His Majesty's Ship Acasta
St. Kitts, West Indies Station
I'm afraid this must be brief, as I write to you in great haste. As you and I are of long-standing acquaintance, and I owe you my heartfelt thanks for having taken on my poor boy George (who you might remember was cut in twain by the wind of Spanish hot shot at Tenerife), I felt I might return the kindness by attempting to save the life of your surgeon, Monsieur Baptiste Girard, who was taken up by the local guard for duelling whilst on liberty.
As you well know, duelling has been recently outlawed, but it seems that from witness accounts, M. Girard took issue when a very drunk Sergeant-Major of the Royal Marines, Nicholas Cockburn, late of the frigate Boreas (now attached to the garrison here at Saint Kitts after she paid off and was towed to the yard in Jamaica for repairs), made very low and black remarks & accusations regarding your late surgeon, a Dr. Rbt. Alberts. Cockburn cast aspersions upon M Girard's loyalty to the Crown - he was publicly accused of being a French spy - and lastly, made vile and ungentlemanly remarks about the virtue of Dr. Albert's wife. I am afraid I am unacquainted with the doctor and his poor wife, but M. Girard spoke of them both most loyally and with a moving show of deep affection. Cockburn may be an idle drunk, and is given to wild stories, but he is an honourable sort of fellow - when sober - and a great asset to the garrison when kept out of the rum shops. Thus, appreciating the merits of each of the principle parties involved, you must see why I am so loathe to bring them up on charges for duelling.
Regarding the particulars of the event in question, I am informed that the duel took place by the light of the moon on Sandy Point, between Charles Fort & the Fortress on Brimstone Hill. It seems Cockburn's pistol jammed, likely from sand kicked up by the winds, but your man Baptiste's ball struck Cockburn in the shoulder (not mortally wounding him, thank god, but taking him out of commission for a few weeks, surely.).
It's damned unfortunate business, but I cannot turn a blind eye to an incident of this nature; I must see them at least brought up on charges. Cockburn has family with money and thus might weasel his way out of the bilbows he is currently strapped to his hospital bed with, but M. Girard appears to have no connections on the island other than yourself whose influence may be brought to bear in his favour.
You seem to be a captain who keeps to his ship, thus this message comes by my man Bartholomew, who has searched the whole of the island for you, having heard rumor you were about. I would take it as a kindness if you would see him fed, as he's had a long day of it, running notes to see this unfortunate event hushed up.
Until the next, I remain, your friend & humble servant,
Wm. Jas. Severn, Port Admiral
HMS Ganges, Pump Bay
Brimstone Hill, St. Kitts