By Allan Mallinson
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Additional info for A Close Run Thing volume 1
Matthew Hervey was not invariably quick-tempered. Twenty-three years old, six years with the cavalry, most of it on active service, he still retained a surprising belief in humanity. But the proverbial wrath of the patient man could from time to time overwhelm his cautious instincts, a risky proclivity for an officer who valued his prospects: anyone who thought that survival in this war depended merely on fighting the enemy was naïve in the extreme. Jealousy, snobbery, intrigue and patronage were the preoccupations of men of ambition in the Marquess of Wellington’s army; and Hervey and others like him, decent officers with little but their ability to recommend them, were increasingly resentful of Wellington’s indifference to it all.
He protested, sliding painfully from the saddle to loosen the girth. ’ By now Hervey’s covering-serjeant had joined him, still in a frenzy from the slaughter they had just dealt the hapless battery. ’ But the staff dragoons reached for their sabres. ‘As you were, Armstrong! ’ snapped Hervey. The ADC was now beyond mere anger, and his voice rose in shrill rage. ’ Hervey’s groom had brought up a second charger, and he now remounted, though not with the easy vault he would ordinarily have taken.
Afterwards he had brooded, and contemplated selling out, but in the end he had turned once more to his trusty volume of Seneca and, taking deep draughts from the treatise on ‘The Steadfastness of Wise Men’, he had redoubled his stoic efforts in the place that Fortune had appointed him. If the final victory were, by rumour and his own reckoning, so close, however, then he knew these low spirits made little sense. Was it that he considered himself to blame for Hervey’s arrest? He had given him command of a flank picket, and it was by rights a lieutenant’s command; but, then, Hervey had seen more service than many of the lieutenants.
A Close Run Thing volume 1 by Allan Mallinson