Lady in Waiting Book 3 Part 2

Lady in Waiting
Book 3 Part 2
Lady in Waiting 3.jpg

The showdown between Charlotte and the obnoxious marine officer finally takes place. Finally Charlotte Anna and the children arrive in England where Charlotte discovers that the bounty of looted gems is worth a small fortune.

As I finished speaking Major Dawlish turned from a benign white whiskered grandfather to the very image of someone breathing hellfire and brimstone I swear that his whiskers bristled.
He turned to the Lieutenant and barked. “Let me understand this – YOU called this Lady a liar sir?” Now he knew he was beaten and managed to stammer. “Err yesss sir I mean nnnno sir.”
“Major” I interceded “He has just called me a liar again.” The Major gathered himself and a bit calmer snapped. “Let us repair to my office.” Then with a sweep of his arm said. “After you Lady Charlotte.”

We trooped below after taking leave of the First Lieutenant who had a grim smile on his face. I headed the procession like a ship of the line leading the fleet into battle and bringing up the rear was the really apprehensive Lieutenant.

As we approached the Majors quarters the two marines on duty snapped to attention. “Bring Captain Blake.” The Major snapped then we entered I was ushered to a comfortable seat while the Major sat behind his desk leaving my protagonist standing to attention.

Captain Blake arrived and I was asked to tell what had transpired. As I recounted the exchange I could see the Major becoming more and more angry. I also recounted how he had threatened to flog the sentry for talking to ‘his betters’ even though I had asked him a question and he was answering me.

“Well Quarmby any comment or are you going to call this lady a liar again?” Major Dawlish snapped. (So that was his name) Still at attention he stammered. “Nno sir err Yes sir” “Dammit man is that all you can say!” barked the by now incandescent Major. “Nno sir” he stammered again.
At this the major slammed both his fists onto his deck making everything rattle and jump. “YOU SIR ARE A DISGRACE TO THE UNIFORM!” He bellowed “NOW WHAT AM I TO DO WITH YOU!”

This was the opening I was waiting for so meekly I asked. “Major if I may make a suggestion.” Looking at me he became the epitome of a gentleman. “Of course Lady Charlotte after all it IS you that has been wronged.”

“Sir” I started to speak "All this started with the lieutenant doubting that I could shoot a gun. As it is impossible for me to challenge him to a duel and as he is a gentleman (I said that with loathing in my voice) I assume that he can shoot. Then I challenge him to shoot at targets when I win the Lieutenant will give me a full apology in front of everyone on board.”

I had emphasised the ‘when I win’ and omitted any mention of loosing. Mr Quarmby could not stay silent blurting out. “But what if I win?” I looked steadily at him and answered. “But you simply will not - however to be fair my wager is a Gold 50 franc Napoleon.” There was a gasp as this was a huge amount of money!

Major Dawlish thought about this for a moment then smiled. “What a capital idea Lady Charlotte, splendid! Captain Blake please go and make the arrangements I will speak with the Admiral but there should be no problems as the crew need a distraction.
As the others left he intimated that I should remain then looking at me steadily he said. “That was very smartly done Lady Charlotte, very smartly done.” I remained silent looking sweet and demure my hands resting on my dress.

“Can you shoot Lady Charlotte?” I nodded he gave a grunt saying. “I feared so, may I ask where you were taught?”
“Certainly Major” I replied, “I was taught by my husband on our estate in England then for the last 2 years I have been with my husband fighting the French from Portugal to the French border. (A slight exaggeration but need must)

He looked surprised and asked the inevitable question. “May I ask your husbands regiment?” “Certainly sir he is in the 95th Rifles.”
He went silent then asked, “And they completed your education?” “Indeed” was my response.

“You realise that when you win – and I don’t doubt that you will considering who taught you Mr Quarmby’s career in the Marines will be over.”

I looked him straight in the eyes and calmly answered. “Yes I am fully aware of this and have no qualms as he is too hot headed to lead men I have seen too much death due to bad leadership and have also been shown how fair leadership brings better rewards on the field of battle.
However I don’t want you to loose a good officer – and if that is what he is mayhap someone could council him as to the error of his ways.” I left that notion hanging for the Major to mull over.
He was silent for a second or two then stood and motioned to me and together we left to see the Admiral.

