Pulling up near the gate of Delhi Cantonment, William observes a line of civilians along Pankha Cariappa Marg. A simple draw-gate stands open across this street, but guards hold the people before admitting them through. They wait with supplies, a line of carts and wagons edge forward slowly. Pratima leaves the horses with William, rushing past everyone milling to the line’s head, to speak of her mission. William senses the rising irritation from those by-passed.
Slowly William makes his way with the horses, past all the people, apologizing as he goes. Pratima argues. This guard’s no officer. Uniform’s too simple.
“Close this gate!” she yells at the guard.
He laughs, “You don’t have authority to close this gate.” Her body shivers like a chill has seized her. She casts a fierce expression at the guard.
“Take me to Commander Guptha!” she demands as she waves one of the letters. “And close that gate. William, you tell them.”
“Please, we’ve come all this way and not for no good reason.” He stands his tallest, and the second guard notices his vest. And there’s a whispered, Scout.
The guard stares at Pratima without moving to obey. She begins speaking slowly and quietly. Each word with a slight pause before the next. “I ... speak ... with ... the ... word ... of ... his ... royal majesty ... Singh,” she stares until he nods to the other who lowers the gate.
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