DOVER Chapter 20
Callum stood there looking at Eddington. He narrowed his eyes, not at Eddington, but with he had said. His mind began to fathom what was actually coming, the possibilities of what Eddington had meant by what he had said. Indeed, with the large contingent of Marines, were they planning on invading, going on the offensive now, rather than the defense only, as had been the standard. Callum knew this ship, his crew, how they would react to what was coming, but was it going to be enough. He wondered all of these things as he stared at Eddington, who standing there, looked to Callum the embodiment of the Admiralty, not as a member of his crew. All this ran through his mind, as he heard the knock on the door.
"Beg pardon, sir." Callum did not turn to know it was Middleboro, as he knew his voice so well.
"Mr. Arvin's compliments, sir. All of the Marines are on board. Longboat approaching, sir, carrying their supplies."
"Very well, Mr. Middleboro." Callum said, not turning around. His eyes were still on Eddington, who seemed not to waver in his stance at all. "My compliments to Mr. Arvin, have all senior officers report here to the Great Cabin, along with Captain Anders. Have Mr. Greene see to the unloading of the Marines supplies. And, pass the word for Carson, if you please."
"Aye, sir." Middleboro said, Callum hearing the door close behind him.
"I understand your position, Mr. Eddington, believe me. I am not fond of where you stand, sir, and I am curious as to where you received this information. This was not the plan that was discussed at the Admiralty, nor is it in my orders, as you well know." Callum said, clasping his hands behind his back. Eddington paused. He looked Callum and then looked at the deck, slowly his eyes came back up to meet Callum's.
"I intercepted a courier after I left you on the dock. He is known to me, and we had a... conversation." Eddington said. Callum knew what he meant immediately, again his eyes went wide.
"And with this, conversation, you learned that the orders had changed." Callum said, flatly.
Eddington nodded. "That is when I came to join you aboard ship."
"In God's name, why man?" Callum asked, now leaning on the table. "You knew the risks we now face. It would seem to me, now, that what we are facing has increased that risk at least three fold."
"Simply for the reason that I felt, that I needed to do something with myself, sir. Rather than just carry dispatches back and forth. There has to be a reason for one's existence, would you not agree?" Callum smiled briefly at Eddington's words, knowing he was right. "Beg your pardon for speaking bluntly, sir. But, also, I have a deep respect for you, sir, and I have come to think of you as a...friend." Callum was touched by the sentiment. He stood straight. Callum came round the table slowly to where Eddington stood. Callum extended his hand. Eddington took it.
"Thank you, Paul. And I, you, as well." Callum smiled for a brief moment. "You realize that you are going to have us both hang for this." They let go of each others hands.
"Possibly, Quintan." Eddington said softly. "If we are not successful." They both chuckled, as Carson opened the door.
"You wished something, sir?" Carson smiled.
"Ah, Carson." Callum said. "The officers are joining me here for a conference. Would you bring in some coffee, please?"
"All ready for you, sir. I'll just fetch it now, sir." Carson said, closing the door.
Eddington leaned close to Callum. "He seems to know ahead of time, doesn't he?"
"Yes, I think that he can read minds sometimes. But actually, I think he keeps an ear to the door."
"But, he still can't cook." Eddington whispered. Callum chuckled, as the knock came.
"Enter." Callum said. Arvin and the other officers came into the cabin, Captain Anders brought up the rear. All stepped out of the way giving Carson some room as he carried a large tray with a large pot and several cups. He set it at the end of the table. As was custom, Carson poured one for Callum and handed it to him.
"Thank you, Carson. Coffee, gentlemen?"
"I'll just fetch another pot, sir." Callum nodded to Carson. Callum watched as they poured for themselves and as they began to sip at it. Callum walked to the windows aft of the cabin. He looked out at the other ships moored or at anchor. He gathered his thoughts and turned, leaning against the railing of the windows.
"How are your men, Captain Anders?"
"Ready and standing by, sir."
"Mr. Arvin and I were discussing where to put them all, as I'm certain you wish to keep them all together." Callum said.
"Sir, I have already taken the liberty of moving stores around to make room for them on the Storage Deck, sir." Arvin said.
"Very well. Will that be satisfactory, Captain Anders?"
"It will indeed, sir." Anders bowed his head slightly.
"And I see that you have a young lieutenant with you now?"
"Yes, Lt. Holt, sir. He was assigned to me recently."
"I see. And where is this lieutenant?"
"He is overseeing the men, sir."
"Shouldn't he be here as well?" Callum asked.
"I think not, sir. Our mission briefing, does not concern him, sir. He will follow his orders to the letter, sir." Anders said, sparking something else in Callum. Anders knows of the change in the plans as well. Callum narrowed his eyes. He was angered now. He wished that he had been informed of this and he was certain that Smythe and the other commanders of the squadron must already know, as they were with Fitzwarren. Callum cursed being ported here in Portsmouth.
"I see." Callum recovered. "And what of the supplies?"
