"Parade! Parade AAAAten-SHUN!" Yawdryl Vaark spun on his heels as the company of ryhflers banged to attention, boots and ryhfle butts crunching on the gravel. He saluted Caerten Bleg smartly.
"B Company, 95th Light Infantry ready for inspection, Sir!"
Bleg smiled. "Excellent. I'm sure even the new ryhflers will be up to standard."
Vaark spun about. "Cump'nee! Prepare for inspection, PREEEE-sen' 'harms!"
Boots crunched again. Hands slapped stocks and weapons were raised to a neat 45 degree angle with bolts pulled back to reveal hopefully clean, oiled breeches.
Vaark walked beside Bleg, casting critical eyes on the soldiers. The ryhflers casting furtive, nervous glances at them as they passed, for much depended upon this inspection. Any fault found could bring the Caerten's wrath down upon all of them. If Bleg were in a bad mood, a bit of dirt could cancel their entire weekend pass.
"Podwyn, how are you today?" Bleg asked the company's newest, youngest, ryhfler as he peered down the barrel of a Bogen. "Just grand, sir. Never 'appier." Bleg examined the open breech. "What's this? Lint from the cleaning flannel caught in your breech!"
Podwyn's snout drooped. "Sorry sir...."
Vaark sighed. Everyone tensed, expecting the worst.
"You'll be sorry when you're being overrun and your Bogen jams, won't you?"
"Yes sir...." Podwyn's snout drooped lower.
"And then poor Yawdryl Vaark here will be killed trying to save you and your dirty ryhfle. Is that what you want, young quar? Hmmmm?"
Podwyn crumpled under Bleg's icy glare. "N-n-no, sir!"
"Right, well, I'm feeling magnanimous today after the Smyrnol complimented me about the company's training this week over a glass of his rather excellent port. Clean it again and show it to Yawdryl Vaark after parade. Then you can join your comrades for leave."
The company visibly relaxed.
The rest of the inspection went quickly after that. Caerten Bleg marched away humming a tune, eager to get on with his weekend plans, which involved a bottle of champagne and some chorus girls. Yawdryl Vaark returned to the front of the formation.
"Cump'nee! Stan' hat EEZ!" He raised his clip board. "Right, stand easy and listen up! Weekend Safety Briefing."
Groans from the ranks.
"The Termite Box is off limits to Other Ranks this weekend." Louder groans. Vaark peered over the top of his clip board. "Shut it! Not like you mob could afford to even look at the menu there!" He cleared his throat and continued. "Right, let's see. Troops are to avoid confrontations with the local populace and to not buy any dodgy drinks being sold from the backs of farm wagons. A Company had three ryhflers go blind last week from drinking poisoned hootch."
"Sounds like my Uncle Smeg's homebrew, that." Guffaws.
Vaark ignored the comedian. "Right. Have fun. Be safe. Remember there's Partisans and Spies about, so don't go off on your own. Be back to barracks ready to get back to work in 48 hours." He dropped his clip board to his side and straightened up. "Cump'nee! Cump'nee AAAten-shun! Cump'nee DISSSS-missed!" Dsicplined crunching and banging was quickly followed by happy chatter as the formation dissolved into a mob of quar eager to stow their weapons, grab their wallets and head into the delights of the town.
Tuck me in my little wooden nest,
and don't forget to wake me in the morning...
The band of comrades eventually pitched up in front of Madam Maeb's Beetle Buffet in a cloud of laughter. If the large brass firefly, with it's abdomen lit up yellow, wasn't already a hint, the prominently posted Certificate from the Medical Officer declaring the establishment Fit for Use, was clear indication that there were more delights inside than just food.
"This looks like a right yin, eh?" Nob said and led the charge through the doors.
"Well chosen china!" Derval looked around approvingly. A small band played lively music in the corner. Some ryhflers from other companies were singing along. Some were dancing with local girls. Beside the bar was a buffet. A sweating cook was just dumping some fried beetles onto a platter. "Might spend the rest of muh leave here!"
A matronly looking female guarded the entrance. "Hello luvs. That'll be a crown cover charge each for the buffet."
They groaned. "Tut now. The buffet is all you can eat. Beer is 2 an' 6 and it's 'alf a crown for 'alf an hour."
"I'm no sure I'd last half an hour! Will she give change?" Nob laughed.
"Half an hour for what?" Podwyn asked. He'd clearly been distracted by the smell of the fried beetles.
"Never you mind, Pod my kit." Dervel chuckled as he dug in a pocket for a crown.
Podwyn finished off his third bowl of fried beetles. "Oh these beetles is champion!" He licked his bowl and snout clean with a long agile tongue that made the girls sitting with Nob and Dervel gasp with wide eyed admiration. "D'ya think there's owt for puddin', like?" he asked. Nob laughed, spitting his beer. Dervel whipsered into one girl's ear and gave her a half a crown. She got up off the sofa, straightening her rather skimpy dress and sashayed over to Podwyn, who was currently thinking if he had 2 and 6 for a beer. "C'mon luv," she said. "I'll be your pudding, and show you something else you can use that tongue for!"
As the slightly confused Podwyn was lead upstairs, he heard Nob shouting "Be brave young Ryhfler! Do the Regiment proud!"
Yawdryl Vaark sat on the porch of the Senior N.C.O. quarters, drinking a beer. His weekend had been a good dinner in town, then a drink and a pipe with Master Yawdryl Tarquin and reading Alkynder's treatise on the use of light infantry in vertical envelopments. He now watched his ryhflers straggle back to barracks, disheveled, debauched, and some still drunk. Some were still singing ribald barracks songs. Podwyn was singing loudly, carried on Derval's and Nob's shoulders, wearing a brassiere on his head where his garrison cap should have been. Vaark laughed into his glass. He'd be filling out a few missing kit reports and deducting lost uniform items from their pay.
But at least he didn't have to retrieve any from the MP lock up.
Appropriately enough, Dan visited me on Remembrance Day to give me a set of Ironclad Miniatures resin trench pieces he had bought many years ago and never got around to doing anything with. He thought that my Quar would like them. A can of dark brown spray paint and a couple of make up brushes from the dollar store later and they painted very quickly. Tremclad Leather Brown spray paint, then dry brushing Cashmere Tan craft acrylic, and Vallejo 70886 Green Grey. Craft acrylic Slate Grey for the wood and Antique Green for the sandbags. Then a brown ink wash over both, and then I went back over the sandbags with another dry brush of Antique Green.
|Note entrance to a dug out|