DOVER

Chapter 14

Callum slowly woke to the sun filtering in through the window above the bed. He inhaled a slow deep breath, and then slowly exhaled through his nose. He smelled coffee brewing, the morning air mixing with it and then he caught the fresh scent of Dustin. It made him feel warm inside, taking in his scent, a warmth that was intoxicating to him, from head to toe.

He looked down, seeing the sleeping form of Dustin , curled up next to him, his long hair laying over part of his soft face. Callum watched as Dustin's breathing was even, raising and lowering the comforter slightly. He reached down and gently pushed the hair back, tucking it behind his ear so he could see that angelic face. He smiled openly at seeing it. He gently traced the soft edge of his jaw with one finger, starting at the smooth chin, moving slowly up to the bottom of his ear. Dustin moved a little, snuggling closer into Callum. Callum smiled wider and then felt something against his hip. It was very warm and firm, Callum knowing immediately that Dustin was hard.

Dustin moved again, sliding himself a little closer against Callum's hip. Callum could feel a wetness from it, it also being slick. He sighed to himself at that sensation. He pulled his hand back and slowly ran it under the comforter, crossing his own body, reaching down, feeling the tip with a finger, rubbing slowly, delicately over the opening, using the slick moisture to rub it. Dustin instinctively rocked his hips at the stimulation. He slowly rolled to his back, turning his head away from Callum, freeing Callum's other arm.

Callum shifted slowly in the bed, pulling the comforter back, uncovering himself, and then part of Dustin. He could see Dustin's soft skin, part of his chest and side. He looked down as he moved, seeing part of Dustin's right hip and his upper thigh exposed. He loved the look of this youth next to him, his color, tanned from being onboard ship, from the sun and the wind. Callum slid down the bed just a little, then pulled the comforter back a little more, exposing Dustin more. Callum could see the full hardness of Dustin. He brought his face closer to it.

Callum could see the clear fluid coming from the tip, gathering in a large drop and then slowly starting to run back, forming a trail as it began to drop onto Dustin's stomach. Callum watched it for a long minute and then put his mouth around the tip, using his tingue to lick up the clear fluid, then gently applying suction, drawing as much out as he could. He swallowed what was there and wanted more. He slid his mouth further down Dustin's length, then heard Dustin inhale through his nose deeply. Callum knew Dustin was waking. He felt hands on the back and top of his head as went down further on Dustin, taking him in fully in his mouth. Callum stopped when Dustin was all the way in his mouth and then clamped his mouth tighter, using his throat muscles to make his mouth tighter. Callum heard Dustin moan, then the fingers gripped into Callum's hair. Dustin slowly spread his legs wider. Callum ran a hand over Dustin's balls, cupping them, squeezing them gently, then he pulled on them. Dustin moaned even more. Callum pulled back, sliding up Dustin's length, leaving only the head in his mouth. Callum opened his lips, sucking in a deep breath. The air rushing past Dustin's tip made him buck and moan deeper.

"Quintan...Quintan..." Dustin moaned. Callum slid back down him, he stopped at the base, then slid back up. Callum did it again, tighter this time, Dustin hissing breath through his teeth, his lips curling back. "...oh God, Quintan...yes...yes." Callum kept going, up and down on Dustin. Callum came back up Dustin's length and tickled the tip with his tongue. He let it get good and wet, dripping from his mouth. Slowly Callum let it go. Dustin dropped his head back on the pillow, breathing hard. He watched as Callum swung around on the bed and climbed up on Dustin, straddling him. Callum reached back behind him, taking Dustin in his fingertips, lifting him, placing his tip at Callum's hole.

"You remember last night? How you felt having me go inside you?" Callum asked in a soft voice.

"Yes." Dustin almost whimpered.

"I want to feel that now. It's been a while since you have been in me. Remember?"

"Yes. Our night in the old stable."

"Yes, that's right, my love." Callum whispered, sitting back against Dustin slowly, letting the tip penetrate him. Callum grunted softly at the pressure, then slowly let it enter him, loving the feeling of it. Callum leaned back a little, standing Dustin up inside of him, allowing him to slide even further in. Callum bottomed Dustin out in him, then sat still, reveling in the feeling of being so filled, it expanding him. Callum took a deep breath and gently clamped on Dustin and bent forward. He put his forearms to each side of Dustin's head, going face to face with Dustin. Their eyes were locked on each other. Dustin's mouth was open a little, taking in as much air as he could, not breathing hard, just even and deep.

