Chapter 28

Callum staggered down the companionway and entered the Great Cabin. There were several men inside the cabin, all were working on the various walls and bulkheads, all were busy patching and repairing the holes, splintered wood and timbers where the cannon shot had ripped through. Callum was not noticed at first, but then Camden came out of the berth and stopped dead in his tracks seeing Callum there. He tipped his hand in obedience and held his eyes wide. Several others saw him, and then turned seeing Callum standing at the door. They too tipped their hands.

"Captain, I wasn't expecting you, sir." Camden said in a low voice.

"I'm sorry to interrupt your work, Mr. Camden, I simply came to fetch a book." Callum said, then smiled briefly, "Carry on." Callum said and went to the bookshelf, that was still intact. He pulled a volumne of the shelf and staggered back for the door.

"May I help you, sir?" Camden asked.

"Thank you, no. I shall manage, Mr. Camden." Callum said, holding various objects to steady himself or just leaning and sliding himself as he went back for the door. Callum reached the door and opened it, book in hand and went to step out of the cabin, but turned back and looked at Camden. "When do you think you will be completed with your repairs, Mr. Camden?"

"In another day, sir."

"Very well, I look forward to returning here to my cabin."

"Yes, sir. We'll do our best, sir, to get it done quickly."

"Thank you, Camden." Callum said softly and walked out slowly out into the companionway. He leaned against the wall and walked back toward the Ward Room and reentered the door, looking over at the young Lieutenant Holt, still sleeping on the soft pallet on the deck.

Callum went around the table, and eased himself on the bench and opened the book that he had carried and started to read, he heard the bell signaling the time, as the tone resonated through the very wood of the walls. There were sounds of pounding and voices above him, which is what had woke him in the first place, driving him to find the book in the first place, Callum needing something to take his mind from the sounds and occupy his thoughts. Callum also knew that is was the first watch and that young Tomlin would have the deck, and the officers from the Valiant, who were on loan to Dover would be below in their berths.

The Marines, under Sergeant McGuffin had disembarked and were now ashore. Callum wished that he had the chance to see the big man before he was gone, as McGuffin had sparked something in Callum, the two of them joining forces and sweeping the Gun Deck almost by themselves of the French boarders from the sixty gunner they encountered and engaged. Callum owed a debt of gratitude to the big man for helping him that night. Callum smiled at his manner, his calm but forceful way, his abilities and experience, but mostly it was that graveled voice that Callum would miss, Callum smiled just remembering it. He turned to the book and started to read into it, taking his mind away from memory and the sounds around him. In due time, Callum was well into the end of a chapter when heard something that brought him out of his concentration, it was a stirring and then a groan. Callum looked to his left and the young Holt was moving and slowly starting to come around. Callum closed the book as he watched Holt open his eyes, and look about not knowing where he was. Callum slowly got up from the bench and went toward Holt, getting down near him. Their eyes met and Holt suppressed a smile.

"Captain," Holt croaked out, "I was wondering..."

"Easy now," Callum said as he leaned closer, his ribs and stitches fighting against him, telling him to stop, "are you in need of water?" Holt nodded his head in reply. "Just a moment, rest easy, I'll fetch you some." Holt was terrified, the Captain of this ship was going to fetch him water. Holt went to sit up, making Callum look at him. "Rest easy," Callum smiled, "that's an order." Callum said, putting a hand on Holt's shoulder. Holt stopped struggling and lay back, as Callum slowly got to his feet, and used his hands on the table to steady himself and poured water from the small pitcher that was on the table. Callum turned and made his way back, helping Holt sit up a little and helped him take the water, slowly. Callum eased him back on the soft pallet as the door opened and Carson came in.

"Sir?" Carson asked seeing Callum over Holt, and came quickly to them.

"Carson, would you fetch the good Doctor? Our young Lieutenant here has decided to return to us."

"Yes, sir." Carson said, with his broad smile. He got up and went out of the Ward Room, and quickly returned to help Callum back to the bench, as Crawford came in, glaring at Callum and then went to Holt, kneeling down beside him.

"Lieutenant, are you in pain?" Crawford asked, Holt nodded his head, and then exhaled. "I will get you something. You need to rest easy, do not exert yourself. I'll return momentarily." Crawford stood and came by Callum and Carson. "And you, Captain, are you in pain?"

"I am in slight discomfort, Doctor, yes."

"Good, perhaps that will keep you still, the more you move, the more it hurts, Captain." Crawford gave him a scowling look. "Perhaps that will be a lesson to you. What do you think you were doing?"

"Getting the lad some water, Doctor." Callum exhaled and clutched his side as he eased himself on the bench.

"Perhaps I should have you tied to your bunk?" Crawford asked.

"As much as I appreciate your concern, Doctor, perhaps you should tend to your other patient? The young Lieutenant is waiting. I shall still be here." Callum glared back at Crawford. Crawford raised an eyebrow and walked next door to his cabin, and then returned rather quickly. He went back to Holt with a small bottle and had him swallow some of its contents.

"This will calm you, and let you sleep more. That is your best medicine right now, sleep lets your body heal itself." Crawford smiled at the boy, and then took the bottle away. Crawford got him to lie back and get settled. "If you require anything, I'll be next door in my cabin." Crawford patted his shoulder delicately, and then covered him. He turned and went to Callum and stood over him at the end of the table, Carson stood behind Callum.

"What else is on your mind, Doctor, besides rope?"

"Captain, I cannot stress strongly enough that you must stay still. Your wounds are such that movement can make you start to bleed again, and I'm not certain that you could survive my opening you up once more. Do I need to have someone posted here to be with you at all times?"

"That will not be necessary, Arthur." Callum said softly. "I shall remain still. I would not wish to have you work me over again. I found the last time, quite enough."

"I can understand that, Captain." Crawford said, his tone and manner easing a bit. "What's this?" Crawford saw the book on the table.

"I needed something to take my mind from the noise of the repairs." Callum said.

"Did this come from your cabin?"

"Yes." Callum said. Crawford shook his head.

"Rope is sounding better and better all of the time." Crawford took in a deep breath and let it out. "You could have called, you know?"

"I don't seem to have a bell to summon anyone." Callum said, lifting an eyebrow.

"I see, you're right of course, an oversight on my part."

"Would it be possible to have something to eat?" Callum asked.

"Well that's a good sign. You have an appetite. Yes, something light would be best. Carson, you would be so kind?"

"Oh yes, Doctor, I would happy to."

"And bring something for me as well, if you would. I shall entertain the Captain, and we can have a talk." Crawford said.

