One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

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One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:20 pm

The first part was my story, and then ICS added onto it. Her part is still ongoing, which is why I've put it in the "Works in Progress" section.

The original story contains photos and links. Click here to see the whole thing in its entirety:

http://bigglesforum.net/forum/viewtopic ... 77e3f19d7a

**

Recently, I re-read both Biggles Goes Home and “The Case of the Missing Constable” in Biggles’ Chinese Puzzle. I was struck by both of these passages:

This one from Chinese Puzzle:

‘But would he go into the churchyard?’ queried Ginger, looking surprised.
‘If your mother had been buried there five days ago would you walk straight past?’
‘No.’
‘What would you do?’
‘I’d stop and think about her. With the grave so close I might walk in and have a look at it.’
‘I’m pretty sure you would. So would anybody. Small thought a lot of his mother, don’t forget. In fact, if there’s any place on his beat where he had reason to stop, it’s here.’


And this one from Goes Home:

Secretly, although he found it tiresome, Biggles rather enjoyed it. To him it was like old times, or like re-living a half forgotten dream. Memories of such trips with his father and their old shikari, both long dead, filled his thoughts. In fact, now that he was back in surroundings once familiar he found that he remembered more than he had anticipated. For this, no doubt, the smells, and the occasional sounds, such as the squabbling of monkeys high overhead or in the distance, were responsible. The strange trees and insects were like old friends there to greet him.


So I decided that perhaps this brief excerpt was left out of the end of Biggles Goes Home, at Biggles’ request. This story is a bit more sentimental than my usual stuff. I hope you will indulge me. I would like to extend special thanks to ICS, who provided valuable information about Delhi.

Thank you for reading. :hellochap:

**

Upon landing in Delhi and taking Captain Toxan to the hospital, Biggles and the others, as well as Mr. Poo, got rooms for the night in a large hotel downtown, one which had been recommended by the doctor Captain Toxan had seen. Mr. Poo retired almost immediately to his room, although it was only mid-afternoon, pleading exhaustion, which the others did not dispute.

The four airmen had a rather palatial suite of rooms with individual bedrooms off of a communal sitting room, which had a large picture window that overlooked the city.

“Wow,” Ginger said, staring. “That’s really spectacular. You can see a lot of the city from here.”

Biggles joined him at the window and began pointing out of a few of the sights he remembered.

“That’s the Kashmere Gate,” he explained, pointing. “And not far away you can see the…”

He trailed off suddenly, although Ginger didn’t notice, for at that moment Algy returned to the sitting room, after dropping his bags in his room, and asked of no one in particular “Shall I ring the front desk for a pot of tea?”

Biggles, who had been staring out the window, apparently lost in thought, turned, startled. “What? Oh… you chaps go ahead if you like.”

Ginger’s brow furrowed and he turned back toward Biggles. “Are you all right, chief?”

“Right as rain,” Biggles said cheerfully, although to his closest friends it rang a bit false. But Algy shrugged and picked up the phone on the sideboard. He wasn’t going to let one of Biggles’ odd moods deprive him of his tea.

“Please send up tea for four,” he requested of the receptionist.

“Make it three,” Biggles interrupted. “I have a … er… personal errand to run. I’ll be back in time for dinner.”

“I say, old boy, are you …” Bertie began, but trailed off as Biggles ignored him, picked up his hat off the rack, and disappeared out the door.

Ginger looked at Algy helplessly as the latch clicked behind Biggles. “What was that about?”

“No idea,” Algy said with a shrug. “He’ll tell you when he’s ready, and not before. You’ve known Biggles long enough to know that.”

TBC...

**

Ask and ye shall receive...

**

Ginger paced up and down anxiously, only to stop with a start as there was a tap at the door. He opened it to let in a uniformed waiter with a tea trolley.

“Are you gentlemen enjoying your stay?” the young man asked with a smile as he wheeled the trolley into the room.

“Yes, thank you,” Ginger replied. “I was just admiring the view.”

“You were very lucky to get this suite. It has the best views in all of Delhi,” he said proudly, gesturing expansively at the window.

Algy’s eyes went to the window automatically. “Yes,” he responded politely, but absently. “They’re very nice.”

The young waiter pointed out a conspicuous monument. “That is the famous Kashmere Gate.”

“Yes,” Ginger replied. “Biggles was showing me that when he went a bit funny,” he said in an aside to Algy.

Algy came over to the window and looked out at the city. He froze suddenly as a thought occurred to him. “What’s that large yellow building I can see near the gate?” he asked.

“Ah, yes sir. You see the beautiful St. James’ Church, I believe?” asked the young man. “It is very well maintained, and a popular spot with visitors.”

Algy nodded thoughtfully. “I suppose, being a church, that it also has a churchyard,” he mused aloud. Bertie and Ginger gave him a curious look.

“Oh yes, sir. Quite a large and historic one, sir. It was very popular with the British many years ago.”

Algy tipped the waiter and as the door swung shut behind him, he turned to the others. “I’ll wager that’s where he’s gone.”

Ginger looked puzzled. “Why would Biggles want to go to church? It’s not even Sunday. I don’t think so, anyway, unless I’ve lost track of the days in the jungle.”

“Use your head,” Algy snapped sarcastically. “He’s not gone to the church. He’s gone to the churchyard. Biggles was pointing out that gate to you right before he went a bit strange. And look.” He pointed out the window. “It’s quite near that church.”

Ginger looked blankly at Algy for a moment. “Why would Biggles want to visit a churchyard, here of all places? His father and brother died in the first war. They’re buried in France. Dickpa’s buried in his village cemetery in Buckinghamshire. I know that Biggles sends money for a wreath from time to time.”

Algy made an impatient gesture. “Are you being thick on purpose?” he asked bitingly. “Biggles had a mother once too, you know.”

“Oh,” said Ginger, suddenly understanding. “I suppose so. He never talks about her though.”

Algy sighed. “There are quite a few things he never talks about,” he murmured, more to himself than Bertie and Ginger. “It doesn’t mean he doesn’t think about them.”

TBC...

**

Here's the last bit before I go home for the weekend. (And it's a long weekend, hooray!)

**

Biggles stepped out of his taxi and walked briskly down the pavement, in the manner of a man who has a specific destination in mind. He paused at the gate to the churchyard for a moment, getting his bearings. It had, after all, been a very long time since he was last there. He hesitated and stepped out again into the main street, looking around until his eyes alighted on a small girl selling some flowers on the street corner. He dug in his pockets for some change as he walked to the end of the block.

The little girl was delighted when he spoke to her in Hindi, and she gave him a bright smile when he dropped a few extra small coins into her hand. That was why she had chosen this street corner, after all. Visitors to the cemetery were usually in a generous mood.

Returning to the gate, Biggles frowned slightly. The cemetery was bigger than he recalled, although he supposed that made sense, given how many people had probably been buried there in the intervening years. He tried to remember his only previous visit with his father nearly fifty years previously. He pulled his handkerchief from his pocket and mopped his forehead, for the afternoon heat was intense.

A short while later, with a feeling of great satisfaction, he at last found the plinth he was seeking. If anyone had asked him afterwards – they didn’t – he would have struggled to recall the details of the remainder of the afternoon. But in a back corner of the dry and dusty graveyard, one stone was freshly scrubbed; a single red rose lay on the top, obscuring the name, but underneath the words “Beloved wife and mother” could still be seen.

**

Biggles returned to the hotel just as dusk turned into evening. He found Algy sitting at the hotel bar. Algy smiled and waved him over.

Biggles looked around. “Where are Bertie and Ginger?”

“Bertie wanted to have a soak in the bath, and Ginger went to buy some postcards. They’ll be along in a few minutes and then we’ll find something to eat.”

As Biggles pulled up a seat, Algy slid a pint glass across the bar.

“I got this for you. I… thought you might need it.”

Biggles smiled faintly. “Thanks, Algy.”

The End.
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:21 pm

ICS felt inspired to add a scene of her own to the end of my story. As she's currently just using her phone and not a real computer, she asked me to post it on her behalf. I hope I've put the italics in the right places. Thank you for reading. :hellochap:

**

Biggles bent his head to his task, methodically scrubbing the gravestone with his handkerchief that he had wetted at a garden water-tap. Surprisingly, compared to the other graves, this stone and the space around it was relatively clear of the weeds and thorny plants that sprang up so willingly in the humid Indian pre-monsoon weather. As each letter of the inscription emerged from the protective obscurity of dust, the splintered shards of memory began whirling through his mind.

James, dear, come out from under that bed. Papa is not angry, but you should ask before taking his books from his study.

Charles, you must share your cricket set with your brother.

Shan’t! He holds the bat like a soup spoon. He can’t play any game.

That boy needs discipline. Always with his nose in a book.

He needs company.

Where do we find him company? Not those native boys he keeps running off with!


The sun sank slowly towards the horizon, its rays beginning to slant across the courtyard and touching St James’ façade with their glowing warmth,

James, dear, now you just listen to Ayah and go to bed when she tells you. I promise I’ll bring you something very special from Delhi.

What?

Wait and see!

Jay baba, wake up quick quick! The gharries are waiting, we are going to Delhi!

To be with Mama?

Yes, yes, now come!


The emerging letters formed words that briefly blurred before his eyes. Beloved wife and mother…

Jay baba, you are hiding here and we are all searching for you!

Ayah, just a few more pages, Then I’ll come in, promise.

Oh, all right, you will be the death of me, I know. Here take these and eat as you read. I will go calling for you on the other side of the compound. Don’t worry, Ayah is always there for you and you will look after her when she is old, na?


A conspiratorial wink accompanying her toothy grin that never failed to make him smile. Then he frowned as her shadow fell across his book again, blocking the warmth of the winter afternoon sun. The cloth bag full of nuts was pushed into his hands and she was gone.

Ayah always knows what I like.

Jay baba, did you write to your brother?

No, I’ll do it, don’t bother me now, I’m going out.

No, you just got up from being so ill, Jay baba, come here, Tum idhar aao!


A shadow blocking the sun’s rays again made Biggles look up, frowning, squinting into the heat-struck air. Really, Ayah went beyond the limits sometimes.

A few steps away stood a middle-aged Indian, wearing the cassock of a priest, regarding him with a mixture of interest, curiosity and compassion. Seeing that he was observed, he smiled and came closer, asking the obvious question.

“Good afternoon! You’re doing a lot of hard work in this afternoon heat!”

Biggles rose to his feet as he smiled back, looking down first at the inscription, now almost clear of dust, then regretfully at his ruined handkerchief.

“I’m Father Antony, of St James.”

“James Bigglesworth.”

The priest’s dark eyes darted a quick glance sideways at the gravestone then at his face. “Ah, I see! A relation?”

“Mama...I mean, my mother…”

“I understand. But this is your first visit?”

Biggles’ lips twisted. “Not really. The first time was when…”

“Yes, yes, of course. May I help in any way?”

“I’m almost done. It’s much cleaner than I expected. Do you maintain all the graves here? I’m impressed!”

“We do what we can. Actually, you should thank your friends who come every year and clean it up.”

Biggles looked puzzled, as well he might. “My friends?”

“Yes, indeed. A lady and her two sons. They’ve been coming every Christmas for quite a few years now. Earlier her husband used to come too, but the last couple of years it’s just the three of them. I think she is a widow now and they are Hindus, as I guessed from the one time I spoke with them.”

“What are their names?”

“Well, the older son responded when I spoke to them. He said his name is Rajbir Singh and he is employed with the Delhi Police.”

Biggles shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know these people. Why should they come?”

