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    Mark Arbour
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Odyssey - 67. Chapter 67

September 25, 1798

Aboard Dove

 

The Dove was moving gently in response to the light seas that pelted her, while the brisk late September winds reminded Winkler that fall was here, and that winter would soon be upon them. After the miserable heat of the Egyptian Wadi, he welcomed the cooler temperatures.

“We will reach Spithead tomorrow,” Commander Clement said to him affably as he joined him by the rail. “I have to deliver my dispatches, so I will take you along with me. That way I can help you get through to the admiral.”

“We would be most appreciative, sir,” Winkler said, then went below to his cabin. Clement had been an excellent host on their voyage to England. He had largely left Winkler and Jacobs to themselves, but had made sure they were provided with excellent rations, along with the nice cabin they’d been permitted to share. In fact, Clement had treated them with a marked degree of respect; one that Winkler suspected was relatively rare. He tended to attribute Clement’s attitude to the orders he presumably got from St. Vincent, and from his probable respect for Granger.

Winkler thought about that, and the attitude of the other officers and the crew of the Dove, and only then did it dawn on him how very strangely they’d been treated. Winkler had been so absorbed in Jacobs, he’d ignored the people around him. Everyone had been friendly and polite, but distant. It was as if they did not want to get to know Winkler and Jacobs too well. Suddenly the complacency which Winkler had shrouded himself in was ripped away from him, and instead he saw danger. His years serving Granger had taught him to beware of things that seemed too easy, that seemed to grant what was expected too readily.

“What vexes you?” Jacobs asked, in his easy American drawl.

“I have learned to be suspicious when things are too easy, and in this case, things are too easy,” Winkler said.

“Too easy?”

“Everyone on this vessel treats us correctly, quite nicely even, but they keep their distance from us. They avoid us,” Winkler said.

“Maybe that is how they treat passengers,” Jacobs pondered.

“Perhaps, but even the captain’s steward and other servants act that way, and that is most unusual,” Winkler said.

“Now that you mention it, they have been aloof,” Jacobs said. “There’s even a Yankee on board who has little to say to me.”

“We arrive in Spithead tomorrow,” Winkler added. “I am wont to know what all this means.”

“You are carrying official reports with you,” Jacobs said. “You are also carrying letters for others, including Her Ladyship.” Winkler nodded. “There may be people who don’t want those letters delivered.”

“That is most likely true,” Winkler agreed.

“Why don’t you parse through them and separate the official ones from the personal ones and I’ll go see what I can find out.”

Winkler stared at him for a few seconds as he thought about what Jacobs was saying, and then nodded. “Be careful.” Jacobs got up and left the cabin, leaving Winkler to filter through the dispatch bag Granger had sent. He separated all the letters to the Admiralty from the personal correspondence, and got inspired. He took the new tunic he’d made for Jacobs and began to sew pouches into the lining. It was not easy to create pouches big enough to hold the letters, but not so big as to be noticeable, but he labored on until he had achieved that goal. It had taken him nigh on two hours to accomplish that, and he had been so focused on his tasks that he had not even noticed Jacobs had yet to return. Only now, with his job complete, Winkler had time to worry. He sat in the cabin and fretted for an additional thirty minutes, and was about to go search for Jacobs when he slipped into the cabin.

“Did you separate the letters?” he asked. He appeared to be quite upset.

“I did,” Winkler said. “What is wrong?”

“It is unlikely that we will reach London alive,” Jacobs said.

“What? How do you know this?” Winkler asked.

“I was keeping an eye on the manger,” Jacobs said. “I had noticed a couple of the lads checking on the animals at strange hours.”

“Indeed?” Winkler said.

“They were going off to bugger each other,” Jacobs said. Winkler was not overly surprised. That had happened aboard Belvidera, where two marines had actually been caught in the act by Granger himself. “I interrupted them.”

“That wasn’t very nice of you,” Winkler said, allowing himself to smile briefly.

“They weren’t going to talk until I threatened to report them,” he said. “They said the word is that there are people who don’t want the letters you’re carrying to reach London.”

“What about the reports?” Winkler asked.

“I’m not sure. I got the feeling those would be passed on if they would cause no harm. They seemed to think they weren’t a threat.” Did that mean that someone in the government, or the Admiralty, could be colluding with these people, whoever they were?

“Harm? What kind of harm could they cause?” Winkler asked, truly confused.

“There’s some powerful people that knows Lord Granger went off after Sir Tobias Maidstone. They seem worried about what His Lordship said in those letters,” Jacobs said.

“So what do we do?” Winkler mused.

“We have to get off this ship,” Jacobs said.

“We’re in the Channel,” Winkler said. “That’s not likely to happen.”

“Well, if we don’t, we’re dead men,” Jacobs said.

“How are they planning to apprehend us?” Winkler said.

“They aren’t entirely sure, but they think the plan is for us to be waylaid by highwaymen, or that’s how the story will go,” Jacobs said.

“Let me think on this,” Winkler said, and began to ponder their situation. “The correspondence they want is sewn into your new tunic.”

