The smoke was thick around him, making him choke and cough. The smell of the smoke was filled with splintered wood and sulfur, making his eyes burn. He rubbed his eyes with the back of one hand, in a vain attempt to try and clear his vision, but to also wipe the sweat away from his brow as it entered his eyes, burning him just as bad as the smoke. It was a futile move. He coughed more, trying to regain his voice so he could speak again.
The smoky air was full of noises all around him, ropes making grinding noises as they were being pulled taut, wood on wood, scraping and grinding, the voices of men all around him, some crying sounds from them, some groans from exhort in the tasks that they were attempting.
"Mr. Callum..." Came a voice off from his right through the smoke. "Mr. Callum, sir...on the Quarter Deck, sir...it's the Captain, sir."
He took a slight breath and set off quickly toward the Quarter Deck, stepping over men, ropes, wood debris. The voices from the men passing him as he went by, he used his hands to try and gently push them out of the way as he went. He reached the stairs, climbing them two at a time, and then hurried across the Quarter Deck, toward the wheel. He saw the slumped figure on the deck, and came up beside him and knelt down. The figure was facing away from him. The man kneeling next to the figure was the helmsman, Perkins, a strong young lad, not more than 16. He looked up into Mr. Callum's face, there was a tear running down from his right eye.
"I think he's dead, sir." Perkin's said softly. Callum reached down and put a hand on the shoulder of his Captain, pulling him gently toward him, rolling him over. The Captain took a deep breath, then licked his lips. He slowly reached a hand up and grasped Callum's sleeve on his tunic.
"Callum...you're in command now." The Captain spoke in a raspy voice. Callum gave a faint smile of reassurance and understanding to the Captain, then looked down the Captain's body. There was blood all over the Captain's white vest, a slender piece of wood was protruding from the lower chest area.
"Perkins, fetch the doctor, quickly."
"Belay that." The Captain said quietly. "I am dead, I know it." The Captain drew in a painful breath and slowly exhaled. "The ship, Callum...save the ship. Do not let..." The Captain stopped breathing, his eyes were glassy and all life disappeared from them.
"You're in command, sir." Came a voice from behind him. Callum reached down and took his fingers and closed his Captain's eyes. "What are your orders, sir?" The voice again from behind Callum. Callum looked up and to his left to see who was asking him, even though he knew who it was. It was Mr. Arvin, Sailing Master.
Callum stood, "Perkins, take the wheel. Mr. Arvin, have two men take the Captain below, put him in the Great Cabin." Callum stepped up to the rail, looking down over the Main Deck. "Gun crews," Callum yelled out, "block and chock your rear wheels. All guns at the ready!" Callum heard men scrambling to carry out his orders, as he turned toward the helm. "Perkins, five degrees to starboard, bring us in between them."
"Aye, sir." As the young man turned the wheel to the right.
"Careful maneuvering may win this day, Mr. Arvin." Callum said, without looking at Arvin.
"Very good, sir."
The smoke was thinner on the Quarter Deck. Callum could see better and watch the activity below him, as the men readied the guns, rolled them out, lifting the rear ends and blocking the rear wheels of each.
"Aim for the waterline, boys! Unblock after you fire! Make each shot count!"
A resounding "Aye, sir." went out from below him.
"Steady now, Perkins." Callum looked over his shoulder, then back forward. The prows of the other ships coming toward them. He was counting to himself, watching as the bow of his own ship was going off toward the farthest ship away. A little more...a little more...a little more..."Now, Perkins! Five degrees port! Bring us in between them!" Perkins rolled the wheel left, watching the bow as he turned the wheel. He smiled as he knew it was going to work. Was there enough room between the ships? It looked too tight, that sail points might collide with the other vessels. Every man held their breath below as they looked up.
"Fire on the up roll!" Callum yelled out. "Steady now...steady!" Callum was watching the other crews on the other ships, scurrying around, taking up gun positions, some men picking up muskets. Shots were now ringing out, some of Callum's men were falling, wood was splintering from lead balls impacting, more smoke.
As the Dover passed bow point to bow point between both ships, Callum took in a deep breath, and then, "FIRE! As you bare!" More guns of the Dover firing, more smoke trapped on the lower decks, the heavy sounds of impacts against the other vessels, men calling out, orders being given. Callum looked to his left as the ships were passing, he could see muskets being leveled toward him. He turned and dove back toward the wheel as the shots went off, one arm clothes lining Perkins, jerking him from the wheel, slamming him to the deck as the lead balls ripped through the wheel, Callum laying on him.
