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    Mark Arbour
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  • 5,151 Words

Northern Exposure - 52. Chapter 52

A bit of a cliffhanger. The next chapter should be posted in two weeks, so if that bugs you, wait to read it.

May 8, 1801

The Winter Palace

St. Petersburg, Russia


Tsar Alexander was not the showman some monarchs were, and preferred intimate family dinners to large affairs embracing the whole court, but on occasion such ceremonies were necessary, and tonight was just such a night. Granger admired the way the palace had been transformed into a festive place for the event, with decorations accentuating the beauty of the rooms, and footmen there to offer drinks promptly, as one would expect of the Tsar of all the Russias. Since this was a formal event, he had worn his uniform adorned with most of his decorations and felt quite self-conscious as a result, even though he certainly wasn’t as ostentatious looking as most of the Russian officers. He had worn his Ottoman star but refused to don the chelengk the Sultan had sent him, which seemed sufficient to please the Ottoman envoy. He thought Daventry, with his sleek black jacket that was largely unornamented, looked much more elegant, especially since his powdered hair contrasted starkly with the black.

Granger stood with Daventry, chatting about their latest correspondence from Britain, for their letters from home had finally gotten through to them. Everyone was healthy and doing well, and in fact there was no major news save a caustic letter from St. Vincent. “I have read all of my letters, and I am impressed that between the two of us we were able to divine the situation with the government quite effectively,” Daventry noted, even as both of them scanned the room, noting who was there, and who was talking to whom.

“I think that is mostly due to your astute insights,” Granger allowed.

“As usual, you underestimate yourself,” Daventry said, slightly annoyed at Granger’s modesty.

“I received fulsome letters from Mr. Addington and Lord Hawkesbury,” Granger said, deftly changing the subject away from himself. “It appears that most of the new government is highly supportive of our decision to come to St. Petersburg.”

“I received similar plaudits,” Daventry said. “You said most?”

“In my packet was a letter from Lord St. Vincent that was not pleasant,” Granger said with a grimace.

“What did he say?”

“He wanted to know why I presumed to leave my command and go off gallivanting around Russia,” Granger said. St. Vincent’s words had stung him hard, as it was painful to think he may have been derelict in his duties as regard Valiant. “He told me that he would have expected me to have stayed with my ship, as is the sworn duty of every Royal Navy captain, so she could be an integral part of the fleet attacking Copenhagen.”

“I wouldn’t worry about his words,” Daventry said. “We have achieved a stunning success here.”

“As I mentioned, once one has vexed St. Vincent, he rarely relents and carries a grudge,” Granger said dubiously.

“How can his opinion be so different than that of the rest of the government?” Daventry asked.

“Ah, some information I have that you do not,” Granger said. “St. Vincent took the Admiralty on the condition that he be left alone to run it. That means he has created his own island in the government, one that does not coordinate with other departments. I am told he rarely attends cabinet meetings.”

“That is quite interesting, and very dangerous,” Daventry said. “In that situation, all those members of the Commons you control, as well as your voice in the Lords, will have little impact on him.”

“That is my read on it as well,” Granger said. “I fear that when I return to England, I will find no prospects of retaining command of Valiant, or getting any other ship for that matter.”

“St. Vincent is not immune to influence,” Daventry posited.

“I think you will find that he is,” Granger said.

“Then you are lucky that it appears peace may be achieved in the near future,” Daventry said.

“Perhaps,” Granger allowed.

“Which brings me to another topic, somewhat related,” Daventry observed laconically. “When did you plan to return to England?”

Granger grimaced at that question because he’d been struggling with it himself. He could have left a week ago, but he hadn’t. He was enjoying his life here in St. Petersburg, where he was quite enamored with the Tsar, and he had no desire to return to face an irate Lord St. Vincent. “The ice is now melted enough that transit is possible.”

“Yet you are still here,” Daventry said.

“And so are you,” Granger replied. He thought about things for a second, then continued. “I do not know why I feel this way, but it is as if there is some reason for me to still be here.”

“You think God is speaking to you?” Daventry challenged playfully.

“I think it is more likely to be an evil spirit,” Granger said, making them chuckle, then resigned himself to the inevitable. “I would suggest that we plan to leave within the next two weeks.”

“I am amenable to that plan, unless your instincts are correct and something else comes up,” Daventry said. He scanned the room again then nudged Granger and gestured to the opposite side of the ballroom at a group of gentlemen. “The French have sent an emissary to convince the Tsar to go to war against us.” There was a man in the familiar French army uniform who appeared to be a general, but he was facing away from Granger, who could thus not be sure.

