There was an involuntary shudder and the green eyes suddenly were filled with fear.
Daphne Cudd was a beautiful woman, who had the good sense to be afraid of violent bandits and poisonous snakes. She had recently joined her husband in India.
Victoria was the queen and the sun never set on the British Empire.
Col. Reginald E. Cudd was the commanding officer of the 3732 Royal Fusiliers. He was ruddy faced, wore a handle-bar mustache, and engaged in much throat clearing.
“Harrumph! harrumph!” he said, as he speared a piece of chicken. “Veddy hot, but good, but good.”
Cudd chewed contentedly.
“What do your call this, my dear!” he asked.
Daphne was deep in thoughtful worry. Reggie had been blunt and direct in his warning about the plundering dacoits i.e. robbers and the deadly hooded cobras. The robber bands were active and the rain had brought out the snakes.
She shook her head.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s an Indian dish. I got the recipe from a native.”
Daphne retired to her bedroom early. She read until overcome by tiredness, then fell into a restless sleep. Sometime past midnight a cobra, in an effort to escape the night’s chill, entered the Cudd residence through a hole where a pipe had once been. The snake made its way to Daphne’s bedroom, crawled into the bed and cuddled up next to the sleeping beauty.
During the early morning hours Daphne felt a cold and clammy weight on her chest. It seemed to get heavier and heavier. It finally woke her. She opened her eyes and found herself staring straight into the gleaming eyes of the snake.
Her sudden movement angered the snake. Its eyes cruelly glittered and its tongue movement increased. It appeared ready to strike. Then as Daphne lay still, paralyzed by fear, the snake became calm and appeared to fall asleep.
Daphne knew, however, that one slight movement on her part would probably mean death. The cobra’s bite was fatal, usually within 10 hours.
The snake’s weight became oppressive, even worse, the reptile had an awful case of halitosis, and its head was only inches from Daphne’s chin.
Daphne then saw a shadowy figure flit toward her dresser.
“My lord,” she thought. “Now I have a bandit to contend with also.”
She heard the dacoit open her jewelry box, and remove its contents. The shadow then approached Daphne’s bed. If she uttered a warning, the snake would wake up and strike her. She could only stare wide-eyed as the bandit reached for her.
The snake suddenly heard the movement and saw the bandit’s hand come toward it. The snake hissed and struck the prowler full in the face.
The dacoit slashed with his dagger and cut off the snake’s head. He knew he could not be saved, so he simply sat down to await his fate.
Daphne’s scream brought Reggie into the bedroom.
“Harumph! Jolly rich eh, what? A watchsnake. Too bad the rogue had to kill it,” Reggie said. Then he laughed uproariously.
At that moment, Daphne thought seriously about substituting arsenic for the curry in her Indian chicken recipe.
Of course, she did not. She had a deep love for Reggie, even though he was a blowhard. She continued to prepare his favorite dish. The recipe follows:
Daphne Cudd’s Curried Chicken
3 Lb. chicken parts
2 Tbs. water
1 Tsp. salt
3/4 Cup finely chopped onion
3 Tbs/ vegetable oil
1 Cup sour cream
2 Tsp. curry powder
1 1/2 Tsp. ginger
1/4 Tsp. ground cumin
2 chili peppers
Heat oil in 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven. Cook chicken in the oil over medium heat until brown on all sides, which should take about 15 minutes. Drain fat from skillet. Sprinkle salt, onion, chili peppers and water on chicken. Cover and simmer until thickest pieces of chicken are done, which should take between 30 and 40 minutes.
Remove chicken from skillet and pour liquid from skillet into a bowl. Skim fat from top and return a quarter of the liquid to the skillet. Stir in sour cream and the spices. Stir until hot taking care the sour cream doesn’t curdle. Pour sauce over the chicken.