DOVER Chapter 40
Callum woke up as he was still sitting in the chair at the foot of the bed. The dream that he had had was slightly disturbing to him, dreaming of Ezri Smythe and the attack that he had made on Callum and then injuring Dustin. In the dream, Callum had seen Smythe kill Dustin and it not only startled him, it enraged him and it seemed all so very real to him that it woke him. Callum sat up in the chair, and looked across the bed. In the low light of their room, Callum saw Dustin was indeed alive and breathing as the bedding rose and fell gently.
Callum got up from the chair and went over to the small table, he picked up the pitcher and poured a little water in the basin and set the pitcher down. He put his hands in the water and lifted his hands and ran the wet over his face, then did it again. Callum pulled the cloth off the peg that was on the side of the table and dried his face and hands then hung it up again, as he looked at Dustin in the bed.
"Quintan?" Came the voice from the bed, Callum walked over and sat down on the edge. He smiled seeing the eyes that were blinking slowly.
"So, you have finally decided to return to me, how wonderful." Callum said as he put a hand on Dustin's covered leg.
"Since after it happened, yesterday afternoon." Callum said, "Do you hurt?"
"It aches, yes." Dustin said quietly.
"The doctor said you would feel dizzy, do you?"
"I don't think it is so much as dizzy as not quite myself."
"Well, we will take it slowly today, how about that?" Callum said as he pat the leg gently. "He said that you should eat something, it would probably settle you."
"Yes, possibly." Dustin said, and slowly tried to sit up. He was a little unsteady and he was weaving a little. Callum reached out a hand to steady him. "Yes, I feel a little more than dizzy, actually. I feel as if I am rather drunk."
"That may have been what the doctor meant then." Callum said, trying to look into Dustin's eyes, "Where are you going?"
"I feel the need to go to..."
"Alright, let me help you up." Callum said as he got off the bed and pulled back the covers. He helped Dustin get out of bed by pulling gently on his left arm. Dustin put his feet on the floor and stood, he weaved a bit and Callum steadied him. "You think you can walk?"
"I think I can, yes." Dustin nodded his head slowly.
"Alright, I'll hang on to you, and let's go slowly." Callum said as they went toward the door. Callum reached it and unlocked it, then opened it. They went out into the hallway and walked down to the end where the privy was.
"Sir? Sir?" The innkeeper touched Dorland on the shoulder gently and Dorland snapped his eyes wide open. He jumped slightly not remembering where he was, and seeing the strange face in front of him. "I have coffee on the table for you, sir."
"Coffee? Oh, thank you." Dorland said, his eyes narrowed as he focused and he was feeling a bit apprehensive. He was lost in his surroundings and it slowly came back to him.
"You should get your wits about you, sir, before the Captain comes down."
"Yes, of course, you're right." Dorland said as he stood, tossing the blanket off him. The innkeeper stood as well, turned, and walked into the tavern. Dorland looked behind him as he stretched and saw his tunic hanging on a hook. He took it and slipped it on, then reached for his sword, sticking it in through the loop in his belt. He walked into the tavern and sat at the table where he saw the coffee cup and the small pot. He pulled a chair out from the table and sat down. He picked up the pot and poured some coffee, then set the pot down. His went to pick up the cup and then he saw her coming around the end of the counter. He watched her for a long minute, he couldn't move. She turned and saw him and smiled softly in his direction as she walked along the counter, their eyes meeting and moving with one another, and then she went through the wide doorway out of the tavern and into the inn, he was following her with a look as she continued on her way until she was out of his sight.
The innkeeper had seen them looking at each other and clearly remembered from last night the conversation that the young officer and Callum had had at the table after Callum had brought him inside, of he being caught in a compromising position with His Lordship's daughter. The innkeeper was not about to let that happen with his own daughter he thought to himself and walked toward the table. He stopped near the table and looked at the young officer.
"Would you care for breakfast, sir?"
"I beg your pardon, what did you ask?" Dorland asked as he snapped back to reality, hearing the innkeeper, but not paying attention.
"Would you care for breakfast?"
"No, I shall wait for the Captain and the others, thank you." Dorland said with a slight smile. "If I may ask, who was she?"
"That would be MY daughter, sir." The innkeeper said, looking a little on the stern side. Dorland swallowed hard seeing his look.
"Yes, of course." Dorland looked down at his coffee, the innkeeper raised an eyebrow and walked away.
Callum helped Dustin back into their room, leading him to the edge of the bed, sitting him down slowly. Callum straightened and looked down at the love of his life, seeing him all bandaged up and his arm in the sling. He shook his head slightly.
"I wish I had something to give you to ease your pain." Callum said softly. "Perhaps I should go to the Admiralty and get something for you at the surgery." Callum knelt in front of Dustin, taking his left hand in his.
"No, don't trouble yourself, Quintan, it only aches." Dustin smiled, "It's my head that is spinning." Dustin shook his head slightly, and then lifted his eyebrows briefly. Callum gave him a soft smile.
"Anything else that ails you?"
"Yes, I feel rather empty inside."
"Oh? As in being hungry?" Callum asked.
"Yes, I am that."
"Well, your normal then." Callum smiled wider. "You should be back to yourself very shortly. Would you like to go downstairs or would like me to bring it up to you?"
"For once, I would like to get out of bed." Dustin smiled, squeezing Callum's fingers, "But, don't hold me to that."
"I take it that you will want to go back to bed later?"
"I want to go to bed only if you are in it with me." Dustin smiled.
"Do you want anything else?" Callum asked.
"Yes." Dustin smiled as he took his hand back, reaching it up and cupping Callum's cheek. "I want to go home." Dustin said and his face showed a look, a calm, to it that Callum had never seen before, and Dustin's eyes gave him a look of pleading . Callum's heart sank seeing it, making him tighten and hurt inside.
"Alright, I shall take you home when my business is concluded here in London, hopefully today. We can take the coach and the four of us can return to Portsmouth, collect our things there and go on to Birmingham."
"Have I ever lied to you?" Callum asked softly.
"No." Dustin whispered.
"And I'm not about to start. I, too, long for home, I don't know why, I never really have before." Callum said, his voice sounded hollow to Dustin, but then Callum's face brightened, "But, I miss our dear lady that waits for our return."
"As do I." Dustin said, giving him a smile in return. "I think I'd like to go downstairs."
"Good." Callum said as he stood. "Let me help you dress. We don't want to shock the girl with you only in your underwear now do we?"
"No, that might get us tossed out into the street for certain."
"Quite right." Callum said as he went to where the bag was and opened it, pulling out a fresh shirt for Dustin. He walked back to the bed. "I think we'll take the sling off first, slowly, and then get this on, and put the sling back on." Callum worked slowly, seeing how the doctor had done it. He got the sling off and helped Dustin get the shirt on, trying not to move his arm too much and then helped him with his stockings and pantlet. He got Dustin's shoes on and had him stand. Callum tucked the shirt in for him and then put the sling back in place. He slowly walked Dustin out of the room, and guided him carefully down the stairs. Callum guided Dustin into the tavern and they saw Dorland at a table. Dorland got to his feet as they walked in. He tipped his hand toward Callum.
"Morning, Mr. Dorland." Callum said and nodded to him, as Dorland was wide eyed seeing Callum pull out a chair for Dustin and help him sit down. "Mr. Dorland, you remember Mr. Perkins."
"Yes, sir." Dorland said and nodded toward Dustin. Dustin smiled up at him.
"Morning, Mr. Dorland. How are you, sir?" Dustin tipped his free hand toward Dorland. "The Captain didn't tell me that you were here, sir."
"Yes, well, you were rather out of sorts with everything that happened to you, now weren't you?" Callum asked as he pulled out his own chair and sat down. Callum looked over at Dorland, giving him a puzzled look. "You seem a little out of sorts this morning, Lieutenant. You don't seem to have much color about you. Actually, you look as if you've seen a ghost."
"I,...uh, well, I..." Dorland started to say, as the innkeeper walked up to the table.
"Good morning, gentlemen." He said, making Callum turn his attention toward him, away from Dorland. "How are you feeling this morning, young sir?" He asked Dustin. Dustin looked up at him and gave him a soft smile.
"I'm alright, thank you." Dustin said softly.
"I just wanted to say, my wife and I wished to say thank you for what you did yesterday, sir, for our girl. It was very brave of you to try and help her the way you did."
"It was nothing, I assure you, but you're welcome." Dustin smiled up at him. He smiled back warmly down at Dustin.
"You must be hungry this morning, sir, as you missed your supper last night."
"Yes, I seem rather empty this morning." Dustin said, and gave Callum a brief look and then back up at the innkeeper.
"I shall have breakfast brought out in just a couple of minutes for you then." He said, "Coffee, this morning, sir?" He asked Callum
"Yes, please, it was a rather long night." Callum said, the innkeeper nodded and then walked away, taking the small pot with him.
"Excuse me for saying it, but I didn't know that Mr. Perkins was with you, sir." Dorland said toward Callum.
"Yes, Mr. Perkins always accompanies me." Callum said and looked at Dustin, giving him a warm smiled, and then looked back at Dorland. "He is rather like my own personal guardian. He keeps me from finding my own kind of trouble as it were." Callum looked back at Dustin and winked.
"I see." Dorland said, and then looked at Dustin, "Then it was you that actually stepped in to save the Captain."
"Well, I wouldn't put it that way, sir." Dustin said. "I was more in the way actually, yesterday. I was trying to get the girl out of the way, as the Captain was fighting off the attacker."