Callum got back to his feet, dashing to the rail again. "Gun crews! Unblock and reload! Run them out smartly, boys! Standby to fire!" The few seconds, ships passing each other in agonizing slowness, each crew watching the other. "Come on lads! Aft crew, stand by!" Callum screamed. "At the waterline! FIRE!" More guns going off. Callum spun and dashed to the aft rail over the Great Cabin. He saw, just in time, cannon balls hitting right at the waterline of both ships as they cleared each other.
"Perkins, bring around to starboard. Hard over!"
"Aye, sir." Perkins said, as Callum dashed past him to the fore rail again. "Forward guns, stand by to fire! Take out her rudder!" Callum screamed, he looked back over his shoulder toward the wheel. "Come on, Perkins, bring her around!"
"She's sluggish, sir." Perkins said, looking upward into the sails. There wasn't much wind, and sail billow was minimal. Callum looked forward toward the bow, the stern of the other vessel was finally lining up, but he could see the gun crews of the other vessel also getting ready. The second vessel was beginning to change course and veer away, leaving it's twin to deal with certain doom from the Dover.
"Captain Anders!" Callum called out.
"Sir." Came the response from the Main Deck.
"Have your Marines keep those gun crews busy while we ready."
"Aye, sir!" Anders replied and hurried forward. Once there, he steadied himself. "Marines, to me!" He called out, and within a moment, ten Marines were leveling muskets at the stern of the approaching ship. "Every shot, Marines, every shot! Fire!"
The volley was thunderous, smoky and loud. As the smoke began to clear, the Marines were reloading, looking directly ahead. There were one or two members of the opposing gun crews still left. The Marines watched as the one gun was rolled out, pointing in their direction. Anders was reloaded first, shouldered, cocked, leveled, took aim, closed his eyes and fired. The other Marines followed suit behind their Captain, firing as they reloaded. The cannon never fired.
"Forward battery, bring your guns to bear!" Callum called out. "Steady!...Steady!...FIRE!" Callum screamed, cupping both hands around his mouth. The volley of six shots sounded, smoke rising and now rolling away with a new fresh breeze. A cheer went up forward, as it was obvious to Callum that the gun crews had made their target. "Perkins, hard starboard, bring us up behind the runaway."
"Aye, aye, sir" Perkins answered. Callum didn't need to turn around to see he was grinning. Callum watched as the prow of his vessel, now responding with the new wind, was moving quicker, swinging over, and the other vessel was coming into view.
"Two points off her port stern."
"Two points, aye, sir."
Callum half grinned, seeing his new prize coming into range. He looked down at the bustle of the Main Deck, men loading guns, pulling out debris, moving it out of their way, clearing the way for the starboard gun ports.
"We will fire as we pass! Mr. Perkins! Stand by to roll to larboard! Mr. Arvin! Smart the broadsheets, if you please! Full tack, gentlemen. I mean to bring her to bare, roll out, and then give them another broadside!"
"Aye, sir" Arvin and Perkins said. Arvin spun and looked upward. "You heard the Captain, full tack! Aloft, there, secure that main." As the men aloft tied down, the sails filled more, billowing out. They could all feel the ship respond to the wind, surging forward, like she was digging into the water deeper for more traction. The other ship was coming closer.
"Captain Anders!" Callum yelled out. "Your sharpshooters, if you please. Take out those gun crews."
"With pleasure, sir." Anders answered back. "Marines, choose your targets! Ready...Aim...Fire!" Volleys were sent as ordered. Men from the other vessel were dropping under the fire of the Marines muskets. Others filled in to take the places of the fallen as Anders and his men reloaded. Anders watching the other ship as he reloaded. "Bring it up boys...they're getting ready." Anders leveled his musket. "Fire at will!" Anders yelled as he pulled the trigger. His Marines followed his lead, again.
"Almost in range, Mr. Arvin." Callum said with a dead calm about him. "Standby Perkins. Gun crews, at the ready!" Callum screamed out. "Ready...now, ten degrees port, Perkins! Gun crews, fire as you bare! FIRE!"
One by one, the guns went off, smoke blowing out of the way almost instantly as they were fired. Almost every shot was doing damage to the stern of the vessel, cannons were lifting, men were flying, wood was being splintered. Finally all twenty four guns of the starboard battery had been fired. Callum was watching intently at the carnage being wrought on the other vessel.
