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4 June; Salty

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4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:56 am

Attending the greenjacket officer was proving an interesting experience. Not the least because, rather like Mister Cobb, the grasshopper was just about the same age as McIntyre's eldest son. It wasn't quite where he'd imagined he would end up when he took the shilling again.

The important things didn't change, though. There was always work to do. McIntyre whistled 'Nancy Dawson' as he arranged roughly-cut hunks of wood over the faintly glowing embers that were the remnants of the previous night's fire. One thing he wouldn't trade was the prevalence of tea as a drink. He had never cared so much for wine and ale no longer agreed with him.

It'd have been nice to have some of his old mates around now, though. A fellow of his age was singular amongst the ranks. Relating to the lads was not always so easy, or even possible. But that was the way it went, really. He hadn't been so very different himself.

A little careful prodding of the embers soon had a little curl of flame licking up around the tuft of grass he'd added. In short enough order, the fire was on its way to being lively again. He'd give it a bit, then scrape out some embers to get the kettle boiling.
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:18 am

His side was still painful, of course; he had only taken the wound a matter of days earlier. His head was clearer than it had been although his vision still was not quite as it should be, although it had cleared enough to allow him to write to his sister, whose own letter he had received not long before the skirmish.

He sighed, folded the sheet of paper, though he left it unsealed, wiped the nib of his pen off and stowed everything away in his writing slope. He had been fortunate indeed that his mule had not been taken by the French. It had shown up two days before, with everything intact, precisely as Cotton had packed it.

He rubbed his temples. His headache had diminished somewhat, but had not dissipated at all. He needed some fresh air, and steeled himself to stand up, moving gingerly in case his side pulled. It was still painful, and he knew that he would bear the scar for life.

He paused in the entrance of the tent, ostensibly to get his bearings, but really to steady himself against the tent-pole. His temporary batman was urging a fire into life, seemingly in preparation for boiling some water - the kettle sat nearby.

"Good morning, McIntyre," he said after a moment, as it became apparent that the redcoat was too involved in what he was doing to notice him.

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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 8:33 am

That would do, McIntyre judged, and used his bayonet to scrape out several embers from the fire. Little clouds of ash and cinder blossomed in the wake of this movement. He had gouged out a slight bowl into the dirt and it was into this he pushed the embers. The kettle, already filled, went atop this untidy pile.

There. With that done, he could shift his attention to other things. Namely, cooking. He was just turning his hand to this when the greenjacket's voice came from behind him.

"G'mornin', sir," McIntyre returned, shifting so he could more easily rise to his feet. The movement made his left knee pop but he pretended not to have heard. "How's your head farin'?"
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:04 am

"I must confess that it still aches somewhat, and my vision is not what it could be. Although I think, on the whole, that I am much better." He came out of the tent into the sunshine. Fresh air and sunshine could make any man feel more himself, in Vickery's considered opinion. "How are you this morning?"

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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:17 am

This news cheered McIntyre somewhat. Then again, recovering from any wound was seldom anything but good.

"Still breathin', sir," he replied with a grin. "Fetch you a chair, sir?"
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:25 am

Ordinarily, Vickery would decline - he didn't want to make more work for those around him and was normally perfectly content to sit on the ground. However, in deference to the pain of his side, a chair sounded like a good way to go.

"If you would not mind," he replied. "Don't make unnecessary work for yourself on my account, though."

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King George commands, and we obey
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An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:32 am

"It's no bother, sir," McIntyre assured him. He had returned to his own regiment's camp earlier in the morning and sneaked off with Mister Cobb's chair. The lieutenant would miss it, of course, but that was no matter.

Fetching this chair, which he'd placed just out of immediate sight beside the tent, took only a moment. "Tea'll be ready presently," he said as he set the chair down. "Breakfast too, but it ain't gonna be anythin' special. Just some skillygalee, I'm 'fraid."
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:36 am

Vickery sat down, thankful that he did not, for once, have to get all the way down and therefore would not strain to get all the way back up again.

"Skilly...?" he said, mystified. McIntyre peppered his conversation with various nautical and Naval terms, but this was one that Vickery had not so far come across.

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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:45 am

"Skillygalee, sir." He grinned and turned away toward the fire. "Hardtack fried up in salt pork grease. There'd be some pease in it too, if there was some. Sticks to a lad's ribs, anyways, so it does."
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:49 am

Vickery quirked an eyebrow. "Sounds delightful." But food was food and would not be turned down, although he could only imagine his mother's reaction if he described today's menu in a letter home.

"One of your Naval receipts, I imagine?" he added, somewhat curious about the older man's past, although unwilling to pry too much.

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An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:02 am

"Better'n eatin' it dry, sir," McIntyre remarked. "That it is, sir. First thing I ever ate at sea. Didn't sit so easy on a twistin' stomach, though!"

He grinned and shook his head. The slabs of salt pork sizzled in the pan, being fresh from his makeshift steep tub - this being his tin mug - and he wished he had some vegetable to add to the mix for a little extra flavour. The hardtack, cut roughly in half, would go into the pan next.
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:08 am

"I can well imagine. Several of my men were prostrated with the sea sickness, and even those who were not matched their jackets." He had rather fewer men under his command at the time, of course, being but a Lieutenant then. "Of course, that was aboard a troopship and they were mostly kept below decks."

He watched McIntyre's actions with interest. His eyes were focussing much better now than they had a bare two days before, although he still could not see detail clearly - McIntyre's buttons were still blurred, out of focus.

