Callum took the wheel from Dorfman and looked skyward, seeing the thin clouds as they floated by in the late afternoon, early evening sky. There was a light wind now and the sails were trimmed to be tight. Collingwood had been forward and now came to join his Captain at the wheel.
“Good evening, sir.” Collingwood said as he stepped close, tipping his hand.
“Good evening, Abel. I trust that all has gone well this afternoon?”
“Yes, sir, nothing to report. All is well.”
“Very good. Go below and have your supper then.”
“Aye, sir. It should be a new moon tonight, sir.” Collingwood said as he looked skyward.
“Yes. This may take longer than I had anticipated.” Callum said with a sigh.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“Nothing to be sorry over, Abel, it is what it is, and we’ll make the best of it.” Callum said as he looked forward to the bow, “We should reach Captain Renner’s position by tonight if the wind holds.”
“Aye, sir.” Collingwood said and looked over at his Captain and paused for a minute in silence, “I’ll say good night, sir.”
“Good night, Abel.” Callum said and looked at the young face. Collingwood nodded and then tipped his hand and walked away.
The watch was called a bit later and the hands changed. Capshaw, Hammond, and Patkin came up on deck and the others went below. Lines were checked on the Headsails. The wind increased a bit and Callum ordered the lines to be loosened a bit more for more billow. Hammond came aft and reset the lines on the Spanker on the Mizzen spur, and Windsong listed to port a bit with a freshening of the capturing of the wind. Callum could feel it in the wheel in his hands and settled in with it and let her run a bit. He was becoming used to this vessel but missed the feel of Dover under his feet. Windsong was different, smaller yes, and reacted much quicker, but Dover was where Callum’s heart truly was. The way she would respond to a wind such as this and this current, no other ship could do what she does. Callum was lost in his thoughts of Dover as the darkness settled in around them. The lamps were lit on the aft rail and the Mainmast, bathing the deck with their soft glow.
Callum looked skyward and saw the stars filling the night sky and then he saw the sliver of the moon, above the horizon by about three points. Hammond was behind him tending lines again on the Spanker that was now at full billow. Hammond retied the double block to belaying pins on the rail and then he looked aft. His mouth opened but he couldn’t say anything at first. He blinked hard and looked again.
“Sir?!” Hammond called out and Callum looked over his shoulder, one hand on the wheel.
“What is it, Hammond?”
“Directly aft, sir. I thought I saw a sail, sir.” Hammond said as he looked at Callum and then looked back aft again. Callum turned back and looked forward.
“Patkin! Go aloft and have a lookout!”
“Aye, sir!” The man answered back and went to the port rigging and started up. Callum looked back aft.
“Not yet, sir.”
“Take the wheel.” Callum said as the man turned and came to him. Callum let go as Hammond stepped in taking the wheel, Callum reached for a glass at the wheelhouse and went to the aft rail, extending the glass and lifting it to his eye. He scanned the horizon and went by it and then swung back as Patkin called down.
“Sail, sir, directly aft!”
Callum never dropped the glass. He could see the square sheets in the dark, no lights on her deck about six or seven miles distant on a direct course for them. Callum could feel the blood pumping and pounding in his ears, his chest tightened at the sight. He lowered the glass slowly from his eye.
“Should I call all hands, sir?” Hammond asked. Callum backed away from the aft rail and came to a stop next to the older man, “Sir?”
“No, not yet. Let’s keep a very close eye on her, Hammond.” Callum said and turned and looked aloft, “Patkin! Don’t lose sight of her!”
“Capshaw!” Callum yelled forward, “Light another lantern, place it at the bowsprit!”
“Aye, sir!” Capshaw called back and went to the other lantern and lit it. Callum was watching over the aft rail. He lifted the glass again to his eye. He scanned slowly but didn’t see her. He lowered the glass and spun and looked aloft.
“She’s turning to port, sir!” He called back down. Callum spun back and lifted the glass again but couldn’t see her.
“Damn.” Callum muttered under his breath.
“I don’t see her, sir!” Patkin called down.
“What do we do, sir?” Hammond asked.
“Maintain your course, Hammond.” Callum said, the glass still to his eye. He looked and looked but she was gone from his sight in the dark.
“Everything alright, sir?” Collingwood asked at Callum’s shoulder.
“It appears that we have a shadow, Mr. Collingwood.” Callum said, “A shadow that comes and goes in the dark.” He lowered the glass from his eye and turned to look at his young officer, “What are you doing on deck, Mr. Collingwood?”
“I heard your shouts, sir, and thought I would come up on deck and lend a hand, if needed, sir.” Collingwood said.
“Commendable, Mr. Collingwood. But, there is little to do for now but wait for her to show herself again.”
“As you say, sir.” Collingwood said and tipped his hand but stood where he was. Callum went to the aft rail and raised the glass to his eye and scanned more to port to try and catch sight of her in her turn. Callum gave it a couple of minutes and then lowered the glass and collapsed it. He turned and came back to Collingwood.
“As I said, Mr. Collingwood, there is little to be done until we sight her again. It’s been a long day, go below and get some rest. I may need you later.”
“As you wish, sir.” Collingwood tipped his hand and went below, stopping for just a moment and looked at his Captain. He opened the door and went out of sight. Callum looked back over the port aft rail. He didn’t see anything but darkness. He turned and went back to the wheel.
“I’ll take her, Hammond, maintain your watch.”
“Aye, sir.” The older man said and tipped his hand stepping away from the wheel. He went to the aft port quarter and began to look out into the darkness. Callum looked aloft at Patkin seeing him looking aft as well back and forth across the horizon.
The stars were very brilliant in the night sky, they twinkled and shone like diamonds against the black field above them. The breeze was constant and Windsong maintained her slight listing to port with Headsails only. He estimated that they were doing possibly five knots this way, fast enough to make a possible escape if needed with more canvas, but more importantly, slow enough to make a presentable target. And with the lamps lit, he knew they were like a beacon, as if drawing a moth to a flame. It was now a waiting game, he knew it and it was the most difficult time, the waiting.
Minutes seemed like hours and passed very slowly for them. They tried to divert their attention from the time by doing their duties, checking lines and stays, straightening out rigging as they all kept a constant watch for any sign of this shadow in the dark. He thought finally, who was hunting who? Why didn’t he show himself? What was he waiting for? A cry from above finally broke the silence making Callum look up into the canvas. Patkin was pointing aft, now off the starboard aft quarter. Callum looked over his shoulder and saw it very clearly. His eyes went wide with how close they actually were.
“How the hell,…?” Callum said to himself, “Hammond!” The older man was at his Captain’s side before he finished calling out to him.
“Where’d he come from, sir?” The older man asked at Callum’s shoulder.
“I don’t know, must have crossed over on his course. Call all hands.” Callum said and Hammond leaped for the bell and began to ring it with fury.
“All hands on deck! All hands on deck!” Hammond yelled loud and clear as he watched the large ship coming up fast on them. Callum spun the wheel to buy them time to get everyone assembled, turning the wheel hard to make a hard port turn. Windsong responding quickly to it, taking the wind now fully that blew from the west. Shots were fired, muskets from the deck of the large ship and Callum ducked a bit as did Hammond. Capshaw came running from the bow and was halfway to the wheel when the next volley came, he spun and fell. Callum saw it through the spokes of the wheel.
He looked over to the port aft and saw the large ship was now changing course as well, rolling to port, hearing calls in French from the decks, the snap of canvas and the groaning of decking and timbers taking the wind as well, Callum spun the wheel back the other way and Windsong once again responded, but her sails slackened a bit going against the wind. Callum looked aloft for just a moment as the next volley went off, he ducked but it was Patkin that was the target now.
Alone and up on the small platform of the Mainmast, Patkin swung off, grabbing the mast itself and slammed his body behind it for cover as musket balls ripped into the wood, but spared him. Hands now were starting to pour out on deck, the glint of steel in some of their hands, Marines in their underclothes or dressed had muskets following McGuffin. Callum looked over at the larger ship and saw against the blanket of stars, more men lining the side and leveling muskets down at them as they large ship was turning as well.
“All hands down!” Callum screamed as hands and Marines alike dropped as the thunderous volley went off, musket balls whizzing by their heads and bodies, ripping into wood of the decking, masts, and rails, sending shards and splinters flying up and away. Callum got to his feet and held the turn to starboard, the larger vessel was trying to match them, but was taken aback from the loss of the wind.
Screams and orders in French came from the other ship in the dark as Windsong was making her starboard turn, but moving so slowly. Callum looked aloft and saw the Headsails lose their billow and Windsong stalled. There was only one thing to do, turn her back into the wind, back to port. Callum cranked the wheel the other way, the Spanker caught what wind there was and she started to respond. The slow turn was agonizing. Callum looked over at the other ship. The light that was about was very poor but he knew what they were doing right now, reloading muskets and preparing to cast lines to board them.
“Sergeant! Prepare your men!” Callum yelled as he looked forward seeing the large man amongst his Marines.
“To the port rail! Line up in twos!” McGuffin called. The Marines jumped and moved quickly, “Front line down, second line at the ready!”
Talon came up on deck and quickly surveyed the situation, he turned and looked at Callum at the wheel, trying to make the turn again back to port to gain the wind. He carried Callum’s sword in his hand and jumped around the rail and came toward his Captain as the next volley went off.
“Darin, down!” Callum yelled as he ducked, Talon hitting the deck behind the low rail, a few Marines screamed and fell as musket balls ripped through the air. Talon got back to his feet and came to Callum at the wheel.
