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Gentlemen Adventurers : Chapter Three : The sub-continent, 1840


Session 011: The Dorje Ling Affair,continued

The death of a princess, Northern India February 1840

Ref: GentlemenAdventurers

The Party

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


As the great procession of elephant, horse and servants sets camp at the foot of the valley, Hamilton sends off a fast rider on oversees the unloading of the 'tea-chests' into a screened area to avoid being overlooked, and there with only a couple of trusted aides he opens the chests to discover the Chogyans captives bound and gagged inside the tea-chests, and all in a very sorry state. Calling for his doctor he has them resuscitated and talks to each introducing himself and indicating he has managed to secure their release from the Chogyan's fort. They are confused tired and angry but each is pleased to be out. The Maharini is very quickly awake, but one of her hand-maidens is very ill.

Taking the party into his confidence somewhat, Hamilton explains the situation ; that the Chogyan wants him to dispose of anyone who might be a problem to him in the future or bear a grudge - which in these parts is pretty much all of them. He omits to mention the private conversation with CountVladimirIvanoff and Iganoff's request that the Maharini specifically shouldn't survive.

Wallace is approached by LeiutenantJamesOutram in disguise as one of the camp-servants who indicates that he and some of the Maharini's men are not alone in following the procession, and at least two other groups are also following.

So in the knowledge that interested parties are all watching for the planned 'incidents' with the tea-chests the party discuss the various ways in which the 'death' of the Maharini and others can be arranged or staged.

Hamilton holds a large banquet for the new 'guests' at which the arguments which caused fighting and their capture in the Chogyans fort surface almost immediately. It transpires that the argumentative local tribal leaders started fighting between themselves in the Chogyans fort and his troops over-eagerly put a stop to it, killing some and capturing others - leaving the Chogyan in an awkward position he let grow worse by keeping the prisoners for weeks. The Maharini harangues, charms and brow beats the men into stopping the argument, and also explains why they must get back in the tea-chests for the following day!

The following morning Gladstone starts scouting around the procession with his lancers, riding up into the hills either side looking for the watchers. Wallace is concerned for the state of the Maharini's hand-maiden, being the one who 'helped' him when he was unwell. he spends the night tending to her, and becomes convinced that she is not unwell but actually suffering from some form of possession.

As they pack the grumbling Khans and Tribesmen into the chests the following morning, Hamilton asks his cousin which of the other leaders would be 'missed the least' - without hesitation he points out another neighboring leader indicating that he is of the tribe that holds a nearby pass in Bihar. Later that day the appropriate chest is dropped by accident down a large scree slope, killing the occupant. Amidst great wailing and chaos the body is recovered , burnt and a large cairn is raised to him.

That evening the tribal leaders are very dubious about the affair and are assured by Hamilton of his good intent, but they insist they are not going back into the chests again - so they are persuaded to swap clothes and roles with some of Hamilton's guards. Meanwhile Wallace asks with the caterers for a goat, and Hamilton for the silver hubble-bubble mouthpiece that Iganoff gave him. He performs an exorcism in his pavillion and at the end of which presents Hamilton with the mouth-piece in a box with a dire warning not to open it and to send it to an enemy! They leave on the dead mans' cairn it with an incriminating note addressed to Iganoff indcating "the plan" is going well, in the hope that the followers of the procession will find it and it will find it's way back to Iganoff of better still the Chogyan. Wallace is pleased to see that the lady-in-waiting's fever has broken by the morning.

The following day passes without further incident for the tea-chests, but Gladstone is met by James Outram in the hills who, without irony, congratulates Gladstone on his most obvious but ineffectual scouting, perfect for 'seeming' to scout and to make the followers' lives difficult without actually stopping them seeing anything. He passes on the fact that one of the other groups is definitely the Sikkim men and that he suspects that the other is Iganoff and others, but that they are improbably good at scouting and James is not sure where they are or their numbers.

Hamilton is very pleased when his rider returns with a widow from just within his cousins lands who had been denied permission to commit suicide when her husband died. He enters a short negotiation with her, promising to look after her family and then arranges for her to be exchanged for the char-lady substitute for the Maharini in the tea-chest.

The following day the long-awaited accident happens, and the tea-chest is dropped from an elephant into a deep raving ; but contrary to plan the poor womans' body was not washed away bu left trapped on rocks. Hamilton orders the Maharini's gurkha guards to get the body (they are aware of the switch and need for discretion) and they duly set off down the cliffs like mountain goats. An argument breaks out between the Mahoot and the guard on the elephant about who was responsible, which Hamilton cuts-short. He arranges for a small - almost parsimonious - funeral and cairn, in order to keep up his 'don't care' pretence. The Maharini is incensed by the 'slight' that her funeral was soo small and Hamilton sports a 'token' of her anger on his cheek.

That evening James Outram contacts Gladstone again, indicates where the Sikkim watches are should he now wish to drive them off and says he will come into the camp before dawn the following day to escort the 'dead' Maharini home.

The party say their farewells to her, and she invites Wallace and Elsbeth to visit her in court in Kathmandu before disappearing off into the hills with her escort.

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Edited August 31, 2006 11:28 am by HowardT (diff)