"Yes, the girl." Dorland said softly.
"What is it, Dorland?" Callum asked, "Did you see her?"
"Yes, sir, I saw her just before you came down."
"Ah, now I see now what has your color drained. You must think she is quite fetching, I take it."
"She is..." Dorland stopped as he saw her standing there at the table. She smiled and curtsied as she looked at Dustin.
"How are you feeling this morning, sir?" She asked in her soft voice.
"I'm alright, thank you." Dustin said, looking up at her, giving her a brief smile.
"I think the question is, how are you feeling this morning, young miss?" Callum asked. She turned and looked at Callum.
"Much better this morning, thank you, sir."
"Very good. You were able to get some rest then?" Callum asked.
"Yes, sir. My mother gave me a bit of a tonic, and I was able to sleep, sir."
"Excellent." Callum smiled.
"Would you care to have your room freshened up, sir?" She asked Dustin.
"I, uh..." Dustin looked at Callum, and then back at her.
"Yes, if you wouldn't mind?" Callum asked, "Once he gets back into bed, I think he might require another pillow or two to be propped up with. The doctor wanted him to rest for the day."
"I'll see to it right away, sir." She said and curtsied again, and then walked away from the table.
"What was that all about I wonder." Dustin said more to himself. Callum chuckled softly and Dustin looked back at him.
"I think she feels a bit grateful to her knight in shining armor." Callum said softly as the innkeeper came toward the table. He set plates down in front of the three of them. Dustin's was loaded with more food than he had ever seen on one plate, fried eggs, sausages, a ham steak, scones, potatoes. His eyes went wide seeing it, and he looked over at Callum. "It looks as if she is trying to make for that missed meal last night, hmmm." Callum said and then smiled.
"I can't possibly eat all of this." Dustin said softly.
"Give it your best effort." Callum said softly as he picked up his fork and started into what was before him. He watched Dustin try and use his fork with his left hand and he was struggling with it, trying to get coordinated, but was failing. "Do you need any help?"
"I can manage, thank you." Dustin said softly, trying to use the fork as he was cutting an egg with the edge. He was trying to figure it out and was truly struggling.
"Here, let me." Callum said, reaching for Dustin's plate. He pulled it toward him, as Dustin sat back, looking defeated. Callum cut everything up into bite sized pieces and then slid the plate back in front of Dustin. "Now, that should help." Callum said, giving a small nod. Dustin picked up the fork again.
"Thank you, sir." Dustin said and then slowly started to eat. Callum watched as it was a slow process for him, not Dustin's normal quick pace. Callum looked over at Dorland, who was again eating like a bird, cutting everything into tiny pieces and eating slowly.
"So, Mr. Dorland, did His Lordship happen to mention when your guard duty was to end?"
"No, sir, he did not, and I neglected to ask."
"Probably best that you didn't," Callum replied, "well, if I receive the word that I am awaiting, we may be off for Portsmouth tomorrow."
"And what word is that, sir, if I may ask."
"I am waiting for word from The Duke of Wellington. A matter of some importance, and as you are posted here as our guardian, you will probably be alerted to it first. I am hoping that it will be late this morning or early this afternoon at the soonest."
"I see, sir. Of course I shall inform you immediately, sir."
"Excellent." Callum said, picking up his coffee cup, nodding slightly at Dorland, and then he looked over at Dustin, "How are you faring with all of that?"
"It is a bit of a slow process, as you probably can see, sir, I seem to be a bit confused not being used to using my left hand." Dustin said, with a bit of frustration in his voice.
"Yes, I can tell. Perhaps you're thinking about it too much." Callum said, as he had finished his breakfast and sat back in his chair.
"Perhaps you're right, sir." Dustin said softly. Callum smiled for a moment and saw something in the doorway, he sat up. There was a finely dressed large man in a long red coat standing in the doorway. He walked toward the table.
"Commodore Callum?" He asked with a deep voice. Callum recognized him as a coachman.
"Yes?" Callum replied as he set his cup down. The man bowed his head slightly toward Callum.
"His Grace's compliments, sir. He requests you to accompany him to Buckingham, sir." He said with the deep voice. Callum's eyes went wide, and he stood quickly.
"His Grace, is he here?" Callum asked.
"No, sir," The coachman said, "he sent us to collect you, sir, and return for him."
"I see. I shall need a minute to get prepared."
"I understand, sir, the carriage is waiting outside at your convenience." The coachman said and then turned and walked out. Callum was still wide eyed and looked at Dustin, who was wide eyed himself.
"Well, it appears that I am to go to Buckingham." Callum said, "Will you be alright?"
"Yes, I will, but..." Dustin said.
"I know, I wasn't expecting this either." Callum said, and then looked at Dorland, "Lieutenant, may I press you to look after Mr. Perkins for me and to get him back upstairs to the room?"
"Of course, sir." Dorland said as he stood as well.
"Thank you." Callum said and hurried toward the stairs, leaving the pair to watch him disappear quickly.
Callum hurried and finished dressing, tying a necktie quickly and getting his hair straightened out. He picked up Dustin's bloodied shirt from yesterday and rubbed his boots down quickly, and then slipped on his new tunic, picking up his sword, putting it in through the loop in his belt. He picked up his hat and carried it to the door, opening it, coming out into the hall to meet Tomlin and Holt as they came out of their room.
"Are you headed off somewhere?" Tomlin asked, seeing a rather flustered looking Callum.
"Yes," Callum exhaled, "The Duke has sent a carriage for me, apparently I am to accompany him to Buckingham."
"Oh dear Lord, you're to see the King?" Tomlin was wide eyed as well as was Holt.
"It would seem so."
"Do not worry, Quintan." Holt said, steeping forward, "I have been before the King myself, with my father, he will not look at you in the eye, just remember to keep your eyes down a little, and stand tall, he appreciates that far more."
"Christian, I think that you and I need to have more of a talk about what you know when I return, if I return." Callum said with a lifted eyebrow.
"You will return, His Grace must know that it will go well or he wouldn't have sent a carriage for you. If he didn't think it would go well, there would have been a block wagon loaded with Regulars sent instead and we would all be in irons right now." Holt said with a smile.
"Yes, I suppose you're right in that." Callum said, "Well, how do I look?" Callum asked as he stood rigid.
"Very stately, sir, quite impressive, if I may say." Tomlin said, and Callum breathed out of his nose heavily. Holt smiled as well. Callum nodded once and turned and went to the stairs and went down. He walked to the door and went out of the inn, putting his hat on. He saw the carriage there, a covered carriage, actually quite large carriage and on the door was that was held open by one of the coachmen was Wellington's coat of arms. Callum took in a deep breath and stepped into it, the coachman closing the door behind him and he climbed up sitting next to other coachman and the carriage set off down the street.
The carriage pulled up in front of a rather ornate tall house in the north quarter. There was a Regular posted outside the door of the house as a sentry. Callum waited feeling a little more than nervous right now as he saw one of the coachman climb down and go up the steps of the house. Callum watched as he knocked and the door opened. He spoke to someone inside and then the door closed and he came down the steps again. He opened the carriage door and bowed his head slightly toward Callum.
"His Grace will be coming, sir, in just a moment."
"Thank you." Callum replied and sat back trying to relax. Callum heard the door open and leaned forward a little as Wellington was standing in the doorway looking back into the house, he was obviously speaking to someone. Wellington turned and came down the steps, he stepped into the carriage and sat next to Callum as the door closed behind him.
"Your Grace." Callum said, bowing his head slightly, as the carriage set off.
"I heard of the incident yesterday at your lodgings. You seem to be fit this morning."
"Yes, Your Grace, I was fortunate and had a timely rescue by a squad of Marines." Callum said.
"Yes, so I heard."
"I wonder, Your Grace, how is it that you have heard so quickly?"
"I have an eye on you, Callum." Wellington said without looking at him, "Fitzwarren seems to hold you in the highest regard, and I share his opinion, it is not often when I come across one such as you. Your insights intrigue me greatly, sir."
"I am overwhelmed, Your Grace." Callum said softly.
"Yes, I thought you might be, and that is why I had another thought and sent the carriage for you this morning. I sent word to His Majesty yesterday regarding you, prior to your incident, I might add, asking him to consider our request in this matter of your young officer. I know that the Earl has had meetings with His Majesty before and I also believe I know of His Majesty's opinion of the Earl as well, and it is close to what mine is, which is not favorable, but that is between us," Wellington said, raising a finger slightly in the air. Callum just sat and listened, not saying a word, "Now, when we reach Buckingham and are presented before the King, do as I do, and do not look him in the eye, he feels it as a challenge to his position."
"I understand, Your Grace." Callum said softly.
"Good, His Majesty will speak rather loudly at first, and then he will slowly quiet himself in his tone. Do not think poorly of this, it is only his way. There will also be other matters that he may wish to discuss, as his Ministers will not divulge too much to him, speak honestly when you are asked questions and keep your answers brief and to the point. I will give you a sign when it is time that you are to speak."
"Yes, Your Grace." Callum said.
"Now, we should be there shortly." Wellington said as he looked out the window of the door.
Callum looked out his window a few minutes later and as the carriage drew into the gate of Buckingham, passing sentries of Royal Guardsmen. The carriage slowed as it made a sweeping turn and a footman stepped forward and opened the door on Wellington's side, the footman bowed as he held the door. Wellington stepped out and began to walk toward a wide tall set of doors, Callum was right behind him by a couple of paces. The door was opened and Wellington kept going, Callum following him. They walked along a long wide corridor that had incredibly tall ceilings. Callum was looking around with only his eyes, when he saw Wellington stop in front of two men. Wellington waited for a moment and one of the men opened the door. Callum heard him announce them and Wellington stepped forward into the large room, his hat under his arm. Callum followed the example that was given, tucking his hat as well.
