His Britannic Majesty’s Ship Valiant approached the Danish port confidently, a white flag flying above her Union Flag.That confidence was reinforced by the intelligence they’d gathered from Guebertin, and the resulting suspicion that despite their outrage, the Danes were in no position to spark a conflict with Britain.
“The Danes have not acknowledged our request for a truce, my lord,” Weston said.The Danish flag flew from the fort guarding the harbor in a jaunty way, and there was clearly no white flag above it.If the British were confident, the Danes seemed almost defiant.
“Gentlemen, I am hoping you have packed up your things,” Granger said to his passengers.“Mr. Weston, beat to quarters.We have ample time, so you may do so in an organized way.”Granger’s last sentence was designed to help them avoid the chaos that a frenetic pace in clearing for action would cause, and an effort on Granger’s behalf to save Winkler from some of the resulting confusion.
“Aye aye, my lord,” Weston said, and within seconds, the Marine drummer began pounding out “Hearts of Oak,” and that was followed by the various bangs and thuds as all of Valiant’s internal bulkheads were torn down and all of her furnishings were stored below.Then there were the more obvious efforts, like rigging a net above the deck to prevent spars from falling onto the men below.Their efforts would be visible to prying telescopes from the shore, and there would be no mistaking what it meant.“Ship cleared for action,” Weston reported, slightly over a quarter of an hour later.
“Excellent, Mr. Weston.I’ll have the guns loaded and run out on both the larboard and starboard sides,” Granger said.That was a very unusual way to enter port.
“You are trying to intimidate the Danes?” Whitworth asked him.
“I am,” Granger said.“We will see if it works.” Granger was hoping Whitworth would give him some guidance, but he found the crusty old diplomat to be less than forthcoming.In this case, since he had a strong hand, there was no reason not to play it.
“My lord, the Danes have raised a parley flag,” Weston informed him.All eyes focused on the Danish flagpole, where a white flag now flew above Danish colors.
“It seems that did the trick,” Whitworth said.“I will probably need a boat to take me ashore.”
“Boat pushing off from the pier, my lord,” Weston said.
“Heave to,” Granger ordered.There was no need to anchor in these calm seas, and it would make leaving just that much easier.
“Your predictions appear to be off today,” Cavendish said to Whitworth in a smarmy way.“Presumably you’d do better if we were in Russia.”
“Presumably,” Whitworth said, glaring at Cavendish, while Granger and Daventry hid their smirks. Cavendish didn’t miss a chance to bait Whitworth, and now that the young man had largely restored his confidence and wit, he all but ran circles around the old diplomat.Granger pondered that Whitworth had set the tone of their relationship from the beginning, so now he would have to live with the results.
“I plan to join Lord Whitworth in Copenhagen,” Daventry told Granger.
“I think I will join him as well,” Cavendish said.Whitworth was considerably annoyed that neither one of those men bothered to ask his permission or input, but he wisely said nothing.
“I think it is important for me to deliver my dispatches, along with the news that you gentlemen have arrived in Denmark, to Admiral Dickson,” Granger noted.
“I would recommend that you do that, and then plan to return here as soon as possible,” Daventry said.“I will either be here to meet you so we may continue our voyage, or I will leave instructions for you.”
“Hopefully we will not have to dally here too long,” Granger said.He was mindful of the coming winter, even though there was no sign of that here, where it was warm and muggy.
“We will not,” Daventry said.
“Looks to be a lieutenant in the boat, sir,” Kingsdale said.A simple nod to Weston was all that was required for him to attend to receiving the visitor.The boat was hailed, and then in short order a handsome young lieutenant hoisted himself aboard.
“Welcome,” Granger said, stepping forward and extending his hand, which the young man took in a friendly way.“I am Captain Viscount Granger, commanding His Britannic Majesty’s Ship Valiant.”
Granger had said his words in French, which made the young man smile.He responded in excellent, if accented, English.“It is a pleasure to meet a sailor of such renown, my lord,” he said.“I am Lieutenant van Hjelmeland, of His Danish Majesty’s navy.”
