Clarissa: Chapter Twenty-Five

Before too long, Richard made his way with an armed guard to the border between the Emepror’s Austrian regions and his Hungarian regions. When they reached the Hungarian regions, there was a change of armed guards and there was a travel into the area of Carniola, where there was another change of guards and more letters given to the border guards there before it was time to head through the lovely mountain valleys and down towards the coasts of Dalmatia, where there were more border guards, this time the Croats with their fierce countenance and cravats. The weather had still held out relatively well when it came time to pass into the territory of Venice.

Here too, as a perceptive traveler, Richard could see that the best days of the Venetian Republic were behind it, but the Republic still glorified in its freedom and in its civic institutions and its faith, as well as its language, which was distinct from Italian, but still comprehensible to him. When he arrived at the great city of Venice, with its canals and its secure location in its lagoon which had long provided it with safety from the armies that coursed all throughout that troubled area, Richard bid farewell to his last group of guards from the Austrian monarch and book a ship bound for Malta.

The ship itself made its way south along the Adriatic coast. Richard pulled in at ancient ports like Ragusa that had seen similar ships sailing for centuries, and eventually after stopping in at Corfu, the ship made its way to Malta, taking care because the season was often rough for shipping, and Richard got off to present his credentials to the Knight Commander of the Knights of Malta there on the island, who greeted Richard as a brother in the faith and as a loyal ally to the interests of the Knights of Malta in ensuring that the Turk did not dominate the sea.

After his conversation with the Knight commander, in which various private things were discussed that are not of importance here, Richard took his leave and went to find the residence in the embassy for the Holy Roman Empire where he was to stay, and reflected upon his soon-coming trip to Gibraltar where he would see his brother after some absence. He was pleased to think that his brother was getting married and would have an opportunity to serve in similar efforts to the ones he was engaged in, albeit in a different land. He wondered as well if he would have the opportunity to find a nice young woman to marry.

Richard, for all of his perceptiveness, did not realize that he was traveling in a vanishing world. The Holy Roman Emperor that he represented, whose empire had lasted for nearly a thousand years, only had a bit more than a decade to hold onto that office, and then he would only have barely a century to hold onto the title of Austrian Emperor before that emperor would fall apart. The different territories of the Magyars, Croats, and Slovenes would all eventually rule themselves and fight among each other off and on for decades, unable to hold together. The Venetian Republic of such a proud history that Richard had seen was also in its dying day. It would soon be taken over by Napoleon and combined into a Northern Italian puppet state under one of his brothers, and when Napoleon was defeated, the only states which would not regain their identities afterwards were the two Republics of Genoa and Venice, long bitter rivals, who both found themselves swallowed in neighboring realms which did not want to let any powerful Republics survive to provide an example of freedom in an age of reviving authoritarian rule. And so Venice would find itself a satrap of the Austrian Empire for some time before being passed indirectly to the Italians when a nation-state was finally made out of the many distinct states of that peninsula, to be viewed as a quaint and moribund region of a cobbled nation. Ragusa would not long remain in any sort of independent state, nor would Corfu have much importance when it was part of a larger Greek nation. Malta itself only had a few more years under the rule of its Knights before a short-lived French rule would then be succeeded by a longer British rule and then, at length, by its own independence as a small island state that sought the protection of a larger European Union.

Let us not blame Richard, though, for not being perceptive enough to see any of these changes. None of us knows when we are living in a vanishing world whose long-sturdy institutions are about to be submerged by the cruel force of history. Jealous and insecure monarchs would not long allow small republics to survive if they could possibly avoid it and would be finding any old German prince who could serve as a king over a new state if a local ruler of sufficient prestige could not be found. Those who had ruled over areas with an interest in preserving a religious status quo would soon find themselves and their realms drastically threatened by forces that they did not even recognize, much less understand, shaped by ethnic identities that were impossible to entirely smother out.

What was it, after all, that made France a more natural nation than the Holy Roman Empire? What were the natural borders of Germany and Italy? Was there a place for small peoples around the world to have their own identities? Was it unjust that Danes should rule over Germans in Holstein? Was it unjust that Russians, Prussians, and Austrians should rule over Poles and a host of other restive Slavic peoples? Was it unjust for the French to rule over Bretons, Occitans, and Corsicans? What about the Spanish rule over its far-flung empire as well as the Basques, Galicians, and Catalonians in its midst? Was it natural and proper that the English should dominate the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh, to say nothing of Canadians and Indians? What made some situations seem natural or even inevitable and others seem intolerable? Under what conditions was it possible to accept someone else’s authority, and under what conditions did identity make it impossible for such an acceptance to be obtained?

The rest of the travelers to Gibraltar did not have the same sort of adventures to face as Richard did, since England had regular connections with the base that made it easy for people who had sufficient need to be in that post to be able to arrive there. For Lord Lipton, it was an enjoyable adventure to get to Gibraltar, and he, his wife and children, as well as his uncle and his uncle’s eldest son were able to make the journey without any great difficulty from Hull to Gibraltar. Lord Lipton used it as a learning opportunity to teach his children about transportation, about the importance of naval power to the preservation of British greatness, and to what one can observe through the course of one’s travels in the seas and along the shore. When they arrived in Gibraltar, Lord Lipton made sure to give Clarissa and Roland his congratulations in person with a hearty hug and plenty of conversation, while the rest of the family also showed their appreciation of a chance to travel and see a bit of the world.

For the Marquis de Villebois, it was a pleasure to find that he had been spotted the funding necessary to travel to Gibraltar to see his son marry. Even if his family was in exile, it was a comfort to know that at least one of his sons was doing what was necessary to keep the family line going. Hopefully there would be children that would spring from this line that would, in time, restore the family to its fortunes. For him, there was not much enjoyment in a lengthy voyage by sea. Yet if he did not enjoy the trip, he did enjoy reaching his destination, and stepping off to see his son and his future daughter-in-law greeting him and walking with him to Miss Bennett’s house, which was soon to be the house of both of them, where he would be staying in a guest room and enjoying the repast of his future daughter-in-law, which was much to his liking.

When Lord Lipton and his party exited the ship, they too found Miss Bennett and Roland waiting for them on the marina, and Lord Lipton was shown to the government house where he and his family were to stay during the time before the wedding. With most of her family Clarissa was generous with her affection and enjoyed receiving their praise. After the rest, though, her brother Henry came up to talk with her.

“Do you still remember me from when we were children?”

“I am not likely to ever forget you or your brother, as much as I would wish to.”

“I hope that I am not unwelcome here in wishing you a happy marriage.”

“Your wishes are not unwelcome, at least.”

“Do you think it is too late for us to get on as a brother and sister ought to get on?”

“It was probably too late for that by the time I was sent to grow up with Lord Lipton.”

“I was terribly unkind to you, and I have long regretted it.”

“I appreciate that you have reflected on how you treated me and have regretted it.”

“I realize this may be asking a lot, but would you be willing to do me a favor?”

“What favor would you ask of me?”

“Father says it would be wise for me to find a young woman who would be able to marry into our family and bring some useful business relationship into it, but I must admit that I do not know the first thing about marriage alliances or how to deal with young women.”

Clarissa thought for a moment.

“I do not mean to insist, only to request.”

“You are handling father’s sugar business these days, are you not?”

“That I am.”

“There are at least several sorts of young women that may come across your way whose businesses might intertwine with your interests. You may find yourself socializing with the daughters of plantation owners from the Caribbean. You may find yourself among the daughters of grocers or those involved in the tea trade or those involved in shipping or even those with an interest in law insofar as it related to international trade, besides those who were related to interests in the army and navy.”

“I am not sure how high we should aim in such matters. Many of those with large plantation interests might fancy themselves as baronets or similar rank, and that would be considerably above our level, even with our connections to Lord Lipton and his family.”

“I suppose the choice would be between the daughter of a well-off merchant who could help consolidate the trade you were already involved in or someone who might bring in a bit less money in dowry but would provide a bit of status as a gentleman’s daughter and who might be able to help any children of yours move up into the world with a bit of education and some connections to those of like status.”

“Do you think it would be possible for such a woman to be interested in marrying me?”

“There are a great many people who are willing to take me as a lady, whatever my family background, because I received the education of a lady by growing up with Lord and Lady Lipton as their foster daughter. How much have you taken advantage of the opportunity to gain in knowledge from Lord Lipton’s information?”

“Not as much as I ought, I am sure, but I do try to read the sorts of books he suggests from time to time, even if it can be difficult to find the time to read books of the size that Lord Lipton enjoys.”

“You are not interested only in monetary matters, though, right?”

“No, I am interested in culture, even if I am not as cultured as many people who would be in Lord Lipton’s circle. One cannot spend time with him in town without developing a familiarity with plays and books and concerts, with poetry and literature and political economy and philosophy and related subjects.”

“Not in the least, so you at least would be able to keep up with someone who had an interest in such subjects as someone who knew a little but and was always interested in knowing more.”

“Yes, that is certainly right.”

“I do not know what sort of eligible woman will fall into your acquaintance who will fit what you are looking for and would be able to appreciate our family and what it has to offer, to say nothing about being fond of you, but I would be happy to get to know such a woman better and correspond with her if you think it would help you to feel more comfortable with the thought of marrying her.”

“I appreciate the favor.”

“Say nothing of it.”

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Clarissa: Chapter Twenty-Four

A flurry of letters started from Gibraltar and then other areas to deal with the logistics of the wedding and its communication and invitations and the repercussions of it. At first, a notable stream of those letters went between Gibraltar and Orient House as well as Market Weighton in North Yorkshire. Information went back and forth about financial arrangements and discussions about the wedding and when and where the reception would be. These letters determined the scope of the wedding that was to come and included a great deal of congratulations as well.

North Yorkshire itself became the center of another group of letters that was sent off, as Lord Lipton wanted to make sure that his patronage of Roland was felt, as it soon was, with congratulations going to Roland’s father, who was still living in London and going to his usual club on a regular basis, having a tough time learning English, but still happy that his son was doing well, and that he would have a daughter-in-law at least that knew French and would be able to and interested in talking with him. It can be an unpleasant thing to have a wedding where there was a chance for the father of the groom to have no one who was able to talk with him, but then he remembered that he would at least be able to talk with Lord Lipton and his family, and that made the thought of an English wedding a bit easier to handle.

