was usually a cheery man. Now his shoulders were hunched and he avoided Ramage's eye. The normally happy Italian Alberto Rossi, the irreverent Cockney Will Stafford - all the men in the boat looked as though they were rowing off to the flagship to be flogged round the fleet. They too had seen the Invincible's Marines and drawn their own conclusions.

 As he sat in the stern sheets slapping at mosquitoes landing on his wrists and face, Ramage turned to Jackson. 'Did you recognize the prisoners?'

 'No, sir, ' the American said. 'The light was going. I had a look with the bring-'em-near but they were in leg-irons and that made 'em crouch down a bit. The Marines were shovin' them, too.'

 By now the boat was leaping through the water and Ramage felt very close to the men. They had been carefully chosen over a long period and all of them had been in action with him many times. He found he had to think carefully to remember just how many times and was glad of the distraction. Jackson had been with him when the Sibella frigate sank under them in the Mediterranean; he had helped rescue the Marchesa from Bonaparte's cavalry, and had regarded himself as Cupid's assistant ever since; with him again in the Kathleen cutter (when Southwick had joined) while they captured the dismasted Spanish frigate; a survivor when the Spanish ship of the line rammed them at Cape St Vincent ... it went on and on.

 Suddenly Ramage shivered: Paolo was on board the Juno! Had he been hurt in the mutiny? He had recently survived three bitter actions in a week; but he was an impetuous boy, yet to celebrate his fourteenth birthday. 'The Marcheezer's nevvy, ' that was how most of the Junos described Paolo Orsini, and he had become a favourite, not only because he was the Marchesa's nephew but because he was quick, willing, cheerful and fearless. None of the men knew that he was the heir to the kingdom of Volterra and would become its ruler if the Marchesa died without having children.

 If the Marchesa died . . . England was four hours ahead of Antigua, so by now she would be in bed and asleep. She was living with his parents, but would they be down in Cornwall or at the London house? If his father had anything to do with it they would be at St Kew; the old Admiral had little liking for London life.

 Gianna, too, preferred the country: it was as if all her memories of the life she had led in that great pile of a palace at Volterra had vanished. There a dozen servants came running at her slightest gesture and her ministers listened with grave faces to whatever decision she made concerning the citizens of her kingdom. It was potentially heady stuff for a young girl, but she was born to it. She had ruled - and successfully - from the time her father and mother had died within weeks of each other. When Bonaparte's Army of Italy had swept south she had fled -into the arms of Lieutenant Lord Ramage who, with Jackson, had just survived the sinking of the Sibella, the frigate sent from Corsica to rescue her.

 So much had happened since then. More actions and promotion for him; a certain amount of happiness for her. She had learnt to accept her exile from Volterra and she had fallen in love with him. She could not understand why he did not resign from the Navy, pointing out with cold logic that there were dozens of captains and scores of lieutenants who were on half-pay because there were no ships for them, nor likely to be.

 Then young Paolo had arrived in England, having managed to escape from the French and determined to go to sea with the Royal Navy. Ramage had been reluctant to take him. He was a thoroughly pleasant lad who spoke English perfectly, but Ramage had a vivid imagination and could picture himself trying to find words to tell Gianna that Paolo had been killed, or badly wounded. So far his letters had told her of the good progress the boy was making, but now . . . ?

 Captain Edwards met him on the Invincible's gangway, unsmiling and, apart from a brief apology for possibly interrupting Ramage's supper, uncommunicative as he led the way to Admiral Davis's cabin.

 Aitken was sitting opposite the Admiral, his boyish face lit by a lantern hanging from the deckhead. He seemed relaxed - as relaxed as any lieutenant given temporary command of a frigate was ever likely to be in the presence of his commander-in-chief. The Admiral looked the same as usual, his round face glistening with perspiration from the heat of the cabin, his bushy eyebrows lifting as Ramage came into the cabin and lowering as he gestured to a chair.

 'Sit down, sit down, ' he said impatiently. 'A drink? No? Suit yourself.'

 Ramage saw that all three men were now looking in front of them. Without turning the Admiral said irritably: 'You didn't remind me to give the Calypso a pendant number. Couldn't make a signal so had to wait for a boat to get over to you. It'll make me late for supper and I have guests.' He added, as if talking to himself: 'Damned dull crowd they are, too. Tradesmen and parsons, and all of 'em up to their necks in smuggling with the Jonathans.'

 He turned suddenly to Ramage: 'Young Aitken here has just brought in four mutineers from the Jocasta. Found 'em on board a Jonathan off Guadeloupe.'

 Ramage almost sighed with relief. That explained the Marines, and the four men in leg-irons. He felt guilty of disloyalty to his Junos for thinking that any of them would have mutinied. His Calypsos, he corrected himself; Aitken would be ferrying them over within the next few hours.

 'Have to bring 'em to trial, ' Admiral Davis said, 'and I need you to make up the number for the court. You won't be able to sail until they're sentenced, but you might get some useful information. Question 'em about Santa Cruz.'

 There were only five post captains in English Harbour at the moment - six if you included the lieutenant whom Admiral Davis had just promoted and put in command of La Comete. A minimum of five captains was needed to form a court martial, and Ramage was not sure if the new man could sit before the Admiralty confirmed the promotion. Obviously the Admiral thought he could not.

