip.” Gen.

“If we leave him surely some one will come along and most likely slay the thief.” He

Smoot offers. “We shall have one of our very best out door roasts with drinks by torch

ponders. “We shall take him to the first village and leave him to their justice.”

light.”

Pushpa is pleased with this choice. She agrees. The wounded Siddi is tied across his horse and the chase resumes.

~~~~

Within the hour the Fort of Janjira is in view. The road to this island fort runs trough a small village then up a large hill to Fort Isinghood.

Pushpa has traded her sari for a man’s tunic and half length trousers. Her head is wrapped

The delayed riders enter.

in a silken yellow scarf.

Pushpa seeks medical help for the injured. She calls to the locals. ”Daktara! Daktara!”

She is most capable on horseback.

“Dumgi, Dumgi.“ They answer and point to a hut that is heavily decorated with flowering

The two servants have been riding for the whole of the morning and are not long behind

plants.

the convoy.

The sound of the horses, and the excited villagers bring an old black woman from her

Coming upon a set of hills that leads to the city of Murud, Magnus and Pushpa encounter

home.

a dark warrior who has fallen off his horse.

“We seek the daktara, named Dumgi.” Pushpa requests in Hindi.

The man lays sprawled unconscious upon the road.

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The old woman recognizes the two visitors as riding upon British military mounts. They

“Is the Siddi man seriously injured?” Amanda asks.

must be servants of the English army. She is uneasy with their arrival.

Magnus nods yes.

“Mera Dumgi!” The old woman tells that she is the one they seek.

It is late in the midday.

Pushpa indicates the injured man.

“Magnus take this note to Lt. Broadfoot then have a carriage made ready.” Amanda

Magnus lifts the wounded Siddi from his horse. The old woman rushes forth. The injured

orders.

black warrior is her grandson.

Upon reading the note from his spouse, Lt. Broadfoot has collected medicines used by the

The man is placed by Magnus onto a cot within the cottage. Magnus returns the warrior’s

British surgeons for head injuries. These Magnus delivers to his mistress along with the

sword and knife.

escort of a squad of dragoons.

The women tend the man’s injury at once.

A carriage takes Lady Amanda, her three servants along with military company into

Healing ointment is applied.

Dumgi’s village.

Fresh water is given to the warrior to prevent his further dehydration.

The dark grandmother greets the arrival of the military unit with much concern.

Once Pushpa understands the man to be in good care. She informs the old woman of her

She is humbled in the presence of the beautiful and elegant Lady Broadfoot.

need to depart. “Fir milenge.”

“Tell her that we have medicine for her grandson’s wound.”

“Fir milenge.” Dumgi answers as good bye.

Pushpa immediately renders Amanda’s word into Hindi.

Pushpa and Magnus mount to depart. The old lady hands a gift to Pushpa. “Gadda!”

Dumgi is gracious.

Pushpa receives a magnificently designed quilt as a parting favor.

Inside Amanda hands a small vial to Dumgi. “Tell the woman that this must be taken by

“A gift to your master. Kind servants come from a kind overseer.” Dumgi states in Hindi.

her grandson in full at once.”

“Mistress Amanda thanks you. She is a very gentle English woman.” Puspha answers in

Pushpa interprets.

Hindi.

“Another vial to be consumed before sleep and another upon waking.” Amanda directs.

Upon their entrance into Fort Isinghood, Pushpa and Magnus seek Lady Amanda.

Pushpa interprets.

They recount their tale of the past night.

“Repeat this until all vials are used but do not take more than one vile at any time.”

They recount their tale of the past hour.

Pushpa interprets.

They hand to her the present from Dumgi.

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The wounded man comes to consciousness as his grandmother administers the first

Cata enters with a basket of cooked meats and jars of broth as well as hot baked breads.

medication. He recognizes the huge Magnus as the devil god that attached his band the

“This will bring strength quickly to your grandson.”

past night.

Pushpa interprets.

He struggles free and moves to the floor in a prostate position begging mercy from

Dumgi tears yet flow as she rises. “Muijhe tumse pyar hai.”

Magnus.

Pushpa tears yet flow as she interprets. “Dumgi loves you.”

Dumgi moves to shield her injured offspring from Magnus.

The moment of compassion must pass as the shadows of the day become long.

Amanda looks upon her servant.

“The time to return to the fort has come.” The cavalry sergeant announces from the door.

The rush of nearing combat is surging in the Scot’s blood. He becomes rigid as a warrior

Dumgi understands the soldier’s request.

braving impending death.

Joy and friendship between the women erupt.

Amanda understands the circumstances.

Amanda hugs Dumgi.

Her hand lifts with ease.

Pushpa hugs Amanda.

Her pointed index finger softly motions Magnus to move his way out through he door.

Warm goodbyes are made.

Magnus immediately makes his exit

Amanda starts to pass out of Dumgi’s hut. She stops to notice the many flowers placed

Dumgi has witnessed the fire spirit in the giant’s breast.

about. One small plant collects her complete attention.

Dumgi has witnessed the ease with which the English woman commands the brute with

A delicate swirl of a tiny vine flows out over the edge of a clay pot. Minute purple

divine strength.

blossoms less than a quarter of an inch in width run the length of the plant’s branches.

Dumgi joins her grandson in horizontal payer.

“This is an orchid! Is it local?” She inquires.

Amanda moves to the wounded man, and her soft hand caresses his face. “You are home

Pushpa interprets.

and safe. No fighting with my people shall happen here I promise.”

The old woman answers. “No it comes from deep inside Africa.”

Pushpa is moved to tears.

Amanda asks. ”How is it possible to carry such a fragile plant so far?”

Pushpa interprets.

Pushpa interprets the old woman’s reply. “It is painted with a mix of honey and water to

Dumgi is moved to tears.

kill all insects. Honey is dripped also into the soil of its container to remove all bad

Amanda helps the Siddi warrior into his bed. She calls to Cata. “Bring the food.”

spirits.”

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Amanda suspects this as a most uncommon specimen in India... “Is this plant rare in

A score of servants are dressed is white tunic and slacks. Each wears a red scarf to cover

Africa?”

their head. All are busy.

Pushpa interprets the old woman’s answer. “It is found only on the one mountain where

Half a dozen senior officers and their wives attend.

the silver back apes feed. My ancestors transported such plants here long ago.”

The junior officers present number in the teens.

Amanda shudders.

The division’s military band plays lowly in the background.

Her breath is seized.

To this soiree enter the three officers arrived with today’s convoy, and Lady Broadfoot.

“The plant is absolutely rare upon the whole earth.” Her eyes bulge as she memorizes the

Mr. Smyd has declined the invitation. He remains busy preparing for the ensuing flower

design of the frail orchids before her.

collecting.

Pushpa interprets to Dumgi. “Lady Amanda wishes to have such a plant to send to her

Amanda’s two personal servants Cata and Pushpa accompany Lady Broadfoot.

queen in England.”

Cait and Pushpa are both dressed in coral colored tunics and slacks with lavender turbans. Pushpa will be seen as a woman no more while in service to Lady Broadfoot. The feast begins as the band plays a royal tribute.

~~~~~~~~~

Long from gentle English company, Amanda is alive and energetic. She delights in seeing to her husband’s personal comfort and she is quick to beg his need. Pushpa and Cata personally oversee all food and drink served to the Broadfoots.

The commanding officer’s quarters at Fort Isinghood are modest but the surrounding

The core of servants scurries to meet the needs of General Smoot’s guests.

scenery is lavish. Tropical palms and flora sweetly scent the air all about. The dense

The cadre of guests keeps the servants busy with their demands.

vegetation moves comfortingly in the gentle ocean breeze.

After dinner, the men combine about an outdoor fire with cigars and brandy.

Lady and General Smoot are ideal hosts.

The ladies collect in the Smoot’s Garden for gossip.

Sumptuous meats and fish are cooking over open flames. Platters of indigenous fruits of

Lady Smoot introduces. “We have a special guest this evening, Lady Broadfoot.”

the mango, papaya, and guava are set about. Baked potatoes, boiled rice, hot breads adorn

Many smiles are offered to Amanda.

the dining tables.

“Lady Broadfoot has the distinction of accompanying her husband Lt. Broadfoot upon the present military expedition.” Lady Smoot continues.

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All of the woman are wives of experienced officers and have shared Amanda’s present

“These dispatches are of the utmost personal interest to Her Majesty and they are truly

ordeal. Their smiles lessen.

important to the Realm. They may not be sent any later than presently.” Amanda is

“The distinction comes uniquely in that Lady Broadfoot is participating in an exercise

forceful.

personally requested by Her Royal Majesty, Queen Victoria.” The women’s smiles grow

The women become most attentive.

more genuine.

“Lt. General!” He calls.

“We would love to know what special effort has the Queen’s interest in Janjira.” One

The second in command at Fort Isinghood arrives to join.

lady makes question.

“What ship is there at Janjira?” Gen. Smoot asks his aide.

“I am afraid that this information may be released only by the permissin of the Crown.”

“The Dutch ship called the Ajax.”

Amanda explains.

“Is she fast?” Gen. Smoot asks his aide. “Her time to England?”

“And what of this man Mr. Smyd? What part does he play in the Queen’s mission?”

“Quite fast. She’s a slick sleuth, and will make England in half the time of most vessels

Another woman asks bluntly.

with her hull empty.”

“Mr. Smyd is a qualified expert in many areas…demographics, accounting, commerce,

“We could commandeer her for the Queen’s need?” The General looks to Amanda for her

and with many technical issues.” Amanda chooses to protect Perceval’s privacy.

response.

The women have learned little.

Amanda nods in approval.

They are disappointed.

The women could not be more captivated.

The appearance of General Smoot among the ladies is welcomed. “I understand Lady

“We will need an order stating Her Majesty’s approval.” The aide responds.

Broadfoot that you have a special dispatch to be sent on to England.”

All look to Lady Broadfoot.

“Yes indeed General. There are several dispatches in writing, and material in nature that

“I’ll undersign any such order in Her Majesty’s name.” Amanda replies.

must be sent without delay.” Amanda replies.

All the attending feminine mouths open in silence.

“May one inquire about the nature of these dispatches?” Gen. Smoot asks.

“We shall require duplicate orders to be signed. One for my office and one for the Naval

“These need to be sent to Her Royal Majesty, Queen Victoria in rush.” Amanda replies.

Office in Bombay.” Gen. Smoot adds.

The women become more attentive.

“I should like to enter a third copy of this order in the dispatches to Victoria…. Her

“How soon? How important?” Gen. Smoot asks.

Majesty.” Amanda searches to see if her misstep has an effect.

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All the women become rigid at once

“The dispatches are to be placed under supervised armed military guard at all times.”

“I have already mentioned the cooperation of General and Mrs. Smoot in Smyd’s…our

Amanda adds.

report.” Amanda emphasizes.

“We shall need a suitable officer!” Gen. Smoot informs his aide.

“Without doubt Her Majesty will certainly wish to receive you and your wife at

“Colonel Geoffrey Davies and his wife are due to return to England within the year!” The

Buckingham to offer her personal appreciation.” Amanda directs to Gen. Smoot.

aide advises.

The general and his wife exchange a series of flashes between their eyes.

“This officer is to hand the dispatch directly to Her Majesty’s person. No other save the

The general stiffens.

Queen is to see or inspect this shipment. This point is crucial.” Amanda Instructs.

Mrs. Smoot’s expression warns her husband not to fail.

Mrs. Davies’ hand covers her mouth to bar her exclaim of joy. She bolts to her feet. ”I

All the women are strained upon the drama unfolding.

must pack at once. Geoffrey must be told immediately.”

“Indeed, Mr. Smyd feels that knighthood as well as other Royal Favors will follow.”

Mrs. Davies rushes away.

Amanda adds.

“See the Davies to the Ajax. “ Gen. Smoot orders. “ Inform all personal that Her

The general begins to bounce in his military boots.

Majesty’s Royal Emissary, Lady Broadfoot is to be given all the honors obliged to Queen

Mrs. Smoot eyes direct her husband to immediate action.

Victoria herself.”

“Lt. General the orders are to be written at once. A squad…no a company of dragoons are

“Protocol requires a senior officer to be among the Queen’s Guard at all times.” The Lt.

to be dispatched immediately to be followed by a company of infantry. They are ordered

General advises.” With Colonel Davies departure we will be short in senor staff.”

to secure and take command of the Ajax.” Gen. Smoot looks to Amanda.

“Then we shall have to promote one of the officers in the convoy to the rank of Lt.

Amanda nods in approval.

Colonel!” Gen Smoot decides.

“Further the Ajax will be directed to embark as soon as feasible to Bombay’s Harbor

“That would be Lt. Tombs sir.” The aide informs. “He commands two fellow officers.”

were the Royal Naval Command will occupy the Ajax and set her for sail to England with

Gen. Smoot looks to Amanda.

out delay.” Gen Smoot adds. “Under direct order of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria.”

Lady Broadfoot raises three fingers.

“Is this adequate your highness…eh…Lady Broadfoot?” Gen. Smoot inquires with great

“Ah…we shall promote all three officers to the rank of Lt. Colonel at once.” Gen Smoot

anxiety.

watches Amanda. All the women attend Gen. Smoot and Lady Broadfoot’s exchange.

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Amanda nods in approval.

~~~~~~ ~~~

Deep in the center of Murud, the lights burn late into the night. The palace of the Kahn Later this night, Amanda presents a signed order for the shipment of Dumgi’s orchid.

stirs.

Smyd is thrilled with the hope of surprising the Queen so early in their mission.

“There is a very powerful person come to the fort of the English.” A slim dark lackey

“I have named the orchid Pulchra Amandalia…Beautiful Amanda after its finder.” Mr.

speaks before the great Kahn.

Smyd announces.

Dressed in a lavish silk gown of purest white and a shroud of crimson, Jafara Khan

“I must ask that you write a note to Victoria with all the essential details of your

listens. He is surrounded by several of his senior advisers.

encounter with the witch doctor Dumgi.” Mr. Smyd shows the exceedingly rare orchid in

The Kahn sleeps little and much of his most secret counsel is conducted late.

its packaged form.

“A powerful emissary of the English Queen has arrived at Janjira.” The runner continues.

Amanda is simply overwhelmed.

The great Kan listens.

Her arms surround the administrator.

The counselors are most attentive to the spy from Fort Isinghood.

She holds him with the tenderness needed by a newborn. “Perceval, my heart is filled

The Khan is a worried man.

with gratitude. We are just beginning this adventure!”

He is a weakling since birth.

The timid man has melted in her arms.

His limbs are physically inadequate.

Amanda has become the friend that he has always desired. The bond between he and his

His temperament is feminine and his disposition is treacherous.

dear friend Amanda is unlike any other he shall ever experience.

“What brings this emissary to my domain?” The Khan’s voice squeaks.

“The army will be here directly. Dumgi’s orchid will ship tonight.” Amanda adds.

Nervously the secret agent’s head dips. “The meaning is not known.”

“Victoria’s orchid now!” Smyd corrects as he applies a Royal Seal upon the packaged

All the locals employed by the English at the fort are subjects of the Khan.

plant.

The Khan is displeased.

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“What power does this emissary demonstrate?” One advisor prompts.

“The English woman fears not this devil?” The Khan reasons.

“She...”

“It is said this great warrior god follows the command of her finger.” The spy repots.

“A woman!” The Khan’s voice breaks into a shrill.

The Khan is jealous.

“She commands the English to act upon the sea.” The spy informs.

“What of the other servants?” A counselor asks.

“How so?” The Khan is amused at the possible antics of a woman.

“Two women dressed as boys.” The scout reports.

“A ship at Janjira was stolen from the Dutch upon her order and was made to set sail at

This fact causes much anxiety to the Khan. “What do you know of these two?”

once.”

“They speak many tongues and interpret for the English emissary.”

Those listening understand that this is a feat the Khan himself could not reproduce.

“Then one can not lie to her without the second to speak the truth.” The Khan becomes

“For what purpose?” Asks another in service to the Khan.

suspicious. “There is more!”

“To send the Queen of England a flower!” The waif states.

“One woman who serves the emissary of the English is a subject to Kaspa.”

Those about the room are puzzled at such a whim.

“Kaspa!” The Khan shouts.

“She wishes to demonstrate her authority.” The Khan is impressed.

“It is said the English woman has sent the head of the Surkha Chakkara of Bombay back

More information is desired.

to the Swami Kaspa.” The sneak reports.

“All English solders, and all English officers attend to her every wish.” The detective

The Khan has had dealings with the Surkha Chakkara.

reports.

The Khan is a long time foe to the Swami Kaspa

“Why has she come here to the land of the Khan?” Another demands. “We must know

”Then the two women who hide are assassins!” The Khan is enraged. “The English want

more.”

all of India. They want to rule the whole of the world even to own the stars.”

“She is guarded by a great number at all times. It is impossible to get close.” The agent

“You have a strong relationship to the English. The English will seek no trouble with

insists.

Jafara Khan.” An advisor states.

“Does she not have personal servants?” The Khan asks.

“They have come to kill me! To take my reign…my kingdom.” The Lord of Murud fears.

“One great sized man who serves is a demon that can lift the great snake god with one

All who tend the Khan fear for their life. The Khan is quick to have killed any who he

hand from the water and remove its head with the other.” The agent details. “He has

suspects that may plot against him.

defeated five Siddi warriors by his own might.”

“How do we take the life of this English woman?” The Kahn asks.

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“She is too well guarded to send one from Murud to abolish her.” A consultant tells.

“Undoubtedly he wishes to garnish favor with our Queen.” The general answers.

“Can we not bribe her servants?” Another mentor suggests.

“Through acquaintance with Her Majesty’s Emissary, Lady Broadfoot!” Lt. Col. Tombs

“The English will suspect the Khan at once and seek heavy revenge.” Warns another.

predicts.

“Naga mantra.” The Khan decides to use a snake charmer.

“Are not we all?” Jokes Lt. Col. Broadfoot. “This will be a grand affair. The ladies will be delighted. The evening should be unforgettable and enjoyable.” General Smoot orders.

~~~~~

“Our security needs for the evening?” Lt. Col. Broadfoot asks. “Cavalry, light infantry, and two cannons placed immediately outside of Murud will make the necessary show of force. The Khan would never permit an uprising while we

In the late morning, the English are busy composing their convoy for its next day’s

are under his hospitality.”

departure from Fort Isinghood.

General Smoot informs. “Our troops will be positioned well before the ladies’ arrive.”

General Smoot meets with the three Lt. Colonels who will continue in the lead of the

Across the way, Amanda is busy with her own preparations for the next day.

column.

“Cata, I wish to make sure there is plenty of brandy and cigars stored for my husband. I

“At dawn, you shall embark into the province of Karnataka and pursue the long road

understand that we shall be on the road for a long duration. There will be much demand

south to the city of Bangalore.” The General notes.

before we arrive at our next post.”

”Our orders remain the same?” Lt. Col. Tombs asks.

The wagon shared by the band under Smyd’s authority is congested.

“Quite!” The General answers.

“We shall need much more space. I am not taking all these cloths.” Amanda collects

“There is one last request before your departure.” The general tells. “Jafara Khan is

unwanted goods.

hosting a special reception this evening at his castle in Murud.”

“Pushpa! Have these old things sent to Mrs. Smoot.” A chest is being packed with her

The three junior officers make no reply.

discarded items. “I will take mostly my riding wear!”

“An unusual request as the Khan is mostly reclusive. The palace is sumptuous. The feasts

“Shall I keep something formal?” Amanda muses. “Perhaps just one or two gowns.

are exquisite albeit rare.” The general continues.

Something pretty maybe needed for William’s sake.”

“What is the reason for the present social offering?” Lt. Col. Chambers asks.

In the midst of her preparations Magnus arrives with gifts.

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A large roll of cloth is handed to the lady. A note informs Amanda that the gifts are from

The Khan has collected a host of the most beautiful maidens in his domain to fill his

Jafara Khan.

dining hall.

Precious silken materials in gorgeous colors of the rising sun, and gleaming white are

They are not to serve.

decorated with strains sown of real gold.

They are to be seen

“Beautiful!” Amanda is delighted. ”What a sweet thing to do. I simply can not wait to

They are to intimidate the English Queen’s Emissary.

meet this Khan.”

Foods are being prepared that would delight the palate of the Raja himself.

Amanda handles the luxurious cloth. The feel is most sensuous.

The cooks will chant prayers the entire workday to Annapurna the goddess of food,

“How should one properly wear this?” She muses.

cookery, and physical health.

“Sari!” Tells Pushpa.

The meal will start with choices in egg pudding, fried bananas, and orange basket with

A second gift is presented to Amanda. It is a precious blue stone that hangs from a

bean sprout salad, and cucumber flower with bread sauce.

headband to rest upon the wearer’s fore heard

The selection of the main entrees are to be steamed Halibut with sothy, lemon rice and

“Oh! What a magnificent gem!” Amanda exclaims. “Please show me how to properly

eggplant-chick pea curry, pumpkin chutney, Basmati rice with cinnamon saffron, curried

wear this Hindu jewelry.” The woman begs.

Red Snapper, potatoes in a curry-coconut sauce, and hot and sour shrimp soup.

“Tasteful, and considerate…this Khan must be quite the man! I wonder if he is as

Deserts will be offered such as dried rice patties with honey, banana syrup on roasted

handsome as he is generous.” Amanda muses.

mango, almond Burfi, pomegranate raita, and dried pear with fig compote.

Lady Broadfoot is anxious to impress the Khan.

Drinks of milk mixed with mango juice are served along with green tea, pungent tomato

“Puspha will you help me to make a surprise for everyone tonight?”

juice, Hariali squash juice, and orange melody.

The servant girl nods yes emphatically.

The Khan will not partake from such delicious fares. He is a consumptive and does not

Mid afternoon in Murud, the palace is busy. The many needed for the preparations of

enjoy food or drink.

coming gala are appearing.

The Khan will partake of one small baked sweet potato, and drink his own boiled urine.

Musician, dancers, and entertainers make ready.

He cares not for the bloom of day or man.

The Khan’s citadel is undergoing a renovation.

Only darkness and privacy give him solace.

Fresh plants and fragrant flowers are added everywhere a guests may be present.

Only malevolence brings him before people collected in large numbers.

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The dining hall is flush with flora chosen to enhance one’s well being and appetite. The

“It is a very great pleasure to be invited into the home of the magnificent Khan.” The

guests will sit on mats and cushions in a perimeter that looks upon the room’s center.

General states.

The Khan will not display his physical handicaps. The guests will promenade into the

The Khan smiles weakly and mutters under his breath. “Laakh Bujthi.”

hall in a single line before the seated Khan.

His interpreter does not render the Khan’s wish for a thousand deaths to the English

Introductions are made through a royal interpreter The Khan will not permit anyone’s

general. “Many welcomes!” He tells instead.

touch.

“My wife is delighted to see the powerful Khan looking so well.” General Smoot is aware

In opposition, Amanda is full in life. Her beauty and health drive her into society with

of the Khan’s health concerns.

gratification.

In a local dialect the Khan replies to Gen. Smoot. ”Your wife has the face of a donkey.”

She holds no malice in heart or soul.

The royal interpreter is strained to keep his composure. He states. “The wife of the great

Goodness is her only motive in share.