"Being unloaded now, sir." Arvin said. "I have a detail setting up a temporary armory near the Cable Tier, sir."
"Excellent." Callum said. "And your postings, Captain Anders?"
"There will be a dozen men on deck during the first watch, sir. Then six for each the second and third, sir."
"Expecting trouble, Captain?" Callum smiled as he sipped coffee. He teased Anders. Anders knew it as well as they had known each other for a number of years. Some of the officers chuckled slightly at the jest.
"Orders, sir." Anders looked directly at Callum, with eyes that were like flashing a signal, but Anders could not say anything more, and Callum knew it. Callum signaled back with his eyes to Anders that he knew as well, and Anders looked away.
"Well, Captain, we have one duty to perform on deck before we are underway." Callum said, as Carson came in with another pot, replacing the first. He walked back out.
"I understand, sir."
"Are you placing your dozen on deck now?"
"Already in place, sir."
"Very good. Gentlemen," Callum said, as he placed his cup on the table, "will you join me up on deck?"
They all stiffened, as Callum picked up his hat, and walked out. They all followed, but going a different way. Callum and Arvin, who had joined him, came into the Galley. Callum stopped. "Carson." Carson stepped close to Callum. "Have Dr. Crawford join me on the Quarterdeck."
Callum and Arvin continued through the doorway out onto the Main Deck. They went up the port stairs and stood at the rail. Callum looked down as the door below the rail opened, it was Crawford. He came up the stairs. He walked close to the Callum. Callum had him walk with him to the aft railing.
"I need to have Mr. Perkins moved." Callum said to Crawford. "Is there some place we can place him to make him comfortable?"
"I take it you need the Wardroom?"
"I do. We seem to be becoming a little more crowded than I had intended."
"I will see to him." Crawford smiled. "He will be taken good care of, fear not."
"Thank you, Arthur." Callum smiled briefly. Crawford touched Callum's sleeve with a hand away from sight from anyone. Crawford turned and walked toward the stairs. Callum went back to the rail, clasping his hands behind his back. Several of the crew were milling about below doing tasks. Callum cleared his throat. Arvin knew it was time.
"Mr. Arvin!" Callum said loudly so the crew could hear. "Bring the prisoner on deck!"
Arvin stepped forward. "Master At Arms! Bring the prisoner on deck!"
And now they waited. Eddington and Anders joined Callum and Arvin at the rail on the Quarterdeck. The men stayed clear of the grating that was attached to the Main Rail. They all waited but went about their work. Finally, Jarter was led up on deck, in irons. He was followed by two of the crew. He was led to the grating and stood there. His head was lowered and he was looking at the deck.
"Master At Arms!" Arvin called out. "Tie him to the grating!" Callum stood there watching the irons being removed from Jarter's wrists. They were placed on the deck out of the way. The two crewmen lifted Jarter's shirt up and off him. Jarter was guided to face the grating and then his arms were raised. Looped ropes and longarms were used to weave through the grating, tying Jarter to the grating around his wrists. Jarter turned his head so that he looked toward the Quarterdeck. His eyes met Callum's. Callum never flinched, never blinked, staring back at him. Callum showed no emotion, no nothing at all. To Jarter, his mind was trying to brace for what was coming. The two crewmen stepped back out of the way, waiting. Greene, the Boson, came up on deck, carrying a small satchel, he wore a hat that had a medallion on the front just above the narrow stiff brim. He came close to Jarter and stood.
"All hands to witness punishment!" Arvin yelled. The crew slowly came around on the Main Deck, grouping together. The Marines on deck snapped to attention. Once the crew was assembled, there was total silence on board.
"Boson's mate, do your duty." Callum said in a stiff voice.
"Aye, aye, sir." Greene said, as he stiffened and then undid the tie of the satchel. He reached into the bag and pulled out the Cat of Nine Tails. He dropped the satchel to the deck, holding the Cat in his right hand. He rolled his wrist around to let the black ropes uncoil. Greene took a step away from where he was, gauging his distance from Jarter, he spread his feet apart a little more, then used his left hand to run down the ropes to make sure they were all separated. He pulled back his arm and swung the Cat. The first strike slapped Jarter across the upper back and over the right shoulder. Jarter winced and sucked in a deep breath at the intense pain of the strike. Greene adjusted his stance, sliding his feet a little to the left. He pulled back and swung again with his might. The Cat sliced into the middle of Jarter's back, across the spine. Greene pulled back again, then swung. Jarter was bracing under each hit, trying to hold his breath. Greene was taking his time with each swing. Greene knew he had the right position now. He was purposely trying to hit the middle of Jarter's back so as he would still have the use of his arms.
Callum watched as each hit ripped open the skin on Jarter's back, bringing with it the blood and with each hit small chunks of skin came back with the Cats tails. The crew stood there, watching, not saying a word, eyes constantly on Jarter. They held no malice in their hearts, they all knew he was getting what he deserved. Swing after swing was delivered by Greene, slowly, carefully, until the dozen was exacted out on Jarter. Jarter had closed his eyes after the first few strikes. He was trying not to breathe too deeply.
