WORRALS GOES EAST
by Captain W. E. Johns
II. NIMRUD, THE MIGHTY HUNTER (Pages 23 – 32)
Nimrud is described as follows. “He was about forty years of age, tall above the average and extraordinarily handsome in an Oriental way. A certain portliness of figure gave him a tremendous dignity, of which he appeared to be fully conscious, for as he walked he transferred it to a swaggering carriage that in a European town would have been ludicrous. His clean-shaven face, half-way between white and brown, presented a complexion that a woman might have envied. His eyes were dark, in contrast to his hair, which was fair. His costume appeared to be more suited to the musical comedy stage than real life. Over a white silk shirt buttoned high round the throat he wore a black pleated tunic crossed diagonally by twin bandoliers filled with cartridges. His legs were enveloped in black baggy trousers, the bottoms tucked into high boots. On his head, at a jaunty angle, was a tall round hat of close-curled Persian lambskin. Around his waist was clipped a leather belt, which supported on one side a long-barrelled pistol, and on the other a silver-handled dagger. “What a perfectly gorgeous creature!” breathed Frecks. “It can’t be true”. Nimrud once served in the Tcherkesses, the famous Syrian cavalry that originally came from the Caucasus. He refers to Worrals and Frecks as ‘bints’ (a bint being the Arab word for girl but now used as English slang). Frecks asks him if he is married and he says no, but he has had many wives. When Frecks asks what happened to them? He says “Some I gave away, or sold. Others – I forget where I left them. They were no good”. His last wife he “gave to a seller of nuts in Baghdad. There has been enmity between us ever since”. Worrals and Frecks dress as Arab women (“like walking corpses” as Frecks puts it) and Nimrud takes them out of a secret exit through a shop to Stampoulos’ hotel. They see a hook-nosed Arab, with a face scarred by small-pox, sitting like a beggar outside. Stampoulos is “an obsequious little man with an ivory complexion, wearing a red fez, dark suit and old tennis shoes ……. and stood rubbing his hands in the manner usually described as oily”. The girls go to their bedroom and find their baggage has already arrived. Nimrud has the room next door and they need only knock on the wall to summon him. Worrals does this when she is ready and sends Nimrud to get the clothes worn by the woman who died in the plane crash and the report about the crash. Worrals asks Nimrud to give them local names and Nimrud christens Worrals as ‘Zenobia’ and Frecks as ‘Maida’, these names being common in the Lebanon.