Harpreet gets a late supper; Indra learns to cook muffins (tag Harpreet, Indra, Patrick, Emily, Lhasa)
OOC: Bronwyn, I've no idea of how to cook muffins. I'm just guessing! - Kim
"Yes, why don't you take 1st Sergeant Singh, and the Corporal, and fetch Private Harpreet?"
The Private in question had indeed slept in; he was still fast asleep has the three men entered the barracks. Patrick looked at Ranjit and said, "Shall we wake the sleeping beauty?"
"By all means, Lieutenant." Ranjit and the Corporal well nigh pounced on the sleeping soldier.
"GET UP!!!! GET OUT OF YOUR RACK!!!!"
Soon, his father-in-law' s voice was s loud enough to be heard down at the rifle range. The corporal had grabbed the blankets off the Private and tipped him onto the floor. It may have seemed cruel but Patrick knew worse would befall the Private before the end of the day.
Private Harpreet slowly got to his feet; his head hurt, and it took him a few seconds to realize where he was. Oh, hell, he thought when he saw who had woken him up.
Patrick could smell his breath a mile away. "What do you have to say, Private?"
"My head hurts."
Glaring at him, Ranjit said, in a cold tone, "What was that you said, Private?"
"My head hurts, sir."
"Well, that is not all that will hurt when we are through. You are drunk on duty and late for formation, Private. I will let the First Sergeant and the Captain decide your fate."
The Private felt worse than he did a few minutes before. Once he was dressed, he was taken to the morning formation.
"Sir, your missing man. He was drunk as a skunk, Captain. But, it’s a first offence, sir."
Jack considered things, for a minute. Harpreet was just old enough to be a soldier and was the newest soldier in the whole battalion. And, like all the other soldiers, he came from the village and was related closely or distantly to everyone in the company and the battalion. And, Jack, through Parvati and little Miriam, was "family."
"Shall we give him to the First Sergeant? I do not believe in flogging for a first offence."
The man in question was now at attention, swaying slightly, and very scared by Patrick's last words.
"Yes, give him to the First Sergeant. Minor discipline cases are to be handled by the NCOs." Jack nodded to Ranjit.
Ranjit saluted. "Yes, sirs." He turned to the miscreant. "You will go with us to the rifle range and you will help me, because you are too drunk to safely fire, and you will be tasked, after we are finished, with cleaning all the rifles, and you will be restricted to the barracks for the rest of the week and for the weekend." This latter was hard, because most of the soldiers went to visit their families in the village on the weekends. Plus, as Ranjit knew, Harpreet was engaged to his childhood sweetheart, so he would not be able to see her this weekend.
"Yes; yes, sir." he was very embarrassed, and the shame could be seen on his face.
Ranjit turned to Jack and Patrick. "Sirs, it is settled."
"Very well," said Jack. "Patrick, have the First Sergeant get the men mounted up, and we will go out to the range. Harpreet can ride in the ammunition cart. He is too drunk to ride by himself." He knew this would embarrass Harpreet who, as a Sikh, prided himself on being tough, but it was true- he would have fallen off his horse. Plus, the fact he couldn't fire at the range would put him behind his fellow soldiers in being up to date in marksmanship practice- another embarrassment, but he had brought it on himself.
"Thank you, sir. Private, get into the cart, now."
"Sir, I can ride."
"Now, if you please. I will not ask you a second time."
Private Harpreet got into the cart. He was deeply ashamed. His father was a retired soldier, and he was expected home that weekend. Now, his brother would have to tell the family of his disgrace, and he knew his father would be disappointed in him. So, too, would his fiancée. She had been very proud of him when he had joined the family regiment.
The Private was lost in thought as he rode to the rifle range. The journey seemed to take an awfully long time. He was in deep disgrace; he knew that. True, it was a minor offence but his brother had not looked at him with even a gentle smile of encouragement. His brother was much embarrassed by his younger brother, and would tell him what he thought of him when they were alone. It was not done for a Sikh to get drunk like he did.
Once at the range, he got out of the cart just in time to throw up in some bushes, but not before Ranjit had seen him. Ranjit had come over to get the miscreant. "Sorry, First Sergeant."
Ranjit just glared and snapped, "Come!" He knew the boy was young, just joined, the youngest soldier on post, and he knew that everyone makes a mistake from time to time, and this wasn't the end of the world, but he hoped this stern treatment would impress on Harpreet not to be drunk on duty, ever again.
