Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chapter X: Toward The Unknown

Date: 9-10 August 1900
Location: Legation City of Dongolo
Situation: Lawford's Last Days In Dongolo

See Chapter IX posted 5 February 2012 here:

Map {3rd. photo down}:

Previously in Expedition To Alexandrapour

A fortnight ago in Dongolo.

Colonel Villainovich and his niece Countess Alexandra Elaina Volkanskaya on the eve prior to departing Dongolo. Their mission is to supposedly find lost ancient city of Alexandrapour as discussed by....

Left to right: Colonel James Lawford, Chargé d’affaires, Brigadier (ret.) Graham Day and Mr. Albert Wyatt.

Day: "What [the Romanovs] inscrutable plans are remain a mystery. We'll talk again in a few days."

9 August 1900    Three Days Later

9:00 AM Outside The Britannian Legation

Rickshaw Operator: "Take you Britannian?
Col. Lawford: "Catholic Chapel."
Operator: "Santana (Saint Anne's), right away, Mistuh."

Lawford's Narration

"Thoughts of penetrating deep into the exciting, mysterious and dangerous interior of Mafrica singularly pressed upon my mind. Tomorrow the pursuit of the Romanovs, commences in earnest. Will it end in success or failure? Indeed, would I even survive? I've had these thoughts before. God alone knows the future; always the lot of the soldier, or anyone."

"At a time such as this the soldier often turns to God. The only church in Dongolo was the old Iberian Roman Catholic Chapel at the east end of the city named Saint Anne's. It was there I decided to go for prayer, answers and reconciliation. As the rickshaw operator stopped outside, Padre Michael happened to be near the front door."

Padre Michael: "Hola señor. (Hello sir) May I help you?

Lawford "Si padre. Muchas gracias. (Yes father. Many thanks.)

Padre Michael: "En su servicio." (At your service)

"Roman Catholicism was part of my family heritage until three centuries ago. I've wondered if they got it right abandoning the faith. Some though emigrated to the Catholic Colony of Maryland in America. I hoped my Church of Britannia status would not matter -- here at least -- in 1900. When I mentioned this to Padre Michael, he said, "We are all God's children; one body in Christ. Dé la bienvenida a señor. (Welcome sir.) We went in."

"I was ushered inside, kindly asked to sit in the first pew and be at peace."

"Bare walls, three pews, the absence of decoration and a simple rugged altar with tabernacle bespoke poverty and humility. Of the solitary and lovely painting he said, 'Madre de Dios (Mother of God) presents the baby Jesus to you. See señor how their eyes tenderly welcome you?" I did and momentarily -- I was -- at peace."

"Together we prayed my mission would accomplish God's will. We also spoke of God's love for His children making certain I understood I was included no matter my sins. Though unable to officially participate in the Sacrament of Confession I took time to mention my sins and my genuine regrets these hurt God, others and myself."

"When he asked about the 'Contessa' Alexandra, I admitted our secret friendship and my lingering fear for her. Trusting, I described the shocking dream I had about her the night before I left Fort Grant on this mission."

"I explained witnessing a vicious attack on the Romanov Expedition ending in her capture by unknown fiends. It seemed so real as I stood nearby unable to intervene. Was it a vision, a warning of things to come?"

"Next she was dressed in a short gown, tied to what could only be sacrificial posts and left utterly alone to die!"

"As you may understand señor coronel (colonel), only God knows if your dream was a vision of the future or a delusion of the mind. You will learn which in time. Meanwhile, I urge you to pray for her safety and that of her party. And señor, make haste for there are strange ungodly sects and astounding creatures the further into the interior one travels. She has a good head start on you. I will pray for all of you."

"I thanked him and we parted. Later near...."

1:00 PM At The Britannian Legation

"Our Chargé d’affaires summoned me to meet him, Mr. Wyatt and surprisingly, Colonel Boyle. I assumed the latter was still recovering from the bullet wound inflicted upon him by unidentified foes during our voyage up The Dakla."

Lawford: "Colonel Boyle, delighted to see you. But, your wound sir?"

Boyle: "The doctor demands I swan about and return to light duties. I could not remain in bed much longer in any case. Besides, you leave tomorrow and it is vital we speak for the last time."

Boyle: "My dear Colonel, the inspection and parade of your command later this afternoon will see your last hours in Dongolo. If I am a judge of character, your men appear fit, morale is high and many are happy to leave here for the chance at something new, an excitement and adventure."

Day: "All is as ready as it can be."

Boyle: "Our scouts report the Romanovs are northeastwards nearly ninety miles inland. You will have no trouble finding and staying on their trail for the immediate future. Alexandrapour, their supposed goal if it exists at all, is deeper inland still in vast uncharted regions. All unexplored. What they do and especially what they find are of the greatest importance to Her Majesty's Government."

Day: "You are required and directed to securely provide this information as soon as practicable. Hopefully before the year 1901. Understood?

Lawford: "Yes General."

Wyatt: "One more thing Colonel. Allow me to show you...."

