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    Mark Arbour
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Northern Exposure - 3. Chapter 3

July, 1800

The Channel Fleet

Off the coast of Brest, France

 

The men pulled at the oars while the coxswain tried to guide the admiral’s barge through the moderate seas without getting swamped by an errant wave. The seas had seemed calm this morning, but they’d risen a bit, although they were certainly much larger when one was in a rowboat as opposed to being on the quarterdeck of a first-rate battleship. Granger ignored the efforts of these men, trusting in their skill and experience, and focused on the ship that lay in front of him.

His Majesty’s ship Renown was a common class 74-gun ship of the line of the Arrogant/Edgar class. She’d been launched in 1780, a year almost to the day before her sister ship, the Goliath. Goliath had been Foley’s ship at the Nile, and had shown a nice turn of speed. Perhaps Renown would also share that trait. Granger had encountered many other ships of this class which would thus also be sister ships to Renown, including Vanguard, Audacious, Zealous, Excellent, Bellerophon, and Illustrious. All of them had solid reputations. Renown was 168 feet long and 47 feet wide, and had formidable armament. She carried 28 32-pounders on her gun deck, 28 18-pounders on her upper deck, and on her quarterdeck and forecastle she housed a mixture of 24-pounder carronades and 9-pounder long guns. She seemed to wallow happily in time to the waves, hove to along with the rest of the fleet.

They were hailed from the Renown, as was right and proper. A nod from Granger to the midshipman in charge of the boat caused him to yell loudly “Renown!” That would tell the officers and crew that their new lord and master was about to arrive. Granger was concerned when he didn’t see the normal hubbub of a ship putting together an honor party of bosun’s mates and sideboys to receive him, then he realized that Sawyer had just left the ship, so those people were probably already assembled. He was able to confirm that as soon as he hoisted himself up her tall sides and through her entry port, smartly saluting the quarterdeck.

“Welcome aboard, my lord,” an old, almost elderly lieutenant said. He was most likely one of those men who had never quite been lucky enough or skilled enough to get promoted, and would probably end his days as a lieutenant. He was thin, but strangely enough had very chubby cheeks. “I’m Buckland, first lieutenant.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Buckland,” Granger said. “Please be so good as to have the hands lay aft.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said. The whistles pealed, summoning the crew, even as Granger’s chest and other possessions were hoisted aboard.

Granger waited until the men were duly assembled, then pulled out his orders and read them aloud, conscious that glasses from the other ships in the fleet would be focused on him, and aware of the relatively apathetic looks from the crew assembled below him. “Orders from The Right Honorable Earl St. Vincent, Admiral of the Red, Knight of the Bath, Commanding His Majesty’s ships and vessels of the Channel Fleet, to Captain The Right Honorable Viscount Granger, Knight of the Bath. You are hereby requested and required to repair immediately on board His Majesty’s ship Renown and to take command pro tempore of the aforesaid ship.” And with those simple words, he was now officially the captain of the Renown, although the officers and men would have noted the words ‘pro tempore’ in his orders, indicating that this was only a temporary affair. “You may dismiss the men.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Buckland said. The orders were given, and then Buckland introduced Granger to his officers. Roberts, the second lieutenant, was similar to Buckland, but only a few years younger. The third lieutenant, Harmon, was in his mid-20s, and aside from Hornblower, was the only one of these gentlemen Granger had encountered before. Harmon could occasionally be found at Brooks club, as his father was a dedicated Whig. Smith was the fourth lieutenant, while Hornblower, the most junior, served as fifth. The marines were commanded by Captain Whiting, and the ship’s master was an older man named Carberry. The purser, Lomax, and the doctor, Clive, rounded out the officers of the wardroom. Granger would meet the petty officers later. His initial impression was that they were a competent but uninspired lot, and with the exception of Hornblower, it didn’t seem that any of them had great potential, but they were his officers, and he would work with them to the best of his abilities. Granger was briefly hit by pangs of regret as he lamented the missing members of his normal staff, including LeFavre, his irascible French chef, and Andrews, his ever-reliable purser. He took comfort in the reassuring presence of Winkler, as well as his strapping coxswain, Jacobs.

