“There are quite a few people hereabouts who look as if they’d like to administer the Intelligence Test to us,” he said to Padraig.
Padraig accepted this news with a tiny nod of the head. But Surendranath had overheard them. He had retreated into his palanquin and drawn red curtains around it for privacy, and it was easy to forget he was there.
“What is the Intelligence Test?” he demanded to know, and swept the curtain aside.
“A private joke,” said the annoyed Padraig.
But Jack saw good reasons to explain it, and so he said, “Cast your memory back to when Fortune had set us ashore in Surat—”
“I remember it every day,” said Surendranath.
“You stayed there to pursue your career. We fled inland to get away from the diverse European assassins who infested that town, and who were all looking for us. Soon enough, we came upon a Mogul road-block. Hindoos and Mohametans were allowed to pass through with only minor harassment and taking of baksheesh, but when it became known that we were Franks, they took us aside and made us sit in a tent together. One by one, each of us was taken out alone, and conducted to a field nearby, and handed a musket—which was unloaded—and a powder-horn, and pouch of balls.”
“What did you do?” Surendranath demanded.
“Gaped at it like a farmer.”
“I likewise,” said Padraig.
“So you failed the Intelligence Test?”
“I would rather say that we passed it. Van Hoek did the same as we. Mr. Foot tried to load the musket, but got the procedure backwards—put the ball in first, then the powder. But Vrej Esphahnian and Monsieur Arlanc loaded the weapon and discharged it in the general direction of a Hindoo idol that the Moguls had been using for target practice.”
“They were inducted,” said Surendranath.
“As far as we know, they have been serving in the armed forces of the local king ever since that day.” Jack said.
We do tend to get obsessed about things at N.O., it has certainly got to Chuckles who sent this and long may we all obsess, that’s all I can say.