Before too long there came a discussion about wedding clothes, and Lady Lipton was able to provide the insight that was necessary to ensure that Clarissa would end up with her wedding clothes in a way that would do credit to her as a bride. Lady Lipton knew what Clarissa would like, and as a result, the wedding clothes were the blues and greens and other colors that she would want to wear with the sorts of clothing that she would also want to wear. When that trunk arrived in Gibraltar, Clarissa enjoyed seeing what it contained, given that it was clothing made in the sizes that she had provided to her foster mother.

Other letters made their way in more official channels, by no means as large a circle as the letters that had gone between Gibraltar and North Yorkshire. These letters confirmed that Roland had been promoted to a captain, and that Clarissa was to be recognized as his widow in case Roland should be killed or incapacitated in military service, as was not unusual during the time. Roland being a foreign citizen promoted some commentary, but given Roland’s connections it was thought possible that he would be considered to be a loyal British citizen as a result of his hostility to the Revolution, and it would not be thought difficult for him to acquire whatever identity was necessary.

Another small set of letters went about between the clergy in Gibraltar and London about the possibility of future weddings and what sort of standards existed between brides and grooms. In this particular case, the wedding had the full permission of everyone involved with it, but it was possible that weddings would take place in the future where a French-born soldier did not have any history of religious involvement with Anglican clergy, and where the bride was herself not above criticism as was the case with Clarissa.

Due to the status of the bride, at least, the upcoming wedding was announced in the newspapers in Gibraltar, London, as well as North Yorkshire. This news was taken philosophically. In Gibraltar it was seen as desirable and enjoyable that there should be a high society wedding taking place in a town that was often forgotten by important people and not always viewed as being the most socially highbrow place within the British empire, even less so than the noted balls of Antigua that took place for the planters there. In London, among the French emigre population it was thought to be a moment of glory that one of their own could be considered a worthwhile husband for a young woman of quality. Among the friends and family of Lord Lipton it was considered to be desirable that the family had acquired still more useful and possibly far-flung connections and also that Clarissa had found a dashing and brave husband. For the notable people of Market Weighton who did not know Clarissa as well personally, they were pleased that someone of such dubious parentage as she had was not marrying their own sons and harming their own plans for less questionable marriages. Indeed, everyone was more or less pleased to hear about the upcoming wedding, and at the very least were philosophical about it.

Soon, an unexpected set of letters found its way from London to Vienna, where the court of the most Christian Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire himself was informed that the brother of one of the emigres at his court was getting married in Gibraltar. While it was no problem to get someone from London or Yorkshire to Gibraltar, it was considerably more effort to get someone there from Vienna, not least given the severity of the winters that existed in that part of the continent. But the emperor was pleased to honor someone who had the ear and the regard of his allies in the English, and so it happened that when a diplomatic slot opened up with the Knights of Malta, that Roland’s brother Robert de Villebois was chosen to fill that position, which required that he be able to travel to Malta. And since Malta was not far away from Gibraltar, he was also asked to travel to Gibraltar to consult with the British admiralty about what sort of action the allies were going to take in the coming campaign season in the Mediterranean, which was of limited interest to Austria, it is true, but of interest to plenty of Austria’s allies, at the very least.

But before the travel could take place, plenty of letters needed to be written. The Chancellor of the Austrian court wrote letters to the various border posts along the internal territory of the Emperor’s territories, to smooth the way for his new envoy, and Robert was also given letters for the Doge of Venice in order to help speed his way to Malta and then to Gibraltar. The only problem, though, is that this did not include a letter from the Austrian ruler to anyone in Gibraltar.

Communication is difficult. It is hard to manage the task correctly. Letters were easy to misunderstand, and it was hard to communicate the right information to people one did not know well and trust. Where people did know each other well and trust each other, one had the lag in time between when a letter was written and when it was received and replied to and that reply was received. It was fortunate that no one involved was trying to micromanage affairs, as the delay between when a condition was recognized and when it was responded to made it impossible to answer the concerns through letters from distant people. The letters were sufficient to inform people of a wedding that was to occur in months, to allow for that wedding to happen in an acceptable fashion to everyone, and to allow people enough time to travel a considerable distance to get there. More than that was not possible to manage, and it was for the best that it was not tried.

The problem, of course, was that not everyone involved in this delicate deluge of letters was sufficiently aware of what was going on with others. As was often the case, a great deal of surprise would have been avoided had people been able to communicate effectively with others. It must be admitted, though, that people did not always know who they needed to talk to. Robert and Roland, if they knew what countries the other was in, did not know the precise address of the other in order to communicate with each other, even if they had possessed the time and inclination to write each other. Did anyone expect busy brothers to stay in close contact with each other? Anyone who did would be sorely disappointed.

Yet it must not be thought that this problem was the fault of letters. While anyone who has written a large quantity of letters has seen obvious messages missed and twisted beyond all recognition, and private confidences shared with those who were unworthy to see them confirmed in print, it is not as if we can blame letters for this. Any communication efforts are fraught with danger. We are not at all entirely clear to ourselves, much less to anyone else. Nor would we want to be clear and obvious to others, for we value our privacy, and that privacy requires that we reveal ourselves to others and that others reveal themselves to us through some sort of imperfect communication that will be imperfectly done and imperfectly understood. It is not as if face to face communication is always perfectly done or perfectly understood.

At any rate, what was communicated was certainly good enough to fulfill its purposes. The people doing the communicating communicated honestly, if not perfectly, and both the writing and the reading were done with a high degree of goodwill in most cases, at least among those whose opinion mattered to those doing the communication. Who cared, after all, if some old bitty from a household in Market Weighton thought it was not right that the illegitimate daughter of an entertainer of unknown parentage and mysterious origin should be treated like the daughter of a gentleman and be allowed to marry someone who came from actual titled, if French, ancestry? No one cared about such opinions anyway, at least no one whose opinion mattered.

To those whose opinion mattered, Clarissa was counted the luckiest of young women, and Roland the luckiest of men. People could remain unmarried until their forties and be unable to find people who sought to understand and appreciate each other the way that Clarissa and Roland did. To find people who could make an oath not to take to drink or other drugs to mask the horrors of war or sexual assault and to take such oaths as serious commitments was by no means an easy thing. To find people who could see the burdens that you carried and the wounds that seared your soul and respond not with cutting wit and cruel teasing but rather with kind words and tender affection was not something that some people ever found over the course of their lonely and difficult lives, and yet Clarissa found such a person when she was a young woman.

One of the few people who could have understood how Clarissa felt was Lady Lipton herself. She, after all, had on the day she was introduced to society met Lord Lipton and bumped into him. It did not require any great difficulty to recognize that if Lord Lipton was not a particularly handsome person, he had a bright smile and a heart full of kindness, as well as being intelligent and a conscientious person. If it was not love at first sight, it was certainly not a difficult decision to recognize that such a man was well worth marrying, and if no one had seen that and acted on it successful over more than thirty years, she could profit from their failure, and so she did. And in ten years of marriage, with four children born, she had no reason to regret her decision. If Lord Lipton was not the most fleet of foot of men, he remained as intelligent and as tender as ever. She had chosen wisely, and if it meant she may spend years alone after the death of Lord Lipton missing his warm embraces and loving kisses and caresses, that was just the way things went. This was something that Clarissa well understood and openly faced with a husband-to-be who was in the regulars and who had made himself the open enemy of a revolutionary state. But she was sure she would rather have a short time with a good man and a great man than a lifetime with a bad one. And who could blame her for deciding on such feelings in the hope that there would be many years for them to enjoy each other’s love?

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Clarissa: Chapter Twenty-Three

After Clarissa and Roland finished their dinner, there was still time in the day, and a fair amount to do. First, the two of them took a short walk to the barrister’s firm, where the attorneys there were almost expecting them. Upon being let inside the office, it was time for them to discuss some of the financial arrangements that Clarissa was living under.

“Now that you are engaged, it is our job to make sure that your interests are protected, Miss Bennett, in this marriage you are about to set about in.”

“I understand that.”

“Currently, the thirty thousand pounds that has been placed in your name is under your disposal to do what you wish.”

“Indeed it is.”

“Do you wish to maintain it that way?”

“I see no reason why not. I do not live expensively nor is there any intention to liquidate any part of the dowry. We will use the interest to live on as part of our household income, and then make arrangements to pass on the dowry to any daughter or daughters that we have as part of their own inheritance.”

“Is there anything else that might need to be dealt with?”

“It might be possible for Roland to have a life interest in the interest proceeds if he should outlive me.”

“I do not think that to be likely, but that is fair enough.”

It was not a difficult at this point for the two of them to work their way through the paperwork established by the barristers, and to leave a copy of the documentation to be signed by Lord Lipton, and indeed sent to him. Clarissa figured that this would be notice to Lord Lipton that she was engaged, although she figured that he must have been tolerably convinced that this would happen anyway when she left to go to Gibraltar in the first place.

After dealing with business at the barristers, Clarissa and Roland went over to the barracks where Roland currently lived but would not be living after he married, as was the custom of married officers to live nearby to the barracks with their spouses and then report each day to the barracks. General Powell was happy to let Roland and Clarissa in.

“It is nice to see that the two of you have decided to marry.”

“I think so too,” replied Roland.

“And what did you need me to do for you?”

“I wondered if there was anything that needed to be done to ensure that Clarissa would qualify for any pension should I be disabled or killed during war.”

“Generally speaking, the reality of there being an official marriage would be sufficient for Clarissa to receive a widow’s pension from the army, and so there are no forms that you would need to sign. We simply want to make sure that what is going on would be an official marriage recognized by the British government.”

“I do not think there is any doubt of that.”

“Who will be officiating at the wedding?”

“I asked our regimental chaplain to do the honors.”

Clarissa looked at Roland but did not say anything.