general is most striking.” To each of his foreign guests the Khan offers insults and indignities. All are hidden by his use of a rare dialect. He is contentious in wait.

~~~~~

Lt. Colonel and Lady Broadfoot are the last guests to enter the dining hall. The slender form of a pale goddess wrapped in golden threaded silk moves with divine ease.

In late afternoon, the British delegation arrives to the palace of Jafara Khan.

Her blond hair is pulled back.

All within is ready.

The blue pendant that hangs upon her forehead accentuates the purity of her face. Her

The aromas, the visions of royal servants, and royal guests, the fragrances from the grand

divine beauty is a fitting pedestal from which the blue gem shines forth.

bouquets of flowers, and the sounds of Asian excitement welcome the English officers

The Asian lovelies that form her guide are dimmed by the extraordinary presence of

and their wives.

Amanda.

General Smoot and his wife are the first to promenade into the dining room. Handsome

The Khan views her as complete of royalty. “She is here to have rule over my land.” He

Hindu maidens escort them before the seated Khan.

whispers to his aide.

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Lt Colonel speaks. “Your highness, please accept our gratitude. Lady Broadfoot is most

“I would give a gold crown for a drop of brandy!” Lt. Col. Broadfoot tells his wife as he

anxious to gain your acquaintance.”

lights a cigar.

The Khan does not answer.

Amanda nods to Cait who produces a small flask filed with the needed liquor. She is

He waits to hear the voice of the Queen’s Emissary. His bleak eyes stare upon her.

delighted to place the flagon into her husband’s hand.

Amanda is stunned.

“The palace, the food, and the entertainment are beyond any experience a woman could

The Khan’s form is nothing, as she might desire.

ever have imagined.” Amanda‘s evening has been wonderful. “The shadow of a man who

She is seized in monetary revulsion.

is Khan stands in contrast to the evening’s imposing festivity.”

The Khan senses her rejection.

“India my dear is a land preserved in its customs formed over the past centauries. “ Her

Amanda moves to dispel the tension. “Your domain is so wonderful…so special. I love it

husband replies. “The Khan is odd but captive to the traditions of India.”

here like no other place.”

The signal is given to end the soiree by the Khan.

The Khan is confirmed upon her death.

A large gong is struck.

The guests are all seated.

A small thin man emerges from the side. He leads a procession of servants carrying

“That man is very strange.” Amanda tells her husband. “I do not understand him.”

platters covered with small hand baskets filled with cut flowers.

“Do not fret my dear. I have my revolver under my coat.” Lt. Col. Broadfoot comforts his

Each guest, including the Khan himself receives a little decorative vat from the hand of

young wife.

the tiny manservant.

The evening begins with Hindu music and native dance.

This custom is one peculiar to the Khan.

The Khan does not enjoy watching his guests. His eyes avert all but he stays watch on

Pushpa has not witnessed such a gift offering.

Amanda.

Cait wishes that she might be so honored.

Her interest in the details of the cuisine being served, and her curiosity of all personages

Amanda is delighted and anticipates her souvenir.

present do not escape the Khan’s notice.

The Khan is the last to be handed a bouquet.

As the hours pass, the Khan grows more at ease. He is comforted in his plan.

The guests are instructed by the actions of the Khan.

After much enjoyment the meal concludes.

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In demonstration, he lifts the vase of flowers to his face and deeply inhales the scent. His

So rapid was the action to save Amanda that none but Cait, and Lt. Col Broadfoot

fingers are then held above the basket and wiggle in suggestion that the hand is to search

understand the danger that has just passed.

within the vase.

The Khan whose fingers yet remain within his flower basket mistakes the commotion

Those familiar with the Khan’s way exclaim.” Shati!”

about Amanda.

They know within the basket is a gift. A small sack is to be found that will contain an

In the hope of the moment, the Khan does not realize that a second uninvited serpent has

uncommon stone of genuine wealth.

surfaced. It is to be found attached to the hand of the Khan.

The guests erupt with joy at the proposed bequest from the Khan.

Identical in size, color, and markings to the first, this adder has bitten the Khan.

All the visitors pull a basket to their face.

There is no sting in its bite.

Each basket has its own blend of flowers rendering the individual’s gift unique in color,

There is no pain in it’s gnaw.

and scent as well as gift.

There is no burn in its nibble.

The Kahn directs all to follow his example as his fingers disappear into a vase of flowers.

Nothing more than a slight itch causes to Khan to glance to his injured hand.

As Amanda lowers the vase from her face, Cait notices a movement that stirs within the

The snake has clasped about the wrist as its lethal venom pumps into the flow of its

flowers. Her suspicion is at once.

victim’s blood.

As most of the guest fingers submerge, Cait removes the urn of flowers from Amanda’s

The weakling of a man will take his final look in this life upon the serpent that brings his

hand and dashes it to the floor.

immediate demise.

“My prize!” Amanda exclaims.

The Khan collapses in death.

From the resulting mess slips a small thin snake marked with colored bands.

He will not be alive when his body reaches the floor.

The serpent’s length is less than the width of a hand.

Those who were informed of the Khan’s plot have witnessed the act of the gods.

Stunned by its circumstances, the creature is confused on the moment.

“The power of the English woman was greater than that of Jafara Khan.” Announces a

In this instance, the boot of Lt. Col. Broadfoot falls to crush the snake’s head.

close aide.

The Khan does not see the many busy at collecting their prize. His gaze is fixed on his

“The Khan was correct! His rule was to end with the arrival of the British Emissary.” A

victim.

second confirms. “Even the snake god obeys the want of the English lady.” A third advisor assures.

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The council to the dead Khan has no choice.

”All the land, all the wealth, and all the people belong to the Naresha.” The consultant

They must invoke the power of the English woman.

confirms. “Indeed the Raja of Bombay as yet has no heir. Should he die at present, the

Amanda, and her companions stand in wait. All wonder what action should be

Naresha will inherit the entire province.”

undertaken, as the festive occasion has turned bleak. All have lost their cheer.

“I know nothing. I am not a ruler. I must continue my mission with the English Army”

“The poor man! Killed by a tiny snake after a wonderful dinner.” Amanda speaks lowly.

Amanda stammers. ”What other choices are there?”

“It seems the place is polluted with the beasts.” Her husband states as he points to the

“You can name one to act in your place during your absence,” the chief administrator

dead serpent at her feet.

states.

The collective members of the Khan’s ruling committee have decided.

“I should not possibly…” Amanda is interrupted.

They approach. “You are the successor to the Khan, the Sovereign of Murud,” the leader

“The woman, Dumgi.” Cait whispers in Amanda’s ear.

states in English.

“Dumgi?” Amanda puzzles

Astounded Amanda cannot respond.

“Dumgi!” The gathering of seniors makes answer.

“What of the Raja?” “Lt Col. Broadfoot blusters in surprise.

“Dumgi!” They nod in agreement to the wisdom in naming an aged woman.

“The gods have anointed this lady. The Khan himself has foretold of her ascendance.

“Dumgi!” Amanda replies in concurrence. “I shall appoint Dumgi as replacement ruler in

Once accounted, the Raja will agree. No one in such circumstances dare face the wrath of

my absence.”

the gods.” The local administrator replies.

“Fetch Dumgi.” The chief advisor mutters in the local dialect. “She is the one who

“Naresha!” The group of elders cries to their powerful queen.

provides flowers to the palace.” He tells in English.

Amanda does not realize this call is the name given now to her by the local chiefs.

Within minutes Dumgi appears before the council and Amanda’s company. She

“Get another Naresha!” Amanda refuses.

immediately bows and falls prostrate.

“Your are the Naresha until your death!” The main advisor reports as his head nods from

“Naresha!” Dumgi pronounces before Amanda.

side to side.

“Tell my friend to stand. Tell her that she is to rule the district in my absence.” Amanda

“Then who is ever to take her place?” Lt. Col. Broadfoot asks.

begs.

“Only the child of the Naresha may do so.” The advisor informs.

Pushpa interprets.

“So the District of Raigadh belongs to Amanda?’ Her husband proposes.

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Dumfounded, Dumgi looks to the departed Khan’s council. They bow at the waist before

The entire council bows in agreement.

her.

“It is settled then! I shall leave in the morning with my husband to Bangalore.” Amanda

Dumgi rises and her hands reach to Amanda. “Why me?” She asks in Hindi

dictates.

Pushpa interprets.

The council of Murud is not yet agreeable.

“Because you have heart for your people!” Amanda replies.

“One from Murud must accompany the Naresha at all times. It is the custom of our

Pushpa interprets.

people.” The senior advisor relates to Dumgi.

“I wish you to end all slavery in the district. All who prosper or participate in slavery are

Dumgi responds in Hindi. “One of my grandchildren will go as body guard to the

to leave the district at once. No one is to keep or place another into any bondage or any

Naresha. Thus shall be fulfilled the custom of Murud.”

form of slavery!” Amanda orders.

Pushpa interprets.

“The Siddi are not to harass the English.” She adds.

Dumgi calls forth her grandchild.

Pushpa interprets.

This one is a sibling to the one injured by Magnus.

“What of the wealth of the Naresha?” Dumgi asks.

An angular black person appears in the dress of a warrior and wearing a veil across the

Pushpa interprets.

face that permits only a view of the eyes.

“Those sums you will consume are to meet the needs of people and the security of the

After a brief conversation with the grandmother, the Siddi drops to the floor prostrate

district.” Amanda responds.

before Amanda.

Pushpa interprets.

“Tell this person to rise,” the Naresha requests.

“How shall I report to the Naresha?” Dumgi q1uestions.

Immediately the young Siddi rises.

Pushpa interprets.

“Naresha, my name is Iyreem,” the dark visitor states in English. “I am to serve you as I

“Send a quarterly account on to the English Royal Custom’s House in Bombay.” Amanda

would Dumgi …with my life if needed.”

does not really understand the nature of such an account but she is sure that her father

Amanda is uncomfortable with this obligation.

will. ”The English will send an agent here as necessary to certify the records of all sums.”

“Do not worry. We shall see to it that your Siddi bodyguard is watched at all times. This

Pushpa interprets.

one shall not be left alone near your side.” Her husband William suggests.

Dumgi bows in agreement.

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Chapter Four ~~~~

Bandarlapal In a remote mountain camp a Hindu warrior enters a large regal tent. “Swami! Your daughter is being held by the English at Janjira.�

The British military convoy resumes its progress as scheduled. The martial procession departs from Murud in size now that is five times the length from its arrival. The time for transit to the next military destination is also increased many fold. More than 600 miles of march are required to reach the English Fort at Bangalore. Nearly four weeks of effort in sustained step shall be required. The length of the line formed by men and material, as well as the extended hike to be under taken requires substantial assistance in navigation. A score of scouts from Fort Bangalore serves Lt Col Tombs’ command. Bangalore is found some 3000 feet above sea level and it is located in the State of Karnataka located on the vast Deccan Plateau.

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Much change in topology of the land will be experienced in the next month by the wagon

Chambers arrives at the hurry. “Broadfoot is missing along with several wagons

train during its transit.

including that of his wife. They failed to make the correct turn quite the way back it

Two days out from Murud dense rains sweep across the south of India.

seems.”

So persistent is the rain for this day that several sections from the English convoy have become lost. Unable to view ahead through the heavy downpour, some less experienced wagon drivers

~~~~~

have failed to recognize the occasion upon which the road divides. Unknowing of the need for choice, some segments of the column have unintentionally wandered away from the main body.

“Where are all the other wagons?” Amada asks as she views only the jungle collected

It is now midday.

before them.

The sky clears.

“My dear, the others have taken a wrong turn some time ago!” Her husband replies. “It

The rains have dispelled

seems that only our five carts remain yet on the proper course.”

“Column is broken!” The lead scout blares as he finds Lt Col Tombs.

“What shall we do without all the others?” Lady Broadfoot is distraught.

“How so sergeant?” The commander asks.

“We shall find a suitable place to make camp and simply wait for the others to catch up

“Poor judgment.” The ruff looking man grunts in return. “There are three large gaps in

with us.”

the column’s formation presently sir.”

Cait has been listening from the wagon’s aft.

“Recommendation?” Lt Col Tombs invites.

“We are lost and not soon to be found.” She whispers to Pushpa. “We have no guide

“A section of cavalry at the quick must ride back and follow the lost wheel tracks. Get

now! Send Iyreem to ride back and find the main column. Inform Lt. Col Chambers of

them wagons back here before nightfall.” Coughs the scout.

me…. our fate! Bid Iyreem to hurry.”

“Very good sergeant but make it three sections of men on horse to seek the missing.” The

“It be nay good to wander about this jungle lassie. We are best advised to stop, gather our

senior officer calls. “Lt Col Barefoot! Lt Col Chambers!”

bearings, and wait.” Magnus agrees. “Lt Col Tombs will waste no time in seeking our

His request echoes along the column’s span.

position.” Most of the special guard detail remains with Mr. Smyd and his companion, Amanda.

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The lane has grown quite narrow with the jungle brushing against the sides of the wagons

The native speaks not but slowly he returns to a conscious state.

as they move. For a mile or more the vegetation grows ever more thick and closer upon

Stunned by the presence of the English army and the beautiful Lady Broadfoot, the petite

the travelers.

inhabitant feels about his face.

Suddenly the way opens into a clearing filled with extending Banyan trees.

He sniffs the wind.

Here the largest Banyan is found to shelter a small lean-to holding a few simple

His head shakes side to side in waking.

household items. Below one massive arm of the tree sits a small dark native.

Cait pushes forward with her gift of sweets.

The little man is naked but for a loincloth and a pair of sandals. He sits still with arms and

The local man’s eyes assay the dark piece of food offered. It’s fragrant is new but

legs folded. His eyes are rolled back into their sockets.

compelling.

The native Hindu is in meditation. His trance is undisturbed by the arrival of a cluster of

“Mishri!” Pushpa informs of candy.

English Lorries.

The native takes the offering to his lips.

“See if this man can provide direction?” Amanda pleads.

All watch upon his response.

“I am quite capable madam of finding our way.” Lord Broadfoot answers with irritation.

The small nearly nude man bites upon the chocolate.

“Then ask if he has seen any others of our kind recently?” “She suggests humbly.

All wait to see his pleasure.

He stops his wagon just at the native’s side. Lt Col Broadfoot calls. “You there! Little

Immense joy fills the jungle man’s expression. “Only the gods can make such a delight!”

man do you speak English?”

He exclaims.

The tiny man makes no response.

All are surprised to hear the vagrant speak the Queen’s English.

Bounding off the wagon, Pushpa respectfully asks for the native’s attention in Hindi.

Lord Broadfoot is quick. “Are we lost? We are traveling to Bangalore.”

“Madada dena?”

Amanda is stunned by her husband’s confession.

The slight native makes no response.

“Where are we?” The officer asks.

Smyd roars. “Little man we are in a hurry. We need to find direction.”

“One only stumbles upon the missing by being misplaced in kind.” The native answers.

The Indian loner makes no response.

“Which way to Bangalore?” Lt Col Broadfoot demands.

Cait cuts a piece of chocolate from the wagon’s store and offers it before the meditating

“Any direction from here will take you on a way to Bangalore unless that place is missing

native. Close enough is Cait’s hand that the delectable aroma reaches the native’s nose.

as well.” The little man calmly answers.

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“What name are you having?” Asks Puspha.

Broadfoot has had enough of the confusing rhetoric, and he chooses to quit the native’s

“Sandeeptha!” The hermit replies.

company. “I must see to the needs of my men.”

“Brahman holy man!” Puspha informs her companions. ”He has come to dwell within the

The officer is pleased to leave.

jungle alone and to meditate.”

“Living may not be simple when one’s choices are complicated.” Sandeeptha replies to

“Look here man. From where did you depart to arrive at this point?” Lt Col Broadfoot

the departing commander.

insists.

Magnus, Cait, and Amanda listen as Mr. Smyd continues.

“I have been traveling for a great many years and have come to here from many places.”

“How much time is needed to walk from here directly to the city of Bangalore?” Asks

The native retorts.

Smyd.

Lord Broadfoot orders the soldiers to make camp and establish a secure perimeter. “See

“All paths in life are direct. All living beings share the same moment that is being.”

what provisions we have to feed the men.”

Sandeeptha wiggles for emphasis.

“There are mangos, guavas, papayas and other fruits in the trees all about.” Sandeeptha

Smyd has never considered such a notion. “You seek nowhere?”

informs the commander.

The small Brahman nods yes and smiles.

Broadfoot is much surprised by the practical response of the diminutive native. “How

“Have you found this nothing yet?” Smyd asks.

would Sandeeptha walk to Bangalore?”

The small Brahman nods yes and continues to smile.

The native points in the same direction for which the lost portion of the column has been

Amanda is confused.

following.

Amanda is more concerned over lunch with her husband.

“Ah ha!” Beams the Lt Col before his wife. “Right you are! Have there been any other

She excuses herself.

wagons passing here today?”

“How?” Smyd asks the native.

Sandeeptha shakes his head in no.

“Must each tree in the jungle tally all of its neighbors? Need the fish map the depth of the

“Well that’s it. The main column is lost!” Concludes Broadfoot. “They’ll be coming

seas where it does not swim?” Sandeeptha instructs. “One is not free if one keeps the

along as soon as they understand their mistake.”

business of others.”

“No man alone can ever be lost or found …unless another shares his life.” Informs

Cait and Magnus are now quite uninterested. They must depart the native’s company for

Sandeeptha.

reprieve.

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Smyd is stimulated by the Brahman’s philosophy. “Why the jungle? Why not

officer. “Does not the god Kali bring death to all in whatever station of life in which they

Bangalore?”

are to be found?”

“To the gods Bangalore is a jungle composed of compacted mankind while the jungle

“Do you fear death?” Smyd asks with much trepidation.

here is made of dense vegetation.”

“There is no living in harm’s shadow. Fatality is a transformation that is to be approved

“Nowhere is then everywhere?” Smyd proposes.

by the gods.”

“Anywhere!” Sandeeptha corrects. “It is only the mind that allows freedom. Such a spirit

“How should one then live?” Smyd is desperate to know the native’s reason.

may be growing more easily in the forest of nature.”

“Life is a collection of moments. Each moment is an invitation from the gods.” The eyes

“You survive?”

of the Hindu hermit shine with care. “How does life changes when air, water, and

“The god Indira sends the rains to end thirst for all life, gives water to run and cleanse the

sunshine share the earth together?”

land. The goddess Annapuma permits the fruit to fall from the trees to fend the hungry.

The accountant is enticed by this Asian notion.

The god Vishnu makes the warm wind blow and refreshes the earth. Life continues in the

His mind races with possibility.

living gifts from the living gods.” Sandeeptha teaches.

His body relaxes with an enveloping peace.

“You keep no records, papers, or journals?” Smyd asks in bewilderment as he studies the

He finds no words obliged in response.

contemplative native.

His hands fall to his side. Their palms open.

The old inhabitant shakes his head to say not. “The foolish monkey requires no article for

Smyd sighs with a gained inner peace.

remembrance. What being lives more unbothered than he?”

“I need no longer count taxes, recorded fees, or report transactions.” Smyd understands.

“You walk away from the crowd to be most free in the jungle?” Smyd cannot imagine

His shyness is dispelled.

such courage.

Any sense of inadequacy of Smyd before other men is removed

“I walk freely about the world whether in this vast jungle or in any crowded metropolis.”

Self doubts have lost their place. Only acceptance of living as the sole need fills the

“You fear not the tiger?” Smyd ponders.

customs administrator.

“What of the murderous villain that prowls the cities such as Bombay?” Do not the

“You witness…you enjoy all that life offers?” He asks.

wealthy hide in caged dwellings?” The wise Brahman’s finger wags at the customs

Sandeeptha responds. “I share all that is about. One must appreciate the lesser with the greater.”

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“I have a passion for orchids. I love to grow them. I must be with them.” Smyd confesses.

“May I change my name as well? Percival Smyd was my father’s name. I never knew

“When you have the same obsession with all of life’s offerings then you shall have

him. I would like to share the name of my mother’s father whom I loved dearly.”

gained nirvana. Then the gods will welcome you as their equal.”

Sandeeptha nods approvingly.

Smyd has never known such a man as this Brahman recluse. “Could I ever be such as

“So it shall be.” The Englishman states excitedly. “Rudyard…Rudyard Kipling I shall be

Sandeeptha?” He questions aloud.

called from hence forth.”

“One must let go of all that which prevents one from being unfastened. Purge one oppressive item at a time. ” The profit announces. “What things should one leave off at the beginning?” Smyd asks.

~~~~

“Alcoholic drink!” Sandeeptha announces. “I have never consumed alcohol!” Smyd replies. “I keep no women as consort!” Sandeeptha informs.

Swami Kaspa has gathered an army of several thousand warriors that has moved on to the

“I have no wife!” Smyd replies.

border with his troublesome neighbor from the south.

“I ride upon no animal!” Sandeeptha confirms.

The territory of the Swami’s domain adjoins Bombay and the kingdom of Murud.

“I can walk as any foot soldier.” Smyd replies.

Spies have watched the trails into and from the Fort of Janjira as well as Murud.

“I wear one plain garment of cotton and simple sandals.” Sandeeptha verifies.

“There is much news, oh Swami.” A courtier tells.

“I could find such.” Smyd replies.

A large man dressed more as a warrior than a king is enjoying a sumptuous midday meal.

“I keep no employment! The gods are my only benefactors.” Sandeeptha pledges.

“If there is news of my daughter, then I wish to hear.”

“I shall quit my post!” Smyd replies.

The Swami is not a man given to ceremony, nor is his temperament always civil.

“My faith is in the earth!” Sandeeptha counsels.

“The Swami’s daughter travels with the English caravan to Bangalore. She has been

“I have none…how does one gain this?” Smyd replies.

seen.” Reports the advisor.

“Just believe that all of life is but one being.” Sandeeptha advises.

Swami snorts approvingly.

“I can believe. I can try.” Smyd is determined. “How shall I begin?”

He wishes to know more.

“Take no more than is needed.” Sandeeptha notes.

“The girl is well. She is being kept as a slave to an English woman.”

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This news does not please the Swami.

The army under the Swami’s command is much experienced with warfare in the jungle.

He ends dining.

They shall pass easily through the thick vegetation on the backs of many elephants.

His face is flush with anger.

“Give the orders to strike camp and to move at once with greatest haste. Let no man carry

He burns with ferocity at the possible mistreatment of his child.

more than his weapons.”

“There is yet more, oh Swami.”

“There is yet more news.” The servant adds nervously.

The chief of Kaspa nods his head in permission.

The Swami waits. “What is it man! I am being readied to action.”

“The Khan of Murud is dead.”

“The Raja of Bombay is presently on his sick bed. It is told that he is now gravely ill.”

The Swami’s expression changes to surprise and delight. “How?” Roars the leader. “The viper sent to sting the English woman turned upon the Kahn. It is said that her

~~~~~

beauty charms the snake god.” “Who rules Murud?” The Swami is anxious, as he knows the line of succession to the Raja of Bombay will come by ascension from Murud.

It is late afternoon when the lost fragments of the column have been regained.

“There is a Naresha who reigns.” The consultant informs.

“Gentlemen we shall be at the Pass of Baili by midday tomorrow.” Lt Col Tombs advises

The Swami questioningly looks at the informant.

his officers.

“The English woman is now the Naresha of Murud.”

“At first light all wagons shall be inspected as well as the preparedness of all animals and

“She is no fool. She keeps the heir of Kaspa, wears the crown of Murud, and surely

personnel. We shall have no accidents or delays within the pass.”

aspires to rule Bombay.” The Swami is helpless at these circumstances.

“Scouts?” Asks Lt Col Chambers.

“The English army moves now toward the Pass at Baili that opens their way to the hills

“We shall advance a hundred men afoot through the pass to hold the high ground. I wish

before the Deccan Plateau.” The counselor adds.

a cavalry attachment to participate in this action. Lt Col Broadfoot, I shall give you the

“Puspha is yet within the jungle and very near.” The Swami declares enthusiastically.

command of the detail.”

“We shall make haste to occupy the narrows of Baili before the English arrive.”

Lt Col Chambers is disappointed.

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“Chambers old boy, I want a battery of our best artillery set in place and made ready at

“I have sent Iyreem and Cata to gather fresh fruits.” Pushpa notes. “Magnus has gone to

the front with their sights on that pass. Hold there until the last wagon is through the

the cook’s tent for fresh baked bread.”

narrow.”

“Percival has a very sensitive digestion. I wish to have some warm mush with honey for

Lt Col Chambers is thrilled.

his meal.” Amanda worries.

“Gentlemen should there be a need for action, we shall engage only upon my direct

“We shall have curried pees and with bits of sweet potato. Magnus enjoys this very

instruction.” Commander Tombs declares.

much.” Pushpa worries.

“Further orders sir?” Lt Col Broadfoot snaps.

Their conversation is interrupted by the jingle of several tiny bells.

“We shall make camp early tonight. I wish all to be well fed and adequately rested for

A slight man approaches.

tomorrow’s march. I intend to make up the delays of today.”

His head is shaven bald. He wears cotton pantaloons and sandals. A thin cotton vest covers his bare top. His skin is white.

~~~~~

Three small bells are attached to a cloth bag than hangs from one shoulder. These shake with each stride of the man. The women have never seen an Englishman dressed so as a local. They gaze in

Pushpa, and Amanda are preparing the evening’s meal for the crew that serves the royal

confusion.

orchid expedition.

The man moves with much ease and confidence.

“I must learn to make your saffron rice. My William loves it so.” Amanda confesses.

The two ladies fail to recognize.

“My people use a local herb that most peoples of India do not know.” The native girl

The man who arrives shows much composure and intention.

responds.

The gentle folk search him in measure.

“Milk and guava juice mix for health, brandy for my husband’s pleasure, and lot’s of hot

At the near, his docile countenance beguiles.

tea.” Requests her ladyship.

Only the round wire rim spectacles worn by the visitor betray. “Percival!” Exclaims Amanda. “What ever has happened to you?”

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The two women bend with eyes widened to search the accountant’s form.

“This is the only way that I can become worthy of India’s trust. I must live the whole of

Amanda notices the youthful change is her friend’s demeanor. She has never noticed his

the continent’s experience as one of the indigenous folk.” The man smiles with

handsome features before.

anticipation of his coming transformation.

“Mandy I am leaving the convoy. I shall meet you in Bangalore.” The man states.

“When will I see you next?” Amanda leaps to enfold her friend in her arms.

“Leaving! To where?” Amanda exclaims in surprise.

The man does not melt in her embrace as before.

“I am going to walk through the jungle.” He informs.

Amanda senses a man grown strong in purpose.

“The jungle by your lonesome?” The woman nears hysteria at her friend’s notion.

She yields.

“My disciple is going to accompany me.” The newly attired Smyd announces.

“I shall look for you every day. Do not forsake our friendship Perceval.” She pleads.

“Disciple?” Amanda descends into total confusion. “Yes Gunga Din wants to follow my way now.” The man points to a native youth who stands at the far but well within sight of Smyd.

~~~~

Stunned beyond words, Amanda rocks about upon her feet in a moment of faintness. “Sit please! Mandy, I am leaving the service of the Royal Customs House to seek nirvana.”

The army of Kaspa has arrived at the Baili Pass well ahead of the English. It occupies the

Amanda takes a seat and Pushpa hands her a drink of water.

high ground above and both sides of the fine pass.

“What of your word to Victoria…The Queen of Britannia?”

“We shall see what the English have to say about the enslavement of my Pushpa.” The

“I shall keep our bargain but as we march. I shall explore India not only for orchids but

Swami blusters before his advisors.

the place to build my college.”

The Swami’s tent is set forth just below the zenith of the pass and in full view of all that

“College!” Both women declare.

enter from beneath. It bars all transit through the pass.

“I am going to build a school of accounting and finance for the poorest of India. This

Realizing the English Army’s preference for artillery, the Swami has his forces placed

institution shall supply the needs of Victoria’s Asian Empire and help the most

out of sight just behind the ridges above the narrow. The English will be forced to fire

abandoned of India.” The man announces.

their cannons blindly should a conflict erupt.

“Why not stay with us?” Tears slip into the woman’s eyes.

The elaborate pavilion of the Swami sits alone.

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Royal banners wave.

The elevation at Baili climbs in a twisted path with segments of rises connected by a

The large Hindu lord reclines upon his throne in wait.

series of flattened ties. The ridges about are dense with vegetation. The path way

His attending entourage is meager and suggests no threat.

continuously grows slimmer. One’s view is constantly obstructed in the near sight.

A column of English foot soldiers advances toward the pass. Lt Col Broadfoot who

Half way up the steep Broadfoot halts the progress.

advances upon horseback leads them.

He gazes backwards and below searching for the arrival of Chambers and the artillery

“Column halt!” Broadfoot commands as they reach the entrance to the pass. “Sergeant!

battery.

Have the men fix bayonets.”

They have not as yet arrived.

“Fix bayonets!” Echoes the sergeant to the line of infantry.

“The English hesitate.” Swami notes as his view commands all below.

“Advance four abreast.” Requests Lt Col Broadfoot.

“We could attack now and kill all who approach.” An advisor observes.

“By fours!” Echoes the sergeant.

The ruler of Kaspa considers.

“Follow me with weapons at the ready” The Colonel orders as his mount strides into the

“Such a lesson has worth.” He muses. “Might not the English have a lesson to teach us as

divide.

well?” He notes the arrival upon the lower base of a troop of mounted horsemen and six

“Lock and load weapons.” Bellows the sergeant.

shiny cannons.

The rancor of ammunition racking into the breaches of a hundred assault rifles on the

“We shall speak our demands to the English first.” The Hindu lord declares.

instant brings the mood of English troops to serious attention.

Relieved by Chamber’s presence upon the field, Broadfoot continues his inspection of the

The commander’s horse saunters away while the infantry composes.

Baili Pass.

“Attention!” The sergeant hurries his men.

Now three quarters the way upward, the Swani’s tent is seen.

“Advance!” Calls the seargeant.

“Natives above.” The sergeant confirms to his commander.

The Swami is much impressed by the discipline of the English. “These foreigners obey

“How many do you see?” Broadfoot asks as he rises in his saddle.

orders well, unlike some tribesmen who serve me.”

“Just a handful of men under the tent ahead. There are about two dozen large beaked

Up the rising slope and onto a broad trail used by migrating herds of buffalo, deer, and

parrots in the trees nearby as well.”

elephant Lt Col Broadfoot leads his men.

“I say! Awfully large birds and quite beautiful.” The colonel has never seen any natural sight like this. “They seem to be observing the goings on inside the tent.”

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“Looking for leftover scraps I suppose.” The sergeant replies.

“I mean to have that pass cleared without delay.” Barks Broadfoot.

“I thought birds preferred seeds and insects and such?” The colonel puzzles at the

“What if no one understands our language?” Asks the sergeant.

gathering of the parrots.

“I shall make the Queen’s intention quite clear to all.” Snorts Broadfoot as he spurs his

“Those large beaks are for opening hard fruit. The natives must have a good supply in

mount to a crisp gallop.

side. For sure there are no men hiding in the trees nearby, else the birds would scatter.”

“See here comes one invader alone.” Another advises the Swami.

As the colonel considers the words of his sergeant, several large winged colorful birds

The Swami is counting the number of English marksmen who have gathered and are busy

shift positions about the trees.

adjusting their rifle’s sights.

The parrots watch upon the lone Hindu enclave.

“The English will let none escape if their leader is harmed…. Make a place of welcome!

The ornate tent, the bright frisky birds, and the lush vegetation make the scene a peaceful

Prepare tea for our guest.” The Swami admires the courage of the English officer.

repose.

Broadfoot moves steadily onward riding high in the saddle. He invites all eyes to mark

“The pass here is too narrow for a standard troop formation.“ Notes Broadfoot. “Have the

the conduct an English officer in command.

men rest.”

Indifferent to any who maybe unseen, the colonel strides upward to the front of the

“At ease!” Echoes the sergeant.

Swami’s tent.

A hundred troopers drop to sit upon the ground.

Coming to a halt he speaks not.

“The English have no will to fight.” A second advisor at the watch comments to the

Broadfoot eyes span the scene before him.

Swami.

Five attendants stand about a large man that is seated comfortably. All the natives keep

“They show no fear. The English invite cordiality.” The Swami concludes.

watch upon the English officer.

