DOVER Chapter 33
Callum woke to the sound of the lock on the door trying to turn. He blinked his eyes a few times and turned his head focusing on the door. He narrowed his eyes as he watched the knob turned and then the door open slowly. Dustin opened the door and looked in, smiling his cheery smile. Callum eased and looked at him, smiling back at him. Dustin came in, followed by Dr. Crawford. Both were smiling a bit too much.
"Why hello there, Quintan, my dear fellow!" Crawford smiled, waving a hand in the air. Callum focused more, seeing Crawford had had a few too many ales. Callum slowly moved up higher in the bed seeing him. He looked over at Dustin who was red in the cheeks, and Callum gave him a looking of understanding what had been going on.
"Good day, gentlemen. You both obviously had a good time downstairs." Callum groaned softly.
"Yes, we did actually, thank you very much for asking." Crawford said as he smiled wider, and then weaved slightly toward the edge of the bed, plopping next to Callum.
"Arthur,...you are drunk." Callum said, looking at him with wider eyes.
"My dear sir, I am mildly...lubricated for your information." Crawford sat back and opened his eyes wider, going very slowly. "Your landlord downstairs serves a very fine ale that has quite the effect, I must say." Crawford blinked hard. Callum smiled wider, it had been a few years since he had seen his old friend this way. Crawford could be very entertaining when drunk, Callum remembered.
"I see, and how much of this ale...have you consumed?"
"A rather large...amount,...I dare say." Crawford was weaving on the edge of the bed now. Callum chuckled and put out a hand to steady his old friend.
"Yes, I can see that you have. I can also smell of it. " Callum said softly, and then looked at Dustin, who was standing there at the end of the bed. Callum was thankful he, himself, was feeling much better now, seeing the two in their condition. Dustin came to the end of the bed and stopped, grinning from ear to ear. Callum saw him and smiled back at him.
"Are you alright, my lad?" Callum went a half smile.
"I...of am...but, here...of course." Dustin was weaving really bad. Callum went to say something and Dustin fell forward to the floor with a heavy thud.
"Ooops."Crawford said, looking over.
"Ow," Dustin could be heard softly from the floor, and Callum chuckled. He pushed back the covers.
"My dear, sir, you...are naked." Crawford said, throwing his eyes wide open.
"Yes, I am, Arthur, you left me this way, do you not remember?" Callum groaned slightly at moving.
"And you are trying to do what?" Crawford was weaving on the bed now, as Callum worked around him.
"Getting out of this bed, so I may get you home." Callum groaned. "Where is Thomas?"
"Whhoooo?" Crawford asked, blinking hard.
"Thomas, Thomas Tomlin? Where is he?"
"Oh him, the rather fetching young man, yes,...he was at the table downstairs, buying drinks for everyone."
"Oh, my Lord." Callum went wide eyed.
"Where, ...where,....where are you going...off to?" Crawford asked.
"Downstairs, to get Mr. Tomlin." Callum said.
"You are still naked, sir."
"Oooh, can I see?" Dustin asked in a muffled voice.
"I will get dressed, and you will remain here, do you understand, Arthur?"
"Remain here?" Crawford asked. "What would you like me to do here?" He weaved as he spoke.
"For starters, get Mr. Perkins up off the floor."
"I'm alright." Dustin said again in a muffled voice.
"I shall return shortly, with Mr. Tomlin." Callum said, getting into his long pants. He fastened up the flap and slipped on his buckle shoes, grimacing in pain as he did it. "Do not go anywhere until I return" Callum looked back, as he reached the door, seeing Dustin on the floor, his butt in the air, and Crawford slowly lying across the bed. "Yes, I thought as much." Callum opened the door and went down the hallway, shaking his head. Callum came down the stairs and looked into the center room, not seeing, but hearing Tomlin first, singing loudly, and rather badly a northern ballad. Callum grimaced as he walked into the room. Some eyes went on him almost immediately. One of the singing patrons at the table blinked hard at him.
"Oh, I say, it looks like the sliced bread has finally arrived." He was blinking hard at Callum as he reached for Tomlin, who had hands on a couple of various men, touching them and nuzzling them with his nose.
"Thomas, come with me, it is time to retire to your room." Callum said, and could hear some of the other patrons growl and grumble. "I am sorry, gentlemen, but my travelling companion has a rather long day ahead of him tomorrow. I must return him to his room." One of the patrons stood up, squaring off with Callum. Callum narrowed his eyes on him.
"He be fine right where he is." He growled.
"I'm sorry my good fellow, but he needs to sleep and be ready for tomorrow."
"I say, he be fine where he is." He growled, grabbing Callum's wrist.
"Take your hand off me, sir, or you will pull back a bloodied stump." Callum growled without looking down, staying eye to eye with him.
"Here now, none of this. I think he is right, and it is time for him to go." Farrow said, getting in the middle of everyone. "You have all enjoyed enough of his company and his money." Farrow said, as Callum was let go of. His eyes did not move from the patron, who settled back into the crowd. "The Captain needs his man for tomorrows journey."
"Captain?" One of the patrons asked, with wide eyes.
"Yes," Farrow said, getting in front of Callum, as he pulled on Tomlin, getting him away from the small crowd, "he is Captain Callum, and this is one of his officers." Farrow said softly. One could have heard a pin drop on the floor when Farrow said that. All eyes went wide, and Callum realized that all of them were sailors of one sort or another. They all began to tip their hands toward Callum. Callum nodded to some of them as he pulled at Tomlin, who was struggling against him slightly.
"Farrow, I think I will require your assistance, if you please." Callum huffed a little, as Tomlin was struggling more. Farrow turned and saw the slight struggle and Callum was weakening from it. He turned back.
"Matthews, Corland, lend the Captain a hand if you will getting the young Lieutenant upstairs."
"Of course, sir." They tipped their hands and took Tomlin from Callum, putting his arms over their shoulders, swinging Tomlin around. They bowed their heads toward Callum slightly. "I'm sorry, sir, we didn't know, sir."
"It's quite alright, as I seem to be out of uniform." Callum said and looked at Farrow and nodded his head, but gave him a look, a stern look, chastising Farrow. Farrow frowned and looked away in slight shame. Callum turned and followed the two men carrying his officer up the stairs. "The last door on the left there, gentlemen."
"Aye, sir." They both chimed, making their way. They reached the door and one of them opened it, it was slightly dark inside. They pulled Tomlin in and got him inside as Callum followed them in.
"Just put him on the bed, if you will, lads. I'll take care of the rest in a bit."
"Yes, sir." as they turned and lowered Tomlin down away from them, letting him mumble and groan as he went to the bed. Callum watched from the door for a moment and went to his own door, opening it, seeing Crawford still on the bed and Dustin, butt still in the air, on the floor, sound asleep. Callum shook his head at the sight before him, chuckling softly. He crossed the room and reached for his purse on the table, pulling out a note from it and went back to the door as the pair emerged from Tomlin's room. They looked and saw the others in Callum's room. Callum looked back over his shoulder at what they were looking at.
"They were with you earlier, I believe?"
"Yes, sir. I remember the young lad there on the floor, sir. He was free with his drink and his hands as well."
"Hmmm, I must remember to mention that to him when he has his wits about him." Callum frowned and then looked at the pair, handing them the note. "Here, this is for your trouble, lads. You can continue your revelry downstairs on me."
"Thank you, sir." They both nodded and tipped their hands toward him.
"I might need your services at some other time." Callum smiled.
"We would be honored, sir." Both grinned at him.
"Well, you have a good night, and thank you for what you've done." Callum smiled. They smiled back and tipped their hands. Callum watched them walk away down the hall, looking at the note as they walked, Callum smiled. He walked into the slightly dark room of Tomlin's, seeing the sleeping, moaning form on the bed. Callum lit a candle on the side table, then turned, to pull Tomlin's clothes off his limp body.
"Thomas, can you hear me?" Callum whispered softly at Tomlin's ear, making his face move and smile. He nodded slightly. "Good. I need to get you undressed and into bed."
"Yes, Thomas, alone." Callum said softly. "Now, let me sit you up, come along." Callum pulled him, and Tomlin sat up slowly, smiling. "Help me here with these." Callum whispered.
"Are you going to take me?" Tomlin said, without opening his eyes.
