“Thank you so much for your hospitality,” Granger said to the Marquess of Winchester. He was the father of Lord Henry Paulet, a fellow naval officer and a friend of Granger’s, and had offered to let Granger, Winkler, and Kingsdale stay the evening with him at Amport House. The trip to London from Plymouth was in excess of 200 miles, and required two days of travel. Amport House was a lovely place to stop, as it was almost in the middle of their trek.
“It was my pleasure, Granger,” the Marquess said. “You must stop in again on your return trip. If I am not here, do not worry. The staff will be expecting you.”
“Your Lordship’s hospitality is truly without bounds,” Granger said gracefully, then led his party into the waiting coach. Yesterday it had been raining, so Winkler had sat, at Granger’s invitation, in the coach with them. Today the weather appeared much brighter, so Winkler opted to sit up with the driver. Granger was glad of that, since it gave him time to get to know Kingsdale a bit better.
“When did you inherit your barony?” Granger asked.
“When I was five, sir. My mother managed things, if you could say that, until she died last year. After that, I attempted to take over my own affairs, guided by my uncle.”
“That’s a lot of responsibility to throw on someone so young,” Granger said sympathetically.
“Sadly, sir, it was not. My barony consists of some 250 acres and a decaying manor house in County Cork, near the coast. The land does not produce much in rents, and what it does produce is largely siphoned off by creditors. My father was a gambler, and a drunk, and what he did not squander, my mother did.” The young man was bitter, bitter and alone. He seemed suddenly alarmed, as if he was worried that he’d opened up to Granger too much.
“I am sorry to hear that. I have seen vices like that impact my own family,” Granger said sympathetically.
“Thank you, sir,” Kingsdale said, and seemed relieved.
“Normally when a peer goes to sea, he is attired more appropriately,” Granger noted.
“I’m very sorry, sir,” Kingsdale said, trying manfully to hide how upset he was. “I pooled all of the money I had, and even sold my pipes to try to outfit myself properly. It just wasn’t enough. I understand if you don’t want me on your ship.”
Granger’s heart went out to this boy who was carrying quite a burden, and doing his best to make it in the world largely on his own. All he had left was his mortgaged lands and a title. “I did not mean to imply that you were unwelcome. If I didn’t want you on my ship, I would not have taken you aboard in the first place.”
“Yes, sir,” he said, and finally lost his battle, and a tear fell down his cheek. He wiped it away with an angry gesture, mad that he’d let his internal distress show.
Granger put his arm around him in a friendly, paternal gesture. “It is not fit for a man of your station to be embarrassed when it comes to things such as uniforms and other equipment. It is my intention to correct that problem.”
“Sir?” he asked, confused.
“Have you ever been presented to His Majesty?”
“No, sir,” the boy said, and looked stunned at the thought of it.
“When we get to London, you will go to see my tailor, and we will get you uniforms that are suitable so you can meet your sovereign. And we will find you a set of bagpipes, so you can play them and entertain me on our long voyage,” Granger said with a grin.
The boy just looked at him, an expression of complete incomprehension on his face, and then became resolved. “Sir, I don’t know how to thank you. No one has ever shown me such kindness before.”
“Lord Hood asked me to take you on board my ship. We will hope that also counts as an act of kindness.”
“Yes it does, although I only met him once, when I was a very young boy, sir,” he said.
“Then you will see him again,” Granger said. “Were you in London for long?”
“I arrived and went directly aboard Bacchante, sir. What I saw of London, I saw from the decks.”
“There is much to like, and much not to like. You must enjoy yourself, but be careful.”
“Yes, sir,” he said. He had a very slight accent, or brogue, but Granger noticed that it only came out when he was relaxed. When he was tense, it would be difficult to tell he was Irish. The rest of the trip to London was uneventful but tedious, and it was a tired trio that arrived at Portland Place that night.
“Welcome home, my lord,” Cheevers said as he greeted them.
“Thank you, Cheevers,” Granger said cordially. “This is Lord Kingsdale. He will be staying with us.”