Jacobs took the garment and put it on in place of his old one. He modeled it for Winkler, and they were both impressed that the hidden letters did not create unsightly bulges. “You did a good job,” Jacobs said with a smile. “But that is nothing unusual.”

“Your form is large enough to make it easy,” Winkler said, barely able to keep the lust from his voice when he mentioned Jacobs’ body. “No matter what happens, you must get those letters to Lady Granger in Portland Place.”

“We’re doing this together, or not at all,” Jacobs said firmly. He sensed that Winkler was envisioning them splitting up and going to London in different conveyances, but he was having none of that.

Winkler thought about arguing, but gave in to the inevitable. He knew Jacobs well, and he knew that expression of his, the one of total resolve, the one that said arguments were futile. Besides, he could understand Jacobs’ reluctance to be separated from him when he was in this new, potentially hostile, country. “So how can we get to London without getting killed?”

“Can you ride?” Jacobs asked.

“Not very well,” Winkler said. He detested horses, and hated being on the beasts. In Winkler’s mind, they were only slightly better than spiders and serpents.

“Could you ride behind me?” Jacobs asked.

“You are asking me to mount you from behind?” Winkler joked. Jacobs had shown no inclination to be penetrated.

“I am asking you to ride on a horse behind me,” Jacobs said severely, his sense of humor vanishing in the face of this current crisis.

“All the way to London?” Winkler asked.

“All the way to London,” Jacobs answered. “If we take a coach, we’ll be marked and vulnerable.”

Winkler got up and paced up and down in the small confines of their cabin, hatching a plan in his brain. “I have an idea,” he said.

“Go on,” Jacobs said.

“We will go ashore with Commander Clement, but I will pretend to be terrified to go with him to see Admiral Parker. I’ll offer to let him take the reports in to him while I arrange a post-chaise for us to London.”

“He will be surprised,” Jacobs said. “You have been adamant about following orders and delivering these dispatches yourself.”

“Yes, but he does not know that, the degree that I have fought to keep them,” Winkler said. “I will have to put on a good act.”

“Then what?” Jacobs said.

“We will hire a horse, or steal one if we must, and leave for London at once,” Winkler said. “Clement will follow us, of course, but he will have a carriage, and we will have a horse. And a head start.”

“Will they not simply seize us when we get to London?” Jacobs asked.

“We will be safe once we reach Her Ladyship,” Winkler said.

“Are you sure?” Jacobs asked nervously. “There was talk in the fleet that they were having problems, and that the last baby was not Lord Granger’s daughter.”

“I am sure,” Winkler said definitively. “If there is one person I am sure of in all of this, it is Her Ladyship.” His resolve and conviction had a considerable impact on Jacobs.

“Perhaps we will get lucky and Admiral Parker will be busy,” Jacobs said.

“I would think we can hope for at least an hour’s lead, but there is no guarantee of that,” Winkler said.

“We will hope for that,” Jacobs said dubiously.

 

September 26, 1798

Portsmouth, England

 

Winkler was agitated as the boat carried him, Jacobs, and Clement ashore, and this time it was no act. He felt completely out of his element, dealing with these schemes where even the lowest participant was presumably higher in rank than he was. He was content to leave high politics to Granger, to trust His Lordship to navigate them. When the gig reached the dock and they stepped out, Winkler was so nervous he was near panic.

“Are you alright?” Clement asked, with concern that seemed genuine, but was not.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I’m in a fair panic about seeing Admiral Parker,” Winkler said. He’d created paranoia in his mind, and now that he was acting it out, it seemed real, very real. “I once vexed the Admiral at a party, spilling a plate of food on him. I fear he’ll put me to the lash if he sees me.”

“I doubt the admiral remembers that,” Clement said soothingly.

“I don’t know, sir,” Winkler said. “He has a good memory.”

“Well, we must see him before we go to London,” Clement said. Winkler noted that Clement automatically assumed he was going to London with them. It must be part of the plan.

“Can you do it, sir?” Winkler asked, almost begged. “I can get us a post-chaise arranged while you’re meeting with him.”

“You’re sure?” Clement said, even as his eyes gleamed at his good fortune. Granger’s exploits had flown through the fleet like a fire aboard a ship, and everyone knew how spectacularly successful his voyage to Amboyna had been. Then he’d been lucky enough to stumble onto the French Mediterranean fleet, and even luckier still to run into Nelson in order to hopefully guide him to them. If Clement’s plan to get rid of these two succeeded, he’d be the official messenger, carrying these dispatches, and by getting rid of these two and their troublesome correspondence, he’d also ingratiate himself to the members of the Guild.

“I would be most grateful, sir,” Winkler said.

“Very well. I will meet you at the post-chaise,” Clement said. He turned and strode off hurriedly to the admiral’s house, anxious to meet with the admiral then be on his way to London, while Winkler and Jacobs went even more hurriedly to rent a horse.

The man they spoke to was somewhat loquacious, but Winkler kept him on task while Jacobs spoke to the stable hands. “You two are going to London?” the man asked.

“We are,” Winkler confirmed. There was no point in denying it.

“You’ll want to backtrack to Southampton and take the road there into London.”

“That will be longer,” Winkler opined nervously.