“Your sword, sir.” Talon said as he handed over the sheathed sword and put his other hand on the wheel. Callum took it and tucked it through his belt. He went over quickly to the wheelhouse and opened the door, pulling two pistols out, tucking them in his belt.
“Take the wheel, Darin, keep her on this heading.”
“Aye, sir.” Talon said as he put both hands on the wheel.
“Keep your head down.” Callum said as he went past him heading toward the Marines, seeing a few young bodies on the deck, a few hands trying to get themselves together for what was coming. “You men, pull these boys out of the way!” Callum yelled as he moved along and came next to McGuffin, looking at the other ship in the dark, “Sergeant, shoot whatever moves that you can see.”
“Yes, sir.” McGuffin said as he was watching the other ship, “Find your marks, lads! Steady now,…steady,…second line,…Fire!” Muskets went off as Callum went toward Amos.
“Amos!” Callum called out, “I need more canvas!”
“Aye, sir.” Amos called back and spun, “Set the Mainsails!”
Screams could be heard from the other ship, the Marines finding some targets. McGuffin called to reload on the second line and ready on the first line, those Marines that were crouched on the deck. Muskets leveled up toward the other ship, McGuffin calling to them to steady and find their marks. The order to fire was given and a thunderous volley went off, smoke covered the deck for a moment and was blown away by the breeze that was slackening now.
Callum moved over a bit and checked the rail gun that was forward, he saw one of the hands, Brewer, a large young man coming toward him from amidships and the Marines. Callum called to him with the wave of a hand and the large young man joined his Captain.
“Check this one, I’ll check the aft gun, standby to fire when we get closer to them.” Callum said.
“Aye, sir.” Brewer said and spun the gun and checked it over quickly as Callum raced aft to get to the other rail gun. He went rapidly by the Marines as another thunderous volley went off from them. A few screams could be heard from the other ship.
Callum looked the aft rail gun over quickly, checked and loaded. He looked over his shoulder and saw Collingwood at the wheelhouse, pulling out more pistols and now signaling rockets, laying them on top. Callum looked back at the other ship, she was starting to make a turn away from Windsong, and it confused Callum for a moment and then angered him, he looked back at the wheel.
“Darin, stay with her!”
“Aye, sir.” Talon replied and turned the wheel matching the port turn that the other ship was making, running Windsong parallel to them. A few more shots came from the other ship, all missing their marks, and silence fell from the large ship in the dark. She was larger and faster and started to pull away from Windsong, even as more sail was lowered and took what wind there was.
“Shall we fire rockets, sir?” Collingwood asked as he came to Callum’s shoulder.
“Not yet, Abel.” Callum said as he watched the dark ship moving away and quickly was two lengths away, “What the hell is he doing?” Callum asked, mostly to himself. “Abel, get Carson, have him see to the wounded, get them below.”
“Aye, sir.” Collingwood said and hurried away, leaving Callum to watch the other ship.
Canvas took the wind overhead and Windsong moved to try and catch up.
“Should we dowse the lights, sir?” Talon asked.
“No, I want him to see what we’re doing. Show him that we’re not afraid and will keep fighting back. You see that, Darin? The son-of-a-bitch is running like the true coward he is.” Callum said with a growl as he continued to watch the other ship.
“Sir.” Amos said as he came close to his Captain.
“What is it, Amos?”
“All sails set, sir. Do you want the jibs as well?”
“No, the mains will do fine for now, I intend to follow her.”
“Aye, aye, sir.” The big man said and tipped his hand. Callum looked over at him.
“Is there something else, Amos?”
“Is he alright?”
“Mr. Carson is tending him, sir. It looks like he’s been shot twice, sir.”
“Damn.” Callum said, “Is he below?”
“Alright, keep an eye on that ship, don’t lose them from sight.” Callum said and walked away toward the Marines. Callum walked up next to McGuffin, who was knelt down beside two of the young dead. McGuffin was closing the eyes of one of them with his fingers. “Sergeant.” Callum said softly. McGuffin cleared his throat and stood.
“Sir.” The graveled voice was strained.
“It is alright, sir. They died while doing their duty, sir.”
“An honorable death to sure.” Callum whispered, “Your Marines were very brave in this action, Sergeant, and are to be commended.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“But, I have a feeling it’s not over yet.” Callum said.
“Nor do I, sir. They are reloaded and standing by, sir.”
“Fix bayonets, Sergeant. One way or another, I want this to end tonight. Have your brave dead taken below.”
“Yes, sir.” McGuffin snapped stiff and then turned and called out to his young Marines to fix bayonets. They all snapped and did as ordered and stood by. Callum turned and walked toward the wheel as McGuffin had a few of his Marines take the bodies below. Callum reached the wheel and stood next to Talon. They both looked toward the other ship but she was difficult to see in the dark. Amos had moved forward to see better and then spun on his heel.
“Sir! She shortening sail!” Amos yelled and Callum narrowed his eyes.
“Grandfather,…are you alright?” Dustin asked as he sat close on the ottoman.
“What?” The old man asked.
“Are you alright?” The young man asked as he leaned closer and touched the old man, “You got very quiet all of a sudden.”
“Oh,…I apologize.” The old man said and then cleared his throat a bit.
“Do you need something to drink? Possibly some water?”
“Yes, I suppose I could use some water.” The old man smiled faintly. Dustin got up and went into the kitchen, leaving the old man and Andrew for a moment.
“Sir,…” Andrew said quietly, lowering his pencil, “this seems to be very distressing to you. Are you sure you wish to continue on?”
“Yes, my boy, I do.” The old man said as he looked over at the settee where Andrew was, “You see, it is difficult to recount fully what happened that night. I have only told one other person what actually happened. I made mistakes that night, mistakes that cost the lives of several good men. I should have listened to my officers. If I had those men might not have died.”
“Can you really be sure of that, sir? I mean, who is to say that what might have been done differently would have made a different outcome. Perhaps they might have died anyway.”
“You are trying to ease my conscience, Andrew. I appreciate that, but I have had many, many years to rethink it all.” The old man said as Dustin came back with a glass of water and held it out to the old man. He took it and drank, setting the glass on the side table next to his chair, “No, it was my fault. The blame rests with me and my decisions during that night. As Captain of the ship, I was the only one responsible.”
“What happened, Grandfather?” Dustin asked softly touching the old man’s hand. It was trembling slightly. Dustin looked down at it.
“The ship shortened sail to slow herself down. We could hear shouting and orders being given in French in the dark, but I couldn’t make them out clearly in the breeze. She had almost gone out of sight and then as we approached,…”
“Dear God.” Talon said seeing the ship on their starboard side now, “She’s crossed our bow, sir.”
“And she’s laying over to windward.” Callum said, seeing the ship now turning directly in the path of Windsong giving them a broadside view of her, “Hard to port, Darin!” The wheel was cranked over, but it was too late to make the turn completely, “Hang on!” Callum yelled to all as the bowsprit glanced off the port ship of the large ship, cracking and splintering the mast, ripping rigging and lines, then the impact came, knocking most all of them off their feet, sending them to the deck. The hit of the starboard bow, the cracking and busting of wood below and then the grinding of wood against wood now filled the night air. The starboard rails ripped apart under the strain, breaking off in large pieces, losing the rigging on the Mainmast, belaying pins flew through the air, one hitting Bateman in the head, knocking him senseless to the deck.
Lines came from the other ship, hooks bit into wood and the first of the French followed them and they started to pour onto the deck of Windsong. Callum pulled his pistols from his belt, cocking them with his forearms, leveling and firing as he and Talon were stormed by French sailors at the wheel. Two French fell from the pistol shots as three more came.
Marines regrouped and reformed lines, McGuffin getting them quickly into order, muskets were leveled and fired, more French fell. Callum pulled another pistol, cocked it and fired as a Frenchman went to grab the wheel from Talon, Callum shooting the Frenchman in the head, dropping him, the next one was pistol whipped and dropped, Callum dropped the pistol to the deck as the Frenchman fell. He pulled his sword and began to swing wildly, every motion made contact with several French as they poured onto the deck.
Collingwood came through the door on the stairs and fired his two pistols, dropping them to the deck and pulled his own sword. He did not have to swing, just lunge, over and over, making point contact with a group of French that swarmed him, making them scream and fall. Talon cranked the wheel hard to port and tried to lash it there to strain the lines holding them. He was behind Callum, trying to get a pistol out as the French were closing in on his Captain, surrounding him, Talon did not see the Frenchman that came up behind him and he took a hit to the back of his head from something heavy, he spun and was hit again with that something heavy, he managed to cock the pistol, pointed it and pulled the trigger, killing the Frenchman before he too fell at the wheel.
Callum swung and swung with his sword, the French were backing up but were also coming around behind him, he slashed two more, making them scream and fall away when he was grabbed from behind and then more came on him, covering him, hitting him with their fists and he was buried by French sailors, overpowering him and forcing him to collapse on the deck. They pounded him with intense fury and Callum was losing his sight and was fading away and then it stopped.
McGuffin had charged in along with two Marines, bayonets were used only, having been pulled from their spent muskets, the Marines stabbed and slashed at the French that covered the Captain, McGuffin was tossing the French away as they were either stabbed or slashed and a path was cleared and Callum was drug out of the way.
The crew was fighting for their lives as well, Amos, the big muscular man was pounding French without mercy as he held his place at an unfired rail gun, the French sailors kept coming at him over and over but he fought them off, tearing into them and they fell back a bit and tried to take him a few at a time.
