Chapter 10: Where Ignorance & Darkness Reign (Part 1)

A letter to Lady Millicent Anstruther wife of Colonel Faustus Anstruther of the 51st Battalion of the Ferkin Hausah’s (sent prior to his disappearance) 

To ride through the Nederhiwi is to read the whole romance of the Umbongo Bongo my dear! This is the lookout from which our blessed empire has strained its vision upwards! Ever upwards unto the vast, silent, homicidal desert land which is Morocco! Morocco! That place which has been Umbongo’s distant neighbour and all but her undoing and will be soon her triumph again. If Umbongo Bongo is like a ferocious wild boar that many hunters (the Germans amongst them) have pursued and none tamed, then the Nederhiwi Ivory Outpost is a man eater, gorged with flesh yet insatiable, yet never fear my dear! We shall subdue it!

Having re-taken the Port of Aqua-Fung-Dinghi from the encroaching Wahiri horde, and having reclaimed all the British missionaries taken captive by the Barbary Cossairs, we’ve proceeded a-pace to that infamous Ivory Outpost lurking in the Nederhiwi Lowlands. A place from whence (we are told) an outbreak of lunatick rebellion has led to an interruption in the placid flow of imperial commerce.

The powers that be have informed us that the governor of the Nederhiwi outpost has gone lunatick, having been touched by a combination of rabid nativism and the unrelentingly savage heat, and that no Ivory has been transported from there in nigh on ten months. Several administrators had ridden out to enquire as to the nature of the interruption but (ominously), none had returned. So my dear, we have been charged with the task of restoring imperial order to the Ivory Station.

The Nederhiwi hinterlands resemble nothing so much as a ravenous beast my dear, and my men have watered it with more of their blood than the Nederhiwi will ever yield to pay for! A ravenous beast that is not sated yet my dear yet we will conquer him, and restore the entirety of Umbongo Umbongo to it’s true owner, our Imperial British Queen!

Riding to arms with two hundred Umbongoans and fifty white officers is quite an affair my dear. For the black does not take easily to soldiering (much less to horse riding), and it takes a great deal of restraint not to wind up shooting most of one’s recruits. T’is not a little disconcerting to find oneself obliged to forcibly conscript one’s men into doing their duty on the Umbongoan Battlefield, for no Englishman labours under such a disability!

Why, our British troops do not quail at the thought of going to war, indeed, being so highly endowed, they will not stint at engaging the enemy on any battlefield no matter how barbarous nor how foreign! In that respect we are like the Romans my dear, conquering all the earth, wading through the unconscionable, in order to impose civilisation upon the incomprehensible. In the midst of the savagery, the utter barbarousness of it all (and the darkness) the Romans neither failed nor faltered my dear,theirs was as ours has ever been, one glorious pyrrhic victory after another!

In the virtues that come naturally to the British Officer they shine exceedingly! Stiffened by one bout of yellow fever after another, plagued by intermittent outbreaks of Dysentery, Cholera Camps, and an abundance of forced marches, those that remain alive are a mirror of soldierly virtue. At present we are only a hundred miles from the Nederhiwi Ivory Outpost, tonight we shall make camp at Nabi-Het-Het (in English it is called ‘the place of august benevolence’), that place infamous for the unintended slaughter of a tribe of Muck-a-bites (now extinct) by a rampant regiment of Belgian Garde Civique.

T’was fortunate that the incident occurred deep in the hinterlands of savagery, one can only conjecture the outcry that would have ensued had the incident taken place in the more established parts of the empire (or heaven forbid dear old England!).

We resume our march at the crack of dawn tomorrow my dear and shall reach the outpost by midday at the latest. Tender my felicitations to your mama and tell Frederick that it shall not be long before they greet their papa upon the shores of our dear old emerald isle! I look upon your portrait nightly my dear. 

Faustus Anstruthers


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