Disclaimer: These are works of fan-fiction created for entertainment. It is not the intention of the author to infringe on anyone's copyright. No rights infringement intended.
Warning: General Audience

The Sharpe Fan Fictions of Paul K.

Sharpe's Mission

Chapter 5

The week after Colonel Cresson arrived, General Calvet calls Cresson in to review the plan. Calvet, as before sits in his camp chair with food adorning the tabletop. Sergeant Gaston stands near him.

Cresson enters the tent and stands at attention. Calvet waves his hand to motion Cresson to sit. Cresson nods his thanks and sits.

“Colonel, what progress are you making with YOUR plan?”

“General Calvet, I have arranged for the ‘sheep’, ‘goats’ and guards to be ready to leave for Rocha Fort in three days. The weapons for each group have been prepared. The guards will keep them until it is time to give to each of the other groups.”

“And of the men that will capture General Nairn?”

“Major Hyughe has prepared his battalion to march to Rocha the day after we relieve the garrison. He has reviewed with his officers the need for them to approach the fort quietly and not to reveal that they are there until we are ready to enter the fort.”

“Colonel, I continue to wonder why the British will send their spymaster to Rocha Fort without a force strong enough to take the fort.”

Cresson does not immediately respond. He sits and listens until Calvet has finished.

“Rocha Fort is no bastion. It’s walls are high enough and strong enough, that when defended by men like Captain Lacas, who commands there, to resist a force many times its size. An attacking force will need artillery and scaling ladders to storm such a fort. And, they will need to expect many men to die.”

“And, if they send such a force, why would they not expect us to send a relief force? Help me to understand.”

Gaston, as if on cue to signal that Calvet has finished, hands him a goblet of wine.

“General Calvet, I have provided information to the British that Rocha Fort is defended by men with poor morale and soldierly qualities who are unlike your excellent Captain Lacas.”

Calvet looks at Cresson and wonders if he is being mocked.

“Yes, the ‘goats’ we will provide will never be able to match Captain Lacas and his men.”

“Well, then for this plan to work, it is good that we will remove them from Rocha Fort and return them to serve you well in the coming campaign.”

Calvet nods. “Continue. Even with such poor quality men in the fort, it would still be foolish for the British to assault them with a small force.”

“We will leave the goats with ample wine for the first night they are there and tell them that they need not worry about any intruders as we will have a force in the area to warn them if an enemy approaches. It is reasonable to expect that these ‘goats’ will not be alert to a surprise assault by the British.”

“And, if they do not attempt to take Rocha on the first night?”

“It is likely that some of the goats will desert and reduce the garrison to a number that the British will be confident that they can overwhelm with stealth or direct force.”

“And when the British hold the fort, will you expect the British to be as derelict in the defense, too?”

“No, my general. I have arranged for an agent within the British attacking force to open the gates for us to enter.”

Cresson is reluctant to share more. Only he and a few of his trusted men know that Cresson has arranged for Brand to enter the fort after dark to allow the British in. And, when Cresson arrives to overcome the British guards to allow the French to enter.

“An agent? Only one to overcome the whole British force. This agent must be very special.”

“Yes, my general, we have worked together for many years now. This agent will assure that General Nairn will rise to the bait and be at Rocha Fort when we arrive.”

“And, if the British resist, will you have Major Hyughe assault the fort?”

“If it is necessary, yes.”

“Do NOT waste my men on this fort to collect General Nairn! If the British resist, send for artillery before you assault. The British will go nowhere when penned inside the fort. I will alert a 12-pounder battery to be ready to march on short notice to support Major Hyughe.”

“Thank you General, but I think we will not need them.”

“I am sure you are right. I do not like putting all of the powder at risk to capture this General Nairn. If the ‘goddamns’ take the fort, then we will be the ones to have to assail it. If your plan does not flow as you see, Major Hyughe will take the fort in a sound military assault. Comprenez-vous? Understand?”

“Je comprends. Oui.”