Lt Col Broadfoot assays the situation. “Sergeant! Have a dozen of your best marksmen

A quiet moment passes with neither side prepared to initiate a discourse. Broadfoot looks

stand in a line with set their sights placed on that tent. I shall ride up there.”

keenly upon the Swami who gazes upon the English officer in kind.

“At the quick sir!” Replies the sergeant.

“Tea is ready, oh Swami!” Announces a servant.

“Should there be any treason afoot sergeant I wish no one there to leave that tent alive!”

The tension between the opposing sides dispels.

Demands the colonel as he turns to ride toward the waiting Swami’s pavilion.

“Please join us.” The Swami asks in English as he invites the officer to step within the

“It could be dangerous alone Colonel.” Warns the sergeant.

tent.

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Broadfoot senses he is among civil natives. He notices a serving table decorated with a

The Swami nods in agreement. “There is no coincidence and there is surely one

large selection of fruit.

accommodation that will settle all bother.”

“I accept in the name of Queen Victoria of England.” The colonel announces as he

“How so?” Quizzes the colonel.

salutes the Swami from rigid attention.

“My daughter is being held captive amongst the English convoy of which you are their

“I extend the hospitality of the people of Kaspa.” Returns the Swami.

representative.” Retorts the Swami.

The two adversaries are seated.

Broadfoot gauges the finery of cloth and jewels adorning the lord from Kaspa.

Tea is being poured out.

“Impossible! There is no royal princess amongst us. Undoubtedly, I should be aware of

“You are the commanding officer of the looming British expedition?” Asks the Swami.

the same.” The English officer is adamant.

“Not so! I am the officer in charge of clearing the Pass here at Baili.” Broadfoot’s tone is

“My people have seen her in service to the Naresha of Murud. My daughter is now

sharp but social. “I must ask in Her Majesty’s name that you move off this trail so that

dressing as a common servant.” The Swami’s tone shows much displeasure.

our column may go by freely.”

His back stiffens

“There is very important business for the people of Kaspa that is presently being

“Naresha of Murud?” Broadfoot is confused.

undertaken. My precise location here is imperative.” Answers the Swami politely.

“Amanda…Lady Broadfoot!” The officer chokes. “You mean Pushpa is the daughter of

Broadfoot nods in understanding of a nation’s right to undertake its business albeit

the Swami of Kaspa!”

inconvenient.

The Swami nods in accord.

“It is not possible now for our supply wagons to by pass this site. Your present

“You have come to the pass to free Pushpa?”

circumstance makes much conflict with our purpose. Time is of prime concern to us.”

The Swami nods in accord.

Informs Broadfoot.

“She is free as we speak. She is a paid employee of the Queen’s Expedition. I know her

“My people are of absolute concern to me.” Answers the Swami.

circumstances well.” Broadfoot insists.

“It is an unfortunate coincidence that we both need use the pass at the same time.”

“The law of Kaspa is clear. I am bound as Swami to keep the rules of our tradition!”

Broadfoot is a bit apologetic. “Surely there must be a way to be mutually

“Just what Kaspian rule are we dealing with at the moment?”

accommodating?”

“Our law demands the return and the punishment of those who would harm the heir to Kaspa.”

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“You wish an assessment of justice under your…Kaspian law?” Broadfoot questions.

His admiration for the English colonel grows.

“Pushpa must appear here at once, along with the English woman.” Swami insists.

He brushes the officer’s sword away. “You honor is without question. Keep your

“The English woman will not be permitted to appear before any court other than by

weapon. Call forth my Pushpa.”

English rule.” Broadfoot insists.

Broadfoot bows.

His back stiffens more.

“Do not doubt the severity of the punishment should Pushpa have suffered any harm!”

“Then I have no option but to have my army bring the English woman to justice.” The

The Swami remains a stern monarch.

Swami’s hands grip tight the arm rests of his thrown.

Within the hour Magnus and Puspha arrive at the tent of the Swami.

Broadfoot understands the importance of the results in his meeting with the Swami.

Upon her entrance the Swami’s eyes water with joy and love for his only daughter.

“I shall have our native guide, Magnus escort Pushpa here before her father. Let the

Tears of love and joy show Pushpa’s relief to be again in her father’s presence.

Swami question the girl and satisfy himself as to her welfare.”

Puspha kneels before the great Swami of Kaspa.

The officer relaxes.

“Arise my daughter!” He commands.

Broadfoot studies the eyes of the Swami. “Permit another from the English convoy to

The father’s eyes measure the health of his dear child.

take Lady Broadfoot’s place before the Swami.”

His body is held rigid.

The Swami ponders the wisdom of the officer’s words.

The daughter’s head hangs in guilt for having permitted herself to be lost.

He relaxes.

Her body is rigid.

“It is permitted that a close relative may stand in the place of the accused.” The Swami

The Swami composes.

announces. “Who is here that may take her place?”

His relief gives way to duty as lord.

“Lord Broadfoot, her husband!” The colonel answers as he stands and offers his sword to

He shows irritation at the present condition of the girl. His foot taps with impatience.

the Swami. “I am he and my wife is incapable of harming any soul including the poorest

“Are you a prisoner of these English?” He asks.

of India.”

“No father!” Pushpa knows the way of her father.

Much surprised by the circumstances the Swami looks to his advisors.

“Why are you dressed as a man, my child?”

“It is an acceptable option!” The eldest native informs his lord.

“I was instructed to do so.” Pushpa knows that too many words will confuse.

The Swami ponders again.

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“Who dares to give such an order to the Princess of Kaspa?” The Swami is offended by

“This man took me!” Pushpa points to the large form of Magnus.

the girl’s common appearance.

Magnus is flustered.

“This man!” Pushpa points to the large form of Magnus.

The Swami gives much thought.

Magnus is embarrassed.

His knuckles whiten as they grip the armrests of his chair.

The Swami eyes bulge in a lingering stare at the disguised Scot. This man who gives

“Who employs this man?” The Swami points to the large form of Magnus.

command to his daughter seems but a common native.

“The Naresha of Murud.” Pushpa answers.

“Are you a slave to the English woman, my daughter?”

Magnus is worried.

“No father?”

The Swami is concluding that the English woman has employed both the Surkha

“Who brought you to the English woman my child?”

Chakkara, and Magnus.

“This man!” Pushpa points to the large form of Magnus.

Broadfoot senses the outcome of the Swami’s inquiry.

Magnus is uncomfortable.

He rises.

The Swami peers into the soul of Magnus. He is offended by the impudence of the

His body is rigid.

beggar.

“Is it permitted for the accused to place questions?”

“How came you to be in Murud?” The Swami asks his child.

The Swami squirms in bother.

“This man brought me there!” Pushpa points to the large form of Magnus.

The great lord is not anxious.

Magnus is anxious.

“His own inquiry will best serve to confirm to whom guilt should be placed.” An advisor

The Swami considers what sinister motives Magnus might harbor.

offers to the Swami.

“How came you to leave Bombay?” The Swami asks his child.

The Swami ponders, and slowly nods in permission.

“This man took me from there!” Pushpa points to the large form of Magnus.

“Pushpa…eh Princess how came you to Bombay?” The officer asks.

Magnus is withdrawn.

“I was taken from my village by the Red Troll.”

The Swami suspects Magnus as a collaborator of the infamous Red Troll. He is prepared

“How came you to know Magnus?” The officer asks.

to lift the head from Magnus’ shoulders

“He arrived at the place where I was captive?” Pushpa yet chooses few words in answer.

“Who took you from the place of the Surkha Chakkara?” The Swami asks his child.

Magnus is encouraged.

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“What reason brought Magnus to your prison?” The officer asks.

“Why are you required to dress as a man?” The officer asks.

“He came to free another girl kept there as well.”

“To avoid being taken captive yet again.” Pushpa answers.

Magnus is relieved.

“Are any within the English convoy aware that you are the daughter of the Swami of

“How came you to travel with Magnus in Bombay?” The officer asks.

Kaspa?” The officer asks.

“I asked him to take me with him.”

“No.” Pushpa answers.

Magnus is optimistic.

“Why did you not tell the English woman?” The officer asks.

“Why?” The officer asks.

“I must answer for my Pushpa.” The Swami interrupts as he sighs deeply. “It is because

“He saved all bound there from being sold as slaves. I was afraid the Red Troll’s people

she does not wish to be separated from the man who continuously saves her.”

would find me. I wanted to return to my father.”

Pushpa points to the large form of Magnus.

Pushpa cries.

Magnus is surprised.

The Swami cries.

“Our law grants the one whose life is spared to dedicate that life to their savior.” Joy and

Magnus is empathetic.

pride fill the Swami’s countenance.

“How came you to the English?” The officer asks.

Joy and love fill Pushpa’s countenance.

“Seeking safe passage from Bombay as servant to the English woman.”

Curiosity shows upon Magnus’ face.

“How came you to Murud?” The officer asks.

“To save the same person more than once is considered a request of marriage. Fate has

“I was taken there by this man after being rescued from the Siddi who captured me while

selected the one to become Pushpa’s husband!” Swami declares.

on the road to Janjira.” The girl again points to Magnus

Magnus is confused.

Pushpa still cries.

“To whom is she now to marry?” Broadfoot is baffled by the display of profound Hindu

The Swami still cries.

emotion.

Magnus is still empathetic.

Pushpa points to the large form of Magnus.

“Who saved you from slavery the second time?” The officer asks.

Magnus is moved.

“This man.” Pushpa points to the large form of Magnus.

All are still.

Magnus is reassured.

Pushpa’s head does not rise to gaze.

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The Swami casts a warm smile upon the huge Scot.

“Oh Swami, the Raja of Bombay is very close to death.” Interrupts an aide with the news.

Magnus blinks in bewilderment. Broadfoot hand motions to question Magnus. Magnus nods to show his agreement to the marriage.

~~~~~

“Is it done then?” Asks Magnus “Done!” Declares the Swami. He adds. “It is forbidden for the heir to Kaspa to degrade her station by such dress as she

After the Pass at Baili the jungle is left behind and the land turns into rolling foothills that

now wears.”

eventually direct up and onto to the Deccan Plateau.

The girl acquiesces.

In an hour’s ride from the pass, the Swami’s Hindu army camps. The preparations are

“You shall have your royal station returned forth width. A hundred elephants and a

hurriedly made for a short Hindu wedding.

thousand warriors shall keep your escort.” The Swami declares.

Upon the arrival of the English convoy to the Swami’s encampment, their base camp is

“The pass will be cleared at once, I trust.” Broadfoot resumes his military obligation.

made.

The Swami bows in agreement. “To where does Pushpa travel with the English?”

The British will enjoy an early dinner while the wedding ceremony is being conducted.

Pushpa has no idea.

Outside of the Swami’s tent in the open air is placed a small canopy. This structure

She looks to Magnus.

covers a pair of woven mats.

Magnus looks to travel north but is unaware of the convoy’s itinerary.

Front and center to the canopy is a large metal bowl in which burns a sacred Hindu fire.

He looks to Broadfoot.

The commanding officers, Cait, Iyreem, and Lady Broadfoot accompany Magnus to the

Broadfoot is not permitted for security reasons to provide details of their military

ceremony. They arrive in a procession.

schedule. “South…eh presently!”

Pushpa arrives atop her favorite pachyderm. The huge beast is bedazzled in gems and

“When you reach the River Krishna my Pushpa must not cross.” The Swami declares.

adorned with chains of gold.

“It is forbidden for a Hindu from Kaspa to cross a body of water otherwise the gods will

Cait standing next to Magnus asks in ancient Celtic “Is maith leat...Do yee wish this?”

punish such a transgression.” The Swami warns. “Loss of caste…is not a risk the royal

“I like being married lassie.” Magnus answers in the old tongue.

family of Kaspa will chance.”

Again in their private language she asks. “Have you been married before?”

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“Aye lassie…. several times.” He states in Gaelic. “This will be my fourth wife.”

The Swami arrives to escort Magnus under the canopy.

“Wives…four!” What about the others.” Cait asks unbelieving.

Pushpa is wearing a white sari with red trim. She subsequently enters carrying two

“They all be fine lassie. I’ll see each again in the next few years.”

garlands of flowers one she presents to her groom.

Cait is dumbfounded. “I had no idea that yee are a polygamist.”

A Hindu priest greets the wedding pair and invites them to be seated next to each other.

“It be the way of the sea and those who depend on the sea for living.” Magnus answers in

Pushpa waits until Magnus is seated.

secret.

“It is good!” Whispers Iyreem. “It is said that whichever of the wedding pair sits first is

Cait is uncertain how to respond.

to be dominate one in the marriage.”

“Have no fear lassie, I’ll keep yee safe and complete the laird’s wish.” These Gaelic

The friends of Magnus crowd about one side of the canopy.

words come from Magnus.

A Hindu chorus softly chants an invocation to the god Ganesha.

”This girl has nothing to do with the sea?” Cait pleads in their old language.

Magnus places a garland about Puspha and she places a garland about him.

“Aye she’s not of the sea but her husband goes abroad by ship.” None in the procession

A cool breeze comforts those who stand in the full sunshine.

understand the Scots as they speak in their old tongue.

The Swami washes the bride's and the groom's hands and feet. “I approve the wedding of

“Hoot lass! I’ll be the Laird of Kaspa someday and have greater wealth than the Kings of

my Pushpa to Magnus.” He announces.

Scotland.” Magnus is no fool. “I may give up the sea entirely.”

The Hindu priest motions to the groom.

“What of yee other wives?”

“I, Magnus, take yee, Puspha, into my heart as my wife.”

“When a sailor takes to sea then his return home is always in doubt. After several years of

The Hindu priest motions to the bride.

wait the woman is free. My wives will be fine. It’s the life of the sea folk lassie. It can be

“I, Pushpa take you, Magnus, into my heart as my husband.”

no other way.”

The priest states. “A circle is the symbol of the sun, the earth, and the universe. It is a

“What of yee children?” Cait is dismayed.

symbol of holiness, perfection, and peace. In these two rings is the symbol of unity. Your

“I have nay as yet. Nay was about a woman long enough I suppose.”

lives are now joined in one unbroken circle. Wherever you both shall go, always will the

Their clandestine conversation ends.

one return to the other in togetherness.”

Cait wonders if all men are so causal about taking a wife or is it that life is so large for a

Bride and groom exchange rings.

man like Magnus.

Lady Broadfoot weeps.

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The Swami weeps.

A young teenage boy stands alone in the middle of the way to be used by the British

Cait weeps.

wagons. He waves before the lead element of the English column.

The priest puts one sacred rope around both the bride’s neck and the groom's neck.

Another halt to the convoy’s progress is made.

Magnus and Pushpa are now married!

“Lt Col Tombs! There is a lad that will not yield way.” Reports the sergeant of the

Amanda weeps.

forward contingent.

Lord Broadfoot is unmoved.

“Not again!” Moans Tombs. “Do not these Hindu understand the meaning of progress?”

The bride cups her hands and places them in the groom's cupped hands.

“What can he possibly want?” The commandant puzzles.

The swami puts rice in bride's hands.

“He wants to speak with you…a matter of emergency.” Informs the sergeant from the

Together the bride and the groom pour the grain into the fire.

column’s point.

A rousing cheer erupts among the Hindus.

The Lt Col arrives to find a thin small native lad waiting in the road’s center.

Drums beat, symbols clang, bells ring, and horns blare.

A dozen or so male natives wait by the roadside. “What does this one need?” Lt Col Tombs asks of the sergeant. “I speak English.” The lad states. “Also Dutch and German as well.”

~~~~

“Rather!” Calls Tombs. “That’s better than most Englishmen here in uniform.” Tombs observes the lad and his companions as dressed in the typical garb of field hands. “Your name?”

In a several days more travel, the column reaches the elevated region of southern India

“Imran!” The boy answers.

called the Deccan Plateau.

“How did you acquire all your linguistic achievements?” Tombs inquires.

Here the small village of Bandarlapal rests amidst the forest near the trail to Bengalore.

“From the market places where the rich foreigners visit. I learn very quickly.” The boy

The residents have heard of the approaching mighty military convoy of the English.

states.

Near the intersection of the roadway with a foot path from the village rests a group of

“Do any others in your village speak many languages?”

male village dwellers.

“No…only I.” “Do you speak many local tongues as well?”

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“Yes…all the languages from here to Mysore.” The boy responds.

“Broadfoot, escort the lad to Amanda for an audience. Have a head to head with your

“That is a great many?”

wife to see whom and what help should be sent.” Tombs whispers. “This column is to

“Very many, I learn very easily, very quick any language I hear.”

start back on schedule immediately and with the company of Amanda.”

“What issue brings you to call to a stop to Her Majesty’s business?”

“I shall be quick about it.” Replies Lt Col Broadfoot.

“We seek an audience with the Naresha of Murud.” The boy pipes. “There is great danger

Hurriedly, Imran is taken into the presence of Lady Broadfoot.

in our village and the several villages near to us.”

“Amanda, this lad has come to ask of your assistance.” Her husband introduces.

“How is the Naresha to be of use?” Tombs asks.

Magnus and Cait attend.

“Small children are disappearing at night from the arms of their mothers never to be seen

“Naresha!” The boy bows at the waist before Lady Broadfoot. “Some evil comes in the

again.” The boy is frantic.” Only a great person with much power from the gods can be

night to our village and steals the very small children.” Imran informs.

saving us.”

Amanda is shocked. “You mean that your babies are being taken…by whom?”

“Lt Col Broadfoot!” Calls the commander.

“No one is knowing!” The boy tells. “There is no struggle. None are seen coming or

Broadfoot arrives in haste. He stops at full military attention.

going.”

“We have trouble old boy!” The commandant snorts. “Seems Lady Broadfoot’s divine

“How many children and over how many days?” The lady asks.

intervention is needed about the village of Bandarlapal.”

“Seven little ones over two week’s time…all gone during the night.” Imran answers.

Lt Col Tombs points to the native boy.

“How may I help?”

“Missing children!” He informs Broadfoot.

“The magic of the Naresha will bring an end to this wickedness. None in the villages

“Amanda will be very keen on helping.” Broadfoot notes. “She is devoted to children and

have the power. Many have tried.”

their needs.”

The woman is lost. She looks to her husband.

“We can’t keep our schedule by stopping for every local need along the way. Having her

“I must go at once! The children need me.”

ladyship off and poking about the wild lands won’t do.” The commander ponders.

“There must be an investigation by some one who can be objective.” The officer

“See her Imran. If her ladyship…the Naresha sends an envoy in her name will that do?”

responds. “It is too dangerous for you to go.”

“I must speak with the Naresha myself to invoke the correct prayer.” The boy begs.

“Would English soldiers help?” Lady Broadfoot asks the boy. “They do not have the blessings of the gods as the Naresha.”

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The lady pauses in despair. “I simply cannot refuse William. The children!”

The sound of the militia on horseback has gathered the people.

“Amanda you are responsible for the welfare of all the children of Murud. If the Raja

An elderly man too week to walk unassisted has taken a seat at the village entrance. All

passes on then you shall have the duty to all the children of the district of Bombay.” Her

his fellow inhabitants wait behind.

husband reminds.

In the local dialect Imran announces the emissaries of the Naresha of Murud. The huge

The woman’s emotions are conflicted.

form of Magnus and the royal nature of his position have given much excitement and

“Would one who the snake god fears be an acceptable emissary from the Naresha to the

hope to the natives.

people of Bandarlapal?” Lord Broadfoot asks the boy.

The oldest living male is given the reign of village chief in Bandarlapal. So it is the

The boy nods enthusiastically.

custom for all the neighboring communities.

“I recommend that you send Magnus along with a squad of dragoons to assist the

“Only the gods have the power to dispel the inhuman terror that haunts our peoples in the

villagers. They can recover to the column in a day or so by horseback.” The officer

dead of night.” Imran interprets the babbles of the oldest native.

advises his wife.

Cata and Magnus nod in understanding.

“Magnus may need help. I shall send Cata with him.” The woman is reassures. “Magnus

The old one waves forth. “Mukherjee!”

find the cause of this malevolence at once then rejoin us.”

A tall thin native steps to the front. His thick curly hair and mustache are unmoved as he

Imran listens intently.

begins to speak in anger.

“Do whatever is needed to secure the safety of the children of Bandarlapal. See that

Imran interprets.

justice is done.” Amanda’s words are spoken softly as a pointed finger of her hand moves

“For twelve nights past it is being very hot for many days and nights.” Mukherjee begins.

in emphasis.

“My family as well as all those of the village is sleeping outside the huts where the air is

“Cata search thoroughly. You are to advise Magnus in any action to be undertaken.” The

cool.”

Naresha has spoken.

The villagers nod in agreement.

Cata and Magnus bow before her ladyship and withdraw to follow Imran.

“My wife is keeping in her arms the youngest boy of one year in age.” Pain fills the

The Naresha’s delegation disappears into the thick bush on its way to Bandarlapal.

words of Mukherjee.

The English convoy resumes a quick pace toward Bangalore.

Cata and Magnus nod in understanding.

In but an hour the dragoons are waiting peacefully out side of Imran’s the village.

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“In the dawn we awake. There is no baby. He is gone. We search our home. The village

The old one waves forth. “Debdatta!”

searches all huts. There is no sight of our little one.” Mukherjee must break as his tears

A slim comely young woman rises.

flow heavily.

Imran interprets.

Magnus hands ask if any markings were found to suggest an intruder into the village.

“My husband has gone to Mysore to seek work. We shall soon leave Bandarlapal.” There

Magnus hands ask if any piece of the child’s clothing or signs of the child were found.

is no emotion in the woman’s voice. Debdatta is in shock.

“None! No human form came that night.” Imran interprets the words of the elder. “No

“Our only child was taken three nights ago from between myself and my husband as we

trace of the child was found about the fields and the lands of the village.”

lie on either side of our baby.”

Cata signs to ask if this was the first child to be so missing from the village.

Magnus asks by hand signals. “Is it the same for all the villages nearby?”

“No!” Tells the hand of the elder.

“Yes!” Tells the hand of the elder.

The old one waves forth. “Vahit!”

“No one has acted suspiciously these past weeks?” Signs Cata.

A short dark man with heavy abdomen moves forth.

“Yes!” Tells the hand of the elder.

“Since that night the women and children sleep inside the hut all night. My self and my

“Three persons about the locality, two old women and one crazed man were suspected.”

eldest two boys sleep on the ground before the entrance.” Vahit is nervous to speak to the

Imran declares.

Naresha’s servants, as he fears some guilt may be judged on his part.

“Well?” Cata’s eyes ask.

The elder prompts him to continue.

“Each was burned to death. Yet the children continue to go missing.” The boy informs.

“My two year old daughter is not in the shelter at day break. She was taken as the next

Cata looks to Magnus with concern.

from Bandarlapal. No person could pass by our watch. Only a spirit that passes through

She whispers in old Gaelic. ”Ta iad ar buile…the people are going mad.”

the night may have come in to our home.”

Imran hears the strange dialect of the two sent by the Naresha.

Vahit concludes.

He is alert.

Magnus again signs to know if unfamiliar markings were found.

“We must see all the villages and all the homes from which the children were taken.“

“No!” Tells the hand of the elder.

Signs Magnus.

Cata signs to ask if yet another child is so missing from any other family within the

“To the village were this terror began.” Signs Cata.

village.

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The local villages are spread in a rough circle about the forest. Each is adjoined with

“Welcome! Welcome to our village.” He clamors in his quaint tongue before the

much cultivated land.

emissaries of the Naresha of Murud.

The villages vary is size from a half dozen to several dozen dwellings. The smallest and

Bowing without end, the spokesmen for the tiny village is ill at ease with the presence of

most distant from the road to Bangalore sits nearest to the deep forest.

the powerful and rich visitors.

“What products do the people take to market?” Cata asks by hand.

Imran hands hold the senior native still.

“Beans, rice, yams, fruits that are in demand.” Answers Imran.

“The Naresha has sent her personal servants to end the evil that haunts the night.” The lad

“Fish?” Asks Cata.

affirms. “There is to be an inspection and all questions must be answered as if given to

“Yes when the season is right.” The boy answers.

the Naresha herself.”

“Animals?” Asks Magnus.

“There is not much to see…. just a few shanties with dirt floors.” Cait whispers in Gaelic

“Yes when the season is right.” The boy answers. “Monkeys, snakes, lizards occasionally

to Magnus.

a wild calf.”

Imran strains to over hear.

“No dogs, leopards, pigs?” Asks Magnus.

“There are nay small children!” Magnus answers in the old language of the highlands as

“Rarely! We do not hunt for food but on occasion we encounter a young animal and will

he looks about.

take it to market.”

Magnus asks by hand gestures to the village leader. “How many children have been

“No signs of big predators with in the villages recently?” Cata asks.

taken.”

“Never! In the dry season the tiger, and the leopard will come at a distance to watch for

“All, we have no small ones left. “ Imran interprets for the eldest of the village who holds

the cow or ox to stray away from the village. They are shy of the presence of the man

up three fingers.

who keeps guard.” The boy answers.

The leader is tired.

The most remote village is but a handful of the poorest huts.

His look is sad and forlorn.

Here the people gather fruit from the depth of the forest for trade and barter. Meager

None in the village have peace. All here suffer greatly.

fields of grain and vegetables provide a simple diet.

“Tiger, leopard?” Cait questions.

The village has one senior man, Attacharya. He has never seen mounted cavalry or

“Never in the village…. always they wait outside in ambush.” The elder answers.

Englishmen.

Imran repeats the words in English.

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“In ten years we have lost one old woman from a big cat, and one child from the bite of a

Magnus and Cait are startled.

cobra.”

“When did you uncover this catch of wolves?” Magnus excitedly gestures.

“If the attacks began here and they were not from man or large predators then what other

“Nearly one month ago!” The owner answers.

may possibly be the cause?” Magnus speaks to Cait quietly in Gaelic.

Imran repeats the words in English.

Imran is close.

Cait and Magnus stare at each other in silence.

Peeking inside the hut were the first child vanished Cait notices several animal pelts.

“Ta tu Erinnacht.” Imran tells Cait and Magnus they are Celts in their own language.

“What are these?” She asks by hand.

Magnus is surprised.

“While gathering food in the woods, if the dead animal is found then the hide is taken.”

Cait is pleased. “Our presence here is by wish of the Naresha of Murud. She will not be

The village elder answers.

happy if matters of her private staff are made common in knowlegde.”

Imran repeats the words in English. He adds. “These pelts we will be sent to market

She speaks in Gaelic and smiles to reassure the boy.

where they will fetch a good price from the tanners.”

“I shall tell no one of your ways.” Imran answers in the same tongue.

“Anything unusual among these pelts?” Cait again signals in question.

Magnus tells Imran that a wolf pair is taking the children.

The elder indicates to a young man to approach and answer.

Immediately Imran translates to the villagers.

“One deer, three monkeys, a squirrel, and two wolf skins.” The native beams in pride.

“The wolf god is angry. The Naresha is the only one to save us.” They answer.

Imran repeats the words in English.

Imran repeats their words in Gaelic.

He adds.” Wolf hides are very rare in fact they are never seen.”

“We must kill both wolves and at the same time.” Signs Magnus.

The wolf skins are brought for close inspection.

“We shall build a trap.” Signs Cait.

“Wolf pups!” Magnus tells to Cait in Gaelic as he gestures to the owner.

The private talk among the Celts resumes with Imran invited into their conversation.

Imran smiles.

“The wolf pair has lost their litter. They will breed again at once.” Magnus tells.

“We were in the forest. I chance upon a wolf den. Seven pups we bring to the village but

“The two wolves will hunt together now to increase their chance of success.” Cait

two die before we can take the others to market.” The proud inhabitant tells.

informs.

Imran repeats the words in English.

