The Code of Love

NEW! The Code of Love is now available in a handsome Kindle edition, published by Endeavour Press. Just click on the cover to purchase.

Rebecca Hamilton gave it 5 stars on 7 June 2015: 'The Code of Love is a gripping historical novel. The military adventure, set in the Napoleonic Wars, centres on two spies: Delphine Dalgleish, a Bonapartist from the island of Mauritius, and English aristocrat Sir Gideon Landor, who is trying to crack Napoleon's Grand Cypher. Cheryl Sawyer's wonderful book is rich in historical detail, intrigue and character development.'

Delphine Dalgleish is a Paris-bred Bonapartist who cares as deeply for the honor of France as she does for her island home on tropical Mauritius. But the ice-cool Sir Gideon Landor first meets her when he is a prisoner of war, and he is convinced that she is as empty as a piece of Sèvres porcelain. Then a midnight confrontation, a shock encounter in a Paris street, and her surprise arrival in London force them to recognize that they are both spies—on opposing sides of the war that Napoleon has unleashed on Europe. They are trapped in a personal feud as complex and dangerous as a military campaign, that will take them in the end to war-torn Portugal and Spain. Their greatest danger lies in the passion that threatens to overpower them, menacing not only their lives but the armies of two nations.

Thus it happens that Delphine is engaged to the man she loves, and in love with a man she cannot marry -- and both of them are named Gideon Landor.

NAPOLEON'S GRAND CODE: an Enigma to the English

This book is centred on a real code, the grand code created for Napoleon Bonaparte for use in 1811-12 during the war in Spain and Portugal. What guided me into writing it was the dedicated work in the Quartermaster General’s department that eventually gave Sir Arthur Wellesley, England’s commander in chief and later the Duke of Wellington, the key to French intentions in the Peninsula. Using documents captured by Wellington’s intelligence officers, one talented man was trying to crack the Grand Paris Cypher itself, despite its being the most complex code hitherto known.

The Code of Love takes the heroine and hero into the private bureaux of Napoleon himself and to Thorngrove, the English home where Napoleon’s brother Lucien is kept under house arrest. But Gideon and Delphine also find that just as much danger may lurk at a London ball, or a fashionable reception … 

Chapter One

“Escaped prisoner!” On a hot night in July 1810, the news sped around the capital of Mauritius and sent a frisson through the veins of its inhabitants. Captain-General Decaën might well run the island as though it were the tightest ship in the Indian Ocean, but this was a time of war, and the English fleets hovering over the horizon created a powerful sense of menace around the remote Bonapartist stronghold. Rodriguez was already occupied by the British, Bourbon had fallen only a week before, and it was to one of these islands that the prisoner must have been aiming, for having silenced two sentries he reached the port unseen and swam out to snatch one of the French navy pinnaces in the harbor.

Delphine Dalgleish, at her family plantation of Saint-Amour, received a hasty note from a neighbor about the escape, and read it with consternation. The prisoner was English, an enemy, so she should not care—but she did. It was too close to home. The soldiers of the legion had been just in time to retake him, he had been mauled by four men-at-arms, and was already in solitary confinement by the time society rose and took its chocolate and sweet rolls in the warm light of the next morning, but the shock of it stayed in the mind. With one dramatic gesture this young British officer had shown how different he was from the other prisoners-of-war, most of whom lived amongst the French colonists in a spirit of understanding. He had acted with a violence and speed that ran counter to the ordered island ways, which was why his treatment by the legion had been so vicious.

It was three days before he was brought back to the Maison Despeaux, the Garden Prison from which he had broken out. He was scarcely able to walk. He had not spoken a word under interrogation nor a syllable since. Only Delphine Dalgleish knew who had betrayed him to the legion, and she told just one other person, so no one knew else what to think. Which made a visit to the Garden Prison de rigueur at the earliest opportunity.

It was set on a low hill a mile or so out of town, a spacious, two-storey mansion now used to detain British officers captured by the French navy. Despite the guardhouse and sentries, and the surrounding dry-stone wall, it looked less like a place of confinement than the residence of a nobleman. The five-acre grounds were graced with luxuriant tropical vegetation and offered views of a wooded valley and steep hills behind, and to the west the harbor and the ocean. Prisoners were even allowed by day up to a flat part of the roof, to gaze at the passing naval scene. The Maison Despeaux also allowed visitors, French officers and island sophisticates who valued variety in their social round.