The room was finely furnished with colorful printed floral fabrics, and Callum had never before seen carpet that covered the entire room. There was a large marble mantled fireplace behind a large table at the far end of the room, and above it on the tall wall was a portrait of His Majesty in long flowing robes as he stood poised, left hand on his hip, before a regal looking chair, not a throne, long flowing red draperies were behind the figure in the portrait to the left side making the figure look even more regal in appearance. Callum held his breath as he became even more nervous now with all of the grandeur of this large room. Next to the large table was, walking slowly along its edge, His Majesty, in a long flowing coat that touched the floor, He wore pantlets and a white shirt that was covered with a vest that shimmered in the light of the room, obviously being made of silk. The light came from above the center of it all, a great chandelier that held countless candles that flickered amongst the shining crystals, sending out dazzling sparkles of brilliance as if they were moving, shining like the stars in the night sky.
"Wellesley, you present yourself very early on this day!" The loud voice said, echoing throughout the great room.
"Indeed, Majesty." Wellington said as he bowed deeply, Callum had stopped and followed Wellington's lead as he had been instructed.
"And you bring with you, the one you told me of in your letter?!"
"Indeed Majesty," Wellington said, still in his deep formal bow, and then slowly stood, "it is with great pleasure I present, His Majesty, Commodore Quintan Callum." Wellington said and turned slightly, as Callum was still in his formal bow.
"With great pleasure?! You must hold great respect from Wellesley, young sir, if he speaks of you in such a manner! Step forward!" His Majesty said. Callum swallowed hard and straightened himself, tucking his hat with one arm, he stepped forward, coming to stand next to Wellington.
"So, as I understand it, Wellesley has said that you took a regent of the Crown out of his home to safeguard his life, and then did it yet again!" Callum did not make eye contact, but bowed his head slightly, seeing the stance that His Majesty was in, the same as the portrait up behind him. "He feels that this should be rewarded with a pardon! What have you to say about this?"
"Majesty, I did what I felt was necessary in order to save my officers life." Callum said, bowing his head slightly.
"His life?! You felt his life was threatened?! What makes you certain?"
"It was proven that he was being poisoned in his own home, Majesty." Callum said, still slightly bowing his head.
"Wellesley, is this true?!"
"Yes, Majesty, as unfortunate as it may be, it was proven by several surgeons at the Admiralty. Commodore Callum acted in the best interest to save the young regents life."
"Who was poisoning him?!" The loud voice echoed once again.
"Majesty, we are still trying to find out." Wellington said.
"Do not hold information back from me, Wellesley, you must know who was doing it if it was going on in his home."
"As you say, Majesty, however, I find it difficult to place blame on anyone until all the facts are revealed."
"I dare say that the Earl of Cambridge had his hand in this! You know what my opinion of that man is!"
"Yes, Majesty, I do."
"And I know that you share it with me as well!" The voice was louder and echoed even more, making Callum wince slightly.
"I see that His Majesty knows me all too well." Wellington said, giving a slight bow of his head.
"Murder is a simpler term! And you know that as well!" The loud voice echoed as he pointed a finger at Wellington as well. "The man is a menace!"
"As you say, Majesty." Wellington said.
"You have the document for my signature?!" The voice echoed again as His Majesty started to walk around the large table. Wellington reached into his lapel of his tunic and pulled out a paper and walked toward the table. He opened it and lay it down on the surface, turning it and sliding it toward the King. It was snatched up and he read it quickly, and then looked up at Wellington for a moment. "It seems a little broad in its wording, wouldn't you say?"
"Majesty, it is worded in a way that there can be no question by the House of Lords, or the Lord High Chancellor."
"I see, the Chancellor does like to linger over detail, doesn't he?"
"He has a reputation for that, Majesty, yes." Wellington said as he watched the quill being pulled from the crystal inkwell and the document was signed. The quill was placed back in the well and a blotter was used to take up the excess ink. His Majesty handed the document back to Wellington. He took it and folded it, putting it back in his lapel inside pocket. "My deepest thanks to Your Majesty." Wellington said as he bowed his head slightly.
"You there, Callum, come forward!" The voiced echoed and Callum swallowed hard. He walked toward the large table. "I have been told that you were responsible for denying our enemy a valuable piece of ground."
"I was fortunate in being able to assist in that, Majesty."
"Are you always so modest in speaking about your duties?"
"Speak up, man!"
"Majesty, Commodore Callum is not used to speaking of his accomplishments, he is modest by nature, but bold in his actions, for both his King and his country."
"As you say, Wellesley! I for one would like to hear of your exploits, young sir. Perhaps there will be a time when this is all over that you can entertain me with hearing it."
"I would look forward to that, Majesty." Callum said.
"I am certain that Wellesley has other matters that he needs to attend to this day."
"You have been most kind to give us so much of your time, Majesty." Wellington said, bowing his head slightly. He started to walk away from the table, backing up as he went, Callum saw it and did the very same. They backed a few steps away and then they both formally bowed, with their hats. Wellington started to rise as did Callum and they walked toward the doors of the great room.
Outside as Wellington stepped into the carriage, he looked back at Callum, "You did very well, I was most impressed."
"Thank you, Your Grace, I was merely following your thorough instructions." Callum said. Wellington smiled briefly at him. Callum climbed into the carriage after him and sat down as the carriage set off. Callum didn't know where they were going. He looked out the window now and then realized that they were coming into Westminster. The carriage slowed and pulled up to the Parliament Building and stopped. The coachman got down and opened the door, standing aside as Wellington got out, Callum following him. They walked to the main entrance as Regulars flanked the doors and snapped to attention as they came close, opening the doors for them.
"I beg your pardon, Your Grace, but why exactly are we here?" Callum asked.
"It is your pardon that now must be sealed and given over to the House of Lords and the Lord High Chancellor, so there are no further issues that may result." Wellington said softly as they walked along.
"I see." Callum said, "I seem to be causing a considerable amount of effort, Your Grace." Callum said, and Wellington stopped and looked at him.
"You are, Callum, but as you have gained my respect, I feel that this is necessary, and I think I told you that it comes also with a price."
"Yes, Your Grace, you did mention that."
"There will come a time, Callum, and it may be soon, when I will send you word, and will require you to repay what I am doing for you now."
"And I will be at your disposal, Your Grace, when the need arises."
"I know that I can put great trust in that." Wellington said and they continued on their way. They walked until they came to a row of offices and were met by guardsmen, they stopped them and asked who they were to see, Wellington informed the guard and they were led to the correct chambers and were admitted finally.
"My Lord," The secretary said as he bowed slightly at the door, making the older white haired man turn round, "His Grace to see you."
"Send him in," He said waving a hand in the air and turned back round looking at the book that was opened and resting on a table, "I have but a few minutes time."
"I thank you for seeing us, My Lord Earl." Wellington said, the older man turning back round, seeing he and Callum walking into the chamber, "I know that your time is very valuable."
"Wellesley, isn't it?"
"Yes, My Lord, and this is Commodore Quintan Callum, of His Majesty's Navy." Wellington reached inside his tunic and pulled out the document. "I have need to present this pardon, signed by His Majesty, for your certification, My Lord." Wellington said handing him the document. Lord Eldon opened it and read the document and then looked up at both of them.
"I see the signature, but perhaps you can extend to me the courtesy of explaining why such a document exists in the first place. Are you a fugitive from justice, Commodore?"
"Hardly that, My Lord." Callum said bowing his head slightly, "It was thought that such a document be drafted merely as a precaution to stop any further actions that might be started."
"And pray tell me, who would start these actions?" Lord Eldon sat down in a chair, and then reread the document. "You wish to halt any action by the Earl of Cambridge? This involves his son, does it not?"
"It does, My Lord."
"You do know that I know the Earl of Cambridge?"
"Yes, My Lord, as he has a seat in the House, I am most certain that you do know him." Callum said.
"This document is rather sweeping in its wording, what is it that sparked such a document to be drafted?"
"The son of the Earl, was at risk, My Lord. He had to be taken from his home, suddenly, in order to guarantee his safety."
"His life was at risk? And have charges been levied against his assailant?"
"No charges have been brought, My Lord, as there is no real proof as of yet." Callum said.
"Then, if there is no proof, then how was he in jeopardy?"
"We have several surgeons, My Lord, all currently posted at the Admiralty, that will certify that this young man was being poisoned, intentionally in his home." Wellington said, "The Commodore acted, as any decent commander would, to save his life, but given the temperament of the Earl, we felt that this document required drafting."
"I see your point in this matter. Very well, I will certify it and have it recorded." Lord Eldon said. He turned and pulled a quill from an inkwell on the table. He placed the document on the surface and wrote on the document. "I am writing an addition to this as well." He said as he dipped the quill in the well again, and then went back to writing, "I am not only certifying it, but I am sanctioning your actions that were taken in this matter."
"With many thanks, My Lord." Wellington said.
"Do not thank me as of yet." He said as placed the quill back in the well. He picked up his blotter and rolled over the words he had written, setting the ink into the document, and then turned in his chair. "Commodore, the actions that you took, I understand it and I agree with those actions, if your surgeons can indeed prove it was poison and not taken by his own hand, then you may have a larger problem on your hands. You see, as I know the Earl of Cambridge and his volatile temperament, he might press you for a different kind of action."
