Callum walked in the back door of the Cross, closing it behind him. The kitchen had the wonderful smells of breakfast. Martha was at the stove and Henry was at the table looking up at Callum, who smiled at the little one as he was still in his nightshirt finishing his breakfast.
“I see you’re up and about, my lad.” Callum said. Henry nodded only as he saw the weapons that were still carried by Callum, “Where are the others, my dear?” Callum asked.
“Here, sir.” Carson said as he came into the kitchen from the parlor.
“Is everything ready, Carson?” Callum asked.
“Excellent. My friend should be here in a few minutes with the carriage.” Callum said as he stepped in front of Carson. His throat was tightening as Callum knew it was possibly the last time he was going to see this man that stood in front of him, this man that had served him, yes, but he was a man that Callum had come to love as family. Carson was wise and caring and now he was making the ultimate sacrifice for this boy, changing his life completely just to keep this boy safe and sound and out of the reach of those that would use him for their own purposes. It made Carson more than a hero in Callum’s eyes and Callum was finding it difficult to lose him.
“We’re ready, sir.” Carson said.
“Carson,…are you sure that…?”
“It was my idea, sir, remember?” Carson asked but was not his usual beaming self, “We both know why it must be this way, sir.”
“Do you have your letter and money?” Callum said and cleared his throat once to choke back the emotions he was feeling at this moment.
“I do, sir, and I thank you for that, it will come in handy. I will keep him safe, have no fear.” Carson said.
“I seem to be having a bit of difficulty with this now that the time is here.” Callum said, “I don’t know if I am ever going to see you again.”
“What you have done, sir, is something to be proud of, remember that as I always will. You have saved this boy from a life that would otherwise have been very short for him. Now, it will be up to me to carry it through, and I think you know that I will. Will we see each other again, sir? I have no doubt that we will, sir.” Carson said softly.
“If it doesn’t work, where you are going with him, send me word and I want you to return with him here.” Callum said, “We will figure it out later.”
“Of course, sir.” Carson said and nodded once. The front door of the house opened. Christian came in.
“We are here, Quintan.” Christian said and Callum looked beyond Carson seeing him and then Owen came in, closing the door behind him. Callum put a hand on Carson’s shoulder and guided him into the parlor. Hans stood there with wide eyes, shifting them about and rested them on Callum. Callum walked over to the boy and stood in front of him.
“Hans, this is Owen, a very dear friend of mine. He is going to take both you and Carson to someplace safe as we talked about, where you can be free of all of this. Do you understand?” Callum asked. The boy nodded and looked up at Callum with sad eyes.
“Ja, Keptein.” Hans said softly and looked down as Carson came up next to him. Carson put an arm around Hans’ young shoulders and the boy looked up at Callum, a tear rolled out and down his cheek.
“I am sorry it has to be this way, Hans. It is for your own safety though.” Callum said softly.
“And…yours, Keptein.” Hans said. Callum smiled briefly and nodded, “Thank…you.” Hans said and put his arms around Callum’s waist and hugged him tight. Callum wrapped his arms around the boys’ shoulders and looked at Carson.
“Send word to me later when you reach your destination and you are safe.” Callum said.
“I will, sir.” Carson said. Hans let Callum go and wiped the tears away. Martha and Henry were standing in the doorway of the parlor at the kitchen. Hans looked over at them both and walked over to them. Martha was misting in her eyes as she looked at the boy, and put her arms around him and hugged him tight to her. He hugged her back and she slowly let him go. Hans looked down at Henry.
“Goodbye,…little brother.” Hans said to Henry with a small nod. Henry was dropping tears as well.
“I am sorry we didn’t ride.” Henry said softly.
“We will,…someday, ja?” Hans asked and smiled faintly. He hugged Henry and then let him go, then turned toward Carson, who picked up a carpet bag off the floor and held it. Callum cleared his throat.
“Christian, would you check out front, please?” Callum asked. Christian nodded and went to the door, opened it and stepped out on the pathway. He looked up and down the road and then stepped back in quickly.
“It’s clear. We must hurry though.” Christian said. Callum nodded and looked at Carson. Carson smiled and went to Martha, holding out his free hand.
“Dear lady, it has been an honor to spend this time with you.” Carson said and took her hand, lifting it and kissing the back of it. Martha dropped tears.
“It has been mine, sir.” She said softly and lifted her apron to dab at her eyes. Carson smiled and looked down at Henry.