“That I cannot say. But they are not the only ones. There are others…in fact I was waiting for them when I spotted you from my window.”

“Others?” More strangers messing about here.

“A young family. They come on this day every year….ah! and here comes one of them!”

Biggles followed the priest’s gaze across the courtyard as a small figure came hurtling across towards them, a little girl of perhaps eight or nine years, pigtails flying behind her. She flung herself at Father Antony who, laughing, fended her off from clutching his legs as she skidded to a stop beside them talking all the while.

“Father Antony! Here I am! Are we late? It’s not dark yet… Can I get candles now? Mummy .and Papa are just coming. You must wish me! I got presents! Who is this?”

“Hold on, Peapod! Let me get a word in! Wish you a very happy birthday!”

The child shook hands solemnly with the pastor, eyeing Biggles as she did so. Her parents came up, a young Indian couple, both carrying a bucket of water, washcloths and sponges.

“Peapod! Stop bothering Father Antony like that! Come on, let’s get to work or it will be dark soon.”

The little girl hurried to the grave that Biggles had been working on, then stopped and spun around. “It’s almost clean!” she cried accusingly. “Who did that?”

“I cleaned it up a bit,” confessed Biggles, a trifle awkwardly.

Dark eyes swept over him speculatively. “Why? Why did you clean my grave?”

“Eh?” Biggles was momentarily speechless, and Father Antony quickly intervened.

“This is Mr. James Bigglesworth. The grave is…ah…his family’s.”

The child’s parents exchanged swift glances, then her mother said gently, “Preeti, go and ask Father Michael for two red candles and a lighting taper. Papa and I will finish up here. Hurry or it will start getting dark.”

“Okay! But why did he clean it first? We always do that on my birthday!”

“Yes, we do. But you see, it was his family there first, long before us.”

“Hmmm…so we share it with him?”

“Yes, if he doesn’t mind sharing with us.”

Before Preeti could fix him with her questioning stare again, Biggles spoke up hastily, “I assure you, I don’t mind at all.”

“All right then, I’m going for the candles.”

As she hurtled away towards the side portico of the church, in her apparently customary headlong fashion, Biggles asked a question uppermost in his mind. “Why would she call it her grave? She’s much too young to be worrying about things like that!”

Preeti’s father smiled apologetically. “You must excuse her, she doesn’t understand. As you say, she is much too young. But we do come on her birthday and light candles here.” He went on, “But, please, you must think us very rude indeed. Allow us to introduce ourselves. I am Rajan Paul and this is my wife Anita. I teach History at K M College and my wife teaches literature at Carmel Convent. Preeti is our first and so far only child.”

Anita broke in. “I’m sure you must want to know why she is so possessive, almost, of your family grave. You see, we knew we wanted our child’s name to reflect love, so we called her Preeti. But somehow, Preeti Paul seemed an incomplete name. We were arguing about other names for her when we brought her here to St James to be baptized.”

Rajan added, “She was just a few days old. She was born on today’s date, 27th June, and we fixed the ceremony for 1st July. And that’s when it happened!”

Anita took up the story again. “We were early, and brought her out here to try and keep her calm, but we were still arguing about more names. Then suddenly Rajan stopped here and pointed out the names that we could just make out. It seemed perfect.”

Rajan smiled. “Not just the names, the dates seemed to fit too. As a historian, it was too much for me to ignore!”

Anita looked worried. “We just took the names for our daughter. Please don’t be offended, but there seemed nobody that we could ask.”

“I’m not offended!” said Biggles quickly. “She looks a great kid. I’m glad that you found something that worked for you.”

Father Antony joined in. “She is indeed a great kid. And here she comes again at sixty miles per hour!”

“I’m back!” Preeti huffed up importantly. “And Father Michael gave me two red candles and a lightning tiger.”

“Lighting taper,” Biggles couldn’t help himself.

“Yes that.” She looked at the gravestone. “It’s not clean! Papa, you said you would clean it!”

“We’ll do it together, it’ll be clean in two ticks.” And the three of them went to work with a will, scrubbing and wiping until the entire inscription shone again. Rajan stuck two red candles, in little puddles of their own wax, at the base of the inscription and Anita circled them with a garland of crimson marigolds. Biggles stepped forward and quietly placed a single red rose between the candles.

“We’re ready!” announced Rajan, trying to wipe his hands on the edge of his wife’s sari and evading her exasperated slap.

Preeti skipped from one foot to another in excitement. “It looks nice! Doesn’t it look nice? Look there are my names!”

“Which ones?” asked Biggles.

She pointed. “There! Those ones. Emily Anne.”

“So your full name is…?”

“Preeti Emily Anne Paul! PEAP! Peapod!” A sudden frowning glance slanted up at him.

“You mind?”

“Not at all”

“We share?’

“Yes”

A stinging shard of memory. Charles dear, you must share your toys with your brother!

“The sun’s almost set now. It’ll be getting dark soon and we don’t want to be late for the evening service.” observed Father Antony.

“Yes!” exclaimed Preeti. “They’re going to sing me happy birthday!”

Father Antony explained quickly. “A little tradition. The choir sings it and the congregation often joins in.”

“Come on!” Preeti hopped up to the gravestone and stood waiting as her father lit the long taper and carefully placed it in her hand. Gripping it tightly, she reached over to light the candles, then suddenly, she turned towards Biggles and held out the lit taper.
“We share.” It was not a question.

Wordlessly, Biggles moved forward, his hand closing over the little fist. Carefully, they lit the two candles together. Father Antony, Anita and Rajan stepped back, hands folded in a gesture of respect, and watched as two tiny flames sprang up and began to glow stronger as the rays of the dying sun slid away towards the west and the shadows began to lengthen with the onset of the short Indian twilight.

Biggles turned too Preeti’s parents. “I really ought to thank you for taking care of it. I just wish I had known…that I had managed to come earlier.”

“Don’t mention it,” replied Rajan. “It’s kind of you not to object to us taking it over, so to speak!”

Biggles grinned suddenly. “You lot took India over!”

“Indeed, we did. But all this,” Rajan waved his arm around “all this is part of your people and ours too. Oh, don’t get me wrong! There’s no nostalgia for the Raj. But somehow, all the people buried here are part of India, so they belong to us Indians too. Though perhaps in their time they didn’t see it quite like that! We share a common history, good or bad.”

“And all this is our shared heritage,” added Father Antony, glancing at his watch. “Oh dear, I hate to rush you all, but we mustn’t be late for the service.”

“Please don’t let me keep you,” said Biggles.

“Would you like to join us?"

“Thank you, but I must hurry too. My friends at the hotel will be wondering where I’ve gone.”

Preeti piped up. “Will you come to my party?”

“Eh?”

Anita said, smiling. “A small party for her friends. But please do join us for the family dinner afterwards.”

“You’re very kind, but we’re only taking a short break here before flying back to England.”

Rajan pulled out a small notebook, tore out a page, scribbling his address, and handing it to Biggles. “Here’s our address. Just in case you are able to make it. And oh, if you need anything done here, please just drop us a line. We’ll take care of it.”

“Or write me at the Church address,” interjected Father Antony.

“Thank you. I appreciate it. And I’ll give you my card too, in case I can help with anything.”

Goodbyes said, the four of them hurried away towards the church where the front portico was beginning to glow with lights switched on inside. Preeti turned back, tugging at her mother’s restraining hand. “Will you come next year?"

“I’ll try. Or maybe the next.”

“Okay.” She scurried off happily.

By himself again, Biggles waited for the splinters of memory to hit him anew.

Reading Tennyson again, m’dear?
My favorite poet, as you well know.
Ulysses
“Though much is taken, much abides.”
We share a common history.
We share.


He looked down at the now clean inscription, rescued briefly from the onslaught of dust, and bent to touch it once…twice. Then, turning, he made his way towards the gate from which he had entered. The courtyard was now dotted with knots of people, chatting and laughing as they waited for the evening service. Several curious glances and some tentative smiles came towards him as he edged around the enormous plinth that was all that remained of the magnificent monument put up by Metcalfe for his murdered friend Fraser. A polite smile fixed to his face, he let out a breath of relief as he came through the gate into the street and paused to get his bearings.

On his left, a plaintive call to prayer issued from the loudspeaker mounted on one of the minarets of the mosque that James Skinner had built for his Muslim wife at the same time as he had the church constructed for himself and his British friends. The sound mingled with the cries of street vendors and the chatter of workers emerging for an evening snack after a long day at the line of auto-part stores and workshops across the street. A couple of cars swerved to avoid each other and hooted impatiently at a trio of pedestrians nonchalantly navigating through the increasing traffic. On the right, down Church Road, the bells of the small Hindu temple began to chime the rhythm of the aarti in evening worship.

Close by, some small schoolboys debated the merits of a balloon over a kite as the vendor leaned against the boundary wall of St James, resting his long pole festooned with both items. As Biggles pulled the gate shut behind him, the portico lights of the church came on and through its open doors floated the sounds of the choir striking up “Happy Birthday.” Biggles squared his shoulders and strode briskly towards the line of taxis waiting further down against the kerb, stepping into the first one. “Maidens Hotel, please.”

In the now quiet churchyard, a departing koel shouted one more welcome to the approaching monsoon from its tree. In the surrounding hedge, a bulbul practiced a few notes of its nightly warble. Two small candle flames shone with increasing brightness against the growing dusk. In their light, an inscription glowed fresh again.

HERE RESTS MY BELOVED WIFE
AND MOTHER OF OUR CHILDREN
CATHERINE MARY ANNE BIGGLESWORTH
24.12.1873 - 30.6.1908
IN HER ARMS OUR INFANT DAUGHTER
PATRICIA EMILY ANNE
27.6.1908 - 1.7 1908
LOST, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:21 pm

YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN SILVER SQUARE”

Algy, gently nursing a long thirst-quenching cocktail in the lounge of the Maidens Hotel in Delhi’s Civil Lines, glanced up as Biggles strode through the swing doors and ordered a drink at the bar.
“Hello, hello, you’re back at last!” he observed, “and about time too. I was getting browned off sitting here by myself.”
Biggles collected his drink along with a small bowl of salted nuts and came over to where Algy was comfortably ensconced in a deep armchair, within range of the pedestal fan that did its best to help disperse the humid heaviness of the evening air.
“Why are you by yourself?” he asked Algy. “Where are Bertie and Ginger? Still asleep in their baths?”
Algy grinned. ‘Oh no, that was ages ago. After you took off so suddenly, they went off too.”
“Where the heck to?”
“Well, you know what Ginger is for exploring old places. Remember Cairo?”
“Don’t tell me you let him go off alone! In this heat! He’s already had one bout with fever up at Toxan’s camp!”
“Which is exactly why I forbade him to go off alone. He was sulking a bit about it, when Bertie came along all excited and asked us to go out sightseeing with him. As you can guess, Ginger jumped at the invite.”
“Did they take a guide from the hotel?”
“Not that I know of."
“Good grief! They must be crazy!”
Algy shrugged. “They always were, weren’t they?”
“How long have they been gone?”
“Let’s see…we all had a late biggish breakfast, and they went off soon after you, just before lunchtime. They asked me along, but I declined, and a good thing too because Raymond rang up to ask how things were, and the consulate put the call through here.”
Biggles began to look concerned. “It’s getting dusk now and it’ll be really dark soon. Twilight isn’t very long out here, as you know.” He picked up his drink.
The two sat together in companionable silence for a little while. Algy, inwardly itching to know about Biggles’ afternoon, refrained from asking questions. Biggles would come through in his own time, or not at all, he reasoned to himself, lying back in his armchair with half-closed eyes. Then noticing that both their glasses were empty, he sat up and waved to the bartender to send over refills.
As the waiter set about serving their drinks, Biggles spoke his thoughts aloud. “I don’t like this. Where on earth can they have gone?”
The waiter spoke softly. “Are you asking about your friends, sir? The red-haired one and the glass-eye one?”
“I wasn’t asking you, actually. But what d’you know about them?”
“Only that I was at the bar when the glass eye one –his name is Lord Something, no? – was talking to the bartender and the front manager.”
“Go on!”
“He was talking about something he saw in a magazine and he was excited about it. Shall I ask Hari the bartender and Mr Sharma the manager to come speak to you?”
“Yes, I think you’d better.”
As the waiter went off, Biggles turned to Algy. “What bat has Bertie got in his belfry now?”
“No idea, but don’t be too hard on him.”
“Too hard! You know what frightful risks he takes when he gets in the mood! And Ginger’s not much better. What on earth can they be up to?”
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:22 pm

