perspiration and plastered down on his head. Although they had served together for several years, this was one of the few occasions when Ramage had seen Southwick showing his years.

 Ramage stood up from the desk and gestured to Southwick to sit with him on the settee which ran athwart the cabin.

 'The carpenter tells me we have a new name, sir, ' Southwick said wearily. 'It's about the only thing we can get without having to hoist it on board.'

 'The Juno will be in shortly, ' Ramage reassured him, 'then we'll have all our men. The Admiral can't spare anyone, so we'll have to make do for the time being.'

 'Aye, forty men aren't enough to commission a ship of this size. The guns, ' Southwick added anxiously, 'I hope we aren't going to have to shift them?'

 'No, ' Ramage assured him, 'the Admiral reckons we have enough shot on board.'

 Southwick gave a sigh of relief. 'Thank goodness for that. I can't think why the Frogs have to use a different measure anyway. And the Dons - all foreigners, in fact.'

 'How is the work going?' Ramage asked hurriedly, hoping to head off a tirade against foreigners and their wicked, devious and wilful ways, particularly with weights and measures.

 'Well, now we've got those dockyard fellows out of the way I can tidy up the ship. Every blessed thing had to be stretched out and measured or lined up and counted. Cables, blocks, pots and pans, sails, candles . . . Now everything has to be stowed again. Is the Admiral buying her in?'

 Ramage nodded. 'At a valuation of about £17, 000.'

 Southwick's eyes lit up for a moment, then he said gloomily: 'I don't expect the Admiralty and Navy Board will approve that price.'

 'Don't worry about that; the Admiral knows he'll get his knuckles rapped if he pitches it too high. Anyway, you'll do well enough. At that price you share £5000 with three lieutenants and Bowen. Even at half that you'd still get a tidy sum to invest in the Funds. And that's only for the Calypso.'

 'Aye, ' Southwick admitted, cheering up slightly. 'There should be another thousand pounds in it, if those thieving prize agents don't take it all.'

 'More than that: seven merchant ships fully laden. The Admiral is sending them to England with La Comete as soon as she's repaired.'

 The Master shrugged his shoulders. 'It's as broad as it's long. Out here the cargoes fetch more and the ships less; in England it's t'other way round.'

 But the old Master's depression was lifting. He had been under a heavy strain for the past few days and was driving himself and his few men to get the Calypso ready for sea. Nor did English Harbour help: it was hot and humid because the very characteristics that made it a sheltered anchorage also meant there was precious little breeze to cool a ship. Although awnings kept the worst of the sun's heat from the decks, there was no draught through the ship herself. Days were bad but nights were worse; the heat stayed locked below and made sleeping difficult. The seamen were luckier - Ramage had given permission for them to sling their hammocks on deck at night. However the Captain, for the sake of discipline, had to sleep in his own cot and curse the tropics.

 'We're still going after the Jocasta, sir?' Southwick's tone made it clear that he was more interested in attacking enemy harbours than sitting in British dockyards.

 'Yes, we sail as soon as we're ready. Find out all you can about Santa Cruz. I've a rough chart for you - one drawn up by Captain Eames, or his Master.'

 Southwick gave one of the prodigious sniffs for which he was famous; a perfect combination of contempt and distaste but, if he was ever challenged about it, still just a sniff. 'I'll be interested to see it. I've already had the sight of a very small-scale one of that part of the coast - the Master of the Invincible has it; captured from a Spanish prize it was - and that Santa Cruz is a rare hole in the wall.'

 Ramage went over to the desk, found Captain Eames's small chart, and gave it to Southwick, who looked at it as though it had just hit him in the face. 'Wha - wha - just look at it! ' he gasped. 'The Invincible's, scrap of paper covering the whole coast tells us more than this does! '

 Ramage patted Southwick on the shoulder. 'Let's be honest: the only chart that'd do us any good is one that gives us the soundings all the way down the entrance channel and the whole of the lagoon. I doubt if even the Spanish have an accurate one! They probably rely on a pilot. You know the sort of thing - thump, 'That's a rock! ' - 'Yes, Captain sir, I'll remember it next time! ' '

 Southwick continued looking at the chart and, using his finger and thumb, measured a distance against the latitude scale. 'They never went within two miles of the entrance - look, sir, their nearest sounding gives 'em away! '

 'Lots of guns in the two forts, ' Ramage said mildly. 'Hot work running a line of soundings under fire.'

 Southwick stared at him and Ramage flushed: he was so contemptuous of Eames that he now found himself making excuses for the wretched man, and Southwick was not only puzzled by what Ramage had said but angry with Eames on his own account.

 'Under fire, sir? What's to stop 'em going in closer after dark? Or if that doesn't suit 'em, send a boat in. The Dons weren't rowing guard across that entrance! '

 'Well, at least the Jocasta is fitted out, ' Ramage said. 'We won't have any work to do before we sail her back.'

 'The first word came from the Admiralty, didn't it, sir? Well, they've probably got it all wrong. I'll bet the Dons have only just started fitting her out, and she's not due to sail until this time next year. You wait and see if I'm not right, sir.'

