Joseph Shepherd Chs. 15-16

Chapter 15

William Harvey reached London and received a warm welcome from King James. Harvey enjoyed great respect and honor from the court, and seemed to know every person of influence in London. His arrival seemed to set off a round of balls and social gatherings, which attracted lords and ladies from all around the kingdom. Harvey explained to people at these gatherings his latest adventure on the Elizabeth, as well as his exciting discoveries about the body. Harvey was convinced that the heart played a major part in the flow of blood in the body. He had done dissections of human bodies, and had seen little valves in the veins, which appeared to restrict the flow of blood to one direction. The arteries also had valves, which forced blood away from the heart.

Harvey also knew that knowledge was only part of science. Scientists also need to have patrons who support them in their endeavors financially. He was learning the fine art of money politics, as well as social and practical politics. Being in the king’s court was a fine way to advance science, he reasoned.

Edwin Carr had also come to London, invited by Lord Kensington, who had bought a thousand shares of the British East India Company. Kensington was very fond of Edwin Carr, and very protective of him as well. After all, Captain Carr would continually bring home good cargoes on the Elizabeth, giving the British East India Company vast returns on their investment. Carr was a great asset, one to be protected. Lord Kensington had just secured a bonus for Captain Carr, and he treated Carr like a son, although there was not more than ten years of age difference between them.

Edwin Carr also had the asset of dashing good looks, a fine sense of grace and humor, and a way with people. He was indeed an asset to have as a business partner.

As Carr was talking to Lord Kensington, he was regaling him about the latest voyage from Padua, Tuscany, the Greek islands, and the return trip to England. He told the story of Captain Braden’s rescue at sea, and the mutiny on the Intrepid. Kensington was fascinated with the adventure stories, but also somewhat upset about the plight of a British navy captain. After all, it was the growing power of the British navy that afforded the protection for the British East India Company’s maritime commerce. A weak or corrupt navy meant trouble for profits. That would not do!

“Captain Edwin Carr!” called an attractive woman walking briskly to offer her hand to Carr.

“Lady Kensington,” said Carr softly, “so good to see you again.”

Lady Anne Kensington was the somewhat recent bride of Lord Andrew Kensington. Prior to the marriage, she had been the Kensington’s mistress for several years. Lady Kensington was twelve years younger than her husband, and had been a friend of Carr long before she met Kensington. It was ironic that Anne Kensington now carried the title “Lady,” for when she was Anne Fox, she had acted very little like a lady. Carr remembered the stories about Anne Fox and the way that she had acted when serving his sailing friends at the Pier’s End Pub. She had met Andrew Kensington at a reception given by Jacob Carr. Jacob moved in circles that included the highest and lowest of society, where the common ground was money or the chance to acquire it. Jacob Carr had friends who were dockworkers, and friends who lent money to kings. Anne Fox had grown up in the neighborhoods of East London, near the Carrs’ home, and while not childhood friends, they were linked by the poverty of the underclass.

Lord Kensington had been attracted to Anne from the moment he met her through Jacob Carr. It was not long before Anne was seeing Kensington every week, and sharing both his bed and some of his fortune. Upon the death of Kensington’s wife, Alice, Kensington married Anne. He did this partly to satisfy his partners at the East India Company, and partly because Anne Fox would have nothing less than marriage and the title she had coveted since she was a girl.

“Captain Carr,” she continued, grabbing Carr by the arm, “I want to introduce you to some of my new friends.”

Carr was amused that she insisted on calling him “Captain Carr,” when in other settings she did not hesitate to call him Eddy, or “Bunky,” a nickname that had some rather coarse origins known only to a few of Carr’s intimates.

“You don’t want to introduce him as much as show him off!” chided Lord Kensington. “Show him off, then, he really is a prize,” he called out.

Lady Anne barely looked back at her husband, enthralled with the man at her arm. Indeed, she would show him off, and she would enjoy the evening.

As Edwin Carr and Lady Kensington whisked off to other guests, Andrew Kensington began doing some business. He circulated among the guests, discussing the current political concerns. There were a number of new faces in this gathering, and Kensington inquired of some of these new guests about their business, their family, their estates. He found that King James had opened the door very widely to peerage. There were numerous new barons, baronets, dukes, and other titled gentry, all admitted to the social elite for the price of a title. If new titles needed to be created, so be it. This was a crown with very little available money, mostly due to James’ refusal to convene Parliament. No Parliament meant no revenue from new taxes, so the resourceful king found new means of prying money from the landed wealth. He also found that these newly minted gentlemen and ladies cared little for their benefactor. Most found him to be weak, lacking in courage, and hopelessly out of touch with the people he ruled. Rumors also circulated about his fondness for young men, yet there was a strange ennui regarding the king personally. They cared little for James I, King of England, but they cared a great deal about the burgeoning economy and the potential wealth that colonies could generate. There were the very rich and the very poor. While the very poor far outnumbered the very rich, wealth had a way of keeping power away from the wretched masses in the cities.

