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    Mark Arbour
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Northern Exposure - 16. Chapter 16





September, 1800

HMS Valiant, Near Bornholm


Granger paced the deck with Daventry, pondering the action they’d had yesterday with the French privateer, and further pondering their next steps. “I slept quite happily last night,” Daventry said.

“Indeed?” Granger asked.

“Whenever my mind shifted to unpleasant thoughts, I had but to imagine Lord Whitworth trying to untangle this latest mess you’ve tossed in his lap to make me smile most broadly,” he said.

Granger chuckled. “While I certainly didn’t conduct myself in that situation in order to purposely vex Whitworth, I must say that has been a positive side effect.”

“How long do you think it will take us to get to St. Petersburg?” Daventry asked.

“As you are no doubt accustomed, for a trip at sea, that is largely dependent on the winds,” Granger explained. “That is even more important here in the Baltic, since there are no tides to impact us.”

“Will we be able to sail at night?” he asked, which was a strange question under normal circumstances, but it made sense in this case. In what was a rarity for Valiant, she had hove to last night.

“I am largely relying on Mr. Schein’s guidance, as these are waters he is familiar with and I have never been here,” Granger said. “Let us consult with him. Mr. Schein!”

Schein had been standing by the binnacle with Meurice. Granger had been apprehensive about their relationship, since having two men who could claim the role of master on a ship was normally a recipe for a series of conflicts, but the two of them got along remarkably well. Granger allowed himself a moment of personal frustration as he noted that those relationships that he thought would be smooth, like with Whitworth and Dickson, turned out to be stormy, but then there was this situation, where a problem he had anticipated had never arose. “My lord?” Schein asked.

“I would be obliged if you and Mr. Meurice would join Lord Daventry and me in the chartroom,” Granger said. Granger’s cabin was set up such that there was an entry in the center of the bulkhead behind the quarterdeck, and that led to a small anteroom where Winkler slept, beyond which were his quarters. On either side of that anteroom were two other rooms, one for Meurice, and the other for Granger’s charts.

“Of course, my lord,” Schein said, and then he and Meurice followed Granger directly aft into his chartroom. With Schein’s big bulk in the room, it was quite crowded.

“Lord Daventry asked me about our trip, and whether we would need to heave to at night, so I thought this was a good opportunity to ascertain our sailing plan,” Granger said, as they stared at the map of the Baltic.

“I would not recommend that we heave to every night, my lord,” Schein said, “but there are some locations where it makes sense, especially when we near islands.”

“Like this one?” Daventry asked, gesturing at Bornholm on the map, the same island they were now skirting. They were traversing it to the south, presumably to stay toward the center of the Baltic where the water was deeper.

“Yes, my lord,” Schein said.

“I am curious, and feel reticent, for not asking you before about your knowledge of the Baltic,” Granger said. “Are there areas where you are more comfortable, and other areas that are more of a mystery?”

“I suspect you’ve been busy, my lord, and I didn’t want to bother you with something like that,” Schein said with a smile. He was quite engaging, a bit of a jolly old man. “I am very comfortable with the coast of Germany and Courland, all the way into Kronstadt. I sailed to Memel and Kronstadt many times, and even stopped in Reval occasionally.”

“Since that is where we are bound, I would submit that is a good thing,” Granger said pleasantly.

“Yes, my lord,” Schein said. “I am also familiar with the islands in the Baltic, but I have no knowledge, really, of the Swedish coast, or of the seas north of St. Petersburg, including the Gulf of Bothnia.”

“Well, our mission is to take Lord Daventry to St. Petersburg, so I am glad to think that means your lack of knowledge of Finland and its surrounding waters will not be a hindrance,” Granger said.

“Those waters will freeze first, so we will indeed have to hope so, my lord,” Schein said. “Will your lordship want to look in at Karlskrona?”

“Why would we need to look into Karlskrona?” Daventry asked.

“Sweden has two naval forces, my lord,” Schein explained. “The deep water navy, meaning the bigger ships, is based at Karlskrona. The archipelago fleet is based in Sveaborg.”

“Archipelago?” Daventry asked, even though Granger was curious about that as well.

