DOVER Chapter 31
Portsmouth was a fairly large city built around the access to the sea. The Royal Navy, as it had come to be known after the time of Elizabeth I, had used Portsmouth as a base of operations to strike out with its fleet for the defense of England against neighboring enemies, such as France and Spain.
The Spanish had always tried to land at Portsmouth, as they were to the south from England, knowing that if they controlled that city and port, they controlled the Channel, and could easily invade the rest of England and overpower it. Such was Phillip's plan, the Spanish King at the time of Elizabeth I, to take Portsmouth, bottle up the Channel, force Drake to sail north and come around, then back down the Welsh coast, the Armada would be waiting for him and crush him. It had only been blind luck that Drake saw the plan and was ready for the Armada in a Channel driven fog, destroying Phillip's Armada and his plan.
The French had always thought to cross the Channel at its narrowest point, at Calais, and sweep through England north and west. The French were always blocked from this by English ships that used Portsmouth as a harbor and base of operations. The French could never really get closer than three to four kilometers from the English coast, because of Portsmouth.
Such were the tales that were told to every naval officer serving in the Royal Navy. Callum was no exception, having excelled in history, British Naval history. He knew dates, places, ships names, battles and tactics. All had been drilled into him and it was hard to forget as he stood on the Quarterdeck, remembering his childhood and its lessons as he was looking starboard over the rail at this dirty port city.
Portsmouth offered much for the Royal Navy as it had been built primarily around the needs of the Navy, and every sailor could get his fill of any want or need within its boundaries. Callum preferred life in the country when he was on land, as it reminded him of the sea, his one true home, open spaces, no confines, the wind at his back, the sun in his face, the only thing that country life did not have for him was the smell of the sea.
Callum watched as the long boat rowed for Dover. He knew it must be the Harbor Master or one of his lackeys. He did not care for the bunch and did not trust any of them as far as he could throw them. Too much history, seeing the constant 'ratting' that was going on on aboard ship when he would arrive for duty. He hated being in harbor, better to be underway and out at sea, sails unfurled, bow dipping deeply. But, his lady was wounded, and she needed assistance as did he. He would have to tolerate their presence aboard her to get her ready to be able to run again under a strong wind.
"May I get you something, sir?" Callum turned hearing Carson behind him. Callum smiled at him.
"Yes, you may." Callum gave him soft eyes. "I will be going below to the Great Cabin. You can have the Harbor Master and his party join me there. I would ask you," Callum said, looking about to see if anyone was nearby to overhear them, "to provide me a list of items that I require to complete the needs of the Great Cabin if you would. I shall be remaining in Portsmouth for about a week I would say and will be able to fill that list, provided it is not long?"
"Oh, I would indeed, sir." Carson bubbled. "I would be very happy to do that for you, sir."
"I thought you might." Callum smiled. "Also if there is anything that you might require for the galley and the needs of the crew that I can provide or requisition, please, I need to know."
"Most certainly, sir."
"Also, if you have Mr. Camden join me in the Great Cabin with the Harbor Master's party. We can give them a complete list of repairs to be done."
"I will send for him right away, sir.
"Excellent. Carson are you returning home?" Callum asked.
"I am, sir." Carson beamed. "I have family waiting."
"I see." Callum smiled. "Perhaps, you might visit me while Dover is under refit in Birmingham?"
"Really, sir?" Carson went wide eyed.
"I could give a taste of 'country life' for a few days, a respite if you will." Callum smirked.
"I would like that, sir."
"Excellent. I'm not sure how long we shall remain here under repair in dry dock, but a couple of days in the country might keep your color about you rather than the confines of being in the city as it were. I suppose that the Harbor Master will let me know their schedule." Callum sighed turning and looking at the boat approaching. "I have some packing to do. Have you seen Mr. Perkins?"
"I believe he went ashore, sir."
"Quite right. I sent him on an errand for me, hmmm, I suppose he will return in due time."
"Mr. Tomlin and some of the other officers are aboard, sir. Mr. Arvin has already disembarked, along with Dr. Crawford. I believe they were going to make arrangements for Mr. Arvin's transportation home."
"Very good." Callum sighed and nodded. "Poor William, he deserves better and I will see to it that he gets his due."
"Yes, sir." Carson said softly and lowered his head.
"I will be below." Callum said, turning. "Carry on, Carson."
"Thank you, sir, I will." Carson smiled as Callum went down the stairs.
"Enter." Callum said, hearing the knock, as he was packing his trunk with a few things. He heard the door open and looked over his shoulder. He saw young Tomlin standing there. "Ah, Thomas, what can I do for you?"
"Sir, the Harbor Master and his party have arrived aboard and are making their inspection with the ship wright. Mr. Talon has disembarked for the hospital, and the officers of the Valiant are also ready to leave, sir. Is there anything else that you require?"
"Have you seen Camden?"
"He's with the ship wright, sir."
"And what of Mr. Perkins?"
"Our long boat is on approach from the dock, sir. Perhaps he is aboard?"
"One can hope, Mr. Tomlin." Callum smiled, turning and giving Tomlin his undivided attention. "Did you get a chance to...?"
"Indeed, sir, I did." Tomlin seemed embarrassed.
"It...went well, sir." Tomlin smiled.
"Excellent." Callum smiled wide. "So I take it that the Marines have disembarked as well?"
"Yes, sir. Lt. holt and Sgt. McGuffin were disembarked by a Marine barge, sir."
"Ah...and the Lieutenant was able to get off by himself?"
"With some assistance, sir." Tomlin said, his hands clasped behind his back as he stood at the door.
"Where are my manners?" Callum asked. "Thomas, won't you sit down, please?" Callum smiled. "I think we need to discuss a few matters of crew compliment, if you have time."
"I have all the time you require, sir." Tomlin said, with a smile. Tomlin came to the table and pulled out a chair.
"Pardon me while I continue to pack, if that's all right?" Callum asked.
"Of course, sir." Tomlin replied, sitting at the table. "May I be of help, sir?"
"No, I can manage, thank you." Callum said, as he went to his trunk. He knelt in front of it, organizing a few things in it. "I was wondering, Thomas, now that you have agreed to take over for Mr. Arvin, would you like to see what it is that you need for the cabin you will be occupying? I may be able to supply some things if you wish."
"That's very generous of you, sir."
"Think nothing of it. I have things that I have no need of and would like to 'pass' them on as it were?"
"I see. Yes, I can probably make use of just about anything, sir. I do not have much in the way of items other than uniforms, sir." Tomlin lowered his voice and then looked at the deck.
"Hmmm, then we will change that, won't we?" Callum smiled, looking at him. "I seem to have been given or been left with quite a few things from Captain Powers." Callum said, looking about the cabin. "As much as I appreciate what he did for me, I feel a little uncomfortable here surrounded by his items. They...'haunt' me as it were. I feel that I need to start...anew, wouldn't you agree?"