“Welcome, my lord,” he said to Kingsdale, who mumbled ‘thank you’. Cheevers motioned a footman over and whispered brief instructions into his ear, and then he led Kingsdale off to his room. Once he was gone, Cheevers resumed his conversation with Granger. “We received a letter today for you from the Admiralty, my lord. I was of a mind to courier it to Plymouth immediately, but I was told that this was a duplicate of the notice they’d sent to you there.” Cheevers handed Granger the letter.
“That worked out quite well then,” Granger said. Cheevers smiled, and Granger suddenly realized that he hadn’t really given Cheevers all that much credit for making his life smooth, and for watching out for him. “I am vexed at myself, because I have been remiss in talking to you about something.”
“What is it, my lord?”
“I neglected to thank you for watching out for me when I went to retrieve Dr. Jackson. The extra footmen were quite useful. You have made my stay at home much more pleasant.”
Cheevers positively beamed at hearing Granger’s kind words. “It is a pleasure to serve you, my lord.”
Granger nodded and smiled back, to say thank you, then changed the subject, as much to get them beyond this maudlin place as to stay on task. “I will want Lord Kingsdale to visit the tailor tomorrow. He is to fully outfit the lad at my expense.”
“Aye aye, my lord. I will see that he meets with the tailor in the morning.”
“Excellent. And I need to acquire a set of bagpipes for him. I don’t suppose you know where we could find those, do you?”
“There is a shop, my lord, which may have such an instrument. I can make some inquiries.”
“I would be most obliged,” Granger said. He paused to read the letter from the Admiralty, to find a directive that he report in at nine in the morning, or as soon as practical after that, which was clearly a clause designed to accommodate him if his travels had taken longer than planned. “I am bidden to the Admiralty at 9 o’clock in the morning.”
“We will have the coach ready for you, my lord,” Cheevers said.
May 28, 1797
Granger got up early, took a bath, ate a sizeable breakfast, and still managed to arrive at the Admiralty just five minutes early. The past few times Granger had reported there he’d been received quite quickly, but today, he waited until 9:15 before Cavendish arrived to escort him back. “When your meeting is over, we must talk,” Cavendish told him quietly.
“I will seek you out when I am finished,” Granger said. Cavendish seemed nervous, and that made Granger nervous.
He strode into Spencer’s office, expecting to receive the normal cordial greeting, but instead he got a dour look. “I see you made it back to London, Granger.”
“Yes, sir,” Granger responded. “We had a few adverse winds on the voyage down, but Bacchante sails well, and looks to be well founded.” He handed his report to Spencer, who placed it unopened on his desk.
“I am wondering what possessed you to fire on the mutineers.” Spencer demanded. “You have created two firestorms for me, the first over this issue with Dr. Jackson, and the second with your treatment of the mutineers.”
“My lord, we did not fire on the mutineers. I am unclear as to what you were told, but that part of it is most definitely a falsehood.”
“Parker sent a letter stating that you sprayed a boat of delegates with grapeshot, wounding several, and he’s demanding that you be drummed out of the service, along with your officers.”
“We did not fire grapeshot at the men in the boat, sir, we threw grapeshot at them.”
“Nonetheless, you wounded several of the men.”
“They attempted to stop us from passing through the Nore, sir,” Granger told Spencer. “We were ordered to heave to, and I refused to comply. We were fired upon by the Sandwich and Inflexible, but never returned fire. They attempted to board us, by sending a launch with 50 armed men. I allowed two of them aboard, but one was so disrespectful, I had him thrown back into his boat.” Granger went on to tell Spencer of the exchange he’d had with the other delegate, and relayed all of the events leading up to the crew throwing grapeshot at the boat.
“That is a distinctly different version than was described to me in Parker’s letter,” Spencer said.
“Sir, I have told you what happened, and I am pledging to you that it is the truth. I would submit that my word is much more credible than the word of a mutineer.” Granger said this calmly, but inside he was seething with anger, and that must have come through quite clearly to Spencer.
“I wasn’t questioning your word,” Spencer snapped. “I was merely noting that the reports are different.”
“The delegate told me that he was going to add this clause, about dismissing me and my officers, to their demands,” Granger said. “I told him that he would be doing us a favor, my officers and me, because nothing was more likely to endear us to Your Lordship than to incur their enmity.” He saw Spencer try to hide a small grin at that.
