On His Majesty's Service (Matthew Hervey, Book 11)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
In the Eastern Balkans, Matthew Hervey faces bloody war with the Turks.
January 1829: George IV is on the throne, Wellington is England's prime-minister, and snow is falling thickly on the London streets as Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Hervey is summoned to the Horse Guards in the expectation of command of his regiment, the 6th Light Dragoons. But the benefits of long-term peace at home mean cuts in the army, and Hervey is told that the Sixth are to be reduced to a single squadron. With his long-term plans in disarray, he undertakes instead a six-month assignment as an observer with the Russian army, an undertaking at the personal request of the commander-in-chief, Lord Hill.
Soon Hervey, his friend Edward Fairbrother and his faithful groom, Private Johnson, are sailing north to St Petersburg, and from there on to the Eastern Balkans, seat of the ferocious war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Hervey is meant to be an impartial spectator in the campaign, but soon the circumstances -- and his own nature --propel him into a more active role. In the climactic Battle of Kulewtscha, in which more troops were engaged than in any battle since Waterloo, Hervey and Fairbrother find themselves in the thick of the action.
For Hervey, the stakes have never been higher -- or more personal.
by accepting this? It is a work I wrote whilst at the Kriegsakademie.’ Hervey was mystified: the work of a cadet, printed and bound … ‘With the greatest pleasure, Herr Leutnant.’ He opened it at the title page, and was at once even more puzzled (as well as dispirited, as ever, on seeing the Gothic script, which he still found both a labour and strangely hostile). ‘Die beiden Freunde. Eine Erzählung. How intriguing.’ Eine Erzählung – a fiction, a novel. Not at all what he’d expected. But a
nevertheless. ‘Might we conditionally visit the Fifty-third’s tailor then, and lay a swatch of red cloth across your breast?’ Hervey was inclined to enter the spirit of archness. ‘Scarlet cloth.’ Fairbrother smiled, conceding the point. ‘Ah, yes – scarlet. It seemed to me in the Royal Africans that the distinction lay solely in the fastness of the dye. A private man’s red coat was a pale affair after a good soaking, whereas an officer’s scarlet remained true – an allegory, as it were, of
invited. And it was strange, for as a rule Kezia would spend an age in scales, chords, arpeggios and all the other exercises of the keyboard which he knew of from his sister’s practice, but rarely anything to which the exercises were a prelude. It was almost as if her music were to be kept, so to speak, in a vault, to be taken out only on some special occasion, and under strict guard. He was fully conscious of the need for drill, of course – for constant practice was the foundation of execution,
which he said was a public gallery, but in truth he had taken little notice, preoccupied as he had been. ‘Perhaps you will let me show you the collection, Colonel Hervey – when you are returned from the East?’ It was no hollow invitation – Hervey saw full well – and in truth at that moment he would rather have delayed his sailing to be able to take it up. There was something so effortlessly attractive in this man – in both of them. ‘Thank you. I shall look forward to it.’ ‘It is a pity you are
before any formalities of a treaty were concluded. It was over; and Hervey could only ponder on whether, had it come to a fight, ‘Valens’ would have prevailed, or the Goth. ‘A victory is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers’; Hervey felt uncommon relief, a surge like the racing tide. He was half-done with fighting. That night they dined in the seraglio’s marbled hall off gold and silver-gilt, with the choicest food of the palace kitchens and the finest wines of the Christian