She probably has the most delightful derrière in all France, John Paul Jones thought, watching the pale orbs of Therese de Chaumont’s bottom rotate as she walked naked to the side chamber off her boudoir. Therese’s ash blonde wig curled erotically almost half way down her back, the ridge of her spine melting into flesh above a voluptuous posterior. She was surprisingly long-legged, slender calves enhanced as she tip-toed, half turning to beam a languid smile, dewy eyed with the aftermath of lovemaking.
“I will not be long, Cheri,” she whispered, lips once again sliding into that smile of promise. And it will not be long before I am ready again, John Paul Jones thought as he stretched lazily among the crumpled sheets of the four poster bed. He wiggled his toes and raked his fingernails gently across his bare chest, remembering her own talons when she screamed her delight at the fusing of their bodies. She knew all the tricks too. Enough to sate a man’s hunger but still leave a handful of embers glowing in the pit of his stomach which she could fan back into desire with the merest gesture; a smile, a glance, any time she wished. Any time at all.
John Paul Jones let his eyes range round the opulence of Therese’s boudoir; expensive Chinese hand-woven carpets brought by ship from the Orient, silk drapes, row upon row of bottles containing rare scents and essences that cluttered the surface of the dressing table. Oil paintings adorned the flock papered walls and each item of carefully selected furniture bore an embossed C surrounded by a gold wreath of oak leaves as though dismissing any dispute over the room’s ownership. Although appreciative of luxury, John Paul Jones found the unashamed declaration of wealth overbearing, used as he was to the more spartan furnishings of a captain’s cabin aboard ship.
Had he come across half the oceans of the world, he thought, to become nothing more than a woman’s toy? To come wagging his tail and panting like a puppy every time she crooked a finger, offering solace with a shrug of her tanned shoulders, or promising the heat of her loins with a smoldering glance?
But perhaps a lap dog was the best thing to be right at that moment. His mistress could possibly hold the only solution to his dilemma. Their affaire had begun seven months earlier, when he had first been presented at court in Paris. He had thought her stunning and he wondered how he had known at that first meeting he could be forging an alliance to prove fruitful in months to come. In retrospect, it was almost as if the gods had planned it. How could he have chosen her from the numerous and enticing ladies he had encountered in those early months in Paris, she whose husband had the ear of King Louis XV, serving on the Privy Council, a hand in every pie whose recipe contained the French Navy?
Which was one of the reasons John Paul Jones thought her a bitch. It was a paradox, he admitted reluctantly, considering her a bitch for cuckolding a husband that he respected. Perhaps it alleviated his own guilt.
Sieur de Chaumont had not always been her husband’s name. Born Jacques Donatien le Ray, he had gambled heavily in the East India trade and made his fortune. Now, while serving on the Privy Council and holding other honorary appointments, he owned a fleet of merchant ships and procured vast numbers of supplies for the French Navy. With his current status had come his title and ownership of the mansion where John Paul Jones now lay in bed, the Hotel Valentinois in the western Paris suburb of Passy. Benjamin Franklin also lived at the hotel, a strong link with America during these years of the War of Independence, as America struggled to throw off the stifling yoke England was determined to keep fastened on her fast expanding colonies. Like a mother reluctant to admit her children can fend for themselves, England refused to untie the apron strings.
Right now, without a ship, Therese’s friendship could be the most worthwhile he pursued. She was younger than her husband and had a way of getting what she wanted. If protocol and the power of the infant American Congress could not obtain John Paul Jones a ship, then perhaps Therese tickling her husband’s ear, and through him the ear of King Louis…
He grimaced at the elaborate woven canopy of the four poster. What if she wanted to keep him in her bed so much she did nothing to procure him a berth, only whispered empty promises as she held him to her soft breasts and clasped him in the warmth of her thighs? It had been two months now since Ranger was taken from him, and now she lay at anchor being refitted and supplied for a voyage back to America. A ship he could have done so much with, and already had done.
