Drummer Boy Vol 2

by Arthur

Chapter 22

Once the two oarsmen landed the four others on the dock, they turned back towards the ship leaving Thomas and the others to continue with their day. Thomas asked senor Forsca if he had knowledge of a good tailor so that Scully could have his uniforms made at speed. With a recommendation from Senor Forsca, Colonel Lorenco took Scully off towards the centre of Oporto in search of the tailor.

Thomas and Senor Forsca turned back towards the warehouse and, on arrival saw a small black clad figure waiting for them. Lieutenant Morgan snapped to attention as he saw Thomas walking towards him; his smile told Thomas that the young Officer had something important to tell him or at least something that Thomas hoped was good news at the very least.

"Lieutenant, what are you doing here?"

"I have a message from Colonel Grey Sir, and then he has ordered me to wait for some new arrivals and escort them back to the camp on their arrival."

"Well what is it and what have those two been up to?"

"Sir Colonel's Grey and Colosio have asked for your presence on the morrow for a final planning session for the parade. They have asked for permission for me to stay here until the persons arrive on the Avante in the morning and then escort the passengers to the camp for the parade in two days Sir."

"Passengers? Visitors? What the hell have they been up to Lieutenant?"

"I'm sorry Sir I'm not at liberty to say at this time under direct orders from Colonel Grey."

"You do know I am not only your superior Officer but also theirs so it may be wise to tell me what's going on."

"Yes Sir, but they are far more scary when they want their own way Sir and I don't really mind being a Private again if I have to too keep their secret; even though I owe you everything and find it very difficult to keep their plans from you Sir."

"You really are not going to tell me what's going on, are you Lieutenant?"

"No Sir, they want it all to be a surprise for you."

"I could order you to tell me Lieutenant."

"Yes Sir you could, but then I would have to take my chances and return to the kitchens as a Private."

"Well it looks like threats won't work on you; how about bribery? Will that work?"

"Sorry but no Sir, the thought of the Colonel's revenge would even wipe away any thoughts of bribery."

"Damn it all, just what are they up to? Well Lieutenant I suppose I will just have to go and see for myself, you have permission to take a room at the tavern around the corner and join us for dinner later; I expect you to pay for the wine tonight; if I can't get you to spill the beans then you are going to have to stay on my good side until I leave on the morrow."

"Yes Sir, thank you Sir, I will see you at table tonight Sir."

As Snot Morgan walked away towards where the tavern was situated, Thomas spoke in a voice loud enough for the disappearing young Lieutenant to hear.

"Senor Forsca, where can I find the most expensive wine in this town; if young Morgan is not going to tell me anything then I'm going to make damn sure he pays a heavy price for keeping secrets."

Senor Forsca could only chuckle as he led Thomas back into the warehouse where the two spent the next hour going over Thomas's requirements for a small piece of land in the area of the bay north of Vimeiro. Much to Thomas's satisfaction, the land he liked had not been claimed and was said to be open land, he asked Senor Forsca to proceed with trying to purchase some for his small villa overlooking the bay.

It was later in the afternoon when Thomas returned to the tavern, there was no sign of Lieutenant Morgan but Lorenco and Scully were sitting at a table at the rear of the main barroom and talking quietly as they waited for the sun to go down on another day. It was not long before the other two were told about Thomas's meeting with Lieutenant Morgan and what had transpired. Both Lorenco and Scully then gave their report about the uniforms; a dress uniform would be ready the next day and the other three working Captains uniforms would take a little longer but they had been assured that the uniforms would be ready by week's end.

The three friends had been reliving old times when they were finally joined by the young Lieutenant Morgan. At first Snot took very little notice of the extra person sitting with his Officers, it was not uncommon to see injured men in this day and age; the five years of war on the Peninsula had taken a toll on just about every family in the country. Snot did not know he was in for a surprise as he sat where Thomas indicated at the end of the table.

"Lieutenant Morgan, I would like to introduce you to an old and dear friend and now Captain of the Marking Shipping Company fleet; Captain Roger Scully, you may have heard some of us discussing him at times."

Snot looked at the injured man and tried to think back to when he had first heard the name Scully. After a short time his eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped as he put two and two together. Was this man really the one all the others had said died at the hands of a seventy two gun French Man-O-War. The three friends watched the dawning comprehension on the young Lieutenant's face. It took a few more seconds before Snot could get his voice to work.

"He...he's a dead man come to life?"

"Yes Lieutenant, the most solid ghost you will ever see, say welcome to Captain Scully before you go to purchase more drinks for us; I do hope you brought a good heavy purse with you this evening."

"Ahm...yes Sir...but Sir...uhm...how...ahm...I mean what?"

"All I can say Lieutenant is that sometimes good things happen and this is one of them, now off you go and get our tankards filled."

"Yes Sir."

