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The Letter of Marque: Willy Lauer Book 2, #2

The Letter of Marque: Willy Lauer Book 2, #2

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The Letter of Marque: Willy Lauer Book 2, #2

150 pages
1 hour
Apr 30, 2020


This book series takes place during the days of the Napoleonic Wars. Here you get to join the brave hero Willy Lauer and his gifted heroine Raja Romanova on their new adventures. Willy is a young fisherman from Norway. Raja is a refugee from Moldova. Both wish to become privateers and make a fortune for themselves, which presents some challenges. "All is fair in love and war".

Willy felt the nerves grow when the majestic Fredriksten Fortress came into view, and the beautiful town stretched along the coast. But his heart truly began to pound when he noticed all the people. The harbour was crawling with them. Most of the citizens had shown up. It was quite the reception. The field musicians were wearing their gorgeous uniforms, and there was smiling and cheering. But when Carsten Tank, the shipowner, opened his mouth to say: "Oh God, Willy. What is this nonsense?" with a horrified expression on his face, Willy Lauer realised that he had misunderstood. This whole scene hadn't been planned by Gustav as he'd initially thought. It had scheduled by Tank. The grand celebration was for The Avenger of Wrath; not Willy's conquest, The Sea Lion ...
"Nonsense?" Willy said with a crooked smile. "Is that what you call this? Capturing a vessel."
Tank laughed and shook his head. "Capturing, you say. Do you have a letter of marque?"
Tom Thowsen (1964) is a Norwegian author who writes suspense literature. He made his breakthrough in 2015 with "The White Lady", a suspense novel about a ghost that is said to haunt Fredriksten fortress in his native town of Halden, and he received excellent publicity in the city newspaper. "Risk sports that work", they wrote. The first edition of the book sold out in two months. Later, "The White Lady" has been translated into English and is now sold on the English-language market, where it has received brilliant reception.
Thowsen has also received good reception for the suspense novel Kayaweta. "A good mix of the Middle Ages and our time," the local newspaper Halden Arbeiderblad wrote. "The author is bursting with narrative joy and knowledge," wrote the Democrat, a newspaper in Fredrikstad.

Apr 30, 2020

About the author

About Tom Thowsen If you enjoy books of Wilbur Smith and Ken Follett, you`d likely enjoy Tom Thowsen too. He is a Norwegian illustrator and fiction writer with a passion for history. This passion is also reflected in his books, where he often uses two different time frames, two different stories woven together. One from the present time and the other from the past. His novels have received very good receptions from both readers and newspapers. Halden Arbeiderblad said this about Kayaweta, his newest novel: "Thowsen manages to combine facts with fiction and writes excellent novels." Another newspaper, Demokraten, concluded: "The author sparkles with the joy of storytelling and knowledge."

Book Preview

The Letter of Marque - Tom Thowsen


JUNE 19TH, 1808

The weather was beautiful and being out at sea was a pleasure. From behind the clouds, the sun peeked out, and there was a warm breeze coming from the northwest. The waves crashed against the bow of the British brig Seagull, and near the bowsprit, Mark Wilson and Jan de Jong were looking out in separate directions. The American, Wilson, was measuring the depth of the water while the Dutchman, de Jong, was keeping him company. At the same time, he was keeping an eye out for potential dangers. Small refractions in the waves or an alteration in the shade of the water could reveal an underwater reef. Jan’s eyes inspected their surroundings. And suddenly – there it was. On the horizon, where the sky meets the sea, an arched column rose.

A bizarre column.

Look at that! Jan said, his eyes wide open. He nodded towards the mystical phenomenon that shone red against the dark blue clouds in the background.

Mark sighed as he coiled up the plumb-line. Damn it. You made me lose count, he said, glaring at his partner. What do you want?

Jan pointed eagerly. Look, before it disappears.

Oh, a red rainbow, Mark said with a shake of his head. Not good.

Not good? Jan frowned. What do you mean?

Mark threw the line back into the water.

It’s a bad omen, my friend, he said ominously. It’s a blood rainbow.

Is that a joke? Jan asked, trying to read the American’s poker face. Mark was a bit of storyteller who liked winding people up. Give them a good scare. But he usually cracked and gave a cheeky smile when his tale had had the intended effect – often accompanied by a long, hearty laugh. 

But not this time.

No, Mark said, just as severe as before.

Well, it’s gone now, Jan said with relief.

Good. There’s probably nothing to worry about. Mark started recounting the knots on the plumb-line. Then he lifted his hand to his mouth, turned around, and shouted to the helmsman on the poop deck. Five fathoms deep!

Mark lowered the plumb-line at regular intervals, and after taking the next measurement, he shouted: Two fathoms deep! Mark Twain! significantly louder.

The announcement that the water was only two fathoms deep, almost dangerously shallow, made the helmsman push out from the coast in the pursuit of deeper waters, and Mark took a well-earned break.

Straight after, there was another shout.

Ahoy! Ship to port bow! the lookout at the top of the mast shouted.

They looked in the direction called out by the lookout, and they were both baffled. The foreign ship was in the exact spot where the rainbow had been, but it didn’t have red sails or anything else that could have created the red shade of the rainbow.

So strange, Jan said. As far as he could tell, there was no logical explanation.

Yes, what a coincidence, Mark agreed, looking back towards the poop deck. Captain Robert Cathcart was standing there with one of the officers, a Welshman named Henrik Brown, and the pair were eyeing up the foreign ship through their telescopes.

She’s travelling east, Captain Cathcart said.

Is she heading to Christianssand, sir? 

Yes, it looks that way.

A blockade runner? She’s not flying a flag, sir.

Captain Cathcart lowered his telescope and smiled.

