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The Women on Whitehead Street
"Will you try not to start a fight with the general?" Wade
Estes asked Jason.
"What are you talking about? I'm a peaceful man."
"No, you're not." Wade shook his head. "You're a contentious bastard. Promise me
you won't start any trouble."
"I won't start any 'new' trouble," Jason offered. That seemed to satisfy Wade,
as they sat in the dining room of Maria's
Cafe. Jason gulped down a tiny cup of strong coffee. "All right. Let's go," he
"Adiós. Buena suerte, Mr. Pike," Maria called after them.
A week had passed since Arthur Franklin and Darcy Lamont's murders, when Wade
Estes surprisingly told Doc Samuels that
General Harrington wanted to talk to Jason. Estes said he would guarantee
Jason's safety and suggested Captain Watlington's
house as a neutral place to meet. With Watlington's seven daughters constantly
running around, a gunfight or ambush was out
of the question. Jason told Samuels he would meet Wade at Maria's, and then
they'd go to Captain Watlington's home together.
Despite the guarantee, Harry and the Asbury brothers watched them, as Wade and
Jason walked across Duval Street and a block
north to the Watlington house. The short-barreled Colt in Jason's belt also
added to a sense of security.
Estes knocked at the front door of the funny-looking little white house. Mousy
Lillie Watlington, the gossipy spinster,
opened the door to a smallish front hall. Her eyes jumped from Jason to Estes
and then left into the sitting room just out
"Show our guests in, Lillie," a deep, gravelly voice instructed.
"Ah . . . yes, general, of course." Lillie's mouth hung open. She raised her
right hand, index finger extended, and wagged
it like a teacher making a point. And her jaw worked, but she still said nothing
"Speechless, Lillie?" Jason asked. "We're off to a good start."
"I hope we are setting a precedent," Wade said dryly. "Every resident of the
Florida Keys will be in our debt."
"Ha," Jason heard Harrington's distinctive laugh. "Probably half the Caribbean."
"Jason Pike, what are you doing here?" Lillie finally found her voice.
"I was invited, Lillie." Jason smiled and walked past her. He turned the corner
into the small parlor, where Harrington was
waiting. Wade followed. General Harrington glanced at Lillie, who took the
none-too-subtle directive and quickly left the
The parlor had one couch with a coffee table in front, facing two plain wood
chairs. Certainly Spartan furnishings, from
what Jason was used to seeing on Key West. Against the back wall was a flat
table with rolled charts, rulers, and a compass.
"Will you sit down, sir?" Harrington said as if he was giving orders. Jason
thought he looked old and frail. His skin was
like pale leather stretched tightly over his skull, with veins pulsing through
the temples. Jason wondered why this ancient
effigy from the past still had a hold on Wade Estes.
"I don't think we have that much to talk about, but I'm willing to listen."
"Young man, please keep an open mind. I have a proposition to present to you,"
Harrington said, leaning forward.
"I'm careful who I do business with, and I don't like your associates."
"If you were not such a formidable foe, I wouldn't have had to employ them.
Besides, you've killed most of them. Let's talk
about the future, not the past." Jason made an open-handed gesture for
Harrington to continue. "I lost my plantation after
the war along with many others. Carpetbaggers raped my county. We lost
"I don't need a history lesson, sir. You said the future."
Harrington shook his head and said, "You are an impudent young man."
Jason knew he was part of a strange generation-most polite, when being nasty.
"And you're not a brigadier anymore lecturing
a staff of bootlicking junior officers."
The old man jumped-with surprising energy-from his chair, glared at Jason, and
banged his cane on the floor. Jason decided
if he kept baiting him, the general might have a stroke, and drop dead on the
Estes also stood, and took over. "Jason, let me tell you what we have in mind.
You're a practical man with a military
background." Estes led Jason to Captain Watlington's chart table and spread out
a large map of Central America.
"Guatemala. It's big and empty with a very weak central government," Estes
started off. "The current president, Justo Rufino
Barrios, seized power four years ago on a reformist
platform. But he rules as a dictator to keep the land owners in line. There is
no navy to resist a landing, and Barrios only
has a tiny army. And their allegiance is haphazard. The real power in Guatemala
rests solely in the hands of the largest
land owners, and they don't get along very well. We have several of them on our
side already. Taking control is possible, if
we are well-financed and organized." An ambitious scheme, but not unique, Jason
"We can raise men from Mississippi, Alabama, and the Carolinas to join us. A
thousand experienced veterans willing to gamble
their lives on a well-led and properly executed plan," Harrington said,
obviously very excited.
"Jason," Wade put a hand on Jason's shoulder, sending a chill down his spine as
Jason thought of John Asbury and Darcy
Lamont. "We don't want the Spanish treasure to line our pockets. We want to
carve new homes for our displaced people out of
a wilderness. We just want back what was taken from us. You can help; you can be
part of this. You can have as vast a farm
or plantation or ranch as you choose," Wade said. Jason decided Estes didn't
want the offer to have a regional connotation.
"Suppose, counselor, I want to be president?"
Harrington banged his cane again, and Jason felt sorry for Watlington's hardwood
floor. "You are impertinent!"
Jason nodded. "What else? Sounds like there's more."
"Your holdings in England," Estes said. "You can get us modern, light artillery,
horse-drawn guns, and caissons. That's what
we need to have a bloodless takeover. Also, your influence with the British
government. With some form of tacit or passive
approval from the English, Washington won't interfere."
"I own a couple cannon factories in Birmingham and Manchester. I don't know my
way around Whitehall and have few of the
qualities needed to practice diplomacy."
"That's something we can agree on," Harrington muttered.
"You would be better off doing this on your own, without any approval or
connection with a European power. You would be less
threatening to Washington. They'd probably consider the whole venture doomed and
amusing to watch," Jason speculated.
"Unless we started to recruit men like you," Estes said. He clipped the end of a
cigar and struck a match.
Jason was surprised. "You do have high hopes. You want me to go up to Washington
and convince them to let you do this. Don't
"Sherman and Sheridan will approve the plan. Here, look at this," Harrington
joined them at the map table and unfolded a
hand-drawn map. He showed Jason a bunch of logistics and supply figures. "Our
plans are perfect. Grant will know we can
succeed. Damn it! They owe us and they know it."
But Jason knew Grant wouldn't approve. He paced away from the table and sat down
on the couch. "How would I get to be
president, like I asked before?"
Estes rubbed his chin. "You'd run for election. Knowing you, that's an academic
question. We intend to form a republic."