 Politics was for those who had passion for governance. Business was the passion of Lord Kensington, and he cared only for those who shared his passion, or those who could help his passion to flourish. Kensington found some kindred spirits who were interested in the tobacco trade just beginning in the colonies. More acres needed to be planted in the rich Virginia soil to increase the amount of tobacco available for export to England. Englishmen were just beginning to acquire a taste for the tobacco now being shipped to England, and Kensington was willing to bet that such a taste would mean merely the start of a valuable product. King James believed that tobacco was unhealthy, and did not promote the sale of the product. Kensington knew that there was money to be made, and that he did not necessarily need the support of a king to get rich. Yes, he would like the King’s support, but he was determined to find greater wealth no matter what.

Kensington’s attention turned to the entrance of some important guests who were just being introduced.

“The honorable Captain William Braden, accompanied by the Royal Court Physician Sir William Harvey!”

The crowd was gracious in its reception of these late-arriving guests. Many had heard the story, which had been abuzz earlier in the evening, about the rescue of Captain Braden, the mutiny on the Intrepid, and the reports of that renegade ship still at sea, possibly trying to enter Plymouth.

William Harvey was already well known in these circles as a brilliant scientist. While many failed to understand the import of his research, they knew of his prominence in the court of King James. Harvey was also well liked by those who met him, and his reputation was growing.

Kensington made his way to Captain Braden to hear firsthand of his ordeal. Braden looked frail, and every bit of his nearly sixty years of age. Kensington, at fifty-one, felt much younger in Braden’s presence, and he gave the deference to the old warrior that befitted the age difference and the respect for military service as well. As Kensington spoke to Braden, Dr. Harvey approached them with another physician friend.

“Captain Braden,” began Harvey, “my apologies for interrupting your conversation with this gentleman, but I do want you to speak with Dr. Jenner about your experience on the Intrepid. I have told Dr. Jenner that a Dr. Shepherd treated you in a most unusual way for the plague. Do you mind telling Dr. Jenner about it?”

Kensington chimed in, “By all means, Captain Braden, please tell us of your experiences on the Intrepid. I am most interested in the state of our Royal Navy and your ghastly treatment on board your own ship.”

Braden sighed, reluctant to speak once again of what felt to him like such a failure. Losing your ship, no matter what transpired, was a failure to a navy man. Nevertheless, Braden told in some detail the story of how he became ill, how Joseph Shepherd had given him moldy bread, had anointed him with oil, and prayed over him. Dr. Jenner seemed very compassionate toward the old captain, and listened out of respect. He thanked Braden for relaying the story, excused himself from the conversation, and returned to his wife, who was waiting for him near the wine porter.

William Harvey was anxious to meet Joseph Shepherd. Harvey’s greatest gift, aside from his ability to charm people with his wit and savvy manner, was his willingness to embrace new ideas. Harvey was a true scientist, desiring to advance medicine, and willing to look beyond currently accepted beliefs.

Harvey was intrigued by the idea that Braden was cured by this odd assortment of prayer, oil, and moldy bread. He was not willing to see a miraculous healing, but he was open to see medical science at work. Perhaps there was something about the bread. Maybe Shepherd had applied some other medicines, which Braden, in his delirium, had forgotten. Harvey decided that he would find Joseph Shepherd to discover more of this fantastic story. If nothing else, he would meet an interesting person. Dr. Jenner, on the other hand, dismissed the story of healing as a nice tale from a poor old man. Lord Kensington, seeing Harvey’s interest, decided that he too could be interested in pursuing this story. One never knew but that a man as well connected as William Harvey might be worth the investment of time.

Harvey glanced toward Lord Kensington and asked if he could arrange travel to Plymouth when the Intrepid arrived in port.

“I am at your command, Dr. Harvey,” answered Kensington with an exaggerated bow.

                       Chapter 16

William Bradford and Dr. Mullins were told that Joseph Shepherd and I were to accompany them on the rounds of the ship, and we were to be available to answer questions about the physical health of the crew. Mr. Swailes would also accompany us as acting commander of the Intrepid. Mr. North, recovering well from his shoulder injury (and more slowly from the opium treatment that we had liberally administered), was able to sit up in sickbay, but he was not clear on any recent details of the trip, and he remained below deck.

