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    Mark Arbour
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Northern Exposure - 25. Chapter 25

Another week, another chapter. Feels so good to be back on track!

 

December, 1800

HMS Valiant

Arensburg, Courland

 

Valiant’s anchor splashed into Arensburg harbor, while two of the Prussian supply ships followed suit. The third proceeded toward the pier, where she would be offloaded directly. Granger was so busy dealing with details of their arrival that he didn’t notice Major Treadway coming aboard until the man appeared in front of him. “Welcome back, my lord.”

“It is good to see you,” Granger said, and took his hands in a friendly way. “As you can see, we have been busy.”

“Indeed you have, my lord,” Treadway said. “You have only been gone for a fortnight, but we have also been busy.”

Granger looked around the port, a bit confused, since it appeared much as he’d left it. “And what have you been up to?”

“While you were gone, the local intendant showed up,” Treadway said. “Despite our Union Flag flying over the fortress, he opted to visit Arensburg.”

“And did you capture him?” Granger asked.

“We did, and he has been none too happy about it, my lord,” Treadway said with a smile. “He is most anxious to meet with your lordship and demand his release.”

“All in good time,” Granger said. This man’s capture was most likely a stroke of luck for von Beckendorf, so he was anxious to hear his take on things.

“The ships are on schedule to sail in four days, my lord,” Treadway augmented.

“That is good work,” Granger said. He had thought the schedule Weston had worked out with the released captains had been ambitious, and he was generally disposed to think of merchants as being somewhat dilatory, so he was pleasantly surprised to hear they could be on their way as planned.

“There was also a courier from St. Petersburg, my lord,” Treadway said nervously. “I will leave it to von Beckendorf to fill you in on the details, but the Tsar is quite furious with you.”

“I rather expected that,” Granger said, even though he was a little concerned at having one of the world’s most powerful autocrats angry with him. “I will go ashore directly. Mr. Weston, you have the ship.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Weston said. Granger followed Treadway into the boat for the brief ride to the dock.

“I am surprised you captured three ships, my lord,” Treadway said. “I thought your plan was to get two?”

“I was worried lest the Prussians give us small ships and neglect to fully load them, so the third vessel was to make up for their assumed shortcomings,” Granger said with a smile.

“And was that approach warranted, my lord?” Treadway asked.

“It was indeed,” Granger said, making them both laugh. “So now I have enough stores to keep our friends here from starvation, and I have some additional stores to take with us.”

“I thought Valiant was well-provisioned?” Treadway asked, wondering why Granger felt the need to accumulate more stores.

“She is, but she can always use some additional items. In any event, my primary purpose is that as we are to call at Visby next, and as we are to use that as our base for as long as we are here in the Baltic, I thought it would be a nice gesture to bring them some foodstuffs,” Granger said.

“I suspect that will make us very popular indeed, my lord,” Treadway said, smiling at his captain who had planned this out so well. “I suspect having the additional stores come to Valiant free of charge has also made Mr. Andrews much happier.”

“Inasmuch as it is possible for Mr. Andrews to be happy, he is happy,” Granger joked. They were both still laughing about their rigid purser when they arrived at the dock. Granger’s smile got even brighter when he saw von Beckendorf waiting to great him.

“Welcome back to Arensburg,” he said, as he greeted Granger.

“I have been looking forward to our return, and to the warm sauna,” Granger said. “It is frightfully cold here.”

“One gets used to it,” von Beckendorf said, “but I am happy to indulge you in a visit to the sauna.” They both knew that was but a cover for a sexual extravaganza. It was all Granger could do to not push his horse into a full canter to get there faster.

“Excellent,” Granger said. He and von Beckendorf walked their horses through the fort and waved to the marines, the Russian soldiers, and the civilians along the way. Granger thought it was a bit ironic that he got a warmer welcome here, in what was nominally an enemy country, than he did in many friendly countries.