“Where will they hunt?” Magnus asks.

He adds. “Live wolves are never to be had. This is an extremely rare occurrence.”

“They will make a new den close to the former…. nearby here.” Cait answers.

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“Then they shall pass by this village first each night?” Magnus poses.

A shabby hut is made of freshly cut branches held with heavy twine. The roof is covered

Cait nods in agreement.

with bundles of long thin leafy sprouts cut fresh from the forest.

“We shall dig a deep hole.” Magnus instructs.

A small heavy gate is held above the entrance by a long thin stick attached to a rope.

“Build a counterfeit hut about it.” Cait adds.

Only Magnus and Cait wait alone in the deserted village.

“Close all the other huts and send the people away.” Imran suggests.

The false hut sits just before them.

Cait and Magnus nod in agreement.

Its small door is open.

“The horses and the villagers must be taken several miles away.” Magnus advises. “The

Within is tied a young goat. It wails from hunger and calls for its mother.

wolf will nay venture near a group of large beasts.”

Late into the night Cait and Magnus share favorite tales of early days in the highlands.

“Put horses in each of the other villages.” Cait responds.

“This is much like being on the moors at night with the sheep.” Cait tells.

“These people can relocate to my village of Bandarlapal until the wolves are dead.”

“Aye lass but we nay have the good Scotch whiskey to keep off the chill from the night.”

Imran offers.

Moans Magnus

“The wolf pair will circle the village late in the night and enter where they feel most

“Do you think the laird is watching now?” Cait ponders. “Life has ceased to be simple.”

safe.” Cait remarks.

“If there be a heaven then there he’ll be busy at knowing about his Cait wherever yee are

“If they hear the sound of a small child they will investigate.” Imran suggests.

to be found.”

“A small goat’s bleep is much the same sound as a baby’s fuss”. Cait notes.

Magnus’ words end as the kid inside the false hut stills.

“Then we shall build our trap in the midst of the village.” Magnus decides. “When the

The huge Scot points to his nose.

first wolf enters, it shall fall into the pit with no hope of escape.”

The scent of the wolf has entered the camp.

“The second wolf will not abandon its mate but shall move about in wait.” Cait is certain.

Cait holds firm the trap’s rope.

“Sooner or later the second wolf will enter the fake hut to seek the first,” Magnus

Magnus holds firm his long blade.

concludes.

Both hunters stretch upon the ground. They rest as in sleep only feet from the trap’s

“The entrance door will then fall to hold both wolves inside.” Cait proposes.

entrance.

“It will be then that we can end this terror.” Imran understands.

They wait.

Through the day the villagers are busy digging a deep circular pit.

The moon is bright.

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The sky is clear.

When Imarn, the villagers, and the dragoons arrive the next day the hanging remains of

Cait wonders if they shall have success.

two large wolves greet them.

Magnus wonders if one of the wolves is stalking a child in another village.

The power of the Naresha of Murud and her two personal servants will be told for

In the deepest of night and despite all readiness, the first wolf passes unseen into the hut

generations in their victory over the wolf god at Bandarlapal.

where the loose flooring hides the pit.

The authority of the Naresha of Murud is enhanced. Her reputation is now spreading into

Quickly shifting to seize the small goat, the predator moves onto the trap. Instantly the

many far-off districts about India.

floor yields from the wolf’s weight. The crash within the recessed catch is the first alarm that their plan is underway. Both Scots are aware that the pit now holds the first wolf. Cait’s grip tightens upon the trip rope. Her eyes are fixed at the entrance to the ambush. Minutes pass but time is held for the Scots. The ruffle of an animal below in the pit is heard. The occasional whimper of the trapped wolf inside is heard. A speck of black is moving near the door. A muted yip is made at the near. A forlorn whine below is made in response. Magnus stiffens. Cait tugs the rope. The trap door falls hard against the hindquarters of the second wolf. The next predator is forced within. The seal is made on the pit’s access

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“You are mistaking the application of our traditional English way of family lineage to

Chapter Five

another very ancient culture.” Her husband informs. “You are simply too modern a woman to understand the Hindu.”

Mysore

Amanda wonders if her husband really understands the Hindu way any more than she. “Nothing would surprise me about Magnus or Cata, and Iyreem could be anybody’s relative by Hindu reasoning.”

~~~~~~

With in the next week, the military convoy approaches the River Krishna. Here the Princess of Kaspa and her army must retreat. It is no easy task to turn a delegation of hundreds of elephants away from a large body of Amanda is lost without Puspha’s help.

water. A wide deep river is a place in which they love to bathe for extended time.

She has however learned from the native girl how to prepare many local dishes of which

Thousands of Hindu warriors await their orders.

she and her husband are fond.

The fields along the bank of the Krishna are choked with a mass of soldiers and wagons.

“If Puspha is a princess then Cata must be a Hindu royal as well.” She tells her husband.

The English are busy organizing their encampment while the Hindus undergo their ritual

“It might well be. These Hindu have the most complex way deciding their relationships,”

purification rites in the waters of the Krishna.

Lt Col Broadfoot answers.

The river crossing is normally active with local commerce and transport. This migrating

“I mean if Cata is sister to Pushpa then why is the Swami not Cata’s father as well?”

civil throng adds to the confusion of the day.

Amanda is confused. “How is Magnus actually related to the both of them now that he

“Will I ever see the great Magnus again?” Pushpa asks of her husband. She bows before

has married Pushpa?”

her lord.

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“Woman, I am on a solemn task pledged to my Laird. A promise was made to a great man at the time of his dying. There is nay a greater duty to he kept.” He answers.

A rider is seen from across the River Krishna.

“Your task must surely have an ending. Then will you come to me?” Pushpa is

An English dispatch arrives.

understanding but insistent. “Your obligation to a devoted wife will then have no rival.

“The commanding officer must see this communiqué at once.” He calls in excitement.

Our bond shall have no compromise. Else I shall surely come to you wherever you are to

“Hurry!”

be found.”

Immediately the messenger is received at the field headquarters of Lt. Col. Tombs.

“Woman would thee cross a body of water and drop thee caste?” Magnus is touched.

“You have been dispatched from Bangalore?” Tombs inquires of the rider as he opens the

“My caste is to be with you in this life and the next. This is my only desire.” Pushpa

newly delivered message.

answers.

“No sir.” The young soldier snaps to attention.

“Even should yee loose thee royal status?” The depth of her devotion surprises Magnus.

Tombs looks at the youth.

“My husband is my wealth. Such a divine warrior shall never be abandoned by the gods.”

He wishes more information.

“Aye woman! Thee are like nay other. I’ll come back to yee straight away if the true God

“Mysore!” The private informs. ”I departed Fort Albert a fortnight ago I’ve slept in the

permits me to live.”

saddle.”

“Them find me in our next life…I shall be waiting.” Pushpa’s tears flow.

Lt Col Tombs reads.

Her eyes beg.

He is informed that his line of advance is ordered to change.

“Dear girl thee tear at me heart like wail of the bag pipes across a darken moor.” Magnus

“Sergeant Cribbs!” Tombs calls for his orderly to appear.

eyes water.

“Have all the field officers gather here at once without delay. Have the surgeon present

He takes Puspha into his large arms. “I believe that the rest of our life…lives we will be

here as well.”

together for ever.”

As the orderly departs, the commanding officer looks to the dispatch carrier. “Are you aware of reason for this change in my orders?” The soldier nods affirmatively. “Dengue fever! The fort at Bangalore is under lock down.

~~~~~

No one is permitted to come or go until this epidemic lifts sir” Within minutes all the subordinate officers are collected in Tombs’ tent.

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“Gentlemen the way to Bangalore is closed.” Tombs informs. “Dengue fever has spread

“They will travel at the quick.” Broadfoot responds.

throughout the city and its surroundings.”

“Isolate the convoy at once! No one is permitted within sight of any section of our

The officers moan with concern.

command.” Lt Col Tombs advises.

Captain Oliver Watson is the convoy’s surgeon and its chief medial officer.

He pauses. “Shoot anyone who refuses to comply. Leave their body to rot.”

“Highly contagious and spreads like wild fire.” He advises.

“Is the way open across the river?” Chamber asks.

“What should the column expect if this fever reaches our number?” Tombs asks the

All look to the dispatch rider.

physician.

“I saw no signs of the fever on my way here.”

“Within 24 hours a substantial population of the convoy will be sick with a high fever.

“The fever might travel at the same speed and direction over the past several days as the

Inside 48 hours the convoy will no longer be fit to continue to its march. Sick camp will

dispatched rider’s horse. One should expect the epidemic to arrive at the other side of the

be a necessity.”

river momentarily.” The surgeon advises.

“Expected losses from our numbers?” Lt Col Chambers asks Capt Watson.

“Close the river’s crossing at once.” Tombs orders. “Shoot violators.”

“The fever is not lethal. It is however most debilitating…the majority of you command

“We shall make south on this side of the river away from Bangalore and move toward

will be out of commission before many days once the fever arrives,” the surgeon answers.

Mysore.” The commander continues. “If we need to make a sick camp then it let it be

“Our animals’ health?” Tombs poses.

made at Fort Albert.”

“All beasts are immune as far as I am aware.” Capt Watson advises.

“What of the Kaspians?” Broadfoot asks.

“How long would our sick camp be required?” Lt Col Broadfoot asks.

“They shall break their camp at first light. I am sure they will share the same concern of

“I would expect four to six weeks in duration before we could resume full military

becoming vulnerable to this epidemic far from their home.”

operations.” Watson advises.

“When do we march?” Asks Chambers.

“Do we have sufficient medicine?’ Tombs inquires.

“As soon as we can muster. We shall hike through the night and through the next day.

Our supply will be exhausted within the first several days of infestation.” The surgeon

The occasional rest will be had only for our animal’s sake. We must cross into the state of

warns.

Mysore by the second day. Our column shall arrive at Fort Albert by this week’s end.”

“Broadfoot! Have a company of cavalry race to Fort Albert and return immediately with

“Further preparations?” Tombs asks from his command.

as much medicine as can be spared for our need.”

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“We need to identify a number of wagons that can be converted to house the first sick as

According to legend, the area around Mysore City was once the realm of a most powerful

we continue to advance.” The surgeon advises.

demon king who was an evil spirit that brought havoc onto the world.

“Chambers prepare a list of priorities for abandonment in order to clear needed wagons.”

The goddess Chamundeshwari vanquished the demon in an enormous fight waged over a

“Shall I prepare procedures to destroy any goods left behind?” Lt Col Chambers asks.

period of 10 days. The region retains the name of this slain demon, Mysore.

“Burn all goods discarded save unwanted food. Let the locals have something extra in

Thus the State of Mysore is most historic and famous.

their diet.” Tombs determines.

The news of the approach of the Naresha of Murud to the City of Mysore has created a

“Change of command in case of emergency?” Chambers asks.

great concern.

“We are short of experience officers in the field.” Comments Tombs.

“If the Raja of Bombay does not live then the region near Mysore will pass into

He studies.

possession of the powerful Naresha of Murud.” The Raja of Mysore tells his advisors.

“After myself, Chambers as you are unmarried then Broadfoot…in the further eventuality

“We may all become subjects of this woman.” An advisor notes.

let Magnus take command in the field until we reach Fort Albert.”

“It is in our interest to honor the Naresha before hand.” The Raja decides.

“He will need to be commissioned right off.” Chambers notes.

“It would be to the benefit to all to have this woman as a powerful ally.” Another servant

“He can take command of our contingent of Bengal Lancers. Also Magnus could easily

proffers.

aide in directives to the section of wagons in the column’s rear.” Broadfoot suggests.

“To have an adversary ruling over the Province of Maharashtra is to be avoided.” A third

“Have Master Sergeant Magnus report for duty as an attaché to Lt Col Broadfoot

advisor remarks.

immediately.

“We must install the Naresha of Murud as an officer of Mysore…. an esteemed counselor governed by Chamundeshwari and myself.” The Raja of Mysore decides. “Should the Naresha succeed the Raja of Bombay she will not be quick to replace the one

~~~~~

who has given her high status in the District of Mysore.” A fourth advisor assures. “It must be an office that is supreme over Mysore save that of my own.” The Raja concludes.

The City of Mysore of the District of Mysore is located in the Province of Karnataka. It

“Let the Raja create such an office just for the Naresha of Murud.” A fifth advisor

holds a special place in the ancient Hindu culture.

implores.

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A moment of reflection passes.

The column is now exhausted but it has entered the Sate of Mysore. It is but a few days

The Raja of Mysore is in deep thought.

from the capital and Fort Albert. They shall camp here through the night and until midday

His attendants are loyal and wait patiently.

before their hurried pace is regained.

“Prepare a reception committee to pass forth and intercept the Naresha of Murud just as

Lady Broadfoot is now without Magnus as he has taken command of the Imperial

she crosses the border into the District of Mysore.” The excited Raja instructs.

Cavalry of the Bengal Detachment assigned to the convoy.

“Prepare a decree which shall carry my royal seal.” The Raja is ecstatic. “I pronounce the

“Cata we must depend more on Iyreem for assistance.” Amanda has come to trust the

Naresha of Murud as the Diwan of Mysore. The office of Diwan is to exert my will over

veiled warrior.

all in my capital city. ”

Lt Col Broadfoot arrives.

“What of the State of Mysore?” An attendee asks.

“My dear sweet loving Naresha!” He teases. “Seems the ruler of Mysore has sent a

“Further the Naresha of Murud shall be further declared as the Nizam of Mysore State.

delegation to greet your royal presence.”

Thus is granted her the same power over my entire realm.” The ruler declares.

“A delegation?” Amanda is recovering from the hardship undertaken by the column to

“Whom shall the Raja send to greet the Naresha?” One asks.

avoid the areas where Dengue Fever is to be found. “Who wants to meet me? What of the

“She is a woman! We shall send a small child to make her welcome.” The Mahraja

fever?”

intends. “Have my wives choose the most appealing of my youngest daughters to act in

“No sign of the epidemic this side of the river. Apparently Mysore has been spared.”

my behalf.”

“Is this welcoming delegation anything like the one from the Kahn of Murud?” Amanda

“The Naresha of Murud will not be able to refuse!” The elders agree.

wonders if precious surprises wait.

“The Raja shall surely conqueror the Naresha of Murud.” All agree.

“It is composed of a group of native women and their children from the House of the Raja of Mysore.” Her husband replies. “Yes…bringing gifts it does seem.” “Oh! Children and gifts!” Her Ladyship’s spirits rebound. “Food perhaps as well?”

~~~~~~

“Some two dozen civilians under armed escort await you presence at Lt. Col Tombs headquarters. “ He informs.

For a day and a night and a day the column has forced marched.

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“I shall wear the sari weaved with gold, and the blue stone pendant given to me by the

The aged minister of the Raja bows fully at the waist. He will not raise until the Naresha

late Kahn of Murud.” She hums. “That should make the visitors from Mysore feel at

grants his recognition.

home.”

The scene is stilled by Amanda’s abject majesty.

“Cata into your coral tunic….Iyreem leave that large sword of yours behind. Your fierce

Only Cata and Iyreem stir as they follow behind her.

look will frighten the children.”

As her Ladyship arrives before Lt Col Tombs, there is a loss of protocol. Tombs is

“We shall have to do something about your image before long.” Amanda mutters as she

lacking in royal custom.

empties her wagon of visitors in order to dress for her reception.

“Your Excellency!” Lt Col Broadfoot is practiced before the English Crown.

Before the tent of Lt Col Tombs a caravan of the harem of the Raja has assembled.

He addresses his wife. “May I present you to Lt Col Tombs of Queen Victoria’s 44th

Eunuches in ornate costumes provide assistance to a dozen wives of the Raja of Mysore.

Regiment Afoot and Commander of the British Forces present in the field?”

Bands of uniformed natives stand beside the numerous carriages used to transport the

Broadfoot invites her Ladyship to advance her hand

members of the imperial family. A silken canopy decorated with gold covers each regal

Lt Col Tombs bows.

carriage.

“Sir, may I present her majesty, the Naresha of Murud.”

Armed guards from the Palace of Mysore keep watch at the near.

“William!” Her Ladyships greets as her hand is grasped.

A single minister from Mysore with a long beard of pure white stands in wait beside the

“Amanda!” Lt Col Tombs replies with a warming smile as he lowers to kiss her hand.

English Commandant.

“May I present the official representative of the Raja of Mysore? Mr. Briyani Chopra.” Lt

He holds a silver plate engraved in gold and decorated with many large jewels.

Col Tombs states upon rising.

Behind stand a contingent of the Hindu wives of the Raja. Each holds the hand of a small

The elder Hindu lifts with his hands folded above his forehead as in prayer.

princess. All are gloriously dressed in formal native regalia of the Royal House of

“The great Naresha of Murud is most welcomed into the State of Mysore.” His rich

Mysore.

accent punctuates the warmth in his English words.

So inspiring is the moment that every English officer yields to the dominant presence of

Amanda nods and smiles.

the Naresha of Murud with rigid military salute.

A quick hand gesture from Chopra brings a young Hindu beauty forth accompanied by a

Every British soldier straightens to attention before her.

child of age five. The darling little girl accompanying the Hindu mother enchants Amanda at once.

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“The Raja’s daughter is the bearer of the supreme act of generosity of her lord.” Chopra

“One management is chosen to rule in the capital City of Mysore alone. The Diwan is the

pronounces.

office of the first advisor to the city.” The elder Hindu tells.

The tiny Hindu dear stands silently before Amanda.

The Kingdom of Mysore has its separate administration. The Nizam is the primary

Chopra puts forth the silver plate.

representative of the Raja for the whole of the district other than the capitol.” Chopra

The child is instructed to share in the hold of the prize.

concludes.

Amanda bends with glee to face the small one.

“Very clever!” Tombs notes quietly to Broadfoot. “If Amanda inherits the rule of the

“This trophy confirms upon its acceptance that the Naresha of Murud is ordained the

entire neighboring province then she may soon become the mistress over the Province of

Diwan of the Municipality of Mysore, and the Nizam of the State of Mysore. These

Karnataka and the District of Mysore and the immediate subject to its Raja at the same

offices are bestowed with all the authority as the supreme representative of the Raja of

time.”

Mysore.” Chopra announces.

“The Raja is hedging his bet.” Whispers Broadfoot.

Quickly Amanda grasps the silver plate.

“What shall the Naresha wish of us?” Chopra has not been dismissed and is confused.

Just as speedily she trusts it into the keep of her husband.

“Amanda!” Calls her husband.

Immediately she sweeps the child bearer into her arms.

“Yes dear?” She replies.

“Aren’t you the sweetest dearest thing?” Amanda squeals as she hugs the child. “How

“What do you wish to say to Mr. Chopra?”

could I refuse this gift from so precious a baby?”

”Tell him thank you…and I wish him to stay for dinner. I want all the folks from Mysore

Indifferent to any further affairs of state, the Naresha and her tender burden turn to greet

to stay.” Amanda orders while continuing play with the smallest natives.

and mix with the other wives and children of the Raja of Mysore.

Upon hearing these words the old Hindu officer bows repeatedly toward Amanda.

Tombs, Broadfoot and Chopra are left in dismay.

“We shall prepare a traditional feast and entertain the Naresha this night in the style of

“Ah!” Tombs stutters nervously. “These titles…. Diwan, Nizam?”

Mysore.” Chants the pleased Hindu elder.

Broadfoot notes the inscriptions on the silver plate are in a crude form of Hindi. “Why

Chopra excuses himself.

two titles?”

He hastens to send servants of the Raja out and about the land to collect foods for

“The Raja has appointed two governments.” Chopra details.

preparation.

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Under the command of the Raja bounteous locals musicians and performers will be

“Is there a spare dress about from the Raja’s wives?” Amanda asks.

conscripted.

“I shall have the finest garments collected at once.” Chopra bows in acquiescence.

“Sergeant Cribbs!” Tombs calls for his orderly to appear. “Have the surgeon appear here

“I shall send Iyreem to you well before this evening’s festivities begin. Amanda directs.

at once!”

Aside Lt Col Tombs instructs Sergeant Cribbs. “Have the military band assembled and

“I mean to have all these native guests observed for any sign of Dengue fever right off.”

prepared to play a host of waltzes. By Jove this time we shall show these Hindu how the

Tombs whispers to Broadfoot.

English make festive.”

Chopra approaches the Naresha of Murud.

“Anything else sir?” The orderly begs.

“The Raja wishes to offer you personal servants. Choose any number from his wives.

“All in the ranks that do not have the duty tonight are to have double rations of rum as

They will provide your every wish.” The Elder Hindu spokesman offers.

well as extra rations at mess.” Orders Tombs.

Amanda would love to replace Pushpa’s feminine company. “My needs are simple. I

Sgt Cribbs nods in understanding.

wish that I had a woman for personal companionship.”

“It would do if we had some choral sound from the ranks. Nothing salacious mind you.

Chopra is surprised. “You must travel with such from Murud .It is their edict.”

Have the men keep it warm and inviting. Steady on until the formal international

“Oh no! Just the boy Cata from Bombay and the warrior Iyreem from Murud keep my

festivities begin.” Tombs intends to send a message to the Raja.

company.” Amanda corrects.

The needs of the Mysore delegation are heavy. Not only foods but also help in cooking

Chopra bows in forgiveness. “Naresha, the warrior from Murud has to be a woman. It can

arrive from among the nearby villages.

be no other way. The laws of Murud are very strict.”

The wives of the Raja are well practiced in all the arts of pleasure required at the palace.

“Woman…she always carries such a big sharp sword.” Amanda is stunned. “I

Cookery, playing of music, and performance in dance are much of their regal duties.

thought…assumed that all warriors are men.”

Sumptuous dinners and formal entraining are their regular charge.

Chopra continues to seek pardon. “In some districts of India all members of the people

The officers prepare their dress uniforms.

are warriors. Men, women, young and old take to battle together. It has been so for

A contingent of the English infantry will be invited to take the role of servants for the

thousands of years. So it is with the Siddi and the people of Murud.

gala. They too shall wear formal military dress.

“I have never seen her face. It is always veiled.” Amanda notes.

The Welshmen from the convoy have formed a large chorus. Their rich and powerful

“It is the custom of some warriors.” Chopra replies.

voices command the background as the sun lowers on the horizon.

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The rank and file of the army sups, and drinks their rum while entertained.

“Military duty my dear. The Hindu royalty out number our officers. We need to muster to

Glorious English hymns sooth and settle the camp as many Hindu fires labor.

show a formidable English Command.

The animals of the convoy are drained by their efforts from the past days. They go to

“Do you think these children will be impressed or do you think they might rather enjoy

ground after eating. Every beast senses the mood of rest and amusement in the camp.

the English as simply ordinary folks?” Amanda wants a family night.

The military orchestra begins to assemble.

“We shall dance together, and we shall dance with all the children.” Lt Col Broadfoot

The dining is to be done in Hindu style.

understands his wife.

Mats and cushions are placed for the seating of guests. Long low tables are placed for holding the large patters of warm foodstuffs. Ornate rugs are laid in the open for a stage to hold the feet of Hindu entertainers.

~~~~~~

“Chambers old boy have the guard doubled and changed on the hour. Let’s permit no treachery to spoil the evening.” Lt Col Tombs orders. “Who is the best dancer among the officer corps?” Tombs asks.

The formal soirée is soon to commence.

“Actually that would be me!” Chambers answers. “I’ve won many dance contests in my

As the sun meets the horizon, torches and luminary fires are ignited.

day!”

Foods are being removed from the cooking fires and made ready for serving.

“Superior! You have the task of instructing the Raja’s wives at the waltz steps. I shall see

The Hindu feast will be composed of delicacies peculiar to Mysore.

to it that the officers keep the lovely harem on the dance floor.” Tombs smiles.

A vegetable salad is made of parboiled vegetables chopped finely and tossed with grated

“Sgt Cribbs!’ Calls Commandant Tombs. “No alcohol is to be served to any officer until

fresh coconut, green chilies, curry leaves and mustard seasoning. Also vegetables cooked

after camp fires are out. I want quadruple guards with non commissioned officers on

in tamarind juice with chili powder shall be offered. A thick broth of lentils and

hand about that harem all night.” Tombs means to have no occasion for an offense made

vegetables cooked together with ground coconut, spices, tamarind and chili powder is

to a wife of the Raja.

prepared.

The Naresha of Murud has not left the company of the Raja’s family. “William I’m going

There is a range of rice-based dishes as well that include a rice with lime juice, green

to eat with the children. Why don’t you join us?”

chili turmeric powder sprinkled with fried groundnuts and coriander leaves, and a spiced

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rice with egg plant. The most distinctive Mysore dish to be offered is a sumptuous

The royalty of this dynasty are composers and proficient in playing musical instruments

combination of rice, lentils, tamarind, dried coconut, chili powder and spices.

both as solo and in concert with others.

Steam-cooked finger millet powders rolled into large balls are made with a thick broth

Lt Col Tombs and his countrymen process into the gathering.

with edible green leaves, lentils and mutton curry.

The Hindu eyes keep hope to meet those of the Naresha.

To complete the delicious meal, unique sweets of Mysore such as a light flaky pastry

The eyes of the English officers wander. They move with the trim form of the stunningly

made of flour, sprinkled with powdered sugar and soaked in almond milk, a gram flour

gorgeous Iyreem.

fudge, a flat wafer-thin tort filled with a mixture of the sap of the date palm tree, dried

The Siddi warrior wears a half sari of a peach colored silk dress with a maroon silk scarf.

coconut and fried gently on a skillet, and a pudding made of milk, flour dough, sugar,

Her squared covered form as warrior has given way to a curvaceous female.

dried fruits are included.

Her exposed skin now shines in ebony allure.

The Chopra, and the English officers are to be seated at the front of the stage. Cata will

Her face is no longer covered. The loveliness of her high cheekbones, wide lips, and dark

remain behind Lord Broadfoot as his personal servant.

burning eyes are revealed.

The enclave from the Raja’s house will be seated opposite and behind the stage.

Lt Col Tombs is unable to ignore her womanly grace and presence.

The Naresha will be seated with the Raja’s children. Iyreem will stay behind Amanda as

Iyreem has long been an admirer of the strength in leadership of the English

her personal servant.

Commandant. His recognition of her as a woman is enjoyed.

Local musicians, servants, and royal native guards are to be seated to the one side.

Both will struggle with their respective duties.

English servants and orchestra will be seated to the other.

Both are distracted. Both seek one another’s watch. After the dinning is complete, the wives in the harem take to the dance floor. Local native

~~~~~

musicians assist. “The dance is one of the chief forms of religious expression since time immemorial.” Chopra explains. “Our religion is a conjugal practice.”

The dinner extravaganza begins with soft exotic Asian music provided by the wives of

“Sri Laksmi, wife of the god Vishnu was the first classical dancer of heaven. Adorned

the Raja.

with jewels and wearing anklets of bells, she danced with a divine grace. She taught her

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divine art to both heavenly nymphs and human beings as well.” Chopra instructs as the

“To the man who most advances friendship with the royals from Mysore?” Tombs

Hindu women begin.

recommends.

“The appeal of the immeasurable and the everlasting to the soul of man becomes a

“Here! Here!” The others agree.

narrative of love and devotion formed in our dance. The music calls man to the gods. The

Chopra is lost in the revelry of the officers.

dances seem as cyclic whirls of movement but the action portrays the return of man’s

Cait wonders how this contest will be played.

soul to God.” He continues as a group of native dancers strut in agreement with exacting

“Then there it is…. each must keep a dance card.” Chambers notes.

sensual turns.

“Right oh!” The card with the most entries from Mysore wins.” Broadfoot clears.

“Hinduism defines thirteen emotions of human life. These find expression in Hindu

“A fiver from each man that comes in second.” Tombs decides.

dance by rhythmic body motion, postures of head hand and arm, and facial expression.“

“The winnings go to the Military Orphan’s Fund.” Chambers recommends.

