Take, Burn or Destroy (A Charles Hayden Novel)
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Master and Commander Charles Hayden returns in the riveting seafaring adventure by bestselling author S. Thomas Russell.
In 1794, the French Revolution rages, and Charles Hayden sets off aboard the HMS Themis with orders to destroy a French frigate and to gather intelligence from a royalist spy. Upon discovering French plans for an imminent invasion of England, Hayden must return to Portsmouth to raise the alarm before it’s too late.
But the enemy is laying in wait—and so begins a dangerous chase out into the Atlantic and into the clutches of a powerful French squadron. With no chance of fighting their way through, Hayden and his officers are taken prisoner.
Shipwrecked in a storm on the French coast and mistaken for a French sea officer, Hayden must attempt a desperate escape to warn the Lords of the Admiralty. Failure will mean the invasion of England—and the guillotine for Hayden.
perfectly so. And our sails are bent and ready to loose, but . . .” The sailing master hesitated. “Do complete your sentence, Mr Barthe, the suspense is almost more than I can bear.” Barthe smiled. “If we are not to sail this day, sir, Mrs Barthe and my daughters would like very much to visit the ship. Mr Wickham has kindly arranged a boat to carry them out, sir, if that would be acceptable.” “Did Mr Archer not inform you that we have yet to complete our powder?” Barthe was
daughter rather speechless. “You do see my dilemma, Elizabeth, do you not?” Henrietta asked in a small voice. “Entirely, and there is no escaping that whatever decision you make you will injure one of these gentlemen. Do not think for a moment that there is any course that you might choose that will not lead to disappointment for either Mr Beacher or Captain Hayden. You must make a decision that will see to your happiness.” Henrietta’s mood sank even lower. There was no doubt that
the familiar call from aloft. “Sail, Captain. South-south-east just as was said. More than one, I believe.” “Mr Bowen. You have the deck. I shall go aloft a moment.” Hayden’s glass had already been carried up for him, and he slung it over his back and clambered up to the main-tops, pleased that he did not need to climb further—he could make out sail from that vantage with his naked eye. “Do you see, sir?” the lookout asked. “Beyond the first ship? More sail.” “Indeed I do,
disappointment in Hayden. “Mr Huxley?” “Sir?” “I will leave you to watch over the chase guns. I want them loaded with chain until we are nearer. If we can damage the rig of this Frenchman, we might slow her so our own ships can come up. We might force the French ships of the rear to come to her rescue or cut her off.” “Aye, sir. Chain.” Hayden returned to the quarterdeck, where he found Archer. “When we get the royals off, Mr Archer, I want sail handlers at their stations.
matter. Better he disciplined his mind and put these things aside until the Themis was, again, safe in harbour . . . if only he could. The night appeared unchanged when he took the deck—perhaps a little cooler, but still the same veiled moon and speeding cloud. “Is the wind making, Mr Barthe?” Hayden asked the sailing master, who stood talking quietly with the helmsman. “I believe it is, sir, and will continue in this manner for some time yet. We are in for a bit of a blow, Captain.