"Perkins, hard a larboard. Bring us back around for another broadside. Cut across her bow."
"Mr. Arvin, what's the other ship doing?"
"She almost at a dead stop, sir. I think they're trying to shore up her waterline. We've done some heavy damage to her, sir."
"Very well." Callum answered, not looking over. He watched the closer vessel as they turned. He went back to the rail, looking down at the men. "Brilliant, gentlemen. Your execution was flawless. Now, starboard battery, once again. We're going to get a little closer this time. Points for the main mast, lads." Cheers went up. "We'll hit her out on her starboard side, swing back around, and take her on her port side." Cheers went up again. "Look sharp, now!" Callum called out, silencing the cheers. Each and every man went to work quickly, and within minutes, all was ready. Callum looked right, seeing the prow closing on his midships. "Hard over, Perkins." Callum watched the bow turn to the right a little. He counted again in his head. Wait...wait...wait, almost there. Yes,...now!
"Straight and narrow, Perkins!" Callum said over his shoulder. "Fire on the up roll! Steady!" Callum waited the Dover rose up on top of the water. "FIRE!" He yelled.
Again, the guns went off one by one, exacting tremendous damage to the other vessel, cheers were singing out from the lower deck with each successive shot. Guns were pulled back, reloaded, and then wheeled back into position, as the ship made her pass, more up the broadside this time. Several of the guns on the other ship were firing, but little damage was being inflicted on the Dover. Callum was pleased.
"Roll us all the way out, Perkins. Larboard battery! Standby!" Callum called out as the last gun fired. "Well done, lads, well done! Every shot made its mark!" Callum turned, "Mr. Arvin, standby to loose the sails."
"Sir?" Arvin asked surprised.
"After we fire our broadside, we're going to board her and take her from her port side."
"Aye, sir." Arvin replied, but rolled his eyes. "Aloft there, standby to drop sail."
"Captain Anders! Prepare your men for boarding! All hands! Once we give her our broadside, give her lines, and prepare to board her!" Cheers went up again. "Standby!"
Callum looked back at his prize as they turned about. Perkins was masterful in his execution of the turn. He guided her around and then corrected and started to bring her up on the other side of the ship, as the opposing crew was clamoring, trying to prepare. Callum went to the fore rail again, leaning forward on it, watching, counting the seconds. Three, Four, Five, Six,...not yet...Eight...Ten..."Now, Mr. Arvin, cut sail! Gun crews! Fire as you bare! FIRE!" Callum yelled. "Perkins, bring us in along side."
Men on the other ship were screaming and yelling, as the Dover's onslaught kept going, driving them back from their guns. Only a few shots had been fired by the other vessel, none made any significant damage. Callum drew his sword, and pulled the pistol from his waist band.
"Lines away!" Callum yelled, as the guns began to silence. Smoke was everywhere, as the lines that were sent over went taut and were starting to pull back, drawing the other ship in. "Marines!" Callum screamed as he came down the steps and jumped up on the gunnels of his own ship. "Let's take them, lads!" Callum yelled, waving his sword, jumping to the other rail. He was met with resistance from the other crew. Most had boat hooks and axes in their hands to cut loose the ropes now tying the two ships together. Callum, swung his sword, stabbing at deck hands, making the ones he hit grunt or take in deep breaths as they fell. It felt to him that he was alone, taking on this whole ship's company by himself, cutting them down as he moved aft, sometimes, two at a time, sometimes only one. Then, it dawned on him, he wasn't alone, as the roar filled in from behind him. He didn't look, but it was obvious that the rest of his crew had joined him and were wreaking their own havoc on their prey. In no time, Callum had reached the steps leading up to the Quarter Deck. He was met at the top by the Captain of this ship, sword drawn, making small circles with its tip.
"Your ship is lost, sir. I suggest you surrender." Callum said, with a smirk on his face.
"It is you who is lost, Capitain." The officer smiled wryly. "Look about, Capitain. Your crew is taking heavy losses, and you certainly are going to die."
"I think not, Monsieur. You are outnumbered, your ship damaged, and I, am probably the better swordsman." Callum said with confidence in his face as well as his voice. He touched his sword to the opposite blade. He watched the face of the opposing Captain, his eyes narrowed, and then he tipped his sword down, letting it fall to just one finger, holding it out to Callum. Callum reached out with the other hand and took the offered blade. "Now, order your men to surrender, if you please."
