Sunday, 17 May 2015

Extract from 'A Life Amongst the Savages' by Harry Morton Stunley
.....As I pushed my way through the thick undergrowth, towards the clearing ahead, the pungent odour wafting on the breeze suggested that I was on the right track. I held my breath in anticipation; could I really be on the trail of the legendary Wild Man of the Woods? There came a loud crack, as of the snapping of a twig; I instinctively turned my eyes in that direction and I saw a shadowy figure move into the clearing. What it was, whether bear or man or monkey, I could in no wise tell. It seemed dark and shaggy; more I knew not. Any doubt was dispelled when the creature stretched out its arms, threw back its head and began to chant rhythmically; then I knew it was in fact a man.
‘Grandfather, Great Mysterious One, you have been always, and before you nothing has been. There is nothing to pray to but you.’
The raggedy fellow’s strange chanting instilled doubts in my mind; here I was seeking a renowned missionary and former Vicar of Dibbley yet instead I seem to have found some sort of native shaman. Could I be wrong? Taking a deep breath, I stepped into the clearing and began to make my introductions; ‘Dr. Deadstone, I presume?’
"Who asks?" he answered, "I'm poor Davey Deadstone, I am; and I haven't spoke with a Christian these three years."
I could now see that he was a white man like myself. His skin, wherever it was exposed, was burnt by the sun; even his lips were black and he was clothed in buckskin and covered with feathers and beads.

The "Savages" of Albion mass for battle.

“Three years! My Lord! When was the last time that you saw a white man?”, I enquired.
“Many moons ago, Man with Hooked Nose come, frighten buffalo away”, he replied.
“I don’t understand who is this fellow with the hooked nose?”, I asked.
“Why, the King of the Owlmen”, was his enigmatic answer; then he eyed me suspiciously and growled, “You with Kurtz? If you was sent by Kurtz I'm as good as pork, and I know it.”
Then it dawned on me, I was in the presence of a survivor of the Battle of Coyote Ugly. [Editor’s note: Colonel Kurtz, later Lord Effingham, was a general of Albion, popularly believed to have ‘gone native’. Kurtz adopted the methods of the Savages and became a ‘Big Chief’ in his own right]

Gormenghast infantry become "White men of the walking snake" and pass into folk legend.

He paused and gave me a quizzical look before continuing, “Ah but my heart is sore for Christian diet. You mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you, now? No? Well, many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese-toasted, mostly……”
With that I seized my chance, “I tell you what my dear fellow; you tell me all about the Battle of Coyote Ugly and I will find you some cheese.”
And so the fellow recounted his tale. He told me of how the army of Gormenghast had marched onto the western plains of Albion to meet the army of Lord Effingham outside the twin towns of Coyote and Ugly. Effingham had garrisoned the towns with trained bands of Mountain Men and led an army of Noble Savages onto the plains, seeking to occupy the few woods and fields before the town of Coyote. The Constable of Gormenghast led his whole army in a column in a wide flanking move to approach Coyote from an unexpected direction. 

            The biter bit! 

The Savages were completely outmanoeuvred and were left hollering and whooping on the plains. Those that did manage to make contact with the Gormenghast infantry fell before Lethal Volleys of well-aimed musketry.  Indeed, even the Mountain Men garrisoning the town were near to breaking point when night fell. In essence the battle was a stand-off but has become renowned for the Carnage inflicted upon the Savages by the Gormenghast infantry……..
He paused his narrative, breathless and drooling as he eyed my leather satchel and my hand as it delved inside.
“Here you are my man,” said I, “a little something for your trouble.” I placed the glistening silver triangle into his hesitant grimy fingers. He regarded me with eyes of flint.
“Dairylea? Three years in the bloody wilderness and you give me Dairylea??!!” His mouth frothed and he stabbed a boney digit toward my face. “You sir, are a right c…..

[At this point the original document terminates abruptly seeming to have been torn with some violence. Stunley never offered an explanation to his dying day but his biographer, Quilp wrote in vol. VII of his “Life of Stunley” how the mere mention of cheese made the great man wince visibly.]

Hercules Grytpype Thynne, the titled yet impoverished Constable of Gormenghast tries unsuccessfully to sell his hat to some passing infantry.

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