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: For General Audience

The Sharpe Fan Fictions of Paul Kaster

Bernard Cornwell’s


Richard Sharpe and the Battle of the Nive

Screenplay Written by Eoghan Harris and Bernard Cornwell.
Novel Adapted by Paul Kaster


Lieutenant Colonel Sir William Lawford sat in his tent. Lawford commands the South Essex regiment which belongs to Sir Arthur Wellesley’s British army in Portugal. The British defend Portugal from the French. Last year, after he won the battle of Talavera, Wellesley, now known as the Duke of Wellington was unable to feed or rearm his army except by British supplies from Portugal. The Spanish had promised him that they would equip his army if he fought in Spain. The Spanish were unable to keep these promises as Spain was too poor and ill organized to equip their own armies let alone Wellington’s.

Wellington considered his options. When French general Soult threatened the road to Portugal, Wellington marched his army back to the border. Now, most of the army was encamped north of Lisbon to rest during the winter.

After Talavera, the Spanish won some small battles with the French and believed that they could defeat larger forces. By December, two of the Spanish armies had been defeated severely. Now, only guerrilleros and armies rebuilding and retraining remained. The French could rule most of the country.

Spring would surely see another French invasion attempt to capture all of Portugal and remove the British from the Peninsula. Now, Wellington waited for the new French move. His exploring units watch and report on the French.

One of those exploring units is a detachment of cavalry commanded by Major Neville Brand. They frequently have sortied across the Portuguese/Spanish border to raid French outposts, capture prisoners, map unmapped territory and aid Spanish guerrilleros. Today Major Brand and a sergeant stand in Lawford’s tent.

Two other men stand in the tent. One is Major Michael Hogan, one of Wellington’s exploring officers. The other is Captain Richard Sharpe who commands the South Essex’s Light Company.

“Major Brand. What brings you to the South Essex today?”

Major Brand is a tall, lean man of about thirty-five years. He is bald from his forehead to the crown of his head. He wears his hair unfashionably short and with short-cut whiskers to his jawbone. His posture is one of a man who is used to being in charge.

“Sir William, I command a company of mounted troops who raid across the lines to learn about the French and to help our Spanish allies. We operated in these hills since November when the French defeated two Spanish armies near Madrid.

“One of my patrols, led by Lieutenant Graham, was recently ambushed by the French. All of the men were killed or captured except for Sergeant Pope here.” He nods to the man who stands with him.

Pope stands slump-shouldered among the officers. His long black hair is unruly and sticks out of a bandage wrapped around his head. His uniform is torn in several places.

“Pope was able to return to us to report that Graham may still be alive. Before he set off to escape, Pope heard one of the French questioning Graham.”

Pope nods that all of this is true.

“I would like to attempt to rescue Lieutenant Graham.”

“And how may the South Essex assist you?

“My other men are currently occupied. I do not have time to get any of them back to attempt a rescue. I asked Wellington to help. He then asked Major Hogan here to suggest who could help.”

One of the other men in the tent nods. Major Hogan is average height and stocky. His brown hair is curly and extends into a full beard. He wears the uniform of an engineer who serves on Wellington’s staff. Since the beginning of last year he travels Portugal and Spain to map the roads and terrain for the army as one of Wellington’s exploring officers. He also often is involved with special assignments for Wellington.

“Sir William. Your Light Company has helped me so often. And, so well. I thought that they could be of assistance to Major Brand and collect some news of the French in that area for me.”

Previously, Lawford served on Wellington’s staff and knows the work that Hogan does for Wellington. He respects Hogan’s opinions.

“Major Brand, why is this Lieutenant Graham so important?”

“Graham has served with me only recently. But, he knows the villages nearby in Spain that have assisted us. I would not want the French to learn who those people are. They will suffer. And, I don’t like to leave my men to the enemy. Often they don’t treat us well. The Spanish guerrilleros treat captured French very poorly. The French believe that my men should be treated as captured guerrilleros.”

“Will we need the entire Light Company to rescue one man?”

“We don’t know the size of the force that faced Graham. It was a surprise that such a force was operating in that region.”

Lawford thinks on what he has heard.

“What do you think, Sharpe?”

The other man in Lawford’s tent has been quiet. Sharpe is taller than average at six feet one inch tall and solid. He bears a scar on his left cheek that gives his face a mocking sneer until he talks. Sharpe wears the green uniform of the 95th Rifles regiment because the Rifles are an elite unit. The South Essex is a line infantry regiment, which wears red uniforms. Four months prior, Sharpe was assigned to work with the South Essex temporarily, but remains with them. Lawford asked for Sharpe because he and his men have worked with Hogan on some of his special projects.

