Welcome to another installment of The Gravity of the Affair! Thus far, young Lt. Horatio Nelson has been dragged before a formal Board of Inquiry to answer for his actions as post-captain of the brig HMS Badger while in the Void around Jupiter — actions that resulted in a clash with a much larger ship that left an officer under his command dead. Click here for links to previous installments. We pick up on the second day of testimony….
“So, Mr. Capper, you say it took the Badger the better part of three days to intercept the mystery ship upon the seas of Ganymede?” Commodore Hotham asked languidly. It was prior to lunch on the second day of the proceedings, and it was an unusually hot day, even for Port Royal within Ganymede’s tropical zone.
“Well, aye, Commodore,” Capper said, looking pale and uncomfortable in his dress uniform. Nelson did not recall Capper owning such attire and idly wondered whether Edwards had purchased it on his behalf. “We had a cracked mast to attend to, and then it was a question of whether the enemy had put in somewhere else or made straight for the pole.”
“And so Lt. Nelson stayed within sight of the coast during that southward journey,” Parker said. “Did you see any further signs of attacks?”
“No, sir, none,” Capper said. “We finally caught sight of her at the poles. The Ganny, that is.”
“And how certain were you of this?” Locker asked. “How certain was Lt. Nelson?”
Capper looked over toward Nelson, who had regained his impassive mien in time for the day’s proceedings. It had taken a fair amount of rum and many tearful toasts to his uncle’s memory—and perhaps to the memory of his career—for Nelson to find within himself the equanimity he wished to present.
Although, as Capper continued to make account of their first encounter with the privateer, Nelson felt that equanimity could very easily be misconstrued with miserable numbness, and wondered whether he was feeling the latter.