Chapter Sixty-eight

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Once she was certain the household was asleep, Clara took out the clothes she wore to Whites and got to work. Her hair had grown longer over the last few months, so she pinned it up and tucked it under a cap. It wasn't her best disguise, but it would have to do.

She grabbed a satchel of supplies she thought she may need and set off. Her travels brought her to an unknown neighborhood, but it was clear the people here were well off as by the upkeep of the surrounding properties. Clara pounded on the door.

A bleary-eyed servant answered with a candlestick in hand. "What is the meaning of this intrusion?"

"Urgent message, Sir. For Lord Fitton. I was told I must wait for a response."

The man snatched the letter from Clara's hand. "Wait here!" The man did not invite her in, so she stood patiently on the stoop for her reply.

Clara did not have to wait long. The door had flung open and Lord Fitton pulled Clara into his embrace. Realizing the inappropriateness of his response, Lord Fitton set Clara away from him. He cleared his throat from embarrassment before saying, "Claremont, so good to see you again, my friend. Come in."

Clara followed Lord Fitton into his study and Lord Fitton shut and locked the door behind him, to be certain they were not interrupted.

"What is the emergency? Are you on the run from him? Were my presumptions about the tea correct? Oh, Clara?"

Clara stopped Lord Fitton before she received another hug. "No, I'm not on the run from Benjamin. He's in trouble and I need your help to find him."

"My help? So, I was wrong about the tea? I am grateful for..." But Lord Fitton didn't finish his sentence before Clara was shaking her head.

"You were right about the tea. Benjamin has been using it to keep me from becoming pregnant. But that is not important right now. Some Whigs, French sympathizers, have taken Benjamin hostage. I must get him back."

"Someone has abducted Benjamin? Clara, I would have no idea how to find him. I don't understand. How do you think I can be of use to you?"

"Is the Commander still in port?"

"I believe so, yes."

"Then I need you to take me to him. I need manpower. People who know the seedier sides of town and how to negotiate with them. I can't do this alone. Please, Aaron, say that you'll help me?"

"Of course, I'll help you. Give me a moment to dress."

Clara nodded and Lord Fitton wasted no time ordering his carriage to be at the ready and getting himself ready as well.

They traveled to the East India docks. Clara took in the sight of the Whispering Wind as they drew close. A sight she never thought she'd lay eyes upon again. Lord Fitton pulled on the horses' reins and brought them to a halt.

"Who goes there?" asked an officer on deck.

"Lord Fitton to see Commander Redgrave on urgent business!" 

The officer left and returned promptly, saying, "Permission to come aboard, granted."

Lord Fitton made his way up the plank, with Clara close on his heels. The officer was a man Clara did not recognize. It would seem the Commander has taken on some new recruits.

The officer led them to Commander Redgrave's chambers. He knocked on the door and was told to enter.

"Lord Fitton, what grave matter has you knocking on my door at this hour?"

"One of the utmost importance or I would not be here," Lord Fitton told him and he stood aside, revealing Clara to the commander. She stood hidden behind Lord Fitton, concerned about what reaction Commander Redgrave may have to her being here.

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