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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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Я не перестану удивляться
- это не составит мне труда.
Ну откуда только может взяться...
молодость, которая прошла?

23.08.10 - 16:44
Наталья Городецкая nata62

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Sharpes Havoc   ::   Корнуэлл Бернард

Страница: 4 из 95
He was accompanied by his Portuguese servant who, mounted on his master’s spare horse, was carrying an enormous valise that was so stuffed with lace, silk and satins that the bag could not be closed.

Colonel Christopher curbed his horse, took the toothpick from his mouth, and stared in astonishment at Sharpe. „What on earth are you doing here, Lieutenant?”

„Ordered to stay with you, sir,” Sharpe answered. He glanced again at the valise. Had Christopher been looting the House Beautiful?

The Colonel saw where Sharpe was looking and snarled at his servant, „Close it, damn you, close it.” Christopher, even though his servant spoke good English, used his own fluent Portuguese, then looked back to Sharpe. „Captain Hogan ordered you to stay with me. Is that what you’re trying to convey?”

„Yes, sir.”

„And how the devil are you supposed to do that, eh? I have a horse, Sharpe, and you do not. You and your men intend to run, perhaps?”

„Captain Hogan gave me an order, sir,” Sharpe answered woodenly. He had learned as a sergeant how to deal with difficult senior officers. Say little, say it tonelessly, then say it all again if necessary.

„An order to do what?” Christopher inquired patiently.

„Stay with you, sir. Help you find Miss Savage.”

Colonel Christopher sighed. He was a black-haired man in his forties, but still youthfully handsome with just a distinguished touch of gray at his temples. He wore black boots, plain black riding breeches, a black cocked hat and a red coat with black facings. Those black facings had prompted Sharpe, on his previous meeting with the Colonel, to ask whether Christopher served in the Dirty Half Hundred, the 50th regiment, but the Colonel had treated the question as an impertinence. „All you need to know, Lieutenant, is that I serve on General Cradock’s staff. You have heard of the General?” Cradock was the General in command of the British forces in southern Portugal and if Soult kept marching then Cradock must face him. Sharpe had stayed silent after Christopher’s response, but Hogan had later suggested that the Colonel was probably a „political” soldier, meaning he was no soldier at all, but rather a man who found life more convenient if he was in uniform. „I’ve no doubt he was a soldier once,” Hogan had said, „but now? I think Cradock got him from Whitehall.”

„Whitehall? The Horse Guards?”

„Dear me, no,” Hogan had said. The Horse Guards were the headquarters of the army and it was plain Hogan believed Christopher came from somewhere altogether more sinister. „The world is a convoluted place, Richard,” he had explained, „and the Foreign Office believes that we soldiers are clumsy fellows, so they like to have their own people on the ground to patch up our mistakes. And, of course, to find things out.” Which was what Lieutenant Colonel Christopher appeared to be doing: finding things out. „He says he’s mapping their minds,” Hogan had mused, „and what I think he means by that is discovering whether Portugal is worth defending. Whether they’ll fight. And when he knows, he’ll tell the Foreign Office before he tells General Cradock.”

„Of course it’s worth defending,” Sharpe had protested.

„Is it? If you look carefully, Richard, you might notice that Portugal is m a state of collapse.” There was a lamentable truth in Hogan’s grim words. The Portuguese royal family had fled to Brazil, leaving the country leaderless, and after their departure there had been riots in Lisbon, and many of Portugal’s aristocrats were now more concerned with protecting themselves from the mob than defending their country against the French. Scores of the army’s officers had already defected, joining the Portuguese Legion that fought for the enemy, and what officers remained were largely untrained, their men were a rabble and armed with ancient weapons if they possessed weapons at all. In some places, like Oporto itself, all civil rule had collapsed and the streets were governed by the whims of the ordenanqa who, lacking proper weapons, patrolled the streets with pikes, spears, axes and mattocks. Before the French had come the ordenanqa had massacred half of Oporto’s gentry and forced the other half to flee or barricade their houses though they had left the English residents alone.

So Portugal was in a state of collapse, but Sharpe had also seen how the common people hated the French, and how the soldiers had slowed as they passed the gate of the House Beautiful. Oporto might be falling to the enemy, but there was plenty of fight left in Portugal, though it was hard to believe that as yet more soldiers followed the retreating six-pounder gun down to the river. Lieutenant Colonel Christopher glanced at the fugitives, then looked back at Sharpe. „What on earth was Captain Hogan thinking of?” he asked, evidently expecting no answer. „What possible use could you be to me? Your presence can only slow me down. I suppose Hogan was being chivalrous,” Christopher went on, „but the man plainly has no more common sense than a pickled onion. You can go back to him, Sharpe, and tell him that I don’t need assistance in rescuing one damned silly little girl.” The Colonel had to raise his voice because the sound of cannons and musketry was suddenly loud.

„He gave me an order, sir,” Sharpe said stubbornly.

„And I’m giving you another,” Christopher said in the indulgent tone he might have used to address a very small child. The pommel of his saddle was broad and flat to make a small writing surface and now he laid a notebook on that makeshift desk and took out a pencil, and just then another of the red-blossomed trees on the crest was struck by a cannonball so that the air was filled with drifting petals. „The French are at war with the cherries,” Christopher said lightly.

„With Judas,” Sharpe said.

Christopher gave him a look of astonishment and outrage. „What did you say?”

„It’s a Judas tree,” Sharpe said.

Christopher still looked outraged, then Sergeant Harper chimed in. „It’s not a cherry, sir. It’s a Judas tree. The same kind that Iscariot used to hang himself on, sir, after he betrayed our Lord.”

Christopher still gazed at Sharpe, then seemed to realize that no slur had been intended. „So it’s not a cherry tree, eh?” he said, then licked the point of his pencil. „You are hereby ordered”-he spoke as he wrote-”to return south of the river forthwith-note that, Sharpe, forthwith-and report for duty to Captain Hogan of the Royal Engineers. Signed, Lieutenant Colonel James Christopher, on the forenoon of Wednesday, March the 29th in the year of our Lord, 1809.


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