"I like that word, 'republic'; it sends a tingle down my spine," Jason said.
"And the voting franchise? How extensively are
you going to permit liberty to go in this new republic filled with Indians and
mixed bloods? Have you told your padrone
allies about an American-model republic? I doubt it!" The General and Wade
looked at each other, surprised. Jason hadn't
meant to ask a rhetorical question, but so be it. "I'm starting to think this
wealth is evil," Jason decided. "This treasure
was taken from the earth on the backs of Indian slaves and would have been, if
the armada ships hadn't sunk, sent to Europe
to fund wars of conquest against Northern European Protestants who wanted to
break with a corrupt and greedy Papacy. And now
you want to use the same wealth to conquer a bunch of Guatemala's primitives.
You justify yourselves with a self-serving
message: We're white, Christian, righteous, and we deserve to rule."
"Oh! That's delightfully sanctimonious, Jason," Estes responded. "What are you
going to do with the treasure? Build a
university or a hospital?"
"Possibly," Jason replied, nodding. "For now, I'm going to put it in the bank.
Maybe I should leave it at the bottom of the
Gulf. At least there, the money won't cause anymore suffering." Darcy's opinions
had caused Jason to say that.
"No," Harrington said. Jason wondered when the old man would take over from
Estes. The general walked from the map table to
Jason knew Harrington was going to make a speech. Well, he thought, let him hear
this first. "I'm sorry, gentlemen. I'll
have no dealings with a bunch of frustrated, would-be Genghis Khans. You want to
go down there and take over a bunch of
Indian villages, already cultivated agricultural land, and make them your serfs.
You want to sit out on your wide front
porches again, sip bourbon and branch water, and watch your fields being tended.
Well, forget it! All that's gone-forever,"
Jason said harshly.
Harrington raised his arms to God and then came at Jason with his cane held
high. He had done this before. Back in 1860, on
the floor of the House of Representatives, Harrington nearly bludgeoned an
abolitionist from New England to death with that
damn cane. Jason never understood why politicians got so irrational, when reason
was called for.
Jason, sitting on the couch, put his boot on the edge of the coffee table and
pushed it at Harrington. The table skidded
across the hardwood floor and cracked against the general's shins. He screamed
and started to tumble forward when Jason
quickly stood, dodging the general's cane, and caught Harrington as he fell.
Jason sat Harrington down on the couch and snatched the cane away. He quickly
broke the weapon on his knee and flung the
pieces skidding across the floor. Jason shook his head. Harrington was a tall,
skinny old man with more bitter memories and
foolish ambitions, than brains. The general was holding his bruised shins and
shooting daggers at Jason with his old
bulging, bloodshot eyes. Estes came over and took Jason's arm. "That's enough."
"I agree," Jason said, jerking his arm free.
Jason walked over to the chart table and grabbed Harrington's meticulous order
of battle plans. "Times change, Harrington,
but you still think you're planning campaigns during 1862. Why can't you just
grow old gracefully and forget all this. And
you, Estes. Hell, you know better. Washington won't let any of you set a
precedent for this kind of thing. Why don't you go
home? Carpetbaggers only last for a generation. Their kids will grow up to be
Southerners, accent and all. Why don't you
both just let it go?"
"Wade, show him the door," Harrington spat from the couch, still holding his
leg. "From now on, they'll be nothing between
us but cold steel and gunsmoke."
"You haven't got a noble cause this time, Harrington." Jason taught this lesson
in a bitter voice. "The women won't cheer
you on. They'll be no bands playing, no parades, no medals. Anyone you send
against me is going right to hell. If anyone I
care about gets hurt, I'm coming for you, old man."
Sneering tenaciously, showing bared teeth, like an old dog cornered and wounded,
the general glared back at Jason and
shrieked, "Get out, you Yankee bastard!"
Estes walked outside with Jason. "So, how did I do?" Jason asked insincerely.
"Not very well. Jason, I don't think we can call Carney off, even if I choose to
try and change the general's mind."
"You sound like you're disgusted by the killing. There's been enough violence,
"I know. I don't think there is anything I can do." Wade shook his head.
Jason knew what he meant. Estes was caught up in a conspiracy that he could not
quit without being a traitor. "Carney's got
the smell of the treasure in his evil nostrils. Go home, Wade. There's nothing
more for you here. You're putting too much
stock in old loyalties. Harrington is mad." Jason gave the best advice he could
to a man that once stood with him against
Carney's pirates, and might have been his friend. Jason thought about Cousin
Rudolph, and the parallels with Estes were
disturbing to him.
Wade looked down and shuffled his feet, then up with tortured eyes. "Goodbye,
Jason. I'm sorry we're on opposite sides."
Jason considered telling Estes that he knew about Marion Drake and his
involvement in John Asbury's murder. "Wade, don't go
to sea with the pirates. I imagine Harrington will want you to keep an eye on
Carney. If you come with Carney at me, I'll
kill you. But, even on the off chance you best my forces, then Carney will dump
you overboard in a sack and take all the
treasure for his own. I doubt if Carney really fancies himself chief of the navy
of your little slave empire in Central
Wade looked deeply troubled; and Jason knew Estes had not considered a
double-cross from Carney. All these damn high-minded,
idealistic Southerners, like Estes, had forgotten about simple, pragmatic
criminals; and how they plotted their adventures
"Get out," Jason told him again. "If you stay here on Key West and we have a
hard fight and casualties, I'll come for you.
Make no mistake; I'll kill you for your part in this affair." And, for the first
time, Jason saw fear in Wade's dark eyes.
The eyebrow, bisected by a Yankee saber, twitched ever so slightly. Estes
couldn't manage the easy confidence he usually
displayed to Jason's threats. Jason looked around to see Harry and his crew
watching them, nodded to Estes, and walked back
to join his friends.
After the unpleasant chat with the general, Jason went over to the harbor to say
goodbye to Sam Meeker. He was still shaken
from the murders. Sam was a businessman and this was the first time he had been
exposed to the more violent side of Jason's
activities. Consequently, Sam was embarking on one of Clyde Mallory's steamships
headed up the East Coast to New York.
"I think you are insane for getting involved with these people. Jason, there are
so many safe ways to make money in this
world; but, for some ridiculous reason you are attracted to these
quasi-romantic and dangerous ventures. Jason, are you ever going to grow up?"
"You're looking for a good bonus this year, aren't you Sam?" Jason said
sarcastically, mildly irritated. "You did your part
very well, now ship out."
