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Beckwith Castle

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Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:00 am

After endless days of unaccustomed marching, Lieutenant Daubigny was ready to drop in his tracks when they reached their destination. He stared stupidly at the house - more like a castle, really. It was enormous, decadent, ridiculously ornamented.

"Is this it?" he asked incredulously.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:15 am

The journey had taken days. Lieutenant Blanchard's feet had not taken well to the English countryside and he was only too glad when they finally reached the end of the march.

"It seems so," he said, looking over the structure before them appraisingly. "How interesting."

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:27 am

The gate was opened - there was a gate, and a wall - and they were marched through onto the grounds. There was still a long approach to the house itself, and it was strange to see the remains of former gardens, hedges and ornamental trees growing wildly out of shape. Of course it would have taken an army of gardeners to care for such a place. But perhaps they were still employed. Off to one side Daubigny could see a man working, but he was startled to see the man's jacket thrown over a shrub - a chasseur's uniform.

"That man is... gardening."

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:44 am

Blanchard gazed about him in undisguised curiosity as they were marched through the gate. The grounds had, most likely, been quite beautiful. Now of course they were untended and wild.

"He... what?" Blanchard looked around and spotted what the naval lieutenant spoke of. His face paled at the very thought of working at such a task. "Disgraceful," he sneered.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:55 am

For some reason that made Daubigny snort with laughter, but the guard glared him into silence. They finally reached the door - not the grand front entrance, but a little insignificant looking entrance on the side - and they were led through a maze of rooms and winding hallways, probably the servants' passage or some such.

"Wait there," the guard said in English, and turned towards a massive ruddy-faced officer to give his report, probably detailing their names and ranks and things like that. Daubigny was more interested in the sounds of... a pianoforte? And a young woman singing?

"What the devil kind of prison is this?" he asked Blanchard.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:05 am

"Probably a trick," Blanchard answered. "They'll send us down to the dungeons next, surely. Don't trust these English to be kind!"

He looked around at the walls and the dusty draperies. It had to be just a trick. This was no place to keep prisoners.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:10 am

Daubigny shivered. "Well a dungeon can't be much colder than it is here. It was warmer outside."

Presently a guard led them up several flights of stairs - again, the servants' passage, narrow winding stairs - and into a great room that had probably once served as a parlour. The high ceiling was embellished with shells and leaves in carved plaster, and the walls were a picturesque sky blue. But for ornament the rest of the room was devoid, being filled instead with narrow wooden cots, on a few of which languished bored-looking Frenchmen.

"It's like... an army barracks!" Daubigny exclaimed at a whisper.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:20 am

What was this place? Blanchard stared at the great room in bewilderment, not wanting to believe what he saw.

"I don't... this can't be where we are meant to stay, is it?"

It was too close to comfortable. Blanchard had expected bare stone floors, dirty straw mats, and lice-infested blankets.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:28 am

One of the men on the cots jumped up and rushed forward to greet them. "Hello. My name's Vernet. Do you play at cards?" He stared at them intensely, one after another.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:41 am

Blanchard blinked at the man who'd come forward. "Cards?" He asked stupidly.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:48 am

"Leave them alone, Vernet," another man said lazily, a man in a hussar's uniform. He rose slowly and ambled over to meet them, staring them up and down before offering his hand. "Welcome, gentlemen. This is Beckwith Castle, your new home. And I," pausing dramatically, "am Capitaine Philibert Nantreuil." He smiled at them benevolently.

Daubigny did not know whether to shake the man's hand or salute, so he did both. "Capitaine. I am Lieutenant Nicolas Daubigny, late of the frigate Néréide."

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:17 am

At least there was one man here with some semblance of manners. Blanchard saluted the hussar, glad for his explanation and introduction.

"Lieutenant Henri Blancard, Capitaine. 18th Line."

