Authors: Richard Woodman
Tags: #Historical, #War
A BRIG OF WAR
Mariner's Library Fiction Classics
Voyage: A Novel of 1896
The Celtic Ring
The Shadow in the Sands
The Darkening Sea
The Nathaniel Drinkwater Novels
(in chronological order):
An Eye of the Fleet
A King's Cutter
A Brig of War
The Bomb Vessel
In Distant Waters
A Private Revenge
Under False Colours
The Flying Squadron
Beneath the Aurora
The Shadow of the Eagle
|A BRIG OF WAR|
“I shall believe that they are going on with their scheme of possessing Alexandria, and getting troops to Indiaâa plan concerted with Tipoo Sahib, by no means so difficult as might at first be imagined.”
This edition published 2001 by
Sheridan House Inc.
145 Palisade Street
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
Copyright Â© 1983 by Richard Woodman
First published in Great Britain 1983 by
John Murray (Publishers) Ltd
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission in writing of Sheridan House.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Woodman, Richard, 1944-
A brig of war: a Nathaniel Drinkwater novel/
p.cm. â(Mariner's library fiction classics)
ISBN 1-57409-125-5 (alk. paper)
Â 1. Drinkwater, Nathaniel (Fictitious character)âFiction.
Â 2. Great BritainâHistory, Navalâ19
Â Â 3. Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815âCampaignsâEgyptâFiction
Â Â I. Title. II. Series
PR6073.0618 B75 2001
Printed in the United States of America
ISBNÂ Â Â Â 1-57409-125-5
Rain beat upon the rattling window and beyond the courtyard the naval captain watched the tricolour stiff with wind, bright against the grey scud sweeping over Paris. In his mind's eye he conjured the effect of the gale upon the green waters of the Channel and the dismal, rain-sodden shore of the English coast beyond.
Behind him the two secretaries bent over their desks. The rustle of papers was reverently hushed. An air of expectancy filled the room, emphasised by the open door. Presently rapid footsteps sounded in the corridor and the secretaries bent with more diligence over their work. The naval officer half turned from the window, then resumed his survey of the sky.
The footsteps sounded louder and into the room swept a short, thin, pale young man whose long hair fell over the high collar of his over-large general's coat. He was accompanied by an hussar, whose elaborate pelisse dangled negligently from his left shoulder.
âAh, Bourienne!' said the general abruptly in a voice that reflected the same energy as the restless pacing he had fallen into. âHave you the dispatches for Generals Dommartin and Cafarelli, eh? Good, good.' He took the papers and glanced at them, nodding with satisfaction. âYou see Androche,' he remarked to the hussar, âit goes well, very well and the project of England is dead.' He turned towards the window. âWhom have we here, Bourienne?'
âThis is Capitaine de FrÃ©gate Santhonax, General Bonaparte.'
Hearing his name the naval officer turned from the window. He was much taller than the general, his handsome features severely disfigured by a recent scar that ran upwards from the corner of his mouth into his left cheek. He made a slight bow and met General Bonaparte's appraising grey eyes.
âSo, Captain, you contrived to escape from the English, eh?'
âYes Citizen General, I arrived in Paris three weeks ago.'
âAnd have already married, eh?' Santhonax nodded, aware that the Corsican knew all about him. The general resumed his
pacing, head sunk in thought. âI have just come from an inspection of the Channel Ports and the arrangements in hand for an invasion of EnglandÂ .Â .Â .' he stopped abruptly in front of Santhonax. âWhat are your views of the practicality of such an enterprise?'
âImpossible without complete command of the Channel, any attempt without local superiority would be doomed, Citizen General. Conditions in the Channel can change rapidly, we should have to hold it for a week at least. The British fleet, if it cannot be overwhelmed,
be dissipated by ruse and threatÂ .Â .Â .'
âExactly! That is what I have informed the DirectoryÂ .Â .Â .Â but do we have the capability to achieve such a local superiority?'
âNo, Citizen General.' Santhonax lowered his eyes before the penetrating stare of Bonaparte. While this young man had been trouncing the Austrians out of Italy he had been working to achieve such a combination by bringing the Dutch fleet to Brest. The attempt had been shattered by the British at Camperdown four months earlier.
âHuh!' exclaimed Bonaparte, âthen we agree at all points, Captain. That is excellent, excellent. The Army of England is to have employment in a different quarter, eh Androche?' He turned to the hussar, âThis is Androche Junot, Captain, an old friend of the Bonapartes.' The two men bowed. âBut the Army of England will lay the axe to the root of England's wealth. What is your opinion of the English, Captain?'
Santhonax sighed. âThey are the implacable enemies of the Revolution, General Bonaparte, and of France. They possess qualities of great doggedness and should not be underestimated.'
Bonaparte sniffed in disagreement. âYet you escaped from them, no? How did you accomplish that, eh?'