“And you, sir, take care of your father, as I know you can.” Carson said. He put a hand on the soft brown hair and turned away and looked at Callum. He stepped once and Callum stepped toward him as well. They put arms around one another, “Goodbye, sir.” Carson said softly.
“I owe you so much, Carson, and not just for this either. I shall miss you deeply.” Callum said in Carson’s ear.
“As will I, sir.” Carson said and let Callum go. He nodded once and turned, putting a hand on Hans’ shoulder to guide him out.
“I’ll walk you down.” Christian said. The four of them left Callum, Martha, and Henry in the parlor, closing the door. Martha sobbed twice and turned to go back into the kitchen. Henry looked over at Callum, Callum watching the door and not moving, wondering if he was doing the right thing or not.
“Whatever happened to them, Grandfather?” Dustin asked as he was sitting on the ottoman, his usual spot in all of this telling of the tale by the old man. The old eyes shifted and looked into the soft brown eyes that seemed sad in hearing of all of this.
“They reached their destination and safety.” The old man said, “It would be quite some time before I heard from them, but eventually I did. And yes, I did see Carson again and the boy.”
“Is Hans still alive?” Dustin asked.
“Sadly, no.” The old man said quietly and looked down at his own hands.
“Really? He had been through so much.” Dustin said.
“Yes,…he had.” The old man said and then looked in the soft brown eyes again. He gave Dustin a slight smile and then looked over toward the settee and Andrew sitting there, pencil in hand, notebook on his lap, “It seems to be late.”
“What is, sir?” Andrew asked coming out of his thoughts over everything that had been told.
“The hour, my boy.” The old man said, “I wonder what the time is?” Andrew pulled out his pocket watch and opened it, looking at it and then back at the old man.
“It is late, sir, you’re right or early, however you wish to look at it. It’s after one in the morning.” Andrew said with a bit of a surprised look.
“Well, it seems to go on and on, doesn’t it?” The old man asked and got up from the chair slowly. His old bones were stiff and Dustin rose with him, putting out his hands taking the old man’s arm to help him, “I must learn not to go on and on like that. I do apologize to you both.”
“There is nothing to apologize for, sir.” Andrew said as he set his notebook aside on the settee and got to his feet, “It is quite the tale, sir, and I must say, very captivating as well.”
“Thank you, Andrew.” The old man said as he took his own weight on his feet, “I must be getting to bed. We can begin again later this morning, if you wish?”
“Of course, sir.” Andrew said and stepped closer.
“Dustin, would be so kind as to lend me a hand?” The old man asked, “My legs are a bit heavy at the moment from all of this sitting.”
“Certainly, Grandfather.” Dustin said and stepped in closer, taking the old man arm in arm and they slowly walked toward the room in the little hallway off the parlor, leaving Andrew standing there.
“Quintan,” Christian said as he came into the kitchen, seeing Callum at the table turning a coffee cup on the table top with his fingers rather absentmindedly, “are you alright?”
“Am I doing the right thing, Christian?” Callum asked as he stared down at the cup. He felt the hand on his good shoulder.
“You did the only thing that you could, Quintan.” Christian said softly, “It will work out, I know it, like all of your other plans have.”
“I hope you’re right. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth though.” Callum said.
“I feel it too.” Christian said and exhaled through his nose, “I need to see about Thomas.”
“Yes, of course.” Callum said, “I shall come and see him later myself.”
“We all will.” Martha said as she came to the table. She put a hand on Henry’s shoulder, making him look up at her, “You, my lad, need to go and get dressed. Scoot now.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Henry said and got off the chair and stopped next to Callum, “Papa?” Henry asked, Callum looked at Henry as Christian went to the back door, “Why did Hans call me little brother?” Henry asked and Callum smiled at him. He turned in his chair and looked down at the boy.
“Because, Henry, we are the only family that he has. He would like to think of you as his brother, would that be alright with you?” Callum asked and Henry nodded, “Good, it will make him happy to know that.”
“But he’s gone.”
“Yes, he is, but hopefully we will see him again and you can tell him then.” Callum said. Henry nodded and went to go to his room to get dressed. Callum looked up at Martha, the tears were in her eyes again.
“It breaks my heart, Quintan.” She said softly.
“Mine as well, my dear.” Callum said and he looked at Christian, “Since Dustin is away, are there chores that need to be tended to?”
“Yes, there are. I’ll check on Thomas first and then tend to them.” Christian said.
