From the Personal Log of John Sinclair Tuesday, 16 March 1779 Our orders arrived an hour ago by Admiralty messenger. It seems that someone has been talking to their Lordships and they have been listening. It is the only explanation that I can think of for the orders we have received. A brand-new 36-gun frigate, of our newest and most modern class, being used as a troop transport. The business of acting as escort wasn’t unusual of course, but escorting a single vessel certainly was. A thirty-six ought to be escorting a convoy of half a dozen. And then there was the Windsor herself, a seventy last I’d heard, elderly but still in fine condition. She must be sailing en flute with at least her lower-deck battery of 24-pounders removed to accommodate the troop replacements she was carrying and from the wording of the dispatch she would be staying that way. It must be infuriating for Captain Fulker. I knew who had been talking, it was Fred of course. He’d been worried about my returning to duty so soon and had done all he could to dissuade me. When he’d seen he couldn’t he must have written St. John once again and suggested a non-taxing assignment. For most it would have been an exercise in futility, but when a highly respected member of the Royal College of Physicians makes a recommendation even the Admiralty listens. I understood Fred’s concern, I had very nearly died after all, but I wished he would stop interfering. I was fine now, even the long, hard ride from Denham a month ago hadn’t tired me excessively. I made a mental note to talk to him about it this evening. “Officer of the Watch!” I said rapping the cabin skylight. Talbot’s round Irish face looked down at me. “Sir?” “Have my gig swayed out if you please, Mr. Talbot.” “Aye aye, sir.” He replied and then disappeared but I could hear him bawling orders in that high-pitched Irish accent. He had done well last week when the powder had come aboard. MacDonald the gunner had given me a full report; in spite of his easy-going manner the second lieutenant was stickler for safety. I had been pleased to hear it. At length the Marine sentry at my door had rapped his musket on the deck and announced. “Midshipman o’ th’ Watch, sir!” Young Shea had entered at my bidding and reported. “Mr. Talbot’s respects, sir, and your gig is ready.” “Thank you, Mr. Shea. My complements to the second lieutenant and I shall be up directly.” After he’d left Bailey held out my coat and I slipped it on. I could not help but smile as the steward fussed like an old maid when he clipped my sword on. Andrew Bailey would never change. When he had finished I turned from the cabin, Windsor and Captain Fulker were waiting. From the Personal Log of John Sinclair Thursday, 18 March 1779 I watched as the first longboat hooked onto the main chains and the senior most of the nine officers aboard her reached out and made to scramble up Sapphire’s tumblehome. Unfortunately he mistimed it badly and only MacGregor’s quick hand and bulging muscles kept him from splashing into the harbour as the cox’n hauled him back into the longboat before he went in headfirst. The man was more successful with his second attempt and managed to clamber through the entry port without further incident. Conscious of what had happened to their senior the remaining officers listened carefully to the instructions that MacGregor gave them before scrambling up the side and through the ship’s entry port. Instructions which their Colonel, much to his subsequent chagrin, had chosen to ignore. Now all nine were gathered on the maindeck as Jones sorted through them. At first I had been quite concerned as to where to put them. If they had been private soldiers or even Corporals and Sergeants I would have simply assigned them hammock space with the crew, but the fact that all my passengers were officers made things a different matter entirely. They would expect private quarters aboard. I had none to give them of course but would do what I could to see that the forms were followed as closely as possible in a ship of Sapphire’s size. Looking toward the dock I saw the second longboat bearing the remaining officers shove off from the jetty. Once they arrived we would commence preparations for getting underway. We had taken on the last of our water yesterday when we had received word that our passengers would arrive for boarding today. Boats had been going from the dockyard to the old Windsor all day long bearing more and more soldiers destined for the 70th and 16th Foot. In order to fit them all into her fat hull nearly all of Windsor’s guns had been removed, both the lower deck twenty-fours and the upper deck twelves had been taken off leaving the elderly two-decker with but the dozen eight-pounders of her fo’c’sle and quarterdeck batteries for defense. It was no wonder St. John had wanted Sapphire along as escort. O’Rourke the second midshipman scrambled up the quarterdeck ladder and touched his hat to me. “First lieutenant’s respects, sir. The Colonel requests to speak to you at your convenience.” I had heard the loud and angry voices from the maindeck and doubted very much that Colonel The Honourable Charles Courtenay had been nearly so polite. Still he was assigned to take command of the 70th Foot so I should try to be at least civil to him. “My compliments to Mr. Jones. I shall see the Colonel in my day cabin in five minutes.” As O’Rourke saluted and hurried for the ladder again I took one more look at the dockyard before turning to quarterdeck gangway. When I reached my cabin I found Bailey setting out a decanter of Madeira and two glasses. I ruefully shook my head at him; news has fast legs on the lower deck. MacGregor stepped in and looked over at the wine. “Another glass, Andrew.” He said. I looked over at him and he shrugged. “Colonel o’ the 16th’s asked t’ be seein’ ye, Cap’n. Thought ye might kill two birds with one stone like and see ‘em together.” “What an impertinent fellow you are, MacGregor.” I said. “I sometimes wonder why I put up with you.” He looked solemn for a moment, then looked at me with a twinkle in his eye. “I wonders sometimes too, Cap’n.” “One day, my lad. One day you'll go too far.” I replied shaking a finger at him. But the big Scot only smiled, you could never win with MacGregor, and anyway we’d been playing this game for a long time. Out in the passageway the marine sentry’s musket stamped twice on the deck. “Colonel Courtenay, sir!” I gestured towards the door to my sleeping cabin for MacGregor and Bailey then turned to the passageway. “Come.” It was a moment before Courtenay entered as he had apparently been expecting someone to open the door for him. Fair-haired