Hoare 3 - Matter of Treason
"You're The Admiral's deus-ex machina, then. His Hercules. The man he uses to drag his chestnuts out of the lire. Good record at sea, respectable navy family, no vice. Pity about that, you look as though you were otherwise fit far command. But the fleets loss is the Service's gain. Perhaps." Sir Hugh Abercrombie very neatly sums up Bartholomew Hoare's odd position in King George III's Royal Navy. Because a throat injury suffered in the service of the Crown in the war with France has left Hoare fit to do no more than whisper, he is unable to command a ship. To a man raised in a navy family, this is a tragedy. But Hoare's quick brain and extraordinary perspicacity have so impressed his superiors that he has been entrusted not only with the smallest ship and the oddest crew In the Royal Navy, but with state and military duties of great secrecy. As this book opens, Hoare's wedding to the impressive young widow Mrs. Eleanor Graves is taking place. The Royal Duke, Hoare's little ship, has been spruced up for the occasion, the brass polished and the carrier pigeons that share Hoare's cabin hidden behind a curtain. But the bride, attended by her friend Miss Jane Austen, ends the festivities by giving the order "Splice the main brace." Hoare's commanding officer, Sir George Hardcastle, informs the new groom that he is to report to London and the head of the fleet as soon as possible for a special assignment. Initially, Hoare learns, his job is to find a missing man who has information about a conspiracy against the Crown, but the discovery of the fellow's body is only the beginning of a long task.