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…..
By noon 3 days later I had crossed the border into Italy without a second glance from the soldiers that lay around in the midday heat. Genova was sign posted ‘100 miles’ and this was to be my resting point where I would take on new clothes and have both horses re-shoed. Italy was so very different from France, virtually untouched by war, the children in the villages ran to meet me out of curiosity and not starvation. Wherever I rested, my horses were always welcome to drink and homes opened their doors to me in exchange for small amounts of silver. For the first time in weeks, I had settled into a routine. It was comforting and it allowed me to arrange my thoughts in to an order that stopped them rising to the surface in one huge wave. The absence of communication from Eleanor during what would hopefully be our last days apart became more pronounced. As the distance grew smaller between us the more her letter seemed to fade from my memory and was replaced with thoughts of sexual acts not usually spoken of.
I gently rode through the night and into my 21st day on the road. The countryside around me was now a deep green and the hills became more pronounced against the skyline. Small birds chased insects across the top of the grass and a fine mist of seeds expelled from plants drifted in the warm breeze. I pictured Eleanor lying on a bed with the warm winds blowing through an open window, her skirt long and flowing pulled up to expose her thighs, and her blouse white, loosely buttoned. Her most intimate thoughts floating out of the window, across the land and into my head.
I passed a man and woman loading a cart with vegetables, “Good afternoon Sir, could you direct me to Sienna?” I asked in broken Italian. The man pointed in the direction of a distant spire high on a range of hills. The journey toward the elevated town seemed to take an age. I played games by looking away from the prominent spire for as long as bearable, only to be disappointed at the lack of progress.
At long last I had reached my goal and within two hours I entered a town that was a maze of cobbled and paved streets that strangely followed the contours of the hill on which it was built. Following my nose I found myself in a shell shaped Town Square. The spire I had seen from a distance revealed itself to be a tower of a height I had not seen before. At its base stood a large gothic arched entrance and at the very top a castle tower. I dismounted and sought guidance from within. At the entrance to the building I found a town clerk who suggested I speak with a local priest who would surely know of the arrival of a Scottish woman in this region. I gratefully took his kind offer to guide me and make introductions on my behalf. After walking my horse through the narrow cool shaded back streets we found the priest in a churchyard attending to an over grown tree. He had balanced himself on a low wall and was quietly cursing himself whilst pulling the branches off with a knife. I offered some assistants which he gratefully accepted with the higher branches. My reward was the information I desired most, albeit disappointing.
Twenty minutes later I arrived at a hostel given to me the priest. He suggested I rest the night and trade in my horses for a fresh single, for my two old friends would not make the next stage of my journey. I felt deflated having travelled so far only to be told that I was chasing an ever growing trail of crumbs.