Seated around the table that Wellington uses as a desk are Wellington, Nairn and Sharpe. Colonel Brand stands in front of them and points to a map displayed on an easel.

“We are here. This river marks the boundaries of our forces.

“Thirteen miles north of the front line is the Rocha fort powder magazine housing General Reille’s supplies.

“One mile to the east is General Calvet’s main camp.”

“Now our task is simple. To move north. Capture the fort. Blow the powder magazine and make it back to camp before Calvet’s men can intercept us over the mountain.”

Wellington comments, “Congratulations Brand. It is ambitious and impressive.”

Nairn offers. “There is one thing sir. It seems a pity to blow the fort. Without making a full inventory.”

Nairn, “You mean for intelligence purposes?”

“Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. General Calvet is rumored to have gathered his stores as well as Reille’s powder at the fort. An inventory would give us a picture of Napoleon’s intentions in the whole area.”

Wellington intently watches Brand as Nairn amends the plan and his reasoning.

Nairn continues to look at his lap, but comments. “Perhaps I should go on the mission, sir.”

“Sniff around the fort and make a full survey of the stores. Put it all together. It will give us a glimpse into Calvet’s mind.

Brand watches Wellington and Nairn.

Wellington partially turns his head towards Nairn as Nairn is seated behind him.

“I’d be risking my Chief of Intelligence on nothing more than a rumour that Rocha Fort is the center of Calvet’s storage system. Why not Hogan? Or only Sharpe? Sharpe has done this before.”

Nairn leans his head as he thinks more about this.

“Yes sir, Hogan or Sharpe could. I think it might be a risk worth taking for me to go, eh Brand?”

Brand drops his eyes before replying.

“I can assure you my Lord, my information is never wrong.”

Wellington turns towards Brand. His eyes look to Brand with concern. Yet, he ponders the proposal.

“Very well.”

“Colonel Brand and his men will set out after dawn the day after tomorrow. They will scout one day ahead of the main body of infantry to be commanded by Major Sharpe.”

Wellington turns to Sharpe who has been silent through all of the discussion.

Brand looks to Wellington and then to Sharpe.

“Sharpe will also be responsible for a small party of sappers and engineers to be commanded by Major Pycroft.”

Brand nods and asks. “Will that be all sir?”

“I’ve had a long journey and should like to make myself presentable enough to dine with Major Sharpe and his wife tonight.”

Sharpe is not pleased that Wellington has learned of the dinner.

Wellington replies to Brand. “I’m obliged to you for the information Brand. Dismissed.”

Brand salutes, turns and leaves the tent.

Wellington addresses Sharpe. “Colonel Brand seems to think highly of you Sharpe.”

Sharpe grins, but says flatly. “Seems so, sir.”

Wellington jibes Sharpe. “Well don’t let it go to your head. One moment you are showing poets around the camp. The next you are throwing dinner parties for distinguished senior officers.”

With a little humour, “You’re cutting quite a figure in society Sharpe.”

With little enthusiasm, he replies. “Thank you, sir.”

One of the adjutant lieutenants that serve Wellington’s staff enters the headquarters tent.

“Major Pycroft to see you, sir.”

The lieutenant pulls the tent flap to admit Pycroft.

Pycroft enters wearing his straw hat. As he clears the opening, he removes his hat with his good right hand. He tucks it under his arm and stands to attention in front of Wellington. Wellington continues to read and sign papers on his desk. He says nothing.

Pycroft ignores Nairn and Sharpe. He watches as Wellington shuffles through several pages, places them in piles to be delivered later. With some impatience he speaks.

“I respectfully request not to be assigned as explosives officer to this mission that General Nairn has proposed to you, sir.”

Wellington looks up at Pycroft. Tersely he replies. “Request denied, Major Pycroft.”

“A man under duress may not do his best work, sir.”

“Duress? What duress?”

Pycroft shuffles slightly nervously.

“Let me make something clear to you Pycroft. You have two choices.”

He pauses to make sure that Pycroft understands what his choices are, and the consequences of each.

