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    Mark Arbour
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Northern Exposure - 14. Chapter 14

  

August 1800

His Britannic Majesty’s Embassy

Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Granger sat in the dining room, preparing to have breakfast with Lords Whitworth, Daventry, and Cavendish. A servant arrived and put food in front of them. Granger frowned at the plate, since he did not like to eat fish for breakfast, and it was clearly a fish that was on the plate. As soon as the servant left, Whitworth launched into him.

“You met with the Crown Prince before you met with me?” he demanded.

“I was invited to call on His Royal Highness,” Granger said evenly. “I received a communique from you telling me it was advisable that I do so.”

“I expected you to contact me first,” Whitworth blustered. Granger glanced at Cavendish and saw him trying not to grin at Whitworth’s idiocy.

“I had assumed that you would also be at the supper I was asked to attend,” Granger said. “Perhaps you were not charming enough to get invited.”

“Don’t be impertinent,” Whitworth snapped.

“Then do not patronize me, and question my actions, which have not been shown to be in error,” Granger said back just as abruptly.

“Lord Whitworth is worried that you will make a worse hash of things than he already has,” Cavendish said.

“That is offensive!” Whitworth all but shouted.

“You have negotiated a treaty that is clearly in Denmark’s favor, giving them time to firm up their alliance with Russia and receive support from both the Tsar and from Stockholm,” Cavendish responded.

“I have done no such thing,” Whitworth objected. “I have brought peace to this situation by stalling the preparations for war.”

“As it is almost winter, those preparations would have been stalled anyway,” Daventry said.

“The Danes have agreed to suspend convoys until after later negotiations,” Cavendish said.

“And that is quite the coup,” Whitworth said, full of himself over what he considered to be quite the success. “It lets us put off negotiations indefinitely.”

“It does not,” Cavendish said, shaking his head at Whitworth. “As soon as the Russians give Bernstorff sureties that they will back up Denmark, Denmark will demand that negotiations be renewed.”

“That is not what the agreement says, and that is not what they will do,” Whitworth asserted.

“In fact, that is exactly what your agreement says,” Cavendish said. “It is quite clear that Denmark has only to suspend convoys until they are ready to begin negotiations again, and they will be ready to begin those talks when the Russians are firmly in their corner and committed to come to their aid.”

“I thought that the Russians were already committed to aid Denmark?” Granger asked.

“Tsar Paul is a most mercurial leader, and an agreement for a league of armed neutrality and actual negotiations about war and peace may be different in his mind,” Cavendish noted. Whitworth seethed at having his masterpiece, as he saw it, denounced.

“That must be what the Crown Prince was referring to last night, when he told me that Lord Whitworth was short-sighted,” Granger added, just to irritate the old man.

“The Crown Prince is evidently more astute than I had thought,” Cavendish said smugly, while Whitworth sat there, his face almost red with rage.

“In any event, that is your affair, not ours,” Daventry said, to move them beyond this impasse.

“I think it is most relevant to our issues. His Royal Highness told me that he knew I was to take you to St. Petersburg,” Granger said to Daventry.

“How did he find out about that?” Daventry asked, furious now, as he looked at Whitworth.

“I felt it was important for the Danes to understand that we were pursuing multiple channels to resolve this issue, so they would clearly know they may end up isolated,” Whitworth said.

“You told Bernstorff I was going to St. Petersburg?” Daventry demanded, even though Whitworth had just admitted that he had.

“I cannot believe you did that,” Cavendish said, and was annoyed enough to show it. “Short-sighted indeed.”

“Neither can I,” Daventry said. “You betrayed confidential information to the enemy.”

“That is hardly a fair way to characterize things,” Whitworth said. “In any event, with the treaty we have negotiated, your mission to St. Petersburg no longer has any purpose.”

“That is not your decision, as my mission really has nothing to do with you or your efforts,” Daventry asserted strongly, then addressed Granger directly. “We will discuss this later, when there are no spies left to relay our conversation.”

“You are questioning my honor?” Whitworth demanded, outraged.

