Saturday, March 12, 2016

War Footage from 1899 (The Boer War) .. How Robert's Bastard, Lucas, Was Born.. 3/12/16




There's a reason for everything. Lord Grantham was obviously of a proper age to see service during The World War, especially as part of the officer corps, but the War Office never contacted him. True, not all were called. Some were simply excess baggage and no longer needed. Others had injuries. Some simply no longer had the inclination... Whatever... No one asked, for his service during the recent South African campaign was know to all.  What wasn't known is what happened off the battlefield.

Now liaisons between British personnel and native populations were common and to a certain measure responsible for the 'creole' element found in most British colonies and protectorates. The majority involved enlisted men and lower elements of the resident society. Officers, many stemming from old, established noble and gentry families, held to a higher standard. Any fraternization that did occur was kept secret, for according to the national fiction, Britain's aristocracy never faltered.

Except when they did....

The Zulus were a cultivated people, with a proud national history and military traditions worthy of Europe's best. For the most part, they steered clear of British and Dutch altercations, but sometimes segments of the kingdom found themselves in the thick of it. Many fell in with the Boers, the predominantly Dutch element long native to the land, viewing them as a weaker, more malleable alternative to the Brits. The Zulu ruling classes , you see, had plans of their own.

But one girl, well born, though not closely connected to the ruling house, feared for her life.  Through no fault of her own, she over heard things... intrigue between The Kingdom and various lesser states to the west. The 'She Elephant,' the Queen Mother knew. She was there. She saw and not one to make a scene was quite willing to bide her time... a bit of poison here... a berserk royal elephant there... an accidental impalement on a famed Zulu asengi (long, tapered, bayonet-like, fine steel blade). These things, in their own time, can be accomplished. The girl knew it and she ran.

When the British intercepted her she claimed kinship with Clan Buthalaisy, the Royal House. Well, she was close, but close doesn't count. Dynastic relations are all or nothing. Lesser cousins, barring unforeseen circumstances, remain lesser cousins. The English knew that, but they didn't know  the ins and outs of Zulu descent, so she passed.

There was an officer, an Earl, a major, some said soon to be colonel, a spruce young man from the North.... decorated for an encounter toward The Drakkensbergs, they sent the girl to him... One hot dusty day she was there, dressed like a Boer farm wife... a young, pretty Boer farm wife with a loose cap of dark brown curls and large, vivid eyes. She had some knowledge of English, not as much as Africans, but the Boers lived in close contact with the Zulus so that was understandable.

The major, Lord Robert Crawley, knew a bit of Zulu. He called for Bates, his batman. The field servant said - Headquarters sent her. She seems to know something of enemy positions, Zulu plans too. The colonel couldn't understand her and thought maybe you could, my lord.....

So they sat and talked. He sent for refreshments, beverages too.

That's how it started. He found her a job and she became part of the camp, even followed them to Pretoria.... Grantham's 'pet' they called her...

But she was much more than that. She had to be. Better life, such as it was, with this Brit, than death with her own.... And from that arrangement, Lucas was born...

They kept it quiet. Few people knew....

But the army did... and that's why a certain Earl from Yorkshire, with a sweet American wife and three young daughters never served in the trenches.

<more Downton Abbey next time>

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