Chapter Seventeen

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Three days had passed and work on the ship was nearly complete

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Three days had passed and work on the ship was nearly complete. Redgrave planned to set sail on the morrow. Someone knocked on his door.

"Enter." A rather large man with fiery red hair filled the door's frame.

"Ah, Mr. McCree. How go things up top?"

McCree had a rather troublesome expression, and Redgrave stepped away from his plans. "What is it?"

"Not sure, but several of our men have not returned. I'm concerned. They should have been back ages ago."

"Deserters?"

"From one of your ships? They'd have to have gone mad. No, I think something far more sinister is a foot."

"Impressment?"

McCree nodded. "Possible. A naval ship just came into port yesterday. Looks to be in poor condition, too."

"Who are we missing?"

"A couple of the new cadets, some ordinary seamen, and one of the ship's carpenters."

Redgrave looked shocked, "That's quite an extensive list, Mr. McCree."

Angus shrugged in agreement. "What are we going to do?"

"What can we do? If the press gangs have gotten hold of them there is little to be done. I have written numerous letters of complaint, but with the pressures of Napoleon and now the rumor of war with the States...I fear they are lost."

"Captain, we are already one ship down. We cannot set sail with only a partial crew. Several of our men are already being left behind due to their injuries from the storm. Let me take...." Mr. McCree did not get to finish his sentence as his Bosun came in partially dragging Lord Fitton at his side."

"Good Lord, what happened?" Commander Redgrave rushed over to help deposit Lord Fitton into the nearest chair. He looked like he just stepped out of a bar room brawl.

"I found him, Sir, nearly unconscious in an alley on my return to the ship," Bosun Wells informed him.

"Just him?" Redgrave asked alarmed.

"Yes, sir."

"Lord Fitton, where is Claremont?"

Lord Fitton looked up at him, his eyes having trouble focusing. "Commander Redgrave?"

"Yes, Professor... Where is Mr. Claremont?" Redgrave knew he gave Claremont permission to attend Lord Fitton as the professor had some samples of indigenous flora from the town he wished to bring back to the ship.

"Taken."

"Taken? By whom?"

Lord Fitton looked like the very act of speaking caused him great pain. Redgrave wondered if there was damage to the Professor's lungs or ribs. "Mr. Wells get the Surgeon."

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