The French Captain stood up straight, taking off his hat. "Mes ami! Nous adandonnons le navire!"
"Thank you, Captain." Callum nodded his head. "Gentlemen, the ship is ours!" The sounds of fighting quickly died out, and were replaced by cheers. Callum looked around, still clutching his sword, and saw Captain Anders. "Captain Anders!"
"Take the officers and lock them up in the Captains cabin. Take the others below. Mr. Arvin, see to the wounded. Take the..."
"Captain Callum, sir."
"What is it, Perkins?"
"A sail, sir. Off the larboard quarter."
"What now?" Callum muttered as he walked to the side, looking.
The French Captain walked up behind Callum. "Perhaps my surrender was in haste, yes?"
"I think not, sir." Perkins spoke up. "It's the Valiant, sir. I'm sure of it."
"You see a flag, Perkins?"
"Not yet, sir. But, I know her lines when she's carrying full sail." Perkins answered, looking out.
"You're sure?" Callum asked in a low voice.
"Very sure, sir." Perkins answered, smiling at Callum. Callum returned the smile.
"Damn you have good eyes."
"Thank you, sir."
Callum turned and faced the French Captain. "It would appear, sir, it is one of our ships, our flag ship. Your surrender was timely, in order to save lives."
The French Captain bowed his head. "You would have appeared to win the day, Capitain. I applaud you."
"Captain Anders, take them below. Once they are secured, report back here to me."
"Aye, sir." Anders snapped to attention. "Alright, you heard the Captain, move along."
"As soon as everything is secure, we will cut lines, and move to secure the other ship."
"Sir?" Arvin asked with a surprised look. "The men, sir. They're exhausted. Shouldn't we wait for the Valiant, sir?"
"Not being greedy, Mr. Arvin, being efficient. We started to take that ship, and now we're going to finish it. When the Valiant arrives, they can assist, if they wish."
"Very good, sir." Arvin turned, barking out more orders to the crew.
In a few minutes, the Marines returned. Arvin had the crew finishing getting the Dover wounded back on board. Callum asked Anders to leave a small detachment behind to guard the ship. They sealed up the hold and the access hatches. Sails were struck to keep the ship from moving too far off, just to drift naturally as they set out after the other ship.
Once back on board the Dover, Callum reached the Quarter Deck. He called for all able bodied hands to assemble.
"Men, I know it's been a hard fight so far. The other French ship is still untaken. I mean to take her, and sail both of them into Portsmouth...as captured prize." Faint cheers rose up. "The Valiant is almost here. We can wait for her to arrive to help take the ship, and share in the prize money...or...we can finish what we started and claim the prize for ourselves...How about it? Are you with me?" Cheers were heartier. "Can you take her?" Hands and cheers went up. "Are we ready?!"..."Yes!!", yelled the crew, "Very well then, make sail! Mr. Perkins, steer us around and bring us up behind her. We shall beat to quarters!"
"Aye, sir." The crew replied as one. Drums started to roll. Men moved about, checking and loading the guns. The Main Deck was a swarm of activity. The Marines went forward to man stations along the prow. Callum watched as the ship swung around, catching good wind, bringing her up. He smiled to himself. The drums finally stopped beating.
The stern of the other French ship was in full view now, but the other crew had had time to prepare for what was coming. Their guns started firing. The Marines took cover as the bow gun crews got ready, running out.
"Forward gun crews, standby to fire!" Callum waited as the ship dipped and then slowly started to rise again in the swell. "FIRE!" He screamed. Simultaneously the guns fired, ripping into the main cabin at the stern. Screams of men, injured and now dying could be heard. "Two points to port, Mr. Perkins, bring us along side. Starboard gun crews, stand ready! Mr. Arvin, cut sail!" Callum watched as they glided up on the left side of the ship. The aft section have been devastated by their previous attacks, and the guns there were nonfunctional. "Ready!...FIRE!" each gun went off one at a time, as they passed up the side, slowing. There were more screams from the other ship. "Grappling hooks away! Pull her in boys!" Callum drew his sword and came down the steps to the Main Deck. "Marines to me!" Callum yelled, as he jumped up on the rail. "This way lads!" Callum called out, as the two vessels bumped hard to each other. Callum jumped to the other ship. He hit the rail with one foot and leaped into three French sailors, tumbling them to the deck. Callum got to his feet, stabbing the first one trying to get up, then the second pulled a dagger, stabbing Callum deep in the thigh. He thrust his sword in as deep as he could and then withdrew it. The French sailor collapsed, leaving the dagger in Callum's thigh.
