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14th June: Morning beauty

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14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:50 pm

83.8° on the left, 85.3° on the right, a baseline of 300 ft., that made a distance of 1573.1 ft.; 11.2° elevation, that made ... Edward jotted down some quick calculations, using the other hands to keep the relevant page in his tables open. The morning wind had already tried to blow all his carefully taken notes to the French, but with the liberal use of stones he had managed to hold everything down. Now he actually enjoyed himself very much.

The clear light of daybreak and the crisp morning air made excellent conditions to work, a cup of coffee warmed his insides, and of course there were few things as exhilarating as completing a map, and seeing that every measurement came out right and that all double-checks fitted.

1543.1 ft. ground distance, 305.6 ft. elevation. He double-checked with his construction sketch, than sighted contendly, measured out the point on his map and carefully inserted the top mark, then noted the height in his clear copperplate. The hill didn't have a name yet, because obviously nobody had inquired, and Edward refused to label one of his maps with something like "Shithill", which was the name the soldiers seemed to have given it, but all other facts were noted down.

Laying away his rulers, he looked at the hill again, taking in the play of light over its flanks, the green of the bushes, the subtle colouring of the stone. He was done with his map for the moment, and it was still quite early, so he took out his sketchpad. It would be a shame to waste that light.


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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  John Vickery on Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:21 pm

Vickery had been around to check the picquets and was coming back to his tent, enjoying the fresh cool morning. A figure in dark blue caught his eye, and he crossed over to the man. There was the smell of freshly-brewed coffee, too, and he couldn't help smiling. Cotton preferred brewing tea to coffee. The smell made him think of all the times that he had come into the breakfast-room to find his mother presiding over the coffee-pot.

"Good morning, Captain Torrington," he said, belatedly noticing that the Engineer had his sketch-pad out.

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Edward Torrington on Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:35 pm

Edward looked up, surprised, then came to his feet.

"Oh, good morning, Captain Vickery." He waved at his desk. "I took the opportunity to process all the notes I have collected so far. Not much yet, but at least the hills surrounding the camp now are immortalized in the paperwork of the British army. May I offer you a cup of coffee? The little incident yesterday must gnaw heavily on my batman's conscience, because he fills my cup faster than I can drink at the moment."

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Allhands on Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:48 pm



The Portuguese irregulars had never left. Even when they have departed the camp, where Captain Vickery had been given a tent, after the army had lost, they lingered close by. Given, a group of them had turned to tail after the French, and to cause the foraging parties to fear remaining outside of their camp, after dark.

Estefania had decided to return to the British camp that day, to see where their allies stood and what they could expect from them. Whether the British thought to retreat and leave Portugal to its fate, or whether the momentary lapse, their earlier loss had been an unusual occurance rather than the pattern by which the remaining months would follow.

She was early, and aware of that chose to wait and observe, gathering her information in such manner, rather than be told to wait at an officer's tent, untill he felt that it was time he woke up or that he had finished his breakfast at last. Upon her approach she spotted an unfamiliar figure in the distance.

She reigned in her horse, having the mare slow into a walk. There were no reports of the enemy presence on this side, but the man looked quite out of place and was now joined by another figure in green. Neither looked red, the blue reminded her of the French and it took all her will not to fire in the direction - foolishly as she was still too far to have the ball hit its mark.

She veered the horse to the side and then urged it back under the cover of foilage. She had a plan.
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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  John Vickery on Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:52 pm

"I had not meant to disturb you, Captain, although I must confess that a cup of coffee would go down most favourably - it is the one skill my own batman does not seem to have mastered." He sighed. "I am beginning to think that my Company must look wonderfully ill-disciplined to those who are outside it. Both you and your batman may rest assured that after this week, I will say no more about it unless something else occurs."

And from the young Rifleman's earnest apologies, he did not think that there would be a repeat incident any time soon.

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Edward Torrington on Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:31 am

Edward held up his cup in the direction of the camp, then indicated Vickery. Rottländer, who had been busy with his rifle outside the captain's tent, darted to his feet and dived into the tent with a breakneck speed that made Edward expect to hear curses next, but either the young rifleman had managed to stay on his feet and not cannon into any of his things, or he had learned to hold back loud curses.

"At least Cotton does not make you feel a hundred years old every time he appears." Edwards lips curved in a slight smile. "But Rottländer is indeed a very good cook. I must thank you for the recommendation. You may believe me that I will try to channel his unbound energy into more proper channels in future. It would be a shame to loose his service."

He considered Captain Vickery's other statement for a moment, then slowly said: "I don't think I am a proper judge of that, Sir. I did get the impression that there are a lot of surprises in store out here, but there seems to be a cohesion among your men that was lacking in the militia back home. Disciplin wasn't better, either. Only the offences were less ... inventive."


