30. I Make Lieutenant-Pancake

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"... killed every last one of the savages with my own hands. They were fearsome enemies, but my superior fighting skills struck fear into their hearts which they could not overcome."

Lieutenant Ellingham thumped his chest theatrically.

"At last, only the big grey beast was left, and so I charged forward and stuck my sabre right into its belly! It collapsed, dead on the spot!"

The Lieutenant finished his narration with a flourish of the arm, simulating a sabre thrust.

"Marvellous! Simply Marvellous!" My aunt, Maria, Anne and Lisbeth applauded enthusiastically, and even Ella moved her hands together a bit, though by no means so forcefully that it could actually be heard.

"What an impeccable display of courage," Anne proclaimed, fluttering her eyelashes at the Lieutenant. "To think that you all alone went up against a raiding party of twenty-one savages, and charged such a terrifying monster as an elephant! This is the kind of bravery that made the British Empire what it is today!"

"Yes, really amazing," I yawned.

The lieutenant raised an eyebrow. "Praise from you, Miss Linton? That is a rare gift indeed. Thank you very much. I am delighted to hear you appreciate my bravery in the face of danger."

I had to work hard to keep a smirk off my face. "That's not really what I was talking about. I think it's amazing that you're sitting here alive."

"That is due to his bravery," Maria pointed out, which the lieutenant acknowledged with a graceful bow of the head.

"More to a miracle," I disagreed. "You stabbed the elephant into its belly? From below?"

"Yes?" The lieutenant's voice was suddenly cautious. I had to say that up to this point, the conversation had rather bored me. But now I was enjoying myself.

"You see, that's what I find so amazing," I mused. "The Elephant collapsed, and you were standing right underneath. Yet you are sitting here, alive on our couch, and are not flattened to some part of the Indian soil as lieutenant-pancake."

"Err.. well... the Elephant fell to the side?"

"To the side?" I asked sweetly. "Onto the savages that you were still busy fighting off?"

"Yes."

"The ones you said you had already killed before the elephant attacked?"

"Err..."

"Be silent, child," My aunt chided me. Then, turning to Lieutenant Ellingham, she continued: "You must excuse my niece, Sir. She has led a very sheltered life and knows little of the ways of the world. Certainly she is totally inexperienced in such manly activities as you have described."

He nodded, graciously. "That is no problem, Madam. Maybe," he said, throwing a suggestive glance in my direction, "I could show her a few manly activities. Then she would not be so ignorant anymore."

I thought I was going to be sick.

"Which brings me to the point of my visit," Lieutenant Ellingham continued, rising and extending his hand to me. "Which is to inquire whether Miss Lillian Linton would wish to go for a walk with me. There is a beautiful park outside your house, and I am sure there are some things she has not seen before there."

There were various possible answers to that:

Oh yes, of course there are things I haven't seen yet in the park. I've only lived here for over a decade of my life.

Or:

Hey, you can talk to me directly you know! I'm right here in the room.

Or better yet:

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