Chopra indicates.

“That is so touching.” Cait whispers.

“The Hindu dance is a prayer to your gods that has devotion yet much physical yearning

“Touching dear boy!” Call the other two officers.

as well.” Chambers finds.

“You wager on your conduct?” Chopra asks. “Very English!”

“The Hindu men and women do not hold each other in their arms as we.” Lt Col Tombs

“We wager on our friendship!” Chambers informs.

remarks.

“Now I finally understand this gambling thing men do.” Cait utters silently.

“I have often prayed that a difficult dance may end quickly.” Chides Lt Col Broadfoot.

The food is served.

All look to Lt Col Chambers for a remark.

“Good food well prepared, and served fresh makes fine fellowship.” Chopra is relieved to

Chambers muses.

see the relish with which the Naresha dines.

“Time for a bet and a wager.” Cait mutters to herself.

“Hunger is the best sauce!” Chambers replies.

“A bet chaps?” Chambers blurts.

Hindu jugglers and magicians entertain as the appetites of the crowd subside.

His comrades beam in anticipated joy.

“Chambers old chap, I wish you to take the first waltz with Amanda.” Tombs requests. “I

“One shall be the most in demand on the dance floor with the ladies?” Chambers calls.

wish Amanda to take the next dance with Chopra.”

“To the man who dances with the most women?” Broadfoot suggests.

“My second dance will be with Iyreem.” Chambers answers. As the servants clear the remains of dinning, the orchestra warms.

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Amanda is anxious to share the dance she loves with her new friends.

“I have never had the pleasure of being with any woman so special and so lovely.” His

All from Mysore are anxious to share the ways of the Naresha.

say carries want.

After a few renditions of the waltz, the dance floor is crowded. Amada is dancing with

“In my village such a private moment as this is for a man and his woman.” Iyreem

one child or another.

declares.

English officers indulge anxious Hindu maidens.

“I shall be forever grateful for this instant in which I may hold you as mine.” He pulls her

In the midst, Lt Col Tombs holds the lovely Iyreem. Her enjoyment in his arms emerges

closer yet.

in a smile that does not end.

Her body grows warmer.

His pleasure near her keeps his attention from all else.

The blond hair of the tall officer holds much appeal to the Siddi woman.

“I had no idea that the Siddi are marvelous dancers. You are an ideal partner upon the

“You keep no woman?” Her voice trembles.

dance floor.” Tombs informs as he steps to the music.

She moves closer.

His voice is speaking just for her.

Their bodies are near to touch.

His gauze is solely upon her. His strong hands move her figure rhythmically. This is much for the young woman. Her emotions are heightened. She does not speak.

~~~~~~

“It is all very surprising. You being more than a warrior…a stunning woman and all.” Tombs is uncomfortable in conversation at the moment. This dance style is new to Iyreem.

The dancing continued into the late hours.

This music is new to Iyreem.

Lt Col Chamber’s company was in much demand by the Hindu women desirous of

These feelings being shared with the officer are new to Iyreem.

instruction.

“I have never felt like this.” She whispers feebly to her companion.

Lt Col Broadfoot switched partners among the children during many dances. He would

Her form grows soft and warm in his grasp.

win the wager.

The attraction between the pair is realized.

Lt Col Tombs obliged by his responsibility shared dance with several of the Raja’s wives

Tombs pulls the slender woman a bit closer.

during the night. Much of his choice however was given to Iyreem.

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Chopra made much observation of the English ways. His particularity notice was about

“The goods you carry for Bangalore will be held here. The manpower you are to acquire

the Naresha. His report to the Raja of Mysore will be most favorable.

will be waiting in Madras.” Chadwell informs.

The subsequent trip to the City of Mysore is made with ease.

“Our orders…. our schedule?” Tombs begs.

The delegation under Chopra’s supervision accompanied the convoy. The good nature

“The detour is unavoidable. You will have to make up lost time.” The general expects his

and sport of their first night’s gala would continue until Fort Albert.

commanders to improvise.

Here the royal contingent returned to the place of the Raja.

“You will leave Madras with a column doubled in seize, the largest ever dispatched on this continent.” The general is anxious for the convoy to resume. “There is a shortage of qualified officers…filed promotions are your only option.”

~~~~

“Lady Broadfoot?” Tombs questions. “Lord and Lady Broadfoot will board the HMS Bounty at the port of Madras. Her majesty’s navy will see them safely to Bombay.” Chadwell replies. “Any other

“There is much news!” General Reginald Hadwell tells the three senior officers from the

questions?”

convoy as they arrive to Fort Albert.

“Smyd?” Broadfoot asks.

“The Raja of Bombay is deceased!”

“The poor chap was ritualistically murdered in a most brutal way. His body was

“Perceval Smyd is deceased!”

discovered just east of the Capitol of Mysore.” Chadwell informs.

The officers from the column are astonished.

“Details?” Broadfoot presses.

They are frozen.

“None! The local authorities have no clues.” Chadwell advises.

“It is imperative that Lady Broadfoot returns to Bombay and assumes the rule of the

“What shall we do?” Tombs implores.

Province of Maharashtra.” The general declares.

“Follow your orders!” The general dismisses. “You convoy will be ready for departure

Yet unable to respond the officers look upon Broadfoot.

before first light.”

“Yes, Lt Col Broadfoot you will be assigned duty with your wife. You shall be an advisor to the Maha Rani of Maharashtra.” The general orders “What of the column?” Broadfoot asks.

~~~~~

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“Quick brandy!” Calls Chambers. Cata fetches the drink. This night the three officers share the evening with Amanda’s company.

The taste of the liquor revives her Ladyship.

“My dear we have news that will be very difficult to hear.” Amanda’s husband speaks.

“Where is his body?” She asks.

“Mr. Smyd is dead.”

“He is buried in the City of Mysore.” Chambers notes.

Amada is shaken.

“Has anyone told Queen Victoria?” She asks.

She cannot accept this loss. “How? When? Where? It cannot be!”

The silence of her companions gives answer.

“Murder…. recently…near here.” Broadfoot holds his wife tenderly.

“How can I tell Her Majesty? What words can I use? What sense of justice can I send the

Tears are not yet possible.

Queen?” She is forlorn and looks to the officers for consolation.

Amanda struggles to understand.

“We have time Amanda.” Her husband offers. “Let us have an opportunity to make

“He was so happy…so excited about India.” She stammers. “Who could harm such a

counsel.”

sweet kind soul?”

“Her Ladyship needs rest.” Tombs advises. “Gentlemen we shall meet after Lady

Amanda looks to her husband for a response.

Broadfoot reclines for the night.”

“There are no details available and none likely to be had.” Lt Col Tombs interrupts. “The

Later the officers are keeping watch near the slumbering Amanda.

local authorities are helpless.”

“Gentlemen we have failed!” Commander Tombs imparts. “We did not keep Smyd safe

Her thoughts linger in memory of her friend.

as ordered.”

“How Perceval loved his orchids.”

“He resigned his position and left the column voluntarily!” Chambers refutes.

Now tears flow.

“See here! The official report will state that Mr. Smyd joined the column in Bombay. The

“He was so kind to share his treasures with me…with everyone. This loss goes beyond

Queen’s personal envoy was later found dead in Mysore.” Tombs puffs. “There is

his friends to everywhere.” Amanda cries.

nothing else to be said.”

The officers respect her need.

“You know the Queen will ask for a formal report upon hearing of Smyd’s death.” Lt Col

They wait in quiet.

Broadfoot replies.

The pain in her heart weakens the woman. She slumps in her husband’s arms.

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“Then let us submit our own report and describe Smyd’s unusual change of personality.”

“The Maha Rani of Maharashtra! Chamber sometimes you can be dull of wit. ” Cait

Chambers suggests. “It was a dam unfortunate day for Smyd when he met Sandeeptha in

keeps from saying out loud.

that jungle.”

“The Maha Rani of Maharashtra of course.” Tombs announces.

“I should rather expect H Q to bury our humble report.” Tombs’ head shakes.” Not

“Whom shall she send?” Broadfoot asks.

Queen worthy and all that.”

“Magnus!” Thinks Cait.

“Amanda has direct communication with Queen Victoria through Smyd’s former office.

“Someone from the Raja of Mysore’s office?” Chambers utters.

I’m sure we could help her submit a proper statement over the incident.”

“Can’t trust the blokes!” Tombs remarks.

“I’m afraid that Amanda’s word would be insufficient as well under present

“Magnus!” Chokes Cait.

circumstances.” Tombs replies.

“One of us…. unofficially that is.” Broadfoot puts forward.

“The army will still seem inept and indifferent to the welfare of the Queen’s emissary.”

“We are understaffed at present and can accept no further delays upon our march.”

Chambers agrees.

Tombs chides.

”Well chaps what can we do if anything?” Broadfoot asks.

“Magnus!” Her word slips loudly from her lips.

“Find and bring to justice the villains at once.” Cait speaks under her breath.

The three officers look upon Cait. They conclude the servant seeks her comrade as she

“We must investigate, find the culprits who murdered Smyd, and have justice done

steps away.

without delay.” Chambers tells.

“Magnus!” Chambers repeats.

Cait knows this man is very much like her.

“At last man!” Cait puffs under her breath as she listens from a hiding place.

“Then Amanda’s letter will have the necessary information not contained in any formal

“Sound idea old chap.” Tombs agrees. “He already has command of the native Lancers.”

report.” Broadfoot responds. “How will this acquit the army of false wrong doing?” “Amanda will submit her communiqué as the Maha Rani of Maharashtra.” Tombs argues. “Very clever …I knew he has an extremely dangerous mind.” Cait reassures.

~~~~~

“Very well but who shall be the one to dispatch a squad to settle Smyd’s account?” Chambers asks. It is just before daybreak.

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The column is now to set forth upon the open road to Madras.

She wishes her present dress were fashionable in the style the commandant enjoyed the

The three officers gather with Amanda, and Magnus at her Ladyship’s wagon.

night of the festival when he held her affectionately in dance.

“My dear we propose under your authority as the Maha Rani of Maharashtra, that you

She yearns to please him.

send Magnus and a force of Bengal Lancers to find and render justice for Mr. Smyd.” Lt

Magnus looks to Amanda for understanding.

Col Tombs requests.

He points to call the warrior Iyreem to follow.

“Of course William you have my permission and blessing.” Amanda replies.

Lt Col Tombs begins to object.

“Excellent!” The commander turns to Magnus. “You understand the charge placed before

“Ta si bean!” Cait calls in ancient Gaelic to tell that the warrior is a woman.

you?”

The alarm signaled by Magnus at these words surprises all.

Magnus nods in understanding.

Cait steps forward. “Ta me leat ag dul…I go with yee.”

“You are under the orders of the Maha Rani of Maharashtra.” Tombs hands Amanda

“Let Iyreem stay with me.” Pleads Amanda. “Cata may go if you judge it safe.”

instructions written in Hindi as well as English.

Magnus is uncertain.

“One signed copy will be sent to the Raja of Mysore with a second copy to be kept by Magnus.” Chambers advises. “You have till the column reaches Madras and her Ladyship sets sail.” Tombs instructs.

~~~~~

“A fortnight at most!” “Form whatever armed task force you deem as necessary but only from the native’s rank. We cannot permit English soldiers to disobey our direct order not to pursue the

The village of Rumi is a rest stop on the side of the main road from Mysore to Madras.

scoundrels.” Tombs adds.

As in many such small villages, locals supplement their meager living from agriculture

Iyreem stands beside Cait.

by selling food and lodging to travelers.

The Siddi warrior is aware that Lt Col Tombs’ eyes avoid her look.

Prices and goods are much cheaper in Rumi than Mysore.

He is uneasy before her presence.

It is to Rumi that Magnus’ band heads at the quick.

The dark native now is uncomfortable before the officer. She desires him to once again

Just as in any heavily used way, villains prey on the unprepared and unsuspicious. Here is

look upon her as a woman.

the place where the dead body of Smyd was found and collected.

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Do to the very warm temperature, Smyd’s body had to be interned without delay. So his

“It seems a bit fancy for the likes of most.” Magnus remarks.

remains are to be found in the English Cemetery in eastern Mysore City.

Two scouts from the Bengal Lancers follow Cait and Magnus inside to be seated.

The Bengal Lancer Contingent is numbered at one hundred men upon horse. Each carries

A woman with a young daughter emerges from a nearby hut with servings of hot tea

a spear, and a long curved knife.

mixed with honey.

“Now lass, yee best keep behind me at all times. These blackhearts we chase will be

The Hindu matron is slight with one long braid of hair down her spine. Her daughter is

simple to find. The danger then becomes serious.” Magnus demands.

slighter yet and near the age of womanhood.

Upon nearing Rumi Magnus splits his force.

“Will you be having a meal?” Asks the Hindu matron in English, as she looks over the

He will lead a small group into Rumi.

uniformed Lancers.

The major force of Lancers will move secretly and oppose Rumi from both sides of the

“Garma cha!” Magnus responds for tea only as he hands the woman several coins.

Madras Road.

“The men must be in the fields.” Cait notices.

“Cait where do yee think a man like Smyd would seek a repast in a place like this?”

“Aye lass! Smyd must have had few dealings with other then these ladies who be

Magnus asks as his small party saunters easily into the village.

serving.” Magnus responds.

A village of several hundred or more souls here thrives on the trade from the Madras

After refreshing, Magnus instructs the soldiers in his company to wander about the

road.

village and make inquires of Smyd.

Near the thoroughfare are a series of open air dinning areas each covered with a canopy

“More tea?” The woman asks in English.

of straw. Behind these are found the homes of the villagers, who are busy cooking, and

Cait nods in accord.

washing cloths for the passersby. At night, hammocks are slung in the same cover used

“Yee own this shelter?” Magnus asks by sign.

for meals to provide nighttime comforts.

“Yes it belongs to my family for generations.” She says in English.

Cait studies the choices presented to the newly arriving traveler.

Cait is bold.

”There!” Cait points. “This is where Smyd would assuredly have stopped.”

“A few days back an English man was killed here?” She asks in English.

Off to one side, and occluded by larger structures sits a small open gazebo used to serve

“Yes he was found a few hundred meters on the road back toward Mysore.” The native

food. It is surrounded by small flowering gardens. Vines have grown up about the support

woman answers.

structures. It is delicate, lovely, and unhurried.

Magnus signs to ask. “Did the man spend time at thee table?”

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“Yes he had a midday meal then left…. His last meal.” The owner replies.

“Did he mention any particular flowers?” Cait asks.

“Yee name?” Cait asks. “Did yee speak with him?”

“He asked about orchids!” Suchetana answers. “He was very generous and asked many

“Suchetana! Yes he was very kind man…very knowledgeable man.”

questions concerning my flowers.”

“He visited thee place more than once?” Magnus signs.

“Do yee keep orchids?” Cait asks.

“Yes he comes two days prior to his second visit.” Suchetana answers. “Then he goes on

“No, they take too much time that I do not have. None here have the time for such

the road toward Madras.”

delicate flowers.” Suchetana answers.

“By himself?” Cait asks.

“Have you seen this valley in the near hill?” Cait asks.

“No there was a younger man who serves the English man.”

“Only the most daring hunter ventures there. The elephants are wild. There are bears,

“The other man was here on both occasions?” Magnus signs.

tigers, and wild pigs.” Suchetana’s body shakes no.

“Yes both visits, he was the companion to the man who died.”

“Did he spend the night in the village?” Magnus signs.

“What of this second man? Was he killed?” Cait asks.

“No just a few hours to eat and rest only.” Suchetana answers.

“No one is knowing. He has not been seen.” Suchetana answers.

“Would he have asked directions to this valley from anyone here?” Magnus signs.

“Was the second man a native called Gunga?” Cait asks.

“Yes my brother Suman!” Suchetana answers. “The hunters are very fond of having his

“He was a native…yes I believe I heard the name Gunga.” Suchetana answers. “The man

beer.”

who died was called Rudyard.”

“Where can we find Suman?” Magnus signs.

Magnus looks to Cait for understanding.

‘This I am not knowing.” The woman’s voice turns angry.

“Smyd used the name of his grandparent while studying in India…Rudyard Kipling!”

“Is there trouble between yee and Suman?” Cait asks.

The lass recounts softly.

Suchetana lowers her voice. “I have only daughters. My second girl comes to the age of

“What business did he have here?” Magnus signs.

marriage.”

“Flowers!” Suchetana answers. “There is the hill to the east in an undisturbed forest. It is

Suchetana nods in the direction of the young girl who is nearby. “I want my brother’s

said that hunters there find a valley lush with many flowers year round that are not to be

youngest son to marry her. Suman refuses.”

seen anywhere.”

The Scots are confounded.

“He was upon the Queen’s business.” Cait whispers.

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Suchetana recognizes their concern. “It is the way of my people to propagate one’s

“The Maha Rani of Maharashtra!” Cait answers.

family. It is my right to request so.”

Nervously the Hindu matron bows repeatedly. She returns the coins to Magnus. “Please

“The family is now split?” Magnus signs.

tell the Maha Rani of my assistance in her cause.”

“Yes, until Suman realizes his family duty. He intends his son to marry into much

Her bows continue.

wealth.” Suchetana answers.

Magnus leaves the money but adds extra.

“Have there been other deaths about like Rudyard?” Magnus signs.

“I shall speak yee name to the Maha Rani personally.” Cait rises to leave. “The Maha

“Yes! Occasionally a rich merchant or wealthy traveler is found killed in the same way. It

Rani is near.”

has been so from many centuries.” Suchetana answers.

Suchetana understands her guests to have the supremacy of deities.

“The locals are never attacked in this way?” Magnus signs.

Suchetana understands the dead man to be of the highest office and dear to the Maha

“Never!” Suchetana answers.

Rani.

“Did the man say anything unusual either time when he was in thee establishment?” Cait

Suchetana understands the Maha Rani is coming to visit.

asks.

“Children hurry!” She calls as the Scots depart her lodge. “We must prepare for the

“Yes upon leaving the last time he spoke about a special delight for his Victoria.”

coming of the Maha Rani to Rumi.”

Suchetana answers.

As the Scots reach the village’s center, two Bengal Lancers approach with two juveniles.

“The Queen! He must have found a rare orchid.” Cait assumes.

“These boys found the body of the English agent.” One soldier states in English.

“Who found the body of the Englishman? Who would know these details?” Magnus

“I saw a person sprawled in the reeds off the road.” The taller boy speaks with much

signs.

distress at being seized by the Bengal soldiers.

“A boy coming home from the fields. Suman was called at once and took the dead man to

One soldier translates into English.

Mysore.” Suchetana answers

“He was dead. His wounds were very deep.” The boy is anxious to be seen as innocent.

“Did anyone come to thee village to asks questions about Rudyard’s murder?” Cait asks.

One soldier translates into English.

“No! You are the first.” Suchetana answers.

“Did yee see any other presence…. a man…anyone else?” Cait asks.

“You work for the English Military?” Suchetana asks.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

“No!” Signs Magnus.

The youngster is relieved to be considered as only a witness.

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He answers eagerly. “No! Just the one man is there…. the one who is killed. No other is

“Suman has help to come and gather the body onto a cart at once. He goes then to show

there. No other is near.”

the man to the English in Mysore.” The boy tells.

One soldier translates into English.

One soldier translates into English.

“Did yee see any boxes or packages left on or near the dead man?” Cait asks.

“Did any official come from Mysore to inspect the place of the reeds or ask yee any

One soldier translates into Hindi.

questions?” Cait asks.

“Yes! He carried a bag hung from his shoulder. It contained no valuables.” The boy‘s

One soldier translates into Hindi.

head rocks side to side submissively.

“None but you!” The boy answers in sign

One soldier translates into English.

“Do yee know or have yee seen a native named Dunga?” Cait asks.

“Where there any flowers in the man’s possession when yee arrived at the death scene?”

One soldier translates into Hindi.

Cait prods.

The youngster shakes his head in no.

She believes that the boy looked for bounty among Smyd’s remains but found none.

“Show us the reeds.” Magnus signs.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

Magnus instructs the Lancers to fetch Suman at once for questioning.

The boy shakes his head no.

The entire village is now aware of the presence of the influential representatives of the

“Have yee ever seen this man before or had talk with him?” Cait asks.

Maha Rani of Maharashtra. All the local natives have stopped their activities and have

One soldier translates into Hindi.

become spectators at the far.

“No!” The boy answers.

Agents with command over their Raja have never been seen.

Magnus does not comprehend Cait’s interest in flowers.

With in moments the Lancers arrive with a heavy man in tow.

“Next?” Magnus signs.

The native is not dark in complexion. He wears a heavy thick black mustache above his

“We run to find Suman.” The boy answers.

lip.

One soldier translates into English.

Suman is fully aware that he stands before all powerful officials of his province. He

“What happened when yee and Suman arrived back at the reed patch where the body was

bows.

found?” Cait asks.

“Suman!” The Lancer reports as he points to the thick man.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

“Yee found the body of the English man and took him to Mysore?” Cait asks.

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One soldier translates into Hindi.

“Do yee know or have yee ever seen a native named Dunga?” Cait asks.

“He was dead at once when I came to him. There was no life in the English man.” He

One soldier translates into Hindi.

assures.

“No” Suman answers. His is edgy

One soldier translates into English.

“Did yee kill this man?” Cait asks.

“It is expected that a dead stranger is to be taken to the police in Mysore almost

One soldier translates into Hindi.

immediately. Otherwise there is suspicion on Rumi.” Suman answers.

“No” Suman answers. His is extremely nervous.

One soldier translates into English.

“Do yee know who killed this man?” Cait asks.

“Did yee see any other at the reeds when you arrived?” Cait asks.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

“No” Suman answers. He remains very anxious.

“No” Suman answers.

Cait looks to Magnus.

“Did yee ever see this man before…here or in Mysore or anywhere?” Cait asks.

“Ta a fhios agam ar fad!” Cait states to Magnus in Gaelic.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

Magnus understands that Cait now knows all.

“No” Suman answers.

He looks at Cait in asking.

“Did yee see any package or a small box near or about the man or reeds?” Cait asks.

The two Scots converse in Gaelic.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

“We need to ask exactly three questions to know how to conclude this investigation.”

“No” Suman answers.

Cait tells in secret.

“Have yee ever seen any other person that had been killed in the same manner?” Cait

“What is the answer to the death of the customs administrator?” Magnus asks in the

asks.

ancient Scottish tongue.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

“Orchids…prized orchids! Perceval and Dunga came here and found a rare beauty for

“Yes” Suman answers. “A traveling merchant was found dead in the same manner some

Queen Victoria.” Cait answers privately.

months back.”

“He was killed for his flowers?” Magnus keeps the tongue of the Celts.

He points further along the road.

Cait nods yes.

One soldier translates into English.

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All those who attend the two dignitaries wait in silence. The Hindu natives strain to

Magnus has Suman removed from their presence and the youngster who discovered

recognize meaning from the unknown language.

Smyd’s body brought forward.

“The bandits waited here?” Magnus asks again in secret. “Slew Smyd?”

The boy is now most apprehensive.

Cait nods yes twice.

The Bengal Lancers are apprehensive.

“Someone then left with the orchid…in a container belonging to Smyd?” Magnus asks in

The villagers are most apprehensive.

Gaelic.

None can follow the diagnostic exchange between the powerful ambassadors of the Maha

Magnus is no longer clear in understanding. His look is confused.

Rani of Maharashtra.

“His traveling companion!” Cait reveals in their old language.

“Who sent yee and thee companion from the fields so that yee two would have to pass by

“Dun….” Magnus is interrupted.

the reed patch?” Cait asks in English.

“Nil abair se ainm…. Say not his name.” Cait warns.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

“How was all this arranged?” Magnus asks in Gaelic.

The tall lad points back to the man Suman.

“Ta an fear ansin!” Cait’s eyes point to the man Suman as the culprit who planned the

Magnus has the boy removed from their presence.

murder.

“Ah lass! Best ask thee last question?” Magnus tells in Gaelic.

“Ask yee first question.” Magnus tells in secret.

“Suchetana!” Cait calls forth.

“Suman! What men from thee village are called to see any outsider found dead and to

Magnus has the two Lancers escort the woman before them.

take the body to Mysore?” Cait asks in English.

Suchetana arrives in hysteria.

One soldier translates into Hindi.

Bowing incessantly, she fears the wrath of the great Maha Rani.

“None other than myself. The village of Rumi places much trust in my person.” Suman

The lancer holds the woman still by her shoulders.

answers.

“Upon the same two occasions of the Englishman’s presence in thee village, did yee see

One soldier translates into English.

hunters in Rumi as well?” Cait asks in English.

“Ask yee second question.” Magnus tells Cait in secret.

This question is easy for the woman.

”An buachaill as fein!” Cait wants to speak with the boy alone.

“Yes!” Suchetana answer in nod. “Were any of the same hunters in the village on both occasions?” Cait asks in English.

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“That’s five questions…no fair!” Magnus interrupts in Gaelic. His eyes sparkle in

“Where shall I be?” Cait asks.

mischief.

“Yee are to leave at once with a dozen of the lancers straight to Amanda.”

Cait shrugs her shoulders in humble pardon.

“There to set a trap for Dunga?’ Cait asks.

“Yes!” Suchetana answers. “There were 4 or 5 hunters that drank beer in my brother’s

“Aye lass! There speak with Lt Col Tombs. It will be up to the English to have justice

inn on both days that the English man was being in Rumi.”

done with Dunga.”

Cait signals for the woman to be removed from their presence.

“Suman?” Cait asks.

The manner of the two officials of the Maha Rani of Maharashtra informs the crowd of

“He’ll lead us to his cohorts or loose his head here today. It can be na other way.”

villagers that the end has come. They hold their breaths, as they fear the anger of the Maha Rani. Magnus signals for the large force of Lancers to enter the village.

~~~~~

The sound of horses coming from both directions of the Mysore-Madras Road has the villagers near to panic. Magnus has the man Suman seized.

Cait departs back toward the City of Mysore and Fort Albert.

The villagers huddle in abject fright.

The convoy has been afoot since before dawn.

Magnus and Cait stand alone.

Cait finds the column in break to rest, feed, and water the transport animals.

They are free to speak privately.

At the same time she enters the camp, Magnus’ force follows Suman eastward into the

“What shall we do now?” Cait is uncertain at the action that is needed.

distant hills.

“It’s simple lass. Dunga will find Lady Amanda and seek a reward for the stolen orchid.

The Scottish lass rides straight toward the commander.

None other will pay a queen’s ransom for a flower.” Magnus concludes.

She carries a note written in Hindi. The report tells all that is known from Rumi.

“Won’t he be concerned that he might be suspected in Smyd’s murder?” Cait asks.

This she presents to Lt Col Tombs.

“He’ll feign no knowledge about Smyd’s whereabouts or the man’s death.” “What about the men who attached Smyd in the reed patch?” Cait asks. “The lancers and I will chase them into their home and have justice.”

~~~~~

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“What is your business here?” Tombs asks Dunga. “I am having an item that the Ladyship shall wish to possess.” He answers. A Hindu band of hunters live along the edge of the virgin jungle.

“You have an item for sell?” Tombs inquires.

They are a nomadic group. Moving along the border of the uninhabitable land, their huts

The native nods his head affirmatively.

are easily set and abandoned.

“May I inquire what item you present?” Tombs requests.

Their practice of the stalk does not end at the jungle’s border. Historically the sect is

Dunga presents a small wooden box.

criminal, taking human life where and when profit is afforded.

“It is a very special plant. The kind that your Queen is seeking from India.” Dunga

Just as with the wildlife, the human victim is ritualistically slain as an offering to Kali,

answers.

the Hindu god of death.

In a casual manner, Tombs instructs his orderly to assist Lady Broadfoot in her arrival to

Suman knows only the approximate area of his co conspirators’ residence.

his H Q.

The Bengal Lancers send scouts out afoot to spy the direction needed.

Dunga is relaxed. “You have met lady Broadfoot before?” The officer asks. Dunga pauses. He will use his familiarity with Amanda to make his sale.

