Runs In The Family: Part Eight

This is the eighth part of a ficion serial, in 826 words.

With much of the army away fighting in Europe, Josiah’s regiment was sent north with little preparation. Edinburgh had already fallen to the Scottish army led by Charles Stuart, and by the time Josiah’s regiment had crossed the border, there was news of Cope’s defeat by the Scots at Prestonpans. Captain Dakin was nervous indeed. Not only had he never been tested in battle, but with the exception of a few of his sergeants, all of his troops were inexperienced. News was that troops were being recalled from the continent, but that would take time. Meanwhile, the Scots had bypassed Josiah’s position, and invaded England. Josiah spent a nervous winter expecting to be engaged in combat at any time.

After going south as far as Derby, the Scots returned before Christmas, fearful of the large approaching force led by the Duke of Cumberland. As the new year was celebrated in camp, Josiah relaxed, considering himself lucky that the regiment had not been involved. Cumberland was determined to do battle though, and Josiah received orders to prepare his company for the journey north to Inverness. On a misrable cold wet day that April, his stomach turning somersaults with fear, Josiah found himself with the army on some bleak moorland at a place called Culloden.

He was nonetheless cheered by two things. The first was that the English outnumbered the Scots considerably, and also had cannon in numbers. The second was that his regiment was designated a position at the rear, to be called upon as reinforcements if necessary. The artillery exchange was brief but noisy, and soon followed by the ragged charge of the Scots, their advance slowed by the sodden ground of the boggy moorland. Straining to see through the smoke from the musket volleys, Josiah bit his lip as the front ranks clashed. Not knowing what else to do, he drew his sword, if only to appear ready to fight.

But no order came to advance. The Scots were soon wavering, and that later deteriorated into a flight from the battlefield. English troops and cavalry pursued the retreating Scots, inflicting many more casualties. But for a relieved Josiah, it seemed to be all over. Not one of his men had so much as fired a shot.

Following some more time encamped in the area, Josiah received two pieces of good news. His company was to be used to escort Jacobite prisoners back to captivity in the south. They were destined for prison hulks, floating in the Thames estuary close to his home. And when they returned to barracks, he was to be promoted to the rank of Major. Irrespective of the fact that he had not taken part in a single engagement, his presence in the campaign against the Scots was to be rewarded.

When he had handed over the prisoners as instructed, Josiah returned to barracks and instructed his tailor to make him some fine new uniforms, as befitting his elevated rank. He also purchased a large white stallion, so that he would look his best on parade. His previous dull brown horse had never seemed fine enough to him, and it appeared to have lost its wind after the long winter in Scotland. On a sunny morning, he set out to impress his fellow officers with a ride around the area, leaving them lagging behind as they raced across the nearby fields. But the stallion balked at a stone wall, and he was thrown forward out of the saddle.

Lieutenant Foxworth reached the major first, finding him dead from a snapped neck.

Arabella took the news with her usual resolute manner. She arranged the funeral at the town church, and it was attended by the Colonel of the regiment, along with many of his fellow officers. The Colonel told her that he would arrange for Percival to get a commission as soon as he was of age, and with Justin soon ready to leave for college, she reflected that the house would feel empty by the end of the following year.

That December, a letter arrived from the boat yard manager. He had been approached with an offer to buy the business. Arabella thought she should at least investigate, and made the journey to London in snowy weather to meet with her lawyers, and the potential buyer. The offer was more than she had imagined, and getting rid of the boat-building business made sense to her, with both Percival and Justin occupied with other matters. But Percival was now the heir, as the son of Josiah, and she had to seek his agreement to conclude the sale on his behalf.

Still excited by the prospect of a commission, and consumed with his interests at the local military school, Percival was happy to follow her advice. The agreement was signed, with the huge sum doubling the wealth of the Dakin family overnight.

Arabella was very happy. The future of both boys was assured.

43 thoughts on “Runs In The Family: Part Eight

  1. I like the casual phrase “a place called Culloden.” Certainly before the places took on deep significance, that is all that they were. I think of Gettysburg here, for instance. Just a little Pennsylvania town before the battle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. Waterloo was chosen by Wellington for the dip in the ground that concealed many of his troops from the enemy. I doubt he even knew the name of the vilage prior to that. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) “Josiah spent a nervous winter expecting to be engaged in combat at any time.” Winter is always nervous, especially come March, as it expects to be engaged in combat with Spring at any time. And then panic sets in, because Winter knows that by mid-April, it will have lost the battle.
    (2) “After going south as far as Derby, the Scots returned before Christmas” wearing their new bowler hats.
    (3) A small stretch of land between Cumberland’s position and the battle site is known as the Cumberland Gap. People in Tennessee who wish to go see the jockeys battle it out at the Kentucky Derby know all about the Cumberland Gap. I just thought I’d pass that along.
    (4) Every time I go to an Outback Steakhouse, my stomach turns somersaults.
    (5) Josiah feared that someone named Scotty would beam him up to heaven.
    (6) “The artillery exchange was brief but noisy…”
    Charles Edward Stewart, shouting o’er the boggy moorland: “I’ll trade you fifty muskets for a cannon!”
    Duke of Cumberland, yelling back: “No way, JosΓ©!”
    Charles Edward Stewart, shouting again: “I’ll even throw in a bonnie lass!”
    Duke of Cumberland, yelling back again: “Is she a loose cannon?”
    Charles Edward Stewart, shouting at the top of his lungs: “You bet she is!”
    Duke of Cumberland, blasting ears from afar: “It’s a deal!”
    (7) After Helena left him, Josiah had no desire to be engaged in a battle of the sexes. He viewed marriage as a nightmare strewn with insurmountable obstacles.
    (8) If you’re going to be flung over a stone wall, pray you die quickly. “Hey, Grim, make it snappy!”
    (9) Is the Boat-Building Business (BBB) in good standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just when I was feeling warm and nostalgic thinking about a white Arabian that I owned back in the day, you up and make the white stallion in your story both a coward and a villain. Still in all I enjoy both the story and history lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am left pondering the ending: “The future of both boys was assured.” In the context of this serial, that would not seem to bode well for them. In the context of all the historical fiction I have read, it seems that a pot of money (property or something of value) seems to assure futures for people, especially those in English historical fiction. I have often wondered how much money is tied up in supporting those few fictional (and presumed real ones in life) characters and could that money (or income stream) be put to a better use for the rest of the population? Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The difference between the wealthy and the ordinary people in the 18th century here was staggering, and far greater even than it is today. Staff could be employed for payment in clothing, bed, and board with a small pittance for wages. Working as a servant in a big house was considered to be a very good job, even as late as the 1950s, as regular meals were guaranteed, and uniforms provided.
      Although some rich people did charitable works, most simply accumulated more wealth to leave to their descendants.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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