Monday, April 04, 2011

Mad Dogs And Englishmen

Still procrastinating on my review of a history of the First Afghan War. In the meantime here is an excerpt. The story so far: some "fakirs" (as described by the British) have murdered a sentry and his gear was found in their house. Due to the delicate situation in Kabul, the British fail to take any action on this. And now the conclusion:

Fate overtook the holy man a few months later when he went a-begging to Jalalabad and had the ill luck to present his alms bowl to Private Collins of the 13th light Infantry, "an Irishman of extraordinary gallantry but a great ruffian"[1]. Collins, who thought there was something familiar about the beggar, twitched aside his cloak and there, on his shoulders, were the badges of the sentry murdered those many months before. Without hesitation the Irishman seized the man by the scruff of the neck, held him face down in a pool and "quietly drowned him like a dog".
Page 151, Signal Catastrophe, Patrick Macrory

Drowning holy men is questionable but drowning a dog is outrageous!

Bulldogs were an additional peril to the occupying troops. Not long before, Mackenzie had called to Captain Troup's bulldog "Nettle, Nettle!" Next instant Nettle was clinging like a leech to his right arm, having gone mad. He managed to hold it at arm's length and throttle it with his left hand. "I never saw anything so hideous as that dog's head, his jaws reeking with blood and foam, his mouth wide open, his tongue swollen and hanging out, and his eyes flashing a sort of lurid fire." Mackenzie escaped rabies by applying caustic, which left a circular scar nearly two inches in diameter.
Page 162

Hmm. Maybe not outrageous, merely regrettable.


[1] I like this description a lot.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, how did it finish?
Drowned dogs and rabies are all well and good but did the British rule Afghanistan justly and wisely into perpituity?

Neil W said...

After the First Anglo-Afghan War the British ruled justly and wisely right up yo the present. Makes you wonder why they callled it the First Anglo-Afghan War.