“I’ll help you. You only need tell me what to do.” Callum said as he stood.
“It is just pumping water into the trough for them and tending to the colt in the stable.” Christian said.
“I think I can do that.” Callum gave a brief smile. Christian gave him a nod and opened the door. He went out, Callum stepped close to Martha, looking down at her, he bent forward and kissed her forehead, “You can tell Henry where I am and he can help as well.”
“I’ll send him on his way.” Martha said softly.
Callum was at the trough next to the barn. He put his hand on the handle of the pump that had been put there, by whom, he did not know. He looked at it and marveled at the construction of it. It rested on a column made of stone and looked like it had always been here. The spout pointed out and over the long trough made of a heavy wood, oak, it seemed to him. The horses stood there and waited for him to move. There was some water in the trough but they seemed to want more of it. Callum smiled to himself and started pumping with his good arm. It took a few pumps and then the water came spilling out of the spout and started to fill the trough. Callum looked over as Henry was coming toward him along with the dog, Fitz. Callum kept pumping as he watched the pair getting closer.
“What are you up to, my lad?”
“Aunt Martha said I needed to come help you.” Henry said.
“That would be good of you.” Callum said and noticed that Henry seemed sad still, “Is something troubling you, Henry?” Henry shrugged his shoulders at the question, “What is it?”
“Christian said we were going to go riding this morning.” Henry said as he looked down at the grass.
“I recall him saying that, yes. You do know that much has happened, don’t you?” Callum asked as he kept pumping and Henry nodded, “I’m sure it has just slipped his mind, that’s all. We can see about it later, alright?” Callum asked and Henry looked at him and brightened a bit, “I need to go and look at the colt as well when I’m done with this.”
“I can do that, Papa.” Henry said.
“Do you know what needs to be done?” Callum asked and Henry nodded, “Alright then, you go and see about that and when I am done here, I’ll come and join you.” Callum smiled and Henry turned and bounded off, the dog going with him. Callum looked back and kept pumping the water. He saw movement beyond the horses in front of him and stood, letting go of the pump handle. He saw Bockman and his workmen coming across the pasture from the gate in the drive. Callum had almost forgotten about them. He grabbed the handle again and started pumping it. It was another couple of minutes before they reached him.
“Good morning, Captain.” Bockman said as he saw Callum there at the trough.
“Good morning, Mr. Bockman.” Callum said and nodded to the workmen with him, “Back at it again, are we?”
“Yes, Mr. Perkins is in a bit of a rush to get the roof on before the rains come.” Bockman said, “I can’t say that I blame him. Is everything alright here, Captain?”
“Why do you ask?” Callum asked as he kept pumping the handle.
“Well, there was a bit of talk in the village this morning as we were coming here. Something about some kind of…break in?” Bockman asked and the others were behind him looking at Callum. Callum stopped pumping the handle and straightened.
“Yes, we had some trouble here last night. A group of ruffians thought there was something of value in the house there.” Callum said.
“Is everyone alright, sir?” Bockman asked.
“I will not lie about it, Mr. Bockman,” Callum said as he came around the pump and stood still looking at Bockman and the others, “Captain Tomlin was injured quite severely. Dr. Stivers was summoned and took care of him. I was injured a bit myself.”
“Mr. Perkins?” Bockman asked with a look of further concern.
“He is well. I actually sent him off on an errand in Portsmouth. He should be returning by mid-morning, I would think. Captain Holt is in the house tending to Captain Tomlin as we speak. Dr. Stivers should be returning later as well.”
“I see.” Bockman said still with a look of concern, “What happened to the,…?”
“The Magistrate was summoned as well. He and a couple of his men took them all away.” Callum said flatly. All eyes went a bit wide as they looked at Callum, “Only one survived and he has dealt with as well.”
“Dear Lord.” Bockman said swallowed hard.
“So, tell me, what are you going to be doing today?” Callum asked trying to change the subject.
“Uh,…I suppose we will continue to raise the roof as Mr. Perkins wanted.” Bockman said and then cleared his throat, “Wayne will be bringing out more timbers this morning.”
“Excellent. I saw Wayne the day I returned and it will be good to see him again.” Callum said and smiled briefly.
“Yes, he said something about seeing you again, if possible.”
“I look forward to it.” Callum said, “If you will excuse me, gentlemen, I have to finish these chores that I have been given. I would not want Mr. Perkins becoming upset when he returns and finds them not done.”
