- Author: Cal Clement
Book online «H.M.S Valor: Treachery And Triumph: A war time adventure on the high seas Cal Clement (free ebooks for android txt) 📖». Author Cal Clement
Copyright 2021 Cal Clement
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The characters and events portrayed within are fictitious.
Any similarities to real persons, alive or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
No part of this book may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without express written permission of the author.
Cover Artist: Juan Padron
Printed in the United States of America
This book is dedicated to the brave souls of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment I had the distinct honor of serving beside.
And to the heroes who never returned home.
“A Ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for”
- William Shedd
Treachery and Triumph
by Cal Clement
A Storm Gathers
'Whereas the Two Houses of Parliament did, by their Resolutions of the Tenth and Twenty-fourth days of June One Thousand eight hundred and six, severally resolve, upon certain Grounds therein mentioned, that they would, with all practicable Expedition, take effectual Measures for the Abolition of the African Slave Trade in such Manner, and at such Period as might be deemed advisable, And whereas it is fit upon all and each of the Grounds mentioned in the said Resolutions, that the same should be forthwith abolished and prohibited, and declared to be unlawful'
- British Parliament June 24th 1806
Aug 4, 1808
Office of the Admiralty, London
Lieutenant William Pike stood in a massive hallway outside of the naval boardroom, stifling, in his dress uniform he awaited his fate. Outside, the dreary London morning had given way to a hot August sunshine and with it pouring into the large windows, the hallway had become uncomfortably warm. William could feel perspiration gather around his collar and beading on his head as he looked across the great passage adjoining the boardroom with the offices of the commanding Admirals of the Royal Navy. Great portraits of Admirals past and present lined the hallway, unsmiling and grave, they all seemed to be looking directly through William’s soul as he anxiously awaited to be summoned into the boardroom. William closed his eyes momentarily, longing for a gust of wind and the spray of the sea to cool him. The sea. She had been both his loving savior from the orphan homes and the cruel mistress who deprived him the joys of typical adolescence relished by so many. It was more to William than a trade, the sea was a living thing as much as any creature with a heartbeat. She was freedom and joy to the skilled sailor and sure death to all who underestimated her. He pictured the bow of a ship, sliding over breaking waves and rolling with wind at beam reach and a spray spackling his cheeks with every slap of water against the hull. That relieving thought was both joy and torture as the minutes dragged on for what felt like forever. Exacerbated by the ticking of a large ornate clock flanking the door on the far end of the hall, William fought his wandering mind, willing himself to maintain his discipline and reserve.
Inside the boardroom three Admirals of the fleet had deliberated away the morning, reviewing evaluations from commanding Captains and Lieutenants, assessing combat and inspection performance for scores of line officers. Their determinations could make a career or condemn one, in the competitive field of the naval officer corps progression was inextricably tied to the findings of the Admiralty Board. Few officers petitioned in person, fewer still were permitted an audience. Admiral Torren had received petition on behalf of Lieutenant Pike from the young man’s most recent commanding Captain, a man Admiral Torren knew very well and had mentored as a Lieutenant over a decade before. Lieutenant William Pike’s service record was in fact, spotted, several mentions of unorthodox tactical decisions had caused a previous commander to pause before recommending promotion for the lad. But his most recent commander had specifically petitioned for promotion, citing his bravery and leadership ability, noting several instances of such when engaged with both American and French privateers. Still, the board was very hesitant to promote and assign command to anything but an exemplary record. This made battlefield advancement the surest way in a young officer’s mind to advance in rank, thus any assignment likely to engage in combat was a more competitive endeavor.
After what seemed like an eternity, William was finally beckoned in by a Royal Marine Sergeant who rigidly opened the door and formally called William by his full name and rank. With a deep breath, William mustering the most formal military bearing he could, proceeded into the room and reported to the board. His first step in was like going from the pan into the fire, the room was remarkably hotter than the hallway. Will eyed a fireplace across the room to his right with a robust blaze crackling away. He made a note to himself of how advanced in age the Admirals were and decided perhaps they were warding off the chills of death.
“Mr. Pike, good afternoon.” Admiral Torren started, appearing oblivious to the oppressively sweltering boardroom as did the other Admirals, “We have reviewed your records, recommendations from several of your previous commanders and your most recent.” The Admiral gave a slight pause, looking to the officers flanking him momentarily before resuming the board findings to the young lieutenant.
“It is the final opinion of this board, that despite your most recent commander’s insistence, you are not yet ready for a command of your own. However, you are to be assigned to the next open first Lieutenant billet aboard a frigate command. This will afford you a sufficient opportunity to develop further, perhaps command is yet in your future, but not today.”
The Admiral’s monotonous tone and the board’s collective unchanging demeanor coupled with their dress uniforms and formal wigs conveyed the gravity and finality of