"Yes, I'll take you to bed, and let you sleep until morning. Now, you need to help me. Be a good lad." Callum said, peeling the jacket off him, and tossing it away. Callum undid the tie on Tomlin's shirt and opened it and lifted the shirt after pulling it from his pantlets. Callum smiled as Tomlin was trying to hum the ballad he was singing badly when he found him. Callum tossed the shirt away to the floor behind him. He went down and slipped off Tomlin's buckled shoes, dropping them to the floor, then pulled the stocking down a little and then off him, he reached for the flap of the pantlets and undid them, and pulled Tomlin up to his feet letting them fall down his legs until the edge of the bed stopped them. Callum set Tomlin back on the bed, and pulled the pantlets off him fully and tossed them aside. Tomlin was naked as a newborn in front of Callum and he sighed and pulled back the covers, then helped Tomlin into the bed, then covered him up. Tomlin reached out and clasped Callum's hand, stopping him.
"Thank you, Chrsitian." Tomlin said quietly and Callum stopped, looking down at his young officer. Callum patted the back of Tomlin's hand that held his. Tomlin released the grip and went limp. Callum let it go, laying it on the bed. Callum walked to the door and walked across to his room, hearing the revelry continuing downstairs as he slowed through the hall, smiling slightly to himself. He walked in and went to the far side of the bed, looking down at his old friend, Crawford, shaking his head. Callum wanted to get him into Tomlin's room and onto the bed to let him sleep it off, so Callum could get Dustin up off the floor and into their bed. Callum reached down for Crawford.
"Captain Callum, I would have words with you." Came a voice from the door that was more of a growl. Callum did not look up from Crawford.
"I am somewhat busy at the moment, perhaps we can have a conversation some other time?"
"You will give me satisfaction for the death of my brother, you black hearted son of a bitch." The words and the tone struck Callum and he lifted his eyes slowly, seeing only the glint of steel in the late afternoon light from the window that was to his right. Callum looked right quickly, flashing his eyes and saw his sword standing there next to the table and reached for it. He was able to raise it just in time to block the downswing, the blade hitting Callum's scabbard with a dull thud. Callum pushed back and the man jumped back a step, holding his sword in the air.
"I don't know who you are sir, or who your brother was, but I have no quarrel with you."
"Words of a true coward were never more clearly spoken." He growled.
"Who are you?"
"Know that I am the man who is going to finish what was started on you several days ago." He growled. Callum's eyes flashed as he flung the scabbard off his blade, letting it hit the wall hard and clatter to the floor, swinging it back.
"If it is a fight you want, sir, then I'm sure I can accommodate you." Callum said, lifting his tip up and getting into a defensive stance.
"I want you to scream in deep pain and beg for my mercy while I slowly slice your throat, and let you bleed and choke in your own blood." He growled.
"Many have tried, sir, and many have failed, I assure you. As I said, I know not who you are or who your brother was, but might I have the satisfaction of knowing?"
"You don't deserve it." He growled and lunged, Callum swung up and blocked it, making a loud clang. Crawford on the bed, heard it in the back of his mind and blinked his eyes, knowing the sound.
Callum and the intruder continued to strike, lunge, parry, block each other with the fine blades they each possessed. Each was beginning to breathe hard, but Callum was having more difficulty as his stitches were so tight in his chest. He had to calm himself to survive this, he knew it, and he needed help, desperately. The two kept going at one another, swinging, blocking, thrusting, blocking, thrusting, parry, slash as Callum was backing him toward the door, hoping to force him out to the hall, but Tomlin's door was open, and he needed protecting in his current state as well. Callum kept going with the attack now, not staying with defense at all, lunging, slashing, driving the intruder away as they entered the hallway. Callum kept pushing and the larger man was falling back. Crawford was blinking his eyes, lying on the bed, hearing the clanging of metal, and knew exactly what it was. He licked his lips and rolled slightly to the edge of the bed, trying to get up. His head was spinning and he groaned loudly.
"You will die slowly as he did! One piece at a time!" The intruder said loudly and it echoed through the hall. He was trying to press his attack, but Callum made sure to keep him on the defensive, driving him back down the hall toward the top of the stairs. The fight continued as Crawford staggered to the doorway and saw what was happening, going wide eyed.
"Dear God,...Quintan!" Crawford saw the fight going on and looked back in the room, "Perkins!" Crawford screamed, making Dustin go wide eyed on the floor, immediately awake, "The Captain!" Crawford screamed and turned to the right, seeing the open door and the body lying in the bed "Tomlin!" Crawford screamed at the top of his lungs, Tomlin's eyes opened wide, and he tried to focus on the sound of the scream. "The Captain!" Crawford screamed again, and Tomlin threw back the covers and leaped out of bed. He and Dustin reached the hallway at the same time, looking in the direction Crawford was, seeing Callum engaged in a fight, a huge fight, metal clanging and Callum's naked back as the intruder was doing his best to fight off Callum. The door to the right opened near the top of the stairs and a voice yelled,
"Ezri!" The intruder was startled and lowered his guard for a moment and Callum lunged, running the intruder through in the left shoulder making him groan and scream loudly. Callum pulled back and was at the ready again, holding out his sword tip, as the intruder buckled slightly and leaned away. The voice appeared in the form of a brilliant cloak and grabbed the intruder and started down the stairs quickly, Callum was right behind them, Crawford looked at Tomlin and Dustin, and they followed the Doctor down the hallway, reaching the top of the stairs, watching as Callum went on the attack again in the lobby area outside of the center room, pressing the two to the door to the inn.
"Quintan?!" Farrow called out, going wide eyed, seeing the half-naked form swinging a sword, clanging against more metal, not being able to see who was fighting back. Callum grunted and lunged and there was another groan and scream from the move, and Callum pulled back, but held his sword up still in an offensive posture, waving it about slightly. Callum could hear several voices behind him now, drawing closer to him, and he eased slightly, but kept his tip up.
"You have nowhere else to go, surrender yourself and I will make sure your wounds are tended to." Callum said with great pain in his chest. "You must surrender, you are severely outnumbered."
"I will never surrender, as long as there is breath in my body. You have blackened my family, our name. You will pay for that!"
"Who are you? What family name?" Callum asked as he pressed closer.
"You will know soon enough." He groaned in a growl and Callum was met with a blast of cool air as the door to the inn was opened. The figure in the cloak was pulling the intruder from behind, making his sword tip lower. Callum moved closer toward him, trying to keep him close, but couldn't. Their sword tips clanged together a few more times, and then they were gone in the dark of the late afternoon. Callum lept out into the street and looked in either direction, but they disappeared completely. Callum lowered his sword and stepped back into the inn. He was met by several pairs of wide eyes, Dustin, Tomlin, who was completely naked, Crawford, and Farrow, along with most of the singing patrons that Callum had interrupted earlier. Callum smiled briefly, and now that the danger to himself and the others was passed, he eased and began to weave, lowering his sword, letting it drag across the floor and Callum's eyes slowly closed and he felt hands on him as he fell forward. Callum opened his eyes slowly, seeing Crawford over the top of him, looking back with a frown and narrowed eyes.
"As I have said, it is a wonder how you are alive after all this time, Quintan," Crawford said as he turned away. Callum heard water, and then felt a wet sensation against his chest.
"Am I still...together, Arthur?"
"Barely." Crawford said in a soft voice, "Who was he?"
"I am wondering that myself." Callum said in a soft voice and grimaced as Crawford touched him.
"Quintan,..." Dustin said as he came into view over Callum's face. Callum smiled briefly seeing him. "Are you alright?"
"I think I'm in one piece, thanks to the good doctor here." Callum smiled briefly and saw Tomlin out of the corner of his eye. He rolled his head, seeing Tomlin and Farrow beyond. "Farrow," Callum sighed, "who was he?"
"I'm not sure, Quintan." Farrow said in a rather curt tone, "They arrived just before you and Master Perkins did. They kept to themselves for the most part. Did he say anything?"
"Other than the fact about satisfaction for his dead brother, no." Callum said as he shifted a little on the bed.
"Lay still, Quintan." Crawford said. "I need to check some of your stitches. I may need to sew you up again. I warned you about moving about."
"I don' think it could be helped, Arthur, especially when someone is trying to kill you."
"I suppose you're right, but it made a damned mess for me, and my prior work."
"I'll remember that if it should happen again in the future, Arthur." Callum gave a brief smile.
"I should let you bleed." Crawford frowned, and then he turned. "Farrow, I shall require hot water and some clean linens for his wounds. I will need to sew him up again, as he has pulled himself open. Also, I shall require large amounts of coffee to clear my head."
"Right away, Doctor." Farrow nodded his head, and then raised his eyebrow to Callum. "You know, I try and run a quiet house."
"I'm sorry if I have inconvenienced you." Callum smiled briefly and then closed his eyes.