For the rest of the evening there was a sense of renewed comradery although poor young Snot Morgan could only sit with the others in awe at the resurrection of Mister Scully with his mouth agape; that a dead man could return, albeit badly wounded and scarred, was to Snot a miracle of the times. The small group retired early in the evening so they could rise early and make their preparations for returning to the campsite.

The next morning, with everything being made ready for their departure; Thomas, Lorenco and Scully were sitting outside the tavern with a last cafe when they were approached by a middle aged and very well dressed man. Accompanying the man was one a little young and he held what could only be the dress uniform for Roger Scully. Both men looked as though they had slept little and Thomas would not have been surprised to learn they had been up all night working on the uniform so it was ready by the time required.

Lorenco addressed the man as Scully stood to take receipt of the offered uniform from the hands of the younger man. The older man stood with wide eyes as he looked at Thomas while Lorenco passed on who he was. The man stepped forward and bowed to Thomas then once erect again he took out what appeared to be the bill for the uniform and tore it into small pieces before dropping it on the ground where the gentle breeze scattered it far and wide as the man spoke to Thomas for the first time.

"Forgive me Patron De Toro, I had no idea the uniforms were for you. There is no charge for them as they have already been paid for in full with the blood of your men when they defended us from the French invaders. Please accept them as a small part of the payment due to you and your men for our freedom."

"Senor, I thank you for your offer but it has always been our way to make payment on anything we purchase from the people. I must insist that you give me a full accounting of the costs so I can make recompense in full."

"Patron I must again apologise but I cannot accept any payment for such a small effort; as a man of honour it would grate upon my conscience to do so. I must beg you to accept this small offering on behalf of all free Portuguese."

"Senor?"

"Lacante, Eduardo Lacante Patron."

"Thank you Senor Lacante. We are honoured by your gesture Senor Lacante but I find it difficult to accept such generosity when others must put food on their tables from the sweat of their brows when I can pay for anything we need."

"As I said Patron, you and your men have already paid in blood, there is no need for any other payment as far as I am concerned. It is little enough after what you have done for us and I would implore you to accept it as a gift from those who owe you so much."

Thomas looked at the honesty on the man's face and could only resign himself to having to accept so as not to seem ungrateful for the tailor's efforts.

"In that case Senor Lacante I accept on behalf of my men and I am sure that Captain Scully will wear your uniform with pride."

"Then I am truly honoured Patron. The rest of the Uniforms will be ready in two days if they can be collected then at your convenience or as soon as the Captain has need of them."

"Thank you again Senor Lacante, your generosity will not be forgotten."

Senor Lacante bowed with a wide smile showing on his face, he then turned to his young assistant and led the way back towards his shop where there was work to do. Thomas watched the receding back of the two men before turning to Roger Scully.

"So Roger, now you have your uniform and it looks as though you have more braid than is allowed, I swear you will stand out even more than I will, which is a good thing as far as I am concerned. Now then we have a road to take; the parade will not wait for us. Where is that damned Snot got to?"

From behind Thomas came the nervous voice of Snot Morgan as he stepped out of the tavern.

"I'm here Sir."

"Good, when does the ship arrive at the dock so you can get yourself back to camp on time?"

"I was told it should be at the dock within the hour Sir so I must be away to meet it, I still have a lot to do according to Colonel Grey's orders Sir."

"You're still not going to tell me what you are up to are you Snot?"

"Sorry Sir but I am under strict orders not to reveal anything on pain of Colonel Colosio's boot Sir."

"Well I suppose under such a threat there is little I can do to change your mind; just make sure you are on duty for the parade on the morrow and don't be late Lieutenant."

"No Sir, I shall be there as ordered."

Thomas just smiled at the young Lieutenant before turning back to his friends.

"It's time to get back and find out just what those two have been up to. We will see you on the morrow Lieutenant, don't forget, be on time or the Colonel's threat will seem very minor if you are late."

"Yes Sir." A blushing Snot replied as he watched the three walk away to where their horses were being held. Snot turned towards the docks, he had other important business to attend to and had little time to waste if he wanted to be on the dock when the Avante arrived with its very special cargo.

The ride back to the campsite was taken at a gentle pace as it was a trip of only two miles and they would be there well before the midday meal was served in the general mess. On their arrival back at the camp, Thomas noticed the looks on the faces of some of the men as they watched the trio ride into the camp. Many of the men had not been around when Roger Scully was a part of the army and so he was being viewed as a stranger, especially with the way he was still dressed in his rough sailors garb; his new uniform was carefully wrapped and placed inside Thomas's pannier.

It was not until they were closer to where the Officers were housed in the small villa that the looks changed from inquisitive to ones of utter disbelief as those who knew Scully began to recognise the battered features of the third rider. The whispers started out with a sense of awe as they watched the three horses pull to a halt close by the villa and the three men stepped down to look around.