"Am I too much weight upon you?"

Dustin's eyes softened. "Oh, not at all. I love it when you're covering me." Dustin lifted his hands, taking Callum's face into them. Dustin couldn't help himself and began to slowly rock his hips in and out against the bed, sliding in and out of Callum just a little. Callum rolled his eyes back at the sensation, the slight friction at his opening, the muscle being flexed, the movement of the skin. He groaned in Dustin's ear as he lowered his face closer beside Dustin. "Now you know how it makes me feel." Dustin whispered into Callum's ear. He wrapped his arms around Callum. "This is why I long for it, crave it."

"Oh...God..." Callum moaned. "Pound me. Give me everything you have."

Dustin dug his heels into the bed and pushed up, lifting Callum's hips slightly. He began deep motions, setting a rhythm, then after a few moments, he moved faster, thrusting deeper, slapping his groin against Callum. Dustin did it several times and then had to ease. He steadied his pace and then started again, sending himself fully into Callum, then half out, then back in, over and over. Callum was breathing hard at the motion. Dustin was near out of breath himself and could feel it deep within him, building, coming near. Callum finally could not do anything but moan slowly and softly. He, too, felt it drawing near inside him, but it was different this time, more intense, more insistent on each move that Dustin made into him. It was almost too much for him, something was being pushed against, inside of him, over and over, and then Callum moaned louder, burying his face into the pillow to muffle the sound. He shot out, up his and Dustin's chests up to their necks, over and over, till there was nothing left to send forth, but the feeling was still there, pulsing and pulsing. Dustin was still moving, as Callum had tightened on him, but he wanted it to continue, but his body resisted and he groaned and held fast, over and over again he pulsed inside of Callum, throbbing and throbbing until he felt that there was no more in him. He lay still and slowly relaxed under Callum's almost dead weight. Dustin sighed heavily. He tightened his grip around Callum, kissing his neck softly, making soft sounds as he did it.

Callum pulled his face out of the pillow, looking down at Dustin, smiling. "You are the most incredible man I have ever known."

Dustin looked up into Callum's eyes, they welled up at Callum's words. "You think me as a man?"

"Of course I do." Callum narrowed his eyes, giving Dustin a look of question. "You doubt that you are so?"

Dustin blushed as a tear fell from one eye. "I thought you thought of me as a boy." He whispered.

Callum smiled wide, then kissed Dustin softly. Pulling back he went eye to eye with Dustin again. "Only a man could do what you do. Only a man could make me do this, feel this, desire this. You are a man, Dustin, plain and true. A man that I love and desire, forever more."

"Oh, Quintan..." Dustin whispered, cupping Callum's cheek with one hand, and then reaching up and kissing Callum with a deep passion that Dustin felt was never going to go anywhere. They were interrupted by a knock at the door. Dustin pulled back, his eyes going wide.

"Yes?" Callum called out, looking at Dustin, burning his gaze into Dustin's eyes.

"Breakfast is ready." Martha's voice filtered through the door.

Callum smiled, looking at Dustin. "We will be down presently." Callum kissed Dustin with the passion that Dustin had shown only a moment ago, wanting to continue where and what they were doing. Callum pulled back, breathing in. "That must have been magic words to your ears. I can feel you slipping from me."

"I'm sorry." Dustin looked almost embarrassed.

"No need. I understand the desire to have a full belly as much as having other desires fulfilled." Callum said, shifting positions, getting off of Dustin. Callum had pushed the comforter back behind him when he had moved. Dustin was now completely exposed. "Go and fill yourself at the table." Callum said. Dustin went to get up, but Callum grabbed his upper arm, stopping him. "But, there will be a time, later, when I will want to continue what we have started here this morning."

Dustin looked back and smiled at Callum. He leaned forward and kissed Callum. "It would be my honor to do so. All one needs do, is make a request." Dustin smiled, rubbing his nose tip to Callum's. "Your wish is always my command. You need remember that." With that Dustin got up from the bed. His back was to Callum.

Callum watched as Dustin retrieved all of his clothes and began to dress quickly. Callum watched Dustin, loving to watch him, watching every part of his young body, as the clothes began to fall into place. Callum was sad when Dustin pulled up his pantlets, covering himself, turning round to face Callum on the bed. Dustin sucked in his bottom lip as he buttoned the buttons on the flap, one by one, his eyes going back and forth to Callum and the flap in a teasing fashion. Callum lay there, on their bed, his head propped up on his hand, his arm bent at the elbow, still watching Dustin.

