You've got me slacking off again! Over two weeks since I've posted anything, so it's probably time to do so. While I like to alternate what I post here, it's probably the most expeditious if I go with another excerpt from Darnahsian Pirates: The Third Stone Island Sea Story. This one is from Chapter Three, "London."
Just a quick note before the excerpt. As I post excerpts, I'm copying them from my final version of the manuscript, the version I sent to my editor. Thus a few things here and there may have been slightly changed or modified before finding their way into the book proper. What you see here is probably 95 to 99% of what you would find in the published book.
Author copies arrived about a month ago!
Mr. Smith stopped at a familiar door, the same one Clemens had led Hotchkiss and Pierce to during their visit a month earlier, when they had been taken by a roundabout, seldom used route to meet with the First Lord of the Admiralty. Smith knocked gently, and the door opened almost instantly.
Lord Barham himself had opened the door for them. “Do come in, Commander. A drink, sir?”
“A brandy, sir, if I may?” answered Pierce.
“I’ll ring for service, if you’ll allow me. Smith, you may leave us, if you will, either by the primary door, or whence you came.”
“Very good sir.” The clerk left quietly, departing via the route he had come.
Once they were seated, each with a drink in hand, Lord Barham spoke. “I must apologize, for spending such a brief time with you last month. I hope you were not offended by our short visit.”
“Not in the slightest, sir, although its abruptness did puzzle me.”
“To be blunt about it, sir, I was extremely busy. At the same time I really didn’t know what to make of you and your voyage, having only recently read your reports. At the same time, I had only recently been informed of your importance to members in the highest echelons of His Majesty’s Government.”
“It is understandable, sir.”
“Today, I must tell you that I again am quite busy, and in that case, I will try to be direct and to the point.”
“I know full well your primary duty in London is to testify at John Sollars’ trial. Damn the bastard resigning his commission! So much easier to try him under the Articles of War.”
“I agree,” nodded Pierce.
“But we can’t, so I hope justice is served, and that the scrub gets his due! Beyond that, there is Nelson’s funeral. We are not sure when it will take place. Victory and his remains have not yet arrived, so as of yet we cannot establish any plan. Depending upon how Sollars’ trial progresses, I charge you to assist when and how you can in upcoming events of ceremony and mourning.”
“I will be of whatever service I am called upon to perform, milord.”
“We have an individual in mind to handle certain arrangements, but should he need your assistance…”
“The other matter I wish to discuss with you, concerns your continued association with this British Island Expedition Organization.”
“Has such association been a problem, sir?”
“Indeed, not directly. However, there is the matter of economics and budgeting.”
“Quite frankly, Commander Pierce, the Admiralty fights for every pound it lays hands on. Even with Nelson’s triumph at Trafalgar, our work is not done. Under our arrangement with the Organization, you only draw a lieutenant’s half pay and we could well use that money elsewhere. There is also the pay provided the officers and crew of Island Expedition.”
“Pence compared to pounds elsewhere.”
“Aye, but it does come out of the budget. At the same time the Organization pays you and your men as well.”
“I will not insist on it, but it would be viewed as an indication of your patriotism and generosity towards King and Country, were you to resign your commission while employed by the Organization.”
“I see,” responded Pierce. “What may I ask, of the others?”
“Do you resign, I would expect Mr. Hotchkiss to do the same, and the warrant officers to relinquish their papers. Quite naturally the schooner would be decommissioned and sold back to the British Island Expedition Organization as a private vessel. The hands would, of course, be discharged from the service.”
“And again subject to the press gang?”
“Unfortunately, yes. Although were they to be hired as crew for a private vessel controlled by persons of influence, their chances of being pressed would be slight.”
“Might I have time to consider it, sir?”
“By all means. You will be in London for the next few weeks as is. Notify me when you reach a decision.”
“Aye aye, sir.”
“Very well, Pierce. Now, do you excuse me, I’ve other business demanding my attention.”
“Indeed, milord. Thank you for your time.”
“You are quite welcome. But as you go, I have a bit of news you may enjoy hearing.”
“Good news is always welcome, milord. May I ask?”
“Of course. It is simply that rumors circulate about a second schooner being built to accompany you on your next voyage.”