The front manager and bartender, who had just come up to their armchairs, must have overheard, for Mr Sharma spoke, smiling broadly.
“No fear sir! They have gone to search for Lord Lissie’s connections.”
“What! What connections?” both Biggles and Algy asked almost together.
Hari, the bartender replied, grinning. “Mr -sorry – Lord Lissie was looking through a magazine, when he exclaimed and said he had seen his family name in it. A Dr George Lissie. And a Lissie Hospital. In South India.”
Biggles and Algy looked at each other significantly. Algy tapped his forehead. Biggles shook his head sadly. “What’s that to do with them going off here? This is North India.”
“Yes sir, but I happened to mention that I am from the South and we got talking. I know of Lissie Hospital there, but not here.”
“So?”
Mr Sharma came back into the conversation. “So, Hari asked me, as I am locally born and raised –a real Delhi-wala. We talked about British times and buildings and businesses and memorials and so on. Then Mr Lissie decided he would go and check if his relations spent any time in Delhi before going South, or whether they were always in Madras and Kerala.”
“I don’t see his logic,” observed Biggles, frowning.
The manager’s smile became a grin. “Neither did I, sir, but it seemed quite straightforward to him.”
“Huh, I’m sure it would. What then?”
“Then I recommended he do a quick tour of some of the sites associated with British times. That way he could enjoy some of the city sights as well. The red-haired young gentleman agreed to go with him.”
“They must be barmy, going off like that. Wasn’t there a guide you could have sent with them?”
“There is, sir, but Mr Lissie declined. He did take a guidebook from the hotel bookshop and he jotted down some phrases and words in Hindi and Urdu that we told him would help in getting around. Then they called a taxi for the Red Fort and went.”
“Why the Red Fort?”
“Mr Lissie said…and I remember his exact words…that it sounded as jolly a place to start looking for lost relatives as any, because the British were in the Fort right from Mughal days.” He cocked his head, listening. “Excuse me, please, I think my office phone is ringing.” He went off towards his private office that was adjacent to the lounge.
“Don’t tell me Bertie hopes to find his perishing relatives in the Red Fort!” said Algy jokingly.
To his surprise, Biggles said thoughtfully, “One never knows quite what one will find, Algy. But I’m worried at the two of them being out so long. I’m sure they would call the hotel and let us know what’s up. We’d better do something right away”
“But where the heck do we start looking for them?” Algy’s voice rose in dismay. “Delhi is one whacking big city and there’s British thingummies all over!”
“Let’s ask our helpful Mr Sharma exactly what itinerary he gave Bertie. Here he comes now… hello, he doesn’t look too happy.”
“Maybe someone canceled on him.”
Mr Sharma hurried up to them, consternation written all over his face. “Sir, please come to my office and take the call. It is about your friends.”
Biggles and Algy shot to their feet. “What’s wrong? Are they okay? Is it them calling?”
“Sir, the call is from the SHO -the Station House Officer – of the Kotwali Police Station in Chandni Chowk –the so-called Silver Square opposite the Red Fort. He is asking for some identification for your friends who were brought there…”
Biggles interrupted urgently, “Brought there? By whom? How? Are they hurt? Are they alive?”
“They were –ah—escorted there by a crowd of angry local people sir. And they said they were British police, but they have no ID on them to prove it. I told the SHO you would speak to him at once. He is holding the line, sir.” The manager all but wrung his hands.
“Angry locals! Good God! What on earth for? What have they done?”
Mr Sharma appeared to be struggling for words, torn between disbelief and anxiety. “From what I can understand, sir, it seems they tried to break into a house before the young gentleman tried to molest a young lady in the Chandni Chowk bazaar at the same time that Mr Lissie stuffed another young lady’s dupatta -sorry, scarf-- into his pants.

TBC
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:22 pm

Drinks forgotten, Biggles and Algy leaped for the office door almost as one man. Their shoulders jammed briefly in the doorway as both skidded, trying to get through at once. Then Algy leaned aside slightly and Biggles dived for the manager’s desk. Snatching up the receiver lying on the blotter, he snapped, “Yes, what’s wrong?” dispensing with courtesies in his anxiety. Algy, rubbing his bruised shoulder, hitched himself up on a corner of the desk and listened watchfully.

A male voice with a marked North Indian accent spoke politely in Biggles’ ear. “Am I speaking with the friend of Mr – sorry, Lord Lissie?”

“Yes, yes, what’s the matter? Why is he there?”

“Your name, please?” said the voice imperturbably.

“Bigglesworth. And who are you?”

“I am the SHO -the Station House Officer- of Kotwali Thana* (* Police Station), sir. Your full name, please?”

“James Bigglesworth, that’s B-I-G-G-L-…”

“I know the spelling, sir,” said the SHO calmly. “Your friends are here in connection with what could be some serious charges.”

“What are these alleged charges?” demanded Biggles.

“Attempted break-in, offensive behavior with two young ladies, and being drunk and disorderly in a public place.”

“Drunk!” Biggles voice rose in protest and Algy straightened up from his lounging pose, startled. “There must be some mistake. They don’t drink! Well, not like that, anyway.”

“Excuse, sir, but the young red-haired gentleman is smelling strongly of beer. I can smell it across my desk. He is denying it, naturally.”

“And you don’t believe him?”

“How can I, sir, when so many witnesses tell me how he grabbed Miss Deepti so hard they both fell down and he was on top of her? They are saying it took two men to pull him off. Both those youths are here.”

Algy now had his ear pressed to the other side of the receiver. He grimaced at Biggles and shook his head.

“And what charges do you have against Lord Lissie?” Biggles’ voice was harder than Algy had heard in a while.

The SHO’s bland voice came through without a blink. “He is accused of insulting the modesty of young Miss Ameena, who is Miss Deepti’s friend.”

“How?” snapped Biggles.

“It appears he pulled off her dupatta – her long scarf that covered her head, and he was stuffing it into his pants. He pulled so hard it almost choked her, and her head was uncovered and she was pulled close up to him. You will understand, sir, that the modesty of our women is important to us. Her father is extremely angry. He is here too, as is the family of Miss Deepti.”

Biggles groaned softly under his breath. Aloud he said, “What can I do to sort this out?”
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:22 pm

“The gentlemen state that they are police officers from London. Is this correct?”

“Correct,” grated Biggles.

“They are not carrying any identification with them, but they say they left their papers in their hotel room. Would it be possible for you to bring their papers here?”

“I will come at once,” promised Biggles “Until I reach there, my friend’s safety is your responsibility, you understand?”

“Rest assured sir,” retorted the SHO suavely, “inside the Thana, there is complete safety, even for the worst of our sarkari mehmaan or government guests. May we expect you here shortly.”

“You may,” Biggles nodded at Algy and jerked his head upwards. Algy, quick on the uptake, dashed out of the office and made for the lift in the lobby.

“Thank you, sir. I look forward to meeting you at last. Namaste. Jai Hind!” The call ended with a soft click.

Biggles replaced his receiver in its cradle and drew a deep breath. He looked up to see Mr Sharma and Hari watching him with mixed expressions of sympathy and consternation. “Where’s Mr Lacey”? he asked.

“He went upstairs in the lift to your suite, sir,” replied Mr Sharma. He added, hesitatingly, “May I be of any assistance?”

“We have to reach the Kotwali at the earliest. Oh, by the way, what the devil did he mean by calling my friends sarkari mehmaan or government guests?"

“Oh dear, oh dear, that is a local term for people in jail.” Mr Sharma looked anxious again.

“Damn! But he didn’t say they were actually under arrest!” Biggles saw with relief the lift doors open in the lobby. Algy, wearing a hat and light jacket, emerged and hurried towards them, carrying a large wallet and with it Biggles’ hat and jacket.

“Okay, all set,” he said quietly to Biggles. “I’ve got all our papers here. Let’s go.”

“What’s the quickest way of getting there?” Biggles asked the two Indians.

“Evening time, sir, that whole area is very crowded. Very slow traffic. A car would take quite long,” observed Hari.

“True,” nodded Mr Sharma. “You should best take a car to the Red Fort and a cycle rickshaw from there.”

“Thanks,” said Biggles briskly. “Could you arrange us a taxi right away?”

“Yes of course, sir! At once!” Mr Sharma nodded to Hari and picked up his intercom, speaking into it in rapid Hindi. “It is done, sir,” he announced, as he hung up. “The taxi will be in the front portico in five minutes. Would you like either or both of us to accompany you?”

Biggles hesitated, considering. “That’s very nice of you, to take the trouble.”

“No trouble at all, sir. Also, I feel kind of responsible for your friends’ situation.”

“Oh no, you’re not to blame,” exclaimed Biggles. “My friends are quite capable of getting into trouble on their own, it seems,” he added in a voice that boded no good for the absent Bertie and Ginger.

Algy intervened. “Aren’t those cycle rickshaws meant only for two passengers? Although I have seen some loaded with more than two. Looked rather cramped and dangerous to me.”

“Yes, that is right, two people is the safe limit. But this is India, and people like to make the most of what is available,” agreed Mr Sharma.

“Mr Lacey and I will manage fine, thanks,” decided Biggles as they walked out to the portico and the waiting taxi.

“Nevertheless, sir, I will extend my duty time and wait by the phone. In case you need anything, you have only to call. Please let me do this little bit for you.” Mr Sharma’s voice was firm too.

“Thanks again, I appreciate that,” were Biggles’ parting words as he and Algy got into the car.

The driver had evidently been briefed well about the urgency of their mission, for the car shot forward almost before the doors slammed shut. Biggles and Algy were flung back against their seat.

“Ow!” exclaimed Algy, rubbing the back of his head ruefully. “Can you tell him to slow down a bit?” This as the driver swerved twice like a graceful swallow to weave his way through the traffic congesting the Mall Road.

“I’d like to, but I’d rather not distract him. He’s getting us there fast and that’s all I care,” returned Biggles.

A fairly short but hair-raising drive brought them to the open space in front of the majestic bastions of the Red Fort, but neither of them had the time to admire the frontage that tourists gawked at all day. Their driver smartly opened the back door to let them descend, and while they recovered their breath, he had engaged a cycle rickshaw for them and was bargaining fiercely with the puller over the fare.

Biggles waited patiently as the transaction was decided to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. Then he and Algy hoisted themselves onto the narrow, sloping, rexine-covered seat of the rickshaw and turned to thank their taxi driver. Biggles paid his fare, adding a hefty tip that widened his already satisfied grin.

“Pay him ten rupees for two passengers, sir. That is the right fare. Twenty if you want him to wait and bring you back here,” advised the taxi driver.

“Thanks for bringing us here so quickly,” said Algy, meaningly.