“Do you have any date planned for the wedding?”

“We have not planned the date yet, but we want to make sure some people are able to come, and it might be difficult for them to sail during the winter months.”

“There can be a lot more storms during the winter, that is true, and especially if you want anyone to visit from the continent, it would be difficult to manage this task without waiting until the spring at least.”

“I think we can manage that.” Roland and Clarissa were affectionately holding hands.

“Some people are in such a rush to marry that they do not want to wait for people to be gathered, but I do not think we will be in any campaign at least until next year, so it would make sense for you all to wait and have as many people as possible willing and able to wish you both well.”

“I think it is more important that we do things the right way than that we do them quickly.”

“Very well then.”

And with that, Roland was dismissed, and returned to his place in the barracks after giving Clarissa a goodbye hug and kiss.

Clarissa, for her part, had more to do herself. She called in at the home of one of the other officers’ wives and told her about her engaged with Roland and what would be necessary for a wedding. Where should the wedding be held at, and how many people should come. There were so many details that needed to be discussed, and if Lord Lipton was going to come and help out in the wedding, there was also a great deal that he needed to be involved in as well. Clarissa did not happen to know the best locations in town for a spring wedding, or any kind of reception or any details of the kind. Fortunately, her fellow women had more experience in this matter than she did and they were able to help her through the details that she needed to get done.

Let us not forget, after all, that weddings are great tests of the logistical skills of people. Typically, weddings were held in churches, with not necessarily a large number of people watching the ceremony itself, but considerably more people often wanted to wish the new couple well. There was usually some sort of wedding clothes that were purchased for the bride by someone in her family, and planning about where the couple was to go. Here, at least, there was no difficulty as far as housing because the place that Clarissa currently rented was rented with the intention of becoming the home of both Roland and Clarissa, and he already approved of what she was doing with the place.

General Powell took a walk himself during this same afternoon to the marina, and found the admiral of the Mediterranean fleet in his flagship. He was let into the admiral’s office onboard with considerable promptitude and the admiral was very interested in knowing what it was that General Powell wanted.

“I have a favor to ask of you, my good man.”

“What favor is that?”

“I have an officer, recently promoted, who is to be married in the spring, and I wanted to know of it was possible to take him and his wife-to-be on one of the ships of the fleet on a honeymoon cruise that would acquaint him with some of the notable ports on call in the region.”

“I do not think such a thing would be difficult to do. Do you wish this to be simply for enjoyment or in the interests of the service as well?”

“I think a bit of both. The travel and sights would be enjoyable, and he could be made acquainted with the military situation as far as the army and navy was concerned of for its basing or the friendliness of the area as well, so it would be worthwhile for his professional education as well.”

“I do not think that would be hard at all to manage. Two people onboard a ship can live quite comfortably in quarters so long as neither of them is particularly fussy about how much space they have.”

“I do not think either of them are likely to be very fussy about matters. The lady herself came to Gibraltar to live near him, and he has lived pretty simply in barracks with the regiment without any sort of difficulty.”

“Do you want to inform the officer of his posting with us?”

“I will do so when I have information about what places you are going to, when it is closer to the wedding.”

“Can I trust that I and some of my officers will be able to come to the ceremony and to the reception ourselves?”

“I am sure that such a thing may done without any trouble as well, especially once it is known the gift you are providing to him.”

“I wish all such visits from you may be as enjoyable.”

“I wish the same. We still must speak sometime on what we plan on doing with all of those refugees from Toulon.”

“I have no idea where they are all to fit, as they are already crowding full wherever there is open housing here.”

“I suspect we will have to take a fair amount of them to England.”

“I suspect the same, but we will need somewhere for them to go once they arrive there as well. I could not leave them there to be killed in reprisal for their aid and assistance to us, though.”

“No, you did right by them. We could not have left them behind. But having taken them away from certain death, we must now find places where they may live as best as possible, free from the slow death of starvation and privation that threaten them if they remain destitute.”

“These people are burghers. They have useful trades, useful to themselves and useful to Britain. We will find some place for them, somewhere they can thrive and live free from revolutionary terror. We just need someone to be able to speak on their behalf and give them the space to live in peace. I am sure they would be loyal to us and to our interests, seeing as we saved their lives.”

“But how long would such loyalty last? Would their children feel as loyal to us, once they have grown up in exile?”

“Do we expect this war to last long enough for children to grow up in a world where Britain and France are at war and have been at war all of their days?”

“There once was a world where Britain and France were at war for one hundred years.”

“That is fairly said, I suppose. We must be prepared for such an eventuality.”

“Indeed we shall, but that is a problem for another day, and not today. When I have more word on that I will let you know and we can spring into action.”

“That is true, my good sir. We cannot solve the problems of the world in a day. All we can do is make the best of them every day.”

“Do you think it will take long for London to approve of some longer term solution for the people of Toulon than to let them stay here in overcrowding?”

“I do not think it will take too long, but it might take a few weeks.”

“Are we to move these people in winter?”

“I do not think so. If only we had not lost Minorca in the last war, then we would have had more places to put them, more options at least.”

“Ay, but we did. Right now I am making sure that we are repairing the transports and readying them when we have the word. Once we get the permission to send them I will make sure we send as many as possible to allow the ones who remain here to live as well as possible.”

“And that is all we can do, my good sir.” With that the two of them parted, pleased once again at each other’s company and to make such preparations as they could for their common interests.

General Powell walked back out of the ship, glad to have conducted some worthwhile business and also to have had another discussion with the admiral. Sometimes people complained about interservice rivalries and the problems that people had in getting along with each other but he had never had any difficulty in getting along with the admiral. Even when both of them had different perspectives and argued for different actions, there was the ability to cooperate and communicate, and that made it possible for them to work together as they had for some time now, and likely for some time in the future.

By the time that General Powell arrived at his home, the sun was setting in the west. It would soon be time for a glass of Port and an enjoyable conversation with his wife about what the day had involved for the two of them. No matter how screwed up the world was, there were at least places where life could be lived in relative peace and considerable comfort, and as long as that was the case, one did not need to despair entirely.

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Clarissa: Chapter Twenty-Two

With a friendly knock, Roland arrived at Clarissa’s flat, and was greeted by the butler and came inside for a family dinner. Though the place was the same as he had seen for the first time yesterday, the mood was very different. There was less pressure, and to some extent it felt like the main issues were already dealt with, although considerable questions remained.

Now that Roland felt under less pressure he was better able to see how the flat was organized. He found it to be cheerful, sunny even. Whether or not this indicated a natural sense of cheerfulness or considerable effort in maintaining happiness was something that Roland could not tell from the appearance of the wall or the objects of art themselves. Roland had, at least for most of his adult life, lived in a state of considerable austerity–whether during his time as a religious scholar near Nantes, as a refugee in England, or in the military. And it was not necessarily a bad thing to be austere, but this place most certainly was not.

Before too long, Roland was seated at a table and Clarissa came in dressed in a comfortable and lovely dress. The two of them exchanged greetings and got to talk about the apartment.

“I really enjoy what you have done here.”

“You do?”

“Yes, it seems very sunny and cheerful.”

“Most of this was already here when I arrived, but I liked the way that the decor was so I added more to it in the time I have been here.”

“Do you feel any sort of connection to the Mediterranean? I remember hearing about your mother not being from England, but do you know anything about her background?”

“I do not remember anything about her background, no. My mother was not the sort of person who wanted to talk about her past, or who mentioned where she came from, or who her people were. She was an entertainer with one of the unlicensed theaters in London and focused her attention on making people laugh and on living as secure a life as she could in such insecure conditions.”

“How did your mother and father get together?”

“My father had recently been widowed one season when he went to town, and from what I hear he was impressed with my mother and wanted to meet her. My mother, it must be admitted, was the sort of woman who was clearly looking for a secure place, and before too long apparently she accepted to be in a relationship with him, where I was born. My father always acknowledged me as his daughter at least with my mother, but did not mention me to his existing family for some time.”

“Did this cause some problems.”

“It did indeed.” She looked nervous, and Roland gently touched her hand.

“What happened?”

“Nothing notable happened while my mother was alive. My father would come and visit whenever he was in town, which was for a few months every year, as has always been common among those who are better off in England, and he made sure we were well-supported and lacked for nothing. But when my mother died, I was brought to live with him and he did not at first let his sons know that I was their half-sister. Sadly, neither of them was perceptive enough to figure it out, and the two boys had the feeling that a young servant girl of uncertain background would be a perfect outlet for their amorous advances.”

Roland turned a bit red in the face.

“I was able to fend them off, with some difficulty, but they continued to try, unwilling to ask me who I was and not being restrained by anyone else. One morning they attempted to force me on the ground to submit to their advances but I was able to run outside and it was there that I ran into Lord Lipton and held on to him, seeking his protection. Although he was a perfect stranger to me his instincts were kind and he hugged me and let me hold onto him while he held off my brothers. Going inside, we all found out that he was our cousin, the son of our father’s elder sister, who had married into a noble family and gone off to live in the American colonies, and who I had never met. During the course of the day, it was uncovered what my brothers had been trying to do, and they were told who I was and the horror of what they had been trying to do. Rather than be angry at themselves, as they should have been, they were angry with me, as if I was seeking to bring them into shame, and so for my safety my father sent me and a servant to Lord Lipton’s estate without warning, in a hurry. He was eating his supper by himself when we arrived, and without being aware of all that was going on he took me in and treated me as a beloved daughter, making sure that I was raised like a lady, knowing foreign languages and music and riding ponies and horses and dressing nicely. Soon he married and his wife, who was about as old as I am now, treated me like a younger sister and showed me how to behave as a lady by example. During the first night I was at Lord Lipton’s house, he made sure that my servant and I ate, and it started with the soup I have prepared for you now. I have always loved that soup ever since that night, since it was a night where I felt safe and had found somewhere I belonged.”

With that, a large soup bowl was opened on the table and the two of them began to eat from bowls. It was a mild and hearty soup, one that was, for Clarissa, associated with the warm memories of her life with Lord and Lady Lipton.

