Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery

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Lucky Strike

Return to Book Page. He knows that anonymity is the only weapon he has to protect himself from the mafia dons he sent to jail. However, the steamroller hospitality of the rambunctious locals overwhelms any hope of keeping his profile low. Within days,he is embroiled in their nefarious doings and wild antics. Despite his best intentions to remain aloof, Charles lurches from crisis to crisis as this rollicking tale hurtles like a runaway train to its inevitably disastrous climax.

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Sort order. Aug 03, Jo-Ann rated it it was amazing. He reached back below, took up a towel, a jug, and a bag of biscuits. With one last look below to satisfy himself that Neglectful's innards were as snug as he could make them, he finished securing the hatch. Neglectful was moving slowly but well. She rid herself easily of the seas from the west that were already sluicing across her deck and made a comfortable two knots nearly directly due south.

Hoare could imagine she was looking forward to their mutual ordeal. As it roared heavily across her larboard bow, the wind carried the spray down Neglectful's modest length. Hoare could swear that most of it was directed at his head and shoulders while he sat at her tiller, nursing her along. Wind and spray dropped for a moment whenever a rogue sea took her under its wing and put her under its lee before sweeping her skyward, leaving her exposed once more and rushing on toward its end. Hoare guessed the wave would crash ashore somewhere near Pevensey. Whenever the seas passed beneath the yacht, lifting her into the wind, she felt the weight of the gale more deeply, and her moments of respite in the combers' lee began to become more welcome to Hoare.

Depending on whether Neglectful was riding a crest or cowering in a trough, the gale either howled in her exiguous shrouds or moaned emptily above her reeling mast. This blow was no squall. At this rate, it would build for the next six hours or so, hold for another four, and then pass on to bludgeon Bonaparte's Frogs. Or so Hoare judged. But considering his failure to predict the strength of this blow, he had to doubt himself more than usual.

It might be no more than four hours before he could safely fall off and run down, home to Portsmouth.

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It might be fourteen hours. Objectively, Hoare knew that this weather was nothing, but He wondered in passing if this blunder of his had not been intentional. Perhaps he had been trying to tell the world that he, Bartholomew Hoare, Lieutenant, RN, might be forty-three, mute, and beached forever by the Admiralty, but that, when face-to-face with Nature in the raw, he was any man's equal. Perhaps he was seeking an excuse to take shelter in Weymouth, where he could continue his suit for the hand of the widow Graves.

In any case, he and Neglectful were in for a long watch together. He made his lanky, brown, silent self as snug in her cockpit as he could under the circumstances and hooked his harness into the eyebolts set into the coaming. The tiller under one arm and his bag of provisions at his feet, he let his memory take him four days back, to when Admiral Hardcastle broke the news. That afternoon, Sir George wore his own hair, as he commonly did except on formal occasions.

It was stone gray, cut short, and formed into a bang over his forehead in the fashionable Brutus cut. Brute he was often called, in fact, and he enjoyed the appellation, for he sought the reputation of being a grim and a merciless man. To a large extent he had succeeded.

Reputations too numerous to mention had been destroyed at his hand, leaving their owners—junior officers for the most part, but a sprinkling of Commanders and Post Captains as well—bereft, dangling more or less helpless on half-pay. Irrespective of whatever interest they might have, it collapsed when Sir George Hardcastle turned his adamantine will upon it.

Oglethorpe, that was the name. What had Royal Duke to do with Hoare in any case, or he with her? Admiralty yacht, now lying in Greenwich. A hundred tons or so, brig-rigged. Eight brass four-pounders. Crew of thirty, more or less. Hardly fit to stand in the line of battle, Hoare thought. And undermanned for even that trivial armament.

For, you must know, Royal Duke serves the Navy as a mobile secret information bureau whose people maintain copies of all files relating to the efforts of foreign powers—Frenchmen for the most part, of course, but Swedens, Dutchmen, even Russians, Yankees, and Turks as well—to damage and defeat the Royal Navy by means of stealth. This corps have not yet been put to the use for which they were intended, and Admiral Abercrombie has decided, among other things, that this must be remedied. Most of her crew are actually half clerk or assassin and half seaman, if that. All can read and write, though I am told 'tis hard to credit of some.

Thus, she is manned in quite an unusual manner, as you are about to discover.

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Here the Admiral had interrupted his discourse again, ostensibly to take refreshment but actually, Hoare suspected, to appraise his listener's reaction. He avoided making any but waited with suppressed amusement. Finally, Sir George grew tired of waiting. I imagine they believe you largely responsible for breaking up that gang that was blowing up so many of His Majesty's ships. Those affairs of Severn's missing Master and that Bourbon Duke also stand to your credit.

I am to go to sea again! Hoare cried to himself. To be sure, with a company of only thirty, Royal Duke could hardly support more than one Lieutenant, but even so, he would, under his commanding officer, of course, once again be an officer of a fighting ship.

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Or, more probably, he would be a mere supernumerary, one of those experts the Admiral had mentioned, though precisely where they thought his expertise might lie eluded him. Just the same After all, he was a Post Captain, seventy-five years of age, and wise in the ways of the ungodly. You will read yourself in as soon as she makes Portsmouth from her present berth in Greenwich under the temporary command of her Lieutenant. Hoare had simply sat there, bereft of words. Together, those three words Master and Commander put teeth into his new commission.

His title was to be more than nominal: Commander was an appellation often used to recognize deserving Lieutenants who thereafter languished on half-pay for lack of an actual vessel to command. He was to be "Master and Commander," on active service, confirmed in command of his own vessel.

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He was only three-and-forty now; with luck, he would make post after all before he died, despite his disabilities of name and voice. Instead, you may give instructions to your Lieutenant, who in his turn will order the crew as conditions require.

Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery
Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery
Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery
Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery
Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery Lucky Strike: A Maritime Mystery

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