As a French Marine in 1797, Kliff was on a mission aboard a French Man of War, sailing to the West Indies. His company of marines where all French and that meant they were all white but this young brown garcon, who held the rank of an Ensign. He had no fear of his white shipmates. The troops had to follow his orders because of his rank and to many it was distasteful. Not because of Kliff’s color, but because of his class, as a bourgeois many fathers bought rank and privileges that the poorer peasants could not. Many if not all in this company were forced into serve. In addition, many of the veterans on broad the ship knew that the West Indies meant certain death by disease.
It has been too long for many of us since we had a woman. Kliff hoped that his tales would fire them up to go to sea! We entered Genoa in the early fall of 1800. Later that month Andre and Kliff went to the harbor. Andre could speak perfect Italian, so that helped. Once we got there, we went to the nearest tavern! Once inside we asked about Capitaine Martinez! Kliff knew that Capitaine Martinez was known here because Kliff stopped there a year ago. Capitaine Martinez was on the run from the British.
After, Andre and Kliff looked for hours a group of seaman approached Andre and Kliff and handled them very roughly. After the fight with the seaman, Andre and Kliff had black eyes and swollen faces, not very handsome to the women now.
Andre and Kliff can say that we gave back as well as we got from them. Andre and Kliff had to use their sabers on a few but only minor cuts. There’s nothing gentlemanly at all about this kind of fighting, bare knuckles and sabers!
They knew that we were either deserters or former seaman looking for a way out of this hellhole, which was now Genoa. After months of bombardment and fighting this city is truly hell, dead and dying everywhere. The, sailors asked us why we were looking for a Capitaine by the name of Martinez and was his first name Miguel?
We told them through Andre that Kliff once served under Capitaine Martinez on the Clipper Les Marseille. They told Andre that they knew him. Kliff told them that we needed safe passages aboard a ship for seven men going to Capitaine Miguel. We were willing to pay, and if there was any treachery that the Capitaine would hunt them down himself.
You see there’s honor among thieves. Kliff recalled that he met this Polish fellow by the name of Rick Paizack; he could steal the smile off your face. He is an honorable man who would honor his word. You see a man in this life has only one thing and that is his honor, once someone losses that he stops being a man. Kliff said, “I had seen many a man turn into a beast and a drunk and an animal because he lost his honor. They were first unwilling to help, and then they went to a certain fellow who was setting on one of the wooden pillions on the dock. This man’s name was Marcus Pizana, he was once a shipmate of the Notorious but savage Capitaine Miguel. He came over to us and pulled up Kliff’s shirtsleeve and looked, and then he looked us up and down.
He said to Kliff you have the mark (a tattoo on my right forearm with a skull and cross bones with a dove in the middle). After seeing this, he bowed to Kliff; he told me that it would cost me dearly to get that many men out of Italy and to get them safely to Capitaine Miguel. He said that only gold would get these man out of Italy and a lot of it! Kliff could pay in gold; he said that he would arrange to have these men transported out of the area! With our men safe on their way to Capitaine Miguel, Joc and I along with our horses made our way back to the French lines. Guards who wanted to see our orders stopped us many times. Nevertheless, we are Eclaireur's and as scouts we were always out in front of the Army or far behind it, it only matters what unit we were assigned too.
That gave me a good idea, why not get assigned to a unit that stays out in front of a Corps, the Topographical exploring unit of my ami Remi! That would be best all round for us, that being the case I decided to ask Remi to be assigned to his unit as scouts. Major Remi with some difficulty suggested, that I go back to my old unit and ask for a transfer to his unit, then he would sign the approval on his side. We first went to Colonel Pierre, and then to the other unit. So all I had to do was go and get a transfer from the 11th Chasseurs, and also get one from Joc’s old regiment. I knew that Lieutenant Fisher would give me one and keep it under the table but I was thinking that Evermond would be looking through all the transfer slips at headquarters. I asked Joc was he listed as missing, he said that he was listed as missing and presumed dead. Then I asked him did he have a family that would try to find out. He said that he has been on his own since he can remember and that the only family he has ever had was the cavalry.
Explore with us more in February!