~~~~~~

“Yes!” Dunga answers. “Very good!” Tombs encourages the man. “Who introduced you to her Ladyship?” Again Dunga contemplates his answer.

At dusk, the column is camped for the night. Tomorrow at midday it will pass by the

“A friend from the Customs House in Bombay.” The native returns.

village of Rumi.

“Mr. Perceval Smyd?” Tombs asks.

The guards have been advised at the coming of a native seeking Lady Broadfoot.

Dunga becomes nervous.

Tombs has left instruction that the local is to be escorted to his Head Quarters.

He nods yes.

Indeed, just after the day’s last meal, Dunga approaches.

“Is Mr. Smyd coming along as well to see Lady Broadfoot?” Tombs begins.

Dunga asks to meet Lady Amanda.

“I am not knowing. Mr. Smyd has gone off to explore India.”

Dunga is shown into Tombs’ presence.

“You have not been with Smyd recently?” Tombs positions.

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“Not since several weeks past.”

The same eve scouts return to Magnus.

“This flower you present is one that you have found?” Tombs pushes the impostor.

An encampment has been located at the forest’s edge. Some fifty inhabitants are busy

“Yes. I found it in the hills further east from here.” Dunga answers.

consuming their evening meal.

“You are knowledgeable of flowers in the kind sought by Lady Broadfoot?” Tombs asks.

Magnus knows that when the attack upon the camp commences, the residents will flee

Dunga nods yes.

into the jungle where they may easily escape.

“Mysore is your home?” Tombs changes topic.

Magnus orders his main force to track around and behind the campground.

Dunga nods yes.

Suman will be in front of a small contingent to charge the camp’s front.

Lady Broadfoot arrives. “Dunga how nice to see you.”

A long single line of Bengal Lancers rides slowly about the camp’s rear just inside the

The woman is not aware of any suspicion of Dunga’s part in Smyd’s death.

forest.

She is aware that Smyd’s name is not to be mentioned unless raised by Tombs.

When the point Lancer completely circumvents the camp and returns to Magnus, the

Dunga presents to Amanda a small wooden box. “I have found a very rare orchid for your

attack will commence.

queen.” “Thank you!” Amanda states as she opens the container. “Ooh!” She exclaims as she spies a tiny plant within. “The petals are so minute.”

~~~~~~

A thin plant is removed to show bunches of pink flowers. Each flower is less than a fifth of an inch in diameter. Tombs picks up the empty box. It is stenciled with a label branded England.

To Her Royal Majesty Victoria Queen of all England, and Duchess of Kent

Tombs notices the box has been stained by blood.

Your Royal Highness, Mr. Percival Smyd, acting on his own volition, and against the advice of Lt Col William Tombs of your Majesty’s 44th Regiment Afoot, left our Expeditionary Force to under take a remote search that lead him into the eastern hills of the Mysore District of the Karnataka Province of India.

~~~~~~

Outside the village of Rumi, east of the City of Mysore, Mr. Smyd was attacked by his personal guide and several members of a criminal sect.

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It is with the deepest sorrow and regret that I inform your Majesty of Perceval’s death. Your loss is shared by all who knew Perceval and all who share the love of orchids.

Chapter Six

Permit me to tell of my love and devotion to a most remarkable man and caring friend. My heart has been rent by his passing and the want of his companionship. Perceval’s dedication to the service of Your Majesty was without bound. So it was that Mr. Smyd ventured into a remote valley of a virgin jungle to secure the rarest of specimens. His final success is sent in companionship to my letter, a delicate orchid named by his comrades as Valiant Percevalius.

Madras

Be further advised that your Majesty’s Armed Forces under the command of Lt Col Tombs has pursued and brought to justice all who shared in the guilt of Mr. Smyd’s death. Your most faithful admirer, Amanda Lady Broadfoot of Wales, and Naresha of Murud, and Diwan of Mysore Capitol, and Nizam of Mysore State, and Rani of Bombay, and Maha Rani of Maharashtra Province of India

The English military’s Fort St. George is located on the eastern seacoast in the Indian Province of Tamil Nadu. Here the number of the thriving community of Madras rises with the gain in the local economy under the spreading influence of the British. The military procession under the command of Lt. Col Tombs is moving hurriedly there from Mysore. It will cross the upper region of Tamil Nadu in haste. The armed parade has departed without experienced military scouts for the region ahead. Lt Col Tombs chooses not to wait upon their arrival from Fort St George before commencing with his departure to Madras. Instead he intends to encounter the detachment of knowledgeable guides along the open highway. After a day in the field, the column nears the large village of Pranapal. “Lt Col Broadfoot!” Calls Tombs. “Put men in the saddle and reconnoiter the town ahead.” “I shall lead a squad from my own contingent, sir!” Broadfoot replies. 265

266


“See if there is any sign of the scouts from Fort St. George.” Tombs orders. “No delays!

At the sound of the gunfire, Magnus and his lancers race into the village with sword,

There shall be none tolerated.”

spear, and rifle at the ready. The bandits scatter before them.

“Best to have Lt. Magnus and a full company of lancers at my reserve with their weapons

One slow miscreant shoots at a Bengal Lancer upon the charge. The surging rider escapes

loaded and at the ready.” Broadfoot nods. ”Just to be sure William in the case of any

harm but the lancer’s sword brings to an end the terror from the lone vandal.

bandits’ presence ahead.” “Secure the town and the road if there is any resistance.” Tombs advises. “Take no pursuit!”

~~~~~~

Pranapal is a medium sized city on the Deccan Plateau. Its inhabitants number nearly ten thousand. The road to Madras runs through its central market. It prospers from an excellent surrounding agriculture. There is much passing commerce

Amanda waits anxiously outside the surgeon’s tent that is settled on the outer perimeter

to and from Madras. Pranapal has become an important trading center in the world of

of Pranapal.

diamonds.

Her servants comfort her.

The small squad of the English cavalry entering is a surprise to the village of Pranapal.

Captain Watson attends her husband.

The local merchants do not expect British military personal to arrive at this time.

“I simply cannot live without my husband.” The woman is in tears.

There is a scurry of activity by the locals as they quickly hide the items associated with

Cait remembers the loss of her father. She wonders how there can possibly be a more

their secretive diamond trade.

bitter experience.

In the center of the town, a band of fortified natives respond with more than fright at the

Iyreem has seen much violent death. This situation is a practiced scene among the Siddi.

approaching uniformed horsemen. They react with danger.

“I simply don’t know what I shall do if my William is lost.”

Nearly a dozen gathered men raise their rifles and fire wildly at the approaching British

Magnus keeps the place where Amanda waits clear to intrusion. He has witnessed the

unit. They turn quickly to disperse within the crowded market.

loss to many families from combat over the years. He is aware that a forlorn spouse may

The brazen group is vanishing into the maze of narrow alleyways of Pranapal, as the

pine grievously until they share their love’s grave.

wounded Lt Col Broadfoot falls from his mount.

“I don’t know what our child will do without a father.” This is the first news given of her pregnancy. All in her audience are concerned.

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Long moments pass.

This news heightens Amanda’s sense of hopefulness.

The surgeon emerges.

“I should think that his wounded leg should not have to be removed, if the healing

“His Lordship is resting now.” The physician announces. “He shall not be able to be

continues well.” The medical captain concludes.

moved until morning.”

This news dims Amanda’s sense of hopefulness.

Amanda’s hands are folded in prayer. She looks in desperation.

“He is remarkably healthy. I foresee no problem in his overall recovery.” The captain

The operation has taken several arduous hours.

concludes.

All are fatigued.

This news heightens Amanda’s sense of hopefulness.

“Will he...?” Amanda blurts.

She will endure no further discussion.

“Yes his injuries are not grave. He will live assuredly.” The surgeon states. Amanda sighs deeply in relief. “He has one wound to his left leg and a second wound to his left shoulder.” Captain

~~~~

Watson details. “Both are clean wounds but deep.” “Thank you for saving my William!” Amanda cries in joy. “I am afraid that I cannot save the use of his arm.” The physician informs. “Too much

The main convoy has long passed through Pranapal. Its schedule will beheld at all costs.

damage…he will recover some motion but he shall never have full strength in that arm.”

Magnus and his lancers hold the security of the town where the medical wagon is being

This news does not shake Amanda.

held.

“I am afraid that his military career is over…at least as a fighting officer in the field.”

A large contingent of English regulars keeps Amanda’s personal safety.

The surgeon continues.

The hospital wagon and all other carts, which remain behind Tombs’ main column, are

This news heightens Amanda’s sense of hopefulness.

preparing to make night camp at Pranapal.

“Later his Lordship may face additional surgery on the injured shoulder to relieve any

A senior member of the town’s council approaches. “It is good that the officer is to

possible anomaly during the healing process.” The physician adds.

recover.” The man bows as he speaks in English.

This news dims Amanda’s sense of hopefulness.

“Who were these blackhearts and what was their business in your village?” An English

“Nothing serious mind you…. perhaps some pain for a bit.” Watson continues.

sergeant asks.

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“The one who was killed was not of our people, not of our district. The man was Daku….

“This Mukhiya must have many enemies.” Cait whispers to Magnus.

a member of a criminal band.” The local official tells. “They are thieves, poachers, and

“This Mukhiya must have many allies and informants as well.” Magnus whispers to Cait.

murderers. They will kidnap for ransom.”

“Some undoubtedly in the highest offices about the provinces.”

“Why were so many here today?” The English sergeant asks.

“Do yee think he is after some special diamonds here in Pranapal?” Cait asks quietly.

“There is much diamonds being in Pranapal now.” Answers the Hindu administrator.

Magnus nods yes.

“We are grateful that you have chased them away before they made robbery on us.”

“We shall have to move on to Madras alone and well behind the main convoy.” Magnus

“There seems something familiar in this action.” Magnus whispers.

continues to speak in private.

“Rumi!” Cait reminds her uncle quietly.

“Are we strong enough against the Daku?” Cait whispers.

“Aye but on a grander scale.” Magnus advises the lass in a low voice.

“We have horse but we nay have one cannon about us. Our numbers are close to theirs.

Cait senses that there is much intrigue within Pranapal. She signs by hand to ask the

We must take much care.” Magnus answers.

number of the Daku who make trouble.

A crowd of local onlookers has gathered.

“Several hundred!” The Hindu tells. “All with weapons.”

“For sure the Daku have eyes on us now lass.” Magnus’ head nods in the direction of the

Magnus signs by hand to ask where this band is located.

throng.

The civil leader hands wave about. ” Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu all the

“As senior officer I must take command until we rejoin the column or reach Madras.”

southern provinces of India.” He cries.

Capt Watson announces. “Lt. Magnus you take charge of the field!”

“Their leader?” The English sergeant asks. “Mukhiya!” The village elder informs. “Many have tried to capture him including the royal troops of Tamil Nadu. He always escapes danger. It is said that he has killed over

~~~~~

100 police officers in the last twenty years.” “They are near?” Magnus signs. “They make camp in the close jungle. The roads, the villages, the fields will not be safe

It is mid afternoon.

until they leave.” The village leader informs. “Those who report against Mukhiya

Magnus asks for a meeting with the ruling council members of Pranapal.

disappear never to be seen again.”

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Seven men of varying size, age and affluence gather before the English officer’s tent. All

Captain Watson follows little the response of the council. He follows less the gestures of

seven men are life long residents and much respected in Pranapal.

the large Magnus.

Captain Watson is not capable outside of his medical duties. The inquiry is acceded to

The natives follow not the ancient tongue of the Scots.

Magnus’ authority.

All study the expressions of Magnus and Cait.

Magnus and Cait stand before the seated local council and Captain Watson.

“Are so many Daku coming to Pranapal often?” Magnus signs.

A Bengali sergeant will assist in the interpretation between Hindi and English.

The council is sullen and quiet. Their heads move collectively to indicate not.

“Are there many strangers in your village today or recently?” Magnus signs.

Magnus speaks lowly to Cait in old Gaelic. “The villains have not secured that for which

All the visitors nod yes.

they have come…. else they should now be gone. Their prize remains presently here in

“Not an uncommon number.” The Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words in

the village.”

English.

“Why do the Daku come to Pranapal this day?” Magnus signs.

“Will many strangers spend the night in Pranapal?” Magnus signs.

“Diamonds! They come to steal.” The Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words in

“Most! The streets are full each night.” The Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words

English.

in English.

“Are many villagers departing Pranapal?” Magnus signs.

“Are the people of Pranapal familiar with the appearance of Mukhiya?” Magnus signs.

“None! All the roads will be closed by the Daku to any but the English Army.” The

“None will live if they will tell!” The Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words in

Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words in English.

English.

Cait speaks lowly to Magnus in old Gaelic. “The villains will search everyone from this

Magnus speaks lowly to Cait in old Gaelic. “The chief villain could be watching us now

village….They will search everywhere in this village…every house!”

and his men will surely keep look upon us through the night.”

Magnus speaks lowly to Cait in old Gaelic. “Show no concern!” He pauses. “All here are

“What of the police in Pranapal?” Magnus signs.

in great danger.”

“All have fled before Mukhiya. They flee into the jungles. We have only the English for

The locals monitor the intense exchange between the disguised Scots. The gravity of the

protection.” The Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words in English.

situation is now apparent to all.

Cait speaks lowly to Magnus in old Gaelic. “The chief villain would not come with so

”What object does the Daku seek?” Cait blurts in sign language.

many for little gain.”

The locals are uncomfortable.

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They hesitate

“The Blue Carraig is the most pure, the heaviest diamond ever taken from the earth of the

Magnus signs excitedly. ”The Daku know…. Pranapal knows.”

Decca. So great is it’s wealth that the price can feed the whole of the world for one

The locals are uncomfortable.

week.” The Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words in English.

They hesitate.

Cait’s look is glancing to Magnus.

Cait speaks lowly to Magnus in old Gaelic. “They do not trust the English.”

Magnus winks to Cait in return.

“How does such an object come to Pranapal?” Cait signs.

“What help does the village of Pranapal ask of the English?” Magnus signs.

The locals are uncertain.

The council responds eagerly.

They do not speak.

“Protection from the Daku!” The Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words in English.

Magnus speaks lowly to Cait in old Gaelic. “It comes by a secret carrier. There is too

“For how long in time is this help needed?” Cait signs.

much worth to be advertised by the usual transportation.”

The council responds eagerly.

“How come the diamonds from the mines to Pranapal?” Cait signs.

“Until the English wagons leave Pranapal on tomorrow’s day!” The Bengali sergeant

The council responds eagerly.

repeats the council’s words in English.

“All Diamonds belong to the king of Tamil Nadu. Only his royal guards are permitted to

Cait speaks lowly in old Gaelic. “They intend for that precious gem to go with us to

escort such wealth.” The Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words in English.

Madras. Hidden somewhere among us.”

Magnus speaks lowly to Cait in old Gaelic. “Except those jewels that have been stolen

Magnus speaks lowly in old Gaelic. “Aye lass or hidden with someone among us.”

from the royal Hindu house. Apparently, the diamond trade here is entirely illicit.”

Cait speaks lowly in old Gaelic. “If the village knows all then the villains know all.”

“How often does the royal guard come from the diamond mine?” Magnus signs.

“We wish to have a scout from Pranapal to accompany us to Madras.” Magnus signs.

The council responds eagerly.

One thick senior council member rises. “My son will keep his presence with your travel.”

“Once each full moon.” The Bengali sergeant repeats the council’s words in English.

He signs.

Magnus speaks lowly to Cait in old Gaelic. “The next official shipment of diamonds does

Cait speaks lowly in old Gaelic. “He may be a spy for the bandits.”

not pass here for two weeks lass.”

Magnus speaks lowly in old Gaelic. “He is most certainly to be their associate and we

“What large diamond has recently been unearthed?” Cait signs.

shall make use of this.”

The council responds joyously.

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“Aye uncle! Neither the Daku nay the village of Pranapal are aware that we have ~~~~~

knowledge of our fate.” Cait tells. “We shall act as all is as usual. We shall give nay action to suggest our knowledge of the prized diamond is in our possession.” Magnus advises.

It is dusk.

“We are in as much danger from the village of Pranapal as we are from the forces of the

All the visitors have left the English camp outside of Pranapal.

Daku.” Cait concludes.

Amanda has been the entire day within the hospital wagon tending her husband’s needs.

“Only a band of fools would charge straight on to a column of English soldiers, lass.”

Cait and Magnus hold a private meeting.

Magnus tells.

“How will the Blue Carriag get into our column?” Magnus wonders.

“Then they shall try to ransom the diamond…. kidnapping someone.” Cait guesses.

“Bribery? Perhaps one of the soldiers patrolling Pranapal at this moment has taken

“Amanda!” They announce together.

possession of a package.” Cait responds.

“Do any of the locals know that the Maha Rani of Maharashtra travels in our company?”

“I nay can understand how a clever messenger trusted with the Blue Carriag diamond

Cait asks.

would hand it over to the care of a simple soldier here in Pranapal.” Magnus questions.

“There’s nay reason that any in Tamil Nadu should suspect that the Maha Rani would

“If I were to smuggle such a jewel past the Daku, I would nay make straight to Madras. I

remain behind with us. The wife of an English officer is perhaps a sufficiently attractive

should head toward Mysore. There I should contact a British convoy leaving on its way

target, however.” Magnus concludes.

to Madras.” Cait adds.

“Our first danger is with the villains sneaking past our guards”. Cait pronounces

“Aye lass that makes good sense. Anyone there could have access to our transport by

Magnus nods in agreement.

acting as a local porter.” Magnus concurs. “So the great diamond has been in our care

A corporal of the Bengal Lancers is called into their presence.

since we left Mysore!”

“How would it be done if a local wanted to pass our guards without being seen and enter

“Perhaps one among us has knowledge of its exact location?” Cait ponders.

our camp?” Magnus signs to the corporal.

“If we can fathom thus, for sure the folks here about can do the same quite as well!”

“Drink! Most guards will accept liquor as a gift from a friendly villager.” The Bengali

Magnus decides.

answers in English.

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“Have all the patrols about the town of Pranapal recalled at once and have each man

“They will have some of their allies join as fellow travelers. They will use the pretence of

inspected for any container of hard drink.” Signs Magnus.

sharing danger. Once the victim’s confidence is gained then they strike from within the

“Are those found with drink to be punished?” The Bengali answers in English.

camp. The Daku then rob their prey easily.” The Bengali answers in English.

“No!” Signs Magnus. “Let them share the drink with their squad members but none who

“Ambush?” Cait signs.

bring drink into the camp are to have guard duty this night.”

“Rarely. The Daku prefer cunning measures but they are capable fighters.” The Bengali

“How else may the guards be rendered lacking?” Cait signs.

answers in English.

“It has happened that some can be made so scared in the dark that they run away from

Magnus speaks in old Gaelic. “Their presumed ignorance on our part in the matter of this

their duty station.” The Bengali answers in English. “Of course a large number of an

diamond suggests there will have no need for an immediate attack with force.”

enemy can quickly overwhelm any solitary guard.”

“So we must deal with this night and the kidnappers as the most imminent threat.” Cait

“Are there Daku in your native province?” Magnus signs in question.

says in old Gaelic.

“There are Daku in every province of India.” The Bengali answers in English.

“Amanda and Iyreem must exchange dress and exchange roles until we reach Madras.”

“What is the favorite trick of the Daku when they wish to attack the traveler?” Cait signs

Magnus says in old Gaelic.

in question.

“What of the guards this night?” Cait signs.

“They will force the wild elephants onto the road to block their victim’s progress.”

The Bengali answers in English. “The Daku fear the horsemen.”

The Bengali answers in English.

“We shall have squads of lancers circle the camp in the open ground at two abreast. Each

Magnus speaks in old Gaelic. “When we are on the move, the Daku will try to split our

pair of riders to keep insight the moving lancers ahead.” Signs Magnus.

force and over come the weaker part first.”

“Yee, Iyreem, and I shall keep wake over Amanda through the night.” Magnus says in

Cait speaks in old Gaelic. “If we do nay move?”

old Gaelic.

Magnus speaks in old Gaelic. “They shall surround us and do us in under their crossfire.”

“So the night shall be made safe. What of tomorrow?” Cait asks in old Gaelic.

Cait is stunned. “An bhfuil marbh againn.... Are we dead then?” She asks in Gaelic.

“Col Tombs will send riders to make known our position. The Daku will intercept these.

“Nay!” The eyes o the warrior Magnus grow hard. “It will nay be so easy for them now

It will be two days more before Tombs is alarmed.” Magnus says in old Gaelic.

that we can prepare.” He states in Gaelic.

“Too late.” Cait states in old Gaelic.

“Is there another successful trick used by the Daku?” Magnus signs.

“We must send word on to Lt Col Tombs at once.” Magnus says in old Gaelic.

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“Are there lancers who can pass safely through the many Daku in the dark?” Magnus

“Forgive our cuisine!” Watson says. “Beans and biscuits are all we can manage at

signs.

present.”

The Bengali answers in English. “There are three such riders that can move with the

Pantee Nada smiles but does not respond.

spirits of the night. They all have vision in the dark. They all are able to pass through the

“When we reach Madras it shall be our pleasure to offer a sumptuous meal in the English

jungle.”

style.” The medical officer promises.

“At first dark and at the time when the evening meal is being consumed, these riders will

Nada is uncomfortable. His eyes scan the particulars of the British camp

slip away to contact our main command and report our troubles.” Magnus says in old

“Your father has much influence in Pranapal?” Captain Watson inquires.

Gaelic.

Pantee Nada smiles and nods yes.

“When shall we depart?” Cait asks in old Gaelic.

“Just what is the business of your family?” Captain Watson persists.

“In the hour that all must sleep, we shall make advance and gain distance from the

Cait is pleased that the officer is inquisitive.

dangers in Pranapal. By the time our departure is known, we shall have made

Magnus looks for hidden meanings from the words of native guide.

preparations for the Daku.” Magnus says in old Gaelic.

“We are in the cattle business.” Pantee Nada obliges.

Just as the sun disappears, a large native with a heavy abdomen approaches the camp of

“I thought the Hindu did not consume beef?” Captain Watson puzzles.

the English. “Pantee Nada is my name. I am to be your guide to Madras.”

“We do not eat cattle we breed cows and rent cows.” Pantee Nada corrects. “Whom may I ask wishes to rent a cow?” Captain Watson is amused. “Those who wish to take the cow’s milk!” Pantee Nada informs.

~~~~~~

Magnus leans to Cait. He whispers. “His people are cattle thieves most likely.” “What should I pay to rent a cow?” Captain Watson remains politely amused.

Pantee Nada is the guest of Captain Watson for the last meal of the day. Magnus, Cait

“Two rupees a week for each cow.” Pantee Nada accounts. ‘In addition you must feed,

and Amanda attend

water, and house each animal.”

Lady Broadfoot is disguised as a veiled Siddi warrior.

“How many cows can one rent out in a place like Pranapal?” Captain Watson is interested.

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“Easily a thousand or more!” Pantee Nada informs.

“Mukhiya is married to a goat herders’ daughter. He has three children all of whom are

Magnus leans to Cait.

female. He wears a very large mustache for which he spends much time in grooming.”

He whispers. “I’ll wager his is the only family renting cows in Pranapal.”

Pantee Nada is amused. “This is all that may be said of his personal life.”

“Just the cow business old boy? No other financial interests?” Captain Watson

Cait leans to Magnus. She whispers “Pantee’s rambling is useful as well.”

perseveres.

As the dinner commences, three Bengal Lancers in darken cloths upon dark horses sneak

“Trade…we barter in all places from Mysore to Madras.” Pantee Nada boasts.

out of the British compound.

Cait leans to Magnus.

Pantee Nada grows bold. “The English officer recovers well from his wounds?”

She whispers. “Our emissary for the Blue Carraig?”

Captain Watson is relieved from his questionnaire. “Massively improved…. no fever,

Magnus leans to Cait.

eating well. Quite the good turn for the old boy.”

He whispers. “Nay lass, the diamond would go straight to the Daku from his hands. He is

“His wife?” Pantee Nada asks.

after a bounty placed on the diamond’s recovery by Mukhiya. I am sure.”

“Stiff upper lip, eh what! The remarkable woman has never left his side. She is to be

“Seems that you must have had dealings with these Daku here and there?” Captain

found in the medical tent with him now I’m sure.” Watson points to the wagon where Lt

Watson concludes.

Col Broadfoot rests.

Pantee Nada grows nervous.

Magnus leans to Cait.

“Perhaps you have encountered this bloke, Mukhiya?” Captain Watson jokes.

He whispers. ”If this native goes near that tent then I shall have to kill him.”

Pantee Nada grows more nervous. “I have been most fortunate. The Daku steal my cows

Cait leans to Magnus.

only.”

She whispers “Iyreem will nay allow any native to enter and leave alive.”

Cait leans to Magnus. She whispers “Aye, unless you are a friend to the Daku. “

Cait will not wait. “Does Pantee Nada know of the Blue Carriag diamond?” She signs

Magnus leans to Cait.

with her hands.

He whispers.” Watson’s rambling is doing much work for us.”

Pantee Nada’s eyes gleam in extreme delight.

“Pity! Seems someone should have some personal knowledge of Mukhiya?” Captain

“Every man, woman, and child of India is knowing of the vast riches that will come to

Watson is disappointed.

the one who possesses such a diamond. In the whole of the world only several such

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diamonds exist. All are coming from India. The wealth of India surpasses the worth of all

“All in the jungle fear the mad elephant.” Pantee Nada answers.

the other nations combined.” The native cannot hide his lust.

“Is there nay which the great beast fears?’ Cait asks by hand.

“Who will ultimately own this Blue Carriag?” Magnus asks with his hands.

“All elephants will run directly away from a burning fire without hesitation and in a great

“The most powerful is not always the one to succeed. The most cunning will take

panic.” Pantee Nada answers.

ownership in the end.” Pantee Nada speaks.

“The noise from a rifle shot?” Captain Watson asks.

“What of theft?” Captain Watson asks.

“They will stampede in all directions.” Pantee Nada answers.