"Cut him down!" Arvin said out loud. The two crewmen stepped forward as Greene turned to a bucket and rinsed out the Cat, removing the blood and skin from it. They undid the ropes and let Jarter drop to the deck on his knees. Jarter was looking down at the deck, his breathing was even, but labored. Callum still stood at the rail. Arvin stayed by his side as they watched the two crewmen lift Jarter from under the arms, getting him to his feet.
"Dismiss the hands." Callum said.
"Hands dismissed!" Arvin called out.
Callum had never had to administer punishment before, but now as the Captain, he was required to be judge, jury, and even, if necessary, executioner. It was a requirement, not only by tradition, but by Maritime Law. He knew his duty, and knew it very well. He had studied it all of his life, preparing for this time, when he would reach command. He did not relish what had just happened, it was, that it had to be. But in the deep recesses of Callum's mind, something changed. He felt hardened by the experience, more seasoned, as it were. He supposed to himself, that all experiences, even those such as this, make one gain or detract in oneself, but there was something else in him now. He didn't know what it was, as it began to slowly eat at him. He turned and clasped his hands behind his back and walked to the aft rail. Arvin was watching him, and then turned and followed him to the rail.
"Orders, sir?" Arvin asked.
"Quite right, Mr. Arvin." Callum said. "Prepare to get underway. Weigh anchor." Arvin tipped his hand and walked to the rail looking out over the Main Deck.
"Weigh anchor!" Arvin yelled. Men hurried about, setting ropes near the bow and then locking the arms for the Capstan, located on the Gun Deck. They quickly paired up on each of the arms and started to push, turning the Capstan, the large pulley, making the larger cable start to coil, lifting the great anchor up from the bottom of the bay.
Callum turned and walked to join Arvin. Once at the rail, Callum looked aloft, seeing only the one pennant flying from the Main Mast. He smiled to himself seeing which way the breeze was, in their favor. If the wind held, it would be an easy run into the Channel, and then to rendezvous with the squadron. Callum leveled his head looking out across the deck. He knew it would take some time to raise the anchor.
"You have the deck, Mr. Arvin." Callum said as he went to the stairs.
"Very good, sir."
Callum walked into the Galley and through to the Companionway. He turned and walked by the Wardroom, continuing on to Dr. Crawford's cabin. Callum knocked. Hearing a call from inside, Callum took off his hat and opened the door.
"Captain." Crawford said, as he stood up from his desk. Crawford had a look of surprise on his face.
"Doctor, I came to see your patient. Where have you placed him?" Callum stood at the doorway.
"Why don't you step inside, Captain." Crawford said. Callum looked a little confused, but did as the doctor requested. "Now, have a look behind you." Crawford said. Callum looked behind the door, and there in a haversack was Dustin. Callum closed the door, looked over at Crawford, and then back to Dustin. "As the ship is filling to capacity, rather rapidly, I had little room anywhere else to put him." Crawford said. "Thankfully, he doesn't require that much space."
Callum stepped over to Dustin, tucking his hat under his arm. Dustin tried to smile, but couldn't with the swelling still being very evident. He tipped his hand to his head, as Callum put a hand on the haversack.
"I see that the good doctor has taken you in." Callum faintly smiled. "Are you comfortable enough?" Dustin tried to nod. The stitches above his eye looked puffy. Callum thought to himself that he probably looked like that after his brawl with Farrow. Callum turned back to Crawford. "How long before he can be on his feet?"
"Might be a couple of days or so. I am still concerned of the fracture to the skull." Crawford looked past Callum to Dustin, stepping closer to them both. He smiled at Dustin and then looked back at Callum. "He seems to be doing better with the Laudanum. As a matter of fact, it is about time I give him a little more. The more he sleeps, the quicker he will heal."
Callum looked back at Dustin. He smiled down at him. "I will have Carson make you some soup, if you like." Dustin tried to nod again. "Well, I must get back, we are getting underway. I wanted to check on you." Callum said softly. Dustin tried to nod again. Callum saw a tear roll out of an eye. "It's alright, I know." Callum said, putting a hand on Dustin's ankle, giving it a gentle squeeze. "I'll see you when I can." Callum turned and looked at Crawford, who was pouring a little bit of liquid into a spoon. "Thank you, Doctor. Let me know if you require anything."
"I will, Captain. You are welcome to stop by at any time." Crawford said, not looking up. Callum nodded and walked out the door. Callum walked down the Companionway to the Galley. He saw Carson.
"Anything I can do, sir?"
"Yes, if you please, Carson. Would you make some more soup for Mr. Perkins?"
"It would be a pleasure, sir."
"Thank you, Carson. And give Mr. Greene a small supply of vinegar if you would."