The third sailor was dispatched by one of Callum's men, as Callum turned and thrust into another French sailor, then another and another. Again, he felt as he was taking the whole ship on by himself. But, My God, this pain was unbelievable in his leg. His pace was slowing as he made his way to the Quarter Deck. He had some trouble getting up the steps, and then once up to the top, he saw an officer there, guarding the wheel, holding his sword at the ready.
"Your ship is lost." Callum said. "Another one of our ships nears. You would do best to surrender."
"Very well, your choice." Callum braced himself, holding his sword up. Blades touched. They looked into each others narrowed eyes, weighing each other. The French officer thrust, Callum parried, and then counter thrust. He was blocked. The French officer lunged, their blades sliding together, down their lengths, to the pommels. They were face to face. Callum felt pressure on his thigh, and then the pain was blinding, the blade was pulled from his leg in a quick pull. Callum fell back, and landed on the deck. He looked up at the French officer, who was just leering. He lifted up the dagger, as if to plunge it into Callum, taking a large step forward for momentum, but was stopped short, as Callum had struck first with his sword, running it deep into the base of the officer's chest. The officer looked stunned, then looked down at the blade, then back at Callum. He dropped to his knees, and then fell to his side. Callum pulled out his sword, and slowly got to his feet, using his one good leg. He leaned against the rail, bent down and picked up the sword of his fallen opponent. He turned back out, surveying that battle below him. He held the sword up over his head.
"The ship is ours, gentlemen!" Members of both crews stopped their struggle, looking up to the Quarter Deck. They saw Callum standing alone, holding up the one sword. The crew of the Dover cheered, the French crew dropped their weapons to the deck.
"Captain Anders, secure the prisoners below." Callum yelled out. "Mr. Arvin, have the carpenter assess the damage, make whatever repairs necessary to stop the flooding. Have all hands...have all hands..." Callum's words were slowing, his vision was becoming a blur.
"I've got you, sir." It was the last thing that Callum heard and remembered.
"He's coming around now, My Lord." Callum heard the voice say. He was blinking his eyes hard, trying to focus. Callum was unsure of the voice he heard. He knew it, but couldn't place it. Callum centered himself and focused hard. His eyes were now clear.
"Acting Captain Callum," began the voice he did not recognize, "I would like to know what you were thinking, in all of this action, taking on two French frigates...it's the either the bravest thing that has been done or the most foolhardy...well? What say you?"
Callum focused on the voice, shifting his eyes to his left. He recognized the man standing next to him, Lord Fitzwarren, Vice Admiral of the Fleet. Callum tried to rise from his bunk, but a hand pushed him back against his shoulder.
"Rest easy, Captain." Dr. Crawford said. "I will not have your wound opened again. You are to stay here, in bed, for at least two days."
"Thank you, doctor." Callum said, pushing himself up in bed, on his elbows. His leg hurt like Hell. Callum looked again to his left. "My Lord." Callum nodded. "I was acting under orders from the Captain, sir."
"Orders? What orders?"
"Orders from the Captain to save the ship, My Lord."
"Bah!" Fitzwarren threw up a hand. "An order given from a death bed, no doubt. Clearly sir, you saw an opportunity, and took it. By sheer luck and folly, you survived." Fitzwarren raised an eyebrow. "I have spoken to your officers, and they assure me that you were indeed in complete control, and had the weathergauge." Fitzwarren, turned and took a step away, then turned back. "If, for one moment, I thought that you were...glory grabbing, I would have you clamped in irons." Fitzwarren paused, "But, as it stands, with the testimony of your officers, you seemed to have singlehandedly won the day. I congratulate you."
"Thank you, My Lord."
"I hereby further promote you. You are, now, the Captain of the Dover."
"Thank you, My Lord." Callum said, smiling out of the corner of his mouth.
"If you feel up to it, your orders are to proceed to Portsmouth, with your prize ships in tow. We will escort you, and render whatever assistance you need. Once in Portsmouth, you will be refit, and recrewed." Fitzwarren raised an eyebrow, then leaned forward. "Remember, there is a war to win against Napoleon. I don't expect you to do it all by yourself, however."
