Thanks folks, helpful as always.
Ranke, whose nerve did you think I might hit?
Naturally I'll consider what you've written. Some of the streamlining is great, I'll probably use. Sharpe's problem is more the prejudice leveled against him.
I don't think I need to make up anything for the query that isn't in the story. There's enough that's really in the story; hundred of details are vying for control of the query.
Yeah, I didn't like the last line either.
Really, in the last sprint, Sharpe and Escapade are virtually on equal time. I would be hard pressed to say one is the protagonist and the other isn't. I don't think that's a problem, it just is.
I'll edit for a while, and see if I can sharpen the query a bit.