“Of course, Captain.” Bockman said, turned, and looked at his workers and waved a hand at them to get them to move. Callum went back to the pump and grabbed the handle again.
“Quintan, are you in here?”
“Yes, over here, Christian.” Callum said as he stood up in the stall, “Something wrong?” Callum asked, a pitchfork in his hands. Christian came through the door of the stable and walked toward Callum.
“Dr. Stivers has returned and is looking at Thomas. He wanted to look at you again as well and sent me to collect you. What did you say to Bockman by the way?”
“I was very vague about last night. He actually brought it up first. Apparently there is some talk in the village already about last night.” Callum said.
“Small community, I have no doubt that there is talk going on.” Christian said, “They all gave me the strangest look when I saw them at the barn coming over here.”
“What kind of look?”
“Almost like they were afraid, or guarded at the least.” Christian said.
“You know this kind of thing has never happened around here. I would imagine they are feeling a bit of fear at the moment. But the more I think about it, the more I think that the Guardsmen must have been staying somewhere in the village. They had to have been seen by someone, and yet they weren’t. You know what I mean?” Callum asked as he leaned on the pitchfork.
“Yes, it strikes me a bit odd as well. Strange men, all dressed in black as they were, and no alarm was raised? It is odd. Perhaps we’ll never know.”
“Or perhaps we have not asked the right person yet.”
“What do you mean?” Christian asked.
“What if there is someone here in the village that was harboring them, giving them aid, someone that might be involved in some way?” Callum asked.
“You think there might?”
“Has to be. They were here for quite some time, that much is obvious. They watched both houses before they made their move. They had to eat and sleep while they were here. Someone knows.” Callum said.
“I see your point.” Christian said, “What shall we do?”
“We shall go about our business as we normally would. Over time, this will die down, I’m certain.” Callum said, “But, we must also remain on our guard.”
“I agree.” Christian said, “Come, have the good doctor look you over again. I’ll finish this for you and Henry and I can put up the colt.”
“He might pester you about riding, be careful.” Callum said. Christian went a bit wide eyed.
“I had forgotten about that.” Christian said, and then shook his head, “I should have remembered, I’m sorry.”
“It is no trouble to me, but you know how he can be about it.”
“Yes, the little scamp. I’ll take him out a bit later, that will make him happy.” Cristian said, “We can ride into the village so I may pick up a few things that we need at the house.”
“If you wish.” Callum said and leaned the pitchfork against the stall wall.
“You don’t mind, do you? I would not want to step over any line with you about him.” Christian said.
“Christian,” Callum said and put a hand on his shoulder, “you love him, I know that. And he loves you, it is plain to see. You could not step over any line regarding him at all. I trust you implicitly with him. He needs you, and I know you need him as well. You’re a perfect pair you are.”
“But you’re his father.”
“And as such, I see what the two of you need. Go,…spend time with him, if you like. It is no trouble to me, as I said.” Callum said softly and smiled at his friend. He pat Christian on the shoulder gently and went to the door of the stable, “If you would, tell Martha where I went, if she asks.”
“I will.” Christian said reaching for the pitchfork.
Callum was standing in the bedroom at the foot of the bed looking at his friend lying there. Dr. Stivers was dressing the wounds that Thomas had received from the blade used against him. Callum was silent as Thomas looked up at him.
“It is usually you, Quintan, that is in this position. I find it a trifle amusing, I must say.” Thomas said. Callum smiled out of the corner of his mouth.
“It wasn’t that long ago that we both were in that position in the same bed together as I recall.” Callum said.
“You are right in that. I had almost forgotten.” Thomas said.
“I, for one, have not, Captain.” Stivers said as he looked over his spectacles at Thomas, “Now, can you sit forward so I may wrap you?”
“Of course, Doctor.” Thomas said with a grunt and slowly sat up. Stivers moved a bit on the bed and picked up the white linen and began to wrap it around Thomas slowly, but as he did, he pulled it a bit tight to keep it snug and in place. He reached the end of the linen and tore it a bit and used those ends to tie the knot to secure it in place.
“That should hold you, Captain.” Stivers said, “Now, you can get comfortable, and remember what I said and to stay put, no exertion.”
“Yes, Doctor.” Thomas said and watched as the older man turned and got up off the bed looking at Callum.
“Alright, it seems to be your turn, Captain. Are you feeling any discomfort?” Stivers asked.
