- Author: Eva Devon
Read book online «The Beast's Bluestocking (The Bluestocking War) by Eva Devon (drm ebook reader .TXT) 📕». Author - Eva Devon
The Bluestocking War
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents are either the work of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
The Beast’s Bluestocking
Copyright © 2021 by Máire Creegan
All rights reserved. No redistribution is authorized.
All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any electronic or mechanical means—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without written permission.
For my my loves. The three little ones who give my life joy and meaning.Special thanks to:Christy and MonicaYou two always come through.And you. My gratitude knows no bounds.
A roar of pain choked past Lord Anthony’s parched lips.
He writhed on the swinging ship bed, his hands folding into fists as he bit down on a piece of wood.
The laudanum wasn't even coming close to touching his bent brain and he felt as if he was in a fever dream of hell.
His friend, Sir Thomas Merrill, stood beside him, his face gray with worry.
Anthony turned his head to the man who had also survived the battle, but thankfully he was unscathed.
Anthony unclenched one of his hands, reached up and grabbed Merrill's lapel, which was smeared with blood. As was his stubbled face.
“Did Joe make it?” Anthony rasped.
Merrill's face tensed but he did not look away. His crystal blue gaze was searing.
Anthony looked back towards the rough wood wall, his hand dropping to his side. He’d tried so hard to save the boy, the boy who had suffered so much for months at the hands of their brutal captain.
He'd done everything he could, but the cannon had lurched from its moorings, and the rope snapping. It had raced across the deck with the power of a loosed boulder.
Anthony had shoved the nine-year-old boy out of the way, trying to make certain he wouldn't be crushed by the mammoth piece of iron and wood and wheels.
He'd been so certain he'd gotten the boy out of danger.
So certain, in fact, that the cannon had struck him, crushing his leg, lashing his back, and leaving him a pile on the deck.
It had been in the final moments of the battle of Trafalgar, or at least that's what the men were calling it.
They were victorious, of course, crushing the French, but hundreds of men were dead, their mangled bodies left in the sea. Never to be found. Never to be buried. Or seen or held by their mothers again.
And at this moment he wished he was one of them.
Fate had chosen differently for him.
The pain drifting through him was more than he could bear. Oh God, Joe had been such a bright damn little light. So funny and kind and willing to help, bringing him tea on nights when he had to hold the watch, overseeing the men. Those cold nights had been made better with Joe’s cheeky smile and is undaunted spirit, even though many tried to crush him.
But not ever again. Joe’s light had gone out.
And he? Likely, he wouldn't hold the watch again himself. A blessing, surely. It mattered not that he’d been a successful officer. The viciousness of the Navy and the way their captain ruled like a god? It was not for him.
From the way his leg throbbed with breath-stealing agony and the pain lacerated his back? He was going to be lucky if they didn't cut his leg.
As if his own thoughts brought the sawbones in, the surgeon crossed over to his bed, which swung from the ceiling. The sea rolled beneath them, mixing with the roll that the laudanum brought his mind.
“We're going to have to take your leg, Lieutenant,” he said flatly.
Anthony wrenched his gaze from the wall to the sawbones. Blood spattered his face. Sweat beaded his brow. His shirt hung limp and stained over his resigned shoulders. And his apron? His great apron was stained with the blood of countless men.
Anthony ground his teeth. “You take my leg and I don't care what it takes, I will find a way to choke the life out of you myself. I've survived this. I can survive a mangled leg. Leave it.”
“But,” the surgeon countered with surprising banality, clearly unbothered by Anthony’s
fierce warnings, “your leg could rot.”
“Let it,” Anthony demanded though clenched teeth. “I care not.”
Merrill winced. He leaned over his friend and said softly, “You should care. I have news for you.”
Anthony grimaced as he swallowed, nausea rising in his throat at the laudanum and pain. “What?” he demanded. “What news could you have for me? We have won the battle and that Joe is...”
His voice died off.
Merrill tensed. “This is not news from the battle or even the Navy.” He hesitated and then rushed, “This is news from home.”
Was it one of Philippa's letters, he wondered? Had something happened to her? His drugged mind lurched with new concern.
Philippa's letters had gotten him through the last two years of battles.
As a second son, he’d had to choose a profession. The church had not been active enough. What a fool he’d been.
He’d been such a bright-eyed young man, so full of hope and optimism when he'd first joined the Navy. But years on the ships of the line had turned him hard.
After all, seeing what he had seen, it was impossible to believe in the kindness of this world. Not when young people were crushed to death under the boot of such an unyielding world of command and to add to that? Serving under a captain who could be crueler than any devil?
He hoped that Philippa was writing to tell him that all was well.
Or perhaps that she had shucked the yolk of her father's cruelty and found some sort of joy.
He had sometimes allowed himself the thought that joy would be with him. He'd often fantasized about returning home to England, offering for her hand, and whisking her away