“I am accusing you of being a dishonest traitor,” Daventry replied. “I made no comment about your honor.” That was clearly a challenge to Whitworth, and they all waited to see if he would respond by calling Daventry out, thus demanding satisfaction. Granger thought it was quite cowardly for Whitworth to let such an insult go unanswered, but as he was not directly involved, he said nothing. A very long period of silence followed, while the four of them focused on eating breakfast.

“How was your meeting with the Crown Prince?” Whitworth asked Granger in a conversational way, but Granger was so furious and disgusted with the old diplomat, he had no desire to converse with him, so instead he didn’t respond to him at all. That only added to the considerable tension in the room.

“I received orders for you to return to London immediately,” Granger said to Cavendish, redirecting the conversation away from Whitworth.

“I had expected that,” Cavendish said.

“I will need you to remain here and assist me as we finalize these negotiations,” Whitworth said in a way that made it seem as if it was an order, and Cavendish was one of his minions. He had already exhausted Daventry’s considerable reservoir of patience, and he was now close to doing the same for both Cavendish and Granger.

“Cavendish received orders to return to London immediately,” Granger said firmly. “Those orders did not allow time to help you attempt to extricate yourself from the disaster you’ve blundered into.”

“Now look here…” Whitworth began to bluster, until Granger cut him off.

“Cavendish went to sea on my orders, and he is being ordered back by a direct command from His Majesty, courtesy of a letter from the Earl of Leicester,” Granger stated. “Your thoughts have absolutely no bearing on this issue, and you are out of line to even voice an opinion.”

“I am wondering if you would help me find a passage back to England,” Cavendish asked Granger. “I suspect that if I remain here, certain forces may plot to ensure I am stuck here.”

“Well, since our mission to St. Petersburg has been foiled, you are welcome to return to London with us,” Granger said. A look at Daventry served to keep him from objecting to this proposed course of action. He wasn’t sure if Daventry was willing to abandon his mission to St. Petersburg, but even if he weren’t, it would do no harm for Whitworth to think they were returning to England.

“I am looking forward to arriving back in the capital, where I will be able to fully explain to the government how my mission was foiled,” Daventry said, glowering at Whitworth.

“Then I see no reason for us to delay our departure,” Granger said, as he stood up. “We will leave in a quarter of an hour.”

“I will have dispatches for you to carry,” Whitworth said.

“You will have a quarter of an hour to prepare them,” Granger said. “If you deliver them to me by the time we leave, I will see that they are taken home. If you are late, you will need to find a different courier.”

“You have made your positions quite clear,” Whitworth said, glowering at the three of them.

Granger stood up and left the room, followed by Cavendish and Daventry. “We will talk when we are safely aboard Valiant.”

“That seems to be wise,” Daventry noted wryly. A quarter of an hour later, the three of them went outside and climbed into the carriage. As Whitworth wasn’t there, Granger ordered the carriage to leave. Whitworth arrived shortly after that, and the carriage stopped after a few feet, and even though it was a short distance, it still forced Whitworth to chase after them with his dispatches.

“I will trust you gentlemen to get these to London as quickly as possible,” he said grumpily.

“We will treat these with the same care you have taken with our mission,” Daventry said snidely. Before they could argue anymore, Granger rapped the front of the coach to urge the coachman forward, and then the three of them were alone.

“I am not sure how this news affects your mission,” Granger said to Daventry. “My meeting with the Crown Prince was most interesting.”

“Indeed?” Daventry asked.

“He informed me that if we sailed through the Sound and into the Baltic, we could expect that any force we run into would be hostile. He assured me that he had received a pledge of support from the Russians, the Swedes, and the Prussians.”

“It sounds as if he was trying his best to dissuade you from going to St. Petersburg,” Cavendish noted.

“He was indeed,” Granger said, and began to ponder the Crown Prince’s words. “Do you think he was trying to intimidate us into not going to St. Petersburg because he is worried we will undermine his efforts to gain Russian support?”

“I heard a rumor that the Crown Prince has only recently sent an urgent message to St. Petersburg for that purpose,” Cavendish said. “I would speculate that the solid backing he asserts he has from those other nations may not be as solid as he thinks it is.”

