Here it is. The 30th chapter of Reunions and Destinies. It is, unfortunately, the last you will see for I don't know how long. (I am suffering from a lack of inspiration involving any and all three of the stories I am working on.)
The fight had been long, and hard. Anthony had never met such a worthy opponent as the British lord whose prisoner he was now. They had fought in the great cabin, out onto the deck, and even on the quarterdeck, each giving as good as he got. While the Admirals fought, the British marines had overwhelmed Anthony’s crew. Once this was done, they had lined up alongside the sides to watch, out of respect for Anthony’s skill. But finally, after what felt like hours, after they had been fighting on the quarterdeck for several minutes, Admiral Whiddake backed Anthony against the stern rail, close by the flagstaff. Even as he fended off Anthony’s attack, Whiddake slashed at the flagstaff, severing the rope which raised and lowered the colors. When he saw the colors fall, Anthony knew that the only way to retain his honor was to surrender immediately. Accordingly, he gave up his swords as soon as he was free.
That had been an hour ago. Now, Anthony sat, a prisoner, in one of the smaller cabins usually occupied by a member of the gunroom mess. Since the moment he had been led inside, and a sentry posted outside the door, Anthony had entertained only one thought; would any of his brothers, or even his son, arrive in London in time to rescue him? For since he had surrendered honorably, he was also bound by honor not to attempt an escape; instead he must wait for a friend to come to his aid.
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a midshipman opening the door of the cabin and announcing “His Lordship requests that Admiral Mellino join him in his cabin, directly.”
“One moment, and I am with you.” Anthony replied, reaching for his best coat. Shedding the comparatively shabby battle-coat he had been wearing since his capture and throwing it over his sea-chest, he pulled on the other, on which the epaulettes still shined from the shoulders, as he did not wear it often. Having done this, he left the cabin, slightly behind the messenger.
When they arrived at the door of the great cabin, the midshipman opened the door with no ceremony. Anthony entered unannounced, hearing the door shut fast behind him. As he strode to the seat set aside for him, he heard the British captain’s greeting.
“Ah… Mellino… I am so glad you could join us…”
Giving a sarcastic laugh, Anthony replied “How could I refuse, being as it were imprisoned aboard your ship?”
“I know,” rejoined Whiddake “You could not. But Captains do not order their prisoners to present themselves. Please to present this excellent spotted dog to your palate.” Cutting an enormous piece from the pudding in front of him, he dropped it on Anthony’s plate.
When they had made their way through the pudding and had begun on a noble side of roast beef, Whiddake spoke again. “So you are an Admiral? You were a mere captain when you swept through our yards not two years back. You could not have earned your flag in so short a time? Or have you Americans done away with that glorious institution, the Admiralty list?”
“It seems we have. I was told on sight to hoist my flag. But we both know that does not happen, except under the most exceptional circumstances. But perhaps our Congress thought that catching the British navy unawares and disabling it with one ship is a feat worthy of a flag.”
“I must admit, taking our high standards into account, it is” ceded Whiddake, calling for wine. “In fact, it would have been so, had it been accomplished against any other country. Where is the wine, you lubbers?!”
While they waited for the drink to come, Whiddake inquired “So, what do you do when you do not have us Englishmen to fight against?”
“I am not a wealthy man. I manage what you might call a pawnshop on a back street where I live. At times, I, for want of a better word, quack like a duck.”
“And what does that sound like, may I ask?”
By way of explanation, Anthony launched into his best duck voice, reciting the lines to “Heart of Oak” until Whiddake began to laugh hard enough to cover Anthony’s own voice.
“You mean to say that you have never heard a duck?”
“I have been at sea almost continuously since the age of ten. I do not live where ducks are to be heard.”
By this time, the steward had brought the wine, and gave each man a glass. Upon asking “Do the officers have their shares?”, the British Admiral ran up the steps leading to the deck and called to the world at large “To the King!”
As all the British officers, echoed their captain, Anthony raised his glass, cried “To the President!” in a voice louder than his counterpart’s, and drank his draft down in one.