“They will be wasting their time,” Granger said.

“The Tsar has committed to allying with us?” Daventry asked excitedly.

“The Tsar is committed to being at war with no one,” Granger said. “He wants peace to reform Russia and will only fight a war if he is provoked.”

“He has told you this himself?” Daventry asked skeptically. No one, not even Daventry, knew how close Granger was to Alexander.

“He did,” Granger confirmed. “I am convinced he was sincere.”

“There is no harm in trying, I would think,” Daventry responded a bit dejectedly.

“I think that actually there is,” Granger said. “He is a sovereign who is on a mission, and trying to cajole or nag or persuade him to follow a different course will most likely annoy him.”

Daventry nodded. “Let us hope the French are that brutish.”

The Frenchman turned around and Granger smiled. “Excuse me,” he said, and began to walk toward him.

Daventry stopped him with his hand on Granger’s arm. “You cannot just walk up to the French envoy and start chatting with him. You will create an incident.”

“I know that man,” Granger said boldly. “And if I create an incident, we can write it off to me being a boorish naval officer.”

“No one would believe that,” Daventry said, even as he released Granger’s arm.

The Frenchman had turned back to speak to the gentlemen with him, one of whom was Count Panin, while Granger strode purposely toward him. Such a direct approach attracted the attention of most of the guests, as if they expected Granger to draw his sword and plunge it into the Frenchman’s belly. He chuckled to himself, thinking even if he tried such a thing, his gilt sword, dull as it was, would probably merely leave a bruise. Granger noted Panin’s alarmed expression at his approach, and his reaction caused the Frenchman to turn around right before Granger was up to him. “General Duroc, what a pleasure to see you here,” Granger said, bowing respectfully.

“Lord Granger, I had heard you were in St. Petersburg, and I am most glad to see that rumor is true,” Duroc said warmly. Duroc had been with Napoleon in Egypt, and after the Battle of the Nile, and it was he whom Granger primarily worked with to parole the French prisoners. Duroc had spent much time aboard Vanguard after the battle. Duroc was from a petty noble family, and although he had made his career in the army and was quite attached to Bonaparte, he managed to retain some of his aristocratic social skills.

“It was a bit warmer when we last met,” Granger observed, getting a laugh from Duroc.

“But the circumstances were similar, in that there had just been an English naval victory,” Duroc said.

“Those happen so frequently it is hardly unique,” Granger joked, getting a laugh from Duroc.

“Much as it is with our army,” he responded, alluding to perennial British success afloat and the seemingly unbeatable French army on land. “And how is your admiral? No doubt he is basking in the glory of an additional victory?”

“And General Bonaparte is different in that way?” Granger challenged, making them both laugh.

“You are quite correct,” he agreed, then laughed some more.

“I heard rumors that peace talks are underway,” Granger said in a questioning way.

“My information suggests they are just beginning, so we will have to hope they are successful,” Duroc said.

“Indeed we will,” Granger said. “I apologize for interrupting you gentlemen.”

“It was certainly no interruption,” Panin said smoothly.

“It is fortunate you are indeed here, as I have some letters for you,” Duroc said. “I will make arrangements to send them to you.”

“That is most kind of you, General,” Granger said. He bowed to the men, then left them. The courtiers resumed their business, as the hoped-for confrontation was clearly not going to happen. Life at Court could be tedious, so any excitement was welcome to liven things up. Granger assumed that the letters Duroc would carry would primarily be from Talleyrand, and that made Granger smile, as he enjoyed the wily French diplomat’s wit and insight. He was going to make his way back to Daventry, but his fellow peer was conversing with a count whom Granger found to be tiresome. The sound of laughter attracted his attention, and he turned slightly to see Countess von Lieven chatting with two younger army officers, both wearing Colonel’s uniforms. One was handsome, but the other more charismatic. This was quite a contrast from the dour young woman Granger had encountered thus far. Granger opted to walk over and chat with her.

“My lord,” Countess von Lieven said coquettishly as Granger approached. “I am so glad that you are here.”

“No, it is I who am glad, for your presence complements this room perfectly,” Granger said as he bowed and kissed her hand.

“You are suggesting I am a sofa?” she asked, making all three men laugh.