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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:50 am

"Youth and enthusiasm are quite wearing when you have to watch them. Rottländer makes me feel quite ancient when I see him running everywhere. I do hope that he will learn to slow down, before he breaks his neck." He grinned boyishly. "Still, he is very enthusiastic and helpful, which counts for a great deal."

He looked up at the scenery that Torrington had obviously been impressed by. "I think maybe that is part of the Rifles - we take the intelligent, observant men and ask them to use their initiative, so I think that we should not be surprised when they come up with some unusual way of... bending the rules." He looked slightly rueful. "I could wish that they would not do it so... frequently, however."

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Friedrich Rottländer on Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:05 am

Chair ... And perhaps Captain Vickery would want a poached egg, too?

Freddie quickly calculated. Since he had been his batman (admittedly not that long yet), Freddie had always held ready two eggs for Captain Torrington's breakfast, him being a lord. The Captain had never complained, had readily handed over the money for the sutlers, but never yet touched the second egg. He had seldom eaten more than two pieces of toast, for that matter.

Freddie had usually used the second egg for lunch in one way or the other, but now it was probably more appropriate to offer it to the captain's guest. Or wasn't it? Was he perhaps supposed to organize a third egg? He fervently wished he knew how those servants in the large houses managed these things. He wanted to make the best impression possible on both captains, especially after yesterday, but how could he if he didn't know what to do?

The eggs were ready now, so he had to decide quickly. Perhaps it was best to put both on a third plate and wait for any signs Captain Torrington might give him?

Freddie grabbed the pot of coffee, another one of the nice porcelain cups Captain Torrington had brought in his baggage (How long would they last out here?), sugar and some toast and set it all on the seat of the captain's second chair. Arranging a pile of three plates beside the cup, he carefully strained the eggs and placed them on the uppermost. Stuffing the cutlery into his pocket and clapping a pillow beneath his chin, he balanced the chair like a tray and walked out of the tent as quickly as he dared.
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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:16 am

"It looks as though he's bringing breakfast - and half your camp equipage with it," Vickery said, noticing movement by Torrington's tent. "He is certainly eager to please, isn't he?"

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Edward Torrington on Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:37 am

"Someone told me the light companies had only two marches. Rottländer appears to have reduced this to one. But I will admit that he has a lot of practice dodging around all obstacles. I found it best not to curb the efforts; he does indeed want to please very much, but he also has a rather perfectionistic streak in that regard and gets very disconcerted if one points out that it is quite unnecessary. "

Edward quietly studied the other man. From his first impression, the Captain was a good officer, competent and respected, but also well liked. He certainly shared the traits he had described as necessary for his men. But Edward thought that there must also be something more to it. Certainly, with his family connections, the Captain could have got a commission in any regiment he wanted. So why had he chosen the rifles, and not the more formal guards, befitting his family's rank, where 'bending the rules' was probably something close to defection?

Unfortunately it was rather rude to ask such personal questions on such a short acquaintance, but Edward's curiosity was pricked. Trying to frame some of it in a polite way, he said:

"May I ask how long you have been with the 60th?"

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:55 am

Vickery chuckled. "I believe I can guess who told you so," he said. "I am glad that Rottländer is the only one who has reduced it to one, or I should have gone grey already."

He pressed his hands to the small of his back and stretched. "I have been with the Army for eight years, and with the 60th since not long before Trafalgar. My uncle was kind enough to purchase an Ensigncy in the 45th Foot shortly before my fifteenth birthday." He gave a rueful smile. "I believe my mother would have preferred it if I had gone into the Guards, but I prefer the innovation of the Rifles."


Last edited by John Vickery on Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:39 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Edward Torrington on Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:06 am

Edward quickly cleared his desk to give the rapidly approaching Rottländer space to lay out his burdens. Returning the smile, equally ruefully, he replied:

"My father did, too. But I managed to convince him that I would have made a terrible guardsman."

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:19 am

"May I ask why you chose the Royal Engineers rather than a regiment of the Line?" Vickery asked. Surely Torrington's title would have opened doors into any Regiment he could have wished.


Last edited by John Vickery on Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:39 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Allhands on Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:05 am

She had managed to come rather close to the two, no three men. One was younger than the two and appeared to be a good runner. The other two were officers. They could be French. Even the green one. She had not been able to yet to see the face or else her advance would not have been as secret and so ready to fire at either of them. Her musket - a weapon she had found on the battle field - was on half cock, tilted at an angle so that it's ball would not have fallen out.

A little bit closer. She cocked her weapon. They were close now. At her side, the sword - also found among the dead - hung, tapping at her side, when she moved. Her best bet would be to save the musket ball for the youngest of the three. Unlike the two officers, he could yet run back to alarm...but whom? Were the British not in possession of this area? Were these spies?