"I understand, My Lord, and I have no doubt that he will become angered when he returns home. I am bracing myself for that fact, actually." Callum said.
"Then understand also, that we cannot act on your behalf to stop him, unless there is intent of murder that can be proved."
"I understand, My Lord."
"I wish that there was another way. And if I may also ask, what is your involvement in all of this Wellesley?" Lord Eldon asked.
"The Commodore was very instrumental in saving not only myself, but approximately fifty thousand troops, I am repaying a debt to that fact on behalf of His Majesty."
"I see, then this becomes an even deeper matter, and not just one of state, a matter of honor. Commodore, I do not envy you, sir, and this burden that you now bear. I can only warn you, this cloud will grow and loom over you growing darker as the days go on. If it becomes a matter of personal safety to yourself, you may seek refuge here within these walls, as a matter of English Law, where within these walls there can be no arrest sanctioned, only protection."
"I understand your meaning, My Lord." Callum said, bowing his head slightly.
"Remember that. And watch carefully in your surroundings."
"I will, My Lord." Callum said, "And again, my deepest thanks."
"Good day to you, gentlemen." Lord Eldon said, nodding toward them. The two of them turned and walked to the doors, going out. They walked along in silence until they left the great building and came close to the carriage. Wellington turned and looked at Callum.
"It is a while until I am to meet with Lord Hood and Lord Fitzwarren, will you take tea with me at my residence?" Wellington asked.
"I would be most honored, Your Grace." Callum replied as they climbed into the carriage. The coachman closed the door and the carriage set off.
Dustin was lying on the bed, propped up with more pillows that the girl had brought in at Callum's request. Dorland was there, sitting in a chair near the foot of the bed, listening to Dustin and Tomlin as they recounted more than a few of Callum's exploits at Dorland and Holt's request.
Dustin had just finished talking about the end of the last engagement before Dorland had joined the ship, being assigned by Fitzwarren before the squadron had sailed from La Rochelle. Dorland was in complete awe of everything that had been said by both Dustin and Tomlin. Holt was sitting on the foot of the bed, as Tomlin was across from him, sitting on the foot of the bed as well near Dorland.
"I was simply amazed with how well the Captain can handle a sword." Holt said softly, "I have never seen anything move as fast as he moved it yesterday in the street. I tried more than once to get close to help try and take that man, but I couldn't get close enough."
"Yes, he is unlike anyone I have ever seen with a sword." Tomlin said, "One of the crew, Lofton, he was the ship since it was first built actually, he told me once that he saw the Captain and Mr. Dunhill were practicing one day on the Main Deck, the Captain was only a midshipman then, Lofton said that he moved so quickly with his blade that it became like a blur and Mr. Dunhill could only stand there and hope he could survive the practice without any injury."
"What happened to Lofton?" Dustin asked, "I've heard other members of the crew speak of him, but no one will say what actually happened to him."
"Captain Powers had a boat launched with Callum, who was a third Lieutenant then, along with Captain Anders, who was also a Lieutenant then as well to row ashore outside of Cadiz. I was only a midshipman, that's when I first came aboard, my first mission, the boat was sent ashore to try and find out what the Spanish were doing with supplies that were being sent overland. I was told by the three men that survived that the boat was attacked by Spanish soldiers on the beach after they landed as they were waiting for the officers to return. It was near nightfall when they were apparently attacked, and as I said all of the boat crew were killed, but the three. Lofton was one of them that was killed. They rowed the boat back to Dover and were picked up. Captain Powers had no choice but assume that the officers were dead as well and went on to join the rest of the squadron."
"I didn't know that." Dustin said softly.
"Yes, it was said that Lofton defended the boat and the boat crew until the Spanish cut him down using only swords and bayonets, not shooting him as they did the others." Tomlin said softly.
"He was a hero." Dustin said, "That's why they won't speak of him."
"Why is that?" Dorland asked looking at Dustin.
"It's a belief that if you are a common sailor and you die a hero's death, that the sea will return you as a part of itself to protect other sailors in peril." Dustin said softly, as he looked down at the bed.
"It's an ancient legend from the Greeks." Tomlin said softly, "For the time of Odysseus."
"I wasn't aware of that." Dorland said.
"Neither was I." Holt said softly.
"Well, you look like you could use something, Dustin." Tomlin said, patting his lower leg gently, "Do you have any pain?"
"It still aches somewhat."
"I imagine it does. Would you care for some tea, perhaps?" Tomlin asked.
"Thank you, I think that might help. With all of this talk, I seem to be a bit parched." Dustin smiled.
"Well then, I think I'll go down and see about some tea for us." Tomlin said as he got off the bed. "Mr. Dorland, would you care for any?"
"Thank you, sir that might be nice." Dorland smiled as well. As Tomlin went to the door, Holt got up off the bed and went to join him.
"We will leave you two for only a few minutes." Tomlin said as they walked out, closing the door behind them.
"Can I make you a bit more comfortable with anything else, Mr. Perkins?" Dorland asked.
"No, thank you, sir, I don't think there is any other way to make me more comfortable with this hole in my shoulder."
"I've never been injured in any kind of way before, I wouldn't know how bad it actually feels."
"Think of it as a throbbing toothache, that's what I'm trying to put in my mind, sir." Dustin smiled as he shifted a little on the bed.
"About what time do you think it is?" Dorland asked.
"It must be early afternoon by now, I would think." Dustin said as he looked toward the window, "But without seeing where the sun is, I couldn't really tell you. Do you have something that you needed to do, sir?"
"No, actually. His Lordship has posted me here until there is no danger or I am recalled back to the Admiralty."
"I'm sorry, sir, that you have been burdened with sitting around and watching over us." Dustin said as he settled on the bed finally.
"I have actually enjoyed listening to you and Mr. Tomlin speak of the Captain. He is actually quite a man."
"Why do you think him as such?"
"Actually, I have never known anyone quite like him. My own father is a shopkeeper, a cobbler by trade. It was only as a return of a favor that I was able to enter the service under Captain Evers. Do you know of him?" Dorland asked. Dustin shook his head in reply. "Captain Evers was a hard man, a very hard man to please, as anyone aboard the Corsair would have told you."
"Pardon me, but isn't the Corsair under Captain Arland?"
"Yes, it is now. Captain Arland was Captain Evers 1st. The Captain became ill as I was just coming onboard as a midshipman, he took a turn for the worse and it became pneumonia and he died shortly after I was given privilege, but before we sailed. Lord Fitzwarren gave the Corsair over to Captain Arland, and I was allowed to continue until I reached my first ranking, then His Lordship needed assistance at the Admiralty and as I was supply officer of the Corsair, and had an exemplary record with bookkeeping, His Lordship had me reassigned to him on his staff."
"That sounds as if you had a wonderful opportunity given to you, sir." Dustin said.
"I hated it." Dorland said as he sat forward in the chair, his hands rubbing together, resting his arms on his knees. "I lost all chance to go to sea and learn how to sail a vessel and put all my hard work to use."
"I had no idea."
"I don't blame His Lordship, I actually thank him for it. I was able to meet Miranda."
"Miranda, that must be His Lordship's daughter?" Dustin asked.
"Yes, I had been working at the home of His Lordship, actually several times, and his daughter would find cause to come in where we were working, and well, one thing leads to another as they say."
"And then something happened, sir?" Dustin asked. Dorland looked at him and nodded his head.
"Yes, something indeed, she came to me, yesterday, as I was in His Lordship's study gathering papers that His Lordship needed at the Admiralty. I thought he had left already, and when she came in, we started talking, and then, well, I stood up putting the papers in a satchel and she kissed me." Dorland said, and Dustin's eyes went wide, "Now, I had my hands full of papers and the satchel as well, as she held me with both hands, holding my cheeks, when His Lordship came into the room."
"Oh, my Lord." Dustin said, with a surprised tone, but he really wanted to laugh out loud.
"You can imagine what ensued next." Dorland said, "The most difficult part of the whole thing was having to walk by him to get out of the room, and then there was the carriage ride to the Admiralty itself, about a twenty minute drive. I wasn't sure if I was going to survive it or not."
"Obviously you did, sir, but I'm certain he could see what had actually happened, I mean if your hands were full and she was clasping you."
"If you were a father of a pretty girl, wouldn't you think that it was something else?"
"Well, never having been in that position, I suppose you're right, sir." Dustin said, wincing a little from feeling his apparent pain, but at the same time, he wanted to laugh about it all so bad.
"I have been living with a certain amount of dread since yesterday. I have seen His Lordship angry before, but I have never seen him like this, positively livid." Dorland said softly, "And then last evening, the Captain made quite a jest about it. That was also very unsettling."
"Oh, that's just his way, sir, don't give it another thought. He makes light of certain things to try and ease tensions that's all." Dustin smiled softly.
"I hope so. I didn't sleep hardly at all last night." Dorland said and the door opened. Tomlin was carrying a tray as Holt opened and closed the door for them.
"Tea time, gentlemen, with the lady of the houses compliments."
"What is it that I smell?" Dustin asked.
"Apparently the lady of the house made more of what we had for dessert last night." Tomlin said, looking at Dustin, "Wait until you taste this, it will simply drive you out of your mind." Dustin sat forward a little as Tomlin set the tray on the foot of the bed. He pulled off the cloth that covered the tray and Dustin saw the turnovers and the smell went through the entire room. "And she said that she was preparing another special supper this evening for us."