“I have brought some esteemed gentlemen to meet with your government,” Granger said, introducing Whitworth, Daventry, and Cavendish.The introductions took some time, of course, but when they were over, van Hjelmeland generously offered to take the three British aristocrats to Copenhagen.
While they were loading their various trunks into the Danish boat, Granger pulled Cavendish aside.“I am going to miss having you here.”
“The last few days have been magical, just as you had predicted,” Cavendish said. They had managed to heal the wounds that had separated them, but more importantly, Cavendish had seemed to find himself, and regain his confidence.“I think it is probably best for me to accompany Whitworth.”
“I understand,” Granger said, “even if I don’t like it.”
“It was not my first choice either,” Cavendish said.“Thank you so much for helping me.”
“I think it was you who helped yourself,” Granger said.
“And we both know that isn’t true,” Cavendish said.“I suspect that I will remain here with Whitworth and then return with him to England.I hope that you will allow that to satisfy my prison sentence.”
Granger chuckled.“Consider yourself duly released from your jail cell.I have written a lengthy letter to Caroline, which I will send back with our dispatches.You will be welcome at our home when you return.”
“Thank you, George, for giving me options, and a place to land,” Cavendish said sincerely.He noticed that Daventry and Whitworth were getting ready to disembark, so they took their leave of each other and went to join the others.
“Good luck, gentlemen,” Granger said.And then they went over the side, the boat shoved off, and Valiant felt strangely empty, at least as far as Granger was concerned.“Mr. Weston, let’s get underway.Lay in a course due north.We will rendezvous with Admiral Dickson off Kullen.”
“Aye aye, my lord,” Weston said.
“You may return the ship to her normal state as soon as practical,” Granger said.
Off Kullen, Sweden
“Sail ho!” cried the lookout, pulling Granger from his thoughts.They’d been here off the Swedish coast for only three days, and he’d spent most of that time drafting letters and reports.It had also given him time to get into a rhythm of sorts with his ship and his officers now that he wasn’t encumbered with three influential passengers.
“The entrance to the Sound, and he sights a bloody sail,” Meurice grumbled.“A blind man could guess that.”
Granger chuckled, then hailed the tops.“What do you make of it?”
“Several ships, and looks as if some of them are ships of the line, my lord!” the lookout responded.
“I will be aloft, gentlemen,” Granger said.He was fairly certain these would be British ships, but it was prudent to make sure of that fact lest he be pinned by a hostile fleet against an equally hostile coast.He climbed up the mizzenmast to the mizzen top and pulled out his glass, scanning in the direction the lookout gestured.
“I think that lead ship is the Romney, my lord,” he offered.
“I do believe you are correct,” Granger agreed.“If I am not mistaken, that is the Monarch flying an Admiral’s flag.”
“I think you’re right, begging your pardon, my lord,” he agreed.
“Keep me informed,” Granger ordered, then grabbed a backstay and agilely descended to the deck.“It would appear that Admiral Dickson’s fleet has found us.I estimate seven ships of the line and several other vessels.”
“That should get the Danes to pay attention, my lord,” Grenfell opined.
“We will hope that is the case,” Granger said.Hearing Grenfell talk reminded him to look at the closest carronade, and he noted that they were fitted with Grenfell’s newfangled gunsight.“I see you have managed to modify the quarterdeck carronades.”
“Yes, my lord,” Grenfell said with a grin.“We have only to calibrate them.”They’d performed some tests using Grenfell’s new gunsight, using the smashers, and they’d performed very well.The prior sites had caused the guns to be aimed too low, something Granger had noticed when they’d been in combat with the Turks off Oran.The next time they fired the smasher, the aim would be much better.
“We will wait until we’re away from the fleet, lest we have to answer questions about our use of powder and shot while not in combat,” Granger said jovially.The Admiralty refused to allow ships to practice firing the guns, and that meant gun drill was an exercise in loading and running them out, only to unload them and repeat the process.Granger paid to stock in some extra powder for practice, but he wasn’t about to use it while under Dickson’s critical eye.“I will be in my cabin.”
