Patrolling on the River Maurier
Lt Rien was watching the wagon train with a puzzled look on his face. Spotted by Dirrigul and Old Billy three days ago, his peleton from the 4th Company had shadowed the train from the Republic side of the great river, which divided the Republic from the Holy Mormoan Kingdom.
The train was obviously heading for Wodongatown and, at first glance, looked like yet more settlers for the Kingdom town that was building opposite Alburburg. But something wasn't quite right. There was the usual escort, this one looking like a company from the 4th Foot, by the red coats and black facings. And there were a few mounted men, probably from the 1st Dragoons, though they were in shirtsleeves in this heat and it was hard to be sure. There were also a few trackers and scouts with them, but all they could tell was that they were from the Gunnigong tribe, which lived around The Lakes to the east. They were far from their usual haunts.
There were also what appeared to be settlers- young men and women. But there were few children to be seen. It just didn't look like a normal settlers' train. It was too well run, too organised and, to be honest, too "military". And most settlers approached up the Broadford road, not from the east.
Lt Gris eased down beside him, opening his usual refrain-
"Geoffery, I still think we should take a few of those settlers and have a quick chat with them."
"You know our orders, Jean-Louis. There was all hell to pay last week, when word came from Katburg about you and your dragoons raiding that sqatter's place two months ago. We've been warned off. The Parliament wants things to stay quiet on our borders, so they can rent more regiments to the warring Europeans. So we watch, we don't raid. And we hope they cross the border so we can do something."
"Merde! Rapp and his ministers didn't see what those Kingdomers did at Beaver Ridge! There is still blood to pay for that!"
"Yes. And if you cross the river again your regiment and mine will be disbanded- and all of us will be 'resettled' in the Kimberlies or Dead Heart. Are you willing to risk that?"
Jean-Lois' stream of profanity in reply was quite impressive. "He's been drinking with those bullock drivers from Begaville again." Geoffery thought.
"Old Billy, can you get Sammy and Wombat over there again, tonight? But this time I want you closer, to try to hear what they say."
His scout scratched his head, not looking happy. "Those Gunnigong fellas they got wid 'em are good, boss. They know we watchin', they know we try to get close. We get too close, we fight. And you say don't fight."
Old Billy was right, of course. But Geoffery needed to know what these people were doing. Katburg's grand plans to rent the regiments were fine, if you were counting money and ignoring the rest of the world. But the Kingdomers were smart. They knew what was going on. And if the army in the Marches was reduced too much, he was sure the Kingdomers would raise their colours and swarm across the border.
"Sir, may I suggest we just watch for the present. If that's just settlers I'll eat my dress wig. But we have our orders, sir."
RSM O'Driscoll was right. He was also annoyingly polite, never forgetting the young officer outranked him. But his suggestions were as good as orders. That's why the Freikorps was saddled with these "attachments" from the 4th Foot. Not because the Regulars needed experience in la petite guerre, because it was blindingly obvious they did not, but to keep the leash tight and the militias on the Republic side of the river.
"Of course, RSM. We will do just that."
Lt Rien pulled back into the trees and gave his orders. They'd keep shadowing the damned convoy and try to learn what it was doing. But he also sent Durrigul and three of the scouts up the river, to cross over and head towards the coast. Perhaps they could find something out by scouting The Lakes. Whatever that convoy was, it was not settlers.