Relief of Poona Mission - Part IIReturn to Part I
The dreadfully nearsighted Major General Flunderton peered at the blurry forms of the Go-Go Poonas paddling furiously towards the Sympoopa Mail. He drew his revolver and myopically fired off a few rounds. None hit the natives, but then again no rounds hit the British either. The same cannot be said for the volunteer Post Office Rifles. A devastating volley nearly wiped out one entire dugout crew. Not to be outdone, the Sympoopa Captain steered his boat towards the remaining canoes. "Ram speed!" he cried.
One dugout was struck squarely amidships, pitching the occupants into the water. The Rifles continue to accurately fire at the Poonas. Yet the Poonas do not break and actually manage to close to grapple the steamer and prepare to board the Sympoopa. Acting Commanding Officer (and Post Master General of Bungiwalli Station) Major Ozmond Niles is so overcome with an excess of martial zeal, that he leaps off the steamer to engage the warriors hand to hand in their own dugout. "Huzzah!" he screams, only to miss the dugout and plunge into the river. His men fish him out, while the redcoated regulars quickly and successfully deal with the boarding action.
One last canoe paddles up to the Sympoopa, still quixotically hoping to board. Atop the wheelhouse, a dripping Major Niles spies this final dugout. (Two nearby soldiers make a hasty wager). "Huzzah!" screams the damp Major, and leaps off the steamer once more. But this time the brave postal employee lands in the dugout. (Grudgingly one soldier hands the other a guinea). He dispatches one warrior with his sword which upsets the canoe, tossing the men into the river. Again Major Niles is pulled from the water, clutching his sword between his teeth while the remaining dispirited natives dogpaddle to shore. The Royal Sympoopa Mail quickly steams towards the docks.
Things are black indeed for the remaining defenders of Poona Mission. With losses mounting, all reserves have been committed to the walls. Courtney Selous bravely leads a charge of his askaris to repulse several natives that had crept in through Reverend Beaton's daughter's window. Pausing to catch his breath, Selous admires the fine lace unmentionables of Pauline Beaton. "An absolutely splendid job of tatting," he murmurs. But it is not enough. Gaps appear amongst the doughty defenders and the Go-Go Poonas begin pouring over the walls. All seems lost.
Inexplicably the native warriors, once inside the perimeter, do not run for the women and children, nor even towards the snoring form of Colonel "Stumpy" Wilkerson. Instead they run into the Mission church. The defenders are somewhat taken aback. Have the Go-Go Poonas gone mad?
What can the cunning Go-Go Poonas be up to?