“I have had this soup before,” Roland said.

“You have?”

“Yes. Lord Lipton had it the night of the dance where we met.”

“He did. That is right, he was trying to cook food that reminded me of comfortable and happy times.”

“So while you associate with soup with your becoming a lady and moving up in the world, I associate this soup with meeting you, and enjoying a fine meal rather than having to scrimp and save to make it in London where we only had one reliable meal a day.”

“I am glad you enjoy the soup as well and associate it with happy memories.”

“I always will. But while I am happy that Lord Lipton took you in, I am a bit unhappy about your father, and very angry about your brothers.”

“I have never had the relationship with my brothers that I ought to have had. It began on the wrong foot and sometimes you simply cannot recover from such a disastrous beginning. My father was daring enough to pursue a relationship with an entertainer outside of marriage but with some degree of loyalty and responsibility but not daring enough to introduce me as his daughter to his more respectable and proper family. The people of the town have never really been able to accept me as one of their own. I have always been an outsider and a foreigner to them.”

“I had no idea you had such sources of suffering. You are a beautiful and elegant young woman, seemingly coming from a warm and caring family, living a life of wealth and happiness. Who could know the secret sadness and loneliness that you had suffered?”

“No one knew except those who were around back then, or had heard about things from those who were around, or those whom I chose to tell. Most of us, I think, live lives of secret sadness, putting on a smile and a brave face for an uncaring world and keeping our sadness locked deep within.”

“Do you think that you can be happy with me?”

“I do.” There was a short pause.

“You do, but what?”

“I do, but I am concerned about your own dark and secret sadness. I remember that when I lived with Lord Lipton there were many nights where I had nightmares about my brothers and the sorts of things they had intended to do to me. It appears that your own experiences in war have given you the same sort of nightmares that I have had, where you live out your own worst fears and horrors.”

“That is correct. I had no idea that you could understand such things from your own experience.”

“I do understand, but because I understand I have some serious concerns about your response to what you have seen and what you continue to feel about it.”

“What concerns are those?”

“I want you to promise me something.”

“What do you want me to promise?”

“I want you to promise me two things. One, that you will never take to the bottle or to any other substance to try to obliterate the memory of what you have seen. I want you to be courageous, to face your nightmares and your fears bravely. Do whatever you need to do in order to deal with how you feel openly and honestly, with whatever strength God may give you. I will give you all the encouragement I can, but you most not try to blot such things out from your mind.”

“I promise you that I will not become enslaved to the bottle or any other substance to try to wipe away what I have seen and survived.”

“And one more thing. Promise me that you will never take out your fear and anger upon me or upon our future children. They must never know or fear the violence that we have suffered, to the greatest extent possible. Whatever we have dealt with, we must shield them from how it has affected us.”

“I promise to never raise a hand in violence against you or any of our children or anyone else in our household, and to save such violence for those who, like me, are engaged in it on a professional level.”

“So long as you remain faithful to your promises to me, present and future, I will be content to live with you, wherever you may be posted, to bind your wounds of body and soul, to love you and encourage you and support you and honor you in your most glorious and in your darkest hours, and to bear your children and be your beloved wife and treasured confidant.”

“This is more than I could have hoped for or could ever deserve.”

“And this is what I will give to you.”

The two of them held each held each other’s hands tightly, unwilling to break the spell of the moment with foolish or careless words.

“There is one more thing that we need to discuss now.”

“And what is that?”

“We need to discuss how we are to live. I have been given thirty thousand pounds as a settlement upon me, and it is off of those proceeds that I may live for the rest of my days. Now that we are engaged, we will need to go to my barristers and come to some kind of terms with them about how this income may best be preserved as well as used during our life together. It comes out to a bit more than one thousand pounds a year, quite enough for us to live comfortably, especially when it is added to your own income, and to the income you may yet attain if you are promoted in your profession.”

“And that is to say nothing of what may happen if my family’s estate ever becomes unencumbered as well.”

“That would be an added blessing, but what we have is already a very good start.”

“It is indeed a very good start.”

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Clarissa: Chapter Twenty-One

When Roland got up the next morning it was well before dawn, and he had a bit of work to do to upgrade his uniform to reflect his new office. After the morning exercises and a brief discussion about what needed to be done now that the regiment was back in base in order to prepare for the next operation, whenever it would occur, Roland found himself with a desire to discuss matters with the chaplain of his regiment. Surprisingly, it did not appear that many other people were talking to him.

“Did you have a minute?”

“Certainly, Captain. What would you like to talk about?”

“I would like to talk about the way that I have been feeling for a few weeks.”

“What happened?”

“During the siege, I started to feel very dark. It was hard to talk, and impossible to sleep well. I would see death and imprisonment and dying in my dreams, and found it impossible to rest. Last night was the first good night of sleep I have had in a while.”

“I am glad you slept soundly last night. You found your experience under fire to be distressing, though?”

“I did indeed.”

“It is something I have heard before, but most people do not tend to talk about such dark moments.”

“I can understand why. Most of us would rather not admit that life was full of difficulty and struggle and just try to tough our way through it.”

“Have you been led to pray by your experiences?”

“I have, at least as much as possible, but it has not always been easy to form the words to pray properly.”

“Do you know that the Holy Spirit prays for us when we do not know what to say?”

“Does it say that in the scriptures?”

“It does indeed.”

“Do the scriptures speak much about the suffering and loss of war?”

“There are many things that the Bible says, but one has to know where to look. The book of Lamentations, for example, movingly discusses the horrors of those who have endured and survived a long and destructive siege. But it is a book that few people seek.”

“I can easily understand why, as the book deals with subjects most people do not think about unless they have to. But some people have to think about such things because they are involved in such things.”

“The military life has always had difficulties in what people see and do, and even when soldiers themselves do not engage in atrocities, there is still a certain aspect of fear that is involved in warfare and those who have to deal with soldiers.”

“That is certainly true. While we celebrate the ferocity of those on our side, we understand that we would not want to be subject to the violence of those on the other side.”

“Yet good and evil are not something that one finds on sides. One of the great errors of revolutionary and progressive movements is that they see all too clearly the evil on the other side but do not see the evil inside themselves, thus thinking themselves to be righteous when they are not.”

“That is something that always troubled me about the way that the revolutionaries talked about themselves as bringing about some sort of heaven on earth through their acts of murder and theft and rebellion.”

“It is a problem that we have seen a great deal in our time and may expect to see for a long time to come unless people repent of their self-righteousness.”

“One does not need to be righteous in order to be self-righteous, alas.”

“That is indeed an unpleasant truth. So many people would like to build heaven on earth, but we cannot make what is more righteous and holy than ourselves. None of our governments or churches or other institutions can be more righteous than we are as the people who are involved in them. If we want the character of our nation or of our institutions to be improved, we must improve our character and the character of leaders. To simply throw out bad leaders to replace them with ones who are worse does not do any good.”

“That is a problem I have long thought about. Those who are born into positions of nobility and influence have not always been raised well or lived well, but at least there was the expectation that such people would need training in the role for which they were born and had some duties to serve others with the blessings that they had received without earning them. All too often in our present times people think they deserve those positions without having ever thought seriously or focused at all on their duties to anyone other than themselves.”

“I have long pondered how this tendency may be reversed, and how it is that people might become aware of the preparation and discipline that are needed to rule.”

“Are such thoughts related to your concern for spiritual discipline?”

“Very much so. As we have talked about before, I believe spiritual discipline to be at the core of all aspects of life, and one cannot find an aspect of human behavior that is not in some way informed by God’s ways.”

“There are certainly many people who would not want to accept the authority of God over all areas of their life and behavior.”

“But such people are corrupt and evil, and likely to believe that everything was political, and that having power meant that one had the right to do whatever one wished. On the contrary, no one can have any power except that which is allowed by God, and sometimes for the judgment of the people holding that power and the misery and punishment of an unrighteous people.”

“Bad leaders can bring terrible misery upon a nation. Is such a thing deserved?”

“It may not be deserved by all of the people in the nation, to be sure, for even in the worst nations there are still some righteous people, but yes, deserved by the people as a whole, for some sort of unbelief or unrepented evil way. Sometimes such people even choose for themselves the evil governors that lead to their ruin, people whose character is so evil and incompetence so marked that only a nation intended for judgment would select, much less allow, such people to rule.”

“How does one combat this problem?”

“Marry, have children, and keep those children away from the monsters who would corrupt their ways through what is falsely called education.”

“Actually, I would like to ask something about that.”

The chaplain looked at him, a bit curious. “What would you like to ask?”

“Do you ever officiate at weddings?”

“I have, although it is not my traditeional office.”

“Well, since you are my minister here, I wondered if you would be willing to officiate at the wedding I am planning with my sweetheart, who recently moved here to Gibraltar to be close to me.”

“I would be willing.”

“Thank you.”

And with that, Roland considered the interview to be over, with much to think about as had often ben the case recently. He went to his room, collected his letters, and went to relax at his favorite cafe before it was time to have dinner with his beloved. One of the advantages of sitting at a cafe alone is that you always had much to occupy your sight if you wanted to people watch, and Roland was in the mood to do that today.

On a day like today, the world seemed young and full of life. The rain had not set in, and a breeze was blowing in from the sea. From his vantage point he could see people running to and fro on business, couples enjoying some time walking through the streets hand in hand. How much more peaceful this city was, even in a time of war, than Toulon had been for all of its beauty, especially during the last days of the siege. People took peace for granted far too often. We assume that the green fields will stay green forever, and when they are covered by the bitterly cold snows of winter we wish it was spring again, without having to go through the fallow time where plants slept until it was time to expend energy in new growth again.

Perhaps the conflagrations of this evil time could be compared to the fires that burn through large amounts of forest and destroy the undergrowth that has built up over years and years that has never been cleared away, the dead trees that have blocked out the sun for too long. To be sure, one did not want to look at what the fires had destroyed, and one would prefer for sure a verdant forest to one blackened and charred by the wildfire, but it did not take long for new life to spring up from the ground again and to take its place in a forest that would quickly come back to life.