"Is there anything we might do, Doctor?" Dustin asked.
"Yes, actually. Open my bag and hand me the small brown bottle out of it." Crawford said. Dustin did what was asked, handing the bottle to Crawford. "Quintan, this make you sleep. I want you to drink a rather large amount of it. I shall have to work on you for quite some time to repair what has already been done, do you understand?" Callum nodded.
"I think we have been here before, Arthur."
"Yes, but not like this. Your lung is your chest is leaking out air, making it hard for you to breathe, isn't it?" Callum nodded. "Yes, that is why your chest was so tight earlier. I will have to work on you most of the night. This will make you sleep, deeply, and slow your breathing. You may not wake for more than a day or two. This is far worse than when we aboard the Dover. I cannot guarantee your survival over this, do you understand?"
"I have no choice, do I?" Callum asked. Crawford shook his head. "I trust you will do what you can, Arthur?" Callum smiled and then drank deeply from the small bottle. He handed it back to Crawford, making a face, then looked at Dustin, reaching out a hand. Dustin took it and sat next to him on the bed. "Dustin, I love you so." Callum whispered. "Always remember that for all your days, and all your nights. I will always be with you." Callum smiled as his eyes became heavy and he drifted away, his mouth falling open slightly.
"Quintan." Dustin whispered, squeezing Callum's hand in both of his. Dustin was looking at Callum, his eyes watching for any sign at all, "Quintan?!" Crawford put a hand to Dustin's shoulder and squeezed it.
"He can't hear you, lad. I'll do my best for him, but I can make no promises. He has been living on borrowed time as it is already. Now, let me get to work on him. If either of you wish to stay, you are more than welcome, if not, stay out of my way so I can set to it." Crawford said, and Dustin got up off the bed slowly, letting Callum's hand go, lowering it to the bed. Dustin sobbed as he turned and Tomlin grabbed him gently and pulled him to him, holding him, patting his shoulder as Tomlin watched Crawford begin.
"Come with me Dustin, let us leave the Doctor to his work." Tomlin said softly. "The Captain is in good hands. We must be more guarded now with this threat about us. We shall go downstairs and have coffee to clear our heads." Tomlin turned and led Dustin out of the room, across the hall to his. Tomlin had Dustin sit on the bed as he dressed. "Do not worry yourself so, he will be alright."
"But the Doctor has sewed him so much, there may not be much left to sew again."
"Yes, I can understand that. We must trust that the Doctor knows what is best for the Captain."
"I suppose you're right, Thomas." Dustin said softly. "I wonder who he is."
"The man that attacked Quintan. He was the one from the end room. You saw that scar, didn't you?"
"Yes, I've seen it before, yesterday when I walked with them on the docks going to the Harbor Master's office." Tomlin said softly, finishing his dressing. "I wonder. Why don't we have a look in their room? Perhaps there is something there that will tell us who they are?" Dustin got up off the bed, and followed Tomlin out and down the hallway.
"Ezri, you are a fool!" Maupin said as he looked at the wounds, trying to stop the bleeding. "Now, I must find you a surgeon."
"It could not be helped, Maupin. The opportunity was there and I seized it."
"You seized your own anger, do not lie to me. You have jeopardized everything we are trying to accomplish. Now, I must start all over."
"Do not give me false apologies, they will fall on deaf ears." Maupin growled and then backed up. "I do not care one way or another if you live or die at this point, Ezri. Your fate is now out of my hands. Callum is alerted to us and will be on guard from now on."
"He cannot stop us. He knows nothing." Ezri winced as Maupin pushed the cloth tip into the hole in his shoulder.
"You believe that? You trust that? I cannot. There is too much at stake to make false assumptions. We may be hunted and very soon. We have to get out of Portsmouth now. Callum may have Marines looking for us. Do you wish to die in a military cell? Or be hanged?"
"No, Maupin, not before Callum dies." Ezri groaned, looking down at his wounds. Maupin put a hand over them and gripped them hard, making the man crumble in pain.
"Then you will listen to me, and you will do exactly what I say word for word, step for step, do you understand? Or I will let them have you myself." Maupin was up in Ezri's scarred face, seeing tears of pain roll out of his eyes. Maupin let him go and stood straight over the top of him. Ezri crumbled further and sat down against the wall of the building, breathing hard. "Now, pull yourself together and let us find some means of getting to London." Maupin said as he put the hood of the brilliant cloak back over the top of his head. He walked away, with Ezri following him, holding his shoulder.
Dustin sat at the table and just stared blankly at it. Farrow had come back from upstairs and Crawford, seeing Dustin and Tomlin sitting there. Other patrons moved about them, looking at them from time to time as well, seeing the sadness of Dustin as he sat there in silence. Farrow walked up to the table.
"May I get you some supper?" Farrow asked, Tomlin looked up at Farrow and then over at Dustin, and then shook his head slightly. "I'll bring some coffee, it appears it's going to be a rather long night again." Farrow said softly and walked away. One of the patrons came to the table, tipping his hand, Tomlin making eye contact with him.
"I wanted to say, sirs, your Captain is a very brave man." He said bowing his head slightly.
"Thank you, yes he is." Tomlin gave him a brief smile. Tomlin watched as the man walked away toward the front door of the end. Farrow returned with a tray with coffee and cups, setting it down in front of them.
"Quintan is quite the topic of conversation with everyone." Farrow said softly, watching Dustin. "They are all concerned about him."
"As are we." Tomlin said softly. Farrow looked at him.
"I have seen Quintan in worse condition, I assure you. He will survive this, my lad, fear not. He is in good hands. No one knows him better than Dr. Crawford. He has been tending to Quintan for years." Farrow said softly, putting a hand on Dustin's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "Oh, by the way, a parcel was delivered for him some time ago. I have it behind the bar." Dustin lifted his eyes. Farrow smiled. "Perhaps you should take it upstairs after you have had your coffee and cleared your head?"
"Yes, thank you." Dustin said and then looked at Tomlin, who poured coffee for them both. Farrow walked away. Dustin could hear the sounds of conversation behind him and was feeling rather groggy. He could hear a word now and then as they were discussing Callum and the fight that they had seen. Dustin tried to block it out but couldn't as he sat there.
"Have your coffee, Dustin." Tomlin said, lifting his own cup. "Dr. Crawford may need our assistance and we must be ready."
"I suppose you're right, Thomas." Dustin whispered. He lifted the cup and sipped at it.
Crawford was doing his best to seal the leaking of Callum's lung. There was so much blood that the mattress was going black, and the linens were ruined at this point. Crawford dabbed a wet cloth trying to find the hole that he had missed which was causing the problem. He dabbed the wet cloth again, and more blood came, again, and again, and then he saw it. He went at it with needle and thread as fast as he could, hearing the leak as well as seeing it in the quiet of the room, the air making the blood bubble around it, and then finally it began to slow and then stop the more strokes that Crawford made with the needle and thread. He sat back and watched it for a long moment to make certain. He was finally satisfied from it, and then began to close Callum up, having to truly work hard to try and hit new skin with every stick of the needle, pulling the thread tighter, making the stitches small this time and tighter. He knew Callum would have trouble with it being this tight, but it couldn't be helped. Crawford sat back, wiping the blood from the skin gently with a wet cloth, watching for any bleeding, there was none, and Crawford sighed. He looked out the window next to him, seeing it was dark outside. He looked back down at his old friend and shook his head at him. There was a soft knock at the door. Crawford got up and walked to it, opening it.
"Is there anything you require, Doctor?" Farrow asked in the darkened hall.
"Yes, actually there is, Farrow. The mattress is soaked with blood I'm afraid. I would hate to let him lie in it for very long."
"I see." Farrow said as he leaned and looked in the room. "Can we move him?"
"Not very much. I'm afraid that it will rip out the stitches that I have put into him." Crawford said, looking back at Callum.
"Well, then perhaps I can get a different mattress from one of the other rooms. I'll have the lads give me a hand with it. Would you care for some supper, Doctor? You have been working for quite some time."
"That would be very nice, thank you." Crawford said, giving Farrow a half smile, seeing the change in him.
"I shall return shortly then." Farrow said and walked away back down the hall. Crawford closed the door quietly and walked back over toward the bed. He pulled the chair from the small desk and set it near the bed, sitting on it, watching Callum breathe slowly.
Farrow walked into the center room and saw Dustin and Tomlin sitting at the table, waiting. Farrow came up to them, giving them a soft smile.
