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By allan mallison

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Cornet Hervey was hurt slightly in the action, Sir Stapleton; my own physician is attending to him over there now’ – indicating the tree under which the Edinburgh medical man, in his incongruous black Melton coat, was fussing with bandages and salving oil. Did Slade know of the battery action after all, wondered Edmonds, or was he just quick to sense a tight corner? Likely as not he would never know. Cotton trotted over to Hervey who struggled to his feet despite the physician’s remonstrations.

Another commandment, you mean,’ smiled Lankester. ’ Edmonds could not but reflect the smile, the first he had been tempted to that day. ’ Lankester thought he perceived the storm cones to be lowering. ’ Edmonds nodded and frowned: Lankester had judged the storm’s passing over-hastily. The major’s bile rose again at this reference to the Royal Navy, whose utilitarian principles he had long held in admiration. ‘I do not see why we must be foisted with knaves and imbeciles when the Admiralty are perfectly able to order their affairs in so eminently business-like a fashion,’ he snorted.

Hervey’s groom had brought up a second charger, and he now remounted, though not with the easy vault he would ordinarily have taken. Instead he was helped up awkwardly, grimacing as more pain shot the length of his leg. It hardly made for a conciliatory response. ‘Regan, you are a confounded ass! ’ Lieutenant Regan’s voice lowered menacingly. ’ ‘How in hell’s name do I know? ’ The contempt was unequivocal, and Hervey might have anticipated its consequences had he not been so entirely exasperated by the lieutenant’s seemingly wilful ignorance of the affair with the enemy battery.

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A Close Run Thing by allan mallison

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