“I see you have returned with a boat of supplies to stock up our granaries,” von Beckendorf said. “I do not know how I will repay you.”

“I do, as soon as we get off these damned horses,” Granger growled, making them both chuckle. They arrived at the town hall and made some perfunctory greetings, then escaped up to von Beckendorf’s room for a quick but satisfying coupling. They then went down to the sauna and had sex again, taking their time and enjoying each other more fully. Granger lay on the bench afterwards smiling at how their lovemaking continued to improve.

“I found I was staring at the sea, longing for your return,” von Beckendorf said. Granger was surprised to see the emotion in his eyes, and to hear it in his words. He had assumed that he was merely a fun playmate for the randy German, but it seemed that perhaps von Beckendorf’s feelings were a bit more advanced than that.

“While at the same time I was driving my ship forward with the same goal,” Granger said, and leaned over to kiss von Beckendorf. They spent time in the sauna and had sex again, only this time Granger could feel that von Beckendorf was putting more of himself into it. Their coupling was fast transitioning from simply having sex to making love.

They took a nice bath, then dressed and returned to the town hall, where von Beckendorf led Granger into a library of sorts. “I am assuming that Major Treadway told you of the arrival of Baron Sluitsky?”

“He is the intendant?” Granger asked.

“He is,” von Beckendorf confirmed. “He is not the most agreeable of fellows, and being confined in the fort is not improving his mood. I have visited him daily and ensured he has good food to eat, but that has not mollified him much.”

“He is a prisoner,” Granger observed. “Why would you worry about what he thinks?”

“Because when you leave, and he is released, he will be once again a dangerous and angry man, and he will no doubt have heard how friendly our relations have been and will transmit that back to the Tsar,” von Beckendorf said with dread.

“Then I will take him with me,” Granger said simply.

“To England?” von Beckendorf asked, amazed.

“Most likely, or I can drop him off along the way. Perhaps the Swedes would accommodate him,” Granger said with a wry smile.

“I think he would find the Danes more unpleasant,” von Beckendorf said. “Or perhaps the Prussians.”

“Well I have pledged not to enter Prussian waters for six months, so they are unfortunately not an option,” Granger noted. “Unless I sent him back with the supply ships.”

“He is known to the Prussians, and they detest him, so there is an option,” von Beckendorf said, chuckling as he did. “There is other news.”

“I heard you had a communique from St. Petersburg,” Granger prompted.

“The Tsar is furious about the battle you fought against his ships outside Kronstadt,” von Beckendorf said. “It was much talked about at Court, and that made it a public embarrassment.”

“I would think it would be difficult to hide the loss or damage to three capital ships outside one’s own capital,” Granger mused.

“To be publicly humiliated in what is in essence his front yard is deeply wounding to his prestige, and very dangerous for him, especially as many have already questioned his sanity,” von Beckendorf said.

“Will this affect the efforts to remove him from the throne?” Granger asked. Von Beckendorf blanched at that question, since he had not verbally admitted that there was such a plot nor that he was part of it, and asking him made it seem as if he were part of a conspiracy. If he were known to be part of a plot, especially as a member of the Household Guard, he would be put to death.

“Such plots that may be in play would certainly be enhanced by the results of the battle,” von Beckendorf opined in a cagy way. “That is why he is so angry at you.”

“I expected that he would be angry, but I did not expect him to see that battle as a threat to his entire regime,” Granger said. “I didn’t have many choices other than to fight.”

“You must understand the man you are dealing with when you tangle with the Tsar,” von Beckendorf said. “He is both insecure and unstable. When you threaten his security, and simultaneously enrage him, that triggers his instability. At that point, he can become irrational.”

“What are you saying?” Granger asked.

“I am saying that he has issued orders that you and Lord Daventry are to be arrested and brought to St. Petersburg,” von Beckendorf said. “He has accused you of crimes against the state.”

“Those are odd terms to use against someone who is fighting in a war against him,” Granger noted.

