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12 June; Baby steps

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12 June; Baby steps

Post  Joe Newbury on Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:42 am

The last time he had slid down from this wagon, he'd been knocked clean over by a dog. Newbury had not left the cushioned wagon bed since. The renewed throbbing in his head and all the rest of him left him with no interest in moving about and the regular doses of laudanum to dull that pain robbed him of any remaining energy. Most of the day had been spent dozing or staring disinterestedly out at the countryside.

Now, however, he was sitting propped up against the side of the bed with his legs dangling freely over the bed's edge. His shoes were off and likewise his stockings, leaving him rather pleasantly bare foot. It had not been so long since his most recent laudanum dose and he was feeling contentedly fuzzy-headed. Not so that he would fall asleep - yet, anyway - but just enough to not feel so damned sore.

He swung his legs idly for a moment, then decided to see if he could bear to stand. Sooner or later, he'd have get used to it again anyway. Besides. Right then, he was feeling just the right side of steady. Why not give it a go? Steeling himself, Newbury shuffled himself closer to the wagon's end and eased his bare feet down to the hard dirt ground. This was almost an exact repeat of yesterday's debacle, except this time no dog appeared out of nowhere to knock his legs out from under him.

It took a moment or two to get his balance, but he was grinning. There was a twinge of protest in his knee and his head felt a bit unlevel. But he was standing. He let go of the wagon side and let his arms drop to his sides. Except for a slight waver that was no doubt because of his still-rattled brains, he felt quite steady. This was promising.

Heartened, Newbury felt suddenly bold. If he could stand upright unsupported, there was no reason he could not attempt a short walk. He flexed his fingers, then lifted his left foot up and forward. While he wavered a bit as his centre of balance shifted, this first half-step did not cause disaster. Good. His right foot came into motion next, with a similar satisfactory result. A silly, delighted grin brightened his face.

He was walking again!

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Joe Newbury
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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:12 am

"Catch him!" The younger representatives of the cavalry had been in rather high spirits and had while bored, had decided to organise a game of ball, which had very few rules and fewer boundaries in which they were to play it. The idea was that the lad who had the ball had to be brought down at all costs, and the ball taken from him.

Nothing new about that.

Since they had not been allowed to ride their horses recklessly through camp, they had to make the game on foot. They started of with counting how many times the ball exchanged hands between the two groups, but lost count rather quickly and to avoid bickering just decided to drop the count all together.

Now it was just all about the catch, tackle and run off with the ball. Whoever had it last would be the winner. The question was, when the game would end. First came the youngest of the lot, quick footed even for a cavalry lad, he ducked around Newbury, skillfully avoiding the collision.

"Hey!" Willoughby came next, almost right after the boy, and reached out to grab hold of the his coat, bumping slightly into the rifleman which he had not seen until veering around the wagon.

The third and forth men were just making the turn as well, ready to tackle and claim the ball as their prize.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Joe Newbury on Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:45 am

The first inkling of impending crisis came in the form of a clash of voices, coming swiftly closer. Newbury paused in his slow, halting walk, his left foot having just been settled back onto the ground. He was a full pace away from the wagon now, and thus just far enough removed from safety to be unable to scramble easily back to it.

The second sign of danger presented itself in the form of a cavalryman, dashing full-pelt around the wagon toward him. The horse-boy was able to skip nimbly around Newbury, while the trooper following behind brushed roughly past. This contact was not so good for Newbury's balance and he spread his arms out instinctively to keep himself steady on his feet.

An instant later, two more cavalrymen came racing around the wagon, blind to everything but their comrades ahead of them. Newbury saw the disaster bearing down on him but could neither muster his reflexes or his senses in time to react. The best he could manage was to begin to shift his right foot forward, though this motion served only to alter his balance. It was thus easier for the fourth trooper to knock him solidly off his feet with the rough, passing contact of shoulder against shoulder.

The startled Rifleman twisted around on his bare left foot, unable to bring his right foot down in time to have any hope of maintaining his balance or his dignity. Even his laudanum-soaked brain was aware that he was on his way down and every nerve contracted in anticipation of the painful impact. His right elbow struck earth first, followed immediately by his shoulder and the side of his head.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:53 am

He had been aware of running against something, which was solid but pliant in moving a little with the force of the encounter. He was about to continue the pursuit when something caused him to glance over his shoulder one last time. His gaze skimmed past the two fellow troopers and just managed to catch the lumbering mass of green starting towards the ground.

