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Summoned by Wellesley

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Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:05 am

The note from Captain Sanders had been brief, and 'earliest convenience' meant, in common parlance, 'immediately'. Edrington allowed Abernethy to brush him down, and polish him; he had combed his hair, shaved, and ducked out of the tent before settling his hat firmly and setting off for the stone barn that had been commandeered for the General.

He stopped by the sentry at the door and said: "Edrington, to see the General."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:26 am

The general in question was at present sitting on a chair reading through a letter he had received that day from a galloper, returned from Lisbon. Amongst other dispatches he had brought a return missive from Dr. Maturin, written in haste and sent almost immediately after the physician had read his original. It seemed that Maturin was willing to overlook his ill-temper, though time could only tell whether he was completely forgiven or not. Even so, Wellesley was much relieved. Sir Joseph would not be best pleased had Maturin sent back reports that did not favour the General, and could probably kiss goodbye to the further co-operation of Army and Naval resources; though that possibility still hung menacingly in the air... Though what worried him most, at the moment, was that Maturin seemed to be beginning to take a genuine interest in the state of his health. Which Wellesley was not entirely sure he was comfortable with.

It was at this point the sentry announced Edrington.

"Enter."


Last edited by Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:13 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:31 am

Edrington came into the barn, touched his hat in salute and said: "Sir." Sheep had been the latest occupants, he realized from the smell. There was even some wool snagged on the rough wooden post that held up the roof.

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:53 am

"Edrington," Wellesley rose from his seat, folding the letter and putting it down on his camp bed. He indicated the only other chair that he had got out. "Please, take a seat. I apologise for the smell, but I can assure you that it was present before I got here."


Last edited by Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:14 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:58 am

Edrington took the seat, holding his hat on his knee. "I was certain of it, sir." He looked round. "But it is a very nice barn, apart from the smell."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:07 am

"As far as barns go. The roof, at least, does not leak."

Though that was enough of the plesantries; what little there were to have, anyway. His blue eyes focussed on the Colonel, studying him carefully.

"Yesterday evening I signed an order granting permission for a rifleman of the 60th to be flogged this morning, having been found guilty of theft. You are aware that in for the sentance to be carried out the march was delayed by two hours; else such a trivial matter would probably not have come to my notice."

Despite having witnessed the beginnings of the court martial himself and been informed of the outcome...

"I find it somewhat disturbing that three days into our campaign there has already been a dispute between one branch of the Rifles and a Line Regiment."


Last edited by Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:16 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:15 am

Edrington met the stare calmly. "I do not consider that to be a dispute between Rifles and Line. The fact that the man accused was a Rifleman was irrelevant, both to the case and to my judgment. My lieutenant had no idea that a rifleman was involved, until after he had found the stolen watch. What followed would have been exactly the same if the watch had been taken by a man of the 62nd, or anyone else in the Division."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:17 am

"I heard the man's officer disputed his guilt most strongly."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:26 am

"As I would have expected. The man was his own servant. He would have been defending his own judgment as well as his man." Edrington narrowed his eyes, still meeting the blue stare. "I think the man acted foolishly without thinking through the consequences - I don't believe he is a habitual thief. There is nothing in his record to suggest that."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:29 am

The General continued to meet Edrington's gaze.

"All the more unfortunate then. My information stated that it was Lieutenant Waldegrave that brought forth the charge and acted as prosecution. Was it his watch that the man stole?"

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:39 am

"Lieutenant Waldegrave acted as prosecutor on my instructions. He had found the watch in the possession of Cotton's woman - Cotton being the man I found guilty. Her explanation - and subsequently Cotton's - were inadequate." Edrington leaned forward. "The watch belonged to Captain Padstowe, sir, the officer who was robbed in Lisbon on the night before we left."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:54 am

Wellesley felt a sudden sensation of cold in his guts. He had merely sought to clear up the details of the trial, and determine whether it had stirred up any ill feeling between the Rifles and Line. But this muddied things, rather then cleared them.

Padstowe had been attacked and robbed in Lisbon. There had been no chance to mount a full investigation, and by the time those that mattered had learnt of the incident it was too late by far to do anything practical. But the watch, stolen in Lisbon, had re-emerged here; which meant the thief was with the Army, and probably Padstowe's would-be murderer.

"Where did Cotton claim to have come by the watch?" he asked, naught but his eyes betraying his excitement.