"You would think that we are the only residents in all of London." Holt said.
"Well I know that there is no one else staying here at the inn." Dustin said.
"Actually two men just took a room while we were downstairs. They seemed a rough sort of type, they are right across the hall from you here." Holt said, and Dustin looked at all three of them.
"Don't you find that odd?" Dustin asked.
"Why would it be odd?" Tomlin asked as he poured tea.
"Two men, rough types, taking a room and this is the middle of the week, is it not?" Dustin asked.
"Yes," Tomlin said, as he stood straight, "I still don't see why it seems odd to you."
"Think about it, did they strike you as being possibly dangerous?"
"Perhaps filled with drink, I think they might be brawlers if provoked." Tomlin said.
"Perhaps like, Maupin and his companion, you recall they seemed to be the rough type as well." Dustin said, as Holt and Dorland were looking back and forth at the two of them.
"I see what you're getting at. I think I'll go and have a quick chat with the landlord." Tomlin said, turning for the door.
"We'll go with you." Holt said as Dorland got to his feet as well. Tomlin stopped, looking back at them.
"No, stay here for now, it would probably be best to get information with just one of us, rather than most of us. Finish pouring the tea, I'll be back in a minute." Tomlin said.
"Thomas." Holt said, stopping Tomlin.
"Christian, stay here. There can be no harm in asking a couple of questions, there won't be any trouble. I'll be back in a minute."
Tomlin went downstairs into the tavern and saw the innkeeper behind the counter. He looked up as Tomlin walked in.
"Everything alright, sir?"
"Everything is fine, thank you. I wanted to ask you, those two men that secured a room, do you know them?" Tomlin asked.
"No, sir, I have never seen them before."
"Where are they?"
"They said they would be back later, they had some business to attend to. Do you think something is not right with them?" The innkeeper asked.
"I'm not certain, and I'm certainly not trying to cause alarm. Did they happen to mention where they were going?"
"No, they didn't. I told them that supper would be ready if they wished in another couple of hours, until around nine this evening, and after that I couldn't provide anything for them. They only nodded and left."
"Did they pay you for the room already?" Tomlin asked.
"Yes, sir. Two shillings." The innkeeper looked worried, "You think something isn't right with them, sir? I'll have them clear out if you think there will be trouble."
"I hope there will not be any trouble. They just struck me as curious that's all. Perhaps they will be as gentle as lambs." Tomlin said.
"I hope so, sir, especially after yesterday."
"And I agree with you, with all my heart." Tomlin smiled and then pat the top of the counter, "Thank you." Tomlin said and walked back to the stairs. He went back up and walked around the rail and went to Dustin's door and opened it, coming in and closing it behind him. "Well, the landlord doesn't know anything about them at all, they paid for the room already and said that they had business to take care of and left."
"I wonder." Dustin said softly as he held a cup in his free hand.
"I wish Quintan, I mean the Captain would get back." Tomlin said, giving Dorland a side glance as he slipped up a bit. Dorland looked at Tomlin with a little bit of a wide eyed look.
"You called the Captain by his first name, are you that close to him?"
"A slip of the tongue, I assure you, Mr. Dorland, it won't happen again." Tomlin said.
"I have noticed that all of you seem to be somewhat close with one another." Dorland said.
"Well, that comes with sharing what we have all been through together. It draws one closer to ones shipmates, I suppose." Tomlin said, as Dorland set his cup down, and stood.
"Henry." Dorland said as he held out his hand to Tomlin. Tomlin looked down at it and took it slowly.
"Thomas." Tomlin said giving it a firm squeeze. Dorland took it back and held it out to Holt.
"Christian." Holt said, taking it firmly.
"Henry." Dorland nodded once and took his hand back holding it out to Dustin. Dustin set his cup down and gave him his free hand.
"Dustin. But, only when we are in private." Dustin said with a nod.
"Agreed." Dorland said, "Henry, my mother calls me Hank, but I cannot abide that." They all laughed together.
"What's wrong with Hank?" Dustin asked.
"It refers to the heel of a boot." Dorland said, making them all laugh again. "My father is a cobbler, remember?" They all fell into deep laughter over the joke, even Dorland.
"You fit well, Henry." Tomlin said, putting a hand on his shoulder, "Quintan would surely say, welcome to the family of the Dover." And they all laughed again.
Dustin felt warmed by what he was now involved in, these three men, absent being the love of his life, the leader of this little band. Officers, all of them, and Dustin realized that that was what set him apart from them, he was not an officer, not considered possibly even as a gentleman as well in his social standing, only an able bodied seaman, a common place man in every respect and all of a sudden it saddened him, though he tried not to show it, to his comrades, his friends one and all now. He watched as they all laughed with each other over the silly joke that Dorland had made, and Dustin settled back down on the bed, picking up his tea again, as he smiled at them and took another sip.
Callum followed Wellington out to the carriage in front of Wellington's residence. Callum had had an excellent tea served him, and it was actually quite elegant and he was very much impressed by it all. Wellington was the perfect host, in all things Callum thought, and then he also thought, thankfully his life was not like this, this air of aristocracy and prim and proper etiquette that needed to maintained constantly. To Callum, it was almost exhausting, he much preferred his simple life and what was required of him for only his duty. All that he knew was that and to be only himself, with his peers, his friends, and the love that he held so dear. Callum climbed into the carriage and the door closed behind him. They drove in relative silence to the Admiralty, and as they drew near, Callum looked out his window, as they came round the corner. The street seemed a little busy to him, as there was hardly ever any foot traffic on it, but there was a group of men that were scattered about walking along. The carriage slowed, Callum's door was on the side of the street of the Admiralty, and as the carriage came to a halt, Callum got up off his seat, and without thinking about the coachman, he opened the door to step out and then he saw the glint of steel as it arced toward him.
Callum fell back on the floor of the coach as the man with the dagger came in. Callum quickly bent his legs and pushed him back out with his boots, making the assassin grunt as he did so. Callum was up and out of the coach, slamming the door behind him and yelling up at the coachmen.
"Get him to safety!" He drew his sword. The Sentries at the doors of the Admiralty brought their muskets up and started coming forward. Callum saw the man start to get up off the wide sidewalk, as Callum saw out of the corner of his eye another man coming from his left, another dagger being pulled. Callum took two quick steps forward kicking the first man in the face, knocking him back down on the walk, while he turned and ran the second man through. Callum pulled out his sword from the falling man's chest, hearing the clatter of hooves on the cobbles of the street, Callum looked up and saw a carriage coming, and saw the crest on the door, he knew instantly it was Lord Hood, the First Sea Lord, the most important man in the Admiralty. The Marine Sentries reached him but there was the sound of a shot and Callum wheeled as another man held up a pistol, one of the Sentries grunted as he fell dead. Callum looked at the other.
"Go for help!"
"I can't leave you, sir." The Sentry said as he held his musket high.
"Go get help! Now!" Callum barked and spun as the Sentry ran for the doors. Callum was charging down the street toward the approaching carriage, the driver could see what was happening, and looked directly at Callum as three men started to converge on the carriage. "Drive! Drive away!" Callum yelled, "Get him away from here!" Callum yelled again as he crashed into one of the three men, knocking them both to the ground. Callum got up as the driver reined the horses making them gallop away, the man that was behind Callum that had shot the Marine, turned as the coach was driving away and fired again, the driver slumped over on his seat.
"Did you hear that?" Holt asked as the group had all settled down. Holt stood as he had heard something but wasn't exactly sure what it was.
"What is it, Christian?" Tomlin asked, watching as Holt was going toward the window that was open. Holt reached it and slowly opened it, listening again, as Tomlin was getting up off the bed. Holt heard it again. He turned and looked at Tomlin.
"Did you hear that?" Holt asked, Tomlin nodded in reply, "That's musket fire. It sounds to be on the next street over." Holt said with wide eyes.
"The Admiralty is there." Dorland said getting up from the chair. Tomlin jumped for the door, going toward their room, crashing through the door, grabbing his sword. He came back out carrying it still in its scabbard, yelling as everyone poured out of the room.
"Dustin, you stay here!" Tomlin said as he ran by Dustin, following Holt and Dorland as they all flew down the stairs. Dustin followed them but slowly. He came down to the bottom of the stairs as the innkeeper and the girl were standing out on the sidewalk. The innkeeper looked back and saw Dustin walking toward him.
"What is it, sir, what's happened?" He asked. Dustin stepped out on the sidewalk seeing his three friends running around the corner at the end of the block out of sight.
"There is musket fire on the next street over." Dustin said softly. "We think it's coming from the Admiralty."
"Oh dear God." The innkeeper said, and looked at his daughter, shooing her back inside. "Go and bolt the alley door, quickly girl, hurry." The innkeeper stood behind Dustin. "What shall we do, sir?"
"Do you have a pistol?" Dustin asked as he still looked down the street.
"Yes, they are in the store room, sir. Two of them."
"If you have shot and powder, bring them to the counter, if something goes wrong, we can make a stand there." Dustin said calmly. The innkeeper ran back inside to get them. "Quintan." Dustin whispered as he looked down the street.