“You do not think the Russians will back the Danes up?” Granger asked.

“I think they will, but the Crown Prince makes it sound as if there are Russian ships patrolling the Baltic, waiting to apprehend any British ships they can find. I suspect they are not that organized, or committed,” Daventry observed.

“Will you press on with your mission?” Granger asked Daventry.

“I think I should,” he said with a certain amount of skepticism. Granger remembered their conversations, and his conclusion that Daventry was probably going to Russia to see that the Tsar was dissuaded from this League of Armed Neutrality, even if a new Tsar was required to accomplish that goal.

“The Crown Prince also noted something else, something I had not accounted for,” Granger said. The other two men looked at him curiously. “The Baltic sometimes freezes over in the Sound, so it is quite possible that we will be trapped in this sea until March, or at least February.”

“That certainly makes your part of our mission much more hazardous,” Daventry allowed, and seemed unusually apprehensive, presumably because he realized the trap he may be exposing Granger and his ship to.

“I have never thought it would be easy,” Granger said. “It does change things a bit, though, since if we are to be isolated here, we will need to plan provisions for much longer than I had anticipated.”

“Can you store enough aboard Valiant to survive until April?” Daventry asked.

“We can, but we will need to add to those provisions we have aboard. We will be able to get some things from the shore, either by taking them or buying them, but some things will be more difficult to acquire,” Granger noted. “I am most anxious to acquire more fruit, especially limes or lemons, as we will need them to ward off the evils of scurvy.”

“I would suspect those would be especially hard to find in the dead of winter,” Cavendish noted. “If you do this, if you go forward, I would recommend that you approach the Swedes first if you have need of assistance.”

“Why?” Granger asked.

“There is no love lost between the Danes and the Swedes, and the Swedes have, for a long time, had designs on Norway. They will be unreliable allies for the Danes, at best. That, and the Swedish King is known to be all but mad, and he may be inclined to befriend a man like Daventry,” Cavendish teased.

“It is good to know whom one can relate to,” Daventry said with a smile.

“My perception is that both Denmark and Sweden will be largely forced into doing what Russia wants them to do,” Cavendish noted. “Since Denmark is irate over the Freya affair, they are more than happy to follow the Russian lead and form this new League of Armed Neutrality.”

“But the Swedes will really only do so if the Russians compel them to?” Granger asked.

“That is my understanding. Their economy is too dependent on trade with us to be as belligerent as Russia or Denmark may be,” Cavendish responded.

“So the Swedes are more likely to be friendly because they want us to buy their wares, and because they want to seize Norway from the Danes,” Granger said ruefully. “It appears that self-interest is their primary guide.”

“And that is different from other nations in what way?” Daventry asked cynically.

“I suspect that means that any assistance they give us must not be too obvious,” Granger noted, thinking of this tangled web of Baltic politics.

“That would stand to reason,” Cavendish observed.

“What of the Prussians?” Granger asked.

“The government has tried and failed time and time again to get the Prussians to join in a coalition against France, and they have pretended to be interested, teased that they are, only to back off in the end,” Cavendish said, letting his frustration show, which was presumably the same irritation felt by the British government. “I would suggest that whether you have any luck with them is largely going to be dependent on their individual city mayors or governors.”

“That will be a challenge,” Daventry noted. “It will be hard to know which harbor we can even approach.”

“Stralsund is a key town, but it is part of Swedish Pomerania, and so it is Swedish,” Cavendish said. “Memel is the city that is responsible for most of the Baltic trade with Britain. I would suggest they may be the most receptive.”

“That is good to know,” Granger said, logging those tidbits into his brain.

The coach pulled up to the dock and stopped, but when the footman opened the door, Granger pulled it shut so they could finish their conversation. “The decision is yours, Daventry,” Granger said. “Do we go forward as planned, or back to London?”

“You are willing to take me to St. Petersburg?” he asked, which was annoying to Granger in the extreme, since he’d already made that pledge. Going back on it now would smack of cowardice. Granger said nothing; he simply stared at Daventry, waiting for an answer. “We go forward.”

