Short Story Preview: Keep your Head Down – Malcolm Allen
(A tale of the time, reflecting a by-gone era)
I sat on my camp stool gazing out at the splendour of the Spin Ghar mountains which dominated the view north and south. The smoke and aroma of my first cigar of the day hung around my head. A turbaned mess servant flitted silently to my side. ‘Would you like another dram, Major McDonald?’ and he proffered the tray that was already charged with my favourite malt.
‘Aye,’ I thought, ‘it’s not the same as a dram in the Highlands with the wintry sun rising o’er the Grampians near Lochaber but it’s not bad all
Behind me I listened to the comforting sounds of the few officers still taking breakfast in our field mess. It was a tented affair as was right for
a battalion on operations in dangerous country in the 1870s but it was comfortable and well furnished; certainly well worth the loss in transit of a few dozen or so oxen and labourers who had carried it on the long trek up through the Sindh.
‘Ah well, it is a soldier’s lot to make sacrifices when called to the Queen’s duty,’ I thought, ‘and any bloody fool can be uncomfortable, if they want.’
There was fizz and ping and a bullet sped close by my head, smashing into a portrait of a previous Colonel of the 71st Highland Light Infantry.
‘Bloody Afridis,’ I snorted, ‘couldn’t hit an elephant’s arse with a handful of gravel.’
Just then Lt Sandy Hook-Ballantyne appeared holding a cup of Camp coffee. ‘Good breakfast then, Sandy?’ I asked, ‘And are you ready for the match?’