Things that go bump in the night!!
By Sue O’Neill and Lillian H.
“To my nephew, Harriman Nelson, I leave amongst other bequests, the portrait of his Great Grandfather’s ship ‘The Spectre’ in the sure knowledge that he will understand the signifcance of what he is being shown.”
The solicitor’s words echoed in Nelson’s head as he and Sharkey unpacked the oil painting to hang on his cabin wall in a prominent place behind his desk. He vaguely remembered the picture from his childhood, it had hung briefly in his aunt’s house before his ncle had taken it down and had stored it in the attic. Uncle Tobias had been an eminently practical man and although he loved and indulged his wife in many things, he had drawn the line at her dabbling in things occult! Harry was too young at the time to understand and although he had heard the family stories many times he still could not remember the exact composition of the painting, just the hazy image of the tall sailing ship. His knew Great Grandfather had been accused of theft and gross misconduct but the exact circumstances were shrouded in mystery, he had tried to find out details but had been quickly hushed-up by the family. In later life he was told of the disgrace every member of the Nelson family carried with them because of the nefarious actions of Captain John Nelson!
Harry lifted the heavy painting and managed to secure the cord attached to the hook which he had placed on the wall.
“Is that straight?”
Sharkey stood back and surveyed the picture, “Yes,sir, it sure is.” The CPO surveyed the painting and frowned slightly, “Is there a story behind it, Admiral?”
“The ship was my Great Grandfather, Captain John Samuel Nelson’s last command. Unfortunately, ‘The Spectre’ ran aground during a storm and sank, all but one man perished. That’s my Grandfather in the foreground.” He had been wrong, there was a figure in the painting but it had been a very long time since he had seen it. John was pictured in the bottom left hand corner, in full uniform, his hand resting on a globe.
Sharkey studied the picture carefully, “Er … maybe it’s just me, sir, but I don’t see him just see the ship.”
Nelson glanced at him, puzzled, “In the foreground, left hand corner.” Nelson turned back to the picture, sure enough, as clear as a bell John Nelson stood there his hand on the globe, his extended forefinger resting on a point just off the west coast of America.
Confused the chief looked at Nelson as he surveyed the picture. The admiral seemed to be concentrating on something and deep in thought. The atmosphere in the cabin suddenly became chilly and unsettling and he glanced again at what he could see then mumbled, “Maybe it’s just me, Sir, but I can’t make him out.” Sharkey picked up his tools hurriedly, inexplicably needing to make his escape, as he felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise. “By your leave, Admiral, I have to check on the ballast pumps before we get under way.”
“Yes, of course, carry on Chief.” Harry looked back at the hasty departure of his CPO in mild confusion, the chief usually welcomed an opportunity for his company.
As he sat down on the edge of his desk he studied the picture more carefully with the strange feeling that somehow he was being watched in return. He dismissed the idea and turned to tackle some delayed paperwork he had from the last voyage. It took him only a short time to check and sign Lee’s reports and as he placed him carefully in his desk tray he found his attention once more drawn to the painting. Was it his imagination or had the globe had changed position …
Two days into their missiona and Admiral Harriman Nelson sighed and stretched his seated body as he worked through the very long and involved report before him. He yawned again and rubbed his hand over a tired face as he forced himself to concentrate but the hour was late and his cabin stuffy as his mind willed his eyes to close so that much needed sleep would come. He leaned his elbow on the table and rested his chin on his right hand as his eyelids drooped, his breathing started to slow and he slipped towards slumber but his consciousness just detected the slight breeze that wafted over him and the faint smell of salt sea air. He struggled to understand how this could be when suddenly he heard a whisper – at least he thought it was a whisper. A faint voice nibbling at the edges of his hearing as he struggled to wake himself. Blinking rapidly and looking about him he saw nothing but the dark shadows beyond the pool of light cast by the desk lamp. He sat upright now and listened intently – there, he tilted his head towards a sound. There it was again, faint but another voice in a room where he was alone. He flicked a button on his desk and immediately the cabin was fully illuminated. He stood and looked about him just as a cool draught brushed his face and he turned quickly to look behind him just as a movement caught his eye. The sails on the ship in the painting were fluttering! He rubbed his hands over his eyes to clear the last of his fatigue and looked again… nothing, now they were still on the canvas. He swallowed hard and moved closer. Something was different. Something had changed about the scene but he couldn’t determine what.
