Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chapter V: Up River To Dongolo

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EXPEDITION TO ALEXANDRAPOUR
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Date: 27 June to 10 July 1900
Location: Government House and The Dakla River
Situation: Touch And Go At The Port of Dakla
Recommendation: See Chapter IV posted 26 June 2011
Please Indulge Yourselves And Double Click Images
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Lt. Col. Lawford's Narration Resumes:
"After HMS Zanzibar passed through the Dakla River navigation channel, she docked one mile upstream from Government House. A waiting coach sped Nazim and myself there. Upon arrival we exited our conveyance and...."
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GOVERNMENT HOUSE
Lawford: "We walked along a bricked pathway to the main entrance of the building. A section of Highlanders presented arms. As we ascended the stairway, I noticed the Iberian coat of arms apparently about to be removed. The sale of the colony to Britannia after the disastrous recent war with the Americans was their way to recover some lost assets. One of the gentlemen watching us from a lower window appeared to be Iberian."

Lawford: "I was preceded and brought to a third floor private room by Mr. Albert Wyatt (foreground), the very same gentleman I had observed watching Zanzibar sail up the adjacent navigation channel. Within the room...."

Lawford: "I was introduced to the formally attired gentleman who had stood beside Wyatt on the balcony as Zanzibar passed by. He identified himself as Chargé d’affaires, Brigadier (ret.) Graham Day."

Day: "Colonel Lawford. Welcome to Dakla, Her Majesty's newest and most cruelly steaming protectorate. Delighted to meet you - trusting your cruise was tolerable.

Lawford: "Thank you sir. Yes. Captain Collingwood and Zanzibar provided a very restful passage from Bombay though there was a small shock when two Romanov gunboats were raised on the horizon."

Day: "They are part of the reason you are here I'll be bound. But, unfortunately Colonel your rest is over and there's not a moment to spare. I'm afraid there is only time for you to touch and go. Wyatt here will explain. Allow me to take your hat. Please be seated."

Lawford: "Urgency has been the rule since my detachment from General Pettygree's command at Fort Grant."

Day: "Unfortunate you will miss the show there when The Surajistan Field Force marches to take on the Tugs. I assure you though, the mission you are undertaking is of vital importance to HM Government. I daresay it will also assist your former commander in a way you can not now know."

Lawford: "I don't know much General - only that I am to investigate and confound a Romanov Expedition I assume is proceeding somewhere within the interior." (As I spoke, I wondered just who this Albert Wyatt was. A politico?)

Wyatt: "You are essentially correct Colonel. Only let me modify your understanding with a small but crucial change in language. You are to confound the Romanovs only if necessary. Only -- if -- necessary."

Lawford: "Only if necessary? Upon what does that decision depend?"

Wyatt: "Regrettably I can say no more on the matter today. Definition will come at the right time. Meanwhile...."

Lawford: "He stopped speaking when I breathed deeply and glanced aside. Seeing I was troubled, Wyatt allowed time for me to recover. In the interval I silently suppressed a loathing for this deliberate and possibly dangerous lack of clarity. Was he playing at politics with my life? He was a political officer, surely. And what of Alexandra? Was she...?"

Wyatt: "I apologize Colonel. Definition will come in good time. Punctilious secrecy sir is paramount in these regions. Ears are everywhere and wagging tongues can be bought for a tin of biscuits. Meanwhile, I beg your forbearance for a few minutes longer. The papers on the desk before you falsely explain your duties here; a necessary ruse de l'guerre. Only the General, one other and I know your true orders. For the moment listening ears and wagging tongues only know you are the new commander of the 7th. Bengal Lancers stationed at the International Legation at Dongolo."

Day: "Within two hours time you will return to Zanzibar to steam up river to Dongolo. Wyatt will accompany you with someone you've not yet had the pleasure to meet. No time to explain now. There's not a minute to lose."

UP RIVER TO DONGOLO
Lawford: "Wyatt, Nazim and I passed through a small army encampment on the way back to Zanzibar's berth. Farther away Captain Collingwood already had smoke rising from the single stack. Urgency again!"

Lawford: "Within the encampment two companies were on parade. More distantly I could just make out the smoke of a small vessel to the left of the watchtower apparently in motion."

Lawford: "In no time we were aboard again and underway. Wyatt went below decks whilst Nazim and I returned to our now familiar aft upper deck to observe everything we could. The crew had a knack for speedy departures; rather like my 9th Bengal Lancers so very far away back at Fort Grant. We saw Zanzibar had even taken aboard a Gatling gun in our brief absence. A crewman was servicing the piece aft."

Lawford: "We crossed to the port side noting Zanzibar's sailors were armed and ready for mischief. The Gatling was actually being loaded. Was trouble expected this soon?"

Lawford: "A pilot boat, the vessel seen earlier, led us up river."

Lawford: "Her seamen were at the ready too."

Lawford: "Leaving the port of Dakla behind, I wondered if we would return someday. Distant storm clouds hopefully did not forecast a disagreeable fate."