“Gentlemen, let’s see what can be done to repair our damage,” Granger said, as soon as the introductions were complete. “Perhaps you will do me the honor of joining me for supper this evening, although I cannot vouch for the quality of our victuals.” He’d be taking over Sawyer’s cabin stores, and would have to pay for them, but he had no idea how well stocked his pantry was. Further, Granger didn’t have his chef, Lefavre, to make the best of what supplies there were, so he would have to rely on Sawyer’s cook.

“We would be honored, my lord,” Buckland said, responding for all of them.

Granger looked at the general mass of rigging and was stunned to see that they’d done nothing to tackle repairs. “Mr. Buckland, I am surprised that this has not already been cleared away.”

Buckland swallowed nervously. “I’m sorry, my lord, but Captain Sawyer left strict instructions that we were to do nothing, lest we, in his words, muck it up even worse.” It was easy to see the bitterness beneath Buckland’s smooth words.

“That’s quite alright, Mr. Buckland. I operate a bit differently than Captain Sawyer.” That got a grin from all of them. “I will trust you to sort this out.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Buckland said, clearly surprised, and after only a moment’s hesitation, he jumped in and began rapping out orders.

“Mr. Buckland, when the other officers have that in hand, I would be obliged if you would inspect the ship with me,” Granger said. He strolled over to the binnacle, forcing Buckland to now delegate to the other lieutenants. It was not a good sign that it took him a quarter of an hour to do so. In the meantime, Granger inspected the rigging, which was in commendably good shape.

“Where would you like to start, my lord?” Buckland asked.

“We will work from the bottom up,” Granger announced. They went below into Renown’s cavernous hold, assisted by the carpenter and two of his mates holding lanterns, and accompanied by Lomax and Carberry. It was a foul place, and he was loath to spend much time there, but it was important to know the condition of the ship. “How are our stores?”

“We just completed revictualling, my lord,” Lomax said. That would explain why the hold was packed tightly. Granger would have loved to have fully cleaned out the bilges with some hydrochloric acid, but that would have to wait.

“Things appear to be quite orderly and well stowed,” Granger noted.

“Thank you, my lord,” Carberry said, clearly surprised at receiving praise. As the master, attending to the trim of the ship was primarily his responsibility, and that generally included shifting stores about, usually in concert with the purser.

Granger toured the other decks as well, and other than some frayed breechings on a few of the cannon, found nothing to be out of order. He returned on deck approximately an hour later, to find the work on the spanker almost complete. “That was nicely done, Mr. Roberts,” Granger said.

“Thank you, my lord,” Roberts said.

“My lord, flag is signaling, “Course due north,” Hornblower said.

“Call the watch,” Granger ordered. “Hands to the braces.” He probably should have delegated this maneuver to Buckland, but just as they were proving themselves to him, so Granger needed to demonstrate that he could manage the ship under sail. Granger watched the yards of Ville de Paris, waiting for the signal to lower, and as soon as it did, he gave orders to put Renown on a northerly course. Granger carefully gauged her pace and evaluated the distance to Defense. They were gaining on her, and the last thing Granger wanted to do was run afoul of another ship right after this last collision. “She needs a reef in the main topsail,” he noted to Buckland.

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said, and gave orders to attend to that. Granger looked aft and saw Ajax increasing sail to close the gap where Dragon had been, and saw the other ships behind her doing the same thing, until the fleet was in a perfect line, just as it had been before.

“Signal from flag, my lord!” Hornblower said. “Tack together.” Granger smiled, thinking that it was just like St. Vincent to complete a task, to see the thing through to the end. He’d started this whole process with an order to tack together that had gone horribly wrong, so he’d finish it that way, to make sure the fleet could execute the maneuver. When the signal came down, all of the ships, Renown included, executed the maneuver flawlessly, and with that, St. Vincent put an end to their exercises.

“I will be in my cabin if I am needed,” Granger announced, and went back to see what Sawyer had left him in the way of cabin stores and accouterments.