“He does not see it that way,” von Beckendorf continued. “In his mind, everyone should be loyal to him and obey his will, no matter who their nominal master is.” That was arrogance to the point of claiming god-like status; Granger pondered if that was unique to this Tsar, or merely a relic of the way kings and emperors viewed themselves in medieval times, under the doctrine of divine right.

“I am wondering if he is even more insane than the Swedish king,” Granger mused.

“I am unsure at this point, but neither is fully sane,” von Beckendorf said sadly. “You should be aware, though, that I have never heard of His Imperial Majesty forgetting or forgiving a perceived slight unless the person committing such a sin prostrated themselves before him, and even then, it is a dicey affair.”

“You are suggesting I should do that?” Granger asked.

“That is not what I am saying,” von Beckendorf said angrily, exposing his frustration, then calmed himself. “What I am saying is that he will not forgot this, and he will continue to hate you, and he will attempt to harm you even after you have gone. He is quite adept at carrying a grudge.”

“I am unclear as to how he could harm me when I am back in England,” Granger said.

“He could not have agents attack your reputation? He could not put pressure on your government to sanction you?” He saw Granger begin to argue, but stopped him. “I am not suggesting that is possible, I am merely asking if it is.”

Granger paused to think about that, and von Beckendorf kindly said nothing, giving him time to process the implications of his questions. If improving relations with Russia were possible, and the price for doing that was the sidelining or disgracing of him and Daventry, could he trust his own government to back him up? When he had last heard, a change in the government was more than likely, so he had no idea who was actually in charge now. Not only that, but the Guild was supposedly neutral toward him, and they should be better disposed toward him after his actions to save their merchants here in the Baltic, but would they be able to resist the lure of bringing him and his family down? Granger decided that a well-placed bribe would be more than enough to motivate them to rally against him. In the snake pit that was any Royal Court, there were plenty of people who would relish a chance to take his family down a notch. Granger was aware that there was a considerable amount of jealousy over his father’s double-promotion to his dukedom, over Bertie’s success in the Indies, and of his own successes, especially as regards prize money. Most of those people thought that the rewards he and his family earned were achieved not through skill but through luck, at being given the right appointments at the right time. In their minds, those successes could just as easily have been theirs. They would be happy to sharpen their knives in the hope of carving away some of his honor and wealth. His father and Caroline could find themselves in a furious fight just to maintain their position in society. In a rare moment of weakness, Granger allowed himself to sigh out loud. In the past, he would have relied on the King to defend him, but based on the last reports he’d gotten, His Majesty was probably only slightly less mad than Tsar Paul. And as Cavendish’s dealings with the Prince of Wales had illustrated, he was not a person it was wise to rely on. He pulled himself from this introspective daze and responded to von Beckendorf: “I am not sure if it is or not.”

“I do not mean to alarm you, but as we are friends, perhaps more than that, I wanted to make sure you knew what the situation was,” von Beckendorf said.

“We are at least friends,” Granger said, smiling, then frowned and thought about Daventry, who was more like a brother to him than either Freddy or Bertie. “How will this impact Daventry?”

“I have word that he was able to reach Riga safely, and I suspect that he will transit to St. Petersburg with Count von der Pahlen soon, if they have not already left.”

“I thought you were going with him?” Granger asked, referring to the Count.

“I explained the situation here to him, and he granted permission for me to remain in Arensburg until I had rectified the shortage of our grain stores,” von Beckendorf said. “I will probably head to the capital after the first of January. It is more pleasant to be here for Christmas, and it is cheaper as well.” Von Beckendorf had mentioned money indirectly before, and Granger began to wonder just how dire his financial straits were, but those musings were pushed aside by worries about his friend.

“Will Daventry be safe?” Granger asked.

“As long as he is not caught, he will be safe,” von Beckendorf said. He then sighed with frustration. “The only way he can probably be safe in St. Petersburg is if the Tsar does not hate the two of you.”