Hawkins, Tegner, and Brewer had formed a ring up near the bow on the port side and were fighting off the French as well. Marines were trying to get to them and work closer but were becoming overpowered also. The deck of Windsong was a clutter of bodies, either fighting or strewn out and lying on one another dead or unconscious.
Callum came around and lifted his head, shook it and got to his feet, he reeled a bit and then felt hands go to his throat and grip him tight. He grabbed the wrists that held him and tried to pull them off, but he couldn’t budge them. He let go and balled his fists and punched into the body that gripped him again and again and he felt the hands loosen on his throat. He jabbed upward and caught the chin of the French sailor and he was free. Callum grabbed the shirt of the sailor and pulled back his right and drove it with all his might into the face and the sailor crumpled to the deck. Callum spun and saw the next Frenchman with a boat hook lunging at him, he side stepped the point and pounded the sailor over and over making him fall.
“Abel!” Callum yelled and leaped over the small rail to Collingwood, pulling two French off him that had him pinned at the door below on the steps, Callum pounded them both over and over and made them fall, Collingwood regripped his sword and stood beside his Captain at the ready, “Get to the rockets.” Callum said as he lunged at two more French, Collingwood slashed and lunged through the French, getting around the rail to the wheelhouse. Collingwood was gripped by a sailor by the throat, he used the pommel of his sword to pound into the side of the head of the sailor and knocked him down. He picked up a rocket and put the firing stand pole into a hole on the top of the wheelhouse, the hole, made from a musket ball fit the stand pole perfectly but made the rocket lean, he grabbed a pistol off the deck cocked the hammer back and placed the flint next to the fuse end, he pulled the trigger and the fuse sparked to life, Collingwood turned away and the rocket fired itself off with a blazing trail. All eyes, both Windsong’s crew and the French sailors stopped fighting for a moment.
The signaling rocket shot into the rolled sails of the Mainmast on the French ship and exploded, raining a shower of sparks and then flame erupted in the canvas. All eyes watched for that long moment and then the screams started aboard the French ship. Orders being given and French sailors started scrambling to get back aboard.
Callum jumped over a fallen French sailor and grabbed his own sword off the deck, he hopped once and spun on one foot, swinging and slicing another Frenchman, making him scream and fall. Callum looked over at Collingwood.
“Abel, fire another into them!” Callum yelled and then set himself into a defensive stance. Some of the French still aboard Windsong realized what was going to happen and quite a few started to move toward the wheelhouse. Callum stood between them and Collingwood as another rocket was positioned.
“Sir! Get down!” Amos yelled, Callum looked forward and spun and dropped to the deck as the rail gun went off, grape shot ripped into the backs of some of the French sailors approaching Callum, killing them instantly, dropping them to the deck.
“Reload!” Callum yelled forward and got to his feet, moving to get to Collingwood. Talon was coming around and went to stand, Collingwood sparked the flint on the pistol and another rocket fired off into the French ship, hitting the Mainmast this time and exploding, raining sparks and flame. “Get those lines cut!” Callum yelled as he hacked at one. Hands jumped as Marines came to help as well. Callum got his line cut, moving to the next one quickly.
“Sir!” Talon yelled and pointed at the large ship. Some French sailors were lining up with muskets as others were yelling and screaming about the fire going on. Callum looked up.
“Sergeant!” Callum yelled as he hacked at the line with his sword.
“Marines! Make ready!” McGuffin’s graveled voice filled the air. Marines scrambled quickly to grab their muskets and ready them to fire. They all moved as thunderous booms went off and smoke covered the deck of Windsong. Amos, Rafkin, and Bateman fired three rail guns up at the railing of the French ship. More screams and cries were heard overhead. Marines readied their muskets and waited for the order. The smoke cleared and Callum looked up as he cut the next line.
“Well done! Some of you get these lines off! Amos, reload!” Callum yelled and jumped for the next line.
“Sir!” One of the young Marines stepped up close to Callum. Callum looked up at him seeing the wide young eyes, he stopped his cutting of the rope, “There’s water below, sir.” The young Marine pointed back toward the hold, Callum looked forward.
“Amos! Go below and check for damage!” Callum yelled.
“Aye, sir.” Amos called back, Callum looked at the young Marine.
“Go with him, show him where.”
“Yes, sir.” The boy said and turned quickly, Callum went back to his swinging at the line. Hawkins, Tegner, and Jennings had come to help cut them loose as well, hatchets were used, and most of the lines were cut now. Callum cut his and looked up, seeing the glow and the flames on the other ship, calls and cries were still going on in French, Callum looked over, McGuffin had readied his men, forming their lines and muskets ready for what might be coming next. Callum moved forward and swung at another line and with two swings, it was cut and Windsong was free and rocked slightly. Callum looked back at the wheel.
“Darin! Pull away!” The wheel was still cranked over in the hard turn to port and Windsong slowly moved against the wind, sails not trimmed but they were pulling away. “Sergeant, have your men follow along the deck and cover us.”
“Yes, sir! Break lines! Follow along the rail at the ready!” McGuffin said to his young Marines and they moved, muskets cocked as these brave young men walked aft, looking up at the large ship, watching for any sign of French that might try and fire down at them, stepping over bodies.
Windsong was slow but was turning away from the Frenchman, now showing her stern as the glow from the Frenchman was beginning to die, the French sailors getting the fire under control now. Callum looked over and saw it and feared what this Frenchman might do next, fire into them with cannon to end them. Callum went for the wheel.
“Darin, hard to starboard, bring us with the wind, we’ll swing around her bows.”
“Aye, sir.” Talon said and cranked the wheel, turning Windsong, catching the slight breeze.
“Abel, give me three rockets to signal Captain Renner.”
“Aye, sir.” Collingwood said and turned, pulling three rockets from the wheelhouse, carrying them to the port aft rail. He set up the first one quickly and pulled a spent pistol from his belt, cocked the hammer back, put it to the end of the fuse and pulled the trigger, he turned away and the rocket fired off, shooting up into the night sky, all eyes turned skyward and was a couple of seconds and the rocket exploded into a cascading shower. Collingwood set another into the same spot on the rail and did it again.
“Sir!” Amos said as he came up to Callum, he was dripping wet as Callum turned and looked at him.
“How bad is it, Amos?”
“Almost two feet and rising, sir. There is a split in the hull just below the waterline.”
“You think you can repair it?”
“I might be able to, sir.” Amos huffed out and wiped his brow with the back of his hand.
“Take Hammond with you, set some of the hands or Marines on the pump, get the water lower and drive in some oakum into the split, hopefully that will hold. I’ll join you as soon as I can.”
“Aye, sir.” Amos said and tipped his hand and turned away, “Hammond, you’re with me! Brewer, Hawkins, give us a hand below on the pump!” Amos was doing well Callum thought, taking the lead with the men, watching them for a moment as they went below quickly. He spun as he heard a shot from behind him, he looked and saw one of the Marines had fired his musket at the French ship, Callum looked beyond him, seeing a Frenchman fall overboard, taking a musket with him.
“Well done, lad.” McGuffin said as he stood next to the young Marine, “Eyes on that ship!” McGuffin said to the others.
Callum looked about the deck of Windsong, bodies everywhere, too many to count in the low light of the lamps. Callum looked back aft again as the last rocket was fired off by Collingwood. He looked skyward and waited a long moment and then it exploded into the night sky. His hand was now tipped to this Frenchman. He would now know that Windsong was signaling for help to come in. Callum looked over toward the large ship that had now stopped glowing, her silhouette against the dark and the limited light from the stars. No voices came from her but only the sound of the snapping of canvas as her sails were being trimmed to take the slight wind. Callum waited for a moment to listen for gun ports being lifted but it didn’t happen. He didn’t understand why, it’s what he would have done, to fire into them and to sink Windsong, ending this as they were now in a prime position to be destroyed. The large ship was now moving off, sailing to the south, southeast. Callum spun back as he looked across the deck, some of the French were starting to come around that had been knocked unconscious.
“Marines, to me!” Callum called out as he gripped the pommel of his sword tightly. McGuffin turned and came quickly followed by his men as did Collingwood, pulling his sword as well. The French were confused at first, looking for their ship, but it wasn’t there. Some picked up belaying pins, swords, or pieces of railing that could be used as clubs and came together and started toward the small group of Windsong defenders. Callum went into a defensive stance, ready for the next fight.
The old man had stopped speaking and stared blankly at the wall across the parlor at the wall, his eyes focused on the painting of Dover that hung there. Dustin watched him and then glanced at Andrew and then turned his head and looked at the painting and then back at the old man.
“Sir,…are you alright?” Andrew asked. The old man lowered his head and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. He lifted his head and looked over at Andrew, who sat very still, pencil in hand.
“What was done that night after that, those men, it was,…appalling.” The old man said.
“What happened, Grandfather?” Dustin asked and the old man hesitated.
“We were sinking. The damage from the collision was far worse than we thought.” The old man said softly and then cleared his throat, “The Frenchman, the Avion, he didn’t need to fire into us, he just had to wait us out. We had only one boat aboard, and it would only carry a dozen men if that. I had wounded below decks, enough to fill the boat already, but the rest of us would be left behind.”
“Oh my God.” Dustin whispered, “What happened with the French onboard, Grandfather?”
“They were killed, they tried to surrender finally after they attacked us, but they were killed.” The old man lowered his head, “I had become like the monster that I had been sent to hunt with that one act. I have regretted that action every day of my life since.”
“I’m sorry, Grandfather.” Dustin said softly, “I might have done the same if I were in your place. A small ship, wounded men, sinking, I can only imagine what you must have been thinking, an enemy onboard, ready to try and take the ship from you, to kill you all.”