Then, since Sam Meeker left Jason in a bad mood, he walked over to Marshal
Jones' jail to talk to Charley Dardy, and see if
he had made a confession, or implicated Wade Estes as a co-conspirator. But
Dardy was silent and sullen. Judge Locke was
sending him to Mobile, Alabama, hoping the change of venue would keep peace on
Key West. This did not matter to Charley
Dardy; too many witnesses-he would hang for his crimes.
Two days later, on the first of June, the Copenhagen, a Danish bark, arrived
from Europe and anchored in the harbor. Jason
and Addie walked down Whitehead, turned onto Front Street, past the vacant lot
where the Lucky Spot used to be, and came to
"She's beautiful. I've never seen such a long ship," Addie said about the
trans-Atlantic clipper. The Copenhagen was lean
with four, tall, square-rigged masts. The crew was already hoisting crates up
from her holds and onto barges to be rowed
ashore. When the barges got closer, Addie was surprised.
"Jase, those crates are yours," she said. Stenciled on each crate was:
PIKE FOUNDRIES LTD
BIRMINGHAM GREAT BRITAIN
"Addie, I want to introduce you to someone." They walked over to a slender young
man in a well-tailored suit and top hat. He
was standing on the dock watching the crates being unloaded. "Good morning,
Pip," Jason said.
"Oh, Mr. Pike, sir. A pleasure to see you again." They shook hands. Pip had a
thin, youthful face with a long nose and big
ears that came out almost perpendicular to his narrow head. He also had a
perfectly delightful, upper-crust English accent.
"Addie, this is Peter Paterson. We all know him as 'Pip'. He's a metallurgical
and ordnance engineer, who works for my firm
in England. Pip, this is my fiance, Adrian Gorten. And we all call her 'Addie'.
But since you are so polite, Pip, you may
call her 'Miss Addie', if you want," Jason said smiling.
"Oh, don't you make fun of Pip, Jase. I think he's wonderful, and quite
handsome, too," Addie said taking Pip's arm. "Jase
already told me how much he likes you and respects your work," Addie said into
Pip looked at Jason curiously because Addie was examining him in a thorough
manner. It was always so much fun when a ship
came to town. "We are engaged to be married, Pip. But Addie's still very
playful," Jason explained, and Addie laughed.
"Oh, congratulations," Pip said. "That's bloody well marvelous. I must say, sir.
You have excellent taste. Miss Adrian, you
are a portrait of fresh and tropical beauty, such as I have never seen before in
my life." Addie blushed happily and
Then Pip turned and waved at another man who jumped ashore from a barge, and
approached Jason, Addie, and Pip. "Lieutenant
Michael Mackenzie, this is Mr. Jason Pike, my employer, and his lovely fiance,
Adrian Gorten. Michael works for Captain
Clane. He's come along to see what we're up to, keep an eye on us," and Pip
winked at Jason.
"Lieutenant Mackenzie is an observer for the Royal Navy," Jason translated for
Addie and Jason shook hands with Mackenzie.
"I've been looking forward to meeting you, sir," Mackenzie said. He took Addie's
hand to kiss as Jason tried to place his
accent. "You're a lovely lass," Mackenzie said.
Addie smiled, totally delighted.
"You're from Scotland, lieutenant," Jason guessed.
"That's fine." Jason smiled. "We've got a Scotchman for you to meet. Don't we,
"The proper pronunciation is `Scotsman'," Mackenzie said.
"Not for who I'm talking about."
Jason had the large, heavy crates from England hauled to John Lowe's warehouse
and locked up. Addie excused herself to go
home and prepare lunch, and Jason took Pip and Mackenzie to the bight to look
over the Sweet Pea.
Miles and Nolan Asbury were on hand with a longboat to row them out to the brig.
Harry was already aboard working with a
crew of Lowe's men to start cleaning up the old brig, in anticipation of
installing the boiler and piston assembly. Now, in
addition, Jason had his team to plan the conversions the Sweet Pea would need to
accommodate the British guns and armor.
"I want to mount the gun turrets on the forecastle and aft behind the main mast
over the hold," Jason said to Pip and
Mackenzie, when they were standing on the main deck of the Sweet Pea.
"We'll turn the ship as we choose by means of kedge anchors and cables to a
steam-powered capstan. We should be able to
always have both guns bear on any ship that approaches."
"What about the bowsprit?" Mackenzie asked, like a good sailor should.
"We'll take it down, when we reach our diving station. We won't need the jibs.
I'm not very concerned how this brig sails.
The Sweet Pea is going to be more of an armed salvage barge than a sailing
ship," Jason explained.
"That's why you ordered the armor?" Pip asked.
"Yes. We'll bolt the plates along the waterline in the hold on both sides of the
ship. Then we'll brace them with hardwood
cross members. The cannon balls will bounce off the sides." Jason chewed on a
cigar, and waited for the obvious objection.
Mackenzie and Pip glanced at each other, Jason knowing, neither wanted to ask
the boss why he would foolishly want to put
armor plate inside the hull of a wooden ship.
"To lure in the opposition," Jason said. "They know I'll pull a rabbit out of my
hat, such as two rifled breechloaders from
England. And if they see armor too, it might scare them away."
"Well actually," Mackenzie said, rubbing his chin, "I would think we might be in
a bloody well better situation, if these
pirates were put off by an obvious display of armor, as well as modern naval
"I'm not interested in putting them off. I want the bastards to attack us,"
Jason said sternly. "These aren't just thieves;
we're dealing with real villains. They killed Bruce Jeffers and half his crew;
murdered John Asbury on a dark
night-bludgeoned him to death like an animal. Darcy Lamont and Arthur Franklin
were shotgunned in the middle of the street.
Make no mistake; Jack Carney isn't some romantic old bucaneer raiding the
Spanish Main. And, they've taken a United States
ship of war. No one can do that. No pirate can commandeer a navy ship and keep
her!" Jason paced away from the group, across
the deck and then back to face them. "I want that ship back," he said,
determination slowly dripping from every word.
"Either we get the USS Detroit or we send her to the bottom!
"The Sweet Pea is going to appear vulnerable enough to encourage them to attack.
That's why I'm not changing the name. Any
seagoing rogue that doesn't have guts enough to assault a ship called the Sweet
Pea should cause old bloody Blackbeard to
turn over in his watery grave."
