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 01st May; Lisbon Harbour, Sharpe; Padstowe; Wellesley; Cotton
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 05:52 PM
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Sharpe stood on the walls of the fort at Belem, just outside Lisbon, watching the sea through his telescope. There was a ship down on the water, making her way slowly up the Tagus against the current. He focussed on the small group on her quarterdeck, busy discussing something. A flash of red caught his eye and he smiled. So, the rumours were true after all...
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 05:53 PM
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"See anyone you know, Richard?" Padstowe asked as he observed the smile spread across Sharpe's face.

Padstowe had met Sharpe when the captain had first arrived in Lisbon, fatigued from a fortnight's hard riding and stuck for a place to billet himself. Despairing, he had found his way to the Officers' Mess and, fortunately for him, had met Sharpe. They had exchanged words over a pot of something that resembled tea, discovered that each had a mutual liking of the other, and the lieutenant had very generously offered to let the captain share his billet. That had been a week ago. Since then, Padstowe had managed to find himself some rooms, yet the two officers were still quite often to be found in each others company.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 05:53 PM
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Sharpe passed the telescope over to the redcoat officer, and gestured at the toy ship working its way into the harbour.

"I think Horse Guards have finally come to their senses, and sent a proper General out here," he said, keeping his eyes fixed on the tiny speck of red on the deck of the ship
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 05:53 PM
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Padstowe closed one eye, steadied the telescope on the wall and peered through the lense at the ship. He smiled. So he had made it. Unlike Sharpe Padstowe had been privy to the prior knowledge that Sir Arthur was definitely coming to take command of the army in the Peninsula, though there had been many fears for his safety. The weather had not been at its best and a huge storm had blown its way down the coast foundering several ships - but it seemed that it took more than that to stop Sir Arthur. He straightened, handing the telescope back to Sharpe.

"I'm sure nothing short of the Apocalypse would have stopped him getting here," he said cheerfully. "And that includes those fools at Horse Guards."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 05:54 PM
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"It's all them fools at Horse Guards," he said, accepting the telescope back and training it on the ship again. "If they hadn't sent him out here, they'd be up to their necks in snow. It's the way he freezes people into doing what he wants them to."

There was plenty of action on the deck of the ship, with sailors running here, there and everywhere. The General had retreated to the taffrail, a single spot of scarlet.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 05:54 PM
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"Looks like he's brought Henry with him too," Padstowe said, squinting as a black coated figure hurriedly joined the General.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 05:55 PM
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Sharpe turned, curious. "Who's Henry?" He felt this was probably something he should know, being an officer and all, but a man couldn't know everything...
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:06 PM
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"His little brother," said Padstowe, smirking as he used the phrase. Somehow the way the Wellesley brothers always eventually showed up en mass never ceased to amuse him. "He was out in India when Mornington, Sir Arthur's eldest brother, was Governor General. Same time as you, I believe."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:07 PM
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"Never mixed much with the officers when I was there. Even after I got the commission, I was always somethin' to be wiped off of a boot." Strangely, Sharpe didn't feel bitter about it, though he did feel bitter that whenever the 95th got back out here, he'd be sent back to being a Quartermaster. He wanted to lead men on the field, and he knew he could do the job better than half the officer in the Mess ever would.

"So what's he bringing his little brother out here for?" Because he couldn't see for the life of him why Sir Arthur was dragging his relatives to Portugal.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:07 PM
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Padstowe sighed.

"Henry's a political," he said flatly. "As you well know. Word says that he's going to be our ambassador in Cadiz. Be a nice change for him, I should say. Get away from all the gossip at home."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:07 PM
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Well, that actually explained... not much at all. A memory tugged at him. "Henry Wellesley. Wasn't he the one whose wife ran off with Paget?"
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:08 PM
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"Quite, though I'd advise you not to mention it in front of him. Or Sir Arthur for that matter. I doubt Paget will have the nerve to show himself here now that the Wellesleys have arrived in force."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:08 PM
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"Depends how long Henry's planning on staying here before shoving off down to Cadiz. Mind you, I dunno how desperate the General's going to be for a decent cavalry commander, either." He looked at Padstowe. "Don't worry, I can keep my mouth shut. Not that Sir Arthur ever cared much about owt I had to say."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:08 PM
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"Really?" Padstowe raised his eyebrows. "That's not what I hear. I hear that Sir Arthur values you more than you give him credit for."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:09 PM
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"He don't show it, then," Sharpe answered, remembering the cold blue eyes above the nose that gave him the nickname Nosey among the soldiers.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:09 PM
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"That is more than likely," Padstowe said, turning back to stare at the ship. She was closer now, making her finally approach before she would pass by the forts into the harbour, and he could quite clearly see the individual sailors scurrying about like so many ants as they ran to take hold of sheets and sails. "Sir Arthur has never been one to reveal his true sentiments on any subject, but I do believe you do yourself an injustice, Richard."

In truth Sir Arthur had praised Sharpe most enthusiastically - well, what passed for enthusiastic with the General - when Padstowe had last been in his company; but he would not tell Sharpe that. Knowing his character the lieutenant would not appreciate such a compliment.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:10 PM
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Sharpe wondered exactly what the General had said to Padstowe about him, and then decided he probably didn't want to know. He found himself caressing his telescope and thrust it back into his pouch, hoping the Padstowe hadn't seen how damned missish he was being.

Sharpe watched the ship make her final approach, gliding past the forts under the expert eye of her captain.

"At least he hasn't brought the 95th with him," he said, caught somewhere between longing for them and relief that they weren't here.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:10 PM
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Padstowe had caught the brief, thoughtful caress of the telescope and smiled inwardly. Clearly it was not only Sir Arthur who did not like to admit his true sentiments on the matter... He suspected that the two might even like each other, though he doubted whether either would ever admit it.

"The 33rd will be here, though," he said flatly. "From what you were saying before I hardly thought that was any better."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:11 PM
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Sharpe frowned suddenly, wondering which of the two would be the lesser of the two evils.

"Hakeswill's probably dead and buried long since," he said, although from the sinking feeling inside, the Sergeant was still making the lives of those unfortunates in the Light Company hell on earth.

A thought struck him. "Wonder what happened to Tom Garrard, though," he said, watching the sailors below run out on the yards.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:11 PM
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"Garrard?" Padstowe frowned. The name was unfamiliar to him.
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:11 PM
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Sharpe smiled, remembering. "He were me best mate," he said, unconscious that his Yorkshire accent was growing broader as he spoke. "He were a good soldier, nowt better, and a good mate too."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:12 PM
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"I think I should like to meet him if he is still around," Padstowe murmured. "We are in need of good soldiers if we are ever to win this war, which he must be if he is to be given that label by you."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:12 PM
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Sharpe glanced at the other officer. "He used to send money home, you know. I never learned how, on a soldier's pay."

The shouts of the naval officers drifted up to them as he paused. "His family got thrown out of their cottage after a bad harvest 'cause his dad was three days late with the rent. So Tom went for a soldier, to save them having to feed another mouth."
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:14 PM
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Padstowe's eyebrows shot up in surprise and he gave a low whistle. Army pay was not exactly spectacular, and the vast amount of it disappeared through stoppages to leave only a pittance to hand to the soldier.

"What did he do? Forgo all meals and live off thin air?"
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 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 06:14 PM
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That made Sharpe grin. "No, but it was in India and stuff was cheaper out there. And he used to take more care of his necessaries than I've seen anyone else do."
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