Moving back slowly he rubbed his palms along the seam of his uniform pants nervously. There was no breeze now, no voice, in fact no sound at all. He shook himself mentally and spoke aloud to himself, “Harry, you are beginning to imagine things. Time you went to bed!” He moved to close the folder he had been reading and shivered. His once stuffy cabin was now distictly cool and he had the unnerving feeling of the prescence of someone else in the room. Knowing that to be impossible he suddenly he had the irrational need to be with others. Not stopping to analyze this foolish feeling he moved to his cabin door opened it swiftly and with the barest of backward glances he moved off to the control room.
The next morning, when he had all but forgotten about the strange experience of the previous evening, Admiral Nelson was again alone in his cabin awaiting the arrival of Lee and Chip to go over some of the mission details when he heard something. He listened and a faint voice seemed to be calling him—“Haaarrry… Harrrry…”
He stood and surveyed the room, it was definitely empty. “Who … what are you?” he asked uncertainly. No reply came but a gust of air ruffled his hair and he heard the unmistakeable rustle of canvas sails.
He turned quickly and looked at the painting on his wall. He watched the as the sails on the galleon filled with the breeze and moved with the tempo. There was still the faint unmistakeable voice calling his name and saw the figure of his great grand father seem to blurr as the image seemed to lift off the canvas. He stepped back and concentrated as slowly the painting throbbed with life … he shivered at the feeling of a presence about him, “Show yourself!” he ordered stoutly.
There was a loud knock and he concentrated harder. Suddenly the breeze had gone the painting was still again and the voice silent. Another knock sounded and this time his cabin door was opened tentatively as Lee looked in at him and asked, “Admiral? Chip and I are reporting as ordered.” He waited and frowned slightly as he saw Nelson’s indecision. Stepping inside followed by Chip Morton both men waited for some acknowledgement and then glanced at each other in confusion.
Lee stepped up to the desk and asked softly. “Admiral are you alright, sir?”
Nelson focused on the two men and then on Lee’s enquiry. “What? Yes – yes, of course I am. Come in gentlemen and close the door.” He sat back down and busied himself with some papers on the desk. He could feel the concern of his officers but needed a moment to compose himself before he could look at them.
“If you’re tired, Admiral, I’m sure this can wait till later.” Lee offered.
Harry looked up and saw the confusion both men emanated over his unusual behaviour and felt angry with himself. “No, there’s no need for that, just sit down and we’ll get started.”
“Nice painting sir.” Chip commented as he saw the admirals latest acquisiton for the first time.
“What?” Nelson retorted sharply.
Chip was a little taken aback by the irritated tone. “I was just commentating on your painting Admiral. It’s the first time I’ve seen it sir but I’ve heard the reports it’s very nice.” He felt himself flush as Nelson stared at him.
“It’s a portrait of my Great Grandfather and his last command.” Harry said gruffly.
“Don’t you mean a portrait of his ship sir?” Lee asked gently. “I don’t see a figure in it.”
Harry jerked his attention to Lee, “What?”
Now it was Lee’s turn to feel uncomfortable. He hesitated. “It’s a portrait of his sailing ship, sir, I don’t see Captain Nelson himself.”
Nelson stood and turned to look at the painting. There was an old sailing schooner and the unmistakable figure of his ancestor pointing at a large globe standing superimposed over the ocean scene to the left of the ship.
He looked back at both men and saw their curiosity and demanded. “Neither of you see him in the painting?”
Lee looked at Chip and received a negative shake of his head. “Well, no sir. Where exactly should we see him?”
Harry looked back at the painting – he was still there to his vision. He felt shaken what was wrong with the painting that no one else saw what he saw? Or maybe it was him that was at fault? He resumed his seat quickly.