“It is a bit stiff as you said it would be, Doctor, but perhaps a bit too stiff.”
“Well, let me have a look at you then.” Stivers said as he faced Callum at the foot of the bed. Callum pulled out the pistols and dropped them at Thomas’ feet and then pulled his sword, scabbard and all, laying it down as well on the bed. He pulled his shirt out of his pants but could not use his left arm very well. Stivers could see it and frowned a bit, “Is that all that you can do with it, Captain?”
“It would seem so, Doctor.” Callum said and gave a grunt.
“Let me help you with your shirt then.” The older man said and pulled up the bottom of the shirt getting it over Callum’s head and off his arms. Callum stood straight as the older man looked him over on the back of the shoulder and then stepped around and looked at the front, “I see what the problem is, Captain. When I sewed you, I seem to have pulled the muscle inside a bit. I’m afraid I will have to open you up again to correct it. I apologize.”
“I suppose it all comes with it, doesn’t it, Doctor?”
“You may be right in that, Captain, but this time, I think I need to lay you out to do this. Also I will have to go deeper to bind the muscle together inside. This may take some time you understand. I should also give you something to sleep while I do this to you.”
“I have nothing pressing, Doctor.”
“Fine, I also may need a bit of help.” Stivers said.
“Why are you always so difficult, Quintan?” Thomas asked as he was still watching. Callum looked over at him and narrowed his eyes in his direction.
“If I had the use of my arm, Thomas, I might just toss you out the window here.”
“What, and wreck the Doctor’s good work, Quintan? That’s not very sporting of you.” Thomas said with a smile.
“Oh just lay there and keep quiet, will you?” Callum asked and then smiled. He gave Thomas a wink then looked at the older man, “Where would you like to perform this, Doctor?”
“Downstairs I would think, or possibly at your home. Your aunt is there, is she not? She could be of great help in this.” The older man said.
“A great help in what?” The voice asked from the doorway. Callum turned as he knew the voice and smiled.
“They say timing is everything.” Callum said and continued smiling at Dustin standing there, “You’re back. Were you successful?”
“Very.” Dustin said as he stepped forward, looking Callum up and down as he had no shirt on, “What is going on here?”
“The good doctor was having a look at me and needs to open up my shoulder again it seems. He is of the opinion that he will need some help with it.” Callum said. Dustin went a bit wide eyed.
“Is that so, Doctor?” Dustin asked.
“I’m afraid it is, Mr. Perkins.”
“I see. Where is Christian?” Dustin asked.
“In the old stable, he and Henry are tending to the colt.” Callum said.
“Alright.” Dustin said softly, “You were speaking of timing, Quintan, we are running out of it as you know.” Callum nodded his understanding of what Dustin was saying. Callum turned back to Stivers.
“How much time will you require, Doctor?”
“A couple of hours at least for certain, possible a bit longer.”
“That may be about right, Quintan.” Dustin said.
“I will have to ask you, Doctor, to do this while I am awake. I will need my wits about me very soon.” Callum said.
“Captain, you must understand that what I need to do is going to be incredibly painful. If you are awake through it, even as resilient as you are, you will not be able to stand it, I assure you. This will be like nothing you have been through before.” Stivers said.
“I understand, Doctor.”
“I don’t think you fully do, Captain.”
“Quintan, let him take care of it the proper way, will you? I can see to the other thing when it comes.” Thomas said.
“Thomas you shouldn’t get up.” Callum said.
“Excuse me, what are you all speaking of?” Stivers asked as he was lost in the hidden conversation going on about him. Callum looked at him.
“Doctor, can this wait?” Callum asked.
“Not if you ever want the use of your arm again. Time is critical, Captain. The more time that passes, the more your body will continue to heal in a wrong fashion, you understand? I can correct it now, but not later.”
“Let him do it, Quintan.” Dustin said, “Thomas is right. And Christian will be here as well. That gives us two officers.”
“I still do not understand what you are talking about, what is all this?” Stivers asked. Callum looked at him intensely.
“Doctor, I will take you into my strictest confidence. What I am about to tell you must never be told to another person as long as you live. Do I have your word on that?” Callum asked and the older man looked very worried and then nodded his answer to Callum.