It was almost as though a gate had been opened as all those who knew Scully suddenly began to shout with joy and disbelief at his return to their midst. The sudden rush of bodies took Scully completely by surprise as old friends quickly surrounded him and began to slap him on the back with looks of awe on their welcoming faces. Thomas and Lorenco stood back and let Scully have his moment in the sun as they were quickly joined by Carmelo and Estaban; both of which looked as dumb struck as the others with the sudden rebirth of an old friend and ally.

It was fully a half hour before things began to settle down to a sense of normalcy and Scully was able to break away from the masses after Thomas told them all he would make sure that Scully would be allowed to relate his miraculous escape during the evening meal but, that for now he needed to have Scully go inside with him so they could make the plans for the parade on the morrow.

Once they were all back inside the small villa, Thomas watched what he thought was a most touching scene as Fairley appeared from nowhere and stopped to stare at Scully; as the tears ran from the young Sergeant's eyes he could not help himself and ran into Scully's chest to hug him so tight he may well have broken a rib or two. Roger Scully could only look at his onetime cabin boy and hold him close before saying.

"Well Fairly you've grown a bit since I last saw you." Thomas and those with him could only watch the young Sergeant Batman nod his head in tearful silence as he kept a tight hold on his long lost and supposedly dead friend.

With old friendships renewed, Thomas asked about the preparations for the next day's parade; he was assured by both Carmelo and Estaban that everything had been taken care of and Thomas could rest easy; that statement alone raised a few questions in Thomas's mind of what the two may have been up to but he was kept in the dark and given only innocent looks every time he brought up the subject during the evening meal.

Once dinner was finished the mess remained seated to the last man as Thomas asked Roger Scully to once again repeat his own story of escape; it was late in the night before he finished his story and then answered the torrent of questions that were asked. There were many tears shed by those who listened to the miraculous tale of escape and for those who knew Roger on a more personal level shed even more. It was a tired group that finally made it back to the villa for the rest of the night, the morrow would bring a long day and no doubt tears as the final parade of the 1r Regimiento Espana Guerrillas was held.

As was normal for the army, the men rose early to carry out any last minute cleaning of their uniforms and equipment; Thomas was kept inside the villa with many small jobs for the final part of the parade while outside he was sure he could hear the sound of wagons moving along the road that led past the villa to the west. In the dimming light of the last sunset, Thomas had looked over the ground that had been prepared for the parade.

The grasses had been cut with scythe and sickle and there was now a very large area of reasonably level ground to be used for the men to assemble. At one end of the large field the stone wall had even been broken down to enlarge the area needed for the full Regiment to parade. About half way down the huge area the men had set up one of the large marquee that was normally the mess; this was to be used by the Officers and any dignitaries that may be present.

The road ran to the west of the cleared ground and to the east was more open ground which made up smaller fields for the Hacienda on which Thomas and his men were camped. Although Thomas knew something was going on with his long time friends, he never had a real chance to find out what it was. Even at these last hours before the parade he seemed to always be diverted at the last minute.

The parade was called for eleven of the clock but Thomas was kept busy with one small task after the other until it was nearing ten of the clock, nothing really unusual as there was so many last minute things to be seen to for such a great occasion and he did not want his loyal men to not be recognised in a proper fashion for their last parade. Thomas was kept so busy he did not realise his friends were keeping him well out of the way of anything going on outside.

Although Thomas did hear the sounds of wagons moving along the roadway, he never thought too much about it as it was obviously a market day and many of the farmers would be heading into Oporto for the event.

At ten of the clock, Thomas felt he had finally done all that could be done and was ready to move to the marquee which was now a temporary pavilion with the front and both sides left open for a better view of the parade; Thomas could not really understand why it was needed but kept his peace as the other Officers seemed to be well aware of everything that was needed.

As the time for the Officers to move to the temporary pavilion arrived, they all took one last check of their formal dress uniforms. It was quite a show with all the plumes, medallions and ribbons on display; what most of them thought of Thomas's fancy plumed Bicorn and mass of decorations was kept to themselves as his looks of discomfort at such garish displays went against the grain even though the newly attired Roger Scully had to now wear a very fancy Captain's uniform with long white trousers of good cloth. Around Scully's waist was a sash of light blue with a black outer trim. Scully's jacket was also a pale blue with the cuffs festooned in gold braid and on his head was a plain black Bicorn hat with a rosette of pale blue with the black edging.

Thomas could not resist his next actions; returning to his bedroom, he returned quickly with the fine Toledo sword he had been given by General Martino. Thomas still wore Scully's sword and had done so since receiving it all those years ago; it was the one thing he never left behind when on the move.

Thomas approached Roger Scully and held out the fine Toledo steel sword.

"I want you to have this, a Captain should have his own sword and I feel I cannot return your own as it means a lot to me but this one is as fine as I have and I want you to have it."

Scully looked at the fine sword and a tear slipped from his eye as he reached for it; he was well aware how Thomas had gotten hold of the sword and what it must have meant to him; that Thomas wanted to keep Scully's plain looking Junior Officers sword was beyond him but he was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth and especially not from a friend like Thomas.

