To the memory of the HMS Bounty, which was lost in Hurricane Sandy off Cape Hatteras, the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
Diagram of Full-Rigged Ship
Diagram of Points of Sail and 32-Point Wind-Rose
Map of Andalusia
Map of Gibraltar
Also by Dewey Lambdin
About the Author
You brave heroic minds
Worthy your country’s name,
That honour still pursue;
Go and subdue!
Whilst loitering hinds
Lurk here at home in shame.
“To THE VIRGINIAN VOYAGE”
MICHAEL DRAYTON (1563–1631)
A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast
And fills the white and rustling sail
And bends the gallant mast;
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
While like the eagle free
Away the good ship flies, and leaves
Old England on the lee.
“A WET SHEET AND FLOWING SEA”
ALAN CUNNINGHAM (1784–1842)
After a few months at his father’s estate in Anglesgreen, in the North Downs of Surrey, the bustle and clatter, the crowded business of London and its teeming throngs seemed loud and alien to Captain Alan Lewrie, RN. Oh, he’d come up to the city very briefly in January for his quarterly appearance before the Councillour of The Cheque to collect his half-pay, but then had just as quickly coached back to rusticity, and further healing. This time, though, London seemed more promising, more challenging, and Lewrie was prepared for a longer stay, to lay siege, as it were, at Admiralty right through the budding spring of 1807 for as long as necessary ’til he’d gotten himself a new active commission.
Pettus, his manservant, and former cabin steward aboard his last ship, the 38-gunned Fifth Rate Reliant frigate, had no such concern for the long term, though, and was sliding from one side of the front coach seat to the other to peer out the windows at all of the hubub, as eagerly as some “Country-Put” who’d spent his entire life in one wee village. Pettus did so so energetically that Lewrie had half a mind to chide him to sit still. Thankfully, their coach came at last to the corner of Duke Street and Wigmore Street, and their pre-arranged lodgings at the Madeira Club. A letter in request, one quick reply, and Lewrie and his man had been assured room for as long as he wished; it was a certitude, for Lewrie’s father, Sir Hugo St. George Willoughby, was one of the founding investors in the club, and Lewrie was considered a legacy, and at a much-reduced rate, to boot!
“At last,” Lewrie said with a sigh after their long and slow trip up from Anglesgreen to Guildford, then to the city, on winter-muddied and rutted roads, a trip which had seemed twice as long as usual, with twice the usual traffic. “I’m badly in need of a jaunt to the ‘Jakes’, and a mug o’ somethin’ warm!”
By calendar it might be April of 1807, but the winter had been harsh and had lingered. Even with a greatcoat on, and a wool blanket over his lap and legs, the day had started raw and showed little sign of improvement. At least it was not raining, Lewrie could conjure, though the skies were iron grey with quick-scudding low clouds.
The club’s doorman scuttled down from the raised entry stoop to fold down the coach’s metal steps and open the door, doffing his hat as Lewrie tossed aside the blanket and stepped down to the kerb.
“So good to see you, again, Captain Lewrie,” the flunky said.
“Good t’be back, aye,” Lewrie replied. “You’ll see to my traps and all? Good. Come on, Pettus, let’s go in and get warm!”
There was a new clerk behind the entry hall desk and its many letter slots and outerwear racks, who looked up from his paperwork as the doors opened, admitting a quick breath of nippy damp wind, and a gentleman new to him.
“Captain Alan Lewrie,” Lewrie said, naming himself as he took off his hat and gloves, “I believe ye have rooms reserved for me and my man?”
“Ehm … let me see … yes, we do, sir,” the clerk perked up after looking over his lists quickly. “On the third storey, facing the street, sir, but with a fireplace that draws very well.”
“Topping!” Lewrie heartily exclaimed, clapping his gloves on the palm of his opposite hand, before Pettus helped him remove his greatcoat.
The new clerk wondered whether this Captain Lewrie was Army or Navy, for there was no outward sign since he was garbed in civilian suitings; he wondered, too, if the fellow had had a long bout of fever, for the man’s black coat, figured cream waistcoat, and buff trousers seemed loose on his frame. Beyond that, the clerk beheld a gentleman who looked to be in his mid-fourties, about nine inches above five feet tall, a gentleman who wore his own hair instead of a wig, hair that was slightly curly, mid-brown, brushed back at the temples and over his ears in waves, joined with longer new-styled sideburns, and aha! As this Captain Lewrie turned to speak to his manservant, the clerk espied a wee sprig of a queue at the nape of his neck, bound in black ribbon; so he must be a Navy officer!
This Lewrie seemed a merry sort, with bright grey-blue eyes, merry enough to make the clerk smile a bit broader than his usual wont bestowed upon club members—’til he spotted a faint vertical scar on the man’s left cheek. Perhaps, the clerk thought, this Captain Lewrie was not always quite so merry, and was a fighting man to be reckoned with!
“We shall see your luggage sent up to your room, sir, and lay a good fire,” the clerk promised. He handed over a large key with an oval brass tab.
“I’ll leave you t’that, Pettus,” Lewrie said, “and once I’ve re-discovered the ‘necessary’, I’ll be in the Common Rooms.”
* * *
There was a good fire ablaze in the Common Rooms, too, when Lewrie entered it, and he went to it to rub his cold hands before its warmth, even turn his backside to it and lift the tails of his coat.
“Damned raw day,” someone comfortably ensconced in one of the leather wing-back chairs by the fire commented. “Why, good Captain Lewrie!” older Mister Giles, a man of substance in the leather goods trade, exclaimed. “Well met, sir! Up from the country at last, hah! I say, Showalter, Captain Lewrie’s back!”
A younger fellow on the opposite side of the fireplace dropped his masking newspaper and rose to his feet with a smile to offer his hand. “Grand to see you, again, sir. Bless me, but do I note that you no longer have need of your walking stick? Capital!”