Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Secret Diary of Major Squick 4

While studying Major Squick's Diary a letter that had been stored in the journal fell out. Showing quite how bad I am as a researcher, I have no idea what page it came from, or where it fits in the (very loose) chronology.

Most of Squick's adventures so far have been impulsive or accidental. This letter seems to show that not all of his career was the result of misjudgement and overindulgence - indeed he seems to have had a reputation as a man of action. The letter is addressed to Squick, but has been annotated in the margin in Squick's unmistakable and nearly illegible handwriting.

The Resident's Residence,
Sultanate of V___,
11th M__

My Dear Squick,

Although already deeply in your debt for arranging my acquittal in that unfortunate trial for fraudulent bottomry, it seems I must ask for your aid again. I have a problem, and it seems only you can help. If this letter finds you in time you can not only save my honour, but this time also release an innocent man. You see, I have accidentally condemned my man servant to slavery as the result of a bet.

I was at the court of the Sultan of V___, celebrating the Hindoo New Year by observing the cobra and mongoose fights. Flush with the winnings from a number of successful wagers, it seemed my luck continued at the billiards table. Afterwards, the Sultan suggested that we celebrate my luck at his private feast. To my surprise, the Dowager Sultana and her entourage joined us, albeit veiled and from behind an ornately filigreed and unusually decorated screen, which represented, it seemed, the wall of the hareem. [Here Squick notes "D.Sultna of V___ rumoured involved in many unnatural acts during Great Mutiny, but nothing ever proved - no witnesses."]

As well as the usual entertainments - Eunuch Clowns, a Fakir who had a most unfortunate accident with his Bed of Nails and Belly-Dancers in various states of dress - he pit his champion wrestler against the Sultana's, who won. Through the medium of her maidservant as spokeswoman, the Sultana offered a wager - a purse of gold to anyone who could beat her champion, against a keepsake; anything she desired that we had with us. As you know, I'm always willing to take up the challenge of grappling with a man [Squick: "As we well know"] and agreed to the terms. However, when I stood up and put down my pipe, I felt overheated and slightly dizzy. [Squick: "Hasheesh or Opium in the Tobacco?"] After stripping to the waist, I felt much better and put up a good show against the champion. However, eventually he pinned me. I submitted, and then the maidservant announced that the Sultana most desired what she called "My Man-Slave". I protested that he was no slave, but being as we were in the Sultanate, the Sultan was able to declare he was. Being still trapped beneath the body of the wrestler, I found myself at a disadvantage and, unable to muster a coherent argument, conceeded, after which I swiftly found myself ejected from the palace.

This is a situation that only your unique skills can resolve [Squick: "More than you suspect!"]. I'm sure you recall Simpkins, my man servant, a tall, well built fellow from Ireland with dark hair and goatee beard. I have been barred from the palace, but I have bribed some of the servants and one told me "The White Slave services the Sultana Morning, Noon and Afternoon and for Tiffin" which I take to mean that she has made him her personal attendant during the daytime. I have discretely arranged for swift horses and a steam launch to be available to allow the two of you to escape the Sultanate if you succeed in releasing Simpkins from his bondage. [Squick: "Jack is as discrete as an elefant in musth - someone will be watching. Better to head for Nepal on foot, disguised as Tantric Monks."]

I feel you are the only man in India who can pull off this escapade [Squick: "No Jack - an escapade is taking a couple of tarts to the theatre, getting drunk and knocking a policeman's helmet off. This is an escape."]; if I do not hear back from you by the 17th I shall have to attempt the rescue myself. [Squick: "Good G_d no! Then there will be two of you to rescue!"] If you can possibly aid me and Simpkins in this affair, I will be eternally grateful.

Your Friend,

Jack B___

(Major Squick begins here; link to all of Major Squick here. )

Some more of Major Squick's Diary has come to light, this time in the Americas. Susan de Guardiola, who blogs on topics of interest at Rixosous, discovered a page detailing Squick's time as an airship crewman on the HMS Ophelia. If I weren't a lazy and terrible researcher, this information would undoubtedly give me clues to more of Squick's life.

In related news, I have been appointed a Rixo Person. You may wonder what this means[1]. Well, in return for being legally obliged to nag Susan at least three times a week you get a badge, decoder ring and a booklet on how to perform the secret Rixo handshake (demonstrated here). Also you get a license to pun. Which I will resist using. No, really.

[1] Other than that I spend too much time on the internet, obviously
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