“Sir, I think half my company which would include my rifles should be enough.”

The Light Company is not typical of other line regiments. Thirty-one of the men in the company, like Sharpe, wear the green uniform of the 95th Rifle Regiment. These are the survivors of a detachment of the 2/95 battalion that was stranded in Spain when Moore’s Army retreated to Corunna at the beginning of the year 1809. These men carry the Baker Rifle instead of the Brown Bess musket. The Baker Rifle is more accurate than any musket. Since then, the company has become a very capable team. The Rifles fight in pairs. They can hit targets at much longer range than the muskets. But, when the French send their skirmishers to drive the rifles away, the musket-armed light troops can protect the rifle-armed teams, as the musket is able to be reloaded more rapidly than the rifle.

Brand had not taken notice of Sharpe until now. “Sharpe, aren’t you the chap that took the Eagle at Talavera?”

A year earlier, Sharpe’s Rifles and regiment’s light company had fought at the battle of Talavera. It was there that Sergeant Patrick Harper and Sharpe captured a French Eagle during a key moment in the battle.

“No, Sergeant Harper and I took the Eagle.”

“Impressive soldering, that. Our regiment, the 3rd Dragoon Guards, was at Talavera. We were on the left at Val de Fuentes. Got to watch Anson’s brigade charge the French attack that was trying to turn our flank. One of our excitable captains rode forward to, er, help. Otherwise, we just got to watch the fighting. When the fighting was over, we rode cover along the Guadiana back to Portugal. Many of us suffered from fevers we picked up. Sad thing to see men die from fever without having had the chance to fight. They put us to guard duties once we returned to quarters.”

“I didn’t like just to sit on my bum. When they asked for officers that spoke French and wanted to explore and raid across the border, I volunteered. Been making mayhem for the French since.”

Sharpe remains silent to this. Too often he has been assigned to work with officers that have higher rank then he, but have little or no battle experience.

“Half the company, eh? When can you be ready?”

“Within an hour, sir.”

“Brand, Sharpe will assist you.”

Before anyone can leave, Hogan asks. “Richard, it will be grand if you can rescue Lieutenant Graham. Do be a good fellow and get us some news of who these French are.”

“Yes, sir. Will there be anything else?”

“No, dismissed.”

Outside the tent, Brand stops Sharpe.

“Good to be working with you. Where is your camp? Pope and I will join you there shortly.”

Sharpe points. “There. Be prepared to travel light and on foot.”

“On foot?”

“Yes, we move best when we can not be seen, heard or smelled.”


“Horses are big, they give off an odor and make noises. We often detect French cavalry before they know we are near them.”

“As you wish. Pope and I will walk too.”

Sharpe strides to the Light Company’s camp. He seeks Lieutenant Knowles, one of his officers.

“Knowles, assemble the company, the half with Harper and Huckfield. Have them ready to march in thirty minutes. We will take ammunition and food for no more than two days. Leave anything else behind.”


Within the thirty minutes Sharpe gave him, Lieutenant Knowles has the forty men of Sergeants Huckfield and Harper ready to go. It is mid-morning. With little trouble, they can reach the area that Graham was taken by early afternoon.

Brand and Pope arrive. Brand wears the campaign uniform of his regiment, which is a simple red tunic over his cavalry overalls and boots. On his head is a cloth forage cap instead of the metal helmet of his dress uniform. At his side is a heavy cavalry sword and a pistol.

Get them going, Robert.”

Knowles sends the skirmishers to the front and then drops back to walk with Sergeant Huckfield. Sharpe walks at the head of the main group of soldiers. Major Brand walks on Sharpe’s left. Pope walks between them. All of the patrol walk at dawdle pace to be vigilant for French and Spanish. The skirmishers and Rifles have two paces – dawdle and quick march.

Although he is wounded, Pope is able to keep up, but takes more steps to match Brand and Sharpe. The officers strides are longer than his. .

Behind them Sergeant Harper walks with Riflemen Harris and Hagman. Hagman is the oldest man in the Light Company, but the best shot. Harris is the most educated. His skill with several languages will be used when and

if they capture some French or meet any Spaniards.

They are shortly out of camp, but still within the British lines when Brand decides to talk while they walk. At Lawford’s tent, Sharpe had not talked much. Brand wants to learn more of the man on whom he must depend.

