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Evening in camp, 1 June

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Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Maggie Cotton on Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:51 am

"Think we're stopping, sir," Maggie commented with weary relief. It was most likely an unnecessary comment; Vickery could almost certainly see that for himself. But he was wounded, and one never could tell with wounded folk. She did not dare leave him on his own, lest he go falling about in the road again. But neither did she dare walk too close to the great monster of a horse that he was riding. Thus she was walking several feet to the side of the beast, within its sight but at an inconvenient distance and angle for biting, kicking, or treading on.

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Maggie Cotton
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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  John Vickery on Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:13 am

Vickery was quite capable of seeing that for himself, and had to bite his tongue so that he didn't point that out to Mrs Cotton, who was only doing her best, after all. He wasn't quite sure why she was keeping her distance from the horse either. Cavender was walking next to her. He still had the rifle that he'd picked up slung on his shoulder, and the unaccustomed weight looked as though it was bothering him a bit.

He wondered where Cotton was, and hoped he was all right. He missed the man, more than he'd realised he would. Cotton would be able to fend for himself, of course; he was a very capable Rifleman, as well as being the best shot in the Company, even beating Rifleman Hagman.

"So we are," he replied, feeling that the silence had stretched for a little too long. His vision was still not right and he'd had to trust that the horse would be content to be led. He thought the slightly blurry redcoat in front of him belonged to Blackwood, whose horse he was riding.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Maggie Cotton on Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:29 am

Maggie gave him a worried look, as she had been doing all afternoon and evening. The poor man obviously wasn't doing well. "You ain't got a tent to pitch, sir, but Joe an' me can build you a fire." Though there was nothing to cook, and nothing to cook with, not even a kettle or tea. The thought of it made Maggie want to cry all over again. She had lost her husband, all her friends, and everything she owned. All she had now was a boy and a wounded captain.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Ben Blackwood on Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:33 am

The day was finally drawing to a close. What a miserable day it had been, at that. Blackwood's stride gave no sign of the heavy heart he was grappling with. To have lost their baggage and at least half their rearguard. They were all for it, without a doubt.

"Do you care to come down now, sir?" He halted the horse and looked up at the greenjacketed rider. He had little idea what else to say, in the circumstances.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  John Vickery on Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:08 am

"Yes, if you please," Vickery said.

Lack of a tent and baggage actually bothered him less than maybe it should - they were only possessions, after all.

"It's all right, Maggie. We will deal with it somehow." They would have to, after all.

Cavender looked across at Maggie. Being busy would only help for a bit. They'd have to sit and rest eventually and then... He didn't want to think about it, either.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Maggie Cotton on Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:26 pm

Maggie caught Cavender looking at her. "Joe, go an' find some wood for a fire," she ordered. She looked up at the captain and spoke more quietly. "Don't you go far, sir. I'll be back in a moment." She had lost all of her supplies, her produce, her flour, her tea and coffee, and even all of her sewing things. But she still had her little purse with a few coins in it. Surely someone would be willing to sell her some food and a bit of tea.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:53 am

Cavender sighed but nodded and turned to go and see what he could find.

Vickery chuckled grimly. He didn't think he could get very far, not with the wound in his side still paining him, despite the stitches that now held him together. He sat down gingerly, feeling that if he did not, he would fall and he did not want to cause another undignified scene.

"Maggie, before you go..." He pulled his own purse out; he had learned very early on to keep his money on his own person, in case of something like this happening. "You might be able to buy something somewhere nearby."

Then a thought struck him. "There will be supplies available nearby, I am sure." He pulled out his Day Book and scribbled a note, frowning through the headache that still hadn't diminished. "Hopefully, that should allow you to draw rations for us," he said, and tore the page out, passing the scrap of paper over.

And if not, well, they would just have to go hungry for now.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Maggie Cotton on Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:21 am

"Oh." Maggie took the note with surprise. Why hadn't she thought of that? As a sutler she generally tried to avoid dealing with the commissaries. But of course, that was where their rations came from. Her mind felt rather sluggish, like walking through heavy mud, and she realized that she was exhausted. But if she could just find her way to the commissary train to get some food, then she could have a good long cry and go to sleep, at last.

But no, there was the captain to worry about. She looked over her shoulder at him sitting on the ground. "Oh, Captain Vickery, if you can give me that shirt I'll wash it for you, but you'll need another to wear meanwhile." She gave Blackwood a significant glance before turning away. Of course, she had no wash tub or basin or even a bowl. She did not even have a single needle or thread to mend the gash in the side. But she would find a way to repair it somehow. The captain couldn't wear it as it was, nor his jacket neither.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  John Vickery on Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:28 am

"It's good of you, Maggie, but it can wait. I think we would all like nothing better than supper and sleep." Certainly he did - he was surprised to realise how tired and sleepy he felt, and very likely Maggie and young Cavender were feeling the same.

And Cavender was back now, concentrating hard as he arranged the sticks and bits of wood he'd found into a pyramid. The other Riflemen always made lighting a fire look so easy, but he was finding it hard going.