“And the only way for that to happen is for me to beg His Imperial Majesty’s forgiveness for doing the tasks my own sovereign directed me to complete,” Granger noted dourly.

“I am not sure that is the only way, but it is the only way I know of,” von Beckendorf said. “I sent a letter to the Count asking his advice, so hopefully his response will arrive before you depart.”

“Hopefully,” Granger said. His excellent mood at arriving in Arensburg and being reunited with von Beckendorf had now been totally soured by this latest discussion. “I suppose I should go meet with your cantankerous Baron.”

“You would have more fun if you stayed here,” he said.

“Would you care to join me aboard Valiant for dinner?” Granger asked.

“I would,” von Beckendorf replied. Granger went back out into the frigid temperatures and was annoyed to see that it had started snowing. He shielded his eyes from the blowing white powder as he guided his horse down to the fortress. He dismounted and walked toward the headquarters that Treadway had set up, pausing after he entered to have a marine send a message to Winkler to prepare dinner for him and von Beckendorf.

“My lord!” Treadway exclaimed as Granger walked into the room.

“I have come to interview this Baron you captured, then I am returning to the ship,” Granger announced.

“I will have him retrieved immediately, my lord,” Treadway said. Granger poured himself a glass of wine, and another for the Baron and Treadway, then strolled over to the windows to look out at the scene below him. The white snow had blanketed the fort, making the marines who were out there stand out quite boldly with their red coats. Beyond the fort the town looked quite pretty, with the snow covering the road and hanging from the roofs. Granger turned when he heard footsteps clattering into the room. “My lord, this is Baron Sluitsky, Intendant of Courland. Baron, may I present Viscount Granger, Constable of Windsor Castle, Knight of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath, Collar of the Order of Charles III, and Captain of His Britannic Majesty’s Ship Valiant,” Treadway said, rattling off a sample of Granger’s titles and honors. He had interestingly enough omitted the knighthood given him by the Sultan. It was lucky that Treadway spoke French, and even more lucky that everyone of consequence in the Russian Empire also seemed to favor that language.

Granger studied this Russian official, who was probably in his late 30’s, of medium height, and dressed in an old-fashioned style with his thinning hair pulled back and tied into a tail. Granger fancied this man would have looked quite fashionable during the American War, or at least at the beginning of it. “Won’t you join me for a drink, Baron,” Granger said, and handed the man his glass. He handed Treadway a glass as well.

“Thank you, my lord,” he said, smiling slyly. Granger directed him to have a seat, and joined them around a small conference table. “How unfortunate for you that you chose to visit Arensburg after it had fallen into our hands.”

“I saw the British flag flying, but there was no ship here, so I could not believe it was so!” he said, as if that were sound reasoning.

“The garrison here was overpowered by Valiant, I’m afraid,” Granger said, feigning disinterest. “Unfortunately, that now makes you our prisoner.”

“But our countries are not at war, my lord,” Sluitsky said.

“Sir, I have fought three battles, all started by forces directed by His Imperial Majesty the Tsar,” Granger said firmly. “If we are not at war, I am not sure what your definition of war is.”

“But surely you will release me on parole, as is the practice amongst gentlemen?” Sluitsky asked. He’d clearly been rehearsing these arguments, and had them lined up one after the other, hoping that one would work.

“I can see that as a possibility when it is convenient, and when I am confident that you will no longer be aiding the Tsar in his efforts to hunt me down,” Granger said.

“The reach of His Imperial Majesty is quite long, my lord,” Sluitsky said with a combination of reverence and fear that was somewhat spoiled by his poor acting skills. “That should cause you great anxiety.”

“I am sitting here in a city that I captured from His Imperial Majesty, and he has been powerless to stop my efforts to penetrate his borders,” Granger stated calmly, even as he playfully thought of how he’d also penetrated one of His Imperial Majesty’s subjects. “When I return to the civilized world, he will be unable to reach me.”

