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 06th May; Another posada in Lisbon
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 Posted: Mar 22 2018, 11:53 PM
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Sharpe led the way in, glad there was a table free and they wouldn't have to prop the bar up. Cotton was looking slightly nervous at being in the company, socially, of a couple of officers, but he was hiding it well. He couldn't read the faces of his other two companions.
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:46 AM
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It was strange to be drinking with officers. Sometimes you found yourself in the same bar, and sometimes out in the country, you would even sit and share a drink, and a few words. But not in town. Other soldiers would think it - odd. Cotton, he could see, was clearly concerned. Well, it had been Padstowe's suggestion, and no one could claim that they were a lively party. What did Lieutenant Sharpe think of it. It would have been difficult for him not to come, but in his position, risen from the ranks, he'd have to be extra careful not to be seen as too close to the rank and file.

"I'll feel better for a drink," he said, "and thank you for that, Sir. Positively medicinal it will be. But just the one. I have to get back - the Battalion will have been missing me these last three days, and they're likely not to stretch my leave of absence - if that's what you can call it." I just have to hope that there won't be trouble - it would be just like our sergeant to claim that I'd gone wilful missing, getting involved in the 95th's troubles.
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:47 AM
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Cotton was more used to being in close quarters with officers than Williams was. At least he thought so, being an officer's batman. Besides which, officers and men in the Rifles tended to live closer together in the field. It was not unknown for the Captain to mess with him and his mates, although drinking together was a little different, and he still felt a bit cautious about Padstowe after their disastrous first meeting, although he seemed a decent enough man.

"I think we'll all feel better after a drink," he said, trying to clear his head of the memory of the Sergeant with his oddly childlike eyes and that awful twitch. Not to mention, of course, the sense of menace that hung over him.

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
"Who'll be a soldier for Wellington and me?" ~ The Rochester Recruit, trad.
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:47 AM
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[OOC: that's it folks. See you in 3 weeks]

The wine tasted of warmth, and unfortunately had been left in the sun. But Williams drank it with an appreciation for its strength. The Inniskillings would not be expecting to see him again. Would the bastards have started auctioning his kit? Some would ask him his secret, but - well, what was it? The the victim was a fair man and would make an effort not to abandon a private, or that his own personal grievance gave hm reason to support another caught in the clutches.

There was a pretty girl here. He'd have to make a note of the bar. But now it was time to face the sergeant - and hopefully, not smelling of drink. "Goodbye," he said to the two officers, the finality seeming to be required. Why should they meet again. Cotton he caught by the arm. "Do you remember the first bar - where you - where you'd been drinking with Dan Hagman. Let's meet there some time. There are things I think you deserve to know."

[Only not for three weeks. If you're impatient ask the Captain - not the Lieutenant unless you know him very well - or Dan Hagman does.]
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:50 AM
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He remembered that bar. "Yes, all right." he watched the Private leave, and hoped he'd be all right getting back to his billet.

He suddenly realised he was now on his own with two officers, and decided to keep quiet and try to stay out of their way.

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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:51 AM
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Padstowe nodded to Williams and watched him as he left the posada.

"I hope he'll get back alright."

He sighed and drained his mug, before pouring himself another and swallowing half the contents of that. It was foul stuff, but by God did he feel as if he needed it.
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:52 AM
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"I'm sure he will. I don't think the Inniskillings are billeted too far away." The wine here tasted like gnat's piss, and he wondered if the landlord could be persuaded to part with something better.

"I don't reckon Hakeswill's likely to try getting him again too soon." He looked across at Cotton. "Which means he'll likely try to get you. Watch your back, lad. Stick with your mates, if you can."
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:52 AM
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"Cheer the lad up, why don't you?"

Padstowe fumbled in his pocket and then passed Sharpe a few silver coins under the table.

"Here, see if you can persuade the landlord that he has something better for us in his cellar."
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:53 AM
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Sharpe took the coins, and winked at Cotton. "You'll be fine, lad, don't you worry." He pushed his chair back, stood and made his way over to the bar. He tried to catch the barman's attention, but the place had grown busier and the man looked like he was run off his feet. He turned and shrugged at Padstowe.

He'd wait for a bit. None of them were in any rush to leave, anyway.
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:53 AM
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Cotton frowned. How many times did he need to be told to watch his back? Just being told the same thing over and over was not helping. He needed to know a bit more about the Sergeant, what sort of thing he'd try. Just so he knew what to do to avoid him. If he could.

He could feel himself getting gloomy and depressed, which was most unlike him. He turned to the Captain. "Can I ask you somethin', sir?"

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:54 AM
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Padstowe rolled his eyes. Sharpe obviously didn't have the knack for getting noticed at a bar. He turned to Cotton as he spoke to him and refilled his mug.

"Ask away."
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:54 AM
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"Williams said you'd told him a bit about Hakes - Sergeant Hakeswill, and he thought I ought to know. Only, he didn't get time to tell me." He looked down, feeling awkward. "Would you mind tellin' me, sir?"