“Yes, my lord,” Schein said. “The coasts of Sweden and Finland in the Gulf of Bothnia, I am told, consist of shallow shores with a multitude of small islands; in essence, it is a large archipelago. The Russians and the Swedes both have specialty fleets designed to fight in those conditions.”

“What kind of craft would these fleets consist of?” Granger asked.

“Small craft probably similar to what one would find in the Mediterranean, my lord,” Schein said. Granger briefly cringed at the thought that there would be xebecks here as well, but relaxed when he pondered that the crews that manned them would presumably be much more civilized, and that no fight would be a contest to the death.

“Can you describe these vessels?” Granger asked.

“Certainly, my lord,” Schein said pleasantly. “All of the smaller ships are nothing more than glorified rowboats, usually mounting a 24-pounder in the bow. They all have drafts shallow enough to float in a yard of water. The smallest are the gun longboats, the gun yawls are a little bigger, and the gun sloops a bit bigger again.”

  image.png.a3cb880ff09b699b8109ac2fe5acdd6e.png Swedish Mortar Longboat

“Not much different than our own longboat or launch,” Granger noted.

“No, my lord,” Schein agreed. “The archipelago fleet is considered an extension of the army.”

“So these small craft constitute what we may think of as moving piece of artillery, only instead of being mounted on limbers and carried by horses, they’re mounted on boats and rowed,” Granger said, getting clarity.

“That’s right, my lord,” Schein said. “The gun prams are much larger. They are equipped with three masts and seven pairs of oars placed between the gun ports. They usually have a draft of less than 3 yards, and carry up to 24 12-pounders and 16 3-pounder swivel guns. They can carry crews of 200 men or so.”

“Those sound somewhat analogous to a larger chebeck or perhaps a sloop of war,” Granger mused.

“A good comparison, my lord,” Schein said. “The biggest ships of the archipelago fleet are the archipelago frigates.”

“Frigates?” Granger asked, since these would be much more likely to be a direct threat to Valiant.

“Aye, my lord,” Schein said. “The Swedes have about ten of them, but I don’t know how many the Russians have. They have three masts, two decks and they are also designed to sail with oars. The crew is about the same size as a pram. They’ll be fitted out with around 24 heavy guns, with another 24 swivels for close combat.”

image.png.ac85cb391d219b020710f67312df4902.pngSwedish Turuma, or Archipelago Frigate

“That would be an interesting challenge,” Granger mused, visualizing a large fleet of these strange frigates ranged against him.

“Your lordship would be at a disadvantage because of their shallow draft, but you will find them to be less sturdily built than this ship,” Schein noted.

“I suppose the deep water navy would be a bigger threat to us,” Granger mused.

“You will please pardon me for disagreeing with you, my lord,” Schein said. “While the Swedish ships of the line are at Karlskrona, their ships and crews are not very good. On the other hand, their coastal navy has a very good reputation for efficiency and effectiveness. That is why they are in Finland, where they are positioned to stop the Russians, who are their usual enemy.”

“I did not know that, Mr. Schein,” Granger admitted. “I thank you for sharing what is obviously a wealth of knowledge.”

“I am not sure about that, my lord, but I am happy to tell you what I know,” he said modestly. “It is almost the time of year when the deep water navy would stand down for the winter. In that case, the crews will be let go, and the ships will be put in ordinary, with their ballast removed.”

“You are suggesting that by sailing by Karlskrona, we could peek in and see if those preparations have been made, so we will know how many Swedish battleships are lurking around behind us as we go on to Russia,” Granger said.

“I would think it would be a wise precaution, my lord,” he replied.

“It is on our way, so that makes sense,” Granger agreed. “I will trust you gentlemen to lay in a course for Karlskrona.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Meurice and Schein said, and then left the chartroom to go attend to that.

“I fear I know little of the people and ships in this part of the world,” Granger said to Daventry. “You should have been more selective when you chose someone to transport you.”

“I have no complaints,” Daventry said. “I wanted you and your brains in charge of this part of our mission. We have people like Schein to fill in the gaps in our knowledge.”

“We will hope that is the case,” Granger agreed. “What do you think our reception will be like when we get to Russia?”

“I think we will either be received coldly, or told to leave immediately,” Daventry said.

“So this is a bit like going home for you,” Granger teased, since Daventry was in a notoriously unhappy marriage.

