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 HMS Princess's Fortune

Port of Lisbon

August 1769

 

 


In general, he found Captain Rostok to be unobjectionable company.

Aside from being a highly skilled mariner, Rostok excelled in calculation and management skills. These were essential, Kay had found, in the success of any ships captain especially given the diverse character and eccentric interactions of a sailing crew. Many commanders maintained order through the liberal use of brutality, as Timothy Samson Kay could verify by personal experience, but Captain Rostok did not.

 

 

Three years previously, on a voyage out of Marseilles, there had been some difficulty originating with two or more crew members personal disagreement regarding wagers on the result of a cribbage game. Daggers had apparently been produced and nearly half of the crew of the Queen Amidala (as the ship was then named) seemed to have become involved in the altercation that erupted in the forward crew cabin.

“Should I go down and intervene?” he had asked Cassian, largely because the sound of the argument could be clearly heard all the way up and over to their rooms in the quarterdeck, in at least six languages. “There are a concerning number of threats of physical violence being made.”

This observation seemed useful since Kay was verbally fluent in nine languages, while Andor was fluent in only four and as such might lack understanding of the finer points of the conversations.

“No,” Andor had replied.

“A number of them are commenting on the physical attributes of each others female relatives and referencing bestiality,” Kay felt obliged to point out, “This often leads to escalation in conflicts.”

Andor only sighed, “No, Kay.” He had been lying on his bunk at this juncture, his leg elevated on several pillows for ease and to prevent swelling.

The pistol ball had gone cleanly through the shin, well clear of the bone, and since Kay had seen to the cleaning and bandaging of the wound himself he had been quite confident that the risk of infection was slight.

“Does Rostok appear concerned?” Andor inquired wearily, one arm raised, bent and resting over his eyes.


“Not at all,” Kay admitted. Captain Rostok had been up on the foredeck at that point, appearing altogether unconcerned though surely aware of the ruckus and vile language erupting below decks.

“Don’t worry about it until Rostok does,” his friend had said,  then he had fallen silent, clearly asleep.

The operation at Marsailles had been exhausting and taken quite an ugly turn despite Kay and Andor’s best efforts. In the end Andor had been able to fatally dispatch the French merchant before he could board the ship back to Louisiana but his escape had been a near thing, involving a pursuit across rooftops and a pistol shot to the leg.

Despite misgivings, Kay had let the matter rest. Even when uninjured, Andor often suffered unpleasant after-effects from missions that involved strategic murder and assassination. Sleep was the best medicine in such cases.

As it was, Andor had proved correct on that occasion The crew had indeed eventually settled the matter of their own accord and Rostok had not even had to flog anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Kay found himself standing beside Rostok, at the rail of the Princess’s Fortune, looking out at the new wharf, gazing up at the fair and orderly face of Lisbon reborn. The towers of the cathedral of Santa Maria Maior were visible partway up the hillside of the city.


“Ik heb een slecht gevoel hierover,” Rostok said.


Kay was inclined to agree. He also did not have optimistic feelings about this venture.

 

 

 

 

 


He had strongly urged that he be permitted to accompany Andor into the city.


“We have already discussed this, Kay,” his friend had said, as he had been choosing carefully from among his coats for the one best suited to project the impression of an English merchant of respectable and ambitious but not-yet wealthy status. “The authorities at the convent are most strict. It is also highly likely that the Odivelas are being watched by Pombal’s men and you, my good friend, unlike Miss Erso and myself, present too remarkable and memorable an appearance to blend into such a landscape unmarked.”

"I concur, insofar as the meeting goes,” Kay said, sorting through the neck stocks and cravats, and handing Andor one of appropriate quality. “My concern is with the woman.”

“The plan is for ‘Captain Andrews’ to leave his servant boy John at the cathedral,” Andor said, “It will be for two or three hours at the most. Besides,” he smiled lightly, “one capable of dispatching Sargent Ruescott Melshi and Mr. Bisten Rice with nothing but a truncheon can surely manage unmolested by the footpads of the Plaza di Government for a morning. If Irmã Angelina gives us a lead about Gerrere’s agents I will have Miss Erso available to present as an earnest of good will, if not, her face may at least be recognized and some word filter back to the old man, leading him to approach us. Either way we will send word or return to the ship before the first hour past noon. You know what to do should we fail to do so.”

“Miss Erso’s safety is not what concerns me, as you well know, Andor.”

“She will not run,” Andor said, with a confidence Kay could not share, “not yet.”

The woman made him quite uneasy. The fact that she did not seem to make Andor sufficiently uneasy only added to his concern.

 

 

 

The morning stretched toward noon. if all was proceeding according to plan, they would know soon.

Captain Rostok, perhaps bored, perhaps merely curious, then surprised him by asking an uncharacteristically personal question.

“Tell me, Mr. Kay,” he inquired, "how did you come to meet Captain Andor?”


This was not the sort of thing persons in the employ of the Alliance normally did. Those recruited to the cause were of almost every nation and creed, and came to it through many routes, but the most common were pain and loss.

“We serve Light, they serve Darkness,” Señora Tano had put it, long ago. Which had seemed confusingly poetic to him. Kay preferred to frame it in his own mind as Mr. Draven had once put it to them “Conscience and Reason standing against their opposite.”