 The Admiral could not preside at a court martial - by regulation that was a job for his second-in-command, in this case Captain Edwards. And they had to find someone to act as deputy judge advocate - the Invincible’s purser, probably, or the Admiral's secretary. A court martial provoked a shower of paperwork.

 The Devil take it: he did not want to spend days sitting on a court martial when he should be busy getting the Calypso ready for sea. Yet the chance to examine the four British seamen about the Jocasta's position at Santa Cruz would . . .

 'I'm doubtful if Ramage can question the prisoners before the trial if he is to be a member of the court, sir, ' Captain Edwards said quietly.

 'Hmm, must admit I can't think of a precedent, but what difference does it make if he questions them before the trial instead of during it? As a member of the court he can ask all the questions he wants.'

 'There's no apparent difference, sir, ' Edwards said patiently, 'but we've no judge advocate to consult, and there'd be trouble if we hanged the men and the Admiralty later ruled the trial invalid because a member of the court was involved before the hearing.'

 'Oh, very well. No questions before the trial, Ramage.' Ramage realized that, with every ship in the Navy carrying a list of the names and descriptions of all the mutineers, several must have been captured and tried by now, and the evidence given at their trials would be available.

 Nine of them so far, ' the Admiral said in reply to Ramage's question. 'The first four were brought into Barbados a year ago. One turned King's evidence so we could convict the other three, and they were hanged. The fourth hadn't been a mutineer, or so he claimed. Then three more were found serving in a Spanish privateer and taken to Jamaica. The man who turned King's evidence was sent to Port Royal to give evidence against them and they were hanged, too. Mutiny and treason. Then a pair of them were taken off Brest, and the man was sent to England to give evidence.'

 'So there is no one over here to give evidence against these men, sir?'

 'No, ' Admiral Davis said crossly. 'It would take too long to send to England for the witness.'

 Ramage realized that it was going to be a difficult trial. If all four men kept silent - remained loyal to each other, in fact - he did not see how they could be convicted. One of them must be persuaded to turn King's evidence. Or Admiral Davis should send all four men to England so that they could be tried there. That was the surest way of seeing that justice was done.

 The Admiral obviously guessed Ramage's thoughts. 'We need a trial out here as an example. I've been hearing some disturbing reports from some of our ships. A few hotheads here, a few there. Easy to stir up a ship's company, especially during the hurricane season when the heat makes everyone edgy.

 'We still don't know why the Jocastas mutinied, ' he added crossly. 'Three trials, and all we know is that there were half a dozen ringleaders and the rest of the men followed them. And some loose talk that Wallis was a bit free with the cat-o'-ninetails. Mind you, he had to be, after the Nore and Spithead.'

 Captain Edwards was shaking his head, and Ramage knew he too had compared the dates. 'The Jocasta affair was a month before we had news out here that the Fleet had mutinied at Spithead, sir.'

 'Same kind of hotheads, though, ' the Admiral growled. 'Irishmen, members of that damned London Corresponding Society - traitors, the whole bunch of them.'

 Edwards said nothing. Perhaps, Ramage thought, he too had reservations about the late Captain Wallis, who had sailed from Jamaica, where he had been one of Vice Admiral Sir Hyde Parker's favourites. He had been sailing under Sir Hyde's orders at the time of the mutiny, and Sir Hyde would have made sure that no information detrimental to Wallis reached the Admiralty from Jamaica - even though, he reflected bitterly, the only way of preventing mutinies in other ships was to find out exactly why it had happened in the Jocasta. Obviously that was what angered Admiral Davis. He would know better than anyone else in the West Indies if Sir Hyde was covering up for Wallis.

 'The men you captured, ' Ramage asked Aitken, 'what were their ratings in the JocastaT'

 'Two topmen, a quartermaster and a steward, sir - or so they claim. They were rated ordinary seamen in the American ship.'

 'Where did they join the American?'

 'La Guaira and Barcelona. They left the Jocasta - she has a Spanish name now, of course - several months ago. A year or more, in fact.'

 The Admiral grunted and took the glass of punch that a steward was offering him. 'Very well, then. I've told Aitken to transfer the Junos to the Calypso tomorrow in the forenoon, so you get your men and your First Lieutenant back again. I can't see the trial starting for a couple of days.' He took out a large watch and grunted yet again. 'My guests will be getting impatient: I must go back to the Dockyard. Tell you the truth, staying on shore is a mixed blessing. All those people - and twice as many mosquitoes. Don't know which are more irritating.'


 On board the Calypso next day everyone's temper frayed. More than 150 men had been brought over from the Juno and the purser had to enter details of each one of them in the muster book. There, in twenty-seven columns, were recorded all the details that the Admiralty, Navy Board and Sick and Hurt Board would ever want to know about a man - including whether he was a volunteer or 'prest', where he was born and his age, his full name and rank, and what clothing, bedding and tobacco had been issued. The last column on that page, headed 'D., D. D., or R.', would not be filled in by one of those abbreviations until the man left the ship by one of only three possible ways: Discharged (to another ship or to a hospital), Discharged Dead (death from battle, accident or illness) or Run, the Navy's phrase for deserting.

 Ramage paced round the deck, pausing occasionally at the table set up by the purser in the shade of the awning. The men were filing past fairly quickly and the list of names in the muster book was lengthening. Looking over the purser's shoulder at the first few names, Ramage was once again reminded of the cosmopolitan

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