As before he is accompanied by his school-chum Tweakers, his batman and bodyguard Flaherty and the hapless Scandiwegian scout Svensson
The account of the previous excursion General Ballroom made can be found here
The Diary of Ambrosius Ballroom
April 23rd 1883Tomorrow I shall once more lead an expedition into the unexplored interior of Tombogo. The fame of my previous exploration has traveled far and wide and I have been prevailed upon to return into the wilds once more. I have decided to resume a northwards passage through the jungles. Tweakers has once again agreed to accompany me. To my astonishment the d**nable Scandiwegian scout has returned as it were from the dead and presented himself for employment. Apparently it was just a flesh wound and he’s fully recovered. I advanced him his first three day’s pay and he vanished into the fleshpots of Tombogo – he had better appear in the morning, the knave!
April 24th 1883Svensson clattered into the camp this morning at daybreak reeking of cheap perfume and native spirits. Flaherty dragged him to the river edge and thrust him into the water several times, which restored some semblance of sobriety and removed some of the smell.
We made swift progress to the edge of the territory we charted on my last glorious expedition I gave a short speech reflecting on my past achievements and Tweakers called for three cheers before we set off once more into the unexplored jungles.
Much of the day passed uneventfully though we encountered a small spring which grew into a river that soon forked both east and west. The scout suggested we follow the waterway but I dismissed his nonsense – Northward we shall go!
Late in the afternoon Tweakers gave a yell and fell to his knees gazing in rapture at a small purple flower. Truth to tell I was quite taken with its beauty as well and ordered the bearers to dig several up to take back to us. The Ballroom Dahlia (as I have chosen to name it) will be a horticultural hit across the Empire I am convinced.
April 25th 1883A miserable night’s sleep – Tweakers snored fit to wake the dead and then complained most bitterly when I emptied the contents of my tooth mug over his head to rouse him. He is stil refusing to speak with me.
The jungle seemed to me unnaturally quiet as we set off, but the scout would have none of it and marched off at the head of the column. Almost the moment we had stepped into the jungle the air was rent with cries and savages descended upon us.
Hastily I ordered the askari into a line though Flaherty raced away to engage in fisticuffs with the natives. We were too engaged with forming a defensive position to give fire and Flaherty swung and missed his opponent.
At this point an undiscovered Lion suddenly sprang forth to threaten the end of our defensive line, but fortunately it’s claws did not strike home.
The native archers fired once more but their arrows fell short. A second native turned on Flaherty and the other two rushed our line. However despite a flurry of blows no-one struck home.
I ordered the flag bearer out of the line to help Flaherty and one of his fellows ran to try and drag his companion free from the lion the final two ran to help in the tussle with the natives. Tweakers the Scandiwegian and I fired on the archers and the scout claimed a kill. One of the evil natives struck down the flag bearer, in return the askari killed one of the two bold fellows who had charged home. The lion roared but was unable to strike home
Suddenly a cry to my right and Svensson fell to the ground with an arrow in his belly. A fatal blow – though he protested otherwise. Flaherty continued to swing and miss at his baffled opponents as another askari ran to help him. Meanwhile the two askari finally dispatched the ferocious lion with swift blows. It’s head will look nice back at Ballroom Manor.
In revenge for Svenson’s death Tweakers took aim and bagged one of the archers and the askari dragged another native to the ground and a huge blow from Flaherty broke the neck of another. Drawn by the death of her mate a lioness emerged from the jungle and took a swipe at an askari before she and the surviving natives melted back into the trees.
Two dead askari and the scout breathing his last – despite maintaining he was hale and hearty – was a high butchers bill so early in the exploration, but I felt we must press on and ordered us forward. The dying Svensson pleaded to come with us and resisted our attempts to bury him so we left him where he had fallen.
The jungle soon began to thin and we started to climb into foothills and before long were high in the range of mountains that shall henceforth be known as the Ballroom Range.
Late in the day we encountered a small band of natives who seemed friendly though none of us could understand a word they said.
We made camp with a splendid view back over the jungles and toasted the memory of the late Scandiwegian.