“Yes, but I think even then the Tsar would be happier to see me,” Daventry said.

“You are hoping that the Tsar will allow you to stay, and that he will ultimately learn to appreciate your charm and you will then be able to lure him away from France?” Granger asked in a jocular way.

“And why is that so hard to imagine?” Daventry said, chuckling. “I am hoping that he lets me stay, as that will save me a considerable amount of effort.”

“And what is your plan should he opt to boot us out of Russia?” Granger asked.

“Then instead we will go to Riga,” Daventry said. He pointed at that city on the map.

“It appears I am to get quite the tour of the Baltic,” Granger said ruefully.

A knock at the door was followed by that device opening to reveal Winkler’s face peering in at him. “My lords, dinner is ready.”

“You are the bearer of good tidings,” Daventry said. Granger and Daventry followed Winkler back to his cabin for dinner. “You attribute my selection of you and your vessel as my transport to some grand plan designed to enhance my chances of success.”

“And that is not your reason?” Granger asked as they took their seats.

“It is also possible that I am here solely because of your fabulously talented chef.”

“That would be a much more credible reason than the others you have cited,” Granger joked.

“It seems to me that when we had returned from the Mediterranean, I counseled you to repair your relationship with your wife,” Daventry said.

Granger could not hide his alarm at that topic. “You are suggesting I did not do that?” He thought that he and Caroline had fully worked things out, and he’d been incredibly happy as a result. Fear gripped him lest all that was mere self-delusion.

“I am suggesting no such thing. From what I can tell, it looks as if you achieved that goal, and you both seem marvelously happy,” Daventry noted.

“Thank you,” Granger said, even as he exhaled with relief.

“I raised the issue to tell you that I made an effort to do the same thing with my wife,” Daventry said, confiding in him.

“You are telling me that you are now wholly in love with your wife, and pine for her on a constant basis?” Granger asked with a grin.

“I fear our reconciliation was nothing so advanced as that,” Daventry said as he dabbed his mouth with his napkin. “One must work within the realm of what is possible.”

“And that was not possible?”

“It was not, nor was it desirable,” Daventry said. “We were dining together, much like this, all but snarling at each other, and I simply asked her what would make her happy.”

Granger raised an eyebrow. “And her response did not involve you immediately committing suicide?”

Daventry chuckled. “Surprisingly, it did not. She is from Cumberland, a rigid and dreary place, not unlike our Duke who took that title as his namesake.”

“You do not get along with Prince Ernest Augustus?” Granger asked. He was the fifth son of the King, and a man Granger was completely unable to like.

“I do not,” he said, shaking his head. “He is as rigid and conservative as the Duke of York, but without his intelligence and basic good nature.”

“My understanding is that he likes nothing better than to launch schemes and spread gossip,” Granger said ruefully. He was one of those people who could enter a group of people and almost immediately they would end up fighting and bickering with each other.

“He is most petty,” Daventry agreed. “Do you associate much with the other Princes?”

“I tend to spend most of my time with The Prince of Wales or The Duke of Clarence,” Granger said, trying not to blush when he thought about how he spent his time with the Duke. “The Duke of York is civil but haughty, so I haven’t much to do with him.”

“Unless you can talk about horses or the army, York won’t have much use for you,” Daventry said. “Clarence is a good enough bloke, if not a bit loud and crass.” He was quite right, as the Duke of Clarence could be quite boisterous, and seemed to delight in telling off-color stories in front of ladies.

“I suspect his affinity for me stems from his affinity for the Navy,” Granger said. “And perhaps that is also why he is a bit crass and loud. One must often shout to be heard from the tops.”

“Yet you do not exhibit such a want of manners as His Royal Highness often does in public,” Daventry asserted.

“He is usually on his best behavior around His Majesty, which is where I usually see him,” Granger said, referring at least to his public encounters with the Duke.

“That is true of all the Princes,” Daventry said. “What about Kent and the others?”

“I have never met the Duke of Kent,” Granger said honestly. “He has been in Canada since we were in school.”

“I have not met him yet either,” Daventry said.

“Augustus is a bit of the intellectual, so that makes it difficult for me to converse with him,” Granger joked. “I find him to be amiable enough.”

