Sorry for the late post, but I got really caught up in Physics homework, and didn’t get a chance to edit and post. Anyway, here it is. In this part, Cuthbert gets promoted twice. Quite a feat if you ask me. This is also a shorter chapter, but the next one is quite long I assure you. Also, Chapter 1 is going down next week, so if you haven’t read it yet, get reading. 🙂
The next day, camp was immediately struck and all but Cuthbert wondered where they could be going.
They soon got their answer when a few days later, they stopped just in front of a marsh. Right behind it lay the King of Prede’s encampment. Actually, this was headed by the Earl of Danshire, a famous lord renowned for his military prowess.
“Well the Earl really did it this time,” General Hand remarked to Cuthbert as they entered his tent. “I have no other person to spare so I have to trust this mission to you; the reconnoitering of the earl’s position.”
“Very good sir.”
With that, Cuthbert left the tent, and returned to his own to suit up. He was ready in fifteen minutes and galloped off on his horse after a hasty repast.
He stopped at the edge of the marsh and dismounting, prepared to cross it. He walked slowly, and carefully, choosing his steps well and always testing each tuft of grass before putting his weight on it.
It was cautious work and took him almost half an hour to get across.
He landed in front of a forest and entered it. Cutting through its corner he came out on the outskirts of the enemy camp.
After surveying the entire scene from a hillock, Cuthbert jumped down and went back as fast as possible to give his report.
Suddenly, he heard a loud sniffing. There was only one thing it could mean, and Cuthbert hastily put spurs to his horse. He arrived at the edge of the marsh again and proceeded to dismount. By now, the bow wowing of a hound was echoing throughout the enemy camp.
Cuthbert paused to look back and saw several men coming out of their tents. They scanned the marsh casually and, upon catching sight of Cuthbert, rushed at him wildly. Cuthbert hurried to get his foot out of the stirrup but it was stuck. As they came nearer, he drew his two pistols and fired.
One fell dead but the other, though he was hit, continued running and upon reaching Cuthbert, drew his knife and stabbed the horse repeatedly in the flank. The Arabian sank to his knees in pain. Then the man turned to Cuthbert and, before Cuthbert could do anything to defend himself, succeeded in planting his knife in Cuthbert’s shoulder. Then he fell dead.
By now, more men were coming and these were armed with muskets, pistols, and sabers. Cuthbert got his leg out of the stirrup and fired two wild shots into the enemy before he leaped onto a tussock of grass and started to cross.
Three of the enemies followed him. It was a race across the marsh and, as Cuthbert was losing blood fast, he turned around wearily to face his new enemies. He had left his pistols behind so he drew his saber and planted himself firmly on a particularly large tussock of grass.
One of Danshire’s men had outdistanced the other two and he leapt upon Cuthbert with a fearful cry hoping to knock him into marsh. Their sabers clashed and, while the man was still in the air, Cuthbert shoved, and sent him flying backwards into the marsh.
The second man was now close enough for him to be engaged and Cuthbert started out with a quick feint then a cutting stroke at his opponent’s side. The man parried it and the battle continued.
They circled each other, sabers in a defensive position, eyes locked and staring. Then, there was a pistol shot and Cuthbert felt a sharp pain in his chest. He looked towards his opponent and found that he had drawn his pistol.
Enraged, Cuthbert attacked in a viscous cut and severed his enemy’s head. Cuthbert then flung himself upon his other aggressor with so much force that he fell backwards into the marsh and sank out of sight without a word.
Panting, Cuthbert surveyed the scene then turned to finish crossing the marsh. He arrived on the other side his face drawn and pale. His hands were shaking and he could scarcely put one foot in front of the other.
He fell into the hands of Peter who had just come up to greet him.
“Tell General Hand that I have returned.”
Peter did not immediately do as he was told. Instead, he summoned the surgeon to have a look at Cuthbert’s wounds.
The surgeon first cut open the shoulder of his shirt to get a look at the knife stab. He then washed it and bound it tight with a bandage to stop the blood from flowing again.
When he saw Cuthbert’s chest wound however, he shook his head. The bullet had glanced of a rib and broken another two. He first carefully aligned the bones, then he taped his chest and together, both he and Peter carried Cuthbert into his tent.
The next morning, when Cuthbert awoke, he found the General standing next to his bed.
“How are you?” He asked smiling.
“I’m fine,” Cuthbert replied weakly.
“The services you have already rendered us are prodigious if it was not for your age, we would have promoted you long ago. But this last service cannot be ignored. You are now Lieutenant Armistice. No, no, there is no need to thank me for it. Promotion has been long overdue for the services you have rendered the army and I’m sure nobody shall object this one.