"Do you have any idea just how beautiful you really are?" Callum asked.

Dustin smiled and then crawled back on the edge of the bed, pushing his face into Callum's, laying him back against the comforter. Dustin kissed him deeply, passionately, wanting him again, especially like this, Callum's beautiful muscular naked body laying out before him. Callum lifted his arm and draped it over Dustin's back, his hand grasping the back of Dustin's neck, pulling him in deeper into Callum. Dustin groaned inside of Callum's mouth, and then it took everything he had to pull back, to remove himself from Callum. Dustin got off the bed, standing there, looking down at his beautiful lover below him on the bed.

"You had best go downstairs. You need to have your breakfast." Callum smiled up at him, "Besides, if one of us isn't down there soon, she might be coming back up here."

Dustin grinned wide and stepped back from the bed. He bent down and picked up his wide tie off the candle stand, putting it in his teeth, he reached back and gathered his hair, pulling it back, holding it with one hand, then with the other, he grabbed the tie bringing back and tied his hair in a ponytail. Callum grinned wide seeing it, watching him do it. It was very sensual. Dustin fluffed his ponytail and looked down at Callum.

"Will you be coming down?"

"Presently." Callum said as he slid across the bed. "I'll dress and be down." Callum said as he put his feet on the floor. He rose off the bed and stood before Dustin, grasping him by the shoulders. He pulled him to him, then kissed him softly on the forehead. "I'll take care of the room, and then join you. Alright?"

Dustin smiled wide. "Alright." Dustin was turned physically by Callum and then gently pushed him toward the door.

Callum watched Dustin leave the room, closing the door behind him. He smiled to himself, thinking of his love, this youth that made him feel like he was soaring high in the sky above everything, that filled his every waking moment and then filled his dreams, dreams of being next to him, with him. Callum felt dizzy from it. It was consuming him. He turned and looked down at their bed, the smell of what they just done still lingered in the room. He was so in love with him and it. He lay back down on the bed, wanting to feel it again. It filled him with so much warmth and pure love, love that he had never known in his life. He lay there, suddenly feeling the warmth of the rays of the sun streaming through the window above the bed. He craned his neck and head, looking up toward the streaked window, the sunlight coming through it. It reminded him of the sunlight at sea, standing on the deck of the ship, being bathed in it, it's glow, its warmth. He ran a hand over his muscular chest, in an absentminded fashion. Slowly, he came out of his euphoria. He smiled to himself, and then rose from the bed. He set himself to the task at hand.

The bed made, and he being satisfied, Callum began to dress. He put on his long stockings, then slipped on his long pants. He began to button up the flap, then looked around for his shirt. He saw it on the floor at the end of the bed. He picked it up and then sniffed at it. He could smell himself and wrinkled his nose at it. He tossed it to the end of the bed and went to the trunk, opening it and pulled out another shirt. It was a little different than the one he wore the past couple of days. Its sleeves billowed larger, allowing more air in through the rough cotton cloth. The rolled collar was wrinkled, but it would do for around the house. The white of the fabric was stark, and Callum pushed his arms into the sleeves, then lifted it over his head and then let it fall down over him. The rough cloth felt good to him against his skin. He adjusted the collar as it had rolled inside under the shirt, turning it out. He fluffed his long locks, and then looked around for his tie. He found it on the floor near the candle stand. He gathered his hair, reaching his hands back behind his head. He worked it into a tight cord and then took the tie and tied it in a tight ponytail, as Dustin had done. He fluff the ends of the tail and without looking in a glass was satisfied with it. He tucked the tails of the shirt into his pants. He slipped on his buckled shoes and was ready to go downstairs. He turned back and looked at the bed. It seemed so lonely, all made up, to him, like it longed to be filled by them again, as if it were a living, breathing thing. Tonight, he thought, you'll get your wish tonight. He smiled at the bed and nodded toward it, then opened the door.

Callum came down the stairs, turned and walked into the kitchen. He saw Dustin sitting at the table against the wall, scooping up what was left on his plate, swallowing it. Callum smiled at him, then looked left toward the dry sink. Martha was standing there, in one of the new dresses that they had given her. Callum looked back at Dustin and winked, then turned and walked toward Martha.

"Oh, my dear, you are a picture, truly a piece of art in that new frock." Callum said. Martha turned, she was blushing deep red hearing him. She smiled wide and then leaned forward. Tapping Callum with the wooden spoon she held on the shoulder.