He strode past the marine and into his cabin, which was configured much as it had been, only this time the spaces that Cavendish and Whitworth had occupied would serve as an office for him and Daventry. “I’ve got your uniform laid out here, my lord,” Winkler said.
“Thank you,” Granger said, and hastily put on his dress uniform, determined to cut a good figure, even if Dickson’s wardrobe was deficient.
Llewellyn entered the cabin just as he was finishing tying his cravat.“My lord, Flag has signaled you to report aboard.”
“Acknowledge, and have my gig swung out,” Granger ordered.He finished getting ready, then strode out onto the deck to survey the ships that were approaching.To Granger’s mind, they were a rag-tag lot.They consisted of one 74-gun ship of the line, the Monarch, which flew the Admiral’s flag.In addition, there were three 64-gun ships (Polyphemus, Ardent, and Veteran), two 50-gun ships (Romney and Isis), and the 56-gun Glatton.With the exception of Monarch, they were all outdated, designed to fight in the prior war.
“Gig’s alongside, my lord,” Weston prompted.
“I’ll be aboard the flagship,” Granger said.He took his satchel and descended into his gig; a quick nod to Jacobs was all it took to spirit the gig toward Monarch.Granger studied the ships closely as they passed them.Polyphemus and Veteran were interesting, in that they were 64’s and looked similar to what Valiant had once been, even though she was built to a different design.Ardent and Glatton were the most ungainly, having started their lives as ships designed for service with the Honorable East India Company, then hastily converted from merchantmen into battleships.They were notoriously ungainly and unhandy ships.Granger fancied that they were the two-decked equivalent of the horrible 2nd rates like Glory and Namur.Romney and Isis were similar to Leander, ships that were two big and old to catch a modern frigate, and too small to match forces with a modern ship of the line.Granger decided that if the Danes were intimidated by this group of ships, their defenses must indeed be seriously decayed.
The gig pulled alongside Monarch, and Granger smiled at the worn but sturdy sides of this old veteran.She’d seen plenty of action in the American Wars, and plenty of action in this current conflict.She was some 35 years old, but still seemed solid and powerful, especially compared to her consorts.Granger pulled himself through her entry port and was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by her captain.
“I’m Captain James Mosse, my lord.It is a pleasure to meet you,” he said in a friendly manner.
“The pleasure is mine,” Granger said, and shook his hand.He was an older man, some 55 years old, but gave off the impression of a bulldog, of a captain who was anxious to get into a fight and would not let go until he won.
“The Admiral is waiting for you,” he said, and led Granger back to the Admiral’s cabin.It was decorated in a relatively mundane way, with only a few luxuries.It was utilitarian in a masculine way, with no flourishes or decorations to make it more appealing.The overall impression was that it was the cabin of an old sailor, which was appropriate. Unfortunately, the thing Granger noticed most wasn’t the cabin, but it was the body odor that seemed to emanate from Dickson in a most prodigious way.In a ship at sea, such smells were common and unpleasant, so for Dickson to manage to overcome that basic noxious level of fumes required a special level of stench.
“Welcome, my lord,” Dickson said, although he didn’t sound overly friendly.
“Thank you, sir,” Granger said.“I dropped Lords Whitworth, Daventry, and Cavendish off in Helleboek three days back, and a Danish lieutenant agreed to take them to Copenhagen.”He handed Dickson his report.
“Did Whitworth mention what he wanted of me?” Dickson asked.
“He drafted a letter for you, which is in that packet,” Granger said.“He directed me to meet you here, then to return to Helleboek to seek further instructions.”Dickson glared at Granger for omitting the obligatory ‘sir’ when talking to him, but Granger had noted that Dickson had been equally rude in omitting the ‘my lord’ when talking to him, and he was not about to stomach any nonsense from this old admiral.
“Well then, let us see what he has to say,” Dickson said.“Have a seat, my lord.”
“Thank you, sir,” Granger said, and sat down.He stared ahead, even though his eyes were on Dickson, as the man read his various letters.Granger recognized that he’d opened up his own report, and wasn’t surprised to see Dickson’s eyes narrow considerably.