So it happened that, on the very evening of the prisoner’s return, he was making ready to walk down from his suite on the upper floor and join seven fellow officers at a reception in the salon below.

“La Générale is expected this evening, sir.”

Gideon Landor, seated before a cheval glass while his manservant’s hands flickered around his head, did not reply.

“Accompanied by her daughter, Mademoiselle Delphine.” Ellis held the scissors still. “The idol, they say, of the island.”

“Thank you, that will do.”

Ellis hesitated. The trim was done, but he had another duty—to keep the lieutenant abreast of what had while he was under lock and key in town. But his master’s glacial green eyes met his in the glass, so he busied himself removing the towel, brushing down the wide-shouldered coat and banishing the bright fallen hair from the floor. As he set the room to rights, he shrugged and reflected that the facts spoke for themselves. La Générale, so nicknamed because she was the widow of one of France’s most brilliant revolutionary generals, was a Bonapartist through and through; she even maintained a friendship with the former empress, Joséphine, whom she visited every summer when she and her young daughter went to Paris. They were also friends of Captain-General Decaën, who governed the island. Sir Gideon looked as warm as an iceberg over the prospect of the soirée, and who could blame him?

Eventually Ellis finished fussing about and held out Gideon’s cane for him. Grimacing, Gideon took it, then got up and limped to the window. He looked down on the garden, so lush, so extravagantly green, the glittering crown of what must be the most beautiful prison in the world. He took a deep breath, then held it with an inward curse as pain clamped around his bruised ribs.

Ellis was by the door, his misgivings hidden under the bluff air he always adopted on board ship. “You don’t think it might be prudent, sir, to have the physician call again?”

Gideon smiled cynically and shook his head. “The damage is public enough.”

The merest crease showed in Ellis’s weatherbeaten cheeks. This evening, nothing mattered more than appearances, and no one knew that better than Ellis.

“I shan’t need you until midnight,” Gideon said. “You know what to do.”

“Certainly, sir.” Ellis withdrew.

Later, in the elegant salon of the Maison Despeaux, Gideon found the reception more tolerable than he had foreseen. He was surrounded at first, and he despised the open curiosity of some of the citizens who approached, but amongst the French military he detected some sympathy, and they drew the attention away from him after an hour or so. He sat in a corner, leaving untouched the refreshments that had been thoughtfully ordered by one of the younger demoiselles, and observed the crowded room while trying to control his restlessness and impatience.

It was colorful, the officers in dress uniform, the ladies in Parisian gowns of light-colored fabrics that went with their pale skin—they never allowed themselves to tan, despite the relentless sun of the southern tropics. They afforded a pretty picture that he might have appreciated on another occasion, but he wasn’t here for the chatter—he was waiting for just one person. A friend, or so he had come to think of him: Armand de Belfort, planter, militia officer, an aristocrat of intelligence and ability. Gideon looked forward to the regular visits that Belfort paid from an estate some miles south of town, the stewardship of which he held since the death of an uncle, the General Dalgleish, or D’Alglice, as his name was pronounced on the island. The general had left his widow a generous endowment and the right to continue living on the plantation, which was named Saint-Amour. Gideon had not met the ladies, since they had been in France for the last few months, but they would be here tonight.

Mademoiselle Delphine D’Alglice was pointed out to him by an English officer the instant she walked in. Very slender, a little above middle height, and so blonde that the glow of the chandeliers seemed to surround her forehead with silver, she entered like lightning and arrested every conversation. It was amusing to see people align themselves differently, the influential ladies gliding forward to welcome the widow, who made a handsome though sober figure beside the daughter, and the gentlemen joining in a murmur which traveled around the walls to Gideon.

She threw a dart of blue across the room and looked straight at him. Then she turned away to greet someone, revealing a delicate neck above fine shoulders, and bringing a smile to the person’s face.

There was nothing else about the scene to attract Gideon. He might have been less critical if over the last three months he had been able to adapt to imprisonment on this paradisal island, but he was aching to get back to sea. He might have been more at ease if his surroundings had afforded less of a contrast to the filthy cell in which he had been interrogated under duress three nights before. He might have viewed this crowd with less hostility if he could have been sure that none of them had betrayed his escape to his captors.