"Such a charmer you are, you devil." Martha leaned back against the dry sink. "I must say that I was beginning to wonder if you were ever coming down this morning."

"Well, my dear, I think the wine from last night made my head heavy. I had a difficult time this morning putting my feet to the floor."

Martha turned her head slightly, then raised one eyebrow. "Not from what I heard. It seems that the wine from last night made the night longer than anyone would have thought."

Callum was shocked, totally embarrassed by what she had said, what she had heard. He didn't dare turn back and look toward Dustin, as he knew he was probably under the table by now. Callum drew himself up.

"Well, then I suppose we must get you a cat or something to make other noises in the house. Or perhaps we should seek out your own beau to court your fair hand." Callum said, leaning close to her. She turned and looked up at him.

"A cat? Why?"

"Cats meow all night long do they not? They being creatures of the night?"

"And I have no need to seek a beau at my age."

"Oh my dear, on the contrary." Callum took her hand, kissing the back of it. "I know of an admiral or two that might give lean in your direction."

"Pah, more sailors! That's all a body needs." She said, throwing up her hands, rolling her eyes. She turned back toward the sink. There was a knock at the back door, as Callum was pulling out a cup and pouring some coffee from the pot on the stove. He looked over his shoulder toward the door. He saw Bockman standing in the glass of the door. Callum nodded toward him and he entered.

"Morning, to ye all." Bockman said as he stepped in, removing his hat.

"Morning, Bertram." Martha said, turning and nodding in his direction, then going back to her work at the sink.

"Captain, may I have a word?"

"Certainly." Callum said, as he turned back from the stove, sipping at his coffee. He could see the hesitation in Bockman's face. "Well? Come, come, man, what is it?"

"Some of the men, sir...well, sir, they were wondering..." Bockman was interrupted by a knock at the front door, very loud like a thumping. Callum looked over at Dustin, their eyes met, then Callum tilted his head toward the front door. Dustin jumped up from the table and went.

"Have a seat, Mr. Bockman." Callum said, extending his hand, pointing toward a chair at the table. "Care for coffee?"

"Thank ye, sir." Bockman eased a little, sitting down, watching Callum pull another cup and then pour from the pot. He turned and set the cup in front of Bockman.

"Now, as you were saying?"

"Well, sir. Some of the men, sir. They have accepted work outside the village, and were wondering..."

Callum came to the light as to where Bockman was going, in his round about way. Callum nodded his understanding, and stepped toward Bockman.

"I see. They are wondering about severance, is that right?"

"Yes, sir." Bockman said, with a sigh of relief.

"Alright." Callum said. Dustin walked back into the kitchen carrying a letter. He stepped up to Callum. He looked at the letter and then into Dustin's eyes. "What's this?"

"Special messenger from the Admiralty. He's waiting for a reply."

Callum took the letter, tearing the envelope open, pulling the letter out, he read it quickly. Without looking at Dustin, he asked in a low voice, "Where is he?"

"On the front stoop." Dustin replied softly. Callum crushed the letter in one hand and walked toward the front of the house. Dustin turned and just followed him with his eyes. Dustin looked back at the sink, Martha had turned and had a hand to her mouth, covering it, a tear fell down her cheek.

Callum returned a few moments later. He seemed distracted. Dustin had seen that look before, on board ship, Callum getting ready to make a decision, a decision that was critical. Dustin saw when Callum had made the decision to make that brilliant maneuver to take the two French frigates. Callum put a hand gently to the upper arm of Dustin, then looked at Martha. He stepped toward her, stopping in front of her, not saying a word.

She sobbed once, then put her head against his chest. He reached up and patted her back gently with one hand.

"Mr. Bockman," Callum said, still comforting Martha, "I am leaving for London immediately. Please let your needs be known for the men. Master Perkins can take care of the details with you whilst I'm gone. I trust him to act in my stead." Callum's voice was full of authority.

"Very good, sir." Bockman said, standing. He turned and put his hand on the door and then opened it. "I'll be getting to work now, sir. And, thank you, sir."

Callum heard the door close behind him. He leaned down and kissed the top of Martha's head, making her lift her eyes to meet his. He smiled at her and then stepped back. He put his hands on her arms up near her shoulders and gently squeezed his fingers. She dropped another tear down her cheek.

"I won't be gone long. They need to see me. I'll be back before you know it. Dustin will remain here with you. I need you to look after him." Callum smiled, speaking in a soft voice. "Can you do that for me?"

"You know that I will."