“You had this French ship, Corneille, clearly in your sights, and could have easily captured her, but you chose not to?” Dickson demanded, outraged.
“I did,” Granger responded.
“We are at war with France, my lord, and have express orders to capture ships from that country,” Dickson said in an almost sarcastic way.
“I am familiar with the Corneille and her captain, sir, and was confident that we would gain more from not capturing that ship than if we did,” Granger said.
“That is the decision you made?You made that decision, despite standing orders to the contrary?” Dickson demanded.
“I did,” Granger confirmed.
“I am most displeased with your lack of zeal as regards our enemies, my lord,” Dickson said.“I will expect you to be more aggressive when you next encounter a foe.”
Granger fumed at this, and was quite aware that Dickson was approaching a dangerous point, a point where he was actually accusing Granger of cowardice.“I have executed my orders as given to me by Lords Spencer and Daventry, sir.I am sorry you do not concur with those two gentlemen.”
The admiral’s eyes bulged, so furious was he.“You have boats all but dangling from the sides of your ship.What madness is that?”He was clearly changing tacks, trying to think of different ways to cause Granger problems.
“Those are boat davits, and they are designed to provide more room on deck,” Granger replied coolly.“They are quite effective.”
“What happens when you are hit with a gale, and all your boats are swept away?” he asked, although it was more of a snarl.
“The boats are quite secure,” Granger said calmly.“I would think that the results speak for themselves.I have been using them for some time, including during my trip around Cape Horn, and have yet to lose one.”
“Are they approved by the dockyard?” he asked in a very smarmy way. He was well aware that the dockyards were dominated by old men, men like him, who were opposed to change at almost any level.
“No, they are not.I have been given special leave by Lord Spencer to experiment with them, with orders to report back on their effectiveness,” Granger replied.
“If you can produce those orders, you can retain them, otherwise, you will remove them at once,” Dickson said.
“Admiral, I have told you that I have orders from Lord Spencer, and if that is not sufficient for you, than you will have to remove me from command of Valiant and remove them yourself,” Granger said firmly.
“Are you challenging me and my authority, Granger?” he demanded, almost shouting. He clearly expected Granger to back down in the face of his outburst.He would be surprised.
“I am, Admiral,” Granger said.“I would have thought our mission and our roles were clearly laid out when we were in London.I will not be bullied and harassed by you.”
“Your actions here, your words, amount to gross insubordination!” Dickson exclaimed.
“Then you are welcome to arrest me and send me back to London,” Granger said confidently.“I am sure that will give me ample time to make sure you have a most excellent reception waiting for you when you eventually return.”
“Now listen here you young…”
Granger interrupted him.“The only reason that Valiant was allowed to function under your nominal control was to provide you with a share of prize money should we capture any ships,” Granger said coldly.“And while I was willing to tolerate that, I am not willing to be browbeaten just to satisfy your greed. I have my orders, Admiral, and I will execute them as given.Any interference from you risks intervention at the highest levels of the government.”
“That does not change the fact that you are still under my orders,” Dickson asserted.
“You are free to interpret things as you choose, Admiral,” Granger said coldly, even as he stood up slowly.“In the meantime, I have orders to return to Helleboek, and to continue my mission into the Baltic.If you have dispatches for me, I would appreciate it if you would give those to me.” Granger just stared at the man boldly, waiting for him to acquiesce.
“You can get your mail and dispatches from Captain Mosse,” Dickson snarled. He had been foolish to pick a fight with Granger, a battle he was destined to lose, and had relied on the time-honored formula of discipline above all else to carry the day.That may have worked with an older, less-intelligent, or less well-connected officer, but it was of no use when dealing with Granger.
“Thank you, Admiral,” Granger said politely.“As soon as I review them, I will sail for Helleboek.” Granger said.He didn’t wait for a response; he simply strode out of the cabin and was fortunate to find Dickson’s flag lieutenant waiting for him.Based on the man’s shocked and awed expression, it was easy to deduce that he must have been eavesdropping on their conversation.
