Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade

BOOK: Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
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Title Page



SECTION I As Kinsmen Met

Chapter 1 All in the Family

Chapter 2 Not a Betting Man

Chapter 3 Pet Criminal

Chapter 4 Chisping

Chapter 5 Genius and Sub-Genius


Chapter 6 Breakage

Chapter 7 Penance

Chapter 8 Violent Hands

SECTION III Mixed Loyalties

Chapter 9 Unnatural Acts

Chapter 10 Salle des Armes

Chapter 11 Warnings

Chapter 12 Officers and Gentlemen

Chapter 13 A Visit to Newgate

Chapter 14 Place of Execution

Chapter 15 A Delicate Errand

Chapter 16 In Which an Engagement Is Broken

Chapter 17 In Which a Marriage Takes Place, among Other Things

Chapter 18 Finally

Chapter 19 Pictures at an Exhibition

SECTION IV The Regiment Rises

Chapter 20 Ye Jacobites by Name

Chapter 21 Cowardice

Chapter 22 Shame

Chapter 23 The Rhineland

Chapter 24 Skirmish

Chapter 25 Betrayal

Chapter 26 Drinking with Dachshunds

Chapter 27 The Honorable Thing

Chapter 28 Hückelsmay

Chapter 29 Dawn of Battle

SECTION V Redivivus

Chapter 30 A Specialist in Matters of the Heart

Chapter 31 Nota Bene

Chapter 32 The Path of Honor

Chapter 33 Leaving Party

Chapter 34 Duchess of Pardloe

Chapter 35 “I Do Renounce Them”

Author’s Notes

About the Author

Also by Diana Gabaldon


This book is for Barbara Schnell,
my dear friend and German voice


The author would like to thank all the kind people who have given me information and help in the course of this novel, particularly—

…Mr. Richard Jacobs, Krefeld local historian, and his wife Monika, who walked the battlefield at Krefeld (“Crefeld” is the older, eighteenth-century spelling) and the
with me, explaining the local geography.

…the staff of the small museum at Hückelsmay—where cannonballs from the battle of Crefeld are still embedded in the walls of the house—for their kind reception and useful information.

…Barbara Schnell and her family, without whom I would probably never have heard of Crefeld.

…Mr. Howarth Penney for his kind interest, and his most useful gift of
Titles and Forms of Address
(published by A&C Black, London), which was of great help in negotiating the perilous straits of British aristocratic nomenclature. Any error in such matters is either the author’s mistake—or the author’s exercise of fictional license. While we do strive for the greatest degree of historical accuracy possible, we are not above making things up now and then. (That is not, by the way, a Royal “we” I just mean me and the people who live inside my head.) A Duke, however,
addressed as “Your Grace,” and a Duke’s younger son(s) addressed as “Lord____.”

…Mr. Horace Walpole, that inveterate correspondent whose witty and detailed letters provided me with a vivid window into eighteenth-century society.

…Project Gutenberg, for providing me with excellent access to the complete correspondence of Mr. Walpole.

…Gus the dachshund, and Otis Stout the pug (aka “Hercules”), who generously allowed the use of their personae. (Yes, I do know that dachshunds were not an official breed in the eighteenth century, but I’m sure that some inventive German dog-fancier had the idea prior to their establishment with the AKC. Badgers have been around for a long time.)

…Christine Reynolds, Assistant Keeper of the Muniments of the Parish Church of St. Margaret’s, for extremely useful information regarding the history and structures of the church, including a very useful organ loft under which to give birth, and Catherine MacGregor for suggesting St. Margaret’s and for finding Ms. Reynolds.

…Patricia Fuller, Paulette Langguth, Pamela Patchet, pamelalass, and doubtless several other people
beginning with “P,” for information regarding eighteenth-century public exhibitions of art, and the history of specific artists and paintings.

…Philip Larkin, whose remarkably revealing portrait of the first Duke of Buckingham (presently displayed in the Royal Portrait Gallery in London) provided one of the first seeds of inspiration for this book. (And neither I nor Mr. Larkin are maligning the first Duke of Buckingham, either.)

…Laura Watkins, late of the Stanford Polo Club, for expert opinion as to the mechanics of a horse jumping ditches.

…“oorjanie” of the Ladies of Lallybroch for graciously allowing the star employee of an up-and-coming brothel to share her name.

…Karen Watson, our London correspondent, of Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise, for her generous sleuthing through the history and byways of her beloved city, to lend a reasonable verisimilitude to Lord John’s geographical excursions.

…Laura Bailey, for insight and advice regarding eighteenth-century clothing and custom.

…David Niven, for his very entertaining and honest autobiographies,
The Moon’s a Balloon,
Bring on the Empty Horses,
which included a useful look at the social workings of a British regiment (as well as helpful information regarding how to survive a long formal dinner). Also, George MacDonald Fraser, for his
MacAuslan in the Rough,
a collection of stories about life in a WWII Highland Regiment.

…Isaac Trion, whose hand-drawn watercolor map of the battle of Crefeld, drawn in 1758, adorns my wall, and whose painstaking details adorn the story.