"It's called a trap," Pip explained to Mackenzie. "I've learned, through my
association with Mr. Pike, that the Americans
are quite fond of employing deceit in military and law enforcement operations."
After the tour of the Sweet Pea they went home for a cookout. Doctor and Salina
Samuels joined them, along with Crawford
Wales. Laura Gentry arrived next, and Sarah Dumont surprisingly brought Marion
Drake along. The fact that the British
contingent of the salvage group arrived today for the backyard dinner party was
a pleasant coincidence.
"That's Marion Drake," Addie whispered in Jason's ear, as Sarah led her to the
backyard. "She never visits anyone."
"Well, we're not just 'anyone', are we?" Jason smiled at Addie and held her
close. Actually Jason was completely bewildered
why Marion Drake would forgo her solitude to come to their informal gathering.
"We're delighted you could join us, Miss Drake," Jason said, gently holding her
slender, delicate white hand.
"Thank you, Mr. Pike. I felt the need to socialize, and Sarah assured me you and
the Gortens were gracious hosts." Marion
smiled at Addie and Harry. Addie curtsied and Harry bowed.
"Glad to see you out and about, lassie," Harry said. "We're gonna serve up a
grand feast. Have a chair."
"Hey, Doc, you're off your diet for this meal," Harry addressed Samuels. "I got
a piece of young lamb for you, as tender and
juicy as an English King's bright red nose." And there were snickers from around
"Here now, what's this?" Pip said, "Making fun of the monarchy-from colonials,
no less." Pip stood up with a distressed look
on his narrow, aristocratic face. And everyone laughed.
"Sit down, Pip," Jason ordered. "You limeys aren't the only ones allowed to make
fun of the royals."
"The Aussies are the best," Lieutenant Mackenzie said. "They tell a story about
George III that is . . . "
"Mr. Mackenzie, you're just off the Copenhagen," Marion asked the young
lieutenant. "Please tell us what the ladies in
London are wearing these days?"
Mackenzie told the women what they wanted to hear about current fashion trends
in Britain; while the men sat properly bored,
until Jason got a bottle of Canadian rye whiskey, a stack of tumblers, and
walked over to join Harry at the grill. Wales,
Dr. Samuels, and Pip discreetly followed him.
What's for dinner, Harry?" Jason asked.
"Ah, laddie, a taste of everything: a shank of lamb, two fat hens, lobster
tails, crab claws, and fresh snapper," Harry said
for the benefit of their guests.
"Doc, you look very distinguished. And you don't look a day over sixty," Jason
joked, admiring Samuels' new, and
well-tailored suit of light, gray cotton with a white shirt and black, silk bow
tie. And Samuels smiled dimly at his host.
"Pip, you're sweating profusely," Jason observed next, because the Englishman
was still wearing a proper, woolen traveling
suit. "Did you bring any suitable clothes for the Caribbean?"
"No. My uncle served with the Caribbean squadron for ten years. He said to buy
light cottons and a Panama hat when I got
here. Nothing made in England is worth a bloody damn for your warm, moist
climate and that relentless sun." Pip glanced
skyward at the source of his discomfort.
"That's about right. Come along, I'll lend you something comfortable," Jason
offered. "Harry, the claws and the lobster look
. . . "
"I know they're done; I'll take care of the food. Go change the youngster's
clothes," Harry said. Pip looked over his
shoulder at Harry, a questioning glance on his youthful face, as they walked
toward the house.
Jason led Pip inside and upstairs to his bedroom. He gave Pip a pair of sandals
and a loose fitting cotton top and bottoms.
"Get changed and tell me how well those guns work, Pip." Jason sat in a chair
and slowly nursed the glass of whiskey he
brought with him.
"Business, sir?" Pip asked, getting undressed.
"I wasn't joking about those pirates. We certainly might have to face off
against two ships, a schooner and a sloop, both
armed with six-pound smoothbore cannons and crewed by greedy cutthroats. How
good are your guns?"
Pip was naked and started to get dressed. He was skinny and pale white, Jason
thought; Pip looked like a plucked, bony
chicken only good for making broth. "Our guns will punch holes in their
waterline, before they come close enough for their
muzzle loaders to be in range. They'll break off and need chasing to be caught,
sir." Pip pulled on the easy, comfortable
"That's a good scenario for an attack on a clear, bright day. Suppose they come
slowly and silently on a moonless night, and
get up very close to us?"
"That's a question of naval tactics and not gunnery science,sir," Pip said.
Jason nodded. "Good point. Has Mackenzie seen any real action?"
"I don't think so, sir. But Mackenzie has been to sea since he was ten years
old. He's from a family of whalers; and he has
a knack for mathematics and gunnery science, which is why Clane grabbed him up."
Jason stood, since Pip was dressed. "Let's rejoin the party. I hope Mackenzie
knows enough about combat at sea to give us an
edge. The pirates can't out shoot us, but they can easily outmaneuver us."
"You mean this isn't just going to be an easy little Caribbean excursion? My
supervisor only said you asked for volunteers.
He didn't say an unpleasant knocking about was imminent."
"Didn't you sign a hazardous duty pay release?" Jason asked. He already had a
"Isn't that just extra pay for going abroad?"
"No, Pip, it's extra compensation for putting yourself in harm's way. If I might
get you properly killed in a sea battle,
the least I can do is properly pay you."
"Oh, of course. Thank you, sir. I appreciate that . . . I think." Pip tugged on
a long earlobe, and they went back to join
Addie and Sarah brought out various salads, and Harry carried a platter from the
grill. He carved chickens and sliced the
leg of lamb. The presentation wasn't as stylish as one of Salina Samuels'
parties but Addie and Harry believed in plenty of
hearty fare, well seasoned, and expertly prepared.
The English contingent went right to work on the lamb. The conch ladies-Addie,
Salina, Laura, and Marion Drake-ate
shellfish. Sarah was happy with half a hen. Harry, Crawford Wales, and Jason
devoured broiled snapper and then divided the
Dessert was a five-layer vanilla cake, orange marmalade as the filling, with
white coconut icing. "Maria baked it," Addie
confessed, as if she was asking forgiveness.
"You stop that," Marion Drake scolded. "You did a perfectly wonderful job. And
look at all these handsome single men you've
attracted. Marion gestured at Pip, Mackenzie, and Crawford Wales.
"Hey, what about me," Harry barked. "I'm very eligible."
Marion smiled sweetly. "Yes, you certainly are, dear Harry. And as soon as I run
across a lady walrus looking for a
cantankerous old mate, I will refer her to you."