Scully rested the slightly worn sash over his shoulder and checked that the scabbard was properly seated at his hip before reaching out to give Thomas a light and friendly one armed hug. The two broke apart before it was too noticeable just how much Scully had been missed over the years.

With everything now ready it was time to walk out to the pavilion and start the parade. Thomas was closely followed by all his Senior Officers as they walked down the field to the pavilion. They had not made it half way before Thomas stopped and stared at what was before him; it was just now that the hum and buzz of conversations were noticed.

Thomas looked to the field behind and to the sides of the pavilion and could not believe his eyes as he looked over the huge mass of people gathered there. Some were sitting around in small circles apparently in a picnic mood while others were forming small crowds along the edge of the double sized fields where the parade would take place. Out on the road Thomas could still see many other wagons, carts and even small carriages still coming towards the fields, amongst them some very fine looking carriages that could only belong to some very wealthy people.

Thomas was taken totally by surprise by all the activity, none of this was in his original plan and he could not work out how so many had found out about the last parade of the Espana Guerrillas. Had he taken time he may have noticed some very sly looks between his long time friends as they took note of his surprise at the mass of people forming all around the parade ground.

By half Ten of the clock there was a solid mass of spectators all around the parade ground; in the distance where the barns that the men had used for their accommodations, there was a very large spread of fabric that hid the area around the barns, Thomas could just make out the shadows of men moving behind the screen; another addition he had little knowledge of.

Thomas was led to the pavilion where he noted that most of the chairs from the villa had been set out with his own large carved chair at the centre; at the back of the pavilion were a pair of trestle tables with food and drink displayed for those who would like to partake during the parade. It was now plainly obvious what his friends had been up to while he was out of the way but he could still not understand why or how they had managed to gather such a huge crowd to observe the last parade.

Thomas was escorted to his large chair but before he could sit he was directed to the front of the open pavilion and surrounded by his Senior Officers. Just as Thomas was about to ask what was happening, a black coach turned into the gate on the far side of the parade ground and turned towards the pavilion. Thomas took a moment to stare at the passengers and could not believe his eyes when he recognised the small plump figure sitting in the back of the carriage.

Thomas watched as Mister Percy's carriage approached, it was not the sight of Mister Percy sitting in the back but the fact he had what appeared to be two passengers with him. The extra passengers sat with their backs to the driver and so where not recognised by Thomas but, the fact that one of them was a women and the other was in a red English uniform on which Thomas could just make out the Sergeants stripes on the sleeve of the right arm. All this did raise some wonder in Thomas's as he had not given orders for any English troops to be present at the parade, his mind also took notice that Mister Percy was talking to someone at his side but Thomas could not see who it was as the person was hidden by the high sides of the carriage.

Mister Percy was in full dress uniform which was also an unusual event for Thomas to see and he waited while the carriage came to a halt in front of the pavilion; suddenly Thomas's breath caught in his throat as he began to recognise the two passengers.

Thomas felt as though his boots had been nailed to the ground as he stood transfixed by the sight in front of him. The familiar face of Mister Percy's driver had jumped from the driver's seat and was opening the small door of the carriage as Thomas's father stood up and made is slightly ungainly way with his wooden peg leg making it a little difficult. Once on the ground beside the carriage, Cromwell Marking turned back to help his wife Matty from the carriage before turning back to face Thomas.

Cromwell's uniform was that of the 33 rd Yorkshire Regiment and Thomas was taken completely by surprise as Cromwell came to attention as best he could on his single leg and saluted Thomas.

"Sir, Sergeant Cromwell Marking reporting for parade duty Sir."

Thomas forgot all of the niceties of protocol and somehow overcame his sudden paralysis and did what no General should ever do, although for Thomas it would not have made any difference at that moment. Thomas left the pavilion at speed and flew into the arms of his father as everyone looked on with tears and smiles, that Thomas was a General seemed to be ignored as a great roar of encouragement went up around the large parade ground by the entire large crowd watching the event unfold.

Thomas could only hold on tight as his sobs and tears fell onto the bright new uniform of his Father; that hundreds of strangers were watching the event did not even penetrate Thomas's awareness; his Father was the only centre point in his present world.

Although it was only a few moments, for Thomas it seemed a life time as he held his Father tightly; eventually it was the calm voice of Cromwell that brought a sense of decorum back to the meeting.

"Come now lad, you is an Officer and have duties to perform; brace up and show us what it is you been up to. There be plenty of time for family after you have done your duty."

Thomas sniffed as he stepped back and looked to where his Mother was now standing with her hand resting on Mister Percy's arm and her left hand holding the hand of a young boy of about five years old who appeared to be trying to work out what all the fuss was about; after all he had been on a big ship all the way across the ocean and now he was watching an older boy make a big fuss of his Da in a strange place where everyone talked funny.