April 26th 1883Fever has struck the camp! One of the Askari has succumbed in the night and Flaherty too has a high temperature and spent most of the morning incoherently muttering about the “silver bogs of home” or somesuch. Fortunately is iron constitution saw him though and by mid-afternoon he had climbed down from his stretcher and was once more marching with the rest of us.
In the absence of the scout I have been using my unerring sense of direction to guide us through these treacherous mountains. As night fell I located a lovely spot with a splendid view back over the jungles. Obviously a desirable spot as there was evidence of a camp having been there recently – natives presumably.
April 27th 1883A quiet and uneventful day. Once more I led us to a campsite with another splendid view back over the jungles. Another place popular with natives as we found evidence of at least two camps.
April 28th 1883In the night we were awoken by the sound of drumming. The two remaining askari claimed it was a bad omen and fled into the mountains like craven curs! Fortunately I am made of sterner stuff. As is Tweakers who snored his way through the whole thing.
Another day wondering in the mountains. Around midday we encountered more friendly natives and were able to trade for some more food. Again I located a safe camping spot with a splendid view of the jungle. Tweakers ventured that it all looked awfully familiar to him I fear that the sun is getting to him and he is becoming jaded with the sights we are seeing.
April 29th 1883Tweakers insisted on leading the column today and I reluctantly agreed. At first things went well and we made good progress, but a sudden landslip saw two days food carried away, along with the three bearers that carried them. Tweakers and I exchanged strong words and almost came to blows. However I did say he could lead for today and am a man of my word, so eventually we went on following his direction. As the day wore on we once more encountered a party of natives – these seemed less friendly and tracked us through the mountains for some time before melting away.
At night we made camp in a most inferior spot. No view of the jungle nor evidence of previous camps.
April 30th 1883Awoke to discover our bags had been rifled through in the night and our last remaining trade goods had been stolen. Tweakers was all for hunting down the culprits but I am mindful our food supplies are low and we should be making our way back toward Tombogo. To mollify him I allowed him to continue setting our direction, which proved a clear folly as we ended the day back at the same miserable spot we had occupied the night before. He would have none of it, insisting it was merely a similar spot and that the campsite detritus had been left by natives.
As we prepared to make camp we encountered the same group of natives we had previously traded with and once again they seemed keen to exchange but we have nothing to exchange apart from our limited food.
May 1st 1883I once more assumed command of the expedition today and led us in what I believed to be a southerly direction. As we broke camp I stubbed my toe most painfully on a protruding rock. Closer examination of the offending item revealed it to be a bone of monstrous size – doubtless another thunder lizard – this one shall be known as the Ballroomasaurus. The bearers collected as much of the creatures remains as we could find and I led us down from the mountain and back into lush jungle. I fear we are being tracked as the unfriendly natives of two days ago once more appeared and followed us at a distance for much of the day. Flaherty wanted to chase them off, but mindful of our limited guns I held him back.
May 2nd 1883Once again the infernal native drums struck up in the night. Three bearers were absent when we assembled again in the morning – the turncoats had even taken two days’ worth of food with them. This venture has felt cursed from the beginning and we are now down to almost our last supplies. I ordered us to travel what I believe to be eastward.
More natives appeared in the afternoon, but again were content just to track our progress.
May 3rdThe morning broke quiet and still and I ordered once more eastwards. We had only been marching for a few hours when Twekaers let out a cry and ran on ahead to a clearing where the tents we had left ten days earlier were waiting for us!
Also waiting for us was the Scandiwegian scout who again insisted his wound was not fatal and demanded his outstanding pay! I pointed out that as he’d left the party he’d not earned any pay and dismissed him on the spot. Though Tweakers subsequently re-hired him to lead us back to Tombogo.
On reaching the capital I was able to relax in a lovely warm bath.
Once again the bone-doctor denies that my thunder lizard is unique, though he did pay well for the remains. Similarly a plant fellow explained that the Ballroom Dahlia was an already known, albeit rare, species. He agreed a reward and took the plantings to send back to Kew Gardens.
Sadly this expedition has cost me rather more than it earned me. However I feel sure there are more resources to be had and as soon as I am well rested I shall venture forth once more!
God save the Queen!