He possessed but dim memories of the place where he had been born and those mainly involved landscape and a River he later learned to identify as the Esk. He had somewhat clearer memories of living in a small farmhouse with a woman he had every reason to believe was his mother. One could never be absolutely sure of such things in childhood recall, but his supposition was supported by the fact that he had always addressed her as “Mother.” She treated him well and spoke to him with great kindness. Also, while most overt forms of direct physical affection were quite distressing to him, he recalled that when she had embraced or kissed him he had been far less distressed, and sometimes even comforted by the contact. Also she had been, to his recollection, significantly taller than most women.

The land they lived on was not their own, nor did it belong to the black-bearded man to whom they paid the rent, and perhaps not even to the unknown man to whom he paid rent. As he was later to learn, this reflected a complex and often brutally exploited legal peculiarity regarding property ownership in Scotland. Soldiers came one day to forcibly evict all the tenant farmers prior to a transfer of the land. When some of the people protested, the soldiers shot them and burned their houses. The woman he recalled as his mother killed two of the soldiers, one by pulling him directly from his horse and breaking his neck with her hands, before she was overpowered. “You run away now, my clever Tim,” she had said to him, “You grow up and fight the bastards.” At least five soldiers struggled to hold her and she might well have escaped them even so, but one of them fired a pistol and killed her. It had been an instantly fatal shot at that range and she had died without further suffering. Kay ran away as the other people from the farms fled, but he did not run far. He followed the soldiers and when the band the made camp that night that night and for two after he had gone in while they slept and killed a number of them, mostly with a knife he had obtained. Immature as he had been in his thinking, he knew that there were many more soldiers throughout the countryside and that there was no possibility of killing them all. It seemed to him very important however to kill those particular soldiers. The neighbors gave him food and a very small amount of money, which was exceedingly generous as they had quite little to spare and their own situation was likely quite dire. With this he eventually made his way to the city of Montrose on the coast and obtained work there on boats. He calculated that he had been perhaps ten at this point in his life, but because of his uncommon height and quick capacity for language and learning he was conveniently mistaken for older.

Listening in through windows to lessons offered at a dockside kirk school he soon learned to read and this enabled him greatly.

He read and listened and watched. His size protected him from most common predations and direct injuries, but he spent a number of years pondering what his mother had meant by “the bastards.” In time he had come down to Edinbrugh and had occasion to see a group of wealthy men gathered around some ships recently docked from the West Indies, they were taking perhaps a dozen small dark-skinned children off the ships and he learned from the conversations of passers-by that these children had been actually “purchased” and were being taken home as slaves to serve in the rich mens houses. He put this knowledge together with accounts he had heard from a merchant seaman named Holden who had found himself on a ship carrying slaves to Jamaica, considered it in light of the treatment he had seen inflicted on women especially and poor persons generally in the cities he had visited and put that information together with other stories he had read and heard and decided that he was able to form a working idea now of what his mother had meant.

This analysis had an effect on him that he later realized was perhaps a sign of some lingering immaturity, although he was never able to regret his actions in retrospect, only their lack of broader consequence. When the captain of one of the tobacco ships elaborated to the customs official upon his intention to seek increased profits in subsequent voyages by expanding his activities in the slave trade, Kay walked up to the man then and there upon the wharf and snapped his neck.

He spent a number of weeks afterward  imprisoned in a “Tolhouse” that served as a holding gaol for the city at that time, awaiting execution. They chained his leg to the wall after he injured a number of the guards who attempted to restrain him.

Then came a night when a commotion wakened himself and the several other prisoners in the cell. A dark-skinned woman dressed in a man’s coat and trousers entered, accompanied by a tall red-haired man in an English military uniform and a dark-haired boy whom he judged to be some years younger than himself. They were looking for one particular prisoner, an older white-bearded man who had fallen unconscious after a beating some days before. Finding the gentleman lying near the wall, the red-haired man and the woman made shift together to carry the man out. It seemed clear to him that the guards must have been disabled somehow and that these persons were not connected with the local authorities.

The boy had remained behind holding the lantern and now approached Kay. “What is all this?” he said, swinging the light over to the walls and floor upon which Kay, in order to pass the time until they came for him, had scratched various diagrams, of sails and rigging, the streets of various cities he had visited, water-wheel designs, the words of Holden’s story of the ships and Jamaica, and mathematical formulae, covering all the space as far as the length of his arms and the chain would let him reach.

“Things that interest me.” Timothy Samson Kay said.

The boy looked at him for a moment most fixedly, then he put down the lantern and ran back out the doorway, returning a moment later with keys.

“Cassian!” The dark woman called from the hallway, “there is no time.”

“Señora Tano!” the boy said, “Él debería venir con nosotros!” He unlocked the chain on Kay’s leg. They were leaving the doors unlocked, and all the other prisoners who had the presence of mind where escaping.

“I may have some difficulty walking,” Timothy Kay said,”circulation to my legs has been impaired for several days.”

“Lean on me," the boy said, “I will help you.”

Kay was reasonably certain that he had been approximately 15 at the time and that Cassian Andor had been twelve or thirteen.

 

 

 

 

“He unlocked my chains,” Kay told Captain Rostok.

Roughly two minutes after after he said this, there was a rumble as of thunder and black cloud of smoke rose in the general direction of the cathedral and the Praça de Governo

 

“Verdomme,” said the Captain.

There immediately followed another explosion and the sound of musket fire, and possible light cannon.

This seems to be far too many explosions for two people”blending in,” Kay thought.

“Captain Rostok, he said, “please prepare the ship to sail, and lower the dinghy, I will proceed to the emergency rendezvous at Setúbal."