blog 100 the desperate escape

And now it is 1842 and I am 20 years old. My Indian family is in Ferozepore, I hope, in my little bungalow, I hope, with my trunks. All of my trunks. Including that trunk. Knowing the Afghans penchant for arranging corpses of their enemy in comic positions for jackals to eat and vultures to peck at I decided a shroud would not be needed. If I die, if we all die, here in Kabul, we will be thrown out like garbage for wild animals to eat. It is 1842 and we are prisoners of Akbar Khan in his grotesque fort in Kabul. The British Army of Retribution is coming to avenge our ‘Lost 9th Legion’ but I cannot see how we will live to see that army march into Kabul.

George Lawrence brightened the day by telling tall tales about his brothers Lawrence and Henry. That was when I realized Henry Lawrence was his brother.

“You are related to The Henry Lawrence?”

George laughed. “Who does Henry create that sense of awe in people?”

“I mean… I mean…. Probyn was commanded to come and demand a better gun from no less than General Hearsay!”

“Henry is not god John! But don’t say I said that! Because Henry thinks he is a demigod! But yes. I am the baby brother of the Great Henry Lawrence! I hope if you meet my brother your awe will not be deflated to discover that Henry is merely human and not a demigod! Much less a god!” Everyone smiled as George went on to describe his two remarkable brothers. He was the youngest and seemed bland that he would only be remembered as the younger brother of the Great Henry Lawrence! “Brother Henry thinks the White Mughal approach might work but John thinks Afghanistan will always be a poisoned chalice to any country deluded enough to think it can ever be redeemed. Some places are sewers and will away be sewers and will never ever change even if you through pour a million pounds or a million lives into it! A sewer is a sewer! Afghanistan is and will always be a sewer! I think we are just a cat’s paw in the Great Game with Russia.”

“Your brothers are Ulstermen I believe?” Lady Sales asked. I could tell she already knew the answer.

“Indeed Madam! We are all ‘No Surrender!’ Ulster bastards! Henry is Addiscombe and John is Haileybury which was deemed more befitting his slightly calmer temper! When I blow up Henry sighs most saintly and John shuffles paper at his desk and dryly snipes “A man is judged by his actions as I will judge him!’ So I always sabotage John’s desk! Works every time!”

“What do you do to torment Henry then?” Lady Sales replied laughing.

“I say ‘Bless me Henry for I have sinned’ and then knell as if taking confession! Now Malady and gentlemen! Well I have an idea about bribing a particular piece of Afghan slime!”

“We have all been looted of any valuables!” Crawford said.

“And how can anyone trust an Afghan?” I replied. “They would sell out Jesus, Joseph, Mary, Mohammad, and the Buddha!”

“Exactly! The relief column is coming! You can tell! The rats are abandoning the sinking ship! So a handsome bribe actually might do the trick! Any Afghan right now is thinking about buttering both sides of his bread with ghee! And as you say. They will sell out absolutely everybody!”

We all turned to Palmer. “I have sounded the scoundrel out. It is a 50% chance. But I have smelled the wind and I think that Akbar Khan will kill us when the relief column reaches a mark on the map. I think we have to move —- now….”

So tonight the offer of a bribe is going to be delivered by George Lawrence and Palmer. We prepare to make a run for it in bribed Afghan Pathan dress convincingly smelly and dirty and foul! We darken our faces and pull dirty turbans low. Either it is a trap to kill us or else we will reach the Khyber Pass and the British lines by Sept. I will wrap this journal around my waist with a salvaged cashmere sash given to me by Lady Sales. Captain Souter wrapped his regiment’s colors around his waist. To each his own needful thing. This journal has become my needful thing. But this may be the very last entry I will ever live to make in it.

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6 Responses to blog 100 the desperate escape

  1. raja sameer says:

    my comment maybe valued because i am from the region -punjab being discussed here and with
    dogra ancestory and i value the values of these great britishers who saved us from sickening
    traditions so as today we are anglicised hindu’s with english thinking

  2. anna says:

    where is the rest of it? I think its very well written even though the Americanisms seem to indicate this is a work of fiction!