He almost laughed as he watched Sluitsky try to control his rage at having Russia being categorized as uncivilized, but the conniving man was not about to be distracted from the prize of negotiating his freedom. “My lord, I am an important officer in His Imperial Majesty’s household,” Sluitsky said, his tone indicating that he had segued to a new argument. “He relies on me for my advice and my efficiency. He will miss my presence acutely.” That was laughable, since if he were that important, he certainly would have a more illustrious position and he certainly wouldn’t be going around Courland checking grain stores.

“But if you return to His Imperial Majesty, you will be bidden to resume your duties which are vital to him, and then you would violate your parole,” Granger said. Sluitsky grimaced in the face of Granger’s logic but continued on gamely.

“My lord, if you were to release me and give me leave to return to St. Petersburg, His Imperial Majesty would see that as a grand gesture on your part, and I will pledge my word to intervene on your behalf with His Imperial Majesty.”

“Baron Sluitsky, that is a generous offer you make, but I think I would be better advised to keep you with me. I have been harassed by Russian ships since I arrived in the Baltic, and if you are by my side, they will surely think twice about attacking a vessel which contains a person so valuable to His Imperial Majesty,” Granger said. Treadway had to look away to hide his grin.

“I think those vessels would follow their orders, no matter who is on board your ship, my lord,” Sluitsky objected.

“If that is the case, then your status in the Tsar’s eyes cannot be as great as you would make it seem,” Granger said.

“But my lord…” Sluitsky said, in what was probably the beginning of pleading rather than arguing.

Granger held up his hand. “Your arguments have convinced me that you are a better asset to me if I keep you with me, but I will ponder our conversation.”

“My lord…” Sluitsky began again, but Granger cut him off by addressing Treadway.

“Major Treadway, please see that Baron Sluitsky is kept here under guard, and that he is treated humanely as befits someone of his station,” Granger said. “Good day, gentlemen.” And with that he walked out of the office and down to the dock, where he took a boat back to Valiant. Von Beckendorf arrived shortly after that, and Granger treated him to a fabulous dinner, and to a fabulous sexual extravaganza.

 

 

As they were to leave Arensburg in the morning, Granger had opted to host a grand fete to say goodbye to this town, and to von Beckendorf. He stood at the edge of the reception room of the Town Hall, peering in at the crowd of people waiting for him to enter and launch the festivities. There were the town dignitaries, provincial as ever, as well as the captains and mates of the merchant ships, who were a boorish bunch to begin with. Weston, Kingsdale, Genarro, Travers, Treadway, and Treadway’s lieutenant looked like kings amongst peasants as they glittered in their resplendent uniforms. Less conspicuous were his warrant officers, including Mr. Andrews, who had come to know most of these people quite well. Granger was proud of how well turned out they were. A similar festival was being held for about half of his crew and marines, along with the local townspeople. Granger was a bit nervous about that, worried that there would be drunken brawls, but Treadway had promised him that he had enough men in place to ensure there were no terrible problems.

The past three days had gone by like a whirlwind, but for Granger, it had been as if he were in the eye of a hurricane while others were battling the surging winds and waves. He had identified the best of the Prussian ships to accompany him, a relatively new brig named Ursula, and loaded her with stores. The remainder were in the process of being offloaded to stock von Beckendorf’s granaries and those of the town, while a small portion had been shipped off to Valiant to top off her stores. Granger mused that by the time Valiant reached England, she would still have enough provisions for a lengthy cruise. He’d given the three Prussian captains orders to return to Memel after they had unloaded, and had written a letter to von Schrotter telling him that even though he had given the ships to Granger, Granger was returning two of them and asked that any proceeds from the sale of those ships be distributed to the Prussian soldiers wounded in Valiant’s attack, or to their families if they were killed. He’d then chosen Carter, the brightest of his master’s mates, to command the Ursula. With an appropriate bribe, some of the sailors aboard Ursula had agreed to continue serving on her, and he’d supplemented those men with a few experienced seamen from Valiant. But those details, once they were decided upon, were easily delegated to Andrews and his officers. So while his men toiled to prepare for their departure, Granger had found himself somewhat useless. He thought back to his time aboard Vanguard, at the Battle of the Nile, and how strained Nelson was because he did not have enough effective subordinates to take the burdens of command off of him. Granger allowed himself a rare self-congratulatory accolade that he had created this team that had made his life so much easier.

