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 05th May; The Day After
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:51 PM
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Sharpe was woken by Pat Harper bringing him a steaming cup of tea. He yawned, stretched, and found he still hurt in places where he shouldn't have been hurting. One hand went automatically to his throat.

"Bloody hell, that hurts," he said, trying to sit up. Harper offered him a hand, which he took, and hauled him upright before passing him the battered mug.

"You don't look too good, that's for sure," the Irishman said, inspecting Sharpe's neck.

"You wouldn't, either if someone had tried to strangle you with a bloody piece of string."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:52 PM
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Padstowe knocked on the door of Sharpe's billet, wondering if Richard would be up yet or if it was even wise to try and talk to him at this time of the morning. He had not been to bed, and he felt it, but there was no point in worrying about that.

The door opened to reveal the figure of Patrick Harper, whose face took on a surprised expression at his appearance.

"Jesus, but you look like shite, sir!"

"Thank you, Sergeant," Padstowe said dryly. "Is His Lordship awake yet?"
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:52 PM
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"You'd have to go up to Headquarters to find that out, sir. I don't think he billets with the likes of us." Harper was enjoying himself. "Oh, you mean Mister Sharpe. I'm not sure he's what you'd call awake, but he's having a nice cup of tea, so he is. And it looks like you could use one yourself, if you don't mind me saying, sir." He stepped back to allow the Captain in.

Sharpe was still lying on the hard straw mattress that passed for his bed. Harper had pulled off his trousers and boots last night, and he was only wearing his shirt. "Um. Excuse me a moment, sir," he said, reaching for his trousers. He pulled them on, throwing a sour look at Harper who ignored it and brought a cup of tea over to Padstowe.

"Won't you sit down, please, Jonathan?" he asked, getting up and crossing to the table.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:53 PM
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"Don't mind if I do, thank you," said Padstowe, removing his hat and sitting down at the table. He smirked at Sharpe, scrabbling to get his trousers on.

"Don't apologise, I've seen you worse. How was your night?"
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:53 PM
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"Dunno. Don't remember it. I think I fell asleep on the table after you went." He didn't mention the bad dream he'd had; his run-in with Hakeswill had made him remember his flogging with rather more detail than he'd ever wanted. And this time Wellesley hadn't interfered.

"Looks like your night was worse. Did you get to bed at all?"
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:54 PM
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"Now you come to mention it, I don't think I did," he said, gratefully taking hold of the steaming mug of tea Harper had just pushed under his nose. He rasped his coarse chin with irritation. "Though to be perfectly honest I doubt my bed missed me at all."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:54 PM
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'"You've been busy if you didn't even get to bed last night."

He scowled at Harper brought his jacket over. "I ain't goin' anywhere just yet, Pat." He rubbed at his neck ruefully. "Though I reckon I'm going to wear my shirt collar closed today so that bloody jacket don't rub too much."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:54 PM
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"Can't say I blame you," Padstowe said offhand, before taking a large swallow of tea, closing his eyes as he felt the warm liquid making its way down his gullet.

"Lord, I needed that."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:55 PM
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"So how can I help you? I don't think you came here just to drink our tea and talk about the weather."

Harper snorted and turned to busy himself with the pot over the fire.

"If you're here long enough, I think we can offer you some breakfast. Pat's got some stirabout on. It'll be easier to eat than what they serve up at the Mess, I reckon."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:56 PM
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Food! Padstowe's stomach gave a loud gurgle at that point, having not really taken anything since yesterday lunchtime and he flushed slightly.

"If you would not mind..."

He scratched his chin again, then ran his fingers through his hair.

"Truth be told, Richard, I came to see how you were after last night - and to inform you how things have progressed regarding Williams."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:56 PM
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And just how was he after last night? Still tired, with aches and pains and a sore neck.