The taxi driver winked, “Hah, English sir thinks I drive too fast, haan ?”

“Oh no!” Algy told him with just a quiver of an eyelid, “I just thought you were flying too low.”

Laughing aloud now, the taxi driver waved them a brief salute as the cycle rickshaw jerked forward and merged into the traffic chaos inching towards the convoluted network of narrow lanes that fed off the main straight street of Chandni Chowk.

(TBC. Thank you for reading
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:22 pm

When Bertie and Ginger set out that morning to explore the landmarks of Old Delhi, their intention was to do precisely that. After Biggles’ abrupt departure post-breakfast, Bertie had spent some time leafing through the magazines on display in the hotel bookstore. He was idly turning the pages of The Illustrated Weekly of India, when he spotted an advertisement that made his mouth drop open and his eyeglass fall from his eye. Retrieving it, and mechanically polishing it on his sleeve, he pondered the announcement declaring that Dr George Albert Lissie was available for consultations on reproductive health issues in Coimbatore, South India. “By Jove,” murmured Bertie, “wonder if it could be…”

His conversation with Hari and Mr Sharma in the bar lounge brought home to him the reality that South India was, at least on this trip, too far away to cover. A phone call long-distance was offered, but Bertie declined, on the grounds that it wasn’t very pukka to call up possibly long-lost relatives out of the blue. However, plenty of information was supplied to him by the enthusiastic Delhi-wala Mr Sharma, and Bertie’s face took on a far-away look that would have sent his friends running for cover had they seen it then.

At Mr Sharma’s behest, the hotel bookstore supplied him with a guidebook outlining the goriest details of Delhi’s history. As he perused it, Bertie filed away snippets of information in his mind, punctuating his reading with an occasional “M-hm” or an “Ah” until suddenly he rose to his feet with an “A-HA!” that startled the barman into almost dropping a decanter he was polishing. A few minutes later, armed with the guidebook and some jotted down Hindi phrases in English script, Bertie went in search of Algy and Ginger to solicit their assistance in his quest.

Algy, his feet on the mantelpiece and a long cold drink at his elbow, first indicated his disability, then his disinclination, and finally his disgust at being asked to explore Old Delhi’s British landmarks in the humid pre-monsoon weather. When presented with Bertie’s most winning manner of persuasion, he proved himself to be made of sterner stuff and declined absolutely to move, artfully retreating behind the unassailable position that as second-in-command, it behooved him to stay at their base in Biggles’s absence. Bertie found more fertile ground in Ginger, who, aiming dark looks at Algy, declared he was glad someone had thought of a better way to melt away than sitting in a boring old hotel waiting for nothing to happen.

The upshot was that, shortly after 11 o’clock, a rather battered taxi deposited Bertie and Ginger, duly equipped with guidebook, jottings, sun-hats and a water-bottle, outside the Lahori Gate of the majestic Red Fort, where they proposed to begin their explorations.
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:23 pm

{Continuing this...thanks for reading and commenting}

Three hours later, Bertie, with Ginger trailing behind, had traversed about half the perimeter of the Fort and duly admired its architectural glories. They had shaken their heads over the deliberate vandalism perpetrated by marauding and vengeful soldiers during the invasion of Nadir Shah and the Great Indian Mutiny and marveled at the military advantages of the defense systems. It was becoming clear to Ginger that Bertie was in search of something definite, but wasn’t sure what exactly to look for. Certainly, among the various names cropping up on memorial plaques and informational plinths that adorned most of the Fort’s landmark buildings and ruined gardens, there wasn’t a Lissie to be seen. Ginger’s patience, never of a very high order, was quickly being exhausted.

“Why the Red Fort?” he demanded as they paused to gaze over the rear parapet of the Diwan-e-Khas, or Special Audience Hall where emperors had heard petitions from nobles and foreign ambassadors in bygone days.

Bertie, who had been periodically dipping into his guidebook as they pottered along, stared pensively out onto the vista of what had once been the River Yamuna, flowing beneath the fort’s ramparts. The river’s course had been diverted and now traffic ran where its waters had once flowed. Ginger repeated his question.

“Well, laddie,” said Bertie reasonably, “seems as good a place to start as any.”

“So you said,” retorted Ginger crossly, “but we haven’t seen hair nor whisker of your family name anywhere, have we? No Lissie here.”

“Ah, but we’re not looking for a Lissie,” revealed Bertie. “There’s a Lissie in South India somewhere, y’know. Not here.”

Ginger almost choked. “Then why the heck are we poking around here? What are you looking for, if not a Lissie?”

“Douglas.”

“Huh –what?”

“Captain Douglas.”

“Who’s he?”

“It might interest you to know that my mother’s mother’s people are the clan Douglas,” informed Bertie. “Family legend has it that one of them was serving with the forces of the East India Company, rose to becoming the supervisor of the Red Fort and the Mughal emperor’s security. In our archives at home there’s one letter written in 1858 from some top government chap condoling the death of Captain Douglas in ‘this late Sepoy uprising at Dehlie.’ I thought I’d chase that up seeing as we were here.”

“Well, we’ve not chased up much so far, have we?” Ginger observed critically.

“No, I suppose not,” agreed Bertie in a melancholy voice. “I can’t understand it. All the histories and the guidebook say he was killed in the Fort in the first assault by the sepoys. But, surely, there’d be something to mark the spot. Or some hint about where he lived or something.” Bertie brightened. “Maybe that’s it! Maybe we should go look for his residence, if it’s still standing.”

“And just maybe that’s a great big IF” snorted Ginger sarcastically. Then, as Bertie began to lope with long strides towards the main gate of the Fort where they had come in, Ginger yelped, “Hey! Come back! I’m not tottering around looking for some blasted house that may not even be there anymore! What will Biggles say if we’re out all hours! Hoy! Bertie…!”

Muttering to himself, he set off in Bertie’s wake, finally catching up with him in the long, shaded tunnel - like entrance passage connecting the outer and inner gatehouses, that was once a bustling market for the female residents of the Fort, and was now an equally bustling double row of shops catering to souvenir-hunting tourists.
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:23 pm

[Cont'd. Thank you for reading...]

Lengthening his stride, Ginger skirted the Naqqar-khana or Drum house, from where the arrival of important visitors inside the Fort used to be announced, to ensure their proper reception at the court. He caught up with Bertie in the Chhatta Chowk (Umbrella Square) where the covered arcade of the Meena Bazaar or Ladies Market began. This been quite deserted when they had arrived earlier, but now presented a very different appearance. With the full heat of the Indian afternoon upon them, large groups of tourists, Indian and foreign, were milling around the double row of souvenir shops, putting off the moment when they would have to emerge into the hot sun to commence their sightseeing tour of the Fort.

As they edged their way towards the outer gatehouse, Bertie and Ginger found their progress impeded by a large throng of multi-national travelers, exploring the outer gatehouse, taking pictures and twittering with excitement as they noted its massive wooden doors, strengthened by inlaid brass strips and studded with rows of fearsome-looking spikes to repel attackers. This particular lot of visitors was being shepherded in a well-trained manner by a young man exuding all the unctuousness of a Cheshire Cat in season. Bertie and Ginger paused, temporarily squeezed against a door set into one of the side pillars of the gatehouse, perforce listening to this young guide proclaiming the histories and mysteries of the Meena Bazaar -how, it was rumored, it was also a venue for the emperor to pick out fresh beauties for his harem, how people mysteriously disappeared, how the Fort was reputed to be haunted by several ghosts…As he listened, the far-away look, that his comrades had through experience learned to be wary of, stole back over Bertie’s face, and before Ginger realized his intent, he had let out a hail.

“Hullo, hullo! Hie, there, me fine feller!”

Halted in mid-flow, the Cheshire Cat looked around, a trifle warily Ginger thought, to see who was calling. Seeing Bertie’s slim form leaning elegantly against the door, with Ginger squatting on the worn slab that formed its threshold, and evidently deciding they were harmless, the young man tunneled through the tourist throng towards them, pointing his flock towards the artwork and jewelry shops
.
“Yes sir, what can I do for you, sir?”

“You’re a guide here?” inquired Bertie.

“Oh yes, sir. You like to join my group? Or perhaps I give you a special tour later?”

Bertie flapped his guidebook at him. “We’ve done a bit of a tour, thanks to this.”

“Ah, that rubbish!” exclaimed the guide scornfully. “No good. No real stories there!”

“Really?” asked Bertie with well-feigned interest. “I suppose you think you know all the real stories, eh?”

“Think?” exclaimed the guide wonderingly. “I do not think! I know!”

His eyes gleaming curiously, Bertie said slowly, “Then, young feller-me-lad, I’m going to make a bet with you."

“A bet? What about?”

“I’m going to bet you a hundred rupees that you will not be able to answer a question I ask you about the Fort’s history.” As he spoke, Bertie felt in his jacket’s inner pocket for his roll of Indian money. He brought out a hundred rupee note and laid it on top of his guidebook with exaggerated care.

“Not be able to answer about the Fort! Impossible! There is no question about all of Shahjahanabad that I, Abdul Faiz, cannot answer! My three generations before me have guided people through this Fort! My mother’s great-grandfather was employed in the kitchens of the last Mughal Bahadur Shah Zafar himself (may his soul be at peace!). My cousins--”

“Hm! Are you quite sure? Won’t back out if you start losing, eh?” Bertie’s bantering tone, cutting short the guide's swelling tirade, did not deceive Ginger.

The guide glanced around quickly. Some of the senior members of his troop of twittering tourists were watching this byplay with interest. Clearly, his honor as famous guide was at stake here. Mimicking Bertie’s exaggerated manner, he brought out his wallet, produced a hundred-rupee note and solemnly laid it across the first one.

“I accept your challenge, I cover you, and will raise you double if I lose,” he announced pompously. “Now, sir, what is your question?”

“It’s simple. Where and how did Captain Douglas die?”

The guide frowned. “Captain Douglas?”

“Hah! I said you wouldn’t be able to tell!” Bertie’s disappointment was only mildly tempered by winning a bet he would much rather lose.

“Wait!” the guide held out one hand slowly as if to restrain Bertie from picking up the banknotes. With his other hand, he struck his forehead. “Of course! The Qiladar Bahadur!”

“The what?” Both Ginger and Bertie looked blank and the guide drew himself up, beaming proudly.
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:24 pm

[Apologies for the delay, and thanks for reading on...]

“Qiladar was the Mughal title for the Commander of the Company’s force that was kept in the Fort to protect the emperor,” explained Abdul Faiz, famous guide, in his best preceptorial manner. “The emperor was weak and old, taking pension from the Company. Captain Douglas was the last Qiladar. He was killed on 11 May 1857, when angry supporters of the sepoys stormed the Fort and started killing all the firangi in Delhi. They killed the Bank manager, the Resident, the Telegraph Office men and the Kutcherry officers that same day.”

“Here, half a mo’ my friend,” objected Bertie. “We’ve been practically all round the bally Fort, but we’ve not seen his name anywhere. Where did all these killings take place?”

“At different locations, did I not just say?”

“And Captain Douglas?”

The Cheshire Cat smile was back in full force. “Right here, sir, inside this gatehouse.”

“You don’t say! Was he defending it, or what?” Bertie’s eyes shone.

“Poor man, he was in no state to do any defending,” said Abdul sadly.

“Tell me what you know!” ordered Bertie.

