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Second day on the march

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Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:44 am

Harris and Perkins had been posted to the flank guard this morning. Right hand flank, trying to stay in touch with the column while staying as far out as possible. It was tiring, more tiring than following the road, which followed the line with the lowest gradient. Not a military road, this one, and it ran alongside the hills for the most part, so Harris and Perkins had to climb up slope after slope, and then scramble down into dry river valleys. And Mícheál Carty, with them to learn how to do it. The boy had promise in the hills, you had to admit that, though if he was going to make Chosen Man, and beyond, he would need to improve his English. You couldn't say he didn't try. But it was possible to hold a conversation, and to pay attention to the land around. Harris was not too worried that the talkative young Irishman would distract him or Perkins, or lead to their missing anything important.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:51 am

Mícheál easily kept up with Harris, who would be Oghma reborn if it weren't for his total ignorance of the Irish, who could fight, read and drink any man under the table, and who he thought could be an utter misery when he wasn't smirking or mocking. He was used to hills and valleys, and the memories of the night before fair added wings to his feet. "Rabbit!" he said, pointing.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Ben Perkins on Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:08 pm

Perkins looked where he was pointing. "Oh, um... rabbit, rabbit... anraith?"

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:11 pm

Mícheál laughed. "Maybe! Coinín anraith!" He looked up at Harris. "For the pot?"

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:59 pm

"Not while we guarding the rest of Mr Sharpe's men, and Mr Vickery's company, and the redcoats of the 62nd!" Later, when the column reached its designated camping ground there would be time to hunt for the pot - if the officers didn't drive them off so they could have their sport and their dinners. Those same officers whose safety they were now assuring. "Ask yourself whether anything started her from safety. Or is she actually showing that there is nothing there, but rabbits and grass."

Perkins was a help here, they could chatter for hours. But there was a duty. "Carty," he said. "Get up that hill, and then come bac and report on the column." With luck, it would be curving round towards the north east, at last.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Ben Perkins on Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:04 pm

"I'd like a nice bit of rabbit stew," Perkins mused as he took a moment to stretch his shoulders. "Few potatoes, maybe onion or two..."

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:06 pm

Mícheál nodded, storing the information in his mind. He looked at the rabbit. "Tá sí chomh socair le huan." He tried to think of the suitable English. "She is calm. Quiet, like." He scrabbled up the hill, and looked down, forcing Jenny from his mind, though even that made him grin to himself. He ran back down to Harris, making a sweeping gesture. "Like so, sir!" He foundered, weak with directions, and so pointed to explain where the column was.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:24 pm

Where road curved there was a spur of the hill which ran out to the west, and through which the column would march. The next hill would provide the best vantage point as the column turned, allowing them to scan the hills behind and in front and the road ahead, already patrolled.

"Come on," he said. "And don't forget the mushrooms, Perkins. And herbs. Which herbs would you gather, Carty? For your rabbit?"

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:30 pm

He liked Harris. He always took the time to talk to him, and always spoke slowly, and clearly - didiactic but not patronising. "Herbs? Stobhach Gaelach, sir, Irish stew - only the, um." It was hopeless. "Peirsil?"

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 1:39 pm

"Persil? Parsley. And thyme, do you have thymus? That's good with rabbit." There were herbs here, some they walked on, or bushes they brushed past. Not quite filling the air, but a sweet smell amid the sweat and dust.

[Sorry. Goodnight. More cookery lessons tomorrow, and the meaning of marjoram]

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:00 pm

Time? They were talking about herbs... "Tím! I know tím." He had heard of it at least. He checked to see that his flint was in place. That was something Sergeant Harper said, always check your flint.

He was almost bouncing as he walked, despite the hard ground of Portugal. He and Jenny has danced and danced until the fiddle and the campfires seemed to blur, and then he had walked her back to her tent, and they had... He blushed, squirmed with delight, and pitied poor Perkins, who was not yet a man. He could see why the riflemen all went looking for a woman to cuddle whenever they came to a village. Kissing was lovely.