“Your mail has already been put in your gig, my lord,” he said politely. “Here are you dispatches.”
“Thank you,” Granger said in a friendly way.He left Monarch and boarded his gig.“Back to the ship,” he said to Jacobs crisply.“Put your backs into it,” he said more loudly, to the crew of his gig.They obliged him, and got him back to Valiant in remarkably fast time.
“Welcome back, my lord,” Weston said pleasantly.Granger forced himself to mimic Weston’s mood.
“Thank you, Mr. Weston.There is mail in the gig, which you can distribute after we are underway.”
“Aye aye, my lord,” he said promptly.
“Set a course for Hellebæk,” Granger ordered. The other officers were a bit surprised that he didn’t signal the flag requesting permission to proceed, which was a very public snub directed at Dickson, but Granger decided that was preferable to asking for permission, having it denied, and thus being forced to sail anyway.Only after he made sure that Valiant was on the right course and away from the fleet did Granger excuse himself and retire to his cabin to read his letters and dispatches.
The first letter was on Royal stationary, and upon opening it Granger discovered it was from the Lord Steward of the Household, the Earl of Leicester.The Lord Steward was the man responsible for overseeing the Comptroller of the Household, which made him Cavendish’s most immediate boss.It was a simple note telling him that while the King approved of his actions following the duel at Windsor, he was ordered to return Lord Frederick Cavendish to England at his earliest possible convenience.That didn’t overly surprise Granger, as he had fully expected the King to demand that Cavendish be released, but he had been nervous that the King would be angry with him for all but kidnapping Cavendish.Leicester’s letter made Granger guardedly optimistic that the King was not vexed with him.
The next letter was from his father, who more or less corroborated Granger’s conclusion.He said that the King had been furious that a duel would be fought on his own property, and that it had negatively affected his health.Granger took that to mean that the King’s sanity had been worsened by the whole affair, something he felt quite bad about.He opened Caroline’s letter, and found himself smiling at having this link to her.He was so much happier, and so much more balanced, now that he was back on good terms with his formidable wife.
Portland Place, London
You have been gone but a brief time, but I already miss you terribly. The children are all doing well, and asking about you seems to be the one topic most on their minds. Your safe return occupies all of our minds, first and foremost.
Lord Spencer informed me that he was sending you dispatches, and he offered to include my letter, so I am being more candid than I otherwise would be. Mr. Barnett is almost apoplectic over having his son sent to India, and has vowed to others, so I have heard, to extract painful revenge upon you. I would not worry overmuch about that. I have had discussions with friends of the Guild and expressed my extreme displeasure over their attempt to deprive Cavendish of his life. As I mentioned to you, I have painted that as the initial act of aggression, one that risked reviving the open conflict we have fought with that group of merchants who would give themselves such airs. In the end, they decided that they do not see this as a matter that involves them, and in fact, they have refused to intercede on Mr. Barnett’s behalf. It would appear that our informal détente with them still stands. Meanwhile, Mr. Barnett has hired a fast sloop to attempt to intercept the Psyche. Lord Brookstone was in town briefly, and I had occasion to talk to him of this matter. He told me that Psyche is known to be a fast frigate, and that in any event, the winds have been quite foul for a pursuit. They were unable to extract a Royal Order to release Mr. Barnett’s son, so even if the sloop finds them, Brookstone thinks it unlikely that Captain Preston will free him into their custody. It is all quite dramatic, but has had little effect beyond the fact that it has evolved like a good play on Drury Lane. Based on those being currently performed, this affair is much more interesting.
