Resting in Todgers palace the party catch up with affairs as their main and orders finally catch up with them. In the weeks while the Victoriana sails around the coast to pick them up, Gladstone delivers his dispatches and is "asked" if he would care to divert his ship to investigate reports of events relating to the representative there one [James Brooke] who appears to have upset the Sultan of Brunei. This is a long way out of the way and the part decide that it would put paid to their chances of being home by Christmas - and being entertained in Cawdor by Lady Elsbeth. Glasdtone politely refuses and is recommended back to london for R&R for his gammy leg. DMs note another plot put to one side
Todgers busies himself with setting up The Bengal and Empire Railway company, with permissions granted into Peshawar, Kathmandu and Dorje Ling he invites investors from the Calcutta, Begal and European exchanges to buy shares.
Matre's letters finally catch up with Lady Elsbeth. A series of ever more strident missives about decorum and a womans proper place are delivered by an ernest solicitor under insturction to deliver them to Lady Elsbeth personally.. who pursues her for a week before she finally relents. The upshot of 5 pages of world class approbrium is that Lady Elsbeth is to have her allowance cut off unless she is married to a proper gentleman before Christmas.
With The Victoriana loaded with tea and spoils and after a week of much celebration and congratulation from the great and good of Bengal the party head back towards ole blightly, electing to go the quicker route, crossing Persian overland. With the Victoriana dropping them off then sailing back around the Cape and re-joining them in London (hopefully).
While laying on stores in the swampy an hot delta town of Karachi [map] the party learn that pirates are very active in Persian Gulf.
Electing to avoid the dangers of the gulf the party send the Victoriana staight down to the Cape and hire passage on a larher, well armewd ship into the gulf. Their caution is well deserved as the party are barely into the gulf when their ship is beset by pirates. Even with a well armed ship, and some forewarning of an attack the onslaught is pretty violent when it comes with Gladstone and Wallace taking the brunt, but Hamilton making effective use of a swivel mount gun and being copied to great effect by Lady Elsbeth who dismounts one and fires it from the hip at close range at the pirates besetting her betrothed. Gladstone is wounded again, but it's only minor and a few weeks cruise and care have him healed before the party reach the Suez Isthmus.
The port is a busy bustling place full of all of the sights and sounds of Africa and the Middle east, and the party have their work cut out ensuring that their great mounds of possessions are well guarded and then moved to the (one) decent hotel in the 'town'. Hamilton pays handsomely and a local majordomo dressed seemingly in the Sultans' colours soo has the locals organised and the equipment moved. Again Hamilton arranges for the finest rooms - indeed the whole upper floor of the hotel to be taken by the party while they arrange overland tarnsport. Wallace scouts the town and finds an elderly cripple who seems to know a lot about caravans and camels, so he retains Mustafa Abu and follows his advice to seek to 'borrow' the Sultans' caravan which is not currently being used. Learning that the Sultan like horses and cultured entertainment the party, especially Lady Elsbeth and Todgers seek out the best horseflesh they can, soon earning a degree of respect from the horse-traders as they obviously know their animals,. They eventually get a fine mare foal and a good stallion - being the best two horses available. Hamilton and Wallace also obtain a fine arab tent in which to entertain.
During his travels Wallace has also purchased a pet moonkey for Lady Elsbeth, but is warned by Mustafa Abu's son to ensure it is tied up at night as it is almost certyainly a trained theif.
The preparations complete (mostly) Hamilton sends an invitation to the Sultan...