“Either you blow up the Rocha Fort powder magazine that will support our plans to take Bayonne and you remain an exploring officer that is free to roam at MY will or,”

“I return you to the regular army list IMMEDIATELY and find an excuse to send you back to London.”

Wellington finishes by looking intently at Pycroft to make his point.

“See how you like it walking around in your leather hood with children pointing at you in the street.” He adds cruelly.

Pycroft says nothing. He clears his throat.. Slowly he looks down. He realizes that he has been trumped on his play to avoid the mission.

Sharpe watches Wellington and then Pycroft’s reaction. He has seen Wellington deal with many soldiers and civilians since India. He very rarely wastes words when he speaks and is diplomatic only as necessary. With Pycroft, it is not necessary to be diplomatic.

Wellington, “Well?”

“I’ll blow the magazine, sir.”


Pycroft turns about abruptly and storms from the tent.

Sharpe watches Pycroft leave, stands up to leave too.

“Sir.” Then leaves the tent.

“What do you think, Nairn?”

“Colonel Brand has offered us an interesting opportunity.” He replies as he opens his snuff box to grab a pinch.

“Can we exploit it?”

Nairn sniffs the snuff from his fingers.

“Too early to say. I’ll only find out by going on the mission.”

“By then, it may be too late, Nairn. Too late for you.”

Nairn sneezes from the snuff. He raises a fist to his nose and mouth. As the sneeze subsides, “That’s what you pay me for, sir.”

After leaving Sharpe, Harris told Conchita that he would have to leave her because he needed to prepare dinner.

“I need to cook and serve dinner for Major Sharpe. We should not be too late. May I meet with you after? I will be able to bring dinner for us from the Major’s stock.”

“Yes, but, I eat very little. I don’t need much, Harris.”

Harris smiles at her. Conchita embraces Harris then returns to her wagon.

Harris smiles the whole time he watches her go.

He will go to the market. Before, he needs to enroll one of the regiment’s wives to assist him. He thinks quickly and decides that Sally Clayton would be his first choice to help. Although Sally can be loud at times, she knows when to stay quiet.

Harris and Sally arrive at Sharpe’s room at three o’clock. Jane opens the door for them.

“Hello Mrs. Sharpe.”

“Good afternoon Harris, Sally.”

“Major Sharpe sent us to help with dinner. What did you have in mind, maam?”

“I want to make Major Sharpe look good to Colonel Brand and Mr. Shellington. What could we have that would make them think of a dinner in London or Lisbon or Madrid?”

“Maam, we have only army beef here. But, we can buy fish or shellfish easily. Chicken or lamb can be bought but may be a little more expensive. Pears and apples are available from the Fall harvest. They are still somewhat fresh. May I recommend a seafood soup to start. Then some slices of chicken. The main course could be lamb chops with onions and rice. For dessert, I can glaze some pears and apples in brandy and sugar.”

“That sounds delicious. Colonel Brand wants a good claret to go with the meal.“

“I will look for one. I may have to ask one of the commissary officers where to get a better one. Major Sharpe likes a brandy. Do you have some here?”

“Not enough to share. Do you know of a supply?”

“Yes, maam. Here in France brandy is very well supplied. Anything else?

“How may we decorate the table?”

Sally offers. “Mrs Sharpe, some of the houses ‘ere ‘ave some late flowers growing. I can ask to cut some for your dinner.”

“Fall color flowers with such a dinner should be very good.”

Jane goes to her purse to select coins to give Harris.

“Here, will this be enough for you to buy all that is needed?”

Harris looks at the four shillings that she offers. “That will be sufficient. We will return within the hour. That gives us enough time to serve the first course by six thirty.”

“I will look for you to return within the hour. I will have the landlord set up the table and dishes while you are gone.”

Outside, Harris gives Sally one of the coins. “Sally, if you’ll get the flowers, chicken, lamb and rice. I’ll get the rest. Come back ‘ere to Mrs. Sharpe. I’ll meet you when I return.”

Sally takes the coin and goes. Harris goes in the direction of the seafood market.

