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Gentlemen Adventurers : Chapter Four : The Middle East, 1840

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Session 023: Sailing on the Nile, August 1840

Ref: GentlemenAdventurers

The Party

ArnoldTodgersHamelton - DaveF
GladstoneArchiboldThynne - TimE
LadyElsbethMacBeth - CathyE
WallaceTiffinSmythe - PeteN

Events

As Gladstone marshalls the throng of camels at the quayside at Boulaq, Hamilton sets out to obtain suitable river-going transport down to Alexandria. It quickly transpires that the only two larger Felucca which are up to the task are skippered by two canny locals who have no intention of going to Alex, and are keen to get well over the odds for the trip if they do. Hamilton haggles hard and eventually decides it's better to ~buy~ the two boats and retain the skippers as staff rather than pay a one way fee!

Negotiations over, Elsbeth chooses the largest boat upon which to recline, covered by the shady canopy at the stern while the boats are (over) loaded. Wallace, Hamiton and especially Gladstone have their work cut out keeping their possessions intact. In the noise and hubbub Gladstone is approached by a smartly dressed European gentleman, who requests a moment to discuss matters of great importance. Finding a relatively quiet spot JeanBaptisteDeLescluze introduces himself and politely raises the fact that these artifacts are actually his. He has with him a notorised copy of the licence to excavate and extract the artefacts from the tomb in question, signed by the Caliph. He also indicates that it was he who hired the two egyptologists and paid for their expedition. Gladstone summons Hamilton, while Wallace sends men to get HowardVyse and JohnShaePerring.

After a polite but awkward discussion John-Baptist indicates that he will give them until the afternoon to form their respons. With a polite farewell disappears into the crowd. The party continue loading the felucca while Hamilton draws up some documents. Wallace, fearing the worst makes a backup plan by discreetly hiring a smaller boat to take him and MustafaAbu down the river with a selection of the valuables - especially the ceremonial items from the bottom of the tomb.

As dusk falls Jean-Baptist arrives with a somewhat perplexed expression indicating that his 'backers' had indicated that the party could keep the treasure and depart with his good regards so long as Lady Elsbeth Macbeth accepts his apology! He passes this message on and politely invites them for supper at his house, offering them rooms in which to freshen up if they wish. Hamilton passes only some of this development on to Elsbeth and the two of them go to supper while Gladstone finishes the loading and guards the boats Wallace meanwhile says his goodbyes to his fiance and gets give a small pistol for his safekeeping, then slips off into the night on a small sailboat down the Nile.

Supper at Jean-Baptists is a civilised affair, with full service and many European delicacies which the shipping agent manages to obtain. After it is concluded business is discussed and Lady Elsbeth eloquently and passionately refuses the apology. Despite Hamilton's best efforts to mediate the matter is fixed, and Jean-Baptist indicates that the artefacts remain his and he is instructed to regretfully tae further action.

Dull is the eye that will not weep to see
Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed
By British hands, which it had best behoved
To guard those relics ne’er to be restored.
Curst be the hour when from their isle they roved,
And once again thy hapless bosom gored,
And snatch'd thy shrinking gods to northern climes abhorred!
"Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" - comment on the Elgin Marbles.

Hamilton and Elsbeth make their way back to the quayside at Boulaq discussing their alternatives and arrive to find Gladstone efficiently guarding the two boats. They give orders to for the boats to set off and are just starting to make the boats ready when a local officer of the watch and ten of his men arrive at the quay. A brief discussion ensues in which Gladstone establishes that Lescluze has reported the theft of the items and that the officer is under orders to arrest them all.

The officer orders his men to seize Gladstone, who whips out a pistol and promptly shoots the first man to approach. The awsome firepower that erupts from the two fulucca soon has the officer and his men down. Hamilton has a hasty re-negotiation with the captains and their crew who are appalled to see such a crime, but soon has the boats slipping off into the dark waters of the Nile. Not a moment too soon it appears, as a larger force of men arrive and shoot wildly at the disappearing boats.

The boats escape and the night goes quietly and the two heavily laden felucca are steered into the fastest waters and channels to make best time down the river. Elsbeth uses the peace and quiet to pen a postcard to her mother.

http://www.tytherleigh.com/Alarm/images/postcard.jpeg+left

Dearest Mamma,

Just drifting down the Nile after a good days shooting. Had an excellent dinner rather marred by inopportune talk of business.

Bringing plenty of souvenirs - do we own a museum anywhere? Should be back in time for a Xmas wedding. I'm sure you'll adore Wallace, he's an excellent shot.

Your loving daughter

Elspeth
The following morning the captain indicates that around lunchtime they will get to a great turn in the river where it is possible to reach by camel quicker than by boat - so they should expect trouble. Keeping a good lookout the party are aware that about 1 hour behind them is another felucca, most probably from Cairo and following them. As they approach a small town they see many smaller fishing boats among which one larger vessel with many men wearing red fez (a military hat) seems to be steering directly for them. The party decide to blast through, since their craft would like as not capsize if they steered too violently. With their sharpshooters to the fore they shoot at the helmsman, critical parts of the rigging and the opportune shot at the men aboard, but their adversaries keep coming towards them.

The returned fire from the men on the boat is becoming more intense and Gladstone uses some of the marble slabs from the tomb as screens. Elsbeth gets a bloody shrapnel wound from splintering stones. It's all looking rather difficult when Gladstone rushes to the rear of the felucca and grabs the Russian grenades, lobbing first one and then the next among their red hatted foes. At last the boat pulls away, it's guns silenced and the parties' two felucca drift on past the town. http://www.tytherleigh.com/Alarm/images/grandmosque-boulaq.jpg+right

How doth the little Elspeth
Improve her stunning aim,
She trains her eye on fezes red
And blasts them all the same!

How cheerfully she seems to grin,
How neatly spreads her fire,
"That dastardly Count Ivanov
Will one day feel my ire!"

During that evening they slowly gain on Wallace in his smaller boat, but Wallace keeps his cover going and lets them glide by in the night un-hailed.

References

More Elgin Marbles quotes...

"The Honourable Lord has taken advantage of the most unjustifiable means and has committed the most flagrant pillages. It was, it seems, fatal that a representative of our country loot those objects that the Turks and other barbarians had considered sacred,"
said Sir John Newport.


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Last edited February 6, 2007 11:43 am by DaveF (diff)
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