Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chapter VI: The Spy

Date: 24 July 1900
Location: The Interior
Situation: Boyle's Account About Countess Alexandra
Recommendation: See Chapter V posted 10 July 2011
Double Clicked Images Are Extraordinarily Better
Lt. Col. Lawford's Narration Resumes:

"Earlier vexations regarding the curious nature of my mission were slowly being replaced by a need for caution. An alarm did not yet brood upon my thoughts but I could foresee the possibility. For example, was the dignified yet easy-going man standing before me really a Colonel Edward Boyle? I had no means to answer my interrogative nor verify an answer should one be given."

"Was I being practiced upon? Were scant and duplicitous explanations solely designed to prevent unsavory parties learning about a covert mission? I could understand protecting the mission. Was there more?"

"There was nothing to do now but press on listening to Boyle advancing his promised account about himself, Countess Alexandra and her party of explorers. For privacy we descended to the taff rail where I could scarcely countenance the veracity of his tale. Methodical thrumming of the Zanzibar's engine cleverly masked our conversation as we continued up river to Dongolo."

Boyle: "You will come to understand Colonel that a portion of my duties are of a particular nature. Disguises, a deep purse, fluency in seven regional languages and associates whom you will never ascertain allow me to operate unseen, as it were, within the lairs of unsuspecting foes. You observed correctly that I resemble an Iberian official. True for today and perhaps for several days more but...."

Boyle: "Forty-two days ago and several hundred miles from here I resembled nothing of the kind. Ah, I've advanced too far ahead."

Lawford: "Pray go back in time, if you please."

Boyle: "Months ago we intercepted an electric communication thought reliable. It stated the Romanovs would land an expedition at Buradi to.... Are you familiar with the port Colonel?"

Lawford: "Yes. Whilst aboard Zanzibar inbound to Dakla I was given a map showing Buradi around the western bend of Mafrica. It is situated at the mouth of a river ... the Dongola, if I remember it."

Boyle: "Just so. The expedition did indeed land at Buradi. Several days followed to acquire supplies, tentage, guides and soldiers; all the paraphernalia so necessary for an overland journey lasting several weeks. Satisfied with acquisitions, the Romanovs headed inland toward the city of Kalat where I engaged them."

Boyle: "Your Countess Alexandra, Colonel Villainovich and their retinue came into view as expected. Naturally my appearance was altered and reinforced by speaking a local dialect. There were difficulties in communicating until we discovered a common medium; broken English."

Boyle: "My disguise as an indigenous resident of a home near Kalat was acceptable to them. I presented no threat nor was there any cause for alarm. Yet they nervously deployed around my false domain as if there was."

Boyle: "The Romanovs inquired about Kalat."

Villainovich: "Is this city friendly or not? Will a bribe be necessary to pass through?"

Boyle;" Of the entire population of Kalat, said I, only a few remained. My family sheltering within the wretched and humble home you see, myself and a poor boy with his camel in the distance are the only inhabitants."

Lawford: "A confederate of yours surely?"

Boyle: "Surely."

Boyle: "One officer, a Captain Tumarkin, ascended to my rooftop to be certain there was no possible trouble close by."

Boyle: There being none, Villainovich ordered the column to cautiously continue its march. They soon came upon the boy and camel raising their suspicions."

Boyle: "It was humorous observing the soldiers prepare for the worst!"

Lawford: "And the boy, did he lead them onward into Kalat?"

Boyle: "He did after acceptable assurances no treachery was near from the absentee population. More relaxed, the party continued at a better pace than before."

Boyle: "You see Colonel, Kalat had been abandoned the day before. The people feared for their lives because of troubling stories revealed to them about Romanov treachery, mayhem and the like by my associates. They vanished into the hills." 

Boyle: "Proceeding forward, no city dwellers were in sight. Not even a domesticated beast or dog."

Boyle: "Scouts initially entered the city spreading out here and there to be sure no dangers lurked behind closed doors or impenetrable walls."

Boyle: "The column halted, the cavalry looked outwards and the screen moved deeper into the city."

Boyle: "On balconies and rooftops they saw not one soul."

Boyle: "Then Captain Tumarkin led them safely within when...."

Boyle: "An extraordinary event occurred."

Boyle: "None other than Romanov Consul General Kuragin suddenly appeared  in an archway."

Boyle: "Villainivoch and Alexandra rode in his direction, dismounted and disappeared within the compound."

Lawford: "Did the boy discover anything more?"
Boyle: "Not until the next day when...."
1. Recreational Conflict sells Bulgarian cavalry painted here as Russians. See:

2. Russian infantry are Redoubt Miniatures. See Russo-Japanese War:

4. For references to structures, ships, etc. see the previous chapter.

5. Thank you for boarding HMS Zanzibar with Colonel's Lawford and Boyle -- if Boyle is his actual name. We'll continue up river to Dongolo in two weeks. Till then why not be seated in a deck chair with a cool drink and watch the Mafrican wilderness pass by?

5. Comments welcome naturally below. What would you like to drink?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chapter V: Up River To Dongolo

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
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...."
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."

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...."

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.

2. The miniature portraying Edward Boyle is from Mutton Chop Miniatures.

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.

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.

5. The naval crew is from Perry Miniatures Sudan Range painted by John Preece. There are several boxed sets of different naval brigade poses.

6. The lovely specially made terrain mat is from The Terrain Guy in Texas.

7. Scenic Express provided the blue ripply water in 14"x24" sheets.

8. The road is from JR Miniatures. 15mm. Amazing products really. Lots of variety.

9. British infantry are from Bicorne Miniatures Connoisseur range. This is the fabulous range created by the gifted sculpter Peter Gilder.

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.

13. Mr. Wyatt and General Day are from Pulp Figures. Amazing characterizations.

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.