Meanwhile Mademoiselle D’Alglice, despite her divine beauty, behaved with no less frivolity than the other young gentlewomen disposed about the room. She was clearly an habituée of such evenings. She had the knack of focusing attention wherever she moved, and all the verve in the place seemed to spring from her. She had sparkling eyes, and a quickness of expression that did not lack grace. She shone, he granted that, but from his viewpoint the brightness seemed a reflection only, coming from no fire of passion or intellect within. She might be a colonial, but she looked like a pure product of Paris—exquisitely dressed, and as empty as a piece of porcelain.

The time came when they must meet. The French visitors in the room were wondering why he had not walked forward to pay his respects already, some saying that his injuries prevented him and others that if he opened his mouth he might well utter something disobliging, given what he had just gone through.

As Delphine crossed the floor with her mother and an acquaintance who had offered to present Landor to them, she wondered how to keep her countenance. She knew enmity when she saw it, and having it directed at her from afar for the last half hour was made worse by the knowledge that it was more or less justified. For it had been one of her own servants, sent to the docks to fetch home the last of her baggage from France, who hastened to the gens d’armes and told them what was going forward in the bay.

Landor rose as she approached, and apart from a slight compression of his well-shaped mouth, there was no sign of discomfort in his stance. On the contrary, he loomed, being tall, straight and strongly made. He watched her with a stare that was sea-green and pale, as though he were raking her from across a wind-swept deck with the sun in his eyes.

The introductions were made, and Delphine’s curtsy was answered by a stiff nod. Perhaps his injuries prevented a deeper bow. She tried not to feel guilty about that.

“We have heard much about you from my nephew Armand de Belfort,” her mother said in English. “I would say, how delightful to meet you at last, but I’m aware the delight is not necessarily returned. Given the unhappy circumstances.” She received only a dry smile to this opener. Delphine thanked fate that at least one of them could be natural before Sir Gideon—she had forbidden the servant to talk, so only her cousin so far knew who exactly had given the alarm.

It would help if Armand were here too; he reckoned himself a friend of Sir Gideon Landor, and considered him a capital fellow, even charming when in the mood. Armand should know, being loaded with charm himself. But the mood required his presence tonight.

The colossus spoke, however. “Am I to look forward to seeing your nephew?”

“We hope so. He’s at supper with the Captain-General, but he promised to join us and escort us home. Did he not, my dear?”

Delphine said, “Maman, we are keeping Sir Gideon standing. Let us sit down.” She was watching the clear, somewhat frightening eyes, and noticed no gratitude for her consideration. He had not used his cane as he stood up, but when he sat he took his weight rather carefully on the padded armrests and bent forward for a moment so that she could see only the top of his head. Cropped rather too short for fashion, his hair was fair—gold at the roots and bleached at the tips by the East India sun. Then he straightened and turned to her.

Delphine had been cheerful and flirtatious all evening, perhaps more so than usual in order to arm herself for this encounter, but she now found flirtation quite out of the question. “We consider your treatment barbarous, sir. Have you thought of lodging a protest?”

“No. The right person would go unpunished.”

Maman said, “Scandalous, that it should have happened to an officer and a gentleman …”

“Scandalous,” he murmured, and Delphine had the distinct idea that this was sarcasm.

She said, “You apprehend that the orders to … question you … came from higher up? That would be more than scandal. It would be a breach of honor.”

“Yes, but I cannot prove that from here, mademoiselle. And until I can, I should prefer not to have four brutes from the lower ranks thrashed in another man’s place.”

He meant it; he was convinced the order came from above. Was he looking as high as Captain-General Decaën? Disturbed, she said, “Surely the culprits have already been punished. Ile de France has always treated its prisoners with justice, sir, and cared for their comfort and safety. You have only to look around you.”

“You will forgive me, mademoiselle, for being less than enthusiastic about the Maison Despeaux. Despite its affording me your most interesting company.”

Sarcasm, without a doubt.

Her mother intervened. “If the Maison is not to your taste, have you considered giving your parole and allowing the Captain-General to place you on an estate? We have a friend who agreed to do just that, and lodged with the D’Arifats at Wilhelms Plains. He obtained his release and sailed home only last month. The D’Arifats are quite heartbroken!”

“Ah. Captain Matthew Flinders, I collect.”

There was the faintest sneer as he said the name, and Delphine had to set him right. “A most amiable commander. He longed to go back to England, but while he was here he was a wonderful boon to good company.”

“For six and a half years. His eagerness for home evidently had limits.”

“He was held as a spy. Once that kind of mud has stuck, clearing one’s name takes some doing.”