“Those that were left after they attacked myself and the few Marines I had with me, they tried to surrender, a small handful of them, but I took their lives anyway without any thought of mercy.” The old man said and then cleared his throat again.
“It was not murder, sir, not with your circumstance.” Andrew said knowing what the old man thought.
“There are rules of war, Andrew, and I broke them. It was never spoken of again, but, my officer, Abel Collingwood, never looked at me quite the same way again after that night. I couldn’t say that I blamed him for that.”
“Obviously help came that night, sir.”
“It did not.” The old man said as he looked at Andrew, who went wide eyed.
“But, your signaling rockets, sir.”
“Does not guarantee that they will be seen or answered.” The old man said flatly.
“The other ship, Captain Renner, he did not see them, sir?” Andrew asked, and the old man closed his eyes for a long moment obviously recalling more of the events of that night. He slowly opened his eyes and looked angry for a brief moment and then it passed and he became calm.
“Our lives were in his hands, but I knew that I couldn’t trust in that.”
“What happened, Grandfather?” Dustin asked.
Callum stood on the deck, sword in hand, blood dropping from the tip as he looked down at the last French sailor at his feet that was letting out his last breath slowly. Callum watched him fade away in the lamp light from the Mainmast, the eyes glazed over slowly and became lifeless.
“Sir.” The graveled voice said at his shoulder, Callum did not move. A hand touched his shoulder and squeezed him gently, “Sir.” The graveled voice said again and Callum looked up but did not turn, “You did what was necessary, sir.” McGuffin said. Callum slowly turned his head and looked at the large man beside him now.
“That does not excuse this, Sergeant.” Callum whispered as he stared into the whiskered face.
“Your orders, sir?” The large man asked and removed his hand.
“My orders?” Callum asked a bit confused and turned more and looked at a shocked Collingwood. They locked eyes on one another for a long minute.
“What would have us do, sir?” McGuffin asked as he side glanced toward Collingwood and then back at Callum. Callum let out a breath and then looked down for a moment breaking his stare at Collingwood, then lifted his eyes and pulled himself up.
“Mr. Collingwood, let us clear the decks of the dead French, put them over the side. Sergeant, assemble your men to assist in that and then have them prepare for another possible boarding.” Callum said as he looked down at the dead French sailor for a moment. He turned and went forward to the bowsprit. He saw Rafkin and Jennings there trying to make repairs to the splintered mast that was dipping down in the water, he came up beside them as he sheathed his sword. The young man, Jennings, looked at his Captain.
“I think it’s about gone, sir.” He said quietly as Callum looked it over and then turned and looked up at the Mainmast for a moment and then turned back.
“Take that jib line,” Callum said as he pointed at a line that was loose and dangling near their feet, “give it a stay knot with another line and then rig it through a double block on the Main, we’ll pull it up and then try and wrap the split to secure it. We have to get it out of the water as it’s acting like a rudder.”
“Aye, sir.” Jennings said and tipped his hand. He and Rafkin began to carry out the order and grabbing lines. Callum turned and saw Marines picking up bodies and tossing them over the closest railing. Callum inspected the starboard railing and rigging as he moved along, moving ropes and rigging as he went. He looked aloft and then back down as Collingwood came up beside him.
“Shall I go below, sir, and see about the damage?” Collingwood asked.
“Yes, check on Amos and make sure of the pump, then report back to me.”
“Aye, sir.” Collingwood said and Callum heard the tone in his voice but ignored it as they walked away from one another. Callum went to the wheel, seeing a worried looking Talon holding on to it.
“You alright, Darin?” Callum asked as he saw the large bump on Talon’s forehead.
“I’ll live, sir.” He said without looking at Callum.
“Something wrong, Darin?” Callum was looking toward the aft rail.
“She’s hard to steer, sir. She wants to lay over to starboard.”
“I’ll go below with Mr. Collingwood and see what progress they’re making.” Callum said as he turned and went to the hold and looked down. He could hear the bilge pump being cranked and saw water. He climbed down the gangway ladder and stepped into the water, it almost going to his knees, he looked aft and could see the lamp swinging a bit over the heads of those that were cranking the handles of the bilge pump, and then he looked forward seeing more light from a lamp, he waded through the water and saw Collingwood with Amos, who was on his knees in the water with Hammond next to him also on his knees. Collingwood looked at Callum as he stopped just next to him.
“Two feet and rising, sir.”
“I can see that, Mr. Collingwood, as I’m standing in it.” Callum said without looking at him, he bent forward and touched Amos on his thick muscled shoulder, “Amos?” The big man turned his head and looked at his Captain.
“It’s no good, sir. Every time I pound in more oakum, it spreads the crack wider, sir.” Amos said with almost a panicked look.
“Stop what you’re doing. We’ll have to seal it from the outside.” Callum said. Amos went wide eyed and rose up a bit out of the murky water.
“How, sir? We’re going to start listing in a few minutes.” Collingwood asked.
“I don’t think you want to swim for England, Abel, do you? Amos, who’s our best swimmer?”
“He’s on the pump, isn’t he?” Callum asked.
“Pull him off and have someone else take over for him. Get one of the jibs cut loose and have three lines attached to it. Have you found any other damage?”
“No, sir.” Amos answered.
“Alright, get to it.” Callum said, he nodded to Amos, and he stood up out of the water, Callum looked at Collingwood, “Mark the time, Abel. In a half hour, send up three more rockets.”
“A half hour, sir?” Collingwood asked.
“The moon will be overhead about then and will not cut the flash of the rockets.”
“You think that Captain Renner hasn’t seen them yet, do you, sir?”
“I pray that he has, Abel, there isn’t enough room for all of us in the one boat that we have, and I would hate to have to draw lots to see who goes. This water is too cold to swim in for very long.”
“Good, then get to it.”
“Aye, sir.” Collingwood turned and waded toward the gangway ladder followed by Callum. He stopped at the locker that McGuffin had set up as an armory. He opened the door and started to pull out muskets, grabbing as many as he could and went to the ladder and started up with them. He reached the deck and dumped them and went back down going back to the locker. He grabbed more and turned back, being met by two Marines that were coming from the aft area.
“Give me a hand, lads.” Callum said and the Marines jumped in, one taking the muskets and going up the ladder, the other joined Callum and went back to the locker, “Grab the rest of them, I’ll get the powder and ball.”
“Yes, sir.” The young Marine said as he reached in and wrapped his arms around the rest of the muskets, pulling them to his chest, he turned and waded toward the gangway ladder, Callum grabbing two powder kegs, tucking one under his left arm, hefting the other up on his right shoulder, he turned and waded to the ladder and waited as the two Marines worked to get the muskets up on deck.
“Lively now, lads. We don’t have much time.” Callum said and looked up seeing Amos looking down at him.
“Jibs ready, sir.” Amos said.
“Lend a hand, Amos. We need to get this powder up and out of the water.”
“Aye, sir.” He said as he took the muskets and set them aside quickly, he came down the rungs and took the keg off Callum’s shoulder and went back up, setting it on the deck, he came back down as Callum started up, taking the keg from his Captain and reached it up and on the deck.
“Alright, you lads,” Callum said to the Marines, “go back to the locker and finish emptying it, get it all up on deck.”
“Yes, sir.” They both said and came down as Callum went up. He and Amos went toward the bow, Callum looked at the jib and the lines, and then looked at Hawkins.
“You understand what we need to do?” Callum asked. Hawkins nodded once.
“We have one shot at this,” Callum said as he bent and started to pull off his boots one at a time, dropping them to the deck, all the men were watching him, “the suction will pull the canvas in. When it does, it will be almost impossible to move it. We’ll go over the side and dive down, we’ll have to feel where the split is in the dark. Once we find it, come back to the surface above it and we can mark the position. This would be tough enough to do even in the daylight.” Callum said as he reached for a loose line, taking it and tying it around his waist.
“I can do this, sir. You don’t need to go, sir.” Hawkins said.
“I know you can, if it were daylight, I’d let you do it alone, but in the dark, you’ll need help. Grab a line and tie it off on yourself. If we run into trouble, you men will have to pull us up. Once we find where the split is, we’ll send the canvas over, two lines will secure it here to starboard, the other will go under the keel and will be secured to the port rail. Everyone clear?” Callum asked and all hands that were there nodded to him their understanding, “Ready, Hawkins?”
“The water will be cold. We’ll go in, surface, take a deep breath and then dive down.”
“Aye, sir.” Hawkins said and went to the remains of the starboard rail with his Captain. Callum looked at him, nodded once and they both dove in. The remaining hands held the lines that were secured around Callum and Hawkins. They watched as they both broke the surface.
“You alright, Hawkins?” Callum asked as he treaded water.
“Alright, deep breath. Here we go.” Callum said taking a deep breath himself and dove under, he kicked in the black water and swam forward and found the wood of the hull of Windsong. He ran his hand down, feeling lower and moved it side to side, going lower as he felt in the dark, moving his hand side to side again. He touched Hawkins hand in the dark once, knowing he was there. Callum moved lower and then his fingers came across it. He felt the split. It was wide and was three planks down as well along the hull. He reached right and found Hawkins and took him by the hand and pulled him to him, guiding his hand to the splits. Callum pulled Hawkins hand away and lifted the hand toward the surface, indicating for him to rise. Callum let him go and went lower below the splitting of the three planks, everything else was sound. He could feel the suction pulling on him from the splitting and then he kicked and rose to the surface. Once there, he took a deep breath as he was next to Hawkins. Callum looked up into the faces of the hands.
