The man in black was reeling from the wounds he had received from Callum so far. Both his arms just hung there as he couldn’t really move them without further pain. Callum held up his sword tip, pointing it at the man in black. He could see the wounds were bleeding, the fabric of the black shirt was shining in the lamplight at the wounds, he knew it was blood making the shine.
“I will ask you one more time,…who sent you?” Callum asked. Receiving no reply, he went to move the sword again.
“Enough.” The voice said firmly, but not loud. Callum shifted his eyes and looked at the stairs. Dustin was coming down them, a look of horror on his face. Dustin carried his sword in one hand, a pistol in the other, “Quintan, please, no more of this.”
“I need answers before I can end this, Dustin.” Callum said flatly to Dustin but glared at the man in black before him.
“He will not tell you anything,…that much is certain.” Dustin said as he reached the bottom of the stairs.
“Fine, then I will simply kill him.” Callum said and went to move. Eyes went wide and Dustin moved off the stairs to get in front of Callum quickly, stopping him getting in front of him.
“This is not our way, you’re not a murderer, Quintan.” Dustin said as he looked into Callum’s eyes.
“Apparently I am. There is a body out in front of the house in the drive to prove that point.” Callum said flatly.
“You’re better than this. They are murderers, assassins in the night. That is not you.” Dustin pleaded with soft eyes, “I beg you, do not do this.” Dustin whispered.
“They will keep coming if I don’t.” Callum looked beyond Dustin to the man standing there behind him.
“Listen to him, Captain.” The man in black muttered as he weaved a bit obviously in great pain. Callum narrowed his eyes at him.
“You beg for your life now?” Callum asked.
“We are soldiers, Captain, you and I. We are both prepared to die, if necessary for what we do, but I for one do not wish to. I too have a family.”
“Then tell me what I want to know and I will spare you and let the surgeon tend to your wounds when he arrives. Your family can have you back then.” Callum said still looking beyond Dustin and waited for an answer, there was none, “No? Then have it your way.” Callum said and went to move again, Dustin moved with him. Callum stopped and glared at him.
“This is not La Rochelle, Quintan, not some mission.” Dustin whispered.
“What would have me do? Let them continue to come for us, for the boy? This will not stop, don’t you see that?” Callum asked as he shifted his eyes to Dustin.
“Would you kill them all?” Dustin asked. Callum frowned and then thought a moment.
“If necessary, yes. Besides him, how many are left?” Callum asked.
“Alive? Just the one up there on the landing. The rest are all dead.” Dustin said.
“Alright. Go saddle two horses if you please, one for Christian to fetch the surgeon, the other for him. I will send him on his way. We will regret this decision, mark my words.” Callum said with a growl.
“I don’t think so. You are making the right decision, I know it in my heart.” Dustin whispered as he stepped closer to Callum. Dustin gave him a brief smile and turned to the man in black, “You should probably sit down and regain some strength before you fall down. We will summon the surgeon from the village for our friend and for you.” Dustin backed up one step from him.
Callum was so frustrated in not being able to find out anything he wanted to know. His anger was overtaking him, he turned to step away but not far. He was thinking of another plan to try and get information he wanted before this fell apart any further. That moment was when he heard the grunt behind him, the shift in the air breaking the silence of the room, he turned back quickly.
The man in black had sprung himself onto Dustin to get to the pistol he held with every last measure of his strength. Hands clasped around Dustin’s wrists for that control. It happened so fast Dustin had no time at all to utter a sound. Callum leaped forward to help Dustin, his eyes wide, his heart pounding in his throat, as the hammer was cocked back on the pistol, a grunt from the man in black, Callum’s hands were on the man’s wrists that held Dustin’s as Callum dropped his sword to free his hand further in assistance, the three of them collided and then the boom came, the smoke from the powder of the shot rose between all of them obscuring all of their vision of one another. A gurgle was heard and the smoke began to clear slowly.
“What the hell happened?!” Christian called out from the rail on the landing upstairs a moment after the shot. He was looking down at the group below him in the foyer. He saw Dustin fall back a few steps out of the smoke cloud and look up at him briefly and then back down at himself, blood all over his shirt and pants, “NO!” Christian screamed and charged for the stairs over the still unconscious body of the Guardsman on the landing, coming down the stairs in long leaps. Dustin looked up at him in shock, holding out his hands a bit, blood all over them. Dustin looked at his hands as Christian reached him, taking him in his arms, holding him tight.
“You son-of-a-bitch!” Callum yelled as he pushed the man in black out of the smoke cloud, gripping the man’s throat with his right hand, choking him, following him slowly to the floor, going over the top of him, both the man’s hands on Callum’s arms, his eyes wide, and then the crunching sound came as Callum growled through clenched teeth, crunching like the sound of grinding gravel under a boot heel would make, Callum crushing the man’s wind pipe in his hand, ending him. He let the body go, dropping him to the floor the rest of the way. Callum spun and looked at Dustin and Christian, as Christian was covering him as he held him tight blocking Callum’s view.
“Are you hurt?” Christian whispered in Dustin’s ear.
“I…I…don’t think so.” Dustin whispered back as Callum came up, putting a hand on Christian’s shoulder, pulling them apart and pushing Christian out of the way. Callum’s eyes raced up and down Dustin’s body quickly. There was blood all over him, yes, but there was no hole, no wound to be seen.