Within forty minutes, they are both back at Sharpe’s room. Harris removes his jacket and finds aprons for Sally and him. The landlord’s kitchen has all they he need.

They prepare the meal as Harris had described, although they had not found any pears. So dessert will be only glazed apples. As Harris peals the apples, he thinks of the apple that he left with Conchita. He anticipates meeting her after the dinner here.

Sally finishes preparing the chicken and lamb to be cooked. Together, Harris and she have laid out the courses on dishes before they will be cooked. While Harris starts the soup, Sally goes to set the table. Jane found a simple cloth to cover the table, a pair of silver candlestick holders to light the room. She found a crystal vase to hold the flowers.

Richard returns to the room at six. Jane has already dressed for dinner. She had Isabella help her to braid her hair to be fixed around her head like a headband. The hair from the top of her head is wrapped into a bun. Tight curls of hair hang in front of her ears to shape her face.

She has chosen to wear one of the new dresses that Richard bought for her before they left London. The fabric is a cream-colored silk with ivy-like flowers in olive adorning the sleeves and hem. The waistline is cut just under her bust. The neckline was open, more open than Sharpe would like for his wife. The sleeves are slightly puffed and short to half-way between the shoulder and elbow, then finishes in sleeves to her wrists.

“You look beautiful my dear.”

Jane beams at him. “Tonight will be such a night for us both, Richard. It is our first official party as husband and wife.”

Sharpe hadn’t considered this. Although he doesn’t really understand why hosting parties is so important to women, he understands that tonight is very important to Jane.

“I’ll wash up before they arrive.”

“Will you please wear the dress uniform that you wore to meet the Prince of Wales?”

Sharpe makes a face. He would rather wear his everyday uniform, but will honor her request. “Yes, do I need to wear the hat with the chicken feathers too?”

“No, silly. The hat and feathers are for the Prince only.” Jane smiles warmly because he will dress his best. She watches him step behind the dressing screen where he will prepare for the dinner.

By six twenty all is ready. Sharpe visits Harris in the kitchen The aromas greet him as he enters.

“Something smells very appetizing ‘arris.”

Harris turns from his work. “Yes, sir. We are ready when the guests arrive. Sally has gone to your room to help to greet them.”

“They’ll be here very soon.”

Sharpe leaves the kitchen to return to Jane. As he enters the stairs to ascend to their room, he yields to the door opening. Colonel Brand enters the inn. Brand wears a cloak over the blue uniform coat of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. He wears his dress white gloves. His boots are brushed glossy black.

“Welcome sir.”

“Good evening Sharpe. Am I early?”

“No sir. Please come in.” He points to the stairs. “After you.”

Sharpe opens the door to enter the room first. “Our first guest has arrived.”

Jane moves to greet them at the entry to the room.

“Colonel Brand, it is so good to have you join us.”

“Mrs. Sharpe, it is my pleasure.” Brand lingers to drink in Jane while he kisses her gloved hand.

Sally steps behind Brand to break the moment.

“Your cloak, sir?” Brand removes his cloak and gloves, then hands them to Sally. She has prepared a place to the side of the door to store them.

Jane welcomes Brand to move towards the table, but without sitting. Brand scans the room.

“Mrs. Sharpe, you prepared a room that is much too luxurious for a simple soldier.”

Jane thanks him, then describes some of the things that she has found to decorate their room. Sharpe listens only.

Ten minutes later, they hear a knock on the door. Sally opens the door to let Shellington enter. He wears the same hat and cloak from earlier in the day. Shellington wears a black dress coat over a white waistcoat, shirt and neckcloth.

As he enters the room, he gives all his attention to Jane only.

“Mrs Sharpe, you are a vision. Thank you for inviting me to join you for dinner.” Shellington too takes Jane’s hand and kisses it.

Sharpe stands behind his wife while Shellington greets her. He is annoyed that Shellington does not acknowledge him. When he doesn’t, he says. “Welcome Mr. Shellington. My WIFE and I welcome you.”