“Sir,” Lee hesitated. The Admiral looked pale as he linked his hands together tightly on the desktop and seemed deeply thoughtful. “Admiral, are you sure there’s nothing wrong sir. Have Chip and I missed something in the painting? I’m sure if we looked at it more carefully we…”
“NO!” Nelson interrupted harshly then seeing their mild alarm at his tone modified his refusal.
“Not now, we have work to do, perhaps later--- yes, later will be time enough.” He explained distractedly and turned to the papers in front of him.
Lee and Chip looked at each other and saw their concern mirrored between them. Lee pondered pushing the admiral a little further but deferred the decision for now as he knew that Nelson would resist and nothing would be accomplished, there were other ways to deal with Nelson’s reluctance to talk of his worries.
Slowly they worked through the details but Harry continued to feel on edge. He was debating whether to share his experiances and risk them both disbelieving him or worse sending him into Jamieson’s domain of sickbay when he felt the disturbance again. He looked at Lee and Chip who were both pouring over manifests and schedules and seemed oblivious to the drop in temperature and the dinstinct breeze.
“Do either of you feel that?”
Both looked up and Lee asked. “Feel what, Admiral?”
“That cold breeze -- that current of air!” He said irritably.
Lee and Chip lifted their faces and waited. Sure enough the air around them moved. Chip sighed heavily.
“I thought Sharkey said he’d fixed the air conditioning unit!” He looked at Nelson and apologised. “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll get someone on it right away.”
“Air conditioning?” Harry questioned.
Lee looked at his boss. “Yes, sir. It’s been playing up for some days now. Seems to be malfunctioning but we can’t find the fault. It blows cold air around the boat from time to time for no reason that we can determine.” Lee smiled as he seemed to share a joke with his XO. “To make it even more mysterious some of our more imaginative crewmen have even reported hearing voices, if you will!” Lee chuckled while Chip just looked highly scepitical and slightly frustrated.
“Riley listens to far too many of Chief Sharkey’s more lurid sea tales! Ghosts indeed! The only ghosts either of those two get to see are generated from the bottom of a bottle on a heavy shore leave!”
“It’s not only Riley and Sharkey reporting the sounds, Chip. Patterson, Swanson and even Ski thought he heard something.”
“I told you Lee. It’s only the trapped air in the system that causes a backwash. There is no groaning on this boat that can’t be explained by me or the doctor!”
Harry listened to both men and felt somewhat relieved! The sounds he’d heard were only artificial and made by a faulty piece of machinery! He felt like a weight had been lifted from him -- but then he remembered the sails and the figure only he could see. He turned slowly to look at the painting. He almost hesitated to look up but he needn’t have worried—the painting was still. No sails fluttering, no sounds of rigging straining with the pull of the ship’s movement. He felt utterly foolish for his over imaginative excesses and glad that he hadn’t shared anything with the two young men in front of him. They would have had serious reservations over his sanity and immediately alerted Will Jamieson to his behaviour. He didn’t need the doctor treating him as though he were as mad as a box of frogs!!
Lt. Bobby O’Brien listened to the orders from the Admiral rather nervously. He had been aboard just over two years now but even so he still found Admiral Nelson a formidable presence. Mr. O’Brien had witnessed first hand Nelson’s fiery temper directed at anyone who he felt responded with less than his duty and Bobby didn’t want it to be him!
The Admiral took one final look around and then nodded his good night and headed up the spiral staircase to officer’s country.
Bobby relaxed a little. He opened the log to check the new heading details the Admiral had just recorded and and was momentarily surprised. The handwriting was so unlike his normal scrawl. Neat copperplate letters stared at him from the page. The numbers delicately crafted with slight swirls to emphasise them. He hesitated as he studied them. The coordinates were off the course both Captain Crane and Commaner Morton had briefed him to expect. His mind went into overdrive. Was there a change of mission details he was not aware of? That wouldn’t be unusual, he often felt he was the last to know anything! Should he double check with the Admiral? Question the Admiral? What was he thinking? Didn’t the Admiral just get through telling him to change course—hadn’t he just recorded the change himself in the log?