“You’re not shot.” Callum said as he met Dustin’s eyes in a frantic look. There was a blank stare back into Callum’s eyes from Dustin. Dustin only shook his head in silent reply. Callum stepped forward and wrapped his arm around Dustin, pulling him in tight, “Thank God.” Callum whispered. He closed his eyes and sobbed heavily into Dustin’s neck. Christian could see Callum from the back, the bullet hole through his left shoulder, the blood from the wound staining the white shirt he wore. Christian watched the two of them for a moment and came to realize that Callum was falling apart, he lowered his gaze to the floor hearing the sobs.
“Here now, what is this?” Dustin whispered into Callum’s ear.
“I thought for a moment that I had lost you.” Callum sobbed, not moving, still holding him tight.
“My rock, my hero, I am not lost, and I am well.” Dustin whispered as he slowly lifted his bloodied hands and clasped them around Callum, “Fear not, my love, all is well.” Dustin whispered and Callum could not stop and began to sob uncontrollably into Dustin’s neck and shoulder as he held Dustin tight in his arms.
Christian went to go back upstairs to Thomas. He put one foot on the bottom step and stopped, looking at the pair there at his side. Christian reached out a hand and placed it on Callum’s shoulder and looked at them both, the love that was between them, the bond that was there. Christian had seen so much between them over their time together, but he had never seen Callum so distraught before and he was worried over it, beyond concern and more toward being scared. Christian realized that without Dustin, Callum would become an empty shell of a man, that fear Callum felt in losing Dustin was very obvious to Christian as he pulled back his hand and went up the stairs to see about the love of his own life, Thomas Tomlin.
Callum sighed heavily and lifted his head from Dustin’s shoulder, trying with everything he had to stop his sobbing at the thought of losing the love of life. Callum was brought back to reality as he looked upon Dustin’s beautiful face, whole and full of life and wonder at what Callum was feeling at this moment.
“You thought I was dead, didn’t you?” Dustin asked. Callum nodded only in reply his eyes wet and flowing, “I am sorry that I frightened you so, it was not my intention.” Dustin saw the tears that had been streaming from Callum’s eyes, the streaks that ran down his cheeks to his jawline and Dustin’s heart broke over it, “Oh, Quintan, I am so sorry.” Dustin said as he lifted his blood stained hands and put them to Callum’s cheeks, “I was so wrong to stop you, to keep you from doing what you needed to do, can you forgive me?”
“There is nothing to forgive, my love. You, being safe and sound is the only thing that is important to me. I could not continue without you, Dustin. You are my life, my soul, my entire being. If something were to happen to you, I could not go on. When I thought you shot and possibly dying, I could not control what I felt, I apologize for falling apart like that.” Callum said as he wiped one eye at a time with the back of his right hand.
“I love you, Quintan, so very much.” Dustin whispered as he looked into those wet steel blue eyes, “You are the most important thing in my life, you know that, and I would never, ever, want to cause you the pain as you just showed. I am the one that needs to apologize to you for bringing that.”
“Think nothing of it, my love. As long as you are safe and sound, that is the only matter to me in this.” Callum said as he pulled himself up and together. He heard the grunt and looked up over Dustin’s head that was in front of him.
The man in black on the landing grabbed Christian by the leg and pulled him down as Christian stepped over him to go to Thomas. The two were grappling with each other now on the floor, Callum pushing Dustin out of the way and charging up the stairs to help barehanded. The man in black heard him coming and got the better of Christian quickly, pushing him back to the floor and pounded his face twice, knocking him senseless. He spun and got to his feet as Callum came around the rail, diving into him headlong, knocking him back beyond Christian, the two of them colliding to the floor in a heap toward the bedroom.
They struggled with one another as Callum tried to get on top of him, elbows and fists making contact with each other, bringing grunts and the sounds of those smacks of contact, bone against flesh. Callum growled as rage grew inside him, wanting this to be done. Dustin charged up the stairs to come to Callum’s aid, but it was too late, the man in black overpowering Callum, knocking Callum to the floor with a solid punch to the left eye. The man in black turned and faced Dustin as he rounded the railing at the top of the stairs and came toward him with a menacing look, stalking toward Dustin quickly on the landing.
Dustin looked beyond the man, seeing Callum trying to roll to get up, Christian was moaning below him as Dustin balled his fists and readied himself for what was coming. The man charged quickly and Dustin swung making contact, but the hit was not enough, just turned the man’s head a bit and then hands were on Dustin, going around his throat tight.
“Where’s the boy?” The man growled, “I’ll kill you if you don’t tell me.” Dustin grabbed the wrists and tried to pull him off but he was not strong enough. Dustin clenched his throat muscles and let go, balling his fists again and started punching the man in the ribs and gut over and over, but the man tightened his grip and his eyes were like flame with rage. Dustin saw it as he faded, punching him again over and over and then crumpled under the tight grip. The man in black dropped Dustin to the floor and then heard the roar behind him and then saw the blur.
Callum launched himself into the man, pushing him into the wall at the top of the stairs, they grappled with each other for a moment and then fell, tumbling down the stairs together, one over the other, grunting and sighing as they went until they landed on the floor below. Callum raised up on one arm and shook his head, being dazed a bit, he looked over and saw the black figure get to his feet and go for the sword that was on the floor, Callum’s sword. Callum leaped forward with his body and reached the pommel first but the man was on him, wrapping his hand around Callum’s and they rolled together to gain control of the blade, Callum holding on for dear life. The man in black got on top and balled his free hand and punched Callum in the face over and over to gain control, but Callum was beyond mad now, beyond rage with this man, what he had done, to Christian, and to Dustin, his sweet Dustin, Callum sat up as the blows came as if they were nothing to him but the wind blowing on him. Callum growled as the blood was flowing over his eye from the cuts of those blows, getting to his feet with the man and then Callum pushed into him, picking him up and carrying him to the wall of the house at the base of the stairs, running him into the solid plastered wall and making him grunt.