"I suppose, sir." Tomlin said, looking at his Captain in another new light. He did not know how Callum felt about the sudden transfer of command, the death of Captain Powers, and to Tomlin it seemed seamless, as if Callum had always been the Captain of Dover, but actually it hadn't been that long since Captain Powers had actually been killed. To Tomlin, Callum fit perfectly, not only as Captain, but Master of this great lady that carried them and so endured against the greatest of odds. With Callum's mastery they had succeeded in surviving and had been victorious in their mission. His respect for this man, who in reality, was only a few years older than he, swelled in his chest and throat, Tomlin was almost overwhelmed by him. Callum stood and turned walking slowly toward the berth.
"I am in hopes that some of the officers of the Valiant will be joining us when we sail again, wouldn't you agree?"
"I do, sir." Tomlin said, as Callum came back into the cabin from the berth. "I was most impressed with Lt. Dorland and Lt. Morris, sir."
"Yes, the daring do of Mr. Dorland's rescue of me on the beach at the fortress." Callum smiled as he reached the trunk, the memory still very clear in his mind. "He was also very instrumental in its destruction when we under siege by the French. Not to speak ill of him," Callum said as he knelt again, looking at Tomlin, "but I though he was going to faint a few times." Callum chuckled and Tomlin joined him. There was a knock at the door. "Enter." Callum said. "Ah, Lt. Collingwod," Callum said, "Mr. Tomlin and I were just discussing your group from the Valiant, sir. Won't you join us?"
"Thank you, sir." Collingwood said, as he nodded and tipped his hand. "His Lordship has requested our presence in London, sir. I'm sorry to say that we will have to take our leave of you, sir."
"I see," Callum said as he got to his feet, putting a hand on his hip, narrowing his eyes. "and what of the rest of your fellows?"
"They are waiting...outside, sir."
"Well, show them in, man. Let's have a small discussion before you disembark." Callum smirked. Collingwood nodded and turned. He opened the door. The other officers filed in and stood at the doors. "Gentlemen, I take it you are ready to disembark?" All of them nodded toward him and tipped their hands. Callum stepped forward a few steps. "I wish to thank you all for your service to myself and this ship. Without you and your actions, we could not have carried out our mission as successfully as we did." They all bowed slightly toward him. "I can make no promises, but those of you that wish to return to serve aboard Dover will be most welcome." Callum smiled. "If you so wish, make it known to me or Mr. Tomlin and I will speak to His Lordship personally."
"Thank you, sir." Collingwood said, looking at his fellows. "On behalf of all of us, sir,...may I say it was an honor to serve with you, sir."
"The honor...was mine, sir." Callum said as he stepped to them all, holding out his hand. He took Collingwood's first and gripped it firmly. He took his hand back and shook each of theirs in turn. They all smiled and Dorland was the last, giving Callum welling eyes. "And I owe you my life, Lt. Dorland." Callum said softly, holding his hand and then putting his other on Dorland's shoulder. "That is something I shall not soon forget, I assure you." Callum grinned and Dorland dropped a tear down his cheek.
"It was my pleasure, sir." Dorland said softly. Callum let him go and backed up a couple of steps. He looked at them all, smiling.
"Perhaps I shall see all of you soon." Callum smiled. They all stood at attention, Callum nodded to them, they tipped their hands and bowed their heads slightly, then Collingwood opened the door and they all filed out. Dorland stopped and paused and looked at Callum and Callum smiled at him. Dorland walked out, closing the door behind him. Callum tilted his head down slightly, then turned back and walked to the berth.
Farrow was standing behind the long bar in the center room of his tavern, the Heritage Arms. He was wiping the counter down with a cloth. The room was empty of patrons this morning save two, who were in the corner, talking quietly to each other. Farrow was not paying much attention to them. He didn't know them and had never seen them before. He did notice that they seemed to be dressed oddly however when they first arrived and enter the center room, taking up residence at that quiet corner table. Their only request of him was for coffee, which he provided the pot and was paid immediately for it.
Farrow had been surprised when Dustin had come in, remembering him very well, his pretty boyish looks, as Farrow had many thoughts about him after he and Callum had stayed those days prior to Dover's sailing. Farrow also had thoughts of convincing Dustin to have a go with him but Dustin had been a bit of a hurry it seemed to Farrow, and had tossed aside Farrow's subtle advances. Dustin's goal was to secure a room as Callum had requested. Farrow obliged Dustin's request, giving them a better room this time per Dustin's request.
Farrow continued about what needed to be done around the tavern, getting ready for the days patrons that would be coming, the regulars. He went into the kitchen and saw the cook, an old ships steward that Farrow had found right after he had purchased the Heritage. He had brought him on to round out the tavern portion, serving meals to sailors just coming into port. Farrow had noticed as time went on that the cooking style of the man had changed, and was becoming better rather the same old offerings of 'ships fare'. Farrow had received some compliments over it from serving line officers that frequented the Heritage from time to time. The two in the corner had not ordered anything to eat, but it didn't surprise Farrow, only disappointed him slightly.
Farrow returned to the bar, coming around the counter and was surprised to see one of the two standing there. It startled Farrow slightly coming around the blind corner, seeing his darkened face there. He hadn't noticed the long scar that ran over the right eye, starting from the center of his forehead down to almost the jawline. It was a wide scar and jagged as if it had been sawed into the face.
"Can I help you?" Farrow asked, trying to recover his startled look. The face that was close to him smiled and it made him look even more menacing than before. Farrow narrowed his eyes at him.
"We are no doubt strangers here, landlord." He said, with a hint of an accent. It sounded continental, possibly northern, like German, but Farrow could not be certain. "We are seeking passage across the Channel. This being a seaport, we were in hopes that you might know of a ship that would sailing north, perhaps?"
"Most ships that come into port here are from the Royal Navy." Farrow said, looking the face over closely, his eyes shifting trying to remember the details of it without the scar. "There are merchant vessels that come from time to time, but most supplies come overland from London. Usually there, one might be able to secure passage across the Channel on a merchant ship or passenger ship. Such ships come here from time to time as I said."
"You know of such a vessel that might be in port soon?"
"No, actually. However you might find out at the Harbor Master's office on the docks. You will have to be escorted however as it is under guard by Royal Marines."
"Really? And why is that?"
"As I said, this is mainly a port used by the Royal Navy. You know that there is a war on, don't you?" Farrow asked with deep sarcasm. The scarred man did not appreciate the comment and became infuriated by it, his color deepened. He quickly pulled back his hand and Farrow braced himself. The man was stopped from swinging by his companion, who appeared out of nowhere.
"You must forgive my friend here, my good man." The figure said. His face was shrouded by the cloak hood that he wore. The vibrant cloth shimmered in the light of the lanterns that hung above the long bar. "He has travelled far and is very weary. I'm certain he meant no disrespect to you in your house. Forgive him, please."