As Major Dawlish surmised there were no problems in this contest in fact the Admiral asked the ships captain to declare a ‘Make and Mend’ day which meant everyone not essential to the running of the ship was free to watch the contest and take a day of rest.

I went to my cabin to change into a skirt and blouse the same Marine was still on duty as I entered he quietly said “Good luck m’lady”. How news travels on a ship! I smiled at him answering. “Thank you - errr I am afraid I don’t know your name?” “Taylor m’lady” he answered. I beamed a big smile at him saying. “Thank you Mr Taylor now I’ll change and get my rifle and we will see if your good wishes help.”

When I entered Anna was keeping my children amused quickly as I changed I told her what was about to happen she gathered up the children and made ready to accompany me onto the main deck.
I checked my Baker over making sure I had enough ammunition for at least 20 shots saying a quiet prayer and remembering everything Patrick Gilroy had taught me and hoping against hope I would make him proud. When I was fully ready Anna the children and I went up on deck - at the last moment I picked up a gold Bonaparte to honour my part of the wager.

When Major Dawlish saw my Baker he sighed shaking his head saying. “Lady Charlotte with all your training and a Baker rifle - did the young fool have any idea?”
“I don’t really know sir but the redcoat on the beach told him I could shoot well and he certainly knew about the Baker.”
The rules of the contest were explained. It was over 10 shots at 2 small kegs that were thrown over this side of the ship and would drift away. Two officers would observe the kegs through telescopes the person with the most hits would win.

I handed the major the gold Napoleon saying. “Here is my part of the wager.” Then I curtsied to the Lieutenant and wished him good luck.
Then we took our places resting on the stern rail and the kegs were thrown overboard.
I knew the effective range of the Brown Bess (Gilroy has taught me well) so I was in no rush. The upshot of this contest was I won 9 hits to 5! With 5 of my hits over 100 paces when really the Brown Bess had no hope of success in fact I saved my best until my 10th shot when I hit the keg at about 250 paces.

Lieutenant Quarmby was beaten well and truly and to give him his due true to the wager he approached me and made a full apology, which of course I accepted graciously.
A marine sergeant then approached me saying. “If you please m’lady I’ll take your rifle and clean it for you.”
“Thank you” I smiled at him. “But I was taught a good trooper looks after their best friend (the gun) so there is no one else to blame should he let me down.”
He looked surprised at this saying. “If I may say so m’lady that’s good advice but I really wanted to look at your gun miss as I’ve never seen one before.”
I looked at him then asked him to remain where he was while I spoke to the Major.
I approached the major who was in conversation with the Admiral and asked. “Major Dawlish one of your sergeants has expressed a desire to look at the Baker, with your permission I would like to show him how to use it.”

The Admiral congratulated me and said. “You are really your Fathers daughter young Lady.” I was absurdly pleased by this and wondered how I would have turned out had I remained a boy all those years ago I seemed to have more confidence and courage as the woman and mother I now was.
Then Major Dawlish responded. “Of course Lady Charlotte but I fear we will never be equipped with them as they are too temperamental for shipboard life.”
I smiled at that and commented. “In truth Major they seem to manage the rigour of forced marched and river crossing well - as long as they are looked after!” He looked thoughtful at this nodding while deep in thought.

After the excitement of the contest things settled down a lot I became something of a minor celebratory and Lieutenant Quarmby even spoke civilly to me and I noticed treated the lower ranks with more humanity - whether if was the contest or someone had spoken to him I will never know.

After I showed the sergeant how to use my Baker I left it in his capable hands so that all the marines could try it and they were very impressed even the officers were complimentary of course my supply of shot was soon used but this was no barrier as the marines simply copied mine and made their own.

Together with our prize (the French first rate) we tacked back towards England – in truth I was glad of the delay as it meant I would not have to face mama but deep inside I knew that soon I must ‘face the music’.
My children were now fully walking with what the sailors called ‘a seaman’s roll’ legs apart to counteract the movement of the ship. They were also talking which was a blessing one way but like little sponges they soaked up everything including the language of the petty officers and sailors.
The first time I heard Edmond shout. “Avast hauling ye laggard” I was both tickled and appalled this was one of the more repeatable phrases he picked up and Annabel was picking up the same vocabulary telling Anna to “belay that ye scurvy s’drell” which we think she meant scoundrel!