 Southwick was cheering up; there was no doubt about that - he was grumbling with more relish. 'This was reliable information, ' Ramage said. 'It came from Madrid, apparently. It seems the Spanish are trying to assemble a big convoy in Cuba and need a powerful escort: our frigates from Jamaica have been rattling the bars right off the entrance to Havana.'

 Southwick nodded in the doubting manner of a gamekeeper listening to a garrulous poacher explaining away the three pheasant in his bag. In Southwick's view no information from the Admiralty was ever to be relied on. Solid facts came only from other masters; it was the result of experience and observation carefully noted down in log books or on charts, and all else was illusion, the eternal Cape Flyaway that many people talked about but no one ever rounded.

 'Well, the Jocasta is in there, and whether she's ready or not we have to find a way of winkling her out.' Ramage was curious to hear what Southwick, a firm devotee of board-'em-in-the-smoke tactics, might propose.

 The Master scratched his head, using the same motion that a seaman might employ to ruffle the head of a mop before wetting it in a bucket. 'You always set a lot o' store by surprise, sir, but I can't see how we can surprise 'em at Santa Cruz. Why, that Captain Eames went just close enough to make them as jumpy as a shepherd hearing a fox barking at lambing time.

 'No chance of making an accurate landfall in the dark and sending in boarding parties by boat - the current along the coast is too strong for that, ' he added. 'But if we arrive off the coast in daylight we'll be spotted, wherever we are, and the word will be passed to Santa Cruz. If the wind's fair for sailing in through the entrance channel, it's foul coming out. Towing out two frigates one way or the other past those forts - well, that doesn't bear thinking about. Even cavalrymen galloping along the beach on either side could use us for target practice. 'So that leaves us with . . .'

 Ramage waited several moments, and then prompted him: 'Leaves us with what?'

 Southwick tugged a large lock of hair in frustration. 'To tell you the honest truth, I'm damned if I know. In fact I'm beginning to have some sympathy for Captain Eames. What have you in mind, sir?'

 'First, you'd better save some sympathy for me. Second, don't get fixed ideas. The chart shows the whole thing is impossible, and I think that's what defeated Eames: he kept thinking about the chart, so he was beaten before Santa Cruz hove in sight.'

 There was a sudden shouting on deck and both men hurriedly moved to the skylight to listen. Ramage caught some of the words and heard someone running down the companionway to report. 'The Juno's in sight, ' he said. 'We'll have our men on hoard by nightfall.'


 The sun had dipped below the ridge of hills that ended in Fort Barclay and twilight was beginning to fade the colours when a boat from the Invincible came alongside with a midshipman carrying a message from Admiral Davis. It was a brief one, telling Ramage that the Calypso had been given the number 132 in the List of the Navy. From now on any flag signal made to her would be prefixed with the number 132, and she would also use it to identify herself - after enough time had elapsed for other ships to be notified, of course. As he wrote her name in the signal book, Ramage saw that she fitted in a blank space (previously filled by a ship sunk, captured or sold out of the Navy for scrap) between the 110-gun Caledonia and the 80-gun Cambridge.

 The second part of the Admiral's message ordered him to report on board the flagship, and Ramage guessed that it was not until the Admiral gave the order to make a signal for the Calypso's captain to come on board that it was realized that she had no number to go with her new name.

 Ramage took the sword from his steward and buckled it on while Southwick bellowed for the Captain's coxswain and had a boat brought to the gangway. Why on earth did the Admiral want to see him now? The mosquitoes came out in thick clouds just as the sun set and usually vanished an hour later. It was in the nature of admirals, Ramage thought angrily, to want to see junior captains at mosquito hour. By the time he arrived on board the Invincible he would be itching from a couple of dozen bites.

 Southwick was waiting at the gangway. 'The quartermaster says that Mr Aitken is still on board the flagship, sir.' He lowered his voice and murmured: 'He tells me - why he didn't report it before I don't know - that one of the Invincible's boats filled with Marines went over to the Juno and came back with four men in irons . . .'

 The tone of the Master's voice made it clear that he knew Ramage would draw the same conclusion: Aitken had trouble on board, and armed Marines taking away men in irons was most likely to mean a mutiny. Yet the Juno had anchored well away from the Invincible. If there was a threat of further mutiny on board surely the Admiral would have re-anchored her within range of the flagship's guns?

 Mutiny among the Junos? The thought left him numbed. It couldn't happen; those men would never mutiny. Yet four men taken to the flagship in irons spoke for itself. Had Aitken turned out to be a petty tyrant the minute he was given temporary command? It was just as unthinkable that the crew of a frigate should mutiny and murder the captain and officers and hand the ship over to the enemy - yet the Jocasta was in Santa Cruz at this very moment, proving that the unthinkable was not impossible.

 'The Admiral probably wants to question you about them, ' Southwick said miserably, echoing Ramage's thoughts. Four men. Who were they? He could not guess the name of even one of them. He climbed into the boat and nodded to his coxswain to cast off.

 Thomas Jackson was an American who, like Southwick and the boat's crew, had served with Ramage for several years. Sandy-haired and lean, the coxswain

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