“Indeed, I am suggesting that you are as beautiful as one of His Imperial Majesty’s sofas,” Granger said. That made von Lieven chuckle, and annoyed the more charismatic of the two guards.

“And who are you?” he demanded rudely of Granger. Granger was decidedly senior to a Russian colonel.

Granger gave the young man his steeliest look. “You call me ‘sir’,” Granger snapped, in the same tone he’d used ever since he’d been promoted to lieutenant. The colonel only then seemed to understand his mistake.

“I am sorry, sir,” he said respectfully.

“I am George Viscount Granger, Captain in His Britannic Majesty’s Navy, a Knight of the Bath, and a few other things as well,” Granger said, as he flippantly gestured at his Ottoman star. That last phrase was said in a joking way.

“A pleasure to meet you, my lord,” the man said, then he and his colleague excused themselves.

“You chase away the handsome men who seek my company, as if you are protecting my virtue,” the countess said.

“Protecting your virtue was certainly not my intention, quite the opposite in fact,” Granger riposted.

“Then I should probably avoid being alone with you,” she said, batting her eyes a bit.

“That is perhaps wise, but much less fun,” Granger said.

“Perhaps,” she said.

“It is wonderful to see you having fun, or at least pretending to,” Granger said with a broad smile. He glanced across the room where her mother looked at them in a disapproving way. “Much better than looking like her.”

That made both of them laugh. “Stop!” she said in between laughter. “You will get me in even more trouble than I am already in.”

“I think you will find that is my sole purpose in life,” Granger replied with a slightly lecherous tone. She rolled her eyes at that statement.

“Your words were right, and I see that now. I am less popular with my mother, as she thinks I am acting like a harlot.”

“One can only hope that is true,” Granger said, getting a playful slap on the arm for his insinuation.

“You are the reason women are supposed to be dour and silent,” she said.

“You are much too charming and vibrant to act like that,” Granger said, and smiled when his words embarrassed her. “I am told there is to be dancing after dinner.”

“That is how things have been arranged,” she said.

“I am wondering if you will save a few dances for me,” he said.

“I will do just that, but only because I have seen you dance, and noticed that you are quite agile,” she said.

“As are you,” Granger responded. “Perhaps they will play a waltz, and you can help me improve my footwork.” The waltz had made its way from Austria to Russia and was popular here with the younger crowd. People like the countess’s mother would probably view it as lewd and inappropriate because of the close body contact. Granger suspected that the more puritan society in Britain would feel the same way and fancied that it would be a while before it became popular in London. That was unfortunate, because he thoroughly enjoyed it, and was becoming an excellent waltzer.

“You will probably step on my feet and rip my dress,” she said dubiously.

“There is always some risk in exchange for a reward,” Granger noted sagely.

“And what is to be my reward?” she asked flirtatiously.

“You will get to be very close to me, and will be firmly in my embrace,” Granger said softly as he leaned in toward her ear.

“That sounds like a penance, and not a reward, my lord,” she said, laughing.

“If you really think that, you will avoid dancing with me,” Granger replied.

“I will save at least one dance for you,” she said.

“I will look forward to that,” Granger said, then bowed and kissed her hand in a very seductive way.

Dinner turned out to be a rather formal and stolid affair, and Granger had not been gifted with charming people to chat with. He found that he spent most of his time gazing at either the Tsar, Pavel, or Countess von Lieven. Granger could understand quite clearly why the Tsar did not enjoy such events. Granger had several conversations with both Pavel and the Tsar about the Court in general, and the general consensus was that the Russian aristocracy was too conservative and not ready to take on a role in governing the country. It was one thing to manage estates and serfs, it was an entirely different scenario to influence foreign policy and state finances. Looking at them now, even this favored elite, Granger had to agree that they lacked the sophistication of his peers in Britain, such as Lords Grey, Hawkesbury, and Spencer.

After dinner, when the ladies excused themselves and the men conversed, Granger caught the eye of the Tsar, who shook his head in an almost imperceptible way, to convey to Granger that their planned tryst for tonight was cancelled. And in a similarly imperceptible way, Granger nodded slightly, to acknowledge that he understood. Even those gestures, in this snake pit of an Imperial Court, could be imagined or understood by a very astute observer. Granger masked his disappointment and engaged in inane small talk with the cream of Russian society.

