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    Mark Arbour
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Northern Exposure - 4. Chapter 4


July 1800

HMS Ville de Paris

Off the coast of Brest, France



A single gun sounded, and the court martial flag rose up the massive ship’s mast, announcing to the fleet that the ultimate naval legal procedure was about to begin. Granger had been surprised at the speed with which St. Vincent was trying this case; he’d sent his report over to the admiral immediately after the event happened, and that was the day before yesterday. That had been followed by the arrival of the gunners from Ville de Paris and Defense, and those men had audited the report done by Roberts and Hornblower. In the end, they’d found some 50 pounds of powder sequestered away, presumably for sale on the black market. Granger had not had the chance to speak of the incident to either St. Vincent or Troubridge, and had been kept apart from the others since his arrival on board.

“My lord, the court would see you now, if you please,” Lieutenant Elsemere said. He was St. Vincent’s flag lieutenant, and a nice enough chap. He had a difficult time with details, and that was making his job with St. Vincent a bit more difficult.

“Of course,” Granger said, and followed him into Grey’s cabin, which had been transformed into a courtroom of sorts. Granger was somewhat surprised to see Troubridge acting as president of the court, but that was an obvious sign of the importance St. Vincent placed on this proceeding. St. Vincent was fiercely opposed to any kind of jobberism or corruption, so it made sense that something like this, where a man abused his responsibilities and stole from the Crown to enrich his own purse, would be just the kind of thing to get the old admiral riled up. Troubridge sat at a long table, one that usually served as Captain Grey’s dining table, and was flanked by several other captains from the assembled ships, all of whom Granger knew. After Granger formally stated his name and pledged his oath, the court began asking him questions.

“Lord Granger, what made you aware of the potential short-charging of the guns?” Troubridge asked.

“I think, sir, that it is experience. I’ve heard a number of cannon discharge in my life, and they weren’t firing true,” Granger said with a smile, getting grins from some of the other captains.

“Do you have any evidence or suspicion that Captain Sawyer knew about, participated in, or sanctioned this graft, my lord?” Foley asked. It was hard for Granger to think this was the same man who led his ship around the front of the French line at the Nile, what with his restrained manner.

“I do not,” Granger said confidently, since nothing had come out about that during or after his investigation. After that, they asked him about his specific actions after the event, seemingly to make sure that Granger had collected the evidence in a reliable manner. After Granger was dismissed, they similarly interviewed Buckland, Harmon, Roberts, and Hornblower, but their testimonies were brief, and again, focused on the collection of evidence.

Gumbel came in, dressed quite well for a petty officer, and denied that he had planned to steal the powder. Instead, he claimed that he was saving it for live practice. It was an interesting approach, in that he was styling himself as someone who saved money on frivolous salutes to use the powder to advance Renown’s martial capabilities. That it violated the rules nonetheless seemed to escape him, but his explanation brought on a whole different round of questions pertaining as to whether Sawyer was aware of his actions, and whether he condoned it. Gumbel had painted himself into a corner, and now faced with implicating his patron or pleading guilty; Gumbel admirably fell on his own sword. In reality, Granger was not in doubt that Gumbel would be found guilty. Granger had taken too much care to prove his case, and there were too many witnesses for it to be botched up. He suspected that with the speed of this trial, St. Vincent was interested in making an example of Gumbel. In that case, the only real question was how dire would be his punishment.

There was a recess, after which Granger went in with the rest of the spectators to hear the verdict. Troubridge all but glared at Gumbel, then began to read his prepared statement. “Josiah Gumbel, gunner of His Majesty’s ship Renown, you have been found guilty by this court of violating the 23rd Article of War: There shall be no wasteful expense of any powder, shot, ammunition, or other stores in the fleet, nor any embezzlement thereof, but the stores and provisions shall be careful preserved, upon pain of such punishment to be inflicted upon the offenders, abettors, buyers and receivers (being persons subject to naval discipline) as shall be by a court martial found just in that behalf.”