"It's not a problem." Farrow hissed, staring at the scarred man. "If there is nothing else I can do for you, gentlemen, I will bid you good day." Farrow said in a tense voice, his body braced and ready for just about anything at this moment.
"If we cannot secure a passage, I am wondering if we can possibly secure a room for a day or so, until passage can be booked."
"I run a quiet house." Farrow said with a snarl in his voice. "Rooms are upstairs and are a schilling a night."
"A true bargain at any time." The cloaked figure said. Coins appeared on the bar with a ringing sound. Farrow flashed his eyes downward, seeing how many were there. He leveled his gaze at the pair again. "This, I trust, will secure a booking for the lodging?"
"It will do." Farrow said, looking at the coins and then sliding them to him with one hand.
"Then we shall return later, landlord. Again, I apologize for my friend here, and hope that there are no feelings of ill will?"
"None." Farrow said, putting the coins in his pocket and then backing away from the bar, watching the two carefully. He turned and walked away. He got to the end of the long bar and turned back, but both were gone. Farrow flashed his eyes around the center room and there was no sight of them.
"You must be very careful, Ezri." The cloaked figure said as they stood outside on the street. "We cannot tip our hand yet. You will follow my direction and my lead. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Maupin." The scarred man bowed his head slightly.
"You will have the time very soon to exercise your anger and kill the one we came for, but not before I tell you, understand?"
"Yes, Maupin." The scarred man almost growled in reply. "I so want to do it to him."
"Callum will die very soon, I assure you, and you will have your revenge. Your brother will not have died in vain, you have my word. Now, let us go and see about this ship he is on." The cloaked figure turned and headed toward the docks, the scarred man followed.
Dustin climbed up the side of Dover, coming through the gunwale. He went across the Main Deck of the quiet ship and stopped as he reached the doorway that lead into the galley. He looked over his shoulder out across the deck. The ship seemed empty and lonely without her crew aboard. He went in through the doorway into the galley. He saw Carson and they smiled at one another.
"Morning, Mr. Carson." Dustin was cheery and bright. Carson reached out and put a hand on the boy.
"Morning, Mr. Perkins. You're back already?"
"Yes, indeed. I was able to finish the Captain's errands quickly. May I see him?"
"Yes, he's in the Great Cabin with Mr. Tomlin, I believe."
"Thank you." Dustin said as he started to walk away. Carson nodded.
"Oh, and by the way, would you tell the Captain that I shall have that list ready for him shortly?"
"Certainly." Dustin smiled as he continued walking through to the companionway leading to the Great Cabin. Dustin reached the door and knocked and heard the voice beckon to him from the other side. Dustin opened the door and walked in, closing the door behind him, smiling.
"Ah, there you are." Callum said, looking at Dustin and then shifting his eyes to Tomlin and then back again. "I was beginning to wonder about you."
"I'm sorry, sir." Dustin said softly. "I did my best to try and hurry." Dustin said, tipping his hand toward the both of them.
"That's quite alright. I was explaining to Mr. Tomlin here about staying in Portsmouth for a week or so. Were you able to secure lodgings?"
"I was, sir. Mr. Dunhill at the Heritage Arms sends his compliments, sir, and has given you his best room at the inn. Mr. Carson asked me to relay to you that the list would be ready shortly, sir."
"Excellent." Callum said, "Then all that is left is the Harbor Master and Camden." Callum smiled briefly.
"As you say, sir." Dustin said, "Shall I go and find them, sir?"
"Are you in a hurry, Mr. Perkins?" Callum teased Dustin.
"Well, I...I...thought, sir...that..."
"Speech problem, Mr. Perkins?" Callum cocked his head slightly. "Have you recently had a blow to the head, lad?"
"Uh, no, sir." Dustin said with a voice of disappointment. Callum winked at him, as Tomlin was looking at him. Callum held out a hand toward him, beckoning him toward him. Dustin stepped forward slowly, coming closer toward Callum. Callum turned as Dustin came beside him, Callum putting an arm about Dustin's shoulders and giving him a squeeze. Tomlin shifted in his seat, watching the two and smiling softly.
"What are we going to do with these trunks, I wonder?"
"I can see if there is a crewman possibly aboard that can have them moved out on deck for you, sir. I can have them lowered into the long boat that is alongside, sir."
"Good of you, my lad." Callum smiled
"Are you all packed, sir?"
"Yes, just before you came in actually. I was able to fit what I have left, which is not much I must say into this one trunk on its own. It is relatively light and empty. I might be able to move it myself actually."
"Oh please, sir. Dr. Crawford said you are not to lift or do anything at all, sir." Dustin gave him a look that was scolding and mischievous at same time.
"Quite right, Mr. Perkins." Callum smiled, "Whatever would I do without you?"
"Well, sir, I'm not certain." Dustin said giving Callum a look of longing. Callum leaned forward and gave Dustin a soft kiss, and Dustin went into a panic, knowing Tomlin was sitting right there. "Sir!" Dustin said and then backed up a step. Callum laughed and looked at Tomlin, who was chuckling at the table.
"It's quite alright, Mr. Perkins. Our young Lieutenant here knows." Callum winked at Dustin. Dustin's mouth dropped open, and then looked at Tomlin. "Thomas has designs of his own on another young officer, isn't that right, Thomas?"
"Sir?" Dustin asked, his eyes wide going back and forth between Callum and Tomlin. Tomlin grinned and nodded. Dustin regrouped and stared at Tomlin, his mind racing. "Would that possibly be a young Marine Lieutenant, sir?" Tomlin narrowed his eyes and smiled.
"And tell me, how do you know of that?"
"It is only obvious, Mr. Tomlin." Dustin said, getting closer to Callum again. "If I may be so bold, sir, it's the way you look at him, sir. That night before we reached La Rochelle, you two were engaged in a very intense conversation on the Quarterdeck. It made me wonder, but, I never would have thought." Dustin said softly.
"I'm sorry, sir, I was thinking of Lt. Holt. It seems that he is..."
"Well, sir, he is...quite striking, isn't he?"
"Indeed he is." Tomlin smiled wide.
"And quite the officer, as I said that night."
"I recall, Mr. Perkins." Tomlin smiled softly.
"Dustin,...please." Giving Tomlin a nod, Tomlin got to his feet looking at Dustin as if for the first time in his life, holding out a hand toward him.
"Thomas." Tomlin said. Dustin taking Tomlin's hand in his. They smiled wide at one another. "The Captain has invited me to visit you both in Birmingham."
"Really? I think that's wonderful!" Dustin said, turning and looking at Callum, "When? I'm sure Martha would be thrilled."
"I'm certain she would, my love, however we would need to make some room first." Callum said, Dustin's mind was spinning already and Callum could see it. He turned back and looked at Tomlin.
"Oh, you must bring Lt. Holt. It would be wonderful to have such company in the house. Our dear Martha is quite the cook and she would fuss so over you and he." Dustin was beaming, he went back to Callum and put his arms around Callum's waist, holding him.
"Easy, lad." Callum said in a pained voiced.