Granger nodded and turned to Cavendish. “Then we must find you transportation back to Admiral Dickson. I would take you myself, but the Admiral and I do not have a good relationship, and I am fairly certain that the dispatches that Lord Whitworth has given you would cause him to delay us, at least.”

“That would seem to make sense,” Cavendish said.

“Daventry, can you ask Jacobs to find us a boat to take us out to Valiant?” Granger asked, which was his way of getting some time to talk to Cavendish alone. “Perhaps he can also inquire if there is a craft that can take Cavendish to the fleet?”

“Certainly,” he said, and then exited the coach.

“I received a letter from Caroline, courtesy of dispatches from Dickson. She pledged that she was ready to assist you, and that she had enlisted Arthur’s support as well,” Granger told Cavendish.

“And she did this prior to the letter you were going to write her?” Cavendish mused.

“She did,” Granger confirmed. “You have a place to go, and a firm base of support to back you up when you return to London.”

“Thank you,” Cavendish said sincerely.

“I would suggest that you may want to accidentally review the dispatches Whitworth has sent,” Granger said, gesturing at the pouch he had given to Cavendish. “Dickson would like nothing better than to create problems for me, and if delaying your return to London would cause either of us difficulties, he will see to that.”

“I am not aware of any dispatches,” Cavendish said with an impish grin. “The only thing I know is that Lord Whitworth wanted Admiral Dickson to get in contact with him.”

“Interestingly enough, that is all I can recall as well,” Granger said with a smirk. “Good luck.”

“I think you will have more need of luck than I do,” he said. “Remember my advice about the Swedes. They are our closest allies in the Baltic.”

“I will do that,” Granger said. He handed Cavendish a purse that contained a substantial number of gold coins and was quite heavy as a result. “You will need additional funds to get back to England.”

“I will make sure to pay you back,” Cavendish pledged.

“You will pay me back in a different way, when we next meet,” Granger said, leering at Cavendish, and making him chuckle. They exited the carriage and found their trunks being loaded into two separate boats.

“My lord, we have found a lugger to take Lord Cavendish to the British fleet, and we have found a pinnace to take us to back to Valiant,” Jacobs said.

“Thank you, Jacobs,” Granger said. “That was well done.”

“I did not have time to write up a report on what has happened here, and how Whitworth has almost foiled my plans, so I must rely on you to communicate that to the government,” Daventry said to Cavendish, even as their baggage was being loaded into the pinnace and the lugger. “I would ask that you speak to Mr. Pitt or your father directly.”

“I will convey your plans to one of them,” Cavendish said ruefully, since his father would not speak to him.

“Thank you, and good luck,” Daventry said to Cavendish, as he made to board the pinnace.

“I think you will need luck more than me,” Cavendish said, the same reply he’d given to Granger’s similar comment. It seemed that chance would play a large role in whether they managed to complete their mission and make it out in one piece. Granger didn’t say anything; he merely followed Daventry into the boat and nodded to the coxswain. As the pinnace bore away from the pier, he saw Cavendish boarding the lugger, and that vessel was soon underway as well.

The pinnace largely retraced the same route Granger had taken yesterday, passing by the Citadel and Trekroner forts, until she approached Valiant. Granger was pleased to see several bumboats about his frigate, since that would mean that they were still able to purchase stores from the Danes. Their boat was hailed, and the correct reply was given, although any of the lookouts on Valiant would have been able to spot their captain in the pinnace, so there was certainly no surprise when the boat responded to their hail, confirming that fact.

Granger hauled himself aboard and was greeted by Weston. “Welcome aboard, my lord.”

“Thank you, Mr. Weston,” Granger said. “I need to see you and Mr. Andrews in my cabin at once.”

“Of course, my lord,” he said. Granger headed to his domain, with Daventry, Winkler and Jacobs in tow. He had just positioned himself at his table when Weston and Andrews came in. Daventry joined them, of course. “Please be seated gentlemen,” Granger said, pouring them a glass.

“Thank you, my lord,” Andrews replied.