"That's my dear." Callum turned away and walked toward the doorway to the stairs, nodding toward Dustin. He followed Callum out. They walked up the stairs to their room. Callum was starting to pack up a few things in a haversack. He didn't look at Dustin as he did so. "I should return in a day or so. I'm not sure what they want, but it should be brief. I'll walk into the village and see if Owen can drive me or I can take a horse." Callum looked at Dustin. "I need you to take care of things here. She will not do well. Her mind will run away with her, I can already see that. It is up to you to take her mind off of it, for me. Can you do that?" Callum asked, then looked at Dustin. Dustin nodded in reply. "Good." Callum reached into the breast pocket of his tunic and pulled out his leather pouch. He untied it and opened the flap. He reached in and pulled out some notes, handing them to Dustin. "This is for Bockman and the men. He will give you a tally, make sure it is correct. If it seems unreasonable or more than this, then he will have to wait for my return. Understood?" Dustin nodded, again. Callum stepped forward, clasping Dustin in his hands, pulling him to him. He kissed Dustin deeply, wrapping his arms around him, holding him tight. Dustin melted into him. Callum pulled back slowly, easing his grip on Dustin, looking into Dustin's eyes as he opened them slowly. "I must be off. The sooner I am there, the sooner I can return. Are you alright?"

"Won't you be lost without your helmsman?"

"Oh, my love," Callum smiled, lifting Dustin's chin with a finger, "it's my helmsman who will guide my course back. Be assured of that." Callum winked and then slipped into his tunic. He picked up his hat, and a necktie, and then haversack and opened the door. Dustin watched him walk out and hestitated to follow, a thousand thoughts were running through his own mind. He took a deep breath and then walked out and down the stairs.

Callum was in the kitchen, giving Martha a hug and kissing her forehead. He patted her back gently again, and then turned and walked toward the doorway, Dustin standing in it. Dustin blocked him for a moment and stepped aside. Callum stopped, looked down at him and then touched his fingers with his, squeezing them tight. Callum winked at Dustin and then walked toward the front door. He opened it and walked through, Dustin reaching it, standing there watching. Martha came up beside him, putting a hand on his shoulder, the other dobbing her eyes with the end of the apron she had lifted.

Callum walked into the village, heading toward the livery stable where Owen was. Several towns people would follow him with their eyes, turning their heads as he walked by. Several nodded at him, and he returned the nod. He reached the doors of the livery and walked in. He saw Owen near the rear of the livery, the rear doors were open. Callum smiled to himself walking up toward Owen. Owen heard him approach and turned. His eyes widened seeing Callum.

"Quintan. What brings you here?" Then Owen could see him in his tunic and then he knew.

"I am needed in London, immediately. May I press you to drive me, or may I rent one of your horses?"

"Which ever you prefer, my friend. It might be faster if I were to drive you, however. If you are needed immediately."

"That was the request. If, you wouldn't mind then?"

"Let me hitch up the team, and then we can be off. Is it just you then?"

"Yes."

"I see."

"He is looking after her and the reconstruction that is underway."

Owen nodded and then went and pulled out the horses, getting them ready and into harness. He backed them into the yoke and sligh of the carriage and set the harness. Within a few minutes, they were ready. This carriage was open and a slight bit smaller, making it weigh less, thereby faster.

"I will see that my father understands that we need to leave immediately." Owen said, stepping close to Callum. "I'm certain it will break my mothers heart that I will not be at the table this evening." Owen smirked. Callum smiled widely remembering what Owen had said about her cooking.

Callum placed his bag in the carriage, then climbed up and sat in the seat. He made himself as comfortable as possible on the hard cushion beneath him, and then sitting back, he found it was equally as hard and stiff. He used a foot to push the haversack out of the way.

A few minutes later, Owen emerged from the back door of the residence. He climbed up on the seat, atop the small carriage, clasping the reins in one hand, the tall snap whip in the other, he looked over his shoulder at Callum and gave him a half smile. Owen snapped the whip in the air, and the horses began their step forward, turning out of the yard toward the main square road. Owen guided them to the left and they proceeded through the village toward the main road.

Owen was having them trot as they cleared the main part of the village. Callum could see his house on the small knoll as they reached the main road. He saw workmen milling about, but no Dustin.

"Do we need to stop, Quintan?" Owen asked as he slowed the team at the bend.

"No. I don't see the need. Thank you, though." Callum replied, still looking toward the little house. He finally turned and sat back in the seat. Owen sent a signal to the horses and they began a much faster trot. The carriage was rocking from the road, like a boat in heavy swells. Callum tried to settle in, but was having a terrible time getting comfortable.

