The Time of Terror
Author: Seth Hunter
Table of Contents
Patrolling the south coast of England in 1793 for smugglers, Commander Nathan Peake finds himself
unhappy with his commission and desperate for some action. After revolutionary Frenchmen kill their own
king and declare war on England, he gets his opportunity. Peake is entrusted with a vital mission to
wreck the French economy by smuggling millions of French banknotes across the English Channel and
into the heart of Paris. As he reluctantly embarks on the task of undermining the Revolution, opposition to
the terror mounts, and he is soon forced to leave Paris and find the British squadrons in the storm-tossed
Atlantic. Perfect for fans of nautical fiction, this humorous and well-researched tale portrays an upper-
class, highly educated officer who values both action and reflection.
A black night and cold, even for the first month of the
year with a chill wind whipping across the Channel from
France. A night to be indoors by a good fi re with a mug
of hot punch, not gadding about off the Sussex Downs in support
of the Revenue service fi ghting a futile war against the smugglers.
Nathaniel Peake, master and commander of the brig sloop Nereus,
bent his bum against the nearest of her sixteen guns with his coat
collar turned up and his chin thrust deep into his muffl er and cast an
anxious eye at the familiar hump of Seaford Head off the larboard
bow. Even on such a dirty night, with a scrap of a moon dodging in
and out of ragged clouds, he could make out the line of surf at its
foot. He had the sailor’s healthy respect for a lee shore and in his
mind’s eye he saw the rocks where in times past he had clambered
with his shrimp net when the tide was out.
“We must hug the coast and take them by surprise,” he had been
instructed by the Revenue Collector, Mr. Swales, who had joined
them at Shoreham: a stout burlesque of the breed with an opinion of
his own competence that Nathan was inclined from sheer prejudice
It was a coast Nathan knew well. Beyond the headland was Cuckmere
Haven where he had fi rst set foot in salt water, bawling not in
fear—as he was later told—but for his nanny to loose her hold upon
him so that he might venture farther. Here, too, he had sailed his fi rst
boat and set a course for America till a slack wind and a stern tutor
recalled him to his responsibilities. And one summer’s night when
the household thought him safe in bed he had crouched at the top
of the cliff and watched the smugglers landing contraband: the fl eet
of small boats in the haven and the long line of ponies and tub-men
straggling along the Cuckmere with their illicit booty.
Th ey’d be there tonight if the information laid before the Collector
was correct; some of the same men in all probability for it was only
ten years since Nathan’s last sighting of them. He imagined sweeping
them with grape or shot and shook his head at the absurdity of the
notion. Yet not so impossible before the night was out.
He crossed to the weather side of the little space he liked to think
of as his quarterdeck—though the Nereus was fl ush-decked like all
the vessels of her class—and gazed across the sea towards the black
bank of cloud that masked the proper enemy to the south. France
and England had been at war for much of the century and would
be again before it was out, if you could believe what you read in the
newspapers. Yet there had been peace for ten years, the whole time
Nathan had been in the Navy, with precious few enemies to fi ght save
some unfortunate aborigines in the South Seas and importunate pirates
in the Caribbean . . . and of course the smugglers.
Th ere was a fl ash of lightning from the clear sky to the east and a
thin crack that was a far cry from thunder. A moment’s pause and
then a veritable barrage. Nathan came off the rail and arched his
brow at Mr. Collector Swales as if to enquire if this was all part of
his plan, knowing full well that it was not.
Seth Hunter, a pseudonym, is a writer and director of historical dramas.<br/>
"Rousing . . . a complex plot, written with wit, suspense, intrigue, and action. Along with a flawed but
likable character, [Hunter] reveals the bloody history of the French Revolution, and establishes solid
ground for the upcoming sequels."
"A well-researched novel that draws you into the dangers of life in France post-1789. A highly compelling