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:55 AM
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This was getting stupid. "Senhor!"

Finally, the barkeep noticed him. "Vinho tinto, sim?" Sharpe said, letting the man glimpse one of the coins Padstowe had slipped him.

The man's eyes lit up. "Sim, senhor," he said, wiping his hands on his apron and hurrying away, ignoring the other soldiers crowding round the bar.

Well, it seemed there was something to be said for having money, after all.
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:55 AM
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Padstowe looked thoughtfully at Cotton. The lad deserved to know, seeming he was now a potential victim of the bastard. Sharpe's part of the tale he would leave for him to tell, though. He took another swig of wine before beginning.

"Alright, though I'm not quite sure where to begin, considering part of this is not mine to tell. The thing is about Hakeswill is a bully. Most bullies, as you're probably better aware of than I am, can easily be broken if they system is upset or they are moved elsewhere. Hakeswill is not on of these soldiers; he's dangerous. He's a thief, a liar, a cheat, a rapist and a murderer, but he has always gotten away scot-free because to the officers - or most officers I should say - he is the perfect example of a soldier. Exquisitely turned out, never disobeys an order, performs drill to the highest standard; or else he unnerves them too much that they'd prefer to leave him alone."

He paused thoughtfully for a moment.

"I don't suppose you are familiar with Shakespeare, Cotton?"
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:56 AM
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Cotton drank some more of his wine.

Well, that fit with what he'd seen of the sergeant so far. Although it just made his threat that bit worse.

Shakespeare, he'd heard of, but not much more than that. "'Fraid not, sir." He smiled, nothing like his usual grin, but a smile nevertheless. "Tell me anyway, sir, please."

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:57 AM
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"One of his plays, Othello, has a rather remarkable character named Iago. He is by all regards agreed to be the model of the perfect villain; a man who out of jealously manipulates those around him by carefully placed lies, discrediting trustworthy men and even getting a man to kill his own beloved wife."

He took another sip of wine.

"My example is probably a little overly dramatic - to my knowledge he has never managed to get anyone to commit murder for him - but to my mind I should say that Sergeant Hakeswill is the Iago of the rank and file. I certainly know Shakespeare would have liked him in one of his plays; in fact I should say any dramatist or novelist would give their eye-teeth for such a character in one of their works."
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:57 AM
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He sounded a right nasty piece of work. "I keep getting told to watch my back, sir, but how can I stop him from stitching me up? I mean, all Williams knew is someone was trying to do for Mister Sharpe, so he goes to help and gets done for helping. It's enough to stop anyone wantin' to help someone in trouble."

He sighed and finished his wine. He wasn't the sort of soldier who'd deliberately set out to get drunk, but he was slipping into an uncharacteristically black mood.

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:58 AM
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"Williams was just unlucky, and I doubt that Hakeswill will get such an opportunity again. Most of his plots are more calculated, not usually spur-of-the-moment... You said you were an officer's servant?"
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:58 AM
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Finally the barkeeper came back with a couple of bottles. Amazing what a few small coins could do. He handed over some of the coins and took possession of the bottles and turned to head back to where the others were sitting.

He put the bottles on the table and sat down before noticing that Cotton seemed unusually morose.

"You all right, lad?" he said, looking questioningly across at Padstowe.
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:59 AM
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Padstowe took one of the bottles and uncorked it, pouring some of the contents into his mug.

"Cotton wanted to know more about Hakeswill," he said. He took a swill of the wine and swallowed it down. "Miles better!"
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Gabriel Cotton
 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 10:59 AM
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"Yes, sir. Captain Vickery's batman." He cheered up a little. Surely Vickery would be able to think of ways he could keep out of Hakeswill's way. Or at least, he wouldn't get sent on any errands likely to put him in harm's way. Hopefully.

He realised that Mister Sharpe had asked him a question as well. "Yes, sir. Been better, though."

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 11:00 AM
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Ah.

"In that case I think you should keep a close eye on the captain's possessions, as well as your own," said Padstowe, filling Cotton's mug with some of the good wine. "Because if I'm guessing right he may seek to frame you for some theft, once he gets wind of your being a batman. if you like I could have a word with Captain Vickery on your behalf."
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 11:00 AM
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He hadn't thought of that. "Would you, sir, please?" He poured himself some more wine before topping Sharpe's cup up as well.

"You're a proper gentleman, sir. Thank'ee."

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And he sang as he marched through the crowded streets of Rochester,
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 11:05 AM
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Padstowe waved Cotton's compliment away.

"I would do the same for anyone. Nobody deserves that bastard on their tail... except perhaps Bonaparte."

He took another long pull from his mug. This wine was indeed miles better, and Padstowe really felt like getting himself drunk. He did not often have the urge, but today was a day he would like to put behind him. "We should sneak some of this into the mess."
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 Posted: Mar 23 2018, 11:06 AM
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Sharpe grinned. "We should, Jonathan. Be much better than the stuff they've got in their cellar. Be worth the Mess bill, as well."
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