Rumors of War (Matthew Hervey, Book 6)
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In Europe, rumours of war are rife once again, as Matthew Hervey returns to the Peninsula to fight a new battle, and to confront the ghosts of his first campaign…
The year is 1826, and the fragile peace in Europe following the defeat of Napoleon is threatened by Spanish aggression in the Peninsula. Matthew Hervey, newly returned from India, joins a party of officers sent to make an assessment and lend support to their Portuguese allies. His place on the expedition is secured with the help and influence of his new friend, Lady Katherine Greville.
But the Peninsula is a place redolent with memories. For it was here as a seventeen-year-old Cornet that Hervey had his first taste of military action. The French forces had pushed the British into an ignominious retreat, losing morale as quickly as ground, until under the leadership of Sir John Moore the army made a defiant stand at Corunna. In the epic battle that followed, Hervey and the Sixth Light Dragoons played their part in one of the Napoleonic War’s most famous military scenes. As the wave of the French onslaught broke against the solid rock of British resolve, the tide of war was turned once and for all in England’s favour.
Now, with the Spanish threatening the fortress at Elvas, and as Hervey makes ready for the battle once again, the sights and sounds of the Peninsula bring back a flood of memories. But it is not only Spanish aggression and ghosts from his past that Matthew must confront; Lady Katherine has arrived in the Peninsula and is looking for rewards in return for services rendered.
from a jumped-up chosen-man!’ ‘Come on, Serjeant; you’re in enough trouble without that.’ Ellis knew the trouble he was in all right. He could have but one shot, and either way there was a witness to his crime. It would only be the difference between rope or firing squad, though. But he might need the shot later. He threw the sack at Hervey and ran. ‘Leave ’im, sir!’ called Armstrong, pushing past and seeing Ellis making off towards the river. ‘He’s as good as dead.’ Hervey returned his
with the river hemming them in. He had formed the Eighteenth at the narrowest point between the Esla and the birch wood that ran parallel to it, and Hervey saw their brigadier, Stewart, at the head, and the King’s Germans mustered with them. He could see too a squadron of the Tenth beyond, coming up fast from Benavente. He calculated Stewart would be able to dispose six hundred sabres, and only then did he realize that not only had Paget chosen his ground but he had fallen back onto his reserves.
the very moment of Sir John Moore’s falling?’ ‘Yes, I did. But as I told you, it was so sudden a thing. I saw him thrown from his horse like . . . It was the strangest thing; a very shocking thing. I have seen the like many times since, I’m afraid to say, but still the remembrance of that moment chills me to the bone.’ Dom Mateo rode on a little in silence. ‘But you did not witness his burial?’ ‘No. It was done, as I recall, just after we stood down from arms the following morning. At the
I believe. And inform Miss Strickland I will visit in due course to tell her of her brother, and to take any letters for him when the time comes to leave.’ ‘Right. Do they talk English?’ Hervey blinked. ‘They are English, Johnson. That’s why Miss Strickland’s there.’ ‘Well, tha never said. Why are they ’ere?’ ‘I imagine it’s an agreeable place to be. Why shouldn’t they be here?’ He fastened the top button of the bib-front and pulled the points of his shirt proud of the collar. ‘I mean, why
lines at Torres Vedras into proper repair would be the work of six months, at an outlay of five hundred thousand and more. Where do you suppose such a sum might come from? Will the Portuguese have it? It must be certain that our parliament would never vote such a figure. So Norris’s design is apt to come to naught on a simple matter of supply.’ Kat looked troubled. ‘Sit down, Matthew, my love,’ she said, with considerable tenderness. It was the first time she had used the endearment, which to