Ranger had been only two months old when Paul Jones took command. 318 tons, built at Portsmouth in New Hampshire, she lay 100 feet long overall. Square rigged on her three masts with her black topsides slashed by a yellow stripe, Jones had admired her rakish bows and undercut stern. Although he’d had to modify her masts, the original sail plan more suitable for a sixty-four gunner than the 18 nine-pounders she carried, Jones had been pleased with her. An American ship with which to fight the stubborn English, and she had served him well.
He had set sail from America in November 1777 and shortly after his arrival in France the affaire with Therese had begun. By April the following year he had sailed out of Camaret and Ranger had shown her mettle. After only four days at sea, the brigantine Dolphin had fallen to Ranger’s hooded charm. Jones had scuttled Dolphin, reckoning her valueless as a prize, but if his men grumbled, their disappointment was erased two days later with the capture of Lord Chatham, a 250 ton ship. His exploits did not end there. After a brush with a king’s revenue cutter, Ranger sank a Scots coasting schooner off the Mull of Galloway. Later the same day he sank a Dublin sloop to prevent the Admiralty in London learning his whereabouts, anxious as they were for their men-o-war to find and destroy Ranger before Paul Jones could cause any
more havoc in England’s shipping lanes. After two abortive land raids and a hard won victory over HMS Drake, he had taken another brigantine, Patience, before a victorious return to France.
And then the news he was to lose command of Ranger. His orders on leaving America had been to take command of a new frigate, which would be bought in France by the American Commissioners in Paris and then operate under their instructions. That he should use France as a base was an open handed gesture of support by King Louis to the youthful nation, although it well suited his purpose that the Americans were snapping at English throats. But when Paul Jones arrived on French soil, the Commissioners side-stepped and paper shuffled, muffling the possible acquisition of L’Indien, a ship at Amsterdam on the Zuider Zee which Jones thought a capable vessel. While he was at sea in Ranger, a political wrangle broke out between the Dutch, French and Americans. On his return he relinquished command of Ranger to Lt Simpson who received orders to make ready and sail home, then Jones found out L’Indien was not to be his .
And now he had no ship at all. Jones squirmed under the caress of the satin sheets at the indignity of it all. If the war was left to soldiers and sailors they would damn well get on with it. Politicians would waggle silver tongues for ever. Meanwhile the English were sinking American ships, and with them the hopes of a young and free country.
Angry, he swung his bare feet to the floor, his soles settling into the luxury of the Chinese carpet. He would go and see them again. Franklin would help him. God knows, he had promised often enough. Jones trusted him, which was more than he could say for Monsieur Sartine, the French Minister of Marine. That man could side-step with all the speed and grace of a thoroughbred mare threatened by a puff adder. He stood up abruptly and strode to the chair where he had hung his uniform coat. His breeches, underwear and white shirt lay neatly folded on the seat.
“Where do you go, Cheri?”
He turned at Therese’s throaty purr. She stood in the doorway, one hand playing idly on the wooden doorjamb. Her powder and lip rouge had been repaired and her body glistened with a light coating of oil. She wore only a gold neck chain he had given her, booty from Ranger’s voyage. He gazed at the links hanging low over her perfect breasts, then across the gentle swell of her stomach to the lush triangle nestling at the junction of her thighs. Still angry, he jerked his eyes back to her face, trying to hide his approval.
“I go to find a ship.”
She smiled, teasing. “Put your trust in me, my Captain. Sail in me and I will find you a ship.”
“A voyage of delight?” he asked, thinking only a French woman could say something like that and not sound ridiculous.
Her smile tipped the corners of her mouth. “As the Greeks said, we will ride the wine dark sea together.” She shifted her balance onto one foot, accentuating the swell of her hips. The ash blonde wig coupled with the painted-in beauty spot on her left cheek declared her breeding, but her eyes and sensual mouth together with her stance provoked heady images of gutter lust.
Paul Jones felt the heat rising as he toyed with his shirt. Slowly, he slid one arm into the soft cotton sleeve, tearing his eyes away from the threat of imprisonment. “I must have a ship. That is why I came to France.”