The problem was that people were not trees. Nor did the institutions or buildings that people built return to life the way that trees did. The manor house that for centuries had overseen the lives of the villeins and peasants farming in the countryside did not spring to life when it was burned down. The destroyed church did not grow up again after being looted and destroyed. When the tendrils dragged people to the guillotine, the blood did not lead to another noble soul rising from the ground, nourished by the lifeblood being soaked into the soil. One simply had a dead person who would never speak unpopular wisdom again.

How was it that human institutions were improved? One improved the quality of the people within them. But how could this be done? People had to learn through painful experience that might improve them but might also break or destroy them. People had to be taught, but where could trustworthy teachers be found in an age where teachers thought themselves to be powerful beings but instead of helping their students to grow sought to mutilate them or corrupt them to be even more evil than they themselves were, which was evil enough. At any rate, such questions could wait, because before too long it was time to dine with his sweetheart, and hopefully to plan for a wedding.

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Clarissa: Chapter Twenty

Roland was somewhat confused in what he was going to say to Clarissa. It was not particularly difficult to court a young woman like Clarissa most of the time, it must be admitted. But at the same time one wanted at least some time to think of what to say, especially when it came to such an important matter as engagement and marriage. Roland certainly did not take such a matter lightly, and he did not think that Clarissa was heedless and thoughtless in such matters, even if she was far more bold than he had supposed her to be by coming here to Gibraltar. And while coming to Gibraltar had made it easier for her to get information about him and to see his life as a soldier up close and to ease her own insecurities, it did not provide him with the sort of distance that allowed him the time to shape his thoughts in between letters sent over the distance. There was an advantage to long distance relationships, at least in terms of allowing people the chance to avoid the pressure of face to face conversations.

Roland, as he navigated the area around the barracks searching for where Clarissa lived, seeing as he did not in fact know exactly where that was, ended up asking some people where Clarissa lived, describing her as a new young lady who had moved to the area and lived alone, and eventually he came to a door, which he knocked at. After a little bit of a pause, the door was opened for him by the butler and he walked inside to see Clarissa looking at him a bit puzzled.

“How did you find out where I lived?”

“I found out from one of your neighbors.”

“And why have you come?”

“I wanted to talk to you.”

“And why did you not think it could wait until tomorrow?”

“Are you unhappy to see me?”

“I am a bit surprised that you did not wish to speak to me very much when you arrived but now wish to speak to me so urgently.”

“I must admit that conditions have somewhat changed since we talked last.”

“And what conditions are those?”

“I have been promoted to captain.”

“I am glad to hear that.”

“And I also had a good conversation with my commanding officer.”

“And what did he tell you?”

“He told me to come back to the barracks an engaged man.”

“I am afraid that your commanding officer is going to have to be disappointed.”

“And why is that?”

“Because a conversation like this is no way to conduct an engagement. Do you wish me to think that you only wish to marry me because your commanding officer tells you to do so?”

“I do not think that is a fair way of putting it.”

“How would you put it, then?”

“I would say that talking with my commanding officer helped me to clear up some things in my mind, and that gave me the peace of mind I needed to ask your hand in marriage.”

“What concerns did you have?”

“I did not think that on the salary of a lieutenant that I would be able to support a wife and family, certainly not in the style that you would be used to.”

“I see.”

There was a short pause after this short statement.

“But having been told that I would receive twice the salary of that as a captain, I had hope that whatever I was making, without even considering what you brought to the marriage, would be enough to live on without any trouble.”

“Do you think I would have trouble living on what I brought to the marriage?”

“Not at all, you seem to be living very well right now.”

“Indeed I am.”

“If you were concerned about whether or not we would have enough to live on as husband and wife, surely there were plenty of times that the subject could have been brought up before.”

“I did not wish to seem like a fortune hunter.”

“I would not think of you as such. Everyone who knows you is aware that you come from a noble family with plenty of property that is unfortunately quite fixed in enemy territory, and thus not able to support you at present. It is not as if you are some sort of debt-ridden charmer seeking to marry a wife to pay off an unsuccessful gambling habit.”

“That is quite true.”

“So why did you not ask me what sort of income we would have as a household when your own military income was combined with my own dowry?”

“I was embarrassed not to be contributing my share to the household’s income and depending on yours.”

As much as she hated to admit it, Clarissa could not help but to see the sense in this. She gathered her thoughts together. “I am sorry we have not begun our conversation tonight on the best of terms.”

“I am sorry for that as well.”

“I must admit I am feeling a bit irritated at the way that you acted today when you seemed in a hurry to get to the barracks and not to find some way of romantically proposing to me.”

“I must admit I was not prepared to get down on one knee. I did not expect to see you here.”

“How could you not? I have been sending letters for weeks talking about my travels here, my experiences in seeing the town, my lodgings, and the friends I have made among the officer’s wives.”

“I did not know that such letters existed until just a few minutes ago when my commanding officer handed them to me.” And as he said this he took out the unopened letters.

“You have not had the chance to read any of my letters?”

“No, Clarissa, I have not had the time.”

“Then please take the time to do so,” she said as she started to cry.

Roland looked at her abashed, wanting to comfort her but not knowing exactly how? “Did you not get any of my own letters as well?”

She shook her head, still sobbing. “I have heard nothing from you since before I left for here.”

Roland reached to give her a hug. “I tried to tell, without giving away too many details, the seriousness of the siege, the horrors I had seen, my efforts at communicating between the British army and the French leaders of the town, and our efforts to evacuate as many people as possible from what were sure to be angry and violent French soldiers. I did not include the worst of the details, but it was horrifying enough.”

“Where are your letters?”

“I do not know.”

At this Clarissa paused to think.

“If you promise to read my letters tonight, would you prefer to talk tomorrow here over a comfortable dinner where we may talk about these matters again?”

“I promise to read your letters and be better prepared tomorrow.”

“Then I will see you then,” she said, giving him a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Roland then bowed graciously and left the well-appointed sitting room. He left the terrace where she lived and then found himself a quiet cafe to sit and read the letters before returning to the barracks. When he read the letters, he saw the text where Clarissa unburdened her heart about her anxiety for his well-being, her sadness at not having heard a word from him and her fears that some harm had come to him or to their love. He read about her loneliness in Gibraltar, and how it was that she had gradually found people in the same position as she was in that were able to encourage her about the life of being an officer’s wife, even as she continued to wonder what was going on with him.

For her own part, after Roland left, Clarissa slumped down in a chair and continued to cry. Roland had come to her, had put his confidence at risk, and had been crushed. She thought to herself how she had almost ruined any chance of a happy resolution with her anger at him for not writing to her for so long. And yet he had written, apparently, according to his claims, and she had no reason to disbelieve him. It was not as if he had any other woman in town that she had heard about, at least, there being no hint of scandal about his conduct in town. And yet she had let her own insecurities, and her offense at the way he handled the surprise of his seeing her, and his making her wait without realizing it, behave coldly towards the man she loved and wanted to marry, and had traveled a long way simply to see, so that she might be closer to him.

She had not realized she was the sort of person who was bothered so much by silence. She thought that she was made of sterner stuff than to be so dependent on the encouragement received from frequent interaction with a loved one, but she found much to her surprise and disappointment that she held his silence against him as if he had not cared about her, not realizing that writing in a war zone might be impeded by the inability of ships to be willing or able to carry private mail back and forth under fire, especially in the dangers of the last stages of a deadly siege. She regretted that she had not written her foster father about this sort of eventuality, as she figured (correctly) that he might have had some wise advice to give her about such matters.

She did not have too long to think, though, because before too long she heard another knock at the door. She sat up a bit annoyed, but indicated to her butler to open the door, and in stepped a middle aged stranger to her, dressed in a uniform that suggested he was a man of considerable rank.

“I hope I do not offend you too much by my coming unannounced to you. I am General Powell of the 69th Lincolnshire, the commander of the regiment where Roland serves as an officer.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Clarissa said evenly. “I am Miss Clarissa Bennett. Roland recently spoke to me about you.”

“And did you make him the happiest of men?”

“I did not.” After a slight pause, she continued. “But I hope that happiness is only slightly deferred and not altogether foreclosed.”

“Very well then. I do not wish to intrude upon your private time, but I thought I may be of service in one thing. Well, perhaps in two. For one, Roland is not only a brave and conscientious officer but also one whose life is lived in the highest Christian character. And for another, I believe I have some letters that by right should belong to you. They have been read by the regimental censor and resealed, but I hope you may find them worthwhile.” He handed her the letters and departed with a bow.

While General Powell made his way back to the barracks, he saw Roland sitting and looking thoughtful and touched his hat. Roland saluted and picked up his letters and walked towards him. In silent solidarity the two men walked to the barracks and went inside, each to their own places to prepare for supper and then to rest for the night.

For her part, Clarissa opened the letters and began to read. She read about the horrors of life in a besieged city, about the peril that surrounded Roland every day, about his nightmares of death and imprisonment followed by death at the hand of French revolutionaries who would view him as the worst kind of traitor, fit only for torture and execution, and about the horrors he had seen even as he went about his work in delivering messages back and forth between British military and town leaders as the siege went increasingly badly. She shuddered at what she read, as she saw Roland honestly express his fears that he had offended her by speaking too openly and too honestly about the true nature of warfare and its effect on men. Rather than being offended at the honesty, though, she felt terrible for having responded to him so coldly and so rudely, but she also realized that he had been seriously affected by what he saw, and even considerably damaged by the experience of war, and this also concerned her even as it engaged her womanly sympathies.

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Clarissa: Chapter Nineteen

Roland entered the barracks to find his regiment already there. When he arrived, he was told that the general wanted to see him, and so after greeting his fellow officers and other soldiers, he went into the office of his commanding officer, and General Powell greeted him and invited him to sit down.

“I have heard a lot about the way that you helped to comfort and quiet the refugees from Toulon on our trip concerning their departure from France and what can be expected from them while they live in British territories.”

“I was simply giving them what comfort I could from my own personal experience.”