“Any man that takes a diamond into his hand is a thief that has robbed the earth.” Pantee Nada smiles. “Do not all men wish to be thieves?” “Aye, spoken as a true Daku!” Magnus whispers privately to Cait.

~~~~~~

“Surely some men are to be trusted. Does nay the king of Tamil Nadu trust the people of Pranapal?” Cait asks by hand. “With the same faith the English queen holds of her own people.” Pantee Nada counters.

The night grows long.

Magnus takes the advantage. “Tell us of the native elephant.” He signs.

Lancers circle within the camp’s perimeter.

Pantee Nada speaks. “There is a children’s tale that tells of the nature of the beast. A

Foot soldiers stride along cordons to keep without any who wait for chance to bring

large family of mice lived under a wide tree. One day a herd of elephants passed there

mischief.

and crushed many of the homes of the little mice. The chief of the rodents asked the chief

Lt Col Broadfoot’s wagon is center to the camp.

of the elephants to pass by on another route. So the elephants agreed. The mice lived in

Amanda sleeps just outside the medical tent with Cait and Magnus.

peace ever since. This herd of elephants came to be trapped later by a large hunter’s net.

Iyreem keeps guard inside.

The mice hearing of this came and chewed the rope freeing all the elephants.”

Pantee Nada slumbers near the Captain’s tent.

“So the elephants are an amiable lot?” Captain Watson concludes.

Outside in the dark the sentinels of the Daku make rest.

“Most elephants are willing to let all be in peace when peace can be their choice.” Pantee

When darkest rest most heavily shrouds the eye and closes the ear, the English rise in

Nada answers. “The elephant expects the same consideration as that which they give.”

silence. In moonlight, the fires of the camp are quenched and the convoy is formed.

“Angry elephants?” Magnus asks by hand.

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Wagon and horse slowly trod in chosen stillness past the edge of Pranapal and into the

“Send the mahouts into the jungle along the road to Madras…on the eastern side of

black jungle. Through the remaining darkness man and animal make no haste.

Pranapal and well before the Deccan plain ends.” Mukhiya looks to his runner to make

The spies of the Daku have been unconcerned this night and all have slept deeply. They

certain of his understanding.

wake at first light to find their prey absent from Pranapal.

“What shall I instruct the mahouts to do?” The subordinate asks his leader.

It is mid morning in the Daku camp.

“Tell them to locate a herd of wild elephants near the road well before the location of the

“Mukhiya! The English have left Pranapal during this night.” A bandit reports.

British column that is heading to Madras.” Mukhiya’s patience thins. “Then do you

A tall lean man simply dressed paces back and forth in thought.

comprehend what I wish?”

“The English woman is gone as well?” He hopes his plan for ransom may yet be

The lackey bows in fright. He does not speak.

successful.

“Tell the mahouts to inform me at once where the herd of wild elephants will be held.”

The man who brings report bows to say yes.

Mukhiya orders.

“Pantee Napa is with the English now?” The chief asks.

“What should the mahouts do after I am informed that they have indeed located a suitable

The man who brings report bows to say yes.

herd of elephants?” Mukhiya orders.

“Have any solitary riders left Pranapal with dispatch to the English fort?” The chief asks.

The messenger pauses. “Wait until Mukhiya arrives to give direction?”

The man who brings news shakes his head to say no.

“Excellent!” Mukhiya smiles. “There is yet a very good chance… perhaps even more

“The Daku on the road have seen no wagons nor oxen move past them this night but they

than one opportunity to collect our prize from the English.”

claim no lone horse could pass.” Mukhiya fears the loss of his plans.

“Send word to have a troop of Nabhi waiting along the road to Madras before the pass

The chief of the Daku is not pleased.

that lowers the road from the Deccan Plateau.

“We have but one day and one night to gain the Blue Carriag!” Mukhiya tells his

Mukhiya pauses. “What is the action that I wish for all the Daku to begin at this

followers. “Call out the mahouts.”

moment?” He hopes for continued understanding.

“Where to?” Ask the runner

The response is immediate and energetic.

Mukhiya considers the difficulty of his profession. “It is most trying to deal with so many

“We go to find the English wagons and take the great diamond.” The runner declares

Daku.”

resolutely. “Now we are Daku! Now we shall succeed!” Mukhiya cries with glee.

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Magnus does not say to Cait that Scots familiar with both their faces are sure to be among the agents sent to India to seek their presence. ~~~~~~~

The column moves steadily onward toward Madras. No cause for their concern is displayed. The early day gives comfort to those who travel. The air is cool and the way is open.

“Order the lancers to ride out in squad strength advancing forward for two miles then

Only the army of Daku makes haste. They move with quicken pace to gain an advantage

return.” Lt Magnus orders with hand gestures. “Repeat this with a second squad as the

in position over the escaping English column.

first completes its cycle.”

Pantee Nada sits aboard a wagon driven by an English sergeant who has orders to seize

“Yes lieutenant and what of the column’s rear?” The Bengali sergeant asks in English.

the native if he should try to quickly depart the convoy.

“What is the mission?”

Amanda rides upon horseback at the side of the medical wagon in which her husband

“The same action is needed for our aft as for our front. All squads are to report the

recovers. Iyreem remains at the injured officer’s side.

presence of wild elephants immediately.” Lt Magnus orders with hand gestures. “Continue to cycle the squads until told otherwise.” The Bengali departs.

~~~~~

“Why do we nay start speaking English in public?” Cait asks in private. “Lass, I have no doubt that when we arrive at Fort St George there will be agents from Scotland seeking information on the two of us. Indeed there shall be agents at every

It is now just before midday.

seaport in India by now.” Magnus answers. ”I would begin my search in this way should

The civil traffic along the road has been light. An occasional cart and bullock from a

I be they.”

nearby farm has been encounter. Families walking on their way to early prayers at the

“Will they search till they find us?” Cait asks.

local temple have been seen.

“Till they have asked everyone everywhere possible and can find no answer. Then they

The column under Captain Watson’s command makes camp to feed and rest the animals

shall go home.” Magnus answers. “There is none on this continent save Ravi that knows

as well as the troopers.

we are gone to living as a native.”

In the jungle the Daku are yet moving.

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“Well lass, we have this day and this night before help arrives.” Magnus tells.

Magnus is much satisfied.

“When will the Daku strike?” Cait asks.

“Are the roads very dangerous for the natives?” Watson asks. “From wild elephants?”

“Their first attempt will come soon. Their second attempt shall be made after dusk. The

This question is welcomed.

third and final attack will be in the night’s middle.”

“Yes upon an occasion the wild elephant will wonder along the used highway. It is

“Are we ready?” Cait requests.

always a danger as the wild beast has little liking for man and will immediately attack.”

Magnus nods in yes.

Pantee Nada is now somber.

Again biscuits and beans are served to the members of the convoy. Capt. Watson, Pantee

“What can one possibly do to escape the attack of a wild elephant?” Watson is concerned.

Nada join Amanda, Cait, and Magnus as they share the first repast of the day.

“Run! Run as fast and as far away from the beast as possible. This is one’s only hope I

“We have not seen an elephant on the road yet today.” Capt Watson tells in

am telling you.” Pantee Nada advises.

disappointment.

“You know first hand of such attacks?” Watson needs an account.

“Perhaps the mahouts have them already busy in the forests?” Pantee Nada suggests.

“Oh yes! One month past, just outside Pranapal, on this very road a lone bull elephant

“Mahout? What is a mahout?” Capt Watson asks.

assaulted an elderly couple. The man was knocked to the ground by the elephant’s trunk,

“The mahout is the man who trains and rides on top of the elephant while directing the

and then the beast stepped on him crushing his legs. The woman was chased, seized, and

beast in its heavy labors.” Pantee Nada answers.

thrown violently down by the angry bull. The other villagers coming made much noise

“You mean some elephants are not wild?” Capt Watson is confused.

and drove the creature off. The elderly woman died and her husband is now a cripple who

Pantee Nada laughs. “The mahout works with a domestic elephant only.”

can no longer walk.” Pantee Nada recounts.

Again Cait and Magnus are grateful to Watson’s persistent interrogation.

“How long before we leave the Deccan Plateau?” Capt Watson asks.

“However the mahouts will capture the young wild elephants to make them

“We are being one and a half day’s travel to the pass that takes us to the lower elevation.”

domesticated.” Pantee Nada adds.

The guide Pantee Nada answers

“How many wild elephants can the mahouts capture at one time?” Magnus asks in signs.

At the same time the Daku are traveling along the jungle trails. They are now ahead of

“A single herd only, otherwise the animals will take to fighting between different herd

Watson’s column.

members. Some 10 to 30 animals at a time are usually confined.” Pantee Nada yet smiles

A messenger arrives.

at the captain’s notion.

“Mukhiya! The mahouts have gathered a herd of wild elephants.”

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The chief of the Daku is pleased. “What number of beasts do we have to fly against the English wagons?”

The convoy with the injured Lt Col Broadfoot has resumed its march.

The messenger holds forward his two hands extending six digits.

Magnus eyes are keen upon the road.

“Six only! In this whole jungle merely six elephants are to be found?” The chief of the

Pantee Nada fidgets in his seat upon the wagon. His eyes are keen upon the English.

Daku is not pleased.

Cait rides with Magnus. Her eyes are keen upon her uncle.

“The mahouts say, it takes many days to find a large herd.” The messenger reports.

Amanda rides near her husband. Her eyes are keen upon his wagon.

Mukhiya has no choice. He must make do. “How far away are these elephants?”

Despite the casual saunter of the animals pulling the carts, Magnus and his Bengal

“An hour’s walk.” The runner tells.

Lancers are tense. These warriors sense they are soon to combat.

“What of the Nabhi?” Mukhiya questions.

The trail of the Madras road has been sufficiently widened by one wagon passing the

“They are moving now to a place where they shall meet the convoy well before dusk.”

other through the many centuries of commerce.

The news carrier tells.

The road makes between sections of open fields until it must plow into an expansive

“Our efforts have become crowded in time. We must take care not to forfeit our

portion of heavy jungle.

surprise.” Mukhiya warns.

In less than an hour upon the march, the forward lancers report the sound of elephants in

If the mahouts and Nabhi both fail then there is only one last way for Mukhiya to steal

the distance.

the diamond. He will have to lead a night assault upon the sleeping English.

Under Mukhiya’s command, the mahouts drive the wild beasts toward the Madras road

This choice he will not divulge until the last, as the losses of the Daku from the Brinish

where it makes a narrow divide of the dense jungle. Hundreds of Daku hide upon the

rifles shall be heavy.

road to move behind the elephants.

In the English noon camp, while the meal is being completed, Magnus makes ready.

Under Magnus’ command a dozen lancers have long spears at the ready.

In the jungle near the Madras road, the Daku make ready.

Under the command of their matriarch, the six wild elephants emerge in haste onto the highway. They are driven at the run directly toward the British convoy. At the sight of the lead wagon and riders, the pachyderms raise their trunks to blare

~~~~~

warning. Their large ears lift to wave in caution.

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Under Mukhiya’s command, the Daku are close behind the mahouts who shove at the

Lancers are now sent forward to fire their rifles into the air to further distance the wild

behinds of the wild pack of behemoths.

elephants from the roadway.

Under the influence of their matriarch, the six wild elephants erupt into fright at the

By the time Watson’s column begins to resume its progress, no sign of the mahouts or the

pending encounter with the many men ahead.

remains of the Daku are to be found.

Under Magnus’ command a dozen lancers light the heavily grease torches at their spears’

“We shall be safe for a few hours…safe until dinner.” Magnus advises.

end. Dark pungent smoke and large bright flames lift into the air.

“That was easy.” Cait says with relief.

The dozen lancers charge with fires aglow.

“We may not see simple again until Madras.” Magnus replies.

The wild elephants shudder together in response as they come to a stop.

Mukhiya reorganizes his band. His losses are not severe but the number of the Daku his

The Daku are gathered now just in the rear of the mahouts. They are prepared to charge

lessened.

among the English units expected to soon scatter.

“Let us to the place of the Nabhi.” The head of the Daku gives order. “We shall be safe

The lancers’ flames near their marks.

from the eyes of the British until the Nabhi act.”

The matriarchal elephant panics and retreats back along the Madras road diametrically away from the English fireworks. The remaining members of the wild herd follow in total horror.

~~~~~~~~

The mahouts force their domestic elephants into the dense jungle away from the exit of the frightened pack of untamed beasts. Unprepared the Daku are frozen on the road and suffer the charge of the raging elephants.

“What danger do we next face?’ Cait asks Magnus.

Unable to escape the Daku are trampled and tossed clear. Scores of villains are killed or

“I expect the camp to be infiltrated by a group of false travelers who feign distress. They

injured.

shall be cohorts of Mukhiya.” The large man answers.

Magnus recalls his lead element as the wild elephants disappear.

“Shall we refuse assistance to all strangers?” The girl asks.

Mukhiya immediately directs his mahouts to pass from the sight of the British. The fallen

“Nay lass! We shall use their arrival to gain a needed advantage.” Her uncle asks. “We

Daku are recovered and their forms hidden before any may be discovered.

must above all else keep the Daku unaware that we know of their intentions.”

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“We shall dine with the good Chambers tomorrow if I am not mistaken.” Magnus adds. ~~~~~~~~

“We shall have collected a special prize to show him as well.” In the jungle, spies are watching the English. “Hurry to Mukhiya! Tell him the British are now making their camp for the night.” One

It is late in the afternoon. The sun lowers near the horizon.

bandit instructs another.

The column enters a section of wide field and meadow. There is a deep ravine in the

In the camp of the English, preparations are quietly being made for the night to come.

midst of the open land just off the roadway.

The open fields give clear line of fire from the English for any who might charge out

“Here lass we make our final stand against Mukhiya and his army of Daku.” Magnus

from the surrounding woods. Distance markers are placed outward from the camp for the

decides. “We shall make camp about that gully “

English marksman.

The convoy ends its progress for the day.

Above the ravine marks are being made for the location of firing trenches. These will

Night camp is being prepared.

hurriedly be constructed at evening’s end.

“There is yet much light for travel.” Pantee Nada advises anxiously.

The Nabhi are close.

“The choice of camp and such field decisions belongs to Lt Magnus of the Bengal

They have received their final instructions from the Daku.

Lancers.” Capt. Watson replies. “It is wise not to drive our injured officer too far without

The Nabhi are moving toward the English camp.

rest.”

Mukhiya has sent his plans for the second assault upon the English into motion. His army

Magnus orders all the animals to be taken into the base of the ravine after foraging. There

moves into the jungle about the meadow lands upon which the British rest.

they shall be kept safe from the Daku through the night.

Magnus calls the first sergeant of the Bengal Lancers.

Further a perimeter is set for the British camp around the rim of the depression in the

“Have our scouts ride in the distance while circling the camp. They must keep their eyes

landscape.

upon the road and the forest’s edge. I want a report on the quarter hour.” Magnus signs.

“Just after dark we shall move all our wagons into the gully as well. The Daku will have

“What does the lieutenant expect to discover?” The Bengali Sergeant asks in English.

nay English silhouettes to target in the moonlight.” Magnus informs Cait.

“A band of people will show themselves before dusk. They are fakes, pretenders who

“There is water and feed a plenty. It is a good place to wait for the arrival of my Lt Col

wish to enter our camp to assist the Daku.” Magnus answers by hand signs.

Chambers.” Cait agrees.

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“Nabhi!” Exclaims the sergeant. “They are very dangerous. They prefer to kill those from

The 1st sergeant hurries to Magnus. “The Nabhi approach.” He declares in English.

whom they steal. They are pledged to leave no mission in failure.”

“There number?” Magnus asks by sign.

“Will they be armed?” Magnus asks in sign.

“There have been counted at 34 with women and children!” The 1st sergeant answers.

“Almost never! They prefer poison or strangulation to over come their prey. Their chosen

Magnus had not expected children to be present during the coming conflict.

methods are always bloodless.” The sergeant states. “A Nabhi is rarely caught.”

“Shall we attack?” The 1st sergeant asks in English.

“I have plans to use these Nabhi.” Magnus answers in sign.

Magnus shakes his head in no “Here is to be our plan this night.” Magnus details the

In an hour the Daku have moved into place near the English Camp.

actions needed.

“The Nabhi will be here in but moments.” A thief advises his leader. “Shall we move out

Along the road the Nabhi stroll as in pilgrimage.

closer to the English?”

The leader is a mature man with a long gray beard.

“As soon as our numbers are spotted by the English they will send their horsemen to

All are dressed in fine fashion. They are of an upper caste.

sweep us into a final defeat.” Mukhiya comments.

The leader waves to the English guards at the entrance to the camp. The procession of the

“The Daku shall place several scouts in the fields at dark. Close enough so they may hear

Nabhi moves easily off the Madras road and directly to the English camp.

the sounds of the camp.” Mukhiya orders.

“Natives arriving!” The sentinel calls out.

“When the Nabhi signal then we shall charge through the confusion created among the

Magnus has instructed Amanda to join her husband in his wagon. He has posted extra

British.” Mukhiya plans.

sentries about the medical cart. No native is permitted to approach within fifty paces of Lord Broadfoot. Guards are kept near Captain Watson to discourage the locals from nearing the surgeon. Lt Magus, Cait, and the 1st Bengal Sergeant greet the Nabhi at the camp’s front.

~~~~~

The old leader speaks in Hindi. “We are traveling to a holy shine to make several days of prayer.“ The Bengali interprets Three dozen villagers approach the camp of the English.

into English.

A single Bengal Lancer scout studies their approach until he turns and races back to the

“This is your family?” Magnus signs.

encampment of Watson’s column.

The old one nods yes.

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“His name, his home, his destination?” Cait asks of Magnus in old Gaelic.

Magnus does not read the document but inspects the signature. He nods agreeably as he

Magnus signs.

returns the manuscript to Veraangee.

The Hindu responds in his native tongue.

“You are not permitted to bring any food or drink into the camp. No locals may prepare

“Veraangee is his name. His family is from Madras and they go to Pranapal.” The

or serve food or drink to any of our personnel. Members of your family are not free to

Bengali interprets into English.

move about the camp.” Magnus barks in a long series of sharp gestures.

“What do you wish?” Magnus signs.

The Bengali interprets into Hindi.

The Hindu responds in length.

Veraangee smiles widely as he leads his band inside the British camp.

“They wish to stay near our camp tonight for protection. They will share their food,

Cait conveys orders to the English sergeant.

drink, and tobacco in return for any consideration. They shall happily dance and make

All soldiers are to begin carrying loaded weapons.

music for our enjoyment. He states that his family has provided such festivities at Fort St

All rifles are to have their bayonets affixed.

George upon the request of General David Jewel. Indeed he carries a letter of

The entering Hindu sect is to be confined to a single space separate from the camp’s

introduction signed by the General.” The Bengali interprets into English.

center.

“The number of males in his group?” Magnus signs.

Amanda is confined to her husband’s presence until morning.

The Bengali interprets into Hindi.

All will be served the standard beans and biscuits from the camp’s kitchen to eat.

Veraangee counts fifteen on his fingers.

All will be served tea from the camp’s kitchen to drink

“He says there are fifteen adult and adolescent males. The remaining are women and young children.” The Bengali interprets into English. Magnus nods to Cait.

~~~~~~

She departs to give information to a waiting English Infantry Sergeant. Magnus holds his hand forward to see the letter from General Jewel. From a bag hung at his side, Veraangee produces a leather warp holding a scroll showing

After dinner the sky dims in dusk.

the English military seal.

The camp’s fires glow outward far into the open distance. Veraangee approaches Magnus. He mutters energetically.

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“The locals wish to begin entertainment to make the night pleasant for you.” The Bengali

The night grows dark.

interprets into English.

The music continues.

Magnus nods to his sergeant.

The Daku send scouts into the shadowy fields.

The Hindu women gather.

The English begin to quietly dig their defensive trenches.

Several Hindu members collect their instruments.

“The music’s end is the sign for the Nabhi to act and the Daku to attack.”

The local entertainers assemble. Comely women and young girls are to dance. Three men

Magnus tells Cait in private.

are to provide the music.

“You have foiled the second plan of Mukhiya.” Cait answers. “What of his next?”

Just before Veraangee’s family commences into celebration, a cordon of armed English

“I go now lass to kill Mukhiya before he sends his hordes upon the camp.” Magnus

soldiers advances into their midst.

answers.

Bengali conveys the orders into Hindi.

Cait is distraught.

“All the Nabhi are under arrest!”

She fears for her beloved uncle. “Is there no other way?”

The locals are stunned.

“Aye but nay other will save the death of so many English and Daku alike.” Magnus

They are not able to flee.

answers.

They sit resolutely.

“If Mukhiya dies will this bring an end to the danger?” Cait asks.

The men and young adolescent males are suitably bound and lead into the ravine where

“The Daku will have nay commander to raise a threat to the column.” Magnus tells. “We

they shall be kept under guard.

must yet uncover the Blue Carriag diamond.”

Bengali conveys further orders into Hindi to those natives remaining “Music and song

“Pantee Nada has kept Captain Watson in his watch at all times.” Cait advises.

will commence and continue until you are told to stop.”

“Does this suggest something to you?” Magnus asks.

Cautiously the musical assembly initiates its performance.

“The Blue Carriag was given to someone in Mysore. Pantee Nada points to that person.”

The Nabhi are unsure of their fate.

Cait concludes.

Their performance begins hesitantly at first. The familiar strains of their traditional music

“Watson?” Magnus guesses. “So where would he hide the diamond so it is safe until

soon bring the quality of their sound to the proper level.

Madras?”

Magnus has Pantee Nada bound and taken into the ravine as a prisoner.

“Placed in the shoulder of his Lordship during surgery.” Cait advises.

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“Make sure the English hear of this in Madras.” Magnus turns to leave.

The open field is hidden in shadows of the moonlight.

“What if yee do not return this night?” Tears enter Cait’s eyes.

Their eyes see well in the open landscape. The sounds of music from the English camp

Her words are weak.

muffle their footfalls across the meadow.

“Our defenses are strong. They will hold until Chambers’ column arrives tomorrow.”

As the prowlers near the tree line of the jungle, they take to a crouch. Soon they come to

Magnus hugs the girl. ”Tell all to Amanda. She will see yee to safety here and safely to

a halt.

Scotland later.”

They listen into the jungle.

The Nabhi’s music continues in the British camp.

They look into the jungle. st

Magnus sneaks out of camp with the Bengal Lancer’s 1 Sergeant.

Hundreds of men do not keep silence as well as the few.

Both men carry bow and arrow as well as a long knife.

Hundreds of men do not keep still as well as the few. Hundreds of men do not keep purpose as well as the few. In an instant, conversations among the Daku are heard.

~~~~~~

In another instant, movements among the Daku are seen. In the next instant, Magnus and the Bengali pass through the perimeter of the Daku and into the jungle.

The Daku are deposed on one side of the open meadowland. They are gathered in clusters

Mukhiya walks in nervous wait.

along the tree line that looks out upon the English camp.

He has never directed such a large action of the Daku.

Magnus understands that Mukhiya’s camp will be made slightly deeper from the jungle’s

He has never battled the English.

edge.

He has never attacked a disciplined defensive encampment.

Magnus understands that Mukhiya’s camp will lack concern for any danger. Its fires will

“Is there yet music from the Nabhi?” He asks.

burn brightly, and the Daku there will be relaxed.

“It is very good, very lively melody coming from them now.” A scoundrel answers.

Magnus understands that Mukhiya will launch his men on the quickest route to attack.

These words of Mukhiya arrive softly to the nearing assassins.

Wrapped in darken dress the two walk straight toward the closest section of the jungle.

A light flickers through the jungle from the Daku leader’s campfire.

Magnus and the Bengali expect no Daku to be on watch for intruders.

Cautiously the pair steps toward their goal.

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Delicately the pair breathes.

Silently, Magnus and the Bengali agree upon their final position.

“Do you think the Daku will mistakenly shoot one another during the attack?” Mukhiya

The mirror and brush are thoughtfully replaced.

asks a trusted advisor.

Arrows attach to their bows.

“Only if the British have time to extinguish their camp fires.” The aide answers.

Mukhiya struggles to regain the purpose of his prior discourse.

Human forms form within the camp now appear before the closing hunters.

The two bows bend to the full.

“What if the English are aware of our plans?” Mukhiya continues to pace in

“Shall we kill all the English?” Mukhiya asks.

apprehension.

“After the Blue Carriag is in your possession.” The aide answers.

“The Nabhi would not sing if the English had suspicions.” The aide answers.

Two arrows are set in aim.

The details of the individuals about the camp are now visible before the two archers.

Mukhiya stands before the aide.

The unwanted Daku keep away from the view of Mukhiya. The nearing movements of

“How do we find the diamond?”

Magnus and the Benagli are uncontested.

“We burn everything at first light. The diamond shall appear in the ashes.” The aide

“Should the Nabhi fail, what changes must be made in our attack?” Mukhiya doubts rise

answers.

during the wait.

In the next breath an arrow from Magnus’ bow rushes to strike the Daku leader in the in

“We send the Daku in force swiftly onto one point of the English camp. Our numbers

the center of his back. Mukhiya spins in pain as the second arrow sent from the Bengali’s

will overwhelm their defense.” The aide answers.

bow strikes the center of Mukhiya’s front.

The two unseen visitors search for a slender man wearing a large mustache.

Magnus and the Bengali turn and scurry deep into the jungle as Mukhiya falls in demise.

As the two lancers are making observation, Mukhiya’s prancing comes to a rest. He

The male voice is no more poignant then in death. So instant was the moment that

fetches a mirror and a small brush from a nearby pouch.

Mukhiya did not sound. His motionless form is not convincing to his comrades.

The hearts of the two intruders beat heavily as they move to gain best line of flight upon

The aides to Mukhiya wait for their leader to move or speak. They are confused.

their target.

Mukhiya’s stillness is unchanging.

Oblivious to all else, the leader of the Daku carefully strokes his mustache back into the

The attack upon their leader apparently has been made from two directions.

preferred shape.

The loss of their chief sends the Daku into confusion.

With much patient care, Mukhiya’s mustache is made correct in its appearance.

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The call to action among those in the jungle results in panic. The mass of thieves move

“Be advised that a military scribe is recording all statements and these may be subject to

incoherently in their efforts. They pour without organization onto the Madras road.

further military review. Further more all declarations are to be given under oath with

The quickest are the first to make escape back toward Pranapal and abandon the siege of

military penalty for any false hoods rendered.” Chambers continues.

the British.

“First order! Whom is the corpse presented before this court of inquiry?”

The confused Daku discharge their weapons against any forms that move in opposition.

Watson stands as the attending medial officer. “This native is one known as Mukhiya.” “When and by want means did this man die?” Chambers asks. “He died while leading an armed engagement against her Majesty’s force here this past

~~~~~~

night. He was struck with arrows loosed by the native Bengal Lancer’s detachment serving her Majesty presently at Pranapal.” Watson replies. “The deceased is declared by the court to have been killed in the action undertaken in the

At mid afternoon Chambers column arrives on the field. Three hundred mounted troops

defense of her Majesty’s forces near Pranapal.” Chambers directs.

and four small cannons with caissons reinforce Watson’s command.

“Second Order! Did others die during this engagement?” Chambers asks.

At the request of Lt Magnus a military inquiry is held. Lt Col Chambers is presiding as

Lt Magnus stands as the officer in charge of the field.

the judge.

“There were nay English casualties! However 28 of Mukhiya’s confederates were killed

Pantee Nada is brought before the inquiry in shackles.

in combat.” He signs.

The group of Nabhi is also assembled and shackled before Chambers.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

The dead body of Mukhiya is laid before Chambers.

“How were these men killed?” Chambers asks.

Capt Watson is seated before Chambers.

“All died under friendly fire from their own comrades while in retreat from the filed of

Magnus and Cait are seated before Chambers.

battle.” Magnus signs.

Lady Broadfoot is seated before Chambers.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

“The military inquiry into the hostile actions that have recently taken place near Pranapal

“The number of the enemy present in the engagement?” Chambers asks.

against her Majesty’s forces is in session.” Chambers announces.

“Estimated enemy combatants in the field is believed to have been nearly three hundred armed men.” Magnus signs.

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The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

Chambers is stunned.

“Record the prisoner’s name and address then release him.” Declares Chambers.

“Let the court record show that under the leadership of Lt Magnus, the commanding

“Who is the next prisoner…are the next prisoners?” Chamber asks.

officer in the field of her Majesty’s Bengal Lancers at Pranapal that her Majesty’s convoy

“These are a band of thieves and killers also in service to Mukhiya.” Magnus signs.

was attacked at night by overwhelming odds. In addition, the attack was defeated with no

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

loss of English lives.” Chamber states.

“Evidence?” Chamber asks.

“Other actions taken in defense of her Majesty’s convoy?” Chamber asks.

“Supplies of poison and material used in garroting were found upon their possession.”

“On the previous day a pack of wild elephants were directed by enemy elements under

Magnus signs.

Mukhiya‘s command to attack the convoy.” Magnus signs.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

‘”Hold the elder as prisoner to be taken to Madras. Record all names and addresses of the

“Casualties?” Chamber asks

others then release them.” Declares Chambers.