"Dr. Crawford is done with his work. He requires assistance from us, if you will be so kind." Farrow said, making Dustin and Tomlin jump up from the table. The three went back upstairs and knocked on the door, then Farrow opened it. They all walked into the dimly lit room, bathed in low candlelight as it danced on the walls about them. "How do you want to do this, Doctor?" Farrow asked.
"I think we need to get him on something stiff to keep his motion to a minimum. Then we should be able to lift him. The new mattress can be placed under him at that point and we can place him on it."
"I have a rather large board downstairs in the kitchen which we use for kneading bread. It should take more than half of him, I would think." Farrow said.
"Very good, that should do fine as long as it is stiff enough. What of the mattress?"
"I'll show them which one to get while I get the board." Farrow said and turned with Dustin and Tomlin following him. Farrow opened the door across the hall next to Tomlin's room. "Grab that mattress if you will and get it into your room, Dustin. I'll be back in a couple of minutes." Farrow said and set off down the hallway. Tomlin and Dustin set about it, stripping the bed in the room and struggled to get the mattress off the bed. They got it and carried it across the hallway and into the room, laying it near the bed that had Callum on it. Dustin stared at him, his color was drained from him, and it was like he was dead, barely breathing. Dustin looked up at Crawford giving him a worried look.
"He will sleep for a day or two from what I gave him. It was very potent. He will need constant watching while he sleeps. When he wakes he might thrash about a bit, and must be kept still. The drug in him will do that as it sparks the mind when he wakes. He may be very violent, I must warn you, he will need to be restrained and controlled." Crawford said as Farrow walked back into the room, carrying the large board. There were two other men with Farrow as well.
"I brought up some extra hands in case they were needed." Farrow said and Crawford nodded.
"Good, alright we must get him on the board first. Let's roll him gently, Farrow get the board behind him, that's right, now, let's roll him back. Good, now let's lift him at the same time, do not let his legs get away from you as it will pull on his chest. We'll take him off on this side, then you can pull the mattress and get the new one on the bed. Ready? Lift." Crawford said and it was done carefully, slowly, they all moved as one and took Callum to the edge and off. Hands grabbed the soaked mattress and pulled it off and the new one was quickly put in place and pat flat with the heavy down in it. "Excellent. Alright let's set him down on the old one here. Farrow do you have new linens as well?"
"Yes, just a moment." Farrow said and grabbed at a stack just inside the door he had brought up earlier. He spread one out quickly over the mattress and smoothed it.
"Alright, let's lift him again lads, slowly, keep him straight and stiff, that's right, now over to the bed, in the center now, that's right, now down, and let's roll him to take out the board. Very good, here's your board, Farrow. Now, let's roll to his back, easy. Excellent. Let me check him for bleeding." Crawford said and looked Callum over slowly in the candlelight as the group stood back away from the bed. "I don't see any bleeding. I think he'll be alright." Crawford said as he watched Callum breathe for a long moment, seeing the rise and slow fall of his chest and stomach. "Alright, you may cover him and make him look comfortable, Mr. Perkins." Crawford said softly. "I will sit with him for a while longer. I want to make sure that no bleeding begins. Farrow would you bring up some more coffee and that super that you offered?"
"Yes of course, Doctor." Farrow nodded. "Would you lads help me get this mattress out of the room?" All hands were on it and the darkened linens. They carried it out as Crawford settled back on the chair again beside Callum, being left alone with him.
"It is amazing to me, Quintan, you command such respect even when you are at your lowest point. They all care about you greatly, especially young Perkins. I warned you about him, to be careful about him, but I seem to have been wrong. He is more loyal than any dog, and you are a lucky man to have the love and loyalty that he shows for you, truly very lucky indeed." Crawford said softly as he sat back in the chair. "I'm not certain why that man decided to fight with you, but I for one was certainly glad you were able. You handle a sword, sir, like a devil, truly with a masterful hand." Crawford smiled, watching Callum's face in the soft candlelight. "I wonder what His Lordship is going to say about this now." Crawford smiled wider and shook his head. "I wonder indeed." Crawford looked up seeing Farrow come in through the open door.
"Here you are, Doctor, your supper."
"Excellent, Farrow, I thank you." Crawford said as he stood up from the chair. Farrow walked around the bed and went to the small desk and set the tray on the edge, unloading it. "That smells wonderful. What is that? Roast Beef?"
"Yes, with boiled potatoes from the north and some black pudding. There is also some yeast bread as well, that he baked this afternoon. He does quite well in the kitchen." Farrow said as he backed away from the desk.
"I should see that the Captain try and steal him for our next sailing and have Carson retire."
"I would put up more of a fight than Quintan did earlier over that, I assure you." Farrow said softly, making Crawford chuckle as he pulled the chair back to the desk. "He is the only reason why I keep the inn. Without him, my reputation would be nothing but a sloppy tavern."
"I can see why. He seems to excel in the kitchen."
"That he does, and takes great pride in it as well. I am most fortunate to have him." Farrow smiled. "Will you require anything else?"
"Not right now, thank you. This is absolutely heavenly, I must say. Please give him my compliments."
"I will do that, Doctor. Now, I will have our young lads have theirs as well, even if they do not want it. They haven't eaten since this morning, and as it's going to be a long night for them..."
"Yes, it is." Crawford said as he put a piece of beef in his mouth and moaned at the taste. Farrow smiled and walked out of the room, looking as Callum as he went by.
Farrow came off the stairs and into the center room, seeing several of his patrons sitting, talking, and laughing amongst themselves. He smiled at Dustin and Tomlin, who had returned to a table after removing the destroyed mattress. They were chatting amongst themselves as Farrow walked around the long counter and toward the kitchen.
Dustin sat back in his chair, shaking his head. "I only wished that I had paid more attention to them when they were here. We found nothing in their room to tell us anything about them."
"Well at least the Captain is going to be alright, I'm thankful in that." Tomlin said as he looked up, seeing Farrow carrying a tray as he set it on the edge of the table, it holding steaming plates of food.
"Thank you, Mr. Dunhill, but I'm really not hungry." Dustin said as he watched Farrow set the plates in front of he and Tomlin and then flatware.
"I can understand that, my lad, however after having a rather large amount of the ale earlier today and only eating this morning, you are hereby ordered to eat supper per instructions from the good Doctor, as it will be a rather long night with you having to keep watch over the Captain. Add to that, my cook has gone to considerable trouble to make this roast beef the best in the area, and if you think Carson has knives in the galley, I'm sure that after a showing of the meat cleavers that my cook keeps will spur you to even greater fear." Farrow said, looking down at both of them, with a soft smile. "Do enjoy your supper, gentlemen." Farrow nodded slightly and walked away. Dustin and Tomlin looked at each other with wide eyes.
"Do you think he meant it?" Dustin asked softly.
"Do you want to find out?" Tomlin asked in return. Dustin shook his head as they began to eat rather quickly. Farrow smiled at them from across the room, as he watched from the corner of the long counter. He turned and walked back to the kitchen and set the tray down. He went back behind the bar and poured a couple of more ales for some patrons and set them on the counter, receiving some coin in return and a nod.
The sounds of the waves and the creaking and moaning of the deck was all that could be heard by every man aboard. They were all silent in their vigil of listening to what was out there in the dark. The man standing near the Mizzen stepped forward quietly and leaned a little.
"Steady your helm." He said softly.
"Aye." The voice in the dark next to him said just as soft. The wheel made a slight grinding sound as it was held tight, keeping the small ship on its course.
"We should see something shortly, I should think." He said softly, more to himself than anyone else about him in the dark. He stepped forward once as if to see better in the darkness as if it were bringing him closer to what he wanted to see.
"Sir!" Came the voice in the dark to his right, and he snapped his head as if to yell back at it in anger as they were all knocked off their feet by the impact. He struggled to get back to his feet as he heard voices in the dark, lots of them, and then another violent collision, making him stagger and lose his balance. He reached out and grabbed for anything that might be there to stabilize himself, but there was nothing. The sounds of ropes going tight and then another bump and then wood creaking loudly and grinding against itself, sounds of metal thumping against wood and he knew, and his eyes went wide.
"We are boarded!" He yelled and went toward the starboard side and was knocked back to the deck, stunned by the blow to his head. He shook his head as if to clear it and tried to get to his feet, but was knocked hard in the back with something heavy, taking the wind from him. He let out a grunt from the blow and the pain and crumbled to the deck hitting it hard with his face.
"Kill every crewman, but bring me the officers! I want them alive." The deep French voice called out over the voices around him and then those voices began to scream and yell as they poured over the side of the small ship, using swords and axes, the crew in the dark tried to fight for their very lives but were cut down. Those that tried to surrender were slaughtered instantly by the screaming voices, no mercy was shown at all. Screams of agony could be heard from everywhere and then they slowly were silenced.