    • fairawayland says:

      It is a work of fiction and I am an american but I did read ten factual historical books, and over 100 internet research books and articles including post 1857 governmental reports to create it as well as economic articles to ground it in as much detail as possible. The work naturally dies with the character who john nicholson who was shot on the first day of the siege of delhi. I could not find anyone on the internet to provide information about the Sikh side or else I would have developed more complex Sikh characters. 1857 is so controversial even the wiki article on it has three pages of debate on what 1857 should be called.

      I don’t know if the public gets the concept that this is first person victorian blogs done in a diary form. I recreated the lost diaries of john nihcolson which were burned by his mother and her hired victorian biographer after they found stuff too upsetting for them to cope with. not killing people. not fighting in 1857. not being on the ‘winning’ side’. so what was found which was so upsetting they burned the diaries? obviously john nicholson hated his mother and probably had asperger syndrome and was homosexual and not a closeted gay if his last uncensored words are any indication. likewise if the victorian biographer burned his diaries he must have written about things victorians disapproved on post 1857 so probably nicholson was a surly, bitchy, profane, nonconformist who probably went slightly ‘native’.

      after all, he lived as the only white man for a hundred miles along the northwest border and his servants and staff and police and military units were normally entirely native. he rarely saw his fellow brits and when he did he was surly and insulted christian missionaries as ‘brutes’. he did not follow much of a church in india and never displayed overt christian devotion. he was not HMA but rather was john company which recruited on merit and expected political officers to be experts in india and independent free lance agents working in tandem with native pundits. so the burnt diaries would have been the opposite of what the victorians after 12857 wanted to hear. probably where was also a lot of criticism about how the government was handling india and a lot of criticism about how the eic failed to ward off 1857. stuff people did not want to hear about after 1857.

      the diaries also might have reflected great game victorian spying. nicholson did spying in berlin and saint petersburg and around 1856 he was in kashmiri helping to set up hearing posts and spy cells in anticipation of a possible russian invasion in 1857. this might have been classified after 1857. nicholson does not appear to be a sort to be a spy but if he spied (and he did) then apparently his personality disorder was not so malfunctioning as to be crippling. Laurence and Company who ran the ‘Laurence Boys’ of the northwest frontier put nicholson in every difficult job where every other ‘laurence boy’ failed and early in 1857 put nicholson in the most critical job of controlling the afghan pass invasion route in anticipation of 1857. and dost of karbul sent his personal aide de camp to negotiate with not with john laurence but rather john nicholson. so nicholson was not such an nutter as he appeared. apparently nicholson was able to control his syndrome most of the time.

      he actually executed less mutineers as other HMA officers and rarely by firing by cannon. he ordered the bridge of boats and far gates of delhi left wide open for a retreat so the city could be surrendered and spared battle (and therefore looting) and he tried to negotiate to save the city. alas, the red fort was only interested in negotiating their own safe surrender and not the surrender of delhi. a city that does not surrender before the forlorn hope attacks the breach of the wall is a city that can be destroyed, looted, and burned. nicholson opposed the pro rata decision to loot if and when the city fell. he violently opposed looting being a man who often ran the military police when he was not doing logistics behind the back lines or spying in advance of the front lines. nicholson’s loud opposition to looting the besieged and soon to be defeated delhi probably got him killed —- by friendly fire— shot as he was spinning around to look behind him at his own hostile men so the bullet ran straight through his side and both lungs. a dum dum minie ball from an enfield rifle can do that. a native musket cannot.

      andway! if you read the blogs in first to last order you will get the full story line from his childhood in ireland to the morning of his death as he marches off to fight his last battle. jef

    • fairawayland says:

      the series continues with the Victorian blogs of john Nicholson political officer and john Nicholson and the great muting on this fairawayland site. jef

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