Waterloo

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s play “Waterloo” the main character is Corporal Gregory Brewster. He is 96 years old, looked after by a housekeeper. It was rumored that he was not being looked after properly. So his grand-niece Norah is sent by her parents from Essex to look after him. Even McDonald of Royal Artillery and Colonel Midwinter of Scots Guards come to see him.

In the play, Brewster is doddering, thin, with white hair and wrinkled face. He is hard of hearing, worried about the cold weather and impatient for food and rum. Due to his old age, he has become childish and remembers giving a bullpup to his brother. He is surprised when Norah says that she has come by train and can read the Bible. Even in the Bible, he wants to listen about war. He likes to hear about the Israelites and their wars in the Old Testament of the Bible. He gets angry with Norah when she says that everything is peaceful in heaven. He requests the Colonel to give him a military funeral when he dies. He does not appreciate the new developments. He cries like a baby when his pipe breaks and smiles immediately when given a new pipe by McDonald. He loves to see the soldiers marching, the band playing and loves to feel a gun. When someone says that they are proud of him, he remembers the Regent and his words.

Brewster is a war hero who showed his bravery during the battle of Waterloo, between Britain and France. On the 18th of June, four companies of the Third Guards held the important farmhouse of Hougoumont. At a critical point of the fight, there was short of powder. So Brewster was sent to bring the reserve ammunition. He returned with two carts filled with powder. But the French forces had set the fire in the hedge around the farm. One of the carts exploded killing the driver. The other driver was frightened and tried to turn away his cart. Seeing this, Brewster jumped into the seat, threw the driver down and drove the cart through the fire to his friends. Thus the British forces were able to win the battle because of Brewster's heroic act.

Important Questions:

  • Attempt a character sketch of Corporal Brewster.
  • How did Brewster show his bravery on the battlefield?
  • Why does Norah come to visit Corporal Brewster?
  • What part of the Bible does the Corporal find interesting and why?