Circumstance Unrelated. Part X – The Crow

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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…..

Before finishing my business downstairs I emptied the majority of the brandy from both decanters on to the grass and left the patio doors open.  Our friendly doctor’s departure would be marked by his, and my own, drunken state of disorientation.  I removed my footwear and made my way to the doctor’s room.  In his luggage I found not a whole book, but a page from a reference book of Italian towns. Sienna was circled and in red ink the words, ‘Find me here my darling.’ I returned to the billiard room and fell into a chair with a rug, watching the fire grow dim and the skyline grow a light blue.

 The maid, some hours later, appeared dutifully on time to clean and set the fire which awoke me.  I dramatically stretched and made a slow walk up to my bedroom leaving the maid to draw her own conclusions on the previous night’s indulgences. 

 The doctor did not appear for breakfast, and having been openly dressed down by my father-in-law for drinking all his liberated French brandy, his absence was tolerated until lunch when a maid was sent to wake him. His tidy bed prompted near hysteria within the house, with myself being accused of neglect of a guest.  I of course fiend surprise and total concern for my ‘friends’ welfare. 

Teak was found dead in a field some 2 miles from the house by a local farmer. Judging by his appearance, he had strayed from the road and appeared to have spent time in water, probably one of the many drainage ditches for hereabouts. His face was a light gray, clothes were torn and his hands curled into claws.  With his tattered black jacket about him and his legendary nose, he resembled a long dead crow.  The cold had taken him on this open piece of muddy ground and his bare feet had long lost their protection. I walked from the scene without internal compassion in the knowledge that he had died fittingly along with his dirty scheme. 

Before embarking on my now chosen new life,  I sent an anonymous letter to Eleanor’s husband informing him of the doctor’s death. I did not, however, advise him that the debt would not be collected by transfer, for I felt that it would add security by keeping him in England for some time in safety.  I informed my wife that the doctor, prior to his tragic death, had advised I take some time walking in clean air of the Scottish mountains to aid my recovery.  The children were to attend private school at the start of the new term and although they were not my own, I had grown fond of them. Unfortunately, my fondness was not sufficient for me to tolerate their mother and her sanctimonious attitude. With my immediate affairs settled, I assembled a few belongings and wrote to my regiment informing them that I would not be taking up the option of a desk position after my injury. My time as soldier was over and my pension should be transferred to my bank in London.  Having no protection of a uniform, I felt both nervous and excited at the prospects of seeking Eleanor’s location on the other side of a battle scarred Europe.

 

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