Amidst the backdrop of Napoleonic War raging across Europe, soldiers seek distraction from the horrors of the battle field. Major Grant is an officer of the British Army serving under Wellington in France. An officer, a gentleman and a connoisseur of female bottoms, Major Grant finds himself unusually captivated by a mysterious woman…..
It had been three weeks since my return to England where I had recuperated with my wife and the children. I had taken a fever and although I my external appearance favoured the fair, my stamina was still low after my travels. The weather had been fine and it allowed me to sit in the garden watching the children play. My thoughts regularly passed to Eleanor in a faraway country, unable to communicate or see her.
On the fourth week of my respite I received an unexpected caller late one afternoon. I had returned from a short walk with the children and striding to greet me was Dr. Teak. I was extremely pleased to see him, as he was my first guest since returning home. As usual he was full of the gossip from London and was keen to examine me as a personal favour. I was pleased to discover I was in good health and should soon be well enough to travel again. “Travel to London and beyond I would wager,” said Dr. Teak with a wry smile. I invited the good Doctor to dine with us and stay over which he gratefully accepted. On good form as ever the doctor proved to be an excellent table guest and indulged my wife’s family with their endless questions relating to their endless ailments. After dinner the doctor and I retired to play billiards, my father-in-law excusing himself with a case of the gout.
The doctor and I discussed the recent battle and his appreciation of field tactics surprised me for he understood both British and French formations. He said, in passing, that he was quite interested in Italian military. I admitted that I had never ventured into Italy under the flag; it did, however, sound a truly picturesque place. “You should visit one day, throw a knapsack over your shoulder and walk the hills of Tuscany. In fact I recently recommended a similar, if not less energetic sabbatical to another patient of mine,” he said. As a billiard ball rolled across the table towards him, he followed it with his eyes until it came to a rest in the pocket beneath him. He picked up the ball and holding it at eye line and said, “Is it not amazing how supremely large the planet on which we live on, yet our lives sometime make it very small, do you not think?” He raised his eyebrows to emphasise the question. We stood in silence for a moment; I then attempted to open my mouth to speak, however, I had no idea what I was about to say. Becoming tired with the doctor’s games I decided upon the direct approach. “May I ask my friend, is there a point to this line of conversation?” He smiled and sat in a large chair, crossed his legs and closed his eyes. I poured myself a drink and one for my now, increasingly irritating friend. As I placed the glass upon a table at his side, he rested a hand on mine. “The guards’ school has temporarily closed now that the brigade is back and stood down. I took the opportunity of using the school room to deliver a presentation on field medicine some weeks ago. The school was all but tidied away, except for a book left on the top table. I took the liberty of borrowing the book, it’s very good. Remind me to loan it to you before I leave in the morning,” he was playing games with me, he was actually enjoying my discomfort I was sure. I sat on the edge of the billiard table and took stock of my anger and the situation I was now in. “Doctor, how long have we known one another? Five maybe six years?” The doctor nodded in reply. “Am I the sort of person, would you say, that takes pleasure in the discomfort of others?” I asked. “I would not,” said the doctor. “Then why do you presume Sir, that I would take pleasure of discomfort at the hands of another?” The doctor stood immediately, red faced and narrow eyed, his fists closed and arms straight. “You, Sir, are in no position to instruct me as to how and where I seek my pleasure; do I need to remind you of your own interests with Mrs. Black?”
The billiard cue struck him across the temple and I was upon him before he hit the floor. “You dare to insult me in my own home? I assume the information you tease me with carries has a price?” I dragged him from the floor, he was ashen and shaking. My strike with the cue ball had not been seen in the coming and the reality of pain and shock was now setting in. I stole the initiative, pulled him from the floor and out into the gardens. “Start talking now, or I will return with something that will separate your nose from your face.”
The doctor, half out of his mind with fear, for it was fear that I had planted in his mind with talk of a sword, spoke freely of his breech of oath as a doctor. It transpired that Eleanor’s husband had a troubled mind and had confided in the now shaken doctor. From his knelt position before me in the cold wet grass he babbled that he had, from the goodness of his heart, issued a loan of fifty pounds to the man to cover the cost of following racehorses. The doctor had asked for sixty pounds in return within three months to settle the loan. When this was not forth coming the interest was increased to five pounds for every month. He was now in the debt of the doctor for a high three-figure sum. Eleanor had discovered the error of her husband’s ways, (probably through the good family doctor’s help) and moved herself with the children to London. My miserable captive slowed in his confession, obviously reluctant to expose more of his dark side. A well placed kick to his groin sparked pain and renewed focus in this weak man. Through gasps of pain that created clouds of steam from his mouth and hooked nose in the freezing cold air he continued to confess. It transpired the doctor threatened to expose the now wretched headmaster unless he handed over his estate. Unfortunately for the vulture like doctor, there was no estate for everything belonged to the school. Having returned to London, the doctor comforted Eleanor and secured a place teaching for the brigade. He told her of her husband’s now inflated debt and in turn suggested that she seek a reliable friend in London with means. As Shakespeare was sure to have said, “Colonel Grant, enter stage left if you please.”
The doctor could not have wished for a better day when Eleanor asked after my welfare when in France, for this secured a potential rumour of indiscretion between us. And now, before me, I had a man who not only agreed to issue a loan to a man who could not have repaid it with loaded interest, he was a man who would seek recompense through public humiliation of a lady and her children. He had placed her in a central position, gained her confidence, took confession of her troubles and placed misguided security that I would settle the slate to save the honour of a lady.
I struck him hard across the face and turned towards the house. Over my shoulder I said, “I am going to saddle my horse Dr Teak, as you have such a keen interest in military matters I’m confident you will appreciate the experience of falling under the hooves of a Calvary horse.” I reached the house and turned to hear the sound of a distant gate opening that told me he was on the cold road with miles of pitch blackness ahead of him. Only a fool would venture out on a night like this and, I was no fool.