He found Winkler there, looking a bit frazzled as he tried to get things organized. “We’re getting you settled in, my lord, but there’s not a lot to work with.”

“Indeed?”

“Captain Sawyer packed up most of his things, so we have very little in the way of plates and the like. The cabin stores are scarce, and, begging your pardon, but your new chef may be hard pressed to put supper together,” Winkler said.

“Due to our lack of stores, or his lack of skill?” Granger asked.

“Yes, my lord,” Winkler said with an impish grin.

“Well until we can set things right, we’ll have to make the best of it,” Granger said. He couldn’t help but think that Sawyer had taken everything he could just to make life difficult for Granger. For an insane man, he was quite creative when it came to making a nuisance of himself. “See if you can borrow some items from the wardroom.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Winkler said. Granger looked around his cabin, which was furnished quite sparsely as well. Either Sawyer was a skinflint, unwilling to spend money on appropriate accouterments, or he had no money to spend in the first place. The only really positive features were the large dining table and the sturdy desk.

A midshipman entered his cabin, looking uncharacteristically nervous. “And you are?” Granger prompted.

“I beg your pardon, my lord. I’m Abbot.”

“I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Abbott. Did you have some business to discuss, or did you merely want a tour of my cabin?” Granger asked with a smile.

Abbott grinned slightly. “I’m sorry my lord. Mr. Buckland’s respects, and there’s a boat approaching from the flagship.”

“I’ll come at once,” Granger said, and led Abbott back out onto the quarterdeck just in time to see Midshipman Bleston arrive. “Welcome, Mr. Bleston. Have you come to join us?”

“No, my lord, but I’ve brought you something that is much better,” he said, and handed Granger a note. “We’ve some stores aboard.”

“Mr. Buckland, see to bringing those stores aboard at once,” Granger ordered. Another man also came aboard, standing behind Abbott. Granger recognized him; he was Doggert, Troubridge’s personal chef.

“Aye aye, my lord,” Buckland said. Granger tore open the note but was distracted when he heard a pig oinking, even as the unfortunate creature was swayed aboard. He ignored that, and went back to reading.

My lord,

Having noted the general lack of stores on board Renown for your personal use, Lord St. Vincent has directed me to send you some of his own items to help you adjust to life aboard that vessel.

I will trust you to take care of both of them, and to help Doggert find his way back here when you are ultimately parted from Renown. I have taken the liberty of sending my own china and my chef over to you as well.

Troubridge

Granger stared at the note in amazement. That was one of the nicest things another officer had done for him, and was a truly beneficent gesture from a tough officer like Troubridge. Granger knew they worked well together, and had a good rapport with the man, but evidently their friendship was much more established in Troubridge’s mind.

He pulled himself out of his brief mental fog. “Welcome aboard Doggert. You’re to assume the duties as my chef.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said. Granger sent for Winkler, and introduced the two of them.

“Your arrival is timely, as I plan to entertain my officers at supper tonight. In the meantime, I’d appreciate it if you’d prepare something for my dinner.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Doggert said.

“Mr. Buckland, after my stores have been brought aboard and stowed, you may dismiss the men for dinner,” Granger ordered. Buckland acknowledged his directive, while Granger went back to his cabin to write a fulsome note of thanks to both Troubridge and St. Vincent.

Granger enjoyed a nice dinner all by himself, using that time to study ledgers and logs and the like. He was thankful for Doggert, who was an excellent chef, although his style of cooking was perhaps even less Continental than St. Vincent’s chef. He decided that his officers would be more likely to appreciate this fare anyway, being the simple lot that they were. After that, he spent his time on deck, trying to get the feel for this ship that he was responsible for, and trying to get a feel for the men who manned her. It had a nice side benefit as well, in that it kept him out of the way of his staff as they got his cabin ready for supper. Immediately after the signal for night stations was given, Granger went back to check on the arrangements.

The cabin had largely been transformed. Where it had been plain and void of any décor but for the table and desk, now it was enhanced by the table settings and other decorations Winkler had managed to pull together from Granger’s things. “You have made this feel almost like home,” Granger said to Winkler and Jacobs approvingly.

