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The Sirdar's Oath A Tale of the North-West Frontier   By: (1855-1914)

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The Sirdar's Oath A Tale of the North West Frontier By Bertram Mitford Published by F.V. White and Co Ltd, London. This edition dated 1904. The Sirdar's Oath, by Bertram Mitford.




"Yer Kroojer! Kroojer. Go'n get yer whiskers shyved."

"Ere, chaps. 'Ere's old Kroojer!"

And the section of the crowd among whom originated these remarks closed up around the object thereof.

The latter, though clad in the frock coat of European civilisation, was obviously an Oriental. He was a man of fine presence, tall and dignified, handsome in the aquiline featured type, and wearing a full beard just turning grey. Hence it will be seen that his resemblance to the world famed President was so striking as to commend itself at once to the understanding of his molesters.

It was night, and the flare of the street lamps, together with a few impromptu illuminations, lit up the surging, tossing, roaring multitude, which filled to packing point the whole space in front of the Mansion House, each unit of the same bent on shouting himself or herself hoarse; for the tidings of the relief of Mafeking had just been received, and the inauguration of the public delirium was already in full swing. Hats and caps flew in the air by showers, the wearers of silk hats not hesitating to hurl on high their normally cherished and protected headgear, those who did so hesitate being speedily relieved of all responsibility on that point by their obliging neighbours, to the accompaniment of such shouts as "Ooroar for B.P. Good old B.P.," while the strains of "Soldiers of the Queen" rose in leathern lunged rivalry with those of "The Absent minded Beggar" save when, in staccato volleyings of varied timelessness and tunelessness, those of "Rule Britannia" availed to swamp both. Thus the multitude rejoiced, characteristically, therefore, for the most part, roughly.

"Wot cher, myte?" drawled an evil rough, shouldering against the Oriental. "You ortn't to be 'ere. You ort to be in the Trawnsvawl, you ort. Why you're Kroojer, you are."

"I sy, Bill!" shrilled a girl to her swain. "Let's shyve 'is whiskers, shall we?"

The pair had exchanged hats, and while the speaker's oily fringe was set off by a bowler, wide and curly of brim, the ugly face of the other leered red and beery from beneath a vast structure of nodding ostrich plumes.

"Rawther. Come on, cheps. Let's shyve old Kroojer's whiskers!" And reaching over, as a preliminary to that process, he snatched the Oriental's high, semi conical black cap the only article of un European wear about him from his head, and flung it high in the air, emitting a raucous yell.

At this assault, delivered from behind, the stranger turned, his eyes flashing with resentment and hate. As he did so a violent push, again from behind, sent him staggering, would have brought him to the ground indeed but that the crowd was too dense, and its only effect was to bring him right against the rough who had snatched off his cap. In a moment the long, brown sinewy fingers had shot out and closed round the bull throat of the cad, while with the snarl of a wild beast, the Oriental flashed forth something from his breast pocket. A roar of warning broke from the bystanders, likewise of rage, for these lovers of fair play were virtuously indignant that one well nigh defenceless man, and a stranger, should protect himself as best he might when set upon by numbers. In a second the weapon was knocked from his hand, and he was violently wrenched back from the man whose throat he had gripped; and well indeed for the latter that such was the case. Then he was hustled and punched and kicked, his beard pulled out in wisps the virago who had first instigated the assault, and who fortunately was separated from him by the crowd, struggling and screaming in the language of the slums to be allowed to get at him only just once... Continue reading book >>

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