“Well, sir, when it became clear that the sepoys had mutinied and were at the gates of Delhi, seeking the emperor, Captain Douglas went out with a few others to secure the nearest gates. Unfortunately, he was unarmed, as were the others—nobody was expecting this, you see—and he was caught on the parapet of the city wall while the mutineers and local men began to attack. He and his friend Mr Hutchinson had no choice. They jumped the other side into the dry moat. He fell badly and his ankle was broken, but his Indian mace-bearer and his friend managed to bring him here.”

“Why here?”

“Look above you sir, you will see the balcony from outside. There are rooms above for the guards. These apartments were given to the English padre Jennings of St James Church and his family to live in –he was very unpopular with the British and the local people, you see. Captain Douglas had an invalid wife, so he shared the apartment with the padre.”

“Then what happened?”
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:24 pm

The guide became more animated. “They carried him upstairs. Mrs Jennings had gone away, but her daughter Miss Annie with a friend Miss Clifford were here. They made him comfortable, gave him tea, put him in bed. By that time, Mr Simon Fraser the Resident had arrived here too, thinking they would be safe in the Fort. He tried talking to the gathering crowd, asking for the ladies to be taken to the zenana inside. But no one listens. Mr Fraser gives up and turns to go up the stairs, yes, through that very door where you stand now. As he turns away, a lapidary gives a signal. They rush on him, swish swish, chop, khachak! And he is dead!”

Ginger got up quickly from the threshold where he had been sitting leaning against the closed door. Bertie moved discreetly away from it too. The senior tourists had drawn close and were listening with open mouths, as were some locals from a polite distance. Abdul was in full stride now.

“Now the crowd rushes up the stairs. The two young ladies, finishing their first-aid to Douglas are sitting down to eat their morning meal. Thwack thwack, their bodies lie lifeless on the floor. Mr Hutchinson is killed and Douglas is attacked. The padre Jennings tries to flee, running for the other set of stairs –you see the identical door opposite? He is cut down just as he reaches those stairs. The eyewitness Makhan describes how they look at the bed and see Douglas is not fully killed yet. Then a man strikes him on the forehead with his bludgeon and that is the end. Finish! So much blood flows that for a long time afterwards, the marks are still there. A dreadful scene, sir, dreadful. But,” he added, rather ghoulishly, “not as dreadful as some that were seen at the British kothis in Chandni Chowk and Dariya Ganj.”

Bertie’s face had paled slightly under its tan, while Ginger’s had taken on a slightly green hue. Bertie glanced upwards at the gatehouse ceiling a trifle uneasily.

“Poor chaps. Where were they buried?” he asked.
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:24 pm

“The emperor wanted to give them all shrouds and a good religious burial. But the English were not much liked, as I said, especially Jennings. Local people wanted the Old Mughal to take power again. And by that afternoon there was much turmoil and killing all over the city. The tailors and servants ran away to their homes to hide while some joined the rebels in looting and killing. Who knows what happened to the bodies? They were most likely thrown into the old well –as many were, who were not even dead—or put into some unmarked grave.” Abdul looked consideringly at Bertie. “Well, sir, have I won our bet now? Am I not better than that guidebook?”

“You have, and you are,” agreed Bertie warmly, handing over the money. “Thanks for giving me a peep into my Douglas ancestor’s final moments.”

“You are related? Ohhh, you should have said! Never mind. Next time you come, I try to get Fort people to open the rooms upstairs. Nobody lived there again, not full-time, you understand. Maybe we find his blood marks, eh?” His reputation enhanced, Abdul beamed happily.

Bertie responded with a rather wan smile. He turned slowly round in a full circle, as though committing to memory every aspect of the gatehouse and its tragic history. Abdul began to marshal his flock in readiness to moving off towards the interior of the Fort. A sudden thought struck Bertie.

“Hoy, Abdul, me good feller! Tell me this. Would Douglas have lived here all the time with the padre’s family? Would this be his only home, if you see what I mean?”

Focusing a rolling eye on his tourists as they began to emerge from sundry shops, Abdul replied distractedly, “Who knows for sure? His duties were here, but many firangi needed big kothis in the city.” He winked. “One way to get away from the memsahib, and spend some time with a local lady who knew how to entertain and make a man relax, eh?”

“Ummm, yes, but where would these people have lived in Delhi?” Bertie wanted to know.

Abdul waved an expansive hand, “Oh, in mostly the nicer localities, like the Dariya Ganj and the Chandni Chowk, I’d say.”

As the little flock began to shuffle off under Abdul’s watchful eye, Bertie hurried after them, waving to attract the guide’s attention. It was difficult to be heard above the sound of multiple voices echoing under the vaulted roof of the gatehouse.

Trying to catch Abdul’s eye, Bertie mouthed, “Write down the name of that British sector for me, will you?” miming the action to suit his words. He tossed his guidebook towards the guide as he spoke. Abdul caught it, stood hopping briefly on one leg as he scribbled something on the inside cover, and tossed it back in one fluid movement.

Bertie caught it neatly and flipped it open at the back cover. “Well, of all the…!” he exclaimed disgustedly. “What awful handwriting! I can barely make out D-A-R-Tsomething, something.”

He turned to where Ginger still stood near the closed door that had once led up to Captain Douglas’s and the Jennings’ rooms above. “You have a go, laddie, see if you can figure it out?” He held out the book invitingly.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:25 pm

[Continuing this...thanks for reading]

Somewhat to Bertie’s astonishment, Ginger hunched a shoulder. “You figure it out,” he said ungraciously, adding, “It’s your relative must’ve lived there, not mine.”

“Oh, come on, a Brit is a Brit!” began Bertie jokingly. Then, as Ginger continued to stare broodingly at the floor, he said quietly, “C’mon laddie, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” muttered Ginger, trying and failing to sound indifferent.

Bertie plonked himself down on the stone threshold of the staircase door. “Talk. I’m listening,” he said simply.

“Must you sit right there?” protested Ginger.

“What, are you afraid of the ghosties then?” Bertie demanded with some asperity. “Look here. The dead won’t object and it’s the living that I’m interested in right now. What – is—wrong—with you?”

Ginger sat down reluctantly. “It’s all this family and relatives stuff that’s getting me down,” he explained. “There’s Biggles going off like Algy said to his mother’s grave and you looking for lost ancestors here and you and Algy have real relatives back home and I –well, I’ve nobody.”

“Nobody? You’ve got us.”

“Yeah, well, you know what I mean. There was my dad and he and I weren’t too close and I hopped it.” Ginger stared up at the high vaulted ceiling as though trying to look into the rooms above. “And it’s these names too. My mother was a Clifford, you know, Gertrude Clifford.”

“What about her folks?”

“Oh, them!”

“Go on!”

“Huh! My mother was the youngest daughter of a vicar. Both her brothers were killed fighting, and she was going to be a teacher in Nottingham when she started walking out with my father who was still in uniform. But just a miner wasn’t good enough for her family and they never forgave her for going off and marrying my dad. Then she got sick and died when I was just a nipper.” A note of pain deepened Ginger’s voice. “When I did go back, I found the wooden grave marker that was all my dad could afford back then had gone…I couldn’t know for sure where she was.”

“Aren’t there any of her folks that you could get in touch with?”

Ginger’s upper lip curled. “Oh, sure. Her two older sisters retired to a nice house in Huddersfield. You know that time the squadron was sent up north for a rest? I wrote to them and asked if I could visit. I got a letter from some curate chap giving me a date and time. Huh! I spruced up in my best uniform and went there…”

“And?” Bertie could guess what was coming.

“And the curate answered the door and said he was very sorry, there was a mix-up and the Misses Clifford were not at home to strangers.”

“That was it?”

“No, not quite. I sent Christmas cards, and they never replied and I reckoned that was because of the war and us moving around. Then we went back to Mount Street and I wrote again, asking to see them. The curate wrote back a very nice letter asking me if I thought it right to bother the dear old ladies with things that were best forgotten. That, as you say, was it.”

“Hm, pity. If I’d known, I’d have loaned you my Great-Aunt Esmeralda.”

“Your who?” Ginger was momentarily thrown off stride.

Bertie chuckled. “My guv’nor’s aunt. Writer chappie I know borrowed her to put in a book, and the way he described her was spot on.”

“How did he describe her?” Ginger was intrigued in spite of himself.

“That evil old camel, smelling of mothballs and singing hymns in the lavatory,” responded Bertie with aplomb.

“What?! You’re not serious!”

“Oh, yes, I am. That’s all she does, sing hymns, while everyone queues on the landing. It was a summer holiday research project one year for me and my cousins. She’s still going strong. I’m pretty sure she would show your dear old Misses Clifford what’s what.”

Ginger lapsed back into his melancholy mood. “Pooh! Doesn’t matter now. I don’t care. But I do wish…”

“Wish what?”

“I do wish I’d had a younger brother or sister, someone who’d look up to me.” Ginger’s voice took on a ruminative note. “I’d teach them stuff and be there for them and all that.”

“Younger siblings, my lad, can be a bit of a nuisance too,” warned Bertie grinning.

“I wouldn’t mind. I wouldn’t be the youngest then. I get a bit fed up, being the young ‘un always.”

Bertie was unable to think of a suitable platitude for this. The two of them sat silent for a few minutes, watching the sun’s rays slide across the floor of the gatehouse. Then, as though embarrassed by his outburst of confidences, Ginger shook himself and stood up.

“Well, if we’re going to look for these Brits of ours, we’d better get moving,” he announced, as Bertie too stood up and began dusting off his clothes.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:25 pm

As they walked through the Lahori Gate into the open space in front of the Red Fort, they braced themselves to run the gauntlet of street vendors hawking a variety of souvenirs and picture post-cards. Almost as soon as they emerged, they were besieged by a gaggle of fiercely competitive hawkers.

“Sir, picture postcards, very best!”

“Sir, jewelry, real Mughal designs.”

“Sir, wooden snake! Looks alive, see!”

“Sir, real leather wallet! Take it! Very cheap!”

“No sir, take mine. His stuff is fake!”

“No, it isn’t!”

“Yes, it is!”

‘Who do you think you are, selling fake stuff to real firangi, eh?”

“I’ll show you who I am when I shove my fist in your face!”

Jostled around, Bertie and Ginger looked about them for escape. They found it in a benignly smiling elderly man, accompanied by a young boy, leaning against a parked car nearby. Both were dressed in the traditional long white shirt and loose trousers with small round cap on their heads, the cloth bags slung across their shoulders bulging with picture postcards, maps and guidebooks.

“I say, old chap!” called Bertie, “can I see your postcards?”

The old man came forward in a leisurely manner. As he advanced, the warring vendors fell back. He gave them a mild piece of his mind in their own language and they slunk away sulkily.

“My apologies, sir. These youngsters have no idea how to behave with visitors. Now what cards would you like to see? No forcing to buy, naturally.”

Bertie and Ginger selected some packs of picture postcards, noting that the captions were all in English. The old man rambled on with amiable dignity about the locations depicted on the cards. A sudden thought struck Bertie.

“I say, all your cards are in English!”

“Very true, sir. English is a nice language.”

“You know English?”

The vendor drew himself up elegantly. “Of course! I served with the Indian army under the British. Ah, what days they were! Now I am retired, I come out with my grandson after his school time to make a bit of extra money and keep myself busy.”

Bertie pulled out his guidebook. “We were told by Abdul the guide back inside that before the Mutiny the British lived in …in…Dar- something. Can you decipher what he’s written for us?”

“Certainly. I know Abdul. He is a nice boy, but always in a hurry. Oh sir, this writing is terrible. These young people have no respect for education or for time…”

“Yes, absolutely,” cut in Bertie hastily. “Please tell us what he wrote here.”

Two heads, one grey, one dark, bent over the book. Then the old man asked, “Why do you want to go to these places?”