He twisted around, thinking he might have recognised the face and started in his direction. But much as he intended to be quick, there was no way that he could stop the man from striking the ground. Instead he just reached him when his head had made its own touchdown.

"...Ah, Newbury! Are you alright?" He exclaimed, the other two men disappearing after their ball carrier.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Joe Newbury on Fri Sep 09, 2011 7:58 am

He remembered nothing of the instant of impact. Neither did he recall what had occasioned his fall. When he awakened, it was to discover, to his surprise, that he was no longer in the wagon or even on his feet. How in the devil had he come to be sprawled here on the road in such a fashion?

"M'I dreamin'?" Newbury enquired, blinking slowly at the three troopers hovering above him. Wait a bit. Troopers? Why were there cavalrymen around? Where were his fellow Rifles? More to the point, why was he not wearing shoes?

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:04 am

"No, you're not dreaming." The answer came from Willoughby. "You ..have fallen." He glanced at the other two. "Get the surgeon, will you." His gaze returned to the injured man and he cursed the recklessness that caused him to fall.

That Newbury did not appear to be aware of where he was or why he was there, with the question such as he asked, was worrying. "Does anything hurt.." And after a hesitant pause he continued. "....more than usual?" He glanced at Newbury's legs. They did not look as though an ankle has been twisted, but he was no surgeon to know.

"I'm Timothy.. Willoughby. Do you remember me?" He added, shifting closer.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Joe Newbury on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:12 am

The assurance that he was not dreaming did not do as much to relieve his confusion as he had thought it might. Neither did the information that he had fallen. There was an agony of throbbing in his head that even the laudanum could not overpower. Newbury shut his eyes firmly against the blinding stabs of light.

"Whyn't I got shoes on?" He asked, managing somehow to not utter the question in a whining tone.

The name offered by the cavalryman was not one he recognised either. Why should he know any horse-boys, anyway? His hands drew into fists that he pressed carefully against his temples. "No," he added through gritted teeth.

Why did this nonsense always have to happen to him?

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:16 am

"..You must have left your wagon without them." His answers were becoming more worrying, and though Willoughby did not know why this rifleman had gone about barefoot, he correctly assumed he was still under care. Perhaps he was also under the influence of laudanum and should not have walked about at all.

"You've hit your head hard." But, was it that hard that he lost all sense of what he had done moments before? Or longer than that? "...Alright. Do you know your name?" Silly to ask, but he did not dare move him too much untill the surgeon ordered it.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Joe Newbury on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:24 am

Now why, Newbury thought in bewilderment, would he do a thing like that? He was a Rifleman, damn it. Certainly he had more sense than all that. How could he go about the business of scouting or skirmishing if he was without his shoes? For that matter, where was his rifle?

"Course I hit me head," he grumbled, a flash of irritation crowding out his confusion. He was deuced good at that, wasn't he? The others would be no end of dismayed if they were to know about that tendency. Or maybe they already did know. But that made no sense. If they knew, why hadn't they told him of it, so he could take care not to do just what had happened?

And his name... of course he knew his own bloody name. "Newbury," he grunted and wished the church bells tolling above him would stop.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:32 am

That was something at least. But where was the damn surgeon. Perhaps it was better if they did try to move him closer to his wagon and into the shade of it. Prop him into something of a more comfortable position. "..If we help you, will you be alright enough to move over there?" The young trooper inquired and after a few moments added. "..You are still on the sick list.. You should not have gone about like this."

Even if he had not been told that Newbury had been brought here, his state and appearance could leave no doubt but to his present situation being such. "When did you get injured so badly?" Willoughby looked up again to see if the other trooper had fetched a surgeon and began to wonder if the daft man had gone to find their own instead of the one of the rifles.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Joe Newbury on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:39 am

Move him? No. No thanks. "No," he grunted, wanting nothing to do with having to rely on a cavalryman to shift himself. Leaving out his present state, to permit such a thing was to invite disgrace. Newbury would not have it.