“Send over the canvas.” Callum said, “Toss the other line out and away.” Amos did as he was told, coiling the line quickly and tossing it out into the water. The canvas was lowered over the side and over the top of Callum and Hawkins as they were at the side of Windsong. Callum looked over at Hawkins, “Go to the edge of your side, we’ll stretch it out, dive down with it between us, and let the suction take it in. We should be able to spread the edges. You men, standby on those lines to attach it.”
“We will, sir.” Amos said.
“Grab your edge. Here we go, deep breath.” Callum said and took a deep breath, he flipped in the water, taking the edge of the canvas with him, diving down along the hull of Windsong, he held the canvas out away and got near the split with the canvas edge now in both hands, the suction was pulling and it became too great to hold on to the canvas, it pulled out of his hands and he could hear it make a thudding sound in the water against the hull as the canvas covered the splitting of the three planks. He used his hands to see if it was flat and thankfully it was. He felt along as best he could in the dark and it seemed as smooth as it could be. He rose to the surface and broke, taking a deep breath, he looked about and then saw Hawkins break the surface as well.
“Get aboard, Hawkins. Amos, secure those lines and pull Hawkins up.”
“What about you, sir?” Hawkins asked.
“I’ll get the other line and bring it around on the port side.” Callum said as he turned and treaded out a bit further and found the line that Amos had thrown. He took it and put it in his mouth and kicked while reaching down and untied the rope around his waist. He reached up and took the line for the port side in his hand and turned in the water, “Pull in that other line that was on me.” He said, “One of you go to the port side and standby.” Callum said and dove down, he kicked and swam until he found the hull and moved down lower, kicking and swimming, going under the keel, and then rose up on the port side and broke the surface, he turned and came up and put his hands on the hull, reaching up with the line, “Here, take this line.” He said and a hand reached down and grabbed it, taking it up.
“Give me your hand, sir.” Amos said as he reached down. Callum could see it but the cold water was taking its toll on him, “Reach again, sir.” Amos said and couldn’t quite get a grip on him just touching fingertips. Amos cursed under his breath and then stood, he turned and looked at those that were with him, reaching out for Bateman, a young slender hand, Amos grabbed him, and hefted him over the side, holding his legs as Bateman reached down for Callum, grabbing his wrists.
“Got you, sir.” Bateman said, “Pull us up.” He grunted and Amos pulled and then the others joined in, pulling Bateman up on deck, hands reaching over the side grabbing Callum as well, pulling him back up on deck.
“You alright, sir?” Amos asked his shivering Captain. Callum could only nod as he was breathing heavy.
“Secure that line.” Callum said as Bateman took it and tied it off tight on a belaying pin in the rail.
“All secure, sir.”
“Alright,…Amos, let’s go below and check it.” Callum said as he leaned against the rail.
“Aye, sir.” Amos said and tipped his hand, “You should get out of those wet clothes, sir. I can report to you, sir.” Callum nodded and came off the rail and tried to walk forward, Bateman came alongside him.
“Need a hand, sir?”
“No, I’ll be alright.” Callum said, looking over, seeing Amos and Hammond going back below. Callum stopped and looked back at Hawkins, “Hawkins, do you have anything else to wear?”
“Uh, no, sir.”
“I have some spare things in my trunk, come with me.” Callum said as a rocket went skyward. He turned and looked up following the glowing trail. It reached its point and exploded high in the night sky raining sparks. Callum and Hawkins went along the deck and went down the steps through the door, going by the dark galley and reached Callum’s cabin, he opened it and saw the lamp was dimly lit, he reached up and turned it up more. He turned and went to his trunk and opened the lid, bending down. He started to pull clothes out, pants and shirts and stockings. He closed the lid and stood, turning to look at Hawkins. Callum handed him pants and a shirt.
“Get out of those wet clothes, Hawkins, it’s going to be a long night for certain.” Callum said as he set his new clothes on the table and started to pull off his own wet shirt and dropped it on the back of the chair. Hawkins was wide eyed as he was going to be changing with his Captain, a man he not only respected but lusted over as well. He swallowed hard and then set the clothes down. He slowly opened his own ragged shirt and pulled it off, Callum never looked at him. Hawkins watched Callum as he was undressing and lowered his pants and peeled the wet legs off himself and stood naked, giving Hawkins a perfect profile and his eyes went wider at what he saw. He undid his own pants and lowered them and stepped out of the legs. He reached over and picked up the heavy shirt and pulled it over his head, letting it drop over him. Callum was stepping into his new pants and was pulling them up, he tucked himself into the flap and then grabbed the shirt, pulling it over his head and letting it drop on him. He tucked himself in and buttoned the flap and sat down and pulled on the dry stockings as Hawkins pulled up the new pants himself and tucked in the shirt.
“It looks as if we’re about the same size, Hawkins.” Callum said looking the young man up and down, “They look good on you. You may keep them.”
“Oh, I couldn’t, sir.” Hawkins said and was still wide eyed.
“Yes,…you could.” Callum said and cocked his head a bit.
“Your boots, sir.” Bateman said as he stood at the doorway, holding out Callum’s boots and had Hawkins buckled shoes in the other hand.
“Thank you, Bateman.” Callum said as he stood and reached forward taking the boots, “Any word from Amos, yet?”
“No, sir, not yet.” Bateman said as he handed Hawkins his shoes, seeing him in Callum’s clothes, he was like a different man.
“Alright, I’ll have a look for myself then.” Callum said as he stepped into his last boot and stamped the deck with it. He walked to the door, Bateman standing out of his way to let him by and went to the door and up the steps and across the deck. Another signaling rocket went off from the rail. Callum turned and looked skyward, waiting a moment and then it exploded and the familiar sparks rained down and died. He turned back and went to the hold, looking over the edge, seeing Marines around the edge as well looking down, he touched one of them to let him pass and go down the ladder steps. Callum reached the bottom and was standing in less water, about ankle deep. He went forward finding Amos and Hammond working in the murky water.
“Amos?” Callum asked.
“It seems to be holding, sir. The men are gaining with the pump.”
“So I see. Excellent work.”
“Thanks to you, sir.”
“I did nothing.” Callum said flatly, “When the water is low enough, send for me, I want to see about the split before we do anything else.”
“Aye, sir.” Amos said as Callum turned and walked away. He continued on passing the gangway ladder and went further aft to where the wounded were, going by the men on the pump, they were working hard to crank the handle round and round, taking the water out of the bilge and pumping it over the side. He saw Carson and the boy working over a few of the men, moving back and forth between them.
“Capshaw,” Callum said as he came to a haversack and stopped, looking down at the young man, “how are you feeling?”
“I’ll be alright, sir.” He said softly.
“I understand you were shot twice.”
“The shoulder, sir, and my right leg. Both went clean through, sir.”
“I see. With Carson’s good care, you should be on your feet in no time then.” Callum said and then smiled. He reached down and touched him on his good shoulder, resting his hand on him.
“What about the Frenchman, sir?”
“We seem to have done him some damage. I did not count how many of his crew he lost, but we seem to have given him a bit of a good thrashing. He sailed on to the south, southeast.”
“I knew you would be the one to give him that thrashing, sir.” Capshaw said and gave a brief smile.
“It was all of us. Our young Marines were especially gallant on this night.” Callum said and pat him gently, “You get some rest now.”
“Yes, sir.” Capshaw said quietly and closed his eyes. Callum took his hand away and went toward Carson. He counted the filled haversacks, nine in all. Callum gave Carson a nod and he stepped closer to Callum.
“Can I do anything to help you, Carson?” Callum whispered into Carson’s ear.
“I wish Dr. Crawford was here, sir.” Carson whispered back looking very tired and worried, “I’m afraid two of the Marines will not survive the night, sir, I can’t do anything else for them.” Carson looked over at two of the haversacks near them. Callum followed his gaze and then looked back at Carson, “I have nothing to ease their pain and to let them sleep.”
“You’re doing the best that you can, Carson.” Callum said softly, “Another error on my part to not have any medical supplies on board or a surgeon.”
“It’s not your fault, sir. You did everything you could to keep us all alive, sir. We have fared better than any other crew so far, all because of you, sir.”
“Perhaps Captain Renner has seen our signaling rockets. If he gets here in time, perhaps his surgeon can do something for these lads.”
“I hope so, sir.” Carson said.
“If you need anything or any other help, let me know.”
“Aye, sir, I will.” Carson said and Callum turned and walked forward toward the gangway ladder. He looked forward as he reached the gangway and stopped for a moment. He climbed up and went up on deck. He looked up at the night sky, seeing the moon overhead, the blanket of stars that shown brightly, he went down the starboard side and moved ropes and rigging that hung about in his way. He reached the wheel and looked at Talon, who stood there, giving him a nod. Talon gave a nod back to him.
“How does she steer now, Darin?” Callum asked and Talon turned the wheel back and forth a bit showing him.
“There’s no wind, sir. It seems that she will steer fine now.”
“Good.” Callum said. Collingwood and McGuffin came closer toward the wheel as well. “Sergeant, thank you for the use of your men below on the pump.”
“Our pleasure, sir.”
“I must say, your men have driven any doubt out of my mind as to their abilities under fire. They were more than brave in this action and will be commended in my report to the Admiralty, once we reach port.”
“Thank you, sir, may I pass that along?”
“Indeed you may.” Callum said and gave a slight bow of the head, McGuffin returned it as well, “Mr. Collingwood, we need to secure this rigging and rerun lines. Strike sail for now, with no wind it seems to give us the ample opportunity to repair our damage.”