Spencer got up and walked over to the wall of maps, as if he was thinking, then turned back. “I think that you acted correctly, Granger. I just don’t like dealing with these scoundrels, and events like this give them fodder.”
“With all due respect, sir, I think that they would find something to cite that irritated them, whether I escaped their clutches or not.”
“That’s probably true.” Spencer sat back down and his mind appeared to be changing tacks. “We have some issues with your good doctor.”
“His fate has seemingly begun quite a political tug of war. On the one hand, I have you, Cavendish, all of Chartley’s friends, and several others claiming the man is all but the Messiah. On the other hand, I have Maidstone and his cronies denouncing the man as Satan.”
“Dr. Jackson has earned my loyalty and support, sir,” Granger said, his way of telling Spencer he wasn’t backing down.
“And this issue has become even more complicated,” Spencer said, ignoring Granger.
“The government and John Company have decided that the ideal replacement for your brother is Sir Tobias Maidstone. It is going to be most uncomfortable for you to take Sir Tobias to the Indies if the doctor is part of your crew.”
“Sir, the operation of Bacchante should not involve Sir Tobias at all, as long as I and my crew follow our instructions. It was considered improper to let the men select their officers. Would it not be just as improper to let a merchant decide who is to serve on my ship?”
“You sound like the sea lawyers I’ve been arguing with at the Nore,” Spencer snapped, irritated again. “The obvious solution is for Jackson to transfer to another ship.”
“Sir, you gave me your pledge that I could select my own officers for this voyage,” Granger said firmly.
“I did, and that is why I am asking you to transfer Dr. Jackson to another vessel.” So Spencer wasn’t ordering Jackson’s transfer, he was requesting it.
“Sir, I would like some time to think about this, and to decide how this change would impact the health of my officers and my men.”
Spencer eyed Granger carefully, and then nodded. “Very well. You will have a week here in London before you leave for Plymouth. You can return on Friday and tell me your conclusion, and receive your orders. I will see you here at 9am.”
“Aye aye, sir,” Granger said, using naval parlance. He left Spencer’s office and tracked down Cavendish.
“I will call on you tonight,” Cavendish said. Clearly he didn’t want to talk about these issues at the Admiralty.
“I will look forward to that,” Granger said, winking at Cavendish. He got a small smile in return, and then left the Admiralty. Granger returned home to find Kingsdale just getting ready for his appointment with the tailor. Granger opted to go with him, and was glad he did. Kingsdale was reluctant to spend too much money, an admirable trait since it was not his money he was spending. Granger made sure he got uniforms made of the best broadcloth, good silk stockings, and breeches that would look good enough for the palace. They next went to the cobbler, who fitted them for shoes, and then finally to a shop with musical instruments, to acquire some pipes for Kingsdale. When they finally got back to Portland Place, Granger found he was quite tired from the day’s activities.
Cavendish arrived in time for supper, but with Kingsdale there, they could not really converse. They ate together, making small talk, while Cavendish and Granger were both most anxious to shed Kingsdale so they could talk, among other things. Kingsdale finally seemed to sense that his presence wasn’t really wanted, and opted to retire to his room for the evening. Granger led Cavendish into his study, and poured them both a glass of port.
“You have certainly stirred up some trouble,” Cavendish said.
“I am accused of firing at mutineers and harboring a wanton killer, who also seems adept at removing cucumbers from men’s asses,” Granger said with a smile. Cavendish tried not to laugh, but couldn’t.
“The encounter with the mutineers is actually a positive mark, despite what Spencer said. He was upset when he thought you’d fired guns at them. Using grapeshot as missiles, now that’s a different story.”
“They were such scoundrels,” Granger groused. “I can understand how Bover must have felt when he shot that man on the London.”
Cavendish nodded. “The issue with Dr. Jackson is a tougher one.”
“Spencer wants to transfer him to another ship. He claims it will be uncomfortable for Sir Tobias to be on the same ship with Jackson.”
“Why would Maidstone be on the same ship with Jackson?” Cavendish asked.
“You don’t know?” Granger watched his eyes, and could see that he did not. “They are sending Sir Tobias Maidstone to replace my brother as governor.”