A fist that was free was balled up and Callum pulled back the arm it was connected to and sent it in with everything that he had, making connection to the base of the ribs, the smacking sound but there was something else, the crunching of bone as well and the man could not cry out with the pain he felt, he could only go wide eyed with it. Callum pulled back again to send it into him, but the man knew and head-butted Callum in the forehead breaking the hold on him, Callum staggered back a step and the man was freed, he punched Callum over and over in the face, sending him back, as Callum still clutched his sword, the man hit him one last time and Callum went down to the floor. The man turned and ran for the door, bent over, but moving as he clutched his ribs with one arm.
“Quintan,…are you alright?” Christian said out of breath as he came to Callum’s side, putting a hand to his shoulder. Callum nodded only, not saying anything, blood was running down his face as he tried to look at Christian with squinted eyes.
“Dustin?” Callum asked as he turned his head toward the landing.
“He’ll be alright.” Christian said.
“Stop him.” Callum said as he looked back at Christian. Christian rose and charged for the door, his own sword had been picked up upstairs and was in his hand now. Callum got to his knees, wiping the blood away from his eye with the back of his hand, “Dustin?” Callum called out softly, he heard a groan and then saw Dustin get to his feet and lean on the railing of the landing.
“I’m alright.” Dustin said and rubbed his throat, “Quintan,…did he…?”
“Christian went after him.” Callum said as he rose to his feet fully.
“Help him, he might need it against him. He wanted Hans.” Dustin said hoarsely. Callum took his sword and gripped it tight and then heard the clang of steel through the open front door, he turned and went toward it quickly and then stopped as he focused in the darkness outside. He saw it, the two of them, the glint of steel in the moonlight, Christian holding up his blade, the clang of steel and the grunt, then Callum heard the swish of a blade being swung in the air. He charged through the door and out onto the gravel. He could see Christian fighting, heard the clang, but he could not see the man yet and then as he drew closer, he could see the white of his skin in the moonlight, the arc of the blade and then heard the clang again. He came close and the man pushed Christian back toward Callum.
They stood side by side against the man in black, swords up and at the ready. Callum was still bleeding over his eye and now his left shoulder was beginning to fail him, the stiffness that was coming on to him from the bullet wound he had.
“You are outnumbered, sir. I beg you to surrender.” Callum said firmly.
“I think not, Captain. I know who you are and what you can do, but there is something that you do not know about me.” The man in black said as he held his sword up in a menacing way.
“And what is that?” Callum asked dryly.
“I was once a Grenadier during the rebellion in the colonies, I was never bested with a sword.” The man in black said in a matter of fact tone. Both Callum and Christian raised their guard a bit hearing him. Callum knew, as did Christian, that the Grenadiers were fierce cavalrymen and had been used when it counted the most against the Continental Army of Washington, there were no better swordsmen to be found anywhere in the world, they were completely fearless in what they did.
“We can take him together, Quintan.” Christian said as he whispered to Callum with a lean.
“I have heard that you were fierce in battle, but as a cavalryman, you seem to be missing a horse.” Callum said, cocking his head a bit, “I, on the other hand, have never needed one to do my fighting, and my friend here is also quite the accomplished swordsman as you probably saw, and has a reputation as a duelist as well. You, sir, are as I said, are outnumbered. If you wish to survive this night, I suggest that you lower your sword.” Callum said.
“Not until I have the boy.”
“He is not yours to take as I told your companion inside the house. You no doubt saw what happened to him, would you want that to be your fate as well?” Callum asked and inched forward, “I myself am itching for another fight, I relish it. You and your companions picked the wrong group to come up against, we were waiting for you, but I suppose you know that by now.”
“We knew, you are right in that, Captain, but as you are one less in your number with your man upstairs wounded and possibly dying right now, the two of you will be no match for me, I assure you. Give me the boy, and we will part without further incident. If you resist, it is of no matter, Captain, I will take the boy with me regardless when I go. I do not wish to kill you or your friend, but I will if I must.” The man in black said and stepped to his right once, Callum and Christian turned with him.
“Can you not see that this is over?” Christian asked, “The boy is lost to you and your group, certainly lost to your master as well, the one that pulls your strings.”
“His name is Upton, is that not right?” Callum asked as they stared at the dark figure.
“Who sent us is not important, that we take the boy with us is.”
“Look around you, are there any others that are coming to your aid?” Callum asked, “No, there is not, they are all dead, as dead as you will be if you do not surrender and lower your sword, sir.”
“I cannot. I must complete what we were sent out to do.”
“It is madness, plain and simple.” Callum said.
“Then let it be madness.” The man in black said and swung his sword so fast, Callum barely had time to lift his blade to block it, the steel singing as the blades met. Callum stepped in on instinct ahead of Christian and the moves became rapid, swings, lunges, blocks, parry’s. Callum pulled back a moment and the man in black leered in the moonlight that shone on them. Callum knew he was a good swordsman, there was no doubt now, and Callum lunged, but he was blocked. They both moved instantly into stance, free hands on hips and began the deadly dance. Blades moved fast and became almost a blur as Christian watched and the memory of seeing something like this once before came to him.