…The assorted gentlemen (and ladies) who were kind enough to read and comment on sex scenes. (As a matter of public interest, a poll regarding one such scene came back with the following results: “Positive: I want to know more—82%; Negative: This makes me uncomfortable—4%; Slightly shocked, but not put off—10%; Neutral—4%.)

Chapter 1

All in the Family

London, January 1758
The Society for Appreciation of
the English Beefsteak, A Gentlemen’s Club

o the best of Lord John Grey’s knowledge, stepmothers as depicted in fiction tended to be venal, evil, cunning, homicidal, and occasionally cannibalistic. Stepfathers, by contrast, seemed negligible, if not completely innocuous.

“Squire Allworthy, do you think?” he said to his brother. “Or Claudius?”

Hal stood restlessly twirling the club’s terrestrial globe, looking elegant, urbane, and thoroughly indigestible. He left off performing this activity, and gave Grey a look of incomprehension.


“Stepfathers,” Grey explained. “There seem remarkably few of them among the pages of novels, by contrast to the maternal variety. I merely wondered where Mother’s new acquisition might fall, along the spectrum of character.”

Hal’s nostrils flared. His own reading tended to be confined to Tacitus and the more detailed Greek and Roman histories of military endeavor. The practice of reading novels he regarded as a form of moral weakness; forgivable, and in fact, quite understandable in their mother, who was, after all, a woman. That his younger brother should share in this vice was somewhat less acceptable.

However, he merely said, “Claudius? From
? Surely not, John, unless you happen to know something about Mother that I do not.”

Grey was reasonably sure that he knew a number of things about their mother that Hal did not, but this was neither the time nor place to mention them.

“Can you think of any other examples? Notable stepfathers of history, perhaps?”

Hal pursed his lips, frowning a bit in thought. Absently, he touched the watch pocket at his waist.

Grey touched his own watch pocket, where the gold and crystal of his chiming timepiece—the twin of Hal’s—made a reassuring weight.

“He’s not late yet.”

Hal gave him a sideways look, not a smile—Hal was not in a mood that would permit such an expression—but tinged with humor, nonetheless.

“He is at least a soldier.”

In Grey’s experience, membership in the brotherhood of the blade did not necessarily impute punctuality—their friend Harry Quarry was a colonel and habitually late—but he nodded equably. Hal was sufficiently on edge already. Grey didn’t want to start a foolish argument that might color the imminent meeting with their mother’s intended third husband.

“It could be worse, I suppose,” Hal said, returning to his moody examination of the globe. “At least he’s not a bloody merchant. Or a tradesman.” His voice dripped loathing at the thought.

In fact, General Sir George Stanley was a knight, granted that distinction by reason of service of arms, rather than birth. His family had dealt in trade, though in the reasonably respectable venues of banking and shipping. Benedicta Grey, however, was a duchess. Or had been.

So far reasonably calm in the face of his mother’s impending nuptials, Grey felt a sudden drop of the stomach, a visceral reaction to the realization that his mother would no longer be a Grey, but would become Lady Stanley—someone quite foreign. This was, of course, ridiculous. At the same time, he found himself suddenly in greater sympathy with Hal.

The watch in his pocket began to chime noon. Hal’s timepiece sounded no more than half a second later, and the brothers smiled at each other, hands on their pockets, suddenly united.

The watches were identical, gifts from their father upon the occasion of each son’s twelfth birthday. The duke had died the day after Grey’s twelfth birthday, endowing this small recognition of manhood with a particular poignancy. Grey drew breath to say something, but the sound of voices came from the corridor.

“There he is.” Hal lifted his head, evidently undecided whether to go out to meet Sir George or remain in the library to receive him.

“Saint Joseph,” Grey said suddenly. “There’s another notable stepfather.”

“Quite,” said his brother, with a sidelong glance. “And which of us are you suggesting…?”

A shadow fell across the Turkey carpet, cast by the form of a bowing servant who stood in the doorway.

“Sir George Stanley, my lord. And party.”

eneral Sir George Stanley was a surprise. While Grey had consciously expected neither Claudius nor Saint Joseph, the reality was a trifle…rounder than anticipated.

His mother’s first husband had been tall and dashing, by report, while her second, his own father, had been possessed of the same slight stature, fairness, and tidy muscularity which he had bequeathed to both his sons. Sir George rather restored one’s faith in the law of averages, Grey thought, amused.

A bit taller than himself or Hal, and quite stout, the general had a face that was round, cheerful, and rosily guileless beneath a rather shabby wig. His features were nondescript in the extreme, bar a pair of wide brown eyes that gave him an air of pleasant expectation, as though he could think of nothing so delightful as a meeting with the person he addressed.

He bowed in greeting, but then shook hands firmly with both Greys, leaving Lord John with an impression of warmth and sincerity.

“It is kind of you to invite me to luncheon,” he said, smiling from one brother to the other. “I cannot say how greatly I appreciate your welcome. I feel most awkward, then, to begin at once with an apology—but I am afraid I have imposed upon you by bringing my stepson. He arrived unexpectedly this morning from the country, just as I was setting out. Seeing that you will in some sense be brothers…I, er, thought perhaps you would pardon my liberty in bringing him along to be introduced.” He laughed, a little awkwardly, and blushed; an odd mannerism in a man of his age and rank, but rather endearing, Grey thought, smiling back despite himself.