“And that is a very good thing, as it helped keep the refugees from stampeding or doing anything else dangerous that could have threatened their lives or others.”

Roland simply nodded at this.

“With the recent casualties that our regiment suffers and with your conspicuous bravery in the face of fire in coordinating and communicating with the town leaders in Toulon, I am promoting you to captain.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“We will have a short ceremony tomorrow dealing with the various promotions that have resulted from this past battle, as well as a discussion of how we plan to recuperate our forces until it is time for another campaign.”

“Thank you for letting me know, sir.”

“I do have some questions for you personally, though.”

“Personally, sir?”

“Yes,” the General takes out some letters and hands them to Roland.

“I imagine that you have already seen that one Clarissa Bennett is residing not far from here.”

“I did. I was quite surprised that I saw her when we landed.”

“I was not surprised, at least not after having looked at your mail and seen that some of it was labeled as coming from Gibraltar, at least the most recent letters. I did not read the contents of the letters, as that job is left to the military censors, but as I have been told by Lord Lipton to take care of Clarissa and her reputation, I wanted to know what you planned on doing with regards to Miss Bennett.”

“This is being very serious indeed.”

“When a young woman uproots herself from her own country and goes into an area to be nearer to one of my officers, I take an interest in such matters. She is obviously very serious about you. How do you intend to proceed?”

“I had thought to marry her, but figured it might take years of fighting in order to have a salary commensurate to the task of supporting a wife and family.”

“And so you figured it might take a lengthy engagement to sort out the pecuiniary details?”

“Yes, I figured that might be needed.”

“Well, if you want to talk about pecuniary details, let us do so now. As a lieutenant you got paid 4 shillings and some pence per day, and this was quite well enough for you, but perhaps not enough for you to think of marrying comfortably, right?”

“That is correct, sir.”

“As a captain, you will be paid nine shillings and some pence per day, more than doubling your previous pay. If you could live comfortably enough on your own as a lieutenant, you will be able to support a wife easily enough as a captain. And should you move to still higher ranks, you would be able to support a family in considerable style. As far as I know, you are not a gamester, nor do you appear to have other debts that would make it impossible to do so.”

“No, I do not have debts that would make it impossible to support myself on double my wage, nor, assuming that housing was easily available, supporting a family on such wages.”

“Nor have we taken into account family fortune. I understand that your own family resources are constrained because of your status as an emigre, but have you considered what sort of income that Clarissa herself would bring to the marriage?”

“I did not wish to view my relationship with her in such a mercenary light.”

“I can commend such disinterested motivations, but when calculating how much money you need to support a household, would not her dowry be a consideration?”

“I must admit I was not aware of the extent that this could have. I do not know what sort of dowry she would have, or what would be considered normal.”

“But you have never thought to ask?”

“No, indeed.”

“Most of the time women receive their dowries as a lump sum, and one that generates income at four percent per annum when invested, as it usually is, in government bonds. Your own salary would be roughly equivalent to a dowry of five thousand pounds. This is not something that would be unreasonable for any gentry young woman to have. I suspect that Miss Bennett’s dowry may be considerably larger than this, and would be well enough to support a good lifestyle.”

“And is this the sort of thing that English people talk and think about?”

“Absolutely. It is generally well known among English gentry and nobles what the terms are of someone’s income and property and what the source of it is, and whether someone has a share in an estate or not. I must admit that I do not know offhand what the arrangements would be in Miss Bennett’s family, but as she was raised by her cousin the viscount, who did not feel at all inconvenienced to provide her with a living, and, it should be noted, enough money to allow her to travel here without having to worry about how she would live, clearly such a man is not pinching pennies.”

“No, Lord Lipton never struck me as someone who was flashy in the way that he spent money or showed others how much he had, but in the time I spent around him he never seemed to be bothered or affected by anything, nor lacked for anything that he wanted.”

“You stayed at his house, and what was it like?”

“He had a lovely house, with some unusual buildings on it, including one that preserved ice for his sweetened ice tea that, from what I heard, was originally based off of a building in Persia. He had a comfortable library, a great amount of tasteful furniture, a beautiful garden, plenty of horses and ponies for himself and his family, several different types of carriages depending on the situation, plenty of comfortable servants. It is an enviable sort of lifestyle to have.”

“Do you think such a man is likely to leave a beloved ward struggling in want and poverty?”

“I do not think that Lord Lipton would let a tenant suffer want and poverty, much less a member of his family.”

“I happen to agree with you. So what has kept you from having a serious conversation about how much income a household of you and Clarissa would have?”

“I suppose a feeling of pride in that I did not want to depend on her income nor did I want to be or seem mercenary in seeking a wealthy heiress.”

“If you had your family’s wealth from France, would you consider yourself in need of a fortune?”

“No, I am sure I would have a great deal of income and would live much as Lord Lipton does, not a showy man who needs to overawe others with his income, but able to go where I pleased and do what I pleased without having to consider the expense of it.”

“Do you think that Lord Lipton and Clarissa would be aware of that?”

“I imagine they thought as much was the case when they cultivated the friendship of first my father and then myself.”

“Very well then. I want to see you back here by lights out, but I want you to go now to Miss Bennett’s place, and by the time you return here I want to know that you are an engaged man. Do you understand me?”

“I do indeed, sir.”

With that, Roland stood up, saluted General Powell, and then left.

Mr. Powell was left, alas, to a far less agreeable duty than to advise a young man on how he should live, but rather to deal with those who were no longer alive. He received the names of various women that had been waiting in vain for loved ones and who had been brought by the wives of other officers here to seek information about them. He looked at the names taken down by the duty officer at the entrance to the barracks and wrote notes about what he knew about them. So and so, buried at sea. So and so, prisoner of war in Toulon, possibly alive. so and so, buried at Toulon during the siege. Once he wrote down the notes about the people, all accounted for, no one shirking or deserting duty, but some in unknown prisons or known pits, he thought about what information he would need to know about them. Were these people married or simply cohabitating with soldiers? It might not make a difference to a soldier whether his girl was married or not by law when they were keeping house, but it mattered a great deal to His majesty when it came to paying out monies to their widows and children.

It had long been something that General Powell was aware of that soldiers, although in a very dangerous line of business, did not always think very soundly about their own interests or the interests of family members. There were ways that not only demonstrated bad morals but also poor wisdom when it came to making sure that one’s beloved women and children were able to live as best as possible should the worst come to happen in warfare. One of the reasons, indeed, that he had ordered Roland to sort matters out with Clarissa was that he did not wish her to be in a position where she had been bound to one of his officers by love and intimacy and affection, but not bound in such a way that would be recognized by His Majesty’s government when it came time to provide for widows and orphans left fatherless by those who fell in battle or died by disease in service, as was all too common. Even to be engaged was to have a formal relationship that was worthy of being rewarded, rather than the informal relationships that were all too common by the lower sorts of people who filled this regiment and many others.

Indeed, it struck General Powell, not a man given to think often about love, that one of the ways that people demonstrated their love most strongly was their willingness to tie themselves to others. Those people that liked to keep their relations informal were not doing so because they wanted their partners to feel free. Indeed, such people often went out of their way to make others feel entangled to them through financial obligations, to say nothing of the bonds of intimacy and affection, or the bonds that come from having children together, bonds that women in particular seemed to value strongly. Would an army accept soldiers on a casual verbal affirmation to fight whenever they felt like it? Not in the least. Soldiers and officers were instead bound to their regiments by contracts and oaths and obligations that could be enforced by the barrel of a gun and in courts of law. And those who did not consent to being connected to those they had duties and obligations to in like fashion were not thinking of the freedom of their loved ones at all, but only by their own selfish desires to escape being tied by obligation to those they were by honor already bound.

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Clarissa: Chapter Eighteen

News about the retreat and evacuation of Toulon spread to Gibraltar from the smallest and fastest ships before the larger ships, heavily laden with passengers, arrived. The various wives and other loved ones of the soldiers gathered information about when the flotilla was expected to arrive, and put on their best dresses and waited for the soldiers to disembark, hoping that everything was alright. None of them had heard any news in weeks, and so everyone was nervous, although there was some comfort in knowing that they were all nervous together and that they would be able to see what was going on before too long. In that hope and expectation they readied themselves.

Clarissa had a bit more to worry about, perhaps, than the rest of them. She did not know that he had ever received, much less replied, to any of her messages about going to Gibraltar, and she did not know if he expected her at all, much less what she would find or if he was in fact alright. Still, she was determined to be there for him and to see if conditions were right for them to marry and settle down, at least as much as it was possible to settle down in such a line of business.

With a large number of ships in the harbor, it took a long time for the ships to disembark. As might be expected, the soldiers’ ships had the higher priority over the ships where the refugees were put, and so it was that the first few ships came and disgorged the soldiers who had survived months of being under fire and seeking to defend Toulon, if ultimately unsuccessfully. A great many of the women were able to see their husbands and their loved ones, most of whom were a bit worse for the wear after being at sea and being under such conditions in a besieged city. There were many hugs and kisses and tender and affectionate greetings between those who had not seen each other for quite some time.

Clarissa was among those women who waited, not seeing their loved ones leave the ships that had been set aside for the soldiers. This waiting became awkward, as Clarissa was not known to the other officers of the regiment, and even those who had known about her second-hand had never met her or knew that she was in Gibraltar. And so it was that Clarissa and these other women waited with a pit in their stomach, uncertain whether they were to receive news of what was going on. After the soldiers had finished disembarking, it was time for the French refugees to disembark, if only for a little while, before they would be taken elsewhere, depending on where there was room for so many who had escaped death at the hands of the victorious French.

Fortunately for Clarissa, her wait was not as long as was the wait for some of the other nervous women on the wharf. The first ship of civilians that released its nervous and uncertain cargo showed Roland seeking to give encouragement to some of the leaders of that group of people who would have to set a good example for the rest of them about how to endure the difficulties of life in exile in English, where one would be without one’s property or the acquired years of personal knowledge, and where it might even be necessary to learn new languages and adapt to foreign English ways.