Callum opened his eyes and focused on the ceiling above him. It was strange to him, but yet familiar all at the same time. He blinked several times and saw that he was bathed in light all about him and for the life of him could not remember where he was. He felt pain though, great pain in his shoulder, but also in his head, a throbbing as it were like the ticking of a clock pounding at his temples. He let out a soft breath and turned his head a bit, someone was there beside him, sitting on the edge of the bed. There was movement and their eyes met.
“At last.” The voice said and Callum tried to focus on who it was. The voice was soft and he felt he should know it, “Rest easy, sir, I’ll go and fetch the doctor for you. I’ll only be a moment.” He felt that he was touched by a soft hand and relaxed a bit as he also felt the bed shift some. He remained silent and then he heard footsteps coming and then looked over. He saw Dr. Stivers come into the room through the open doorway and to the edge of the bed.
“Captain,…how are you feeling?” The older man asked as he bent over Callum a bit.
“I feel as if I have been trampled, Doctor. My head is pounding.” Callum said.
“It is no wonder, the amount that I had to give you to make you sleep. Do you feel any other ill effects, Captain?”
“A bit of disorientation. Where am I?” Callum asked.
“Harbroughs, Captain. The same house you have been in all along.”
“Where is Thomas?” Callum asked, “I am not in the same bed with him, am I?” Stivers chuckled a bit.
“No, Captain, I would not do that to you again. Captain Tomlin is in the next room, his room.” The older man said.
“I see. Small favors as it were.” Callum said and closed his eyes, “Who is that with you, Doctor?”
“It’s me, sir, Hawkins.” The soft voice said over the shoulder of the older man. Callum opened his eyes and tried to focus again.
“Neil Hawkins?” Callum asked.
“Yes, sir. Captain Holt and Mr. Perkins wanted to be told when you woke, sir. Mr. Talon is waiting as well downstairs, sir.” Hawkins said.
“Neil Hawkins.” Callum said softly, “You say Darin Talon is downstairs as well?”
“Yes, sir. He came with all of us, sir.”
“Would you be a good man and fetch Captain Holt and Dustin for me, Neil?” Callum asked and closed his eyes again.
“Aye, aye, sir.” Hawkins said and left the room quickly. Callum let out another breath and grimaced a bit.
“Doctor?” Callum asked with his eyes still shut.
“Do I take it that you were successful?” Callum asked.
“In due time, Captain, that will be the telling factor, but I think I was, yes.” The older man said.
“I need to be on my feet.”
“Not at this moment, Captain. We need to get your head cleared first or you will collapse and possibly do yourself further damage.” Stivers said.
“You recall what I explained to you earlier.”
“I do, Captain, but you must give yourself a chance to adjust first. There are several that are here to render assistance if need be.” Stivers said. They both heard the steps coming toward them on the stairs. Callum tried to blink hard but his eyes would not cooperate with him.
“Quintan.” Dustin said and came to the edge of the bed and sat on it. He put his hand over Callum’s hand that rested on the bed.
“Dustin.” Callum said softly, “Anything?”
“Not as of yet. I have someone watching the road. They will signal if anything is seen.” Dustin said.
“How many are here?” Callum asked, Dustin chuckled once and leaned closer to him.
“More than enough.” Dustin said, “I don’t know where we are going to put them all.”
“What did you do?” Callum asked softly and opened his eyes again.
“I did as you asked, I simply presented your letter to the officer of the deck and before I knew it, I had almost the entire ships company returning with me. And that’s not all either.” Dustin said softly.
“What do you mean?” Callum asked. And could begin to see Dustin a little more clearly now. He saw someone standing behind him, “Christian?”
“Yes, Quintan, I am here.”
“Good. Give me a few more minutes and I should be able to join you all.” Callum said.
“It may be a while, Quintan. Do not rush yourself with this. I do not want the same issues as you had before in London.” Dustin said.
“I suppose you’re right.” Callum said above a whisper and closed his eyes again.
“Well, at least you can listen to the voice of reason, Captain. My compliments, Mr. Perkins.” Stivers said.
“You rest a while longer, Quintan. We will leave you in peace. If there is anything, I will have you informed right away.” Dustin said and got up slowly off the bed. He squeezed Callum’s fingers a bit and then left the room, followed by the others. Callum let himself go and he realized that the pain eased when he did so.