Granger’s eyes fell on von Beckendorf, who looked stunningly handsome in his Guard’s uniform. He had instead filled his time by spending it constantly with the young German, and each day he’d become more and more attached to him. Granger was fairly certain that von Beckendorf had fallen in love with him, and while Granger wasn’t sure if his own feelings were infatuation or love, they were quite strong nonetheless. While he had said nothing about it, he had noticed that after that first reception, he had not seen Madame Klaus, and she did not appear to be at the party tonight. Von Beckendorf spied him and smiled and walked over to usher him into the reception. “You look quite resplendent tonight,” he said. “You must tell me about all these decorations.”

“Perhaps later, when I take them off,” Granger said with a leer, getting a chuckle in return, but that was only a brief lapse in protocol. Putting on the facades of courtiers, Granger and von Beckendorf entered the room together, to thundering accolades from those attending. Granger found such demonstrations uncomfortable, but he noted that von Beckendorf seemed to revel in them. Ironically, that reminded him of Caroline, who seemed pleased by the crowds who gathered to cheer him, while Granger found them to be annoying.

Granger managed to enjoy the party, which entailed drinking an inordinate amount of alcohol. He stayed for what he decided was the required amount of time, entreating his officers to continue on in his stead, then escaped with von Beckendorf to take one last sauna and enjoy one last night with him.

They found themselves ultimately lying in von Beckendorf’s bed on their sides, facing each other, after another amazing round of lovemaking. “I think that gets better every time we do it.”

“I think you are right,” Granger agreed.

“I am going to miss you, probably more than you know,” von Beckendorf said. He actually got teary-eyed when he said this.

“I am going to miss you too,” Granger said.

“I think it upsets me more than it upsets you,” he said bitterly, because what he meant to say was that he loved Granger more than Granger loved him.

“You are probably wrong,” Granger said. “I think that being a naval officer has steeled me to this fact of life, that I am mostly on the move, and that I am rarely around long enough to enjoy someone I meet.”

“So you harden your heart and do not fall in love,” he said, even more bitterly, as if that were possible.

“No, I feel the same emotions, I have just learned to bury them, because expressing them makes it harder for the other person,” Granger said.

“Now you are accusing me of being selfish, and of wounding you,” von Beckendorf said petulantly.

“No, I am telling you that I used to act just as you are, so I fully understand how you feel and I feel the same way. I have just trained myself to enjoy what little time we have without wasting it mourning for its end.” Granger said these words sincerely, as he stared intensely into von Beckendorf’s eyes, and could see how he finally got through to him.

“I have learned so much from you, in so many different arenas,” he joked with a leer, making Granger chuckle. They laughed together, then he got serious. “I received a letter from Count von der Pahlen today.” Granger could not hide his annoyance that von Beckendorf hadn’t told him about this communique earlier. Sensing that, von Beckendorf hastened to explain. “One of my aides idiotically did not tell me about it until right before the party.”

“I would suggest you consider appointing a new aide,” Granger said, making both of them chuckle. “And what did the Count have to say?”

Von Beckendorf reached over and pulled the letter from a drawer in his night table and handed it to Granger, but it was written in German. “I forgot you do not speak our beautiful language.”

“Sadly, I do not,” Granger said, although he had never thought of German as a beautiful language. “Perhaps you could translate it for me.”