"Very well, Doctor. I won't be long." Carson said and hurried out the door.

"You may have a bit of coffee as well, but not much beyond one cup. I want you to take only water."

"I will, I promise, and I will behave myself from now on." Callum smiled at Crawford.

"I will believe that when I see it." Crawford smiled as well.


Fitzwarren sat at the head of the large table in the Great Cabin of the Valiant, his Captains of the squadron sat about him down the tables' length. Fitzwarren sat silent, his elbows rested on the arms of his padded chair, his fingertips were touching each other, drumming, as Fitzwarren seemed to be lost in thought. The steward had served them all a very fine breakfast, and the Captains ate in silence waiting for Fitzwarren to speak, but he remained silent. There was a knock at the door, breaking the silence of the room, as well as Fitzwarren's concentration.

"Enter!" Fitwarren said, as he looked up. Major Simmonds entered the cabin, closing the door behind him. "What is it, Major?"

"My Lord, I beg to report that we have secured the fortress, and I have ordered repairs be made to the battlements."

"Very good, Major, you didn't come aboard just to tell me that. You've had the fortress secured for than a day now, what is really on your mind?" Fitzwarren held his fingertips still, staring over the tops of them at the Major.

"My Lord, we have discovered that the garrison seems to have just abandoned the fortress. Many personal effects as well as munitions have been found, My Lord."

"They probably realized that they were outgunned or outnumbered, Major. You seem to be worried over nothing. The French will run at the first sign of trouble, I think that at this point, this seems to an insignificant detail."

"Perhaps, My Lord, but it does seem strange. I have doubled the guard just as a precaution."

"Major, I think you are reading into this too much. The fortress being abandoned by them was a stroke of good fortune, unlike their fleet."

"Yes, My Lord, but I still have my doubts."

"Major, you are the Division Commander, you have the fortress secured, you have your troops in position, and that position is sound, would you not agree?"

"Not as sound as I would like, My Lord. The fortress was built upon the premise of solely defending the bay, leaving its rear undefended from a land attack. And another oddity, My Lord is that there are no field artillery pieces to be found."

"What are you saying Major? If there is a point to all of this, make it." Fitzwarren said, sounding annoyed.

"Simply this, My Lord, if there was a full garrison of French regulars in the fortress they would have had field artillery, that is the standard that Napoleon has always maintained. If there was a full garrison, and they abandoned the fortress why would they take field artillery and not the shot and powder as well as leave their personal effects behind. No, My Lord, I feel that they will be returning, after the squadron sets sail." Fitzwarren lowered his hands, and the Captains had stopped eating, staring and listening to the Major, they all turned and looked at Fitzwarren now.

"Surely you're not suggesting that we give up our position with the fortress?"

"No, My Lord, the Duke is expecting cover as he lands his army for the invasion. The fortress will be key in controlling the bay and vital to the Duke's success. However, I am concerned that the French might return and with a larger force than just a garrison."

"What are you suggesting, Major?"

"That I send out a scouting party to survey the landscape, to either confirm or dispel my suspicions, and I ask Your Lordships' indulgence by delaying your sailing by a day."

"I have already given you my thoughts on this, and now you wish me to delay our sailing? The Duke is awaiting our return. There is a time table to maintain, Major, as I'm sure you are aware."

"Quite, My Lord." Simmonds bowed his head slightly. Fitzwarren fell silent for a long minute, everyone was waiting. Then Fitzwarren looked at his Captains.

"Do any of you agree with the Major's assessment?" Fitzwarren asked. They all looked hesitant for a moment but Captain Barrish seemed to be fidgeting in his chair. Fitzwarren noticed that the older man was thinking of something. "Captain Barrish?"

"My Lord, it is possible that the Major may be correct, it would be a sound military tactic, and I would not dismiss the French using it." Barrish said, his deep voice carried weight with the other as he was one of the most seasoned of the Captains gathered. Fitzwarren knew Barrish well and knew that he was not prone to flights of fancy or acted impulsively. Fitzwarren trusted his judgment above all the others. "What the Major suggests is worth investigation at least. There seems to be a few questions left unanswered, My Lord."

"And what would those questions be?"

"Where did that sixty gunner go off to that Dover chased out of the bay? They also encountered that ninety gunner that we also encountered, which destroyed the Eleanor, and then made its escape from the rest of the squadron. Where is she now? Smythe is still at large, his whereabouts still unknown. I am forced to agree with Major Simmonds, My Lord. It would be best if we delayed sailing for at least a day. We cannot afford to return with the Duke and his army and have issue having the French return and in greater number." Barrish finished and sat back in his chair, continuing to think this situation over. Fitzwarren knew Barrish was right.

"I am under constraint of the Dukes' time table, and we have delayed here by a day already. What you say, Captain Barrish, makes sense, but to keep the entire squadron here another day, it will not do, sir. Major, send out your scouting party, I will leave Captain Barrish here in command of the captured French sixty gunner to cover any remote possibility that you gentlemen are correct in your assumptions. Captain Barrish, the repairs to your new ship, will they be completed in time for our sailing?"

"I believe they will, My Lord." Barrish said.

"Very good. Major, if you do find a large French force, do you think you can hold out against them with the assistance from Captain Barrish?"

"It is possible, My Lord. We will have to move some of the batteries, but yes, I think it is possible."

"Captain Barrish, if the Major is overrun, and you cannot see any possible way of holding your positions, evacuate the fortress and sail for England. Once there we shall rethink the plan with the Duke. But, if he finds nothing, we shall return within a week with the Duke and his army." Fitzwarren said.

"Yes, My Lord." They both said.

"If you will excuse me, My Lord, I shall ready the scouting party."

"I pray you are wrong about this, Major." Fitzwarren said, Simmonds had the door open and stopped looking back at him.

"As do I, My Lord." Simmonds said, and closed the door behind him, not saluting, bowing, nothing, and Fitzwarren knew he was more than upset, and let it go. Barrish rose and bowed his head toward Fitzwarren, excusing himself, Fitzwarren waved his hand toward him, and Barrish walked out as well.


Callum had slowly sipped his coffee, as he and Crawford had talked while having breakfast. Callum felt better having something on his stomach, and slowly began to gather his strength, feeling much better now. Crawford could see it and worried that Callum, feeling better, would push himself again. Crawford looked over at the sleeping Holt and smiled briefly, then went back to looking at Callum.

"Quintan, you really must rest now. I cannot stress enough that you need to stay off your feet. You look better now that you have eaten something however."