Shellington shifts his eyes from Jane to Sharpe. Flatly he says. “Thank you, Major. It is good of your wife to invite me to dinner.”

Sally takes Shellington’s coat and hat to add to the pile with Brand’s.

Sharpe wonders, “Is this man deliberately trying to provoke me? If not, he is dangerously close to be thrown out of this room and the camp.”

Harris knocks on the door, then enters with a tray that he used to carry the first course.

“Yes, Shellington and Colonel. I believe that dinner is ready for us. Jane where do you want us to sit?”

Jane points to a chair at the head of the table. “I will sit here. Colonel Brand there.” She points to the chair at the opposite end of the table.

“Mr. Shellington, will you sit on my left? And, Richard on my right?

“Gladly Mrs. Sharpe.” Before Sharpe can respond in anyway, Shellington moves to Jane’s chair to hold it for her to sit.

“Thank you Mr. Shellington.” Jane smiles at the way that Shellington treats her.

Sharpe and Brand sit in their chairs while Shellington holds the moment at Jane’s chair. After all are seated, he sits in his chair.

Brand has been watching Shellington and Sharpe.

Jane signals Sally to begin to serve the meal. Sally slides out to go to the kitchen for the first course. Sally and Harris serve each course with time to pause between each course.

Shellington and Jane talk of London and the social season events that took place before Shellington left. Sharpe listens but only casually. The theater and fashion don’t interest him.

Brand too does not join the conversation. Sharpe watches him eat his meal while pondering the questions that Hogan and he shared earlier. By the time the apples and brandy arrive, he has had enough of Shellington.

Before he can stop the two-person conversation, Brand says, “May I compliment you on an excellent meal, my lady. It tasted all the sweeter since we spent the last six weeks foraging for food behind enemy lines.”

Shellington says to Brand, “How wonderful to live like a gypsy.”

Brand has been looking at his to select which item to eat next. When Shellington comments about gypsies, he reacts by raising his head., but says nothing. Sharpe notes Brand’s reaction.

Shellington turns to Jane. “Oh, and, what a wonderful idea for a portrait. A gypsy. Would you sit for me, dear lady?”

Jane looks at him. Slowly a smile comes to her face.

Shellington continues, ‘Some rings, a scarf,

Sharpe watches the two of them. He can’t believe that Shellington is pursuing his wife in front of him.

“Oh, please say you will. The romany is so, so … romantic.”

Sharpe turns his head to avoid showing his disgust for Shellington’s behaviour.

Brand has finished the latest bite to eat and decides to comment, “I’m sorry to hear you say that Shellington. I myself hold no regard for the gypsy race.”

Shellington turns to Brand. With an apologetic tone, . “Nor do I, Colonel. I merely meant that they are a good source of poetic … inspiration.”

Sharpe watches the exchange between Brand and Shellington. Why did Brand react to the gypsy comment? Is it coincidence or something more that there are gypsies in the camp, Pycroft found a gypsy and Shellington talks of gypsies?

Jane contributes while turning from Shellington to Brand with smiles to both, “I shall be glad to sit for you, if you should wish to paint my portrait. I am sure that Mr. Shellington’s admiration of the Romany race is purely … artistic.”

Sharpe turns to look at Jane. He continues to struggle with how he feels about how Shellington is treating Jane.

Shellington says to Jane wistfully.

“Absolutely, my dear. How aptly put.”

“Surely you don’t see gypsies as a suitable subject for poetry, Shellington?” Brand responds distastefully.

“The sublime is my only subject, Colonel Brand.” With a tone of arrogance.

“I am glad to hear it. Soldiers should confine themselves to shooting. Poets should confine themselves to the sublime.”

Sharpe continues to say nothing, but to watch this duel of words.

Jane asks, “Pray, what do you think is the proper subject of painters?”

Brand turns his eyes only to Jane. “I think painters should confine themselves to nature.” He pauses.

“Sunsets and such like.”

Shellington skeptically asks, “You are a student of nature, sir?”


“Do you know why?”

Jane smiles at Shellington as she waits Brand’s answer.