“Thank you, my lord,” Winkler said. “Sadly, we have no carpet or hutch, but we’ll manage.”

“We won’t be here long enough to worry about such luxuries,” Granger promised.

“The officers should be here soon, my lord,” Winkler said, and used that as an excuse to leave and get his stewards in order to serve the meal. No sooner had he left than Buckland arrived, followed by all of the wardroom officers with the exception of Smith, who had the watch. He was perhaps the dullest of a dull bunch, so Granger was not too saddened by his absence.

“Welcome, gentlemen,” Granger said, and bid them to take their seats. In such times, when there were no place cards, they automatically sat in order of seniority. In Valiant, Granger sometimes rearranged people just to make things more interesting, but for this dinner and with these officers, Granger decided that comfortable traditions were the better choice. Supper was usually a lighter meal, but this time Doggett and Winkler had organized a veritable feast. Granger guessed that his guests would have big appetites anyway, especially the younger officers, and he was willing to wager that the fare aboard this ship was usually not this good, so he acted as a good host, encouraging all of them to eat their fill. Initially, eating served to fully occupy them, and kept conversation to a minimum.

“This wine is excellent, my lord,” Harmon noted.

“It is so good because it is enjoying its freedom,” Granger said jovially. “It was liberated from French vineyards by British gold.” That got a predictable laugh, and seemed to pull the men out of their feeding frenzy. Conversation after that was general, which Granger encouraged. He enjoyed listening to their sea stories, which gave him an opportunity to learn about their prior experiences and more fully evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, he managed to neatly deflect any attempts to make this dinner about his own exploits. He also learned, much to his dismay, that none of these men had the slightest bit of musical talent.

“My lord, I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed such an excellent dinner,” Carberry said.

“I will pass your compliments on to Doggert, and to my staff,” Granger said appreciatively.

“My lord, begging your pardon, but your orders said this was a temporary appointment,” Hornblower said. “How long will you be with us?” That got him foul looks from the other officers, who would have been happy to leave it to Granger to set the pace regarding that discussion, but Granger appreciated that Hornblower took the initiative.

“I suspect it will be between a fortnight and a month, and that will largely depend on the whims of Lord St. Vincent,” Granger said with a smile. “But I thank you for raising the topic, Mr. Hornblower, as that gives me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.”

“We would be most appreciative, my lord,” Buckland said, almost with desperation. For someone like him, who seemed to truly dislike change and disruption, this entire situation must be maddening.

“The impetus for this change was obviously Renown’s failed maneuver this morning,” Granger said. “Captain Sawyer was clear in allocating blame to you gentlemen, specifically to Mr. Buckland and Mr. Hornblower.” Usually Granger wouldn’t try to purposely create problems between a captain and his officers, but in this case, he felt it was important that these men know about the accusations Sawyer had made to try and save his own skin.

“That is simply not the case, my lord,” Carberry said emphatically. “We were all closely following the Captain’s orders.”

“That was my perception, and it was the impression of Lord St. Vincent,” Granger said calmly, as if to push his mood onto these outraged officers. “The Admiral explained to Captain Sawyer that from his perspective, the only reason for Captain Sawyer to act as he did was because he was ill.”

“He got that right,” grumbled Lomax, and then seemed surprised that he’d actually said that out loud. Granger chose to ignore him.

“So Captain Sawyer has been dispatched back to England to nurse his health back into shape, and I have been sent here in the interim,” Granger said.

“So Captain Sawyer will be coming back, my lord?” Harmon asked.

“That would be my guess,” Granger said. It was hard to imagine a more downtrodden group of officers. When he’d arrived on board, even though they’d known his appointment probably wasn’t permanent, it had given them hope that their time under Sawyer’s tyrannical reign was at an end. He had just dashed those hopes to hell. “I am also fairly confident that you gentlemen will not find Renown assigned to the Channel Fleet.”