"I feel much better, Arthur. Might I have another cup of coffee?" Callum smiled. Crawford shook his head.

"I suppose, against my better judgment. You should be drinking water. I had Carson boil some to make it less scummy, we should have the casks scalded as well, before we set sail."

"Yes, I'm waiting to hear from His Lordship about that."

"What are you going to do upon our return to Portsmouth?" Crawford asked.

"I suppose I will stay at the inn that Farrow keeps, before I return home to Birmingham."

"The Heritage Arms?" Crawford asked, and Callum nodded. "I have seen Farrow a few times there since he bought it. He seems to be doing well with it." Crawford said, and Callum smiled.

"Yes, Farrow has issue with it being a dull existence for him. I fear that he misses the service and it's excitement that it brings sometimes."

"Farrow just misses brawling, you know that as well as I." Crawford said, shaking his head. "He was always a good man in a fight to have at your back."

"Yes, he is." Callum rubbed his eyebrow where Farrow had left Callum with a scar from their own brawl at the inn. Remembering all too well when Callum had returned to Portsmouth to check on Dover before they sailed, but the memory made him smile, of the end result, he and Farrow also finally settling their differences.

"Quintan, promise me, that you will rest after we have finished here and you have finished your coffee." Crawford said, and Callum smiled.

"I give you my word, Arthur, I shall rest, until we set sail, at least. Then we shall go from there."

"I suppose that's all I can ask for." Crawford sighed, "And that will have to do." He gave Callum a slight smile and rose from the table. "I shall return after I complete my rounds in the surgery," Callum looked up at his old friend and smiled briefly, "and when I return after a bit, I expect to find you in your bunk."

"I gave my word, Arthur, and I shant disappoint you." Callum said as he poured a little more coffee for himself. "I will also keep an eye on your other patient as well."

"He should sleep through the afternoon, then we can see about getting him something to eat. He should be fine, now that he is out of danger." Crawford said as he looked over at Holt, then back to Callum. "He is young and has strength inside of him, as do you. It is a wonder what has kept him alive thus far. That musket ball should have taken him within the first few minutes. It's almost ...miraculous."

"Clearly God has a plan a plan for him." Callum said, with a raised eyebrow, which surprised Crawford.

"I think not, clearly, the young Lieutenant has his own agenda, as does a certain Captain." Crawford said, and then walked out of the Ward Room, leaving Callum with his coffee and his book. Callum opened it and began to read from where he left off, he lost track of time, lost in its text, when Carson entered the room, to clear away the plates and coffee pot. Callum smiled faintly at seeing Carson, who was giving side glances toward Callum.

"Will you need anything else, sir?"

"No, I don't think so, Carson. The young Lieutenant is sleeping, and I have been ordered by the good Doctor to my bunk after I had finished my coffee." Callum had lowered his book and smiled at Carson, who beamed his smile back at his Captain.

"You're looking well, sir." Carson said in his usual cheery tone, albeit it softly, as not to disturb Holt. "There is someone who'd like to see you, sir. They're waiting in the companionway."

"Really? Well send them in, as long as it's brief." Callum went back to his book, reading a few more passages from the page he was on. He looked up and Dustin was standing there. Callum smiled warming seeing him.

"Dustin..." Callum said softly.

"I came to see how you were,..." Dustin said, but was cut off in mid-sentence as Callum stretched out his hand toward him, giving Dustin a look of longing, missing him, and their closeness, their love. Dustin reached out his hand and took Callum's across the table, and slowly their finger intertwined with one another, Callum pulling him, Dustin coming around the table, looking into Callum's eyes. Dustin swung a leg over Callum's legs and settled on Callum's lap.

"I miss you so." Callum said softly as they went face to face, Callum still clutching Dustin's hand in his. "I want to feel you with me, want you to be underneath me, want to..." Callum stopped as Dustin came onto Callum's mouth engulfing his lips fully, lusting, wanting, needing to be with his love, his life. Dustin was aggressive in his kiss, unlike Callum had ever know with Dustin before, and Callum wanted more of it, letting Dustin take control, letting him work Callum's mouth over forcefully, as Dustin's tongue went deep and went all over Callum's mouth, probing, wanting, lusting. Dustin was moaning as he pressed his body to Callum's and Callum's free hand went to Dustin's butt, clutching it through his pantlet, grasping it firmly, as Dustin wrapped his arms about Callum's neck and shoulders pulling him tight. They were both starving for air, but did not want to stop, and Callum thought it would be the perfect way to die, in Dustins arms, his tongue stopping his breathing, and it drove Callum on for more as his body began to rebel, to fight for air, the reflexes became too much for Callum and he pulled back.

"Oh, my love, I have missed you so, being so close to you, but not able to touch you." Callum said softly, as his hands were all over Dustin now, feeling every part of him, his back, his shoulders, his butt, his thighs. Dustin groaned as he put his lips to Callum's forehead, breathing out, as Callum probed him with his hands. Dustin breathed out and groaned again, as Callum found Dustin;s hard length in his pantlet, Dustin had wrapped his arms around Callum's neck as he straddled over Callum on the bench, sitting on his lovers lap, feeling Callum's own hard length pushing up in front of him, rubbing against Dustin's own. They groaned softly together, Dustin kissing Callum's forehead, gripping him tightly.

"Oh Dustin...God how I have missed this."

"As have I, my love." Dustin whispered, rubbing his cheek all over Callum's forehead and face, moaning softly.

"We should sail tomorrow for Portsmouth." Callum whispered as he kissed and tongued Dustin's neck at the base of his ear. "It's two days to Portsmouth at the most and then we can get a room at the inn and I can take you over and over like you want."

"Oh, Quintan...yes...I have missed it so...needed it....longed for it..." Dustin groaned as he tilted his head back, panting out the words, letting Callum take him further. Licking and kissing the base of Dustin's neck as Callum gripped Dustin in his hands, his stitches pulling, yes, but he didn't care, he had the love of his life in his hands right now, at this moment, and so wanted more, his lust rising beyond anything he had experienced before, Dustin's beauty, his body before Callum, now under his hands and control. Callum became driven, as he leaned Dustin back against the table, while they were on the bench, Dustin sitting on Callum, and Callum tore at Dustin's flap of his pantlet's, as he groped Dustin's hard length within them. Callum wanted one thing and one thing only, and it was near at hand, Dustin's hard cock. He wanted it in his mouth, he wanted to taste it, feel it, to have it all. This is why Callum had fought so hard, bled so much, it was for Dustin, all of him, all that he is, all that he could be, and Callum wanted him, all of him, and now Callum would take him.

