Authors: Julian Stockwin
Also by Julian Stockwin
Published in the U.K. as
McBooks Press, Inc.
Published by McBooks Press 2009
Published simultaneously in Great Britain by Hodder & Stoughton,
a Hachette UK company
Copyright Â© 2009 by Julian Stockwin
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without the written permission of the publisher. Requests for such permissions should be addressed to McBooks Press, Inc., ID Booth Building, 520 North Meadow St., Ithaca, NY 14850.
Cover illustration by Larry Rostant,
Dust jacket and interior design by Panda Musgrove.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Â Â Invasion : a Kydd Sea adventure / by Julian Stockwin.
Â Â Â Â p. cm.
Â Â ISBN 978-1-59013-237-1
Â Â 1. Kydd, Thomas (Fictitious character)--Fiction. 2. Great Britain--History, Naval--18th century--Fiction. I. Title.
Â Â PR6119.T66I58 2009
Â Â 823'.92--dc22
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Let us be masters of la Manche for just six hoursâ
and England will have ceased to exist!
âNapoleon Bonaparte, Paris 1804
YDD, HOW DARE YOU, SIR
To think to approach me in my own headquarters, demanding a hearing in such an impetuous manner.” Admiral Sir James Saumarez stood upright at his desk, clearly outraged. “I'll remind you, sir, that you narrowly escaped court-martial by your contemptible actions and must be satisfied with a dismissal.”
Commander Kydd held his impatience in check: at long last he had the evidence to prove false the accusation that had led to him being removed from command of his beloved
and his first lieutenant, Christopher Standish, given the ship. “Sir, I beg leave to place before yeâthis.” He handed over a small, folded piece of paper.
Saumarez inspected it, then flung it down with contempt. “Mr. Kydd! If this is a brazen attempt to implicate
“No, sir, it is not. Those are the secret orders I found within your reg'lar instructions as made me act as I did, an' whichâ”
“It's nothing but a crude forgery! And not in the proper form as you must well allow.”
“Sir, I acted in good faith as I've never seen secret orders afore. I couldn't produce it for ye in your investigation as it was stolen from me, but now I can! If you'd be so good as to hear me out . . .”
Saumarez's expression remained stony but he sat reluctantly, and as Kydd told his story, the admiral's anger was replaced first by bewilderment, then dismay.
It was a sorry tale: driven by envy and resentment at Kydd's successes, a more senior captain had arranged for false secret orders to be inserted into Kydd's main instructions that had him clandestinely retrieving a chest ashore. After a tip-off by an anonymous informer, a formal search was made of HMS
on her return and the chest was found to contain smuggled goods. The upright and honourable Admiral Saumarez had seen no option other than to remove Kydd, the ship's captain, from his command.
Still standing, Kydd produced a second sheet of paper. “And this is Lieutenant Prosser's confession, sir. He agrees to testify against Commander Carthew as principal in the matter.”
“Thank you, Mr. Kydd,” Saumarez said heavily. “If this is true, it is a particularly sad circumstance, imputing as it does an appalling transgression against common morality on the part of an officer of my command. It were best I should bring this matter to a head without a moment's delay.”
The admiral rang a bell and ordered his flag-lieutenant, “Commander Carthew,
and Lieutenant Prosser,
to attend me here within the hour.” Then he turned back to Kydd. “You'll oblige me by remaining, sir, while I establish if there is a case to answer.”
Carthew entered the room, his dress uniform immaculate. When he caught sight of Kydd he recoiled.
“Sit, if you please, Mr. Carthewâthere,” Saumarez said, indicating the place opposite Kydd.
“Mr. Prosser, sir.” The flag-lieutenant ushered in a haggard-looking officer who stared doggedly downwards. Carthew was clearly disconcerted to see him.
“Now, this should not take long, gentlemen,” Saumarez began. “Mr. Kydd has laid before me evidence of a conspiracy that resulted in the loss of his ship and his good name. We are here toâ”
“Sir!” Carthew flung a murderous glance at Kydd. “Surely you're not to be swayed by anything this proven blackguard has said! He'sâ”
“Mr. Prosser,” Saumarez said flatly, ignoring Carthew, “do you recognise this?” He handed across a paper.