Troubridge paused for a second as he put down his paper. “You have stolen from His Majesty, and you have done so knowingly and willingly. This court has rendered its decision, and hereby decrees as its verdict that you be stripped of your rank in His Majesty’s Navy and that you be sentenced to transportation, and further requires that you remain housed in one of His Majesty’s prisons until such time as you are transported, with no opportunity for release or parole.” The President banged his gavel, precipitously concluding the hearing. People were stunned, especially Gumbel. He just stared at the court blankly, his mouth slack-jawed, as if trying to comprehend his fate. What was obvious to everyone was that the court, and by extension, St. Vincent, were publicly explaining that any similar forms of graft or corruption would be punished severely.

Granger had expected that Gumbel would be stripped of his rank, but he assumed that would be the extent of his punishment. A gunner spent years accumulating the necessary experience and certifications for his warrant, so having that removed basically wiped away all that he had accomplished with his life. At worst case, Granger felt that a short prison sentence may have been in order. Granger pondered the sentence the court had doled out, and thought that being sentenced to transportation, to live out his existence as an emigrant to Australia, was quite extreme. They led Gumbel out, then the spectators followed.

Granger was following the others out of Grey’s cabin when Elsemere gently pulled on his arm. “My lord, His Lordship requested that you come see him.” That was frustrating, because Granger had hoped to spend some time chatting with his fellow captains before they left the ship, but it was not to be.

“Certainly,” he said, and went down to St. Vincent’s cabin. He found the admiral sitting at his desk, writing a letter. Granger decided that correspondence was probably the biggest task of an admiral commanding a fleet, and St. Vincent was a very diligent correspondent.

“It seems that you create problems wherever you go, Granger,” St. Vincent said, but with a slight grin.

“I fear it is my destiny, sir,” Granger replied.

“Did you think the sentence was too harsh?” he demanded.

“I thought the sentence was harsh, sir, but I did not think it was too harsh,” Granger said cautiously.

St. Vincent seemed to mull his words. “Practices like this, stealing from the Crown, must cease if we are to survive this conflict, and an example had to be set.”

Granger thought of poor Admiral Byng, who’d been shot as an example years ago (‘Pour encourager les autres’, as Voltaire had so cynically put it), but there was no point in arguing about it now. “Yes, sir,” he said.

“How do you find Renown?”

“She is a good ship, and in good condition, sir. I am pleased with her crew and her officers, with the exception of her gunner and his mates.” St. Vincent stared at him, demanding more. “The officers are competent and adept at handling their duties, but with a few exceptions, there are no bright stars amongst them.”

“And who are these exceptions?”

“I would say the brightest of them is Mr. Hornblower, who shows exceptional skill and ability, especially when it comes to mathematics, logic, and leadership. I told Lord Spencer that his promotion of Mr. Hornblower while he was a prisoner in Spain may turn out to be one of his better decisions, sir,” Granger said honestly.

“Indeed?” St. Vincent asked, seemingly impressed. “Better than posting me to command this fleet?”

Granger smiled at the admiral’s sense of humor. “I would note, sir, that my conversation with His Lordship happened before you had been appointed to this esteemed position.”

“Humph,” the admiral said, pretending to be grumpy.

“I would also note that, while not exceptional like Mr. Hornblower, Mr. Harmon seems to have enough presence of mind to ultimately be a successful captain, sir,” Granger said candidly.

“I’d like you to put that in writing for me, in the form of a report, and I’d like you to address the incident when Dragon ran into Renown,” St. Vincent said. “I’d like to know what the officers said about that.” Granger made to tell him, but St. Vincent raised his hand to stop him. “I know what happened, I just want a written record of it.”

“Of course, sir,” Granger said.

“Collingwood has arrived with Barfleur,” St. Vincent said, telling Granger something he already knew. “I’ve persuaded him, under the circumstances, not to be vexed with you for interrupting his salute.”

“I am most grateful, sir,” Granger said. Collingwood was an excellent officer, and one who commanded his men much the same way that Granger did. He had never gotten to spend much time with the man, but he knew him by reputation.

“I’ve received orders for you from London, courtesy of Barfleur,” St. Vincent went on. “It seems you’re needed back at the Admiralty.”