“It makes sense that since I was better at my studies than you that I would like Augustus better,” Daventry joked.

“If you say so,” Granger said, rolling his eyes. “I have only met Prince Adolphus once. I found him to be every inch a soldier.”

“He is most definitely that,” Daventry agreed. “He is also quite devoted to Hanover.”

“But you have yet to tie our mutual distaste for the Duke of Cumberland into how you restored your relationship with your wife,” Granger pointed out, bringing them back on topic.

“I will satisfy your curiosity this minute,” he replied. “She said that she would like to live in Cumberland, near her family and childhood friends. She has grown tired of London and society, and gets no joy from it.”

“That arrangement sounds like it would be most convenient for you,” Granger noted.

“Indeed, it is, with one exception. His Majesty is most displeased with me for how I have handled my marriage. I can see it in the looks he gives me, and the way he treats me. Her Majesty is much more vocal, but fortunately she has directed her comments to my wife, albeit indirectly for the most part.”

“I cannot imagine Caroline attempting to emulate Her Majesty and giving birth to some 16 children,” Granger said, wondering at what torture that would be.

“I suspect that Her Majesty envisioned that bearing the child and giving birth would be the biggest challenge, yet they have found raising them to be much harder,” Daventry said.

“I have not had the problems they have experienced,” Granger said.

“That is because your children have not reached their twelfth birthday yet, the age I am told at which all hell breaks out,” Daventry said. “In any event, I used the money we acquired in the Mediterranean to buy an estate for my wife in Cumberland, and settled an additional sum on her so she could modify it however she wanted.”

“And that has made her happy?”

“I was able to have dinner with her and actually enjoy our conversation,” Daventry said.

“I would call that a significant breakthrough,” Granger said, grinning. “And she has no issue with your various women?”

“I do not have as many women trailing after me as you would make it seem, a fact which surprises me greatly, but I think we understand each other,” he said, then swallowed nervously. “I had to make one great concession.”

“Only one?” Granger joked, to help him relax.

“She would like to have a child,” he said.

“And who is to father this child?” Granger asked.

“Evidently that is my job,” he said. Granger started laughing, which made Daventry laugh as well.

“This is certainly not a problem we had anticipated when we were at school,” Granger said, making them both remember those crazed adolescent days.

“It is not, and I must admit that as apprehensive as I was, it was not as unpleasant as I thought it would be,” he said. Granger could only stare at him in shock.

“Truly that is a monumental change in your affairs,” Granger said. “When did this miraculous copulation take place?”

“This event happened while you were with the Channel Fleet, and it appears that it may in fact be miraculous,” Daventry said. “She is with child.”

Granger grinned, then filled their glasses and toasted Daventry’s good fortune. “I am most interested to see what this child is like when he or she is 17 years of age,” Granger joked. “We had best accumulate a substantial amount of prize money lest this child runs up debt as you did when you were that age.”

“That is usually a good idea, in any event,” he said. “I wanted to share this with you, but we have not had a moment to really have such a conversation.” Granger recognized that this was a very intimate moment between them, and felt himself get choked up with emotion.

“I am both honored and flattered that you chose to tell me this news,” Granger said sincerely.

“I think I will go on deck and see if we have left that island behind,” Daventry said, to end their somewhat maudlin moment.

“Let us see,” Granger said, and they went to see if Bornholm was behind them.

“My lord, we took the route to the south of Bornholm, and we must now head north to Karlskrona,” Schein told him. That annoyed Granger, since if Schein had suggested going to Karlskrona before they’d sailed south of Bornholm, they could have taken the much more direct northern route, but he opted not to be peevish.

“Please advise me when we are clear of the island, then we’ll go about and head north on the larboard tack,” Granger said.

“Aye aye, my lord,” Schein said.

“Sail ho!” came a cry from the foretop lookout. There were a lot of sails in the Baltic, so this was not unusual.

“What do you make of this sail, Carter?” Granger called through his speaking trumpet.

“Looks to be a fleet, my lord,” he called back. Granger looked at Weston, who raised an eyebrow at that rather odd report.

“It looks as if I’ll be aloft, trying to ascertain just whose fleet is in our vicinity,” Granger said in a pleasant manner. “Mr. Weston, you have the ship.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Weston replied.