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:05 am

"The story that emerged at the trial was that Cotton found it in Captain Vickery's bags. Captain Vickery says he did not put it there, that he had never had Captain Padstowe's watch. The suggestion was made that it was put there by - by someone with a grudge against Cotton - to implicate him in the robbery. Mr Sharpe also spoke to me, confirming that the man did indeed have a grudge against Cotton, and possibly against Padstowe as well."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:15 am

Wellesley stared at the Colonel for a heartbeat.

"Sharpe?"

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:17 am

"Yes, sir," Edrington replied, "Lieutenant Sharpe of the 95th. You attached him to my command."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:26 am

"I know which Sharpe," the General said, probably in a far shorter manner than he desired.

Sharpe. A conspiracy... Now this really made things awkward. But perhaps it was best to get this sorted. Sharpe had become good friends with Padstowe - of that much he was aware - and if the lieutenant knew any information about the Captain assailent...

He rose from his chair, going to the door and speaking to one of the sentries.

"Fetch me Lieutenant Sharpe of the 95th. Immediately."

He returned to stand next to his chair, but found he could not sit. He stood with his arms behind his back, the fingers of his right hand drumming thin air.

"You realise the seriousness of this matter?" He said to Edrington suddenly, bringing his blue gaze back to the Colonel again. He spoke swiftly, though without any great agitation. "Who has the watch now?"

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:31 am

"i gave it to Captain Vickery, to return to Captain Padstowe. Padstowe had spent the evening with Vickery, and he was writing to him." Edrington looked at Sir Arthur. "I realize the seriousness of the attack on Captain Padstowe, and the suggestion that it was done by one of our men. I believe that this information - or suspicion - is already known to interested parties in Lisbon. And that Captain Padstowe was aware of the risk to Cotton, if not to himself."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:40 am

Which made it all the more imperitive for him to speak to Sharpe.

"What do you know of this 'threat', Edrington?" Wellesley asked. "And why would someone with a grudge against a rifleman seek to harm an Exploring Officer? There is no obvious connexion."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Richard Sharpe on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:51 am

Private Armitage had finally discovered the small group of 95th and delivered his message. He was disconcerted when Sharpe swore before getting to his feet and attempting to straighten his uniform before being directed to the barn currently masquerading as HQ.

He knocked at the door. "Sent for, sir," he said, slightly surprised to see Colonel My Lord Edrington with Wellesley.

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:53 am

"Sharpe." Wellesley did not spare a moment on smalltalk with the Rifles officer. "What is this I hear of a conspiracy against a rifleman, claimed now to encompass Captain Padstowe?"

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:54 am

Edrington scratched his chin, frowning. "It might be better to wait for Mr Sharpe," he said, just as the sentry announced the lieutenant's arrival.

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Richard Sharpe on Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:58 am

"Long story, sir. I don't know the exact details, but as I understand it, there was a shooting competition between one of my men and a member of Captain Vickery's company, judged by a soldier of the 27th... Do you want the names?"

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:02 am

"If it is a long story then it might help make it less confusing."

He indicated the chair he had just vacated.

"Sit down, and explain."

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Richard Sharpe on Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:12 am

"Yes, sir. Well, as I was saying, two Riflemen - Hagman, of mine, and Cotton, of Vickery's men, had arranged a friendly shooting competition and got a Private... Williams, I believe, of the 27th to judge for them. And afterwards they went to a local tavern for a friendly drink. I believe Williams was sweet on the barmaid, or summat like. Anyway, the 33rd had just landed and Sergeant Hakeswill walked in and tried to threaten the girl, or something. And Williams and Cotton came to her defence. So he went off with his tail between his legs."

He sighed. "What you've got to understand, sir, is that Hakeswill will carry a grudge till Judgement Day, and he's got a chip on his shoulder against me an' all. So I'm walking back from Headquarters - this was a couple of days later - and get jumped. Williams comes to my aid and tries to help me, only to get accused of it himself. There's a court-martial, at which he's defended by Captain Padstowe and acquitted. So you've got a Sergeant with a grudge against Captain Padstowe, Private Williams, Rifleman Cotton, and myself. Complicated enough for you, sir?"

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Re: Summoned by Wellesley

Post  Sir Arthur Wellesley on Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:23 am

Wellesley stared at Sharpe for a moment, his gaze fixed and his face blank.

"Why," he said eventually. "Does this Sergeant Hakeswill bear a grudge against you?"

He remembered Hakeswill from India. That the vile creature was still alive and in his army was not a welcome piece of news.

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