The Ballroom Expedition March 1883 Tomsville.In the spring of 1883 a small column of explorers marched forth into the uncharted jungles of Tombogo in search of riches, knowledge and large animals to slaughter.
The expedition team
- General Ambrosius Montgomery Ballroom – currently on shooting leave from his regiment, the 99th North Humberside Yeomanry
- Royston “Tweakers” Cuthbertson – School friend of Ballroom and nature lover
- Partick "Fightin Irish" Flaherty – General Ballroom’s batman and bodyguard
- Rasmuss Svensson– Scandiwegian scout of great reputation and ill manners
- Assorted Askari and native bearers.
The Diary of Ambrosius BallroomMarch 17th 1883
Tomorrow we leave the hurly-burly of Tomsville and head north onto the jungles of Tombogo. Tweakers is like a man possessed, forever polishing his shells and murmuring about “bagging a big ‘un.” No sign of the d**ned Scandiwegian scout - vanished with his advance pay into the Fleshpots of this godforsaken town. If he’s not here when we leave I’ll find him and have him horsewhipped.
I am a modest man but I am of the opinion that under my skilled leadership this expedition will bring discoveries and riches the envy of any yet alive!
In the event that I should not return from this mission fraught with peril, then please let Binky know that I love her more than any man has ever loved and that the nine years I have spent with her have been the happiest any man could ever hope for.
Please also tell Mrs Ballroom to ensure Binky has fresh hay twice a day and a small bag of carrots each Friday.
God Save The Queen!
March 18th 1883
We set forth at dawn into the verdant jungles to the north of Tomsville.
Svensson appeared just before we left wearing nought but his nightshirt and reeking of cheap rum and even cheaper perfume. Were he not so highly recommended I’d have had him dismissed. And horsewhipped for a blackguard.
All was quiet for much of the day, though Tweakers discharged several volleys into the trees where he claimed he had seen rhino. As the sun began to set Svensson called us to a halt. A party of natives emerged from the forest and the Scandiwegian approached them. They seemed friendly and offered us trinkets but I am in no mood for such trifles so we marched on.
Camp is quiet this evening, save for Flaherty’s mournful songs of his bog strewn homeland.
March 19th 1883
D**mned uncomfortable night’s sleep. Tweakers snores fit to wake the dead.
The day began badly as the foolish scout, still reeking of cheap spirits, led us off in the wrong direction. The two Askari leading the way marched straight into quicksand. We were able to pull one of them from the sucking mud but the other was lost to us. Svennson made himself scarce before I could find my horsewhip.
More jungle as I set us back on a northward route. Soon after lunch Svennson re-appeared, just in time to liaise with some new natives. Or possibly the same natives as yesterday again offering trade. I told Svensson to tell them to stop following us around.
Svensson regaled us this evening with tales of his homeland and his father’s skills as a manufacturer of book cases.
March 20th 1883
Woke this morning to find Tweakers had already vacated the tent. In his place a full grown lion. The beast swiped at me with a paw but I was able to fling the contents of my chamber pot in its eyes which caused the creature to flee. Tweaker returned soon thereafter and was displeased to find his undershorts sodden with the contents of my chamber pot. He has had a most uncomfortable day of it I fear.
We moved northwards further into the jungle and in late afternoon found ourselves being shadowed by some tribal types. Svennson professed calmness but these were altogether less amicable than our previous encounters and I kept my rifle loaded and ordered the column to close up.
Camp this evening enlivened by the bearers singing. Tweakers declared it an unholy racket but I found it rather soothing.
March 21st 1883
I have decided that we should head toward the east and instructed Svennson thus. He muttered his displeasure but the threat of a horsewhipping put him back in line.
My decision was vindicated as we soon encountered a swift flowing river. As we made to follow it Tweakers let out a cry and plunged into the shallows, emerging with a nugget of shining ore the size of a moderately large horse chestnut! I immediately ordered the column into the swirling stream and we soon filled a couple of large sacks with gold. Tweakers and I shall be rich if nothing else.
The rest of the day passed without incident.
March 22nd 1883
Was awoken this morning by a howling gale. Rushed to supervise the securing of the tents in place. Flaherty showed his mighty strength by single-handedly holding down the Askari tent while all around him was chaos. When the windstorm died down we discovered two bearers had been carried off by the gusts, which is inconvenient.
We continued eastward following the river but in the late afternoon it forked north and south. Tweakers and I almost came to blows trying to decide which fork to follow, so rather than harm our friendship we agreed to continue eastward away from the river. As night began to fall more natives emerged. These carried some meat stuff about them and with the aid of Svennson I was able to trade some for some blankets we carried.
Svensson claimed the meat is chicken, but it must come from very large birds indeed, the thighbone was almost as thick as mine! Dashed tasty though.
March 23rd 1883
Poor night’s sleep, Tweakers was moaning and groaning claiming the bush chicken was off. My iron constitution saw me through. He’s was still a little green this morning.
As we hacked deeper into the jungle we came across a huge slab of rock, riddled with ribbons of green and puce. Dashed pretty stuff, but no idea what it is. Told Flaherty to carve off a lump to take back and show the boffins.
More bush chicken this evening. Tweakers refused to eat the stuff, more fool him. Neither the bearers nor the Askari will touch it either. Svensson claimed it was on religious grounds. All of which meant I was able to gorge on the tasty white flesh.
March 24th 1883
Weather has turned and the sun is scorching with water in short supply. I’ve ordered us to turn back to Tomsville as supplies are low and I’m not sure Svensson knows the way. We headed south. More jungle. The heat was staggering. One of the Askari keeled over as we marched. Clearly he was dying and I ordered us to march on. However Svensson found some herbs and flowers and rubbed them under the man’s nose and he made a remarkable recovery and was able to continue.