"I will, sir." Carson said, as he stiffened. There was no usual smile from Carson after the last request. Callum knew why, but just looked at Carson, till Carson lowered his eyes. Carson was in charge of supplies as the Steward, and needed to know that Greene would need the vinegar, to use it along with brown paper to heal Jarter's wounds. Callum turned and walked out of the Galley. He walked out the door under the Quarterdeck, closing it behind him. He walked forward on the Main Deck, men tipped their hands toward him as he slowly walked by. Callum clasped his hands behind his back as he walked along the deck, looking over the rail to the Gun Deck below. As Callum walked by Marines, posted along the rail, they would snap to attention.
Callum reached the bow and looked over the rail, seeing the large thick cabled rope being pulled up. In the clear of the water, he could the dark outline of the anchor below. He knew that it would at least another half hour before it broke surface. As the Dover was released from its hold of the anchor, she had begun to drift. Callum knew that Arvin had placed her soundly in the mouth of the bay, but Callum looked over toward the other side of the bow, seeing how they were nearing the opposite shore. He knew there was enough time to make sail before it became any danger of running aground. He looked over the rail again.
"Is there a problem, sir?"
Callum looked back and saw Tomlin standing there. "No, Mr. Tomlin, there is no problem. I was seeing the progress of the anchor, that's all."
"Very well, sir."
Callum turned and started on his way back to the Quarterdeck. Tomlin slowly turned and watched him walk away. Callum took his time walking along. He saw a line loose on a longbar, and reached out and reset it. A couple of the crew stepped up quickly.
"I can take care of that for you, sir." He said, trying to get his hands on it. Callum stepped back a step. He could see for himself, now, how things were going to be with the crew. Callum watched him re-hitched and double-sank the line, securing it. Callum turned and walked on his way. He saw his gig had been covered with its canvas and lashed to the grating tightly. He checked one of the lines for tautness. Callum knew that eyes were upon him as he walked the deck. He came back down the starboard side. As he came up the stairs to the Quarterdeck, Arvin walked over to meet him. Callum was looking at the shoreline.
"Everything alright, sir?"
"Yes, Mr. Arvin. I was just gauging the shoreline. I think we just might make it before we beach ourselves."
"Perhaps we had best send some of the men aloft and be ready. It feels to me that the tide is increasing."
"Very good, sir." Arvin knew that Callum knew this ship better than any man aboard, himself included. With her shallow draft, he knew they might have issue. "Hands aloft! Prepare to set sail!"
Callum walked over to the wheel. A man that Callum knew well, as a rigger, was at the wheel. He was simply known to everyone as Amos. He was a rather quiet man, and could be counted on, especially in a fight. Callum had seen it a few times in various engagements. He was good to have on a gun line as well.
"Port your helm, Amos." Callum said, looking over to starboard.
"Aye, sir." Amos replied and turned the wheel. Callum looked forward watching the bow against the horizon. Slowly, she began to lay over even more. Callum watched for a few minutes.
"That's enough. Ease your helm." Callum said. Callum looked aloft as men climbed the rigging.
"Anchor cleared, sir!" Tomlin yelled from the bow. It meant to Callum that it was almost time as the anchor top had just cleared the water. A few more turns to the Capstain and they could set canvas at last. Callum nodded very clearly toward Tomlin, so he could see Callum had heard him. Callum looked aloft again. The pennant was still flying in the same direction. Good, Callum thought.
"Standby, Mr. Arvin." Callum said, as he looked starboard again.
"Very good, sir." Arvin said, looking aloft as well. The men were spreading out on the lines, getting ready to untie and loose the sails. As they reached position, Arvin looked forward. Tomlin had raised one hand in the air to use as a signal, as he looked over the rail. Callum joined Arvin in looking forward. Tomlin dropped his arm quickly.
"Set sail, Mr. Arvin." Callum said in an even tone.
"Set the Headsails!" Arvin yelled. He stepped up to the rail, as the sails of the Main Mast and the Foremast dropped and unfurled. Arvin looked forward again. "She's coming around nicely, sir."
"Yes, she seems to be." Callum said. "Have Mr. Tomlin run out the jib."
"Aye, sir." Arvin said, as he had looked over at Callum. He looked forward, "Mr. Tomlin! Run out the jib!"
"Aye, aye, sir!" Tomlin yelled back. He turned and gave the order to a few men that were forward with him. Callum and Arvin watched as the sail was run out and secured. Tomlin went back to looking over the rail, watching the anchor. Callum and Tomlin watched Tomlin, as he turned and waved his arm at the men forward with him. They both heard him when he yelled, "Hook and tie!" They watched as the men jumped to the rail and secured the anchor to the hull of the Dover. Callum and Arvin each half smiled at each other.
"Set the Main Sails, Mr. Arvin, and run out the Spanker."
"Very good, sir." Arvin grinned knowing that they were free sailing now. "Set the Main Sails! Run out the Driver!" Arvin was looking aloft as men came down the rigging, some on the stalls, some sliding down lines. The men set themselves about on the ties and let the sails unfurl. Callum turned and looked directly above him, as the large angled sail, the Spanker, was cut loose. It grabbed the wind and snapped full. The deck boards groaned under Callum's feet as the Mizzen Mast now had wind on it now. The wheel strained in Amos' hands.
