I know I promised I wouldn't write any more groaners but I've become addicted. One last one then, before I join rehab. Please find forgiveness in your hearts and pour me a whisky when we meet, rather than plugging me in the eye as I richly deserve, for I am more to be pitied than censured. The missus is away in Mysore, by the way, which is why I'm all weak and whiny. Like the crow in the story that follows....
I probably won't live long enough to tell my tale in England. This cursed place will get me sooner or later, of that I am sure.
A sorry fate for Captain James Smith of Her Majesty's Royal Navy. And ironically, a fate that has befallen me in the guise of an honour.
It all started with those blasted buccaneers and their troubling of British ships. The Vice Admiral sent me with a schooner and two dozen fine chaps to deal with the pirates. We routed them in no time. The poor devils did not know what hit them. They had no canons, no gun powder, no pistols, and were weak with malaria. By the end of the month, they had acknowledged the supremacy of the Company and I set up government, as the Vice admiral had ordered me.
After that, there has been no official order from London. The trade ships come and go but there is never any word from the Admiralty. I am stuck here. The men are making merry. They have taken up with the local women and the ways of the natives, but I need hardly say that such behaviour would scant befit a Captain of Her Majesty's Navy. Oh, for a week back home!
I have permitted myself the luxury of one vice here. The locals keep crows and have crow fights every week. A great deal of importance is given to winning, and I am afraid I am hooked on to the sport. I raided a crows nest and raised a healthy looking specimen on a diet of meat and offal. The bird grew to an impressive size and since entering into competition over the last month, wiped the floor with all contenders.
Today was the final battle. My bird was to join battle with the Sultan's raven, a legendary fighter, but distinctly smaller than mine. I confidently predicted a rout for the Sultan's bird and put a substantial sum on my crow to win hands down.
Purkiss, my second in command, had warned me that while my crow was larger and stronger, it had little experience of wild fights and relied merely on brute strength. I ticked him off for being a "pussy" which is how, I am told, George Washington and his brigands refer to cowards back in America.
As is customary in important matches, the fight was held in a closed barn. The battle started in earnest but once the Sultan's bird got its eye in, there was no stopping it. My bird continued for a couple of minutes but soon, the bites started proving too painful and to my complete mortification, started running away from the fight, actively pursued by his tormentor. I shut my eyes in disgrace and prayed for an early disembowelment. The delighted cackling of the Sultan and his troupe burned my ears!
Soon the party rushed out of the barn, babbling excitedly. Apparently my bird had escaped. Oh the disgrace!
Purkiss coughed gently. "I'm afraid sir, our candidate found some windows with holes in them and squeezed through".
I could contain my sorrow no longer. "Windows! Damn all windows! They all have gaping holes in them! Damn! My crow's soft!"
Back in my digs, Purkiss poured me a stiff whiskey and water, but I can feel the chills coming. The dreaded Malaria. I hope my relief comes soon.