Runs In The Family: Part Twenty Four

This is the twenty-fourth part of a fiction serial, in 818 words.

The early spring of 1815 brought worrying news along with the emerging daffodils. Bonaparte had escaped from his island prison, and had landed in France. Joined by his former followers and army commanders, he looked set to resume his previous plans to conquer Europe. The preparations were in hand to send a vast army to defeat him. Aided by the Prussians, Russians, and the Austrians, they would do their best to defeat the hated republican, and his much feared Grand Army.

For the Dakin family, this was dire news indeed. Henry and Abraham were serving with cavalry regiments, and despite their ages, would of course be expected to go to the continent to fight. Richard, as a captain of infantry, had received orders to go. Only George was not yet serving, and despite his pleas, he was not allowed to enlist. Abraham was now a major in the Scots Greys, and Henry a regimental colonel in the heavy cavalry. There was no time for family farewells, as orders were given for the massive movement of troops by ship to the continent. The Duke of Wellington was to take command of the British forces, and that cheered the spirits of all involved.

Now almost twenty years old, Spencer had wasted no time getting to grips with the management of the estates, and family business. He had become Oscar’s right hand man in all things, and that had pleased the head of the family no end. Aileen still ran the household with complete precision, and care for the staff, and her economies had greatly pleased Oscar, who had come to love her as a sister.

On the eve of the seventeenth of June that year, al three members of the Dakin family still serving the colours found themselves in a rain-soaked camp in Belgium. It was around one mile from the village of Waterloo, and Wellington had decided that this was the place where he would stop the French advance. He had chosen the ground well, with the French disadvantaged by both terrain, and mud. The battle was expected to start soon after first light, and nobody was left in any doubt that it might well decide the fate of Europe for years to come.

Henry was aware of Abraham being nearby with the Scots Greys. But neither of them knew that Richard was also there with his regiment. When the French artillery began firing in the early afternoon, their attack delayed by sodden ground, they had no alternative but to sit and wait on their horses, on the flank of the main army. The Prussians had not arrived, and even the lowliest infantryman knew full well that they were outnumbered.

Richard and his company had been assigned to the defence of the fortified farm, known as Hougoumont. When the French artillery began its bombardment of the lines, it was all he could do to hold his water in his fear. Not long after, elite French infantry appeared, and the fight for the farm was on. Despite his terror, Richard fought fuelled by adrenaline. When he broke his sword against that of a French officer, he grabbed a fallen musket and skewered the man with its bayonet, screaming like a wild man from the hills. Then he took up the Frenchman’s sword, and rallied his company like a man posessed. The fight for the farm continued long after the sun began to set, with Frenchman scaling the walls, and being shot down in scores when they reached the courtyard.

Richard finally got to slake his thirst, drinking the acrid water from the canteen of a dead sergeant. He was covered in the blood of his enemies, and that from many wounds on his own arms and face. But the regiment held the position, despte considerable losses. When no more Frenchmen appeared, he collapsed exhausted onto the damp earth. He had never felt so tired in his life, and his breathing was laboured by the smoke from the burning roof, and the gunpowder hanging over the battlefied like a fog.

When the Scots Greys were ordered foward against the French artillery, the middle-aged Abraham took part in the most exhilarating moment of his life. With infantry clutching their stirrups, they advanced in a famous and unstoppable charge. But Bonarparte had seen their courage, and sent his Polish Lancers aganst them, from the rear. Abraham didn’t even see the slim lance that entered his back, as he was so excited by the thrill of the attack he was engaged in.

The lancer skilfully withdrew his lance, and looked for another target, as Abraham Dakin slipped slowly from his saddle onto the churned-up mud of that Belgian field, He was dead before his body hit the ground, killed in his one and only battle.

Richard and Henry had fared better. They lived to celebrate the victory, and the end of Napoleon.

Covid-19: Irresponsibility and Social Distancing

We are supposed to be approaching the peak of virus infections, yet deaths continue to rise here.

Is it any wonder? The Police are having to break up house parties, social gatherings in the streets, and even quite large organised ‘gigs’. Youngsters are still seen in groups even here in Beetley, sitting around, playing football, or walking just inches apart.