“Aye, aye, sir.” Collingwood said.
“Then, perhaps we can get some needed rest before we get underway.”
“Underway to where, sir?” Talon asked.
“It is apparent to me, gentlemen, that we are alone in this, very alone.”
“You don’t think Captain Renner is coming, sir?”
“If he was, he should have been sighted by now or return signaled, but, as there is no wind, who is to say?” Callum asked, Talon nodded slightly in reply, “No, we are alone as I said. We will repair our damage and set sail when the wind returns for his position and his assistance. We need a surgeon for our wounded, and he has the closest one to us.”
“Aye, sir.” Talon said.
“Sergeant, if I may ask for the use of your men again.” Callum said.
“Anything that you need, sir.”
“Excellent. Post two of your men both fore and aft as lookouts while we all work on the damage. Any sign of this Frenchman, they are not to hesitate to call out.”
“Yes, sir.” McGuffin said and gave him a salute and turned away.
“You think he’ll return, sir?” Talon asked.
“Without doubt, Darin, he has to.” Callum said, seeing the confused look on Talon’s face, “It must be part of his madness, Darin, we have wounded him, hurt him, and he will return to seek out our destruction if he finds out that we did not sink on our own.”
“You still think we’re being watched, sir.” Collingwood said. Callum gave him a nod.
“I do indeed and I am also of the opinion that it might be closer to home than I had originally thought.” Callum said, Collingwood shifted his eyes back and forth between Callum and Talon and then he came to Callum and his mouth opened.
“You think it’s one of us, sir?”
“Not here aboard Windsong obviously,” Callum said and stepped closer to Talon and Collingwood, “but you remember that I said that a sail was sighted last night, before the shadow that came and went of the Frenchman tonight.” Collingwood remembered and then nodded, “That ship was coming from England obviously and then disappeared, no moon, like the Frenchman, making a port turn and disappeared against the night sky. That ship must have sailed to the French coast, and a message was then sent to the Avion. As we know, the French have a system of semaphore towers in place, as do we, once that ship reached the French, a message could have been sent giving up our position, the Avion happens to show up the next night, this night, and we are attacked. We have another traitor or traitors in our midst, gentlemen, and our very lives are at stake.”
“Dear God.” Collingwood said. Callum folded his arms over his chest as Talon and Collingwood stared at him with widened eyes at his thought.
“Aright, let’s get to it. We need to be able to get underway by dawn and we have but a few hours left. We should have the wind by then.” Callum said and dropped his arms.
“Aye, sir.” Collingwood said and turned, “Strike sail! All available hands on deck!”
“Sir,…” Andrew said at the old man, “you thought there was a traitor? Did you really know, sir, or was it merely a guess?”
“There was a traitor, or rather a network of them that was discovered.” The old man said, “It was the only thing that made sense to me.” Andrew could only shake his head at it, “Think about it carefully.” The old man said and bent his arm at the elbow on the arm of his chair, holding a finger up, “How could this Frenchman find a merchant vessel in the dark, attack it, and then slip away without being seen by any other vessel? You have to understand, Andrew, The Channel and the North Sea were and are to this day very busy with sea traffic, both of merchant, and especially at that time, patrols from the Royal Navy. Yes, we were reactionary in our tactics during the war, but, there were always Royal Navy vessels about. Ask yourself this, what would you think if I told you that all vessels that were attacked had come down from the north and were sailing south, except those that were Spanish or Portuguese?”
“They were attacked as well, sir?”
“Supposedly. We found out much later, that the supposed Spanish ships that were attacked were faked, and the Portuguese vessels attacked were merely to draw any suspicion away. Those attacks had come from the south of The Channel and were carried out by another ship with another purpose, merely pirating, those crews had not been killed, but the rumor of it had been started and spread.”
“I see. Who was it, sir?” Andrew asked.
“Another time perhaps.” The old man smiled, “I need to rest a while. This has been a bit draining on me today.”
“Yes, of course, sir.”
“I’ll prepare supper, Grandfather, while you rest.”
“Excellent. Thank you, Dustin.” The old man smiled and got up from his chair and went toward his room as Dustin and Andrew watched him walk away.
“My God.” Andrew said quietly.
“What?” Dustin asked, and Andrew looked at him with a slightly cocked head.
“He knew. He described it in full detail. He knew all along, the entire time, I’m sure of it.”
“He is quite clever, you know.” Dustin said and smiled.
“Yes, but, my God, he had to know before he set sail. It wasn’t just that night that the revelation came to him.” Andrew said, putting down his pencil, “He knew.” Dustin smiled at him and got up off the ottoman and went to the kitchen, Andrew got up and followed him.
“While I make supper, why don’t you write some like you wanted to?” Dustin asked. Andrew stopped at the table and thought a moment.
“Do you need any help?”
“No.” Dustin said and turned back from the counter at the sink, “I’m going to make something simple for this evening. I have a feeling that my father might be coming as well. He and Grandfather care for simple things as you know. I have some lamb that needs to be cooked. It will take some time though.”
“Alright, I suppose I’ll do some writing then.” Andrew said, turned and went to get his supplies. He went into the parlor and picked up his stack of paper, ink, and pen. He returned to the table with them and set them about and then sat on the small bench at the end. “Merchant vessels.” He said mostly to himself as he was lost in thought. Dustin looked over at him as he peeled some potatoes at the counter, “Why only merchant vessels, no cargos taken, only the crews killed,…why?”
“Fear.” Dustin said as he peeled potatoes.
“What?” Andrew asked as he was pulled out of his thoughts.
“I said, fear.” Dustin said, “Merchant vessels are really not well armed, am I right?” Andrew nodded, “And, if there is great fear, then why sail? Especially if someone might possibly come out of the dark and slit your throat?”
“Yes, but, what would there be to gain?” Andrew asked.
“It becomes a matter of economics at that point.” Dustin said, “Fear driving those merchants not to sail. They don’t sail, they don’t move supply, they don’t make money. Commerce comes to a halt at that point. Shortages and runs on commodities begin to happen. According to my professors at University, that did not happen when the war was going on. Someone was able to keep the supply moving, someone who was not afraid to sail and move supply.”
“Of course,” Andrew said as the revelation took over, “there were other suppliers, other merchant companies willing to sail, and whoever was the traitor was that merchant supply company.” Andrew said and clapped his hands together, “It’s brilliant. All commerce comes to a halt, or is threatening to, and this company continues and continues well as it sails without fear of attack as they were telling this Frenchman to attack their competitors.”
“There you have it.” Dustin said and smiled briefly.
“I see it, but, who was it? That’s the real question, and was there proof?”
“I’m sure Grandfather knows.”
“I’m certain he does.” Andrew said and turned to start writing.
Callum was at a section of railing amidships racking it, testing it for strength to see if the rigging could be secured to it again. He let it go and leaned over it, using his hands to feel it on the outside edge. It seemed secure enough but wasn’t quite wide enough. He straightened as Amos came up next to him.
“Sir.” Amos said, tipping his hand, Callum looked at him.
“Water is completely pumped out.”
“Excellent.” Callum said and turned, “Mr. Collingwood.”
“This rail is good enough to secure to, have what rigging there is tied off to it, I’ll be below.” Callum said.
“Aye, sir.” Collingwood said, watching Callum and Amos walk toward the hatch and the gangway ladder.
They climbed down and went forward to where the splitting in the hull was located. Callum could see water weeping in through the planking of the hull. He knelt and felt it and then looked up at Amos.
“Did you try any oakum?”
“No, sir. You said not to.”
“Quite right.” Callum said, looking back down at the planking of the hull, “Bring that lamp closer.” Amos lifted the lamp and brought it down, giving more light to the area. Callum looked it over and then shook his head, “If we could only lift her out of the water for a few minutes, we could peg the planking from the outside to the keel, and then seal it with oakum.”
“I agree, sir. But, we can’t do that at sea.”
“If we had another ship with us, we could.” Callum said, “We could clubhaul the stern and lift her up just enough out of the water. The way she is, she’ll never take full sail again, she won’t stand the strain, the hull will split open further.”
“We need another ship, sir.”
“Exactly, Amos. I’ll get us one.” Callum said, “There’s nothing more we can do here. We need to keep an eye on this though. I want it checked every hour as well as the bilge level. We have to stay afloat until someone shows up.”
“Aye, sir.” Amos said watching his Captain walk away and go to the gangway ladder and then go up. He looked back at the seeping planking, “Hold together, my lady.” He whispered and then hung up the lantern. He turned and followed where Callum had gone.
Callum watched as Jennings and Tegner were setting the rigging to the remains of the inspected starboard rail. Blocks were set and lines were run through and then pulled by several hands, the rigging began to go taut and moan with the strain.
“Easy now, lads, easy.” Callum said, “Not too much, just enough to get us by for now.” Callum got close to the rigging and then reached out and took a staying line and helped to pull as well, Tegner was next to him and looked over, seeing his Captain working alongside him, and gave him a quick nod, “I think that’s enough tension. Tie it off.” Callum said firmly. Hands moved and tied off the rigging, Callum eased off the line and stepped back once. He looked up aloft to the Mainmast, “Alright, good work, lads. Now, let’s test it. Three of you go to the port side and get onto the rigging, when I give the word, we’ll give her some sway.” Callum said as he looked at some of the hands. Brewer, Jennings, and Bateman went across the deck and climbed up, standing on the first rungs above the rail, “Give her some sway.” Callum said as they began to swing back and forth together trying to make the Mainmast swing side to side, Callum watched the rigging at the rail and it was creaking and popping a bit. He raised a hand to have them stop and they did, “That will have to do for now.” Callum said and looked over at Collingwood, “Abel.”
