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Михаил (19.04.2017 - 06:11:11)
книге:  Петля и камень на зелёной траве

Потрясающая книга. Не понравится только нацистам.

Антихрист666 (18.04.2017 - 21:05:58)
книге:  Дом чудовищ (Подвал)

Классное чтиво!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ладно, теперь поспешили вы... (18.04.2017 - 20:50:34)
книге:  Физики шутят

"Не для сайта!" – это не имя. Я пытался завершить нашу затянувшуюся неудачную переписку, оставшуюся за окном сайта, а вы вын... >>

Роман (18.04.2017 - 18:12:26)
книге:  Если хочешь быть богатым и счастливым не ходи в школу?

Прочитал все его книги! Великий человек, кардинально изменил мою жизнь.

АНДРЕЙ (18.04.2017 - 16:42:55)
книге:  Технология власти

ПОЛЕЗНАЯ КНИГА. Жаль, что мало в России тех, кто прочитал...

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СЛУЧАЙНОЕ ПРОИЗВЕДЕНИЕ

Мы сидели у костра!
Дождик моросил.
Дождик кончился. УРА!
Начинаем пир!

Взяли в руки инструменты,
Нашу песню вспомнили.
Для девчонок наших нежных
Мы её исполнили.

Взял Серёга бас-гитару,
Дрюня шестиструнку,
Дали Вове барабан,
Ну а Жене дудку.

Песня спета. Просьба: «Бис!».... >>

13.05.10 - 05:18
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Sharpes Escape   ::   Корнуэлл Бернард

Страница: 2 из 110
 
Trotters' pains, that was called, and the French packs were far more comfortable.

Sharpe walked back down the company and ordered each of the new arrivals to give him their canteen and, as he had expected, every last one was empty. "You're bloody fools," Sharpe said. "You ration it! A sip at a time! Sergeant Read!"

"Sir?" Read, a redcoat and a Methodist, doubled to Sharpe. "Make sure no one gives them water, Sergeant."

"I'll do that, sir, I'll do that."

The new men would be dry as dust by the time the afternoon was done. Their throats would be swollen and their breath rasping, but at least they would never be so stupid again. Sharpe walked on down the column to where Lieutenant Slingsby brought up the rearguard. "No stragglers, Sharpe," Slingsby said with the eagerness of a terrier thinking it had deserved a reward. He was a short man, straight-backed, square-shouldered, bristling with efficiency. "Mister Iliffe and I coaxed them on."

Sharpe said nothing. He had known Cornelius Slingsby for one week and in that week he had developed a loathing for the man that verged on being murderous. There was no reason for that hatred, unless disliking a man on sight was good reason, yet everything about Slingsby annoyed Sharpe, whether it was the back of the man's head, which was as flat as a shovel blade, his protuberant eyes, his black mustache, the broken veins on his nose, the snort of his laughter or the strut of his gait. Sharpe had come back from Lisbon to discover that Slingsby had replaced his Lieutenant, the reliable Robert Knowles, who had been appointed Adjutant to the regiment. "Cornelius is by way of being a relation," Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable William Lawford had told Sharpe vaguely, "and you'll find him a very fine fellow."

"I will, sir?"

"He joined the army late," Lawford had continued, "which is why he's still a lieutenant. Well, he was brevetted captain, of course, but he's still a lieutenant."

"I joined the army early, sir," Sharpe had said, "and I'm still a lieutenant. Brevetted captain, of course, but still a lieutenant."

"Oh, Sharpe." Lawford had sounded exasperated. "There is no one more cognizant of your virtues than I. If there was a vacant captaincy… " He left that notion hanging, though Sharpe knew the answer. He had been made into a lieutenant, and that was something of a miracle for a man who had joined the army as an illiterate private, and he had been brevetted a captain, which meant he was paid as such even though his true rank remained lieutenant, but he could only get the real promotion if he either purchased a vacant captaincy or, much less likely, was promoted by Lawford. "I value you, Sharpe," the Colonel had continued, "but I also have hopes for Cornelius. He's thirty. Or maybe thirty-one. Old for a lieutenant, but he's keen as mustard, Sharpe, and has experience. Lots of experience." That was the trouble. Before joining the South Essex Slingsby had been in the 55th, a regiment serving in the West Indies, and the yellow fever had decimated the officers' ranks and so Slingsby had been brevetted a captain, and captain, moreover, of the 55th's light company, and as a result he reckoned he knew as much about soldiering as Sharpe. Which might have been true, but he did not know as much about fighting. "I want you to take him under your wing," the Colonel had finished. "Bring him on, Sharpe, eh?"

Bring him to an early grave, Sharpe had thought sourly, but he had to hide his thoughts, and was still doing his best to conceal the hatred as Slingsby pointed up to the telegraph station. "Mister Iliffe and I saw men up there, Sharpe. A dozen of them, I think. And one looked as if he was wearing a blue uniform. Shouldn't be anyone up there, should there?"

Sharpe doubted that Ensign Iliffe, an officer newly come from England, had seen a thing, while Sharpe himself had noticed the men and their horses fifteen minutes earlier and he had been wondering ever since what the strangers were doing on the hilltop, for officially the telegraph station had been abandoned. Normally it was manned by a handful of soldiers who guarded the naval Midshipman who operated the black bags which were hoisted up and down the tall mast to send messages from one end of Portugal to the other. But the French had already cut the chain further north and the British had retreated away from these hills, and somehow this one station had not been destroyed. There was no point in leaving it intact for the Frogs to use, and so Sharpe's company had been detached from the battalion and given the simple job of burning the telegraph. "Could it be a Frenchman?" Slingsby asked, referring to the blue uniform. He sounded eager, as if he wanted to charge uphill. He was three inches over five feet, with an air of perpetual alertness.

"Doesn't matter if it is a bloody Crapaud," Sharpe said sourly, "there's more of us than there are of them. I'll send Mister Iliffe up there to shoot him." Iliffe looked alarmed. He was seventeen and looked fourteen, a raw-boned youngster whose father had purchased him a commission because he did not know what else to do with the boy. "Show me your canteen," Sharpe ordered Iliffe.

Iliffe looked scared now. "It's empty, sir," he confessed, and cringed as though he expected Sharpe to punish him.

"You know what I told the men with empty canteens?" Sharpe asked. "That they were idiots. But you're not, because you're an officer, and there aren't any idiot officers."

"Quite correct, sir," Slingsby put in, then snorted. He always snorted when he laughed and Sharpe suppressed an urge to cut the bastard's throat.

"Hoard your water," Sharpe said, thrusting the canteen back at Iliffe. "Sergeant Harper! March on!"

It took another half-hour to reach the hilltop. The barn-like building was evidently a shrine, for a chipped statue of the Virgin Mary was mounted in a niche above its door. The telegraph tower had been built against the shrine's eastern gable which helped support the lattice of thick timbers that carried the platform on which the Midshipman had worked his arcane skill. The tower was deserted now, its tethered signal ropes banging against the tarred mast in the brisk wind that blew around the summit. The black-painted bladders had been taken away, but the ropes used to hoist and lower them were still in place and from one of them hung a square of white cloth and Sharpe wondered if the strangers on the hilltop had raised the makeshift flag as a signal.

Those strangers, a dozen civilians, were standing beside the shrine's door and with them was a Portuguese infantry officer, his blue coat faded to a color very close to the French blue. It was the officer who strode forward to meet Sharpe.

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