When Roland saw Clarissa, he was very surprised, but ran up to her and gave her a warm and tight embrace.

“How long have you been here?”

“I have been here almost two months,” Clarissa said, relieved that he was alive and well.

“I do not know how long it has been since I saw a letter or wrote one.”

“What happened?”

Roland was silent and thoughtful. “I do not know how to say the half of it. It is a miracle that I got out of it alive, praise be to God.”

“I am glad you are safe and sound.”

“I am safe, but I am not sure how sound I or anyone else coming from Toulon is.”

“What do you mean, my love?”

“I think it will be a long time before any of us sleep soundly or wake up refreshed after what we have seen and suffered.”

“I am so sorry,” Clarissa said, holding Roland tightly. “Do you have to go now or do we have time to talk some?”

“I do need to report to the barracks, as I have not been with my regiment. I was among the last to leave the city, helping as many people as I could onto the boats and to safety here. Those we could not help, it is better not to speak of it.”

The two of them walked arm in arm toward the barracks, and Clarissa looked with concern at the women left behind.

“What happened to the men left behind?”

“Some lie in foreign soil, some I did not see buried, and some are, I hope, still prisoners of the French with the possibility of future exchange.”

“Was it all disaster?”

Roland thought about how to respond both honestly and graciously. “It was a brave battle and a long siege. Most of us remain alive to fight another day. That is all the glory there was in it.”

“Are you happy to see me?”

“Very happy, but still very surprised. I thought you would wait behind in England.”

“I could not bear to wait so far away, so after my foster father got advice from officer’s wives about how best to deal with having loved ones away at war, I figured I must come here and share in the experience as best as possible.”

“Where do you live then, and how?”

Clarissa told her about the place she rented near the barracks, about her small household of servants, about how she socialized with the fellow officer’s wives who remained in Gibraltar, and how a local barrister’s firm with connections to those the family had long dealt with in England and various overseas territories was handling her finances and that she was well within her budget and that he had nothing to worry about there.

Roland laughed, and then he thought to himself that it had been a long time since he had laughed, and it felt a bit strange after all that had happened. After collecting his thoughts, he replied that he was satisfied that she was able to manage a household so skillfully and that he looked forward to talking more about such matters, although much would depend on the post-mortem of the siege that was even then going on, and that had begun as soon as the men left Toulon to return to Gibraltar.

With tender and affectionate hugs Clarissa and Roland parted when they reached the barracks, close enough to witness other tender partings going on between other soldiers and their wives or sweethearts, each of them slightly awkward to share the experience under the observation of othe others, but all equally determined not to bring up the discomfort first. After parting, Clarissa found herself among several other women she had gotten to know over the past few weeks.

“I was so worried about whether he was alright, and then he ended up being with some of the good people of the town rather than with his regiment.”

“It was likely because he spoke such good French that he was left to handle such matters rather than return with the troops.”

“Yes, I think that likely as well. I am glad that you have found comfort and encouragement today.”

The senior most wife among the group had a look on her face that led Clarissa to ask her what she was thinking. “I think we ought to go to our sisters who still wait for their people and give such comfort and encouragement as we can.” The rest nodded their assent and the group of women went back to the wharf.

There they found women, some of them women among their own acquaintance, others local women they did not know as well, and many hugs were given, with tears of concern and anxiety about the well-being of those who did not return with the rest of the troops. The group of officer’s wives took down the names of the men who were still unaccounted for, and resolved to go to the barracks and ask for some sort of word for these people if it pleased the waiting women. It did.

After another walk to the barracks, for this day was apparently full of surprising exercise to work out the nervousness of waiting for so long, the officer’s wives were able to make their request for a status report on the men who had not returned on the ships with the rest. The officer on duty, with heaviness in his heart, took down the names and directions of the women who were waiting, as well as the men that they were waiting for, and promised that he or someone else would go to them as soon as possible with what news and information they had, but that it could not be done tonight as it was too late in the day and much still needed to be addressed. With this answer the women had to be content, for no better answer was being offered to them.

After saying farewell to the women and offering such kind encouragement as she could as to her hope for a positive resolution and a good outcome, Clarissa returned home. When she got inside her home she sat down and wondered whether or not she wished for the chair to swallow her up. She had seen Roland, but something was different and she knew not what. He had not proposed marriage to her then and there, during the romantic peak of their meeting each other again.

Yet if she was somewhat troubled to think about such matters, she may have been comforted to know that she was far from alone in wondering about them.

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Clarissa: Chapter Seventeen

At some point it became obvious that the siege was not going well. Before it was talked about, one could feel the volume of shells increasing, the activity of the defenders slackening, the repairs failing to keep up with the damages from the surrounding French forces, and a decided lack of anything distracting those forces from the desire to retake Toulon. But while the knowledge that things were not going well remained only knowledge and not spoken or acknowledged knowledge for some time, eventually it became time to talk about what was going to happen.

Unless the British wanted to surrender thousands of troops to the French–and they did not–there was going to have to be some sort of evacuation planned. For this evacuation, boats would need to be gathered to bring people out of the city. For it soon became clear that it would be the height of cowardice to leave citizens who had loyally sought to rise up against their revolutionary and tyrannical government only to be abandoned to the tender mercies of an angry and returned authority when the British soldiers cut and run. British generals and admirals said to each other, if they admitted it to no one else at this time, that no one would or should ally with a nation who abandoned its allies to recrimination without trying to save as many of them as possible. Great Britain may not have always been successful in its counter-revolutionary activities, but the leaders of this expedition were not going to abandon the people of Toulon without trying to save as many of them as possible.

And it was this task which occupied so much of Roland’s time for weeks. If he was by no means high enough ranked to be the sort of person to help make the decisions or was even asked to participate in the discussions, he did faithfully deliver messages back and forth between the town’s leading citizens and the British forces, and eventually he came to understand the plan that was taking place and the cruel reality of what was about to happen. It made him sick to his stomach to think that the city was going to be left to the cruel and rapacious revolutionary armies who were sure to commit atrocities here like they did everywhere else their evil forces spread. Roland had thought that the British efforts in Toulon would help spread counter-revolutionary fervor through the peripheral regions of France and give emigres and neighboring kingdoms the space and the time to fight back the evils that were coming from Paris. But it did not appear that this was going to be the case, and it distressed Roland greatly, although he kept it largely to himself.

If Roland needed additional reasons for his mood to darken, it was because he found out over the course of time that not only he but also his fellow officers had stopped receiving their messages, or presumably being able to send them out. It was not as if there was very much that he wanted to tell about his experience in war, or thought that Clarissa would be able to understand, but it would have been nice to have gotten some words of encouragement. But instead, what happened is that just as the mood of the battle blackened, so too did the morale of men who were now in so dangerous a situation that they could not get their letters and read and reply to them. He hoped that when the evacuation came and they returned, hopefully, to Gibraltar, that there would be the chance to write to her again, but first he had to make it there.

Little by little, Roland’s world grew smaller and more constrained. He did not notice it coming on. Indeed, the same sort of mood was coming along all the soldiers and people trapped in the doomed city. Roland ran or rode horseback from the headquarters building, and then the headquarters ship to the town square, not even noticing when musket balls or artillery shot were launched his way. When he walked or ride through town he could not see much more than what was directly ahead of him, and still he traveled back and forth, back and forth, delivering messages and translating information both sides, without feeling much of an appetite for life or for anything, feeling exhausted day and night, often restless and unable to sleep, sometimes troubled by bad sleep, none of which made his waking life any easier. Nor was he alone in this. Some people even fared worse. Roland might have been aware of this had he felt better, but sometimes when he was out and about delivering messages and helping the people of Toulon find at least some hope of rescue from the impossible situation they were in, he even missed it when people were nicked by gunshots or beheaded or disemboweled by cannon fire. He could not see it, only noticing it when he returned to his bed to sleep and found blood or brains or other organs on his uniform, which was taken off to be washed.

None of this immediately troubled Roland, for he did not have the strength and will to do more than to drive himself through each day, doing what had to be done, not thinking about more than putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next task, delivering the next message. Everyone else was grimly focused on the same tasks, just doing what had to be done without thinking more. With the possibility of death or imprisonment–which for Roland would likely mean death–hanging over all of their heads, no one thought about the future at all. The grim present occupied whatever thinking was going on. Conversation dwindled to a minimum, words were hard to form, and when said, seldom reflected upon, and viewed merely as a source of information, mechanically listened to and responded to.

Finally, it came time to execute the plan to evacuate the soldiers and as many citizens as possible within Toulon. A group of soldiers was selected to be the forlorn hope with the task of holding on to the outside perimeter of the city as long as possible. Then the soldiers themselves were saved first, to live and fight another day. Roland wished his friends and colleagues farewell, for he was among those who was staying behind as long as possible to help refugees embark for the bitter life of exile, but preferable to the loss of life that was likely for those who were left behind. As ships gathered and took in refugees and aid out, more ships came to take their place, and eventually more than ten thousand citizens of Toulon were able to make their place on ships allowing them to escape from the horror of occupation and likely punishment by death for their daring to rebel against the revolution and their welcoming of the aid and presence of the British troops who had for so long sought to help them remain free of Paris’ cruel and erratic domination.

Somehow, Roland had the presence of mind to look out into the city of Toulon as the last boats were leaving the harbor and carrying people away from the malign care of their wicked government. As the ships sailed to safety and escaped the last few shots of canon and musket sent out after them, he saw the French troops rush into the city. He did not know that the hero of the day, that Corsican Bonaparte, was himself tending to his own injuries and unable to see the horrors that the angry French troops had in store for the people left in the city, but Roland himself was able to see the anger of those who had been held at bay for so long when presented with helpless captives and prisoners of war, who were shot at point blank range or speared to death repeatedly with swords and bayonets. Such is how glory is obtained, through violence meted out against the helpless and defenseless. Those who remained alive on the last ships shuddered to see fresh evidence of the atrocities of the humane and progressive government of the French people, as if any evidence was necessary at this point that the proclamations of evil politicians and corrupt rulers were mere words devoid of any real meaning and significance, except that they led people to commit brutality while feeling good about themselves as they did so, and thinking their victims to be less than human all the while.