Underground trains are still overcrowded in most cities, and many shops have yet to introduce measures to enforce any kind of safe social distancing.

And if any of us think it is still dangerous here, look what is going on abroad.

Churches are flouting the rules in America, with ridiculously criminal evangelical preachers claiming that they can ‘blow away’ the virus. They are encouraging their congregations to shake hands and hug, telling them that God will protect them. Then they take the collections, and fill their coffers with money from the dazed and confused. Some states in the USA are on the verge of catastrophe, yet the residents are complaining that not being able to go and have their hair cut, or a pedicure, is an infringement of their ‘human rights’. Even the president of America acts as if it will all be fine and dandy in ten days or so. He should be leading that nation using commonsense, instead of leading it over a precipice.

What is it with them? Group hysteria? Collective insanity? Or just good old plain ignorance and stupidity.

In India, parts of South-East Asia, and in most African countries, street markets continue to be packed with shoppers, and public transport is full to overflowing. As cases begin to increase in number even in the remotest parts of the planet, those in the most populous appear to have the same mentality as lemmings running off a cliff.

I don’t think this is anywhere near over. It feels to me as if the rest of the world is just catching up with China and Europe. Sadly, it is going to be with us for a very long time yet. Despite that, I am listening to a government spokesman on the news claiming that “the worst should be over in two weeks”. I feel as if I am the only sane person in an asylum.

It can’t happen to you, you think? Well I am here to tell you that you are very wrong.

A Poorly Dog

Ollie is not on good form today. He is limping around on three legs, and his usual happy expression has deserted him. He has almost certainly pulled a muscle in his thigh, after chasing a deer at great speed a couple of days ago. It looks so sad, to see him holding up the leg as he tries to get around.

Even his curly tail is at ‘half-mast’!

But I am guessing that when he sees his lead appear soon, and knows it is time for his walk on the nature reserve, he will forget the pain.

Runs In The Family: Part Twenty-Three

This is the twenty-third part of a fiction serial, in 865 words.

The autumn of the year 1805 brought sad news from the town. Admiral Nelson had been killed during a great sea battle fought in Spanish waters near Cape Trafalgar. Even delight at the resounding victory was overshadowed by the national mourning at the loss of such a beloved warrior. There was a special church service in his memory, and all attended, packing the interior, with some having to stand outside.

Now almost twenty-seven years old, Aileen had not managed to bear more children. After numerous miscarriages, it had been confirmed that she was unlikely to have more success. So she kept her young sons close, with tutors employed to teach the boys at Dakin Hall. They were growing fast, and George proved to be the livelier, athletic one, with Spencer studious, and slightly withdrawn. When Oscar urged her to send them away to boarding school, she flatly refused to discuss it. Knowing that he relied on her to be the lady of the house now, Oscar gave up.

The last few years had seen Oliver become a man of two halves. He learned the ways of business from his father during the day, but most nights he would ride into town, where he kept bad company with young drunks, and girls of loose morals. Oscar had been forced to pay off the families of no less than three girls claiming to be bearing the children of his careless son. Still determined to have his heir carry on the business, he contantly forgave the defiant Oliver, and continued to fund his reckless lifestyle.

But one cold December afternoon, everything changed.

Aileen still loved to take time to play with her sons once their studies finished in the afternoon. Sencer now considered himself to be too old for such frivolity, but George loved to play. And his favourite game was hide and seek. Aileen had to count loudly to one hundred, as her son ran around trying to find a good place to conceal himself. They agreed that if he was not discovered in around thirty minutes, he would reveal himself, and claim to have won. With such a large house and grounds, he usually did win.

That particular afternoon, George had no taste for concealment in the cold outdoors, so found himself a corner in one of the old stables that was rarely used since the construction of a smart new stable block two years previously. By good fortune, Aileen had spotted him from a first floor window, given away by his flame-red hair. She smiled to herself, happy to have the luxury of knowing his whereabouts. To make it look more convincing, she waited fifteen minutes according to the mantel clock, before wrapping a shawl around against the cold, and heading out to pretend to have finally found her son.

But someone else had found him first.