Dustin's flap dropped open, exposing Callum's prize, and Dustin put his hands on the edge of the table, pushing, lifting himself up as Callum saw the hard length come into view, Callum smiled, seeing it, rising up closer, as it stood up and out, and Callum opened his mouth swallowing Dustin all the way to his base. Dustin tilted his head back as Callum tightened his mouth and began to use his tongue. Callum used one hand to cradled Dustin's balls and kneaded them with his fingers, the other hand slid up inside Dustin's shirt rubbing over his chest, and then found Dustin's tight nipples. Callum used his fingertips to rub them, tease them, and then pinch them softly. Dustin moaned and felt the need to move, the instinctive urge to pump, and he did, rocking his hips in and out, sliding himself in and out of Callum's mouth.

Callum was working Dustin's length furiously and it was taking Dustin's breath away. He could feel it building up in him and he knew its what Callum wanted, the end result, Dustin's cum. Callum loved Dustin in his mouth, the feel of him, the heat from his length, the smooth skin, his mushroom head, it was incredible and Callum melted onto it, loving it. Dustin moved in and out of Callum's mouth as Callum moving up and down himself working in opposite of each other, and Dustin let out a deep breath and groan, Callum could feel Dustin's smooth balls tighten and then Dustin cut loose in Callum's mouth, pulse after pulse hitting the back of Callum's mouth, Dustin slowing in his rocking of his hips as he shot into Callum's mouth. Dustin brought his head forward and looked down at his lover, seeing him, the top of his golden hair, tied at the back of Callum's head with that black ribbon, his pony tail down his back to lay in between his shoulder blades, and Dustin smiled as his orgasm eased, but he remained hard in Callum's mouth. Dustin wanted more as he knew Callum did, but they had no time. Both knew they would be interrupted soon by someone.

Callum swallowed everything that his lover had given him, and used his tongue to lick him clean, and slowly pulled off of Dustin and lowered his hands, slowly dragging it down Dustin's chest, saving the feeling of touching Dustin's soft smooth skin. Callum used his hands and put Dustin's flap back together, buttoning him up. And Callum looked up at him, Dustin smiling softly at him.

"I so love you, Quintan Callum." Dustin said softly, looking into Callum's soft eyes.

"Really, I wonder why." Callum said, and then smiled wide with that devilish smile of his. "Thank you for stopping by." Callum raised an eyebrow, as he leaned back a little, letting Dustin get off over the top of him. Dustin turned and leaned down, cradling Callum's head with both of his hands and he kissed him deeply, tonguing him, tasting himself in Callum's open mouth, loving it as they had done so many times in the past, then Dustin pulled back, looking into Callum's eyes.

"You promise, us in Portsmouth, together?"

"You will always be with me, Mr. Perkins, till my dying day. Yes, together in Portsmouth, until I am well enough to travel home. I will take you over and over again, as many times as you wish and want." Callum said softly.

"Then we will never leave the room." Dustin smiled and kissed Callum softly, then pulled back and let him go.

"I must remember to thank Carson for letting you stop by." Callum said as he looked at Dustin walking toward the door. Dustin opened it and turned back and smiled back at Callum.

"I'll do it for you, as I need to thank him myself. You should rest now."

"I will." Callum said softly as he slowly rose up from the table. Dustin walked out as he closed the door quietly.


Fitzwarren sat in the end of the longboat, next to his Coxswain at the tiller, the boat crew was pulling deep into the water as they headed for the Dover. Fitzwarren could see the officers and men on the deck of Dover moving about as they prepared for approaching long boat. Men lined the side in their formations as the boat crew pulled alongside Dover, grabbing ropes as they shipped oars. Fitzwarren got up from the bench and climbed up as the Boson piped his arrival on deck. Tomlin and Collingwood were waiting, at attention as Fitzwarren came through the gunwale.

"Gentlemen, I need to have a word with the Captain." Fitzwarren said in his booming voice. Tomlin snapped as the senior officer present, tipping his hand toward Fitzwarren.

"I shall escort you, My Lord." Tomlin said, then turned leading the way for Fitzwarren. They went in through the galley, seeing hands working, making temporary repairs, all stopped and tipped their hands toward Tomlin and Fitzwarren, as they continued through to the companionway, Fitzwarren stopped at the open doors of the Great Cabin, Tomlin continuing down the companionway, but stopping and turning back.

"Your Captain is not in his cabin?"

"Uh, no, My Lord, our carpenter and his crew are still making repairs to the hull and bulkheads. The Captain has been placed in the Ward Room, My Lord."

"I see." Fitzwarren said, and scowled toward the open cabin. He followed Tomlin, who knocked on the door to the Ward Room, and then opened it, standing out of the way for Fitzwarren, letting him enter the room. Fitzwarren saw Callum on the make shift bunk, as he started to get up, and he also saw the sleeping Holt on the pallet on the floor. "I trust you are comfortable, Captain Callum?" Fitzwarren said as he looked about the room.

"Reasonably, My Lord." Callum groaned as he rose up slowly. Callum got to a sitting position, and tipped his hand toward Fitzwarren.

"You look well, sir. It seems that between your surgeon and mine that you will be on your feet in no time at all."

"With many thanks, My Lord. My surgeon, Dr. Crawford, has expressed his compliments over the abilities of your surgeon and was most grateful for his assistance."

"Yes, he is the best in the fleet." Fitzwarren said, standing there, Tomlin was standing behind him in the doorway, and Fitzwarren looked over his shoulder at the young man briefly and then back at Callum. "I wish to speak to you, Callum, and possibly have your opinion on a matter."

"I am honored, My Lord. Would you care to have a seat? I'm sorry that my cabin is still under repair, and can only offer you simple accommodation."

"Quite understandable, Captain." Fitzwarren said, dropping his large hat on the table, then resting himself on the closest bench.

"May I offer you some refreshment, My Lord?" Callum asked as he rose from the bunk.

"Yes, we may be some time in our discussion. I understand your steward makes the best coffee, and it is stuff of legend."

"He excels at that, My Lord." Callum smiled and then looked Tomlin. "Mr. Tomlin, would you pass the word to Carson, please, to have coffee brought, and that we are not to be disturbed."

"Very good, sir." Tomlin said and tipped his hand, and then closed the door. Callum sat on the bench opposite Fitzwarren.

"Callum, I have noted several times that you seem to have an insight that few other men possess, and I am in need of that insight it seems."