You’re right, and we’re going to chase her and capture a good vessel. Set sail!

Aye, aye, sir.

Soon after, the boatswain’s whistling and stomping feet crossed the deck. Most of the crew were moving around. There were almost a hundred of them, their gloves blackened. The men were moving up onto the rig.

Seagull opened its wings and almost flew across the water.

The chase had begun, and the atmosphere was positive. The crew were calm and spent their time joking around and laughing to calm their nerves. Regardless of how many ships one captured or battles one fought, there would always be nerves in the lead-up to the action.

In other words, everyone was tense.

Even the officer’s wives appeared on deck to follow the chase. The fancy women in gorgeous muslin dresses walked about the floor, talking to one another under their parasols as though they were on a pleasure craft – and not a warship. 

One of the wives, Mrs Elisabeth Brown, who was always stately and well-dressed, walked up to Captain Cathcart who was walking along the length of the cannons on the quarterdeck. She curtsied respectfully and asked: Well, sir, how are things looking?

Too soon to say, Mrs Brown. We have determined this to be a merchant’s vessel, he said, glancing upwards.

There was a new announcement from the top of the mast.

Good news, sir, the lookout shouted. She has lowered the jib, and her topsails are aback.

Fewer sails, less progress. The foreign ship slowed down, indicating that the crew was ready to surrender. In response, a cheer rang out from the men aboard Seagull.


There, Mrs Brown, the captain continued. Things will be alright, you’ll see. I estimate we’ll be there in an hour or two.

Oh, goodness! How exciting! Mrs Elisabeth Brown shouted out with glee. Captain Cathcart was known for having captured many ships and giving the crew their fair share of the profit. There could be lots to gain, and soon her husband, Officer Henrik brown, would become rich. Really rich! So, she hoped for the best – a ship filled with Chinese porcelain, spices, silk, and tea. She couldn’t help but ask the captain one more question:

What kind of ship do you think it is? An East Indiaman?

Captain Cathcart shook his head and smiled.

I doubt it, Mrs Brown. The ship is too small. At best, it might be a West Indiaman seeing as it’s come from the west. But it could just as well have come from northern Norway with a cargo full of dried fish.

Mrs Brown frowned. Dried fish? Ugh, no. I hope not. She had come across the smell of dried fish in a stuffy pantry and hadn’t been able to forget it.

No, not dried fish, the 34-year-old captain chuckled to the charming 18-year-old woman. They were lost for words and stood there in silence for a moment.

Then he cleared his throat and continued: But dried fish is worth its weight in gold, Mrs Brown. Much as it stinks.

Hm. If you say so...

Mr Brown walked over. My dear Elisabeth, don’t go disturbing the captain.

It’s alright, Mr Brown. Just having a nice chat.

Good to hear it, sir. Could I get a few words in?

Of course, Mr Brown.

"Sir, I think it’s Lougen."

The captain nodded, pensively at first and then with a crooked smile. All the better if your assumption is correct, Mr Brown.

"Lougen? Elisabeth asked. Is that an East Indiaman?"

No, my dear, Mr Brown said with an adoring look at his wife. "Lougen is a Danish warship."

Will there be war?

"We are already at war, my dear, and now we must prepare for battle. We must render Lougen harmless. That is our duty. She is a threat to all British ships in these waters."

Is there a risk of sinking?

No, none at all, Captain Cathcart interjected with a calming smile. The Danes don’t stand a chance against our carronades and our excellent crew. Don’t fret, Mrs Brown. We can do this.

Elisabeth Brown’s face lit up. Alright, sir. I’ll take your word for it.

But, my dear Elisabeth, Mr Brown said. Listen to me. War is still dangerous, so all the women should head to the saloon just like we’ve discussed...

And if the enemies shoot, Elisabeth added to show that she hadn’t forgotten the instructions she had received earlier, We head down to the hold, right? – the safest place on the ship.

That’s right. Henrik Brown carefully stroked her cheek, grabbed her hand, and kissed it. Go, my love – and don’t be afraid.

Elisabeth Brown gave a deep curtsy to Captain Cathcart before leaving. Good luck, she said, her voice encouraging and gentle.

She crossed the deck, reached the hatch, and climbed down the ladder into the saloon. There, she met some powder monkeys on their way up. Most of them were beardless boys around 12 or 13 bringing tubs to the artillery deck. The containers were full of ammunition from the gunpowder magazine at the bottom of the ship. It was stored there because of the risk of explosion.

One of the powder monkeys stopped.

Well, Mrs Brown – how does it feel? the female powder monkey asked. Her name was Linda MacLaren, and she was the same age as Elisabeth. 18. Although Linda looked more like the crewmen than one of the officers’ wives. She was wearing trousers and a tunic and had a scarf wrapped around her neck. The red, tangled mane of hair cascaded down her back.

Elisabeth grimaced. Feel?

Yes. Aren’t you worried?

Worried? No, why would I be?

"Haven’t you heard about Lougen, the Danish warship?"

Of course, I have. What about it?

"So, the Childers incident isn’t a cause for concern?"


One of our ships...

Suddenly, Mr Brown peeked down through the open hatch. He’d heard Linda MacLaren talking. "No, Linda. Don’t go spreading fear. Remember that Childers was an old, fragile ship that should have been retired. Seagull, on the other hand, is state of the art."

Mr Brown neglected to mention that Lougen had 20 cannons, as opposed to Seagull, which had 18 because the difference was insignificant. Not at all significant. The vital difference was in their technological advantage and their talented crew – and on those fronts, he knew that Seagull under the command of Captain Robert Cathcart was undefeated. She had fought ships bigger and stronger than Lougen.

At half past four that afternoon, they were

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