Oliver had already been drinking, despite the time of day. She could hear it in his voice. He was holding a letter-opener, one that resembled a small dagger. George was smiling at first, thinking it was all part of the game. But his smile faded at the look of concern on his mother’s face as she saw Oliver point the blade in the direction of George’s neck. With his eyes wild, and his voice slurring from the brandy, Oliver told her to go into the next stall, where he intended to have his way with her. If she made no fuss, George would be safe, and nobody would know.

He hadn’t reckoned on her being both brave and resourceful. She was also very fast. Grabbing some old heavy harness draped around a stall, she whirled it once around her head, and flung it at Oliver. It struck him full in the face, causing him to rock backwards, and drop the sharp letter-opener. Screaming at George to run for the house, Aileen rushed forward and picked up the harness, lashing it at Oliver’s face time and again, until her strength failed her. Breathing hard, she looked down at Oliver sprawled on the wooden floor. His face was cut badly, and bleeding, and there were bruises already visible on his neck. But he was still breathing.

Still enraged, she began to kick him in the body, as hard as her small feet in buttoned boots would allow. She was still kicking him when Oscar arrived to pull her away.

A doctor was called, and a story concocted that Oliver had fallen from a horse whilst drunk. Whether that story was believed or not was neither here nor there, as the doctor was paid handsomely. With bandages applied, and a diagnosis of three broken ribs, the unapologetic Oliver was sent to his room to recover. He was forbidden to emerge, even for Christmas dinner, and his meals were served in his room.

Such an offence against the mistress of Dakin Hall could never be forgiven, Oscar knew that. Not long after the turn of the year. Oliver was sent away in disgrace, ordered to start a new life in the Australian colony, with sufficient funds to last him for one year.

Not one member of the family watched him leave.

So Far, So Good

Well who would have thought it? New PC up and running in around thirty minutes, and thanks to Google Sync, all my usual stuff is on here automatically, just by signing in to my email.

Other stuff like disk defrag and antivirus also loaded really fast, thanks to the SSD, presumably. I still have a few bits and pieces to sort out. I have to try to find my Adobe Photoshop CD and see if I can still use it, so no new photos for a while. I am not using the Microsoft search engine or the dreadful Macafee antivirus, but everything else seems to be operating much the same as yesterday, albeit faster.

I gave my desk a good clean, and now have to sort through all the paperwork that I tend to ‘file’ under the monitor screen. Have yet to test the printer, but as that is also Hewlett-Packard, I am hoping it will recognise that. It allowed my keyboard to work, though the ‘W’ is still temperamental, so that particular glitch must be an ongoing keyboard issue.

The end result is that my mood is much improved, simply by not having any serious tech issues to contend with this morning.

All being well, my serial should continue later today, and I hope to be back in business completely by bedtime.

The New Computer: Tech Stuff

Well I have opened the box and looked at the new PC tower from Hewlett-Packard.

It is still pretty big, but not quite as large (deep) as this one.

I am not very technically minded, (as you know) but for those of you that are interested in such things, here are some of the specifications. Given my limited budget, I could not upgrade to anything super-duper, and certainly nothing sold by Apple, at their premium prices. So I got something that has some old and new tech combined.

It has a 256 GB Solid State Drive. I read about those, and they are supposed to boot up faster.
This is coupled to an additional 1 TB hard drive for more storage.
It still has an Optical Drive, (DVD rewriter) one of the few where that was not a separate option.
8 Gb Memory, and an AMD 3.7 ghz processor.
It comes with Windows 10 Home 64 installed.

Bearing in mind I never play PC games, that should be sufficient for my needs.

There is also a new wired keyboard and mouse, which will be kept as spares.

All I have to do now is to get it to work!

New computer

The new PC tower has just arrived.

I am going to devote tomorrow to setting it up. I just realised how many other things I need to do. All the passwords to everything that are automatically saved on here. Bookmarked sites, and favourites too. And the various programmes like antivirus I already have set up on this one. Been writing down a lot of stuff in a notebook, and have also backed up the photos and documents onto a portable hard drive.

Fingers crossed I don’t end up throwing it through the window!

If I am not around for a while after today, you will know why.

(And of course, this old PC has decided to work perfectly well now!)