".. Halt. You are surrounded. So you best order your little soldat to stand fast or he'll be shot." She spoke in Portuguese. If they were French, she would not bother with that language. Of course, she was the only one present... but a lie might prevent them of trying to escape.
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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Edward Torrington on Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:20 am

A question some people had, but only few dared to ask directly. Torrington rather liked Vickery's style, though. He even decided to tell him the truth, silly as it sounded to most officers, when a new voice interrupted their conversation.

He could identify the language, but little else. His Italian helped a bit, but once again it was a language he understood better when written, and the Portuguese tongue was more than a bit different. Something about ordering a soldier? He glanced questioningly at Vickery, not sure whether this was a prank or serious.

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  John Vickery on Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:23 am

Vickery straightened. "Rottländer, stay still, there," he said in German, before changing to Portuguese. "Nos somos Ingleses. My friend here is an Engineer and I am a Captain in the Rifles."

Wearing green certainly did not do the Riflemen any favours when it came to their Portuguese allies.

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Friedrich Rottländer on Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:37 am

When the call came, Freddie dropped chair, cushion and breakfast in his haste to get his rifle from his shoulder. Who or what was this? But before he could unsling the weapon, Captain Vickery's order stopped him. Slowly he resettled the strap, then looked down sadly at the mess he had created. If there had been a fight, he wouldn't have minded that much, but to see Captain Torrington's beautiful coffee-pot now lying on the ground rather needlessly, spilling its precious fluid like blood, hurt.
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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Allhands on Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:09 am

"Do not lie. The English wear red, not blue." Which was true for most of the English but the riflemen - this was causing some doubt just now - . But the blue was still inexcusable. Was it not?

At the very least the boy was standing still. She stepped forward. Her eyes were first on Torrington, which she deemed a Frenchman for certain. But then there was the captain of the Rifles, which she just recognised now.. but if he had dealings with the Frogs he was certainly a traitor!
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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Sam Mayden on Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:15 am

From behind the horsewoman, there was a flat metallic click. "Best if you put that down, lass," Mayden growled. He stood several paces away from the horse with his rifle at his shoulder and his finger curled around the trigger.
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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Edward Torrington on Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:31 am

Edward understood 'azul' and something like 'vermiglio' and suddenly had an inkling what this might be about. He certainly had experienced something like this on his journey here often enough.

Rolling his eyes slightly, he very slowly opened the case with his callipers, turning it so that the mysterious voice could see its contents.

"Io sono un ingenere brittanico!" He spoke very clearly, hoping that the Italian words were similar to the Portuguese.

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Allhands on Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:00 pm

The man behind her spoke in English. Estefania paused. The blue clad man attempted another language, but that one was not French nor Spanish. Still, it was understandable enough, and it confirmed what the first officer said.

"...Why do you wear blue, if you are not French?" It was the first time she had seen an engineer. She spoke heavily accented English. The riflemen now clicked into full recognition, and she began to lower her musket. She could have fired once before getting shot herself. "Captain Vickery?" She asked. If he had been a traitor, he would not have had as many riflemen with him, would he?
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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Edward Torrington on Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:09 pm

Edward frowned; he wore the traditional blue of an officer serving under the Board of Ordnance, but he had no idea why the colour had been originally chosen, and did not think an answer along the lines 'because this is the colour my arm of the service is wearing' would be of any help.

He gave a brief bow instead and replied politely:

"It is an unfortunate incident that the French have decided to use the same colour, but I can assure you that I am entirely in the service of His Brittanic Majesty."


Last edited by Edward Torrington on Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:34 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Wrong adjectiv)

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Sam Mayden on Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:50 pm

That was a smart move, Mayden thought. He kept his rifle at his shoulder, however, and only troubled himself to draw his finger away from the trigger again. These damned Portuguese couldn't be trusted.
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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  John Vickery on Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:07 am

"Ah. Captain Torrington, may I present Andrea Estefania Lopes da Almeida? Senhora, I present Captain my Lord Torrington, of his Majesty's Royal Engineers."

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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

Post  Allhands on Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:47 am



Estefania was genuinely impressed. Captain John Vickery, whom she had met briefly when his injuries were still quite grave and a bump on the head caused him some distress, remembered her name. She nodded her head in greeting to the man who was now established and twice confirmed to be of the Royal Engineers.

"Forgive me, senhor." She spoke politely, her musket shifting upright so that it pointed at noone, but that it would also not come to loose any of its content. "I have believed you to be one of the French." She had a few choice words for such a nation in her own Portuguese, but she spared the two gentlemen her mind on them and instead continued in a much politer tone.

"My apologies to you as well, young man." She inclined her head towards Rottländer. "Have I known you were our allies I would approached you differently." Her eyes on the captain now, a small smile on her lips.

"How do you fair, captain. I see your health improved." She glanced over her shoulder at the rifleman with his collar and cuffs of black rather than red colour. "Pardon me, but is he one of your own?"
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Re: 14th June: Morning beauty

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