It took a few seconds for Thomas to realise the little boy was his brother and he wasted little time in giving his Mother a hug before looking down at the Brother he had only seen as a young baby; it suddenly made him realise how much time had passed since he had been around his family and all the things he may have missed over the last five years.

For Thomas there was very little time to take it all in as Mister Percy escorted Matty Marking to the central chair under the shade of the marquee and placed her in Thomas large chair; for Thomas's brother there was so much to look at and he could be seen trying to pull away to go and investigate other things; it was the ever present Fairley that took over and removed the little boy somewhere outside the pavilion; unknown to those in the pavilion it would be some time before they saw the small boy again and, when they did it created quite a stir among those watching.

With everyone moving inside the pavilion where they could relax and make ready for what Thomas thought was to be the beginning of the parade; they were suddenly interrupted by the arrival of another carriage; this time Thomas could not believe his eyes as two familiar figures emerged from the carriage and made their way towards where he stood; the smile on Mister Percy's face told Thomas how this had eventuated.

The smile on Thomas's face only increased as he watched Peter Morgan and his aging father step from the coach, both were resplendent in smartly cut suits which were becoming the fashion of the day and it was only their rolling gait that told those in the know that they were both old sea hands; in their right hand was the very familiar silver topped black cane. Subconsciously Thomas's hand tightened on his own black baton as he watched the two older men approach where he stood waiting.

"Well Captain Toro, we see you made it all in one piece." The elder of the two said as he walked with amazing agility towards Thomas; any sign of his age was put aside now that he was dressed so well and his appearance of an old man huddled in a dark tavern was no longer apparent. Thomas had not missed the large driver of their carriage either; it was the formidable shape of George; he was to return and join them once the carriage had been driven away and parked out of sight.

The next carriage carried the family of Senor Forsca; the pavilion was filling quickly as the special guests continued to arrive. Matty Marking could only sit and watch in awe as the arrival of more of her little boy Thomas's friends increased with every carriage that arrived; she could not quite understand how her little Thomas could possible know all these varied people.

The next carriage's arrival only went to confuse Matty even more. The carriage was very fancy and was accompanied by a full troop of mounted Cavalry in foreign uniforms and all carried long lances. In the carriage were three very important looking men also in full dress uniforms, the long plumes on their Bicorn hats waved in the breeze as the carriage pulled to a halt in front of the pavilion; there was a sudden hushed awe from the hundreds of spectators at the arrival of the large black carriage with the coat of arms on the side.

The Cavalry troop had lined up behind the halted carriage and, as Prince Pimentel stepped from the carriage to be followed quickly by General Livorno and General Martino; the Cavalry troop lowered their lances in salute, not to the three men but to Thomas. With the salute done the troops immediately began to move off behind the empty coach as it made its way from the parade ground.

Prince Pimentel led his two friends up to where Thomas was standing with his mouth agape, these three men were the last ones Thomas would have expected; Thomas did not see his Mother lean forward to hear a little better as the Prince stopped in front of Thomas.

"Don Thomasino I thank you for your kind invitation to join you in your final parade; had not your fine Officers notified me some time ago I would have missed it and it would have been one of my great regrets. I have prevailed upon General Livorno and General Martino to accompany me which they did only too willingly."

"Your Highness, thank you for coming but I must admit I had little knowledge of it and therefore must apologise for my tardiness."

"There is nothing to apologise for Don Thomasino; your fine Officers have it all in hand; after all, is that not what Officers are for? Now then whom do we have here?"

The Prince had turned towards the others waiting under the marquee as Thomas tried to hide his blush. Thomas led the Prince further into the tent and stopped in front of his Father who was standing beside his seated Mother.

"Your Highness may I present my Father retired Sergeant Cromwell Marking and my Mother."

The Prince looked at Cromwell with a discerning eye and made note of the way the Sergeant was standing which indicated he had a serious injury.

"Sergeant Marking it is indeed a great pleasure to make your acquaintance; it is an honour to meet the man that could raise one such as our dear Don Thomasino; it is easy to see where he got his bravery and strength from. You must be very proud of him and his many endeavours."

"That I am Your Highness. May I ask Sir why you would call him by such a title, it is not one I am familiar with or was aware he held?"

A large smile spread across the Prince's face as he turned to look at Thomas.

"Don Thomasino shame on you; are you to tell me you have not revealed your true self to your own father? Never mind I will do it for you and then we can watch the parade in complete familiarity. Sergeant Marking your fine son is the holder of several titles and achievements that many lesser men would be proud to boast of. That he did not even pass them all on to you; his Father is quite the wonder. Let me explain this young man to you as it would seem he would prefer to keep his true nature to himself. Your Son, Sergeant Marking holds the title of a Cavalier De Espana as well as the title of a Hero of Spain; they are much like the English title of a knight and so we refer to him as Don as the English refer to their knights as Sir. He has land holdings in Spain of five thousand acres but unfortunately they are being brought under threat by the political situation which is developing at the moment but, I can assure you Sergeant Marking, there are plans afoot to make sure his holdings are held in trust for when he can return to his rightful place in our country. Senora Marking I must also congratulate you on your steadfastness in our favourite General's rearing. We say in our family that a man is given courage by his Father but his strength by his Mother, for this we must all thank you. Your son was truly one our most valued saviours in our fight against the French invaders and there is little we will ever be able to do to repay his valour."