“That is interesting,” Cavendish mused. “That puts a whole different spin on this.”
“I don’t understand,” Granger said honestly.
“Sir Tobias is being sent out to replace your brother Albert, and the story that’s been given is that Albert is too unscrupulous for that position, that he is lining his own pockets instead of John Company’s.”
“That is my understanding,” Granger agreed.
“Only Sir Tobias is even more unscrupulous than Albert,” Cavendish said. “So clearly, this is more about taking power and money away from Albert, and by extension, your family, than about reform of the administration of an island in the East Indies.”
“And where does Dr. Jackson fit into this?” Granger asked.
“I am unclear as to why Maidstone chose to make this an issue. Perhaps he just hates Jackson and wants him dead. Or perhaps he wants to provoke you.”
“He has already made Spencer mad at me. I am assuming there are others.”
“This is an issue where loyalties are divided. Your own father, for example, has ties to Maidstone through his investments in John Company. For many of us, it is a choice between the merchant community here in London, and our loyalty to you and Dr. Jackson.”
“Excepting you and my father, I fear I shall lose out when guineas and pounds are involved,” Granger said sarcastically, but with a smile. “Did you make any progress on a pardon for Jackson?”
“I broached the issue with my father, who advised me to leave it tranquil for the time being.”
“I am thinking that if Dr. Jackson is transferred, it is only a matter of time before he is deprived of his life,” Granger said.
Cavendish looked at him for a moment, thinking about it, and then nodded. “I think you are right.”
“I plan to discuss this with my father tomorrow, and then I am going out to Brentwood. I can talk to Caroline as well.”
“When will you return?”
“Tuesday night,” Granger said. “Would you care to call on me then?”
“Would you like to give me an incentive?” Cavendish asked with a leer.
“I would,” Granger said, and in no time at all, their clothes were off, and they merged physically. It took them a bit to move beyond the nasty political issues they’d dealt with, but not all that long. Coupling with Cavendish was truly wonderful, but now that Calvert was back in the picture, it just wasn’t quite as special as it had been before.
May 29, 1797
Granger sat in his father’s study, having explained the situation with Maidstone and Dr. Jackson. The Earl got up and paced a bit, thinking of the situation, as if trying to discern what exactly was going on. “Cavendish thinks that this is not an isolated issue. He thinks that Maidstone’s actions and appointment are part of an assault on our family.”
“On our family?” The Earl asked, now truly shocked and angered.
“He observed that the stated objective in removing Bertie is to reform the administration of the island Bertie governs. I believe it is Amboyna.”
“That is correct, although all of those islands with their obscure names are difficult to remember.”
Granger smiled indulgently at his father’s parochial view of the world. “Cavendish noted that Maidstone is even more corrupt than Bertie, so that would appear to make the reason for Bertie’s recall a blatant lie.”
“That is interesting,” the Earl said evenly, even though he was actually outraged.
“Maidstone has chosen to spark this issue with me over Dr. Jackson, and I think he must have known that I’d react the way that I did. I feel as if I am an actress performing on Drury Lane, and someone has written the script I am performing.”
“This is clearly a much bigger matter than I had realized,” the Earl said. “I must make some inquiries.”
“What should I do about securing a pardon for Dr. Jackson?” Granger asked.
“Let me address that issue after I have discovered what is going on,” the Earl said. Granger didn’t like that at all. He didn’t like leaving Jackson hanging in the wind like this.
“Does Maidstone have any enemies?” Granger asked.
“The King finds him tolerable, and the Prince of Wales is a friend of his, primarily because Maidstone lends him money. He managed to get on the wrong side of Clarence, but I think that is a benign quarrel now. He is one of those men whom people are nice to because he has money and influence, but I would think there are few that really like him.”
“Thank you, Father,” Granger said, even as an idea germinated in his brain. “I am going out to Brentwood for a few days. It is my intention to return and attend the King’s levee. I have one of my officers whom I wish to present.”
“Who is this officer?” Bridgemont asked.
“The 8th Baron of Kingsdale. He is an Irish peer, only 13 years old, and has nothing but an impoverished estate to commend him. He was recommended by me to Lord Hood. I am outfitting him appropriately, so he looks suitable to meet His Majesty.”