In the late afternoon I prepared to order an early halt to the march as all were suffering in the heat.
However as we entered a clearing Svensson’s keen eyes spotted something and he hissed a warning. I quickly drew us close together and not a moment too soon as savages bust from the undergrowth in front of us…
I formed the column up in a simple square with the Askari covering the flanks. I expected a headlong rush from the natives and three duly charged toward us using the undergrowth for cover.
Four more of their number sneaked over on our right flank.
We gave fire, and though Svesson parted the hair of the nearest native none of our shots hit home.
The savages on our right let forth with arrows one of which struck me in the chest! My pocket-watch is quite ruined.
Three more native archers appeared from the trees to our left and took aim.
The natives to our front burst from cover and were on us before we had reloaded. Svensson traded blows with one of the brutes but neither of them hit home.
The rest of us fired at what natives we could see but to no effect, whilst Flaherty raced to Svensson's aid. However before he could land a blow the savage struck with ferocious speed and buried his spear deep in the scout's chest. Showing his phlegmatic Scandiwegian nature he still produced an enormous knife from beneath his nightshirt and struck and both fell lifeless to the ground.
Arrows now rained down on us from all sides but we remained unharmed.
At this point a mighty lion emerged from the undergrowth, doubtless attracted by the din of battle and the smell of blood. The bearers quaked in fear but stern words kept them in line.
Three more spearmen charged our lines. Flaherty dispatched one with a fearsome uppercut and one of the Askari brained another with his butt. Tweakers parried a spear-thrust with his rifle but was unable to strike home.
Unfortunately for the recently victorious Askari the lion decided to seize upon him but his flailing paws missed the brave fellow.
Having reloaded I calmly bagged a native between the eyes. Flaherty joined the tussle with Tweakers, though the pair of fools conspired to miss and Tweakers was lucky to turn aside a speart-hrust with his helmet.
One of the Askarir broke ranks and ran to help his fellow fight the lion. Amid much roaring and clawing one of them thrust a knife home, but the beast roared its defiance.
More arrows failed to find their mark - no stout Welsh yeomen these - and one of the spearmen decided to brave Flaherty
The noble lion bit down on one of the Askari who collapsed with a horrible wail.
Another of the Askari finally found his range and pinged one of the archers on the left with a good shot.
Flaherty picked up his opponent and crushed the life out of him with a mighty bear-hug and with that the fight left the savages and they fled, with the noble lion in hot pursuit.
With the savages and the lion in full retreat I counted the butchers bill. The Askari had been badly mauled by the lion and died in short order. Svensson too was clearly dead. Even though he tried to claim otherwise. I offered to shoot him to be sure but all I received was a profanity laden response. Were it not for the spear in his gut I’d have horsewhipped him. We left his still protesting corpse in the clearing and continued southward, making camp some hours later.
Finished the last of the bush chicken tonight, delicious but slightly spoiled by the presence of a toenail – must have been dropped in by the chef. Will have Flaherty beat him.
March 25th 1883
We turned westward, searching for home. We are better without the d**nable Scandiwegian for I possess a perfect sense of direction. Shortly after elevenses we stumbled upon some ancient ruins amid the creepers and bushes. Tweakers claims they are from a civilisation older than the Romans. I made some crude sketches and Flaherty pulled a section of relief from one of the walls to take back to Tomsville
All was otherwise quiet.
In the camp tonight I prevailed upon Tweakers to give his marvelous rendition of “Ooops Mr Bloomers” in the music hall style. I laughed till the tears flowed.
March 26th 1883
I can barely see the page to write this entry the fog is so thick. No movement possible. Flaherty says he’s seen thicker in “The Old Country”
March 27th 1883
Awoke to clear blue skies once more. Set off with a degree of urgency for supplies are running low. The d**n fool Askari leading the way blundered straight into a fast flowing stream. He was swept away taking one of his fellows with him.
Tweakers plunged into the flow to affect a rescue but was swept off too. Fortunately Flaherty managed to grab him by the monocle and haul him to safety.
The stream led to a large river heading southwards which we followed for the rest of the day.
Camp was a damp and sombre affair, though I did lose half a crown to Tweakers in a game of Happy Families.
March 28th 1883
We followed the river south as I know Tomsville cannot be far. As we broke camp I stubbed my toe on a shiny lump of metallic ore. Tweakers says it’s valuable, but I can’t believe him, but we took a lump to be sure.
Around midday the river turned eastwards, but we left it as we are almost without food.
Dinner tonight was thin pickings indeed. Tweakers commenced to snore most wretchedly.
March 29th 1883.
Our final destination cannot be far, this jungle seems familiar to my trained eye.
Savages appeared mid-morning and tracked us for some hours, but made no threat so we ignored them and marched on.
Late in the afternoon Tweakers let out a cry and began to scrabble in the earth. Enlisting the help of Flaherty he presently extracted a large bone of some sort. I believe it to be from some sort of Thunder Lizard, which I shall be proud to name the Ballroomasaur.
No food when we made camp tonight. Tweakers made quite an unmanly fuss I felt.
A brief headcount and we realised we were a bearer short. The Askari said he’d fallen aside weak with lack of sustenance and we’d left him to die. I do wish we’d taken the gold he was carrying from him.
March 30th 1883
An uneventful March saw us return in triumph to Tomsville.
Some d**ned bonedoctor said the Ballroomasaurus bone was already known to him, so I couldn’t thus name it. He did however pay handsomely for the item.
The mineral deposits and whereabouts of the lost ruins also bought reward, but more importantly the name of Ballroom will be spread far and wide across the Empire!
I have already plans afoot to venture further into the jungle but for now I just want to see my beloved Binky once again.
God Save the Queen!