Thomas could only stand to the side as the prince revealed many things he would rather have kept to himself; he also noticed that his Mother was both nervous and proud at the same time as she tried to thank to important man standing before her with a friendly smile.

With Thomas being revealed before everyone and trying to hide his blushing face; he turned a directed the Prince to the other guests standing with their mouths agape at the revelations. Thomas tried to push aside his embarrassment as he took the Prince among the visitors and introduced them before he turned back to the open and still empty field which waited for the parade to begin.

Thomas looked around at his gathered Officers and was about to ask for the parade to begin when Carmelo stepped forward with a smile to indicate he would start the proceedings; Thomas just nodded and took a half step back as Carmelo straightened himself up and looked out onto the empty field before yelling out in his loudest voice which almost echoed over the empty space. The hundreds of spectators immediately drew quiet as they heard the loud order echo around the field.

"Captain Perrin will present himself before the Officers for orders."

From somewhere behind the pavilion Tommy Perrin marched out to the front of the marquee; he was dressed in his best formal uniform and much to Thomas's surprise was carrying Thomas's drum on his hip. Tommy Perrin came to a smart halt at attention and saluted the Officers and guests before Carmelo continued.

"Captain Perrin, as the original drummer and one who has stood by our General's side since the start of hostilities we would ask that you beat the cadence for the colours to be paraded."

"Sir."

Tommy Perrin about turned and stood erect as he moved Thomas's original drum to the front and prepared his sticks for the Cadence. Tommy Perrin began with the long drum roll and then swiftly went into the call for the colours. As Tommy beat the cadence Thomas watched the far end of the field as the screen in front of the barn was drawn aside the colour guard appeared with all the flags flying high and Major Carterton at their head.

Directly behind Major Carterton marched both the flags of Portugal and Spain side by side, just behind came the battle flag of Toro's forces and behind that came the English flag, it was not lost on those watching that the English flag had been positioned in the place of a secondary banner. Thomas was surprised that there were two more banners but both were still under their covers and had not been revealed.

The colour guard marched the long distance in perfect step until they were standing before the marquee and came to attention; all four flags were then lowered as a salute before being raised again and Major Carterton held his salute as he reported to Carmelo.

"Sir, the colours of The Regimiento De Toro are all present and correct and await your orders."

Thomas did not miss the change in the Regimental name but kept his silence to see where it was all going as Carmelo gave his next order.

"Major Carterton, the colour guard will move to the right and take stand."

"Sir. The colour guard will move to the right! March."

The colour guard smartly left turned and marched the few steps to the end of the pavilion where they came to a smart halt and stood at attention with the colours softly waving in the gentle breeze that had sprung up. Carmelo continued with his orders; Thomas was now finding out he had little knowledge of what his Officers had set in motion.

"Captain Perrin, you will beat cadence for the Originals to assemble on parade."

"Sir."

Thomas stood and watched as Tommy Perrin began to beat a cadence he had not heard before but almost seemed to be part of a number of other cadences worked together to make a very distinctive beat. From behind the screen Thomas watched all of the original surviving members of the Drum Corps appear in ranks of four, at their head was Sergio who was carrying a large staff while directly behind him was one of the drummers who was playing the marching beat on his single drum; the rest of the Corps held their drums on their hip as they marched in rank towards where the Officers waited.

Tommy Perrin had stopped playing as soon as the single drummer had started and he stood at attention as the ranks came forward until they were all at attention before the pavilion. Tommy Perrin stepped forward until he was standing next to Sergio where he then turned and faced Carmelo.

"Sir, the drums of the Regimiento De Toro are all present and correct and awaiting your orders."

"Captain Perrin, the drums of the Regimiento De Toro will call the army to parade."

Tommy Perrin turned about and gave the order.

"The drums of the Regimiento De Toro will beat the army to Parade."

It did not take Thomas much thought to recognise the start of the De La Guerra and, as the drum roll at the beginning of the tune rang out, Thomas heard what could only be the sound of massed horses and wheels as the guns rode from behind the screen with Major Craven Morgan at their head. The twenty guns and the smaller Rocket Battery bringing up the rear rode it perfect formation as they came forward.

The guns moved at a well paced trot as they made their way along the western side of the parade ground and; as they drew level with the pavilion and all its important Officers and guests, the gunners turned their heads to the right and threw up a one handed salute before turning back to the front as they moved past.