It was in London, Callum fighting another swordsman, Ezri Smythe in the street. This was almost identical to that, except there was no one coming to their aid as was the case with the squad of Marines and their timely arrival to end it before Callum had been ended by Smythe. Christian held his blade up, not being able to break in and help Callum, but stayed close just in case. He watched the dance of the two going across the gravel, stepping with each other, to and forth with each other matching step for step, swing for swing, as their swords met and clanged the sweet sound of steel filling the night air with it. Callum was tiring and breathing hard as was the man in black, they swung at each other and then backed up a step giving each other a bit of ground.
“My compliments, Captain. I had heard of your prowess with a blade but I did not believe it until now.” The man in black said as he was trying to catch his breath his sword still up.
“Thank you.” Callum wheezed a bit, breathing hard, and held his blade up, “I am most impressed with you as well.. There have only been a few that could equal you.” The man in black circled a few steps, Callum staying with him, Christian now behind him but watching closely. He was mesmerized as they went at it once again, lunging at each other, blocking and then Callum back swung and caught the man in black across the top of his shoulder, ripping into the shirt and making him grunt.
“That is one, Captain, but it will be the last, I assure you.” The man in black grunted.
“I think not. End this,” Callum said holding up his blade, “surrender yourself.”
“I cannot.” The man said and lunged forward, Callum grit his teeth, blocking and then elbowed him in the jaw as they came close together. The man started to spin away but Callum was on him. His left arm was weak from the bullet hole, but he pushed through the pain and punched the man in black, staggering him, Callum stepped in closer as the man was caught off guard, swinging up the pommel of his sword catching him in the chin, stunning him, Callum brought it back and thrust it forward full force into the face of the man fully and the impact of it knocked him back to the gravel, sprawling him out. Callum was on him, sword pointed at his throat as he loomed over the dark figure below him.
“I would say that you have no choice but to surrender now.” Callum wheezed. Christian came up and kicked the blade out of the hand of the man on the ground.
“Are you alright?” Christian asked without looking at Callum as he leaned close to Callum.
“A bit winded. I seem to be a bit out of shape.” Callum wheezed and flashed his eyes a bit. Christian smiled and pointed his sword next to Callum’s at the man’s throat.
“An eventful evening. I would say that you are done, sir.” Christian said as he looked down at him.
“It is not over yet.” The man in black said.
“Don’t be stupid.” Callum said as he was getting his breathing under control.
“We were but the first, Captain. There will be of us more coming.” The man said as he looked up at them over him. Callum grit his teeth again and bent over a bit, Christian did not move.
“How many? When?” Callum growled through his clenched teeth.
“What will you do if I tell you, Captain?” The man asked coolly, Callum narrowed his eyes at him, “You see, Captain, you were correct when you told your friend inside the house that we would keep coming. We will until our numbers are exhausted or our goal is met.”
“How many of you are there?” Christian asked.
“Too many to count, and too many for you to deal with, with your small group. You see, Captain, you have lost completely in this. Oh, the battle may be won by you, but we cannot be stopped, the war will be lost by you, you and your friends and your family will be put to an end as well.” The man in black said as he looked up. Callum growled deep in his throat and his eyes flashed as he pulled back his arm to thrust his sword.
“Quintan!” Christian said loudly seeing him move, “Stop! This is what he wants, don’t you see?” Christian asked and Callum stopped, “If you kill him, there will be no one to report back, and they will keep coming.” Christian looked down at the man in black, “Is that not so?” He asked toward the man but received no answer.
“What shall we do with him then?” Callum asked.
“Tell him,…tell him what you have planned for the boy, put an end to it here and now. You must to keep everyone else safe with doing that.” Christian said and Callum looked at him with wide eyes.
“Have you lost your mind?” Callum asked.
“No, I am thinking of all of us. We cannot deal with this continually, them coming for us in the night like this. Thomas is wounded, so are you, Dustin is hurt as well. And what of Henry and Martha?” Christian asked as they locked eyes on each other, “Please,…put an end to this.” Callum looked away and then at the man under him for a moment.
“I suppose you are right.” Callum said and pulled his sword away from the man’s throat, “I just want my family safe, all of my family.” Callum stepped one step away, Christian did not move at all, keeping his sword where it was, “The boy will be out of the country and out to sea by this time tomorrow. I have made arrangements for him to be taken to America on a merchant ship leaving Bristol.”
“Give him to me now then and you will not have to go through the trouble, Captain.” The man said as he looked at Callum’s back, Callum turning and looking back down at him with a glare.
“No.” Callum said and the man narrowed his eyes in question, “If there is a chance that he may escape your grip because of this, then so much the better. A fighting chance as it were. He deserves that at least, don’t you agree?”
“No, I do not.” The man said.
“Well,…my decision remains in this.” Callum said flatly.
“What shall we do with him?” Christian asked.
“Let him up.”Callum said as he looked at Christian, “We’ll take him back into the house. You need to fetch the surgeon for Thomas and also the Magistrate as well. Have him bring some men with him to deal with these that are fallen about us. We will hold him here until dawn and then send him on his way so he can report to whoever sent him.” Callum said and Christian pulled back his sword tip allowing the man in black to get up on his feet slowly. Callum looked at the man and leaned toward him, “I am doing this only to keep my family safe, do you understand? If they are hurt in any way or if any of you ever show yourselves here upon my property again, God help you because no one else will.”
The man in black had been tied up with a line brought from the kitchen and was sat on the settee in the parlor, his hands tied behind him. Dustin was standing watch over him, sword in hand. They looked at one another for a moment and Dustin looked away from him. The man in black gave him a smirk.
“Untie me, boy. I can be on my way before the Captain returns.”
“I think not. As he said, we will wait for the Magistrate.” Dustin said.
