A rising wind chilled the mounted hussars as they prepared to leave Rueda; a wind off the mountains, driving rainclouds across a leaden sky and tugging at men’s cloaks, goading horses taut with nerves to prance in anticipation.
Lock heaved the last bale of cotton back up onto his borrowed wagon. Already tired from a half-day’s work the mules had no opportunity to eat. There were no spare draught animals so they must simply carry on. Lock gave them water, ignoring orders from the lieutenant charged with looking after the convoy to get moving immediately. He almost lost his temper with the idiot, but Killen was there to smooth things over.
“What is the matter with you today?” Killen demanded after the subaltern was out of earshot.
“I don’t know, John. Maybe what that French lieutenant said came as a shock. And I’m angry with myself for losing Michelot.”
“You cannot blame yourself for that,” Killen said, “and in any case, now we have definite news for Sir John.”
“Lieutenant Tirenne told you Michelot had gone on to meet Bonaparte.”
“...who is in Madrid.”
“Exactly. It confirms all we have heard so far.”
“Eh? What’s that about Madrid?” Colonel Jones had crept up on the two men unseen. “Yes by God,” he said when Killen explained, “Sir John must be told. The Ogre himself, eh? Well, gentlemen - time to move. Let’s not keep the good general waiting.”
“We are taking the wagons with us?” Killen asked.
“Spoils of war, captain; spoils of war.”
“But surely, sir, they belong to the Spanish.”
“The French would have stolen them if we’d not arrived,” Jones said, “Our good fortune. Decent prize money for the regiment from that little lot, I shouldn’t wonder.”
from "Leopardkill" by Jonathan Hopkins
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.