“Dr. Greene,” began James Mullins, “I expect that you will be totally honest with me about the condition of the crew. I realize that you have much to gain by withholding information about the health of the crew, but you are said to be an honorable physician and a man of integrity, so I will proceed on that assumption.”

I wanted to feign indignance at his remarks, but the fact was I probably would have shaded the truth a bit to allow entrance into port – I am not above it – but I also believed that plague was not active on the ship. For all I knew, the symptoms we had seen were not truly those of the dreaded plague. What I did know is that for weeks we had seen no sick sailors, and that we were no threat to the port of Plymouth.

“Yes,” I replied to Dr. Mullins, “I am a man of integrity, sworn to uphold my oath to medicine as well as to the crown of England. I can tell you that we have treated no sailor for signs of the plague for over three weeks. Those symptoms we did see may or may not have been the plague.”

Bradford and Mullins looked at one another and Bradford said, “If that is so, then why did you put your captain Braden adrift to die in the ocean? It is only by the grace of God that he was rescued by the Elizabeth. He lived to tell of the treatment he received from this crew.”

Shepherd and I were completely shocked at this statement, but no more than Mr. Swailes, who blanched whiter than his shirt at the pronouncement.

“Those two told us he was dying of plague!” Swailes managed to stammer out. Always the coward and now the fool, Swailes had, in his effort to save himself, shaken the credibility of the only people on board who could help get the Intrepid safely into port. Shepherd spoke through the haze of confusion, which was gathering around this conversation.

“The simple truth,” said Shepherd, “is that Captain Braden, ill, but recovering, was forced off the ship by Mr. North. You will find no more signs of sickness on this ship, at least no more physical sickness.”

Swailes was beaten, and he knew it. To refute the truth now would doom the Intrepid to more wandering outside of Plymouth. Further, his earlier outburst only served to strengthen the observation that he was a fool, a liar, and part of a rebellion that cast Braden off the ship.

William Bradford could see the truth, but he ordered that we proceed with an examination of the crew. Upon finding no signs of illness, the Intrepid would be led into port by the crew that had brought Mullins and Bradford out to the Intrepid.

Mr. Kelley, who stayed close to Shepherd and me during the visit from Bradford and Mullins, interjected a word of caution to Bradford.

“Sir,” said Kelley, “I think that you might have Swailes here and Mr. North put in irons. They was the ones who put Captain Braden out to sea.”

Swailes reached for his sword and unsheathed it quickly. He was about to slash Kelley when a pistol shot rang out from the cabin. The ball from the pistol hit Swailes in the back of his head, just at the base of his skull, and a mist of blood sprayed out around his entire head. I believe that he was dead before he hit the deck. He crumpled where he stood, and the sword flew into the air as he fell.

Bradford and Mullins were aghast at the sight of the murder. Mr. Kelley seemed undisturbed by the violence, while other crewmembers scuttled out of sight. I bent down to check on Swailes, knowing that he was dead. I never saw an exit wound, so I assumed that the projectile had coursed around his brain, killing him quickly. He was spared the hangman’s noose by the quick justice of a nervous crewman.

“He is dead,” I pronounced.

“Who fired that shot?” asked Bradford.

“Could have been a lot of men,” ventured Kelley. The casual response to death and the complacent attitude about who had killed a man shocked the visitors. I believed that it was the natural consequence of a ship that had lost discipline, and where desperate young men, exposed to battle, simply acted upon their emotions.

“Where is the captain?” asked William Bradford.

“Mr. North is below deck, recovering from an injury,” I stated.

“This is the same man that ordered Captain Braden overboard?” asked Bradford.

“Yes,” I replied. “Dr. Shepherd and I will take you to him.”

“I was not aware that there were two physicians on the Intrepid,” said Bradford.

“I am not this ship’s physician,” said Shepherd. “I am only assisting the very capable Dr. Greene.”

“I notice too that you call your captain Mr. North, so you do not afford him the same deference as you do Dr. Shepherd.”

“He is not my captain,” I said softly, letting Bradford take that how he wished. We went below deck while Kelley and two others covered Swailes with a sheet and carried him to the aft of the Intrepid.

We encountered North as he remained in a pleasant haze. He had probably heard the gunshot and the commotion, yet he had hardly stirred from his bed. Bradford introduced himself and Dr. Mullins, and he explained what they were about to do.