"I am honored, My Lord, and am at your service, as always." Callum bowed his head slightly.

Fitzwarren smiled briefly and began to give Callum the facts Major Simmonds had presented and what Captain Barrishs' thoughts were on the matter. Carson came in and brought a pot of coffee, cups, sugar and some cream that had been brought from the Valiant as Dover had been anchored and resupplied in some of her stores as a thank you for their timely rescue of the squadron. Callum listened to Fitzwarren carefully, weighing the facts out, and grew deeply concerned over them, remaining quiet as Fitzwarren spoke. Callum had poured coffee for them both as he listened.

"Your thoughts on this, Callum?"

"I think the Major is correct, My Lord. I would think that the French are planning a return and in greater number. How many, I would not venture to speculate, but I would say this, the fortress will not withstand a siege from land, that is its weakest point."

"What makes you certain?" Fitzwarren asked.

"I am told that during our engagement of the fortress that the battlements crumbled with ease under our guns. And it must be of considerable age as well with its design." Callum looked over at the sleeping Holt and looked back at Fitzwarren, "Our young Lieutenant there, spent much time at the fortress as a boy, he was able to sketch out its layout and battlements, the reason he was selected for this mission by General Emery. His knowledge of the fortress gave Mr. Arvin insight as to where to strike the fortress where it would do the most damage."

"I was not aware of that." Fitzwarren said, looking down at the sleeping boy, then back at Callum.

"Neither was I until after we set sail from the rendezvous with the squadron." Callum said, and Fitzwarren fell into deep thought. Callum took this opportunity to pour more coffee for them both, draining the small pot. Fitzwarren finally looked at Callum.

"If you were in command of the squadron, Captain, what would you do?" Fitzwarren asked.

"I am hardly in a position, My Lord, to..."

"Come, come, Captain...," Fitzwarren put his hands to the edge of the table and adjusted himself on the hardness of the bench, "I am asking for your military appraisal of the situation, not to take command of the squadron. Do not be shy, sir, there are too many things at stake here."

"My Lord, if I were in command of the squadron, I would delay my sailing. The Duke may be upset over his time table, however, returning here with his army and possibly facing a larger force that may slow that landing or even possibly cripple the invasion?" Callum paused, for a moment, taking in as deep a breath as he could, and then let it out, "I agree with Captain Barrish, Smythe is still at large, he knew of the plans of the invasion, or part of them at least, and I have no doubt that Napoleon must know by now as well. There is a larger plan here, and I think that we are playing right into the hands of the French. La Rochelle will become a trap, My Lord. They know we're coming, I'm certain."

"If you are so certain, why delay sailing?"

"Give the Major time to verify for certain."

"And then what?" Fitzwarren asked as he crossed his arms over his chest.

"Destroy the fortress completely." Callum said in a flat tone. "Make La Rochelle completely useless to Napoleon."

"I see." Fitzwarren said. "Give up our position here entirely."

"No, My Lord, not entirely." Callum said. "Give the French a taste of what they have given us."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean this, if there is a larger force on its way, I would suggest that we lure them in, let them think that they are about to overrun us, and then destroy the fortress as they go to take it back. A small token force of Marines to give the illusion that we still hold it, set explosives to be touched off as those Marines fall back and evacuate, then as the French take the fortress back, two of our ships near the mouth of the bay can fire upon the fortress, covering the Marines escape and level what might be left of the fortress." Callum said, in an even tone. Fitzwarren sat with wide eyes watching and listening to Callum as his face turned callous and cold. "My only hope is that Smythe would be among them when it would happen."

"My God, man." Fitzwarren said softly. Callum shook himself from his thoughts of seeing Smythe being blown to bits and then focused on Fitzwarren across the table from him.

"I apologize, My Lord." Callum said as he lowered his eyes. Fitzwarren narrowed his eyes at Callum.

"That is a very daring plan, Captain. It would also come close to being murder, some might say." Fitzwarren said, thing it over carefully. "I can see that this mission has changed you, my lad."

"I suppose it has, My Lord," Callum lifted his eyes, looking at Fitzwarren, "I offer my apologies for suggesting something that would be so brutal and ungentlemanly."

"Callum, this is war, and I need not remind you of that." Fitzwarren said quietly, as he leaned forward resting his arms on the table. "I have spoken to your officers about the night your ship was boarded, they spoke of you being driven to take your ship back from the French, your conduct against them, inspired your crew, sir. They were in awe of you as I am at this moment. I don't doubt that if you were leading this war by yourself, sir, Napoleon would be defeated within a month. I have said it before, Captain, England needs more men like you to end this conflict." Fitzwarren let out a sigh. "Let me ask you, who would have lead this daring plan of yours?"

"I would, My Lord."

"I knew you say that." Fitzwarren said with a half-smile. "However I feel that your surgeon and mine have different ideas about you doing something so bold."

"I'm certain of that as well, My Lord." Callum rolled his eyes, and Fitzwarren smiled wide. "However, I cannot, in good conscience, have someone else carry out a plan that I had come up with."

"I see daring and folly, sir." Fitzwarren said, crossing his arms again over his chest.

"I beg to differ, My Lord. If you were to agree to my plan, I see it as the only way. Would any of your other Captains of the squadron do this? Be able to carry it out?" Callum asked. Fitzwarren fell silent for a long moment, just staring at Callum.

"No." Fitzwarren said quietly, letting out another deep breath through his nose. "I can think of no one that is here with us."

"Do you agree with my plan, My Lord?" Callum asked quietly. Fitzwarren just stared at Callum.

"I would yes, but I feel we need to wait for Major Simmonds scouting party."

"There may not be time, My Lord." Callum said, Fitzwarren gave him a look of question in return. "If the Major's scouting party does find a larger force, they have them on their heels, there may not be time for preparation. If you agree, My Lord, we may need to be ready to carry it out at a moment's notice. And there is something else to be considered, and that is that we are being watched, everything that we do, the civilian population is still in the town, and without doubt there are spies all about us, and the biggest one of all, Smythe. He is here, My Lord, without doubt." Callum said in a flat tone. Fitzwarren was angered, knowing Callum was right, about everything, he was angry because he knew it in the back of his mind as well, but chose to ignore it, and this young Captain of his had seen it, all of it, from his sick bed. Fitzwarren was angry with himself.

"Do you think you are able to present this to the other Captains of the squadron as well as Major Simmonds?"

"If you wish, My Lord." Callum sat looking at Fitzwarren with a soft eyed look.