“You thought him innocent?” For the first time Landor looked interested.

“Unlucky. When he arrived, he had no idea France was at war with England again, and by the time he was in custody it was too late.”

“If he were no spy, he should have been detained as a prisoner and exchanged.”

Delphine’s mother said, “There were some quite foolish mistakes. At the very beginning, Captain Flinders was invited to a reception, where someone asked him whether he knew anything about the explorer ‘Fleendare’. He denied it.” She gave a melancholy shake of the head. “He didn’t recognize his own name. These things happen. As you may know, our name is Dalgleish, but on this island it bears another accent.”

He said, “Not a grave enough error to damn him, surely. If he was reconnoitring the coast, he would have had maps, drawings—he’s a surveyor, is he not?”

Delphine said, “In his cabin there were sealed letters to the Admiralty from the governor of New South Wales, recommending a close investigation of our defenses.” Landor raised an eyebrow. “Of course, he ought to have destroyed the papers the moment he was challenged. But he didn’t know what was in them.”

“He was caught,” her mother observed sadly, “in a game where he was unaware of the rules. Indeed, he hardly knew that he was in a game until …”

Landor said, “Naval instructions are to send all such dispatches to the bottom when at risk. War is no game; if he’d done his duty then, we should not be discussing him now. However aimable you may have found him, Mademoiselle D’Alglice.” He spoke the French word, and the French version of her surname, with flippant precision, as though her language were also a kind of game.

She flinched. “We didn’t believe Captain Flinders because he was well-mannered and clever, though he was both. We believed him because he was an honest man.”

Gideon saw a blush across her fine cheekbones as she said it, and decided there was a fondness for the complaisant Flinders. They were extraordinary, these women, with their patronizing visits to young men whose dearest wish was to be half the world away—captives whom they condescended to make pets of, for as long as it suited them. But he was curious on another point. “How is it that you managed to pass the blockade when you arrived?”

The demoiselle answered. “We weren’t intercepted. If we had been, your fleet would have learned that our vessel carried nothing more than a few families returning home before the summer in France.” She caught his look and said with meaning, “Our captain assured us that he had no contraband on board—nothing that could relieve any of the dreadful shortages imposed upon us by your navy.”

He changed the subject. “General Dalgleish … Your father was a Scot, I believe?”

“Yes, from Edinburgh.”

“That explains your remarkable English.”

From a flicker of her eyelashes, he realized she had taken his compliment as a slight. He should have chosen a more definitive word—”fluent”, or “skilful”. She was alive to nuances, in a way that suggested more sensitivity than he had bargained for under that stylish exterior.

And her voice! It was low, with a vibration in it that made every statement sound like an intimacy. There was humor in it, too; it reminded him of the amusing delivery used by female wits of London high society. Usually he disliked that kind of studied cleverness, but there was nothing studied about Mademoiselle Dalgleish; indeed, she seemed only too free with her opinions.

She said, “My cousin has a great admiration for your French, monsieur. Pray, how did you come by it? I must hope that it doesn’t all spring from captivity. That would be too cruel.”

“I was lucky in the French tutor I had as a child. He was an émigré who came to England after the Revolution: highly educated, and a most entertaining friend. Better still, he introduced me to his family, for they lived in London. He’s now in America, but we still correspond.”

“If you speak our language so well, why don’t you leave the Maison and live with a family? Or have you refused to give your parole?”

“It’s not consistent with my duty.”

Which was to escape, if he could. But he wouldn’t be going anywhere after what her own countrymen had lately put him through. They had spared his face, though. The well-defined, regular features were as composed as if he were on the deck of his ship giving orders. She wondered, looking into the light green eyes, whether the interrogation had been about what the English navy was doing in these waters.

“You don’t care for Ile de France.” She felt a pang as she said it. She had come to the island as a little child, when her father purchased their estate, and her love for it was so profound, so physical, that she felt wounded by any thought of its being threatened, or even disparaged.

He examined her face, and his deep voice was thoughtful as he said, “Let’s say I’m not overfond of captivity, mademoiselle. Something I have in common with your slaves, I imagine.”

“We keep none. Our fields are worked by laborers. They came here to settle of their own free will. From India.”

“Under my late husband’s encouragement,” her mother said, almost as though she were apologising. “In the spirit of the republic. Liberty, you know.”