"Hold your course." Callum said, turning back to look forward again. "We shall get out into the Channel away further from shore, Mr. Arvin, and then we shall have some practice with the guns."
"Very good, sir." Arvin grinned. "Deck there! Clear away those lines! Secure aloft!" Arvin watched as the men trimmed the sails, setting lines to the rigging and belaying pins on the rails. The sails furled tightly now, full of the wind. The Dover responded to her master, knowing what to do and what he wanted from her. "How far out would you like her, sir?" Arvin asked. He reset his hat tighter, as they cleared shore, the wind was picking up.
"Let the wind take her, Mr. Arvin." Callum said, looking aloft. "Let her sing for a while."
"Very good, sir." Arvin said, still grinning. To every sailor aboard, a full sail, a dipping bow, and the spray was a welcome feeling and sight. The men were all content now to be at sea. Arvin could see it on their faces, each of them having a purpose, fulfilling their destinies as it were. Arvin looked over at his Captain. He, had a face that was full of thought, but Arvin could see that he, the true master of this vessel, was finally becoming happy himself. Arvin eased himself as he gripped the rail, looking forward again. "More canvas, sir?"
"You read my mind, Mr. Arvin." Callum said, as he clasped his hands behind his back again.
"Mr. Tomlin!" Arvin yelled over the wind now. Tomlin turned and looked aft. "Set the main jib!" Tomlin did not wish to yell against the wind. He tipped his hand, Arvin seeing it. Tomlin gave orders to the men forward, as you could see him use his arm to motion to them and point. Arvin looked directly above him. "Set the Crossjack!" Arvin yelled. There were but a few men aloft on the Mizzen Mast directly overhead. The moved about and slid over and started to climb the rigging, going higher. They reached the ties of the Crossjack sail, in the center of the Mizzen Mast. They untied as fast as they could as the Dover was under a good wind now and dipping and rising with the waters of the Channel. They cut the sail loose and it dropped, catching the wind, snapping to life.
"Change course." Callum said, over his shoulder, toward the wheel. "Three points to port." Arvin looked at Callum, surprise was on his face. "Deeper waters to the south, Mr. Arvin, and no fishing boats that might be in our way, when we start shooting." Callum smiled. Arvin nodded his understanding. Amos rolled the wheel slightly, as Callum and Arvin looked forward. The Dover rolled to port slowly as the wheel and her Captain guided her. Arvin looked about, scanning the horizon, the shore was disappearing in the distance. Arvin was waiting for the order, he sensed it was coming.
"You have the deck, Mr. Arvin." Callum said as he walked to the port stairs.
"Aye, sir." Arvin was stumped. He watched as Callum walked to the Main Deck rail to the stairway that led to the Companionway. He went down them, swung on the rail reaching the Gun Deck and headed toward the stairs for that led down toward the Storage Deck. He went down them and stopped at the bottom. He saw barrels and bags off all kinds stuffed and pushed out of the way for the Marines. One of them saw Callum.
"Ten shun.!" The young Marine yelled and snapped. All of the Marines stopped what they were doing and snapped to attention, not knowing who was there.
"As you were, gentlemen." Callum said. He walked down the Companionway looking at all of the haversacks that hung about, and continued forward as Marines were steeping out of his way. He saw the makeshift wall that enclosed the temporary 'armory' and was not happy about it. He knew that it was temporary, he knew their presence aboard was temporary, but it would take ten of them time to get to it and the supplies inside. They had less than a day left for preparation. Callum turned and was met by the Sergeant. A large man, with big whiskers. His face was leathered, showing his years, as he was obviously twice the age of most of the company present.
"May I be of service, SIR!" The Sergeant snapped, his voice very deep and growly.
"Sergeant?" Callum asked, standing stiff on the deck.
"Very well." Callum said, and then cleared his throat. "Sergeant McGuffin, I thank you for offering. I wanted to make an inspection for myself."
"Very good, SIR!" McGuffin said. Callum was struck by his voice, he enjoyed the sound of it, the growl behind it.
Callum shook his head slightly at the resonance of his deep voice and the emphasis on 'sir'. Obviously, McGuffin was truly an infantryman and had never been aboard ship. And as Callum looked around, it was even more obvious to him that some of his men hadn't either as they looked very ill and pale, setting sail had made them sea sick. Callum wanted to chuckle but didn't.
"Sergeant, may I make an inquiry of you?"
"Certainly, sir." McGuffin eased in tone, but still deep. He was obviously not used to being asked questions, only being given orders.
"Are you at all satisfied with that?" Callum asked pointing back at the 'armory'.
"Not exactly regulation, SIR!"
"Quite." Callum said in a hushed voice. "Sergeant, if you wouldn't mind, a little less vocalization on the word 'sir'. It's a rather small vessel." Callum said, with a half smile. McGuffin understood immediately, wanting to smile himself. Perhaps he did, with all of those thick whiskers, Callum would not have been able to see it anyway.
