But anyway, I was settled into a nicely stuffed arm chair and Radu appeared at my side shimmering in his steward's whites with a little silver tray bearing a brandy and soda and my pipe. A Major from the Veterinary Corps, Dr. Chalmers, nice chap takes splendid care of my stable, just not really a gentleman, tried to flag Radu down to give him a drink order.
"I say! The impertinence of that chap!" huffed the Colic-wallah as Radu ignored him.
Radu, of course has been insisting on serving me at Mess Dinners for years. I would say to him "Right ho, Radu, old chap! Off to the bazaar and nautch dancers for you, I'm dining out", but he would be waiting for me at the door of the bungalow in his whites, with my top coat ready. Always afraid some badmash would take a pop at his General-Sahib if he wasn't there you see? The Regimental Stewards had all gotten used to him and since he let them have his share of the extra pay, they didn't mind. Everyone knew this, except the vet, who was new.
The others were all hiding their smiles as he got redder. "I say! You there!"
I dropped a napkin on the floor. Radu, bent to pick it up, exposing the big nasty kukri knife under his jacket.
"I say!" The Thrush-wallah goggled. "He has a, a erm......"
Major Jeeves filled the Vet in. "A kukri. Indeed he does. Havildar-Major Radu is the General's personal aide and body guard. He's very handy with it, aren't you Havildar-Major?"
Radu smiled brightly, as only Gurkhas can do. "I have had the honour of slitting the throats of many of the Queen-Empress' enemies."
The Major now noticed Radu's rather impressive row of ribbons. "Extraordinary. General, however did you get such a splendid fellow to be your, erm, aide?"
I took a long pull on my pipe. "Radu, be a good fellow and bring a round for everyone, would you please?"
Radu slid away. I puffed my pipe again. "Well it was quite a few years ago. I was a young Captain, new to India, full of excitement. Thinking it was all going to be Rajahs, rubies and palaces. Instead I was stamping up into the hill country where some bandit chief was hiding behind a rock having kidnapped the heiress to the Topping tea fortune. Splendid chap, old Topping, owns a few yards of tea estates up in Darjeeling and around Simla."
|View from the Imperial table edge|
|Close up of village|
|Imperial attack is fully developed|
|Dastardly Pathan chieftain exposes the fair Edith|
|Gurkhas go around the flank|
|Gurkhas rush the gate|
|A fierce melee over the sangar|
|Gurkhas are repulsed!|
|Sikhs take the village on the points of their bayonets|
|Tribesmen driven back on fort to be shot down|
|End of game|
"The next day this bandaged up Gurkha naik is in my tent polishing my kit."
'I say old chap, what's up?'
'Sahib does not have a batman. This is not good. Radu is grateful Sahib saved his pathetic life.'
"Well I did need a batman, since mine had taken a jezzail ball through the head just a few days before. He's been with me ever since, posted to Extra-regimental duties, so to speak I"m not entirely sure if he'd let things be any other way."
"Handy chap to have around. Even marching home rough, he had my uniform looking extra spruced up to make an impression on Miss Topping."
One of the other officer's made an 'aha!' face. "I say, General. You're married to a Topping aren't you?"
Jeeves gave him a hard stare. "Now sir! Ladies are not discussed in the Mess!"
I took a pull on my brandy. "Thank you, Jeeves."
The above was a game of Sharp Practice played last weekend with the Mad Padre running the Gurkhas, while Wierdy-Beardy did his best evil Pathan bandit chief impression from behind the fort. There were some scenario flaws, but fun was had.
Other adventures of Brigadier General Sir Pelham Gronville Wooster, VC, KCBE can be found here and here and here.