Not For Honour Alone, part 22
Captain Langdon knew he was right. His instincts were shouting loud and
clear. Major Harlan was seeking some sort of revenge for his elder
brother's humiliation and disgrace, and Colonel Edrington had unwittingly
become his target. There has to be a way to prove it, Langdon repeated
to himself over and over. There just has to be.
Captain Edrington was not so sure. "Don't do anything
yet." he had
warned. "If we start throwing accusations around it'll be our asses
joining my brother's."
Langdon awoke the morning following his conversation with William
determined to follow his lead wherever it took him. And that meant more
skulking, more spying, and more subterfuge.
It also meant taking Private Treverton into his confidence.
moment that Treverton had chosen to trust the captain with his concerns
the pair had forged an alliance of sorts. It made it possible to cover
twice the ground and gather twice the information. Although he had come
to have great respect for Treverton's intelligence Langdon still felt
uncomfortable at having pulled the young man in with him. But there was
no going back.
He got his opportunity to speak to the private after morning
They were camped just inside the Portuguese border and safe for the time
being, but Major Harlan had insisted on maintaining discipline and
vigilance. Morning muster was called as usual, and the men were expected
to turn out in full kit. They grumbled the entire time, but Harlan
scarcely noticed. Every morning he showed the signs of the previous
evening's indulgence; the bloodshot eyes, the chalky white complexion and
a tendency to sweat even on a cool morning. Langdon knew that the major
was starting to crack; the strain of his game becoming more than he could
Under the pretext of grooming his horse Langdon pulled Treverton
As he explained all that he had discovered the young private listened
"That would explain some things, certain sure." Treverton
said as he ran
a currycomb along the horse's sleek flank. "The major strikes me as the
type to carry a grudge like that, even for years."
"But why? Captain Edrington was right; what if it wasn't
the colonel who
disgraced Captain Richard Harlan?" Langdon shook his head. "Even with
this bit of information it still makes no sense."
"You have to find the missing pieces, sir." Treverton
replied, laying a
hand on the horse's back and meeting Langdon's gaze. "There's something
still left unsaid." He went back to brushing the animal's mane.
"Whatever that is, it'll be the key."
Langdon thought about Treverton's words. It was true; he needed
that one, last, seemingly insignificant piece of information. And there
was only one place he would find it.
He was halfway to Harlan's tent when another fact jolted his
place. He halted so quickly that another officer walked straight into
the back of him. "Sorry." he mumbled distractedly. He searched his mind
in an effort to get hold of that small kernel of information. Finally,
it clicked. He spun around and ran toward the headquarters tent.
"Well, what is it this time Captain?" Wellington
asked when Langdon stood
"Sir. My lord, I need to speak to Private Andrews again.
m'lord. Its important."
"More important than the last time you asked me?"
Langdon nodded. "Yes sir. I think I know now what happened."
concluded, but wouldn't say any more.
Wellington sat for a moment, his long fingers drumming on the
He recognized determination when he saw it, and there was no doubt that
Langdon was determined. He had the bit between his teeth and there was
no stopping him.
"Permission granted." he said. "Do what you
have to do, Langdon. I'm
placing MY trust in you."
Langdon looked up and met the general's blazing blue eyes.
then that Wellington was on their side - that he too believed that Major
Harlan was behind the entire chain of events. His position of command,
however, made it impossible for him to appear to be anything but
Langdon nodded once. "I value your trust, my lord." he said.
Wellington dismissed him with a wave and he ran from the tent,
way to the improvised brig. Armed with the general's permission he was
admitted without question.
Andrews sat on the bunk, head bowed. He didn't look up when
entered; he just sat and stared at his clasped hands.
Langdon coughed quietly, and Andrews shook his head. "Go
I have nothing to say to you."
"You don't have to talk to me, or tell me anything. I
think I know all I
need." And he proceeded to tell Andrews everything he had learned about
Major Harlan in the last couple of days. He noticed a flush spreading
across the young man's cheeks when he got to the part about the young
soldier killed at the hands of Harlan's older brother, but other than
that Andrews did not react at all.
"That young soldier was named Andrews. Private Harold
suddenly changed the subject. "You're from Devonshire, aren't you,
Andrews looked up them, face flushed and eyes blazing. "So
what if I am,
sir?" he asked contemptuously. "What does that have to do with the fairy
story you just told me?"
"It has everything to do with it." Langdon replied,
his voice calm and
even. "Harlan duped you, didn't he? He somehow convinced you that he
could put your older brother's ghost to rest." He held up a hand when
Andrews started to speak. "Don't deny it; it was written all over your
face. Private Harold Andrews was your brother, wasn't he?" Not waiting
for a response Langdon went on. "Harlan convinced you, and you went
along with him, never dreaming that he only wanted revenge for the
disgrace of his own brother, never imagining that he intended to use you
to trap and then destroy Colonel Edrington."
He looked at Andrews. The flush of anger was gone from his
face now and
he sat, hunched over his hands.
"That's pretty much it, I believe. It explains your presence
patrol and your determined silence since then. You didn't want to speak
in your own defense because you thought you had betrayed the colonel."
"I did." Andrews said, so quietly that for a moment
Langdon thought he
had imagined the words. "I did betray him. Everything I have and
everything I am I owe to Colonel Edrington, and I threw it back in his
face. Can you blame me for keeping silent?"
"No, I can't. I understand why you did it, but there's
no need to be
silent anymore! We know enough of the truth now to take this to the
provost marshal. If need be we can take it all the way to the general!
But you have to speak, Andrews. No more silence."
"What good will it do me to speak?" His voice was
colonel's already done exactly what Harlan wanted and expected. If I say
anything now it'll only make matters worse."
"You don't know that! It may do so, yes, but it could
also make things a
great deal better. You have to at least try. If not for your own sake
then for Colonel Edrington's."
Andrews searched Langdon's face and saw the determination there.
Langdon's commitment to the truth, and even the newly-discovered respect
for his colonel. He held out his hand to the officer.
"Agreed. No more silence."
As they shook hands Langdon became aware of increasing noise
tent. Voices were shouting with excitement, and some with anger. He
walked to the tent flap, ducked under and emerged into the bright
sunshine. Andrews' guards had walked off to see what the uproar was
about, so Andrews came outside and stood beside the captain.
"What's going on, sir?" he asked.
"I'm not sure. But..." Langdon's words sputtered
to a stop when he
looked off to the east. He saw the figures of five men on horseback
coming towards the camp and as they got closer he could almost feel the
surprise and shock ripple through the ranks. His own jaw dropped as he
stared in stupefaction.
Colonel Edrington and Captain Sharpe had returned.