“Bit of an excursion,” explained Bertie, a trifle sheepishly. “I might find out where my ancestor lived in Delhi in 1857.”

“Ah, the Ghadar, the Mutiny, the Mughals! What times they must have been!” remarked the old man, still poring over Abdul’s scrawl.

“What’s he written?” Ginger was getting impatient with all the elegant nostalgia.

“He writes here, Chandni Chowk – the Silver Square, you understand! Best market in the world! You can find anything you want there.”

“And the other one—the Dar-whatsit?”

“Ah, yes, let me see…hmmm…that says Dariba Kalan, that is just off the Chandni Chowk main street.”

“Would the British have lived there, you know, what with all their nautch-girls and what not, if you see what I mean?” queried Bertie.

“Undoubtedly, the best nautch-girls were in Chawri Bazar, just off the Dariba. Ah, what beauty, what charm, to drive a man wild…”

“Oh, absolutely, old chap! Now, how could we get there? Is it far?”

“You take a rickshaw to the Dariba.” The old man nudged his grandson who hurried over to wake a comatose rickshaw puller reclining on his vehicle in an impossibly contorted position.

A few graceful remarks later, the old vendor informed Bertie, “He will take you up to the Dariba for twenty rupees, that is the right fare.”

Thanking him, Ginger and Bertie heaved themselves onto the cycle-rickshaw, supporting their precarious seats by clutching the sides of the hood that failed dismally in its intended purpose of shielding the occupants from nature’s elements. A parting wave and the rickshaw lurched off towards Chandni Chowk, across from the Fort.

The young boy turned a perplexed face to his grandfather. “Baba, did you read that properly? I thought it said Chandni Chowk and Dariya Ganj.”

“Perhaps it did. What of it?”

“Then why did you send them to Chandni Chowk and the Dariba?”

The old man smiled enigmatically. “I thought those two are in search of something, the past, the future, who knows? They won’t find it in the Dariya Ganj, that’s all modern offices and hotels now.”

“But they’ll find it in the Dariba and Chandni Chowk, Baba?”

“You never know what you will find in the Chandni Chowk, my boy.”

His grandson shrugged and gave up. In one of his philosophical moods, Baba could be quite annoying, he thought, as he watched the English firangi’s rickshaw merge into the busy traffic.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:25 pm

[Continuing update. Thank you for reading!]

Even before their rickshaw had bounced and jolted to a halt at the entrance to the Kotwali Thana, Biggles and Algy, were braced to jump off. Hastily thrusting three 10-rupee notes into the gratified puller’s hand, Biggles strode through the imposing archway to the courtyard beyond, Algy following closely. Both came to an abrupt halt just inside, surveying with some dismay the scene that met their eyes.

It was evident that an event of significant magnitude was in full swing. To one side of the courtyard, a group of scowling young men stood or sat on a stone bench built around a massive neem tree. Across from them, comfortably ensconced on a couple of charpais, (jute-woven wooden bed-frames), their masculine-mustachioed-turbaned elders held animated court, occasionally thumping the ground with business-like cudgels and walking-sticks to belabor a point.

A shallow flight of steps led up to the verandah of the main building. Here, with some discreet veiling, an equally animated ladies’ quarter had been established. Large central double doors led into the SHO’s office (identified by a prominent board proclaiming “Station House Officer” in three scripts), with a tall barred window on each side. From these windows, at angles and heights of varyingly perilous degree, there dangled a perspiring assortment of youths, with craning necks and flapping ears, straining to pick up everything being said inside and relay it faithfully down their improvised grapevine. The double doors stood open, but two stalwart constables barred entry, both appearing patently divided between enjoyment at their unusual situation and anxiety about maintaining the peace.

Algy nudged Biggles and hissed, “You speak the local lingo. Go on!”

However, even as Biggles cleared his rather parched throat, one of the constables on the verandah beckoned to them. “Here, Sir!” he called, without leaving his post at the door. “This way! You are expected.”

Biggles and Algy gingerly picked their way through the various groups, briskly ascended the steps and entered the main section of the police station. They found themselves in a large room dominated by the SHO’s desk in the center. Behind this desk sat a well-built youngish man in the khaki uniform of the Delhi Police. His imposing demeanor was marred somewhat by a small red-and-white checked napkin draped over his left shoulder, covering his shirtfront. It appeared to be kept handy for wiping perspiration that flowed freely in the humid heat of late evening, despite the strenuous efforts of the electric ceiling fan whirling overhead at full speed.

To one side at the rear of the room, near a door and set against the wall, was a smaller desk where two constables were ostensibly busy with filing documents in a large cabinet. Beside them, worriedly watching the proceedings stood two young girls in their late teens, soberly dressed in traditional salwar-kurta outfits. Both wore their long dupatta scarves draped demurely over their heads and around their shoulders. Even at his first fleeting glance, Algy was aware that both were remarkably good-looking, with no makeup except the kajal darkening their eyes.

Around one side of the SHO’s desk, on hard wooden chairs, sat a business-like group of local residents. Most imposing was a heavily built man in loose cotton shirt and trousers, with an open sleeveless jacket and a turban that competed with the magnificence of his moustaches. He too wielded a stout walking stick, gesticulating freely with it as he spoke. Beside him sat a thin, middle-aged woman in a plain cotton saree, evidently his spouse from the way she nodded in faithful agreement with all he was saying. Next to her sat another salwar-kurta-clad woman holding her dupatta as a partial veil over the lower part of her face. She too was nodding in agreement, her dark eyes flashing with anger.

Beside her, in the usually formal tight churidar trousers and frock-coat like sherwanis, wearing round caps and shaped beards were two men. One, whose roundish face looked clearly unhappy and upset, patted the shoulder of the veiled woman, evidently his wife, as though to reassure her. The other, with a thin face and old-fashioned round spectacles enhancing unusually bright eyes, was manifestly amused and doing his best to smooth the ruffled feelings of his affronted friends and neighbors. He also appeared to be acting as interpreter between the accused and their prosecutors. Behind the group stood three slim young men and a teenage boy, all in western clothes, listening attentively to the conversation that was being duly relayed by the dangling grapevine of part-time paparazzi at the windows.

On the other side of the desk, as far away as possible from the group of locals, and protected by a granite-faced constable sat Bertie, polishing his eyeglass thoughtfully. At a further distance, against the wall, a glum-faced Ginger was seated with a constable positioned at a discreet distance. The whole room was redolent with the distinct –and not very pleasant—aroma of stale beer mixed with perspiration and heavy incense-like perfume.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:25 pm

As Biggles and Algy strode purposefully into the room, the big turbaned man stopped speaking and a brief hush descended. It was broken by a scraping chair as Bertie sprang up delightedly. “Ah, here you are, chaps!” he exclaimed. “Glad you could come. Now we’ll have this sorted in a jiffy.”

Going over to where Ginger sat, Algy reached out to give him a reassuring thump on the shoulder and recoiled immediately. “Oh, pooh! Ginger! What HAVE you been doing? Rolling in the stuff or mopping it up?” he demanded, retreating prudently to a less noxious spot on the other side of the desk.

“Mopping it up,” retorted Ginger morosely. He did not present a prepossessing sight with his clothes disheveled and dirty, his hair tousled and a colorful bump rising on his left temple.

“Ah, I warned him he couldn’t carry alcohol like that,” said Bertie sorrowfully.

“What I’m waiting to hear,” interposed Biggles coldly, “is how the hell you got in this mess. Can’t I turn my back on you both for one afternoon?”

“Well, it was like this, old boy –“

“I keep telling them I’m not drunk—“

Ginger and Bertie both tried to speak together, when a drily uttered –“ahem!”—drew Biggles’ attention to the Station House Officer who was watching this reunion with a peculiarly wooden expression on his face that belied the intent look in his eyes.

“My apologies,” said Biggles, holding out his hand. It was ignored, as the SHO stood up, saluted with a curt “Jai Hind!” and sat down again.

“I’m Detective-Inspector Bigglesworth of Scotland Yard,” Biggles told him.

“Yes,” came back the noncommittal reply.

“Here are our credentials. We are in India on a special government mission, but I’m afraid that’s all I can tell you.”

“I am not asking,” the SHO pointed out. “May I see your identification papers?” Biggles handed them over to be perused closely by the SHO and one of the filing constables who had come to stand behind his chief.

“Thank you. These are in order. Sunil, make a note.” The papers were handed back and Biggles tucked them back into his wallet. The filing constable, Sunil, scribbled in his writing pad.

“There, now you know I was telling the truth when I said I was a policeman,” observed Bertie with satisfaction. The second filing constable turned his face to the wall and suffered an unaccountable bout of coughing. He was rewarded by a glare from both his superiors.

The grapevine faithfully communicated the snippet to the outside gathering, “Truly, he is an English policeman. He has papers.”

“That golden glass-eyed one is a truthful one,” quavered an elderly voice “I said so at the first.”

“Yes, you did, Abba,” agreed a younger voice dutifully.

“No, he didn’t,” objected another voice, not so dutifully.

“You shut up!”

“No, you shut up!”

“I like the red-haired one more,” announced a matriarchal voice from the verandah.

“Of course, red was always your favorite color. But it doesn’t suit you,” sneered another.

“Yes, it does!”

“No, it doesn’t!”

“Why, you—!”

The SHO clicked his tongue impatiently. As though it were a signal, one of the door-watching constables poked his head out and bellowed “Khamosh! All be quiet!” and the ruckus subsided.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:26 pm

“Now, Bertie,” said Biggles ominously. “Suppose you tell us why Ginger is reeking of beer like that? How many has he had and why didn’t you stop him?”

“I only had one and it wasn’t very big,” said Ginger indignantly.

“I’ll hear from you in a moment, my lad,” promised Biggles.

“Well, old boy,” said Bertie, “we were thirsty after all that running, and we weren’t sure about drinking water from that old tap.”

“You mean to say you came out in this heat without a water-bottle?” Biggles was visibly annoyed. “Those are my standing orders. How many times have I said—“

“No, no, old chief,” said Bertie soothingly. “We had a water-bottle, and sunglasses and sun-hats and everything.”

“Then why the beer-drinking binge?” Algy couldn’t resist asking.

“It wasn’t a binge,” insisted Ginger crossly. “We only had one each.”

“That’s true, old boy,” agreed Bertie. “And I told him he couldn’t carry his beer like that.”

“Like what?” demanded Biggles.

“In his pockets, of course.”

Biggles groped for a chair near the SHO’s side of the desk and sank down on it. Algy pulled up a chair next to him, placed his elbows on the desk and rested his head carefully on his hands.

“Why his pockets?” asked Biggles carefully. “And why were you carrying –how many was it?”

“Only six bottles, old chieftain, and, like the boy said, they weren’t very big.”

“Six bottles? What on earth for?”

“To quench the jolly old thirst, laddie, what else?”

“What’s wrong with drinking water? You did have your water-bottle?” asked Biggles patiently, conscious of the fact that the SHO was now fixedly regarding the ceiling fan, while his underlings were heroically trying not to splutter.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:26 pm

“Well, I should have mentioned,” said Bertie apologetically. “There was this monkey, you see, two of the little blighters actually.”

The grapevine fluttered with this information. “There were monkeys…”

“Those monkeys are a nuisance,” declared the matriarchal voice.

“Ooo, I think they are sweet,” contradicted its counterpoint.

“Naturally, you would!”

“And what does that mean?”

“You should know!”

“You shut up!”

“No, you shut up!”

Once more, the door constable threw himself willingly into the breach, “Siiiilence! All shut up!”