Taking a deep breath he turned to the charts and started making the calculations he ordered the change of course to navigational control.
“Mr. O’Brien would you care to explain why we are 120 miles off course?”
Bobby felt himself flush as he stood in front of his captain. When Crane and Morton had walked into the control room for the early watch both men had immediately checked their position on the charts and questioned the 2nd officer.
Lt. O’Brien swallowed hard and tried to lubricate his dry mouth. “I was just following the Admiral’s orders sir.”
“The Admiral’s orders?” Crane questioned.
“Yes, sir. He came down mid-watch and issued orders for the course change, sir. He entered it into the log.”
Chip opened the daily log and read the entries. He moved to his captain’s side and drew his attention to the last entry.
Lee Crane read the strange hand and looked at his XO before turning back to O’Brien. “Did you see the Admiral write this?”
“Did the Admiral speak to you?”
“Only to issue the course change, Captain.”
As Lee was about to continue his interrogation there was the sound of descending footsteps as Nelson came to the control room.
He took one look at the faces of his officers and could see trouble. “Is there a problem Lee?”
Lee Crane took a moment to explain their present position and that Lt O’Brien was reporting that the Admiral had ordered the course change.
“Me?” Nelson demanded of the second officer.
“Ye…s, sir. Last night at mid-watch you came down and gave me the new coordinates as well as recording them in the log, sir.” Bobby answered nervously.
He held out his hand for the log and looked at the entry. “This isn’t my handwriting!” Nelson answered irritably.
“Nevertheless, sir, I personally saw you enter it.”
Harry was sitting alone in the officer’s wardroom nursing a cup of cooling mug of coffee as he felt the approach of someone.
“Want that reheated a little?”
Harry looked up and nodded as he held up the mug and hot coffee was added from a thermos jug. He watched as it was replaced back on the hotplate and his companion took the seat opposite him. For a moment there was a tense silence between them.
“I wondered when you’d show up. I suppose my captain and first officer have reported to you that I’ve been acting strangely of late!”
Jamieson didn’t deny his suspicions. “Want to tell me about it?”
Harry looked at the calm expression of his long time friend and medical officer.
Harry couldn’t mask the irritability he felt at this uncalled for attention. At the same time he had to admit that he didn’t feel quite as sure of his himself as he should. He hadn’t missed the doubt he saw in Crane and Morton eyes as he tried to explain away O’Brien’s accusations. He had no plausible account in the face of the man’s insistence and had responded with anger and uncertain denial; he knew that even as he made his assertions a part of his mind doubted his declaration.
“How much did they tell you?”
Will Jamieson sipped his coffee and observed his friend carefully. Harry looked drawn and tired. His skin was sallow and his normally penetrating blue eyes were dulled with weariness, tension seeped from him as he fidgeted with the mug of coffee before him betraying his obvious anxiety over something.
“Not much. Just that they’re concerned over you. Have you taken to sleepwalking Harry? Is there something bothering you?” Will asked gently. “Anything you care to talk about with a friend?”
Harriman Nelson’s first reaction was to deny that he was in anyway troubled. He wasn’t a man that discussed his feelings and considered himself more than capable of dealing with the more unusual aspects of his life! He was about to dismiss the doctor’s enquiries and leave when Will read his mind.
“You can dismiss me if you want but that won’t make the problems go away Harry. I would like to help if I can.”
His friendship with Will Jamieson had started many years ago and although the man was a good ten years his junior Harry had found him a man with a depth of compassion and understanding far beyond his years. That knowledge alone decided him – he had to talk to someone.
So talk he did and he was grateful when the MO listened carefully to his experiences with only the occasional question.
Now they had come to his cabin, a place he had become uncomfortable in this last week, and both were looking at the painting on the wall.
“So what do you see Will?”