“Because I am a soldier.”

“What’s the first thing you notice about nature, Shellington?”

Shellington pauses. He has not expected this conversation to turn from him. He thought he was on his way to impressing Jane. However, Brand now has turned the talk into something that has him looking like a fish out of water. After thinking how to answer, he chooses to let Brand answer his own question. He bows his head in deference.

“You notice that the strong animals survive and the weak fall away.”

Sharpe looks at Brand more seriously. He is curious about Brand’s view. As someone who has often stood up for those deemed to be weak, he is concerned.

“That’s how the world is. The strong survive and the weak die. That’s how it should be. That way you breed a strong race.”

Sharpe turns his head.

“Survival of the strongest is the principle upon which I conduct my troop.”

Sharpe turns his head to Brand. He listens intently. How will this affect their mission? He saw Brand years ago in action to save Lieutenant Graham. That behaviour was not survival of the fittest. What has changed?

“Those that can keep up, I promote. Those that can’t, I have no use for.” Brand has said all of this with cold certainty.

Sharpe lowers his eyes. It is time he enters this. After lowering his head to think about what he will say, he turns to Brand.

“What about the wounded, sir?”


“In battle some men are killed. Some survive. And, some are wounded. The wounded are always the greatest burden. What do you do about them?”

“We leave them, Sharpe. This is war. War is no place for the weak.”

Sharpe frowns. This does not fit his view or experience of being a soldier. Again, he wonders what has changed from when he saw this man attempt to rescue Lieutenant Graham.

“That’s a big change.” He turns away from Brand.

“Change, what do you mean?” Brand turns his head to the others at the table, then back to Sharpe.

“When I first met you, sir, you tried to rescue a wounded man under fire.”

Brand smiles. “Well, let’s just say, I felt lucky that day.” He turns his head away from Sharpe to Jane.

Jane smiles back at Brand. She moves her eyes from Brand to Sharpe and then back. She is uncomfortable how the dinner is ending.

Isabella Harper is washing clothes as she does on so many days. None of the other women are nearby today. Because she used some of the day to help, Mrs. Sharpe and they had many more clothes than normal, she finishes by the firelight. The finished clothes are stacked on a bench beside the kettle. She scoops some water to douse the fire.

Sergeant Pope has been standing at a distance to watch the women in the camp. He didn’t like Harper those years ago. He has heard that this woman is Harper’s. Even thought Brand and he have accomplished many successful forays, only Brand has become famous. Rewards of gifts and women go to him only. Pope has to take his like a common soldier.

“The great Sergeant Harper and Major Sharpe. Harper gets to talk with Wellington like an old chum. Brand keeps us away from the rest of the army. We train alone. Drink alone. Whore alone. When we are in camp we need to behave like monks. Well this monk has needs. Harper’s woman will do.”

With the fire doused, it is dark enough for him to approach Isabella without others seeing him. He strolls slowly towards Isabella. He pauses to watch her with his arms folded in front of him. He smiles at Isabella.

While wringing a wet garment in the washtub, she smiles back.

“Buenas dias senorita.” “Senora, not senorita. And I have a child.” She looks down at her stomach and

walks towards the wash line which is closer to this stranger.

Pope eyes her as she approaches. With the heavy clothes to keep her warm, he can not see , or doesn’t care that she is pregnant

“Pity it’s not mine.”

“Isabella.” Harper calls. From behind the wash line, he walks slowly towards Isabella while Pope finishes talking with her. Harper had been walking to meet Isabella. He was surprised that he recognized the man talking to Isabella. He had met him years before.

“See you again, senora.” He walks away slowly into the camp.

When Harper reaches her he asks, “So who was that ugly buzzard?”

“How should I know? I never saw him before.”

“You never saw him before?”

“Well my God, you have been doing some winklin’ and twinklin’ for a married woman. You were more friendly with that Sergeant Pope than you have been with me, your husband.”