The men rejoined the ladies in the ballroom, where shortly the orchestra began to play. The Tsar led out the Tsarina, then dancing became more random. Granger made his way slowly toward the place where the Countess von Lieven had been sitting, noting that there were several other young ladies gathered, gossiping in an obvious way. Granger timed his arrival to coincide with the time that the charismatic colonel delivered her back to her seat after completing their dance. She spotted Granger and deftly managed to get rid of her prior dancing partner. “I am wondering if you have a dance available, madam?” Granger asked with a bow.

“Why my lord, I have decided to risk my health with you on the dance floor,” she said, grinning.

He led her out to a minuet, which they effected with significant flair. He was going to do the polite thing and escort her back, but the band began playing a waltz. “I believe that to truly risk your life, or at least your feet, you must indulge me with a waltz.”

“I am torn, because I have promised you such a dance, while if we dance twice in a row, the tongues will begin to wag,” she said.

He took her into his arm in the correct pose, caught the beat, and they were off, swirling around the dance floor. He decided the waltz was much more exhilarating than the staid dances one normally found in English polite society. It seemed as if the song ended much too soon. “I am wondering what they would say if we danced again, and again, and again,” Granger said, raising an eyebrow.

“I suspect we would see my mother’s expression implode from her frown,” she said, making both of them laugh loudly.

“I do not want to cause you any problems,” Granger said, and made to lead her back, when she stopped him.

“I do not care what she thinks,” she said, and so they danced. Granger began to understand what the prim and proper doyennes of St. James’s Court feared from this dance. His closeness to the countess, their mutual physical exertions along with the feeling of her in his arms and her brushing against him, had given him an erection. Thinking about it only made it bigger, and that unfortunately coincided with the end of a song.

“Perhaps another dance?” Granger asked, although it may have sounded like a plea.

“I will save you from this latest predicament,” she said, looking down at his groin boldly. Instead of another dance, she led him off the floor, using her body and her jacket to cover up his condition. Granger should have been horrified, and that should have shrunken him back to a normal size, but instead, he found that even more arousing. He was so consumed with lust he barely noticed where they were going. They ended up in a rabbit warren of rooms, where she opened the door to one and ushered him then closed it behind them.

Granger noticed only that it was small, and it was perfectly appointed, then she was in his arms, their mouths met, and they were consumed with each other. For a woman who was a member of the Russian Court, Granger found her to be a very poor lover, focusing on groping and not caressing, acting as if there was barely time to enjoy the act of coupling. So just as Granger had taught her how to shine at court, he took his time, and taught her how to let her body go during sex. When they were done, lying side by side, appreciating the afterglow, she suddenly got a panicked expression. “You seem disturbed,” Granger said, even as they both got up and began replacing the garments they’d shed.

“I have ruined my reputation,” she said sadly, then smiled at Granger. “I enjoyed that so much, it is probably worth it.”

He chuckled. “You were exquisite,” he said, and gave her a loving kiss on the cheek making her blush. “In any event, I doubt your reputation has been harmed.”

“How can you say that?” she asked histrionically. “People will have seen us leave. People will note that we’ve been gone for a long time.”

“You will make up an excuse that you took me to see one of the Tsar’s paintings,” he said, then picked one he had seen so they could keep their story straight.

“They will not believe it,” she said, even as they walked back through the small hallways, until they reached larger ones, and ultimately the big corridors of the palace.

“I will tell you my read on this, as it pertains to Russian society,” Granger said, in a playfully pontifical way.

“Please do share your words of esteemed wisdom,” she responded sardonically, making them both chuckle.

“I think that as long as you do not have an affair with a man who is beneath you socially, you will not be scorned,” Granger said. “I personally think that it will enhance your reputation.”

“It will be enhanced because people will now think I am a harlot,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Rather, men will think that there is a chance, if they are charming and attentive enough, that they may be able to conquer your virtue,” Granger said. “You must be a challenge, but not impossible.”

“That is an interesting observation,” she said, and squeezed his arm. “I think I will follow your advice, even though it will enrage my mother even more.”

“Then that seems like a very good reason to take just that course of action,” Granger joked back, making them both laugh.

A number of hours later, Granger found himself in the carriage with Pavel and Daventry, heading back to Stroganov Palace. All of them had consumed a great deal of alcohol and were a bit rowdy as a result. “It was noted that you vanished for a goodly amount of time in the company of Countess von Lieven,” Daventry said in his suggestive tone.

“Indeed I was,” Granger said. “The countess gave me some wonderful insights on some of the Tsar’s Titians.”