"Very good, sir."
"Thank you. I shall speak to Captain Anders and then have my ship's carpenter manage something a little more...appropriate?"
"That would be a comfort indeed, sir." McGuffin snapped his heels and saluted. Callum raised an eyebrow and returned with tipping his hand. McGuffin stood out of the way.
"Alright, lads!" McGuffin said loudly, "Make way for the Captain!"
Callum made his way up onto the Gun Deck. He saw Middleboro looking over one of the port guns with a small crew. Callum walked over toward them. Middleboro and some of them saw him approaching and snapped straight, their eyes wide. Callum stopped at the end of the gun, looking it over from where he stood.
"Problem with the gun, Mr. Middleboro?"
"No problem at all, sir."
"Then what seems to be the fascination? Powder and ball goes in one end, fuse goes at the other." Some of the men chuckled at Callum's jest, though it was at Middleboro's expense.
"We are aware of that, sir. Well, sir...you see, sir..."
"Well, out with it man, we will reach the French by the time you tell me." Callum smirked.
"Well, sir, Simms here had an idea about the guns. We were discussing it, sir, that's all."
"I see." Callum said, and then crossed his arms in front of him. "Go on, Mr. Middleboro."
"The idea, sir, is to take the gun and mount it on a platform, like a plank, as it were." Middleboro was losing Callum, and he could see it. "Explain it, Simms, as you explained it to me."
Simms turned and tipped his hand to Callum. "Well, sir, you see, if the cannon were mounted to a platform, and that platform rested on like a trolley, with wheels in the deck. With a set of double blocks, two men, or rather one could pull the gun forward, saving even more time in firing, sir."
"Wheels. In the deck?" Callum asked as he scratched his chin.
"Mounted on a trolley, you say?" Callum asked, scratching again. Simms nodded. "Attached with a double block...where...over the gun port, I suppose?"
"Exactly, sir." Simms grinned wide.
"I see." Callum said. "Simms, tell me, how would you attach the gun to the sled? The recoil would send it flying across the deck."
"Well, sir...I haven't quite figured that out yet, sir. But given a little bit of time, I know I will."
"Without doubt." Callum said, smiling at Simms, who was trembling from standing next to Callum, and having a conversation with him. Callum looked at Middleboro. "Mr. Middleboro, my compliments, to you and your gun crew." Callum smiled. Middleboro was positively beaming with pride. "As a point, why don't you draft a sketch of your design and idea. If there's way we can make it, let us by all means try it." Callum said, then looked at each of them. "Once we are out of the reach of the French. I would not want to be a gun short." Callum smiled.
"Agreed, sir. Thank you, sir." Middleboro said. Callum nodded and walked on his way toward the stairs. He could hear them talking excitedly behind his back. He smiled to himself. Callum went up the stairs and stepped onto the Main Deck. He came around the rail walking toward the Quarterdeck, and was struck from something above him.
Callum took a step sideways as he recovered his balance. He looked over and saw there was a seaman, Rollins, standing there, wide eyed, looking terrified.
"Be careful there, Rollins." Callum said, putting his hat back on correctly.
"Beg pardon, Captain." Rollins tipped his hand, not letting his eyes leave Callum for an instant.
"No harm done. Just watch out below next time. Secure that line." Callum said.
"Yes, sir. Beg pardon, sir. I'm so sorry, sir."
"It's alright." Callum assured him as Rollins who just stood there. Callum stepped to him, taking the line with Rollins hand still holding it and drew it over to the belaying pin. Once there, Rollins snapped out of it and then lashed the line down with lazy 8's. Rollins went back up in the rigging. Callum watched him for a minute and then continued to the stairs of the Quarterdeck. He walked them slowly and then walked across the deck to stand next to Amos at the wheel.
"Change course, six points larboard, Amos. Make us south by southeast."
"South by southeast, aye sir." Amos clocked the wheel. Callum went to the rail and joined Arvin.
"Mr. Arvin, have you seen Captain Anders?"
"I believe he's in the Wardroom, sir."
"Very good. I must have a word with him." Callum went to turn away.
"Is everything alright below, sir?" Arvin asked.
"I am not pleased with the situation, Mr. Arvin."
"Is there something I might do, sir?"
"Find me some empty barrels to shoot at." Callum just looked at Arvin. Arvin half smiled.
"Mr. Tomlin!" Arvin yelled, as Callum went to the stairs. He descended, as he saw Tomlin walking quickly toward the Quarterdeck. Callum entered the doorway through to the Galley. Carson saw Callum and stepped forward.
"It's not too late for your luncheon, sir." Carson said, with his usual smile.
"I'm not hungry right at this moment, thank you, Carson. Did you get the soup?"
"Oh yes, sir. He was able to finish it all, sir. He's doing so much better, sir."
"Excellent. Thank, Dr. Carson." Callum smiled, making Carson blush for a moment. "Have you seen Captain Anders?"