“Of course,” Hal said, managing to sound cordial.

“Most certainly,” Grey echoed. He was standing closest to Sir George, and now turned to the general’s companion, hand extended in greeting, and found himself face to face with a tall, slender, dark-eyed young man.

“My Lord Melton, Lord John,” the general was saying, a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “May I present Mr. Percival Wainwright?”

Hal was a trifle put out; Grey could feel the vibrations of annoyance from his direction—Hal hated surprises, particularly those of a social nature—but he himself had little attention to spare for his brother’s quirks at the moment.

“Your servant, sir,” he said, taking Mr. Wainwright’s hand, with an odd sense of previous meeting.

The other felt it, too; Grey could see the faint expression of puzzlement on the young man’s face, a faint inturning of fine dark brows, as though wondering where…

Realization struck them simultaneously. His hand tightened involuntarily on the other’s, just as Wainwright’s grip clutched his.

“Yours, sir,” murmured Wainwright, and stepped back with a slight cough. He reached to shake Hal’s hand, but glanced briefly back at Grey. His eyes were also brown, but not at all like his stepfather’s, Grey thought, the momentary shock of recognition fading.

They were a soft, vivid brown, like sherry sack, and most expressive. At the moment, they were dancing with mirth at the situation—and filled with the same intensely personal interest Grey had seen in them once before, at their first meeting…in the library of Lavender House.

Percy Wainwright had given him his name—and his hand—upon that occasion, too. But Grey had been an anonymous stranger then, and the encounter had been necessarily brief.

Hal was expressing polite welcome to the newcomer, though giving him the sort of coolly professional appraisal he would use to sum up an officer new to the regiment.

Grey thought Wainwright stood up well to such scrutiny; he was well-built, dressed neatly and with taste, clear-skinned and clean-featured, with an attitude that spoke of both humor and imagination. Both traits could be dangerous in an officer, but on a personal level…

Wainwright seemed to be discreetly exercising his own curiosity with regard to Grey, flicking brief glances his way—and little wonder. Grey smiled at him, now rather enjoying the surprise of this new “brother.”

“I thank you,” Wainwright said, as Hal concluded his welcome. He pulled his lingering attention away from Grey, and bowed to Hal. “Your Grace is most…gracious.”

There was an instant of stricken silence following that last, half-strangled word, spoken as Wainwright realized, a moment too late, what he had said.

Hal froze, for the briefest instant, before recovering himself and bowing in return.

“Not at all,” he said, with impeccable politeness. “Shall we dine, gentlemen?”

Hal turned at once for the door, not looking back. And just as well, Grey thought, seeing the hasty exchange of gestures and glances between the general and his stepson—horrified annoyance from the former, exemplified by rolling of the eyes and a brief clutching of the shabby wig; agonized apology by the latter—an apology extended wordlessly to Grey, as Percy Wainwright turned to him with a grimace.

Grey lifted one shoulder in dismissal. Hal was used to it—and it was his own fault, after all.

“We are fortunate in our timing,” he said, and smiled at Percy. He touched Wainwright’s back, lightly encouraging him toward the door. “It’s Thursday. The Beefsteak’s cook does an excellent ragout of beef on Thursdays. With oysters.”

ir George was wise enough to make no apology for his stepson’s gaffe, instead engaging both the Greys in conversation regarding the campaigns of the previous autumn. Percy Wainwright appeared a trifle flustered, but quickly regained his composure, listening with every evidence of absorption.

“You were in Prussia?” he asked, hearing Grey’s mention of maneuvers near the Oder. “But surely the Forty-sixth has been stationed in France recently—or am I mistaken?”

“No, not at all,” Grey replied. “I was temporarily seconded to a Prussian regiment, as liaison with British troops there, after Kloster-Zeven.” He raised a brow at Wainwright. “You seem well-informed.”

Wainwright smiled.

“My stepfather thinks of buying me a commission,” he admitted frankly. “I have heard a great deal of military conversation of late.”

“I daresay you have. And have you formed any notions, any preferences?”

“I had not,” Wainwright said, his vivid eyes intent on Grey’s face. He smiled. “Until today.”

Grey’s heart gave a small hop. He had been trying to forget the last time he had seen Percy Wainwright, soft dark curls disheveled and his stock undone. Today, his hair was brushed smooth, bound and powdered like Grey’s own; he wore a sober blue, and they met as proper gentlemen. But the scent of Lavender House seemed to linger in the air between them—a smell of wine and leather, and the sharp, deep musk of masculine desire.

“Now then, Percy,” the general said, slightly reproving. “Not so hasty, my boy! We have still to speak with Colonel Bonham, and Pickering, too, you know.”

“Indeed,” Grey said lightly. “Well, you must allow me to give you a tour of the Forty-sixth’s quarters, near Cavendish Square. If we are to compete with some other regiment for the honor of your company, we must be allowed to exhibit our finer points.”

BOOK: Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
10.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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