I found myself riding in a governmental buggy into Calcutta. I had only visited Calcutta once. Sin City was not top of my agenda. “Brothel Number 1 or Brothel Number 2?” Jock asked.
“Nautch dancing girls or geisha? Syn asked.
“Grand Horizontalis or is your style vertical against a wall?”
“Feather bed? Divan?”
I blushed. “I am still recovering from my commanding officer’s hygiene speech!” I snarled. “And my mother attends a kirk no less than your mother I think Jock!”
Jock the Scot gasped. “Laddie? Do’na tell me you are a greenhorn cadet!”
“A cadet?” Syn the Gurkha replied. “Six foot three and a beard?”
“Six foot two and one half and yes. But turning seventeen in two months!”
“Nahhhh!” Jock replied shocked. “Yea fooling us an’t you laddie!”
“No. And my mother would be shocked if…”
“What you mother won’t know won’t shock her any!” Jock replied as Syn grinned.
“Do you know your name rhymes with SIN — Syn?” Syn nodded, still grinning. “Stop here! I am getting out!” I exclaimed.
“Oh laddie! Ok! Don’t lose your bonnet over it! We did not know you were still a virgin.”
“And if you, either of you, dare to circulate this around Fort William I will….” My hand made a fist.
“But you cannot hit a fellow soldier who is shorter than you?” Syn replied with utter seriousness. Then he grinned.
“I am shorter than you too!” Jock added. “By two inches plus!”
“You damn bonnet makes you seven feet tall! That counts in my book of thuggery, bullying, and harassment!”
“Ach! Nay! Nay! Laddie! We want to give you a fun night! So! Cross off brothels! How about a fine hotel?”
“And……?” I asked.
“Dinner?” Jock and Syn grinned as I looked askew at them. “Pull up here!” Jock roared out as the buggy careened across the street, cutting off an elephant and two palanquins, one of which inadvertently dumped it’s contents, a courtesan, right into the dirt street. Syn, who was driving, secured the horse and buggy as Jock dragged me out before a lavish four story tall pile of excess which apparently was a private hotel.
“I don’t see any doorman or bellboy!”
“Shocking! The loss of standards in this day and age!” Jock exclaimed as he and Syn dragged me through the double doors into a rich lobby of extravagant splendor. He shoved me into a chair by a table as Syn grabbed a wooden cricket bat and hammered away at a huge brass gong. Then Syn grabbed a chair and sat down on my other side. Both men grinned huge grins as they sat on other side of me.
“This is a brothel isn’t it? I growled.
“Nah!” Jock replied. “Cross my heart this is not a brothel!”
Servants in excessively rich Indian livery came into the lobby and gasped in horror as Jock and Syn bellowed out “Beer!” They fled. The two men then pounded the expensive table. “Beer! Beer! Beer!”
I fought my way to a standing position to flee as the table tumbled. At that moment a small man appeared in his dressing gown and fez with a tassel. His napkin was still tucked under his chin. Apparently we interrupted his dinner. “What is this?” he bellowed in a decided Scottish burl.
“I…I….I… was kidnaped!” I said pointing to Jock and Syn.
“Beer! Beer! Beer!” Syn shouted! “What sort of hotel is this?”
“Hotel? Hotel! This is my home!” the small Scot bellowed with a very loud voice.
“Yea tassle is bobbing on the wrong side of yea fez” Jock drawled in that thick highland burl.
“What! What! What?” The Scot glared at Jock who grinned.
“They kidnaped me!” I shouted. “They said this was a hotel!”
“This poor laddie was about to celebrate his seventeenth birthday all by his lonesome!” Jock lied.
“Tragic!” Syn nodded.
“A little old to be seventeen!” the small Scot growled as he looked up at me. “The so -called laddie has a beard!”
“It is a lie!” I shouted.
“Indeed! And you should be ashamed of posing as a mere seventeen year old! Next you will be claiming yea be a virgin son of the good kirk!” the small Scot growled.
Jock and Syn shrugged and gestured as if saying ‘we did not say anything!’.
“I am…..the son of a mother of the kirk Sir!” I finished, glaring at my tormenters. “And I am about to spill blood! So rather than spoil your carpet I will beat up these hooligans outside!”
Suddenly the small Scot roared out with laughter. “Och! Yea laddie! Come on in! Have yea had supper yet? And yea! There! Jock! What a knave! And who be you?”
“Syn Sir!” the Gurkha replied standing at crisp attention and saluting as Jock stood up straight and tall in his white tunic and kilt.
“Yea damn Highlanders are all alike! Mad! And yea expect us Lowlanders to bail yea rascals out! Come on in! I be at supper! There be enough for all of yea knaves! By the careless gods! Where did yea find this straight faced rogue anyway?” the small Scot said pointing to me. “I congratulate yea! You act the perfect naif!”
Jock and Syn winked at me as we all went in for dinner with one of the richest men in all of Calcutta.