Granger barely managed to hide his excitement and happiness that he’d be able to go home and shed himself of the Renown. “Do you know what they want of me, sir?”

“I do not, and it matters not anyway,” he snapped, acting as if Granger was committing the heinous sin of questioning his orders. “Now that Collingwood is here, I can send Berkeley home. You’re to take him back in Renown.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Granger said, even though he dreaded that task. He suspected that Berkeley would be in a foul mood after being exposed as a bit of a nitwit by St. Vincent, and would probably be an unpleasant passenger.

“I will send you orders to close with the inshore squadron and transfer him from Mars, then you will travel at your best speed to Portsmouth. Renown will have different orders by the time you arrive there as well, I am assuming,” he said. “If she does not, you will be ordered to leave her under the temporary command of her first lieutenant.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Granger repeated.

“I felt that by sending you to Portsmouth, you’d at least get to gaze at your fancy fountains before you headed off to London,” St. Vincent teased.

“And for that, I am most appreciative, sir,” Granger said.

“I will allow Gumbel to remain here with the fleet until the next ship returns,” St. Vincent said. That was an especially nice thing to do, as it was never good for morale for a condemned man to be amongst his shipmates, even if he was under arrest. Granger wondered if St. Vincent was keeping the man here until he was sure of the verdict. It was quite possible that friends of Gumbel or Sawyer would forcefully fight the court’s verdict. “I will await your report, and upon its receipt, I will send you your orders.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Granger said, and took his leave of the old admiral. He made it back to Renown and managed to evade conversation with his officers. He locked himself in his cabin and wrote a relatively in-depth analysis, based on what he’d seen, of Renown’s officers, and transmitted that over to the admiral. The next morning, he received his orders to retrieve Berkeley and return to Portsmouth.




August 1800

HMS Renown

The English Channel


“What’s our location, my lord?” Admiral Berkeley asked politely. They’d just completed their noonday sights.

“I am anxiously awaiting that result from our midshipmen, sir,” Granger said with a grin. “Hopefully they will corroborate my calculations, which will put us about midway between Weymouth and Cherbourg.”

“Hopefully,” Berkeley said. They began to pace the deck together, chatting about the ship, about London, about society, and a myriad of other things. Granger had been dreading having Berkeley as a passenger, but his concern had turned out to be ill-founded. The man was interesting and quite engaging. “I shan’t be unhappy to be back home.”

“I share your feelings, sir,” Granger said honestly. “I am a bit concerned about why I am being recalled.”

“I’m sure they have something interesting for you to do,” Berkeley said. “I, on the other hand, will probably find myself stuck ashore.”

“I think that is highly unlikely, sir,” Granger said honestly. He had gotten to see some of Berkeley’s strengths and weaknesses, and could see how he would be quite useful. He was not a fire-breathing warrior like Nelson or Pellew, as he tended to err on the side of caution, and for those reasons, he was a poor choice for command of the Inshore Squadron, which required a more aggressive posture. On the other hand, he was extremely organized, and was an active Whig politician, which brought along its own good and bad points.

“So you say,” Berkeley said, with a bit of sadness. “In any event, if the government won’t give me something to do, I will just make their lives unpleasant in Parliament.” They laughed at that together.

“I think my ability to do that in the Lords is one of the reasons I am constantly employed,” Granger said.

“I think there are other reasons, but that is probably one of them,” Berkeley allowed.

“Sail ho!” came the cry from the masthead, interrupting their conversation.

Granger grabbed his speaking trumpet. “Where away?” he demanded of the lookout. Berkeley watched, a bit surprised, as this polished captain he had come to appreciate transformed into a highly focused warrior right before his eyes.

“Off the starboard bow, my lord!” the man shouted.

Granger strode over to the main shrouds and climbed up far enough to see the vessel, only to find there were two ships together. It didn’t take him long to discern that one of the ships was a French privateer, and another was a British merchant brig the privateer had just captured. “Mr. Buckland, I want the topgallants on her, and shake out the reefs in the courses!” Granger ordered from the rigging. “Lay us on the starboard tack.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said dubiously, as Granger would be straining Renown’s spars to the maximum, but they were close enough to port to chance it, and capturing a privateer was worth the risk.