“God only knows where they’ll send us,” Dr. Clive said to Lomax, but loud enough that they all heard him.

“Probably His Lordship is so sick of seeing us, he just wants us gone,” Carberry grumbled in response.

“That is probably not an inaccurate description of the Admiral’s feelings,” Granger said with a smile, trying to keep his dinner at least a little upbeat.

“My lord, forgive me if I am being impertinent, but I don’t understand why Captain Sawyer was sent home if he was merely going to resume command again,” Hornblower said. This time, everyone was too curious about that to give him dirty looks.

“I don’t find you to be impertinent at all, Mr. Hornblower,” Granger said. “I will give you my best guess, provided you gentlemen will bear me no malice if I am wrong.”

“We would appreciate your insights, my lord,” Buckland said.

“I think Captain Sawyer was sent ashore to recover his health, but that taking such a step was also a warning to him that he must indeed recover,” Granger said. He had no idea how much control Sawyer had over his own sanity, so he was on shaky ground even discussing this. “I think I am here to evaluate this ship and her officers.”

“I don’t understand, my lord,” Roberts said. “Are we being investigated?”

“You are not, Mr. Roberts, but in a sense, this is the Admiral’s way of giving you some level of cover against any future allegations,” Granger said. He was being painfully candid with these men, and he hoped that such an approach paid off. He didn’t think they had the imagination to figure it out without him being this blunt.

“So if a situation arises like it did today, my lord, and Captain Sawyer attempts to paint us as demons, there’s a report from you stating that we’re competent?” Hornblower asked.

“That is hopefully what my report will show,” Granger teased, but his humor failed in the face of the horror these men felt at being saddled with Sawyer again. “I think that is probably an accurate assessment.”

“While I feel a debt of gratitude to Lord St. Vincent, I cannot believe he would sanction putting an incompetent captain in command of this ship,” Harmon said forcefully, with fire in his eyes.

“Mr. Harmon, I would remind you that no one has said that Captain Sawyer was or is incompetent. I think such words are fine within the context of this discussion only, but you would be wise to watch your comments in the future,” Granger said severely. Sawyer had bandied about accusations of insubordination that bordered on mutiny, and he would grasp onto Harmon’s comment if he’d heard it like a miser grabs for his gold.

“I beg your pardon, my lord,” Harmon said, abashed.

“Surely you are not naïve enough to think that a man rises to command a line-of-battle ship like Renown without having a few friends in his corner,” Granger said. None of these men came from backgrounds that would give them insights into how the government, or even the Navy operated, at least not behind closed doors. He wanted to make sure they were fully aware of the reasoning behind these decisions.

“Of course not, my lord,” Buckland said hastily.

“And you must also surely know that choosing which captain is assigned to which ship is an exercise that is not simple, and is not done in isolation. It is done collectively by their Lordships of the Admiralty, unless a ship is serving on a distant post like the Indies,” Granger said. That actually gave admirals on distant stations, like Rainier in the East Indies or Seymour in the West Indies, a lot more real power over their fleets, because they could promote, demote, or transfer officers at will. Admirals who were closer to England like St. Vincent here in the Channel, Duncan in the North Sea, or Keith in the Mediterranean, would have to send their decisions back to London to be approved first.

“Yes, my lord,” Harmon said.

“As you might imagine, removing a captain from command can be a complicated process, especially when the evidence against him is relatively benign. We are all capable of errors, and we all make mistakes.” The same ethos that let men like Calvert escape from ignominy when his ship was wrecked served to help men like Sawyer maintain their positions.

Granger surveyed the men at the table, watching as they got clarity. Sawyer’s bumbling maneuver was not a big enough mistake to remove him permanently from command, but it was large enough to warrant a reprimand, which in this case would most likely be his temporary removal from Renown. At the same time, his strange behavior had raised eyebrows, to say the least, and it was important to ensure that he did not damage those who served under him. Sawyer himself would have to be blind not to see that these actions were a clear warning to him.

“My lord, I for one would like to thank you for your candor on this subject,” Captain Whiting said. “It is good to have an idea of what the future holds, in that we may be able to conduct ourselves and our affairs to adapt to them.”

