All of London has read about the HMS Delphine, the naval ship grounded off the coast of Cornwall a few weeks ago carrying the contract for steel from France. The Delphine’s captain James Dunham is currently under investigation for the ship’s loss, the proceedings have entertained all since the inquiry started.
Such a vital income needed to help recover the country’s finances after the war with Napoleon going missing is a disaster. He claims it was the navigator’s fault, of course. Since none of the officers survived the night after most the crew left in the nighttime grounding, it’s only his word, of course. Being found on the shore stabbed is all that has saved him so far.
The scandal rushing through London of late is nothing to the real story. I have it on the best authority from the captain’s own aunt, Mrs. Belle Quinn, the most well-known of matchmakers in London, there for a house party. The gossip running through the house in the midst of Captain Dunham fighting for his good name and career is he was forced to marry Miss Balaton who saved him from the sea. They were caught in the most delicate of positions which, of course, meant he was unable to form an attachment to any of the other ladies of the house party who were far more suitable.
What else would a shopkeepers’ daughter on St. Michael’s Mount do when presented with a ship’s captain on her front door? Despite the captains’ good friend Mr. Sinclair arriving with his wife and they became such good friends, Mrs. Quinn is certain he regrets the marriage. Why else would he throw Mrs. Quinn out of the house?
Granted, another rumor leaving the house in the last few days is Mr. Sinclair is actually the Duke of Cairnmuir traveling incognito as he visited his friend to try and fix the court martial proceedings. After all, he was the one that secured the contract with the French and sent Captain Dunham back with it to England as he finished his honeymoon to the charming Mrs. Rose Beaufort, as she was. As it was a secret mission, there might be far more politics involved than marriage mart gossip, Mrs. Quinn intimates.
Captain Dunham is after all a well decorated naval officer, running with Cochrane in his impressive haul of ships as well as several on his own merits. The Captain made a fortune in his career up until he washed up on the shore of Cornwall.
Overheard at the house party…
“Could I ask you to introduce us?” Mrs. Quinn asked almost immediately. “It seems that my nephew invited a great many people to the ball without asking my opinion on the matter.”
Without asking her opinion in his house. “Mrs. Sinclair, this is Captain Dunham’s aunt, Mrs. Quinn. Mr. Sinclair is an old friend of the Captains.”
Mrs. Quinn fanned herself hastily. “You’re here for a long visit? James hadn’t mentioned you coming.”
“No, we heard he was in London, but he left town before we could see him. He couldn’t imagine us leaving with a ball so soon. Edward sees him so little what with us up in Scotland. We’ve invited them north to stay with us this fall.”
Mrs. Quinn puffed up. “You’ve become great friends in so short a time, Mrs. Sinclair.” She said. Something in the tone spoke everything. Her friendship was put in the wrong person and she knew nothing of her other than gossip.
“Why, Mrs. Quinn, I should not be embarrassed to introduce her to the Duchess of Cairnmuir herself. The Duchess prefers friends who can hold a thought in their heads. Money can’t buy that.”
“You know a Duchess?” Mrs. Quinn gaped.
“Heavens, the Sinclair’s are related to half of the nobility in Scotland. But that birth doesn’t mean they can hold a good conversation.”
Mrs. Quinn turned red and trounced off. It took a moment, but finally Mrs. Sinclair laughed out loud.
“And they say I have a tongue on me. You’re just wicked.” Tanley murmured and Mrs. Sinclair only laughed harder. It wasn’t hard to notice that the woman steered them further out from the house. They were well in the center of the lawn where no one could jump out from any hedges there.
The Sailor’s Wife
Tanley’s boring life on Saint Michael’s Mount gets a lot more complicated when a man is washed up on the beach. With her father dead, the neighbor smuggling, and a knife wound in the man’s shoulder she’s all alone with a whole lot of trouble.
At least she’s not stuck getting rid of a body when he wakes up at long last, but delivering papers for the government to help pay the debt after the war with Napoleon makes the stakes higher than just a little smuggling. Alone with James, though, temptation is hard to resist, if only getting caught didn’t bring up a whole new set of problems.
Meet Jennifer Mueller
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya a few years back, I traveled quite a bit and now I just wish I was. A lot of the places I’ve written about I’ve been to, a lot of them I haven’t. Rafting on the Nile in Uganda, living in a Montana ghost town, African safaris, European youth hostels, the Black Hills of South Dakota all fill my scrapbooks. Now a daughter takes up most of those pages, but I still travel in my head every time I write.
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