"Yes, My Lord." Callum said. "Begging your pardon, My Lord...Carson!"
The door to the small cabin opened, a young man appeared, who was the steward. "Sir?"
"Carson, send for Mr. Arvin, if you please?"
"Very well, sir." Carson replied, tipping his hand to his forehead, then shutting the door.
"Pardon, My Lord." Callum said, as he swung legs off the bunk. His feet touched the floor, shoeless. He looked on the floor, but did not see his shoes. "I have a ship to tend to."
"Admirable, Captain Callum," replied Fitzwarren, putting a hand to Callum's shoulder, "but under the circumstance, with your wound..."
The doctor, stepped back in, pushing by the Admiral, "Now see here, Captain..." he said, pushing Callum back into the bunk, "you are to remain here, for two days...if I need to, I will restrain you, sir." Crawford said, giving Callum a stern look. "Do not test me, sir, as I will prevail."
"Understood, Doctor." Callum said, exhaling from the pain. At that moment, there was knock on the door, and Mr. Arvin entered.
"You requested me, sir?"
"I did, Mr. Arvin," Callum said, adjusting himself in the bunk. "we will be getting underway shortly. Once the Admiral and his party have departed, set course for Portsmouth. Dispatch crews to oversee the two frigates, and have them follow course with us."
Arvin nodded and gave his salute to the Captain. "Very good, sir. Will there be anything else?"
"Yes. Any assistance you may require, draw from the Valiant."
"Very good, sir." Arvin said, and then closed the door.
"Captain, I shall be taking my leave of you then." Fitzwarren said. He reached out his hand. Callum took it, as he tried to sit up straight. "I look forward to reading your report. I don't doubt there will possibly be a knighthood in it for you." Fitzwarren winked, and half smiled. He turned and opened the door of the cabin and walked out. The other officers that accompanied him followed out as well. The door closed, leaving the doctor alone with Callum. Callum exhaled , and lay back in the bunk.
"How many did we lose, doctor?"
"Eighteen dead, twelve injured." The doctor replied. He closed up his bag, then looked at Callum. "It could have been a lot worse. You did well, Captain."
"Thank you, doctor. That will be all, for now." Callum replied, the doctor walked out of the cabin, closing the door behind him. Callum heard the ships bell ringing through the ship, five bells. His leg ached, and his head was spinning from everything. He knew he had to maintain his control, as he was now, truly, the Captain of the Dover.
There was a soft knock at the door, as Callum was settling into the bunk. "Enter." Callum said. The door opened, Callum saw the face of Carson.
"Beggin your pardon, sir. There is someone who wishes to speak with you, sir."
"Very well, Carson. Show them in." Callum exhaled, trying to get comfortable. Callum looked up and saw the young face of Perkins, standing the doorway. "Perkins, what are you doing here? Aren't you on watch?"
"It's five bells, sir." Perkins replied. Callum nodded his head, realizing the time, that Perkins was now off duty. "I came by to see if there's anything I could do for you, sir."
"Most kind, Perkins. The doctor has relegated to me to remain in this bunk for two days." Perkins was nervously looking back and forth between the floor and Callum. "What is it, Perkins? Something else bothering you?"
"Well, sir, I...I..."
"Speak up, there's nothing to hide here."
"Well, sir, I wanted to thank you, sir."
"Thank me for what?" Callum asked, looking the young man up and down.
"For saving my life, sir. When the French were firing at us, on the Quarter Deck. You knocked me down, sir. I surely would been shot with that hail of musket fire."
Callum smiled, remembering. He held out his hand toward Perkins. Perkins stepped forward, taking the Captain's hand, and smiled. Fingers wrapped in each other.
"I merely was trying to keep from losing my best helmsman." Callum winked. "Remember I said you have good eyes?" Perkins grinned in reply. "I want to keep them, and keep them with me."
"Thank you, sir." Perkins squeezed his fingers in the Captain's hand. Callum squeezed back. Their eyes were scanning each others.
"You're welcome to come back here anytime. You can give me updates, and...keep me company from time to time, til we reach Portsmouth."
"I'd like that, sir. Thank you."
"Now," Callum said, withdrawing his hand, he was settling back into the bunk, "I'm going to try and get comfortable."
"I will let you get some rest, sir. Good night, sir."
"Good night, Perkins."