With the drums still playing Major Morgan lifted his arm high and swung it in a circular motion, the guns behind him immediately turned inward and came to a halt with the guns facing outward to the west. The gunners jumped from their seats and saddles all except a single rider at the head of the six horses who would take them away once the guns had been unhitched.

As the guns were set in place the next to appear were the two large companies of Infantry lead by Major Oliver Perrin at the head of the 1 st Company and Major Trent at the head of the 2 nd Company. The men were in three ranks and marched in perfect time to the resounding call of the De La Guerra as they came down the centre of the parade ground.

Once again the men all turned their heads to the right as the Officers saluted those standing in review in the pavilion as they marched past until they were all turned to the right and halted along the eastern side of the parade ground where they formed two long and tight formations and leaving the centre empty for the next force to appear.

As the drums continued the next to appear from behind the screen was the young upright figure of Lieutenant Morgan and Major Jervis while behind them marched Sergeant Fairley as they led the three perfect ranks of all the boys that were now known as "The Auxiliaries" as there was not a man in the army that felt calling the youngest of their men 'scullery lads' and even worse was in the best interest of some of the hardest working and devoted troops they had and there were many among them that had also fought alongside the rest when a fight came their way.

The youngest were all dressed in their full uniforms and carried their arms with pride as they marched past the pavilion and gave the salute by turning their heads towards the Senior Officers; only the young Officers at the front raised their hands to salute. Behind the main force of Auxiliaries came a wagon that had been altered so that there were a number of boards laid across to form seats on which sat those who could no longer march because of amputations and severe injuries. Sitting on the seat alongside the driver was the very erect and proud figure of Lieutenant Flores De Silva. Once past the small force of the Auxiliaries formed up just to the right of the pavilion and only ten paces away from the end of the 2 nd Company of Infantry.

Something had been niggling at Thomas mind ever since the Artillery had appeared but he could not quite put his finger on what it was; it was the appearance of the 1 st Company of Cavalry that it finally came to him; that and a rather strange sight as the Company rode at a slow trot out onto the parade ground, there was no sign of the other two Company's.

The Cavalry troop rode four abreast with Pablo riding alone at about halfway down the column on the right hand side. The troopers had their muskets over their backs and were carrying their sabres in their right hand with the bled resting on the right shoulder. While the column of smartly turned out riders received the same loud cheers from the hundreds of spectators that surrounded the parade ground, it was the sight that everyone saw as Pablo rode erect on his horse.

Sitting on the saddle in front of Pablo with obvious joy spread over his small face was Thomas's little brother. Pablo had his left hand holding the little boy around the middle as the boy held the reins of the horse as though directing it; he was obviously not aware that Pablo controlled the beast with his heels and toes but the little boy's smile said it all; as far as he was concerned he was the leader of the troop of Cavalry and no one was going to tell him different.

At the sight of the little boy riding on the large horse with Pablo, Thomas heard a gasp from behind as his mother now saw what had happened to her other little boy. Cromwell Marking had a smile on his face as he told his wife to stop worrying and hush herself so they could all enjoy the moment. Thomas could not stop the smile on his own face as he saw his little brother seemingly having the time of his life; the men had even found a small French style white Kepi with a blue and black band for him to wear.

As the 1 st Company drew level with the pavilion, Pablo lifted his sabre high and brought the blade down in a slashing movement before raising it out to the side, the rest of the Company came to an immediate halt and Pablo then called the order.

"The 1 st Company of Cavalry of the Regimiento De Toro will turn to the right."

The crowd of spectators and everyone else had grown quiet as the troop turned to the right and facing the pavilion. It was as though every man in the Company had been tied with a string as they raised their sabres so the haft was level with their lips and the bright shining blade was sparkling in the midday sunlight. Again with a slashing movement the blades came down and Pablo called the next order.

"The 1 st Company will turn to the left and advance at the walk. March."

Thomas did not miss his little brother lift his hand in his own salute; as though to make sure he had done it right, the little boy looked over his shoulder at Pablo to get conformation; the returning smile was all the boy needed before taking hold of the reins once again; it was such a tender and touching moment that the spectators gave a mighty cheer that made one or two of the horses give a little jump of surprise before settling back into the walk pace as they rode further down the field.

The 2 nd and 3 rd Company's followed in the same order with each stopping to give the salute just as Pablo and his men had done. It was as Thomas watched the 3 rd Company move off that the little niggle finally got answered. It was the sash the men were wearing and it took Thomas completely by surprise when he realised that every man had changed from the well known and well worn red and gold sash to one of pale blue in the centre with a wide band of black on the top and bottom.

A little further along the parade ground, Pablo and his Company had taken a place at the centre of the parade ground and the 2 nd and 3 rd Company's formed up behind him. Silence had descended over the parade ground as the last rider took his place at the back of the Cavalry lines as Pablo's voice echoed out over the hushed scene.

"The Company's will prepare to dismount."