“That was my intention and my hope, Captain,” Granger replied approvingly. That served to end their dinner, which was fine with Granger, who courteously saw them out of his cabin. He suspected that the men he’d just hosted to dinner were in their respective cabins, plotting a way to escape from this ship, which would probably be all but a prison for them when Sawyer returned. Based on how uninteresting and uncultured they were, George Granger felt like doing the same thing.

 

 

Granger stood at the railing separating the quarterdeck from the waist, watching as the men were drilled on the guns. During the two weeks since he’d assumed command, on every day except the Sabbath, they’d had either gun drill or sail drill. Granger suspected that even if the crew had been envisioning some form of malfeasance, they’d be too tired to contemplate such an act. In any event, he hadn’t seen anything mutinous or even subordinate from these men. They were a good crew. In fact, the only problem Granger had encountered was with the gunner, an older man named Gumbel. He seemed determined to try to cause problems, but was slick enough to avoid getting caught. According to Winkler, he was known as one of Captain Sawyer’s chief toadies, and that probably explained his oversized view of his own importance.

“You may secure the guns, Mr. Buckland,” Granger ordered.

“Aye aye, my lord,” Buckland said.

“I think they are much improved,” Granger told him, and said it loudly enough that the men around him would hear.

“I’ll pass that on, my lord,” he said. And so Renown went back to her normal routine, and Granger indulged himself by pacing the quarterdeck. His mind wandered from topic to topic, thinking of this ship, this fleet, then Cavendish, then Caroline, then on to something else.

“My lord, there’s a ship joining the fleet,” Hornblower said, interrupting his walk.

“A ship, Mr. Hornblower?” Granger asked, with a raised eyebrow, since that was a very incomplete report, and totally unlike Hornblower.

“She’s not within visual range, my lord, so I can’t make her number,” he explained logically.

“Well alert me as soon as you’ve ascertained who this new arrival is,” Granger said jovially, then returned to his pacing. It wasn’t long before Hornblower interrupted him again.

“My lord, she’s the Barfleur, and she’d flying a rear admiral’s flag,” Hornblower said.

A new rear admiral was joining the Channel Fleet, possibly to replace Berkeley, Granger mused. That would mean a salute, and that sparked an idea in Granger’s mind. He’d been anxious to catch Gumbel committing some error, hopefully one of malfeasance, and there was one possibility that had flitted through his mind. This would be the ideal opportunity to test Gumbel. Granger called to Buckland: “Mr. Buckland, it appears Barfleur is joining the fleet. Please alert the gunner, and prepare the salute.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Buckland said. And so Renown began to clear away 13 guns for her salute, and Gumbel went down into the magazine to send 13 charges up for that salute. They had ample time to prepare, for it was more than half an hour before Barfleur was up to the fleet and began signaling.

“Signal Barfleur to Flag, am joining the fleet, my lord,” Hornblower said.

“Flag to Barfleur, welcome,” Hornblower said again, as the flagship hoisted her pleasant greeting.

“Prepare to fire the salute, Mr. Buckland,” Granger ordered.

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said. Then the flag came down from the Ville de Paris’s yards, and all of the ships in the fleet, Renown included, began to fire their salute.

Granger listened carefully to the first of Renown’s shots, and it sounded different. Granger tried not to smile as he heard the same sound from the second one. “Cease firing!” he ordered.

“My lord?” Buckland asked.

“Cease firing,” Granger repeated, only he was furious at having Buckland question his orders.

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said, and so the firing of Renown’s salute guns ceased, while the rest of the fleet continued.

“Mr. Buckland, I want each of those saluting charges drawn from their guns and inspected. I want to know how much they weigh, exactly,” Granger ordered. “Mr. Harmon, you will immediately retrieve the gunner’s accounts. They are to be brought to me as they are.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Harmon said.

“Captain Whiting, you will dispatch enough men to keep the magazines secured from entry from anyone. No one is to enter without my permission, is that clear?”

