“Look Sahib” Son # 1 said. “The clue is hunting.”
“The clue is hunting!” everyone agreed.
“So I am your expert in durbars and social diplomacy. The bailiwick of Social Ritual. So let me explain the hint: Hunting.” Everyone turned toward the handsome young Indian in his dashing tunic and turban. He pulled out a map and hung it for everyone to see. “We can guesstimate where the danger zones will likely be.” He pointed to red circles. We know from Hobson who has yet again ridden to Meerut on your request and confirmed Meerut is …”
“Shit” I said.
“Not up to par with the Corp of Guides” he finished. “And alas, you request for Chamberlain to request that Skinners be posted there has been, alas, denied. Not that Chamberlain did not try! So we are facing red circles here in the NorthEAST Punjab! And the Corp of Guides is here in the NorthWEST Punjab. Skinners has been redeployed and may not be able to provide any help in 1857 at all. The Crimea has sucked a lot of British regiments out of India. The latest reports are promising that the war may be resolved in a ….”
“Shitty face saving manner soon” I finished.
“Resolved by a brilliant diplomatic move by the ever brilliant Prince Albert” Son # 1 finished.
“Before we all lose face in an utterly humiliating defeat” I added.
“In a durbar the Russians have requested because the Enfield Rifle along with a belated supplying of the army has changed the situation from …”
“Disaster to salvage” I finished.
“So we might have some regiments back in India by 1857″ Son # 1 added. “To augment the Corp of Guides. Henry’s Boys are all recruiting Punjabis and Pathans into new and improved regiments because Tayler and his spy organization, which has a new title, Military Intelligence One …”
“Or as Hobson says, ‘MI 1 for Oxymoron’” I added.
“Tayler says 1857 will a ‘demanding year’” Son # 1 finished. “ We have flagged with red flags every single unit of sepoys and sowars recruited in Oudh or part of the Bengal Army.” He waved one handsome hand across the entire Punjab. It looks like the pox!
“Looks like smallpox” I snarled. “And it will spread like the Pox! And every single red flag will have to be disbanded or arrested in 1857 once the ‘Show’ starts! I have contacted some regiments and their reactions prove everyone thinks I am a total nutter. They are all swearing their sepoys are ‘loyal to the death for me’. They will wake up one morning strumming harps in pearly heaven!”
“The hope of contacting the commanders of suspect companies is not going well” Son # 2 added. “They simply don’t believe us. They are absolutely sure the Bengal Army units they command are absolutely loyal. There is no point continuing to try to correspond.”
“We must prepare for events in 1857″ Son # 1 continued. “By monitoring intel to try to anticipate events, react quickly to events, and minimize the collateral damage by…”
“Got to love Son # 1″ I roared out to Rai Memsahib!” She laughed and kissed Son # 1 which momentarily flustered him. But only momentarily! “I am not making fun Son # 1″ I protested. “I am so proud of you! I feel like the ties on my chest tunic are bursting!” The rest of my Indian Family burst into applause.
“Thus we need to communicate the contents of the Wahhabi Conspiracy File, which is very persuasive, to key principalities and Traditional Big Royal Houses of India based on both prestige and historic authority and geography to contain the events in 1857″ Son # 1 continued blushing but straight faced.
“Quarantine the Pox!” I said.
“Exactly! The Big Royals.” He pointed to Indore and Gwalior and Baroda and Hyderabad. “Geographically the Big Royals run along the south Indian Mason Dixon Line in the Indian Heartland of the Decca. The Maratha Principalities. The Corridor to Bombay. [Pointing dramatically with one finger.] The Corridor to Calcutta.[Pointing dramatically with another finger.] And note how two key Royals, Gwalior and Bhopal surround and contain a hot spot called Jhansi! Thus!
And we must also contact the key Rajput Dynasties of Rajasthan. Well, all of the Rajputs because they are so prickly leaving one out will offend them all! Rajasthan buttresses the south part of the Northwest Punjab. Securing them secures the Northwest Punjab to allow the Corp of Guides to move across the Punjab to the hot spots in the Northeast Punjab. Thus!
Plus two key Sikh principalities of the Northeast Punjab which are just north of Delhi which can contain the infection thus! Plus Jammu and Kashmiri which is the North Punjab. That will be mostly diplomatic but the Rajah of Jammu and Kashmiri might face a serious jihad that will threaten the movement of the Corp of Guides eastward ! And he can also assist us in diplomatically wooing the Big Royals.
And if the Dost of Kabul plays it cagey and waits for victory before invading then we will stabilize the Northwest Punjab to allow the Corp of Guides to march toward the Northeast Punjab from Multan thus toward the suspected hot spots located in Doab and Oudh. The Wahhabi bastions are Delhi, Tonk, Patna, and Bareilly. We know that Lucknow and Cawnpore will be involved. Also Delhi. Suttana here can be held by local drafts quite easily. It has no military value but it’s seizure can give us propaganda value!
Here is a list of contacts in priority of contact! Thus! The top of the list is the Rajah of Jammu and Kashmiri. You are always routing him information and he is always contacting you. In fact we should have contacted the rajah before now! He can and will be a key player. He is silky in his contacts and he knows absolutely everyone. He is witty and sly and is popular with the very people we are targeting. But he is farsighted and tenacious behind his facade of a sly rogue and witty raconteur. And he is definitely opposed to the Wahhabists who are both ideologically and morally opposed to him because of his implacable opposition to Dar al Islam being declared in any part of India and his own grim experience with Dar al Harb. And Edwardes is already working with the Amirs of Sindh.
So we move down to the two key Sikh rajahs here and here. We can contact them directly because you do have legitimate standing in the Sikh Community. [I shook my head but he wagged a finger at me.] And you do have legitimate standing in the Sikh Community! You have been on the side of the Sikh Reformers since you were a lowly lieutenant just arrived from Afghanistan.”
“Give or take two wars” I reminded Son # 1.
“Which you waged with honor and valor while trying to resolve the situation with respect and dignity and in your badger way — sympathy. You are Nikal Seyn. The Sikhs respect a fellow soldier who respects them. So we can contact the Sikh Rajahs right now. Ditto the Sikh Commander of the famous Hyderabad Regiment. He of course will route our correspondence directly to the Nizam himself as any loyal officer should and must do. Thus we have an unofficial top secret channel to the Nizam who could not otherwise contact us! But will want to! So everyone will respond!” The whole tent’s occupants applauded Son # 1 proudly.
“So that just leaves the Rajputs and the ‘Big Game’.” He pointed to the Rajputs of Rajasthan and the Maratha Big Royals.
“The ‘Big Game’” I replied gesturing quote marks around the British slang.
“Now the ‘Big Game’ are indeed too big to contact – directly. But I suspect ‘Gloriana’ of Bhopal have introduced your name to them already. So we just have to indirectly contact them and see if the fly will cause the trout to bite. The fly is ‘hunting’.