"I'm so sorry, Quintan. Are you alright?" Dustin asked.
"Yes, but you must contain your excitement before you hurt me further." Callum said with wide eyes. "Especially if we are to make through the night." Callum winked, Dustin blushed, and Tomlin's mouth fell open. Callum laughed seeing them both. "Thomas, certainly you have such thoughts as well?"
"I...uh...I..." Tomlin stammered. Callum laughed again.
"Of course you have, I can see it on your face, even as red as you are." Callum said and wiggled his eyebrows. "Now, such tavern talk between gentlemen, how appalling. We must show a bit more constraint, gentlemen. Thomas, speaking of taverns, would you have supper with us this evening?"
"It would be my honor, sir."
"Excellent. You can see Farrow again, he sets a good table, not as good as what we have at home, but, it is fine fare. Isn't that right, Dustin?"
"Indeed." Dustin smiled wide. "Perhaps Mr. Tomlin could stay over before going on his way home?"
"Perhaps." Callum smiled, looking at Dustin and then Tomlin. Tomlin smiled at them, seeing them together like this was warming his heart and his mind. It was as if they actually belonged to one another, always had, and always would be that way. Tomlin felt a warmth and a love for both of them.
"I should take my leave, sir." Tomlin said, bowing his head slightly. "I have business ashore myself, and as the day is moving ahead, I find it will be gone shortly."
"Understandable." Callum said. "We should be getting about ourselves actually. Now, if the Harbor Master will cooperate, we can get ready to disembark ourselves." Callum came up close to Tomlin. "We shall see you on shore then a little later?"
"Indeed, sir, you shall." Tomlin said, taking Callum's hand in his. Tomlin pulled back and looked at Dustin, reaching for him as well. Dustin had never touched Tomlin before and was wide eyed by his hand being held out. Dustin took it, firmly and warmly. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Dustin." Tomlin winked.
"Likewise,...Thomas." Dustin smiled and was reassured in their shared warmth. Tomlin took his hand back and walked toward the door opening it and walking out, closing it behind him.
"Now," Callum said, coming up behind Dustin, putting his hands on his shoulders, turning him about. "what else did you wish to tell me, but couldn't?"
"I...wanted to..." Dustin said as tilted his head back, Callum falling onto his mouth, grasping him about the waist and pulling him tight to him, feeling their bodies against one another. Callum was furious in working over Dustin's mouth, and Dustin melted into it.
Tomlin climbed out of the long boat and walked up the stone steps leading from the water, his duffel over his shoulder. He reached the top of the dock and looked about. He was really not a big lover of Portsmouth, but it would do for him as he realized he was home, in England. He smiled to himself and looked back at the long boat. He waved to them, the boat crew from Dover, they waved back at him and tipped their hands and Tomlin looked back seeing Dover out in the harbor. He smiled at her, his ship, the only one he had known so far in his relatively short career in the service.
Tomlin turned and walked toward the Harbor Masters office, where the paymaster was located. He wanted to report in, tell the paymaster that he would be here, waiting for his funds from serving. He was rather stuck until he was able to receive anything from them. It embarrassed him to be almost needy like this, but it was the life of a sailor, lots of time, little money, as his father had told him when he was very young. Words that stuck with Tomlin almost his entire life. His mother would be waiting at home for his return. Tomlin being an only child, and his father having died when was but five, a sailor himself, had drown at sea, the result of an accident they had been told, in the Caspian while on a merchant ship, some type of boating accident was all that they had been told. He remembered that his mother had gone into a very deep depression over the loss of her husband and had almost never recovered. There was a fund that had been set up for his family by the merchant shipping company and Tomlin had been able to go to school from it. His early education was lacking severely and he was wanting more, being the bright young man that he was, it was like a hunger inside of him that could not be satisfied. He read everything he could get his hands on, but it wasn't enough. His mother saw it and decided against her better judgment to send him off for training in the merchant service. Her greatest fear was that he would meet the same fate as his father and that she would alone for the rest of her life. Tomlin rounded the corner of the building and went headlong into the pair. He backed up for a second.
"I beg your pardon, gentlemen." Tomlin said. "I wasn't watching where I was going." Tomlin said, giving the pair concerned looks.
"It's quite alright, my good man." The cloaked figure said, his voice was light and soft to Tomlin, very foreign. "We seem to be lost, could you direct us to the Harbor Masters office by chance?"
"I am headed there myself actually. Would you care to walk with me?" Tomlin smiled slightly, not seeing the second man yet. He stepped around the cloaked figure and came into view and Tomlin gasped softly seeing the long jagged scar.
"How kind of you, young sir. We would be happy to walk with you." His voice reminded Tomlin of something, but he couldn't put his finger on it. They set off together, Tomlin and the cloaked figure together, the man with the scar behind. "Are you off a ship?"
"Yes actually, the Dover." Tomlin said, pride in his voice.
"A merchant ship by chance?"
"Hardly. No, the Dover is a man of war, in His Majesty's Navy." Tomlin said with pride again.
"I see." The slight voice said, the cloak covering most of his face. "And who Captains such a vessel?"
"Captain Quintan Callum." Tomlin said, slowing, coming to almost a stop, the scarred man bumping into him from behind. "That's a rather odd question, sir." Tomlin said, his voice cheery but reserved.
"Not at all, my good man." The cloaked voice said. "I was wondering, are there any merchant vessels in harbor?"
"None as of this morning, sir." Tomlin said starting to walk again with them about him now.
"Yes, we must reach the mainland coast within a fortnight you see. This is why we are going to the Harbor Masters office to try and secure passage on a merchant."
"You know that with the war, sir, that passage will be rather difficult to obtain."
"Why is that?"
"Well, the Royal Navy has orders from the Admiralty to stop all shipping going to the continent, sir. There is great turmoil from France at this time, and we are trying to protect ourselves from the French."
"Not all of us are French, I assure you." The cloaked voice said, and then chuckled.
"I suppose you're right, sir." Tomlin said with a chuckle himself and proceeded to the end of the next building. "Where would be bound for?"
"My home is in Germany. We need to reach it for business reasons and very soon or a vast fortune could be lost."
"I'm terribly sorry to hear that, sir. If you don't mind my saying it, sir, with Napoleon on the loose, your fortune might be lost already as when he invaded Germany he seized everything, as I understand it, sir."
"You may be right, young man, and then again, you may not."
"Well, either way, my best wishes to you both. You will find the Harbor Master's office at the end of the building there." Tomlin pointed.
"Aren't you escorting us?"
"This is where I leave you, I'm afraid. I am here to see the paymaster actually. His office intersects with the Harbor Master's." Tomlin smiled. Tomlin put out his hand, the cloaked figure saw it and took it in his. The touch was very slight and almost not there, not a gentleman's grip at all.
"We thank you for your assistance, you have been most kind and very informative. Thank you."