“No one, my lord,” Whiting repeated, then detailed his men off, who followed after Harmon. He was taking a huge risk here, because if he was wrong, he would have publicly embarrassed himself and Renown yet again. But Granger had heard enough guns fire to know when the powder charge was lessened, and he was sure that’s what Gumbel had done. The man would keep the powder he saved sequestered, and sell it on the black market for additional profit. It was a problematic practice, but one that was only recently being raised as an issue.

Gumbel approached him carrying his books, full of righteous outrage, with Harmon trailing after him. “You wanted to see my accounts, my lord?” he asked, in a very disrespectful way.

“You will keep a civil tongue in your head, Gumbel,” Granger snapped, and that did much to sap the man’s attitude. Granger took the accounts and handed them to Jacobs.

Roberts approached them and touched his hat to Granger. “My lord, the charges are 6/10s of what is required, at least on the first four guns we’ve checked.”

Granger took Gumbel’s book from Jacobs and flipped to the most recent entry. “This shows a full charge being deducted from Renown’s stores.” He said to Gumbel.

“It must have been a bookkeeping error, my lord,” Gumbel said, in his whining way.

“We will see if a court of inquiry agrees with you,” Granger said. “Captain Whiting, Gumbel is to be detained below, under guard.”

Gumbel just stared at him, dumbfounded, until Whiting’s marines led him off. “I’ll need a full search done of Gumbel’s quarters, as well as those of his mates, for any supplies of powder.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Buckland said. He dispatched Hornblower, along with Roberts, to do an inventory of the gunpowder stores, and then went aft to his cabin to prepare a report for St. Vincent. If he could get rid of Gumbel, he would have done Renown’s officers a great service, for when Sawyer returned, he’d find one of his chief henchmen gone.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.

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I continue to be awed by your prose and depth of knowledge about British naval history, traditions, and misdeeds. Always entertaining and fascinating. 

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Another fascinating chapter! Loved the display of friendship from St. Vincent and Troubridge. Granger's taking down of Gumbel was particularly satisfying.  

 

Thank you! Can't wait for the next installment. :hug:

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Great story, well written. You are a master at keeping the suspense building. I'm amazed at how much history you have included in your story. Good job, looking forward to reading more.

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Mark, thanks for this new book.

Coming back from a 3 weeks holiday (yes... in Europe that is hmmm... quite normal...LOL).

I loved finding a new book here and besides the introduction 3 chapters ! Thanks.

Mark, I love it that you are back here and posting new chapters regularly again.:2thumbs:

 

Ahh and the new story... I would have guessed it would have been a much more difficult position for Granger with the Channel Fleet. Not being in command...

Just as an assistant to Lord St. Vincent... But his temporal new position as Captain of a ship of the line... freed him I guess.

Ahh and he has some friends who looked after him with supplies... LOL. They must have had good memories dining at Granger's ships in the past to do that ! LOL.

 

Mark I love the Bridgemont series as it is in and historical setting and you and your team make it fit in in that history. :worship:

 

It feels so good finding you back here and writing regularly again. Love, hugs kisses and have fun writing.

Andy G

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Thanks so much for the comments! 

If you've read the Hornblower saga, you'll know how this all dovetails nicely into "Lieutenant Hornblower."  That saga is one of my favorite literary efforts, so I can't resist incorporating it in while trying not to detract from that story. 

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Speaking as a man presently in a relationship with one born in Portugal and who has therefore studied the history of that country to a small extent, the remarks in this chapter about 'liberating French wines with British gold'' are most apt. It was at this time or perhaps a little later in the history of the Napoleonic wars that Port wines augmented as they were with brandy and therefore good sailers, began to replace blockaded French wines as standard fare aboard British ships.

For the benefit of your American readers, who may be unfamiliar with traditions aboard ships, I will remark that the meals described here as 'dinner' and 'supper' would very likely be similar to those familiar to them as farm meals with dinner, the largest meal of the day, being served at mid-day and supper, a much lighter meal, served in the evening. The fact that Granger serves his officers a large meal in the evening would take the form of a celebration of his new position.

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