“Nay English! Nay Elephants! Unknown numbers of the enemy.” Magnus signs.

“How did these criminals come to be taken prisoners?” Chamber asks.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

“This sect infiltrated the perimeter of the camp under false duress. The lancers summarily

“Let the record show that under the leadership of Lt Magnus, the commanding officer in

took them under arrest.” Magnus signs.

the field of her Majesty’s Bengal Lancers at Pranapal that her Majesty’s convoy was

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

attacked in daylight by overwhelming odds accompanied by combatant elephants. In

“Casualties?” Chamber asks

addition, the attack was successfully defeated with no known loss of life.” Chamber

“Nay.” Magnus signs.

states.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

“Who is the first prisoner?” Chamber asks.

“Let the record show that under the leadership of Lt Magnus, the commanding officer in

“Pantee Nada! Believed to be a secret agent and confederate of Mukhiya.” Magnus signs.

the field of her Majesty’s Bengal Lancers at Pranapal that her Majesty’s convoy was

st

The 1 Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

infiltrated by a band of indigenous assassins. The intent to commit murder and mayhem

“Evidence?” Chamber asks.

on her Majesty’s forces was thwarted with no loss of life.” Chamber states.

“Nay!” Magnus signs.

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“Last issue for the court! The cause of the native’s attacks upon her Majesty’s convoy.”

“Definitely not!” The flustered medical officer responds.

Chamber requests.

“Did yee operate on the wounded shoulder of Lord Broadfoot?” Cait signs.

He looks to the officers for response.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

Magnus nudges Cait to stand forward.

“Of course, the man needed immediate medical attention otherwise he may well have

Cait is enamored by the handsome dark looks of Lt Col Chambers. She is uncomfortable

died.” The surgeon responds.

looking at him before those gathered at the inquiry.

“Did yee inform Lady Broadfoot that her husband may require further surgery on his

Sheepishly she rises before the presiding Lt Col and the court.

injured shoulder?” Cait signs.

Her slender arm lifts to gain the manly Chamber’s attention.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

“You have something to say to the court lad?” Chambers asks.

“Of course, the healing in such wounds can develop internal scar tissue that may increase

“I wish to question Captain Watson.” Cait signs.

substantially the degree of loss in the arm’s use.” Capt Watson responds.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

“Who would be the physician to perform a second surgery?” Cait signs.

“These questions will inform the court as to the reason that instigated the hostilities near

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

Pranapal?” Chambers asks.

“I would naturally.” Capt Watson responds.

Cait nods yes.

“Even if the surgery should not be required until well after the Broadfoots reach

“You may proceed!” Chambers directs.

Bombay?” Cait signs.

Captain Watson steps forward.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

“Have yee taken into possession diamonds at any time before or since thee assignment

“As it happens my orders will return me to Bombay once we reach Madras.” Capt

with the column under Lt Col Tombs command?” Cait signs.

Watson responds. ”I shall accompany the Broadfoots upon their voyage to Bombay.”

st

The 1 Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

“I wish to interrogate the prisoner Pantee Nada.” Cait signs.

“Of course not!” The surprised officer answers.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

“Where yee approached at Mysore by any native asking assistance in transporting a

The shackled Pantee Nada is brought forward.

single large diamond to Madras?” Cait signs.

“What valuable gem is known to be presently moving about the Deccan Plateau?” Cait

st

The 1 Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

signs.

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The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records and into Hindi.

“Who now has custody of the Blue Carriag?” Chambers asks.

Pantee Nada does not answer.

Pnadee Nada shrugs his shoulders with lack of knowing.

“Refusal to cooperate with this court is subject to penalties under English law. Currently

“Have you knowledge of the whereabouts of this diamond, Cata?” Chambers asks.

five years served before the mast at sea under the English Flag is the minimum sentence

Cata’s head nods in yes.

to be applied.” Chambers informs.

“Proceed!” Chambers directs.

st

The 1 Bengal sergeant translates into Hindi.

“Are diamonds smuggled by placing them inside the body cavity of a beast or person?”

Pantee Nada fears the court may sentence him to an indentured period at sea. He fears

Cait signs.

retribution from the one who brings the questions.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records and into Hindi.

“Name the gem all seek here?” Cait signs.

Pnadee Nada’s head nods in yes.

st

The 1 Bengal sergeant translates for the court records and into Hindi.

“Are diamonds intended to be smuggled ever placed by surgical incision into the body of

“The Blue Carraig diamond.” Pnadee Nada answers in English.

a beast or person?” Cait signs.

“It’s worth?” Cait signs.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records and into Hindi.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records.

Pnadee Nada’s head nods in yes.

“The Blue Carraig diamond is priceless. It is worth more than the wealth of most

“Are such smugglers usually paid in small amounts of diamonds for their services?” Cait

nations.” Pnadee Nada answers in English.

signs.

“Is the Blue Carraig now hidden among the English convoy near Pranapal?” Cait signs.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records and into Hindi.

The 1st Bengal sergeant translates for the court records and into Hindi.

Pnadee Nada’s head nods in yes.

Pnadee Nada nods his head in yes.

“The court orders all property belonging to Captain Watson to be thoroughly searched for

Chambers is shaken.

the presence of diamonds. The court further orders Lord Broadfoot’s shoulder to be

Watson is shaken.

inspected by an independent surgeon upon his arrival to Madras.” Chambers issues. “Let

“Do you mean that this conflict was due to a contest over the possession of the enormous

the court record clearly show the assertion that a diamond named the Blue Carriag to be

wealth in a rare diamond named the Blue Carriag?” Chambers asks.

present on her Majesty’s transport. The diamond is therefore declared to be the official

Pnadee Nada nods his head in yes.

property of her Majesty’s realm.”

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“The court orders the immediate inspection of all properties belonging to her Majesty’s

Chapter Seven

convoy for contraband. A platoon of cavalry is to be dispatched at once to Fort St George to return with an armored wagon to hold all diamonds confiscated in her Majesty’s name”

Hyderabad

Chambers declares. “The court further recommends awarding the Victoria Cross Medallion to Lt Magnus of her Majesty’s forces at Pranapal, Tamil Nadu, India for his extraordinary leadership in the field against overwhelming odds and for the resulting enormous increase of her Majesty’s wealth. The court further recommends the immediate promotion of Lt Magnus to the rank of Captain in her Majesty’s Bengal Lancers.” Chambers stands and salutes Lt Magnus.

Lt Col Tombs and his column reached Madras in good time. Lord and Lady Broadfoot departed by sea to Bombay at once. Iyreem shipped to Bombay as a servant to the Naresha of Murud. Lt Col Tombs was transferred to Bombay as well. Here the Blue Carriag diamond would be recovered and secured for shipment to England. Lt Col Tombs is further ordered to depart Bombay. He is to be sent to England with the diamond and his new wife Iryeem. There he will be knighted by Queen Victoria and promoted to Adjutant General of the whole of India. Subsequently he and his wife will return to continue his service in Bombay. Lt Col Chambers has been named commander of the military convoy that began its journey at Janjira. Lt Col Magnus of Her Majesty’s Bengal Lancers has been named second in command.

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By the time the Broadfoots reach Bombay, Chambers’ column has moved due north into

She has adopted the Hindu practice of dhamma throughout the province. Food banks

the Indian Province of Andhra Pradesh with the largest military expedition ever to be

have been constructed. Generosity to others is expected. Obedience to parents is

formed in India.

practiced. Life is respected and the society is nonviolent. Killing is prohibited.

Massive armaments, troops, civil personnel, wagons, and cavalry have combined. In

The people are long at peace, and devoted to the woman who rules.

single file the English caravan stretches for over five miles upon the road.

The southern districts of Andhra Pradesh have been placed under the rule of Rajpoot

The next destination for the British supply convoy is the capitol city, Hyderabad. This is

Dunleep, the eldest son of the woman.

some 500 Kilometers in stretch due north. Marching time is expected to be 16 days.

“The English enter Andhra Pradesh like the great serpent god.” An advisor informs the

Chamber has ordered extra time for his command a foot in order to reduce the period of

prince.

transit to 14 days.

“Would not my cavalry of a hundred thousand horses destroy such a force?” The young

Andhra Pradesh is a most prosperous section of Indian. Dark rich soil provides

ruler is to inherit the whole of the province. He carries the vigor his earliest ancestors that

sumptuous agriculture. Its forests are large and lush. Generous deposits of gold and

first conquered these lands.

diamonds make the province one of the wealthiest in the whole of the continent.

“There is no force in all of India that would fare against the might of the Rajpoot.” A

This section has the added natural gain in large deposits of iron. Consequently, Andhra

second counselor acknowledges.

Pradesh is self sufficient and most adequate in its military defense.

“Then let us invite the English to the palace for shared entertainment.” The Rajpoot

Its formidable security and treasury have given its neighbors much agreement in treaty

decides. “We can always look to make battle upon another day.”

and trade. So to have the English formed amiable relations with the government of Andhra Pradesh. The massive power of Andhra Pradesh has been long standing with the reign of its aged

~~~~~~

ruler Maharajadhriaja Vijaya. This king of kings’ leadership has been renowned for many generations. He is now an invalid however.

“The road to Hyderabad passes through the city of Tirupati.” The first scout tells Lt Col

His only son has been dead for over a decade.

Chambers. “This city is the southern gateway into Andhra Pradesh. It is massively

His daughter in law has been the only acting ruler.

guarded.”

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“Is there need for concern?” The commander asks.

“He can’t be serious!” She thinks.

“The palace of the Rajpoot of Andhra Pradesh is located there.” The guide replies.

‘I am seriously in need of your most capable talent.” He adds.

Chambers’ gaze asks question.

“Where did he gather this notion?” The girl ponders quietly.

“The Rajpoot will expect civil courtesy to be presented before his office.”

“I have gathered a mental collection of your successes in Murud, Bandarlapal, Rumi, and

“Some formal Hindu protocol must be undertaken?” Chambers asks.

Pranapal dealing with these primitive lots.”

The guide nods yes.

“If he makes a wager with me I’ll scream!” Cait grinds her teeth.

“How soon to Tirupati?” Chambers asks

“I’ll wager a month’s wages that you shall prove ultimately to be the most valuable

“At our pace, we should near Tirupati in two days.” The scout answers.

native liaison with the entire British army.

“We shall need some advice for the coming indigenous rites!” Chambers decides. ”Sgt.

The officer closes nearer to her.

Cribbs have the native Cata report at once.”

Cait knees weaken in the man’s nearness.

Within the hour Cait arrives before the commanding officer, Lt Col Chambers.

She further hides her face.

The hardship of the long demanding march has made the dark officer leaner and stronger

“You will report to my head quarters early each day and there to be available for any

of appearance.

assignment that may arise.” The commandant instructs.

“He is even more gorgeous while the rest of us look beaten beyond recovery.” She muses

“You shall receive five no ten rupees per week.” He states in generosity.

to herself.

“Could he get any cheaper?” Cait mutters silently as she salutes in a military style.

“Cata! Lad, I have an assignment to place before you.” Chambers calls at once.

“Right you are! Best collect some uniformed style from Lt Col Magnus.” Chambers adds.

His intense glance upon her forces Cait into shyness.

“Have the quarter master issue you a side revolver and a first class mount so that you

Her head lowers before him.

may accompany me upon the hoof.”

She remembers her father’s words that her appeal has not yet formed as a woman. His manly voice fills her with much comfort. She becomes subject to him.

~~~~~

“I wish you to accept the position as my main translator, and local advisor. I need your assistance in the dealings with all this native mumbo jumbo.” Chambers invites.

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Cait now wears a short sleeved kaki army shirt. This hangs open over her balloon legged

“His highness invites a delegation from the British caravan to visit his palace for

pants. Only her turban carries an English military ribbon signifying on official position

luncheon and mid day entertainment.’ An officer of the Hindu court speaks in perfect

among the British command. A military side arm hangs from a lanyard and it is held to

English.

her waist by a circumscribing scarf.

Cait listens.

“Ah lass yee’ll be an officer before long.” Commends Magnus.

Chambers looks aside to Cait for attention.

“How am I to be the chief interpreter and guide in native protocol?” Cait is forlorn. “I

She nods for him to reply.

know very little of this land and its peoples. He’ll think me a dunce.”

“We shall accept of course.” Chambers replies.

“Yee have done well so far with the natives and far better than Chambers on his best of

Cait bows in agreement.

days.” Magnus replies. “Aye lass, in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king! So be

“We shall ride on ahead of the column!” Chambers eyes Cait.

yee lord among the English over the native ways here.”

Cait bows in agreement.

“Yes but I shall not always have me uncle near at hand!” Cait frets.

Chambers’ confidence grows in his new duty as the chief English military officer in the

“Just ask for me lass, Chambers will oblige. It is good to have our eyes inside of

field.

Chambers’ H Q. There be a handful of civilians attached now to the convoy. It is best to

“Tell the Rajpoot our forces will pass through Tirupati this afternoon and we shall make

know if questions are being asked from Scotland.”

camp well north of his city until early tomorrow’s day.” Chambers looks aside to Cait for attention. Cait bows in agreement.

~~~~~

Chambers returns a smile. “Quite professional William.” Cait thinks in silence. “Yee may become a general yet.” The emissary produces a small golden handled dagger in a bejeweled case. “A gift from

In a few days the column approaches the city of Tirupati.

the Rajpoot.”

An ambassador of the Rajpoot appears before Chambers as the camp finishes their first

Chamber is immediately lost. His eyes widen in want from Cait.

meal.

She nudges his hands forward. Clumsily Chambers receives the gift.

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He stammers for thought. His mouth moves but no words escape.

“The Rajpoot awaits you company!” The emissary is bent in wait to be excused.

The emissary is fascinated by the officer’s struggle.

Cait waits for Chambers to react.

Instantly and without notice Cait removes her revolver from its keep and presents it to

Chambers stands erect.

Chambers.

He beams in satisfaction. He is oblivious.

The commandant is baffled.

“Did this man learn nothing?” She asks in quiet.

Cait’s one hand asks to receive the Rajpoot’s gift for hold.

Her elbow strikes the Lt Col’s side.

Her second hand thrusts the new English officer’s revolver forward to be taken into the

Her index finger motions toward the man who is asking to be excused.

possession of her commanding officer.

Illumination arrives.

The commandant remains puzzled.

“Quite right! We shall prepare to leave straight off.” Chambers announces as the Hindu

He stares at Cait.

rises. “Oh! A leather holst…”

Cait returns his gaze. Her eyes flash in the direction of the Rajpoot’s envoy.

Cait again rams her elbow surreptitiously into Chambers side to end his words.

Instinctively the weapon is put forward. Chambers does not yet comprehend nor does he

Her hands sign to the Rajpoot’s officer that the meeting has concluded.

speak.

The Hindu aide leaves.

Cait steps forward.

“What is wrong about offering a holster to the Rajpoot?” He asks dumbfounded by Cait’s

Her head bows politely in the Hindu fashion.

response.

Her hands gesture to the Rajpoot’s representative. “The English award such a hand gun to

“This man needs a mother more than an assistant.” She hides her angry words.

the most trusted and most accomplished of an ally.”

Her hands gesture in agitation. “Wearing any part of a cow is repulsive to each Hindu.

Chambers is relieved by the warm smile upon the face of the Rajpoot’s man as the gift is

Yee were going to grievously offend the Prince of Andhra Pradesh.”

accepted.

“Well in the end, it seems that all went off most easily!” Chambers is relieved.

Cait continues to signal. “This gift is sent from the great Queen of England to the Rajpoot

“Easy for yee! Easier for me when thee don’t speak.” Cait concludes privately.

in thankfulness for his hospitality and friendship to Her Majesty’s caravan.”

“Now Cata what delegation shall we send to greet the Rajpoot?” Chambers asks.

The royal Hindu aide bows repeatedly. He carries a prize to be much valued by the

The Rajpoot’s man came alone and unarmed Cait recalls.

Rajpoot.

“Unarmed and without an escort!” Cait signs.

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“Agreed but only until we enter the palace. Before then we shall keep an armed escort as

“Of course Cata we shall need a wager on which of us the ladies are to prefer.” Chambers

Her Majesty’s regulation requires.” Chambers speaks with assurance.

teases. “I say that the most attractive woman shall seek my private company first and a

“Who shall be included among our entourage?” The officer asks.

glass of stout to the winner.”

Cait puzzles.

“The lieutenant?” Cait signs.

The Raja of Mysore sent women and children to meet Amanda she recalls.

“Right oh! Lt Richards is part of the wager…I insist.” Chambers agrees.

“Several attractive women!” Cait answers by sign.

Cait smiles hopelessly.

“Sgt Cribbs. Have a list of all the women among the convoy brought before me.” He

“The last gamble in this manner resulted in the marriage of the Broadfoots.” Cait recalls

pauses. “Have a good look over the ladies as well and be quick about it.” Chambers

in quiet. “He really doesn’t ever learn.”

orders at once. Cait is impressed by the officer’s efficiency. “Whom else?”

~~~~

Cait immediately gestures to ask for Magnus’ presence. “Not possible! Lt Col Magnus must assume command of Her Majesty’s convoy in my absence.” Chambers considers. “Sgt Cribbs have Lt. William Richards appear in formal

The British delegation arrives at the Rajpoot’s stronghold early.

military dress at once.”

Lt Richards is an exceptionally thin man. His uniform hangs loosely upon his frame. His

“Goodness! Yet another William. This just will not end.” Cait moans in silence.

hips, waist, and shoulders are slight.

“Whom finally?”

He is an officer in the English commissariat and has been recently attached to the convoy

Cait is uneasy. “I wish the 1st Sergeant of the Bengal Lancers as my assistant

for the duration of its travels.

interpreter.” She signs.

His pale skin and dark hair give him the show as a child’s painted doll.

“We must have a least one real native on our side.” She thinks.

Miss Penny Stockdale is a young woman that has just come of age.

“Done! As soon as the list of ladies arrives we shall review and choose from among

Petite and curvaceous of form, her presence is much welcomed in adult society. Her

them.” Chambers orders.

refined looks and manners are valued by all.

“This of course must call for a wager.” Cait imagines.

Miss Stockdale is traveling in the company of her grandfather.

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The Stockdale Company of Liverpool, England produces specialized carriage wheels that

Parrots and peacocks make display all about the inside.

are used in the transport of the heaviest burdens. The gentleman is engaged arranging

A stream of brilliantly clad attendants enters carrying golden trays holding liquid

commercial contracts for his products with the provincial governments about India.

refreshments of juice, hot tea, and water.

Lady Moira Hull is mature of age and has been recently widowed.

Immediately follow richly attired minstrels who squat to the side and begin to produce

Her husband, the good Reverend Jonathan Hull was drowned while fishing on the banks

the sweetest of Asian music.

of a small river outside Madras.

Within the half hour, a flurry of lavishly robed guards appears. In the midst steps a small

Lady Hull is moving north to join her brother, Major Dulles Hull in Delhi.

energetic man with a huge black mustache and side beard.

She is an extremely sensuous and a most desirable woman.

He wears Chambers’ gift of a handgun tied about his waist.

These agreeable souls have joined Lt Col Chambers and are eagerly present at the place

“I am Dunleep, the Rajpoot of Andhra Pradesh and son to Rani Anuradha,” The little

of the Rajpoot.

Hindu man squeaks. “Welcome to the Raj Mahal.”

Several servants elaborately dressed rush forward to greet the arriving English guests as

A golden throne is carried forth and placed before the English guests.

they enter the large front portal of the Raj Mahal.

Dunleep settles in his presiding chair.

They bow repetitiously as they chant welcome, “Svagata karana”.

Despite the elevation of his seat, the tiny man looms barely above his visitors.

Large feathered fans wave slowly before the English refreshing the air with scented

The Rajpoot’s hands clap.

breeze.

Many young maidens pure in form and covered in silken veiled garb arrive. The first

Huge clay pots filled with ornate flowers line the hallways providing divine perfumes.

foods are offered.

Into a large domed garden, Chambers and his companions are escorted. Lush cushions

The lord of the Raj Mahal notices the jeweled dagger upon Chambers waist. He is

have been prepared to permit rest while the Rajpoot’s guests wait.

satisfied.

Tall plants rise above, wide ferns spread around, soft flowers flow lowly were the visitors

“Please be forgiving of my own person.” The Rajpoot speaks. “I am eating only as the

repose.

lion in the night. During the day I am taking hot tea only but throughout the dark I am

Man made ponds and weirs allow flowing waters to move and spill within the vast room.

eating constantly.”

Baby waterfowl swim contently.

The Hindu lord makes smile in supplication.

Colorful fish glide lazily in the currents.

Chambers looks to Cait.

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He considers replying.

Cait coughs.

Cait recalls the feasts at the Calhoun Manor. None spoke until the laird had finished his

Chambers looks to her.

introduction and made the invitation to another for speech.

Her eyes encourage.

Her head shakes in no to the Lt Col.

“Yes we do your highness!” Chambers answers.

Chambers remains quiet.

“Have you used these weapons in India?” The Rajpoot asks.

“I shall share our drink and we shall share our words as you feast.” The Rajpoot states.

“Just once your highness.” Chambers answers.

The Hindu royal fidgets while he watches upon his guests.

“Need better answers William.” Cait says in quiet.

He sips tea, fusses with his mustache. One of his legs is always bouncing from unspent

“Upon whom?” The Rajpoot asks.

energy.

“Need better questions Dunleep.” Cait says in quiet.

Hunger drives the gathered into enjoyment with the delicious offerings.

“The Daku near Pranapal.” Chambers answers.

The Ladies comment quietly to one another about the taste and quality of each entree.

“How many Daku died there?” The Rajpoot asks.

The men moan and grunt in pleasure as they consume.

“Over one hundred.” The Rajpoot asks.

“Please enjoy!” The Rajpoot cheers encouragingly. “Fill your appetites!”

“These two be made for each other.” Cait yawns in silence.

He notes that Miss Penny is fond of the rice pudding.

“How many English died there?” The Rajpoot asks.

“Jyada antadi!” He calls to the servants to bring more.

“None.” Chambers answers.

Cait and the Bengali do not make repast.

Dunleep now understands the cause for the Rani’s pursuit of peace with the English.

They must wait.

“When you finish, we shall have a contest to show how fine the warriors of Andhra

She observes the manner of Lt Col Chambers.

Pradesh are being found.” The Rajpoot replies.

“He really enjoys food!” She muses.

“You have fought the Daku?” The Rajpoot asks Lt Richards.

“I could cook for him…. Can I cook? I could cook.” Cait considers her happiness at

“I participated in no hostile actions.” The thin officer replies in low deep voice. “I am a

seeing the man eating with such joy.

supply officer only.”

“The English army travels with many weapons?” The Rajpoot asks.

“I have a very fine gun from your army. It will keep me safer in the jungle where the

Chambers does not quit his feasting.

danger ever waits.” The Rajpoot nods in thanksgiving to Chambers.

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“Why do the English take but one wife?” The curious Hindu Prince asks.

This affront is much as a challenge of contest to the Rajpoot’s thinking. He is much

Lt Richards puzzles.

pleased with Chambers.

Lt Col Chambers ponders.

“These two be brothers.” Cait moans in stillness.

Cait waits for Chambers’ answer.

“My friend must simply try several wives to see if the bard speaks true. How else is one

Miss Stockdale ends dinning to hear.

to know best?” The Rajpoot scores his point.

Lady Hull laughs in anticipation.

“Why not take these two as wives? Are they not suitable? The Rajpoot points to Miss

“It is the proper English way….” Chambers fails.

Penny, and Lady Hull. “I have wives with such beauty in my harem.”

The expression of the Rajpoot does not show satisfaction.

Another point is scored.

“Best! Considering all the options…” Chambers chokes.

The two women are embarrassed as well as thrilled to know that they are held as most

The Rajpoot strains further to understand.

desirable.

“The children and all that….” Chambers blathers.

“I must marry once before the want for twice.” Chambers scores his point.

Cait holds her breath in hope.

“Love is not chosen by the eye as a piece of fruit. The heart of the man and the woman

Chambers continues in struggle.

must be made joined.” Chambers scores

“True love! Yes that’s it! One love as true shall for each man ever be. So the English bard

“Yee win William! I’ll wager that one wife shall be all yee ever need.” Cait loves this

rhymes.” Chambers is pleased.

soldier and her words are heard in her heart only. “I will pay this bet one day!”

Cait is thrilled.

“I have many wives with many more to come. Love is not needed.” The Rajpoot tries to

Miss Stockdale is inspired.

recover.

Lt Richards is bored.

The women are captivated by the masculine debate.

Lady Hull is surprised.

“Ah! Do you then consider yourself as married? Bonded to all your wives?” Chambers is

The Rajpoot is contemplative. “Love only comes to the English once! This is the sole

quick to retort.

reason the English marry? How curious!”

“Of course not! I am bonded to my favorite wife only. It is she that is my greatest joy.”

“Does not the Rajpoot marry for love’s sake?” Chambers asks before he realizes his

All the women are now devoted to Chambers.

boldness.

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“This version of a native bow is small but very strong!” The Rajpoot tells as Chambers ~~~~~~

lifts his choice. “They are best used upon the back of the horse.” “Are these arrows tipped in gold?” Chamber asks as he selects from a quiver. “The best of arrows are being made in Bangladesh from a special wood. They are light

After the lunch is completed, the Rajpoot escorts his guests onto a field out side of the

and strong. Their shaft turns as it travels to hold the path in their flight as correct.” The

Raj Mahal.

Rajpoot details.

Here a sweeping meadow runs flush against the jungle’s edge.

“How are you called?’ The Hindu lord asks.

“The warriors of Andhra Pradesh are the best archers in the whole of India.” The Rajpoot

“William!” Chambers asks.

states proudly.

“This will be most helpful information to the Rajpoot when he is about the British army.”

A goodly distance straight away is a small target.

Cait notes in silence.

The Rajpoot calls for bows and arrows to arrive.

“Very good my William! It is our custom for the host to shoot first three arrows then the

“Here I practice! One thousand arrows in a week I send to this target.” The Rajpoot

guest to do the same.” The Prince instructs.

informs.

In rapid succession three shafts are loosed from the Rajpoot’s bow. In perfect trajectory

Chambers nods in compliment. “I have been known to win the odd contest in my day.”

they travel to find the target’s center.

“A wager then!” The Rajpoot suggests.

“This first set must be used as my practice so that I may become accustomed to your

“I knew these two be identical.” Cait puffs aside.

weapon.” Chambers begs.

“The one who misses the target first must pay one rupee to the winner.” The Rajpoot

The Rajpoot nods. ”Certainly my William!” Glee fills the Hindu’s face.

decides.

“The prince loves the man!” Cait senses. “How do men do this so easily?”

“He had to be cheap as well.” Cait stifles.

The first of Chambers arrows falls short.

“Done!” Chambers barks.

The second arrow lands high on to the target.

The two warriors have become instant friends. They exchange notes on bow types and

The third arrow strikes center.

preferences in arrows.

“Now the next three are for making the count!” The Rajpoot roars in joy. The first two of Chambers next arrows find the center

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The third impacts off to the side.

“My William! My Dunleep!” Cait mocks in silence.

“You win Rajpoot!” Chambers states.

“My Cata you are next.” Chambers calls.

“Please my William be kind and be calling me by Dunleep.”

Cait is uncomfortable before the handsome English women, and the edgy Hindu royal.

“I knew they be the same in sort.” Cait smirks.

She has never hurled a lance while dressed in trousers or wearing Asian sandals.

“My William I cannot claim the win as you are unused to this bow. To settle the wager

She moves forward quickly with the lance held high. In her final step, her foot plants in

we must have anther contest in which your experience is practiced over mine.” Rajpoot

stop but her sandal slips. Lunging awkwardly forward her lance flies away out of control.