For the British, this setback was not long remembered. That is not to say that it was soon or ever forgotten by those who survived it, for the brutal hand of war does not easily if ever let go of its hold on the soul of the soldier or the civilian in harm’s way. But by leaders and governments, the numbers of losses were acceptable enough not to see it as a true disaster, but neither did the war go well enough for the experience to be remembered as among the glorious retreats of the British army over its long and illustrious history. It had been barely ten years ago, after all, since the British had bravely evacuated East Florida after trading it for New Providence, so freshly regained from the Spanish who had taken it over. Cities and fortresses, to say nothing of whole large colonies, were nothing but colored bits of map to be traded like fish on a card table, so long as the price was right and something worthwhile in exchange was offered. And Toulon no longer remained a chip in the hand of the British players at the table. But Gibraltar did, and it was to Gibraltar that they were to go.

One of the unfortunate consequences of Roland remaining with the last of the French citizens of Toulon to escape and not with the remainder of his regiment was that he missed out on the chance to engage in that postmortem examination of the battle with those who were, like him, professionals in military affairs. The experience might have been better for him if he had been able to talk it out with those who knew it better than he did. As it was, he was in a ship with scared civilians who had narrowly escaped being put to death by the vengeful armies of revolutionary terror. He was the expert on how one would live in exile, and on what kind of care would be provided by the British to those who were now to live away from the homes they had come to know and love and cherish. If he felt gloomy and deeply unhappy himself, and he did, he was able to convey to them something of the opportunity that could be found in a new land for those who were willing to learn English and work hard, and the encouragement helped those who were nervously and anxiously looking forward to a new life abroad. Nor did his efforts to calm and settle the refugees go unnoticed by the crew of the ship that he was, which conveyed the information to the other ships in the flotilla that sailed through the Gulf of Lyon and the Western Mediterranean, bound for Gibraltar.

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Clarissa: Chapter Sixteen

For Clarissa, the trip to Hull was a bit of a blur. She changed horses at Market Weighton, which gave her just enough time to send her father a message about where she was going before going off again to Hull. She kept her wits about her, and was glad that she had servants with her who were able to help smooth over such conversations as needed to happen about where to go, but in as much time as she could expect, she had arrived at the busy port of Hull and had found passage on a ship that was bound to Gibraltar, presumably dealing with the military bases there.

As might be imagined, Clarissa, being an attractive young woman, well-dressed and a good tipper besides, drew plenty of attention, and it was soon known below decks that the young woman was on her way to marry a lucky officer in one of His Majesty’s regiments that was posted in Gibraltar, and the fact that she brought with her two servants suggested to all that she was a gentlewoman, but her distinct lack of snobbery suggested that she was not too fine a woman to enjoy a cruise.

Indeed, this was the first time that Clarissa had ever been away from home in such a fashion and she enjoyed the chance to get to know life on the sea. She found out quickly enough that she was not seasick and that she enjoyed the smell of the ocean and the calming rhythm of the waves. Not everyone did. It seemed as if her servants were well-suited to travel as well, and she had a conversation with both of them about what they could expect when they got to Gibraltar. None of them was an experienced traveler, but as Clarissa had a note with the address of a branch of the barristers that Lord Lipton worked with, they figured they would start there and then seek housing, which should not be an issue.

For the most part, Clarissa found life on the ship to be a mixture of pleasant but also very much governed by consistent patterns. She saw the changing of the watch, as there were always people looking out for the threat of Barbary pirates or some sort of attack from privateers, but fortunately for her there was nothing of the sort to worry about. Nor were there any storms along the way that would trouble a trip. Instead there were clouds, some sunshine, and plenty of opportunities to breathe in the sea air and enjoy the sight of birds, and be informed about the various names of the parts of the sea where they happened to travel. For the most part, they sailed out of the sight of land until it was nearly time for them to arrive at their destination.

When they came into the port of Gibraltar, Clarissa had to agree that Roland had given it a fair account. The port itself was gorgeous and it was a pleasure to her patriotic heart to think that this little spot of land and its control of the Pillars of Hercules were under the control of Great Britain rather than Spain or some other less friendly nation. When the boat made its way to the harbor and the passengers and cargo was let out, Clarissa showed the address to a cab driver and they were off to the surprised barristers who found a lovely young woman with a letter from an important client of theirs and two servants being deposited upon their doorstep.

Needless to say, Clarissa’s arrival prompted a very important meeting of the staff there. When Clarissa explained the hurried nature of her departure and the willingness of Lord Lipton to trust the management of her affairs while she was in Gibraltar to their very excellent hands, the meeting took on a far more pleasant aspect than had been expected to be the case. Before too long the firm had made arrangements for Miss Bennett to let one of the nicer buildings near the barracks where it was only a short walk to where the local apes could be seen and also a short walk to the marina. It must be admitted that since Gibraltar was quite small, everything was a short walk for a country girl like she was, and if it was not a big city it was certainly big enough to suit her.

For a while, at least, most of her guests visited for reasons of business. Once it was discovered that she was attached to a member of the 69th Lincolnshire Regiment, she formed bonds with some of the wives of other officers, who of course found it necessary to write to their husbands in order to determine what sort of man they knew Roland to be, and to give their accounts of Clarissa as a friendly but also determined young lady. She quickly gained the respect of those around her, who saw that while it was easy to underestimate someone who was as polite and friendly and attractive as she was, that she also had a firm knowledge of her own mind and was inclined to defend her interests strongly, yet without being disagreeable. This was to the pleasure of those who knew her, and it did not take long for her to find a circle of officer’s wives that was much to her liking. From them she heard many of the same things she had been told by Lord Lipton, and she informed them that her foster father had sought out the opinions of officer’s wives from the army and navy about how to best endure the profession of being a military wife.

It did not take too long for other business to sort itself out. Once word got out that a young woman was looking for a local cook, there were plenty of suitable candidates, of which one was chosen, and before too long Clarissa got to practice the householding skills that she had seen Lady Lipton manage, concerning the menu for the week, what guests were to come, and what sort of household she was to keep. Clarissa was by no means slack in such matters, and it did not take too long for her to feel comfortable with the rhythm of life as she found it in this beautiful and strange city. The fact that she had at least some of the Mediterranean looks of her mother made her feel less alien in the city as well, as most of the women around were, like her, people with a bit of a tan and brown hair and eyes like she was. She did not stand out here to the extent that she had back at home, where her looks made her appear to be an alien. Here, it seemed that everyone was an alien in their own way at least.

For a while, at least, most of her guests visited for reasons of business. Once it was discovered that she was attached to a member of the 69th Lincolnshire Regiment, she formed bonds with some of the wives of other officers, who of course found it necessary to write to their husbands in order to determine what sort of man they knew Roland to be, and to give their accounts of Clarissa as a friendly but also determined young lady. She quickly gained the respect of those around her, who saw that while it was easy to underestimate someone who was as polite and friendly and attractive as she was, that she also had a firm knowledge of her own mind and was inclined to defend her interests strongly, yet without being disagreeable. This was to the pleasure of those who knew her, and it did not take long for her to find a circle of officer’s wives that was much to her liking. From them she heard many of the same things she had been told by Lord Lipton, and she informed them that her foster father had sought out the opinions of officer’s wives from the army and navy about how to best endure the profession of being a military wife.

It did not seem strange to Clarissa to be thought of as a military wife before she was, in fact, married. Her willingness, indeed, to travel to Gibraltar and to avoid the uncertain fate of life in the country while her beloved was so far away and in such a glorious and dangerous siege was viewed with respect, for it was clear to the women around that Clarissa was certainly of the sort of women who were to be considered as wives and not as mistresses. Clarissa did not know how such women were to be considered, as she had never been acquainted with the sort of women who were assumed to be mistresses. Her own acquaintance, such as it was, was with the servants of her own household or wherever her family happened to be, as well as with the women of those families themselves.

Lord Lipton had never kept any mistresses, and had not raised his sons to think of any women as merely receptacles of their sexual sport. The women there were not personally familiar with Lord Lipton or his household, but soon gathered that Clarissa had been raised the right sort of way, with an independent fortune and with enough information and insight to handle herself, come what may. She was certainly young, and innocent of much of the world, but by no means a fool, and her honest and unaffected manners gained her much favor with those women who wished to preserve her good nature and to give her such useful information as they could. For her part, Clarissa was eager to learn from those who had something to teach, and soon had as many surrogate mothers and aunts and older sisters as she could ever wish for.

Even though Gibraltar was a lot closer to the action in Toulon than North Yorkshire was, it must be admitted that not much news of the battle reached them. It was understood that the battle was serious, that it had gone on for months, and that it was a major operation, but it was not exactly clear how the battle was going, and no one wanted to guess or speculate as to what that meant. No one wanted to be prey to their worries and fears, and so the women kept busy talking to each other, reading, engaged in various charitable efforts, and the like. If the diet was not exactly an English one, there was still fish to eat, still an enjoyment of tea and cookies and crackers, still plenty of soup, and so on. Day after day, Clarissa thought to herself that if Gibraltar did not seem likely to be her home forever, that it was a place that she certainly enjoyed spending time with. She found herself a local Anglican congregation to attend, and sat there with the ladies of the regiment who likewise enjoyed making it known that their religious habits were no less regular abroad than at home.

In their conversations, Clarissa began to find out something of the background of the women there and they began to find out something about her own. Though they had quickly learned that she was taken care of by Lord Lipton, and under his protection, however remote, they were intrigued to learn that Lord Lipton was in fact not her father but rather her cousin, and that they shared a connection with a mercantile house. Some of the wives of the regimental officers were themselves of the gentry or lower ranks of the nobility themselves, but some of them were locals of various British outposts, and some of them were American Tories who had married their husbands in the late war there, mostly in the area of New York. When they found out that Lord Lipton had himself spent time helping out the military in the Southern colonies, their interest in knowing more about him, and what interests he had in the army, was considerably heightened, although they dared not introduce themselves directly to his household.

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