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The Riflemen's sheds

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The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:51 am

Lt. Jaeger firmly stamped down any resentment he felt towards the officers of the 62nd, the battalion they were attached to. Despite reaching their destination first, he would be sleeping on a pile of damp straw, while the 62nd officers had a cozy mess and were only 3 to a room.

The riflemen were billeted in a couple of sheds behind the house the 62nd occupied, penned up like cattle.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Sun Sep 27, 2009 2:59 am

It was still raining, and water dripped from the points of Lieutenant Waldegrave's hat, running down onto his already sodden cloak. Which covered his equally wet uniform coat, and breeches, and squelched in his boots. If he turned his head sharply, an arc of raindrops flung out, glittering in the light from the front windows of the houses in the village. He would have to go out again, of course - as one of the officers responsible for the picquets set by the 62nd he would be up for the first half of the night, until the duty changed hands. So he would not return to the comfortable room, with the fire, and wine and bread (fresh tonight, at least) and cheese ...

Behind the house in which the 62nd's officers were billetted were barns and sheds, and in one of them, the company of Riflemen, and his friend, Lieutenant Jaeger. He pushed open the door and stepped into a room that still smelt of sheep, and wet wool - though that might be the riflemen, not the animals.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:05 am

[ooc ]

Sergeant Stierli was the first to see the redcoated Lt. He hissed 'Officer present' between his teeth and the assembled riflemen dropped whatever they were doing and came to attention.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:23 am

Waldegrave nodded in acknowledgement, then removed his hat, and let the water run off it onto the floor, as he looked round. There was tension, almost hostility, in the massed gaze of the riflemen, and he said, quickly: "Is Mr Jaeger here, Sergeant?"

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Sun Sep 27, 2009 8:30 am

"Yes, sir." The Swiss sergeant indicated a ladder. "On te hayloft."

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:45 am

Waldegrave crossed to the ladder the Sergeant had pointed to, and started to climb. There was little hay left in the loft - and this rain and the armies marching past would probably mean a lean first mowing this year too ....

"Jaeger? Are you busy?"

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:18 am

Sitting on some hay in his shirtsleeves, Lt Jaeger was bent over a ledger, straining to read the faint pencil marks in the meagre light of a candlestub. He looked up at beeing adressed and several expressions chased over his face in quick sucession as he recognised his friend. First surprise and delight, but quickly replaced by mortification and finally shame were revealed in the flickering light.

"No, I my eyes need a rest anyway. Come on up." He turned away and started rooting in his pack.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Mon Sep 28, 2009 8:57 am

Waldegrave pulled himself up through the opening, and ducked under the beams to join Jaeger. "Paper work," he said with sympathy. "But this isn't ... I am sure you'd be welcome to share our billet ... we have ... um, tables, and decent candles..."

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:43 pm

Havving found what he was looking for, Jaeger handed his friend a dented cup and held up a small canteen.

"Drink? And thank you for your offer, I appreciate it," he grinned up at the redcoat, "but as far as billets go, this is still decent! The roof is hardly leaking at all and we have four walls. And doors!" He paused and listened to the intense hiss of rain ouside. "Bivouacing would be much worse. I don't envy the poor sods who are sentries tonight."

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:34 am

"And we need more, since you can't see your hand in front of your face, with the rain and the moon only being there for a couple of minutes. I shall not be surprised if they started an alarm - the way the shadows shift when the clouds blow away ..." Waldegrave looked worried. "I'll have to go round again, but if they do fire at shadows it shouldn't be at any of ours - unless those deserters try to get in front of us..."

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Zachary Pye on Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:04 am

Huddled up in a damp corner Pye tried to bring some warmth to his hands. The officers were still chattering away, so they were allowed to be less tense and stiff up on their feet. He yawned and took a sip from his canteen and pulled his knees up to his chest to preserve heat. Atleast the wool managed to do that, even if rather damp.

Here it was miserable but fairly dryer than it was outside. It was also good luck that they needn't stand outside in the rain and so get even more drenched. Perhaps to be saying it better, life at the moment could not have been better, considering the circumstances.

He blew some air against his hands, and rubbed them against each other, keeping his mind of the voices from the hayloft. As long as they were up there, the men downstairs could be at ease. The egg was still tucked away, warm and safe.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:04 am

Jaeger was quite glad that he was dry and done with his work for tonight. From below the reassuring murmur of the riflemen's voices drifted up, telling stories and settling down for the night, accompanied by the sound of rustling blankets and the one or other whetstone on a sword.

"You have double sentries? And are relieving them every hour? I've been taught that it helps to keep them more alert when they are relieved one after the other, so a fresh man goes on duty every half hour..." He thought fondly of Sgt. Fischer who had taught him that trick, and felt proud to be passing it on, "and I don't think the muskets will fire in this weather at all. Were the deserters from your company?"

Realising that this sounded too much like criticising his friend, he quickly added: "That's not a reproof, we've had more than our share of runners!"

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:40 am

Waldegrave grimaced. "Ours, yes.... We lost two in Lisbon, as well. They were among the last ones to join us - when the battalion was rushing to be ready to leave to come here. The recruiting party must have let its standards drop." He grinned without humour. "They were also responsible - in part responsible - for our company being criticised by General Wellesley at the Grand Review. They were lucky not to be flogged for that, just stoppages: but they were warned. The Sergeants and Corporals kept them on their toes, with constant random inspections, while we were in Oporto..."