Callum opened his eyes and he felt much better. The light was still filling the room and he was able to focus a bit better now. He lifted his head and realized that the large curtains were pulled back on both walls, the one window that looked out toward the Cross and the other that looked out toward the back pasture at the rear of the house. He slowly sat up, groaning as he moved, rolling his feet off the bed and putting them on the floor. He was alone in the room, the door was open directly ahead of him that went out on the landing at the top of the stairs. He got to a sitting position on the edge of the bed and saw that he was bandaged as he looked down. He turned his head and saw his shirt at the foot of the bed. He tried to reach for it, but his left arm was stiff and it made him stop. He got to his feet, taking his full weight and he steadied himself for a minute and then reached for his shirt with his right hand. He worked it and pulled it over his left arm first and then got his right in the sleeve and pulled it over his head and let it drop down him. He saw his boots at the foot of the bed resting on the floor and decided against it for now. He went to the door and stopped. He heard voices below him. He listened for a minute and knew what they were saying, the discussion of what had happened. The person that was speaking was Christian, the one person in the group who fully knew what they were up against. Callum look over to his right and saw the other bedroom door open, Thomas’ room and he could see the bed, and that Thomas was lying in it. Callum stepped toward it and him.
“They seem to be having quite the discussion downstairs.” Callum said quietly as he leaned against the doorjamb. Thomas looked over at his friend and gave him a smile.
“Thankfully there are other officers here or we might have a rabble on our hands.” Thomas said and looked at Callum closely, “How are you feeling?”
“Not as bad as I did earlier, that much is certain. How are you?” Callum asked as he came closer to the bed.
“Very stiff. Now I know how you felt at La Rochelle. Yours were more extensive than mine at that time, and I will tell you, I will never question what true pain you must have felt ever again, Quintan, if this is any indicator.” Thomas said and pat the edge of the bed, “Please, come and join me. I could use the company.” Callum came over and sat slowly on the edge of the bed, grunting a bit as he did, “I see you’re not doing much better in all reality.”
“Well, if I had to put up a fight, I think I might be able to.” Callum said. He gave Thomas a slight smile, “What have they been saying?”
“Christian and Dustin recounted what happened here last night. I heard Brewer speak up about what happened on the dock when you and I charged in to rescue Hans from the Guardsmen when he was with us. It was actually quite the recounting and made me feel rather brave in hearing it. If I could have, I might have puffed up my chest a bit.” Thomas smiled and Callum chuckled and shook his throbbing head.
“I wish I could have heard it as well.” Callum said, “Where is the good doctor?”
“He left some time ago. He said he would return tomorrow in the morning to see about us, you especially. You had him worried for a while there, Quintan.”
“Why is that?”
“I heard him say over and over to Dustin that he might have to take your arm if he couldn’t stop the bleeding from it. Dustin said firmly that he must do everything possible to save it. Apparently, it worked as I see that you have your arm still.” Thomas said.
“For all the good it will do me. I can’t lift it up at all right now.” Callum said as he looked down at his hand.
“Give it time, Quintan. He is a very good doctor, as good as Crawford, I think.”
“Arthur did remark about him to me when he went to remove the stitches from those wounds that Christian’s father gave me. Arthur was amazed by the way he stitched me up actually.” Callum said.
“He seems to be a good man.” Thomas said.
“Yes, and if he can hold his tongue with what I told him about all of this, that would make him an even better man.” Callum said and raised an eyebrow.
“I’m sure he will, Quintan.” Thomas smiled.
“I want no one else here in the village in further danger over this.” Callum said.
“It might help in finding out who in the village is involved.” Thomas said and Callum went a bit wide eyed over it, Thomas gave him a slight smile, “Yes, Christian and I spoke about what you and he said in the stable. You’re right, there is someone here that was rendering the Guardsmen aid, there has to be, it only makes sense.”
“Do you have any idea of how to find out who?” Callum asked.
“One or two, but I need to give it further thought first.” Thomas said and rolled his eyes about the room and then back to Callum, “And as I seem to have nothing but time on my hands, I’m certain a plan will come to me.”
“I have no doubt. I look forward to hearing that.” Callum said and smirked. Thomas smiled wide and flashed his eyes, “I think I’ll go downstairs.”
“Not without me you won’t. They are my crew as well, you know,…Captain.”
“If you insist,…Captain.” Callum smirked a bit again and slowly got off the bed. Thomas threw back the coverings on him and rolled slowly to the far side and got up, “Do you require assistance?”
“Yes, and don’t go without me. We should make quite the entrance together when we go downstairs.” Thomas smiled and reached for his pants, “Now, get over here and help me.”