Jamieson stepped forward and studied the work of art. It was a superior oil painting, well composed and depicted one of the last centuries sea going sailing vessels.
He turned and looked seriously at his friend. “I see what others see Harry. A magnificent sailing ship on the high seas in full sail,” he watched Harry carefully, “but no figure or globe that you described.”
Nelson flinched and then seemed to crumple a little. “No figure, huh?”
“No, just the ship.”
Nelson took the chair he kept for guests and sat down heavily. Was he going mad?
“Harry, tell me again about what you know of the painting.” When he felt Nelson about to resist he persisted. “Please Harry, it might give us a clue to why you should see what we cannot.”
Harriman Nelson listened to his doctor’s statement and recognized that he wasn’t dismissing Harry’s vision or experiences as fantasy. Will, believed him but being a practical man was looking for reason and explanation behind the occurrences.
“The painting was finished just before Captain John Nelson sailed on what turned out to be his last voyage. He was a trading man with his own ship and crew and was sailing for the Dark Continent, as it was known then. He traded in ivory and tobacco but not slaves! He was adamantly against slavery.
‘He made port in October 1857 and loaded his cargo but reports of the time said that the crew were unhappy with the meager load available and wanted to carry slaves. Nelson refused and there was discontentment. Just before they were about to sail a merchant came to see the captain and arranged that The Spectre should carry home a considerable treasury for him, the merchant sailed with them to their first port of call in Cape Town to settle all his business arrangements there but he fell sick and agreed that he would follow on the next passenger ship. Nelson also fell sick with a fever but insisted Spectre sailed and handed temporary command to his first officer Rufus Tyree. He was said to be loyal to Nelson but a man that lived a debauched life. The merchant was concerned about the attitude aboard ship, the agreement over his treasury had been made between the merchant and captain but the men found out and were surly. The merchant nearly took his treasure off but Admiral Nelson assured him that Tyree could get them home safely.
‘Nothing more was heard of them until Tyree was found drifting at sea and rescued by a Dutch vessel. He claimed that Nelson had recovered quickly from the illness once at sea and took back command but as they approached the coast of South America Tyree claimed Nelson jumped ship with the treasure!
‘Captain Nelson’s family strenuously denied the claims but Tyree maintained that Nelson had abandoned ship and crew and sabotaged the steering to stop them following him. When the storm hit they had no way to steer so the ship floundered and was lost. Tyree claimed he was the only man to survive.
‘Captain Nelson was never heard of again and as a consequence, Nelson’s reputation was lost and his family disgraced and ostracized. His wife Elizabeth defended him till she died in poverty at just 32 years old. Her two children John Adam and Clara grew up and both moved to the West Indies to build a very profitable trading company from which our family fortunes originated!”
Will listened thoughtfully to Harry’s tale. “I take it the painting passed down the family.”
“Sort of. When they left this country the children gave the painting to his brother. It passed down their line till it reached my aunt. She and her husband never had children so bequeathed it to me. I suppose you could say it’s back in Captain Nelson’s direct family line.”
“What do you think she meant by, “understand the significance of what he’s being shown’?”
“I don’t know. She was always a little extravagant with her speech. She claimed to have ‘powers’.” Harry smiled as he remembered his eccentric aunt. “She believed she could speak to those in the hereafter! Funnily enough she liked the painting and would spend hours just looking at it. Tried to tell me once that it ‘talked’ to her but my uncle disliked it and consigned it into storage. It was brought again after he died and in her last few months my aunt became quite obsessed by it and said it held the answer to restoring the family honor! She was always trying to get me to look at it and hear what it was trying to say! Dear Aunt Hetty, she died a few months ago and that’s when the painting came to me along with a sizeable collection of family memorabilia and Captain Nelson’s diary’s and letters.”
Harry suddenly sat up, “What date is it today?” he looked at the desk diary. “The 24th! I can open the letter today!” He got up and went to his safe.
“Letter? What letter? Harry what are you talking about?” Will quizzed as he watched Nelson open his safe and pull out a sealed envelope.