"I shall summon them to the Valiant then. We can convene late this afternoon." Fitzwarren said. There was a soft knock at the door, and Crawford opened it, and was surprised to see Fitzwarren there. "Ah, Doctor. Do come in." Fitzwarren said as he had turned and looked over his shoulder at the intrusion.

"I beg your pardon, My Lord." Crawford said, look at him and then at Callum. "I was merely checking in on the Captain."

"No apologies necessary, Doctor." Fitzwarren said. "I am glad you are here. I need to ask you a question."

"My Lord?"

"I need to spirit your Captain away for a meeting this afternoon aboard the Valiant, with your permission."

"I would think not, My Lord. The Captain is not well with his wounds, My Lord, as you well know. It may cause him to strain himself, and he may begin to bleed."

"I see." Fitzwarren said, then looked back at Callum. "I may have to rethink our meeting, Captain."

"Doctor, would you permit me to hold such a meeting here, in the Great Cabin?" Callum asked.

"I am hesitant, Captain, as you..."

"Doctor, I assure you that it is of the highest importance that we gather ourselves together. I would not ask otherwise." Callum said with a glare.

"If you think it is of dire consequence, but you must be guarded and not move about very much. I cannot stress that enough."

"I give you my word, Doctor."

"You also gave me your word that you would be in resting in your bunk when I returned, and I see that you are up." Crawford said, giving Callum a stern look of his own.

"Yes..." Fitzwarren said, "I'm afraid that is my fault, Doctor. The Captain was indeed resting in his bunk when I came in, he got up only to see to my needs, I assure you."

"I see." Crawford said, giving Fitzwarren the stern look now. "Convene your meeting, but Captain if you strain yourself and begin to bleed, I may just let you bleed to death."

"I will be careful, Doctor, thank you." Callum said raising an eyebrow. Crawford looked over at Holt, who was still sleeping.

"Well, at least the Lieutenant has the sense to listen to me."

"I don't think he had much of a choice with you pouring Laudanum down his throat." Callum said with a snide tone.

"I may do the same to you, Captain." Crawford gave Callum that look once again. Callum smiled wide in reply. Fitzwarren rose to his feet, and picked up his hat.

"I shall see you this afternoon then, Captain." Fitzwarren said, nodding, Callum trying to stand, but was stopped by Fitzwarren with a hand. "Doctor." Fitzwarren nodded. Crawford bowed his head slightly, and Fitzwarren walked out the door, closing it behind him.

"Quintan..." Crawford said in a quiet voice. "What is this all about?"

"We may be in great danger, Arthur."


"We may be facing the entire French Army very shortly, if my suspicions are correct." Callum said quietly.

"How do you know?" Crawford asked with wide eyes.

"It all fits." Callum said, having Crawford sit down, giving him the details quickly. Crawford was in shock, realizing that everything up to this point had been in vain, the dead, the wounded, Callum, Arvin, all for nothing, if Callum was right. And Crawford had learned that Callum was almost always right. He shook his head as Callum finished telling him. "And Arthur, this does not leave this room, do you understand?"

"Of course." Crawford just sat staring at his own hands, knowing that they may be overworked, and soon, if they didn't get out of here before the French Army showed up. "What now?"

"We wait,...wait for the scouting party. This will be discussed with the other Captains of the squadron this afternoon. I'm certain they will all agree with me, it's Fitzwarren that holds the key. He wants to be able to hand the Duke something of value, and I tell you, Arthur, this is not it, we will be as fish in a barrel, I'm certain of it."

"I share your view, Quintan. What can I do?"

"Keep me together for the duration. I need to be up and about and may be required to lead the landing of supplies to blow up the fortress."

"Impossible. With your condition? Quintan, it's truly a wonder why you haven't sprung a leak already, with as many holes in you that you have? I keep telling you that you have to stay off your feet. Can't one of the other Captains do it?"

"Captain Barrish is far too old. Tewles is a good man, but he suffers from that lung disease..."


"Arland is also a good man, but can't make a decision fast enough, he second guesses himself constantly. And Knox, Smythe's 1st, has been made temporary Captain, and I wouldn't trust him, simply for that fact that he was with Smythe for far too long."

"Do you suspect him of working with Smythe?"

"I don't think so, for he stopped the Tarkington from continuing to fire on us that night, but it may be a ruse."

"Quintan, I think you may be seeing shadows where there is only light."

"Think of it this way, Arthur, would you trust him to hold a knife while your back is turned?"

"I see your point."

"I thought you might. No, if this is to succeed, I need to see it done myself."

"I cannot guarantee that you will, Quintan, you're barely walking as it is."

"I know, I can feel it, believe me. I just need another day. Then we will see what transpires. But first, I need you help to me to the Great Cabin. I must dress the part for the other Captains and the Major."

"If you must." Crawford said, as he rose from the table. Callum slowly stood on his own. Crawford helped him get out of the Ward Room and onto the companionway, then slowly they went to the Great Cabin. Carson met them as they entered. There were crewmen working on the walls and bulkheads, cutting in new timbers and planking.

"Camden." Callum called out and Camden came out of the berth, with wide eyes.

"Sir." Camden and the hands tipped their hands toward Callum.

"I'm afraid that I will require the room, gentlemen."

"Yes, sir." Camden said. "You understand, sir, that we're not finished working yet, sir."

"I understand, Camden." Callum said as Crawford eased him into a chair at the table. "I am holding a meeting here this afternoon, His Lordship and the other Captains. You may continue your repairs once they are gone."

"As you wish, sir." Camden said. He turned and had the hands pick up their tools and materials, after a few minutes, they vacated the cabin. Callum asked Carson to prepare a few things for the coming meeting as Callum wished to be the perfect host at least, and Crawford helped Callum get dressed, spiffing him up as it were to show his best.

"Well, you look good enough to present to the King, Captain." Crawford said.

"I doubt that, Doctor, but I thank you anyway." Callum gave a brief smile, and sat back at the table, letting out a breath as he did so. Carson entered the cabin setting the table with cloth, and preparing the cabin for the arrival of the others. Callum watched Carson as he almost became a blur of activity. "Carson," Callum said, "I believe the other Captains know we have suffered battle damage, please, you're making me dizzy just watching you."

"I'm sorry, sir. I thought you would want everything just so."

"Not necessarily," Callum smiled briefly, "it's just a meeting, if it were a formal dinner, then it might be different. They'll understand, believe me."

"As you wish, sir." Carson seemed a little hurt by it, and Callum knew he would get over it quickly, "May I get you something, sir?"

"No, I think I'm fine for the moment right here." Callum smiled.