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King George commands, and we obey
Over the hills and far away ~ Traditional

An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
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John Vickery
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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Maggie Cotton on Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:50 pm

We'll see about that, Maggie thought wryly as she headed off. If left until later, those stains would be impossible to get out, and now it was probably the only shirt the captain had. He clearly had no notion of these sort of things. Plus he'd been knocked in the head, so he wasn't thinking straight.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Richard Sharpe on Thu Jan 27, 2011 12:18 pm

Sharpe had managed to rescue about two-thirds of Vickery's men, he thought. And of his own, he thought he'd only lost Williamson, dead.

He didn't understand the German that Vickery's men spoke and was thankful to find that their Sergeants understood him, and could translate his orders for him.

The moustached faces were grim as they worked out the butcher's bill: Several men had been captured, including Cotton and the Palmer brothers. And Vickery was either dead or close to it.

It had been a failure, Sharpe thought, concentrating on getting the greenjackets far enough into the hills that they could circle around back to the road to meet up with the rest of the 2nd Division without running into any more Frenchmen.

At least it was Riflemen he'd been stranded with, not redcoats, even if they were foreigners. He'd tried to save as many rifles as he could, but they hadn't had the time to scour the road and collect them all - their flight into the hills had been headlong because they had needed to get away from the horses as quickly as possible.

And at least he felt it was safe enough to take them back down towards the road. He was half-dreading what he would find.

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Richard Sharpe
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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  outis on Thu Jan 27, 2011 4:07 pm

“Somethin’s comin’.”

Burnett started at the sound of Elliot’s voice and stared at the other man, his eyes wide. “What? Where? What d’you see?”

Rather than answer, the older soldier simply brought his musket to his shoulder, nodding in the direction in question. Burnett fumbled with his own musket, his eyes darting nervously after every sound or hint of movement.

“Finger off the trigger,” Elliot growled without looking over. That was the last thing they needed. Farther down the line, Merrick snickered.

They didn’t have long to wait before figures were visible coming over the nearest rise. Clutching his musket tighter, Burnett watched them apprehensively; the fact that they did not appear to be dressed in blue was not nearly as reassuring as it should have been.

“Go on an’ challenge ‘em,” ordered Elliot and, for a moment, received only a blank, panicked stare in response. Then, managing to gather his wits together, Burnett stammered a challenge, his voice reedy and higher than usual.

“Christ, lad. I could barely hear that.” Disregarding the red faced Burnett, Elliot belted out the challenge himself, then brought his musket to bear on the figure in the lead, waiting.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Richard Sharpe on Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:57 am

And finally they'd found the picquets. The challenge was given smartly enough and Sharpe held up a hand to halt the Riflemen before calling back, "Friends!" The Rifles' dark green could either work against them, or for them. Sharpe hoped it would be the latter - and surely the 2nd Division was used to them by now and would recognise them.

He hoped.

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O'er the hills and o'er the main
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Richard Sharpe
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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  outis on Fri Jan 28, 2011 7:44 am

"Hold," shouted Elliot. They didn't know the countersign, but that didn't necessarily mean anything one way or the other. That was not, however, a call he had any intention of making. "Burnett. Get the lieutenant up here."

"Where's he gone?"

"How the bloody hell should I know? Go an' find him."

With his attention focused on the new arrivals, Elliot heard rather than saw what happened next. The lad's departure was almost immediately followed by a scuffling sound and a startled yelp, then a sarcastic "Good job, Burnett. You found 'im." from Merrick. Elliot sighed and straightened up.

Knox, recovering quickly from the collision, held up a hand to cut short the young soldier's stammering apology.

"Elliot, report," he demanded curtly.

"There's men approachin', sir. Says they's friends."

"They don't know the countersign," chimed in Merrick.

"Look like they could be greenjackets, sir."

Riflemen? Knox peered anxiously where the other man was pointing. That was good news, indeed. If it were true. "Thank you, Elliot." He hesitated a moment longer, wavering between caution and decisiveness. Caution won out, as it usually did. He wanted to be sure.

"Identify yourselves."

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Richard Sharpe on Fri Jan 28, 2011 8:05 am

There seemed to be some sort of debate among the men of the picquet ahead of them.

Sharpe sighed and handed his rifle to Harper. A strange redcoat wouldn't expect to see an officer with a rifle, after all.

"Lieutenant Sharpe, Second Ninety-Fifth, sir, with my men and Captain Vickery's men of the Fifth Sixtieth. Reportin' back after a skirmish with the French. Sorry I don't know the password, sir."

Whatever rank the officer was, it was always best to err on the side of caution... and pretty much most officers in the Army were senior to Sharpe.

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O'er the hills and o'er the main
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Richard Sharpe
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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  outis on Sun Jan 30, 2011 3:37 pm

"Thank Christ for that," Knox murmured. "Let them pass," he ordered his men, loudly enough for the other lieutenant to hear. "Mr Sharpe, do you or any of your men require a surgeon?" Sharpe.... why did that name sound familiar?