Granger took his glass and strode to the foremast and agilely scaled up the shrouds to the foretop. “They’re dead ahead, my lord,” Carter said, as soon as he got to the foretop. Granger got himself positioned, took out his glass, and looked ahead. There, sprawling to the south and east of him, was a disordered mass of merchant ships heading westward.

“How many are there?” Granger asked Carter, even as he began to count himself. These weren’t massive ships like East Indiamen; rather they were the type of craft typical of the Baltic, with broad beams and shallow drafts. Those two characteristics did much to explain their evidently poor sailing qualities as they struggled to sail into a wind off their starboard bows.

“I count 200 my lord, although I may not be right about that,” Carter said nervously.

“If they were a bit more organized, it would be easier,” Granger said, getting a chuckle from Carter. “They appear to be mostly British.”

“That’s what I see too, begging your pardon, my lord,” Carter said.

“Keep an eye on them,” Granger told the lookout, then slid smoothly back to the deck. He strode aft to the quarterdeck. “We appear to have stumbled upon a relatively large fleet of mostly British merchant vessels,” Granger said.

“A fleet?” Daventry asked.

“Some 200 vessels,” Granger said. “I am of a mind to close with them and see if we can acquire information.”

“That seems to be wise,” Daventry agreed. It would delay them, but not that long.

“My lord, I can see them now,” Llewellyn said, as he gazed through his glass.

“I’ll have an ensign raised on the foremast, so they know we’re friendly, or at least they will when they eventually spot us,” Granger said.

“Aye aye, my lord,” Llewellyn said, and dispatched a group to raise a large union flag to the top of the foremast. They continued to close with the merchant fleet, watching the ships get larger from the deck as they did. “My lord, the lead ship is signaling to us!”

“And what does she say?” Granger asked.

“I think it’s enemy in sight, my lord,” Llewellyn said.

Granger grabbed his speaking trumpet. “Carter, is that fleet under attack?”

There was a pause, which Granger appreciated, since it showed Carter was taking time to evaluate the situation. “My lord, it looks like there’s a pair of frigates chasing after the fleet. I think they just captured one of the merchies!”

“What flag do those frigates fly?” Granger demanded of Carter.

“Can’t rightly make it out, my lord,” he replied. “Almost looks like a Scottish flag, but it’s blue where that’s white, and white where that’s blue.”

“Most likely Russian,” Daventry said.

“Mr. Weston, beat to quarters,” Granger ordered. “Let’s get the topgallants on her.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Weston said, trying to hide the skepticism in his voice. Valiant would be pushing her rigging to the limits.

The sails were set, even as the ship engulfed herself in pandemonium by clearing for action. The topgallants were not as big as the course or the topsails, but their addition seemed to propel Valiant on at an exponentially faster speed. Granger could feel the whole ship straining, from her rigging to her guns, which were being readied for action.

This was much like the battle with the French privateer, in that the convoy parted for him as if he were Moses parting the Red Sea, giving him a direct route straight to the two Russian frigates. “The one wearing a broad pennant looks to be a 38, my lord,” Weston said, referring to the number of guns they carried. “I think the other is either a 32, or maybe even a 28.”

“It looks as if they’ve captured about four ships,” Granger noted ruefully, as he saw those four merchantmen sailing east with Russian flags over British colors. The Russian ships seemed to be taken off guard by Valiant’s arrival, which was not overly surprising, since with the tensions in this sea no one would expect a single British frigate to be patrolling about.

“Are they challenging us to battle, my lord?” Weston asked, amazed. The two Russian frigates had recalled their boats, presumably the ones they’d sent off to board merchant ships they captured, and were standing toward Valiant under topsails only, which was what virtually all ships preferred when fighting.

“That appears to be their intent,” Granger said. He would not have expected them to so readily seek action against Valiant’s formidable broadsides.

“What will you do?” Daventry asked.

“Mr. Weston, get us down to topsails,” Granger ordered before answering his fellow peer. “I intend to close with them and exchange broadsides before coming about and finishing them off.”

“Do you think we should try and talk to them first?” Daventry asked.