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:32 am

"Well, gentlemen, I am pleased to make your acquaintance," Nantreuil said with a slight bow. "Please follow me." He led them through the house, breezing past room after room filled with decadent decay and cold wooden beds. "This is where we mess," he said, waving toward a room with long rows of tables and benches. "Over here is the work room." They glanced into a room where several officers looked up from working, but most of the men studiously ignored them. "And down here are the kitchens," he said as he led them down the stairs. It was dark, the only light coming in through small high windows. It would have been a beautiful kitchen in its day, with gleaming copper pots and bunches of herbs and vegetables hanging from those hooks above the windows, but it was a depressingly bare place now.

"At least it's warm," Daubigny commented. "What about the rest of the house? What time to they light the fires?"

The men in the kitchen laughed.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:49 am

Blanchard had to admit he was impressed. This was far better than being consigned to dungeons.

"Do they not allow fires to be lit?" Blanchard asked, confused by the other men's laughter.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:01 am

"Allow it? Of course they'll allow it - if you've got something to burn." One of the cooks flashed him a grin. "You got money? I can get you coal if you've got the money."

"We should burn the beds," another cook muttered, a high-born man by the sound of his accent.

"Burn the beds? But then the mice would eat the mattresses!" another replied, indignant.

"What difference would that make? It's already like sleeping on a floor."

"No, what we should do is sleep in watches, and then we could double up the mattresses to make them thicker."

"Sleep in watches? Don't be absurd! This isn't the navy!"

"How dare you call me absurd!"

Daubigny exchanged glances with Blanchard. These men were officers?

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:35 am

Blinking, Blanchard backed toward the door a pace. If these were officers, he was a private. Worse, they seemed to enjoy bickering.

"I think we may explore on our own," he said, looking pointedly at Daubigny.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:39 am

Their guide the hussar seemed to be involved in the quarrel now, so Daubigny joined Blanchard and slipped out of the room. "Too many officers spoil the broth."

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 11:14 am

Nodding, Blanchard waited for Daubigny to catch up.

"We may learn better without their guidance anyway. This does seem a tolerable enough place, doesn't it?" All things considered, at least.

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 11:23 am

"Yes... Well... Yes. It does seem a bit like a madhouse. But it's not the rotting prison hulk I was afraid of. I guess it's a good thing for us that there are so many French already filling up the other prisons." He smirked at his companion and pulled his coat a bit closer. "What now?"

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 11:59 am

"Hm." Blanchard led the way, albeit a little hesitantly, back the way they'd come. Truth be told he preferred not to think about other prisons or prison hulks, if he could avoid it. Not since he was so fortunate to be here.

"A tour of the grounds, perhaps? They seemed passable enough."

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David Burr, Sergeant, Light Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Foot Guards
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Timothy Hewet, Corporal, Grenadier Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Foot Guards
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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:01 pm

"And at least it's sunny," Daubigny replied, trying to be optimistic. "I wonder when they feed us. I hope it will be hot."

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:10 pm

Blanchard shrugged. He was more worried about what they'd be fed. "If we're lucky," he grumbled, remembering the remark about using the beds for fuel.

"Though," he allowed, "perhaps we might find something outside worth using for a fire."

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David Burr, Sergeant, Light Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Foot Guards
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Timothy Hewet, Corporal, Grenadier Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Foot Guards
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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:27 pm

"Good idea." As they came outside, they saw a man pushing a wheel barrow. "Look, there! Maybe we can sneak that barrow when he's not looking. Or we could even buy it, perhaps."

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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  Keiju on Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:47 pm

"Maybe." Blanchard eyed the barrow thoughtfully. He was not about to pay valuable coin for what was essentially a heap of wood with handles and a wheel, if he could avoid it.

"To sneak it may be easier." He shrugged. "Or we might even ask where there may be wood to be found - even a little will do."

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Nathaniel Peters, Sergeant, Grenadier Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Foot Guards
Timothy Hewet, Corporal, Grenadier Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Foot Guards
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Re: Beckwith Castle

Post  sans nom on Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:55 pm

"You ask him," Daubigny whispered. "I never know what to say in these situations. HELLO THERE!" he called out in English. "HELLO! DO YOU SPEAK FRENCH?"

"Of course I do," the man replied in a disdainful Parisian accent.

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