“Aye, aye, sir.” Callum said and smiled wryly, “I’ll help you, then I need to get my boots and you can help me.”
Callum stood in the drive of the house known as Harbroughs. His sword was hung in its holder on his belt, the two pistols he had had earlier were tucked once again in his belt. He watched with narrowed eyes as the riders, another group of men in black came toward him from the road through the open gate. He folded his arms over his chest and waited as the large group approached him slowly at a walk. He counted a dozen of them.
The sun was beginning to set on the horizon and was casting long shadows across the ground from the small trees that were planted that were along the inside of the fence that followed the drive up from the road. Callum stood his ground as the riders approached walking their horses slowly toward him. Callum could see two clearly that he recognized at once, the man in black that he and Christian had set free this very morning, the other was Paupling, the man from the Diplomatic Service that Callum had stopped in Southend, taking Hans from his grip on the boy. The riders halted their approach but were spread out in front of Callum side by side.
“I see that you have returned, and did not heed my warning about doing so.” Callum said to the man in black before him, “You recall what I said, no doubt.”
“I do, Captain, very clearly.” The man said as he gave Callum a glare. His eyes shifted about and saw that Callum was alone. His eyes moved back as Callum pulled both pistols from his belt and kept them pointed at the ground, “I also see that you are very clearly outnumbered, Captain. I would make the same request that you made to me last night several times, sir, surrender. Give us the boy, and we will be on our way.”
“I think not.” Callum said and his eyes shifted about to all of them quickly. He could see that they were all armed, both with pistols and with swords on them, but he did not waver in his stance. He cocked the pistol in his right hand. All eyes shifted toward it, and then he cocked the pistol in his left even though it caused intense pain in his shoulder. Callum lifted the pistol in his right and pointed it at Paupling, “The first man that moves is dead.” Callum said flatly, his eyes shifted to Paupling, their eyes made contact, “The next to die will be you, Paupling, that much is certain. I should have ended you in Southend when I had the chance.”
“Come now, Captain, all you need do is surrender the boy to us and we will be on our way. No one need die in this.” Paupling said smoothly as he sat very still on his horse.
“I am not afraid to die, Paupling, are you?” Callum asked.
“There is no need for this, Captain. As of right now, no charges will be raised against you if you surrender the boy to us. However, if you do not, you will be arrested for treason, crimes against the Crown.” Paupling said.
“On whose authority?” Callum asked raising an eyebrow.
“That of The Lord High Chancellor.” Paupling said in an even tone.
“You mean, your master, Upton, don’t you?” Callum asked, “You see, Paupling, I know Lord Eldon, I know he is an honorable man. Your master behind all of this, Upton, has given Lord Eldon false information about the boy. The proof of that was confirmed to me yesterday. You, sir, are a black hearted liar and stand on falsehood, it is all that you know, and to me that is reason enough alone to kill you. I will not stand for it.” Callum said and licked his lips a bit. He was still feeling a bit groggy but did his best not to show it, “Leave my property, or I will be forced to fire upon you.”
“You’ll be dead before you fire the second shot, Captain.” The first man in black said.
“Perhaps, but, which of you will die first before I am stopped?” Callum asked and he could see doubt on some of the faces before him, “Most of you must have families I am sure are waiting for you to return home. My family waits for me as well in the house, and I share your feelings. What will it be then, who is to die first? As I said, Paupling, your death is a certainty.” Callum said and lifted his left hand with the other pistol in it.
“You are completely outnumbered, Callum.” The first man in black said, “Your small group has suffered injury, you are alone in this.”
“I think not.” Callum said and whistled loud and shrill through his teeth. All of the men before him jumped slightly and then looked about as others rose up out of the tall grass and came quickly to the fences that flanked each side of them on the drive. All of the men that rose up carried muskets in their hands and all were pointed toward the men in black and then rested on the top rail of the fence. Each of these men, Callum’s men, carried small arms as well as swords on them, “Now, as I was saying in the beginning, leave my property.”
“This is not over, Callum, we will have what we came for.” The first man in black said with wild eyes.
“What you came for is not obtainable, you son-of-a-bitch!” Callum said loudly through clenched teeth, “He is not here, I told you last night of my plan!”
“You lie!” The first man in black shouted, he reined the horse making him rear up, Callum saw the hand move, the pistol in the belt was drawn, Callum went to get down and the shot was fired, Callum pointed his pistol and pulled the trigger.
“DOVER!” Callum called out.