Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chapter 69: Pettygree's Tincture of Obfuscation


Date: May 26, 1903 
Location: City of Alexandria, Nile Delta
Situation: A Tincture of Obfuscation
See Previous Chapter 68 here:
Clicking images enlarges them prodigiously.

May 19, 1903:  Mary and General Pettygree disembarked Ajax into The Nile Delta to begin a Grand Tour.

Later Colonel Lawford unexpectedly arrived with unfortunate news. We resume our story on:


May 26, 1903 -- {Late Morning}

General Pettygree: "A week ago I learned about losing the Port of Suakin and the retreat of Brigadier Kettering's forces behind the walls of Khartoum. Surely this would be incorrectly seen as a sign of our weakness. What had begun as insignificant Hadendowah disturbances in the eastern Soudan might now encourage those with long memories to avenge their 1898 defeat. Would thousands more, quiet until now, unsheathe swords, fashion new spears, remove shields from walls of their huts and raise standards to recover all of The Soudan? Would even more blood be unfortunately spilled? I hoped not."

"Therefore, a resolute show of force needed to first be poured into the streets of Egypt reported by newspapers and communicated by word of mouth deep into The Soudan. Into that drink a singular and strange tincture would be added to sway those so disposed to abandon further rebellion and return to their herds, crops, stores, and other peaceful endeavors."

Pettygree: "The Garrison of Alexandria assembled on Parade witnessed by civilians, journalists and I hoped, insidious vigilant foes. Perhaps distant incoming storm clouds would enhance the atmosphere I desired."

Pettygree: "Were European spies observing from galleries?"

Pettygree: "Surely not amongst convalescents atop the hospital."

Pettygree: "Nor could I believe traitors were at Government House."

Pettygree: "Countess Alexandra Elaina Volkanskaya (center) with my dear Mary were keen to see us off."

Pettygree: "Captain Douglas-Ward! Lead us out."

Douglas-Ward: "Aye, aye, General!"

Douglas-Ward: "AJAX! --- By the centre, --- MARCH!"

Pettygree: "Ajax's shore party led the parade into the streets of Alexandria."

Pettygree: " A grizzled aged man was the first to see us coming. I wondered if he had served with the Mahdi or Khalifi years before."

Pettygree: "Inhabitants began coming out to observe our march."

Pettygree: " Our 15 Pounder Section...."

Pettygree: "Followed the blue jackets."

Pettygree: "Next marched the 27th Bombay Miners and Sappers."

Pettygree: "Back on parade the 10th Hussars were soon to trot off."

Pettygree: "Observed by city dwellers atop the roof of their home."

Trooper Ham: "My dear Corey, who d'ya s'pose that chap is riding the camel?"

Trooper Corey: "Oh did I forget to tell you? Sorry mate! Just last night at a dinner party, the General leaned over, gingerly touched my elbow and secretly told me who he was."

Trooper Ham: "Ain't you in a cheeky mood! Never mind."

Trooper Corey: "Oh don't mind me my dear fellow. I've no idea who he is. Strange we don't know though."

Pettygree: "The procession marched and trotted along."

Pettygree: "All was polite and peaceful until...."

Pettygree: "A European woman drew a revolver on a suspicious chap on her premises!"

Pettygree: "Several ratings turned to view the situation and render assistance if needed."

Pettygree: "Apparently it was nothing. The halted parade soon moved on again."

May 26, 1903 -- {ABOUT NOON}

Pettygree: " 2/66th followed along in the last portion of the parade."

Pettygree: "Looking very smart as expected."

Pettygree: "Mary and Alexandra had joined the parade too. We rode behind the 66th."

Pettygree: "The 2/Seaforths followed me at the ready guarding the rear of our procession."

 Pettygree: "The parade continued with no further problems."

Pettygree: "The expression as peaceful as a walk in Hyde Park came to mind."

Pettygree: "Hopefully the march would produce desired results."

Pettygree: "Would the enemy respond to my tincture? I prayed they would. Odds were long. Time would tell."

MAY 26 and JUNE 9, 1903

Narrator: Word did indeed spread south throughout the land of Egypt and The Soudan. One self-appointed messenger of many was Malusi Dosi.

Talia: "Grandfather, I beg you! On this journey, do not go!

Malusi Dosi: "Cherished one, I must. What I have seen to our people must be told. Kit and I will be protected. It is the...."

Talia: "No! I beg your forgiveness for speaking so, but...."

Malusi Dosi: "See do you not, the urgency? The boat leaves for Kirbekan in the morning. I must go. Pray for us my Granddaughter."

Later in The Soudan:

Malusi Dosi: "Are any warriors near?"  

Ramba: "Honoured old one, yes, even in wretched Kirbekan. Turn around and see four starting a mad quest."

Malusi Dosi: "Warriors, beg you I do to return to your homes and families."

Makum: "Old one, why?"

Malusi Dosi: "Have you not heard stories of the ruin of the Khalifa's Army at the hands of the soldiers from beyond the sea only a few years ago? They will return with even greater vengeance if you continue. I have seen them forming in the north. You are doomed unless you heed my words!"

Tamik: "This time we will prevail!"

Malusi Dosi: "Hear me young brave ones! Even greater vengeance said I. The Khalifa was doomed to failure even with his thousands. You are too because of dishonour."

Rakamin Ibrahim: "I don't believe you. How?"

Malusi Dosi: "Before the Khalifa, the Engleesch sent one great man to restore order here. Against the Mahdi's command, he was dishonourably murdered. Yet he has returned."

Makum: {Laughing} "Who old one? A ghost!"

Malusi Dosi: "Yes. Against an apparition you cannot - must not - fight. There is no hope if you continue this madness."

Malusi Dosi: "For Gordon Pasha's ghost has returned to vanquish you!"



1) Gordon's ghost! Impossible you say? True or not we'll see next time how many warriors heeded the words of Malusi Dosi and others spreading eyewitness stories they saw Gordon's avenging spirit in General Pettygree's Army. How will their tales colour the morale of  enthusiastic warriors?

2) The image below shows percentile dice on their way down to rest in a building courtyard. Should the white die read 1 and the red die read 4, 14% of the warriors massing in The Soudan will superstitiously return home. Chapter 70 will reveal the actual score.

3) All buildings and the small river boat are from Miniature Building Authority. Chuck L. painted Malusi Dosi. Der Alte Fritz (Jim P. of Minden and Fife and Drum Miniatures) painted the Seaforths. John P. painted the shore party and 10th Hussars. Ajax is from The Virtual Armchair General.

4) Thank YOU for looking in.

5) Reader remarks are sought below and will appear after a brief pause for approval. Spammers are still trying but always failing to post nonsense here. General Pettygree and Gordon Pasha look forward to reading your sentiments.