“Don’t be like him and make a poor choice in this. The more time that passes, the more dangerous it becomes for all of you.” The man in black said as he was watching the stairs, rolling his wrists in the ropes to try and loosen them behind him.
“I think you need to be quiet now.” Dustin said as he looked back at him on the settee.
“I’m telling you, you are making a mistake by not letting me go.” The man said and looked at Dustin again, their eyes met, Dustin narrowed his, “Follow his orders and it will go badly for you.”
“What happened to him?” Callum asked as he reached the bottom of the stairs and started toward Dustin. He noticed that Dustin held not only the sword in one hand, but a pistol in the other. Dustin looked at the slumped body on the arm of the settee and shrugged once, then looked at Callum.
“I told him more than once to be quiet. He simply wouldn’t listen.” Dustin said as Callum stepped up to him. They both heard the clatter of hooves and wheels out in the gravel and the shouts and calls of strange voices. Callum turned to head for the door when Christian came in, Dr. Stivers following him in, black bag in hand.
“We are here, Quintan.” Christian said and then looked back at the doctor, “Thomas is upstairs, Doctor, in the room with open door off to the left.” Christian said and pointed for the older man. Stivers was looking at Callum and the bodies on the floor and was a bit wide eyed over it all.
“You have been shot, Captain.” Stivers said peering over the top of his spectacles at the hole in Callum’s shoulder.
“It went through, Doctor.” Callum said as he looked at the older man, “Thank you for coming so quickly.”
“Captain Holt gave me no alternative. I need to look at that for you, Captain.” The older man said.
“It can wait. Thomas’ wounds are more pressing, Doctor.” Callum said flatly. The older man looked around again and saw Dustin, the blood all over him.
“Are you hurt, Mr. Perkins?” The older man asked. Dustin stepped toward him.
“I am well, Doctor, thank you. Please, if you would see to Thomas.” Dustin said. The man in black groaned and started to move on the settee.
“What happened to him?” The older man asked. Dustin turned and went toward the man as he was shaking his head to clear the fog in it a bit. Dustin lifted the spent pistol in his hand a bit and thumped him in the head again, the man fell back on the settee. Stivers went wide eyed, Callum and Christian were trying to suppress their smiles as Dustin turned back to them as the body slumped once more.
“He is a bit tired after this evenings activities, Doctor.” Dustin said to the older man. They all looked at open front door as another two men stepped in, one gasped at what he saw.
“Your Honor,” Callum said at the older of the two men, “I apologize for the lateness of the hour.” Callum said as he stepped forward, putting out his hand.
“What has happened here, Captain?”
“We had a break in by a group of ruffians, they were stopped, but we have had some casualties over it. The good doctor here will be tending to it, but, I wanted to make sure that you knew as well.” Callum said as he bowed his head slightly.
“I see, Captain.” The older man said as he looked around the room at the bodies on the floor and then back at Callum, “What is it that you wish of me?”
“Simply that you take note of what has happened and to have the bodies removed, Your Honor.”
“I see.” The older man said and looked at Callum briefly, “This seems like the encounter that you had with those Marines not long ago, Captain.”
“Not quite, Your Honor. These men broke into the house plain and simple in the dead of night and tried to overpower my tenants living here, Captain Tomlin and Captain Holt. Obviously they were thinking that there was something of great value here in the house, but I assure you they were mistaken as there is nothing, is there, Captain Holt?” Callum asked as he looked at Christian who rolled his eyes a bit and then looked at The Magistrate.
“I assure you, Your Honor, that there is nothing of value here in the house” Christian said and then looked at Callum, “Perhaps, Quintan, you should check on Martha and Henry before this goes on much further?” Christian asked.
“Yes, perhaps I should, you’re right, Christian.” Callum said softly, “She is probably very concerned about us and what has happened.”
“I have several questions to ask of you, Captain.” The Magistrate said as he looked closer at Callum, “It looks like you have been shot, sir, the good doctor should tend to it before you leave.” Callum looked to his shoulder, the hole through it, the blood about it and then looked back at the Magistrate.
“Perhaps you’re right. I would not want to have her deal with this.” Callum said, “Alright, Your Honor, ask your questions while I wait for the doctor.”
“You should sit down, Quintan.” Dustin said as he came up beside Callum. Callum gave him a brief smile and a nod, he turned and went to the settee, the man in black was slumped against one of the arms, Callum sat at the other end.
The Magistrate gave instructions to the two men with him to take the bodies out of the house and place them with the other in the drive. Christian said that there were two more of them upstairs as well in the open bedroom. Both men went a bit wide eyed over it looking at him, Christian just shrugged his shoulders at them. The Magistrate raised an eyebrow and crossed into the open parlor and came up near Callum, Dustin stood at the end of the settee, sword in hand.
“Do you think there will be more trouble, Mr. Perkins?” The Magistrate asked as he nodded toward the sword.
“This man is very dangerous, sir. I let my guard down once this evening, I shall not do it again.” Dustin said with a firm tone then looked down at Callum, “I was told but didn’t believe it. I apologize.”
“We are safe for the moment and that’s all that matters.” Callum said softly and met Dustin’s eyes.
“Tell me what is really going on here, Captain. You and I both know these are not simple burglars. Who are they?” The Magistrate asked.
“You Honor, if I were to tell you everything, it would implicate you. Suffice it to say, these are dangerous men as Dustin said, very dangerous, and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.”
“I will ask again, Captain, who are they?” The Magistrate asked and Callum closed his eyes a moment and then looked up at the older man.