Harry cracked a broad grin and everyone looked back and forth wondering about
Harry's reply. Jason glanced at Addie and she
shrugged helplessly. Marion Drake was so delicate and Harry could be so coarse.
"I appreciate you playing matchmaker," Harry
said laughing. "Lassie, just clip her whiskers and bring her right over here."
Marion nodded agreement as everyone laughed.
The dinner party was a success: decent company and food, and surprisingly decent
After dessert they broke up into smaller groups. Jason called Miles and Nolan
Asbury from the front of the house and brought
them to meet Pip. "These are your gunners. I suggest you start right at the
beginning, geometry 101, and bring them along as
quickly as their abilities allow."
Pip nodded. "We'll start tomorrow lads."
Miles had several crates that had just been delivered from off the Copenhagen.
One was for Addie, and Jason gave Miles a
chisel and hammer to open it. The ladies cleared away the dishes, and Miles put
the crate on the picnic table. "I have no
idea what this is," Addie said perplexed and glanced at Jason, who smiled and
raised his eyebrows, faking innocent
curiosity. Sarah, Laura, Salina, and Marion all crowded around.
After Miles got the top panel off Addie gasped. "Le Maison' de . . ." Salina
said, then switched to English. "The House of
Dolls, Paris, France. Jumeau Deluxe Doll Maker Kit." Jason nodded and approved
of the translation, happy someone at the
gathering knew French, and the factory in France shipped exactly what he had
ordered. The top layer displayed a doll, a
small chest, and several instruction manuals, and they were in English; the
French are not often so accommodating to
The doll was about twelve inches high, clothed in a long black dress with a full
train. Her hair was delicate and worn up,
twisted into a bun. Her face appeared to be wax, painted white with small
intricate features, also added by brush.
"What's in the trunk, her clothes?" Jason asked, amused.
"Yes," Addie said, opening the lid. Underneath were two additional layers of
dollmaking parts, tools, paints, molds, a kilo
of wax, and tiny bolts of silk cloth and embroidered lace trim.
Addie took Jason's hand. "This is a very wonderful present, and I'm going to
make beautiful figurines with it. But I get the
feeling you're buttering me up for something I'm not gonna like."
"Honey," Sarah drawled, "You're already a-fryin' in the deep fat."
Jason smiled helplessly, and, without responding to Addie, walked away. The
other crate, shipped from Marseilles, was
addressed to Jason. It was from a mining equipment manufacturer in Southern
France and Jason had Miles put it in the
Then Jason picked up a shovel to move Cump's newest dropping from the yard.
Crawford Wales followed. "Wyatt Scott said you
are God, and I am one of your disciples. What does that come down to?" the young
marine lieutenant asked.
"A rifle squad assigned to our salvage brig when we get going. I want you and
the best you've got."
"Just us?" Crawford asked.
"Case's command is also included. The Shenandoah will watch
over the Sweet Pea."
Crawford nodded, but was quiet, thinking. "Gunnery Sergeant Craig is a Civil War
veteran and commands the ready loyalty of
the men. I'd like to bring him to meet you."
"That's a good idea. Tomorrow, at the Arbuckle House about noon. That suit you?"
Wales nodded acceptance. "Okay," the marine said, and they walked back to the
After dinner Jason carried a tray of dirty dishes into the kitchen and put them
down on the counter next to the sink. Salina
followed him inside, and when Jason noticed her, she motioned him toward the
"You're a wonderful man, Jason," Salina said, when they were alone. "The gifts
you select for Addie show that you care
deeply for her."
"I love Addie with all my heart, Salina."
"Both of them, Addie and Sarah, are expecting to sail with the Sweet Pea. Jason,
you can't put them in danger!" Salina said.
And Jason saw the moisture in her eyes start to turn to tears.
"I knew I was in for a fight with Addie over this decision, but I didn't think
Sarah was involved enough to let herself be
so foolish. Salina, consider this. We're taking the Sweet Pea east to Big Pine
Key for a short shakedown cruise and to do
certain mechanical work she needs. We'll be gone for three weeks and be back the
first week of July. Addie and I are going
to get married, provision the Sweet Pea, and then sail for the dive site. Our
stop-off here, on the way west would be the
best time to try and get them both to take a ship to Mobile."
"They're not going to go. Neither of them will," she said.
"And I'm sure I can get Wyatt Scott to send a ship to guard the merchant vessel
that transports your niece and my wife to
Mobile," Jason said anyway, knowing Salina was right.
"Are you going to leave them here?" Salina asked, emotional and distraught.
"No. I won't leave them on Key West and risk either, or both, of them being
kidnapped. The girls are going to Mobile, if I
get my way."
"What if you don't . . . " Salina started to ask.
"If I can't run them off, yes! I'll let them sail as part of the crew of the
Sweet Pea. Both Addie and Sarah are adults that
matured during the war. They know what to expect."
"The truth is you need Addie to help raise the treasure," Salina said, her voice
turning cold. "Letting Sarah come along as
a companion will make it all just a little more comfortable for Addie. But, just
until there is a battle." Salina walked
about in a small nervous circle, with her hands behind her back. "Jason, I
couldn't have children. Sarah is like a daughter
to me . . ."
"Then convince her to get out of here, back to Mobile, and take Addie with her.
We'll manage to salvage the treasure without
Addie's guidance." Jason said feeling prickly, his masculine pride slightly
threatened because Salina suggested they would
need Addie to raise the treasure.
Then they both were distracted by direct, sharp footsteps on the oak floors. The
double doors to the library were thrown
back and Sarah walked in. "Aunt Salina, its time to go home," Sarah said in a
loud, but deadpan voice. "Jason has serious
matters to attend to. He doesn't have time to listen to you caterwauling about
"Sarah, Addie Gorten is going get you killed this time!" Salina chided. "Ever
since you were twelve years old, you been
following her around and getting in trouble."
"No, you have our relationship backwards. I was the corrupting influence all the
time. I'm sorry, Aunt Salina; it's time you
know the truth. When I was a child, my stepmother was such a bitch that, when I
finally got down here, I was still bitter
and talked Addie, my first friend, into conducting silly pranks. But we both
grew up; all that's over with," Sarah
confessed, quite bravely, Jason thought.
The color drained from Salina's face, and Jason felt a tiny touch of sorrow for
the old woman. She was a proud lady. It must
have stung Salina deeply to find out she had completely misjudged both Sarah and
Addie for so many years.
