Captain Henry Mallory rubbed his thick moustache, whilst a thick furrow parted his saxon brow. “Eleanor,” he called his secretary, “I must have the name of that young man.”
Eleanor poked her head through the pinned open flap of the captain’s tent. “Sir?” she inquired.
“Damn strange,” Captain Mallory huffed. He held the binoculars to his eyes and peered through the claw marks in his tent’s main wall. An acre’s length away, at the tree line, there was a young recruit riding a tiger. The man had clearly lassoed the cat first and the two were roughly flopping back and forth in the long grass, in the midst of play or the penultimate struggle preceding an inevitable mauling.
“Sir, I believe that’s the Smith boy.”
“Is it?” asked the captain. He rubbed his moustache compulsively and dropped the binoculars to his chest. The Smith boy had struck Captain Mallory, from the first, as a responsible fellow, so far as a common man could be. He never would have suspected the lad of anything so untoward as roping and riding a jungle cat. It was quite abnormal. “Mustn’t tell the parents,” he muttered to his secretary.
Hopefully the tiger would devour the young man when at last this farce was complete. Then they could write England and swear that the unfortunate lad had perished in a most valorous manner. Truthful to a point, was Captain Mallory, except in matters of war. Each of us deserves a good death, and a meaningful one, he believed, especially now that Britannia stood upon the brink of its manifest destiny. The only bodies still in camp were sick with fever, dysentery or nursing the afflictions of the natives’ latest attack. Tiger rodeos were just a load of poppycock.