“I had a most interesting meeting with the Danish Crown Prince,” Granger said. “He informed me that it is quite possible that we could find ourselves frozen inside the Baltic until March or April.”

“Frozen in, my lord?” Weston asked,

“Yes,” Granger said, forcing himself to respond calmly. “There is a chance that the Sound and the other channel here, the Great Belt, will freeze during the winter. In that case, we will be unable to exit the Baltic, even if we manage to avoid the ice in the other parts of this body of water.”

“Are we still going to Russia, my lord?” Andrews asked skeptically. To his cold, merchant-like mind, such a risk made the voyage largely untenable.

“We are,” Granger stated. “But we must make sure we have adequate supplies in the event we are stranded in this sea.”

“That should not be too difficult, my lord,” Weston said, even as he got a more skeptical look from Andrews. “It would not be unusual for us to prepare for a six-month cruise.”

“I agree, Mr. Weston,” Granger said. “But we did not prepare for such a cruise when we left England, so I am concerned that we acquire those things we may not have planned for, and I am especially concerned that we acquire things that will be difficult to get in the depths of winter.”

“I see your point, my lord,” Weston said.

“The thing that first came to mind was having adequate lime or lemon juice,” Granger said. Scurvy was a very real danger, and one that Granger had managed to avoid during his tenure in the Navy, primarily because he was so careful to have quantities of those two fruits available.

“I actually managed to buy some limes from a bumboat yesterday, my lord,” Andrews noted. “They had offered an especially good price.”

“Do we have enough to last us until April?” Granger asked him.

“We do not, my lord,” Andrews acknowledged.

“Then we must rectify that problem at once,” he ordered. “Anything else you can think of that we may require, we must get now. Keep in mind that we should be able to find a place to get water, wood, and basic items like that.”

“I would suspect that naval stores would be relatively easy to find as well, my lord, since most of them come from the Baltic,” Weston noted.

“I suspect you are correct,” Granger agreed. “How long will it take you to achieve that, Mr. Andrews?”

“I will hope to have that accomplished within the next day or two, provided the bumboats are still cooperative,” he said. “If they are not, we will need to find a different source.”

“Then I will leave you to attempt to buy them out of items we need before the Danish authorities become suspicious and cut off our supply of goods,” Granger said. “And Mr. Andrews, time is of the essence, which means that while you should try to strike a good bargain, cost should not detract us from completing our stores.”

“Of course not, my lord,” Andrews said, even as he cringed at possibly overpaying for items.

“If the Danes prove too expensive, I will gladly make up the difference from my own purse,” Granger said, something Andrews would have assumed, but made him happy to hear nonetheless.

“Thank you, my lord,” he said, and hurried from the cabin to begin bartering with Danish bumboats.

“Mr. Weston, you and I must review our rations and supplies to make sure we have not overlooked something,” Granger stated.

“Aye aye, my lord,” Weston said. And with that, they began to pore over the details of all the items Valiant would need for an extended stay in this frozen expanse known as the Baltic Sea.

 

September, 1800

HMS Valiant, Copenhagen Harbor

 

For the past two days, Valiant had remained anchored near Trekroner fort. On the first day, the local vendors had all but mobbed her, and they had taken that opportunity to gorge themselves full of whatever useful stores they could buy. It was no surprise to Andrews that the price of limes and lemons had begun to rise precipitously as soon as the local merchants realized how in demand those items were, but it couldn’t be helped. They had also bought whatever vegetables they could, and had ended up with a rather large amount of sauerkraut as a result. Granger cringed at the thought of a diet consisting primarily of fish and sauerkraut, but there was little he could do about it at this point.

On the second day, they had hoped to continue to victual their ship, but there had been no bumboats around them, and no craft had approached them at all. The crew had been busy squeezing the lemons and limes into juice, which was more easily stored and preserved in that form, and they had dumped the used peels into the harbor, leaving a strange circle of the discarded parts of the fruits surrounding the ship as if it were some sort of halo.

As dawn broke on the third day, Granger was not surprised to see that once again, there were no boats close to Valiant. “We are not as popular as we were a few days ago,” Daventry commented.