"Now, let's go home, Aunt Salina. You're embarrassing me and making a fool of
yourself," Sarah said. And then, as an
afterthought, she turned to Jason. "As for you, Jase. You can stop spending
money on expensive bribes. Both Addie and I are
coming on this expedition. I'm going to sink my claws into Jack Carney before
this affair is concluded."
"Do you have claws? Let me see em'? And I mean other than a sharp mouth," Jason
asked. "Damn, Sarah. What the hell are you
and Addie gonna do if Carney's men board the Sweet Pea? Cuss at them?"
"I'll have claws after you teach me how to shoot a gun. I hear you're the best."
That was a bitter truth Jason could not
dispute. He looked at Salina, and shrugged. They both realized neither could
control a spirited and vengeful Sarah. After
the ladies left, Jason walked outside.
"Did my wife give you a hard time? I'm sorry if she did." Doc Samuels sliced a
notch in a new cigar and looked at Jason, his
wide, wrinkled white eyebrows moving curiously up and down. "Salina is very
worried about Sarah."
"No problem, Doc. Salina is not exactly formidable opposition unless I was to
open a catering business on Key West."
Doc Samuels smiled as he used a stick from the grill fire to light his cigar. "I
like your Englishmen. I assume they'll be
your artillery officers. Where are your rank and file coming from?"
"Chapultepek and the Barbary Coast."
Samuels nodded slowly. "The Halls of Montezuma and the Shores of Tripoli. United
States Marines, Crawford Wales' rifle
squads. Very good, Jase. Do you also have Wyatt Scott in your pocket?"
"I don't have anyone in my pocket, Doc. United States military forces are
cooperating to safeguard and protect our salvage
effort. Case's sloop, the Shenandoah, is assigned to patrol the extreme western
end of the Keys and watch over us."
"Do you mind if I tell Salina? She'll feel easier about Sarah if I tell her
y'awl are to be protected by the military."
"That's ironic, considering their performance so far. Tell Salina what you want.
But don't let it go any further than her,"
Jason instructed the doctor, but didn't really expect this to happen.
As the party broke up Jason helped Harry with the grill. "Do you think Pip and
Lieutenant Mackenzie are up to this?" Harry
"Harry, I don't know. I was hoping for Edward, the Black Prince, and Sir John
Chandos. We need mighty warriors wielding
broadswords," Jason said, thinking about Grenfell. "Instead we get untried,
English sheepdog pups."
"Well, actually Mackenzie is a Scotsman, but let's hope those guns work the way
they are supposed to," Harry said.
Laura Gentry walked Marion Drake home and started toward her own house, when
Crawford Wales came up along side her. She
smiled and said, "Happy to see you following me, Crawford." Laura slowed her
usually brisk pace.
"Sarah told me to approach you. Laura, just because I'm a marine and a Yankee
doesn't mean I am a complete ogre. Please
invite me for dinner, and I'll stop by the docks and bring over whatever you
wish to prepare."
Laura smiled at Crawford Wales. "Bring some crab tomorrow at six, Lieutenant
Wales. I'll make you a lovely meal. You're an
attractive man and not jaunty and swaggering like other soldiers I've met. Why
does humility come so hard to most men?"
Wales laughed. "For the same reason proud women cannot apologize for their
mistakes. Pride is a terrible emotion, Miss
Laura; perhaps, along with greed, the root of most evil deeds we do."
Laura smiled and reached out and took his arm. "You're amusing this evening,
Crawford, such honesty. So rare from a . . ."
"Any person," Crawford interjected.
The next day, Addie, Cump, Fifi, and Jason went for a picnic to the east end of
Addie and the dogs went swimming, and Jason opted for target practice. Someone
had drawn four, human silhouette targets on
the side of Harriet Arbuckle's abandoned old house, and they were already well
splintered with holes. Jason was curious who
else was practicing for a gun fight.
"Crawford is coming," Addie shouted from the ocean. As Wales walked over with
another marine, Addie stayed in the ocean and
waved to greet them. Jason smiled because she was dressed a little too skimpily,
in her white cotton swimming outfit, to be
seen by an old boyfriend and his sergeant.
"Hello, Jase. This is Gunnery Sergeant Craig," Wales introduced, and they shook
He was an evenly built man in his forties, with scars and wrinkles on his tanned
face. Craig had bright blue eyes which met
Jason's with a certain, direct intensity. Craig was a professional soldier;
Jason knew the breed and could trust such men.
"That's a handsome, fast-draw rig, but I don't think you'll have much call for
it down here," Craig said. "A rather
"I agree; that's why cowboys don't wear them," Jason said, sliding .45 caliber
ammunition into the Colt's chambers. "But old
habits die hard." Jason holstered the loaded pistol and faced the side of the
old house. He knew what they both wanted to
ask: if Jason had actually faced off against adversaries in a gunfight, like the
dime novels publicized the lawless West.
Jason relaxed his left arm and let his hand dangle easily by the pistol's grips,
as he took slow, deep breaths, thinking
back to when Carney and his pirates were shooting at Addie on Big Pine Key. He
gritted his teeth as the anger built, drew
the pistol, and fanned four shots through the center of four chests in less than
a second. There was a second-story window
with a shutter held by two old rusty hinges. And those hinges became bastards
still trying to kill Addie. Jason turned
sideways, extended his arm to aim swiftly, and blasted a hole through the top
hinge. The shutter fell over to the side and
the screws from the bottom hinge ripped out of the rotting wood siding. The
shutter was on the ground, and Jason still had a
bullet under the hammer.
"And to answer your unasked question," Jason said, emptying shell casings from
the pistol down to the sand. "Yes, I've had
to kill face-to-face in a quick draw duel, but not often. Most people prefer to
shoot at my back."
"I can't imagine why," Crawford said nonchalantly.
"Do you shoot left to right because you're left-handed?" Craig asked.
"I suppose. But if I know the men I'm up against, I shoot the fastest bastard
"Do you always go for chest shots?" Crawford asked.
"Against a thickly-built man with a tough reputation, I'd spend an extra, short
fraction of a second for a forehead shot.
Kill the brain, and its all over but the twitching."
"Commander Scott has ordered me to work for you," Wales said for Craig's
benefit. "He also said you'll get me and half my
"Yeah, just half. What did you say?"
"I told him I was looking forward to action, especially under your experienced
command, Captain Pike. In addition, I told
him that I am a career marine officer. If I get killed fighting pirates, I have
done my duty for myself and my country."