“Aye, it will be. But the highwaymen have been ravaging the Portsmouth Road something fierce. You and your friend would be an easy target. So you take your pick.”

In the end, it took them fifteen minutes to secure a large horse. Jacobs mounted the beast, while Winkler hoisted himself up and lodged himself firmly behind Jacobs. Jacobs spurred the horse on and they galloped out of Portsmouth, dodging carts and carriages alike, on the road to Southampton.

Winkler was impressed with Jacobs’ skill, with how well he controlled the horse. He allowed himself to relax, to wrap himself around this man that he loved and to enjoy this intimate time as they tore toward London. Winkler gave him directions along the way, having made this trip with Granger a few times, and having done it on his own a few times as well. Jacobs pushed the horse along at a good canter, driving the poor beast hard, and only wound him down before they got to Southampton. “We’ll need a fresh horse,” Jacobs said.

They found the post station and gave up their strong steed for one that was less robust. This one only got them to Winchester before they were forced to slow to a trot and stop to trade for a different mount. “We are making good time,” Jacobs said to Winkler. Winkler didn’t think so at all. Their second horse had been slow, and their stops for new mounts would have to be frequent.

“I’m worried it won’t be fast enough,” Winkler said.

“Who could possibly catch up to us?” Jacobs asked.

“What if Clement takes the Portsmouth Road?”

“Then he’ll have to deal with highwaymen,” Jacobs replied logically.

“Not if he brings enough men along for protection,” Winkler said.

“You think we’re important enough to warrant a whole squad of men?” Jacobs asked.

“Yes,” Winkler said. If the people behind this plan were powerful enough to have Granger shipped to Amboyna, they were powerful enough to worry about Winkler, especially if they’d already plotted to have him and Jacobs killed. And so they pressed on, spending prodigious amounts of money to hire horses and make the trip as quickly as they could.

It was just before 4:00 when they crossed the Battersea bridge into Chelsea. They had a relatively fresh mount, as they’d changed horses a mere ten miles back, and were trotting along King’s Road so as to be less conspicuous and disruptive as they entered London. Winkler thought they may actually make it to Portland Place without problems until he heard a man shout. “There they are! Hold there!”

Before Winkler could say anything, Jacobs spurred the horse on, and so they tore through the streets, dodging carriages, wagons, and other horses, in a mad dash to reach Portland Place before they were apprehended. Winkler could hear the men shouting behind him, and when he turned to look back, he saw about five thuggish-looking men on horseback, with Commander Clement leading them. Winkler led them up Park Lane to Oxford Street, where they managed to barely stay ahead of their pursuers. “Turn here,” Winkler said, guiding them into Portland Place, where the loud clattering of the horses was an unusual and unpleasant disruption.

They pulled the horse up in front of Granger’s house and dismounted, both of them running up the steps and bursting through the doors in a most uncivilized way, barely managing to avoid being grabbed by the thugs who chased after them. Winkler slammed and bolted the door behind him, something that was rare at the staid home in Portland Place. Then they were in the foyer, in the relative safety of Granger’s London townhome, and here was Cheevers, along with two footmen, looking quite annoyed with the hubbub until he recognized Winkler. “I see you have returned,” Cheevers said with a wry smile. “Welcome home.”

“Thank you,” They heard the sound of fists banging on the front doors. “We were pursued,” Winkler said, grinning back.

“Remove yourselves to the kitchen,” Cheevers said. He began belting out orders to the footmen, assembling a large group of them. They were all large, strapping men, more than a match for the hoodlums on the doorstep.

“What is all this commotion, Cheevers?” Caroline Granger asked.

“Winkler has returned, along with another man, my lady,” Cheevers said. “He was being pursued by men who have the audacity to pound on Your Ladyship’s door. I was just about to dispatch them.”

“Open, in the King’s name!” came a shout from the door. Caroline Granger raised an eyebrow, wondering who would be so bold as to beat on her door. She doubted that His Majesty would have given orders for her home to be violated, and for men to be seized out from under her protection. She glanced out the window at the small mob on her doorstep, and since none of them wore army uniforms, she decided there was no need to submit to their demand.

“You may let the leader of these ruffians in to see me, and then you may have the footmen disperse the others. They do not have to be overly careful for the safety of those hooligans. Have Winkler and his companion meet me in the drawing room,” she instructed. The footmen would be armed with clubs, and the thugs would flee in short order.

“Of course, my lady,” Cheevers said. A servant was dispatched to the kitchen to retrieve Winkler and Jacobs, while Cheevers opened the door to allow the officer leading the group of men into the drawing room as well.

Commander Clement walked into the drawing room, full of righteous indignation, only to find a very annoyed Caroline Granger waiting for him. She had planned to attend the Prince of Wales that evening, so she was wearing court dress, and looked resplendent with her exquisite gown and diamond earrings and matching necklace. “This is Commander Clement, my lady,” Cheevers said.

“I am most annoyed that you have disrupted my household, Commander,” Caroline snapped. “You have created so much chaos; you will have disturbed my neighbors as well.”

“My lady, I was chasing two deserters who escaped into your home. I have pursued them all the way from Portsmouth. We were merely worried for your safety,” he lied. Just then Winkler and Jacobs entered the room. “You are both under arrest. You will come with me at once.”

“Commander,” Caroline said, barely controlling the anger in her voice. “These men are not deserters; they are loyal retainers who serve my husband. You will not arrest these men in my home.”

“I have orders to seize them, my lady,” Clement persisted.

“From whom?” she asked.

“From the Admiralty,” he said.

“Produce these orders,” she demanded. He handed the orders to her and she smiled and shook her head. “These are signed by Admiral Mann. He is but one of the Lords of the Admiralty.” She had railed against his appointment to the Board of Admiralty last month, and had railed again when it had actually been confirmed this month. If they had not appointed her father-in-law, the Earl of Bridgemont, to the Privy Council at the same time, she would have been able to stop this madness. But that had been the deal, the quid pro quo extracted from the Wilcox clan and the Guild. One would have thought they’d be smart enough to leave things well enough alone, but evidently that was not the case.

“I must insist…” he began.

Caroline folded the orders up and put them on the desk. “You will leave this house, Commander. I would recommend that you contact whoever your protector is, because I will be discussing this matter with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales this evening, with His Majesty on the morrow, and with Lord Spencer. I daresay, Commander, that they all three outrank Admiral Mann.” Clement looked at her blankly, and then became resolved.

“I cannot leave here without those men, my lady,” he said.

“Cheevers, please have some of the footmen escort Commander Clement to an anteroom and hold him there until I am ready to leave,” Caroline said. Before Clement knew what had happened, three large footmen grabbed him and dragged him off most unceremoniously. Cheevers eyed her with a smile. “Tie him up. I want him bound and gagged. I’ll need the carriage readied at 6:00.”

“Yes, my lady,” he said. And then Caroline turned her attention to Winkler and Jacobs.

“Welcome home Winkler. Is George with you?” she asked hopefully.

“No, my lady. The last I saw His Lordship he was transferring over to the Vanguard to go fight the French with Admiral Nelson,” Winkler said. “We heard last night that there were men who were going to try and stop us from getting to you, so we got off the ship, hired horses, and headed straight here.”

“That was quite bold of you, Winkler,” Caroline said with a smile. “And I have not met you,” she said to Jacobs.

“I beg your pardon, my lady,” Jacobs said. “I’m Caleb Jacobs. I joined His Lordship in Chile.”

“How wonderful,” Caroline said. “I must offer both of you some refreshments.”

“I sewed His Lordship’s letters to you into Jacobs’ tunic, my lady,” Winkler said. “If you will give us a moment, I will retrieve them for you.”

“I would be most appreciative,” she said. She gave instructions for Cheevers to prepare a grand meal for these men who had risked their lives to get to her with news from George, and then she listened to Winkler regale her with his story of their adventures. She felt her heart nearly stop when she heard of Granger’s bout of fever, and of how it almost killed him, then smiled when she found out how much richer he had made them. She had once told George that she would trade all of his prize money just to have him home safely. He had thought she was joking, but she had meant it. As careful as she could be with money, and even with this fortune he had earned, she would trade it all for George.

After their meal, she summoned Cheevers. “I am thinking that most sailors do enjoy the baths, so perhaps you could warm them for Winkler and Jacobs. I’ll want them to stay here in the main house tonight, not in the mews, and I’ll want armed guards protecting our home this evening.”

“Yes, my lady,” Cheevers said.

“Thank you, my lady,” Winkler said.

“I will see you both tomorrow morning, unless I have urgent news,” she said, dismissing them. As soon as they were gone, she took out the letters from George and began to read and digest them. Her mind was focused on the business at hand, but she paused to smile, and shed a tear, at how sweet he was to worry about her. His letters were full of love, full of caring. She missed her partner desperately. But she pushed the emotions aside and read of Maidstone’s plan, of his seizure of Bertie’s correspondence, and of his true purpose; to set up a separate trading empire exclusive of John Company. It was to be built from the ashes of the Dutch colonies.

Caroline was not surprised. She expected no less from this group of rich merchants who called themselves ‘The Guild’. Money had fueled their self-importance, to the point that they felt they could take whatever they wanted, and trample on anyone who got in their way. She suspected that members of the aristocracy had colluded with them, but those people would soon wash their hands of these boorish oafs when their scheme unraveled. George had unwittingly given her the tools to do just that. No wonder they were nervous; no wonder they were desperate to intercept Winkler and Jacobs. When John Company found out about this conspiracy to destroy their monopoly, and when they discovered that there were employees of theirs who were involved, those people would most likely begin to disappear, one way or another.

“The carriage has been brought around, my lady,” Cheevers said, interrupting her.

“Thank you, Cheevers. Please have Commander Clement put in it, but make sure he remains bound, and see that I have adequate footmen for my protection.”

“Of course, my lady,” he said.

She gathered up George’s letters and put them in their safe, save the letter that was addressed to Lord Spencer. She then boarded her carriage for the brief ride to the Admiralty. An irate Commander Clement sat in the carriage with her, but he was gagged, and thus she was spared his inane conversation.

The carriage pulled up to the Admiralty, and even though it was early in the evening, there was still much activity there. A footman helped Caroline out of the carriage, and then two of them dragged Clement out. His eyes bulged as he was escorted past the curious Marine guards into the Admiralty waiting room. Caroline glanced around at the naval officers that were assembled there, all of whom eyed them curiously. It was not every day that a woman attired as splendidly as Caroline Granger entered the Admiralty, much less escorted by three footmen who hauled along a bound and gagged Royal Navy officer. She approached the secretary. “You will tell Lord Spencer that Lady Granger is here to see him,” she said with authority. Most of the men in that room knew who Caroline Granger was, but if they didn’t, that had clued them in.

“Yes, my lady,” he said, and scurried back to tell Spencer. Before she had time to glance around the room again, a familiar figure appeared before her.

“Freddy!” she exclaimed. “How good to see you.”

“A pleasure as always,” Cavendish said, bowing even as he kissed her hand. “I am surprised to see you here.”

“As am I,” Spencer said, as he approached from the nether-regions of the Admiralty. He glanced at Clement, and was considerably irritated at having this spectacle created in the waiting room of the Admiralty. He did not like scenes, he did not like chaos, and he did not like to be publicly embarrassed, and it appeared that all three of those things were happening.

“I would have preferred to see you in more pleasant surroundings,” Caroline said firmly, “but one of your officers and a band of thugs presumed to break down my door and attempted to seize messengers from my husband.”

“Indeed?” Spencer said, eying Clement.

“Evidently Admiral Mann felt he had the right to violate my household,” Caroline said.

“I am unclear as to why he felt the need to do that, but I will certainly discover why,” Spencer said, hoping to dismiss the whole thing. But he had not factored into the equation an irate Caroline Granger.

She focused on Spencer, her eyes blazing as if they were shooting out bolts of fire. “Is it not bad enough that you send my husband around the world, merely to placate the interests of the Guild? And while he is gone, cannot you have the decency to watch out for his dependents, those he leaves behind? While he fights for his sovereign, you would allow others who remain behind to plot to harm those he loves, and holds dear, with impunity?”

Spencer was irate now, at being berated in public by a woman, and at having her publicly refer to the Guild. He knew that Clement was one of the Wilcox’s stooges, and he had already surmised that Mann was behind this latest bit of nonsense. That only made his mood more foul. The man had no decency at all. This feud, this battle with the Granger family that had almost exterminated Mann’s family in the Navy, was supposed to be over. “Perhaps you would like to join me in my office, where we can discuss what has transpired.”

“I am on my way to Carlton House,” she said. “The Prince of Wales promised my husband that he would watch out for me and my children while George was gone. I am going to ask him to do just that. And if you cannot purge the Navy of hooligans like Commander Clement, I will see if perhaps His Royal Highness can accomplish that.”

“That will not be necessary,” Spencer said. “Cavendish, take Clement back to my office. I will interview him shortly.”

“What he will not tell you was that he was trying to intercept letters George sent to me and to others here in London,” Caroline said, with much less volume, speaking so only Spencer could hear her. “These letters disclose some rather heinous efforts to damage John Company. And they also explain an even more devilish plot to damage the government.” She handed Spencer the personal letter Granger had written to him.

“Well you have me at a disadvantage, since I have not yet been able to review Granger’s latest reports,” he said.

“Then I will leave you to them,” Caroline said. She curtsied, then turned on her heel and left the Admiralty as brusquely as she’d arrived, leaving Spencer staring at her, furious at her performance, while the rest of the men in the waiting room began to gossip amongst each other about the extraordinary scene they’d just witnessed.

In the end, Caroline did not go to Carlton House as she’d planned. Instead, she went home, to study the letters George had sent her more closely. Spencer did much the same thing, studying Granger’s reports, which had finally managed to reach him some time later, and spending even more time on Granger’s letter which Caroline had given him.

 

September 27, 1798

Bridgemont House, Mayfair

 

Caroline Granger entered the familiar home, with its ornate foyer and Bridgemont Blue wall coverings, and followed Franklin into the dining room to greet her in-laws. Caroline felt at home here, even though she did not always agree with her father-in-law, and even though she found the style of the home to be terribly outdated.

“Ah Caroline,” the Earl of Bridgemont said, greeting her warmly. “What a pleasure to see you. And thank you so much for sending George’s letters over to us last night.”

“I was sure you would be as overjoyed to receive news of George as I was,” she said. She greeted the other people assembled around the table as well. Cavendish was there, of course, as was Sir Arthur Teasdale, one of George’s oldest friends, and a known bender. The group was completed when her mother-in-law, the Countess of Bridgemont, breezed into the room. This was their core group of confidants, people with whom they could be completely honest. It was worth noting that George’s older brother, Freddie, was not in attendance, nor was his wife. Caroline almost grimaced visibly when she thought of Davina and what a reprehensible creature she was. When the greetings were finally finished, they sat down to enjoy a good dinner, and to discuss the situation George’s letters had caused.

“I understand you made quite a scene at the Admiralty yesterday,” the earl growled at Caroline.

“Spencer has sent my husband to the ends of the earth, and then allowed thugs to molest my household,” Caroline replied firmly. “I did nothing but call him out on his lack of concern.”

“He does not see things quite that way,” Cavendish said with his charming smile. “But I do not think he bears you any malice, provided you do not come down to the Admiralty and beard him again.”

“We shall see,” Caroline said obstinately, even though she felt guilty for venting her irritation on Spencer. “He is in bed with that scum, so he must accept the consequences of such a liaison.”

“I do not think he is linked to them,” Teasdale said. “I think his involvement with the Guild is peripheral, at most. It would fly in the face of all that is important to him.”

“The Guild wants to force the demise of John Company, to open independent trade with the East Indies in the name of free trade, only they would dominate it much the same as John Company has,” Caroline stated. “They are merely trying to supplant one formalized monopoly with an informal one.”

“We did not know the extent of their scheme, or their plan, when George was sent to Amboyna, and neither did Spencer,” Cavendish countered. “As it was, they have been spectacularly unsuccessful. Bertie was brilliant in his refusal to yield the governorship to Maidstone.”

“Yet Bertie’s correspondence is still out there, like a bomb that could arrive and explode on all of us,” the countess said.

“It will be damaging if it surfaces, but it will not save the Guild,” the earl pronounced. “His Majesty is almost apoplectic that their plan to subvert the Dutch colonies was allowed to hatch and germinate. He will be glad to hear that such efforts have been thwarted. He views it as a violation of his own word to the Stadtholder of the Netherlands.” They all knew that the king would be appreciative, and that would bode well for all the people in this room, provided Bertie’s letters did not appear.

“The reports on George’s latest exploits should make the Times and the other papers tomorrow or the next day,” Teasdale noted. “I daresay this will make him even more popular with the mob, as if that were possible.”

“I daresay,” the earl agreed. “But what I would really like is to have my son returned home, safe and sound.”

“It appears that is more contingent on Admiral Nelson than anyone else at this point,” Cavendish said. “We have been without news of his foray into the Mediterranean. We now know that George had found the French, and was directing Nelson to them.”

“I should hope he would be victorious,” the earl said.

“I think that it is not a question of whether he is victorious or not,” Cavendish said. “It is a question of whether he finds the French or not.”

“It is no surprise that George is with him,” Caroline said, with a certain amount of sadness in her voice. It was so typical of George to chase after battles.

“Spencer has notified all of the ports to be on the lookout for Bacchante or Santa Clarita,” Cavendish noted. “They will be intercepted before they can land Maidstone.”

“Let us hope so,” Teasdale said, wondering if Cavendish could really be that confident.

“Spencer met with the Lords of the Admiralty today, and they have agreed to be generous with honors to George’s crew,” Cavendish said. Caroline almost rolled her eyes at that, at Spencer’s attempt to placate her by doing the right thing for George’s officers, but she adopted a more gracious external pose.

“How so?” the earl asked.

“It is easy enough to discern that the Bacchante was bribed to escort the Spanish galleon to Manila, and that she was not actually captured,” Cavendish said. “But they are going to allow it to stand as a prize, and it will be billed that way in the press.”

“The propaganda is better for the government than the money anyway,” Teasdale said. Capturing a Spanish galleon was sensational news.

“Captain Calvert will be confirmed on the Captain’s list as of the date George posted him to command the Santa Clarita, and he will probably be allowed to retain command of her after he reaches England. In a similar vein, the midshipmen who were promoted to acting-lieutenants will be confirmed in that rank as of the date of their promotion,” Cavendish said. “It is helpful that Lord Fitzwilliam’s son is one of them.” That got a chuckle from the group.

“And what about George?” the countess asked.

“I suspect that there will be some honors conveyed to him when he returns,” the earl said. Caroline bit back her initial comment, that the earl would probably use most of the political capital George had earned to propel himself to the marquessate he’d been lobbying for. But she kept her mouth shut, because she didn’t care about additional honors for George. She merely wanted him to return home. And so they finished their meal, hoping most fervently that he would make it back safely.

Copyright © 2014 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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Yet again Winkler is a hero in my book.

 

I have, for some time, thought Spencer was not quite the man that he appeared to be. I was happy to see Lady Granger slap him up side the head with her sharp tongue.

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Two birds have returned safely to the nest. Thankfully for the quick thinking of Winkler and Jacobs. I must say that I loved the encounter with Spencer. Not many women at that time could have done that. She was brilliant! Once the Santa Claira docks, and the truth about Maidstone is known as well as the letters at the bottom of the ocean, the Guild will have to answer for it all. So only one bird will be gone. I am hoping he ( George) will return home soon. Thanks ever so much for this wonderful chapter. I can see a happy end down the road. Hopefully not to far down the road.

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Lady Granger shows how much faith Lord and Lady Granger have in their retainers. By merely accepting that Winkler would have had good reasons for his actions, she took steps to put the Commander in his place and prevent a travesty from occurring. Her quick pervuse of the letters followed by her dressing down of Lord Spencer indicates that she truly understands the situation.

It will be interesting to see how Granger's allies and friends deal with this and what affect Mann's appointment to the Admiralty and ill-will Spencer harbors any ill-will to Caroline's antics will have on Granger.

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Phew! Glad they made it. I was worried about them. I guess we know now what rewards will await Granger. I wondered what was left. I guess advancing his father advances him as well.

Time will tell.

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Winkler and Jacobs sussed out they were in danger and just made it to George's Portland Place home in time where Caroline took charge of the situation. I suspect that her foray into the Admiralty and dressing down of Lord Spencer in public has ramifications that are yet to be felt by George on a personal level as well as professional. Is there a desk job in his future?

Despite the fall semester crush, here's hoping our esteemed serial authors finds his Charles Dickens like stride and returns to it post haste!

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I really enjoyed this latest chapter. It was amazing that someone in Winkler's position was able to pull off what occurred and thanks to Jacobs help was able to deliver all the documents that Granger sent with him. I am very impressed by both Winkler and Jacobs. It says a lot about both Granger and Caroline to have people like this willing to serve under them.

 

Caroline was just magnificent. I was beyond impressed with both her handling of the situation as well as her grasp of what was going on and who and what was involved in all of this. Her handling of the Commander as well as her performance in front of Spencer was just pitch perfect. I can imagine her dismay when she discovers that Granger has been captured aboard the Leander and is in Paris. We can hope that Granger will be on his way home shortly after she finds out, or hell she may head to Paris to get him out...

 

The government will trumpet the capture of a Spanish galleon. It would have been major news and heralded all over the country. By handling it the way they are going to do so, Granger will become wealthy beyond belief. Glad for everyone, yes, even Calvert but do hope he stays far away from Granger. Calvert and Gatling can sail away on some adventure before Granger makes it home.

 

The government will be glad when Santa Clarita gets home but will hate the loss of the Bacchante. They will be glad that the letters are destroyed and I am not sure many will miss Maidstone. The government and the King will be glad at how Granger handled the situation and he will come out with more influence than ever. If the Earl can get a Marquisate out of this, all the better; Granger would never be advanced to an Earldom while the Earl was still at that position.

 

Amazing work, Mark, thanks again....

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Excellent chapter. Mr Arbour, this is why I like your writing. You manage to advance the plot in an interesting and thrilling way that holds our interest but importantly fits with the characters you have created.

Caroline is one hell of a gal, and the perfect partner for our hero.

Moving things forward today's Congress could do with a shake up by Caroline Grainger!

Thank you.

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Although Winkler and Jacobs show dashing bravery, Caroline is the hero of the day. Thanks for not forgetting about her.

Fantastic chapter, thank you.

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I love the way Winkler's character is developing! With the person he has become, it is now so easy to see his true potential that George was able to discover when he was but a mere child. And Caroline continues to be the spitfire she always was. I hope she won't be too devastated when she discovers that George is being held in Paris. When will Freddie make something of himself?

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Of all the supporting characters, Winkler has always been one of my favorites. Loyal, almost to a fault, throughout the series. From waiting tables in his parents tavern, to being entrusted with dispatches that if not delivered, might bring down the Government and cause embarrassment to his Royal Highness. Our self taught Spanish speaking servant has certainly come a long way. This was a fantastic chapter, thank you.

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On 10/06/2013 03:09 AM, JimCarter said:
Yet again Winkler is a hero in my book.

 

I have, for some time, thought Spencer was not quite the man that he appeared to be. I was happy to see Lady Granger slap him up side the head with her sharp tongue.

That cannot have been an easy trek for Winkler. He was associating with and defying those much more powerful than he is.

Spencer is a politician, for better or worse.

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On 10/06/2013 03:36 AM, rjo said:
Two birds have returned safely to the nest. Thankfully for the quick thinking of Winkler and Jacobs. I must say that I loved the encounter with Spencer. Not many women at that time could have done that. She was brilliant! Once the Santa Claira docks, and the truth about Maidstone is known as well as the letters at the bottom of the ocean, the Guild will have to answer for it all. So only one bird will be gone. I am hoping he ( George) will return home soon. Thanks ever so much for this wonderful chapter. I can see a happy end down the road. Hopefully not to far down the road.
Well, we left George in Paris, and the Santa Clarita enroute to England, so we'll have to see how long it takes for them to arrive. I think anyone who trifles with Caroline's children in their later years will be wise to remember that scene. (SMILE)
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On 10/06/2013 04:59 AM, Kookie said:
Lady Granger shows how much faith Lord and Lady Granger have in their retainers. By merely accepting that Winkler would have had good reasons for his actions, she took steps to put the Commander in his place and prevent a travesty from occurring. Her quick pervuse of the letters followed by her dressing down of Lord Spencer indicates that she truly understands the situation.

It will be interesting to see how Granger's allies and friends deal with this and what affect Mann's appointment to the Admiralty and ill-will Spencer harbors any ill-will to Caroline's antics will have on Granger.

I'm so glad you picked up on that. Caroline didn't even question whether Winkler was right or wrong; she trusted him.

I don't see there being long-standing issues with Spencer and Caroline. They're both too politically astute to let that happen. Spencer will probably assume that it was just Caroline's 'weaker sex' problems that invoked such an emotional response, and she'll probably assume that he learned his lesson.

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On 10/06/2013 05:10 AM, ricky said:
Phew! Glad they made it. I was worried about them. I guess we know now what rewards will await Granger. I wondered what was left. I guess advancing his father advances him as well.

Time will tell.

Actually, if the earl is advanced to a marquess, it won't have any real impact on Granger. His brothers would benefit, as presumably Freddie would get a higher-ranking courtesy title (an earldom), and Bertie would then be known as Lord Albert Granger, but George has basically launched his own chain with his own peerage, so he won't be tied to those advancements.
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On 10/06/2013 05:30 AM, Daddydavek said:
Winkler and Jacobs sussed out they were in danger and just made it to George's Portland Place home in time where Caroline took charge of the situation. I suspect that her foray into the Admiralty and dressing down of Lord Spencer in public has ramifications that are yet to be felt by George on a personal level as well as professional. Is there a desk job in his future?

Despite the fall semester crush, here's hoping our esteemed serial authors finds his Charles Dickens like stride and returns to it post haste!

I'll wager that once George makes it back, there will be powerful forces focused on keeping him home. And I'll bet that after he's home for six months, he'll be just as adamant about getting back to sea.
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On 10/06/2013 05:36 AM, centexhairysub said:

 

I really enjoyed this latest chapter. It was amazing that someone in Winkler's position was able to pull off what occurred and thanks to Jacobs help was able to deliver all the documents that Granger sent with him. I am very impressed by both Winkler and Jacobs. It says a lot about both Granger and Caroline to have people like this willing to serve under them.

 

Caroline was just magnificent. I was beyond impressed with both her handling of the situation as well as her grasp of what was going on and who and what was involved in all of this. Her handling of the Commander as well as her performance in front of Spencer was just pitch perfect. I can imagine her dismay when she discovers that Granger has been captured aboard the Leander and is in Paris. We can hope that Granger will be on his way home shortly after she finds out, or hell she may head to Paris to get him out...

 

The government will trumpet the capture of a Spanish galleon. It would have been major news and heralded all over the country. By handling it the way they are going to do so, Granger will become wealthy beyond belief. Glad for everyone, yes, even Calvert but do hope he stays far away from Granger. Calvert and Gatling can sail away on some adventure before Granger makes it home.

 

The government will be glad when Santa Clarita gets home but will hate the loss of the Bacchante. They will be glad that the letters are destroyed and I am not sure many will miss Maidstone. The government and the King will be glad at how Granger handled the situation and he will come out with more influence than ever. If the Earl can get a Marquisate out of this, all the better; Granger would never be advanced to an Earldom while the Earl was still at that position.

 

Amazing work, Mark, thanks again....

A great review, and not much to say but to agree. I do think that while the Admiralty will be unhappy with the loss of Bacchante, they won't be surprised. They have to expect these things will happen, as the seas are hazardous, and running aground or afoul of the weather was the primary cause of lost ships in the RN.
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On 10/06/2013 12:06 PM, Canuk said:
Excellent chapter. Mr Arbour, this is why I like your writing. You manage to advance the plot in an interesting and thrilling way that holds our interest but importantly fits with the characters you have created.

Caroline is one hell of a gal, and the perfect partner for our hero.

Moving things forward today's Congress could do with a shake up by Caroline Grainger!

Thank you.

Thanks. I think that if Caroline Granger were to observe the US Congress she would be horrified by the power of the mob and the common people, and would point at the Tea Party as the reason for proper aristocratic rule. (SMILE)
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On 10/06/2013 03:44 PM, Miles Long said:
Although Winkler and Jacobs show dashing bravery, Caroline is the hero of the day. Thanks for not forgetting about her.

Fantastic chapter, thank you.

Who could forget about Caroline! But I think Winkler and Jacobs had the bigger challenge here.
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On 10/09/2013 06:58 AM, Rosicky said:
I love the way Winkler's character is developing! With the person he has become, it is now so easy to see his true potential that George was able to discover when he was but a mere child. And Caroline continues to be the spitfire she always was. I hope she won't be too devastated when she discovers that George is being held in Paris. When will Freddie make something of himself?
I think Freddie is just in the wings, waiting to take his place in society/government, but until he shows some value, he's liable to remain in the wings. I suspect the earl has him doing something where he can be productive while not causing too many problems.
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On 10/10/2013 02:21 AM, sandrewn said:
Of all the supporting characters, Winkler has always been one of my favorites. Loyal, almost to a fault, throughout the series. From waiting tables in his parents tavern, to being entrusted with dispatches that if not delivered, might bring down the Government and cause embarrassment to his Royal Highness. Our self taught Spanish speaking servant has certainly come a long way. This was a fantastic chapter, thank you.
Thanks! I agree with you. Winkler is someone who has stayed in the same basic role, but has grown along with Granger. If you think about it, the Winkler who originally took over as Granger's servant in The Wardroom wouldn't really be up to snuff as the head servant to the Granger we see in this book.
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Winkler has remained in the background for a very long time.  I appreciate that the last few chapters have highlighted him for his intelligence and daring.  He an Jacob are heroes.  Caroline's reaction to the letters and trip to see Lord Spencer were delightful.  Hopefully the Guild will be dismantled and history by the time George returns to London.

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