This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 815 words.
By the time Fionn’s company got to the fight at Yorktown, it was all over. The British had surrendered, and Washington had won the war. He had managed to get through the whole war without once firing a shot in the direction of the British, and had emerged on the winning side. Robbing a few dead bodies along the way had provided him with some coin, and a couple of fine pocket-watches, but life in the new America, victorious or not, held little appeal for him.
He managed to slip away quietly, selling his booty to pay for passage on a French ship bound for Haiti. There was a good living to be made there, as a slave overseer on sugar plantations. He kept his musket, and a sword and pistol that he had looted from a dead officer.
They would come in useful down there, he was sure.
During the years following defeat in America, life carried on as normal for the Dakin family. Agatha did her best to try to make Esmerelda take some responsibilty around the house, but following the birth of her son Richard Henry, in 1780, she had taken to her bed claiming an attack of the vapours, and was rarely seen again downstairs. The infant was left in the care of a nurse, a kind lady who treated him as her own. With Oliver at school, the now sullen Oscar remained fixed on business, and refused to disuss the prospect of remarrying. Running the household fell completely to Agatha, who remained doughty, despite her advancing years.
New gossips in the fast-growing town still made much of the misfortunes that had befallen the richest family around, and one toothless widow spoke openly of The Dakin Curse, brought on by the unfaithful Clara, and her murder at the hands of her husband Isiah. But with the vast majority of the local people reliant on the Dakin businesses and custom for employment or trade, they never received any open criticism to their faces.
In the summer of 1789, James visited from London with shocking news. There had been an uprising in France, and the common folk had taken control of that country. Wealthy landowners and noblemen had been imprisoned, some even killed. Europe was in uproar, and there were rumours of war. Oscar liked the sound of that. War was good for business, even if it meant many of his own family might have to leave to fight in it. He began to make plans to increase leather production, and to buy more farmland for the food that would be needed. At the suggestion of one of his banker friends in London, he bought the controlling interest in a gunpowder works too.
Oscar Dakin would welcome war with relish.
News from the continent became increasingly worrying. The French Revolutionary Army was invading neighbouting countries, their King was said to be in custody, and many aristocrats were trying to flee across to England. This turmoil across The Channel was all music to Oscar’s ears, as he wisely invested in anything needed for the impending war effort. The mlitary men in the family were each recalled to duty. In Scotland, Abraham had secured a move to the Scots Greys as a junior offcer. He wrote asking for the funds to purchase his new unitfom, and a fine grey horse to fit in with the regimental tradition.
Life in Haiti had proved to be idyllic for Fionn. He had easily secured a job as an overseer, and showed a ready ruthlessness when dealing with the slaves under his control. Quick to use the whip, and also to avail himsself of the forced pleasures of young female slaves, he became hated by all, even by some of his colleagues. After an argument about a card game, he had killed the chief overseer in what was judged to be a fair fight. The plantation manager was happy to promote him immediately, and he moved into the comfortable bungalow with its own house slaves. He selected some of the youngest women to move in with him too, providing himself with a veritable harem.
Both the slaves and the manager began to call him Fionn le Roi, at least when he was out of earshot.
The expected war with the French began with a campaign in the Low Countries. James receivd orders to go with his regiment, but Henry and Abraham stayed in England. It was late in 1793 when news of a defeat by the French at Hondshcoote reached Dakin Hall. But as for what had happened to James, nobody seemed to know. As the family anxiously waited for news, the continuing war spread to the colonies, as each nation tried to protect and secure their wealthy assets abroad.
It was a cold February the following year when James returned. Shaken and exhausted, he had survived the battle, but his mind was elsewhere.