"Very good, sir." Carson said, "Would it be alright if I set the table now, sir?"

"That would be just fine." Callum didn't know what he meant but he knew that Carson knew what he was doing. "Carry on." Callum said and tried to relax a little in the chair. Crawford came back into the cabin, carrying his bag, setting on one of the chairs.

"Are you in pain?"

"A little, yes. I'll deal with it though."

"I can give you something that will ease it, and let you still function."

"Really, as long as I can keep my wits I suppose it would be alright." Callum said. Crawford opened his bag, and pulled out a clear little bottle, handing to Callum after he uncorked it.

"Just a bit now, not too much." Crawford said. Callum took the bottle and took a small pull from it, and made a face and handed it back to him. "Well, I didn't say it was fine sherry." Crawford said with a smile.

"I believe you enjoy your ministrations too much, Doctor." Callum shook his head, and blinked his eyes a few times.

"It has its moments, Captain, for certain." Crawford chuckled. "That should help you in a few minutes time." Crawford put the bottle back in his bag after he corked it, Carson came in and started setting trays on the table that held various things that Callum did not recognize at all, but they smelled wonderful.

"What have we here, Carson?" Callum asked.

"A few things that my mother used to make, sir, when she would entertain guests. I took the liberty, sir, as I don't have the opportunity to do this very often. Would you care to try one, sir?"

"I believe I would, thank you." Callum said, picking up a small item that looked like a pastry of some type and bit into it. The taste surprised Callum and he looked up at Carson, who was waiting. Callum nodded and then popped the remainder in his mouth. He chewed and swallowed it. "Your mother must have been an incredible woman, Carson, that was excellent." Callum smiled up at him.

"Thank you, sir, she was indeed, sir." Carson smiled, and then looked at Crawford, silently asking him to try one as well. Crawford did and nodded his head, making Carson smile again.

"I'll bring the wine, sir."

"Oh, His Lordship was bragging about your coffee as well, Carson. He said that rumor had it that yours was the best in the fleet."

"Why, thank you, sir, thank you very much." Carson positively glowed now. "I'll be sure to put an extra pot on the table as well, sir." Carson hurried out of the cabin, closing the door behind him.

"I think you just made his year, Quintan." Crawford said.

"I think so as well." Callum said. They both heard the Boson's pipe sounding off. Callum knew that they were arriving and he felt nervous all of a sudden, his first formal function as Captain. He had seen Powers do this from time to time, with various Admirals, but had never been privy to watching on this side of the doors, now he felt alone.

"How is the pain?" Crawford asked, picking up his bag.

"It has eased somewhat, thank you."

"Good, that should hold you for a couple of hours. I shall take my leave then. Good luck, Captain." Crawford said, nodding and then walked to the door.

"Thank you, Arthur." Callum said as Crawford opened the door and then walked out, seeing Tomlin standing there.

"His Lordship, sir." Tomlin said, and then stepped aside, tipping his hand as Fitzwarren stepped in, followed by Barrish and Arland. Callum bowed his head slightly to them, and they toward him.

"Gentlemen, you are welcomed into the ship." Callum said. And they bowed their heads again, slightly. Callum held out a hand to the other end of the table. "My Lord?" Callum asked, and Fitzwarren went and took his place. Callum turned as Fitzwarren sat, and held out his hand to Captain Barrish. "Captain Barrish, it is good to see you again, sir." Barrish took his hand and shook it firmly. Callum, hearing the Boson's pipe again, in the distance.

"Likewise, Captain Callum, thank you for having us at your table, sir."

"My pleasure, sir." Callum said, having Barrish sit to Callum's right at the table. Callum turned and reached out his hand to Arland. "You are most welcomed, Captain Arland." Callum said as his hand was gripped.

"You do us a great honor, Captain Callum." Arland said in a soft voice, bowing his head slightly. Callum returned the bow, and his hand showing Arland to sit opposite Barrish. Arland walked around the table, and Callum looked up, seeing Tomlin at the open door, standing aside, tipping his hand as the other Captains entered the cabin along with Major Simmonds.

"Gentlemen, you are most welcomed into the ship." Callum said, bowing his head slightly, and the other returned the bow. Callum held out his hand to Tewles, "Captain Tewles, a pleasure, sir." Callum said, taking his hand.

"It is my honor to shake your hand, sir. I fear that I owe you a debt that I cannot repay, sir."

"It was my pleasure to render assistance, sir, when it was needed." Callum smiled slightly, giving Tewles dignity and respect. Callum held out his hand showing Tewles to sit next to Arland. Callum turned and saw Knox, and it raised the hackles on him, but he composed himself and smiled.

"I am Knox, Captain Callum, of the Tarkington, sir." Know bowed his head slightly.

"Congratulations on your promotion, Captain." Callum said, bowing slightly, extending his hand. "I do believe I have you to thank for stopping the shelling of my ship on that first night, am I right?"

"You are, sir, a most regrettable event, I assure you."

"Well, water under the bridge, as they say." Callum smiled briefly. "You are most welcome, Captain Knox." Callum held out a hand toward the chair next to Barrish. Callum turned.

"Major Simmonds, at your service, sir." Simmonds said, and then saluted. Callum smiled briefly at him, then held out his hand. Simmonds looked down at it for a moment and then took it.

"You're the officer that took Anders from my ship, I take it?"

"Uh..., yes, sir, I did...I'm sorry...about that, sir." Simmonds said, as Callum caught off guard, thinking he was going to as cordial with him as the he was with the others.

"I would appreciate his return when we have concluded with our mission, Major." Callum briefly smiled again.

"Uh..., of course, sir." Simmonds stuttered again, and Callum turned, seeing Fitzwarren trying to stifle a smile and a chuckle, as he had rattled the usually cool and aloof Major.

"Major, why don't you join His Lordship, please." Callum said, with his back to the Major, a slight snub and insult. Callum went to the end of the table, as Carson entered carrying wine and glasses on a silver tray, setting it down silently. Shem came in carrying coffee and cups on another tray. "Thank you, Carson, that will be all. We can serve ourselves and are not to be disturbed."

"As you say, sir." Carson said, and tipped his hand, then walked out behind Shem, closing the door.