"You're quite welcome. Pleasant journey to you both." Tomlin smiled and entered the building. He thought what an odd pair to himself as he walked across the stone floor toward the office directly across the way. He shifted his duffel on his shoulder opened the door.
Callum stood on the Main Deck, with Dustin behind him. Callum watched as the long boat rowed toward them. Callum turned round, looking at Dustin. He smiled at him, and Dustin gave him that afterglow look that Callum loved so much. Callum came toward him. Dustin looked at him as he walked up, as Callum put a hand on his shoulder.
"Are you happy?" Callum asked.
"That's a rather odd question." Dustin looked up at him, standing taller as he straightened. "Why would you ask that?"
"It was on my mind that's all." Callum said and gave him a smile.
"I am happy, Quintan, when I'm with you. But I will be happier once we reach home." Dustin smiled.
"Our dear Martha," Callum said. "how she must wonder."
"She understands, Quintan. She understands more than you give her credit for."
"I suppose she does. It will be good to return home, won't it?" Callum asked.
"Yes." Dustin had a strange look on his face. "I have never missed anything as much."
"Calm yourself." Callum said softly, still smiling, "We will see it and very soon, I promise. We will send her word that we are at home and are safe and when to expect us." Callum said. "I find that I need to rest though. Perhaps she can arrange for Owen to fetch us. "
"Quintan?" Dustin asked, looking at him, seeing Callum weaving a little.
"I'm alright, just fatigued I'm certain. I'm a little lightheaded." Callum said putting a hand to his forehead. Dustin grabbed him with wide eyes.
"Quintan, sit down here." Dustin said, guiding him to the top of one of the trunks. Callum sat with a thud. Dustin looked down at him still wide eyed. "I need to get you to the doctor."
"No,...no, I only need to rest a while, Dustin." Callum looked up. "This comes at a time when I need it most, I suppose."
"What do you mean?"
"I have been wanting a good rest for quite some time, Dustin." Callum smiled, taking his hand in his. "You and I can return home soon and I can rest my bones there, get well, make love to you when I want, and when you want." Callum took Dustin's hand and lifted it, kissing the back of it. Dustin leaned into him and surrounded him with his arms, holding him.
"Oh, Quintan, you always say the right thing." Dustin smirked and then bent down and kissed the top of Callum's head. "I need you to get well and whole again, my sweet man. Once we reach the Heritage, I shall send for Dr. Crawford. He should be at the hospital or at his home. He will have something to make you rest, I know."
"Perhaps." Callum said softly. "I think it would be best once we get ashore to just let me sleep awhile. After that I might be more of myself." Callum gave him a brief smile. "These stitches are itching me and they are driving me mad." Dustin smiled hearing Callum.
"I know how you feel. These stitches are doing the same to me as well." Dustin said pointing to his face.
"They give you an air of ruggedness however." Callum smiled wide. "Tis a pity that mine are unseen. I might be able to have conversation over them." Callum chuckled.
"Well, if we were to visit a bathhouse or something, it might spark conversation as such." Dustin smiled. "Rest yourself now." Dustin whispered, seeing the boat coming alongside, "I shall have the boat crew get the trunks loaded for us."
"Excellent." Callum said. Dustin leaned over through the gunwale and asked them to lend a hand, which they did without complaint. The trunks were loaded and the boat crew guided Callum down over the side and onto the bench. Dustin climbed down and took up a position on an oar and they set off for the dock. Callum had caught his second wind now by the time they reached the dock and was feeling better, his color returning. The trunks were unloaded and Dustin had made arrangement to have a carriage waiting. Callum was loaded after he said his goodbyes to the boat crew, dismissing them. He told them where they would be in the event that he might be needed. The carriage made a stop at the paymaster's office and Callum went in.
"May I help you, sir?" The man sat behind a small counter and desk area, looking over his spectacles.
"Yes, I am Callum, Captain of HMS Dover. I am here to speak to you about the tally for myself and my men."
"Yes, of course Captain." The man said as he rose from the desk, "I have the tally sheet right here. As you can see, most of your men have been taken care of as they have either signed or made their marks."
"Excellent. Do you expect a new tally from London soon?"
"That would come from the Admiralty, sir, as you are undoubtedly aware. Those come once a week and should be here by day after tomorrow I would think."
"That will be adequate." Callum said. "I shall be here for a week at least at the Heritage Arms Inn. Any notifications, I will expect to be told while I am there." The man nodded as Callum scanned down the tally. "I see that Mr. Arvin has not signed as of yet. He must have gone on to his home with his injury. Would it be possible to have his tally transferred to say, the Bank of England?"
"Yes, that can be arranged, sir." The man said, "Is there an account there?"
"I'm not certain, however I can check." Callum said. "Could his tally be automatically routed that way?"
"Yes, sir, with notification from the Admiralty."
"Good, excellent. With his injury, I wish him not to struggle until he has proper time to recuperate."
"Thoughtful of you, sir."
"It is his due. His has sacrificed much for King and Country, and I wish his burden to be lessened."
"Most generous of you, sir." The man bowed. "Would you care to sign for him? I can release his tally now in your hand if you wish."
"That would be sufficient, if you would also give me a receipt, I will hand deliver it as well, so there is no misunderstanding."
"As you wish, Captain." The man set about counting out the tally and then the receipt. Callum shook the man's hand and walked out of the office. Callum got into the waiting carriage and set off for the Heritage Arms. Dustin held and squeezed Callum's hand as they looked at one another, as the carriage made its way through the streets. It was a short ride there and Callum got out, thankful that he didn't have to walk the distance on the hard streets. The trunks were unloaded off the carriage and the driver paid. Callum went inside the Heritage and saw Farrow. Dustin was dragging the trunks just inside the door one after the other.
"Farrow Dunhill, you look well." Callum said, seeing his old friend and rival. Farrow gave him a slight smile coming around the long counter.
"Why, it is the great Sea Lord, come to grace us with his presence." Farrow said, bowing before Callum. Callum rolled his eyes. "Your coming was known to us, My Lord. May we offer you some refreshment?" There was such heavy sarcasm in Farrow's voice, Callum held back the impulse to smack him hard.
"I trust that we shall not be putting you to too much?" Callum asked.
"No, not at all, My Lord." Farrow said, bowing again. "It is a humble abode as you know, but we will do everything we can for you, to make you comfortable."
"That will be tolerable." Callum said, rolling his eyes again and walking into the center room, seeing open tables all about and then turning back to Farrow. "Where are all your other patrons? Surely we have not purchased all of the tables during our stay?"
"No, nothing of the sort. There is a street faire in the north of town today. Most of the regular patrons I keep will no doubt be there, but will be joining us later in due course, without doubt." Farrow said, pulling out a chair for Callum at one of the closer tables. Callum dropped his hat on it and slowly sat down. "You appear to moving rather slowly, are you well?"
"I have some issues as it were."
"Oh? Anything serious?" Farrow asked as he wiped the table down in front of Callum.