Callum was knocked in the face by one man, spinning him away as he had just gotten to his feet, he still had his sword in his hand, but the two others were on him as well, one was now holding his right arm, trying to keep it down, so Callum couldn't use his sword. Another man pulled out his own dagger and went to strike downward, but Callum kicked at him, catching him in the upper thigh, making him fall back, the second came quickly and Callum swung his left fist, catching him, stunning the man making him stagger back, Callum used his body weight and threw himself into the man that was holding onto him, making him stagger backward, Callum hit him hard in the face twice as the man tripped backwards and fell on his butt. Callum spun backward, raising his sword arm, catching the second man across the top of his eye with the pommel of Callum's sword, as he came at Callum again, stunning him yet again. Callum swung quickly back the other way, stabbing the second that was still standing through the leg, making him scream and fall.
The blade was pulled back as Callum looked at what was coming, the man with the pistol was reloaded, cocking the hammer back and started to lower the barrel at Callum as a shot went off, Callum looked left as Marines were pouring off the steps coming toward him now. The man on the sidewalk got up and started to run seeing everyone coming. Callum took off after him, running down the street chasing him. The man looked over his shoulder once, seeing Callum right behind him, and Marines coming as well, he looked forward and then grunted as Callum tackled him on the sidewalk, the pair rolling as they hit the hard pavement. Callum got to his feet as the Marines were almost there, there was a flash of steel as the dagger was pulled out.
They looked at each other for a long moment and then he lunged at Callum, Callum sidestepped right and grabbed the wrist that held the dagger with his left hand, Callum twisted his own wrist and the man grunted sharply as Callum balled up his right fist and began to pound him in the face, over and over, as blood erupted and the man crumpled to the pavement under them. Callum held on to the wrist and twisted again and fingers opened, the dagger clattered to the sidewalk. Callum let him go and looked at the Marines as muskets were leveled and pointed at the crumpled bleeding figure. The Marines were looking at Callum as his chest was heaving. Callum let him go, and stepped over him, walking back toward the Admiralty, he bent down and picked up his sword and put it in its scabbard. Callum looked right as he saw Tomlin, Holt, and Dorland coming toward him, out of breath.
"Gentlemen, how good of you to join me, but you seemed to have missed all the excitement." Callum said as his breathing was coming back to him now. "Where is Dustin?" Callum asked Tomlin.
"I told him to stay at the inn." Tomlin said trying to catch his breath.
"You seem to be slightly out of shape, Thomas." Callum gave him a smile out of the corner of his mouth. Callum turned and looked back up the street as the man that Callum stabbed in the leg was being picked up by Marines. Callum walked quickly toward them. "Sentries, let that man go!" Callum said loudly as he got closer, the Marines looked at him confused. "I said, let him go!" Callum said and they did and the man bent forward holding his leg and looked at Callum. Callum walked up fast as the Marines parted out of his way, Callum reached up a boot and pushed him hard, making him go backward and hit the hard pavement. Callum stepped up over him, looking down at him.
"Who sent you?!" Callum asked loudly. The man just glared back. Callum lifted his boot and stood on the stab wound with his heel, "I asked you a question." Callum growled, "Who sent you?!" He leaned forward and yelled, the man was screaming almost as loud. "I'll give you one last chance to answer, before I draw my sword and cripple your other leg." Callum growled, putting his hand on his sword pommel, the man could see it as he kept screaming. Holt went to step forward, but Tomlin put up an arm, stopping him. "Who...sent...you?!" Callum yelled.
"Maupin!" He yelled up, and then screamed again, "Maupin!" He began to shriek and cry, tears rolling out of his eyes. Callum took his boot away. Callum turned and looked at the Marine Lieutenant that was standing there looking at Callum with wide eyes.
"Send some of your men down the street, I believe Lord Hood's driver was shot, and His Lordship may still be in danger. Another one got away and ran off in the other direction."
"Yes, sir!" The Marine snapped. He barked out orders and the two men were drug off toward the backside of the Admiralty, as four other Marines ran off down the street to chase after the carriage. Callum looked back at his group and started to walk toward them, a true look of determination had gripped Callum face as he walked by them all, Callum went up the steps and stopped seeing Fitzwarren, who was shaking his head.
"Callum, twice in as many days." Fitzwarren said, making Callum stop.
"Yes, My Lord, couldn't be helped." Callum said, looking back at the bodies of the men on the street as the Marines were starting to collect them as well.
"Callum, are you alright?" Fitzwarren asked, and Callum spun on him.
"No, I'm not alright!" Callum said loudly as he spun back, "I need to get out of this damned city, and away from all this treachery that hides and festers in its filthy streets." Callum said, Fitzwarren saw the anger flashing in his eyes.
"Calm yourself, my lad." Fitzwarren said, putting a hand on his hip. "Come inside, we can have a talk."
"I don't have time for talk, My Lord, or niceties, The Duke was attacked as we pulled up in front of the Admiralty, Lord Hood's driver is shot, and pray God that he is not injured as his carriage sped off out of control."
"Calm yourself, Callum, all will be well I assure you."
"How can you stand there and say that? The Duke? Lord Hood? What..."
"Have a care, sir! You are standing on shaky ground."
"I am in need of a horse, I need to find out about The Duke." Callum spun on his heels, "Thomas, Christian, go around back, get me a horse saddled, quickly!" The two ran toward the corner of the building to go around back, leaving Dorland to stand alone on the street, he walked up toward the steps and came slowly toward Callum. Callum started to walk away as Dorland drew near to Callum.
"What are you doing here?" Fitzwarren asked Dorland, who swallowed hard. Callum stopped and looked back.
"Lieutenant Dorland, I will thank you to return to your duty and watch over the inn. See to the safety of all that are there." Callum said, and Dorland tipped his hand in answer. Dorland looked at Fitzwarren once and then turned and walked down the steps, as the Marines were dragging the bodies away. Fitzwarren turned and walked back inside.
Callum went to the rear of the building where he knew there were stables. Tomlin and Holt had three horses almost saddled and reined as Callum walked in. Holt finished the last horse as Tomlin was leading two out.
"What is this?" Callum asked as he walked up.
"You may need assistance." Tomlin said, handing a set of reins to Callum and then walked to the side of his horse and stepped into the stirrup, he pulled himself up and swung up and over the saddle. Callum let out a deep breath through his nose and stepped up in the stirrup and swung up into his saddle. They kicked the horses and trotted out of the stables, Holt was right behind on his own horse, Callum looked over his shoulder once.
"We will see about Lord Hood first, and then we will go after The Duke." Callum said as they clattered out on the street and headed off after the runaway carriage. They trotted down the street, people seeing them could see Callum's uniform and pointed them in the right direction. They continued on and quickly came upon the four Marines. People were still pointing the way for them to go, and the three on horseback clattered off after the carriage, leaving the Marines still running. Callum had a sinking feeling in his stomach about it as they continued on. They finally saw the carriage and it was stopped, blocked in the street by a couple of carts and more horses with people standing about as Callum rode quickly up, reining his mount back, sliding a bit on the cobbles of the street. Callum swung off the horse, handing the reins to a boy that was standing there, and walked quickly up to the carriage. He opened the door and saw Lord Hood sitting in the seat, holding his knee.
"My Lord, are you injured?"
"Yes, I wrenched my knee trying to get out." He said through gritted teeth.
"Stay easy. My Lord, we will get you back to the Admiralty and into the surgery." Callum said, and looked at his pair that were coming toward him, "Christian, take the carriage, drive His Lordship back to the Admiralty, have him taken to the surgeons." Callum said, and then looked at Lord Hood, "You're in good hands, My Lord, he is one of my best officers."
"You're Callum, aren't you?"
"Yes, My Lord, at your service."
"Alright, get me back there."
"He will, My Lord. I must see to the safety of The Duke." Callum said.
"What? The Duke, what has happened?" Hood growled, as he clutched his knee.
"We were attacked as we approached the Admiralty, My Lord, now if you will excuse me." Callum said as he shut the door, "Thomas tie that horse to the rear of the carriage, we must see to The Duke." Callum said as he walked back and took the reins of the horse from the boy, Callum put a hand on his head, and rubbed it as he walked by him. Callum threw the reins over the horses head and stepped into the stirrup and then up and over and sat on the saddle, he waited for Tomlin to climb up as well on his own horse. Callum reined his horse, making him wheel as Holt was backing the carriage up to make the turn in the street. Tomlin watched Holt for a moment and then wheeled his own horse and took off after Callum with a clatter.
Callum knew where they were going as they trotted the horses through the streets, it was about another twenty minutes when they rode up to the front of The Duke's residence. The Regular was standing guard as he was this morning. Callum handed the reins to Tomlin and then he walked up the steps.
"Did His Grace make it back safely?" Callum asked, the Regular stayed silent as was his duty, "Answer me man, is The Duke safe?" Callum asked as the door of the house opened and Wellington stepped out. Callum sighed heavily. "You Grace, thank God you're alright."
"Thanks to you once again, Callum. It seems that I am going to be forever in your debt."
"Not at all, Your Grace, seeing you standing here alive, and in one piece is payment of that debt in full." Callum said and gave him a formal bow.
"Here now, none of that any longer." Wellington said, and Callum stood up. "After the events of today, I think that I can safely count you as a friend." Wellington held out his hand.
"I am eternally yours, Your Grace." Callum said bowing his head slightly, and saw the hand and took it in his, squeezing it firmly.
"And perhaps you can tell me what this was all about." Wellington said, taking his hand back.
"Treachery in the highest, from a very dangerous French spy, the actual mind behind the incident at La Rochelle, Your Grace."
"I see, well we must all be on our guard then. And who is that that you have with you?" Wellington asked nodding toward the street. Callum turned and looked back, smiled, and then looked at Wellington.
"That is Mr. Thomas Tomlin, Your Grace, my 1st Lieutenant." Callum said.