“When are you leaving for Brentwood?”
“This afternoon. I have a call to make this morning, and then I planned to head out there.”
“Does this lad know how to conduct himself?”
“He does quite well, but he is bound to be uncertain and uncomfortable around His Majesty.”
“Perhaps you would be willing to leave him in my care while you are at Brentwood? I can acquaint him with some of the skills he will need.”
Granger smiled at his father. “Thank you, Father. I think he will be well-served by such an education. I will dispatch him over today.” Granger took his leave of his father, and then went directly to call on the Duke of Clarence.
The equerry who received him must be new. “I must apologize, my lord, but His Royal Highness is not receiving visitors.”
Granger was briefly annoyed at being reminded that he was being a bit rude, calling at this hour, but he smiled gamely. “I would be most appreciative if you would let His Royal Highness know that I am here. It would be most unfortunate if he was available and missed my call.”
The equerry eyed him, taking in Granger’s polite but veiled threat. He vanished, and was gone for 15 minutes before returning. “My lord, His Royal Highness will be able to receive you. If you will follow me,” he said. The man led him, not into the study as Granger was used to, but up to the Duke’s rooms. He found the Duke in casual clothes, seemingly awaiting his arrival.
“We are not to be disturbed,” the Duke said firmly.
“Yes, Your Royal Highness,” the equerry said, and closed the doors firmly behind him.
Granger bowed, and then approached this handsome Royal Duke, who said nothing, but grabbed Granger into his arms and kissed him passionately. In no time at all, Granger's breeches were lowered and the Duke was in him, fucking him with uncharacteristic desperation. Only when they were done did he finally speak. “I have missed you, Granger.”
“I have missed you as well, Your Royal Highness,” Granger said, smiling. “I have been at sea, and have just returned yesterday.”
“I heard of your encounter at the Nore,” he said.
“Parker evidently embellished the account significantly, sir,” Granger said. He told the Duke what really happened.
“They are rogues, untrustworthy rogues,” he growled.
Granger swallowed inwardly, and then broached a new topic with the Duke. “I may be in need of your assistance, if you feel in a position to give it.”
“You’re referring to your doctor,” the Duke said.
“Yes, sir, but I am concerned there is more going on than appears.”
“Quite likely. This is London,” he said, making Granger laugh.
“It would seem that Sir Tobias Maidstone is the man who hates Dr. Jackson, and that he is also to be appointed governor of Amboyna, to replace my brother Albert.”
The Duke eyed him carefully. “I was not aware of Maidstone’s appointment.”
“Yes, sir,” Granger said. “I just learned of it when I met with Lord Spencer this morning. It would seem that the excuse to replace my brother, that he is unscrupulous and morally challenged, would founder when Sir Tobias is chosen as his replacement.”
“What is at work here?” The Duke asked, more of himself than Granger. “Why send Maidstone to replace Albert?”
“Yes, sir. And why send me to do it?”
“You are to sail shortly, are you not?”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness,” Granger said.
“We won’t have this problem resolved, or figured out by then. You must follow your orders and keep your eyes open for treachery. I will do the same here, and see if I cannot get to the bottom of things. In the mean time, take your doctor with you. He will not live long if he is transferred. Sir Tobias will just have to deal with his presence on board your ship.”
“I will do as you instruct, Your Royal Highness,” Granger said, then smiled. “I will return to London in time for His Majesty’s levee. I am planning to present one of my officers. Perhaps I could call on you after that?”
“I will plan on it,” The Duke said with a smile.
Granger returned home to retrieve Kingsdale and take him to Bridgemont House. The boy had been terrified at first, but Granger knew that he was in good hands, and the boy knew he could trust his captain. After that, Granger opted to ride out to Brentwood, knowing that he would be able to make it there before sunset if he rode rather than lumbering about in a carriage. Besides, it was a beautiful day, a perfect day for an excursion. That meant that Winkler could stay behind and work to get his things in order for Court, and for his upcoming voyage.
He got to the familiar gates and slowed to a trot as he went down the long road to the main house. All about him were planted fields that seemed to be thriving. Granger smiled at the impression, of prosperous farmers and a well-run estate. He rode confidently up to the front of the house where a boy appeared to guide his horse off.