"We should be there by mid day." Owen said, looking over his shoulder.

Callum looked up. "I should think that will be fine. The messenger was on horseback, and said he would carry my reply back to them."

"You're thinking that you are back at sea before your fortnight is up?"

"I do indeed." Callum said, as he looked forward at the road ahead.

"That would be a pity." Owen countered.

Callum looked up at his back. "Why is that?"

"It just appears to me that you are enjoying being at home. You're becoming accustomed to life on the land."

"Ah...", Callum said, as he leaned forward a little, "I suppose that is true. But, I miss being at sea. It's where I feel that is where my heart really lies."

"Oh?" Owen asked, looking over his shoulder again. "Pardon me for saying it, but I thought where your heart really lies, is next to you each night."

Callum's eyes went wide hearing Owen. He sat back in the seat, just looking at Owen. It hit him like a hammer. Owen was right, but more than that, painfully right. Callum realized that he was happier with Dustin beside him, not only at night, but every waking moment as well. His life at sea had brought them together, but his life at home with Dustin was what living was all about. Did he really need this life at sea? He wasn't sure now. The sea had been all he had ever known really, being sent away from home at a very early age, going to school and then when he was still very young, being shipped out, learning about life at sea. He was no more than ten when he was assigned to a gunnery crew as a match head, carrying the primers for the guns. He learned quickly, seeing the other boys being caned for not moving fast enough, then he learned gunnery itself, how to make the shot count, knowing where the shot was going to hit, the lob of the ball, using the uproll of the ship to send it farther. Then after touring, they returned to school, learning more of the sea and its science, learning it moods, its currents, its temperament. Callum sucked this information up as a sponge, knowing deep down that he had to be successful. And then they were shipped out again as midshipmen, learning the ways of the officers rather than of the crew. He had excelled at mathematics and in charting, learning to navigate. It came easy to him. But, the one thing that eluded him was happiness, contentment, he always felt so alone.

Callum remembered when he was assigned to the Dover, under Captain Powers. Powers had heard of Callum and his reputation for study. Powers took him under his wing as it were, giving him further instruction on the way to use his knowledge of the sea to handle a vessel. Then, that's when he saw Dustin for the first time. Officers were not to fraternize with the men, they were to lead the crew, give them instruction, guide them, show them the way with example. Powers led with a heavy hand, and was very strict with this. But Callum was captivated by this youth, and he didn't understand why.

Callum had been with several by this time. Some were men, but mostly it was boys his own age, Farrow being the one that was the constant, but Farrow was harsh, rough, demanding, always to had to have it his way only, never any consideration of anothers thought or feeling.

Callum had been caught a few times talking to Dustin, and had been warned about it. He couldn't help himself, as the youth took his breath away, made him feel warm inside. Dustin was always cheery and bright, always had that smile on his face. Dustin was a distraction to Callum. Powers had noticed it, and as the other officers had warned Callum, Powers had to act on it.

As Third Lieutenant, Callum was suppose to act as the stalwart, being rigid and stiff as the others above him, but he couldn't, he liked those under his command, and they, his men, liked him. Callum felt that they did more for him because of that relationship. Powers, again, did not see it that way. Farrow, was coarse and firm with his men, carrying a cane switch with him when he was on watch. He used it every chance he got, swatting the men, slapping the backs of their hands with it, or to get their attention, he would snap it on the backs of their necks.

Powers did not like the way Farrow handled the men either, saying that there had to be common ground, as Callum was the complete opposite of Farrow, gentle, kind, caring. Powers knew that Farrow was getting things done with the men, making them snap to when he was on duty, but Callum was also getting result. And then one day, it happened.

Farrow could see the interaction between Callum and Dustin, and Callum with the men in his squad. He hated it, wanted to stop. And as Farrow had Powers' ear, he used it. Farrow went after some of the men in Callum's squad when Callum was not on duty. Farrow had used his cane on a couple of them, and when Callum was told, Callum went into a fit of rage, confronting Farrow. They argued and then Callum made that fatal mistake and took a swing at Farrow.

Officers are forbidden to fight with one another, especially in front of the crew. Several witnessed the incident, and when Powers arrived, Farrow was waiting, like a spider in a web, he struck. He spoke first, recounting the incident but with him looking as the innocent. What he said was true, but, when Farrow asked Callum to deny it, Callum could not. Powers had no choice at that point. The crew that witnessed the incident had no voice that would be heard. Callum was to be punished. The punishment was to be given in the Great Cabin. Powers called for marines to escort Callum there.