“There are Guardsmen, Your Honor, under orders from what I suspect is another dangerous man in Parliament, using them to get what he wants. They were sent as assassins. In telling you this, and no more, you are now in great danger yourself. The community must not know of this, for their own safety. It should remain known as there was a break in and the men that did it were stopped.” Callum said.
“You are saying there is some plot by a member of the government?”
“Your Honor, please.” Dustin said as he looked at the older man, “Take what he says to heart and follow his instructions. There are too many people here in the village.”
“If word of this were to spread, Your Honor, we will have Regulars sent here, I assure you to keep order, and then there will be more of these men in our midst as well.” Callum said.
“I see.” The Magistrate said and narrowed his eyes, “Alright, Captain, I will heed your instructions. There will be nothing said of this but as you say, a simple break in.”
“Thank you, Your Honor. And when this is over, I will explain it fully to you, I give you my word.”
“I look forward to that.” The Magistrate said as the two men came down the stairs with another body in their hands. All eyes shifted and looked at them.
“After we bring them out, Your Honor, what shall we do with them?” One of the men asked.
“One of you go to Muir’s Livery and fetch a cart from them. Do not alarm them, simply say that I have need of it. Bring it back here and we will load them into it.” The Magistrate said.
“Yes, sir.” The man said and gave a nod as they went on out the front door.
Callum sat shirtless on a stool in the kitchen at a table near the spit in the house known as Harbroughs. Dr. Stivers was tending to the open hole through Callum’s shoulder as Dustin was there as well pumping water at the sink to wash himself of all the blood that was on his hands and face. Callum sat still as the doctor was closing the wound on the backside of the shoulder with needle and thread.
“Thankfully it doesn’t seem to have hit any bone, Captain.” The older man said as he sewed. Callum had his lips pinched tight as he went in and out of the skin, “You will be very stiff for a number of days over this while it begins to mend itself from the inside out. I don’t see any powder burns. Where were you when you were shot, Captain?”
“I was in the foyer near the stairs, the man was here just outside the kitchen. I turned just as he shot, if I hadn’t, it might have had a different outcome.” Callum said with clenched teeth as Stivers entered the skin again.
“Yes,…fortune favors the brave I suppose.” Stivers said, “One thing is certain, Captain, I am staying in practice with my knitting skills thanks to you.”
“I am happy to be of service with that, Doctor.” Callum groaned slightly as he was stuck again.
“Somehow I don’t think so.” Stivers said, “Captain Tomlin is quite fortunate however, even with the amount of blood that he has lost. He should heal quite well.”
“That is good news, Doctor.” Callum said as he clenched his teeth again and then felt a tug.
“Alright, that should hold. Now, let us do the front side of you, Captain. Turn yourself a bit if you please so I can get at you.” Stivers said.
“As I recall, Doctor, your stitching of me the last time, it was rancid.” Callum said as he shifted a bit on the stool.
“Yes, quite right. Your arm and chest. I apologize for that. I have replaced my thread with new. It never occurred to me before I sewed you up, as it is very rare when I have to do this you know.” Stivers said as he looked over his spectacles at Callum.
“Yes, the village being as quiet as it is, I can see that.”
“But with you around, Captain, it does become a bit lively. A change of pace like that can be a good thing I suppose.” Stivers said as he began to wipe around the hole with a damp cloth.
“You would be a handy man to have about aboard ship, Doctor. My good friend, Dr. Arthur Crawford, made comment of your stitching when I visited him in Portsmouth and had them removed. He was most impressed with your technique that you used.”
“Is that so?” Stivers asked as he thread the needle and then moved to begin, “Ready?”
“I seem to have no choice, do I?”
“No, you do not, Captain.” Stivers smiled briefly and stuck the needle in. Callum grunted and moved a bit, “This will hurt a bit more than the other side as this seems to be the exit side of the hole. The skin is turned out a bit.” Stivers looked up, “Mr. Perkins, may I ask your assistance please?”
“Certainly, Doctor.” Dustin said as he turned from the sink.
“If you would hold him steady for me.” Stivers said and Dustin walked up behind Callum and put his hands on him to hold him in place. Callum steadied in the grip upon him and leaned against Dustin going skin to skin as Dustin had removed his own shirt to wash himself at the sink. Callum could feel his heat but the sewing was distracting him.
“Are you alright?” Dustin asked Callum as he looked down at the top of Callum’s head.
“Yes.” Callum said as Stivers was pulling the thread tight and closing the open hole a bit at a time. Callum let out a short sigh as the thread made its tight pull. Callum closed his eyes. He did not see Christian walking in the door of the kitchen.
“How goes it?” Christain asked as he came closer and Dustin looked at him.
“It seems fine so far. He has had much worse.” Dustin said.
“Thank you, Dr. Perkins.” Callum said through clenched teeth. Callum heard Christian chuckle a bit but didn’t open his eyes.
Callum walked slowly up the path toward the back door of the Cross. He carried sword in right hand, a spent pistol tucked in his belt. Dustin walked with him, carrying the rest of their weapons. They both saw the glow of the lamp in the kitchen and it gave Callum a warm feeling to know that he was home.
“I hope there is coffee on the stove.” Callum said.
“I’m sure there is, but you heard the Doctor, he said to drink water and to rest your wound.”
“I’ll rest it after we end this in the morning.” Callum said and Dustin opened the back door for Callum, letting him go in first.
“My God, what happened over there?” Martha asked as she came toward them from the stove. She saw all of the blood all over their clothes and her hand went to her mouth.