Granger watched the two ships as they grappled together, even as he felt Renown’s massive main mast creak with the stress of the additional sail. There was no fighting going on, but rather it appeared the French were merely allocating a prize crew to the captured ship. Now safely on the starboard tack, and with the sails sheeted home, Renown was all but charging at the stationary French ship. He suspected they’d be visible from the deck now, so he returned to his proper position and addressed Admiral Berkeley and his officers. “It seems there’s a French privateer grappled with a British merchant brig ahead.”

“They’ve seen us, my lord!” the lookout called. Inasmuch as a ship could have a mood, the privateer seemed to panic, hastily clapping on sail as she tried to separate herself from her prize, which was also trying to get into the wind. It would be a near thing at this point, as to whether Renown would get those ships within range before they could escape to Cherbourg. Granger thought of that port with its awesome fortifications, the ones that had so savaged Belvidera. If they could reach Cherbourg, they would be safe from Renown.

Granger looked at Renown’s rigging, trying to think of ways to coax more velocity from her, but could think of nothing. Then he remembered the lesson that Calvert had taught him long ago, about the need to trust his officers and seek their input. He’d only been with this ship for a bit more than a fortnight, while these men had served on her and dealt with her whims for much longer. “Gentlemen, I am open to ideas as to how to get more speed on Renown,” Granger said.

He got the standard responses, like setting the royals, which Renown could not handle, or knocking the masts loose from their lodgings. Granger was skeptical that would have any impact, while Carberry was much more sure that such a move was foolhardy. “My lord, I recommend that we run out the larboard battery,” Hornblower said thoughtfully.

“And just what are we going to shoot at, Mr. Hornblower?” Smith asked sarcastically, then shut up when Granger glared at him.

“My lord, it may reduce our cant to the starboard, and give us more bite in the water. I may be wrong, but I think it will reduce our leeway,” Hornblower explained.

It was a fascinating strategy. Granger looked at Berkeley, who merely raised an eyebrow in curiosity. In any event, it would do no harm to try his idea. “Mr. Buckland, send the hands to quarters and run out the larboard battery,” Granger ordered. “Show our colors!”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Buckland said, and the whistles began to peal, summoning the crew to quarters. The guns were run out shortly thereafter, and Renown’s flag was raised up her staff. “Will we clear for action, my lord?” Buckland asked.

“I do not think that is necessary,” Granger said with a smile. One ill-aimed broadside from Renown would probably sink both of those ships, while the privateer would probably only be armed with 6-pounders. Those cannon would barely make a dent in Renown’s solid sides, much less penetrate them. “I’d like to have the launch and the cutter ready to swing out.” Granger wasn’t about to put them in the water now, and add more drag to reduce Renown’s speed.

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said, and went to rig the tackles to accomplish that.

Granger turned to find Berkeley staring ahead at the two ships through his glass, engrossed in their maneuvers to escape. He put down his glass and turned to Granger. “I think we are going faster, my lord.”

“You think that running out the guns helped, sir?” Granger asked, a bit surprised.

“I do,” Berkeley confirmed. Granger watched and indeed they were gaining rapidly on the two vessels, even though they had disengaged and were tacking on sail.

“Mr. Harmon, try a ranging shot with the bow chaser,” Granger called.

“Aye aye, my lord,” he replied. Granger watched as Harmon trained the forward 9-pounder on the privateer. It was at extreme range, so a hit was most unlikely, but the 9-pounder was known in the fleet as being the most accurate of their cannon, so there was hope. Harmon took his time, carefully aiming the weapon, and then fired the gun. They watched, amazed, as the ball flew through the air and struck the privateer squarely amidships.

“That was good shooting,” Granger said.

“I wonder if running out the larboard guns made Renown a more stable platform as well?” Berkeley mused. That was something to contemplate in the future, not now, as action loomed.