“Titians?” Pavel asked with a snicker, making Daventry laugh at his sophomoric humor.

“They are most lovely,” Daventry added.

“They are,” Granger agreed. “I found them to be bursting forth with a beauty and an energy that was arousing.” They all laughed uproariously at that and continued to make jokes as if they were still at school for the rest of the ride home.

The carriage pulled through the open gates and up to the portico. Granger got out of the carriage first and glanced around, enjoying the fact that the weather was no longer frigid. It had improved to the point where now it was merely cold. Granger spotted movement and turned toward it in time to see a human shape darting toward him. He instinctively grabbed for his sword, only to remember at touch it was the useless gilt thing. He need not have worried, as the shape was intercepted by two burly footmen. “What is going on?” Pavel asked, then repeated his question in Russian. The footmen stopped dragging the shape away and one replied.

“What did he say?” Granger asked.

“That man, or boy, cannot speak, so they do not know what he was doing,” Pavel spat.

“Bring him here,” Granger said, a directive to be conveyed by Pavel to the footmen, who obliged him. They brought the shape over into the light and revealed him to be a man, or perhaps a boy he was so slight. Granger noticed his darker hair and coloring, and eyes that Granger had only seen on Chinese people before, but this man looked different than them. He was soaking wet and shivering as a result. That he was that wet was surprising, since there had been no rain. All of that was drowned out by his eyes, which conveyed not malice, but an intensity so strong Granger did not recall seeing anything like that before. “Do you understand French?” Granger asked. He shook his head. “English?” Granger asked, with little hope that he would. The young man surprised him by nodding and made a noise.

Suddenly he pointed his finger at his own chest, then pointed his finger at Granger’s stomach, as if to indicate he had come here to see him. Granger looked back into his eyes and could feel the man’s desperation, and knew this was much more important than him just asking for a few coins to live on.

“Let’s have him thrown out,” Pavel said with a growl.

“No,” Granger said. “He has come here to see me, and I want to know why. Can we dry him off and warm him up?”

“We can,” Pavel said with resignation. He snapped orders to the footmen, who led him off toward the kitchen. He was surprised when Granger followed him.

Daventry grabbed his arm softly to stop him. “George, what are you doing?”

“My instincts tell me that he has information to convey to me, and that it is important,” Granger said, then continued following him.

“How do you know that?” Daventry asked, even as he walked along with Granger. Pavel joined them more out of curiosity than anything, so they continued their conversation in French to include him.

“Perhaps it was his expression, or perhaps it is the fact that he was here, and soaking wet,” Granger said. “Can you explain how he got to be that way?”

“I can think of a number of reasons,” Daventry said.

“And all of them are probably suspicious, are they not?” Granger challenged. “And why can he not speak?”

“There are a number of reasons for that as well,” he said, but more skeptically, as he started to understand Granger’s point of view.

“And why is he here, evidently unarmed?” Granger asked. “If he were planning malice, he is remarkably bad at it.”

Daventry thought about that. “It will certainly do us no harm to be charitable Christians and help dry him off, while getting the answers to your questions.”

Pavel’s curiosity was also aroused, enough that he gave directions to have the young man cared for. He mostly shivered in front of the hot fire in the kitchen while Pavel spoke to him extensively in Russian and got mostly nods in answer to his questions. “He will need to be cleaned up, and then they will find him some clothing and bring him up to us,” Pavel said.

Granger walked up to him and put a hand on his shoulder gently. “They are going to warm you up, give you some dry clothes, then bring you to see me.” He got agitated, but Granger squeezed his shoulder to calm him. “I will hear you out.” That was an odd statement, since the man could not talk, but it seemed to suffice.

The three of them strode through the bowels of the palace where the servants worked, a place Granger and Daventry had not yet seen. Those servants who were around were horrified to see them, making Granger think that Pavel spent little time here as well. They made their way to a sitting room and relaxed into comfortable chairs, as Pavel poured them some port.

“I have not seen anyone quite like him before,” Daventry observed.

“I had initially thought he was Chinese, but he is not,” Granger said.

“You are correct,” Pavel said. “He is from one of the Khanates, and is a Mongol.”

“Hard to see in him a descendant of the famed Genghis,” Daventry noted.

“I would wait until we understand his story before we make that assumption,” Granger said, remembering those eyes.