“It was a bit difficult to say the least, but, we prevailed. Is everyone well here?” Callum asked as he stood in the middle of the kitchen looking at her. Carson came in from the parlor doorway, two pistols in his belt.
“Are you alright, sir?” Carson asked as he looked at the both of them, seeing all the blood as well.
“No worse for the wear, Carson. We must see to the plan. We were told that there are more of them coming.”
“Oh dear God.” Martha said, still covering her mouth with a hand, the other was clenching her apron, “You are wounded, Quintan?”
“It is not bad, nothing to worry over, my dear. Dr. Stivers came and patched it.”
“Yes, a hole that you could see through.” Dustin said as he stepped around Callum, putting the weapons he held on the kitchen table.
“Is there any coffee, my dear?” Callum asked as he looked at her, her eyes were wide with fear and worry.
“Yes.” She said softly.
“You could probably use a brandy instead, sir.” Carson said coming close and gently taking the sword from Callum’s hand.
“Dustin, we should probably reload these, don’t you think?” Callum asked as he pulled his pistol from his belt, handing it out toward Dustin. Dustin took it and nodded silently. He set it on the table and went to get the extra shot and powder upstairs in their room as Callum looked at Carson, “All six have been dealt with, only one survives. I will send him on his way at dawn. It will take him several hours to reach London on horseback, by that time you and Hans can be far away. Once he reaches London, I am certain more will come, that will be several more hours. We will deal with that when the time comes.”
“More of them are coming?” Martha asked as she came up to Callum with a cup of coffee, handing it to him. Callum took it from her and smiled briefly at her.
“Yes.” He said matter of fact to her, then took a sip, he looked at Carson again “I have told him of the sailing to America to try and lead them off, but I know they will be coming here to confirm it if he suspected that I was lying. There will be others that will be going on to Bristol to try and stop that sailing or to at least to confirm it. Either way, we have a bit of time.”
“We will be ready, sir.” Carson said.
“Where is Hans?” Callum asked.
“He is in with Master Henry, sir, in his room. Both of them are trying to comfort one another. They heard the shots and some of the fighting.” Carson said.
“I see.” Callum said as Dustin came back into the kitchen, carrying more pistols with him, setting them on the table along with the extra shot and powder.
“Let me give you a hand with that, Dustin.” Carson said as he turned toward the table.
“Perhaps you should get out of this shirt of yours and let me have it. I can boil it to get the blood out of it with some lye.” Martha said and then looked at Dustin, “Dustin, I should have yours as well.”
“I am not sure if this is worth saving.” Callum said as he looked down at it and then into her soft, tired eyes, “You should be going to back to bed, my dear.”
“Who could sleep with all of this going on?” Martha asked and then the thought hit her, “You have not said anything about Thomas and Christian. Are they,…?”
“Christian is fine. Thomas has been severely wounded. Dr. Stivers tended to him, and was still there when we came back here.” Callum said as he put a hand on her shoulder gently.
“I should go over,…” She said, but Callum shook his head.
“No, you will not, not now at least. I do not want you to see any of it, it’s not for your eyes. Perhaps by mid-day, if all goes well then you may. Christian is handling it for now.” Callum said gently but firmly. Her eyes gave an even more worried look now, “Trust in what I say.” He said in almost a whisper to her and then kissed her forehead. She teared up and then nodded.
“Alright, now give me that shirt.” She said quietly. Callum smiled briefly and pulled it up. He had difficulty with his left arm as it was becoming more than stiff and she helped him getting it off. Her eyes looked him over as she saw the wound, “Dear Lord, Quintan.” She said.
“As I said, it is nothing.”
“No, it seems to be large enough to put a spoon handle through, and you say it’s nothing. You are giving me more grey hair. Honestly.” She said as she took the shirt in her hand shaking her head.
Callum sat at the table with paper, ink, and a quill. He wrote out the letter and then put the quill back, reread it and waved it around a bit to help set the ink to the paper. Dustin came next to him, dressed in another set of clothes and put a hand to Callum’s back.
“Are you certain of this?” Dustin asked softly. Callum looked up at him.
“If they are coming as I know they will, it will be best. We have to be ready for them.”
“I will never doubt you again, Quintan. I was wrong in this, all of it. I almost got us killed this night with that doubt.” Dustin said.
“No, my love, I did by doing what I thought was the right thing with Hans. And now, it is becoming too big for all of us. With us being small in number, I am very worried.” Callum said and briefly smiled, “Now, take this. You know what to do.” Callum folded the paper and handed it to Dustin, “Are you up for it?”
“Yes. I will not fail you.” Dustin said.
“You couldn’t. It is not in you to fail. One of the reasons I love you so.” Callum said tilting his head back.
“What if he is not there?” Dustin asked as he tucked the letter into his pants pocket.
“He should be there. If not, give to Cary or whomever the officer is on deck.” Callum said. Dustin leaned down and kissed Callum tenderly for a long moment and then pulled back.
“I’ll return as quickly as I can.” Dustin said and went to the back door opening it and going out. Martha was standing at the stove, wringing her hands. Callum looked at her and smiled.
“Papa?” The little asked and Callum looked over.
“Henry, what are you doing up?” Callum asked. The little one was standing in the doorway of the parlor in his nightshirt. His little bare feet were showing as he rubbed an eye with his balled up hand. He stepped forward toward the table.
“Where is Dustin going?”
“He is running an errand for me. He will be back in the morning.” Callum said as he turned in his chair. The little one stopped near Callum and pulled his hand away, “You should go back to bed, Henry. Is Hans with you?” Callum asked and Henry nodded with sleepy sad eyes.