“Indeed we are not,” Granger agreed. “The only explanation for that is that the Danish authorities have banned their merchants or citizens from having any intercourse with us at all.”

“Then what will you do?” Daventry asked.

“We have been able to acquire the bare minimum number of stores we will need for our voyage, so there seems no further purpose to remaining here,” Granger said. “I am just wondering how to leave such that we do not confirm to the Crown Prince that we are, in fact, going to St. Petersburg.”

“I don’t think you’ll be able to do that as long as you sail into the Baltic, and since you can’t take me to St. Petersburg without sailing into the Baltic, there is nothing for it but to go ahead and hope we are faster than any courier he sends,” Daventry said logically.

“Quite so,” Granger said. “Mr. Weston, I’ll have the anchor hove short.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said. The men were called, and the band began to play some ditties to help the men as they labored at Valiant’s capstan, pulling her large cable in until she was moored directly over it.

“Topsails, Mr. Weston,” Granger ordered. Those were released quite quickly, and began to draw conveniently enough just as the anchor was lifted from the bottom of the harbor.

“Anchor’s aweigh, my lord,” Weston informed him.

“Set a course to clear that buoy,” Granger told Weston. “Mr. Schein, I will appreciate your guidance as we take the Hollander Channel.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” they both chimed.

“Sail ho!” called the masthead. Granger turned his eyes away from getting his ship ready for sea and looked across the expanse of water to the Hollander Channel. There, clearly anchored to impede access to the Baltic, was a 64-gun Danish ship of the line, and next to that ship was a 36-gun frigate.

“It seems as if we must pass them, my lord,” Weston noted.

“We will see if they are inclined to let us go by unmolested,” Granger said. “Beat to quarters and clear for action.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Weston said. Treadway’s marines began to pound out “Hearts of Oak” as the men hurried to clear away anything non-essential for combat, while Valiant herself moved slowly across Copenhagen Harbor, heading for the entrance to the Baltic Sea.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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I honestly can't imagine any British diplomat worth his salt; would be as dunderheaded as Whitworth.  He is either in the employee of someone other than the British government or grossly incompetent.  Daventry is right, his actions bordered on treason.

 

Cavendish will get back to England and warn the government; but have to wonder how much of a delay and how many issues Dickson will put in front of him getting there in a timely manner.  The gold that Granger provided should help if he has to head out on his own.

 

Granger and Daventry will be entering the Lion's den with their trip to Russia at this time.  Have to wonder if they will be in and out before the freeze or still be there when the next Czar is crowned early in the new year??? 

 

I can't truly believe that Danes would be full hardy enough to actually fire upon the British ship, in reality, they turned over much of their fleet worth having to the British when the French marched in; of course, it wasn't as simple as all that but...

 

Another excellent chapter, Mark, can't wait for the Russian court; so much intrigue ahead...

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Another chapter of intrigue. A lot to think about in this chapter. You leave all who read your works excited for more,

Keep up the brilliance!!! Your devoted fan!

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Is this a another cliff-hanger with a full naval engagement pending or just a bluff on the part of the Danes?

 

Whitworth is worth at best an half-wit and seems clueless and lacks judgment.

 

I hope Daventry's judgment and assessment of the Russian position is correct....

 

More please!

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100 guns of intimidation aside, I need to know if Daventry will keep Granger warm through that cold Nordic winter.

BTW Mark, good job on the clif....

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In Denmark we do not think the treaty Whitworth got us to sign was an advantage for our country. :angry:  And I bet that treaty is a major reason why Granger will be allowed to sail into the Baltic without having the Danish ships firing at him. ;) 

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It didn't take long for Valiant to be persona non grata in the Copenhagen harbor. At least they'll be able to stave off the dreaded scurvy for a while.  

 

Great chapter from a diplomatic perspective but I'm sad at Cavendish's departure, even though it was inevitable. Looking forward to the next leg of the journey!

 

Thanks,  hon! :hug:

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As always, a brilliant piece of work. I'm loving it. Now what we need is what Mark writes best. A GREAT BATTLE! 

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