The single shot, so well laid, must have convinced the privateer that she was in range of Renown’s awesome artillery. She raised her flag, and then lowered it in surrender. Renown pressed on, anxious to close the gap lest the French captain surmise that it had been a lucky shot. The captured brig was much slower than the privateer, so within minutes they were able to fire a shot at her too, and that convinced her to lower her colors as well.

“Mr. Buckland, you will take command of the privateer,” Granger said. “Take the launch and a strong boarding party, along with marines.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Buckland said with a grin. He’d be hoping this was the first step in promotion for him, assuming the Admiralty bought the privateer into the service.

“Mr. Harmon, I will trust you to sort out things on the captured brig,” Granger said. That would be easier, since would have already had a crew. “You may take the cutter.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Harmon said.

“Bit of prize money, my lord,” Berkeley said. “As if you need it.”

“While that may be true, sir, I suspect my officers will appreciate it nonetheless,” Granger said with a smile. They’d get prize money for the privateer, and a salvage reward for recapturing the brig. Not bad, Granger thought, for a simple run from Brest to Portsmouth. “I would like to request that you recognize Mr. Hornblower’s suggestion to increase our speed in your report.” Granger was subtly reminding Berkeley that, as Renown was flying his flag, it was for him to write the report on their capture of these two vessels. It may make his rather stunted homecoming a bit more palatable.

“I will do that,” Berkeley said, then went aft to the cabin to draft his report, while Granger took care of sorting out his little convoy and getting them on course for Portsmouth.


August 1800

HMS Renown



“Let go!” Granger ordered. That order was acknowledged by the splash as Renown’s anchor entered the water. “Mr. Roberts, take in the remaining sail.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Roberts said.

“Mr. Lomax, I would be obliged if you and Mr. Buckland would attend to our prizes,” Granger said to the purser.

“I will attend to that directly, my lord,” Lomax said. Renown had already swayed out her boats, so Lomax took the Jolly boat and headed over to Deux Peres, the French privateer they’d captured. She was a lovely vessel, almost brand new, and would make an ideal fleet auxiliary. Granger was confident that Admiralty would buy her into the fleet, and that meant that the prize money for her would be much more substantial.

“Mr. Roberts, that is my home,” Granger said, gesturing to his beautiful waterside estate in Cowes.

“I have heard of it, my lord. It is quite lovely,” Roberts said, which was fulsome praise for such a stoic individual.

“Thank you,” Granger replied, and then summoned Hornblower over to join them. “Mr. Hornblower is familiar with the reservoir just beyond the house. It has been modified to make watering a ship much easier.”

“Indeed, my lord?” Hornblower asked curiously.

“We have run a pipe from the basin to the water’s edge, and then out to the dock, as you may be able to discern,” Granger said, pointing at the contraption. “That means that there are no leaky canvas hoses to rig, at least for that part of the journey.”

“Ingenious, my lord,” Hornblower said, with rare enthusiasm.

“One of my footmen developed the idea, and it works quite well. I fear that Renown’s draft prevents us from closing further with the shore, and may make hoses impractical, but I would submit that the casks could be filled on the boats from that spout quite easily, saving some labor.”

“Indeed they could, my lord,” Hornblower said.

“Then, Mr. Roberts, with your permission, I will delegate watering the ship to Mr. Hornblower,” Granger said.

“Of course, my lord,” Roberts said.

Admiral Berkeley came up on deck at that moment. He had gone back to his cabin after they’d passed by the main anchorage, as if he wanted to avoid this moment. “Granger, I’d be obliged if you’d arrange a boat to take me to meet with the port admiral.”

“With pleasure, sir,” Granger said. “I was wondering if you had planned to travel to London?”

“I do indeed,” Berkeley said.

“If I may be so bold as to propose a course of action, sir, I was thinking that, after you meet with the port admiral, perhaps you would be willing to do me the honor of being my guest at my home.” Granger gestured across the water, to where the fountains were flowing happily.

“I have been anxious to see this palace you’ve built, my lord,” Berkeley said pleasantly.

“I was then thinking that I could impose upon you and join you when you traveled to London,” Granger suggested.