Isabella has been irritated at Harper’s attentions to the gypsies. She wants to tell him that she does not like the attentions he that shows the gypsies. Instead, she responds

“Married woman? Me? No. You don’t treat me like a married woman. For two months I have no ups, no downs.” She storms away from Harper.

Harper looks down. Puzzled. What does she mean? He mouths “No ups, no downs?”

After Harper had interrupted him talking to Isabella, Sergeant Pope had not gone far. He watched Isabella talk with Harper and then storm away. Here is another opportunity. He strides confidently towards her.

Isabella walks with the speed of her anger after she left Harper. She carries a basket of folded clothes that slows her. From her right side she hears footsteps.

“Out late, my little lady. And, without your ‘usband.”

She turns her head while still walking.

“I’m not your little lady.”

“That’s right. You’re Sergeant ‘arper’s little lady, but he don’t treat you right, do ‘e?

Isabella stops.

“So, you were spying on us? You would understand better what happened if you were married, Sergeant Pope.”

She turns ahead and continues to walk.

“Married? Me? Oh, no. I like to stay as free as a bird.” He walks faster to walk at her side.

Isabella walks on. She tries to ignore him so that he will leave her alone.

“What kind of bird, you ask?”

Pope steps quickly in front of Isabella to stop her. He grabs her by the throat to turn her face to his.

“A cuckoo.” He sneers

Isabella struggles to break free. The basket of clothes drops to the ground as she uses her hands to scratch and claw at Pope to break his grip on her.

“It lays an egg in its nest, then moves on.”

“I’d love to lay an egg in your nest.”

Isabella tries to cry out, but his hand muffles her mouth. She squirms in Pope’s grasp. He holds her with gloved hands. She is able to turn so that she can kick one of his knees. Without letting go, he yelps.

“Come here you bitch.” He hisses.

Pope continues to hold her throat in one hand while he uses his other hand to pull a chain and cross from her neck.

Out of the dark, Harper grabs Pope’s hair. Pope releases Isabella to turn quickly and deliver a punch to Harper’s stomach. Harper is a brawler, but was taken by surprise. He has traded many punches without being knocked down after only a few. Even through the winter clothes that he wears, Harper feels the force of Pope’s blow.

Pope has learned to fight in the streets too. While Harper is doubled over, Pope delivers an upper cut to Harper’s jaw that lays Harper out. While he is on the ground, Pope kicks him in the back and head.

Isabella grabbed a branch from a tree to attack Pope from behind to help Patrick. She strikes Pope across the side of his head. Pope stops kicking Harper. He turns, grabs her hands to cause her to drop the branch, slaps her across the face hard enough to send her to the ground.

“You whore.” He holds the side of his head where she struck him. He turns and kicks Harper again before storming off.

Isabella gets up to a sitting position. She holds her left cheek where Pope struck her.

“I’m not a whore.”

As she sobs, “I’m the wife of Sergeant Major Patrick Harper.”

She crawls to help Harper who still lies on the ground clutching his middle..

When she is next to Harper, she curls up next to him to hold him in her arms. The bulge of her belly keeps them from being too close. She worries that she has been hurt by Pope that may threaten her baby. While, she lies with Harper, she begins to cry and sob.

All the courses of the dinner have been served. Brand and Sharpe now listen to Shellington talking with Jane. Both of them have had enough for the evening. To signal that he is finished, Brand stands from the table. He grabs his goblet to finish the drink.

sees Brand stand. She too stands to walk to him.

“I’m sorry you can’t stay longer. We won’t keep you from your bed.”


He places the empty glass on the table.

“I’m not for bed. I shall go back and turn out the guard.”

He turns to retrieve his cloak. Sally has gone to the kitchen. Harris has remained to serve the remaining items and then clear the table. He retrieves Brand’s things from the pile.

Sharpe turns to follow him.

At the door, Brand turns to face Sharpe.

“I turn them out three times a night.”

“I do it myself. It keeps them on their toes.”

Sharpe snorts and smiles.

He offers his hand, which Brand accepts and shakes.

“Well, good night sir.”

Brand turns to the table where Jane remains standing beside Shellington’s chair.

