Where they cannot be overheard during the noisy drilling of the troopps, James Outram approaches Gladstone and further explains that the Marharini is in possession of the whereabouts of Dost Mohmammad Khan - the deposed Afghan ruler that the British are hunting through the Hindu Kush. This information is vital and more importantly urgent to get hold of by whatever means while it is still valid. He charges Gladstone and the party to get this information to him. The problem being that the Maharini cannot be seen to have given this information away for fear of the anger of some of her neighbours.
Gladstone passes on most of what Outram has said over breakfast, and the party discuss it and decide that they should retire somewhere more discreet - like the parade ground. During the discussions Gladstone makes reference to Wallaces' sleeping arrangements, and the fact he might be well placed to get the information - reference to which in the presence of Lady Macbeth greatly angers Wallace. As they leave Wallace gives Gladstone a bloody nose and promises more if he refers to such conduct again.
On the parade ground they discus many plans including; capturing a local 'agent' and torturing the information out of them would be a good plan & cover for the actual source of the information. The main problem is that the party do not know what they can offer the Maharaini in exchange for the informaiton, fortunately before this plan can be implemented Lady Elsbeth offers to try a more direct approach and ask.
As Lady Elsbeth retires to her rooms and asks for 'some fine darjeeling tea' in the hope that the request will be recognised as a reference to her last clandestine meeting with the Maharini, Hamilton retires to the library with the very well edcated Chamberlain, while Gladstone surveys the palace defences.
Wallace, still angry, grabs a spear and leaves to go hunt something dangerous; followed by an unshakable set of 3 gurhka 'escorts'. After many long hours scrambling through the dense and steep foothills he finally comes across tiger tracks as the dusk falls early into a steep gully. Stripping down and covering his chest with native symbols drawn in the blood of the pheasant he had for lunch, he tracks the tiger in the half-light. He is creeping through the brush when he steps on something that moves - and finds himself face-to-face with a 10' king cobra which rears to strike. For an agonising 45 second standoff Wallace freezes barely breathing; while with great care he removes his foot from the snakes tail. It eventually decdes not to bite and turns to go, and Wallace swings the club end of his spear to belt it round the head as hard as he is able. It is unhurt by this mighty blow and strikes towards him, but is just short. Wallace grabs at its neck with both hands and hangs on as it lashes and struggles with him. He is not strong enough to strangle it, nor to remain standing, but does manage to hang on so that it cannot bite him.
Calling for his Gurkha escort as he is thrashed around the undergrowth, he instructs them to take his (previously removed) trousers and to cover the snakes head so it cannot bite. They manage this, and between the 4 of them eventually manage to lash the writhing snake to a stout pole. After an exhausted rest, they carry their prize back to the palace.
Meanwhile Elsbeth is served tea by the expected none-too-servile maid, and they chat in a friendly and very direct way. The Marahini explains that factions within the court are barring her way into Kathmandu and she needs some 'muscle' to overcome this minor political disagreement. She cannot be seen to take aid from John-Company and therefore she suggests that, in exchange for a few hundred local mercenaries of quality she will give the location of Dost Mohammad. After a little more discussion she suggest that Elsbeth and Hamilton (who she infers should pay) would be best served by going to the city of Peshawar in the Punjab to speak to one Abu Tabela, who she assures Elsbeth will be 'very charmed' and amenable to any requests that Elsbeth makes!
Elsbeth finds Hamilton and the Chamberlain discussing the books on local temples and shrines in the library, where Hamilton has offered to recommend the Chamberlain as a corrispondent to members of the Asiatic Society in London - which pleases the man greatly. Elsbeth describes the plan, and that they are to meet the Marharini for a 'hunt' on the Punjab border as soon as possible. The Chamberlain sets off to organise the trip and Hamilton and Elsbeth find Gladstone ordering the removal of overhanging trees etc. from the walls. Only then do they realise Wallace is still 'out' - so Elsbeth arranges for search parties, bearing spare clothes, to go looking for him.
Thus Wallace arrives at the palace gates fully clad, with a small group of followers and 3 tired Gurkhas bearing his mighty prize for everyone to see. Lady Macbeth makes a wry comment about the pair of trousers still just covering the snakes head, and everyone retires to change for a feast that is being prepared for the evening. Wallace asks for the prize to be released in Gladstones' room, but the servants simply ask Gladstone if he wants it untied and he refuses. Gladstone shoots the snake in the head and comes down for supper.
The next morning the party set off again, with a full 'escort' of guards and servants to make thier way towards Peshawar and Abu Tabela. They meet the Marharini for a day's hunting and Elsbeth shoots a wild buffalo, requiring two shots to bring the huge beast down (Hamiton is curiously hesitant about shooting the beast, and the Marharini affects a blithering incompetance with her weapon throughout the day). During the hunt the Marharini gives Hamiton a long red silk scarf and indicates the mercenaries should carry this as they return to this spot to indicate their intentions. Hamilton asks about any financial recompense the Maharini might give towards their hire, and she laughs and indicates the silk scarf should be more than sufficient for her part of the bargain.
The party make their farewells and approach Peshawar - becoming very aware of how 'military' and well policed the area is - with regular orderly Sikh patrols, and neer-do-wells hanging from gibbets at the roadside. The locals speak with fear but respect for Abu Tabela, and Lady Elsbeth becomes ever more wary of what form of negotiation they might need undertake - demanding promises from the rest of the party that marriage will NOT be an available option.