“Mr. North,” I began, “we believe that in a short time, after the men are examined, that we will be allowed entry into Plymouth.”

“Yes,” North said, “we should land at Plymouth.”

“We will proceed then with the examinations,” said Dr. Mullins.

“Yes, proceed,” we seemed to say in unison.

The examinations went smoothly. Mullins, Shepherd, and I gave essentially a cursory examination, consisting of visual examination, looking for the presence of buboes, performing palpation of glands under the arm and groin, and determining the presence or absence of fever. All of the men, including the two that had previously shown symptoms of the disease, heartily denied ever having felt the least bit sick in the past three months.

I noted that Mr. North had been acting a bit more suspiciously the past several hours, but I attributed that to his removal from the medications that I had been administering. However, as we came to North to discuss the plans for entry into port, he became very aroused in his anger, and he began to speak to no one in particular, saying that he would have no disloyal crew members on his ship, and that he would sail triumphantly into Plymouth with “two other men, if they are the only ones I find loyal!”

“Captain North,” said William Bradford after the examinations were complete, “we shall return to port and advise the authorities that we find no presence of illness on the ship. You will be given permission, I’m sure, to enter port in the next day or two.”

“Fine,” said North. “We shall proceed when you signal us, but I will find the crew that is loyal to me.” Then he barked to the crew around him, “Anyone who wants to leave my command had better do it now, or I swear I will hang the mutineers from the mast!”

He glared at the startled crew that was starting to gather around.

“You, Mr. James, are you loyal to me?”

David James, one of the young crewmen on his first voyage, turned red, then stammered his loyalty to his captain. Others muttered their fealty to their captain, then scrambled to posts around the ship.

Mr. Kelley then stood up and said to North, “If you want me to leave, I will.”

Kelley was quite matter of fact in his demeanor, without a trace of fear, or even anger.

“Yes, Mr. Kelley, I want you to leave,” hissed North.

At seeing this I was sure that Mr. North was completely losing his grip on reality. Surely he knew that Mr. Kelley, Shepherd, and I would tell the truth about what had happened to Captain Braden. Yet in his state of mind, he could only posture, bark orders, and intimidate those who would be intimidated.

“You all leave then. Dr. Greene, Kelley, Shepherd, and anyone else who cannot follow my command!”

I quickly took Joseph Shepherd by the arm and escorted him to Bradford and Mullins who stood nearby.  Mr. Kelley joined us as we clambered overboard to the waiting small boat.

 “The signal for permission to enter Plymouth shall be three blue flags flown from the mast of the Mayflower,” said Bradford. With that news, Bradford and Mullins joined us in the boat to depart for Plymouth. Our voyage had come to its long-awaited conclusion.

Word would quickly spread from Plymouth to London about the Intrepid and the possible plague on board, Captain Braden’s amazing rescue by the Elizabeth, and the problem of the Intrepid’s entry into port. People were also abuzz in Plymouth about the venture made by Mullins and Bradford to the Intrepid. As our small boat approached Plymouth, it was getting close to noon. We were exhausted from our ordeal, and William Bradford offered to have us spend the next day with him and Dr. Mullins. He would afford us a warm bed, good food, and delightful companionship. These were things that I had so missed on the Intrepid for the past three months.

Bradford went to Alvin Toll immediately to apprise him of our findings. Toll realized at once that the ship was deemed to be clear of disease by our presence in port. William Bradford spoke to Toll in a cheerful tone.

“Mr. Toll,” he said, “we have found no evidence of plague aboard the Intrepid, and we believe that it is safe for her to enter Plymouth. We must also tell you, however, that we found Captain North to be quite mad, and possibly guilty of mutiny.”

Toll seemed to relish the idea of such an adventure. “I will have North arrested the moment the ship docks!” he said.

“My part in this is over, Mr. Toll,” said Bradford. “I told North that we would fly three blue flags from the Mayflower to indicate permission to enter Plymouth.”

“Thank you, Mr. Bradford,” said Toll. “I will arrange for the signal to be displayed.”

Bradford left Toll’s office, feeling that he had taken a step in leadership. His lesson from Exodus seemed to have been fulfilled in his life. He was able to lead, to have courage, to have wisdom, but all only if he submitted to God’s will and provision in his life. It was a lesson he would utilize to great advantage for the rest of his life.