“I will give your Mongol warrior the benefit of the doubt,” Daventry allowed. They bantered about the evening, and shared court gossip for almost an hour before the young Mongol appeared before them. Now that he was not freezing, he seemed more relaxed, and not uncomfortable in these opulent surroundings, which surprised Granger.

“Where did you come from?” Granger asked. He made writing motions, so Pavel gave him a piece of paper and a pencil. “Do you write?” He shook his head.

“What good is paper and a pencil going to be, then?” Daventry asked, but shut up under Granger’s withering look.

He drew a picture of a house with an ‘x’ through it, then a picture of bars. “Think of it as charades,” Granger said, to reengage them. “These bars, are they a prison or a jail?”

He nodded emphatically. “You escaped from prison?” Daventry asked. He nodded again. “Which prison?”

He gestured again at the house that was crossed out. “Do you have any ideas what this might be?” Granger asked Pavel.

“A house that is no more,” Pavel said, then stiffened and asked the Mongol questions in Russian. He nodded enthusiastically, while Granger and Daventry looked on confused. “This is the Secret House,” Pavel said to them in French.

“Secret House?” Daventry asked.

“It is a prison that is part of the Peter and Paul Fortress, so it is a prison within a fortress. No one can escape from there,” he said.

“Evidently this man can,” Daventry noted. “Perhaps I was hasty to so readily dismiss your Mongol warrior.”

“Perhaps,” Granger said. “What is this Secret House used for?”

“It is where the Tsar puts dangerous political prisoners,” Pavel said.

“Are you a dangerous political prisoner?” Granger asked the man in English.

He shook his head and stood up, then took off his shirt. He began to turn around, and they all expected to see the marks from intensive flogging, but instead there were two images seemingly carved into his skin. “What are they?” Daventry asked, even as they studied his back.

“This one appears to be a bell,” Granger said, running his fingers over the rough edges of the scar. The Mongol nodded.

“I would say this one is a bird,” Daventry suggested. The Mongol shook his head.

“It certainly appears to be some sort of bird,” Pavel noted. The Mongol shook his head again. It had large wings, and a belligerent looking beak, so they were unclear as to how it could not be a bird. Granger pondered it, then realized that this was no mere bird.

“I think it is an illustrious bird,” Granger said. The Mongol nodded. “An eagle, perhaps?” The Mongol nodded again emphatically, to show that they had finally interpreted the skin carvings correctly. “So we have an eagle and a bell.”

“What does that mean?” Daventry asked.

“Could these be symbols?” Granger asked out loud. The Mongol nodded furiously. “Perhaps from a coat of arms?” He nodded again.

“Who has a bell and an eagle in their arms?” Daventry asked.

Granger pondered it, and then the mystery suddenly became clear in his mind. “The eagle is a symbol of the Earl of Leicester, and the bell is a symbol for Lord Chartley.” The Mongol turned around and embraced Granger, so happy that he got it.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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Posted (edited)

Interesting I just finished rereading this saga, and was hoping for a new chapter, and here it is. There are two very interesting parts. The first is what I expected with an added twist ( the budding relationship of Granger and the countess. The second part is even more mysterious. Why is this Mongol here in St. Petersburg? The answers has got to be to meet George. We know Chartley has not been heard from in sometime. I can only believe this man was send to George by Chartley. At this point so many thoughts are going through my mind. Is Chartley here in St. Petersburg? Maybe in prison? And maybe even more important why? Mark of all the cliffhangers, this is the most puzzling. Waiting for two weeks is  cruel. I hope you know that. Will this keep George in Russia longer? And how does the situation with St. Vincent play into this? I can't see George beached, not during a war.  Again this chapter raises more questions than it answers. On a personal note I hope Mark, you are  well and everything is good for you. Please get the next chapter posted as soon as possible. Again thank you so much this awesome saga.

Edited by rjo
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Gt work, gt pace and a horny waltzing Granger.  All in a day’s work.  
I continue to be in awe of Mark’s skill.  

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Two points:


!. Didn't Granger promise his wife he would not have sex with another women. He just had his second love making session( although a bit of a tutorial for the Countess) in Russia. I think he will have to come clean when  he is back in London.


2. Granger is really worried about St Vincent's severe criticism of him and fears he won't get a command.  Will he be in the dog house still when he returns. Or---Will events or new tasks or new communications--like the letters conveyed by the French general-  in Russia over the next two weeks work out to help Granger with St, Vincent? What might the Tsar do when he learns Granger is leaving in two weeks and might he help Granger out in some way?

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