Once in the great cabin, all officers were called in, except for the officer of the watch. Callum stood before Captain Powers, the marines stood next to Callum, but behind him. Powers was looking out the aft windows of the cabin. Once everyone was assembled, Powers turned and looked at Callum, Powers hands clasped together behind his back. Farrow stood against the port wall, smirking. Callum would never forget the words Powers spoke to him.

"Mr. Callum, your actions have led to me to render punishment upon you. It is against regulation to strike out against a superior officer. You, sir, have done so, and furthermore it was witnessed. We are currently at war, and we are a ship of war of His Majesty's Navy. We should be saving our fighting for the enemy, but as you feel it necessary to start a fight with your fellows, and a superior officer, you leave me little choice. Mr. Callum, you will be given a chance to temper your feelings. You shall be lashed to the rigging amidships, there to have your temper checked for two days. You are not to sleep or eat until such time as you are cut down. Any man who sees you sleeping, is under order to awaken you. If you sleep, additional time shall be compiled to this punishment. Marines, escort Mr. Callum up on deck. Mr. Dunhill, assemble the crew amidships to witness punishment."

Callum sat forward again in the seat. The memory seemed so clear and yet it felt like it happened decades ago. Callum looked up at the back of Owen. He watched Owen as he worked the reins very little, the team knowing what they had to do, staying on the road, keeping their pace steady.

Callum was thinking about Dustin again, about life at sea. Maybe it was time to leave the service, maybe it was time to make his mark on the land, to go home. He smiled thinking about he and Dustin walking about the property as they had done the other day, watching the workmen around the house, making it a home for him, them. Callum settled back into the seat, stretching out, crossing his legs at his feet, then folding his arms over his lower chest. Or was it just him thinking about what they were going to tell him at the Admiralty. Either way, Callum knew that his time at home was short, all too short. Callum was slowly being lulled into sleep by the carriage motion. He felt that he had found the comfortable spot on the seat now, and was beginning to relax.

Callum felt the carriage slow, it woke him. He opened his eyes and then looked about. He could see buildings about coming into view. He knew they were nearing London. He sat up and saw little homes lining the road, the houses became closer to one another as they neared the city.

"Do you know where to go?" Callum asked up at Owen.

"Oh, so you decided to wake up, did you?"

Callum smiled. "It was a long night. Sorry."

"Understandable." Owen said, looking back over his shoulder. "It's near the river, isn't it?"

"Yes, near Charing Cross on the Pall Mall Road."

"Should be there shortly then." Owen said, giving the team a little more rein, letting them trot quicker now. "Yes, there's a marker alright." Owen turned the team to the left and they made the corner gently. "Get up now." Owen said to the team, then used the snap whip in the air. The horses snorted and stepped livelier at the sound of the whip. Callum fell back slightly into the seat at the surge of the team. He smiled as he watched Owen, he knowing the urgency of reaching Callum's destination.

It wasn't long before the building with all of the columns came into view, amidst the other buildings, but it was impressive to Callum. He had been here before a few times, but each time always took his breath. This was what the Royal Navy guarded the most, it reverence, its antiquity. Once in the building, one only spoke in hushed voice. Callum loved the smell of the place, remembering it well, the polished woodwork, the smell of the paintings and the tapestries that adorned those walls. Owen pulled the carriage up and stopped. Callum rose and Owen went to step down, but Callum put a hand to his shoulder. Owen looked at him.

"I'm not certain how long I shall be. Perhaps we should seek a lodging for the night." Callum said. "I'll step down on my own. Across the road there is a park," Callum said, pointing, Owen following his finger. "there is a trough for the horses near the far end. I will send word as soon as I can. I will send one of the stewards out to find you."

"I'll wait over there then. We should be able to find lodging later, if need be." Owen replied, looking back at Callum.

"Very well. I can make inquiries inside. The stewards always know." Callum smiled as he said it. He opened the small door of the carriage and stepped down. He closed it behind him, tucking his hat under his arm and then walking up the steps toward the columns. He reached the doors, and one of the marines opened it for him, the other snapping to attention. Callum walked through and into the grand foyer.

The ceiling was so high, and the stairs wide, leading up to the next floor. It always took his breath away. Several officers were walking about, going in and out of different rooms. Callum waited a moment as one of the stewards approached him.