Harry returned to his desk and this time took his own chair. “The solicitor gave me this as well but said that it could not be opened until one week after the delivery of the painting. It was written by my aunt and she was quite explicit about the instructions.” He turned it over in his hands and reached for the letter opener. “Maybe this will give us some of those illusive answers.” He slit carefully along the sealed edge and extracted one sheet of pale pink notepaper and settled down to read the neat handwriting.
The fact that you are reading this means that you are indeed as curious as I believed you to be.
You have received the painting and by now you are aware of your ancestor. You may not have met him in person yet but I’m sure you have felt his presence. Captain John Nelson needs your help Harriman and for the sake of his reputation and the family name you must do all you can to accommodate him!
You are a sailor Harriman, as was he… you will understand the nautical maps he shows you. He will enlighten you as to where you must to go--- show you how to find what was lost.
Listen to your instincts Harriman, follow his directions he will not lead you astray he needs you and your magnificent submarine to right the wrongs done to him.
This was always meant to be nephew this is your destiny!
Take care beloved boy, my Love goes with you.
Harriman Nelson reread the single page twice before he handed it over to his curious friend.
Turning slowly he studied the painting with different eyes. What could John Nelson want him to find? What nautical maps could he be trying to show him?
“Well, she seems perfectly lucid and clear in this letter. What maps is she referring too, do you know?” Will asked softly.
Nelson continued to study the painting as he tapped his left forefinger against his lips then he stood quickly and moved closer trying to read something.
Will Jamieson watched as Nelson lifted one hand to trace a spot on the depicted scene. Jamieson saw nothing but painted sea but knew his friend saw something quite different.
“It’s here, the map we need to follow. It’s been here all the time!” He turned to look at the doctor. “Will, it’s the globe! The globe is the map!” Harry snatched up a pad of paper and a pencil before he turned back to the map to record the co-ordinates John Nelson pointed to.
“How much longer?” Admiral Nelson demanded as he stalked the deck plates of the conn. He was excited and anxious to reach their destination.
He watched as his two senior officers did their calculations and answered, “We are in the vicinity now, Admiral. Sonar and hydrophones are making sweeps for debris or wreckage but quite frankly Admiral after all this time, there will be very little to find!”
He knew Lee’s statement was only meant to prepare him for the worst but he knew that they would find something—John Nelson had told him so!
Since he had confided in Will Jamieson all about his accused ancestor, six days had passed and it was like a door had been opened. His days were filled with ghostly visitations that were difficult to understand but in his dreams John Nelson came to him and explained everything. He told Harry how Tyree had joined with the crew in a mutiny to take the treasury and changed course to for the Bahamas. They had seized Nelson and imprisoned him in the hold. He was chained and kept prisoner but a storm hit and the crew panicked, they couldn’t sail the ship and it floundered. Tyree was the only man to escape but covered his treachery with a tissue of lies and deceit! Captain John Nelson had gone down with his ship and the treasury and was waiting to be found so that his name and the reputation of his family could be restored!
Harry watched as Lee and Chip monitored every piece of information and charted their course. He was a lucky man! Not only had they both believed in him but had immediately set about making speed for the co-ordinates he gave them. They had believed him unquestioningly and seemed as intent as he to find the wreck of The Spectre.
“Sir, I may have something.” Kowalski called from the sonar station. “It’s faint but an echo all the same.”
All three men came to stand around him and watched intently as the sonar device made its sweep.
“There,” said Chip, “ three points of the starboard bow.”
“Full stop!” Lee ordered not taking his eyes from the screen.
Chip picked up the mic and repeated the order to the engine room and watched the helm as they brought the power down.
“Distance to below us, Mr. Morton?” Lee demanded.
“250 feet, sir.”
“Right, hold station while we send a diving party out to investigate.”
A Chip went to make sure everything was correct, Nelson turned to Lee. “This is it Lee we’ve found him!”
Lee was pleased
for the admiral’s certainty but all the same felt he should issue a word of
caution. “We hope so, Admiral but we
can’t be sure till we go out and …”
”I’m sure Lee! I know it’s here, trust me, I can feel him!”