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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:14 am

Ah. That was the way of it for the army, though. McIntyre shrugged.

"Troopships ain't nothin' pleasant," he said. "It ain't natural bein' aboard ship and not be able to get topside. Or higher."
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:18 am

"Some might say that it isn't natural to swing about in the rigging like a... like a monkey," Vickery replied lightly, resting one boot on the opposite knee, the very picture of a gentleman taking his ease. "If I may ask, for how long were you a Marine?"

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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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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:54 am

"Ain't quite natural to march everywheres either, the old lads'd say," he observed casually. He used the tip of his bayonet - since wiped clean - to turn over the pieces of salt pork before adding the hardtack to the pan.

"I was in the Corps ten years, sir. Mostly at sea. Diff'rent times, then."
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:03 am

Vickery chuckled. "Some would say that's why God gave men feet, so they could walk," he said. He studied McIntyre; it was the first he had really been able to see the older man clearly, in daylight and without the distractions of a pounding head and eyes that wouldn't quite focus. He thought the ex-Marine was old enough to be his, Vickery's, father.

"I daresay you have one or two tales to tell. Or should that be yarns to spin?" he said, leaving the way open for McIntyre to tell him something. Although, of course, the man might not feel at ease enough to chat with an officer. They did things differently in the Line regiments, after all.

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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: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:24 am

"Oh aye, I s'pose. So they can walk down to their ships, anyway." McIntyre grinned. "I got a tale or two, maybe, aye. Be hard not to have, I reckon."

The kettle was boiling, which provided him a brief distraction. In truth, he had a fair few sea-stories cluttering his brain but there were plenty that were wholly unfit for sharing with an officer who was not of the Corps.

"This here's a luxury, right enough," he said as he poured a mug of tea for the greenjacket. "Never had the like aboard ship. Not even 'mongst the officers, I don't think. It was wine for them, mostly, an' rum for us." He chuckled and held the mug out. "Bein' in charge of the guard when the cap'n had guests at dinner was always interestin', though, that's sure. Sea officers stumblin' 'round the deck like it's blowin' a proper gale's a rare sight, so it is!"
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:33 am

"I can imagine," Vickery said, accepting the offered tea, though he rested the mug on his knee to let the liquid cool down a little. Over-indulging on wine coupled with the usual movements of a ship at sea would find most folks clinging to something solid just to stay upright, Vickery was sure. Even if the officers were sea-officers and thus inured to the movements of a sea-going vessel.

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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
Captain

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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:40 am

With that part of his mess duties thus discharged, McIntyre thought for a moment. It was a little difficult to dredge up finer details, but he was able to gather up the more important bits.

"There was one poor beggar in me first ship who could never hold his wine. Third luff, he was. Old fellow for it. He went over the side after a party, one evenin'. Totterin' drunk, of course. Knocked of the lads down 'fore he went over, too." McIntyre shook his head. "Knowin' how to swim ain't always so good a thing. That's no mistake!"
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:47 am

Vickery was not sure it was good for discipline for the men to talk disparagingly of their officers, former or current, but this was an old soldier - old Marine - who was doubtless more disciplined than most. Well, either that, or he was an old reprobate. Whichever of the two options was nearest to the truth, he would certainly be set in his ways by now.

"I presume you could not stop to pick him up?" the Rifles officer asked, before blowing the steam off his mug and cautiously tasting the contents. "Good cup of tea, that. Thank you," he added, lowering the mug again.

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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: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:52 am

"Aye. The master hove the ol' ship to an' the quarter-boat was sent out." The oldster chuckled. "I were sure happy to see 'em, so I was!"

He prodded at the pork and hardtack which was by now looking nearly done. "You're welcome, sir. Breakfast's about ready too, seems."
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 11:58 am

"That must have been quick work," Vickery said in admiration. He thought he'd heard a story about Admiral Lord Nelson doing something similar, when being chased by a couple of enemy ships, but he wasn't entirely sure as to the details.

He put his foot down and leaned forward. "It does smell good," he said, trying to ignore the sounds his belly was making at the thought of food.

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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.
avatar
John Vickery
Captain

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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:10 pm

He nodded, reaching for his mess gear. "Aye. Ol' Mister Barlow was a sharp one, though. I dunno there was anybody knew the West Indies half so well's he did. Mind this, it'll need to cool yet." McIntyre held out the tin plate with its steaming contents.
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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:16 pm

The West Indies... "You've seen a fair part of the world," Vickery said, accepting the plate and putting it aside to cool for a minute or two. "Most of my men are from Hanover, or one or other of the German states. I have a handful of Englishmen and one man of American parentage, and I do not believe any of them are as well-travelled as you."

Which wouldn't be hard, of course; there were Marines everywhere the Royal Navy was, and there were Royal Navy ships in all the seven seas.

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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
Captain

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Re: 4 June; Salty

Post  Brendan McIntyre on Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:31 pm

"I s'pose, sir," McIntyre agreed. "Never seen the Rock though, or been near that side of the world, even."

The mention of a Rifleman with American roots caught his interest, though. He grinned. "The Yankees had lads everywhere. There was more'n a couple in me last ship. One of 'em was in me own section." He set the still-sizzling pan aside, away from the fire.

"Made things interestin', that's sure. 'Specially when we was ashore to fight. Dunno's I'll ever understand the lads what stood up to fight 'gainst their neighbours."
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