“Sharpe, how did you and your Rifles end up with the South Essex?”

Sharpe doesn’t like to make small talk, but since Brand outranks him, he answers.

“We were part of the 2/95 with the Light Brigade when Moore went into Spain. On the retreat to Corunna, we were attacked and separated from the rest of the unit. We made our way towards Vigo. On the way, we helped some Spaniards. We missed being evacuated with the forces at Corunna and Vigo. So, we escaped south into Portugal

When Wellington came back to Portugal, he gave us to Hogan and the South Essex to blow up a bridge. We’ve been with the South Essex since.”

Brand listens to Sharpe’s summary. The tale is terse. “And, has there been no chance for you to rejoin the Rifles?”

“Not to rejoin the 2/95. No battalions have come out. The 5/60 and 1/95 regiment have come to Portugal. There was no room for us when they arrived. They had all their men. Besides, I think Lawford and Wellington like having our rifles with the Light Company. We skirmish very well.”

Sharpe has given all he intends about himself. He decides to learn more about Brand.

“Did you join the army to fight, or for the pretty uniforms of the Guards?” This latter part may offend Brand, but he has seen many peacock officers who prefer to look pretty more than to fight well. Brand comes from a Guard regiment that often can be staffed with very wealthy, but inexperienced officers. It takes a lot of money to afford the uniforms and mess costs in any regiment, but even more in the Guards.

“Well the Guards do dress smartly. I’m the third son of a wealthy family from Wessex. My oldest brother gets the title. Second brother is in the Navy. I like to ride. Father paid for me to join the 12th Light Dragoons as an ensign and then as a lieutenant. After I served my time, I was able to buy a captaincy in the 19th Light Dragoons. Right before the 3rd Dragoon Guards were to sail, a Majority became available. I wanted to fight, so I bought into this regiment.”

Sharpe listens with envy and frustration. Here again is an officer that outranks him with no combat experience but with the money to buy the rank. Every step that Sharpe has risen was bought with hard fighting and are marked by scars on his body from wounds he suffered

Sharpe joined the army fifteen years before when a recruiting sergeant for the 33rd found him at an inn in Yorkshire. With the 33rd he went to India. During the campaign against the Tippoo Sultan, he had been flogged for an offence he did not commit. Before all the lashes were administered, he was taken to Lieutenant Colonel Wellesley’s tent to volunteer to go with Lawford, who was a lieutenant in the 33rd, to be captured by the enemy to save Lawford’s uncle. After the success of that mission, he was promoted to sergeant. Later in the campaign at the battle of Assaye, Sharpe was nearby when Wellesley was unhorsed and threatened by several of the Tippoo’s cavalry. Sharpe saved Wellesley’s life although he was wounded during the fight. Wellesley promoted Sharpe to ensign to thank him. He has been promoted twice since then, but only after collecting more wounds. The most recent were at Talavera.

“Well, sir, I hope that you are finding the combat that you seek.”

“Oh yes. Our unit has found and fought the French often. Poor Graham is the exception to our success.”

“Graham was new to us. I gave him Sergeant Pope to keep him out of trouble on the first patrol that he commanded. Sent him into the hills between the fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida. Not too dangerous there. As you know, he did not fare well by being ambushed by French cavalry.”

"Pope here was lucky to escape.”

Pope is a rugged man about five feet, eight inches tall. His mane of black hair is long and unruly. He wears a white bandage cloth around his head instead of his cavalry forage cap. As with Brand, he wears the campaign uniform of the 3rd Prince of Wales’s Dragoon Guards. Pope is an experienced sergeant who has fought with the regiment since it arrived in Portugal in 1809.

“Pope, tell me how you survived. In India, I was the lone survivor of an ambush too.”

Brand is intrigued by Sharpe’s comment, but will hold his questions.

“Captain Sharpe, I am very lucky to be alive. When the French Cavalry started to shoot, I took a shot across my ‘ead ‘ere.” He points to his forehead.

“I fell from my horse and must have rolled into some bushes. When I woke, it was dark. I could ‘ear the Frogs. They missed me when they checked t’others to see who was alive, I think. When I was sure that they didn’t know I was there, I crawled away.”

“You heard Graham?”

“Yes, sir. I ‘eard Graham tell the French ‘e would tell them nowt.”

Brand waits until Pope has finished. “Sharpe, you survived an ambush? How did that happen?

Sharpe is sorry that he added that he survived a massacre. “I was in charge of a patrol to Chasalgaon. I arrived at the station there just before a renegade officer, Major William Dodd, rode in with his sepoys. We did not know that he crossed over to the enemy. Before we could react, he attacked the garrison.