"Light the lanterns!" The deep voice yelled out. "Search everywhere, find them all, kill them or bring them here! Search the Captain's cabin for the dispatch box!"
He groaned as he was rolled hard to his back. He blinked his eyes hard as he was drug to his feet. He looked around and saw several men about him, none of them he recognized at all. His hair was grabbed and pulled violently as he was pushed while he was held by the arms going toward the rail of his ship. He was groaning from the harsh treatment he was feeling, and then was rammed against the rail, it hitting him in the lower stomach. He coughed and groaned from the impact of it and then he was drug up over the top of the rail, making him stand, being balanced with hands on him to steady him. The one who held his hair let go and spun him around. He saw the dirty gritty face in front of him and then felt the rope go around his neck in a loop, he took in a quick deep breath and felt it tighten. He heard more screams from down below and then he looked into the eyes of the dirty face and the lips curled back as if they were going to smile at him, showing blackened and missing teeth, the lips curled into a grin, and the dirty face spat in his face and he was pushed off the rail, choking and kicking as he swung through the air, closing his eyes as he grabbed at the rope about his neck, feeling it being stretched and the air being cut off, as he kicked and struggled and then he felt hands touch him, and then he thudded to the deck heavily and the rope released its tension allowing him to breathe deeply, but he coughed as well over and over and spat on the deck.
"What,...what do you want?" He coughed and choked out.
"Why my dear Capitaine," The deep voice said over the top of him, "all I want is information. Tell me what I want to know and I will spare the lives of your officers." He said as his voice grew closer. The Captain looked up and saw the large man was starting to kneel down in front of him. He had an evil grin.
"What information do you want?" He coughed out.
"Your fleet, where is it? Which port does Wellington sail from?"
"I don't know." He coughed again. Another scream of agony could be heard behind him.
"You hear that, mon Capitaine? That is the sound of another of your crew being perhaps chopped to pieces, dying slowly, in agony. Do you want that for your officers?"
"I don't know where the fleet is." He growled and coughed again.
"Ah no? I think that you do, and I think you proud English would rather die than give away any secrets, no?"
"I said, I don't know. Spare my officers and men."
"Too late for that mon Capitaine, too late." The deep voice said as he walked away. "Bring me that first officer."
"Wait, you can't do this!" He coughed.
"Ah no? Of course I can mon Capitaine, this is war! Is it not? You English think you can rule the seas, choke us off by taking our trade from us, cutting off our supplies, making women and children starve to death, no? I will tell you what I can do, but mostly,...I will show you what I can do." He said as a young man was dragged up behind him. He turned and smiled at the young man, who had fear in his eyes, a wild look about him. He licked his lips quickly and saw his Captain on the deck, struggling.
"Wait, you don't have to do this!"
"Tell me what I want to know, and I will...think about it." He said as he slowly drew his sword.
"I'm telling you that I don't know! Why won't you believe me?!"
"Because you are English, you are born liars, you live your lives as a lie. You would not know the truth if it was right in your face!" He pulled the sword fully from the scabbard, flashing its brilliant steel in the dim light of the lanterns. "Tell me, mon Capitaine, or I will have to be more persuasive."
"Le Capitaine ici est la boite a documents." A man said handing a small wooden box out to the man. He looked at it and then at the Captain as he was still on the deck, trying to get up, another man put a foot in his back kicking him back to the deck.
"Tres bien." He muttered and opened it. He looked at the contents, seeing only a couple of letters, he took one and scanned it, then dropped it. He took the other and scanned it and looked down at the Captain on the deck, then dropped the letter. "These tell me nothing. They tell me only where you are to go and why. You are not being very cooperative." He said and then looked at the young man being held up near him. The look of fear was still all across his face, and then his hair was grabbed and pulled back hard, making him grunt, while still watching the big man with the sword. "This will be your last chance to answer me, Capitaine. Tell me what I want to know or...?" He slowly raised the point of his sword, it flashed in the dim light, the Captain on the deck watched and went to scream out, when the sword flashed and the young man screamed in agony, the sword ran through him in the upper thigh region near his hip. The big man turned and looked down at the Captain on the deck who watched with horror. The big man pushed the sword deeper still running it all the way through the young man's leg, out the other side. His face was pulled, frozen, into a silent scream over the pain, holding his breath for as long as he could.
"Now, tell me what I want to know. If I pull out my blade this boy will bleed to death in a matter of moments, as one of his major arteries has been most likely severed. We can of course try and save him, but only if you tell me what I want to know. What will it be Capitaine? His life, or his death...on your hands." The big man looked down and watched the Captain on the deck begin to crumble in front of him, the horror of it all coming together in scant seconds.
"Please...you must stop this. I've told you I have no idea where they are! Please, you must..." The sound and the gasp happened at the same time, the blade pulled, the boy gasped and his hair was let go. His eyes rolled in his head, and he looked down with a blank expression, seeing his Captain before him, who was looking up at him with pleading eyes, telling him silently that he was sorry without words. The boy choked softly and then gurgled in his throat, his mouth slightly open and then the color drained from him, and he slumped in the arms of those who held him.
"Ah, too bad. He seemed like such a nice young man. Hmmm, bring me another, and throw this one over the side." He waved his hand in the air. He looked down at the Captain, and stepped on his fingers, making them crunch under his foot, the Captain screamed as fingers were broken from the weight and position. "I am so sorry to do this to you, but you leave me no choice at all. If you would only tell me what I wish to know, we would be on our way, and you may sail to wherever your heart will send you, perhaps back to London? I understand that the ladies there are in the change of the season for their dresses, from spring to summer, ah the fabrics will be soft and light and they will be wearing...less, no?" He smiled and ground the fingers again, making the Captain scream as another young man was brought close, his eyes were wide as he had seen his companion thrown over the side as he was brought onboard. "And who have we here? Another fine young man, in the service of His Majesty? Hmmm, how nice, he looks in his uniform, no?" He moved his foot from the Captain's hand, raising his sword to the boy's throat, putting the tip into the skin, making the boy gasp, cutting him. "Oh, oh, oh, we have had an accident already, my apologies," He shook his head, "I should have been more careful where I was stepping, no? You are getting blood on your white shirt, no? Hmmm." He looked back down at the deck, "Now, Capitaine, shall we do this again? Tell me what I want to know, or I will be forced to do something a little more drastic, like cutting him a little at a time, making him bleed a little more with each cut, going deeper and deeper each time. Won't you tell me? Is not this boy's life important to you?"
"You French bastard," the Captain growled, as he rolled to sit up, holding his crushed hand to him with the other, "I have told you over and over I know nothing. We are on a supply mission heading north. Those letters told you that, if you can read English." He spat out. He struggled to get to his feet, the men around him grabbed him, but the big man held out a hand to stop him. "Why won't you listen?!" The Captain growled, getting close, snarling. "You can't treat my officers this way!"
"You mean...like this?" He stabbed the young boy low, through the groin deep, making the boy scream in pure agony, the Captain's went wild eyed and he tried to move, but was held back by the men behind him. "Or,...like this?" He pulled his sword out, making the boy groan, and then thrust it in higher, making the boy choke on his own scream, and then gasp, going wide eyed. The Captain's eyes were full of tears and he screamed for him to stop. "No, no, no, mon Capitaine, this boy is suffering now, and we must take care of him, no?" He turned and looked at his men, "Take this boy to the bow of the ship and see if there is something there that will make him...better?" They grinned an evil grin each and drug the boy off. The Captain watched through tears as the big man turned and saw his face. "Mon Capitaine, I have asked, I have almost begged you, and still you do not tell me what I want to know. How can you be so cold, so uncaring of your men? All you need to do is tell me, and we will be on our way, I give you my word."
"Your word? I suppose, as a gentlemen? You frog bastard!" The Captain growled and spit at him. "You are a true son of a bitch!" The big man was enraged by being spit on, and then the insult to his mother? He backhanded the Captain hard, knocking him back into the men that held him. The big man hit him across the eye with the pommel of his sword blowing out the skin, blood going everywhere. The Captain growled. "French scum, you only know how to butcher and torture, you're not a man, but a woman, the way you fight. You kill innocent boys, who are no more than children. Have you no honor? You fuck!" The Captain spit, again, this time there was blood on the jacket of the big man. He looked down at it and became enraged, running his sword into the Captain's stomach, making him go wide eyed. He pulled back, and the men let him go.