The question of how he had come by his myriad injuries nearly made him laugh scornfully - which he prevented just in time. The effort of a chuckle would have cast him down into spasms of pain again. Strange how he knew that much, yet he could scrape together no memory of how he had fallen.

If he had truly fallen. There were several horse-boys standing around over him. For all he knew, they had been up to some evil mischief. Their sort usually were, anyway!

"Step back from that man," a new voice commanded curtly.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:48 am

Willoughby and his two troopers instinctively took a step back from Newbury before turning to the source of the voice. Neither had meant The rifleman to fall, though they had played rather close to him and ran right past him. He knew he had bumped him and wondered if the other two had done so as well. Had their chase caused his fall or had he been uneasy on his feet before that, and it was pure coincidence?

Each of the three straightened and there was a soft shuffle of feet which suggested their young runner had come to see why some of his fellow troopers disappeared into thin air.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:49 am

His original intention for visiting the much-reduced baggage train was to check after his sergeant. The big Scotsman had been sent back to have his dressings changed and his shoulder cleaned, and Blackwood was interested to learn how well Burr's wound was mending. It would be no end of good to have the sergeant back to full duty.

This errand was interrupted before he could reach the regimental surgeon's cart, however, by the sight of several dismounted hussars standing around a sprawling form on the ground. If Blackwood's curiosity would not have been enough to entice him to investigate, hearing one of the hussars utter the name 'Newbury' would have done it and then some.

Newbury. That was a name Blackwood had heard plenty of in recent times. Was he that unfortunate fellow lying in a heap on the ground? Blackwood adjusted his course toward the odd group, fighting back a wave of irritation at the apparent indifference of these cavalrymen.

Another man, in a travel-stained frock coat, was approaching the group, just enough ahead of Blackwood to arrive first. Doubtless this fellow was a surgeon, which went some way to relieving Blackwood's anxiety. The Guardsman did not move to distract the surgeon from his patient, but instead turned his attention on the hussars.

"What is the meaning of all this?" He asked of them.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:54 am

At first there was silence, and the hussars looked at each other. The youngest, who had arrived a little after the order had been given and still stood at a distance from them shuffled back, clutching their makeshift ball. This soon disappeared behind his back, just in case.

Willoughby broke the silence with an even: "He fell, sir."

Which sounded too much like the excuse some gave when beating another. But, it was the truth as far as the young trooper was concerned.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:01 am

That was something Blackwood had been able to guess for himself, simply by observing the Rifleman's prostrate state. He permitted the hussars to believe him content with that flat explanation for no more than a few heartbeats. If there was one thing he did not tolerate, it was willful evasion of responsibility.

"You." He pointed at one of the hussars. "Stand fast. Show me your hands. Both of them at once."

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:06 am

The hussars turned towards the lad, who stiffened in his spot. He blinked and cursed quietly. His hands remained behind him for a few moments longer, gripping at the ball. Then they released the offending object, jerking forward. The ball bounced as it hit the ground and then rolled a few paces diagonally to the left and further behind the lad.

His hands were held exposed, palms facing Blackwood, the lad gulping quietly. "Sir..." One of the others began, but decided it was wiser to hold his tongue, and did so.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:12 am

It was not nearly as innocent a scene as the hussar no doubt hoped. This was undeniably suspicious and not merely a 'fall', as it had been so blithely termed.

"Retrieve that," Blackwood directed, a vague sequence of events already sketching themselves out in his mind. He would have to question Newbury himself, of course, but that needed to wait until the surgeon had finished with him.

"I should not need to ask what that is, perhaps," he added and wondered if these guilty-faced troopers would have the courage to answer honestly.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:20 am

"..A ball,.. sir." Willoughby answered, barely loud enough for the officer to hear. The young lad turned, fetched the ball and with a frown and a rather unhappy look on his face stepped forward with it.

"..no horses, sir." The boy added, though his explanation did little to ease the blame off of their 'toy'. "I've just come to see ..." He bit his tongue and tried to look brave and calm, as he met the gazes of his fellow troopers.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:50 am

At that, Blackwood lifted an eyebrow just slightly. 'No horses'? That was probably a blessing, in this instance. However... "To see what?" Or whom, perhaps.

He glanced down at the surgeon, who was still kneeling low beside Newbury. There was no use distracting him yet. It was plain he was very much involved in tending the unfortunate Rifleman.