“I wish I did.” He grinned suddenly, a wide, wolfish grin that showed perfect teeth. He was tickled by Maman, as people frequently were. They found her pleasant and easy-going and were disarmed by her soft brown eyes and the way she sometimes failed to finish her sentences. It could take them some time to see beyond the good humor to the sagacious woman she really was.

“Liberty!” said a voice behind her, and Armand was with them, greeting Delphine and her mother and then putting a hand on Landor’s shoulder as he continued, “It is good to see a smile on your face as you speak the name of freedom.”

“Laughter being my sole option.” But Landor’s grin disappeared as he rose and shook hands.

Armand murmured, “My dear fellow. When I heard what you’ve endured …”

“Not worth discussing.” Landor gestured for Armand to take the chair beside him. “Your aunt and I were talking about agriculture.”

“Indeed!” Armand gave a disbelieving chuckle and sat down, flipping the tails of his black evening coat to each side and disposing himself comfortably with one silk-clad lower leg advanced a little in front of the other. From the top of his dark head to his neat evening shoes, his lean form looked as elegant as a fashion plate in the Assemblée magazine, but at the same time it was poised with alertness. “Our own or the neighbors’? The Dufours are selling up, you know, and going back to France. I heard it tonight at supper.”

Delphine shivered. She could guess why the Dufours were going: they were in flight, to the safety of the homeland. While the others talked on of local news and gossip, she thought for the thousandth time of invasion. If the English took Port Napoleon, they would snatch everything to themselves: the reins of government, command of the island’s trade and resources, the rule of law. Even land, perhaps.

Sir Gideon glanced at her now and then but more often at Armand, and Delphine could see that he wanted to talk to her cousin alone. She sat in impatient silence, twisting her bracelet around her wrist. It was the only jewelry she wore, her mother having quietly remarked that if she were going to wear diamonds, it should be just one piece. Prisoners, even if they had the kind of wealth that allowed them luxuries such as Sir Gideon enjoyed at the Maison, felt another kind of poverty in their confinement. It was ill-bred to remind them of it.

Eventually Delphine made her mother walk away with her to take coffee. Sir Gideon rose as they did, and favored them with another stiff nod.

Her mother said with a lovely smile, “So gracious of you, sir, to put up with our ramblings. Now, you must not let Armand go on and tire you completely.”

“No fear of that, madame, I always find his conversation stimulating.”

And that, thought Delphine as she walked off, could well be a nice underhand piece of sarcasm too.

ALONE WITH Armand de Belfort, Gideon took one second to ascertain that no one else was in earshot, then said, “Thank you for coming.”

“You thought I might not?” Belfort’s cheeks glowed, making his blue eyes glitter. His accent sounded stronger in his distress. “And good reason too. Jésu, what a damned ‘orrible cursed disaster. And to think it was my—”

“No, my doing altogether. There was nothing wrong with the plan.”

“I still don’t believe it. What went wrong?”

Gideon began, “Ellis helped take care of the sentries and we got down to the port undetected. I found the dinghy and the oars just where you said they would be.”

“Dieu merci for that at least. So?”

“The moon came out—the whole shoreline was awash with light. Where you had it moored, the dinghy was too exposed. I decided the only inconspicuous way was to swim for the pinnace. I told Ellis to leg it.”

“Why on earth?”

“Able seaman Ellis can’t swim. He had orders to get back here on the double before the sentries came to and raised the alarm, but he hung about until he knew the whole thing had gone to blazes, and only just got back in time.”

“And you?” Armand spoke with deep concern, and a tinge of fear for what was to come.

“It was choppy, the clouds were moving and there was plenty of shadow on the way out amongst the ships—there didn’t seem to be a soul on shore at the time. I’ve no idea who spied me.”

“You—” Armand stopped and took a long breath. With Gideon watching him intently, he said, “You’ll know soon enough. Servants can never keep quiet. It was one of ours.”

Something inside Gideon froze, but he said calmly enough, “How?”

“Apparently he was down at the docks collecting some of my cousin’s baggage.”

“At two in the morning?”

“He’d been sent down that evening, but when he got to the inn where the trunks were being held he lingered on. So that’s how he happened to be lounging about the dockside. He saw you, realized something was wrong and went straight to the town major. He thought this was a good excuse for half a day’s idleness, but my cousin was furious when she heard. She dismissed him on the spot. It took all my persuasion to make her keep him on and keep his mouth shut.”

“So she knows who turned me in,” Gideon said. He could not help looking over to where she stood in a little circle of ladies, but she had her back to him. Hiding the fine, deceptively angelic face.