Finally the wind shifted to a more favourable direction and we started to make some headway we passed the Scilly Isles to larboard keeping well clear of these islands, which were feared by sailors as a graveyard for ships as they are surrounded by sharp rocks and hidden reefs.

Christmas dawned and the ship was on make and mend with an extra church service and a meal that was slightly above the normal fare.
Boxing day land loomed to larboard and as the ship cautiously neared it was determined that it was the Lizard which meant it was not far to Plymouth if the wind held fair.
So it proved and just before the New Year we approached Plymouth sound in a snowstorm and gently brought this massive ship and it’s prize to anchor safely in the shelter of Plymouth harbour about half a mile from the shore, which of course meant the dreaded chair down to the bobbing cutter.

We packed our few possessions and made ready to leave the ‘Ville de Paris’ when it was deemed appropriate. I was determined that before we travelled to London we would obtain fresh clothing both for ourselves and the children however I decided that we would keep our looted well worn finery to see it they could be cleaned and used again.

We landed ashore on New Years day and after asking where accommodation could be found that was suitable for a Lady of Quality and her children travelling alone we were directed to a nice house away from the port area but overlooking the Sound that was run by a matronly lady whose husband a Captain had been killed at Trafalgar.
When she saw the dishevelled state of us her maternal instincts went into full speed. She showed us to our rooms on the second floor of the house we had a small sitting room a bedroom for Anna and the children and a separate bedroom for me.
She got her servants to run us tubs of hot water so we could wash ourselves and the children then the took away all – yes all of our clothes to wash and make suitable we were left with our pantaloons and two beautiful heavy silk satin wraps (Looted) which we had never worn. Mine was the palest pink down to the floor tied by a wide sash it was adorned is embroidered flowers. Anna’s was a simple pale blue unadorned.

Mrs Milward assured us that our clothing would be ready the next day then she would show us where the best places were to acquire our new wardrobe.
Then she produced some clothes for my children! She must have seen my look of amazement explaining that her neighbour had children the same age as mine and had lent them to me until I could purchase some myself.

Totally clean for the first time in god knows how long my long hair shining and lustrous we started our adjustment to life back in England where I was once again a Lady of breeding with all the restrictions and customs that entailed while Anna took up her new role as my children’s nanny.
As much as it pained me this is how it must be on the surface but we both knew that after everything we had experienced in private our relationship was so very different to the public façade.

Maud (Mrs Milward) was bursting to hear our story so Anna and I sat with her in the parlour sipping chocolate and telling her of our last 2 years. She listened with a far away look in her eyes possibly regretting times past it was not our place to ask.
My children were being taken care of by the housemaid who loved her new and unexpected task.
Getting ready for dinner certainly didn’t take long as all we had to wear were our gowns but news from the housekeeper was good as our clothes had come up well and were drying as we spoke.
Dinner was a really pleasant meal and very surprising as the cook had spent time in India with her husband so parts of the meal were quite exotic and spiced while other parts were traditional British fare.
Soup was Mulligatawny when Anna and I first tried it the taste made us both cough but we soon were used to the spices in it.
Then followed pigeons in a white sauce with mushrooms and a rice dish called Pilau rice that had raisins, pine nuts, onion and spices mixed into the rice.
For the main course Mutton with potatoes kale and various sweet and savoury pasties with small bowls of sauces.
The meal was finished with Jelly and sorbet and hot chocolate all in all it was very convivial and as we retired to our rooms we felt contented and very, very sleepy.
Before sleeping ourselves we looked in at the children blissfully asleep in two cots by Anna’s bed.

The next day dawned bright, crisp and cold there was a slight dusting of snow and from my bedroom window Plymouth Sound looked beautiful I was so minded to sketch the beauty of it until I remembered my sketch pad was full and I needed to buy one today this spurred me to get out of the very comfortable bed there was a knock at the door and when I bade them enter it was the housemaid with a bowl of hot water for me to wash in and the boot boy with coals to light the small fire in my room.

