The Lion of Midnight
J. D. Davies
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Winter, 1666. A second war has broken out between the English and the Dutch . . . Captain Matthew Quinton’s fifth mission for King and country is to the Swedish court at Gothenburg. Sweden is at the height of its military power, and Quinton is charged with securing crucial support in England’s new war against her old enemy, the Dutch republic. Accompanying him is the mysterious Lord Conisborough, who – unknown to his captain – is sworn to another, secret mission involving the notorious regicide John Bale, alone among peers of the realm to sign the death warrant of Charles I. Gothenburg proves to be a hotbed of dangerously conflicting loyalties, and Quinton and crew find themselves needing help from the most unexpected quarters.
might be. And yet… Yes, and yet. True, I had a responsibility to the mast-fleet that lay icebound within the road of Gothenburg, but perhaps I had also been given a God-given opportunity to ensure that it would not be the last such fleet to reach England in the present war. If the High Chancellor had ordered the embargo on new supplies, was it not at least possible that he could be persuaded to reverse that policy by the envoy of His Britannic Majesty? There was another vista before me, too.
castle of the High Chancellor of Sweden? The Knight of Malta kept his weapon raised, the blade close against mine. He backed up the corridor; away, I realised, from the larger thoroughfare, and any chance of discovery. The rooms in this quarter of the castle seemed entirely empty. ‘And put myself at your mercy, Sir Matthew? I really think not.’ With that he lunged, his blade aimed at my chest. I parried and countered. We exchanged five initial exploratory blows, perhaps six, the clash of steel
the honour of Sweden!’ he raged in French for my benefit. ‘Gross and horrid crimes, committed here upon her very soil! Seizing the person of Lord Bale, to whom we had granted our particular protection! Threatening the citizenry and garrison of Gothenburg with armed violence – why, even with loaded cannon!’ The man was red-faced; I contemplated the odds of him being struck by a paralytic stroke. ‘These are capital crimes, Sir Matthew Quinton. Capital crimes, do you hear me? You and your men are
gun, an eighteen-pounder or thereabouts, fell over the side, its tackle entangling the limbs of one poor soul who was dragged after it. Any man on the quarterdeck directly beneath the falling mast would have been crushed in an instant. And my last sight of the Seigneur de Montnoir was in that exact spot in that exact moment, with sword in hand, fighting off the assault of my two Cressys. Then the remnants of the mizzen and its sails covered the quarterdeck like a shroud, and nothing moved
Queen Christina. I relied primarily on the newest available in English, Veronica Buckley’s Christina, Queen of Sweden, as well as on the older The Sibyl of the North by Faith Compton Mackenzie and Queen Christina by Georgina Masson; for some unaccountable reason, however, I decided to forego the biography of her by Barbara Cartland. As for the title ‘King (or Queen) of the Swedes, Goths and Wends’, that continued to be borne by Swedish monarchs until the present incumbent, Karl XVI Gustaf,