“Are you leaving?” Henry asked.
“Yes, to go over to Harbroughs next door, but I will return.” Callum said and leaned down toward the little one.
“I was scared.” Henry said softly. Callum got out of the chair and knelt in front of the boy putting a hand on the little shoulder.
“I am sorry, Henry. I did not want to frighten you. It will be alright, I promise.” Callum said softly.
“What happened?” Henry asked. Callum looked over at Martha for a moment and then looked back at the little one.
“There was some trouble next door. You remember me telling of those men?” Callum asked and Henry nodded, “They came as I said they would, but they are gone now. They won’t bother us again.”
“Okay.” Henry said quietly and Callum put his arm around him and hugged him, pulling the little one to him, the little hands went around Callum’s neck.
“I don’t want you to be scared anymore, Henry, alright?” Callum asked.
“I won’t.” Henry said. Callum moved his arm down and scooped up Henry and then stood with a bit of a grunt.
“Quintan.” Martha said softly as she stepped forward, “Your shoulder,…”
“It’s alright, my dear.” Callum said.
“Are you hurt, Papa?” Henry asked as he pulled back a bit, his little hands on Callum’s shoulders.
“I am. But it’s a good kind of hurt, Henry. Let’s put you back in bed, shall we?” Callum asked and smiled. He carried Henry out of the kitchen as Henry put his head on Callum’s good shoulder.
Callum walked across the pasture, going by the new barn. He looked at it in the predawn light, the horses moving about a bit as he had disturbed them with his coming. He tried not to make much noise as he walked in the tall grass but his sword swung a bit on his belt as he walked and bumped the grip of one of the pistols he carried tucked into his belt. He continued on and reached the gate of the surrounding fence, he opened it and went through, closing and latching it and walked across the gravel drive toward the back door. He could see the windows lit up downstairs, the heavy curtains pulled back. He reached the back door and opened it, going in, closing it behind him.
“Quintan?” Christian called out.
“Yes.” He replied as he came through the large kitchen into the wide hall. He saw Christian in the wide opening into the parlor and came up to him. Callum saw the man in black still on the settee, but he had several red marks high on his forehead, obviously from where Dustin had thumped him with the spent pistol. Callum looked at Christian, “How’s Thomas?”
“He’s resting thankfully. Dr. Stivers will return later to check on him. He also said he wanted to look at you again.” Christian said, “How is your shoulder?”
“He said it was going to be stiff and he was right in that. I can barely move it.” Callum said quietly.
“Shall I go and saddle one of the horses?” Christian asked.
“It is near time. You know that we will not get the horse back.” Callum said.
“Yes, I thought as much as well. I will saddle up one of the geldings, the one that I rode from the Garrison. If he is lost in this then I will simply explain it to the General and it will be of no matter and no harm done. What of the other matter?” Christian asked.
“It is underway as we speak.” Callum said quietly, “Has he said anything?” Callum asked and nodded toward the man in black.
“Not much while you have been gone.” Christian said.
“Well, let’s see if we can loosen his tongue a bit.” Callum said and stepped into the parlor, “How is your head?” He asked and the man in black looked at him with a glare, his hands still tied behind his back.
“What does it matter to you?”
“It was simple concern, that’s all.” Callum said as he stood in front of the man and looked down at him, “I was asking as it is nearly dawn and I told you last night that I would release you and the question put to you was asked merely to find out if you were capable of riding.”
“I am very capable, Captain, thank you for your concern.”
“Think nothing of it. We will have a horse saddled for you and escort you to the gate after dawn breaks. You will be watched to make certain that you follow the road south. If you deviate from that and circle back, I will shoot you myself and leave your body to rot where it falls.” Callum said flatly.
“I believe you would, Captain. You seem to be a man of your word.”
“You can count on that.” Callum said.
Callum opened the gate on the drive at the road. He pulled a pistol from his belt and held it as he turned back to look at the man in black that had been standing behind him. Christian held the reins of the gelding which had been saddled. The man stood there waiting, his hands still tied behind him.
“I am wondering, Captain, am I to try and ride with being still bound?” The man asked.
“It is a thought, but I wanted to take no chances with you. As we are here on the road now, Christian, would you untie him please?” Callum asked. Christian stepped up behind the man and undid the rope around the wrists. The man felt himself being freed and then put his hands forward, rubbing them one at a time, “Now, be on your way. Report to your master, and tell him what I said. If I see any of you here ever again, I will not hesitate in killing you all.”
“I will make certain that I pass that along, Captain.” The man in black said. He took the reins from Christian and stepped up on the horse and settled on the saddle, “A fine animal, I thank you. It might have been a long walk otherwise.” The man in black took the reins and kicked the horse and they moved out onto the road, the man whirled the horse back and looked down at Callum, “You are a formidable opponent, Captain, I shall not forget you.”
“London is in that direction.” Callum said and pointed south with his pistol as he looked at the man, “I will watch you until you are out of sight, but know this as well, I have others on the road further along that will be watching for you as well. If they do not see you, they will be sending word back to me.”
“A sensible precaution, Captain. Good day to you as it may be your last.” The man said and kicked the horse and they trotted off down the road. Christian came up behind Callum.
“You were right, they will be returning.” Christian said, Callum nodded as he watched the man riding away quickly.
“Yes, and in greater number also.”
“Shall I go and fetch Owen?” Christian asked.
“Yes and tell to him to hurry. We need to have as much time as possible to see this done.” Callum said. Christian turned and walked away quickly to get another horse leaving Callum to continue watching the road.