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Riflemen to the front of the column

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Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:52 pm

This time they were not been sent off to act as forward scouts in territory they were sure of holding; this time their job of sweeping the area in front of the column was being done for real. Even the army would march without the formal parade first - each battalion would set off in its position according to the time table laid down by the Staff, without giving the people of Coimbra the chance to gather and throw flowers...

Harris grinned sardonically as he pulled his boots on in the darkness of the billet. No one would be throwing flowers at him, anyway. One night's drinking and one night polishing was the best he could say for Coimbra: underneath all the fine architecture of palaces and monasteries, there was filth and poverty, and too many damned fleas and other insects that thirsted after the blood of Englishmen. It would be unbearable in the summer.

Soft swearing and a clatter showed someone - Cooper? - had knocked over their rifle. But in general everyone was quiet, and determined. The 95th would be the first men out, leading the Second Division, who were in turn the Vanguard of the Army. Even if the General had thought their display 'commendable' - but Nosey knew that they did the best they could with what they had - and a damned fine best it was too.

He heard a voice saying his name in an unmistakeable accent and turned.

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Richard Sharpe on Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:09 am

"Harris?"

Damn it, who'd left their rifle there for him to fall over? He picked it up and propped it back up against the wall before continuing to where the redheaded Rifleman had gone to sleep last night.

"Harris, I want you and Hagman out on point today. If you think Carty is up to it, you can take him as well, and Perkins, though don't let them chatter, for God's sake. We're comin' up to where the General thinks the French are, if they haven't all crossed back to other side of the river to the rest of their army. We have to expect trouble now - we're gettin' too close to 'em not to. The rest of us will form the patrol and Captain Vickery will provide the flanking scouts. If you see owt, fall back to us and we'll fall back to the 60th."

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O'er the hills and o'er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
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Richard Sharpe
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Species : 95th Rifles; Lieutenant
Number of posts : 2686
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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:21 am

"Right, Sir. I'll take Carty at least - and Perkins too, although I may have to give him a clip round the ear a couple of times. But Carty is good, and getting better. He'll learn a lot more from working with Dan, too. When he's on the qui vive, he's all attention, and steadier than most of the lads." He gave a rare smile. "He won that flag equally with Gabe Cotton, remember."

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Richard Sharpe on Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:27 am

"Aye, he did that." They'd both got their hands on the pole together, after all, though Carty had slid the last few feet to do it, and Cotton had practically picked him up by the scruff of the neck.

"It's mainly his English that lets him down at the moment," Sharpe said. "You keep on teachin' him the way you have been and he'll make Chosen Man afore we know where we're at."

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O'er the hills and o'er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
avatar
Richard Sharpe
Captain

Species : 95th Rifles; Lieutenant
Number of posts : 2686
Location : First on the field and the last off it!
Member since : 2008-05-14

View user profile http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/characters-f4/lieutenant-ri

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:31 am

"Yes, Sir, I'll do that." After a second's hesitation, Harris admitted: "It's a pleasure to do so. I don't miss the old life, and Carty isn't the stamp of pupil I am used to, but there are hidden depths there. Interesting to see what emerges."

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Richard Sharpe on Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:44 am

"You keep doin' what you're doin'. Seems to work, anyway."

He turned back to the rest of the men in the billet. "Right, make sure you've got everythin' - we ain't comin' back this way and if you ain't got it, you'll never see it again. Cooper, if that was your rifle I fell over, what the hell was it doin' there? Come on, outside and form up, quickly now."

_________________
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O'er the hills and o'er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
avatar
Richard Sharpe
Captain

Species : 95th Rifles; Lieutenant
Number of posts : 2686
Location : First on the field and the last off it!
Member since : 2008-05-14

View user profile http://showthecolours.forumakers.com/characters-f4/lieutenant-ri

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:51 am

Carty was rolling up his blanket, humming softly, trying to make it as tight as possible; at Sharpe's words he hastily rolled it and strapped it to the top of his knapsack. "Got everythin', got everythin'," he repeated, and felt around the ground where he had been lying.

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:00 am

Harris checked around too, and found the book he had been reading, underneath his pack. He picked it up, and put it in, before strapping his blanket and greatcoat across the top of his pack. "You're on point with me and Dan Hagman," he told the youngster. "So make sure you've got everything, and something to eat. Is your water bottle full?"