"Nothing that my surgeon can't take care of. Dustin will be having him join us shortly, I trust."
"Indeed, I shall." Dustin said, walking up behind Callum. Farrow looked at him with a slight smile, seeing the young boy again and starting his thoughts all over of lust.
"May I get you something?" Farrow asked.
"A small bit of coffee, if you would, perhaps some bread as well, if it's not too much trouble?"
"You have wounds of the sword?" Farrow asked, Callum nodded. Farrow nodded. "I thought as much. I will bring you some cheese as well then, and we can talk. You can bring me up in events of your sailing."
"I would be delighted." Callum nodded and Farrow walked off. "Dustin, are you going to fetch Dr. Crawford?"
"Yes, Quintan. Will you be alright here?"
"I think so. I should be in good hands with Farrow now. There doesn't seem to be any strife in him now. At least not yet, concerning us. I shall be alright."
"Fine, then I will be off. I'll return as quick as I can. I'll take the carriage, as it waits for me."
"Very well. Do you need more money?" Callum asked softly.
"I think not, well not right now at least." Dustin smiled and bent down and kissed Callum on the cheek. "Do behave yourself." Callum chuckled and looked at him.
"I promise I will. You have my word." Callum said softly, Dustin smiled and walked away. Farrow came back into the center room, carrying a tray. He set it on the edge of the table and set out plates and cups, a pot, and some bread with cheese.
"Cheese will seal your wounds, along with the bread. I'm sure that Carson and your surgeon did not give you any at all aboard ship."
"No, they did not." Callum said, watching Farrow buzz about and then come and sit next to Callum.
"Ah, I thought not. It is something that Powers taught me years ago. He also had injuries of the sword a few times, just before the Nile actually. I'm certain you don't remember. Let me recall," Farrow said, going into deep thought as he poured coffee and cut the cheese and bread. "Yes, I remember now, you were with Anders, we had left you on the Spanish coastline, you were to go inland, we were to sail on, and meet Nelson. Do you remember?" Callum smiled at the memory, nodding his head. "Powers had gone ashore in Libya, leaving me in command while he was there. There was some kind of altercation in a tavern and Powers had been wounded several times with a blade. Crawford had seen to his wounds, and I know that they troubled him for some time. We continued on with the mission and met up with Nelson and his task force. The rest you know of course. Powers had consumed a rather large portion of cheese and it seemed to help him heal quickly. I'm not sure if the good doctor will concur with that, but it might help you as it were."
"I will give it a try on your recommendation. I don't see any harm in it." Callum smiled.
"So, tell me," Farrow said as he settled in his chair, putting out his feet, stretching his long legs. "what of Anders and your mission?" Farrow asked as he sipped coffee.
"What do you know?"
"I know that you sailed and met Fitzwarren's squadron, and sailed on to the south of France. I have heard tale that it was successful for you and the squadron, but there was considerable loss."
"Yes, there was. Anders was killed during the engagement, along with most of the Marines assigned to Dover. We also lost about a third of the crew during the various engagements."
Yes, there were actually a few. We had run in with a French ninety, and then there was damage sustained when the Tarkington fired on us." Callum said and Farrow's eyes went wide. "We took on a Spaniard at La Rochelle, and were able to defeat her rather easily I might add. There were another five Frenchmen and they were disabled with a bit of maneuvering on our part. The real challenge was the destruction of the fortress at La Rochelle. That cost was rather high."
"I'm sorry I was not there, Quintan." Farrow said, putting his cup on the table, "It must have been truly a sight to behold."
"Indeed it was."
"What is this about the Tarkington. That's Smythe's ship, isn't it?"
"Yes. Captain Smythe was named in several captured dispatches and was discovered to be a traitor to the squadron and England." Callum said as he sat forward, keeping his voice down. "He was killed at La Rochelle."
"My God. And he fired on you?"
"Yes, as we sailed into the bay. If it hadn't been for my first, the ship might have been heavily damaged or destroyed."
"Did you kill him?"
"Yes." Callum said, as he sat back, staring off toward some wall. Farrow watched him.
"It was your duty. You had no choice, obviously."
"He left me with none." Callum sat still, reflecting on the events.
"I see." Farrow said, softly. "Then I am sorry I didn't see it. It must have been difficult for you, a man with his reputation."
"Truly." Callum smiled at Farrow. "You remember how we were taught his tactics and how he was stuff of legend."
"Yes, I do."
"Well, he lived up to his reputation for certain. It was a pity that it ended the way it did for him."
"You say he was a traitor, did he die well?"
"As well as to be expected, I suppose. He would not surrender himself and gave me no choice, that much is certain."
"I am sorry, Quintan. I know what he meant to you."
"In small part, yes." Callum said focusing on Farrow. "I still have reports to write and make to the Admiralty about it. It helps to talk about it some, keeping the memory of the facts alive as it were."
"I will have paper and ink brought up to your room, if you like?"
"Most kind." Callum said, nodding. "I suppose I should get a start on it." Callum said, as he got up.
"I shall be up shortly. Your room is at the top of the stairs, the end door on the right. Your man requested a larger room this time. You should be quite comfortable there." Farrow smiled as he stood as well.
"I thank you, Farrow." Callum said putting out his hand. Farrow took it. "I'm glad we were able to have this talk and keep our differences separate."
"Think nothing of it, my good fellow. My house is yours, and our differences are in the past, if that is alright with you."
"It is." Callum said and bowed his head.
"Then I shall bid you good afternoon. Rest yourself, I will have the trunks brought up later for you and the paper supplies. If there is anything else you require, let me know."
"Thank you." Callum smiled and walked toward the stairs. He reached the top and walked by several doors until he reached the last one on the right. He opened the door and found the room to cheery and open. There was a large bed against the wall, tucked into a dormer with windows about it, with soft light curtains about it. There were several chairs about the room and a couple of large rugs on the floor. There was a small desk in the corner, with a single candlestick on its upper back. A larger window was against the far wall and was open, letting the sounds of the street in from below. The curtains moved and swayed in the breeze. Callum walked across the room and went to the open window, looking below to the street. He could see several shops on the opposite side of the street from him, people making their way back and forth. He felt comfortable here and thought it would do nicely. On the wall opposite from the bed was an open fireplace, small, but inviting to him. There was a bit of wood and coal on the hearth in buckets and Callum knew it would be nice to have a small fire in the chilly evenings that were coming. He slipped out of his tunic and put it over the back of the chair at the desk. He went to the bed and lay on it, testing it, and also feeling a little dizzy, he decided to wait for Dustin and the Doctor's arrival there. He closed his eyes, and started to drift away.
"Quintan, lie still, please." The voice said in his ear. He was startled by it and opened his eyes. He saw Dr. Crawford sitting on the edge of the bed next to him, lifting Callum's shirt. "I want to get these dressings off you and have a look at your stitches. Mr. Perkins, give me a hand and then fetch some clean water if you will please."