As the room warmed she and the housekeeper returned with armful of my clothing. While I washed the housemaid put my clothes away then I was left in peace to dress. Thinking about the cold weather I realised that I didn’t have any suitable clothes and certainly no warm cloak or coat. There was another knock at the door and Anna entered carrying her corset. We laced each other into the garment of torture then dressed I wore my warmest dress which was in lavender silk with a silk and lace bodice that covered me to the neck underneath as well as my pantaloons I had black silk stockings to my knee two petticoats and a chemise.

Gathering the children we made our way for breakfast where Maud was sitting sipping tea.
She greeted us and kissed the children. “Lady Charlotte” she began when I interrupted her “Please Maud call me Charlotte I really prefer it so.”
Maud smiled at me saying. “As I was saying Charlotte if you would like I could send for a girl I am acquainted with and she could look after the children while yourself and companion are being measured for you clothes. Also I expect Mr Baring to be here shortly to transact the business we discussed yesterday.”

Sipping my chocolate nibbling a rather tasty croissant I considered the offer and decided that it would be best as the children would be a bit of a handful during the day.
A maid was dispatched to bring the girl and we finished our breakfast there came a knock on the door which proved to be Mr Baring who had been recommended by Mrs Milward as a honest broker for changing jewels into money in fact he looked after Mrs Milward ‘s financial affairs charging only 2% of the value of the goods being sold.
Mr Baring’s family were émigrés and had started a Merchant Banking business the name coming from the fact that they converted merchandise into money and looked after this for their clients.
They had their main business in London but also had family members in most of the naval seaports this was to convert prize goods into money for the crews of ships.
Today I was selling a rather vulgar diamond and ruby gold necklace, together with matching ear-rings the largest diamonds were the size of a quails egg the smallest the size of a finger nail. I personally thought the whole ensemble was revolting. (Emperor Joseph’s wife certainly has garish tastes in some of her jewellery)

Mr Baring how to describe him? His black hair streaked with grey he was thin faced with a kindly demeanour but his brown eyes were shrewd also he was amazingly small only about 5’ 4”. Oh and he had the biggest nose I had ever seen it made Wellingtons beak look tiny!

We were introduced and Maud suggested that we go upstairs to my parlour to conduct our business.
He looked at the pieces intently sucking on a tooth (he only had three or four in his whole mouth).
“Lady Charlotte” he rasped “This is a fine piece worth far more in London. What I suggest is that I will give you 2000 guineas now for it then I will send it to my Family in London and this way we will maximise your income.”
I was amazed as this was an extraordinary amount of money enough to buy a house I agreed at once to this.

He nodded then continued. “I assume that you do not want to carry this amount of money with you so I suggest that you get the seamstress and shopkeepers to send your accounts to my address and I will settle them for you.
We will send you a monthly account and again when you go to London if you desire my cousin will be available to manage your business under the same terms. I can assure you that we come highly recommended please feel free to make enquiries about our family we rely on being honest, fair and reliable.

This sounded an excellent idea and set me thinking I asked about security and he explained how the merchant banking system worked giving me confidence in him and his company I would be issued with a certificate on behalf of the bank affirming the fact that I was a member of the bank hence protected to a certain degree.

Making my mind up I asked him to wait and went to get the rest of our ‘gains’ including the gold Napoleons.
When I emptied the jewels and gold onto the table his eyes widened and he sucked on his tooth vigorously assessing the items before him.
Lady Charlotte this is a large amount of money I really would like to send this to London for a full and comprehensive assessment – however I will advance you 50,000 guineas now and deposit it in your account. However I am certain that once London had disposed of these more will soon follow.

I was staggered as now I was a woman of substance as was Anna because half of this was her’s. Mr Baring went on the tell me how his bank worked I held a certificate and the bank would pay me a percentage of the amount in my account annually in my case this would be in the region of £2500 a year which was a huge amount easily enough to live on. The bank would deduct a sum for looking after my affairs but this was minimal. They made money from using money deposited to fund trade.