“No,” Granger said definitively. “Those ships were clearly capturing His Majesty’s vessels, and as such, that makes them hostile. If we had sighted them before they attacked this merchant fleet, I would have given them the benefit of the doubt, but now that they’ve taken that action, the only response must be battle.”

“Thank you for explaining it to me,” Daventry said, which was also his way of giving Granger his approval of the proposed course of action. “Although I must say this will make us less welcome at St. Petersburg.”

“If you demand that we not engage those ships, I will agree to your request,” Granger said to him, a statement that required all of his restraint. To back down in the face of these Russian marauders would be maddening, but Granger had learned that it was paramount to focus on one’s mission.

“I do not think it will matter one way or the other, and it may do some good for the Russians to know that they’ve picked on a stronger adversary than the Swedish navy,” Daventry said.

The lead frigate fired a shot, the sound attracting their attention in a flash. The ball flew across Valiant’s bow, some distance away. “We are still out of range,” Granger noted. They continued to close with the Russian ships, even as their leader fired shot after shot from her bowchaser. “We will hold our fire.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Weston responded.

The Russian blazed away with her bowchaser until finally there was a crash forward, indicating she’d gotten a hit. “They’re altering course, my lord,” Kingsdale said enthusiastically. Valiant had been closing on them, heading southeast, while the Russians had been sailing in a northeast way such that the ships would intercept at a right angle at some point ahead, only now that they’d finally hit Valiant with a ranging shot, both ships altered course so their broadsides would bear on Valiant.

The lead ship loosed her first broadside, the smoke billowing around her as she did. They had fired that first, all-important broadside from much too far away, such that the only damage was a hole in their foretopsail. “Sounds like 12-pounders, my lord,” the gunner said thoughtfully.

“Indeed they do,” Granger agreed. “Mr. Grenfell, see that the guns are run in and that the ports are firmly closed.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said, and gave those orders.

“I don’t understand,” Daventry said, but it was more of a question, since it looked as if Valiant were all but declining battle by running her guns in.

“As we close, their 12-pound shot will most likely fail to penetrate through Valiant’s thick timbers,” Granger told him. “If we leave our ports open, there is nothing to stop those shots which may find the opening and otherwise wreak havoc.”

And so Valiant and the larger Russian frigate continued to close the range, with the Russian firing slowly but steadily, and Valiant holding her fire. Oddly enough, the smaller frigate merely followed the larger frigate, and did not attempt to add her broadsides to those of her cohort. Valiant had taken quite a pounding, as 12-pound shot slammed into her sides, but so far the damage had been minor. A lucky Russian shot swept across the quarterdeck, hitting a marine in the leg, a leg that was now nothing more than a mangled mass. “Get that man below to the surgeon,” Weston ordered.

              “It’s almost time,” Granger said to Weston, more to steady the men than to steady the officers.  Granger studied the Russian’s quarterdeck and saw her officers, wearing uniforms that were a dark greenish gray, and were surprisingly bereft of gold lace, but were unsurprisingly cut in an old-fashioned style.  Most importantly, Granger noticed that the Russian frigate had no carronades, only long guns.  image.thumb.png.92adeb17c7b05fc00a4b40768c3a5138.pngRussian Naval Uniforms

“My lord, it looks like that second frigate is preparing to try to rake us,” Meurice said. Granger watched as she turned to the larboard, preparing to sail past Valiant’s stern as she engaged the larger Russian ship.

“Mr. Grenfell, run out the starboard battery,” Granger ordered. He’d been saving his first broadside for the Russian flagship, but the small frigate had given him a golden opportunity. Grenfell acknowledged his order, but his words were followed by the more tangible sound of the dull rumble of Valiant’s artillery being hauled into position. “Helm, two points to starboard. Easy now.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” the quartermaster said, and Valiant began to turn slowly, until her broadside was aimed right at the bow of the smaller frigate.

“Fire!” Granger ordered. Valiant’s broadside roared and smoke enveloped them briefly until the breeze blew it away. That first broadside, prepared with care and double-shotted, had smashed into the small frigate’s unprotected bow. The smoke cleared in time for them to see her foremast swaying about before collapsing. It must have been severed below her deck. She would cause them no further problems. “Helm, larboard two points. Bring us alongside that other Russian.”

