15 - The Baltic Gambit by Dewey Lambdin

15 - The Baltic Gambit by Dewey Lambdin

Author:Dewey Lambdin [Dewey Lambdin]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Ship Captains, Lewrie; Alan (Fictitious Character), Action & Adventure, Fiction, Great Britain, Suspense, Sea Stories, Historical
ISBN: 9780312603489
Publisher: Macmillan
Published: 2009-01-02T08:00:00+00:00

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

Landsman Pettus t'see th' Captain . . . SAH!" the Marine sentry cried, banging the brass-bound butt of his musket on the deck.

"Enter," Lewrie commanded, looking up from his desk, where he and Captain Speaks's former clerk, a former solicitor's clerk with the unfortunately chosen name of George Georges, were going over the ship's myriad of forms and accounts, to assure that Lewrie was not accepting responsibility for a "pig in a poke."

In came a young fellow in his early twenties, tall enough to have to duck under the overhead deck beams . . . barely. It was more a hunched-shoulder diffidence or wariness, Lewrie thought, noting how the fellow appeared on the lookout for a cuff, or a touch-up from the Bosun's starter.

"You wished to see me, Captain sir?" Pettus said, looking fearful of committing some wrong without knowing.

"That'll be all for a little while, Georges," Lewrie told his new clerk. "Get some air on the gangway 'til I send for you again."

"Aye, sir."

"Flog the bugger!" the parrot squawked. "Trice him up!"

"I do not have a steward, Pettus," Lewrie said, rising from the desk in the day-cabin. "I came away at short notice, and your former captain's man is ashore with him, and I'm loath to call him back aboard, as long as Captain Speaks is so ill and in need of him. Mister Ballard suggested your name."

"Aye, sir?" Pettus said with a note of hope to his voice. He'd made an attempt to be as presentable as he would be at Sunday Divisions. His face was shaved, his thick thatch of light brown hair was combed, and his slop-trousers were mostly free of slush and tar smuts. He wore a chequered blue shirt, a printed red calico neckerchief, and a short sailor's taped jacket that was a bit too short in the sleeves, and with some brass buttons replaced with plain black horn ones. His flat, tarred hat was in his hands before his waist, being turned round about in involuntary nervousness. Pettus looked lean and spry enough to make a topman, yet . . .

"You've served a gentleman before, I'm told?" Lewrie asked.

"I have, sir, aye!" Pettus eagerly replied, breaking out in an open grin. "In Brighton, sir, I was a footman to the diocese's bishop, him and his family. Not his personal man, sir, but I was with them for six years . . . since I was fourteen, and first got my position. I did for his younger son, for a year or so, as well as waiting at-table. . . . There was a lot of entertaining, sir, so I know my way about. It was a grand place, sir."

"Wardrobe? Laundry? Keep track of plates, and utensils and all that?"

"There were others who did that, sir," Pettus admitted, seeming as if his hopes were suddenly dashed, then quickly spoke up once more. "I did keep the son's wardrobe, sir, so he'd always have clean linen and pressed stocks, that everything was fresh and presentable, from the laundry maid.



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