Chapter 2. Quartermaster’s Report
That was the only word for it.
No, there was another, an add-on to emphasize the level of defeat.
The classification was undeniable.
A dead captain.
A burnt-to-the-waterline ship.
Dead crew, but for a handful that jumped overboard or were put off on longboats.
All to a single ship that out-sailed, out-gunned, out-fought the ship-of-the-line of His Majesty’s Navy.
They were adrift for three days, rowing like madmen against the ocean current before they got to an island.
The curses of having no navigator or maps.
The navigator, captain and the talented helmsman that knew how to read the sea better than anyone were all obliterated in the lopsided battle with a crew of child-pirates.
Children they call them! More like a small-stature crew of barbarians who should have struck sail when challenged. But, they fought with uncanny skill. They turned their ship and fired, time and again. All the while, they would not offer a target for the big guns of the third-rate ship-of-the-line.
Chain-shot, bar shot, heeling and tacking. It was more like a dance, a dance of death for the English warship. Cannon from the small ship battered the larger vessel at will. It seemed to hit from all points of the compass. The whipstaff blew away with helmsman’s the left hand still holding onto the tiller.
A cannonball cares not for who fired it or where it goes. Random chance, the will of gods, demons and a roll of the infinite dice of the Lord God determine a sailor’s life in battle.
No matter how the Captain prayed for his life, or the helmsman who vanished in a hail of iron rain could change the outcome.
And in politics, those that administer the will of the King care little for God’s Will or Random Chance.
There was a ship lost, that was the question that the minister wanted answered from the only surviving officer of the Worchester.
And “Will of God” was not going to be an acceptable answer. Then, the summons came from the doorway. He stood and followed the owner of the hand up the steps to the next floor.
Dressed in his military best and a new powdered wig, he entered into the chambers and walked where the squire led him.
His heels made an echo on the fitted stone floor as he walked down the hall into the chambers of proprietary governor’s office.
His Highness Gurdman Stonecutter, Governor for the Virginia Colony, stood in the middle of the Great Room that served as his chambers. Tall, he stood six-feet four-inches and towered over everyone in the court. At ten-stone, he weighed less than most men.
Informally, his peerage called him “Colosus”, something that he did not object to. He lived up to his name in his focus as a warrior. Fair in judgement, but without mercy in his treatment of anyone who failed the Empire, he had anticipated the arrival of his only visitor of the day.
Archebald Whyte, late of the Worchester stood respecfully off to the side as told by the Governor’s secretary, until the Governor turned and addressed him.
“Tell me a story, Quartermaster. What happened to the King’s ship I gave to Captain Willim?” The Governor asked as he sat in a large chair, built just for him. The secretary filled a cup of wine for the Governor, leaving Quartermaster Whyte standing, without comfort or refreshment.
It promised to be a long afternoon.