Lee was taken aback by the conviction in Nelson’s statement but had learnt that the admiral was rarely wrong and under the present unusual circumstances of having a ghost as their navigator, he declined to argue. Instead he clapped the sonar operator on the shoulder and smiled.
“Come on Ski, you and I are about to get wet!”
Kowalski grinned as he stood and followed his dive partner to the missile room. “Aye, aye, sir”
The dive was a difficult one. Silt and years of accumulated sediment had obscured their prize but using a number of diving teams and a special blower they had uncovered the remains of a wood hull and nameplate…. The Spectre.
It took several days to clear the site sufficiently to find several skeletal remains and different objects but then came what Harry had been waiting for.
“Crane to Nelson, come in Admiral.”
“Yes, Lee, what have you found?”
“I’m inside a section of the hull Admiral. It’s pretty well preserved considering.”
“Yes? Well, what is it?
“Sir, I’m looking at a skeletal figure – Admiral, he’s chained at the wrists and near him there’s a large chest!”
Harry didn’t see the quick glances of the men as he received the news most were smiling and congratulating each other with nods and happy faces. He could only clench the mic as he fought to control his own satisfaction that he had done what he had set out to do!
“Admiral, did you hear me sir?” Lee’s disembodied voice asked again.
Shaking himself out of his malaise he answered firmly. “Yes, I heard you Lee. Can he be released and brought aboard safely?”
“ I think so, sir but it’s going to take a while.”
“That doesn’t matter, Lee he’s been waiting for all these years a few hours won’t bother him.”
“We’ll bring the chest as well, sir.”
“Please, Lee. There’s a family who’ve been waiting a very long time to take delivery of that particular piece of cargo.”
Harry sat back in his chair and slowly swiveled it to face the painting that had started this search. It was still the same to him but different somehow.
There was a knock at the door and Chip opened it. “Admiral, we have word back from Washington. They have located the descendants of the merchant, Josiah Webb and will contact them as regards the new evidence and discovery of their ancestor’s….”
He stopped in mid sentence as he stared at the painting.
Harry looked concerned. “Is everything all right Chip?”
Just then Will Jamieson ambled through the open door. “Well, Harry I hear everything is working out…” He stopped and frowned as he too concentrated on the work of art.
“Will one of you tell me what has you both speechless!” Nelson demanded roughly.
“It’s the painting, sir. I can see – at least I think I can see…” Chip stammered.
“I can see him too, so he must be there.” Jamieson answered stoutly.
“See?” Harry turned to the painting, “Are you telling me you can see John Nelson now?”
“I guess so, sir. There’s certainly a figure there.” Chip laughed.
“I think he must feel vindicated already, Harry and decided to be seen in public again.”
Admiral Harriman Nelson felt a huge weight lifted from him. He had helped to correct an injustice against an honest man and in doing so cleared his family name and restored it’s honor.
Life didn’t get much better than this!
He turned and smiled at his friends and received the rest of the message from Chip then dictated the reply and watched him leave.
“Dear Aunt Hetty – she started all this, I just hope she can enjoy the outcome.”
“I’m sure she is positively reveling in it!” Will Jamieson replied, “How about her nephew? Is he going to do some celebrating, like possibly come to the mess and have a meal?”
Harry looked confused. He knew that tone; it was one usually reserved by the MO for his recalcitrant captain. “Is there a reason why I shouldn’t?”
“Not at all. It’s just that the last few days you’ve been avoiding meals and that has both Cookie and I concerned. While I have long accepted that our captain has to be chivvied into eating a balanced diet, I had not expected to need the same tactics with you!”
Harry laughed and reluctantly agreed that he had been singularly uninterested in food recently but was now ravenous!
“Good, because I happen to know there’s a cherry pie with your name on it and no one else gets a piece till you’ve eaten a generous portion to assuage Cookie’s dismay at your declining his efforts the last few days!”
Harry laughed. “Now that’s one order I can gladly comply with!”