“Welcome, my lord,” Hudson said pleasantly.
“Thank you, Hudson.”
“Her Ladyship is in the gardens,” he said. He led Granger to the gardens, and Granger saw Caroline sitting on a bench, gazing into a fountain. There was a serenity in her expression, a serenity matched by a look of determination.
“It is almost a crime to disturb you,” Granger said.
“George!” she exclaimed, and all but jumped up and ran over to him. There was the slightest of bulges in her gown, showing the world that she was with child. He ignored that and took her into his arms. “I have been so sad. I heard that you had sailed!”
“We were sent away from the Nore, and away from London politics. Bacchante is in Plymouth. I am to leave on June 5th for Plymouth, and then from there I am to sail to the Indies.”
“I am so glad we are to have some time before you leave!” She led him back to the bench and they sat together.
“I have been busy with politics. I fear there will be much to keep you busy when you return to London.”
“Indeed?” she asked. “I fear that being gone has made my power wane.”
“I suspect that it will not take long for you to resurrect it,” he joked.
“I had a caller a few days ago,” she said, smiling. “Arthur came to see me.”
“No wonder he was not around. I inquired after him when I first got back to London.”
“He came out here to apologize to me for being so boorish. I have not seen Arthur so stable and composed. What a pleasure it was!”
“Was he alone?” Granger asked.
“No, he had an aide with him. He was a very nice Swedish man who seemed somewhat familiar.”
Granger laughed. “That would be Holmquist.”
“You know him, then?”
“He was a member of my crew. He has a special skill that had enamored him to Arthur, so he was released into Arthur’s service.”
“A special skill?” Caroline asked, giggling.
“If you were to go out to the stables and view one of the stallions with an erection, it is possible that erection is larger than Holmquist’s,” Granger said into Caroline’s ear, making her giggle, than laugh uproariously.
“That’s splendid! Just splendid! I will have to do what I can to make sure they are kept together.”
“I think that is wise,” Granger said, then got somber. “We have seen what Arthur was like before.”
“Well, if something does happen, I at least know the secret to keeping him content. I will have to find a friend of your doctor’s to canvass the molly houses for a well-endowed substitute.” Granger laughed with her again.
“How will your reputation survive that, if they find you are out looking for men with big cocks,” Granger joked.
“I fear my reputation will already be in tatters,” she said sadly, changing the tone of their conversation.
“It will not. You have only shown yourself to be human,” Granger said, referring to her affair with Gloucester. “Perhaps you would care to accompany me upstairs?” he asked with a leer.
A tear fell down her cheek. “I am beginning to show, George. You cannot want to be with me.”
He stood up and held out his hand, and she took it. He led her up to their room and took off her clothes, then his, and led her to their bed. He let his fingers explore her body, followed by his mouth. When he had brought her to a level of excitement that would almost yield an orgasm, he entered her. They made love then, writhing around on the bed until they were sated, and then he held her as she cried softly.
“You are so beautiful when you are pregnant.”
“But it is a sign of how I have betrayed you,” she sobbed.
“Caroline, I have pledged to you that I will raise this child as my own. As far as I am concerned, the baby is mine, whether it is in your womb, or once it has emerged.”
“I love you so much, George.”
“I love you, too.”
“When you return from your voyage, I will be here waiting for you, and you will find that I have done a good job of taking care of our family and our affairs.” She said this like it was a pledge, which it was.
“You act like you have not done that before, but you have. You are so smart, positively brilliant. You have made errors in judgment, but now you will learn from them.” She nodded.
“I felt like you were avoiding me, that I was out here and you were glad of that.”
“I was,” he admitted, shocking her with his honesty. “And I am saddened that I wasted what little time we had by absenting myself from you.”
“I don’t understand,” she said.
“Francis helped me understand, helped me see that I was avoiding you while I worked to forgive you. He put it so succinctly, and as he did, it made my anger and sadness vanish.”
“I heard of his appointment to your ship,” she said guardedly. “You will probably not believe me, but I am happy about it.”
“He will take care of you, George. And then you will come back to me.”