The other Russian fired, and from the shouts and screams below, Granger knew that some of her shots must have made contact. “Ready, my lord,” Grenfell said.

“Fire!” Granger ordered, and this time Valiant’s mass of metal slammed into the lead Russian ship. “Fire as your guns bear!” Granger ordered, giving the gunners the ability to fire as soon as their guns were reloaded.

A ball hit the rail next to them, sending splinters spraying across the deck, splinters which miraculously missed all of them. “My lord, I am wondering at her construction,” Meurice said, gesturing at the Russian ship.

“What are you thinking?” Granger asked.

“Notice how our shots seem to penetrate her sides much more easily than we would expect,” he said.

“You think she is made of fir?” Granger asked, even as he contemplated the damage the Russian was taking. Fir was a relatively broad term used to describe ships that were made of softer wood as opposed to the oak that the Royal Navy preferred.

“I think it is likely, my lord,” Meurice said. They were having this calm conversation even as guns blazed around them, and enemy shots flew over their heads.

“There goes her main mast!” one of the men shouted. They watched as it collapsed, hampering the rest of her rigging, and acting as a massive sea anchor. She began to turn away from Valiant as she came into the wind.

“Mr. Weston, luff the main topsail,” Granger ordered. “Mr. Grenfell, you will shortly have a chance to rake the Russian. Double shot your guns and await my order.” He didn’t hear them acknowledge his order, he merely watched as the Russian’s ornamental stern came into view, the strange Cyrillic letters announcing her name to those who could read that alphabet. “Fire!”

Valiant’s broadside blasted out again, pouring almost a thousand pounds of metal into the stern of the Russian frigate, all but blowing out her quarter windows and gallery, and bringing down her mizzen as well. Granger detected activity at her taffrail. “Hold your fire,” he ordered.

It took no more than two minutes for the Russians to hang a white flag from the aft part of her hull, indicating that she’d surrendered. “Mr. Grenfell, take a boarding party to take possession of that ship,” Granger ordered. He gave orders to turn Valiant about to deal with the smaller frigate, which was wallowing about, trying desperately to repair her damage, but when she saw Valiant bearing down on her, she surrendered as well.




Copyright © 2017 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Loved the latest chapter of Northern Exposure, just truly wonderfully done from start to finish.  Granger has drawn first blood; and I would think that although his actions will agitate the current Czar, it may help the one in the wings.  The battle was truly thrilling; and I loved that Granger was able to have a ordinary basic conversation during the height of it; shows just how truly in command of all he truly is. 


The dinner conversation with Daventry was spot on and a true delight.  They each have their favorite of the Royal Dukes for different reasons of course, but they seem to understand them all to some extent. 


Can't wait for the next update, more please, as you can.  Truly a splendid addition to the Bridgemont series...

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Mark thanks for another part of this story.

I love the historical setting of this book and of the whole series.

When reading the Bridgemont series I often search for items/places that you write about and read and learn some more about those and this chapter was no exception.


And the way you write often brings a happy smile on my face. :2thumbs:

Thanks ND

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Always love reading new chapters of George’s exploits and want more!  


Thank you Mark & Team!  🤗

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Today, an announcement of impending fatherhood is a statement that may stand with little or no preamble.  We readers would have been accepting and perfectly comfortable with Daventry making such a statement. The language and tactful approach Daventry used to reveal the impending arrival of an heir is a classic example of Mark's respect for not just "historical accuracy" but his desire to give his readers a sense of the "rules of decorum" that were in observance among the nobility and gentry of that period.  


Thank you Mark for painting a more detailed portrait of Granger and his peeps.


To paraphrase Ensign Pulver, "Now, what's this I hear about no sex between consenting adults on this ship?.


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Another masterpiece in the tales of Lord Granger. I have been off the internet for the last week and a half doing

a pilgrimage from the west coast to southern east coast. I am happy that I did not miss out on this well written

chapter of this most wonderful tale. Thank you for this gift you share with us. Your devoted fan.

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On 5/31/2018 at 10:27 AM, philliph said:

Please forget the M/M sex and concentrate on the historical/fiction.


:blink:  :o  :no:  Please don't listen, Mark. I thoroughly enjoy Granger's exploits with handsome charming men. :P  

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