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Driftwood Spars The Stories of a Man, a Boy, a Woman, and Certain Other People Who Strangely Met Upon the Sea of Life   By: (1885-1941)

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DRIFTWOOD SPARS

THE STORIES OF A MAN, A BOY, A WOMAN, AND CERTAIN OTHER PEOPLE WHO STRANGELY MET UPON THE SEA OF LIFE

BY

CAPTAIN PERCIVAL CHRISTOPHER WREN, I.A.R.

AUTHOR OF "DEW AND MILDEW", "FATHER GREGORY", "SNAKE AND SWORD", ETC.

"Like driftwood spars which meet and pass Upon the boundless ocean plain, So on the sea of life, alas! Man nears man, meets, and leaves again"

MATTHEW ARNOLD

TO THE MEMORY OF MY BELOVED WIFE

NOTE. This book was written in the year 1912

CONTENTS.

I. THE MAN (Mainly concerning the early life of John, Robin Ross Ellison.)

II. THE BOY (Mainly concerning the life of Moussa Isa Somali.)

III. THE WOMAN (And Augustus Grabble; General Murger; Sergeant Major Lawrence Smith; Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Gosling Green; Mr. Horace Faggit; as well as a reformed JOHN ROBIN ROSS ELLISON.)

IV. "MEET AND LEAVE AGAIN"

CHAPTER I.

THE MAN.

(Mainly concerning the early life of John Robin Ross Ellison.)

Truth is stranger than fiction, and many of the coincidences of real life are truly stranger than the most daring imaginings of the fictionist.

Now, I, Major Michael Malet Marsac, happened at the moment to be thinking of my dear and deeply lamented friend John Ross Ellison, and to be pondering, for the thousandth time, his extraordinary life and more extraordinary death. Nor had I the very faintest notion that the Subedar Major had ever heard of such a person, much less that he was actually his own brother, or, to be exact, his half brother. You see I had known Ross Ellison intimately as one only can know the man with whom one has worked, soldiered, suffered, and faced death. Not only had I known, admired and respected him I had loved him. There is no other word for it; I loved him as a brother loves a brother, as a son loves his father, as the fighting man loves the born leader of fighting men: I loved him as Jonathan loved David. Indeed it was actually a case of "passing the love of women" for although he killed Cleopatra Dearman, the only woman for whom I ever cared, I fear I have forgiven him and almost forgotten her.

But to return to the Subedar Major. "Peace, fool! Art blind as Ibrahim Mahmud the Weeper," growled that burly Native Officer as the zealous and over anxious young sentry cried out and pointed to where, in the moonlight, the returning reconnoitring patrol was to be seen as it emerged from the lye bushes of the dry river bed.

A recumbent comrade of the outpost sentry group sniggered.

My own sympathies were decidedly with the sentry, for I had fever, and "fever is another man". In any case, hours of peering, watching, imagining and waiting, for the attack that will surely come and never comes try even experienced nerves.

"And who was Ibrahim the Weeper, Subedar Major Saheb?" I inquired of the redoubtable warrior as he joined me.

"He was my brother's enemy, Sahib," replied Mir Daoud Khan Mir Hafiz Ullah Khan, principal Native Officer of the 99th Baluch Light Infantry and member of the ruling family of Mekran Kot in far Kubristan.

"And what made him so blind as to be for a proverb unto you?"

"Just some little drops of water, Sahib, nothing more," replied the big man with a smile that lifted the curling moustache and showed the dazzling perfect teeth.

It was bitter, bitter cold cold as it only can be in hot countries (I have never felt the cold in Russia as I have in India) and the khaki flannel shirt, khaki tunic, shorts and putties that had seemed so hot in the cruel heat of the day as we made our painful way across the valley, seemed miserably inadequate at night, on the windy hill top. Moreover I was in the cold stage of a go of fever, and to have escaped sunstroke in the natural oven of that awful valley at mid day seemed but the prelude to being frost bitten on the mountain at midnight. Subedar Major Mir Daoud Khan Mir Hafiz Ullah Khan appeared wholly unaffected by the 100° variation in temperature, but then he had a few odd stone of comfortable fat and was bred to such climatic trifles... Continue reading book >>




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