"Still you make the brave noise of the English, the sound like a dog guarding his bone, no? You wish to attack me? Well then, mon Capitaine, I give you the chance, no?" He held out his hands wide, lowering his sword, and the Captain stepped forward. The big man flashed his sword hard cutting across the Captain, slicing deep through his stomach, he groaned and kept coming, another hard slash on the return, higher across the chest and his eyes closed, he reached out with his good hand and the sword flashed and the hand was gone, it hitting the deck, his eyes went wider than they had ever been before and he dropped to his knees, gasping for breath. "You do not make that brave sound anymore, mon Capitaine. Have you lost your voice?" He looked down, and then at his men, "Help the Capitaine to find his voice. Possibly in the water? Yes, I think the cold water will help him." He grinned slightly and stepped out of the way as they drug the Captain off toward the bow. "Cut us loose from this English trash and set sail. We must find another ship to get our answers, no?" He turned and placed his red coated blade back in its scabbard as his crew got to work. "Take a pennant and toss it aboard the English ship, to let them know we were here, no?" He said to one of his men who nodded with an evil grin.
Callum was breathing easier as he moved his head slightly side to side, licking his lips. His eyes were moving to and fro under his lids and he was trying to say something but couldn't. His hand moved about on top of the covers and he started to make soft sounds in the back of his throat. The eyes were moving faster and faster back and forth and then the lids opened, and he tried to focus in the dim light about him. He opened his mouth and slowly he began to moan and then to scream. It was deep and long.
His eyes opened and he jumped hearing the scream and he leaped out of the chair and to the bed, coming beside him, holding him on the shoulders as he tried to calm him, talk to him, calling out his name as the screams continued and continued. The door opened and Tomlin rushed in, carrying a sword, out and ready, tip up. He looked and saw Dustin on the bed trying to hold Callum down as he was screaming. Tomlin rushed over, dropping his sword and climbed up on the bed next to Callum, calling out to him by name, trying to calm him.
"Doctor Crawford said this might happen!" Dustin shouted over the screams at Tomlin.
"What do we do?!" Tomlin yelled back, then looked down at Callum as he kept screaming.
"I don't know!" Dustin yelled and then the screaming stopped. They looked at Callum and then at each other, waiting like there might be another round coming, Callum was wide eyed and breathing hard under the covers, as Dustin held his shoulders down to the bed.
"Take your hands off me!" Callum yelled, looking up at the ceiling, "Take your hands off me!" He screamed loudly, "I'll kill you first! Take your hands off me!" Dustin was wide eyed and horrified and backed up, getting off the bed. Callum sat up like it was no effort at all and he looked angry or beyond enraged. Both Tomlin and Dustin could see the look and had seen it before, the night they were boarded by the French and Callum became like a madman. He looked exactly that way now, and Callum came at them in a rage, he tossed Dustin to the wall like he was nothing and grabbed Tomlin by the throat with his hands, forcing him back toward the door. Tomlin hit the wall next to the door and Callum turned with him, backing up to the doorway. Callum squeezed harder and Tomlin was gasping, trying to get air while he had Callum's wrists trying to pull them off him. Dustin was shaking his head and getting to his feet, seeing what was happening and charged toward Callum and Tomlin, when Dustin saw the hand and the glint of something from the doorway and Callum closed his eyes and fell sideways toward the floor, Tomlin gasping for air as he grabbed Callum and stopped him from falling further. Farrow stepped into the doorway and looked at the three of them.
"I heard the screams and thought I would lend you a hand." Farrow said, as Dustin looked up, and then at Callum.
"What did you hit him with?"
"This pewter pitcher, that was in the next room at the door." Farrow said holding it up, looking it over, and then back down at Dustin. "I didn't kill him, did I?"
"No, he still breathes." Tomlin said softly. "My God he has a grip. My throat is going to be bruised for a month." Tomlin said in a graveled voice now.
"Are you alright, Thomas?" Dustin asked, looking at him with wide eyes.
"Yes, you?" Tomlin asked, Dustin nodded his reply. "He is incredibly strong, he picked you up and tossed you like a bag of potatoes." Tomlin said, wide eyed, looking up. "Thank you Farrow, for showing up. I'm certain he would have overpowered us, possibly even..."
"You're welcome. Glad I could help. Now, let's get him back into bed, and possibly restrained so this won't happen again." Farrow said, as he bent down and they began to get Callum up, carrying him to the bed. They got him placed again and then Farrow went downstairs and returned after a few minutes with a coil of line. They quickly set about carefully lashing Callum down him under the covers, the line over the top, and they secure with a couple of good seamans knots, out of reach of the bed, to be safe and sure.
"I will be up for a while, closing up the kitchen, the front door will be locked, so we can expect no one else for the night. You two take turns watching him, and I'll come back up and have a go with it myself, so you may both rest, alright?" Farrow smiled at Tomlin and then gave Dustin the same smile and a pat on the shoulder. "We'll get him through this, I promise. Hopefully that knock to the head will slow him some for a while." Farrow walked out of the room.
"Wake me in a couple of hours." Tomlin said, "I'll take over for you." Dustin smiled and nodded. He watched Tomlin walk out of the room, closing the door behind him. Dustin turned and looked at Callum, tied to the bed and gave him sad eyes. He sighed softly and went to the chair and set himself in it. He nodded off back and forth, watching Callum as he rolled his head now and again, but continued to sleep. Dustin got up and checked the time with the pocket watch that Callum kept but never used, something that he had shown Dustin once, when Dustin had first come to him in Birmingham. It had been more than three hours and he went to wake Tomlin, quietly opening the door, going to the edge of the bed calling out to him in the dark of the room.
"Yes? What is it?" Tomlin asked in the dark, with a soft voice.
"You wanted me to wake you."
"Oh, that's right." Tomlin said and got up off the bed. "How is he?"
"He is restless. I think he might be dreaming again."
"Hmmm, alright, you get some rest here in my bed, I'll go and sit with him. I'll wake before dawn, and we can do this again." Tomlin smiled putting a hand on Dustin's soft shoulder. Dustin leaned toward him, and Tomlin smiled, giving him a gentle hug of reassurance. "It will be alright, I'm sure."
"I trust it will." Dustin said softly, standing back.
"I'll see you in a couple of hours." Tomlin smiled, and Dustin nodded. He climbed onto the bed and stretch out. It wasn't as comfortable as the other bed, but it felt good to him and he closed his eyes. Tomlin walked across the hall, looking down it, making sure there was no one there and then went in, quietly opening the door, seeing Callum, his Captain, tied down in the bed. It was a sad thing to see, but he knew it was for his own safety. Tomlin went to the chair at the small desk and sat in it, making himself comfortable, and then settled back, and got ready to set about his duty. He was nodding on and off and then he felt something, soft and warm, and then he smiled at it, thinking it was someone that he wanted to see, there it was again and then he slowly opened his eyes. He smiled seeing someone there, but not that someone, it was someone else, it was Farrow. Tomlin sat up in the chair, and cleared his throat.
"Sleep much?" Farrow asked.
"I'm not sure. What time is it?"
"It's nearly dawn, about five I would say. Are you alright? You were...trying to say something."
"Was I? I don't recall. I must have been dreaming."
"Hmmm, about your young lieutenant more than likely."
"I really don't recall." Tomlin looked past Farrow to Callum. "I should have been watching him."
"He has barely stirred since I came in. I'm sure he has been like that the whole time. Don't worry about it. Today is Sunday, and I will keep the inn closed until mid-day out of respect for the church. You should get some rest, I will sit with him, until my cook arrives in a few hours. I expect the doctor will be coming round as well in due time."
"He said it might be a day or two before he was awake, it's been that already. Do you think that he will...?"
"He will come round when his body tells him to, as he did last night or hopefully more calm than last night. We will see. Now, go rest yourself in your room, I'll keep an eye open on him, I promise." Farrow smiled. Tomlin got up and walked slowly toward the door, reaching it, he looked back at Farrow who was settling in the chair after he had moved it near the bed, he put his feet up on it, and settled into the back of the chair and crossed his arms over his chest, giving Tomlin a smile. Tomlin smiled back and went out the door, crossing the hall and into his own room. He came in quietly and went round the end of the bed, seeing Dustin curled up near the center and got onto the bed next to him, moving slowly so as not to disturb him. Tomlin settled down and into the pillow under his head as Dustin moved and curled up next to Tomlin, tucking himself into Tomlin's side and Dustin let out a soft sigh. Tomlin looked down at him and smiled softly, as Dustin nuzzled in closer to him. Tomlin gave a soft chuckle and wrapped an arm around Dustin, letting him in closer to him and the newfound warmth.