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:02 am

"On point, yis," said Carty with a grin. "Got eating," he added, indicating his haversack. He shook his canteen. "More water, I go got more water."

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:14 am

"Fill up well. It will almost certainly be as hot today as yesterday. Go and get more water, then." Harris remembered the map they had looked at. They would have to go up through the town, and then out into hills much like those they had passed before, mainly sandy foothills and the road almost straight towards Oporto.

He tested his own water bottle, but he had not drunk from it after filling it, and it did not slosh at all.

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:18 am

Hot today - Portugal was a stange place thought Carty as he joined Williams in the queue behind the water-butt. In Ireland it rained almost constantly; even in the hottest days of summer there was usually a fine mist of rain at some point. But in Portugal you could taste the dryness.


Last edited by Mícheál Carty on Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:11 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:10 am

Williams was thinking of Maria, standing in the line with three water bottles. He had drunk his trying to wash away the taste of the red wine, which he shouldn't have been drinking last night, but if you went to a tavern to see a girl you had to drink, didn't you then, or the management would throw you out and probably sack the girl... She would stay in Coimbra, though there had been a point where he thought she might be plucking up the courage to suggest that she come with them. Williams had considered pointing out that Hakeswill would be coming along with them, and that he wouldnt' be able to keep an eye on her all the time. A Portuguese girl, new to the life of a camp follower, would be easy prey, to someone who had managed to get Gabe Cotton flogged...

He glanced down as someone else joined the queue - the young rifleman he had seen before, who had lost to Dan Hagman. "Nice morning for an early start, isn't it boy?" he said, gesturing at the black moonless sky.

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:14 am

"Nice morning!" Carty chirped in agreement; he now felt comfortable enough with his English to occasionally talk to men in the other regiments, even, sometimes, a redcoat.

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:27 am

"I'm Williams," the redcoat said, wondering where the boy got his cheerfulness from so early in the morning. Probably not from wine drunk the night before. "A friend of Dan Hagman."

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:33 am

"I'm Carty," said the boy, grinning. "Dan Hagman in 95th as I in 95th!"

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:39 am

"I can tell," Williams replied indulgently. "We're trained to be smart like that. It's so we don't shoot you, see, instead of the French."

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:45 am

"Only small few 95th here," said Carty happily. "Dan Hagman very very good for shooting. You are Inniskillings?" He thought he recognised William's voice from somewhere.

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 2:59 am

"Young Inniskillings, the third battalion," said Williams with a touch of battalion pride. "We've a good few Irish lads in, like yourself. But we're raised in Scotland, and I'm Welsh, which you might be able to tell."

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:02 am

"I tell you not Irish!" said Carty as the butt became free. "Young Inniskillings - Inniskillings is Irish. You is Scotland Inniskillings?

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:14 am

"Although I think they could have filled another battalion from Ireland, given how many came over to join us." Williams filled the first of his bottles - that was MacKay's who'd come with him last night, and ended up drinking all his own water, and half of Joe Gordon's, which was the third bottle.

"You have to watch the Scottish though. Devils for the drink, they are, and for fighting. One lot as bad as the other... " Williams gave a friendly smile at the boy. "Or as good, in the Army. Fighting is what we're here for, isn't it?"

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:19 am

"Fighting, yis," said Carty with a grin, which faded as the word sparked the connection between him and Williams. He peered at the man's face in the early morning twilight. "I know you! You-" He lowered his voice to a whisper. "You fighting sergeant."

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:22 am

Williams grimaced. "Yeah - we went a couple of rounds. I'm not a good fighter, see, not like some of the lads. But that Sergeant owes me for a couple of very unpleasant days... "

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:28 am

"He is bad. Very very bad. Mister Sharpe says bad," said Carty, missing most of what Williams was saying.

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:36 am

Williams nodded, putting the stopper in the last bottle and sliding the strap over his shoulder. "Very Bad, and your Mr Sharpe knows better than most just how bad. You steer clear of him - don't even let him see you looking at him..." And just possibly Hakeswill wouldn't go for the weakest point in Sharpe's defences.

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

Post  Guest on Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:40 am

"No looking," said Carty, nodding seriously, putting his canteen under the surface on the water and watching the bubbles. "Not go near Sergeant, no. Mister Sharpe say 95th stick together - I stick together with 95th."

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Re: Riflemen to the front of the column

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