"Wyatt produced a prodigious tooth from his pocket claiming it was from a species of shark found up country. When compared to the size of his hand...."

"I contrived to imagine the actual size of the beast remembering the...."

"Ominous remark made by Padre Michael earlier this morning. He said, 'And señor, ... there are ... astounding creatures the further into the interior one travels.' Truly this was an example of one. Wyatt claimed it was from the jaw of a fresh water shark reclaimed from one of the numerous rivers deep in the interior. I thought sharks only inhabited salt water. Was this a clever ruse of man or nature? A singular oddity? Wyatt only urged caution."

Later at....

4:00 PM On The Parade Ground Near Our Legation

"I was happily impressed by my command. Forming a hollow square were a company of the 3rd. Sikhs, another from the Bedfordshires, a shore party from the Zanzibar, a section from the 10th Hussars in dress uniforms for the occasion and another from my regiment, the 9th Bengal Lancers."

"General Day wore evening ceremonial dress accompanied by other Colonial leaders."

"It was good to see the lancers again, most of whom were with General Pettygree chasing the Tug Army far away into the Secret Valley. I regretted missing that show, but my new duty compelled me more."

"A splendid group of men -- what."

Boyle: "I wish him luck General."

Day: Aye. He'll need it but he's good and the men never looked better."

Lawford: "Thank you gentlemen. Good to see you. Now if you please, break square and march to camp. Tomorrow we commence the expedition into the interior; toward the unknown."

Viewers/Readers, Let's Watch The Parade Now, Shall We?

The distant camp.

Romanov Consul General Kuragin appeared to view the procession.

Join us in the thrilling story to follow with
singular dangers, romance, excitement and the unknown!

Closing Remarks

1) A prodigious thank you and compliments for Chuck and Randy for the loan of civilians to populate Dongolo. Without them, the city would be nearly empty of life. Chuck's impressive fossilized shark tooth suggests dangers of a certain kind, doesn't it?

2) Artwork for chapels can be obtained from Catholic holy cards and magazines. The one of Mary and Jesus came from the Garabandal magazine. For example, a chapel or church named Saint Michaels could be fitted with the angel St. Michael cut from a holy card. A crucifix could come from a Rosary. Go to any Catholic bookstore or site.

3) Chapter XI, Terra Incognita will appear March 4, 2012.

4) Thank you for looking in. I appreciate it. Your remarks are always welcome.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chapter IX: Romanov's In Dongolo

Date: 6 August 1900
Location: Legation City of Dongolo
Situation: Romanov Arrival and Departure
See Chapter VIII posted 22 January 2012 here:

Map {3rd. photo down}:

Previously in Expedition To Alexandrapour

Chargé d’affaires, Brigadier (ret.) Graham Day{cigar} "...after some refreshment and a tolerable curried chicken, we'll talk about the mission versus those infernal Romanovs."

Mr. Jitters: "Excuse me General but...."

Day: "Yes Mr. Jitters."

Jitters: "I'm terribly sorry Sir, but luncheon will be delayed near half an hour. The help here Sir, it's not like back in Dakla."

Day: "That's alright Mr. Jitters. The gentlemen and I will speak more."

Jitters: "Very good Sir."

Day: "I beg your pardon gentlemen. To the Romanovs then. Let us move to the other side of the veranda for the story of their arrival here.

Day: "Their jingling column I'm told arrived on Chapel Road two weeks ago."

Wyatt: "There Sir?"

Day: "So I'm told. A fortnight ago led by Colonel Villainovich and his niece, Countess Alexandra, they passed by the old Iberian Catholic Chapel. Imagine if you will...."

Day: "The two leaders followed by a troop of white-coated horsemen, a company of infantry and supply animals. They marched in style looking none the worse for their long journey."

Day: "Word is, she looked stunning and serenely composed in a tropical ensemble. The Colonel's military bearing was calm and confident."

Day: They marched by here proceeding to the Romanov compound over the bridge. Later that evening...."

Day: "Villainovich and Alexandra met my counterpart, Consul General Kuragin to dine."

Day "What they discussed at dinner, we do not know."

Colonel Lawford: "At the restaurant at the harbour side I saw when we disembarked from Zanzibar?"

Day: "That's the one. Unfortunately none of our people gathered information of any sort aside from exchanged pleasantries and remarks about the march inland from the coast. Then five days later...."

Day: "They marched out to the northeast."

Day: "The same lot but reinforced from the local Romanov garrison too."

Day: "Well gentlemen, that's all we know.

Day: "What their inscrutable plans are --- remain a mystery."

Closing Remarks

(1) Thank you for looking in.

(2) There are eleven more chapters in Expedition to Alexandrapour. Chapter XX will end the story tentatively before 2013.

(3) Chapter X appears 19 February, 2012. Return again for Colonel Lawford's dramatic final hours in Dongolo. Later in Chapter XI he presses on into the interior pursuing the Romanovs and Alexandra encountering more danger, drama and surprises than anyone ever imagined. Steady on everyone.