Young Bloods

Young Bloods by Simon Scarrow

Book: Young Bloods by Simon Scarrow Read Free Book Online
Authors: Simon Scarrow
Tags: Historical, Military
swallowed nervously and nodded his head. ‘I understand, Father.’
    ‘Good.’ Carlos patted his shoulder, and turned back to the director. ‘It is settled, then.’
    ‘Very well.’ The director said in a resigned tone. ‘Now, I imagine you have a long journey to make back to your home in Corsica. Please don’t let me detain you a moment longer. I’ll see that your son’ - he made a thin smile at the boy - ‘I’ll see that young Napoleon here is taken care of.’
    Carlos stared at him for a moment, then nodded his head. ‘Then I’ll take my leave of you. With thanks for taking him into Brienne. I’m sure he will prove himself a worthy student.’
    ‘He looks like a determined enough boy. I’m sure he will try to prove himself. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have to complete his enrolment records. If you’ll be so kind as to take him to the quartermaster’s stores at the end of the hall he can be fitted with his uniform. Good day to you, sir.’
    Carlos steered his son towards the door and back into the corridor outside. As the heavy door closed behind them with a faint squeal from the hinges, father and son looked at each other in silence. Carlos still felt the anger surging through his veins, but the injured look in the eyes of his son pricked him with guilt.
    ‘Father, do I have to stay here?’
    ‘Yes. I know it will be difficult. But it is the best chance of a future you will ever get. Have courage, Napoleon.’
    Courage, the boy thought. Yes, courage. That’s all that would protect him now. For the first time he would be cut off from all his family. He would be alone. A Corsican amongst the haughty sons of French aristocrats. Only courage would save him.
    ‘Come now,’ his father smiled. ‘Let’s find the quartermaster. I can’t wait to see you in that fine new uniform!’
‘There!’ Carlos straightened up and took two paces back. ‘You’re quite the young gentleman.’
    Napoleon stiffened his back and smiled at his father. The uniform felt good on him. It made him feel older and wiser, and somehow a little braver. In this coat he was not so different from the other students who were passing in the hall outside the quartermaster’s door now that morning lessons had finished. At least, he would not look so different. But that, Napoleon knew, was where the similarity would end. As soon as he opened his mouth his origins would be painfully apparent. What then?
    His father was still examining him with a pleased expression. ‘It suits you. I’m sure you will be a fine soldier some day. One I can be proud of.’
    Napoleon felt his throat tighten and he could not trust himself to reply immediately, but nodded with a vague mumble that he would do his best.
    ‘I’m sure you will.’ The smile faded from Carlos’s lips. ‘Now, I must go.’
    He stared down at his son, and for a moment saw only the smooth-featured child whose birth seemed only a little while ago. So short a time. Perhaps too short a time, he reflected guiltily, and for an instant he felt the urge to bundle the boy into his arms and bear him back home to his family. Then he tried to dismiss the feeling. He could not shield the boy from this world for ever. It was better that Napoleon became acquainted with its challenges as soon as possible. And what better opportunity than a scholarship in one of the most prestigious colleges in France? Carlos had done everything in his power to secure advancement for his sons. It was all for them, he told himself, and this parting was just one of the many sacrifices he had made. Carlos extended his hand formally.
    ‘I’ll give your love to your mother. Be good and work hard.’
    Napoleon hesitated a moment before he reached out and pressed his hand into the palm of his father’s, feeling the warmth that briefly passed between their connected flesh, before his father loosened his grip.
    Napoleon swallowed. ‘When will I see you again?’
    Carlos frowned. He had not considered this,

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