“I do, sir,” the man said miserably, in barely a whisper.
“Did you or did you not give Mr. Kydd to understand that it was part of his orders from this office?”
Carthew turned pale.
“Under whose instructions?” Saumarez continued.
“Mr. Carthew's, sir,” Prosser muttered.
“This you will swear in court?”
After a tense silence he replied, “IâI will.”
Saumarez took a sharp breath. “You shall have your chance to rebut in due course, Mr. Carthew. I find that this matter shall go forward in law.
“You, Mr. Prosser, may consider yourself under open arrest. Mr. Carthew, your case is more serious and I can see no alternative butâ”
Carthew's chair crashed to the ground as he leaped up, chest heaving, crazed eyes fixed on Kydd. “YouâI'll see you in hellâ” With a panicked glance at Saumarez, he pushed wildly away.
“Commander! Return at once, sir!”
At the door Carthew knocked aside the flag-lieutenant and ran down the stairs.
“Stop that officer!” Saumarez roared.
Kydd leaped to his feet and followed. Shocked faces peered out of offices at the commotion. The sound of footsteps stopped, and when Kydd reached the main entrance Carthew was nowhere in sight. “Where did the officer go?” he demanded, of a bewildered sentry.
“Well, an' I was salutin', like,” the man said. Even a hurrying officer still required the stamp and flourish of a musket salute, with eyes held rigid to the front in respect.
Two marines with ported muskets appeared. “Too late. He's gone,” Kydd snapped, and returned to Saumarez. “Nowhere to be found, sir.”
“Then I take it he's absconded. Flags, do alert the provost. He's to be returned here without delay.” He turned to Prosser. “You, sir, will hold yourself in readiness to make deposition concerning this lamentable business. Now leave us.
“Mr. Kydd,” Saumarez began gravely, “I'm faced with a dilemma. By his actions Commander Carthew stands condemned, and will answer for it at his court-martial, as will Lieutenant Prosser. I am concerned that you, Mr. Kydd, do see justice. In fine, a public disgraceâlosing your shipâshould at the least deserve a public restoring. Yes, that must be the right and proper thing to do.”
Kydd's pulse beat faster. Could it be? Was he to step aboard
as her captain once again? He tried to appear calm.
“Yet at the same time there is something of a
Kydd's heart felt about to burst.
“I believe you will have already considered the grave consequences of your assuming command of
at this time, and it does you the utmost credit, sir,” Saumarez went on.
Fearful of betraying his feelings Kydd dropped his eyes.
“Therefore I shall relieve you of any responsibility. In my opinion the claims of natural justice outweigh those of position and advancement.”
Kydd was struggling to make sense of what was being said.
Saumarez pondered then continued, “Conceivably the circumstances should properly be construed as the unfortunate relinquishing of command, which, in the nature of the sea service, must from time to time occur.”
So he was
going to be allowed to take back
Saumarez saw Kydd's stricken face and hastened to console him. “Pray do not allow your natural human feeling for a brother officer to affect you so, sir. Consider, in leaving command Mr. Standish must in any event revert to lieutenant. He is an acting commander only and therefore the mercy is that, by this happenstance, he is spared being sent ashore as unemployed.”
Kydd's mind whirled. He certainly did not want the arrogant prig back as his lieutenant after the contempt he had shown for him when he had become a privateer captain. “IâI do see that, sir,” he managed, “but I have concern that the hands might not show proper respect, he being reduced back to lieutenant an' all.”
Saumarez reflected for a moment. “Oh, quite. Then you shall have a new lieutenant. I see no reason to delay matters. The sooner this sorry affair is concluded the better for all. I shall draw up your letter of appointment immediately, Mr. Kydd.”
Having allowed Standish a couple of days to set his affairs in order and send his gear ashore, Kydd now stood proudly on North Pier watching
's gig stroking towards him from where she lay at anchor in the Great Road of St. Peter Port. Hallum, his new lieutenant, waited behind him.
The boat approached and at the tiller Midshipman Calloway fought hard to keep a solemn face. “Oars!” he snapped. Obediently they stilled as the gig swung towards the pier.
