“Did you hear about Saint-Marc?” Jean said. He was reading from a stack of letters that had been brought in with the latest supplies, his cuirass and spurs still attached from the day’s fighting in the hostile Spanish countryside.

“Handsome Marc?” said his compatriot, Louis-Luc. “What happened to him?”

“In Austria, he lost his cheek.”

“What?” Louis-Luc said, rocking back in a liberated Spanish chair, his boots pulled clean off a liberated Spanish desk stuffed with plunder and booty destined for the Emperor.

“He was shot, in the cheek,” Jean said. “It was torn away. He’ll live, but…Handsome Marc no more, eh?”

“I initially interpreted ‘lost his cheek’ to mean “became less cheeky,” Louis-Luc said.

“As if that could ever happen, with Marc.”

“Then the mind went straight to butts,” continued Louis-Luc. “I shan’t lie.”

“You went from his personality to his ass in the space of one misunderstood sentence,” Jean said. “That’s quite fast. Even for you.”

“What can I say? It was a roundabout journey with all the twists and turns and cracks of an adventure novel. Only without leaving my chair.”

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