Sunday, August 21, 2016

Chapter 78: The Fate of Mary Pettygree


Date: September 9, 1904 (2015)
Location: Ramanujam Village
Situation: Replenish Locomotive 1300's Water 
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Chronology
Sept. 25, 1900: Thugee armistice, recall from India and retirement.
April 30, 1903: Learns armistice broken by resurgent Thugee Army.
May 9, 1903: Recalled to duty in India to break the Thugees.
June 1903: Assumes command in Egypt as a ruse.
September 1903: Secretly departs Egypt for India.
Next four months: Assembles the Army.
Feb. 22, 1904 Gen. Pettygree Arrives at Tapi River Camp near Burhanpur.
Feb. 23, 1904: Battle of Burhanpur.
Feb. 23, 1904: Skull fracture caused by sniper
Mar. 4, 1904: Arrived at St. George Hospital, Bombay, India
Sept. 7, 1904: Train Back To The Field Force
Sept. 9, 1904: Station Stop To Rewater Engine 1300
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See Previous Chapter 77 here:
http://generalpettygree.blogspot.com/2016/06/chapter-77-no-not-mary-pettygree.html
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SEPTEMBER 9, 1904
PREVIOUSLY 

Very early in the morning General and Mary Pettygree's train stopped at the village of Ramanujam to water the nearly dry locomotive. Infernal heat since departing Bombay had evaporated more water than expected. Further travel would seize up and stop the black behemoth.

Thinking she might find fresh fruit at the station stop, Mary rose telling a very sleepy William Pettygree her intention. "I'll dress and be...."

"Back soon dear with something scrumptious --- I daresay."
"Mary darling, though trouble is far to the north....have a care and...."

But seconds later, the General saw Mary abducted from the train!

Disappearing into the bush.

Crushing darkness overcame his senses immobilizing every muscle. 
He was breathless as torrents of sweat drenched his clothing.
Utter helplessness and mortification tormented him.

"Oh Mary!"


MEANWHILE 

Conductor Prettie, American Game hunter Mr. Winslogic and the station master had other troubles. The track ahead was blocked with felled trees. No forward progress would occur until the massive entanglement could be cleared. 

"Conductor, we must tell the General there is serious trouble."
"Right, let's go."

"Sorry to trouble you General, but the track ahead is badly blocked."
"Winslogic's my name, Sir, at your service. An attack may be imminent."
"Assemble all armed men in the station. I'll be a few minutes."

"I'm glad you never got dressed and left the train, Mary."
"Your bad dream --- a premonition?"
"No. Dress quickly. Then get into the station."

"Your wife, General?"
"Right behind us."


THE TRAIN STATION

Villagers gathered to gawk at the obstruction.

As seven armed men from the train assembled on the station roof.

Even Siraj Jafer came to view the incident.

"How many more armed men do we have Conductor?"

Before he could answer, Pettygree exclaimed....

"Look. All the locals have disappeared. What shook them?"

"Load your weapons men and make ready."

Fortunately more travelers from the train gathered on the balcony.



THE ATTACK

"Here they come!"

Siraj Jafer's men.

Taking care to use covering terrain.

Knowing the Europeans would not fire on the water buffalo,
swordsmen shielded themselves behind it.

Arquebusiers approached the station behind buildings.

Then opened fire from front and....

Obliquely

Defenders spread out onto an adjacent roof to compensate.
None too soon because....

The swordsmen bolted into a charge....

Covered by arquebusiers on their right and left.

The charge was hopelessly suicidal. What could they hope to accomplish under the withering fire coming from the station? Much I'm afraid because the charge and covering fire was a ruse de l'guerre.

Diverting defender attention from the hidden menace creeping beside cover to the right.

They intended to scale the station....

Hopefully unnoticed.

The storming party could not believe it's luck coming this far without loss.


The ladder rose and the raiders climbed as their allies died for them.

Mr. Winslogic! Turn about Sir!
General Pettygree. You too!

Is this the end for the General?

But just then a slender arm fired a revolver through an open window.

Causing a devastating blow to one of the climbers.

Hearing the shot, General Pettygree whirled about. He fired into the body of a raider brandishing the yellow rumal of the Thugee strangling cult whilst another strangler killed Winslogic.

But he did not live long enough to earn the promised reward from his goddess Kali. Meanwhile, from that second story window below another shot fired.

Toppling another cultist to his death.

Nearby deadly comrades finished off a defender fallen from the balcony.

Then in an instant --- the storming party fled.

Followed by the swordsmen routing as well.
Siraj Jafer's attack had failed and the battle ended.


SIRAJ JAFER'S CAPTURE

"Mary, you saved us. Had you not fired that first shot, I might never have turned about. God knows if the cultists would have swept us all from the roof. A proper thank you must wait my dear because the foe may rally and attack again."

"I don't think so William because Siraj Jafer is coming in."

"The General Pettygree, I beg your forbearance."

"For what, I dare say?"

"The Thugees live here --- farm here --- some are relations.
They would kill all of us had I not attacked you."

"Siraj Jafer, my politicos pay you a handsome annual subsidy to keep the peace and the track open."

Shah-an-Shah Pettygree, you can rent us, but not buy us."


"You are a scoundrel. I should order you shot on the spot for this betrayal."

"Gladly Bara Sahib. --- If it is the will of Kali."

"Rubbish."

"No Siraj Jafer. You will not be shot today. Execution may be your fate but only after the divan decides your guilt or innocence."

"It will be the welcomed gift of Kali for my failure."

"Conductor Prettie, take him away and get the track cleared. Let's get underway again." 



CLOSING REMARKS
1. Thank you for your previous expressions of concern and alarm about the fate of Mary Pettygree. I appreciated that very much.

2. So no cliff hanger this time. All is well for the time being.

3. Please continue to follow the Pettygrees in their journey to Delhi.

4. Kindly place your remarks below at the word Comments. We all enjoy reading them.

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13 comments:

Phil Robinson said...

Stirring stuff, a joy to read over morning coffee.
Mrs. Pettigrew safe after all too.

Allan Tidmarsh said...

Marvellous stuff. A truly ripping yarn ...

johnpreece said...

Bill, I applaud your courage in using the well worn device of the Saturday Morning Cliff Hanger, 'With one bound she was free'. Anyone who used to take their 9d or quarter? and get a seat in the fleapit and a choc ice, will appreciate the omage.

Otherwise a great action sequence, one of the Generals best.

John

Jiminho said...

Great fun as always to read a new Pettigrew episode! Many Thanks.

Poor Winslogic...

Robin Coutts said...

great fun as always, thank you

Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

That's a great relief. Always good to have someone watching the backdoor.

Most enjoyable!

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Great stuff, Bill! I was on the edge of my seat for a few minutes.

Best Regards,

Stokes

Frank O'Donnell said...

A most enjoyable report, well done sir & I'm sure I'm not alone in been grateful that Mary is safe & well.

Chris Gregg said...

Very enjoyable. I particularly admire the way you have models of the key characters in different positions to illustrate parts of the action
Chris

Dai said...

Per usual, a wonderful tale told in your typical engaging fashion with evocative images to boot.

Robert Herrick said...

Lady Pettygree is safe, and she saves the day. Huzzah!

But dark tidings are ahead, if the Thugee cult has sufficient power to block the railways to Delhi and subvert those formerly loyal to the Crown.

Paul Scrivens-Smith said...

Splendid story telling.

Gallia said...

Your gratifying remarks, sentiments and interest in this story are greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. Respectfully, Bill