The Leatherjacket Soldier

Post excerpts from your works in progress and give feedback to your fellow writers.
Post Reply
longknife

The Leatherjacket Soldier

Post by longknife » June 7th, 2012, 12:06 pm

After having re-studied the life of Governor Fernando Rivera of California, I posted the four blogs I've reported. Then, it hit me that this extraordinary man deserves a bit more than blog posts. So, I've started what I hope will be a novella, about his life and times. Following are the first 12k words of this work for your review and comments.

longknife

Re: The Leatherjacket Soldier

Post by longknife » June 7th, 2012, 12:06 pm

THE LEATHERJACKET SOLDIER
el Soldado de Cuera
by, Dale Day
(The Life and Time of Don Fernando Javier Rivera y Moncada)
CHAPTER ONE
“Ambrosio, I wish to be a soldier.”
Ambrosio Rivera y Moncada looked up from his ledger at his youngest brother's words.
“I have no other prospects, brother, and Father Amarado says I have the character and skills to become a good soldier.”
“So you discussed it with the padre?” Seeing Fernando nod, Ambrosio pushed his chair back a bit and steepled his fingers under his chin. “You do know being a soldier is a most difficult and dangerous proposition?”
“Yes, brother, I know. But, what am I to do? You have taken over the family holdings. Julio is at the seminary. Juana Barbára is pledged to Jorge, the son of Don Gregorio. And, my other brothers and sisters have their futures already planned.” He did not add that his father's death three years earlier had left the family with several financial hardships and it was only due to Ambrosio's efforts they still lived in their old home.
Ambrosio stared at his youngest brother for a long time. While nearing thirteen, Fernando was well-formed and almost as tall as he. He knew him to be a good student from reports from his Jesuit teacher and was well-aware of the boy's penchant for horse flesh. He spent as much of his time as possible in the stables or riding in the fields. And, as he pointed out, what other future did he have?
Fernando struggled to stand still under his brother's scrutiny, doing everything he could to keep from shifting nervously from one foot to another.
“And, how to you propose to become a soldier?” his brother asked at last.
“I wish to go to the light cavalry garrison north of town and ask the commandant to accept me as a recruit.”
That caused Ambrosio to lift an eyebrow. “A recruit? Do not they have classes to become an officer?”
“Yes, brother, but I do not wish to impose on Captain Ivala's good humor. I am willing to start at the lowest level and work my way up.”
“Do you wish me to pen a letter to the captain, asking him to accept you as a student?”
Fernando's dark visage brightened, his black eyes shining.
Ambrosio removed a piece of parchment from a large leather folder and pulled over his inkwell and goose feather quill. He saw, out of the corner of his eyes, his brother fighting back the urge to fidget while he carefully used a small knife to create a sharp point before dunking the quill in the ink.
He used flowery words learned from his father, a municipal magistrate, to recommend his brother to the commandant, pointing out the boy's skills of horsemanship and other scholastic pursuits. After re-reading it, he handed it to Fernando. “Will this do?”
Fernando quickly read it, stuttered his thanks, and watched as his brother took it back, affixed his signature, blotting it carefully before pouring a blob of red wax and pressing his family signet ring to the seal.
He did ask to see the letter from brother Amarado, pleased to read the father's glowing words about Fernando's attentiveness, quickness, and abilities at reading and writing. “Have you told your mother?”
“I awaited your decision before doing so, brother.”
Ambrosio softly smiled as his brother left the room. He is strong in will and body. He will be a success at whatever he sets his mind to.
Doña Julia Maria Sanchez de Moncada sat in a beam of sunlight coming through the large window in the sitting room. Her deft fingers wove threads in and out of a palette of needlework. Maria, the maid, was laying dinner plates in the next room and Fernando smelled rich aromas coming from the kitchen.
“Fernando. How nice of you to come to see your mother. You are always busy in school or the stables.”
Fernando thought his mother to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Lithe of figure, she had the patrician nose of her landed ancestors in far-away Spain, and light grey eyes. A few strands of white laced through her dark brown hair. The boy did not even consider her thin lips to be anything but beautiful.
She read her son's eyes, startled at what ill news he might be bringing.
Fernando tightly gripped his hands behind his back as he struggled to find the words. At last, he blurted out the news.
A tinge of sadness came to her eyes but Doña Julia managed a faint smile. “Father Amarado told me of your interest. Are you certain that is what you wish to do?”
“Yes, mother. I have given it much thought. My friend, Juanito, has already enlisted.”
Doña Julia also knew that, but did not wish to make a point of it. “What do you need of me, my darling Nandito?”
Fernando flinched at his mother's use of his childhood name. “Nothing, mother. I have heard that the habilitado at the presidio will provide uniforms and my other needs.” To allay her unhappiness, he hastily added, “They do not, as I understand it, provide undergarments. I may need some more of those.”
At her bidding, Fernando came close and bent so his mother could place a kiss upon his cheek. He backed out of the room and made his way through the kitchen into the stables. There, he let out a muted yell of joy and kicked his heels together. He went to his horse, Roland, and put his arms around the animal's neck. “We may be going into the army, my old friend.” He had raised the steed from a foal.
He sat fidgeting through dinner as his mother and brother talked of household things. He knew his mother would retire to her reading room after dinner and his brother would make his way to the cantina facing the plaza. There, he would pass an hour or two enjoying cervesa and talking to other government officials. He often told Fernando that he got more done during the evening sessions than in the offices he occupied as a government official.
Fernando knew that, unlike his father who had possessed an insatiable taste for gambling, Ambrosio would indeed chat with the others while drinking a beer or two.
As soon as possible, Fernando raced to the stables and had Pedro, the stable boy, bridle and saddle his horse. He then raced out of the family compound and headed north of Compostella to a large homestead on the outskirts. His longtime friend and schoolmate sat on the top rail of the corral watching two Indian vaqueros working with two horses just brought in off the range. Both had never been ridden and the vaqueros were teaching them not to fear humans and accept the rope around their heads and muzzles called a hackamore.
“What did your brother say?” Juanito called out as Fernando leapt from the back of his horse. His face brightened when Fernando removed the scroll from inside his shirt, letting his best friend read its content. The two hugged, thrilled that they would start out together as members of the light cavalry of His Most Catholic Majesty, King Carlos the Third of Spain.

macklinvinger
Posts: 11
Joined: December 11th, 2011, 11:18 pm
Contact:

Re: The Leatherjacket Soldier

Post by macklinvinger » June 26th, 2012, 2:51 am

The Leatherjacket Soldier are vary brave and strong .

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests