As I See Fit - Part 1
The Captain of the Indefatigable dipped his pen in the inkwell
writing desk and continued his journal entry. "1793, June 10, Gibraltar".
His journal consisted of one long letter, a letter never to be sent, a
letter to be read by no one else in this life. Shaking the ink off, he put
the pen down, gazing at the mountain that was the port of Gibraltar. His
ship, moored even with the governor's residence, had been anchored with the
stern northward. He could see the neck of land, north of the Rock that
bordered the no mans land between the British possession and Spain.
He put the ribbon between the current pages and turned back
to the inside
front cover. He carefully unfolded the letter that rested there, a letter
read many times, so many times that the folds were beginning to fray and
part. He laid it down, handling it like it was the finest crystal, thin as
the paper between his fingers. He covered his face with both hands and drew
a long breath.
Amanda, Amanda, oh Amanda.
A breath of wind blew through the open windows, swaying the
that hung on the back of the door and sending some papers, including the
letter to the deck.
He fell to his knees to gather them up. The letter had come to rest face up,
and he read the words before he retrieved it from the floor.
'1778, December 20. Teignmouth Castle'
'My Dearest Edward-"
Edward, always Edward when she was tender, when she yielded
to him, their
limbs entwined, Edward, when she wanted him to know that she loved him.
"My Dearest Edward-" The writing was shaky, jerky.
The quill had sputtered.
Circles where once wetness had been stained the fine vellum paper. Her
Never Teddy in those intimate moments, never Captain Pellew,
as when they
were in public, or Sir Edward in those formal moments when she was known as
Lady Pellew. Just Edward.
He couldn't see. He blinked at the tears that had come unbidden,
tightening as he fought them back. He wiped at his eyes with the ruffle of
his shirt sleeve. A light knock sounded on the cabin door.
"Come." Young "acting" lieutenant Hornblower
entered the cabin. Hornblower
seemed startled at seeing his captain sitting on the deck, back against the
bulkhead. "Are you all right, sir?"
"Of course, Mr. Hornblower, what is it?"
"Mr. Bracegirdle sends his compliments and says the last
of the new hands
have come aboard."
"Thank you, Mr. Hornblower. Please tell him to carry
on. I have complete
faith in the abilities of my officers. Please inform the deck that unless
there is an emergency, to leave me undisturbed for the afternoon. We are in
port, Mr. Hornblower."
"Yes sir, thank you sir." The young man backed out
of the cabin, knocking
into the sentry.
"Mr. Hornblower, pass the word for my servant, if you please."
"Aye, Sir." And the young man left the companionway
outside his cabin.
Powers must have been waiting, for he appeared immediately.
"Powers, take my gig, go ashore and see if you can get
some flowers, never
mind the cost. I will want them later this afternoon." Powers nodded and
Alone again, Pellew drew a long, shattering breath and turned
back to the pages of the letter. Her letter. His lips curled slightly
upward with a wan smile of memory. He read past the first words this time.
"My Dearest Edward.
"I wish the news here at home were better. I know by
now you have been told
of little Eddy's passing. How I wish I had been able to pass that to you
myself, but, Charlie was here, and I was unable to function. With Lillie
passing just a few weeks earlier, I was quite unable to function. I know he
found a way to let you know with tenderness. I could not have asked for a
"Oh, Edward, how I wish you were here. I need you so.
Both of the
children. The house seems so silent. Seems, oh what am I saying, it is
silent. I think I will go up to London as soon as I'm able. I won't return
here until you come home.
I have sent Richard to you with Charlie. Charlie says that
he will keep him
as midshipman, if you are not able or comfortable in taking him under your
command. Give him my love and tell him to be good. It is safer for him away
from Teignmouth until this influenza epidemic has run its course.
"Young Mr. Rochester looked in on me this morning. He
is all of thirteen and
very much the young gentleman. I felt well enough to go for a short walk
with him. He makes me smile, Edward, he reminds me of you when we were
"We walked down past the village church. I was tired
by then and went in
for a moment. I sat in our pew and remembered the first time I saw you, you
Pellew spread the fingers of his left hand across his mouth,
he closed his
eyes, and he remembered too.
His father and mother had shepherded his older brother, Samuel
to church that morning, leaving the younger Pellew children with the wet
nurse. At six, his mother insisted, he was old enough to attend services
with his parents. The governess, having charge of two lively young men,
needed a day with no duties, the wet nurse with three other younger children
could not handle another. So he walked in his new breeches and coat,
following his parents and brother Sam, up the central aisle to their pew.
The pew directly in front of the Pellew's had never been used,
but today, a
couple sat there. Other parishioners were introducing themselves to the
couple, the man bowing and shaking hands until the rector began the
The rector was droning on about something when he saw the edge
of lace begin
to rise over the high sides of the box directly in front of him. Pale
yellow, he wasn't color blind like his brothers, he could see yellow. It
rose higher. He realized that who ever was wearing that bonnet was standing
on the pew seat. He saw the mahogany brown of the curls that poked out of
the bonnets cap.
The eyes came next, as brown as the hair. They met his. He
grinning as she grinned at him.
"Mandy, sit down." Came the hushed order from the
woman, whose head he could
see, very plainly, over the edge of the box. The voice was musical and not
harsh and with an accent that he was not familiar with. The young girl
disappeared from view.
That was his first view of Amanda Endicott. Even then, he
thought, he loved
her. She had been five, almost six, as she said later that day.
The services ended and the Pellews and the Endicotts stood
chapel with the outflow of parishioners moving around them. "Mr. Endicott,
would you and your family like to join us for a small supper?" His father
had asked. The young girl stood wrapped in her mother's skirts, peeking at
him with mischief in her eyes. His father pointed out the house on the hill
"The weather is so nice today, Mr. Endicott, might we
walk?" Mandy's mother
asked. She was visibly pregnant. Mr. Endicott looked askance to the
Pellews, and a short nod gave assent. One of the coaches followed the
walkers while the other went on ahead to the manor. They talked as they
strolled up the short hill.
"We have been in Boston for some years, my wife is a native
of that town."
Mr. Endicott had said, "Her family, the Reveres are in the silver smithing
business." He patted the hand that rested on his arm. "I married there."
Endicott's love showed in his eyes as he gazed at his wife's face. "We are
here on business and may stay in Dover for some time."
The conversation between the adults was forgotten as Edward
and Mandy walked
in back of their parents and in front of the coach. His older brother had
been occupied with his own friends who were paying calls on other families
In a courtly manner, aped from his father, Edward Pellew offered
his arm to
the young lady; she took it, with an absolutely serious face. "Sarah Amanda
Endicott." That was all she said.
"My family calls me Teddy." Young Edward had responded.
"Mine calls me Mandy, because I don't like Sarah, and
A-manda seems so
ooold. So, Mandy is fine." She leaned over to him and whispered to him,
looking at her mother, "But don't you think you ought to call me "Miss
A boatswain's pipe sounded, jerking him back to the present.
Oh, Mandy, why
couldn't I have been there. I could have done something.
She called him Teddy when they were out in their dingy in Truro,
in Kingston, Jamaica, when he almost lost her.
1773, February 14
I am sorry that this will have to be a short letter, since
we are to be
traveling to the colonies to take care of some cotton business and to part
with some other property and perhaps acquire some others. So to reach you on
station, this has to go by first post.
Papa has taken me in to his confidence and is teaching me his
grows older and needs someone to help him. He is quite given up on finding a
wife to give him sons. So he is left with me. He took me to the banking
house and I can now sign in his name for any business activity. The bankers
were apprehensive until Papa pointed out that there were many men who were
younger than I that controlled much larger fortunes.
The three textile factories in Birmingham are producing at
and they need cotton to continue. Our visit to New Orleans to buy into the
factoring business will help provide them direct supplies. This American
cotton is almost as fine as the Egyptian kind and will spin up very well.
We were up at four in the morning, I think that's eight bells
morning watch? To review the books before meeting with the bankers. Oh well,
enough business. I do have to say that I enjoy working with father much more
than just being a (here the words were struck out, housewife, dumb girl,
maiden) young unemployed person.
We have shut down the house in Falmouth, your little launch
his forehead on reading these words, just over his right eye, where the long
scar ran from his eyebrow to his scalp.) is stored in the outbuilding behind
the coach house. It is on its wagon. I had a gentleman from the dockyard
check it to be sure that it was put up properly and that it would remain
tight while it was stored. Papa has left a note with the housekeeper; you
can get it out when you want. The grooms will help you get it down to the
sea. I did take it out just before it was stored. It is still "sea worthy".
Is that the right word? It does not leak. I made sure that the canvas was
quite dry before I folded the sails up for storage. Papa nearly had apoplexy
when he saw me in the stern sheets ripping across the bay and no one else
I also had a chance last week to visit the charity school that
to reform and our money still supports. I miss Mama, Teddy, so very much. I
ate the same food as the young ladies and sat in on their schoolwork. It is
much improved from what it was when I first went there. I still feel sad
when I found out how much they had suffered when Mama died and Papa didn't
keep up on conditions there. I so hope these girls will be an asset wherever
they may go when their schooling is completed. Papa has agreed to settle a
modest dowry on any of them who wish to marry directly out of school.
I have found you some very good marchpane candies and am having
in straw and lead and they will be on the way to Kingston on the next
Indiaman. Please check with the company agent, they will have them put back
for you. I remember that you loved them so well when you visited last. You
ate the whole plate full. Oh, you were so sick that night. Remember papa let
me sit by your bed he was so afraid you would die. I never told him it was
all the candy, the thought it was some sort of fever. Ha! They are in Papa's
name. I do hope you will get them before some admiral or your captain sends
you off somewhere else. I know the admiralty makes sure your letters reach
you wherever you go, but something like this might not.
We will be in Kingston before we come back home. If you are
in port perhaps
you might find time to at least have supper with us? Papa will ask at the
Port Admiral's office when we arrive.
Teddy, you, your ship and her Captain are in my thoughts and
Please be safe and careful.
Your Servant, Mandy.
The second lieutenant of the man of war, Nautilus, Edward Pellew,
through the letter for the second time, vaguely troubled by her salutation,
and by her signing herself, not the familiar 'Affectionately, Mandy, but the
cold 'Your servant'. He heard someone open the wardroom door and he crushed
the letter, twisting it between his hands like a bow.
Third lieutenant Charlie Hammond shrugged out of his heavy
and picking off a couple of blond hairs, got rid of it, throwing it across
the butt of the nearest cannon. Dropping heavily into a chair at the ward
room table, he said "There's something to be said from going from one end of
the Bible to the other, but I'm not sure today's church really applied to
us." He said with just a hint of his Scot's rolling accent betraying his
Pellew grunted an acknowledgement He had heard Charlie's statement
Charlie opened one of his own letters and began to share its
Neither of them had really personal letters and the Sunday afternoon review
of their correspondence, when they had it, while every one else was on watch
had become a way of hearing about the world outside the ship.
The topic of the Sunday service bubbled up again in Charlie's
one-sided conversation. Edward had only responded in monosyllables and
guttural growls so far.
The text of the parson's service had been Proverbs 31. Edward,
zealous a churchgoer, had looked at that text as a list of items to find the
perfect wife, and all of a sudden he was not so sure he wanted to share this
last letter. He opened his eyes and looked at the crushed paper that was
still between his hands.
Just "Teddy." This time there was not "dearest"
that preceded his childhood
name in all her other letters. "Dearest" had stopped three letters ago.
Somehow that troubled him, but when he had written back, he had started,
"Dearest Mandy," just like always.
He was not sure how to react to this letter. The combination
of the loss of
the "dearest" and now the formal "Your Servant" closing threw him
completely. He rubbed across his chest, trying to ease the tightness that
had settled there since he had broken the seal.
"Well, Edward?" Charlie said, pulling him out of
his reverie. "Do you have
anything from that dear friend of yours Miss Endicott?" Charlie kicked up
his feet and rested them on the table locking his hands behind his head.
"Tell me what she looks like." He closed his eyes and leaned back in the
"Charlie, I don't really remember. It's been two years
since I have seen
her. She was just a girl then. I imagine-.." He imagined Wyndham Marnies
willowy body, unclothed, with Mandy's mahogany hair and regular nose, her
healthy color, risen with a natural rouge, the little laugh lines that were
beginning to show up around her dark eyes and the half full lips that he
He sat bolt upright in the window seat. He must have looked
because Charlie asked him what was wrong. "All this time I've been thinking
it was Wyndham." He stood up, stomped into his shoes, grabbed his jacket and
threw the letter at Charlie. "Here, you read it yourself." He stalked from
the wardroom in to the bright West Indian sunlight.
The front legs of Charlie's chair banged to the deck, his hands
unsuccessfully at the paper. In a moment he had scooped up the paper and
followed Edward. "Wyndham Marnies? Edward, she doesn't have a brain in her
head, and if she did it would be dead mean. Don't tell me you've bedded her
Edward shot a glare at him, "Be silent, Hammond. That's my business."
"Aye and it's bad business too. I won't be silent on this,
Pellew, I can't.
Pellew walked away again, forward into the bow rigging, forward
manger. Hammond followed at discreet distance; both of them knew the
conversation wasn't over. They crawled into the space below the bowsprit.
"Pellew, together we have gone through every brothel and
between London, Madeira and Jamaica, and make no mistake, except for a case
of the pox, we have enjoyed every minute. But, playing with this Wyndham
Marnies is just plain bad business." Pellew turned away from him; Hammond
grabbed him by the lapel. "You may be three months senior to me, but I am
three years older than you and you are going to listen." Hammond's gray eyes
locked onto Pellew's with a ferocity that Pellew had never seen before.
"You are twenty four and you are looking for a wife."
struggling to change the subject.
"Yes, a suitable wife, one that will satisfy me and my
house. But that is
not what I'm talking about. Let me tell you what you seem to be too blind to
see. Wyndham Marnies was the cause of the duel last month where Captain
Causings was killed." Pellew was silent, Causings was just a few months
older than he and he had liked the man.
"How do you know this?"
"I hear things, Edward, while you are off dancing, flirting
and walking out
with every woman in sight, even some married ones, I listen and I watch."
Seeing that Pellew wasn't going to turn away, Hammond sank down into the
clean straw of the manger. "And yes, I flirt a little too, but I haven't
found anyone that I want to get committed serious with.
"Causings had been seeing her regular and from what I
heard was ready to
ask her father for her, but one of the second rater captains, the ones who
were in Kingston last month said he had known her, in the Biblical fashion
you understand, and she was not worth the time he paid her.
"Well this upset Causings something vile and he called
the other man out.
They met and the post captain cut him down without a second thought. I heard
she laughed about it, Edward, laughed that she caused a man, a good man, to
"She followed me around until she saw that I wasn't going
to pay her more
than courtesy attention, then she settled in on you. Edward, you do what you
want, but for God's sakes be careful with this one. She's mean." Charlie
dusted off the straw from his jacket and crouched below the beams. "I am
going to get some sleep. I have the first dog watch." He turned to leave the
compartment, Pellew heard Charlie mutter to himself shaking his head, "What
a hard headed man." Hammond said as he disappeared from Pellew's sight.
Pellew had the second dog watch, he dug further into the manger
soft bed and lay looking up through the shrouds watching the clouds scud
across the intense blue sky. It had been two years, well, almost three years
since he had seen her, now he realized it was Amanda Endicott he was seeing
in his dreams. That had been a shock; he had believed her a fond friend,
almost a sister. He had stolen one kiss from Mandy. A teasing kiss and that
was just before she stoned him. She must have been eleven.
"Ha!" he laughed, rubbing his forehead again, right
across the scar. All
thoughts of Wyndham flew from his mind. Remembering Mandy, and that day a
little smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. A warm comfort stole across
soul and he reveled in it.
She hadn't meant to hurt him, the stone was aimed to miss,
but he had leaned
into it and she had struck him a good one.
She had grown flushed in the sunshine and with the innocent
had that day. She was so beautiful. She was in her small clothes and he in
only his breeches; they had gone out on the bay sailing and had swum most of
the morning. At age twelve, he had teased her about being a girl, teased her
about her lack of seamanship, teased her about everything he could think of,
then when she had become so flustered at him, she started to walk past him
back to the boat, he had grabbed her around the waist and stolen that kiss.
She had thrust him away with a half hearted slap at his face, but he had
thrown her another comment and she picked up the rock from the shore and
flung it what would have been two feet to his right, except he leaned in to
take another kiss from her.
That was all he remembered until he came to in his bed in the
with her father leaning over him. Leaning over him with a look that hovered
somewhere between concern and anger.
He had not seen Mandy alone from that moment. She had the housekeeper,
father or her cousin Suzanna as a chaperone. He had been packed off in a
midshipman's berth two weeks later. He was allowed a sisterly kiss when he
left for his first ship, along with kissing the housekeeper on the cheek and
shaking hands with her father.
"All hands! All hands to make sail!" The shrill
of the bosun's pipes called
him to his duty. Now there was a chance to see her again, he thought, as he
climbed to the main deck. She would be almost twenty.
What a boring cruise this had been. Absolutely nothing had
been seen, no
prizes, meaning no prize money, miles of endless sea. The Nautilus had paid
courtesy calls in the colonial ports of Savannah and Norfolk. Two days ago
they had sailed up the estuary of the Mississippi river to pick up
dispatches from the envoy's attaché in New Orleans. Nominally a French
possession, but English, or at least a type of English was spoken in the
thriving market before the Saint Louis Cathedral.
He and Charlie had eaten in one of the open air public houses,
a rice and
seafood stew that the servant had called an etofee, and there were some fine
andoulie sausages in the wardroom stores. To indulge their sweet tooth, they
had brought three bags of praline candies back on board; Edward grabbed one
from the open bag on the ward room table and went on deck to claim the
One more day in New Orleans and they would proceed to Kingston
morning tide. Hammond would be caught up in watering the ship and Pellew
would be at leisure in the city. He did not want Charlie to accompany him on
this trip into the half French half English colonial city.
This part of town, near the wharves held the cotton and sugar
Small offices overhung the streets, with the warehouses below and to the
rear. He walked self-consciously through the streets, the only King's
officer among the hordes of French speaking mulattos and blacks. A few white
faces, most in frock coats or dress shirts stood out as overseers and
brokers. He was not quite sure what he was looking for. Mandy had never
given him the name of the cotton factor.
His feet stuck in the mud streets, almost sucking the shoes
from him. He
tried to scrape the mud away as he stepped up on the stoop of the next to
the last factor's office in this row. He looked up at the gathering clouds,
it rained every afternoon here, not a long rain, only ten or fifteen
minutes, but it did make the streets almost impassable.
He knew enough French to say good day and to relate that he
was not able to
converse in that language. He was afraid that even this meager amount of
words would not be enough to find the Endicott business.
"Pardone me, sivous plait. Nil Franche, Anglais?"
"Oui, yes." Sometimes he heard: "Ouee, yeas."
But he was understood and he
finally found the right factors office. "Lawrence Endicott? I'm looking for
a Mr. Lawrence Endicott and Amanda Endicott. Have they been here recently?"
"Yes, Larry's been here, couple of weeks ago." The
man had said, chewing on
some vile brown stuff that Edward only hoped was tobacco. The man spat into
the brass jar in the corner behind his desk and took another pinch of leaves
from a pouch in a drawer. "Made me a rich man, he did, and took half of my
worries away." He gestured at the window. "They'll have the new sign up
before the end of the week. Anything I can do for yer youngster? Yall look
like you are pretty far from home."
"Mr. Endicott and his daughter are friends of my family.
I knew they would
be stopping in New Orleans and I thought I would try to spend a few hours
calling on them."
"Waal, young feller, ye missed them." The older man
leaned back in his
chair, "Ya'all better be careful getting back to the harbor. It's getting on
in the evenin' and some people don't have a good feeling for the Kings
uniform in these parts. We're under French flag here, but there are a lot of
Yankees around." The man rose and ushered him out of the office.
Emerging into the dusk, he was momentarily disoriented. The
man grabbed him
by the shoulder and turned him to the right. "Dear me, I hope that the rest
of the British Navy has this much trouble navagatin'. That's east, young
'un." The man pointed down the street, "Yaal go that way until you get to
Ursalines then go right down to the waterfront. I sure hope you can find
your way from there. Ha!"
The man turned back into the office and shut the door behind
him. The clock
in the cathedral was chiming six when he turned the corner into the market.
Damn, he was late. He ran through the throng of closing up vendors and
grocers, receiving curses when his sword or shoulder got in someone's way.
He could see the Nautilus riding at one anchor and the blue
peter flying at
the foremast head. How long had it been flying? Did he miss the sound of the
gun? How late was he? Damn, Hell and Damn!
The captain's gig was waiting at the foot of the pier. Running
he waved his hat frantically to get their attention, the coxswain touched
his forelock to him and motioned for him to get in the stern sheets. Edward
tumbled into the gig and sat drawing each breath as if it would be his last.
The coxswain had made no move to untie from the wharf.
"Well, lets get on to the ship James."
"The captain's still ashore, sir. Wouldn't we want to wait for him?"
"Thank you James." Pellew slumped in his corner seat,
face heating up with
embarrassment. What seemed to him hours later the Captain appeared strolling
leisurely with a young woman on one arm and a sailcloth covered packet under
the other. Pellew and the crew of the gig couldn't hear what was being said,
but from the look on the Captain's face and the stare of the young lady,
directed immediately at Pellew, it made him hotter still. Finally the
Captain kissed the young ladies fingers and bade her farewell, then climbed
down into the boat himself.
The Captain settled himself in his accustomed place in the
stern sheets of
the small boat and turned to Pellew. The gaiety of earlier was gone. "Well,
Mr. Pellew, thank you for joining us. I believe that the blue peter has been
flying now for about three hours and we have been awaiting your arrival."
The man sniffed once and looked at the receding wharf. "If it is all right
with you, may we make sail?"
"Sir, I ---"
"No response needed, Mr. Pellew. I did give you permission
to go ashore,
however I was expecting a young conscientious officer like yourself to be
listening and watching for the signal to return to the ship with all haste."
The man glanced down at the package in his hands. "New orders, Mr. Pellew.
Ones that I sorely wish I could change right at this moment." The captain
was silent for the remainder of the short trip to the Nautilus.
On regaining the ship, the Captain turned to Pellew. "Please
officers, I would be happy to host them at dinner this evening." The captain
saluted the quarterdeck. "Ask Rotherman to relieve you, you should be in
attendance also." The man stalked away without waiting for Pellew's
The glass had turned and the bell rung four times. He stood
quarterdeck beside the helmsman, telescope held under one arm. He was
counting the seconds, Rotherman, a young master's mate, was late relieving
him. He drew a long breath and expelled it, still waiting.
Rotherman finally scurried up the quarterdeck ladder, touching
the brim of
his hat to Pellew. Pellew returned the salute with a touch, and he gave
their position and the condition of the ship. "Are they set to eat yet?" He
"Just went in. Everyone's seated and the first is starting
to serve it
out." Pellew splashed his face with water from the fire bucket, wiping it
on his handkerchief. He ran his fingers through the front of his hair in a
vain hope of making himself presentable.
He went below, descending the companionway ladders two steps
at a time.
Stopping just outside of the Captain's cabin, he tugged down his vest and
settled his jacket. He opened the door and stepped into the brightly lit
cabin. He winced at the captain's look of distain. The man must have known
he was detained because of a late relief, but somehow, Pellew had the
feeling that did not matter. The Captain only saw him as being late again.
His servant stood behind the only free chair left around the
table, at the
foot, below the two acting midshipmen. Pellew could swear that his steward
had a smirk on his face as he pulled out the chair and offered him the seat.
Edward took the offered place and tried to shrink back, to remain as
unobtrusive to his Captain and first lieutenant as possible. The seating, he
thought, was not a chance arrangement. At prior wardroom meals his place, on
the right of the first officer, had been saved for him.
The dinner was plain fare, for this captain did not keep a
but it was good and plentiful. When the King's health had been drunk and the
table cleared, the Captain addressed the assembled officers. "Gentlemen, I
hope you will forgive me for bringing in ships business into this amiable
meal." A murmur of assent went round the table. Pellew for his part stayed
The Captain's face was grave as he untied the sailcloth package
to remove envelopes from it. "As you know, or rather some of you know," He
glowered straight at Pellew. "My uncle has raised his flag, blue at the
mizzen. I am to be shipped home on the next transport to take up my
commission as his flag captain. As this presents a change in commanding
officers for the Nautilus, and the new captain has his own officers and
protégés to bring aboard. That means, gentlemen, that some of you will be
"Mr. Loundes, you will remain on board the Nautilus, since
the new captain
is your relative and you will be his first." Loundes nodded and bowed
slightly in his seat. "Mr. Hammond. I'm sorry to say, there is no sloop or
cutter available for you at this time, but you are to take up a post at the
ropeyard in Jamaica for the present. You should learn the political ways of
the dockyard. Although you have the instincts of a fighter, you need to
learn how bureaucracy functions." He handed over an envelope with the
admiralty seal. "You might want to read that carefully, when the Falcon
comes off the ways in Plymouth you will be posted home to take up her
command." This drew a commendation from the officers at table. Knuckles
rapped on the wood and Pellew clapped his friend on the back. Hammond
grinned self consciously as he took the order packet.
Three other envelopes were handed out, one to the captain of
two to midshipmen, instructing them take up acting roles until they could
sit their exams. Finally only one remained on the table. Pellew's mouth
tightened into a hard slash across his face. The captain settled back in his
chair, holding the envelope in his right hand and hooking his left
forefinger across his lips. Pellew's brow drew into a frown as he stared at
the last envelope now held between his captain's hands.
"Mr. Pellew." The captain standing up, slid the envelope
down the table,
coming to rest with index and middle finger holding on to one corner,
preventing Pellew from picking it up. "You are to proceed directly from this
ship on touching at Jamaica to the sloop Aurilie, eighteen, and take upon
yourself the commission of Master and Commander. Proceeding to become the
dispatch carrier and maid of all work for the Admiralty in Jamaica." The
captain lifted his fingers from the envelope and offered his hand to Pellew.
"Let me be the first to congratulate you, Captain Pellew."
"Thank you, sir, I hardly know what to say." All
hardness had gone from the
Captain's face, a pleased smile took the place of the almost frown that he
had worn all afternoon.
"Then don't say anything, Captain Pellew, just don't be
late." The Captain
laughed at his own joke, and the table joined him. Hammond shook his hand
and lifted his wine glass to Pellew, who returned the salute with a touch to
"I won't sir." He said, the grin finally taking over his face.
"Two working uniforms, one dress uniform, three pair white
pair white duck trousers, one dozen pair silk stockings, one dozen pair
cotton stockings." The man paused, almost out of breath, "Four shirts, two
white weskits, let me see, two night shirts. One dress bicorn, one daily use
bicorn, both gold laced." The clerk bent over the counter, dipping his pen
in the inkstand. Pellew stood before him, dressed in one of the working
uniforms, his eyes drawn to the single shining epaulette on his left
shoulder. The clerk following the young commander's eyes continued: "Oh yes,
two epaulettes, one working, that fine one on your shoulder and the other,
dress, already affixed to your number one uniform."
Pellew did love fine clothes. His white lapelled lieutenant's
threadbare and they were Channel weight broadcloth. The tropic heat and the
heavy wool had made him miserable. He added up the sums and found that he
really could not afford, in the normal train of things, all of these
tropical uniforms and their accoutrements. But this was a special time. A
man only got this step once in life.
The clerk totaled up the price and related it, Pellew answered
with a weak
whistle and pulled the stack of bank notes from his old uniform's pocket.
Counting over the majority of the bills, he perused what was left. He still
had to stock the larder on the Aurile. Between the clothes and the food, he
would be almost penniless.
The British Navy at least was taking care of his shelter and
care of his food if he ate what was meted out to the crew. But he still
would need to entertain the ward room and the squeakers, and this called for
a full captain's pantry.
"Deliver these other uniforms to the Aurilie, if you would."
bowed to him and stated that it would be so. Pellew walked out into the
bright Kingston sunshine turned his face toward the bay and the Aurilie
riding to her anchors. Hammond was waiting for him at the tavern on the
"My don't we look pretty!" Charlie said, walking
around his self-conscious
friend. They had drawn the attention of several other officers who were also
appreciating his finery. "And this ain't even your dress togs! Ha Ha! Wait
till Wyndham sees this apparition!"
"Enough Charlie, please." He said fluttering a hand
to wave Charlie away.
He moved from the doorway passing through the shadows and out into the
courtyard that fronted on the street, partitioned from it by a low wall. The
tables there were pushed against that wall leaving an open area in the
center. "Let's get something to eat, I still have to read myself in before
nightfall." His orders, orders that he had read almost a hundred times,
still needed to be read to the crew of the Aurilie. Hammond led him to a
table under a tree, on the street side. A box, wrapped in paper, and two
mugs of sangria were waiting there, as well as a bundle of letters.
Charlie sat opposite him and picked up the tankard, taking
a drink. "I
picked up our mail. This was waiting at the company office. I wonder if they
are still in pieces or if they will be all run together." He pushed the
package to Pellew, who looked at the wrapper, his address written in Mandy's
careful hand. No clerk or shopkeeper had packed this box. His name was
written in copperplate script, no sputtering pen, but a fine, firm hand.
He pulled out a penknife and cut the string holding the wrapper
dropping the paper and string to the ground he opened the metal box and dug
through the straw. The smaller paper box buried in the straw was still cool
to the touch. He dug it out and laid it on the table. The box was colorful,
and the name of the candies was marzipan. Marzipan? The printing on the box
was French, where had she been to get these?
A loaf of bread and some sliced ham appeared on the table,
he thanked the
serving girl and held out his tankard to be refilled. She took it and
scurried away. "Aren't you going to open the box, Edward?" Charlie asked,
still waiting, across the table.
He slit the wrapper and shook the top and bottom apart; a piece
paper covered the top of the little fruit shaped candies. The colors were
pale, the apples were a rose pink and the oranges were a washed yellow red
color. He picked an apple out and motioned for Charlie to do the same.
He handled it almost reverently, holding it between his thumb
and first two
fingers of his right hand, his little finger pointing up into the air.
Biting half of it off, he closed his eyes in ecstasy, he groaned with
pleasure as the candy melted on his tongue. "Oh this is good." He said with
He opened his eyes to see Charlie smiling at him. "Is
this all it takes to
throw you into the sublime? I would hate to see you really enthralled."
Charlie looked past him at the people passing the wall in the street. "Oh
my, here comes trouble." Hammond nodded toward the street over Pellew's left
shoulder. Pellew turned to see Wyndham Marnies and two of her friends
walking toward the pair at the table.
"Edward! Why did not you come to see me when you came
in. And a new
uniform!" He looked at her, not sure how to answer. She was wearing a deep
red satin walking out dress and carried a frilled umbrella to protect her
porcelain complexion from the sun. The red of the dress didn't set off her
butter yellow hair well, it gave her almost a ill dressed look, although the
quality of the dress was very fine, and he thought, very expensive.
He and Charlie had risen to their feet and bowed to her, removing
hats at the same time. "Wyndham," He said, taking her hand to touch her
fingers to his lips. He looked at her critically, for the first time; he
began to see the hardness behind her eyes.
Her gaze fell on the box still open between them. "A box
of candies, I didn
't know you had a sweet tooth, Edward, are these for me?" She reached into
the box and took a banana, taking a miniscule bite and tasting its sweet
splendor. She thrust the rest of the little fruit into her mouth. "What a
wonderful taste. Thank you Edward!" She picked up the box and it's lid,
offering it to her friends.
Charlie saw Edward's mouth draw into a disgusted line, corners
slightly down, the muscles of his cheeks pulling in around his lower jaw.
His eyes betrayed the distaste at the woman's actions.
She didn't put the box down, but settled the lid back on. "You
will be at
the Admiral's rout Thursday, will you not?"
He took a breath to control his rising temper. "I don't
know, Wyndham, I
have a ship to look after now. Things may be a little different."
"Oh please try, I shall be looking forward to seeing you."
Her gaze fell on
his face and her body changed its posture to thrust her hips toward him. "So
forward." The giggles from the other two was almost derisive. She offered
her cheek to Edward, who kissed it differentially. The group moved away,
toward the bay, taking the box of candies with them.
Charlie remained standing when Edward sat down again. Hammond
silver on the table and sorted through the letters to cull out Pellew's.
There were only two for Pellew; Charlie had two from his sisters and one
from his father. "I can't countenance this anymore Edward. That woman means
nothing to you. I can tell from the look on your face. But you let her
humiliate you, here in public. I do not and cannot like her. I wish you the
best in your new command." Hammond walked away, leaving a full plate and
Pellew sitting alone at the table.
Hammond was halfway down the hill toward the bay when he turned
apologize to his friend. He saw Edward pick up the wrapping paper, so
hastily thrown on the ground, smooth it out and stare at the writing, one
hand laying on the paper, his left brushing across his lower face. Hammond
decided to walk on.
'Damn', Edward thought. This should have been the happiest
time in his
life. His first independent command, other than the few prizes he had been
allowed to take 'into the nearest port, and wait there for orders.' He
traced the writing on the brown paper beneath his hand.
It was only candy and meant nothing. But someone had thought
enough of him
to make sure it caught up with him, arrived in one piece, preserved in its
cool wrappings and leave a wonderful taste in his mouth. A taste that had
turned sour as Wyndham had taken the sweetness from him.
People drew back from him as he strode to the quay. At the
office he caught a glimpse of his own face in the glass next to the door.
His face was hard and forbidding, his look savage. He made a conscious
effort to soften his eyes and mouth, his men should be respectful and in awe
of his commission, but they must not be afraid of him. An example, his
captain had said, an example to his people.
He called for a boat and had himself rowed to the ship. When
the dingy was
challenged, the oarsman answered, "Aurilie!" He kept the grin from taking
over his face. His ship. He could hear the pipes call for the side boys; he
delayed leaving the small boat until the deck had a chance to come to order.
Rimble, his first lieutenant, one master's mate, two marines
midshipman of the watch greeted him. Looking closely at her, first hand now,
earlier he had gazed at her several times through his telescope from the
upper part of the town; he found she was a flush deck sloop, with a clean
line from stern lantern to bowsprit with no raised quarterdeck or
forecastle. A knee high combing protected the ladderway leading below. The
jolly boat and dinghy were side by side forward of the combing. The fore
deck was clear of everything except the guns and weapon racks. He saluted
what in a larger ship would have been the quarter deck and stood among his
officers and a few of the working hands.
"Call the hands, Mr. Rimble." He said as he turned
to continue to survey
the ship. Looking up he took in her masts. A big sloop, having three masts,
all of which were ship rigged with spars crossed. The canvas was furled in a
bunt, ready for instant use. He would have to speak to Rimble. Furled in the
bunt sails were fine for sea, but in port, where the Admiral can observe
what could be called sloppiness, would not do. They should be furled in a
body for port. Calls shrilled out and the remainder of the Aurilies
assembled in the waist. When order and quiet made it's way out of the
madness of all hands, he motioned for the first lieutenant to order "Off
He drew out his papers and climbed on a deck cover to give
him some height
over the men. He read: "By the Commissioners for executing the office of
Lord High Admiral of Great Britain and Ireland, and of all His Majesty's
plantations. To Edward Pellew, esquire, hereby appointed master and
commander of His Majesty's ship Aurilie. By virtue of the power and
authority to us given we do hereby constitute and appoint you captain of His
Majesty's ship the Aurilie -. Given under our hands and the seal of the
office of Admiralty on this fourteenth day of July in the twelfth year of
His Majesty's reign."
With those words, Edward Pellew became the Captain of the Aurilie
Asking for and receiving permission to take his ship out of
port, he managed
to miss the Admiral's rout and any chance of meeting with Wyndham Marnies
for the time being. The Aurilie proved to be a sweet sailing ship, newly
coppered, with no need to have her masts or sail patterns altered in any
"We will clear for action, Mr. Rimble." Edward said
with his watch in his
"Aye sir, sergeant, beat to quarters." The drum began
its relentless roll.
Bare feet made little or no sound as the men either attended to their guns
or readied themselves to go aloft to work the sails.
Powder boys, all of them eight to twelve years old, ran with
their guns, delivered the rounds and ran back to the magazine and waited.
The gun captains stood ready for his orders, slow match burning in the tubs
between the eight cannon, eighteen pounders, on either side and the two nine
pounder bow chasers.
He could hear the carpenters in his cabin, beneath his feet,
the bulkheads, striking below what little furniture he had. Taking it out of
harms way. He knew the surgeon's mate in the orlop was readying his
The sounds died away, the hush was expectant, every eye on
toward him. "Out tompions."
The order was relayed by Rimble, the gun crews bent to their
them inboard, removing the stoppers from the cannon mouth and running them
back out. Silence again.
He walked forward on the starboard side, examining each gun
crew in its
turn. The starboard men appeared to be old hands; all their clothing was
made by hand and had a uniform look. The larboard men were turned out
haphazardly, looking like scarecrows, 'Pressed men, in a time of peace, for
all love.' He thought. He shook his head in wonder as he reached over and
adjusted one young pressed man's scarf that had fallen around his neck from
its place covering his ears. "Keep that tight. You will lose your hearing
"Aye, Sir" The seaman responded, dropping his eyes
to the deck. Pellew
stood in the bows of his ship; he brought the speaking trumpet to his lips.
"Starboard guns, fire!"
The little sloop shook with the sound of the great guns and
He commanded the larboard guns to fire as well. This fire was ragged
compared to the first volley. He resumed his place on the quarterdeck. "Mr.
Rimble, we will need to readjust the watch bills to sprinkle the old hands
with the new. Wear ship if you please."
The yards swung round, fore mast a moment or two faster than
the main, the
ship turned, bringing her to sail close to the wind. "Mr. Andrews."
The carpenter popped up from the open deck hatch. "Aye
sir." The man was
from the north and Edward heard the Edinborough in his voice.
"Prepare us a target, sir. Barrels and a flag of some
kind, if you please."
The man disappeared below.
'Kingston Harbor, Port Royal, 1773, March 13'. He continued
the letter he
had started on the first day of this cruise. He thought Mandy might enjoy
hearing about his new command.
'Today we burned enough gunpowder for ten double broadsides
and we sank
twelve empty casks and some of them went down quite hard, requiring five or
six balls to kill them. But, Mandy, I now know that this ship will be able
to stand up and give a good account of herself if she is called into action.
'I sank two of them myself, with the beautiful long nine pounder
chasers. These are wonderful guns, very accurate, I only needed one ball
from each to demolish my keg and flag target. I was quite filthy after my
fun and washed up for the first time in the fire buckets. I think the men
liked that their commander could serve his own guns.
'This crew needs work, and that will take time. No captain
professional crew in a new commission. After taking the noon sightings
today, I ordered her back to Kingston.'
"We will have to wear into the harbor, Mr. Rimble. This
wind is backing
horrible." Wearing into the harbor would be a long arduous process, with
much working of the sails. The clouds were building in the south and the
wind did not know it's quarter. Edward shook his head at the masthead
pendant, noting it's turning around on itself, winding around the topgallant
"What is young Pengarth doing up there?" He asked
almost to himself, but
Rimble heard him and glanced up. "He's walking on the spar, and in this
wind. Mind you, Rimble, this will come to no good. MIS-TER PENGARTH!"
Immediately Edward knew it was the wrong thing to say and the wrong time to
Pengarth's attention was drawn to the quarterdeck, the spar
went over with
the next wear and the lad fell. The boy was barely ten and the youngest of
the midshipmen. Pellew watched with horror as his body fell past the
foresail spar. As the boy hit the waves, Edward was finally galvanized into
action. "Get the way off her, Mr. Rimble!" He shouted as he stripped off his
coat and went over the side.
He heard Rimble give the order to heave to as he struck out
Pengarth's waving arms. The silence under water was deafening as he followed
the youngster down, finally grabbing onto his pigtail with one hand and the
back of his shirt with the other. He boosted the boy up bringing his head
out of the water. Edwards own head and shoulders broke water immediately
after Pengarth and he gasped for the next breath. Turning to the ship he
found that she had spilled her wind and the jolly boat was being hoisted
The lad's limp body trailing behind him, he struck out toward
boat and the eager hands ready to haul the boy in. He held onto the gunwale
of the boat and watched the coxswain upend the boy and beat him on the back.
A weak cry answered the repeated orders to breathe, breathe!
Pellew swam to the Aurilie and came up over the side.
A knock sounded on his cabin door, "Come." He turned from his writing desk.
"You sent for me, sir?" The small squeaky voice answered.
"Yes, Mr. Pengarth, I sent for you. I have an apology to make."
"Sir?" His eyes were on Pellew, they were as big
as saucers. Pellew draped
his arms across the sides of his elbow chair, turning halfway round to face
the boy. Edwards face was stern, only his eyes betrayed a glitter of
"I should not have shouted at that particular moment,
Mr. Pengarth. Indeed
I should have waited until you were secure before I shouted at you.
Remember, one hand for you, one for the ship."
"The next time you are caught capering like that, it will
be the gunners
daughter for you."
"Enough said. Now, would you like to accompany me to the
reception and ball tonight? Do you think you are up to it?"
"Sir, oh yes Sir!"
"Best behavior now. Very well, ask Mr. Rimble to make
sure that you are as
well turned out as you can be."
"Aye sir. Thank you sir!" The boy bolted out the
door, to come to a full
stop beside the marine. The boy walked along the companion way as long as he
thought his captain could hear him, then the solemn foot steps turned to a
Edward had to laugh at the boy's exuberance as he turned back
to the ships
Pengarth followed Pellew into the Governor's mansion. The ballroom
already crowded with people either carrying small plates of food or glasses
of wine, the Captain and his midshipman were announced and moved down the
reception line. Edward held the boy by the shoulder and let the boy precede
After the introductions were made, they moved into the throng
He bent over to talk into Pengarth's ear. "Do you have your watch, Mr.
Pengarth?" The boy nodded, pulling it out of his breeches pocket. "If we are
separated, Mr. Pengarth, meet me at the foot of the stairs at eight bells in
the middle watch." The boy nodded and they began to make the courtesy tour
of the room.
Edward searched the faces to find Hammond and somehow in a
vain hope that
Wyndham would not be there. Wyndham soon found him and took his arm. "Why
Captain Pellew, you have been away too long. Who is your young friend?"
"Mr. Pengarth, Miss Marnies." The young man extended
his hand to take
Wyndham's; she let him bow over her hand, and then hugged him close to her.
The boy squirmed in her embrace.
"Please, Wyndham, let the boy go." He said under
his breath. She let the
middy go, kissing him on the cheek as she did so. She turned on Pellew's arm
to face him and force herself into a position of embrace. "Will you dance,
"Of course. Mr. Pengarth, you will find some wonderful
little cakes at the
buffet table and probably some other youngsters there too, run along now."
Edward, who could see the heavily laden table, pointed the way to the
midshipman, who could not. When the lad moved off into the crowd, Wyndham
led him into the line of dancers, and they reeled away with the music.
Guests were still arriving; Pellew heard the announcements
in the back of
his mind, while Wyndham led him through the intricate steps of the reel.
"Mr. Lawrence Endicott, Miss Amanda Endicott." Rang out across the room,
Pellew's head snapped toward the entryway, causing him to miss the turn of
the line. Wyndham reached out to pull him back.
Hammond had heard their name announced also and moved from
the buffet table
to make his way to the reception line. He had seen Pellew arrive earlier,
but had taken care to evade meeting his old friend. He had no second
thoughts about meeting Miss Amanda Endicott. Indeed, he had hoped that
Edward would be kept busy by Wyndham and away from the woman he only knew as
She was dressed in a rich, dark green gown with a lighter green
skirt; white lace covered her shoulders and peeped out at the edge of her
sleeves. She was not fair of face, but a healthy high color, with a mass of
mahogany hair piled atop her head. Hammond was all aback when she turned to
him. He stammered out an introduction. "Mr. Endicott, My name is Hammond,
The man made his daughter's introduction and Hammond bowed
to her. "I have
heard so much about you, I feel as if I know you." He said as he bent over
her fingers. "Captain Pellew and I were companions in the Nautilus. He had
told me quite a bit about you and your charity work."
"I am glad to make your acquaintance, Lieutenant Hammond.
Has Edward been promoted?"
"Yes, very recently. He commands the sloop Aurilie."
"The ship rigged sloop moored close into Port Royal?"
Charlie nodded. This was not the conversation he had in mind
introductions were made. "Is this your first visit to Kingston, Miss
"Oh no, we are here quite frequently, my father has businesses
colonies and we always stop in Kingston on the way back to Falmouth. He and
the governor are old friends."
Hammond's gaze was drawn to her eyes, they seemed to be everywhere,
particularly taken by the children, Pengarth among them, who were getting
plates full of little pies from the long side table. A matron, one of the
governors servants, seemed to have taken charge of them and was ensuring
their behavior. "I don't think father and I have arrived this early before
to see the young ones here." She said.
"They don't come often, but we do allow the squeakers
in once in a while
and this is not a state function."
They fell silent watching the dancers. "Ahem," Charlie
turned toward her,
"Would you like to dance, Miss Endicott?" She held out her hand to him and
they moved into the line.
He guided her with a palm in the small of her back and his
covering hers. The top of her head just cleared his nose and he could see
perfectly well over her head. As dancers, they were well matched, neither of
them particularly light on their feet, but enjoying moving to the music and
making the turns and twists in the reel. The line turned and she was swept
away from him, he, finding himself directly in front of Wyndham and she face
to face with Edward.
Edward stopped, Mandy, a radiant smile dawning across her face
into the group and moved on, joining with Charlie at the head of her file.
Wyndham, now without a partner, joined Pellew, fire flashing from her eyes.
"What is wrong with you tonight, Edward? This is the second time you have
faltered. Are you going to dance or not?" He turned to stare back at Hammond
and Amanda, still working through the patterns of the dance.
Wyndham took his arm and walked him off the floor. "I'm
sorry, Wyndham, I'm
just not good company tonight." He moved toward the sideboard, his eyes
searching the crowd for a little boy in a midshipman's uniform. "I need to
find my young man, I'll be back in a few minutes, why don't you visit with
your friends?" He motioned to the knot of young women sitting next to the
doors to the courtyard.
"Young man? What young man?"
"Wyndham, I told you things had to be different, didn't
you listen? I have
responsibilities now that I did not before. I am responsible for a ship,
her crew and the young man who came here with me tonight. That duty is my
life now. Excuse me." He bowed his head to her and walked away, leaving her
standing in the middle of the floor.
She looked after him, her eyes never losing the flash of anger
s obvious interest in Hammond's partner had sparked.
The reel ended and the musicians were leaving their places,
hear the notes of a piano playing in one of the anterooms as he inched
toward the sideboard. Pengarth wasn't there, neither were the other
youngsters that had been there before the reel had begun. The piano faltered
in its tune and began again. Looking around he found the sounds source. The
governors wife sat at the keyboard with a quarto spread across the lyre, the
very young men and several girls were laughing with abandon. He heard
Pengarth's cackle, and the music started again.
He could see Hammond's blond head; his body crouched behind
Amanda gravely holding Pengarth's hand. There were two other very young
couples that were obviously learning the steps to the reel the adults had
just finished. Amanda had picked up her skirts in her free hand so the young
girls could see where her feet went. Edward joined the group of adults that
were watching the impromptu class.
He leaned against the side of the wide doorway into the room,
youngsters practice. He watched her laugh with the children and watched
Charlie respond directly to her. He bit the inside of his lower lip, his
hand whitening on the frame of the doorway. Hammond would be a better mate
for her. He could see her future with Charlie, a wonderful house, a loving
Scots family, children and property. He was immediately jealous, he could
offer none of those things.
Lawrence Endicott and the governor stood on the second floor
balcony that overlooked the ballroom. Both men, who were in their fifties,
looked at the revelers below, picking out some one here and there for a
random comment or to have an important person pointed out. Endicott's eyes
were drawn to the young man, wearing a commander's uniform, who was leaning
against a wall and watching the children inside. He saw a flash of an
emerald green gown.
"What are you thinking about, Lawrence? You have the strangest
look on your
face." The governor said.
Endicott turned to his friend. "I think I'm watching a
dance, a mating
"Oh?" The governor followed Endicott's gaze. The
two old men exchanged
glances and nodded.
"That young man, in the captains uniform is Edward Pellew.
The young lady
he is watching is my daughter." He put both hands on the railing and looked
down at the room below again. He saw a young woman in purple, with butter
blond hair, steal up beside Pellew and take his arm, standing so close that
there was no candlelight between them.
"I believe that he might be watching his young midshipman, instead,
Lawrence." The Governor said.
"No. I've known Pellew since he was younger than Pengarth.
Was that his
name, the boy who came with him?"
The Governor nodded. "Pengarth. What an odd name."
"Pellew lived with us after his father died and his mother
His brother went to school; the younger children went to live with their
grandmother. He was too young for school and too uncontrollable to go to his
grandmother. My wife felt sorry for him and took him in, telling me I needed
"I remember the day that he took his first kiss off her,
at least I think
it was the first kiss. My wife had died a few months before, this was
summer, and they had taken out the little boat they had built. I didn't
think they could build one, but I supplied all the tools and goods they
needed and they built a pretty good craft. I could have bought a boat for
them, but I wanted to see what they could do together.
"They thought I wasn't watching, but I had been checking
on them all
morning that day and knew what they were up to. It was all innocence as far
as I could tell. I was distracted by some business that came my way and hadn
't checked on them for a while. All of a sudden, she comes running up across
the garden in her small clothes, pantaloon's ruffles flying in the wind and
her hair streaming out behind her. What a shambles." He shook his head at
the memory of her face.
The Governor looked over the parapet again to see Charlie take
her arm and
join the next dance. "Well what happened? What ever it was, it looks like
she has a new suitor now."
"No there will be no new suitor. There may be a man who
thinks he may be a
new suitor, but no." Endicott shook his head. "Well, she ran up to me and
screams that she had killed Teddy. She had the most horrible look on her
face, true horror. I pulled off my coat and gave it to her to cover up with
and followed her down to the cove where they kept that boat. There was
Teddy, flat on his back, blood running from a great hole in his head,"
Endicott pointed at his right eyebrow and moved his finger up into his white
"She had stoned him. She ran by me and scraped her own
knees as she knelt
down next to him, holding his hand and begging him not to die. I took him
back to the house and kept them apart after that, but now, I don't think I'm
able to do that any more. She wants a husband."
The governor watched the green gown swing through the end of the dance and
come to rest beside Charlie Hammond again. "I know about how that is, my
wife had me picked out and married before I knew what was going on." The two
old men turned away from the dancers.
"You know, of course, that Pellew does not have the best
reputation here in
Kingston. He cut quite a swath through the respectable young women, and the,
shall we say, houses of ill repute, until he fell in with Wyndham. She is
the young woman in the purple gown." The Governor pointed at her. "The man
is good at heart and needs a steady woman to keep him occupied. I do not
think Wyndham is that woman; she is as wild as he is, but she does not have
his good nature. If he is looking at your daughter, he will have a terrible
time withdrawing from Wyndham Marnies.
"I was against his getting command of the Aurilie."
The Governor continued,
"But the Admiral insisted, and from all reports he is discharging his duty
as well as any new commander could be expected to do.
"I see my wife, Lawrence, let us join her for a few of
those darling rout
cakes." He descended the stairs, followed by Endicott.
Pellew saw Amanda was finally alone, standing beside her father
with the governor. He had shaken Wyndham as well; she was off in the garden
with her friends. He pushed through the crowd. The groups were forming for
the quadrille. With no Charlie and no Wyndham, maybe he could get just a few
minutes with her.
Lawrence could see him approaching, a single blue uniform pressing
a number of scarlet army officers. He nudged the governor to get his
attention. He nodded at Pellew and they shook hands.
"I would like to borrow your daughter for a few moments,
if I may, Mr.
Endicott?" He touched her arm, she stiffened in his grasp, and he felt an
answering shock wash across his body. He almost gasped with the suddenness
of the feeling, like ice-cold seawater on his chest and belly. He shook it
She took his offered hand and he led her away, pulling her
close and using
the press of the crowd as an excuse to touch her. She smiled up at him,
"Amanda." The word was whispered in her ear. He pulled
her back against him
tighter as the press of people preparing for the quadrille caused them to be
She pulled away, the color rushing up into her cheeks. Their
still laced together, neither of them seeking to break the intimacy.
They took their places, hands dropping apart, as they faced
the others in
the square. He bowed to the opposite couple then turned back to her, only to
find the butter yellow hair of Wyndham had taken the place of the glorious
deep brown red mahogany tresses of Mandy's
Horrified, he looked past Wyndham to see Mandy's green dress
into the throng. Mechanically going through the intricate motions somehow he
completed the dance, to leave the square after he had made the fourth would
have been rude. Thankful when the music ended, he pulled out his watch and
moved off to find Pengarth without a further word to Wyndham.
The sea breeze felt wonderful after the closeness in the hall;
the stern sheets beside the midshipman, he reviewed the disaster that had
been his evening. At least she could not follow him to the Aurilie, not
intrude on that closed community. He gazed back over his shoulder at the
still brightly lit government house. He had unfinished business there. He
needed to return.
The coxswain hooked onto the side of the Aurilie. "Mr.
Pengarth, if you
please?" Edward said, bending over the boy. There was no answer from the
lad. Pengarth had gotten very still and very comfortable. He had fallen fast
asleep wrapped in Edward's boat cloak, huge around the lad's body. Edward
shook him gently, "Mr. Pengarth? Out or down." He whispered into the boy's
ear. The boy shook the hair from his eyes trying to wake up, stammering an
apology. Pellew boosted him up and out of the boat onto the side ropes.
"Are you not coming, sir?"
"No, Mr. Pengarth. Go turn in for awhile before your watch
"Yes, sir. Goodnight sir."
Pengarth's head disappeared from the fife rail, Edward turned
coxswain. "Back to port, Collins. You don't have to wait for me, I will
either signal or hire a boat back."
'This must stop,' he thought, 'I can't go on with Wyndham making
miserable.' Charlie had been wrong about one thing: he had not bedded
Wyndham. Not yet, now probably not ever. He ran up the broad stairs, two at
a time, to the governor's residence, still unsure of his actions to come. If
he was lucky, and he usually was not lately, Wyndham would have found
someone else to finish the night with.
Walking around to enter by the garden windows, he caught sight
sitting on one of the stone benches that were scattered around the garden,
her back was to him and the dress looked gray in the moonlight. He had stood
still waiting for her to move when he realized it was Amanda. Backing up
further into the shadows he tried to hide between the bushes and the
building, not wanting to chance being seen.
Charlie came out of the closest double doors to him, carrying
two cups of
punch and a shawl over his arm. He held out the wrap with a smile and said
something to her in a low voice, far too low for Edward to make out the
words. Amanda answered with a laugh and took the wrap and threw it around
her shoulders. Charlie sat the cups down between them on the bench. She drew
Hammond's attention to the harbor and pointed out something to him.
Edward backed up, palms flattened against the wall resting
his head against
it and closing his eyes in resignation. Why had he come back? To finish with
Wyndham? To torture himself with wanting Amanda? Why couldn't this be as
simple as laying a broadside against an enemy.
Whatever they were talking about, it included a lot of animated
Her hands were never still. He watched fascinated as she explained something
that had to do with a box, she built it in the air and Charlie followed her
meaning, for he added the third side that she couldn't. Hammond's laughter
shot up from the low conversation and her full laugh answered.
Not a derisive giggle, like Wyndham and her friends, but a
laugh, lively and musical. They stood up and he flattened back against the
wall again. Hammond offered her his arm. Cocking her head to one side and
with a little nod, she nestled her hand in the crook of his elbow. Leaving
the cups on the bench they moved off into the moonlight. He watched her now,
having all the time to gaze at her that he wished, her body had matured, no
longer the straight up and down boyish figure he remembered. Her hips were
rounder than Wyndham's, her breasts fuller, but their buxom softness was
appealing to him. The couple turned a corner around a box hedge and
disappeared from his sight.
Pushing away from the wall with a groan, and wiping his mouth
with the back
of his hand, he entered the light of the ballroom's windows. Stepping inside
he found the group diminished by half, all of the youngsters gone, along
with their parents, leaving only the young adults and the oldsters, most of
whom had found seats around the perimeter of the floor. The musicians had
changed too, instead of the lively reels and quadrilles of earlier; these
were more stately slower dances, aimed at promenading, courting couples.
For a change, he spotted Wyndham's royal purple gown before
she saw him.
She was dancing with an older man, wearing an admiral's insignia. Her come
hither eyes were locked on the man's face, that predator smile was not aimed
at him. He relaxed, straightening his uniform, he moved around the periphery
of the room, edging toward Lawrence Endicott, who was in a private
conversation with the governor's lady.
"Oh, you mean Charles Hammond? What a nice man."
She said to Endicott,
answering a question that Pellew had not heard. "We have had him to dinner
several times now that he's attached to the ropeyard." Endicott's head was
turned away from him and he could not hear the questions, but could follow
the conversation well enough. "Scots parentage, connected with the Lyon
family some way."
He approached the settee, once again making a leg to the governor
lady, nodding at Endicott. "Well, Captain, you have returned." The governor
said, straightening himself on the bench, moving closer to his wife.
"I apologize for leaving earlier, without taking my leave,
midshipman tired out on me and I felt I needed to get him to bed." He said,
a bit of a false smile bending his lips.
Endicott motioned him to a chair, "Sit down, Edward, the
next dance won't
start for some time, and you'll have to claim your lady from the Commodore."
Endicott motioned to Wyndham still working through the dance. Pellew wanted
to strike down his hand, anything to keep her from catching sight of him.
Instead he darted a glance at the old man's face, seeing there the immediate
pain of a wrongly placed word.
"Tell us about your ship, Captain." The governor
forward to look past his wife and Endicott.
The governor's lady, placing a hand on her husbands forearm
said, "I am
sure Captain Pellew and Mr. Endicott would like to have a few moments alone,
do not you think, Governor?" Heaving himself to his feet, he took her hand
and led her away, leaving Endicott and Pellew. Edward moved from the chair
to the settee, where he could command a view of the floor and the four
double doors to the gardens.
"I am sorry, Edward, I didn't mean to be cruel."
"It is just as well, your words are true. I have gotten
myself in a mess
"I can see that. I've been seeing it all night. I won't
see my daughter
hurt, not if I can prevent it. I do not expect anything from you either."
"I know." Pellew clasped his hands, elbows on his
thighs, bending slightly
forward, staring at the Spanish tile floor.
"Your young friend has asked for permission to call on
followed his gaze toward the double doors. "What are your intentions,
Edward swiveled his head to look at Endicott, "If you
had asked me that
three months ago, I would have given you a simple answer, that I didn't have
any intentions toward Amanda," He was careful to use her name, "Or anyone
else." He drew a breath. "Now, I think I am looking to marry." He
straightened in settee, lounging back and crossing his legs, Taking a
position of ease. The tension still shone in his face.
"I gave him permission, Edward, you need to know that."
They returned to
watching the dancers end the complicated series.
"She deserves the best, Mr. Endicott. Do I have your permission
The dancers were breaking up from their patterns, Wyndham had finally caught
sight of him, he rose and extended his hand to Lawrence.
Endicott rose and returned the grasp, under his breath, and
in a voice that
Wyndham, still out of hearing range, could not have heard, said, "You always
had my approval, Edward. We are here for two more weeks, don't be a
"I must settle some affairs first, Mr. Endicott"
"Indeed, Edward." He said bowing toward Wyndham.
"Miss Marnies. Edward, I
think I'll take my leave now." The old man withdrew, leaving them standing
by the settee.
"What a nice man." Wyndham said, looking after him. "Who is he?"
"He is the closest thing I have to a parent. He's Amanda
father, Lawrence, she is over there with Hammond." He gestured toward the
group who were going into the dining room for a late supper. Cursing himself
inwardly for the slip of his tongue, he took her elbow. "Do you want to join
"No I do not think so." Each word seemed a struggle.
She urged him toward
the garden doors. As they passed under the chandelier, he could tell her
color was heightened, her step unsteady.
"Wyndham, are you all right?" Real concern colored his question.
"Per-fect-ly." They passed into the moonlight; the
moon was now high in the
sky, flooding the garden with gray unreality.
"Wyndham, we have to talk. I have, umn, I am sorry that
we have not seemed
to do well together. I am not"" He seemed to be groping for the right words
to say, words that would not offend her or embarrass him.
She turned to face him, taking his uniform coat in her hands,
to her, running her fingers under the tails of his coat and under his vest,
closing with him. He pulled back, but she followed, her savage eyes never
leaving his face. He tried to push her away gently, but her unsteady feet
caused her to stumble backwards, collapsing against one of the palm trees.
She did not release her hold on his coat and he stepped forward to
counteract her weight, catching her around the waist to stop her fall.
At that moment, the double doors from the dining room to the
and several couples walked out. His attention drawn to them, he saw Charlie
leading Amanda, one arm around her waist, into the darkness. Wyndham, taking
advantage of his distraction, threw her arms around his neck, pulling his
face to hers and kissing him deeply, she molded her body into his. He looked
over Wyndham's head to see Mandy, looking back over her shoulder, to listen
closer to whatever Charlie was saying. Edward met her eyes across the edge
of the fountain.
He read the instant hurt in Mandy's face, a momentary distress,
regained her composure. He closed his eyes, bowing his head and pulling away
from Wyndham's kiss, an intake of breath catching in his throat, echoing
that pain. What must this look like to her? He pushed Wyndham back, his
hands grasping her forearms. Keeping their bodies apart, but not letting her
Hammond turned to follow Mandy's gaze, on seeing Wyndham's
Pellew, he turned away, repulsed, leading Mandy deeper into the garden in
the opposite direction.
A low roar of disgust flooded through Edward, he felt the fury,
and fought down, come up like bile in his throat. He pulled Wyndham away
from the tree with one hand and yanked her behind him across the garden and
out into the street. "I have had enough." He said under his breath as he
almost dragged her across the plaza and down the short street to the inn. He
pulled her close and pushed her inside the public house. Stopping in front
of the innkeeper, he asked if there was a room, and digging in his pocket he
threw the man several pieces of silver. Still dragging the half drunk
Wyndham behind him he struck down the hall, leaving the dozen or so tavern
patrons laughing after them. The tavern keeper did not join in their
laughter; he had seen Edward's face.
Edward slammed the door behind them and threw her toward the
landed face down and fell to the side slipping to the floor. He grasped her
arm again and lifting her laid her prone on the bed, pulling out the
lavender lace of her bodice, leaving her breasts bare to him. His breath
still coming fast, nostrils flared and the anger still burning in his eyes,
he dropped his coat to the floor and began to undo his vest.
"Damn you, Wyndham, you play with a man, expect to pay
the price." He
gasped out between his teeth. His upper lip drew down, his lower lip in,
causing his high cheekbones to give his face a lean, savage cast. His chest
heaved with the effort of holding himself back.
She finally grasped his purpose and began to back away. He
made a one
handed grab at one of her ankles and drew her back to the edge of the
mattress. His weskit fell open and he began to undo the buttons of the fall
fly of his uniform breeches. With one hand he caught the forearm she had
thrown up to defend her self and drew her to him. He now answered the savage
kiss of the garden with one of his own, totally devoid of any sort of
passion, except hatred.
He freed the last of the buttons, still holding her by entwining
in his hand; he kissed her again, willing his body to obey him. But his body
failed, for the first time in his adult life, to respond, even with the
anger still firing his movements, he realized that he would not be able to
complete the act.
He was shaking with rage when he let her go, leaving her to
into the feather bed. He went to his knees, turning to sit on the floor,
with his back against the footboard. "I am as good as a married man
already." He muttered to himself. Silently he took stock of what he had
almost done. He drew up his knees and resting his elbows on them, held his
head in his hands, palms to his cheeks and his eyes covered and closed to
block out the room around him.
His chest rose and fell with his ebbing fury, breathing out
the last of the
monster that had almost overcome him. He was silent, she sobbed with fear
and begged him to leave her alone.
"I could not touch you now. I do not even want you. Wyndham,
alone." His head fell back, eyes opening to see her raising up over him, her
face, all drunkenness gone, was venomous. The tears still ran down her
cheeks, but there was only hard meanness in her eyes. She lashed out at him,
her nails cutting into the side of his neck, he fended her off with a thrown
up arm. She stepped from the bed to put her clothes back in order. He wiped
at the scratches with his shirtsleeve.
"Oh, Edward, I will leave you alone. Go on to your little
heiress for now.
But do not ever think I will forget you and this night." She hissed between
her clenched teeth. Her dress back in place and her hair restored, she
stalked out, ignoring the men who called to her from the tavern.
Still sitting on the floor, he crossed his arms over his knees
his burning forehead against them, "Oh my God, what have I done?" He