Chapter Thirty-Two

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Benjamin followed McCullen through the streets of Cape Town. The buildings a mixture of all the ethnic backgrounds that have touched this place. Indigenous tribes, imported Asians, the Dutch, the English have all put their stamp on this developing city.

It is difficult not to be struck by its beauty as rising above all this is the Table Mountain, with its streams and springs that provide the much needed water flowing through this town, giving it life.

The spicy smells wafted down the small street causing Benjamin's stomach to growl. He wasn't even aware that he was hungry, driven by one thought and one thought only. That he was going to finally learn something about Clara.

"Ah, here we are," McCullen gestured for Benjamin to enter a small tavern. He walked in but had no idea for whom he should be looking for. Suddenly, he'd seen a man rise that was seated at a meager wooden table with 4 chairs placed around it. 

 "Roberts!" McCullen said, with a grin.

"Wasn't sure if you were planning on showing?" Roberts said, grinning back.

"Sorry to keep you waiting 'ol man but I wished to bring McAlister here with me."

"McAlister, may I introduce you to Roberts. He was a carpenter on the Whispering Wind."

"Am a carpenter," Roberts corrected. "I've only agreed to get the impressed men to the cape. Commander Redgrave will be taking me on once more upon his return to England." Roberts gestured for them to be seated and they obliged.

A meal of rice and red beans, stewed meat with okra was brought to the table along with some wine. "I took the liberty of ordering for you, hope you don't mind?" Roberts said, looking at both men.

"Not at all," McCullen reassured him.

"So you are a ship's carpenter on the Whispering Wind?"

"Yes, sir. Me and a few of the more experienced crew members chose to sail the captured French frigate to Cape Town along with a crew of impressed men who wanted their freedom. Some had signed on with Redgrave, no better Commander to sail under, but I imagine some men have families to get back to and are eager to do so."

"How is it that Commander Redgrave managed to have so many impressed men upon his ship?" McCullen inquired.

"Well, we took some damage after a bad lighting storm at sea and needed to port for repairs. While we were gathering supplies and parts for the repair a Lieutenant from the British navy decided to gather up a new crew for himself."

"I was taken along with Lord Fitton's valet, a mute. I tried to convince the Lieutenant to let the boy go as he was only there as a servant to Lord Fitton but they took us both and beaten Lord Fitton to a point the man was lucky to have survived."

"That's criminal!" McCullen said, showing enthusiasm for Roberts' tale so he would continue and he did.

"Well truthfully, I'm right glad the Lieutenant didn't listen to me as that boy is a hero."

"Really? How so?" McCullen asked, looking to Benjamin, who looked upon Roberts with avid interest.

Well... at first I thought him a traitor as he signed on to serve the British Navy but soon we discovered it was all a clever ruse. I don't know all the details of how he pulled it off but somehow he managed to get the key to the hold where the impressed men and other members of Commander Redgrave's crew were being held captive.

Clever lad, started a fire in the ships galley; smoke billowed out everywhere and caused quite a ruckus. It was the perfect distraction, to which he took full advantage. He was able to open the hatch unnoticed by the rest of the crew. We got everyone free. The Commander sent his first mate to collect us. It was only Claremont and I that were left on deck when the Lieutenant came topside."

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