Historical Note:
As early as 1738, Britain's Admiralty had muskets made specifically for its sailors and Marines. Throughout the next 100 years the sea service musket went through a slow evolution in lock styles, but three elements remained the same: (1) a short barrel, (2) a two ramrod pipes, and (3) a distinctly flat butt plate with a square-cornered butt. This butt shape was completely unique to the sea service musket. From 1757, this musket was produced in both a bright finish and a blackened or japanned finish. It is likely the bright finish was the distinguishing element of the arms of the Marines (after 1802 "Royal Marines") from that issued to the sailors. Bright arms were a source of pride for Infantry Regiments and considering the infantry-like duties of the Marines, it is likely they possessed the time to maintain the bright finish both at sea and while on service ashore. Not so for the seamen whose time was better spent in seafaring than polishing. Blackening the barrels of their muskets to protect them from salty seawater was the better option. On some original this blackening was even extended to the brass as well.

The Scilly Isles was the site of the largest loss of life in the British Navy Led by the Commander-in-Chief of the British Fleets Sir Cloudesley Shovell, a fleet of twenty-one ships left Gibraltar on 29 September, with HMS Association serving as his own flagship, HMS Royal Anne as flagship of Vice-Admiral of the Blue Sir George Byng and HMS Torbay as flagship of Rear-Admiral of the Blue Sir John Norris. The passage was marked by extremely bad weather and constant squalls and gales. As the fleet sailed out on the Atlantic, passing the Bay of Biscay on their way to England, the weather worsened and storms gradually pushed the ships off their planned course. Finally, on the night of 22 October 1707 Old Style (2 November 1707 by the modern calendar), the squadron entered the mouth of the English Channel and Shovell's sailing masters believed that they were on the last leg of their journey. The fleet was thought to be sailing safely west of Ushant, an island outpost off the coast of Brittany However, because of a combination of the bad weather and the mariners' inability to accurately calculate their longitude, the fleet was off course and closing in on the Isles of Scilly instead. Before their mistake could be corrected, the fleet struck rocks and four ships were lost:
The exact number of officers, sailors and marines who were killed in the sinking of the four ships is unknown. Statements vary between 1,400 and over 2,000, making it one of the greatest maritime disasters in British history. For days afterwards, bodies continued to wash onto the shores of the isles along with the wreckage of the warships and personal effects. Many dead sailors from the wrecks were buried on the island of St Agnes. Admiral Shovell's body, along with those of his two Narborough stepson and his flag-captain, Edmund Loades, washed up on Porthellick Cove on St Mary's the following day, almost seven miles (11 km) from where the Association was wrecked. A small memorial was later erected at this site. The circumstances under which the admiral's remains were found gave rise to stories of looting and murder. Shovell was temporarily buried on the beach on St Mary's

The British Banking System: Many goldsmiths were associated with The Crown but, following seizure of gold held at the Royal Mint in the Tower of London by Charles I, they extended their services to gentry and aristocracy as the Royal Mint was no longer considered a safe place to keep gold.
Goldsmiths came to be known as ‘keepers of running cash’ and they accepted gold in exchange for a receipt as well as accepting written instructions to pay back, even to third parties. This instruction was the forerunner to the modern banknote or cheque.
During this period of history (late 1700 to early 1800), services offered by banks increased. Clearing facilities, security investments and overdraft protections were introduced. An Act of Parliament in 1708 restricted banks with more than six partners from issuing bank notes. This had the effect of keeping private banks as small partnerships. Joint stock investment companies were already well established, but joint stock banks did not become well established until the following century.
The Industrial Revolution and growing international trade increased the number of banks, especially in London. These new "merchant banks" facilitated trade growth, profiting from England's emerging dominance in seaborne shipping. Two immigrant families, Rothschild and Baring, established merchant banking firms in London in the late 18th century and came to dominate world banking in the next century.
Many merchant banks were also established outside London, especially in growing industrial and port cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Liverpool. By 1784, there were more than 100 provincial banks. The industrialist turned banker such as Fox, Fowler and Company could assist his own industry since he not only provided a local means of payment, but also accepted deposits. Here we have a parallel with the early goldsmith banking.
A great impetus to country banking came in 1790 when, with England threatened by war, the Bank of England suspended cash payments. A handful of Frenchmen landed in Pembrokeshire, causing a panic. Shortly after this incident, Parliament authorised the Bank of England and country bankers to issue notes of low denomination.

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