“Good night my lady.”

Jane smiles at him wistfully, but says nothing more.

Shellington looks to see if Brand acknowledges him.

“Good night Sharpe.”

“Till tomorrow, Shellington.”

“As Shakespeare says in Hamlet, ‘Good night, dear prince.’”

Brand stares at Shellington. Without another word he leaves.

Sharpe watches him go.

Harris had been holding the door. He enters the room to stand next to Sharpe.

Sharpe turns to the table.

“Your carriage awaits Mr. Shellington.”

Shellington stands, then pauses next to Jane. He turns to Harris.

Jane walks to the door to see Shellington away. She smiles in a way that lights up her face.

“It was so pleasant to have you here tonight, Mr. Shellington.”

“To hear polite conversation. Talk of poetry. I hope we will see you again.”

Shellington stands in front of her to take her hands in his. He ignores that Sharpe stands behind him.

“I shall see you all night in my dreams.” He raises her hands, bows to kiss them.

Harris and Sharpe watch him. Both are annoyed.

“Dear Lady.”

Harris and Sharpe turn their heads in disbelief at Shellington’s actions.

Jane smiles alluringly at him.

He turns and goes.

Jane’s face turns from joy to disappointment that he is leaving.

Sharpe catches his breath then looks to Shellington Harris turns away to face the wall.

Sharpe nods to Shellington. He nods back, then turns to Jane as does Sharpe.

Shellington leaves.

Harris slams the door closed.

Sharpe turns his head only to watch Shellington drive off.

Jane smiles at Sharpe as he approaches her.

She bows her head to the table. Picking up a candlestick, she walks to Sharpe.

With a huge grin, “Wasn’t it a wonderful evening?”

Sharpe warms to her and smiles.

Jane kisses him, then takes the candle to leave for the dressing area of the room.

Sharpe watches her go. When she has stepped behind the screen, he exhales to finally relax. He loosens his collar and sits.

Harris approaches him. He opens the decanter to refill Sharpe’s glass.

“May I be excused as soon as I put things to right, sir?”

“What’s your ‘urry ‘arris?”

“I have an appointment with a young lady, sir.”

Sharpe pinches the bridge of his nose to relieve the headache he feels.

“Well, good luck to ye.”

Sharpe sips his brandy.

Harris turns to go, but pauses.

He turns back to Sharpe and stands with his hands folded. His face shows concern how to offer the subject.

Quietly he offers. “Mr. Shellington, sir.”

Sharpe exhales slowly.

“yeh, What about him, ‘arris?”

“Well, his quotation from Shakespeare was incorrect.”

“The phrase is from Hamlet. But, it is NOT ‘Good night dear prince.’ But ‘Good night sweet prince.’”

Sharpe turns from looking at the table to face Harris.

“What’s your point Harris?”

“My point, sir, is that Shellington does not know a lot about literature.” Harris smiles, then frowns.

“But he knows a lot about women.”

Sharpe squints his eyes from the headache. He appreciates Harris’ concerns, but doesn’t need this right now.

He opens his eyes to see if Harris has more.

After pausing, Harris turns to go.

Sharpe looks at the table.

Jane lies in bed with the covers drawn up to her chin. She left the candle lit for Sharpe.

Sharpe undresses, then joins her in bed. As he curls up behind her, Jane says, “Good night, dear prince.”

Sharpe exhales annoyed. He rolls over to face away from her.

He grumbles at her. “It’s ‘Good night SWEET prince.’”

extinguishes the candle by blowing forcefully.

Harris finished cleaning up from the dinner. He took one of the bottles of wine and some of the chicken that was left over, as Sharpe had told him to. He walks up to the tent at the gypsy camp.


When no one answers, he approaches to surprise her in her sleep.

What he finds is Conchita and her family covered in blood with their throats mangled.

He turns and vomits in disgust at the sight.

He sobs in anguish over their deaths.

Fiction Index | Sharpe Tales Home | Sharpe's Mission Index | Epilogue and Historical Notes