Jason looked toward Addie swimming with the dogs in the light surf coming off
the straits. Sometimes her heroic pacifism
made more sense to Jason than these junior officers' acceptance that sacrificial
death was a necessary and honored part of
their job descriptions.
"You sound like that fool, Jeffers," Jason said to Wales, and looked at Craig.
"How do you handle all these young, brave,
"Slowly, one at a time. Weren't you one once?" Craig said.
"No," Jason said, shaking his head, "Battlefield commission in 1862, I already
knew my business, when the army made me an
officer and a gentleman."
"What do you mean to say, Mr. Pike? You've wanted our cooperation from the
start." Crawford looked a little put off.
"Yes, and I'm happy to finally have it. But that doesn't mean you should be.
Damn it! Crawford, the idea is to kill the
enemy anyway you can and not get yourself sent home in a flag-draped coffin for
martyrdom. And only right now, to you two,
I'll tell you what I really think. Bruce Jeffers was a fool and not a hero. Just
because you get yourself killed losing a
battle, doesn't absolve you of the responsibility of that loss."
Crawford Wales was silent and Sergeant Craig spoke. "You're a hard man," he said
and walked to Jason, holding out his hand.
Jason gave him the pistol he had just finished loading, and the marine examined
the revolver with a trained eye.
"We need experience, more than we need gallantry . . ."
"You've made your point Captain Pike," Craig interjected. "I'll serve." He
directed the Colt at the side of the house and
shot holes through four heads.
Jason glanced at Wales, who crossed his arms in front of his chest. So, with
Wales would come veteran Gunnery Sergeant Craig
and the toughest marines from the small contingent assigned to the Key West
Naval Station. Jason could have suggested to
Craig that anger would aid his accuracy. But, what the hell, Jason decided,
shouldn't you go easy on a new employee the
Laura Gentry had just finished straightening up her modest house on Caroline
Street, when Crawford Wales knocked at the
front door. The clock struck six and Laura nodded, expecting the marine to be
precisely on time. She went to the mirror in
the hall and tried to push her hair down and it fluffed back out, like always.
And Laura was distraught, as always.
She opened the door. "Hi, Crawford. How nice of you to come."
"You look lovely, Laura," Crawford said. She wore a dark blue, cotton dress,
which accented her slender figure and
contrasted well with her light complexion and frilly head of bright orangy-crimson
hair. Crawford was wearing a loose
fitting, light gray, cotton shirt over his blue uniform trousers. He even wore a
silver cross on a chain around his neck,
and Laura was impressed.
"Come out back and talk to me while I cook," she said, taking the package of
crabs he brought. The Gentry house was wood
frame and not fancy. The wood stove was in a shed and Crawford leaned in the
doorway, while Laura dropped the live crabs
into a cauldron of boiling water.
"So, I hear you're going off to look for treasure and fight pirates with Jase
and Addie. Do all marine officers lead such
adventurous lives? I have to stay here and teach ill-mannered, little cretins to
read books they detest. I believe I envy
Wales laughed. "Don't," he said with certainty. "Going on a naval sortie is most
often not a pleasant experience. The best I
hope for is just to be bored. The worst that may happen on the coming mission
could very well be life threatening."
Laura and Crawford sat at the small table, just outside the cookhouse in the
backyard. The sun was setting and the weather
very pleasant; the breeze off the straits was mild and salty. They ate a fruit
salad consisting of grapes, sections of
oranges, grapefruit, and papaya covered with shredded coconut. Then Laura served
the crab with avocado slices; fresh Bahama
bread complemented the main course.
After dinner they discussed books. Crawford read them and Laura taught them. She
was surprised to learn soldiers, at least
officers, had to read a lot of history. "I don't understand. Why do you have to
be smart if all you are going to do is
fight?" she asked.
Crawford tried to smile. "Jason Pike just gave me a lecture this afternoon that
he needed smart officers, and not brave
fools. Fighting, Laura, can be complicated. Winning a battle is more like
playing chess than participating in a saloon
"Is he as wealthy and powerful as I heard?"
"He is very rich and he certainly pulled Commander Scott's string. I and my
command are his to use."
"Oh, this makes me sad. You and my friends, Addie and Sarah, going off to look
for treasure, and now I have to worry about
you fighting pirates." She squeezed his hand and he smiled at the pretty
"Can I come back to see you tomorrow?"
"If you don't I'll be very disappointed."
The confrontation with Addie and Sarah over whether they would sail with the
Sweet Pea came the next day at sunset. Harry
accidentally set off the explosion when he came back from a long day of scraping
and painting the Sweet Pea to wash up out
back. At the same time Addie and Sarah were in the backyard plucking a fat, dead
"Ah, I'm gonna miss your cookin when . . ." Harry stopped, but the damage was
"When? When you hope to ship us off to Mobile for safe keeping?" Sarah said
nastily, and threw a fistful of goose feathers
"Both you girls know better than to think I'll let you come along on so
dangerous a venture. I won't risk your life, Addie.
Or you either, Sarah," Jason heard Harry yell, like a concerned parent should.
And Addie showed her respect for her father
by sneezing, as she brushed a goose feather from her nose.
Jason stayed just out of sight, in the kitchen doorway, and watched the fight.
And Addie did much the same, simply by
keeping quiet. Sarah and Harry argued back and forth, while Addie and Jason
listened. Harry argued safety for women and
keeping the girls out of harm's way. Sarah said she was determined to sail with
the salvage ship. "I'll see Jack Carney on
his way to hell. Besides, you'll need a teacher to keep your young crew on the
"What I don't need is to answer to Salina for getting you killed," Jason said,
stepping out of the house.
Addie picked up the gauntlet easily and marched forward to confront Jason, her
usually soft, smiling face now hard and
determined. During the war Jason had felt a tensing chill through his back and
spine when the Rebs attacked positions his
men held. Jason felt the same cold sensation now, watching Addie's advance.
"You're not going, Addie." Jason pointed at her. "Or you either!" He pointed at
"The hell we're not," Addie yelled back. "You've got no medical unit. Sarah and
I are both trained as nurses." She crossed
her arms on her chest and glared at Jason. "Besides, I designed the Jellyfish.
I'm the best diver on Key West, and this has
been my project from the start. There isn't a goddamned way under the sun you're
leavin' me behind."
"Or me either," Sarah said. "I've nothing to do here and I've been part of this
for too long to quit now. I told you I want
a chunk out of Jack Carney. I'll have my pound of flesh or join Bruce Jeffers in
Heaven. I've made up my mind."