"Arthur, where is William?" Callum asked as he sat up to get his shirt off.
"Arvin has left for home. His wife sent a carriage for him when she learned of his arrival in Portsmouth. She is quite the lady I understand. I also understand that you were at the paymasters office seeing about his tally." Crawford said, and Callum gave him a questioning look. "Dustin told me." Crawford said softly. "You want to try and make sure that Arvin is taken care of?"
"Yes. I arranged with the paymaster to have his tally set to deposit in the Bank of England."
"Thoughtful of you to do that, I would think." Crawford said quietly as he slowly removed more dressings. "Do you think he might return to sailing duties?"
"I can only hope. It would be a great shame to lose someone of his experience, don't you think?" Callum asked.
"Oh I agree. You'll get no argument from me on that point. It's his wife that you'll have to convince however. Mr. Arvin is proud man, and I'm certain that he will do well in civilian life, he may not be happy, but he will do well."
"I was thinking about a posting to the Admiralty for him. I should think His Lordship would concede to that at least, considering what Arvin did for the squadron."
"I would agree with that as well, Captain. His Majesty's Navy owes Mr. Arvin a heroes debt for certain. I will certify that, if need be."
"Then I shall press you on that when I see Fitzwarren." Callum smiled. "You know that His Lordship pays his debts."
"Huh." Crawford snorted, as he cut the last of the dressings off Callum's chest. Dustin came in with a pitcher of water and poured some out for Crawford in a basin. Crawford wet a cloth and wrung it out and wiped away some of the dried blood on Callum's chest. There was knock at the door and Dustin opened it. Farrow was there on the other side and Dustin smiled at him. Callum looked up and Farrow walked in carrying the quill and paper Callum had requested.
"Holy Mother of God." Farrow said, his eyes wide. "Quintan, you didn't tell me that you had that many holes in you. It's a wonder that you don't leak water out of those. Doctor, it is good to see you."
"Likewise, Farrow. You seem to be well." Crawford had looked up, and then turned back to Callum.
"Well enough, I suppose." Farrow said as he stood at the foot of the bed. "Mr. Perkins, I was wondering if you could lend a hand with the Captain's trunks. I seem to be a little shorthanded today."
"Certainly." Dustin smiled.
"Excellent. If you will excuse us, My Lord, we will see to your...luggage." Farrow smiled.
"Don't forget to return him." Callum smiled, pointing at Dustin.
"Oh, I won't forget, believe me." Farrow smiled. They walked out of the room together and Callum sat up for Crawford.
"You seem to be overdoing it again, Quintan." Crawford said. "You should not be exerting yourself for another week at least."
"I'm trying not to Arthur, I assure you. I took the carriage here from the docks and came directly up here. I have been lying here quietly till you arrived."
"Well, it must be all your moving about then. A few of these have pulled out and I will need to restitch you. You're worse than a tattered pair of socks."
"I don't know what else I can do, Arthur. I simply move from bed to chair, to my feet."
"Hmmm. Well maybe I'll do some cross-stitches in you, that should hold, unless the skin itself is giving away, that may be."
"Perhaps some heavier thread?"
"Maybe, but it will leave hideous scars, not that you mind them I'm sure, but I am rather proud of my work and would hate to have another surgeon see this patchwork quilting pattern on you."
"Your mindful pride again, Doctor?"
"It's all that I have, Quintan." Crawford smiled. "You have canvas, I have skin. Hmmm."
"I may become sick, Arthur."
"I'll give you something to calm you before I begin." Crawford chuckled. "All will be well, my dear Captain."
Farrow and Dustin entered the door as Crawford was starting to string out the thread of the sutures. They set the trunks down, one at a time near the fireplace. Crawford gave Callum something to calm him, and in a few minutes he was weaving and Crawford began to sew. Dustin brought more water and assisted Crawford in the procedure. Farrow left the room and the good Doctor to do his work.
The door to the tavern opened and Tomlin walked in. He set his duffel down on a chair and went to the long counter as Farrow came around the corner. They saw each other and Farrow smiled wide.
"Thomas Tomlin! Third Lieutenant of HMS Dover! How the devil are you boy?"
"Doing very well, Mr. Dunhill. A pleasure to see you again, sir."
."The pleasure is all mine, my lad! I take it you are off the ship now and on your way home?"
"I am, sir. The Captain and Mr. Perkins asked me to join them for supper in your fine house and suggested I stay the night before I set off for home."
"Excellent suggestion. The good Doctor is upstairs right now tending the Captain and his wounds. I would imagine they will be down in a bit. Make yourself comfortable, I'll pour you an ale, if you'd like."
"I would." Tomlin smiled wide.
"Good, then you tell me all about Dover and what's going on with her."
"I would have thought the Captain would have told you of her."
"Oh he did, lad, but he only ever tells of the highlights. Tell me of the crew and the other officers. The Captain never gives me details, you know how closed lipped he is." Tomlin smiled wide and sat at the table where his duffel was. Farrow came round and picked it up. "This be yours?"
"And a fine bag it is. Wait just a moment and I'll put it away for you. You'll be wanting it to be safe I suppose."
"Only a few shirts and socks in there."
"And that's all a young officer really needs." Farrow said as he patted Tomlin on the shoulder, setting the ale down in front of him. Tomlin took it and gulped it down. Farrow smiled and poured another. Tomlin swallowed it as well. "Well, I suppose a young officer needs to fill himself with good ale also."
"That he does, especially what we've been through I must say." Tomlin said.
"Well Thomas, tell me all about it. How is young Talon?"
"He is doing very well. Should be resting in hospital right at this time. Dr. Crawford had to sew him up a few times."
"French beggars, boarding the ship like that. We were trapped down on the Gun Deck. Talon was aft and I was forward, there must have been about fifty or so French all around us. They cut poor Talon down and were going to hack him apart when the Captain came down, his sword drawn and he was like a devil, swinging and thrusting. They never stood a chance against him. I was pinned down with a few of the men, trying to cover the wounded when the Captain and Sgt. McGuffin came along and started pulling the French away from us, tossing them about, the Captain killed just about every one of them, saving us all for certain. Talon was pulled out of it by the Sergeant, and was taken below to the Storage Deck and the surgery. I never saw anything like it before. The Captain was like...a wild man."
"I see. He's quite a man isn't he?"
"There be none better than Captain Callum that's for sure." Tomlin said swinging his tankard over his head. "Here, let me get you another." Farrow poured another and set in front of Tomlin.
"So what of you, Thomas. You are the 2nd by now, yes?"
"No, actually that Mr. Arvin has been mutilated with his leg, the Captain made me 1st."
"Nicely done, Thomas. 1st Lieutenant and only at what 18?"
"Just last week for certain, yes. Spent my birthday kicking French ass, saving the squadron and Fitzwarren's butt." Tomlin said, really feeling the ale now. Farrow laughed as Tomlin was weaving in his seat. "You know, I had to go and see someone today. He was not happy at all."