The issue with the King has gone less well, so much that I am almost reluctant to tell you what I have heard. I am confident that you will ultimately see the truth behind the matter, and will not spend excessive time flagellating yourself. Evidently when His Majesty received your letter and learned of the duel, he became quite agitated, so much that he had to be restrained. His outburst became so violent that he lashed out at Her Majesty. Since then, The Queen has become so afraid for her safety she has refused to be alone with him. They were able to calm him, but that is a temporary state, or so I am led to believe. I learned much of this from your father, who stressed that this is most definitely not your fault, something I must emphasize, even though I know you will let the guilt envelop you. His Majesty was not well before this happened, and such a trigger was most likely inevitable. Your father, in concert with Lord Salisbury, believes that all of the King’s problems have, as their root cause, his absolute and total opposition to Catholic Emancipation. There is talk that when the Union goes into effect at the beginning of next year, there is sure to be a considerable battle between the King and Mr. Pitt over the Catholics, and I cannot see, based on how deeply the King feels his duty to the Church, that he will permit any accommodation to the Papists. In that case, we may very well see a change in the government, and I am wont to see how such a change would benefit us.
When you talk to Cavendish, please give him my warmest regards. I am most concerned for him, as I cannot even begin to guess what kind of reception he will get when he next sees the King. His father refuses to even speak of him, so whatever happens, he will have no aid from that quarter. Please let him know that I stand ready to help him through the storm he may return to, and I have had occasion to talk to Arthur about this, and have secured his pledge to support Cavendish as well.
With love from your devoted wife,
Granger read the letter again, and compared it to the sterile communiqués he’d gotten from his father and Leicester.He did not hold that against those two gentlemen, since communicating without a private messenger was fraught with risk, but even their bald statements conveyed enough to corroborate Caroline’s assertions, not that Granger would have questioned them anyway.
A knock on his door presaged the arrival of Midshipman Travers.Granger paused to admire the young man, who was maturing at a remarkably fast rate.“My lord, Mr. Weston’s respects and it is almost sunset,” he said.The nervousness and uncertainty he’d been enveloped with when he’d first come aboard had vanished, replaced by this officer who was growing in confidence daily.
“Thank you, Mr. Travers,” Granger said, even as he stood up.“I think I will go admire this celestial phenomenon you have conjured up.”Travers smiled and followed his captain onto the quarterdeck, where the sun was just starting to dip below the horizon.
“A beautiful sunset tonight, my lord,” Weston said cheerfully.
“It is indeed, Mr. Weston,” Granger said, as he scanned their environs.“What is our position?”
“We believe Helleboek is just below the horizon, my lord,” he said.There was no reason to press on at night, since they could not arrive at that port until morning anyway.
“Heave to,” Granger ordered.
“Aye aye, my lord,” Weston said, and turned to attend to that.
While Valiant turned herself into the wind and hovered, as it were, waiting until morning when she could continue her voyage, her captain began to pace her lengthy quarterdeck.It was at times like these that Granger appreciated her size, and the fact that she had the quarterdeck of a ship of the line and not a frigate.It made pacing that much more satisfying when he could stride for a longer distance.
Granger let his mind wander back to the letter he’d gotten from Caroline, and just as she’d predicted, he let the guilt overwhelm him.He had viewed the King as a sort of father figure, and truly cared about his eccentric monarch.Hosting Their Majesties aboard Valiant and spending time with them at Windsor had made Granger feel that connection even more.He would not admit it, less he be accused of being presumptuous, but he had almost felt as if he were part of the King’s extended family.To then see this man whom he idolized reduced to a state of mental incapacity, and to know that it was his letter which sparked that decline, was truly disturbing.Granger walked on, letting thoughts about this torture him, until he remembered the rest of Caroline’s letter, and used that to pull himself out of the depressed state he’d worked himself into.His letter may have been the trigger that sparked this latest outburst, but as she noted, it was his agonizing over Catholic Emancipation that was at the bottom of the problem.
He smiled broadly when he remembered her last paragraph where she’d pledged to help Cavendish.She’d done that even before she’d gotten his latest letter telling her he’d invited Cavendish to reside at their home in Portland Place, and begging her to help him survive the challenges he’d face when he got back to England.She’d even gone so far as to enlist the help of Arthur Teasdale, and would presumably impose upon their other friends to do the same.Lord Spencer was quite fond of Cavendish, and had all but made him his protégé.Cavendish may not have his father in his corner, but he had a lot of other powerful allies who were there to watch out for him.