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15 Jan

Chapter XXIII

I was reasonably twisted on the laudanum I had packed in case of seasickness, washed down with gin and water, when a relentless hammering on the door of my cabin recalled me from the depths. It was McIntyre, bearing an enamel mug of steaming black coffee and a request from Captain Lakeman to join him for a conference in Major Seton’s private quarters in fifteen minutes. I accepted the coffee with bleary-eyed thanks. Lakeman had obviously got the measure of me already, and it was disconcerting to accept that I was so transparent: the tortured and self-destructive artist, the doomed romantic. It had been a stylish affectation in my youth, but now, like Coleridge and De Quincey,...
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7 Aug

Chapter XIX

Britannia
It was decided that Spike Island, a fortified islet within the lower harbour of some hundred acres and, according to our political masters, of great strategic significance, would serve Lakeman and Granger as a most efficacious pitch for a war game. Fort Westmoreland, a star fort built in the previous century, provided a square, while the beaches of the small, green skerry might be assaulted and defended. The location was also far enough away from the town for the discharge of blank cartridges to cause no inconvenience to the local civilian population, while also ensuring that the battle might be conducted with as much martial authenticity as possible. The fort was both garrison and convict depot. I...
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