Last edited by Mícheál Carty on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:21 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Ben Perkins on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:15 pm

"There goes another," Perkins said, watching a rabbit disappear into the undergrowth. Lots of rabbits around. With any luck, there probably would be rabbit stew tonight. And where there were rabbits, there were predators and scavengers to eat them. He looked up and watched a couple of vultures circling in the air.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:22 pm

Young Carty was full of the joys of spring this morning, Harris thought. The Lieutenant had probably sent him out with them to run off some of that surplus energy, and Harris could see no reason not to put it to use. He and young Perkins had been off with the 60th last night. He'd heard rumours, but couldn't quite believe them - not with Jenny, surely?

But while shooting at rabbits when on flank guard would be a breach of discipline, collecting herbs and vegetables - well, better collect them here, well away from the column, that try to find them when the regiments had camped and every man of them trying to supplement their rations. "No harm in collecting herbs for the pot - if you know what they are, young Carty."

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Ben Perkins on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:25 pm

"Taste 'em and see if they're poison first before giving 'em to us, all right?" Perkins suggested cheerfully, then added, "Poison means you die if you eat it."


[ooc - off to work now, bye]

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:29 pm

Mícheál nodded, solemn and sage and mid-springing step. "Poison. Poison. Poison. In case they is poison." Harris said that whenever he learnt a new word, he should repeat it three times, and put it in a sentence.

He giggled suddenly. Last night, Jenny had said "Kiss me," and he had laughed and laughed and said, "Kiss. Kiss. Kiss. I kiss Jenny," which had made her laugh. She was so pretty when she laughed.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:59 pm

Harris smiled back at the lad. Sometimes he thought he was daft, and there was nothing actually amusing about poison - the wrong roots had killed soldiers often enough, just like the wrong water. But even Harris could not be unaffected by the lad's bubbling good humour. And he would trust Carty to know good from bad, even if he was simple.

This hill gave them a view over the road, across the fields, vineyards and olive trees to the sea. It would not be visible on the road, but up here there was fresh air, and - at least no signs of the French. He jerked his head and led his lads down the other side, to find a track across the next scoured valley.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:08 pm

Mícheál ran after Harris, delighting in the wind. It was days like this that he was especially glad to be a rifleman, running around, being of use (when he could put his mind to it), out in the open with only the sky above, and not marching in line in the dust with a stock under his chin. Even Harris was smiling now, and that too made Mícheál happy.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:09 am

Harris caught Carty by the arm. "Slowly," he said. "Don't run until you know what you're running into." A high squealing whistle overhead, and another wide-winged bird passed to join the couple already lazily circling. That might be worth investigating, though carrion birds did not normally circle like that if they'd found anything. Straight down and grab what you can.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:57 am

Mícheál nodded. Those birds were still flying overhead, he saw, flying and spinning.

And then one of them dropped.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Ben Perkins on Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:18 am

Perkins noticed it too. "Well one of 'em's found something to eat. Disgusting birds."

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:23 am

Harris watched the bird drop. One of the others was following, the third still turning in the air. "Better than the human kind of scavenger," he said. "Though to see them after a battle... " It was unlikely to be anything that they should worry about, but they would have to have a look. He tried to mark the flight of the birds, but they had descended behind the next hill, and he hoped that they would have a better idea when they had climbed it.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Sat Aug 30, 2008 8:55 am

Sir Arthur rode a few paces behind the first of his Staff, who in turn was behind Picton and his entourage, who were following the vanguard of the 62nd. It was officially Picton's Division, and he therefore responsible for deciding its movements and direction, but having the Commander-in-Chief along did mean that some deference was called for, whether Sir Arthur wanted it or not. He was happy to sit back and keep himself to himself, occasionally engaging of one of his officers in conversation, exchanging banter with picton, but on the whole content to exist within his own thoughts.

Padstowe had not appeared that morning. Word had been sent to his lodgings and his usual haunts but nobody had seen nor heard of him since yesterday evening. It was unlike the man to miss a rendez-vous he had arranged himself (for that was what he had done apparently with Maturin), and the General was somewhat concerned. The march could not be delayed, however, for the sake of one captain, and they had set off without him, trusting on the last information that had passed through him and Hogan. The Engineer rode a little way behind him, humming an air and generally enjoying the ride. Whether he was concerned or not the General could not tell, so he kept his thoughts to himself and resolved that he would say nothing on the subject until they stopped for that night.

