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Sharpe's Sacrifice

Someone asked if RS had later adventures after his little encounter in Chile. I like to think that he did...

RSM Rich

Sharpe's Sacrifice

The two old men sat on their horses and looked out over the ravine and neither one liked what they saw. One of the men was finely dressed in the bright blue and gold trim of a General de Brigade of the French army while the other was a rail thin man with steel grey hair, blue eyes and an old, threadbare, green uniform that had seen as many battles and the man wearing it. Both men were veterans and had seen death thousands of times but what they saw in front of them was cold and certain death; more certain than anything they had ever seen before.

"Lord Raglan must be mad to send them down there, Richard." But the French officer was not looking at the ravine but at his greenjacketed companion. The man who had been his best and only friend for these past twenty years. The man who he had first met in an abandoned village in Portugal forty-five years earlier when his wife had been kidnapped by deserters. The man he had fought, respected and now admired as only another old soldier can.

"All British officers are mad, Michel. That's why they're officers." Richard Sharpe dropped his telescope to his side and looked at the ravine with his own eyes. "The bloody Russians have artillery buried all through the tops of the ridges. They'll cut us to pieces. We've got to get back to Raglan and tell him, if it'll do any good." Sharpe didn't like Lord Raglan. He didn't like his manners. He didn't like his innattentiveness to his men and he sure as hell didn't like him bringing him out of bloody retirement to be a staff officer in the middle of god-forsaken nowhere. But he had come. Lucille was dead and buried these past five years; the children were gone away to their own lives. Pat Harper was dead, slumped over his pub in Dublin after a long drink and a happy life. Even that bitch slut Jane was dead, supported by the Simmerson's until she lie stiff and cold of the pox. A whore to the end. Everyone he knew was dead except for the old man beside him. The first enemy he had ever respected and who would not leave him to battle alone now that they were old. So Colonel Richard Sharpe and General de Brigade Michel Dubreton were here looking out at the ravine and seeing the destruction of the allied Army unless they could get back to its commander and stop the madness before it began.

And then they saw them. The pride of the British cavalry appeared at the mouth of the ravine, their horses slathering with excitement and their colours flying bright in the sunlight. The cavalry that since the time of Napoleon had been the best in the world and the worst led. The cavalry that was headed towards its own death from the artillery that they could not see until it began tearing them apart. Sharpe stared in amazement as the cavalry began their long, slow trot to the Russian infantry that lie at the ravine's end, oblivious to the destruction that awaited them.

Sharpe let out a long slow breath and spurred his horse after them. Old he may be, but he always cared about the men and would not, could not see them thrown away like this.

"Richard! We have to get to Lord Raglan! He has to know!" Dubreton shouted after him.

"Bugger Raglan, Michel. There isn't time. I'm going to stop them. You tell Raglan to recall them or get some support up here." Dubreton stared after his friend and headed to the rear to find the allied commander.

Colonel Richard Sharpe didn't know if he could stop their charge but he knew that he must try. He was a soldier and it was what he must do. He spurred his horse on and rode into the valley of death after the six hundred cavalrymen of the Light Brigade.

In a place called Balaclava.

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