Friday, June 12

Another letter home from Baptiste

Dearest Marie, 

   Time still moves so slowly on this endless blockaid, and always I find myself thinking of you and the boys. I have no real news since last I have written, so tonight I will tell you of one of our officers.        

Lutenant Ramsey is a young man that women find handsom. He is what the English call a Fire Eater- meaning that he never shows fear and is always eagar to engage in some dangerous task. He is our second Lutenant, meaning that he is behind only the Captain and Lutentant Hamilton in command of the ship. 

  At times in both Halifax and Bermuda he has come the cockpits they have there, but it seems he is more interested in wagering than in the actual contest between the birds. In Bermuda he once one handsomly on a bird I recommended.

Once in Halifax there was need for us to press more men because we had lost a number to sickness. Two gangs were made for this, one under Lutentant Ramsey and the other under Lutentant Tumbush. I was with Lutentant Ramsey's gang. As soon as we were set out he tells us that he wishes to beat the number of men brought in by Lutentant Tumbush and that should we do so there is a shilling in it for each of us. This we did and true to his word he gave a shilling to each man of the gang.

Also in Halifax he did me what I felt was a great honor- he asked me to be his second in a duel. The second is a fellow who checks to the pistols priming and such for one of dulers. Most often only gentlemen are involved in duels, but sometimes I think some officers believe me to be better bred than I am. Perhaps it is because I do not speak as vulgarly as most of the English sailors. I learned later that it was a matter he needed to keep a secret from the other officers and the Captain, for they would not have approved and it could have gone hard for him had the Captain learned of it.

So we met in a hidden meadow on the appointed day at dawn, which I now understand is the acustomed time for duels. His oponent was a thin fellow who looked like a merchant. I never learned what the disagrement was between them. A few other Acasta sailors were there as well, I thought perhaps Lutentant Ramsey had them come to carry him away if he were hurt or killed. An older gentleman asked each if there was no other way for them to settle their differences, to which they both said no. We then loaded the pistols and took a distance. The older man stood to one side and held a handkerchef. He said that when he released it they were free to give fire when it touched the ground. The thin fellow fired right away and I saw the ball strike the ground in front of Lutentant Ramsey.  The Lutentant then took aim- at which the thin fellow took a step back and the older gentleman told him "stand your ground Sir"- and when the lutentant fired the thin fellow exclaimed - "I am killed!"- and fell dead away.

As it was he was not killed but only swooned, and his friends soon brought him back around well enough. Lutentant Ramsey's  ball had ruined his coat and waistcoat, cutting across the chest and taking a button off each. The older gentleman then asked them if they now had satisfaction- which is to say did they no longer wish to kill one another- to which they agreed. Joshua Wilson, who was one of the Acastas there told me later that Lutentant Ramsey could have easily killed the man, as he is a deadly shot. Apparently he wanted only to shame him.

Again, my love, I have written myself out. Writing in English still tires me. The rumor is that the war will end soon. I wish it so with all my heart, that I may be back with you and the boys, 

Ever your loving husband, 

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