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$14.95 / Perfectbound
ISBN: 9781608442355
336 pages
Also available at fine
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Excerpt from the Book

Prologue

NAME OF GOD, eh?” grunted Captain Pett. “For once the Dons got it right!” Savouring his flash of insight, Pett again scanned the emerald-green hills lying no more than a league away. “Who in the name of God would have chosen a place like this for a port?” he softly growled.

At length Pett lowered his glass and refocused his bloodshot eyes on the decks of his ship. A beehive of activity greeted them for Royal Wager’s men were now at their battle stations. His gaze quickly gelled on the gun crews; sun-burnt bodies swarming with purpose around each of the ship’s carriage-mounted demi-culverins, readying rammers, sponges, handspikes, and water tubs. The acrid smell of the gunners’ matches, glowing on their linstocks, caused him to wrinkle his nose but he welcomed it: no worse than the humid miasma emanating from the Panamanian land mass just off their port beam, at least it betokened imminent action and an end to the uncertainties that nagged him. It also reminded him that one could never be too careful about a fire at sea. Royal Wager’s massive baulks of dry timber and miles of tar-impregnated rigging rendered her little better than a floating tinder box waiting for a spark, and the cannonade they were preparing to deliver would give plenty of opportunity for that spark to be struck. He made a mental note to check that the gunners had placed buckets full of water, fore and aft, ready to fight fires—

“Your glass please, Captain.”

Pett blinked. It was the prince. “Yes, m’lord,” he said, blankly. With unmistakable resignation marking his movements, Pett handed his telescope—one of a captain’s most inviolable symbols of authority—to the lean figure hovering at his side. And within seconds the prince was training Pett’s glass on the jungle-clad hills of the north coast of Panamá.

It’s almost a relief, Pett snorted. Let the smart bugger figure it out for himself!

Pett allowed himself a brief glance at the immaculately clad young man now scanning the same dense tropical landscape that he had just examined. He saw that the man, one whom he knew as ‘Prince’ Michael, was bent on emulating the Spaniards’ taste for fine dress. The prince wore a finely chased cuirasse, dazzling now in the broiling sun, above which a snowy white ruffle protruded, reaching to his chin. Below the armour were puffed pantaloons—these were of scarlet—set off by a pair of black hose. A fine sword dangled at Michael’s side, probably of Toledo steel, throwing bright glints at the prince’s each move.