She soft footed over the carpet to him, standing so close he was forced to look at her. She brushed a hand across his shoulder, stroking his chest as though he was a wild animal that could savage her at any moment. Her fingertips sent delicious shivers through his skin. As she gauged her effect on him, Therese’s nimble fingers feathered across to his other shoulder, edging the
single shirtsleeve down his arm. It crumpled unnoticed to the floor. His eyes were again captive.
“You shall have your ship, Captain. I promise it.”
He did not believe her, but at that moment he had other, more urgent needs. He raised a hand to cushion a rounded breast, weighing it for the precious thing it was. The rosebud of a nipple sprang alive at his touch. His nostrils flared with the fragrance of her oiled body and his hands involuntarily began to brush and stroke her sculptured back as she molded against him. When she turned up her face he silenced the pout of her lips with a kiss that reached long and deep into the moist cavern of her mouth. Her hands slid to his waist, talons gently raking, hungry. He broke free of her greedy lips and flung his head back, laughter bubbling in his throat.
“Therese, you have the way, my lady.”
She squinted a little, her dark eyes sparkling at the victory within her grasp. “Do you yield, Captain?”
“Yield?” His laughter was a joyous ring. He scooped her into his arms, took three steps then lowered her onto the rumpled sheets of the bed. Playfully, she pulled the satin across her hips, gripping the material tightly. He hung over her, plumbing the mysterious depths of her eyes for long seconds. “One day, Therese, your husband will come home at the wrong time, then I will never get a ship. And you will no longer have a husband.”
She smiled knowingly. “But not today. Today he is at the ministry, fighting for you.”
“And I am here, fighting for you?”
She tilted her head back arrogantly, clinging to the protection of the sheet. “I repeat. Do you yield, Captain?”
His eyes glinted mischievously then he took his weight on one hand while the other ripped away the sheet to expose her.
“Yield?” he grinned. “I have not yet begun to fight!"
* * *
15th July 1778
What best selling author Clive Cussler wrote to Chris after reading the book: ‘Scarborough Fair is a terrific story. You have a beautiful way with words. Of course, you English always had a better command of the language than we Colonists. The Serapis and Bonhomme Richard battle was always a great adventure tale and you did it proud.’ - Clive Cussler
‘What Chris has done in this novel is slowly take the reader to a time where historical fact is skilfully woven with the author's own brand of fiction. I was hooked after the first page, and read the whole book over three nights; just did not want to put it down!! Would love to see this book transcribed to the big screen. I hope Chris can deliver another masterpiece for me to devour soon!’ John Barchan
‘I now have read two books by author Chris Scott Wilson. Both caught my imagination right from the first page. Although both entirely different in their content, one a western and this one maritime - Scarborough Fair - the amount of research into the subjects has been extraordinary. This with Chris' extremely clever way of descriptive writing take the reader right into the place where the characters live.
Scarborough Fair, a blend of fact and fiction, is an account of the life of John Paul Jones, America's first Naval hero. During the battle at sea in 1779 off the coast of Yorkshire one can smell the smoke from the cannons and hear the tortured voices of frightened sailors in battle, and feel the tension of warfare at sea. A good read.’ Mike Eastwood
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Audiobook : ‘A staccato fast pace and the building tension of war make this audio hard to forget.’ G.D.W. AudioFile web magazine
‘Whilst I have seen many references to books that feature the career of John Paul Jones this is the first fictionalised view of part of his career that I have read.
The book starts with him in Paris, shortly after he has given up the command of Ranger, and follows the political manoeuvres in France that led to his command of the Bonhomme Richard and a small squadron as Commodore.
It then explores the early phase of his command, including a mutiny and the lack of support from some of his subordinate French captains, and finally the book moves to it's climax at the Battle of Flamborough Head, explored from both the American and British perspective.
This is a well written novel and the personality of the many historical figures featured as characters come through, all mixed into a compelling narrative which is hard to put down.
Recommended.’ David Hayes. Historic Naval Fiction website
‘What a totally engrossing read, so beautifully written, I loved loved loved it and I want more. .. takes the reader right into the story, the descriptions are amazing. Books like this should be standard reading in History classes in schools, how much more likely kids are to enjoy history if it is written as a story like this.’ Dee Pernaros
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Chris Scott Wilson Writer
La Belle France