“Of course,” von Beckendorf said, then he began to read: “Lords Granger and Daventry do find themselves in a most unfortunate position. I fully agree with your assertion that the only solution to easing the Tsar’s enmity is for them to appear before him and beg his forgiveness, and even then, that could only happen after the appropriate groundwork was laid. Nonetheless, it is a huge risk he and Daventry would take, because the Tsar is just as likely to lock them up as to forgive them. The only abatement to this risk is that I am told there are many who are friendly to Lord Granger in St. Petersburg, especially Richelieu and some of the other French emigres. I think that means that such captivity, should it happen, would be relatively benign. I have spoken of this at length with Lord Daventry, and he could approach the Tsar alone, but if he did that, he would have to denounce the actions of Lord Granger, and he has vowed that is something he would never do. Perhaps after we arrive in St. Petersburg he will change his mind. If this reaches you before Lord Granger departs, please convey to him my deepest appreciation for his generosity in providing grain. If the harvest is bad, you will need to share that with neighboring estates, lest starvation envelop the region. If it is consistent with his orders, I recommend that he release Baron Sluitsky to von Schrotter. That is perhaps the greatest gift he could give to that Prussian, and will do much to make up for robbing him of grain and food.”

Granger lay there, stunned, absorbing this message from the count. “It appears I will have much to think about.”

“We will think later,” von Beckendorf said, and kissed Granger, sparking yet another amazing sexual experience.

It was a very hungover George Granger who stood in the courtyard of the fortress the following morning, with the cold wind piercing through his uniform and chilling him to the bone. He longed to be in the Mediterranean with its temperate climate, conveniently forgetting what an erratic sea that was.

Baron Sluitsky was escorted down to the dock by a squad of marines and taken over to the ship. Once the boat conveying him had cast off, Granger turned his attention to the men assembled in the fortress. “Governor von Beckendorf, I hereby return Arensburg to His Imperial Majesty Tsar Paul, and place the city and the fort in your hands once again.”

“Thank you for the good care and kindness you have shown, my lord, while your forces were here in occupation,” von Beckendorf replied stiffly. The drums rolled and the Union Flag came fluttering down. The Russian guardsmen and militia marched forward and raised the Imperial Flag, and with the marine band playing, Granger walked down to the dock with von Beckendorf strolling next to him. “I cannot express to you how much I have enjoyed our time together,” von Beckendorf said sincerely.

“I have enjoyed it as well,” Granger said with a smile, in one of the rare occasions that his humor was off the mark. He hastily tried to make amends. “I am sorry, but I hate sad partings.”

“Then we will merely say ‘until we meet again’,” he said with faked cheer. Granger took his hands in his, then let them go and hastily got into the boat, keeping his eyes open wide to dry his tears. An hour later, Valiant and Ursula set course to follow the already-departed merchantmen to Visby.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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Wow, I'm the first to comment!  Great rhythm to the chapter, so much detail and emotions.  Thank you.🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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I loved this chapter but fear Granger will feel obligated to Daventry to go to see the Tsar....

 

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It would be dangerous and foolhardy for Granger to even consider appearing before the Czar.  Not only would it make it almost impossible for his ship to escape the area because of the build up of ice; but it also puts him and Daventry both in jeopardy, with Granger free, he could at least attempt something if Daventry was truly in danger.  

George has the ability to pull people to him; not just sexually; but in a way that true emotional resonance is developed and any parting seems to hard for him, but more so for the other individual.  So truly rare...

Wonderful chapter, flowed beautifully and the prose was excellent as well.  Can't wait to see what happens next.

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As Gary L said above, amazing rhythm to this chapter. Again it shows what a deeply romantic soul our Viscount has. And also how protective he has to be of it to make sure it doesnt interfere with his rational side. 

It will be interesting to see if what ends our hero's career is not a battle or losing at Court but some one who manages to get through to that soul to the point that Grainger cannot continue his career.