“That sounds like a dashed clever way on your part to save money on coach fare,” Berkeley teased.

“Upkeep on my fountains is most dear, sir,” Granger joked back, getting a laugh from him.

“I will return to your home after meeting with the admiral,” Berkeley said.

“In the meantime, I will have your things transferred ashore, sir,” Granger said. “We can store them for you until you are able to ship them home.”

“Most thoughtful of you, my lord,” Berkeley said formally. “And now, if you would be so good as to loan me a boat and strike my flag, I will call on the port admiral.”

“Of course, sir,” Granger said. He gave the orders, for that, and Berkeley’s flag came fluttering down from the mizzenmast, hopefully not for the last time ever, and the admiral headed off in Renown’s cutter to call on the port admiral.

Winkler had already stowed Granger’s possessions, including those loaned to him by St. Vincent and Troubridge, into the gig, and after seeking Granger’s permission, had them rowed ashore. Doggett and Jacobs went with him. Granger was unsure as to what Renown’s future held, but his orders had been explicit about him quitting the ship, and he had no desire to have his baggage and possessions encumbering his departure. He spent his time on the quarterdeck, directing the activity as Renown prepared to water herself and to deal with her reprovisioning. He was glad for the activity, as it kept him from feeling out of sorts.

“Boat ahoy!” he heard one of Renown’s lookouts call.

Renown!” came the reply. Granger hastened over to the side to see a shore boat approaching them, carrying Captain Sawyer.

“Mr. Roberts, please prepare for the return of Captain Sawyer,” Granger ordered.

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said, with a hint of dread.

Granger stood on the deck stoically, watching the entry port as Sawyer hauled himself through it amidst the chirping of the bosun’s mate’s whistles. “Welcome aboard, Captain,” Granger said formally.

“My lord,” Sawyer said curtly, in what could only be a rude gesture. “Where’s Mr. Buckland?”

“Mr. Buckland has been serving as prize master,” Granger said. “If you will look astern, you will see that Renown was able to capture two prizes while returning to Portsmouth.” Sawyer’s face bulged with fury, since he would share no part of the prize money, while his officers and men would of course get their portion. Granger was very aware that their capture of those prizes was pure luck, but it had the effect of making Sawyer look even worse.

“Well get him back here!” Sawyer demanded.

“Captain, I suggest that first you read yourself in,” Granger said, then turned to Roberts. “Mr. Roberts, have the hands lay aft.” Until Sawyer read himself in, he was not in command, and could not give orders as he’d just tried.

“Aye aye, my lord,” Roberts said.

Sawyer composed himself, and then when the hands were assembled, he read the orders from the Admiralty, reappointing him to Renown. When he was done, he turned to Roberts. “Send word to Mr. Buckland to report back here immediately.”

“Aye aye sir,” Roberts said.

“I trust you found my cabin to be comfortable, my lord,” Sawyer said, in an almost smarmy way.

“I was able to make it so, Captain,” Granger said coolly.

“After we have accounted for my stores, we can have you sent ashore, my lord,” Sawyer said, all but throwing Granger off of the ship.

“There are no stores to account for, Captain,” Granger said smoothly. “I was able to provide my own, and all of my things have already been removed. You will find your cabin much as you left it.”

Sawyer was quite annoyed by that, since he’d undoubtedly planned to overcharge Granger substantially for the things he’d left behind. “Quite so. Pass the word for Gumbel.”

“Gumbel is no longer aboard Renown, Captain,” Granger said.

“What? Where has he gone? Is he aboard that prize? Get him back here!” Sawyer said, completely flummoxed.

It was obvious to Granger that Sawyer was struggling to maintain his sanity, and he cursed to hell the idiocy of the Lords of the Admiralty who were determined to leave this madman in charge of such a vital resource as Renown. At the same time, he felt a bit of pity for this man, who was clearly fighting his own demons. “Sir, if you would oblige me, I’d like to relay that to you in your cabin.”

Sawyer stared at Granger and Granger could almost see his mind clearing a bit. “Quite so, my lord.” He led Granger back to his cabin, even as he looked around suspiciously, as if Granger had left some booby trap there to harm him.

