Legal Note: I do not own any of the characters associated with Bernard Cornwell's excellent Richard Sharpe books and I hope he will forgive my presumption at having begun this story. I do not have any legal right to use them or any other proprietary words originating from these novels. This story was done just for the fun of it. Not for profit. If you like it please tell me. If you don't like it please tell me why with particulars but not excessive detail. Any one who wants to rip on my style or me just to make them self feel better is really only polishing their wand and their statements will receive the due amount of interest (i.e. NONE). And finally before any one brings it up: I do know my punctuation stinks. I just don't care.
Summary: An aged Richard Sharpe is called back to England to undertake a special mission. This story is still in the rough stage and needs more research before I go any further. However I am posting this excerpt as a motivation to completing it.
Sharpe's Last Mission
Light was coming in through the flap of the tent. Dawn. His mouth tasted terrible as always before he had his morning cup of tea. Where the hell was his tea anyway? Harper always woke him before dawn with a steaming cup. He'd better not have stayed to late with Isabella. Women on campaign were to useful and to damn much fun.
"Sgt. Harper!" Sharpe yelled. "Where the hell are you? Damn it, Pat. I want tea."
He threw off the covers and flung the flap out of the way. Suddenly around him was a well appointed room with curtains on the window and a small fire burning in the grate. It wasn't a tent he was in after all but an old fashioned bed with curtains. What the devil?
"Harper! God damn your arse. Where are you?" Sharpe lurched to his feet unsteadily. The old wound in his thigh ached fiercely and his knee wound that had never properly healed was near agony. His vision swam for a moment. "Where the hell am I?"
The door swung open to reveal a young dark haired man in servant's livery. His eyes were wide with concern.
"Colonel are you all right?"
"Colonel?" Sharpe was puzzled. "Who are you? Where's my sergeant?"
"Your sergeant?" The man was bewildered and the look of concern was intensified. "I'm William. Colonel, don't you recognize me?"
"William?" Sharpe's head was swimming now. "William? No I don't know you. I don't... Where is Sgt. Harper?"
"Sgt. Harper?" Suddenly William's expression cleared. "Colonel, Mr. Harper died. More than twenty years ago, sir."
"Pat's dead?" Sharpe staggered back and sat heavily on the edge of the bed. "Twenty years?"
"You've forgotten again, sir." William said gently.
"Pat's dead?" Sharpe shook his head rejecting the thought. "We were just talking last night." Sharpe remembered the conversation vividly. They'd been talking about a bird Harper had seen just before sunset. It was one that shouldn't be in Spain but it had been there. Sharpe couldn't remember the kind of bird though. Isabella had called them for supper and they'd talked of horses.
"You remember Mrs. Harper sent you the letter?" William asked. "You keep it in your valise, sir."
"Valise?" Memories were all jumbled now. "Mrs. Harper sent the letter. God, Pat."
"It'll be all right in a moment, sir. I'll just run and get your tea. Breakfast is being made right now and the steward will send it up."
William left closing the door softly behind him. Sharpe looked at his hands. They were old hands hardened by work and callused. He looked down at his legs and saw the veins standing out. They were old legs. What the hell was he doing in a night shirt? Where was this place? Where was Lucille? Wait. Where were the children? Little Patrick should be getting up soon. Wait. Patrick was a cavalryman. That's right. And Dominique was married. I'm a grandfather.
"Pat, what's happened to me?" Sharpe breathed.
"Nothin' a spot o' tea wouldn't fix, sir." Harper's voice rang in his head. Sharpe looked around quickly.
"Pat?" Nobody was there. The door opened and William came in with a tray.
"Cook says he'll have your steak done in just a few more minutes, colonel." William smiled at Sharpe while he cleared a space on the table. "Your appointment is at eight o'clock, colonel. So you'll have plenty of time to get dressed and see to your toilet. This is good tea, sir. Very fresh. Got it yesterday at the market. I know how you like your Indian tea."
"William, you're fussing like an old woman." Sharpe growled snatching up his dressing gown from a chair by the bed. He stood steadier now and put it on. "Pour the tea and get out. I'll call when I need you."
"Of course, sir." William was used to his master's surliness first thing in the morning and glad to see him getting back to normal. He left quietly again.
Appointment? That's right. This was London. He was here to see... Who was he here to see? Something about Spain? Something about Russia? No all that was done with. It was something else but he couldn't remember.
"Ah. Now that's a sign o' age, sir." Pat's voice again. Sharpe looked around confused. He was certain he'd heard the words clearly and it was Pat. He couldn't be mistaken about that. "Don't be troublin' yourself, colonel. Have your tea and go to the damn meeting. It'll come to ya, sir. Right enough. It'll come to ya."
"Pat?" Sharpe asked it softly with a longing in his voice.
"Aye, sir." Harper's voice sounded like it had all those years ago. "Tea, sir. Then a nice shave."
"Tea. I could use a cup." Sharpe limped across the room and sat heavily in the finely carved chair at the table. He picked up the cup and realized that it was at complete odds with the rest of the service. While the pot and sugar dish were polished silver the cup was a slightly battered tin mug like he'd carried in his pack for so many years. It was a comfort to him to have this familiar thing among all the strange finery. What place was this? He went to the window and looked out onto a garden in snow. Winter time then. Bloody hell. We'll be marching in snow and ice.
"No, colonel. No marching for you in any weather."
"Damn it, Pat!" Sharpe hissed. "Where are you? What's going on?"
But there was no answer this time. In his heart Sharpe knew Pat wasn't there but he'd heard the sergeant's voice. He was certain of that. How could he be hearing Harper if Harper were dead? What the devil was he doing in London in the middle of winter? He should be at the farm with Lucille. There would be work to do. Work to do? The message had come in the morning from some one in London and he and Lucille had argued over it. She didn't want him traveling because he might become ill. She was worried he might not come back. He remembered that now. What message? His valise! Sharpe turned to look over the room again and there it was hanging on the chair where he'd put it last night.