“Toss oars!” As one, each man smacked the loom across his knee and brought it up vertically. The gig glided into the quay; the bowman leaped nimbly ashore and secured the painter. Calloway snatched off his hat with a huge smile.
Kydd looked down into the boat: Stirk at stroke, Poulden next to him, others, all beaming.
As was the custom, Hallum descended first. “Bear off!” Calloway ordered. “Give way t'gether!”
It had happened. At last Kydd was on his way to reclaim his rightful place. Beside him, Hallum nodded agreeably and both took in the lovely ship until the gig was brought smartly around to the side steps to hook on. Conscious of the men lined up on deck, waiting, Kydd straightened his gold-laced cocked hat a second time, then clambered aboard.
There before him was the ship's company of HMS
. With Hallum standing respectfully behind him he drew out his commission and read himself in as captain. Instantly, his commissioning pennant broke out proudly on the mainmast truck.
“Mr. Purchet.” He acknowledged the boatswain, whose smile split his face from ear to ear. Kydd went on to greet individually those he had come to know and respect in times past. “Mr. Clegg. An' how's our little Sprits'l, can I ask?”
The sailmaker grinned and whispered shyly, “Why, he's a berth in m' cabin, Mr. Kydd, an' nary a rat shall ye find in th' barky.”
The gunner removed his hat and shuffled his feet in pleased embarrassment. “Our metal's as good as ever it was, sir,” he muttered.
Kydd's eyes found others and the memories returned.
The rest of the Teazers were assembled forward, their faces leaving no doubt about their feelings that their old captain had been restored. Kydd had
back and the future was up to him. He turned to address the men. Legs abrace, he took off his hat and opened his mouth, but a lump in his throat stopped the words. He drew out his handkerchief and spluttered into it until he had regained his composure. Then he began, “Teazers
It'sâit's with . . .” It was no good. He wheeled on the boatswain. “Mr. Purchet, this afternoon a make 'n' mend for all hands!” In the storm of cheering that resulted he took refuge in his cabin.
It was bare and unkempt, with an alien smell. Standish had cleared it completely and, without furnishings, it looked immense. Kydd gave a bleak grin. After his dismissal from his ship he'd been reduced to the life of a wandering vagrant, sleeping in a sail-loft until he had achieved handsome riches through privateering. Standish's petty act was meaninglessâwith his new-found fortune he could easily purchase replacements.
There was a well-remembered knock on the door. “Come, Tysoe!” he called happily, and stood to greet his old servant.
The man entered discreetly, his nose wrinkling in disdain at the sight of the forlorn cabin.
“Aye! Well, we've a mort of work to do in seeing this'n all shipshapeâ but there's none better, I dare t' say, as I trust to take it in hand.” In the absence of his sister Cecilia's womanly touch, he could safely leave it to Tysoe to go ashore and make the necessary purchases.
A murmuring outside resolved in to the anxious features of Ellicott, the purser. “We should set th' books straight now, sir,” he said, holding a pack of well-thumbed papers.
“We will,” Kydd promised. He knew the reason for the haste: Standish had no doubt fudged the signing-off on some accounts. Ellicott feared that until Kydd signed them into his charge he, as purser, would be held responsible for any deficiencies in the boatswain's store, gunner's allowance and so forth.
Before Kydd started on the paperwork, though, there were a few things he must attend to first. “Is the ship's clerk in attendance?” he asked carefully. It was a delicate matter: his friend Renzi had been acting in that role while Kydd was captain but had given up the post and gone ashore with Kydd when he had been dismissed from his ship. But if the new one was . . .
“Larkin, sir,” Ellicott said apologetically, ushering an elderly seaman inside.
“You!” Kydd said in surprise.
“Aye, sir,” Larkin mumbled. Kydd was taken aback: he knew him to be a fo'c'sleman with an unusual attachment to poetry. In the dogwatches it was his practice to copy out verse from books in large, beautifully formed copperplate. Clearly he had been “volunteered” for the task by the previous captain.
“This is no task for a prime sailorman, Larkin,” Kydd said briskly. “I'll see if Mr. Renzi is at leisure to relieve ye, an' then your part o' ship shall be fo'c'sleman again.”