“Yes. She was nervous about coming here tonight, poor thing. As was I, if you want the truth.”

Gideon heard the tremor in his friend’s voice, but he went on. “Well, unaware of these enthralling events, I succeeded in getting on board the pinnace. I should have reconnoitred her at once, but you’d told me she was unguarded, and there was no dinghy beside her, nothing to indicate anyone was aboard. I was making ready to hoist sail when the whole blessed shoreline sprang to life. A platoon of legionnaires, naval officers running hither and yon, then they put a boat in the water with four marines. Far too quickly for me to do a thing but stand and take it.”

“You couldn’t have tried slipping overboard? Evasion?”

Gideon said sardonically, “Not with a pistol jammed into my spine.”

Armand gasped, which made a few bystanders look his way. “There was a man on board?”

“Indeed.” Gideon shifted a little so that Armand would have to turn further from the crowd to speak to him, and so hide his face. His own felt as cold as marble. “The world knows the rest.”

“What did they want from you?”

Gideon shrugged, then winced. “You don’t need to know. You were helping a friend; it was a favor from one gentleman to another. It went awry, that’s all.”

“It won’t next time, I promise you. In a few weeks—

“No. You’ve done enough.”

“If only you’d allowed me to let you take my yacht.”

Gideon shook his head. “Too suspicious by half. You’d have been questioned, and forced to lie. I couldn’t put you in that position.”

“I’d as soon tell Decaën the truth! That he has no right to keep you here and refuse ever to exchange you. It’s to his own dishonor that he does so, and none to mine if I give you the means to go free.”

“Noble sentiments, my good fellow. I appreciate them.”

Armand shook his head. “You were so close. But for one idle servant, and a soldier lurking where he shouldn’t have been …” Gideon shifted in his chair and Armand went on, “Diable, this evening must be a torment to you. Look, take my advice and retire. We’ll speak of this again.”

The two men rose and Gideon looked down at Armand de Belfort for what he cordially hoped would be the very last time. But one. They shook hands, and he managed to say with composure, “Kindly give my compliments to Madame and Mademoiselle Dalgleish.” He took up his cane and then, trusting himself no further, turned toward the stairs.


GIDEON STRODE into his apartment, stopped and hurled the cane across the room. It smashed into the wall and clattered to the floor, and a second later Ellis burst in from the bedchamber, his eyes wide with alarm.

Grinding his teeth, Gideon said, “I know who turned me in.”

“So do I, sir. I heard it tonight, from the cook’s boy. It was a servant of the D’Alglices that—”

“Yes, primed by Armand de Belfort himself.”

Ellis stared, and finally said, “You have me stumped, sir. Why, it was he who helped you in the first place!”

“Yes.” Gideon walked to the window and looked up at the night sky. It was cloudy and the waning moon was invisible. “My escape allowed Decaën’s men any method they liked to question me. Because they could justify it by saying I resisted. They must have been hand in glove; it’s the only explanation. With Belfort to lure me there and Decaën’s men to close the trap.” He leaned against the embrasure of the window as the recollection made him shudder.

Ellis said, “I can’t hardly believe it of Monsieur de Belfort. Are you sure, sir?”

“No one else knew the plan. Yet there was a man on the pinnace. I’ve been wondering about that ever since. Belfort tried to look surprised tonight when I told him, but for once that smooth face of his gave him away. He knew all right. He placed him there. And how do I know?” His voice came out as a low growl that made Ellis take a step back. “He rightly named him as a soldier. Now, you’d expect Belfort to assume he was a sailor, for it was a French naval vessel. But no. I never said the bastard was army.”

Ellis seldom heard Sir Gideon swear, and rarely did himself, except for the night when his master was returned to him, bruised and half-conscious, from the guardhouse in town. He said, “By God I wish I had him in my sights now.”

There was a long silence. Sir Gideon began pacing, without a hint of a limp, back and forth before the window, his hands clasped behind his back and his head up, chin forward, as he was wont to do on the quarterdeck. Ellis, who had served with him for two years and never regretted a day, waited in confident expectation.

Finally his master turned, his eyes alight. “You have everything ready?”

“Yes, sir.”

“We leave in an hour.”

“Pardon me, sir, but what are we doing to do? The harbor is as full of uniforms as Portsmouth on parade.

“We’re going to take Belfort’s bloody yacht.”