“I want you to fire off three more rockets.” Callum said, “The first dog watch should be getting ready to come on deck about now, perhaps with no wind, the rockets will carry a bit higher.”
“Yes, sir.” Collingwood said and looked concerned if his Captain was still trying to send for help, there must be something else wrong that he hasn’t said as of yet. Collingwood tipped his hand and turned away to go to the wheelhouse.
“Alright, lads, let’s get the forward lines rerun. We have to secure the bowsprit as well. Amos, I want it double wrapped to take a jib, if necessary, in case this rigging doesn’t hold on the rail.”
Callum went forward toward the bow, the hands followed him and all of them started to rerun the lines and tie off on whatever they could. The work was slow in the limited light that they had but they kept going. Callum looked up as a rocket was fired off. All of them watched as it went skyward and was almost out of sight and then exploded. Callum watched the raining shower of sparks until they disappeared and turned back to the line he had.
“Sir!” Jennings said as he was on the bowsprit. Callum looked over at him and saw him pointing, he looked over and saw off against the horizon to the southwest a shower of faint sparks in the sky. Callum moved closer to Jennings and climbed up next to him watching the darkness. “Did you see it, sir?”
“That I did.” Callum said.
“Sir!” Talon called from the wheel, he was pointing directly west of the starboard aft quarter, Callum looked to where he was pointing and could see for a moment another shower of sparks in the night sky near the horizon.
“They’re coming, sir.” Jennings said.
“Yes, but with no wind, it may be quite a while, possibly after dawn.” Callum said, “Mr. Collingwood! Send up another one in reply!”
“Aye, sir!” Collingwood called back and placed another rocket and sparked it off, ducking out of the way of the flaming spray. All eyes watched as it went skyward and then exploded. Callum watched it for a moment and then scanned the horizon.
“Now, if they saw that, they should answer.” Callum said softly, still standing with Jennings.
“They did, sir!” Jennings was hopping and pointing to the southwest.
“Easy, lad.” Callum said and put a hand on his young shoulder to calm him.
“Sorry, sir.” Jennings said and swallowed hard, “Who do you think it is, sir?”
“That would be about the position of Dover and Captain Tomlin, I would think.” Callum said with a smile.
“There, sir.” Jennings pointed directly west, seeing another shower of sparks in the distance.
“I see it. That has to be Captain Renner, or possibly even Captain Stewart. He should have been proceeding south along the coast to the next position beyond where Dover is tonight.” Callum said softly and then looked skyward for a moment.
“Shall I fire the last rocket, sir?!” Collingwood asked.
“No!” Callum called back, “They know where we are and to come when the wind allows! Save the rocket!”
“Alright, lads, let’s get back on these lines.” Callum said as he jumped down off the bowsprit, grabbing the line that he had before. They worked with distraction now, knowing that fellow seamen were coming or would be to their aid as soon as the wind came. They continued to repair and tie lines and blocks with stays as best they could in between looking out to see any approaching sail. Callum looked over at Amos and called him with a wave. Amos stopped what he was doing and came to his Captain.
“Amos, it’s been a rather long and difficult night, take half the lads and go below and try to get some rest, leave the other half here on deck with me, we’ll finish up here. We’ll call you at dawn, that should give you and them a few hours sleep.”
“What about you, sir?”
“Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. Now, pick who you wish to go and get below.”
“Aye, sir.” Amos said and went and started to pick most of the older men and send them below first. Callum went toward the wheel as the crew tipped their hands to him as he went by.
“Sergeant.” Callum said.
“Sir.” McGuffin said as he stepped up and around the wheelhouse.
“Dismiss your men for the night, they’re tired and need some sleep, as do you. We’ll have a service for your fallen in the morning. I would ask that you give me a list of their names and I will speak over them.”
“Thank you, sir. I know they would appreciate that, sir.” McGuffin said in his graveled voice, “As do I.”
“It is the least that I can do, Sergeant, after they all showed incredible bravery this night. They’re not boys anymore, they’re men.”
“Royal Marines, sir.” McGuffin stiffened.
“Quite right, Sergeant, I stand corrected. Get some sleep.” Callum said and gave him a nod. McGuffin saluted and turned to collect his men, Callum watched him for a moment and then stepped into the wheel, “Mr. Talon, you are relieved, sir. I’ll take over. Mr. Collingwood.”
“Sir.” Collingwood said as he stepped a step closer.
“You and Mr. Talon go below, I shall have you relieve me at dawn.”
“Sir,…” Talon said.
“That’s an order, Darin.” Callum said as he gave Talon a side glance and then looked at Collingwood. They both tipped their hands and walked away to go below. Callum looked over his shoulder at the Marine that was at the aft rail on lookout, it was Carson’s nephew, Lauder. Callum smiled briefly and turned, holding the wheel with one hand, “Mr. Lauder.” Callum said and the young Marine turned and looked at Callum and stiffened and saluted him.
“Sir!” He said in his soft young voice.
“I was wondering if I might ask you to do something for me.”
“At your service, sir.” The young Marine snapped again.
“Would you be so kind as to gather and load all of the pistols and place them back in the wheelhouse for me? I would hate to have to repel more boarders with only an empty pistol.”
“Yes, sir.” He said and stepped forward as Callum scanned the dark horizon aft for any sign of anything and there was none. He took two different lines and lashed the wheel to make sure they stayed pointed on this heading. He helped gather the pistols that were lying about the deck from the battle with the French. Callum carried them over and set them on the top of the wheelhouse for the young Marine.
“Why don’t you come around to this side so you can keep an eye aft and not disappoint the Sergeant in not maintaining your lookout.” Callum said.
“Thank you, sir.” The young Marine said as he came around next to Callum.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, sir.” Lauder said and nodded.
“You did fine this evening, all of you did.” Callum said as he watched the young man loading a pistol.
“All I could think of, sir, was what you said to me right here, the entire time that we were fighting them.”
“Follow your orders and they will see you through?”
“Yes, sir. Over and over it kept coming into my head, and I wasn’t afraid anymore, sir.”
“May I tell you a secret?” Callum asked as he leaned close, Lauder nodded, “Being afraid is a good thing, it keeps you alert, and alive. Between you and I only, I was scared to death tonight when they started to board us. I’ve never seen so many French in all my life as I did tonight.”
“Really, sir, you were afraid?”
“I was, especially when they were all on me, I thought I was done for.” Callum said and rolled his eyes as he crossed his arms over his chest, leaning against the wheelhouse.
“We saw that, sir. Sergeant McGuffin pulled me and Clemens to come and pull you out of that.” Lauder said as he stopped loading and looked at Callum.
“Then it is you three that I owe my life to. There is someone at home waiting for me that would want to thank you as well, I’m sure.” Callum smiled briefly, “My point is, being afraid can help keep you alive as well, remember that.”
“I will, sir, thank you.” He said and smiled briefly and went back to loading, looking aft now and then as he did it. Callum lowered his arms and walked away.
He went forward and looked aloft as he walked, checking the reattached rigging, it worried him. He was not sure it was going to hold up under the strain of a good wind. He checked it by pulling at it and some of the lines as well, the hands that were on deck with him watched him do it. They looked at one another as they watched their Captain. Jennings stopped what he was doing and came over to him, tipping his hand.
“Can I help you, sir?”
“I was just checking our handiwork.” Callum said and gave him a nod, “What are you men working on?”
“We were gathering the extra lines, sir, and coiling them.” Jennings said.
“I see, well, let me give you a hand then.” Callum said and followed Jennings over to three of the others and grabbed a loose line himself and began to coil it as the others watched out of the corners of their eyes, their Captain working with them now made them all a bit nervous. Callum took the coil and formed it around a belaying pin at the port fore rail. They all had the area cleared of lines and clutter and were in fine shape for the time being. Callum saw the tired looks on their faces and came to them all, “We have a couple of hours before the dawn, I don’t expect the wind until then. Take some time to relax a bit. I was thinking of going into the galley and seeing if I could warm up the stove and make some coffee, as Carson is tending the wounded below.”
“I can do that for you, sir.” Bateman said.
“You know how to cook, Bateman?”
“No, sir, but I have watched Mr. Carson make coffee more times than I can count, sir. I think I can do it.”
“Excellent. If you wouldn’t mind then, I think we all might like to have some, and could use it.”
“Aye, aye, sir.” Bateman said and tipped his hand going toward the steps for the galley and below.
“Alright, lads, settle back, I’ll be at the wheel.” Callum said and gave them a nod and went aft down the port side. They watched him walk away and they settled against the rail or sat on the deck.
“What do you think is on his mind?” Tegner asked. Jennings leaned close to him.
“I’ll tell you, that French bastard showing up again, that’s what’s on his mind. The Captain knows that we can’t do anything about it, we can’t run, half the Marines are dead. There aren’t enough of us to fight back for very long, that’s what’s on his mind.”
“Bah,” Brewer said waving a hand a little, “that’s not what’s bothering him. The Captain could take that French ship without even thinking about it. I’ll tell you what’s bothering him,” He paused and leaned forward closer to his shipmates, “I overheard Mr. Collingwood and Mr. Talon talking about it. He’s worried about Captain Renner.” The other two just looked at him and narrowed their eyes.
“What’s Captain Renner got to do with it?” Jennings asked.
“Ask yourself this,” Brewer said, holding up a finger, “you were with him on the bowsprit when the rockets answered ours, did he say anything about it?”