Great story and read as ever. Glad you, Mr Arbour , have both got your groove back and are enjoying it!

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I, too, will miss the handsome Prussian.  This was a delightful chapter and I am loving the regular postings.  Thank you so much! :hug:

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After reading this chapter for the second time I am at awe how Lord Granger handles difficult situations with the ease of a much older person. George has shown how much he has grown from the wide eyed lad of 14 to this talented Lord. Truly master of anything task he has been given. I believe this shows the skill of our beloved author. While George is my favorite  character in this saga, I love Winkler too. The bond between these two is so strong!! I remember the time Winkler was tasked to leave Granger in the Med and go home. The courage is our brave steward in racing home to Portland Place and the touching reunion between Winkler and Granger during Grangers homecoming. This sage has bought us many heroes  both real and fictional but I truly thank you for our brave Captain and his faithful steward. Again hoping Mark you are safe and well. Thank you again for this gift and these characters we love so much. Bob

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18 hours ago, impunity said:

I, too, will miss the handsome Prussian.  This was a delightful chapter and I am loving the regular postings.  Thank you so much! :hug:

Perhaps we will see him again, although von Beckendorf is probably not Prussian, at least not in his mind.  He'd consider himself a Baltic German, I would think, but I could be wrong about that.

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4 hours ago, Mark Arbour said:

Perhaps we will see him again, although von Beckendorf is probably not Prussian, at least not in his mind.  He'd consider himself a Baltic German, I would think, but I could be wrong about that.

Whatever he is, I really hope he turns up again.  :wub:

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On 5/2/2020 at 12:19 AM, Daddydavek said:

I loved this chapter but fear Granger will feel obligated to Daventry to go to see the Tsar....

 

Except that the Tsar is dead in 3 months.

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2 hours ago, shyboy85 said:

Except that the Tsar is dead in 3 months.

Indeed he will be dead, murdered by a coterie of men of whom Count von der Pahlen is one.

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2 hours ago, Mark Arbour said:

Indeed he will be dead, murdered by a coterie of men of whom Count von der Pahlen is one.

Omg, spoilers! :o ;) 

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On ‎5‎/‎1‎/‎2020 at 6:19 PM, Daddydavek said:

I loved this chapter but fear Granger will feel obligated to Daventry to go to see the Tsar....

 

I fear the same. I wish he would just go on to Visby, then head back home and fight any battle there that the Tsar might try to send his way. I believe Granger has way to may friends that can help him and his family. Some of the merchants he has rescued may help gain him some additional favor he hasn't had much of before also. Daventry  is a diplomate that I believe is smart enough to get himself off or out of harms way.

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On ‎5‎/‎2‎/‎2020 at 1:17 PM, rjo said:

After reading this chapter for the second time I am at awe how Lord Granger handles difficult situations with the ease of a much older person. George has shown how much he has grown from the wide eyed lad of 14 to this talented Lord. Truly master of anything task he has been given. I believe this shows the skill of our beloved author. While George is my favorite  character in this saga, I love Winkler too. The bond between these two is so strong!! I remember the time Winkler was tasked to leave Granger in the Med and go home. The courage is our brave steward in racing home to Portland Place and the touching reunion between Winkler and Granger during Grangers homecoming. This sage has bought us many heroes  both real and fictional but I truly thank you for our brave Captain and his faithful steward. Again hoping Mark you are safe and well. Thank you again for this gift and these characters we love so much. Bob

Granger is my favorite, but Winkler is my second favorite character. I worry about him most of all during the battles at sea.

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Thanks again Mark! As always I love your story.

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On 1 de mayo de 2020 at 11:04 PM, Mark Arbour said:

The early bird gets the worm...one assumes "worm" is an allusion to penis.  😀

I had neVer thought of that!  

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impunity

Posted (edited)

Deleting because I mabaged to post on wrong chapter. 

Edited by impunity

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