Lawford: "As we continued up river...."

Lawford: "Wyatt joined us on the the aft upper deck with the man who had observed us entering Government House several hours before. Given his dignified bearing, features and unidentifiable uniform, I'd guessed the gentleman was an Iberian official present for the transition of the protectorate to Britannia's care."

Wyatt: "Colonel - one more surprise for you. May I have the honour to introduce you to someone deeply involved in the mission?

Lawford: "Your servant Senior."

Boyle: "Thank you Colonel. No, I am as Britannian as you. Edward Boyle is my name. Colonel Edward Boyle of The Exploration Service."

Lawford: "Sir, allow me offer my sincere...."

Boyle: "No apology needed Colonel. I am very pleased to meet you.

Lawford: "Tis my honour. May I inquire if your duties and mine coincide?"

Boyle: "Yes. I like a fellow who gets to the point quickly; a man for me sir. Let me commence by telling you a story about a stunning red-haired Romanov Countess...."
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CLOSING REMARKS

1. The covered wagons recently came from the Fort Ligonier gift shop in Ligonier, Pennsylvania at $2.50 each. They need a little extra work to attach horses and to hide the barely visible pencil sharpener. Email or telephone the gift shop to buy Connestoga Wagons pencil sharpeners. http://fortligonier.org/visit.php

2. The miniature portraying Edward Boyle is from Mutton Chop Miniatures. http://www.muttonchop.i4style.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=35&product_id=52

3. All buildings, tentage, the armchair, bookshelves and the floor/walls of the private room are from Miniature Building Authority. Inside room doors were scratch-built. http://miniaturebuildingauthority.com/index.asp

4. The gunboat is a Richard Houston one-of-a-kind hand-made ship available from The Virtual Armchair General. You can commission your own ship. I did. http://www.thevirtualarmchairgeneral.com/500-houston.html

5. The naval crew is from Perry Miniatures Sudan Range painted by John Preece. There are several boxed sets of different naval brigade poses. http://www.perry-miniatures.com/

6. The lovely specially made terrain mat is from The Terrain Guy in Texas. http://www.theterrainguy.com/info.html

7. Scenic Express provided the blue ripply water in 14"x24" sheets.  http://www.sceneryexpress.com/prodinfo.asp?number=NH60851

8. The road is from JR Miniatures. 15mm. Amazing products really. Lots of variety. http://www.jrminiatures.net/search.aspx?find=roads&page=6

9. British infantry are from Bicorne Miniatures Connoisseur range. This is the fabulous range created by the gifted sculpter Peter Gilder. http://www.bicorne.net/catalog/index.php/cPath/292_102_162_163

10. Many thanks to pard Chuck who adds significant details such as palm trees, potted plants, other shrubbery, crates, Pulp characters, ideas, inspiration and much more to make scenes come alive.

11. The long dock was scratch-built for a model railroad.

12. You can do this too as time goes by. Start small, aim small, grow a little at a time and before long.... An excellent example is The Kingdom of Wittenberg blog; artistic, interesting, clever, especially stunning interiors and a lot of attention to detail. http://tidders-kingdomofwittenberg.blogspot.com/

13. Mr. Wyatt and General Day are from Pulp Figures. Amazing characterizations.
http://www.pulpfigures.com/catmain.php?custID=653051031310013885

14. The small vessel was reworked/crafted by H.G. Walls from a Miniature Building Authority motor launch. It is reminiscent of Mr. Charlie Allnut's boat in the motion picture, The African Queen.  It is kindly on loan from the collection of Der Alte Fritz. I wonder if a pulp manufacturer has Charlie Allnut and Miss Rose Sayer plus the German crew of the Louisa available.

15. Your remarks? Please write them below at the word comments.
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8 comments:

Le snot à barbe said...

Your attetion to details is quite stunning ! Bravo, bravissimo !!

Der Alte Fritz said...

Wonderful story telling. You leave us waiting for the next episode with great anticipation.

A J said...

Superb in every respect. Lovely eye-candy and a great eye for detail. The pencil-sharpener wagons are a great find.

Rob said...

Excellent! I cannot wait for the next installment!

Prinz Ulrich von Boffke said...

Yep, a fun story and beautifully impressive set-up. It should be used to illustrate hobby-related books. Well done!

Best Regards,

Stokes

Anonymous said...

Superlatives are running out for me, Bill! This adventure just gets more and more intriguing and exciting. Oh, and thanks so much for all your notes under, which tell us who makes each of the excellently painted items!
Squibzy

Gallia said...

Sirs,
Your remarks are always appreciated.
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Look for Chapter VI on or about July 24th. The goal is a new chapter every two weeks.
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But in late July or early August the original Pettygree story will resume with his major military operation vs the Tugs.
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Thank you very much for your interest.
Respectfully,
Bill

tidders said...

A truly ripping yarn, looking forward to more

-- Allan