"May I be of assistance, sir?"

"I was summoned to see Lord Admiral Fitzwarren."

The steward nodded and smiled out of the corner of his mouth. "You would be Captain Callum." He bowed his head slightly. "If you would follow me, sir? I shall escort you to his Lordship." He turned as Callum nodded his reply. Callum followed the steward to the stairs and they ascended them. Callum was right behind the steward. "Your first time here, sir?"

"No. I've been here before."

"I'm sorry, sir, I do not recall, sir."

"Quite alright. It has been some time. I escorted Captain Powers."

"Ah, Captain Powers, I see, sir." The steward replied as had passed several door, both on the right and the left. The steward stopped at a pair of doors, and knocked. He opened the door on the right hearing a reply from within. He opened the door and stepped inside, his hand still on the knob. "Captain Callum, my Lord." The steward said with a slight bow.

"Thankfully." Came the voice from inside the room, a booming voice. "Send him in then."

"Yes, my Lord." The steward said, then moved slightly out of the way of Callum, letting him in.

"Callum, my boy!" Came the voice from across the room. "At last."

"I'm sorry I was detained, my Lord." Callum said as he bowed slightly at the door. "I only received your summons this morning."

"What? Truly? Well, no matter. You're here now, and that's what counts." Fitzwarren said, standing there across the room next to a large oaken table, his hand on his hip. "Come, come, my lad." Fitzwarren said, waving Callum toward him. He looked past Callum, "Evers!" Fitzwarren yelled at the steward before he could close the door.

"My Lord?"

"Have Barrington bring in food and drink. Our young Captain has travelled a long way, I'll venture. And then have the others join us as well."

"As you wish, my Lord." The steward closed the door softly.

"Noowwww!" Fitzwarren said, slapping his hands together and rubbing them. "You must tell me all about it."

"My Lord?" Callum said as he stood near the table. He looked confused.

Fitzwarren turned and sat in a large wooden framed chair with upholstered seat and back. "The last time I saw you was aboard your ship. That damned Frog had run your leg through with a cutlass." Fitzwarren folded his hands together, resting his elbows on the arms of the chair. "How is the leg, by the by?"

"Healing nicely, my Lord." Callum smiled, "But he hardly ran me through, and it was a dagger point, my Lord." Callum bowed his head humbly. Then he slowly lifted his eyes. "I would hate to have it made it out to more than it actually was, my Lord."

Fitzwarren unclasped his hands and used one to slap the arm of the chair. "Dash it all, man! It's the stuff of legend! One of our sea Captains engaged in a duel with a French Captain, as the ship is sinking from under them? The ladies will be swooning! Young lads will flock to the docks to join up in hopes to have a similar adventure! This war could be over before you know it, from such tales as these."

"I see your point, my Lord." Callum said, bowing his head slightly. "It is...quite a bit to live up to, however."

"Nonsense, my boy. If anyone can pull it off, you can. I've seen it first hand." Fitzwarren stood up out of the chair, putting a hand on Callum's shoulder. "Once the others get here, I'll give you the chance to prove me point." Fitzwarren stopped, hearing a knock at the door. "Enter!" He bellowed. The door opened and an older man in dark attire that looked formal appeared, bowing his head slightly. "Ah! Barrington!"

"I have arranged for a small luncheon, my Lord. With your permission, of course. The other officers are on their way, my Lord."

"Very good, Barrington, thank you." Fitzwarren turned back toward the massive oaken table next to he and Callum. "Barrington, a thought comes to me. We might be here into the evening. You might want to have a light supper prepared, just in case."

"Very well, my Lord." Barrington said, bowing slightly again.

"If you will excuse me a moment, my Lord?" Callum said. "I must make some arrangement for lodging, and for my driver."

"What? What's this?" Fitzwarren asked, turning to face Callum. "You may have Barrington make all of the arrangements, Captain Callum. You are to remain here, with me."

Callum bowed slightly. "My thanks, my Lord." Callum turned and walked toward Barrington, whispering to him his need. Barrington nodded his understanding and summoned the steward that had led Callum in, relaying everything word for word. The steward nodded to Barrington and bowed slightly toward Callum.

"Worry not, sir. All shall be taken care of." The older voice said to Callum, making him feel at ease.

"Thank you, Barrington." Callum said, bowing very slightly, then smiling out of the corner of his mouth at him. Callum thought that he needed him aboard ship.

"My pleasure, sir." Barrington smiled, nodded, turned, and walked away.

 

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