He looked ahead to where Vickery's company of Riflemen led the way. He could see the young captain riding along on his horse, bent down sideways talking to someone. Wellesley could not see who he was conversing with, but he had a very strong suspicion, and he smiled internally. What scrapes, he wondered vaguely, would his ex-Sergeant be getting himself into this time?

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  John Vickery on Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:21 am

The order of march had changed a little; some of Vickery's men were on point, while some of Sharpe's were a forward patrol. The 95th still were still covering the right flank and the 60th the left. Vickery had dropped back to the rear of his company to keep an eye on them. He wasn't surprised when Sharpe appeared next to Brandy, his long stride keeping pace with the horse apparently effortlessly.

"Good morning, Mister Sharpe," Vickery said, looking down at the older man.

"Mornin', sir," Sharpe replied, glancing up.

Vickery suppressed a sigh. Apparently the rumours were true; Sharpe was not a morning person. Vickery looked over to where Sharpe's flank detail were just visible, working their way along the hillside. "Good lads, your riflemen," he said.

"Aye, they are that," Sharpe replied, glancing over at them. "Some of them could still do wi' a bit of trainin' though. But they'll learn, soon enough."

Vickery smiled. "I do try to hold training days for my men. I hope we may be able to have one before we come into contact with the French, and then we can find out how best to work together on the battlefield. And it'll give the redcoats an idea of what we do, as well."

Sharpe looked interested and soon the two Rifles officers found themselves in deep discussion about deployment and tactics and various other things.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:56 am

Stephen followed the army at a fast trot, having learnt that his head could not cope with a canter. Normally he would have delighted in the ride - the familiar Iberian countryside, the birds overhead, the clear morning, the animals around, but he was weighed down by so many burdens that he felt only a weary, nagging misery.

After dropping Capitaine des Sabličres at his own lodgings and picking up his knapsack, he had gone to Padstowe's. He told Senhora Santana the minimum of information to ease her mind, for she was sorely distressed at her tenant's prolonged absence, went upstairs, and then tore Padstowe's room apart. He found the military papers beneath a loose floorboard, and added them to his own sheath.

He had then made his way to Headquarters, now being run by a skeleton staff. No one paid much attention to the bewigged little man, even one with a crutch, and so he sneaked into Hogan's map room, trying to look as insignificant as possible. The room was strange - devoid of all its clutter and paper, and he had to search through the drawers to find some spare sheets. He had ink and a pen with him, and by candlelight, he began the laborious work of decoding.

He had finished the work a few hours after midnight, for he had copied all the sheets over as well. He had thanked God that Prideaux was a man primarily involved in the secret war and not the open one, for it would take him many nights to work through his own material. He curled up in the window box with the papers, his face against the window, so that the dawn sunlight would wake him in time to ride, for he knew perfectly well how lightly he slept when he was not drugged.

The question of what he was going to ride had been nagging at him, but it was blindingly simple when he woke up, blinded himself. Padstowe had a horse stabled in Headquarters, ready to be saddled at a word. He scrawled a quick note, signed it with an overlarge 'P', and was riding out of the city on Bethany before the sun had even cleared the cathedral's roof, a scavenged piece of bread in his hand, for he had not eaten since the previous morning, and the papers tied under his coat.

He rode over the crest of a hill. "Good girl, acushla, good Bethany," he whispered, patting the crest of her neck. "Well done, honey." For curving beneath them was Sir Arthur Wellesley's army.

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Re: Second day on the march

Post  Guest on Tue Sep 02, 2008 1:09 am

From up here Harris could have watched the column - a red snake with a green head - but the flank guard looked outward not inward. Goats had been grazing in the next valley, fairly recently. Probably driven away when they heard about the army's approach. Plundering the natives might be a capital offence, but a goat could disappear as quick as winking. It was probably a dead goat over the hill - enough to attract a couple of vultures, but not anything to interest the Division.

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Re: Second day on the march

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