“He did.” Jennings said.
“He said that it was Dover and Captain Tomlin to the southwest, the first one that answered.”
“And what of the second?” Brewer asked, “The one from the west of us.”
“He said that had to be Captain Renner or Captain Stewart because he was sailing south to the next position.” Jennings said.
“I’m tellin ya, what Mr. Collingwood and Mr. Talon said, Captain Renner is going to let us all die out here. He must have been drunk last night. That’s why he didn’t come. Those rockets can be seen from forty miles and you know it, and Captain Renner is less than twenty from us.”
“There was no wind.” Tegner said.
“There was wind until that French bastard left, plenty of time for Captain Renner to get underway and come to help, the current would have kept him going. I’m tellin ya, I’ll lay a months’ wages on it that Captain Renner does not show up, it will be Dover or Triborne, mark my words. I would not want to be Captain Renner when the Captain sees who comes to help us.”
“What can the Captain do about it?” Tegner asked.
“I saw a friend of mine on the dock before we left Portsmouth, he was at the Heritage Arms and saw the whole thing, Captain Renner was whiskey drunk when the Captain and Captain Tomlin came in to find them. My friend saw the exchange between the Captain and Captain Renner, he was almost sure that the Captain was going to kill Captain Renner right then and there.” Brewer said in a quiet voice, “Mark my words, Captain Renner is a dead man when the Captain gets his hands on him if he doesn’t show up.”
“I don’t think so.” Tegner said, shaking his head.
“A month’s wages.” Brewer stuck out his hand to Tegner.
“I’d never bet against an officer.” Tegner said.
“No, count me out.” Jennings said, “I have faith in the Captain, he’ll see us through this, like all the other times.” Brewer lowered his hand. They heard the door to below open and Bateman came up with a tray in his hands and went up and around the short rail to the wheel.
“Coffee, sir.” Bateman said holding out the tray that had several steaming cups on it. Callum smiled softly.
“Bateman, this is the second time tonight that you’ve saved my life.” Callum said as he took a cup.
“It was nothing, sir.” Bateman said with a smile as Lauder was offered a cup as well, “I just hope that Mr. Carson isn’t too upset with me about using the galley, sir.”
“Don’t worry about that, I’ll make sure he understands.” Callum said and sipped his coffee, he took the cup away from his lips, “This is excellent, Bateman. You continue to amaze me.”
“Thank you, sir.” Bateman smiled wider, “If you’ll excuse me, sir, I’ll take this to the others.”
“Of course.” Callum said and held up the cup as he stood at the wheel, watching Bateman walk carefully away to take the coffee to the others. He looked over at Lauder, who was loading the next to last pistol, “You seem to be about done, Mr. Lauder, thank you.”
“My pleasure, sir.” The young man said and looked at the Captain, “I was wondering, sir, if I may ask,…do you think they’re coming to help us, sir?”
“If I know Captain Tomlin, he’ll send the boats over the side and tow his ship to get to the wind to get to us.” Callum said as he pulled at his coffee.
“He sounds like a good officer, sir.”
“The best that there is, to be sure. Put your faith in that, he’ll be coming and with extra canvas on.” Callum said and gave him a wink.
“Yes, sir.” Lauder smiled and sipped his coffee. He looked at Callum who looked skyward seeing the darkness intensifying around them, the moon was setting lower in the sky, signaling the coming of the dawn. Callum cocked his head a bit, then set his cup down on the wheelhouse and stood silent. “Something wrong, sir?” Lauder asked, setting his cup down and reached for his musket, Callum held up his hand.
“Did you hear that?” Callum asked, he turned his head again and listened, “There.” Callum said and looked to port and stepped quietly the few steps toward the rail, Lauder followed him. The young Marine scanned the darkness, a bit of fear in his eyes.
“What is it, sir?” Lauder whispered.
“A wonder of the sea, Mr. Lauder.” Callum whispered and then pointed toward the darkness, “Whales. Listen for just a moment.” Lauder watched and listened and then he could hear the sound but did not know what it was, it sounded like puffing, as someone who had been running or trying to catch their breath, “There must be quite a few of them from the sound of it.”
“Yes.” Callum said quietly, “I’m not surprised about them being here, probably heading south for the French coast.”
“Harm us? No, not at all. They know we’re here and won’t bother us, although they might come close and have a look as we are drifting.” Callum said and then felt a breeze, he turned around felt it on his face, “The wind, and before the dawn.” Callum said as he looked aloft, the mast points were beginning to swing against the stars, “Good fortune, Mr. Lauder. Let it be said that whales bring good fortune, and the wind.” Callum said and went forward on the port rail to the hands that were there.
“The wind, sir, you were right.” Jennings said, cup in hand, tipping his other hand to Callum, as did the others.
“A lucky guess, Jennings. Let’s get to it now, secure all sails. I want to hold this position until the other ships arrive. Then the real work begins.” Callum said.
“Aye, sir.” They all said and set their cups down on the tray that Bateman held.
“Take those back to the galley, Bateman, and then lend a hand with the sails.”
“Aye, sir.” He said and Callum turned and went back to the wheel. He pulled out a rocket and a pistol from the wheelhouse and went to the port aft rail where Collingwood had fired the previous ones off. He put the launch pole into the hole that usually held a rail gun, cocked the hammer once but not fully and placed it at the fuse and pulled the trigger, sparking the fuse, he leaned away and the rocket went skyward with a showering of sparks from the tail. Callum watched it and it exploded in the darkness raining its sparks and then they died, he turned and went back to the wheel and watched the dark horizon, scanning back and forth as Bateman came back on deck, Lauder stepped close to Callum staying behind him. There in the distance, and close was an answer in the darkness.
A shower of sparks in the night sky could be seen, faint, but closer than it had been before. Callum gave a slight smile at it, judging the direction from that stars, it was from the southwest of them. He continued to watch and then there was another, faint but noticeable from the northwest now. Callum realized instantly that they had drifted through the night in the current being carried south from the attack site, how far, he didn’t really know, only the direction. It would not be long now. The wind was increasing and the sway of the deck could be felt more under their feet. All they had to do was wait. Bateman came up beside Callum.
“Sails secured, sir.”
“Excellent. Take the deck, Bateman, standby here and keep a lookout to starboard. I’m going below to check on the leakage.” Callum said.
“Aye, sir.” Bateman said and put a hand on the lashed wheel, feeling it trying to turn on its own, back and forth a bit. Callum walked to the hold and went down the ladder, seeing the glow of the lamp that Amos had left above the damaged part of the hull. Callum knelt down, seeing the seeping, but it wasn’t bad. A few cranks on the bilge pump would take care of any water that might have collected. Callum let out a soft breath seeing what was happening. He stood and went back to the ladder, seeing the haversacks swinging, the Marines and the crew. Another lamp was glowing further aft and he knew it was where the wounded were with Carson. Callum continued on through the haversacks that held the Marines and the crew and saw Carson standing next to one of the haversacks of the wounded.
“Carson.” Callum whispered as he came close. Carson looked over at him and gave him a nod.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes, sir.” Carson said and looked back at the haversack, “Phillips just died, sir.” Carson said and shook his head a bit, Callum stepped forward and looked down at the young face that was ashen colored in the lamp light.
“I’m sorry, Carson, I know you did everything that you could.”
“It wasn’t enough, sir. He was so young, and now he’s gone.” Carson whispered.
“I wanted to tell you, they’re coming, Dover and one of the other ships, possibly all of them. They just signaled. They should be here just after dawn.” Callum said as he stood close to Carson.
“That’s good news, sir, thank you.”
“How are the others?”
“As well as can be expected, sir. Young Quincy, the other Marine that I spoke of, died during the night.” Carson said.
“That makes eleven in total.” Callum whispered, Carson nodded in answer, “How is the boy?”
“He was of enormous help, sir. He jumped right in and took care of their wounds for those I could not get to right away.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s over there in the corner, with one of the Marines, sleeping.”
“Again, I’m sorry, Carson.”
“It’s not your fault, sir. I only hope Dr. Crawford can help the rest of them when Dover arrives, sir.”
“I’m sure he will, and will commend you for your efforts.”
“Thank you, sir.” Carson said as Callum put a hand on his shoulder. He took his hand away and went back the way he came through the swinging haversacks and reached the ladder and went up. He looked about and then went to the wheel and Bateman.
“Anything else, Bateman?” Callum asked as he looked over the starboard side.
“No, sir, nothing else.”
“Alright.” Callum said and looked skyward again, the stars were starting to fade and the color of the sky itself was changing, getting brighter, losing the black going to a dark blue. Callum reached for a glass from the wheelhouse, extended it and put it to his eye. He scanned the horizon and stopped, seeing the square of sail to the southwest of where they were. He lowered the glass, smiled to himself and lifted it again.
“What is it, sir?”
“Dover, Bateman. I see Dover on approach, about ten miles off I would think.” Callum said keeping the glass to his eye. Bateman looked in the same direction but couldn’t see what Callum saw in the limited light. Callum moved the glass toward the northwest and then stopped, “And it would seem that Captain Stewart is coming as well, but he is much closer.”
“Yes,…Triborne. I don’t see Hunter though, at least not yet.” Callum said quietly and then dropped the glass, “It looks as if we will have company for breakfast, Bateman.”
“A most welcome thing to be sure, sir.” Bateman said with a smile.
“That all depends, Bateman, that all depends.” Callum said as he lifted the glass again, Bateman dropped his smile as he looked at his Captain who sounded angry.