He looked back at Jaeger. "There were rumours - about last year. But ... I didn't like to ask."

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:03 pm

Jaeger coughed and blushed. "Ah, yes that... um. Well, what happened was that last year, after Rolica and that business in Cintra, that we, that is the 5/60th, but us, too, well, we got a lot of Swiss recruits, you know how the French conscript soldiers forme the countries they occupy? So there were all these foreigners that didn't want to stay in French service, and the Hannoveraner went into the KGL, obviously, and, well, we got the Swiss. But you see, it turned out that they either didn't like British discipline, and we do have discipline here in the rifles, even if it doesn't look like it to you redcoats, or they were planning to run back home all along, anyway on the march with Moore to Salamanca a lot of them deserted." He stared at the floor with a woeful expression, "it was so bad that we weren't trusted on piquet duty and so we were send back to Lisbon to escort the baggage and the walking wounded..."

Suddenly he jumed up and hit his head on the roof.

"But enough about me! What about you? Have you ever set qiquets? That can make or break a young officers career, you know!"

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:18 am

Waldegrave listened gravely to Jaeger's rather gabbled comments about the Swiss, and then said, quietly: "I have set picquets - but only at home, and there was little risk of being attacked by anything other than an annoyed pheasant. I think I've put them in the right places - in accordance with the Handbook. But then again, that does rather assume you can see what's in front of you, and know where the best points are. I was doing it in the dark, and no one wanted to be away from the shelter offered by a stone wall, or a tree...."

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:43 am

Jaeger was already descending the ladder into the main room of the shed. The riflemens chatting quieted doen into a respectful silence and Jaeger scrutinied the assembly. Satisfied that nothing untoward was going on, he nodded approval to Sgt. Fischer with a 'carry on' and led Lt. Waldegrave outside.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:49 pm

After the door of the shed closed behind the two officers, Sgt. Fischer resumed his quiet conversation with Sgt. Stierli.

"I don't think we let any redcoated deserters pass us today; they are either running back to Oporto or they'll try to silp past the sentries tonight." He sucked thoughtfully on his teeth. "The 62nd are on duty tonight. Funny coincidence."

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Mon Oct 05, 2009 9:33 pm

Stierli looked doubtful. "They will have known it was their turn, of course. And perhaps have friends who will let them through, do you think? Who may even ..." He shook his head suddenly, still without a trace of a smile. "Had that been the plan, they would have waited, and made certain that they and their friends were on picquet duty, so they could slip quietly away. We have seen it, my friend: we have seen it."

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Mon Oct 05, 2009 9:45 pm

"We have, we have... but I still wonder. The English don't strike me as either smart or planning; Die Spinnen, die Engländer."

He settled down more comfortably and started to fill his pipe.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Zachary Pye on Mon Oct 05, 2009 9:47 pm

Pye glanced over at the two sergeants. He didn't mean to listen, as it seemed he usually did not, but he heard bits of conversation anyhow. He dropped his gaze to the rifle. He had just started cleaning it, a considerably dry rag folded in the palm of his hand. There was a pair of redcoats that disappeared sooner than that evening, but it wasn't the riflemen's job to report it. After all, they only heard them disappearing and not actually seen them do that.

He reached for his pack absentmindedly, missed his mark and sent it tumbling over. He propped the rifle against the wall and knelt to pick the various things that fell out of the pack, half open as it was.

"'scuse me." He murmured as he reached for the mug, which had rolled and tumbled furthest.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:02 pm

"Excuse me, sergeant." Sgt. Fischer frowned at the new Englishman in their midst.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Zachary Pye on Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:08 pm

"'scuse.. Excuse me,.. sergeant, sergeants..!" The boy repeated quickly his mug slipping from his grip. He dropped his gaze, looking flustered and reached out for the mug again. Instead of a firm grip, he managed to nudge it a bit further. He took a step forward and paused a moment. With his cheeks burning in shame he finally snatched it from the floor.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:29 pm

"Die Spinnen, die Engländer," he repeated, his mouth in a tight line, as the youngster - brought into the squad only the other day - got more upset under Sergeant Fischer's stern eye. They should have taught him his manners in the 33rd. "Närrisch!"

Mommsen, sitting closest to the boy, collected the few things that had fallen in his direction and offered them. "Here. Make sure you don't leave anything, lad. There'll be no chance to replace them out here." In English the German accent was overlaid by a local English accent.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Zachary Pye on Mon Oct 05, 2009 10:44 pm

German was a foreign tongue, muffled or spoken. If it weren't for Mommsen the boy might've still been standing there, not quite sure what to say or do.

"Thank you." He resembled a starved pup that had juts been offered a scrap of meat, so grateful he looked at Mommsen then. He collected the pieces into his arms and smiled. "Will do!" He laid a few back into his pack, finding space and shifting them into place so that more space was left for the remaining, bigger pieces and cloth. "Will be more careful,.. next time." He looked about, sighing relieved. It seemed that he managed to find everything. "Thank you." He said again as his gaze returned to Mommsen then dropped.

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Re: The Riflemen's sheds

Post  Guest on Mon Oct 05, 2009 11:52 pm

Mommsen saw the shy glance and shook his head. "You've no need to be scared of the Sergeants - just do what you're told, and don't look so ... gormless." He smiled to lessen the bite. "It's not all that different from the Redcoats, but."

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