and looking very young for his rank Courtenay I knew was the third son of the Earl of Devonshire and had just recently purchased his colonelcy of the 70th after the previous commander had been killed in a skirmish with the rebels. According to my information from Sir David, Courtenay had believed that the regiment was being returned to England. When he had learned that replacements were instead being sent out to the Colonies he had tried to sell his commission but had found no takers even at one-third the price he'd paid for it. “See here, Sinclair.” He began. “What’s this damned nonsense about my having to share quarters? Never heard such tommyrot in all my life! And stand at attention when a superior officer speaks to you! Doesn’t the Navy know anything about military courtesy?” Not another one I thought, then sat back on my desk and took a deep breath before responding. “First off, Colonel, you are not the superior officer here, I am. In accordance to the regulations of 1748, which clearly state that a Royal Navy senior post captain is the equal of a colonel of the British Army. My seniority at that rank is dated from 24 September 1762. If my information is correct then you became a colonel on 23 February of this year, all of which makes me senior. “Second, even if it didn’t my orders place me in command of the mission and in any event until I put you ashore you are just cargo. And overrated cargo at that! Third, this is a frigate not a damned passenger vessel, you’ll berth where we have room to put you! If you don’t care for the quarters you’ve been assigned I can arrange alternate accommodations in the cable tier with the rest of the rats! Fourth!!” I stopped and forced myself to regain my composure before finishing with a nasty little smile on my lips. “Fourth, stand at attention when addressing a superior officer, Courtenay.” His mouth dropped open and he just stood there for several seconds, his face turning an impressive shade of purple before he finally sputtered. “This is intolerable! I shall not sit still for such treatment! I demand satis…” “Don’t!” I shot out interrupting him with fire in my eye. “Don’t finish that, Colonel, I warn you. I have been a fighting officer for more than thirty years. I have killed with pistol, sabre and sword more times than I prefer to recall. And I have stood on the Field of Honour more than once as well. If you complete your challenge I promise you, I will put you into your grave!” He locked his eyes on mine and I could feel the hatred behind them but it was nothing to me but a mild annoyance and looking into my eyes he knew it as well, and something else besides. He knew that I could and more importantly would carry out my threat. I saw something else in his eyes then. Something that overpowered the hatred and drove it into the background. Fear. The sentry’s musket sounded against the deck again. “Colonel of the 16th, sir!” The spell was broken. Colonel Courtenay spun on his heel and stormed to the door before turning back to me. “This isn’t over … sir!” The word was spat out like a bitter pill. I looked back on him calmly. “It is aboard this ship, Colonel. Understood?” He nodded curtly and left. He would keep his word but once we were no longer aboard … well as he had said, this isn’t over. Then the door opened and a booming voice called out. “Good Heavens, John, what did you do to little Charlie? He looks like he’s ready to shoot his favourite dog if it looks at him crosswise! Which wouldn’t be much of a stretch for him come to think of it. He’s got a terrible temper you know. It goes nicely with the streak of yellow down his back.” Now it was my turn to stare at the apparition that stood in my doorway. The first time I’d met George Therrien was back in ‘59. He had been a major with the 43rd Regiment of Foot on detached duty with Black Dick Howe’s squadron that was raiding the French coast. I’d been a lieutenant aboard the Southampton in the same squadron. It was one of the last raids of the year. I had been in charge of one of shore detachments that brought the raiders off when word had come that the afterguard had been cut off by French Cavalry. My senior, an officer from the flagship, had panicked and ordered us to quit the beach and return to the squadron. I had ignored him and taken my lads inland. We found the remains of George’s battalion surrounded and immediately attacked, breaking through the French forces and opening a gap that George’s lads could escape through. Together we had fought our way back to the beach, re-embarked and got safely back to the squadron. Once we’d arrived the cowardly lieutenant had insisted that I’d disobeyed his direct orders to return to the squadron. I had pointed out that I had in fact followed his orders to return, I just hadn’t done it alone. In the end he was forced to resign and Black Dick himself had commended me and ordered me made post. The Admiralty confirmed the order and gave me Penelope fifteen days later. George and I had kept in touch afterwards. He’d resigned his commission following the Peace of Paris that ended the Seven Years War and had retired to his family’s estate to ride, shoot grouse and deplete the deer population. I had visited him several times and when the former lieutenant and I had finally settled the matter on the Field of Honour in ‘63, George had been my second. “Good Heavens, sir, you look quite dazed. I told you I was thinking of buying back in. Why are you so damned surprised?” “Because I expected that you’d write before you actually did it, and I certainly didn’t expect you to show up here as one of my replacements. Although now that I think of it I should have guessed what with the way MacGregor was acting. I suppose you told him to keep his mouth shut, eh?” He smiled back at me. “I wanted to surprise you, Johnny.” “Well you certainly did that, George. And don’t call me that. You know I hate it.” His grin became even larger as he replied. “That’s why I do it, Johnny. Keeps you humble, besides excepting your Aunt Gwendolyne I’m the only one who can get away with it.” “Not anymore you can’t.” I laughed. “You were retired for seventeen years. I outrank you now.” “Oh, tosh!” He said waving a hand dismissively. “You think I give a damn about that?” “No, I suppose not, Georgie.” His eyebrows shot up to his forehead, stood there quivering for a moment, then descended and he laughed out loud. “All right, John, I’ll stop.” “I thought you might.” I said grinning at him. “Here let’s have a glass then you can tell me how you got here. And let’s have Fred and that damned rascal of a cox’n in here too.” He laughed his jolly laugh and I began to pour.