Toll busied himself with preparations to receive the Intrepid. He believed that there would be a struggle with North upon entry, but that his cordon of troops would be able to handle that. Bradford and Mullins had also shared with Toll that North’s hold on the crew was tenuous, and that North’s madness was probably wreaking havoc on the crew. Toll thought it best to make sure that his arrangements were complete, so he ordered that all of the available troops were to report for duty on the dock immediately. He then ordered the flags to be flown from the Mayflower so that the Intrepid could begin her journey into Plymouth.

Within the next several hours, preparations for receiving the Intrepid were proceeding at a busy pace. Unfortunately, on board the Intrepid, things were also becoming very busy. North, becoming increasingly irrational, ordered his crew to prepare the cannons for use. His thinking was totally consumed with suspicion about everyone around him. He now believed that the Intrepid would be denied entry into Plymouth because of a bad report from Bradford.

When North trained his eyepiece toward Plymouth, he saw the three blue flags fluttering from the Mayflower, but he also saw troops scurrying into position near the dock, and he saw cannon balls being loaded into piles near the shore batteries. North was now convinced that he would need to fight his way into port. Moreover, he believed that the Intrepid was perfectly capable of taking the port in a battle. His men were battle-hardened. The soldiers in Plymouth were mostly men too unreliable for service to the King in other, more important places.

North ordered the Intrepid’s crew to prepare for battle. The men scrambled to their posts, many more dazed than excited for battle. Many wondered how they could be preparing for a fight coming into their home port. North tried to rally them, standing on the bow of the ship, sword drawn, shouting orders. North ordered the Intrepid to come about and to prepare to fire a broadside at Plymouth.

Tensions were growing in Plymouth as the Intrepid drew closer to shore. Alvin Toll raised his spyglass to see the activity on board the Intrepid. His first glimpse of the Intrepid was of Mr. North, standing on the deck, wildly waving his sword and shouting something to the crew. Toll saw that the Intrepid was slowly turning to starboard, exposing her bristling array of cannon to Plymouth. Toll screamed an order to his aide, “Prepare to fire the shore batteries at once!”

The aide hurried down the steps of the tower and ran toward the bewildered soldiers standing near the cannons looking out to sea.

“Prepare to fire!” he shouted. The men looked at one another, then several began to laugh.

“Fire at our own ship?” they laughed. “You fire the cannons if you want, we’re not.”

At that they laughed some more, but the aide cut them off, “You fire those cannons, or I will kill you where you stand!”

He brandished his gleaming sword at the sergeant in charge and swore oaths at him. Suddenly, the Intrepid’s guns cut loose and iron balls smashed into the tower, dislodging some stones, and knocking out part of the tower’s wall.

The soldiers hurried to load the cannons while another volley from the Intrepid slammed into a nearby ship, the Majesty. Splinters from the Majesty’s deck flew into the air as the soldiers hit the ground.

“Up, you cowards,” screamed Toll’s aide, “and defend this port!”

Mr. North looked pleased at the destruction he was raining on Plymouth. He could see the people on shore running for their lives. He could only imagine what they were saying and thinking as the Intrepid prepared to unleash another volley. He had not noticed Mr. Dooley approaching behind him. As he turned to ask Dooley to check on the powder supply, Dooley walked directly up to North. North looked him square in the eye and said, “Didn’t you hear me, man? I told you to check on…”

Before he finished the sentence, Dooley had plunged a dagger deep into his chest. North reeled as blood spurted onto Dooley and onto the deck. North attempted to remove the dagger, but his strength was gone before he could budge it. He fell heavily to the deck, bleeding profusely.

“The killing ends with you, North!” Dooley screamed. He turned and walked back toward the stunned sailors. “The killing is over, the killing is over,” he kept repeating.

As several crew went to check on North, they seemed to know that he was already dead. Dooley’s dagger had probably hit North in the heart, and he died quickly. Dooley kept walking around the ship screaming, “The killing is over.” The crew had indeed quit firing its cannons. The killing was over.

The soldiers on shore never did fire their cannons. As they scrambled to load and prepare to fire, Toll saw that the Intrepid was no longer in position to fire. She looked sad and beaten as she drifted toward the shore on the tide. Masts splintered, mainsail tattered, the real Intrepid was now coming into view. She was no longer a fighting ship. The Intrepid was a sad hulk drifting home after too much violence.

On board the Intrepid, several of the crew had finally taken charge and decided to raise a white flag of surrender. Toll ordered a boat full of soldiers to meet the Intrepid and bring her in. It was only after the white flag was hoisted from the Intrepid that the boat shoved off to its mission. What a bizarre scene – an English warship surrendering itself to an English port.

Mr. Dooley, still ranting, said, “I killed Swailes, I killed North, the killing is over, the killing is over.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s