"Indeed, sir. I just took him some tea in the Wardroom. He is... not feeling all that well, sir."
"Probably trying to get his sea legs, no doubt." Callum grinned.
"Oh, hardly that, sir." Carson shook his head. "You know how he is, sir. Looks like he has the Typhoid, sir." Carson whispered the last part. Callum chuckled.
"Thank you, Carson." Callum turned and walked out of the Galley, knocking on the door of the Wardroom.
"Come in." Came a feeble voice from inside. Callum opened the door, he looked about seeing both Anders and Holt, heads down on the table. Callum closed the door softly.
"Good day, gentlemen." Callum said. Hearing his voice, Anders stood up. Holt lifted his head and then with wide eyes, seeing who was there, he stood as well. "Are you gentlemen feeling ill? I can have Dr. Crawford administer something to calm you, if you would like?"
"No, sir. Very kind of you, sir. We will be...fine, sir." Anders said.
"Captain Anders, I just left your men, but a few minutes ago. I wanted to ask, have you been below yet to where they are berthed?"
"Why, no, sir. I have not as of yet."
"Have you, Lt. Holt?" Callum asked.
"When we first came aboard, sir. Mr. Arvin had one of the officers show us, sir."
"So, I can safely assume that neither of you have seen nor heard of what is actually happening on the Storage Deck?"
Anders stiffened. "No, sir. I am sorry to say that I have not heard or seen anything as of yet."
"Captain, I suggest that you and I and your young Lieutenant here, make an inspection of where your men are berthing? I shall be with Dr. Crawford for a moment and then shall rejoin you." Callum looked at both of them, in their very sorry state of sea sickness. "Gentlemen." Callum walked out the door, and went to the next door down and knocked.
"Come in." Callum opened the door, seeing Crawford at his desk, quill in hand, turned and looking over his spectacles. "Ah, Captain. Do come in."
"I came to see your patient, again, Doctor. How is he doing?"
Crawford smiled. "Have a look for yourself, why don't you?" He held out a hand, pointing with the quill. Callum turned and saw Dustin sitting up in his haversack. Callum smiled seeing him.
"Well, you look positively better this time." Callum said as he walked over, standing next to him, his hat tucked under his arm. "I hear that you had some more of Carson's soup. I must try it as it seems to have magical properties in it." Dustin cocked his head slightly to one side and tried to smile. "Easy, easy. Do not push yourself, lad. As I am sure the good doctor has told you the same thing." Dustin nodded slightly. "I trust that at least he is interesting company?"
"Oh, we have wonderful conversations, well to say, I do at least." Crawford said as he rose from his chair. "Mr. Perkins is very attentive. We speak of philosophy, history, medicine. I have even started to teach him Latin. Isn't that right, lad?" Dustin tried to nod again. "There you have it, Captain. He will be right as rain in no time."
"I see." Callum said, raising an eyebrow. He looked back at Dustin, "Would you like me to see if I can berth you with the Marines?"
"I take that with great insult, sir." Crawford said looking aghast. As Callum chuckled, he looked at Dustin, who was trying to laugh, but couldn't. "Now, if you are going to insult me, sir, I shall have to limit your visitations." Crawford said, still looking very put out, but really wasn't. He and Callum had been doing this to each other for years now. "Now, he really should rest, Captain. He could use a little more Laudanum as well, as he has had some soup. His sleeping is doing him wonders."
"Very well, Doctor, as you are throwing me out. I shall take my leave." Callum tilted his head back slightly as if he had been snubbed, and sighed. He could hear Dustin hissing behind him, trying to laugh. Callum turned and raised a finger to his lips, to make Dustin quiet down. "Next time I visit, I will try and not raise such a ruckus." Callum said and touched Dustin's lower leg again. Crawford turned toward the cabinet on the wall to get a bottle. Callum mouthed, "I love you." And then winked at Dustin. "Mind the Doctor now, and try not to bore him." Callum said and turned away. "Thank you, Doctor."
"Uh huh." Crawford said as Callum closed the door. He reentered the Wardroom and looked at Anders and Holt as they had pulled themselves together.
Callum, followed by Anders and Holt walked on the direct path to the Main Deck through the Galley. Callum walked across the deck, men got out of his way, seeing that he was in a slight hurry, Anders took long strides to keep up, Holt was almost hopping to keep up with Anders, Callum flew down the steps to the Gun Deck, he saw Middleboro, "Pass the word for Camden, have him join me on the Storage Deck." Middleboro tipped his hand and started to all out for Camden. Camden appeared in short order, and went to catch up with the Captain.
"So, as you can clearly see, Captain Anders," Callum said, "This will not do." Anders stood next to Callum, Holt was behind Anders, and McGuffin was behind Holt. Callum turned as he saw Camden coming around through the Marines. "Ah, Camden, there you are."
"Sir?" Camden said, as he tipped his hand.
"We have issue with the temporary armory, Camden. I want it reworked so that, when needed, it can accessed easily. Use whatever men you might need."