"Oh, and who was that Thomas?"
"His name is Christian Holt, he's a Marine Lieutenant. A prettier young man there never was." Farrows eyes went wide, hearing Tomlin. "He has a special place right here for me, I'll say." Tomlin was tapping the center of his chest. "Yes, sir, for sure. He is on his way home right now to Cambridge. Has to go and see his parents while he heals up."
"What is he healing from?"
"He took a musket ball from a French sniper that was meant for the Captain. Damn bad thing too. He's lost most of one side of his body from it, but he'll be alright, Doctor Crawford said so." Tomlin winked long as he was leaning in his chair.
"Oh, I'm so glad Thomas. He sounds like a nice young man."
"Oh he is, Mr. Dunhill, he is. He is warm and caring and," Tomlin leaned closer to Farrow, "he kisses really well also." Tomlin winked again, hard and long. Farrow smiled wide at it.
"Oh Thomas, my lad, I say that you have it really bad for this young man." Farrow said. "Thomas, have you eaten anything today?"
"Only a couple of biscuits this morning. Mr. Carson was too busy to do a proper breakfast, and I was a little too busy myself. Mr. Dunhill, I think I need to lay down for a while, if you don't mind. I've been up for three watches straight."
"That and the ale for sure, my lad. Come with me, I've got a bed for you." Farrow said and drug Tomlin off to the back. Farrow led him into a dark room off the kitchen and put Tomlin on the bed. Tomlin collapsed and was giggling to himself. "You rest yourself, Thomas, and I'll check on you in a bit."
"Mr. Dunhill, the room is spinning." Tomlin giggled.
"It will for a while, sweet boy, and then it will stop, I assure you. Rest now." Farrow said, looking the body of the boy up and down that lay upon his bed. Farrow licked his lips at the sight of him lying there. "Yes, I'll be back for you...very shortly." Farrow closed the door as he left the room, leaving Tomlin in the dark. He walked out into the center room of the inn and went back behind the bar. There were a few men that were now coming in. Farrow smiled at them as they came up to the bar. Most were regular patrons and Farrow knew them well, his regulars as it were. He began to serve them all and they all settled into their regular spots about the room.
Dustin watched as Callum was slipping away into a deep sleep. Crawford sat on the edge of the bed and waited for Callum to fade. Callum lie on a rather flat pillow and was breathing easy. Crawford waited another minute or so, and then pinched Callum to test whether he was awake or not. Callum did not respond. Crawford took a needle and poked Callum. He did not move at all. Crawford looked up at Dustin and smiled.
"He will be alright lad, fear not." Crawford said as he started to sew. Dustin watched for a while. "You might want to think about your supper lad. I shall be doing this for quite a while longer. He will sleep for most of the night anyway."
"Are you sure, Doctor?"
"Oh yes, quite sure." Crawford said as he pulled more thread through. "Tomorrow, he will back to himself, possibly a little light headed and must remain in bed. With you here, I'm certain he will stay put."
"I will make sure he does, sir." Dustin said as he stood behind Crawford.
"Good, lad. Now, go and have your supper while I'm here."
"Thank you, Doctor." Dustin said as he slowly went to the door. He looked over his shoulder before he went out. Dustin watched for another long moment and then left the room. He went down the hallway to the stairs and then into the center room. It was a little crowded and there were several conversations going on about him. It was almost like being back aboard ship to him. Dustin smiled and saw Farrow. Farrow pointed to a table across the room. Dustin looked and saw it, and then went and sat down. Farrow joined him as he got comfortable.
"I trust that the good Doctor has Quintan well taken care of?"
"Yes. He said I should come down and have my supper while he is here." Dustin was bright and cheery with his eyes bright and wide. Farrow took him all in and lusted for him.
"Quite right, you should. I'll get it for you my boy." Farrow said looking Dustin up and down. Dustin was looking around the room and wasn't paying attention to Farrow's eyes.
"I was looking for another officer from the Dover, Mr. Tomlin. He was supposed to join us for supper this evening. Have you seen him?" Dustin finally looked up at Farrow.
"Yes, he's here." Farrow smiled. "He had a bit too much ale, and is...incapacitated."
"What?" Dustin had a look of shock on his face.
"He's alright, my boy." Farrow said with a smile. "I got him to my room to have him sleep it off, rather than down here in a corner. I assure you, he is quite well." Farrow chuckled. "I shall go and get your supper now." Farrow said, patting Dustin's shoulder and then walked away. Dustin watched him, he didn't trust Farrow, especially after their last trip here. The way that he was with Callum and the brawl that they had had. Callum had reassured Dustin that it was nothing and that peace was finally made between them. But something was bothering Dustin about the whole thing. He had never heard of Tomlin having too much to drink, even though Dustin didn't know Tomlin very well, other than serving with him aboard ship, it just didn't seem right to him. Farrow returned a couple of minutes later, carrying a tray. He set it on the table edge and began to set it out for Dustin.
"Forgive me, but might I see Mr. Tomlin?" Dustin looked up at Farrow, and Farrow's eyes went a little wider.
"You don't trust me, do you, my boy?" Farrow asked as he set the last of the items from the tray on the table.
"It's not that, I assure you, I..."
"No need to apologize." Farrow smiled as he pulled the tray away from the table and leaned down getting close to Dustin's ear. "If I were you, I wouldn't trust me either." Farrow said softly, then straightened. "Come, and I will show you where he is." Farrow smiled a brief smile. Dustin got up from the table and followed Farrow through the center room, and down the long bar toward the back of the tavern. Farrow turned and entered a short hall, and opened the door at the end. The room was dark and Dustin stepped up. The bed was bathed in light from the open door. Tomlin lay in the middle of it, his arms were spread out and he was snoring heavily. Dustin smiled and then looked at Farrow. "You see? All is well with him." Farrow said looking at Tomlin. His eyes slowly went down to Dustin and he smiled again. "Now, do you believe me?"
"I'm sorry, sir, it's not that I didn't believe you, it's just that..."
"I know, and it's alright. Your concerns are warranted, given my reputation." Farrow lifted an eyebrow, as he closed the door quietly. "Now, you have your supper and return to your Captain. He will need tending, I'm sure." Farrow said, putting a hand on Dustin's shoulder, leading him back toward the table. Dustin took his seat there and began to eat his supper. He looked about the room, watching the different men talking in their small groups. Smoke was beginning to drift about the room from pipes being lit as Dustin finished his supper. He sat back and saw the two men enter the center room. They looked out of place to him as they approached the bar. The one had on a brilliant looking cloak. Dustin could only see his boots out of it. The other, his companion, was taller, and was dressed in dark clothes. Dustin could see neither one of their faces. He got up from the table, watching them for another minute as they seemed so out of place. Dustin let it go and walked toward the stairs, nodding to Farrow as he went. Farrow smiled and returned the nod from behind the bar. Dustin climbed the stairs and headed for the room and the love of his life that waited for him there.