"I see, and as you were on leave from your ship, I can see why he is out of uniform." Wellington smiled briefly.
"Exactly, Your Grace."
"Mr. Tomlin!" Wellington called loudly from the door.
"Your Grace!" Tomlin answered and bowed his head.
"I charge you with the personal safety of your Captain, I trust that under your watchful eye that no harm shall come to him, it would not sit well with me if I were to hear of something different!"
"As I told His Lordship just the other day, Your Grace, it is a full time posting to be certain!" Tomlin said loudly and then bowed his head.
"Truer words were never spoken." Wellington said, giving another brief smile at Callum.
"If you will forgive my hasty departure, Your Grace, I must return to the Admiralty. There are two prisoners that I must get answers from."
"By all means, just don't kill them before you find out what you need to know. It seems that our very survival may depend upon it."
"I will do my best, Your Grace."
"Goodbye, Callum. Stay as safe as you can."
"Goodbye, Your Grace." Callum said and bowed his head slightly, then turned and walked down the steps, taking the reins back from Tomlin and climbed into the saddle, They clattered off on the cobbles of the street as Wellington watched them.
Dorland walked into the inn and came into the doorway of the tavern, looking around and not seeing anyone. He turned on his heel and looked up the stairs. Dorland went to take a step and heard something make a clicking sound behind him. He stopped and listened and went to turn around.
"Move again and I shall blow a hole right through you." The voice behind him said, and Dorland froze. "Now, hands where I can see them." Dorland put out his hands. "Higher!" Dorland put them higher in the air. "Turn,...slowly, move the wrong way and this will go off." Dorland slowly turned and then saw Dustin behind the long counter. His eyes went wide as did Dustin's. Dustin raised the pistol in the air. "Dear God, I almost shot you!" Dustin said as he exhaled. "Help me with this, I can't set the hammer down with only one hand." Dustin said and Dorland walked over to the counter and took the pistol from Dustin's hand.
"What if there had been two of me?" Dorland asked as he uncocked the pistol. Dustin pulled out another pistol from under the counter and set it down. Dorland went wide eyed again. "You don't believe in taking chances, do you?"
"You don't after you've been boarded once, believe me." Dustin sighed. He turned, "It's alright, we're safe!" Dustin called out. The innkeeper and his wife came around the corner and into sight. Dustin looked at Dorland, "What happened?"
"The Captain apparently was attacked by a group of men while he was with The Duke, I don't know much more about what actually happened."
"The Captain is safe, yes, he's alright, but he is very angry. I've never seen anything quite like it before. He took all of them out but one from what we saw, a Marine shot him. The Captain was so angry over the whole thing. He even gave Fitzwarren a tongue lashing." Dorland said, Dustin gasped slightly.
"Oh my." Dustin said, "I can imagine that His Lordship was quite upset over that."
"He was, they were like two fighting cocks spurring each other, it was frightening, Fitzwarren even warned the Captain to be careful in what he said."
"Oh dear God." Dustin said as he came round the long counter, "Where is he now?"
"He, Thomas, and Christian mounted on horses and set off after Lord Hood and The Duke to see if they could find them and secure their safety."
"A fool to be a hero must..." Dustin said almost in a whisper.
"What was that?"
"Something Dr. Crawford said once, it's nothing. So, they rode off?"
"Yes, but not before the Captain ordered me to come back here to make sure that you were all safe. I am to wait until he returns or I am sent for to go back to the Admiralty." Dorland said.
"He must know something." Dustin said, looking at Dorland, "Think Henry, think very carefully, did anything else happen that you saw, anything that might have Quintan think that there is more danger about?"
"No, that's about all that I saw." Dorland said. Dustin turned and looked at the innkeeper.
"Are there any other doors or windows of the inn to gain entry other than this door?" Dustin asked.
"There is the door to the alley, but that was already bolted earlier, I checked it myself. There is also a door to the store room, but it's blocked from the outside." The innkeeper said, "And there are two windows in our rooms that are at the back of the inn."
"Is there a bolt on the store room door?"
"Yes, but as I said..." the innkeeper said, but Dustin moved quickly to the counter, he grabbed a pistol and handed it to Dorland, then took the other for himself, he put it between his knees and cocked the hammer back, then grabbed it correctly. Dorland watched him do it, as Dustin turned.
"Henry, go bolt the front door, quickly." Dustin said as Dorland nodded and walked away, Dustin looked at the innkeeper, "Let's go and lock the store room." The innkeeper led Dustin round the counter and down its length past the door to the kitchen, into a narrower hallway, as Dorland came round the end of the counter. Dustin and the innkeeper walked up to the store room door, Dustin turned and looked back toward Dorland, "Now, after we lock this we will go,..." Dustin was knocked from behind by the store room door sending him against the wall and to the floor, knocking the innkeeper to the floor as well, the pistol that Dustin had in his hand went out of his hand and slid. Dorland went to cock the pistol and suddenly felt something sharp and a searing pain as he saw the knife in his chest that had been thrown. Dorland fell backward on the floor, dropping the pistol. Dustin went to move, giving a groan and saw a boot and the cloak and was kicked in the face, hard, and then blackness.
Dorland was trying to reach up with his left hand to pull the knife out when he saw the figure standing over him. He grunted as the pain was almost blinding to him now, and then the knife was pulled from his chest.
"I'm sorry, but you were simply in my way. If I could do anything for you, I would, as you are not the one I've come for." The voice in the cloak said and Dorland watched as he came closer to him. "Where is Callum?" The voice asked, "You are one of his men, you must know where he is, tell me, where is Callum?"
"He must be at the Admiralty." Dorland said in almost a whisper.
"Then we shall wait here for him to return, as I know he will, for he would not leave his pretty young friend alone and unprotected." The voice in the cloak said, looking over his shoulder and then back at Dorland. "Oh, don't worry, I think you'll survive long enough to see what I have planned for him, unless you bleed to death first." Dorland was trying to move his right hand to reach for his sword, trying to get his fingers around the pommel. He was trying to draw enough strength to knock this man over and get his sword out in time, and then Dorland heard the click, the hammer of the pistol being set back into its safety position. "But the more I think about it, the more I think that possibly you would try and do something to help your Captain, and I can't allow that. I have to see this through, it's my mission and I can't have you interfere with it. So, as I said, I'm sorry." The voice in the cloak said and Dorland saw the flash of metal and wood and felt the hit and then blackness.
Callum put the horse inside the stable, leaving it to one of the Marines that was there as did Tomlin. They walked out of the stable and across the courtyard of the rear of the Admiralty and came in through the back door, going down a long hallway, Callum walked quickly and Tomlin was trying to keep up with him, as they walked into the great lobby, Callum turned left, seeing officers about, with Fitzwarren there as well. He saw Callum coming.
"Callum." Fitzwarren said, making Callum stop, he looked and saw Fitzwarren. "The Duke?"
"He is well, My Lord, out of danger in his home."
"Thank God." Fitzwarren said, letting out a breath through his nose. "Where are you going?"
"To the surgery, My Lord."
"Are you injured?"
"No, My Lord, there are prisoners to be questioned and the whereabouts of this spy to be found out. I will have it, My Lord."
"Not the way you dealt with it earlier. There are other ways to question them."
"I assure you, My Lord, I will find out what we need to know and we can end this...tonight."
"Callum, you are acting out of anger, I will not have you torture those men, do I make myself clear?" Fitzwarren said softly.
"Perfectly, My Lord." Callum said, as he stiffened his stance, feeling enraged for being stopped, "If you will not let me find out what we need to know, then I shall take my leave of you." Callum said, "Thomas." Callum said and pushed by Fitzwarren, bumping him. The other officers standing close by saw it, and most of them gasped, even though Callum was a command officer, what he just did was not only a sign of disrespect, but was a punishable offense, resulting in extreme punishment.
Fitzwarren just stood there as Callum walked away, marching quickly to the doors with Tomlin trying to keep up, and Holt was right behind him now as well, as Callum crashed through the doors, throwing them wide open as he walked through. They followed Callum as he marched quickly toward the inn, Holt and Tomlin looked at each other now and then, both were a little more than nervous at the moment. Callum opened the door to the inn and came through the tavern doorway, stopping short as he felt something sticking him in the throat. He felt something knock his hat off his head, sending it to the floor.
"My dear Captain, so nice to have you join us this evening." The voice in the cloak said. Callum froze but saw Dustin was draped over the long counter on his back, a large red bump on his forehead, his left arm was dangling in the air as he was half hanging off the counter. Callum shifted his eyes to the right, seeing Dorland on the floor and the innkeeper, his wife, and daughter sitting at a table, huddled together, the daughter was sobbing. Tomlin and Holt moved away and came around as if circling. "It is nice to see you again, my young friend. It has been a while since we have had one of our little talks. Now, if you gentlemen would be so kind as to throw your weapons down on the floor for me." The voice in the cloak said as he pressed the knife up deeper at Callum's throat, "I don't think you wish to see your Captain get cut just because you wanted to do something heroic, now would you?" He pressed a little more with the point and Callum had to get up on his toes to ease the pressure of the point. The clatter of Tomlin's sword could be heard. "That's fine, thank you. Now, one at a time, step out and turn slowly around to show me that you are not hiding anything." Tomlin looked at Holt and then looked at Callum, he stepped out a little more and turned around slowly. The cloak moved a little and then a pistol came out of it.