"Do you not consider the surgeons' train an unwise place to stage foolish play?"

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:34 pm

"See them, sir." Kenley answered vaguely. "We were not meanin' ter stage no play here." Which was as close to the truth as it could get. While the path did lead them through the area, they could as well have gone and taken a different turn. Their goal were not the wagons, even if they happened to have run right past them.

"Sir,.." Willoughby spoke up this time. "With all due respect, we had not sought this place for anything of the entertaining sort, as we are well aware that there are the men who have been injured here. May we inquire about the wellbeing of the rifleman?" He glanced towards the surgeon hoping that Newbury did not sustain a worse injury.

"We have not been aware of his being outside, here." True. "For if we had been, we would have taken great care to assist him in returning safely to his wagon, seeing the state that he is in." He spoke formally, articulating each word with precision.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:14 pm

The cool eloquence of the one trooper made the whole affair worse in Blackwood's mind. Certainly a fellow with the mental capacity to speak so thoughtfully should also be able to reason out that the chosen activity ought be carried out elsewhere.

"And yet," Blackwood replied, "here you are. When the surgeon has seen his patient to his rightful place, you may then ask after him. However. I cannot quite agree with your latter assertion. There was no interest in assisting this Riflemen displayed by any of you as I approached - indeed, I should hazard a guess that there was no such inclination at all."

He would have to address this matter to the hussars' officer. Theirs was a dangerous sort of carelessness indeed. Likewise, he would have to inform Captain Vickery, who would no doubt be less than pleased. A damned senseless piece of business, this.

"How does he fare, sir?" Blackwood asked of the surgeon, thinking that he would do well to dismiss these troopers before too much longer.

The surgeon did not so much as glance up. "He has taken another bad knock, if that is your query. There is no safeguarding any poor soul here with such fools larking about!" He paused, then added in a slightly milder tone, "this man will need getting up into the wagon again."

Naturally. Blackwood glanced meaningfully at the troopers. Did he dare permit them to assist?

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:22 pm

"Pardon, sir. We had not dared to move him for fear that we may cause more damage to his person. Than would come to him, should we leave him where he lay. But we did indeed inquire about his health and at the best of our knowledge in the medical arts, attempted to see that he has not come to greatest harm. We have also sent a man to bring a surgeon to us, for his knowledge vastly surpasses our own in this matter. Sir."

The young hussar concluded his speech and was more than glad to hear an evaluation come from the surgeon. Albeit he had hoped it to be a better one, but saying that it was solely a knock and not suggesting that the man faced death was already a positive thing.

He shifted and glanced at the patient. The hussars were behaving, though they were clearly not pleased to be kept in check by a member of the ground trodders, the foot soldiers. The youngest of them, Klapp Kenley, still held onto their ball, and was quite uncertain whether he was now dismissed from the inquiry, or whether he needed still to wait with it, until told so.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:37 pm

The core point of this second speech was that the hussars had done nothing save send for a surgeon. Such a waste of words, Blackwood thought.

"Clearly," he quipped and stepped toward the surgeon. "Is he fit to be moved now, sir?"

He had elected not to involve these hussars in the work of moving Newbury, but instead to lend his own strength to the task.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:42 pm

The Hussars did not feel themselves at blame for the fall, though it was just like an officer of their kind, not that of the cavalry, to subtly accuse them of being so. They had no doubt that if the accusation had not yet been spoken, it was thought, and it would in time come to the pointing of fingers. They did not feel the need to offer assistance, except perhaps for the lad who had known Newbury, even if the rifleman had forgotten about him.

Kenley peered at the injured one and piped up. "So... can we go?"

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

Post  Ben Blackwood on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:49 pm

"Now is as good a time as any," the surgeon answered curtly. Unbothered by the man's tone, Blackwood stooped to take a firm, careful hold on the Rifleman. Between the two of them, they were able to lift Newbury to his feet and guide him with care back to the wagon.

Only once the Rifleman was safely returned there did Blackwood face the hussars again. Could they go now indeed. "Sir," he said crisply. "The answer is no. That is, not with that. Give it here, if you please."

He held his hand out in plain expectation of having the ball surrendered to him.

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Re: 12 June; Baby steps

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