"Aye, sir." Camden replied, looking at the mess of the situation.
"Captain Anders, would you be willing to have some of your men lend a hand?"
"Certainly, sir." Anders stiffened. "Lt. Holt, see to it."
"Yes, sir." Holt snapped. He turned and looked at McGuffin. "Sergeant? Form a detail."
"Yes, sir." McGuffin said, saluting, then turned and started calling out names.
"First, I think we take some of the stores and move them further aft." Callum said, aloud, not to anyone in particular. "I'll have one of my officers organize that." Anders nodded to Callum. "Then, while Camden takes care of this situation, I think we can make a little more room for your men."
"As you think best, sir." Anders said. "I'm certain that the men will do fine as they are."
"Quite." Callum looked at him. "But, I was thinking that a little more room might make things go a bit more smoothly. Wouldn't you agree?"
"It would, sir." Anders bowed his head slightly. As they were near the bow of the ship, you could really feel the roll on the water. Anders was still looking very pale to Callum.
"Well, Camden?" Callum asked, looking at him as he examined his latest task.
"I should think, sir, that if we build out from the bulkhead, sir, then I can take the door from the Cable Tier and use it. As it is only temporary, sir."
"Excellent idea, Camden. Use the spare planking. I'll have Mr. Talon and a detail join you to clear a path."
"Very good, sir."
"There you have it, Captain Anders." Callum said. "Looks like you could use some air. Join me on deck?" Anders nodded. They walked to the stairs and went up. On the Gun Deck, Callum saw Middleboro. Callum used his fingers to call him over. Callum quickly explained what he wanted and then went up to the Main Deck.
"Mr. Tomlin." Callum said. "Call Mr. Talon, have him report to Mr. Middleboro on the Gun Deck ."
"Aye, aye, sir." Tomlin said and went to find Talon, who was aft.
Callum turned and looked at Anders. "Feeling any better?"
"I'm certain it will take me a day to get my sea legs, sir."
"Without doubt." Callum smiled. Callum looked aft and saw Tomlin approaching.
"Sir." Tomlin said. "I found Mr. Talon. He is seeing Mr. Middleboro, sir. Mr. Arvin wishes to have a word with you, sir."
"Thank you, Mr. Tomlin." Callum said, looking toward the Quarterdeck. "I'm sure Mr. Arvin is eager to have some practice with the guns."
"As am I, sir." Tomlin snapped straight. Callum smiled at him.
"In due course, lad. Let's get a few things done first." Callum said, then turned to look at Anders. "Captain, I'm wondering, have any of your new recruits been aloft yet?" Callum raised an eyebrow.
"No, they have not." Anders came to a realization.
"Well, at the onset of engagement, I, for one would feel more comforted knowing that there were sharpshooters over my head shooting at the enemy rather than gripping the lines around them."
"I see your point, sir." Anders replied and looked at Tomlin, who was smiling. "I will have the men do some practicing, sir. When you give me the all clear, sir."
"I will do that." Callum said. "If you gentlemen will excuse me, I will see Mr. Arvin." Callum turned and walked off aft. He saw barrels being rolled and put at the rails to both sides, port and starboard. He reached the port stairs and climbed them, as Arvin came towards him. "You wished to see me, Mr. Arvin?" Callum asked.
"Yes, sir." Arvin tipped his hand. "Barrels are in place, ready to be launched over, sir."
"So I see. There is a situation below on the Storage Deck. I have Mr. Talon moving some stores about to clear a path for the Marines. I also have Camden correcting the temporary armory, as it were. Our target practice will commence shortly, as some of the men from the gun crews are being used."
"Very good, sir." Arvin looked disappointed, but understanding. "We have less than a day, sir" He said, leaning a little closer to Callum.
"I know." Callum said, softly. "Let us make a circular course for now. I should think we should need only about another hour or so to make ready below."
"Very good, sir." Arvin said, and then straightened.
"I will take the deck, if you wish to go below and see for yourself?" Callum said. "Perhaps another set of eyes on the situation might...encourage swifter action?"
"I see what you mean, sir." Arvin half smiled, knowing full well that Callum, even though the men had a new found respect for him, could not make them move faster than Arvin could make them. "I would be happy to have a look, sir."
Callum backed up a step. "I have the deck, Mr. Arvin." Callum said louder. Arvin tipped his hand and walked down the stairs. Callum stepped toward the wheel. "Three points to port, Amos. Make us a circular course."
"Aye, sir. Three points." Amos said, rolling the wheel. Callum walked to the rail, seeing Arvin going below and out of sight. Callum clasped his hands behind his back, looking forward across the horizon beyond the bow. He could see how she was slowly, gradually turning to port, it was so slight. Callum was buying time. He looked aloft seeing the canvas was still full, the rigging and lines tight. Dover reacted well to the course change. Callum knew her mood now, as if she were stretching her legs and breathing a slight sigh. He turned and went to the aft rail and put his face to the wind that was driving them. He closed his eyes and waited.