“Monkeys?” Biggles wasn’t sure whether to be skeptical or not.

“We were looking for Bertie’s ancestor,” interposed Ginger viciously.

Algy lifted his head from his hands, revealing a red face and brimming eyes. “Did you have to look that far back?” he asked interestedly.

Succumbing to the moment, Biggles aimed a discreet kick at Algy’s shins. Anticipating this move, Algy prudently withdrew his feet further under his chair. Biggles’ foot, moving under impetus, encountered the ensuing vacuum, consequently stubbing his toes against the wooden chair and causing him to wince.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:26 pm

Carefully observing their byplay, the thin bespectacled gentleman asked, “May I inquire what events brought you to peeping through the ventilator grille of the outer wall of my house?”

“Well, I was trying to recover the water-bottle, of course,” answered Bertie readily.

Biggles turned to the SHO, still regarding the ceiling fan with a jaundiced eye. “Perhaps you could tell me what happened?” he suggested.

“No, sir,” the SHO was clearly a man of few but firm words.

“Why ever not? Surely you’ve heard all the details by now! How long have they been here?”

“A little over three hours, sir. All I have are the FIRs –the First Information Reports—given by Thakur Saheb and Khan Saheb, the fathers of the two young ladies. And those are very confusing.”

Biggles looked meaningly at Bertie. “All right, let’s hear it," he said shortly.

“Well, old chap, it all started soon after we got to the Dar-whatsit…There we were, toddling along…”

“Wait, please,” interrupted the SHO. “Where was that?”

“Here, my lad, you see for yourself.” Bertie laid his guidebook, now considerably the worse for wear, on the desk and flipped it open. “The guide chappie we met at the Fort, Abdul, told us this was where the jolly old Company wallahs lived before the Mutiny. And a postcard chappie outside deciphered it for us.”

Everyone leaned forward to pore over Abdul’s scrawl. The thin gentleman uttered a dry chuckle.

“Hah, that Abdul!” he exclaimed. “My old student’s writing is still as bad as ever!” He went on, “Sir, you should have gone to Dariya Ganj, not the Dariba!”

“Oh dear,” exclaimed Bertie, visibly distressed. Ginger sprang up from his chair angrily, and then subsided as his malodorous aura caused his protector constable to sneeze violently.

Biggles quelled the explosive argument he could see brewing by raising a hand. “All right, let’s hear it as it happened. You start, Bertie.”

The grapevine leaned in further, whispering, “He is telling all!” The anticipatory hush was laced with the sound of flip-flapping hand-fans of plaited straw, feet scrabbling for footholds on the outside wall and a faint “Ow!” as an unseen paparazzi impaled himself on some sharp object.

Bertie finished polishing his monocle, fitted it into his eye and beamed around his transfixed audience. “Righto, folks! There we were, toddling up the Dariba...”
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:27 pm

The Dariba Kalan derives its name from the Persian “Dar-e-be-baha” which translates literally as “a pearl without parallel” while Kalan means “large” to distinguish it from the Small Dariba street (the Chhota or Khurd Dariba now called Kinari Bazar, the lace and tinsel market) nearby. On its dark side, the street has witnessed bloody massacres during the invasion by Nadir Shah in 1739 and the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. An arterial thoroughfare within the walled city of Delhi, it connects the Chandni Chowk with the Jama Masjid mosque, sloping gently up from the Chowk with the still-extant gates of myriads of narrow and narrower streets leading off it into networks of mysterious shadows. For over 300 years, the Dariba has held sway as the prime market for gold and silver jewelry, fine perfumes and alcohol. On both sides, the cheek-by-jowl contiguous buildings rise three to four floors high, their upper residential levels accessed by sheer, narrow staircases sandwiched discreetly between businesses. Arching over the gutter along the frontage of many shops, about shoulder height from the street level and reached by a couple of steps set to match the height of a rickshaw or horse-drawn ikka or tonga runs the old traditional flagged chabootra or platform. Here you can take a breather before entering a goldsmith’s or silversmith’s domain which is also his workshop, or keep watch while the patua deftly strings precious stones and pearls onto silk threads to designs of your choosing. The sun finds it difficult to penetrate the shadows of the tall buildings here, its rays further blocked by the low-hung cobwebs of electric wires that festoon the arbitrarily placed lamp-posts, the price for modernity. At both ends of the Dariba flourish confectionery shops famous for their sweet specialties that offer quick relief to weary shoppers and shopkeepers alike, since the eateries of the Parathey-wali Gali (Stuffed Pancake Street) nearby are always so crowded.

Bertie and Ginger found this shaded arcade a welcome sanctuary from the glare of the afternoon sun. Still nursing the (softer) parts of their anatomy that had borne the brunt of their rickshaw ride, they strolled slowly past the confectioner at the entrance to the main Dariba, at present wearing a deserted look. Both of them were slowly beginning to enjoy the feel of the ancient bazar and the sight of goldsmith shops inviting buyers to splurge on items of exquisite beauty. Bertie lost little time in removing his floppy sun-hat and pushing his sunglasses on top of his head so that his monocle could come into its own again. With the water-bottle loosely slung over his arm, and the useful guidebook in one hand, he pottered amiably along, with Ginger ambling beside him.

Most of the shopkeepers were visibly somnolent, dozing after a good lunch against their comfortable bolsters and cushioned seats. At one shop, however, a youthful apprentice was at work, gently hammering out tiny charms that his partner, frowning with concentration, was attaching to fine chains of pure silver to create bracelets of incomparable beauty. Ginger and Bertie paused to admire their handiwork awhile.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:27 pm

[Thanks for reading and commenting...Updating...]

The youths, becoming aware of their scrutiny, looked up, smiling. The charm-maker nodded and asked in fair English, “You like?”

“By Jove, yes!” exclaimed Bertie enthusiastically.

“You like to see to buy?”

Ginger hung back, but Bertie, declaring,” Why not, gadzooks!” hopped up to the platform and bent over the work-desk for a closer look. Seeing an electric fan slowly revolving inside, Ginger too followed suit, figuring that a bit of breeze would be a break from the humidity.

As he plunked down against a bolster, Bertie peered into the street and exclaimed, “By Jove! Are those monkeys up there on that balcony?”

“Yes,” replied one of the youths smilingly, “Naughty monkeys.”

“I thought monkeys lived in the jungle,” remarked Ginger.

“Oh, yes, sir, but they live in towns too. People feed them, but they are very mischievous. Steal a lot.”

“Jolly little fellers,” murmured Bertie. “I wonder if they’d like some fruit,” he added, pointing at a handcart piled with mangoes, lychees and bananas, that was parked close against the chabootra, its owner dozing peacefully in an adjacent doorway.

“Oh, no, sir! No feeding them! They get enough already!”

“H’m, well, never mind. Let’s have a look at those bracelets,” and Bertie turned his attention to the wares on display.

As Bertie and Ginger admired their craftsmanship, the ensuing animated exchange was unhampered by the youths’ somewhat stilted English. Finally, Bertie pawed through a tray of finished products and selected two bracelets, one embellished with stars and butterflies, the other set with tiny roses and leaves in beaten silver, and asked the price.

“Whadd’you want those for?” demanded Ginger.

“Oh, I thought for Mrs. Symes,” replied Bertie.

“Don’t say Mrs. S is going to wear one on each arm!” grinned Ginger.

“Oh no, rather not! I thought that nice gel from Typing downstairs who often helps us out –what’s her name, Harbottle? –might like one.”
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:28 pm

The shop-owner, who it transpired was also the parent of the youths was duly aroused from his slumberous state. The bracelets were duly weighed in an enclosed jewelry scale, the daily rate for silver was consulted, “making charges” –that sordid term for the craftsman’s labor of love—were reluctantly described, while a gentle flow of social talk rose and ebbed around them. Ginger noted that at no point was the distasteful necessity of the sale itself allowed to dominate the conversation. Refreshments were politely offered and just as politely declined. The heat and humidity and the approaching monsoon and its effect on the harvest was another fruitful topic. Then, with the price calculated, the final rounded off figure was written discreetly on a piece of paper and passed over the counter to Bertie, with all the clandestineness of an undercover operation, for his approval. Bertie glanced at the paper, did some swift mental arithmetic with currency conversions, and nodded. “Absolutely fine,” he approved.

The shop-owner beamed and offered fulsome praise of Bertie’s ability to identify such fine pieces of the jeweler’s art, like a true connoisseur. Bertie blushed, beamed back and tried to channel the talk into whether the three men knew of British residences in the locality. With ubiquitous shrugs came the response that of course the British all shopped in the Dariba, who would go anywhere else? Bertie too shrugged and transferred his attention to paying for his delicate purchases and requesting their packaging.

A sudden shout from the street startled them. Looking out of the narrow open doorway of the shop, they saw that the comatose fruit seller had come to sudden life and was engaged in repulsing a bunch of simian bandits who had daringly mounted a snatch-and-grab raid on his handcart. Flapping a straw-plaited hand-fan and uttering threats in a blood-curdling growl, he chased the raiders, who effected a temporary retreat to a first-floor balcony and hung there, jeering.

“Poor little fellers,” murmured Bertie sympathetically, as the fruit seller came back muttering and composed himself for resuming his interrupted siesta. “Hope he didn’t hurt them? He looked ready to kill them!”

“No sir,” said one of the youths comfortingly. “Nobody would willingly kill a monkey. You would have to give it a human funeral and perform penance. They are sacred to Lord Hanuman, you see.”

The task of packaging the bracelets continued as each was carefully nestled into multiple layers of fine tissue paper that was then dexterously folded several times to form a secure packet. Next, each was placed lovingly inside a pretty silk reticule-like pouch, the drawstrings pulled tight and the shop-owner handed them to Bertie with a flourish and the demeanor of a fond parent wishing a newly-wed daughter farewell. Bertie and Ginger, averting an extended farewell for themselves, hopped quickly down the shop steps and headed farther up the street.

“You know, I don’t like the look of those monkeys,” warned Ginger. “You’d better put those pouches in an inner pocket, I think.” His own thoughts were occupied with debating what to buy for Janet and Sarah, the girls from Typing who often surreptitiously helped him with the filing when the others were out of the office. If Bertie was giving the bracelet to Miss Harbottle, he reasoned, then he, Ginger, had better find something different for her girls.

‘Good thinking,” agreed Bertie, “although I bet the poor little tykes just want a banana.”

Unslinging its strap from his arm, he casually perched the water-bottle on the chabootra and focused on carefully placing the silk pouches in his jacket’s inside pocket. Ginger, forgetting the monkeys, allowed his gaze to roam randomly over the nearby shop counters, displaying fine attar perfumes, and wondered if the girls would appreciate oil-based fragrances and whether it would be appropriate to give them something with such an overtly opulent sensual Eastern touch. A sudden cry from Bertie made him jump. He swung around to see Bertie clutching his scalp in pain and gesticulating at the monkey
scampering off with Bertie’s sunglasses in its paw.

“Hoy, you thieving little beggar!” cried Bertie. “Those are my aviator sunglasses! Bring them back!”

“It’s not listening,” observed Ginger, grinning. “Try your local lingo notes!”

“Dash it all, it'd better listen! I go flying in those sunglasses!” exclaimed Bertie hotly.

“Right now, it looks like the monkey’s going fleeing in those sunglasses,” punned Ginger happily.

Bertie massaged his scalp tenderly, watching the thief clamber back to the safety of the balcony. “Rotten little blighter,” he growled, “Walloped me from behind when I wasn’t looking. Pulled my hair too.”