“I was struck with a sword that glanced off my skull. I dropped to the ground unconscious. When I woke up, there were dead bodies lying on me. I could hear the screams as the sepoys killed the women, children and wounded. When they came to me, I lay perfectly still. The flies crawled in my nose and mouth, but I didn’t move. With the blood all over my face, they thought I was dead and moved on. When they finished the slaughter, they rode off.”

“What did you do?”

“I returned to my regiment, the 33rd. Three months later, Dodd and I met again at Gawilghur. I killed him.”

“Killed him?”

“Yes, he was a traitor. And, he slaughtered women and children at Chasalgaon. Soldiers kill enemy soldiers. He deserved to die. He gave me the chance to avenge the others. I took it.”

“Really? Dodd was a traitor. You killed him one-to-one? You don’t look like a swordsman.”

“No sir, I am not a swordsman. I’m a killer. I learned to fight in the streets of London. War was not a game there. War is not a game here. War is a bloody, dirty business.”

Sergeant Patrick Harper has been walking a short distance behind Brand and Sharpe. He has known Sharpe for almost a year and knew that Sharpe had been promoted from the ranks. He had not heard Sharpe speak much of his time in India except when someone brought up the story of how Sharpe had saved Wellesley’s life at Assaye. As Sharpe’s sergeant and friend, he has been with him through brushes with death. He is interested to learn of another time that Sharpe has escaped.

By the end of the stories, the patrol has been walking for more than three hours and has now entered the hills where Graham’s patrol was ambushed. Before they left camp, they had reviewed the route on a map. Sharpe thought that they should be soon at the point that Pope was wounded. The trail that they have been following is in the middle of a valley formed by rolling, low hills on either side. The hills have been distant enough to not worry the experienced soldiers. But ahead, those hills narrow and become taller. Such a valley would be a good ambush site.

“Knowles, Hold the patrol.”

“Pat, what are the scouts reporting?”

“No sign of the French, sir.” Harper reports.

Sharpe pulls a telescope from his belt. He extends the tubes to scan the horizon.

Behind Sharpe, Rifleman Harris, one of the rifles that came to Portugal with Sharpe, watches the hills to either side, as do the other men of the South Essex. The Light Company has been detached before and become very experienced in watching for ambushes by the French and sometimes Spanish guerrilleros.

“Let’s make sure they are watching every rock as we move into that choke point ahead.” Sharpe points to where the valley narrows.

“Yes, sir.” Harper sends one of the red coat soldiers ahead to tell the scouts to be even more alert.

When Sharpe is satisfied that they are ready to enter the narrower valley.

“Let’s go.”

Lieutenant Knowles gets the company sergeants to move the men forward.

“Huckfield, Harper! Skirmish order as we move ahead.“

They walk another fifteen minutes into the valley.

“Where did you last see Lieutenant Graham, Pope? Nothing here looks like a French camp that they would keep a prisoner.”

Pope answers Sharpe’s question to Brand instead. “Somewhere around ‘ere, Major Brand. I wasn’t really watching ‘im too close as there were Frogs all around us. Clubbing and stabbing. That’s how I got this.” He points to the bandage again.

“Didn’t a stray musket ball give you the wound on your head?”

“Yes, captain, yes. My ‘ead is addled from the blow. I don’t quite remember proper.”

“So this may not be where Graham was taken?”

Pope turns to Brand.

“As I said, when I woke up, it was dark. The rest of the patrol was dead. Lieutenant Graham was missing. That’s why I came lookin’ for you, sir.” He finishes by turningfrom Brand to Sharpe and then back to Brand.

Before Pope can say more, three shots ring out from the left of the trail. All drop to cover. The Light Company begins to fan out as they are trained. Two of the company are hit as they deploy. Brand and Sharpe shelter behind rocks. They scout the hill to the left to see from where the shots are coming.

Ahead to the left are rocks that rise to the top of the hill towards which they have been advancing. Smoke from fired muskets appears behind several rocks. Another South Essex is hit.

“I am kilt.” He says to Harris who has come to aid him.

Harris pulls him behind a rock to protect him from any further shots.

Riflemen Harris and Hagman have been a team for a long time. Hagman is the better shot, but both are very good. They work in pairs. One fires while the other loads.

Harris has just fired.

“Dan, I missed that one. Watch for him to come out of the smoke. “Hagman fires at an image that rises in the smoke on the ridge.