It was very hard to watch the men practice. Patrick had been keeping an eye on the private and had some idea of how he was feeling, although he could not show any sympathy. He had a quiet word with Jack, during a meal break.
"Jack, I think our Private is learning his lesson. I can see it in his face, and I think my father-in-law will set him on the right road."
"We all make mistakes, especially in our youth. If anyone can set him right, Ranjit can."
"Remember the time I got drunk?"
Jack chuckled. "I do, I do, indeed. I know you learned from that experience. I hope Harpreet learns from this one."
Latter that day, when they got back to the barracks, Ranjit got the deeply ashamed Private and took him to the room where the rifles were kept. It had a table and chair, and Ranjit showed him how to clean the rifles. He watched him do the first one and then left him to his duty. It was very hard for the private. It was the first time he had felt homesick. He could hear the laughter coming from the all-ranks mess, and tears slowly began to form as he was cleaning. Several hours later, Ranjit come to check on him.
"The rifles are ready for inspection, sir."
Ranjit picked one up, then another. They were all cleaned excellently. It would seem that Harpreet had reacted maturely, at least here. "Yes, they are properly cleaned."<Harpreet>"You may go to the barracks. Supper is over but there is still some food in the kitchen of the all-ranks mess hall. First, go on over and get some. Tell the cooks that I have sent you; they will help you."<Harpreet>As Ranjit saw the young man go out, he hoped he had learned a lesson that he wouldn't forget. Ranjit made a mental note to explain it to Harpreet's family, telling them that they should just put it under the category of "we all make mistakes." Harpreet was young and had a lot to learn. But, he was a good young man and meant well. Ideally, when Harpreet finally did get a weekend off (next weekend), his father would just smile, slap him on the shoulder and say something like, "Well, I got drunk, once or twice, in my time. Just don't do it again, eh, boy?" But, he would see to it, and talk to the family. After all, it was the first time, and Ranjit just wanted the boy to learn, not to get a bad attitude about the military.As they were putting things up, the cooks saw a forlorn looking Private come in. It was Harpreet. He told them what the situation was and that the First Sergeant had told him to come over and get some late supper. The chief cook chuckled. "Oh, don't worry, boy, we all do things like that. I have been drunk, once or twice, in my time." He indicated the food that was still warm. "Go on over there and get yourself some food."
Over in the Company office, Jack was doing a few last things before he went home to Emily and the kids and Lhasa and supper. Upon finishing up, he walked home with Patrick."We'll see if Harpreet has benefitted from this lesson. I think he has."
They parted, at their houses. "See you tomorrow, Patrick. My regards to Lakshmi."<Patrick>Jack went on in to his yard. The girls ran out and greeted him."Dahdee! Dahdee!""Ah, girls! How are you? Is everyone alright?""Dahdee, we are veree good. We have been veree good, today."
"Good." He gave them each a piece of sugar candy that he'd gotten in the village. He went on in and said, "Emily? Lhasa?"<Emily>
Mummy was talking to Indra about the necessity of being careful about things and putting them in their proper place, so as to avoid accidents.
Indra was rather relieved that she didn't get punished for knocking Dahdee's rocket over. She had gotten off with a warning, or a lesson. Then, Lakshmi asked her to come in the kitchen and help with things.
"Mummy, what are we going to do in the kitchen?"
Lakshmi thought it would be a good idea to teach the child some female things; it might get Indra's mind off being a soldier. "My peach, how would you like to learn how to cook a few things?"
Indra's face lit up with a smile. "Mummy, may we make something nice for Dahdee?"
"Well, Dahdee is Anglezee, and the Anglezee like little rolls called muffins, which we can make. Why don't we make him a sheet of muffins? I will tell you each step."
"First, we must get some dough out of the dough barrel."
Indra did has she was told. she was wearing a pinny, like mummy, so as not to spoil her clothes.
"What do we do now, mummy?"
"We work with the dough like this." She massaged the dough several times. "Here, my peach, you take this amount of dough"- she gave the girl about half the dough- "and do what I do."
"We massage the dough....... Yes, just as you are doing. You are doing good, my peach."
"Now, we will make the dough into a flat sheet." Lakshmi pressed the dough until it was like a flat sheet. Indra watched and tried to imitate mummy. Mummy helped her to make it even and to a certain thickness.
Captain James "Jack" de Montfort, CO
B Company, 1st Battalion
5th Khyber Rifles
Ranjit Singh, 1SG
B Company, 1st Battalion
5th Khyber Rifles
Legal wife of Lt. Tindall