"Leave it to you to find a way to make yourself comfortable at my expense." Callum said softly, making Farrow open his eyes and look up the bed.
"I see that the great Sea Lord has decided to return to us." Farrow said softly.
"And I see Arthur got his wish finally having me tied to the bed. I will have to speak to him about this. Where is the good doctor?"
"I believe that he is at home. It's been a couple of days since he was here." Farrow said as he pulled his feet from the bed, turning toward Callum.
"What? A couple of days?"
"Yes, since you decided to try and kill one of my paying patrons with your sword."
"I think I remember." Callum said, looking up at the ceiling.
"What do you remember exactly?"
"I was trying to get Arthur off the bed, he was very drunk, and there was a voice telling me he wanted words with me, and something about satisfaction."
"Hmmm, is that all you remember?"
"I remember he had the draw on me first, and I barely got to my sword in time. He might have killed both Arthur and myself if I hadn't have had it so handy." Callum shifted his eyes and looked at Farrow, "Do you know who he is?"
"No, I don't. I only know his companions name, Maupin." Farrow said. Callum narrowed his eyes.
"Maupin...that sounds very familiar,...Maupin...," Callum's eyes went wide and he struggled, "Oh my Lord! Get me out of this bed right now! Farrow, get this line off me!"
"Quintan, now wait." Farrow said putting a hand on Callum's shoulder.
"Farrow, God damn it, man, get me out of this bed! I have to get a message to the Admiralty right away! We have to alert the Garrison! Get the Marines!"
"Quintan, now hold on!" Farrow said, starting to untie the line. Callum began to get his hands and arms out from under the covers, and Farrow was trying to get the line loose enough. Callum pulled himself up in the bed, groaning as he moved. "Quintan, I think this is a very bad idea! Crawford is going to be very angry with both of us!" Callum ignored Farrow as he worked himself out of the bed and got to the floor, he stood and looked around, not seeing his clothes anywhere.
"Damn, where's my clothes?" Callum asked.
"I think they're in the trunk." Farrow said, watching Callum as he moved naked across the room. "Quintan, it's been more than two days, surely they must be gone by now."
"Can you be certain of that? Would you take that assumption? They are here for something, Farrow, and I have to find out what it is. He's dangerous, incredibly dangerous. He could destroy everything that the Duke might be planning."
"The Duke?" Farrow asked, then went wide eyed, "Wellington? The Duke of Wellington?"
"Do you know another?" Callum asked as he opened the trunk. He saw the shirts in it and the pants and smiled. He grabbed a shirt and pulled it over his head and then pulled out a pair of pants and started to step into them, as the door opened.
"What in the hell are you doing?" Crawford asked from the door with wide eyes, and then he saw Farrow, "Why haven't you stopped him?"
"He said he has..."
"To get back into bed!" Crawford said with wide eyes going toward Callum, "And this very minute, Quintan, do you hear me?" Callum turned as he was stepping into his pants with the other leg.
"I do, Arthur, but there is a matter of urgency that I must take care of immediately." Callum said as he pulled up his pants, stepping around Crawford, going for the door, "Dustin! Thomas!" Callum yelled at the top of his lungs. He turned back and stepped back into the room, "Farrow, my shoes? Where the hell are my shoes?"
"Now just one damned minute!" Crawford said loudly, his back to the door as Dustin and Tomlin came into the room with wide eyes. "What is so damned important?!" Callum stopped looking about on the floor and then looked at Crawford.
"Do you remember the conversation we had about the captured dispatches?" Callum asked and Crawford thought about it a moment and then nodded his head, "Remember the name...Maupin?" Crawford thought and then nodded his head, narrowing his eyes, "Dustin, my shoes?" Callum asked, looking at Dustin behind Crawford, Dustin went across the room to get them, Callum was tucking his shirt in, "Farrow just told me that the name of the man in the room with the man I fought was Maupin, and the man I fought kept saying he wanted satisfaction for his dead brother." Callum said as buttoned up the flap.
"And you think that the man you fought with is the brother of,..." Crawford thought about it for a long moment and then his eyes went wide, "Smythe? Captain Smythe?" Callum looked up from his flap, and smiled, and then nodded.
"It all fits, don't you see?"
"I do, but, Quintan you can't..."
"Thomas, go to the Garrison, see General Emery if you can, tell him what I think, he surely must have the report from Lt. Holt ,and from Major Simmonds by now. Tell the General, I am going to the Harbor Master's office to send word to the Admiralty. Have the General turn out the Marines." Callum said, nodding toward Tomlin, who nodded in return.
"It's been two days, Quintan." Crawford said, "Where will they look?"
"I wounded him severely in the fight, twice. He will surely need a doctor to help with his wounds before they can move on to wherever, don't you think? The Marines can start with all of the doctors in Portsmouth, how many are there?"
"About a dozen I think, including myself, and those at the surgery." Crawford said.
"They can start there. We have to act fast, too much time has passed, and every moment counts now." Callum said as he was handed his shoes. He slipped them on, using Dustin's shoulder to steady himself. "Dustin, go down and secure a carriage, no, make that two, one for us, one for Thomas to get to the Garrison. It will be faster that way." Callum smiled at Dustin, who nodded and he and Tomlin left the room quickly. "If I can't get a dispatch off to the Admiralty, then I will have to see about getting to London."
"There's a freight office a couple of streets over. They should have a coach leaving for London tonight." Farrow said, and Callum turned to look at him.
"Let's hope I can see about taking it then, if need be."
"Quintan, you shouldn't jostle over miles of bad roads." Crawford said stepping closer.
"Arthur, I may have no choice. You of all people know what this man is responsible for, what he brought, the great loss of life and destruction. He has to be stopped before he can do anything else, surely you agree with that?"
"I do, Quintan, but it is your health that concerns me more. You could start to bleed again as I have warned more than once from moving. You must give your body time to mend itself. I cannot sew you up anymore, there is nothing left to knit to, don't you understand? If you begin to bleed you will not survive it this time. It will be slow and very painful, and you will drown in your own blood."
"I understand, Arthur, believe me that I do, but I have to stop him and his plans, no matter what the cost." Callum smiled softly.
"Once again, the hero." Farrow said, rolling his eyes, "I'll go and check the freight office and see what their schedule is."
"Thank you, that will help." Callum said, nodding his head to Farrow, and then looked back at Crawford.
"I suppose I shall wait here for your return, to see if you have damaged yourself. Be calm and go slowly."
"I will, I promise Arthur." Callum smiled and patted him on the shoulder. Callum walked out of the room and out into the hallway, seeing the top of Dustin as he came up the stairs.
"Quintan, there is a carriage waiting outside. Thomas has left for the Garrison." Dustin said.
"Good, coming." Callum said, with Farrow right behind him.
"You know, you figuring this out is going to get you promoted, don't you?"
"I hadn't thought of it that way, no. It's not what I want, you know that." Callum said as they reached the stairs.
"Yes, I know what you want, and he's standing at the bottom of the stairs." Farrow said softly as they came down.
"You know me too well."
"You are easy to read." Farrow said almost in a whisper. "I'll see you when you return." Farrow said as Callum and Dustin went out the front door, steeping quickly to the carriage.
"Harbor Master's office, driver." Callum said as he stepped in behind Dustin, closing the door. The carriage rocked as it pulled away from the inn and down the street. Callum settled back next to Dustin, breathing easier.
"How are you feeling?"
"I'm alright." Callum said softly, looking out the window next to him.
"Good, I'm glad." Dustin said, then crossed his arms over his chest. Callum looked over at him, and raised an eyebrow.
"Are you alright?"
"I will be."
"Nothing, I suppose. Forget I mentioned it."
"Oh now, that does not sound good to me." Callum turned a little in the seat. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, it's just here we are again."
"You know about this, and why I must do this."
"Yes, but you have not taken heed of the doctor's advice. You could have done this with a simple note, and you know that." Dustin looked away out the window on his side.
"What has got you so angered over this?"
"You." Dustin huffed a little in his seat. "You always jump first and then something happens to make you suffer in one form or another. This will be no different."
"Really, you believe that?"
"I do. I have seen it countless times. I could give you a day by day if you wish, starting with when Captain Powers was killed."
"I don't believe this." Callum said softly and sat back. "Our very existence may be at stake and you are worried about trivial matters."
"Trivial. Trivial?" Dustin asked, getting angrier, then turning in his seat. "You wish to talk of trivial matters, ...with me? I will give you trivial matters, Quintan Callum, you have no idea what you do or what it means to others around you, I dare say. You always think that there is a greater cause out there, just waiting for you to do something about it, for you to act on it, you are the only one in the world that can possibly do anything..."
