The Lost Diaries

This section of the diaries was written in the years just before my great-great-grandfather’s death. It represents a sort of ‘confessions’, where he corrects previous exaggerations and omissions in his accounts.

The "Intulo" Affair of 1879

...And so, with the creature in tow, we returned to Pietermaritzburg to much fanfare. The Piertermaritzburg-Durban railway was near completion, and we were to take the train part of the 50 miles to Durban, whence a steamer would take us to the beast to Alexandria, and hence to London.

A great number of coolies had in fact come from India, mainly Tamils; and it transpired that a warden mistook me for a coolie (me being out of my uniform then), and would eject me from my carriage, refusing to hear no reason, until Lieutenant Chard intervened and gave him a sound cuff in the ears for being so insolent to an officer.

For my part I felt much aggrieved - had the Great Mutiny been for aught? It seemed to me that if such an insult were visited upon the race of Bharata again,  we should rise up and overthrow the Raj!

Even though the line ran through friendly country Chard insisted on arming the train; as a result the Gatling gun and her crew, as well as a small company of men were deployed on a sand-bagged open carriage in the rear of the train. For myself I was not concerned, and spent my time in the engineer’s car, hoping to learn somewhat of the engines.

Then as the train rounded the spur we saw to our surprise trees were felled across the tracks. I fell headlong forwards and nearly lost my senses as the engineer seized the brakes.  When I got up the train was surrounded by a Zulu Impi, every warrior who was yelling ‘Intulo! Intulo!’, which I suppose to be their war-cry.

(Intulo is the name of a lizard-like creature in Zulu mythology.)

The company in the forward carriage of the train had disembarked to clear the trees, only to be driven back with great slaughter as the Zulu warriors surged towards them from both sides of the train!  Many a good man was lost that day, and henceforth Chard could never listen to "Men of Harlech" without a glisten in his eye.

On the rear carriage the Zulus kept up a steady fire on the men with the rifles they had pillaged from Isandlwana. When the ranks grew too thin Chard leapt off the carriage and released the juvenile dinosaur (which we had captured earlier and had hoped to present to Queen Victoria on the occasion of her 60th birthday), which forthwith attacked the Zulus. Curiously, the savages did not fight back, nor did they flee from the creature, but seemed rather to rush towards it in the ecstasy of seeing and being eaten by their strange deity.

Now the chieftain of the Impi saw Chard standing alone before the carriage, and straight away bore down upon him. But Chard had a charmed life that day, and manage to fend off every blow from him.

Belatedly I realized the peril we were in, and crawling out of the coal bin which I had been hiding in, I tried to recall what the engineer (who now lay dead on the cabin floor, an assegai through his chest) had taught me about piloting the train. To this day I cannot remember how I did it, but the train lurched backwards and slowly took us back northwards, Chard only just managing to jump onto the carriage as we left.

This matter was afterwards covered up, for it was considered a great scandal that so large a force of Zulus could infiltrate into Natal undetected.  We subsequently captured a rather large crocodile and sent that to London in place of the young dinosaur.  (The remains of that crocodile - which we named "Intulo" - can still be found in the British Museum to this day.) And Chard was raised to the rank of Captain.