I smiled politely and thanked Mr. Settle for his concern. Then I mentioned that I had seen the Sweet Lenora on the quay.
“Aye.” Uncle John stabbed at his beef. “She sets sail Thursday dawn.”
“You have found someone to captain her then?” Settle asked. It was well known that Uncle sought a commander who could run the ship against the wind full speed.
“I have decided on Anton Boudreaux.”
George Settle put his fork on his plate and stared at Uncle. “Surely you jest, Sir.”
Uncle sighed deeply. “He has proven himself aboard the Carmen Ann. She would have broken Spitfire’s record if not for a gale as they rounded the Horn.”
“He is a pup. He has never held command. Furthermore, he is a half breed and a scoundrel.”
“True enough. But he is fearless. And well respected by the seamen. So he will be our man.”
“We are courting disaster, I dare say.” Mr. Settle pointed to my plate. “Eat.”
I ignored him. “Why do you think him disaster?” Aunt Louise shot me a look meant to keep my tongue silent. But the question had been asked.
“I fear Mr. Settle feels that Mr. Boudreaux is not experienced. And he does have a reputation as a rapscallion. He comes from New Orleans, though few know his background.”
“He’s not so young, surely?” I asked. Aunt scraped back her chair, ready to haul me to the lady’s parlor and give me a firm talking to, I suspect, about appropriate dinner conversation.
“Eight and twenty. Or so he says. He is a scoundrel, sure enough. And the finest sailor on the seas.”
“Why a scoundrel ?” I asked.
Aunt cleared her throat. “Perhaps we should change the topic?”
I swung on her. Bad enough she would have me married to Mr. Settle, who even now had his hand on my knee under the table. “What would be allowable conversation, dear Auntie? Tatting, perhaps? Or roses? Are you aware Aunt Louise chose roses similar to those of Queen Victoria at Windsor?”
Aunt came out of her chair. “We shall retire to the parlor, now,” she said staring daggers at me. I had no choice but to go.
Though as I left, I heard Mr. Settle say, “It is said he killed a man in New Orleans.” I did not hear Uncle’s answer.