"Damn it!" Jason yelled back at them vehemently. "There could be terrible
fighting over the salvage site. I don't want to
bury either of you at sea."
"We'll take our chances," Sarah said while Jason stared pleadingly at Addie. If
they were alone together, Jason would have
begged her not to sail with the Sweet Pea; but here and now, he made the mistake
of being rationally confrontational.
"All right, Jase, say your piece," Addie said. "Sarah, Jase has too much
experience as a commanding officer for us not to
hear him out."
"I won't make any deals halfway through the fight," Jason said, pacing across
the yard. "What I mean to say is that if we
have casualties and you want to quit the fight, there'll be no place to go.
There'll be no retreat, no breaking off from
this engagement. Either we fight Carney and Stogger off, or they murder us all.
I won't negotiate any deals, especially if
they kill part of my crew. I'll not give them a thin dime's worth of treasure as
a reward for attacking us."
"I understand," Addie admitted too quickly, and Jason felt they were still
missing his point.
"The decks could be awash with blood. This isn't a family picnic. We're setting
a trap for pirates, and it's all or
Despite what Jason said, he was having ambivalent feelings about this matter. If
he left Addie and Sarah on Key West, he
would have to hire private guards to watch them. And Jason knew they would both
sneak off, steal a boat, and follow the
Sweet Pea. That's when they would be vulnerable to a kidnaping by a new gang of
thugs hired by Harrington or Estes. Then all
the guns, armor, and marines on the salvage brig would be useless, if Carney
came to Jason and Harry and said, "We'll trade
Addie for the treasure, and nothing else."
At times, keeping Addie and Sarah right at hand made so much sense to Jason. All
their energies were centered on defending
the Sweet Pea. Wouldn't Addie and Sarah be as safe as possible on the Sweet Pea?
No. Jason knew he had to figure a way to
get both women to want to go to Mobile, or possibly even farther away.
Both Addie and Sarah shook their heads back and forth in very negative gestures.
This was going to be a hard sale, and
expensive, Jason decided. "All right, I'll pay for both of you to go to Paris,
in France-all over Europe if you want, for
six months, and you can shop yourselves silly. I'll pay for everything."
Sarah's mouth dropped open and her eyes went wide, and Jason had a sliver of
hope, but only for a second. Addie never
wavered. "Nice try, Jase. You sure know how to tempt a girl, but we're sailing
with the Sweet Pea. Right, Sarah?"
Sarah looked back and forth between them, confused, undecided.
"Leave her alone, Addie," Jason said. "The offer is good for you by yourself,
Sarah." At least that would get Salina off
Jason's back. Divide and conquer was always a good strategy.
"Jason Pike you really are a piece of work at coming up with generous bribes,"
Sarah responded and smiled at Addie. "And if
it wasn't for Bruce, I'd sail tomorrow to spend your money in the most expensive
shops of Europe."
Addie nodded her approval. The two of them were as thick as thieves. Jason
looked at the plucked, naked goose, knew it would
taste just like a dead duck, and that he wasn't any better off. "C'mon, we've
lost," he said to Harry. "Let's have a drink."
"You did your best, laddie," Harry said, following Jason. "Our wenches are a
tough lot. By the way, would that same offer
about Paris apply to me?"
Later that evening, at midnight, a small boat came ashore near the Arbuckle
house on the east end of Key West. Wade Estes
climbed in, and the two silent sailors rowed back to the Raven. There were only
a few men on deck, and Estes was directed to
the stern and down the steps to Jack Carney's cabin.
The cabin was only six feet high, and Estes stooped to avoid hitting his head.
He sat down at the small table across from
Carney and Uriah Stogger.
"You're the lawyer?" Stogger said and introduced himself.
"Wade Estes, a pleasure, sir."
"What happened, Wade?" Carney poured rum for each of them. "How did your meeting
with Pike go?"
Wade shook his head. "Mr. Pike is not interested in our plans at all. His reply
"That's unfortunate. I saw how well he uses a Colt pistol," Stogger said, and
Carney nodded. His craggy face showed little
"It gets worse. Heavy crates have arrived from the North and England," Wade
"Salvage gear," Carney said.
"And naval guns from Pike Ltd.," Stogger guessed.
"We can't go up against modern, rapid-firing cannons. Neither of our ships would
stay afloat." Carney looked at Estes for a
"Attack during a dark night," the cavalryman suggested to the sailors.
"What is he doing to get a crew?" Stogger asked, while Carney chuckled.
"Two young Englishmen arrived with the shipment from Britain. He can draft
anyone from Wyatt Scott's command, and John
Asbury's sons, and then there is . . ."
"All right, I get the idea," Carney said. "What about the navy?"
"There are no plans to reinforce the Key West Naval Station with additional
ships," Wade said with finality.
Carney and Stogger stared at each other and they both looked at Wade. "Why?"
"I think the government bribed Pike to get rid of you two. Stealing the Detroit
was an embarrassment to the navy," Estes
dropped his own lure into the stream. "At least, that's what I think."
"We'll need to go south and purchase better arms, repeating rifles and modern
revolvers, for the crew." Carney looked at
Stogger. "That is, if you're willing to captain the Detroit into a fight for
"I've nothing better to do than take all that money away from an already rich
Yankee. I hate them. But, we'll need a stake
to buy proper sidearms."
Estes took an envelope from his jacket and handed it to Carney. "General
Harrington said you would need one last shot of
cash. This is the end of it, Captain Carney. Now everything is up to you." Wade
started to stand, but the cabin was too low.
"Our cause is now in your hands. There's also a letter of marque commissioning
you as privateers in the service of the
provisional government of Guatemala. General Harrington signed it."
Carney smiled as he read the authorization to steal and plunder. "Now we're
"If you can capture the Atocha's treasure from Pike," Wade said, "then we can
start a new country. You will have to board
that brig and eliminate the crew. Capture her intact after she is already heavy
Carney nodded and asked, "When should we pick you up, Major Estes?"
"I don't understand?" Wade queried.
"When should I send for you to join us for the attack on the Sweet Pea. You do
want to come along? I would think the general
expects you to keep an eye on me and the treasure."
"No," Estes said. "The general trusts you implicitly, Captain Carney. There is
no reason for me to accompany your mission."
"All right, Major Estes. I just thought you might be able to help us plan an
attack during a dark, cloudy night." Carney
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