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Richard Sharpe on Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:22 am

Thank God for that.

" A surgeon? Aye, I think we've got a couple o' walkin' wounded," Sharpe said.

Wellesley was going to be furious with him and Vickery for allowing themselves to be walked over the way they had been... No. With him - wasn't Vickery dead, or close to it? And where were the rest of the 60th? Wellesley wasn't going to be overjoyed at losing a fair number of them, either.

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O'er the hills and o'er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
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Richard Sharpe
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Species : 95th Rifles; Lieutenant
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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  outis on Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:08 pm

"Burnett. Run and fetch Mr—" he broke off. Their surgeon would of course have been with the baggage and the baggage was now with the French, God damn them. "See if you can find a surgeon for these men," he amended, "They can’t all have been captured."

He resisted the impulse to question the Rifles officer. He wanted to know what had happened; they all did, but there would be other opportunities to find that out. Besides, making the report to his superiors would likely be bad enough. Knox did not envy the lieutenant that.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Richard Sharpe on Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:34 am

The Lieutenant's words, although not addressed to Sharpe, nevertheless made his heart sink. He knew they hadn't been successful but to hear that the majority of the surgeons had been captured - and therefore the French had got into the baggage and, presumably, carried most of it off - made things even worse.

He would definitely be making a report to General Wellesley about what had happened... and the General would definitely not be pleased about it. Sharpe and Vickery could probably kiss goodbye to any prospects they'd had for promotion. Well, Sharpe could... Vickery would be lucky if he survived, from what Sharpe had seen.

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Richard Sharpe
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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  outis on Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:33 am

Now that he saw the officer more clearly, he recalled why the name was familiar: the lieutenant had been present at that dinner of Blackwood’s the evening before. Mcgregor had been hounding him over his service history.

"If I can be of any further assistance, sir...?" Knox offered lamely, unable to think of anything else to do or say in the circumstances.

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Richard Sharpe on Thu Feb 03, 2011 11:42 am

Sharpe thought for a moment. Weren't the Guards the regiment who'd been in advance of the Rifles earlier? Which meant that this Lieutenant was likely to be a Guard's officer - he thought he looked familiar, but wasn't sure he could place the man.

"Do you know Captain Blackwood?" he asked, the thought a faint hope. If the Rifles were no longer in their own place, the next best place they could be was with the Second Foot Guards, after all - the regiment they were now attached to. "If you do, could you take us to his Company? Or spare one of your men to take us there?"

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O'er the hills and o'er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
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Richard Sharpe
Captain

Species : 95th Rifles; Lieutenant
Number of posts : 2686
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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  outis on Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:35 pm

“Captain Blackwood? Yes, of course. I’ll take you to him. Elliot? Any stragglers, let them through. Anything else...”

“Reckon we can find you, if things get interesting, sir.”

Knox nodded curtly, “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” He turned to the other lieutenant, “This way, sir.”


“We’re down Burnett and the lieutenant,” remarked Merrick with a lazy grin, watching the riflemen head off, “I could get used to this.”

Elliot suppressed a smile. “Eyes front, Merrick.”

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Maggie Cotton on Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:49 am

The camp was strangely subdued with no riflemen and hardly any other women and children around, or at least so it seemed to Maggie as she trudged wearily back from the commissary's stores with a small bundle of biscuits, dried meat and a couple of blankets. But then she stopped in her tracks. Weren't those men of the 95th? After staring for a moment in slack-jawed disbelief, she flew to the man at the head of their group.

"Mister Sharpe! Mister Sharpe!" she exclaimed, running to intercept him. "Did you see the 60th, were they all taken? Have you seen my husband, Cotton, Gabe Cotton?"

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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Richard Sharpe on Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:09 am

Sharpe looked up to see a woman running towards him - towards the Riflemen. He thought she looked familiar and then remembered where he had met her before: on the third evening since they'd left Lisbon, and she had come to him for help because her man was on trial for theft. And hadn't he seen her since then, in Oporto? He thought he had, only she had been badly bruised then, though the name of the man she was asking about seemed familiar, of course - he'd been the one to win the target-shooting competition about a week or so after being flogged.

The woman looked distraught, and well she might.

He shook his head reluctantly. "No, lass, they weren't all taken. He's alive, but he's a prisoner of the Frogs, along with some of the others." He took her arm to steady her, afraid that her exertions or his news might make her faint.

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O'er the hills and o'er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
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Richard Sharpe
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Species : 95th Rifles; Lieutenant
Number of posts : 2686
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Re: Evening in camp, 1 June

Post  Maggie Cotton on Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:11 am

But Maggie was not the fainting sort, at least not ordinarily. And just now she needed to understand the news, all the news that she could get. "They weren't all taken?" she repeated with a glimmer of hope. "So they got away? Where'd they go? Maybe he got away too?"

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