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Barely a Lady

Barely a Lady

Description : Barely a Lady
Charleroi, Belgium

Dawn, June 15, 1815

It would take a miracle to get him out of this alive. And he had the feeling he’d long since used up his share of miracles.

Warming his hands on a hot tin of coffee, he took a moment to assess his environment. The plain of Charleroi spread out before him like a green and gold patchwork quilt sewn together with hedgerows. Dawn thinned the summer sky to a watery yellow, and the smoke from a hundred cannons writhed through the morning mist. Relative silence temporarily reigned, but the battlefield was a site of frantic activity.

The air stank of cordite, overridden horses, and unwashed men. As far as the eye could see, men were preparing for battle. Campfires were being doused, weapons checked. The rolling landscape echoed with the rhythmic scraping of swords being honed, the nervous whinnying of horses, the sharp sounds ofmand.

In his own vicinity, men were stripping their kits of everything they wouldn’t need. Uniforms were straightened and checked, bad jokes exchanged, courage exhorted.

No one took any notice of him as he stood beside one of the doused campfires. He was just another officer trying to catch a quick smoke as he waited for the call to arms.

This was it, then. The final battle for Europe. How the hell had he ended up here? He’d only wanted to get back to Brussels. He had a mission to finish, a final gift to deliver, and nothing stood between him and success but the two armies massing to collide like great beasts.

If he had been a different...