But,” the General said, turning the course of the conversation. “The doctor says you must stay in bed for a month so it is necessary I receive your report.”
“The earl has chosen his position well. His right is guarded by a morass while his center is shielded by a hill. His men are massed mainly on the left, as it appears that he believes that his right and center are impregnable.”
“You show the makings of a good general Cuthbert, I congratulate you.”
Cuthbert took no part in the battle the next day but he was a spectator, having chosen to be propped up by pillows on the hillside.
The General started by faking an attack on the right. He placed about twenty guns on the right side of the earl and sent two hundred men with it to pretend to cross. He continued reinforcing that side and soon, the earl was forced to draw reinforcements from his left side.
This is what General Hand had been waiting for, he charged off to his right followed by one thousand hussars, ten thousand musketeers, of whom three thousand were veterans, and six hundred guns.
The guns were set in the back with the hussars, while the musketeers fired a volley then fixed bayonet and charged. The impetuous of the charge was irresistible and the left was crushed by it.
Now they were up against the center and those in front charged while those behind loaded and fired. Just then, the General received the astonishing news that the men on the enemy’s right had succeeded in crossing and were hotly engaged in combat. He could only spare five hundred of his musketeers for he was hotly pressed and continual reinforcements were sent from the enemy’s right.
Cuthbert, propped on the hill as he was, could also see the situation and immediately ordered the commander to send down the remaining three thousand men to go and assist their comrades. At first the commander was hesitant, but when Cuthbert said he would take the entire blame. He finally agreed and soon three thousand men trooped across the marsh and charged in upon the enemies.
The enemies were utterly shocked and dismayed by this sudden appearance. The right was just in front of their camp and they ran off leaving the three thousand to collect what munitions of war and magazines that the enemy left behind.
The general was now hotly pressed by the center of the enemies and Cuthbert gave another command to the commander.
“Tell the men in the enemy camp to find whatever horses they can and mount them fixing on their bayonets as they do so. Their muskets must also be loaded. But tell them to do so for a thousand of their men. Not more. Then they are to fire a volley into the center’s rear and the men on the horses are to charge. The remaining two thousand on the ground should repeatedly fire volleys into the enemies to reinforce their friends.
Do you understand what I have just said?” The commander nodded. “Well then, go and do it!”
The commander rushed off, and Cuthbert soon had the satisfaction of seeing his orders carried out. The charge was successful and the General, seeing that help had come from somewhere, charged also.
He cut right through the enemy center trapping many against the hill as he did so. These he all captured then he sent his hussars to pursue the fleeing enemies. They brought back with them fully three thousand prisoners.
The enemies had started out with thirty thousand men and one thousand two hundred guns whereas General Hand had only fourteen thousand two hundred men and some six hundred and twenty guns, an army nearly half the enemy’s size.
The Earl had lost twenty five thousand men of which fourteen thousand were prisoners and he had lost all of his cannons. Hand however, had but lost seven hundred men of which four hundred were prisoners. He had not lost any cannons and the capture of the enemy’s cannons was very fortunate for they were much more powerful than his own.
When General Hand returned to the camp and learnt from his commander what had happened, he went up to Cuthbert and congratulated him.
“You have shown a lot of quick wit and cunning Cuthbert. This is the second time you have saved the entire army. From now on, you are Captain Armistice. Your company will be given to you at the first gap which I doubt not will be made before long.”
“But sir,” Cuthbert protested. “Surely I don’t deserve such a promotion, I should get punished instead. I commanded men whom I had no right to command. All I did was do what I saw needed to be done. Surely that is not something worthy of promotion.”
“It is when what you have done has saved thousands of lives. Now I will let you rest.”
The next day, Cuthbert’s promotion was the talk of the camp. Peter entered his tent later on during the day.
“So, you have advanced another step higher than me. Now don’t you think I feel any jealousy because I don’t. I’m glad for you; really glad. It really takes cunning and wit to get promoted so fast in the General’s army; especially when the person is so young.”
“I think it’s utter nonsense. All I did was to tell the commander to reinforce the men on the other side of the stream as they were going to get killed. Anybody would have done that.”
“But you did it you see, that is why you got promoted instead of anybody else.”
The next day, Cuthbert was better and declared he could go but the surgeon kept him in bed. A fortnight later, he had a fever and was prostrated for another month. At the end of the month, he was declared convalescent and a week later was fully healed. He then went to assist the General in the siege of Counterferry, an extremely strong fortress.