"Very good my young friend, now you may join your other friend at the counter, though I'm sorry that I won't be able to serve you anything to drink, and I'm certain that he won't be able to serve you anything either." Tomlin moved over next to Dustin, looking at him, seeing him breathing, Tomlin looked back at Callum and nodded his head a little. Callum saw it. "Now, my young friend, I need you to get down on your knees, and clasp your hands behind your back." Tomlin did as he was told. "Now, you, step out and slowly turn round." Holt stepped out and did what he was told.
"What about our officer lying there on the floor? Is he injured?" Holt asked.
"I did not want you to speak at all, you are to do only what I say, no questions. Now, go and join my friend there at the counter, do as he has done, and get on your knees, and clasp your hands behind your back." Holt moved over next to Tomlin and got down next to him on his knees, putting his hands behind him. "Now, my dear Captain, it is your turn." The cloak said, and the pistol disappeared from sight. A hand came out and slowly pulled Callum's sword from his scabbard. It was held up in the air. "The sword that wounded my poor dead Ezri, such a shame really. A very lovely weapon indeed, Captain, my compliments. I have seen your prowess with a blade, and I'm sure you owe it all to this sword." The hand tossed the sword away toward the front door, making a clattering sound as it hit the floor. "Now, Captain, if you please, slowly and carefully, bring yourself down to your knees." The knife point eased at Callum's throat a little. Callum started to move down, slowly, "I warn you, Captain, with a flick of my wrist I can slit your throat, and then shoot both of your companions before they can get up."
Callum slowly continued to move toward the floor.
"Excellent, Captain, now once you are settled, we can have a little talk, I will ask the questions, you will answer them. Once I have found out what I need to know, I will be on my way."
"You expect me to believe that?" Callum asked, as he got to his knees.
"Quite frankly, Captain, I really don't care what you believe at this moment. You have caused me a great deal of suffering in the recent past with your arrival."
"This truly is a pity. I was rather hoping that you were there this afternoon when you attacked The Duke and His Lordship." Callum said, as the knife was going deep in his skin again.
"Easy, Captain, do not start brave talk to work you up to starting some kind of foolish action to get yourself free."
"I'm afraid you're mistaken, I don't need any brave talk to do what I would I like to do."
"Captain, let us make this as pleasant as we possibly can, shall we? You are not going anywhere, but I on the other hand I have many other places that I need to be, so let us not delay any longer, as my hand is beginning to tire. Where is Wellington?"
"He is at home, under guard, but you already know that."
"You're trying to be clever, Captain, and I assure you, I'm already two steps ahead, so let us continue, shall we? You spent the day with Wellington, you went to Buckingham, you met with the King, and then you went to Parliament, and I can assume that you saw the Lord High Chancellor, how am I doing so far?" The cloak leaned close enough to Callum's face that he could smell his breath.
"You seem to know everything, so why ask me questions?"
"Because my dear Captain, I was not there in the same room with you, I do not know what was actually said, what I need to know is, when does Wellington plan to invade?"
"I hate to disappoint you, but we didn't get round to that actually, that's why we were on our way to the Admiralty." Callum rolled his head a little as the knife stuck in a bit more.
"Captain, you're trying to be clever again, you would not have been with Wellington, the King, and Lord Eldon and they did not speak of the invasion at all. You think me as kind of a fool, Captain?"
"No, Maupin, I do not think you a fool, I think you are misinformed."
"Really, and if I have been two steps ahead of you in every instance, how can I be misinformed?"
"As you were two steps ahead about La Rochelle? Smythe? The Spanish Man of War that you hired as a mercenary? I think you are greatly misinformed. Your dispatches were intercepted while we were enroute to La Rochelle, we knew of Smythe being a traitor, we played it out to see just how far we could go."
"Again, Captain, you persist in trying to be clever." The cloak said as he leaned closer to Callum's face.
"It's not a matter of being clever, it's a matter of tactics, we outmaneuvered you, Smythe, the Spanish, that's why all of them have fallen like dominoes. Even now, I surmised that you might be here now or at least very soon, and as we speak the inn is probably being surrounded by Marines from the Admiralty. Had you have been truly two steps ahead of me, you would have had another inn to have me stay at and not so close to a garrison of troops. You seem to be slipping, Maupin." Callum said as the cloak turned.
"You, girl, come here for a moment, I need you to do something for our dear Captain." The cloak turned and leaned close to Callum's face again, "You see, Callum, up to this moment, everything you have said has been the truth, and I appreciate that very much, which evokes a thought, are you still telling me the truth, or are you lying now?"
"My officer over there on the floor was assigned as protection, the Marines have been dispatched to relieve him as the events of today have caused us to act."
"Yes, well, your poor lad there, he was young, and inexperienced, it's a pity actually, he seemed like such a nice young lad." The cloak turned again as the girl walked up close, moving slowly with tears streaming from her eyes. Callum felt the knife ease back from his throat a bit. "Now, my young miss, I need you to go to the front door..." Callum moved, shifting his weight backwards, clearing the knife point, he reached up and grabbed the wrist that held it, as he heard the cocking of a pistol under the cloak, Callum smashed his other hand into the cloak grasping, searching, and then he found it as the girl backed away and screamed, Callum found it and pulled the trigger, the pistol going off and the cloak groaned deeply, and then pushed into Callum sending them both to the floor. Callum and the cloak were rolling together on the floor, the blade of the knife flashing in the light.
Tomlin and Holt got to their feet quickly, Tomlin turning around getting Dustin slid around on the counter, Holt leaping over to Dorland, checking him. They went dashing across the room to help Callum as they two on the floor continued to roll together. Callum was finally on top of the cloak and forced the knife out of the hand, Tomlin and Holt could see the blood trail on the floor, and as Callum's hands went around the throat inside the hood of the cloak, hands came out grabbed up toward Callum's throat, Callum became infuriated and grit his teeth, clutching what he held even tighter now and choking sounds could be heard. Tomlin stopped Holt from moving closer as Callum sat over the top of the cloak, bouncing his arms on the hood and growling in his throat as the hands from the cloak slowly started to drop away and then fell to the floor. Callum hung on as if his life still depended on it, still gritting his teeth, still bouncing his arms into the hood. Tomlin slowly stepped forward and knelt beside Callum and put a hand to his shoulder.
"Sir." Tomlin said, "Quintan," Tomlin said softly, gripping his shoulder tighter, Callum looked over at Tomlin, "It's safe now, you can let go of him." Tomlin was looking into Callum's face seeing the pain in it, the frustration of it all. "Quintan, Dustin needs you. Go to him, I'll take care of this." Tomlin said and Callum eased and sat back on his haunches for a moment. He looked back down into the hood and gave it a sneer and then got up to his feet slowly. He walked slowly over through the doorway to the tavern, walking by Holt as he looked at Callum, turning with him as he walked by. Callum came to the edge of the counter and looked down at Dustin and took his free hand in his.
"I'm so sorry." Callum whispered and lifted the hand and kissed the back of it. Callum's eyes welled, "I should have been here to make sure you were safe, I let you down." Callum whispered and kissed Dustin's hand again, and set it down gently. He put a hand on Dustin's shoulder as he turned and looked over at Dorland on the floor. Callum walked toward him as he drew his hand away from Dustin and went to Dorland and knelt beside him, feeling his chest, seeing the blood against the white vest and shirt. Callum felt the heart beating under his hand. He stood again and turned and went toward where Tomlin and Holt were now, standing over the cloak on the floor.
Callum came over next to them. "Are you sure he's dead?" Callum asked.
"There is no heartbeat." Tomlin said, as he looked at Callum.
"Good." Callum said, opening the cloak, he pulled the pistols from the waistband of the body and tossed them to the floor, "Help me get him up." Callum said. Tomlin and Holt pulled with Callum, getting the body up off the floor, Callum ducked under it, and hefted it up on his shoulders. "I'll be back with help for them." Callum said, "Get the door." He turned and walked through the door with the body, Tomlin and Holt watched him walk down the street with the burden on his shoulders. They turned and went back inside to see to Dustin and Dorland.
Callum walked up the steps of the Admiralty, the Sentries seeing him coming, they opened the doors for him, as they looked at him and then each other, Callum went by and walked by the Registrar.
"Find Fitzwarren." Callum said as he walked into the great lobby onto a large rug in the center of it all. Several junior officers and Paiges stopped and looked at him, as Callum stopped as Fitzwarren came out, seeing Callum. He moved and dropped the body in a heavy thud, and Fitzwarren walked up near Callum. "I told you I was going to end it tonight.' Callum growled, and then he pointed a finger down at the body, Fitzwarren followed Callum's finger with only his eyes and then looked back into the blazing anger in Callum's face. "Your French spy. He was lying in wait for me. I had to kill him, I had no choice. He knew everything, everything that I did today. He has been my shadow throughout all of this." Callum stopped and looked about him as the crowd of uniforms was growing larger. "I need a surgeon, I have wounded at the Boar's Head, Dorland is bleeding to death, you'd better hurry." Callum growled and turned away, passing junior officers and Paiges. Fitzwarren watched him and then stepped around the body and made his way through as Callum went through the doors, and down the steps.
"Callum!" Fitzwarren called behind him as he reached the edge of the street. Callum stopped and made a few motions, as two surgeons slid by Fitzwarren and hurried by Callum as they were headed toward the inn. Callum slipped out of his tunic and dropped it on the pavement as he started walking away from it.
"Should I go after him, My Lord?" Collingwood asked, as he stood next to Fitzwarren.
"Be my guest,...if you want your neck broken." Fitzwarren said as he turned to go back inside.