"I'll live. I've had worse. Though I'm a bit stiff. And how are things with Private Williams?"
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:57 PM
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"As well, as can be expected." He was playing for time and he knew it, but he really wanted a chance for the tea to take effect and poke his sluggish brain back to something resembling life. And maybe something to eat first... Facing Richard Sharpe first thing in the morning feeling under par was not the wisest of things to do.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:57 PM
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Sharpe growled. He knew when he was being put off, but breakfast wouldn't be long in coming and, truth be told, he needed to eat something as well. He took a mouthful of tea, and tried to think of something else to say. Small talk wasn't exactly his strongest point anyway, and it certainly wasn't something he could focus on first thing in the morning.

"What's the weather like?" he asked, fumbling for something to say, and nearly cursed when the tea slopped over his mug as he pulled a chair out to sit down.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:58 PM
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"Mild to sunny, with a few scatterings of cloud... although there aren't as many bees around as there were this time last year."

There was a snort from Harper over by the fireplace. The captain was just being silly now, but then again so was Sharpe.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:58 PM
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"Poor bloody bees." He turned to Harper. "Ain't that porridge done yet?"

"Not quite, Mister Sharpe, sir." Harper grinned to himself; it wasn't often he got to hear Sharpe trying to engage in small talk.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 03:59 PM
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"Although," continued Padstowe. He was dicing with death here. "They do say that the continental migration of the African swallow shall take place as normal, though it is possible that play may be called off due to damp ground."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 04:00 PM
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What the hell?! The man was playing with him. A glance at Harper showed the man's shoulders shaking with silent laughter.

"If you've quite finished cooking that damn porridge, we'd like breakfast some time today," he said, unreasonably taking his frustration out on Harper. The man was used to it, though.

"And you'll not be asking me to serve up raw oats for you, sir? I didn't realise you were as hoarse as all that."

"Pat!"

"Yes, sir, it's coming sir. And it's as fine a breakfast as you'll see in Lisbon, so it is, sir." He brought two steaming bowls over before filling a third and joining them at the table.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 04:00 PM
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At last! Padstowe set about spooning the porridge into his mouth as quickly as decency allowed. It would have been better with a sprinkling of sugar, but at this moment he was really past caring.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 04:00 PM
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"You want to be careful with that, sir. It's hot. And we don't want you choking to death, now, do we, sir?" Harper was all concern at the rate Padstowe was eating.

"Shut up and let the man eat, Pat," Sharpe said, digging into his own. After all, the quicker Padstowe finished his food, the quicker Sharpe would be able to get some answers out of him. It was either that, or he'd choke the Captain himself, out of sheer frustration.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 04:01 PM
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Padstowe did not care about how damn hot it was. He probably would when the indigestion kicked in, but that was not the point. After half a minute he had pretty much cleared his bowl, and sat back with a sigh to drink some more of his tea. He felt somewhat better already.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 04:01 PM
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"So, what's happening about Private Williams?"

Padstowe had eaten most of his stirabout and if Sharpe did not get an answer soon, he was likely to die of curiosity. Or frustration. Or something.
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 04:02 PM
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There was no putting it off any longer. He leaned forward, resting his clasped hands on the table and sighed, taking the time to shuffle his thoughts into order.

"Richard," he began. "I do believe that it will be possible to get Williams off, but in order to do so I must ask you not to identify Hakeswill as your attacker."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 04:02 PM
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"What?" He couldn't believe he'd heard right. He sat back. "Jonathan, you had your joke earlier. Explain yourself, please. I ain't in the mood for owt funny, though."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 04:03 PM
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"I'm not joking." Padstowe's face was deadly serious. "The only way that Private Williams may be saved from the firing squad is that the court finds there is no case to answer, and to suggest that there may have been an unknown third party involved as your assailant."
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 Posted: Jun 1 2018, 04:03 PM
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"And Hakeswill gets off scot-free, yet again."

Well, if it were a choice between him accusing Hakeswill and seeing Williams shot, or letting Hakeswill get away with it, he did not want to see an innocent man killed.

"All right. But I will kill that bastard one day. I promise you, I'll kill him."
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