"Now, just a moment..." Callum said, looking at a very angry Dustin, as he shifted in his seat to face him. "you know what is at stake here, and why I must do this, and don't try and tell me that it's because I am the only one that can..."
"Shut up." Dustin said, turning away.
"What?" Callum asked as he grew angry. "What did you say?"
"I said, shut up, we're almost there." Dustin said. Callum reached out and grabbed him, spinning him in the seat, they went eye to eye, Callum seeing the anger in Dustin's eyes, and Callum realized that Dustin was trying to make a point but let his anger take him instead. Callum softened a little and then smiled softly.
"You're very forceful when you're angry, and quite...adorable." Callum smiled wider and Dustin looked at those soft eyes and melted.
"I'm sorry." Dustin whispered.
"Don't be." Callum whispered back and kissed Dustin. Dustin put his arms around Callum's neck and pulled him to him, sliding into his lap a little as the carriage slowed and then came to a stop. They pulled back from one another. "Damn, we're here." Callum said and Dustin slid off him, and opened the door. Callum got out, and looked up, "Driver, would you wait?" Callum asked and he was given a nod in reply and they walked to the door of the building. Callum walked into the office of the Harbor Master and saw a single man sitting at a desk near the corner of the office, his attention was focused on writing in the book he hovered over and did not look up. Callum saw the office next to the one they were in and looked in through the open door, not seeing anyone in there, he approached the counter that divided the room.
"I beg your pardon, sir, could you tell me if the courier for the Admiralty is about?" Callum asked. The man did not look up from his book, but stopped writing, looking annoyed at the interruption form the voice. "I say, could you be so kind...?" Callum asked and then he looked up from his book.
"He is not here. I believe he has gone home for the day." He said in a rather nasty tone. He turned back to his book and continued his writing, dipping the quill in the inkwell and then tapping it slowly. Callum looked at Dustin who shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, we will not get answers here, I see. Might as well be talking to a marble statue, which would have more intelligence and conversation about it but a bit less attitude. Come Dustin, let us see if Thomas is having better luck at Garrison." Callum said as he turned and walked out of the office, Dustin following him out. They walked to the carriage, Dustin getting in, Callum telling the driver to head for the Garrison now, and he nodded. The carriage baegan to move as Callum settled into the seat next to Dustin.
"Now, what were you saying to me before we arrived?" Callum asked looking at Dustin.
"Only that I think that Dr. Crawford is right and you should heed his advice about healing yourself. Quintan, don't you understand? You are no good to me dead. Oh, yes, I would have your memory to live with, but it is not you." Dustin emphasized 'you', as he took Callum's hand and squeezed it. "I love you more than anything else in this world, you know that, and would do anything for you, anything. You must stop this carelessness with yourself and let your body heal, please. If not for yourself, think of me. Can't you do that? Would you wish me to be alone, if you were to not..."
"You' re right of course." Callum said softly, looking at the floor of the carriage. "I was not thinking of anyone, rather only of the circumstance and the moment." Callum looked out the window of the carriage seeing the buildings as they slid by. "Of course I would not want you to be alone in this world, Dustin, you should know better than that."
"Then change this course of action, Quintan. We will find another way to deal with this threat and these men you seek. Change it while there is time." Dustin said, making Callum look at him.
"My duty is to my King and my country, that is why I wear the uniform." Callum said, and Dustin smiled softly.
"I know you take your duty seriously, you have done so time after time, but if I may make a small point in all of that?"
"You are not in your uniform at the present time." Dustin smiled that little boy smile of his and Callum softened quickly in his expression.
"You live for these moments, don't you?" Callum asked raising an eyebrow, Dustin leaned closer to him, feeling his warmth.
"You bring it out of me. I cannot help myself."
"Never change that. It's quite endearing." Callum smiled as the carriage slowed and kissed Dustin softly. The carriage came to a stop, and they pulled back, Dustin went to lean toward the window on his side, as the door opened.
"State your business." The sentry said as he looked in.
"I am Captain Callum of the Dover. I need to see General Emery."
"I am sorry," The sentry said, looking Callum up and down, "but you hardly look like..."
"It's quite alright, sentry, I can understand your point as I am not in uniform. Tell me, is the General in the Garrison?"
"I'm afraid not, sir. He has gone to his home as it is the Lord's day."
"I see, tell me sentry, was there a young Lieutenant here at the gate not long ago asking for the General as well?"
"There was indeed, sir."
"I informed him of what I have informed you, sir, and turned him away."
"I see." Callum said, narrowing his eyes at the sentry, as he stood at near attention. "Thank you for your time and attention to duty, sentry." Callum nodded.
"Sir!" He snapped and then closed the door.
"What now?" Dustin asked, looking at Callum.
"We must have passed Thomas on our way here somewhere. We will go back to the Heritage and wait, I suppose." Callum said softly as he looked at Dustin, then put his head out the window, "Driver, back to the Heritage Arms, if you please." Callum said and sat back.
"Enter!" The booming voice said, and the door opened.
"My Lord, Lt. Collingwood to see you." Barrington said, as he bowed at the door, Fitzwarren did not turn to even look.
"Very well, Barrington."
"My Lord!" Collingwood said, stepping into the large paneled room, Barrington closing the door behind him.
"I am very busy, Collingwood, can't this..."
"It is a matter of most urgency, My Lord."
"Well, what is it?" Fitzwarren said as he bent over the chart he was studying.
"One of our supply sloops, My Lord, the Airington, has run aground."
"Well, what of it?"
"The crew, My Lord, they are all dead." Collingwood said, Fitzwarren lifted his eyes.
"Most unfortunate. Did they drown?" Fitzwarren slowly turned to look at Collingwood.
"It would not seem so, My Lord." Collingwood looked nervous to Fitzwarren.
"Well? Where are the officers? Are they dead as well?"
"The officers were not aboard and the only boat is still in position."
"What aren't you telling me, Collingwood? How did they die?"
"They seem to have been killed, My Lord. I am told that they were...mutilated."
"The report said that they had all been cut into pieces. It is apparently quite a ghastly sight, My Lord." Collingwood said and Fitzwarren went wide eyed.
"Has this been confirmed?"
"Yes, My Lord, it has I'm afraid." Collingwood said, slightly bowing his head.
"Good God. You say that all of them?"
"It would appear so, My Lord. There is evidence that they were attacked."
"What evidence? Who attacked them?"
"There was a pennant that was found on the deck, it is French, My Lord. I am told that it belongs to the Avion."
"The Avion..." Fitzwarren said softly, looking away toward the large windows of the room, "and you say the officers were not aboard?"
"That is what is in the report, My Lord."
"What of the cargo?"
"It is still intact, My Lord. They carried grain and powder, all of which is still aboard and viable."
"The Avion..." Fitzwarren said softly, tapping his hip with his fingers over and over as he thought this over. "Where is Eddington?"
"He is on his way here, My Lord."
"Who found the Airington?"
"A group of fishermen, My Lord. Apparently the Airington is in a small cove and is on a rocky shoal. They alerted a detachment of Marines that are stationed near there, and they confirmed the finding and sent word."
"I see." Fitzwarren said softly, as there was a knock on the door. "Enter!" Fitzwarren said, seeing Barrington at the door, then Eddington. "Eddington, have you heard of this with the Airington?"
"Only as I arrived, My Lord." Eddington bowed his head slightly.
"Hmmm, Collingwood, go to the Airington, secure it and bring it here to port. Eddington, what of Captain Callum?"
"I beg to report that his injuries keep him from coming here, My Lord."
"What?" Fitzwarren asked.
"The doctor that is attending him has given express orders that the Captain is in no condition to travel, My Lord, saying that it is too dangerous in his present condition. He was quite adamant about it, I must say."
"I see." Fitzwarren said, raising an eyebrow, knowing of the doctor that Eddington was talking about. "Well then, I suppose that I will have to gain a report by going to him." Fitzwarren said softly. "Eddington, see to it, prepare my carriage. Collingwood, take as many men from the Valiant as you need to handle the Airington. Keep this as quiet as you can until we confirm what has actually occurred."
"Yes, My Lord." Collingwood replied, bowing his head. He turned and walked toward the door.
"Eddington, you will accompany me to obtain the report from Captain Callum."
"As you wish, My Lord." Eddington replied and bowed his head, turning to follow Collingwood out the door, leaving Fitzwarren alone with his thoughts.