“Got ‘im.”

The company is having an affect. They begin to see some of the smoke stop as they have hit targets that showed themselves when they fire.

From the ridge they can hear a voice cry out in English.

“Stop! Please!”

Brand says to Sharpe, “That’s Graham.”

“The buggers are using ‘im as bait.”

Sharpe reviews the situation. A charge with some of his men with him and covering fire should be enough to get into the French position. He starts to leave.

“I’ll go.” He points a Harper and shows the five fingers of his left hand to signal to Harper to bring five men with him.

But before he can leave cover, a shot ricochets off the stone at his leg. He drops back.

Brand looks to the ridge. “No, I’ll go Sharpe.”

After a fusillade of shots, Brand rocks back on his heels then springs forward from the covering rocks. Brand climbs a line of rocks that provides cover as he ascends the ridge. Puffs of dust off the ground and rocks follow him as he goes.

Sharpe yells to his company. “Covering fire! Make it count!”

Two French solders fall forward over the rocks and down into the valley. One of the soldiers yells, “Got two of ‘em, sir!”

Sergeant Harper yells to the soldier who said it, “Not likely. You aren’t nearly good enough to shoot one with a single bullet. There ain’t no way you shot two. Now shut up and shoot!”

Brand continues to climb quickly. Shots ring off the rocks around him as he goes.

Knowles directs several groups of redcoats to fire at the rocks in advance of Brand. As the muskets can be loaded faster than the rifles, he has the soldiers fire in alternating volleys to keep a steady rain of shots raining on the rocks to keep an French down. The Rifles select any Frenchman who rises between the volleys.

Brand stops when there is a pause in the French shots. Then goes again. A few French risk the rain of bullets from the redcoats to fire at Brand. While the bullets strike dangerously close, he is not hit. He circles around a rock formation at the right end of the French firing post.

As Brand looks up to take the final sprint into the French position, a French officer calmly aims a pistol and fires. The bullet strikes Brand in the forehead before he can fire his own pistol. He drops to the ground, still alive. The bullet glanced off his head. The wound bleeds down into his eye. He holds his gloved hand to his forehead and curses loud enough that the South Essex below can hear him. ”Bloody Hell!”

Sharpe calls after him. “Major Brand!? Are hit?”

When Brand doesn’t answer. Sharpe prepares to launch his own attack.

The French officer that fired on Brand looks down at him. The Frenchman is medium height, with blonde hair and a mustache curled at the ends. He wears the uniform of a French cavalry colonel and a decoration for bravery on his left lapel.

Brand sees him and charges directly at him. The colonel has not reloaded his pistol. Brand’s pistol is still loaded.

The colonel moves to his left where a French soldier holds Lieutenant Graham prisoner. He stands in front of Graham and watches Brand come on. He holds his sword with his left hand and the empty pistol with his right.

Graham sits on a rock. His left arm was wounded, but is not bandaged. He holds the wound with his right hand. He is surprised that, as Brand approaches, a French soldier whom Brand passed does not fight him. Nor does Brand fight the soldier.

Graham stares in puzzlement. “Major Brand?

Brand breathlessly stops in front of the colonel. He raises the pistol and points it directly at the colonel.

With self-assurance that Brand won’t shoot him, the colonel says,

“Major Brand.” He nods his head to Brand, then to the French soldiers standing by he gives the command. “Allez. Vite.” He signals by sweeping his head to his right shoulder for the soldiers to go. “My shot was not at full powder charge. You will survive. Besides, you will add a lovely scar to impress all at home. Until we meet again. Au revoir.”

Brand lowers the pistol. He continues to breathe heavily while the French leave. As the last soldier goes, the colonel leaves with them.

Graham watches. He can’t believe what he sees. Brand still has said nothing. Before Graham can question what is happening, Brand raises the pistol and points it at Graham’s chest. Brand tracks him with the bore of the pistol.

Graham leans forward. “Major!”

When Brand still says nothing, he leans to his right to try to crawl away. Graham prepares to yell for help to the other British. Before he can call out, Brand grits his teeth, then fires.

“Sorry, Scott.”

Below, the South Essex continue to fire at the ridge. They don’t know what has happened to Major Brand. For the moment, the French have stopped shooting.

Harper had selected five men to join Sharpe and him to assault the hill. He has been using hand signals where he wants each to go.

Suddenly, from behind the large rock formation, they see Major Brand emerge. He is carrying a man across his shoulders as he walks. He carefully descends over the path that he used to climb the hill. His pistol is tucked into his waistband.

