“I need,” Lock said, “a firelock.” He looked at Carter, “How about yours?”
With the mule’s leadrope in one hand, the boy clutched his rifle protectively to his chest. Llewellyn grunted, gesticulating, but Carter refused to budge.
“What for?” the sergeant demanded, coming to the boy’s aid.
Lock stabbed a forefinger towards the oncoming cavalry, “Because I owe that bastard,” he said savagely.
Llewellyn grabbed the sergeant’s shoulder to attract his attention. As the greenjacket looked up he pointed again, “Very well - if you say so, Meurig.” He sounded doubtful but turned to the boy, “Give him your rifle, Private Carter.”
Carter looked mortified, “But, sergeant...”
“Hand it over.”
Reluctantly the boy held out his rifle. “You’ll get it back,” Lock promised, “soon as it’s over. Loaded?”
Carter gave a look to smelt iron, “Think I’m stupid or something?”
Lock nodded. He stepped away from the group and out into the open. Hefting the weapon he felt its weight: gauged the balance point, smooth stock comfortable in his hands.
“Sarge!” The cavalry were trotting.
“Fix swords!” the sergeant yelled at his men.
Riflemen obediently drew their long, razor-sharp bayonets. Lock heard the metallic clicking as they were slotted into place and watched Carter lead his charges into the rocks, threading a gap between boulders to a path that must lead uphill. He sighted down the rifle’s brown barrel. The small movement hurt his ribs.
“Fire when ready!” the sergeant called.
“On me!” Lock shouted back. “And the officer riding out front is mine!”
“You can’t give orders.”
“On me!” Lock repeated grimly. If greenjackets started popping off as soon as any Frenchman was in range the squadron might scatter, leaving him little chance of an accurate shot.
“Wait for this bloody dragoon!” the sergeant finally agreed in an exasperated tone. “Just make sure you don’t leave it too long,” he warned Lock.
from "Leopardkill" by Jonathan Hopkins
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Product DescriptionA thrilling war novel set against the dramatic backdrop of the Peninsular War that saw a small British force pitched against Napoleon’s Grande Armee.
It is Autumn 1808. The French army is gone from Portugal...except for one man. And what he has stolen is deadly secret.
Sergeant Joshua Lock and Captain the Honourable John Killen pursue the spy deep into Spain ahead of Sir John Moore’s British army - a force now ordered to fight the French alongside native troops. But instead of helping their new allies, the Spaniards seem to have turned against them.
Their quarry still free, Killen’s discovery of Lock’s affair with a fellow officer’s wife drives the childhood friends apart as savage winter storms grip the Galician mountains. With discipline breaking down, and Spain’s armies in disarray, every man must decide for himself - who is friend and who is foe? Should the outnumbered, starving British stand and fight, or run for the sea, and home?
Whilst unbeknown to the bickering allies, Bonaparte himself is storming through Spain with but a single purpose...to destroy every ‘mangy English leopard.’
Meticulously researched to be historically and militarily accurate, this dashing novel of cavalrymen at war is written by an expert horseman.
About the Author
Jonathan Hopkins has worked in occupations as diverse as bulk tanker loader and kitchen designer, but since 2001 has fitted and repaired saddles professionally.
A lifelong horse-keeper and long term chair of an affiliated riding club close to his home in South Wales, his interest in the cavalrymen who served under the Duke of Wellington originally grew out of research into saddlery worn by troop horses, for which there are no surviving patterns.
Leopardkill is his second published novel.