There was the sudden sound of steel blades being returned to their scabbards in readiness for the next order.

"Company's Dismount."

The three hundred or more riders moved as one single entity as they dismounted and then stepped to the head of their horses to hold the reins close under the horses head; for Pablo there was one extra duty to perform as he turned back and reached up for the smiling little boy to jump into his waiting arms which he then placed the smiling bundle at his side where the little boy reached up and took hold of Pablo's hand; it was a touching scene and the spectators let everyone know they had seen it.

With the army now all in their places, Carmelo waited for the last few notes of the De La Guerra to finish. The sudden silence seemed to draw out for a long time although it was only about ten seconds before Carmelo called out.

"The Regimiento De Toro will salute the colours. Salute."

There was the sudden sound of over seven hundred booted feet coming together as everyone stood at attention and saluted the flags standing beside the pavilion. After a few seconds Carmelo gave the next order.

"The Regimiento will stand at ease."

Again the sounds of boots moving filled the open space before Carmelo turned towards where Thomas stood to give his report.

"Don Thomasino De Toro, the Regimiento De Toro is present and correct and awaits your orders."

This was the part that Thomas had not been looking forward to; it was time for him to take control and set the orders for the dissolution of his brave and dedicated force, the very men and boys who had followed him through such torrid times. Thomas suddenly found his throat constricting and the feeling of tears trying to force their way through his eyes as he looked out onto the expectant faces of men he considered more friends than troops. Thomas straightened his shoulders and forced himself to carry out his duties for the day.

In a voice that was almost ready to betray his feelings, Thomas began his speech to the men. Without thought he spoke in Spanish as had all the others when giving orders; he had forgotten that his parents and the Morgans did not know what he was saying but a saviour had come to his rescue. While Mister Percy translated for the Morgans, Prince Pimentel took the place of translator for Thomas's parents.

"I know that today is, for all of us a sad day in that this is the last parade of our special army. All of you came together to fight a common enemy when there was little left for you or your country and today will see the end of our era. On the morrow there will be a special parade for all of you to receive your dues that have been faithfully kept by Major Jones until the day you had a need and that day has arrived. On the morrow you will also be asked to sign your papers of discharge which have been dated until the 2 nd of January 1814, until this date you will remain on full pay but noted as being on formal leave. I have hope that this will give all of your time to find a new place but I must first tell you that I will be in need of a large number of men with your abilities for the shipping company, especially the men who are gunners. I know that many of you younger ones have been offered homes and families with our second families in Vimeiro; I hope you will take up those offers. Major Jones has informed me that our home valley at Vimeiro is open to those who wish to make a new home there and the mayor of Vimeiro has said they will welcome any who want to make use of it to create a home."

Thomas paused his speech to let his words sink in and for some of the men to think about what they wanted to do in the future before he continued.

"There is little else for me to say except to thank you all for your bravery and dedication to our cause and that not a single one of us must forget those who gave the final sacrifice so that we could all be here today. There remains only for me to ask two of our special guests if they will accompany me in presenting you all with a rightly deserved campaign ribbon and medallion of commemoration for the years of your service and duty. Colonel Cruickshank; Your highness; would you do us the honour of presenting my men with their honours?"

Prince Pimentel replied for both of them.

"The honour Don General will be entirely ours and we will do it willingly."

Before more could be said or done, Estaban came close to Thomas and held out a new sash of pale blue and black trim.

"Patron you will now need this; it is the new colours of the Regimiento De Toro. If you will allow me we all wish that your Madre has the old one as a token of our esteem and so that she will always know that you have friends no matter where you go."

Thomas suddenly found his throat constrict at Estaban's words but, with slow and deliberate movements he untied his old blood stained, worn and frayed red and gold sash and handed it to Estaban before slowly replacing it with the new blue and black. Once complete and Estaban had had time to speak with Matty Marking in his slightly broken English and give her the old sash for her to keep, Estaban returned to stand in front of Thomas and await the next orders.

"Colonel Colosio you will call the men to attention if you please."

"Yes Don General."

Estaban turned about and then took the five steps to be outside the pavilion and raised his voice so that he could be heard the length and breadth of the parade ground.

"THE REGIMIENTO DE TORO WILL COME TO ATTENTION...Ateeeen-shun."

There was a ripple of sound as booted feet came together in unison amid the softer jingle of iron wear on the horses as they shook their heads or swished their tails. With all the men now standing at attention, Estaban called out the next order.

"Captain Thomas Perrin will present himself before the Officers and the colours."

Tommy Perrin about turned smartly from where he had been facing the other drummers, took two steps forward until he was almost face to face with Estaban and then brought his hand up in a perfect salute. Tommy Perrin was to be the first of a long line of presentations but, as he was the only other soldier that had been in the war from the very first battle to the last fight at Thomas's side, all had agreed he should be the first one recognised. It was going to be a long and in some cases, tearful day.

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