Sharpe and Hagman watch him come back to the company. Some French soldiers remain and shoot at Brand. While the bullets strike close, none of them strike either man. Amazingly, Brand reaches Sharpe and Harris who help him with Graham.

“Harris! Take him.”

“Hagman, help here.” Harris rolls Graham onto his back. There is a bullet hole in his back that went through to his chest. He opens the blood-soaked shirt.

Brand looks down. “It’s too late, I’m afraid Sharpe.”

Sharpe has been kneeling next to Graham. He turns to look up at Brand.

“You did your best, sir.”

Brand continues to look at Graham and the men working on him.

Sharpe repeats, “You did more than your best.”

Sharpe still can’t believe what he just witnessed. He has been in the army for sixteen years. He has been in many attacks and wounded many times. Even with many of the things he has done, he has had others with him.



Send some men up the hill to see if any of Frogs are still alive. If they are, bring them down. At least, collect anything they have that may tell us which regiment these belonged. Hogan will want to know what units are here and why.”


“Hagman. See to Major Brand’s head.”

“Aye, sir.”

Sharpe walks to meet Knowles.” What’s the count Robert?”

“Three dead. Two wounded, sir.”

When the men have returned from the hill, they bring back regimental insignia from the dead French.”

Corporal Cooper reports to Sharpe and Harper only.

“This is all we found from five dead Frogs. Funny thing. There were no dead behind that big rock that Major Brand went to get Lieutenant Graham.”

Sharpe asks, “Were there any signs of combat behind that rock?”

“Sir, all I saw was blood in one spot. Maybe the Frogs shot the Lieutenant before Major Brand got there.”

Sharpe tries to recall the events as Brand attacked. It seemed that there was at least one shot after Brand disappeared behind the rock. Why would they run away without their prisoner from the attack of only one man?

This was a rescue mission. With Brand’s heroics, his company was able to recover Graham’s body. But he has lost three men killed and two wounded to get him. Brand’s heroics could have easily led to Brand being captured or killed as well.

They were also supposed to collect French prisoners. This mission feels like a failure.

It will be a long trek back to camp. Lawford, and Hogan will not be happy with the results. Sharpe knows that he will have to write a report he does not want to write.

“Thank you Cooper.”

“Lieutenant Knowles, let’s go home.”

It’s a sad trip back to camp. Brand and Pope stay together. Harper walks with Sharpe and Knowles. They talk only what is needed to get the patrol back to camp. The South Essex made stretchers to carry the men they lost and Graham. It is dark the same day when they return.

Brand leaves Sharpe before Sharpe goes to report to Lawford and Hogan. Brand will report to his own commander only.

“Sharpe, thank you for your help. You and your men did all you could to save Graham. It is too bad that the French killed him before I could reach him.”

“Yes, Major, I regret that we lost Graham AND three of my men. I hope that this was worth it.”

“Well, the French won’t have Graham to tell them of the Spanish who help us. Until next time, Captain Sharpe.”

Sharpe salutes Brand but says nothing. He watches him go, then walks to Lawford’s tent.

Lawford has known Sharpe since India. They had been prisoners together in the Tipoo Sultan’s fortress. While they were prisoners Lawford taught Sharpe to read. While not friends, they respect each other.”

Inside the tent, Lawford and Hogan wait for his report. “Welcome back, Sharpe.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“What did you learn?”

“The French we found are from the 16th Dragoons. They were armed with carbines and fought as infantry. We killed six of them, but did not take any prisoners.”

“No prisoners?”

“No sir.”

“And, you lost Graham?”

“Sir, I am still not sure what happened with Graham.”

“Brand went alone to rescue him. I would have had skirmishers go with him to provide close covering fire. We could not see Brand when he reached Graham. There were shots.”

“Then, Brand came down the hill with Graham. But Graham was dead. He was shot in the back.”

“In the back?”

“Brand was wounded in his attack and his pistol was fired.” Sharpe notes that Brand was wounded across his forehead, just as Pope was wounded.

“We found no wounded or dead behind those rocks when we searched the area after the French left.”

“No dead? How did he chase them off with only a pistol?”

Hogan adds, “Why did the French shoot Graham in the back? Did they turn him loose so that he could go to Brand and then shot him?” Hogan has several questions, but waits until these are answered.

“Sir, I don’t know. We couldn’t see anything except Brand’s brave charge up the hill. He was very brave.”

“And he was very lucky.”

Lawford and Hogan look at each other. “Thank you Sharpe.”


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