“Gumbel was found guilty by a court martial of stealing powder from His Majesty,” Granger said.

“Who set him up for this? What is this nonsense?” Sawyer demanded, coming a bit unglued.

“I assure you, Captain, it was not nonsense, and a jury of some ten captains led by Captain Troubridge reviewed the evidence,” Granger said. He relayed the events to Sawyer, who alternated visibly between anger and despair.

“You set him up for this!” Sawyer accused, when Granger was done.

“A man was found stealing from the Crown,” Granger said calmly. “That I discovered his malfeasance is something to be lauded, not dismissed.”

“So you say,” Sawyer growled.

“I think you should know, Captain, that during the trial, I was questioned as to whether I found any evidence that you were involved in Gumbel’s graft,” Granger said, and watched Sawyer’s eyes widen. “Your officers were queried about that as well. All of us were quite clear in noting that we found nothing to implicate you in this scheme.”

“Well I wasn’t involved, so that’s the truth,” Sawyer said.

“In any event, I will take my leave of you. Good luck, Captain,” Granger said.

“Not even a by your leave, or a request for a boat?” Sawyer demanded, as if he planned to make Granger grovel for a conveyance to his home.

“There is no need. I have my own boat waiting,” Granger said curtly. He left the cabin, said his goodbyes to the officers, and descended into the small boat they kept tied to the dock, manned by his own servants.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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Poor Buckland and Hornblower left to deal with a batty captain....


George is of course lucky now, but his luck has had many ups and downs, some quite deep...


More please!

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I love that George makes friends -- and money -- wherever he goes. On the other hand, it'll be interesting to see where (poor thwarted :gikkle:) Sawyer turns up next. 


Thanks for another excellent chapter! :hug:

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Well Mark I am surprised Gumbel did not hang for this.  50 lbs of powder is quite a lot.  I guess there are limits on punishment , on crimes.  I am enjoying this story a lot.  As well as your others.  Looking forward to your next chapter.

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Mister Arbour,

Please excuse the somewhat formal manner of addressing you. Even though I feel I know you well as I have, over the last few months, been following your stories, so, while I feel I know you well, I have not been able to introduce myself to you before. I am sure that you would not check into any comments added to previous books in this tale. Just so that you will know me better, I am a retired College Professor currently living in Brazil with my life partner Jose who is of Portuguese (continental) birth and living here in retirement much as am I. Over the years (since 2008) he, being much younger than am I, is building a home for us here and each passing month finds us more and more comfortably situated. At an age of just a few days short of my eighty-fifth birthday, I find myself relying on him for his excellent care.

Now I am known to several gay authors as a nitpicker, but I have been somewhat frustrated by being unable to find grammatical or historical errors in your works. You are an excellent writer and a craftsman as well. In this saga, we are just entering into a time in the history of the Napoleonic Wars with which I am somewhat familiar having followed, because of my relationship with my partner, with the effects that these conflicts had upon Portugal and Brazil on the one hand and Spain on the other. Because of that interest in history, I am aware that shortly in your saga we will come upon the time when France, hiding behind the skirts of her ally, Spain, turned her interests to attacking Portugal and the Spanish attempted three times to defeat her by attacking Lisbon. It was at the time of one of these attacks that the entire government of Portugal fled to Brazil, loading men, women, and children as well as horses, carriages, etc. aboard ships and sailing (under the protection of the British fleet) to move the Portuguese government.(Everything but the castle, is the humorous way in which the hegira was described at the time) to Brazil, making that former colony into the seat of the government of Portugal as well as increasing its status to that of a kingdom. Having familiarized me with the Portuguese version of that story, I am interested to see if and if so, how, you interject that flight into your saga.

Congratulations on your authorship skills and as well upon your command of history.

Misterwill (Will Hawkins, currently, residing in Bahia, Brazil) 

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Thank you for sharing your art.  You inspire me to love those 18th century His Britainnic Majesty’ Royal Navy ships.  


Merci beaucoup! 



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