“Have a drink of cool water, it’ll make you feel better.” Ginger was having a hard time keeping a straight face. So, he noticed, were some small children who looked freshly released from school. Only they were jumping and pointing excitedly at something behind them.

“Might as well,” agreed Bertie lowering his head the better to massage the painful spots, “and then I’m going right after that rascal! Pass me the bottle, will you?”

Ginger’s response was puzzling, to say the least. In a thin voice, he asked, “You put our water-bottle on that platform, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” said Bertie impatiently, “what if I did? Pass it here!”

“Take a look,” invited Ginger grimly.

Bertie raised his head and took a look.

The water-bottle still sat on the platform where he had placed it. Beside it, and clearly staking claim to possession of it sat a large,shaggy monkey.


With awful deliberation, Bertie removed his monocle from his eye and placed it carefully in the inner pocket of his jacket. While still massaging the tender spot on his scalp, the frosty look that he bent upon the water-bottle claimant boded no good for this leading light of the local simian community.

Having also moved his wallet from hip pocket to inner-jacket safe location, Bertie advanced briskly on the monkey, clearing his throat with a warning growl. The monkey watched his advance with interest, curling its upper lip to reveal a fine set of teeth. The schoolchildren stopped giggling and looked on breathlessly.

Before Bertie could draw close enough to inflict damage or, worse, re-claim the bottle, the monkey (whom Ginger had privately dubbed M1) grabbed the disputed goods, hung the strap round its neck and hopped a couple of prudent steps to its left. Bertie diverted his advance a couple of steps to his right.

The monkey dashed to its right. Bertie dashed to his left. The monkey hopped back left-wards, its moves immediately mirrored by Bertie. The monkey caught up the bottle in its paws and pranced to its right again. Bertie promptly dashed towards his left again. His ancestors would have approved. The minuet had been very popular in their day.

[Glad folks are enjoying it!]



“Get a move on,” complained Ginger. “We haven’t got all day.”

“At least I’m trying,” retorted Bertie hotly, “you’re just standing there. How about you go after the other one that’s got my sunglasses?”

“Aw,shucks, and get my hair pulled out too? And did you see their teeth?”

“Get a move on! Like you said, we haven’t all day!”

“Oh all right, all right!” Reluctantly, Ginger moved forward making vaguely threatening gestures at the original miscreant, whom in his mind he was castigating under the pseudonym M2. His target responded by inserting an earpiece of the sunglasses into its mouth and trying to suck on it meditatively.

“Watch it! That little blighter’s trying to eat them!” exclaimed Bertie in horror.

“Mebbe it won’t like their taste and spit ‘em out,” suggested Ginger hopefully.

In between executing complex prances to cover the moves of M1, Bertie exclaimed, “Spit ‘em out! My lad, if they break, I’m taking the cost of new ones out of your next birthday present. You did want that silver lighter, didn’t you?”

Thus spurred on, Ginger redoubled his efforts to intimidate M2 into dropping the sunglasses. The watching urchins separated into a Bertie-group and a Ginger-group, the better to pursue the moves of their favorite protagonist. Whispered arguments arose amid renewed giggles. M2 hung tantalizingly from the balcony, dangling the sunglasses in its free paw, and chattered invitingly at Ginger.

“This isn’t working,” panted Bertie. “We’ve got to try something else.”

“Throw something at them?” cried Ginger, inspired.”Lemme find a brick!”

“Certainly not!” exclaimed Bertie, shocked. “We’ll get ‘em some bananas to swap our stuff.”

“Sure, why not!” Ginger was frankly sarcastic. “After all, your colonial ancestors probably traded with the locals around here back then!”

“No need to get shirty,” said Bertie severely. “Where’s that fruit-wallah?”

They looked around the street. The fruit-seller had finished (or abandoned) his nap and moved on. There was not a fruit or seller in sight.

A cry from their school-urchin audience brought them spinning round sharply. Both monkeys, wisely joining forces, had decided that retreat was the better alternative to valor. M1 and M2 were now both up on the balcony with their loot, and preparing to depart stealthily along its precarious railing.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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kylie_koyote
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:28 pm

[Updating...thanks for reading and commenting]

“Hold it, you little blighters!” called Bertie shrilly. Then, to Ginger, “They’re not getting away like that!” And with a quick “Come on!” thrown over his shoulder, Bertie set off in hot pursuit of the monkeys, dodging around obstacles with one eye, as it were, while watching the escapees every move with the other. The gaggle of school children, having apparently decided that Bertie’s call included them, gleefully joined the chase. With a sigh and shrug, Ginger followed suit.

It would be difficult to find appropriate words to describe the chase that ensued. Suffice to say that it was long, hot and complicated. The monkeys deployed every art in their arsenal to elude and evade their pursuer. Bertie employed all his hunting skills to keep up with his quarry. The urchins faithfully copied the best moves of Bertie and the monkeys as they leaped over, skipped around and swung from platforms, handcarts, railings and other obstacles in the mad steeplechase through ever-narrowing streets.

Ginger, swearing cogently and not always under his breath, hung on manfully to avoid being left behind. The older urchins, being not quite manful, hung on boyfully to add his every word to their vocabulary. Nobody noticed when the Dariba was left behind as they sped through the maze of gullies, katras and koochas into the very heart of Shahjehan’s Delhi.

How long the chase would have continued is anybody’s guess. However, after a final spurt and separated from their allies by the streaming gang of urchins, M1 and M2 made a sudden, desperate dash through an archway. Hot on their heels, Bertie, Ginger and the urchins followed, to find themselves in a large, shaded courtyard-like enclosure. A blank wall, relieved only by a large solid wooden gate and above it small apertures set with finely carved stone grilles like ventilators, faced them.

From the other side of this edifice, the graceful branches of an enormous gulmohur tree reached over to meet the upward-spreading mass of colorful bougainvillea that framed the gate. In this imposing construct, as is common in large old gateways everywhere, there was inset a smaller door to allow access to one individual at a time. M1and M2 sprinted up to the wall and stopped, finally confounded by this dead end.

“Ha, ha! You little rascals!” scoffed Bertie, “How d’you like this, eh?”

From the way that they raised their upper lips at him, it was evident that M1 and M2 did not like it at all.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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kylie_koyote
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:28 pm

[Continuing...]


Bertie bore down on the miscreants, bent upon recovering his property. ”Cornered at last, you little thieves,” he chortled.

With the water-bottle securely anchored round its neck, M1 retreated further against the wall. Still clutching the sunglasses in its paw, M2 crouched down, turned a woebegone face at its pursuer and chittered dejectedly.

“Oh, poor little blighter!” exclaimed Bertie, touched. “Look, I think it’s trying to say sorry!” He half-turned towards Ginger, inviting him to witness M2’s abject surrender.

Even as he spoke, quick as a flash, M2 dodged around him, taking full advantage of his temporary distraction. Faster than the blink of an eye, it seemed to Ginger, both reprobates had swarmed up the creeper to take refuge in the welcoming branches of the gulmohur tree. Once assured of their immunity from immediate persecution, M1 squatted on his branch, examining the bottle closely, while M2 took up a similar position near it and began to suck thoughtfully on the sunglasses.

“My gosh! Did you see that!” gasped Bertie to Ginger, who could barely restrain his grin. “Here, I say, it’s not funny, after all that running, to be pipped at the post like that!” he added.

“I’m beginning to understand the phrase ‘monkey business’ a lot better now!” asserted Ginger.

“And here I was beginning to feel sorry for the blasted little devil!” snorted Bertie.

“Never mind that,” retorted Ginger. “Just tell me how we’re getting that water-bottle back. I’m jolly thirsty after that chase.”

“Me too, laddie, me too. But climbing that creeper’s going to be a thorny business, if you see what I mean.”

“Well, think of something quick! I’m thirsty!” pleaded Ginger.

“I’ll frighten them into dropping our things,” decided Bertie.

“How?”

“You remember how I scared off those crocs at Kudinga, don’t you, and how fast they went into the water!”

“I remember how fast we nearly went into the water too,” returned Ginger, a trifle grimly. “Whatever you’re going to do, buck up about it!”

“Watch me, laddie, and learn. Here goes!”

Bertie backed a few paces and then, uttering a series of uncouth noises ¬ “Gerrup, Grrr, Hrrrnggghhh”¬ he dashed towards the wall, waving his arms for added effect.

Utterly delighted, the urchin gang began jumping up and down. Utterly unimpressed, the two monkeys looked at each other like a pair of austere critics, and then settled down to admire Bertie’s performance, satisfied that it was well out of their danger zone.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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kylie_koyote
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Re: One Last Scene from "Goes Home" (Reposted)

Post by kylie_koyote » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:28 pm

[Apologies for the delay...]

“This is getting us nowhere,” complained Ginger.

Desisting from his activity, Bertie gave the matter his serious consideration. Even as he cogitated, M1 carefully removed the water bottle strap from around its neck and draped it over a nearby branch.

Not to be outdone, or perhaps disliking their taste, M2 scrambled along its branch and neatly balanced the sunglasses on the sill of a grilled ventilator-like aperture just above the big gate. Clearly, there was only one thing to be done and Bertie decided swiftly to do it.

“Give us a leg up,” he requested Ginger tersely.

“Huh –what?” Ginger was understandably taken aback.

“I’m going to reach up and get our things back now that those two rascals have kindly let go of them.”

“But—but…it’s pretty high up!”

“No matter, give us a leg up! Quick, before they change their minds.”

“I’m lighter than you, I should climb up on your shoulders,” protested Ginger.

“Possibly, but I have longer arms,” retorted Bertie and that settled the argument.

Bending slightly, Ginger allowed Bertie to hoist himself up on his shoulders and thus mutually aligned, the duo teetered towards the creeper-encrusted wall in an effort to reach their fugitive belongings. Both monkeys and urchins watched interestedly.

“Not far now, just a bit closer to the right,” urged Bertie, getting his fingers over the edge of the ventilator sill on which reposed his sunglasses.

“If I get any closer, I’m going to be ripped by the thorns on that blasted creeper,” panted Ginger, his knees almost buckling under the strain. “What about your long arms now?”

“I’ll use ‘em if you let me get close enough, instead of staggering around like that!” retorted Bertie.

“I’m trying…I’m trying,” grumbled Ginger, uncomfortably aware that the urchins were laying bets about his powers of endurance.

With a mighty effort, Bertie managed to stretch himself enough to bring the fateful sunglasses at eye level.

“Oh, I say!” he exclaimed, peering through the finely carved stone grille, here’s a jolly big house and fine garden inside there!”

“Never mind that,” pleaded Ginger, “just get that water bottle before I die of thirst!”

And just at the fateful moment, when Bertie had clawed his fingers to get a grip on the ventilator sill and was directing a teetering Ginger to get closer, just a little bit closer to the wall, the ears of both airmen were assaulted by a wheezing sound like a large kettle letting off steam followed by a shrill scream that any self-respecting banshee would have been proud to own.

Simultaneously, something struck Ginger sharply in the region between his calves and shins. As he yelled in pain and tried to skip out of harm’s way, Bertie, still unable to register what was happening, had no option but to cling more tightly to the meager hold offered by the sill.

“Hey, laddie, look where you’re at! What’s wrong?” gasped Bertie, clinging to his ventilator. Being wholly preoccupied with averting an unplanned descent into the thorny creeper, and with his face jammed against the wall to which he was clinging, he was unable to turn his head or look down.

Ginger, burdened with balancing Bertie’s weight (despite his slim form) on his shoulders, and being wholly preoccupied with staggering to and fro while hopping, skipping and avoiding injury from the sturdy blunt object attacking him, could only gurgle in reply.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."

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