"Gentlemen, His Lordship and I have asked you here to discuss our current situation," Callum said, "you were all privy to the meeting this morning with Major Simmonds giving the facts as to what he has discovered in the fortress, and listened to his suspicions. Captain Barrish, from what I'm told was asked his opinion, and he was in agreement with Major Simmonds. The Major has sent out a scouting party to verify if a larger force of French regulars is indeed on the way. Gentlemen, His Lordship and I had a similar meeting after the one you attended at breakfast. I will say, that I am in agreement with the Major and Captain Barrish, and also wish to say to further that point, that we can probably expect Napoleon and his Army of fifty thousand strong or more within the next week or so." Callum looked around the table and saw all eyes widen.

"What makes you say that, Captain Callum? We did not discuss that this morning, sir."

"With respect, My Lord, I have had a little time to think about it more. There is one man who will see to it that Napoleon is here, and lying in wait. You know of whom I speak, My Lord."

"Smythe." Fitzwarren almost spat the name out.

"That is correct, My Lord. His entire purpose was to bring this information to the French, and well, My Lord, we, or rather I, gave him that opportunity."

"You, Captain Callum?"

"Yes, My Lord, I was the one that stayed you from having him arrested after the dispatches were discovered, I was the one that came up with the other plan to have the Tarkington reveal its true intention, I was the one that promised you, My Lord, that he would either be taken or stopped. I, My Lord am the one that failed, and has put us into this position that we are now in." Fitzwarren sat back in his chair and put his fingers together as he listened.

Callum began to lay out the details of his plan for the destruction of the fortress to the others, as he had laid it out to Fitzwarren this morning. His fellow Captains listened intently as this young Captain explained every detail out to them.

"Who would be the other ship that would stay with you to cover the retreat?" Barrish asked. Callum looked at him and smiled softly.

"I was hoping to ask you, Captain Barrish. You victories at the Nile and Gibraltar are stuff of legend, sir." Callum said, and Barrish stood, holding out his hand to Callum.

"It would be my honor, sir, to join you and fight at your side." Barrish said, and Callum took his hand.

"Excellent, well now that you two have decided that you will take on the entire French Army by yourselves, I still have not approved of this plan, at least the last time that I checked." Fitzwarren said, and all eyes went toward him.

"With respect My Lord, I see no other choice in this matter. Captain Callum is correct in every aspect of this, and his plan is a sound military maneuver." Simmonds said, getting Callums attention. "He makes a valid argument in denying the French use of the fortress."

"Yes, but I am compelled to think of the Duke..."

"My Lord, if we follow the plan that I have laid out," Callum interrupted Fitzwarren and was now on very dangerous ground, "the Duke will thank you for one very important fact." Fitzwarren was deeply annoyed by being interrupted, and glared at Callum.

"And just what would that be?" Fitzwarren growled.

"You will give the Duke the opportunity to choose his own ground upon which to face Napoleon." Callum said. "He will thank you, My Lord, and be in your debt." Callum let those words sink into Fitzwarrens thick skin. Fitzwarrens expression began to change, and Callum decided it was time to play the card. "If we continue to think of La Rochelle, My Lord, as a landing place, and Napoleon is on to us, as we both know he is, the Duke will have quite a fight on his hands and may be forced back to the sea, costing many lives and a major setback for England."

"You bring your point home with great effect, Captain Callum. I have heard you and understand your meaning, sir. Reluctantly, I am forced to agree. We shall delay sailing for another day. What do you require in the way of munitions?"

"At least twenty barrels of powder, My Lord." Callum said. "Would you not agree, Major?"

"Twenty would do it, thirty would be better, My Lord. With all due respect, Captain." Callum bowed his head slightly.

"Very well, thirty it is. You gentlemen make out your details with each other. How many Marines do you suggest, Captain?" Fitzwarren asked.

"Two dozen, My Lord, enough to make a good showing of it, to make it look as if there are on guard duty at least." Callum said, Fitzwarren nodded, then Callum looked at the Major. "Major, I would think that when your scouting party returns and we are forced to withdraw that we do so under the cover of darkness to keep prying eyes at bay."

"I would agree, Captain, unless we are forced to evacuate in a hurry."

"Agreed. We will take back the Marines that all set sail with to end confusion and overcrowding."

"I can agree with that as well." Simmonds replied.

"Now, all we have to do is wait." Callum said. "And in the meantime, gentlemen, my steward took great pains to prepare something light for us to enjoy, please help yourselves." Callum waved his hands over the table, and slowly the other Captains began to serve or pour for themselves. Simmonds came up to Callum at that point and asked his for a private moment. Callum led him over to the windows that were aft of the cabin, They walked over and Callum leaned against one of the columns in between windows.

"Captain, may I say first of all how impressed I am with your planning of military strategy, sir." Simmonds, said. It brought a slight bow from Callum toward him.

"Thank you, Major."

"And also, I was most impressed with your demonstration of valor, sir, taking on the entire French fleet in the bay? Most impressive, sir, most impressive."

"I thank you, Major." Callum bowed slightly again, and gave Simmons a slight smile. "Anger can motivate one to do things that most ordinary men would not, wouldn't you agree."

"As does true courage, sir." Simmons bowed deeper toward Callum. "I was wondering, if I may, whom you had in mind to lead your little ruse against the French forces?"

"I would think that you would already know that, Major. But in case you require it to be spoken, I will take Captain Anders and Sergeant McGuffin along with me and two of my officers and men."

"I thought as much, sir. May I ask why you would take Sgt. McGuffin?"

"He is a powerhouse among men, sir. The Sergeant and I have had the opportunity to be in close hand to hand with the enemy. He is a formidable man to say the least, and I for one would like the Sergeant at my back at any given chance."

"I see, sir." Simmonds smiled. "I am not one to argue, sir. If you require their presence, then so be it."

"Thank you, Major, that is most gracious of you."

"We have a common goal in mind, Captain, as you are very aware."

"Yes, we do." Callum said, feeling the need to get off his feet. He excused himself from the Major and went to sit at the table. Fitzwarren was there, waiting.

"Ah, Callum, my lad." Fitzwarren said as Callum approached the table.

"My Lord." Callum bowed slightly.

"Very gracefully done. Most impressive in your explanation of the details."

"My thanks, My Lord." Callum bowed again.

"I think that you might be right, along with the Major and Captain Barrish, now that I have had some time to think about it. When do you think we should be unloading the powder to lay in for the fortress?"

"I should think before dawn, My Lord. As I said there are without doubt several eyes on us, and in the early morning hours, even the best spy requires sleep, My Lord."

"You jest, Captain Callum, but you make a clear point as well. Call for what you require, give your needs to the Major, and it will be done."

"With thanks, My Lord." Callum bowed his head, and then went to the head of the table and sat down. It was a couple of minutes, and he started to feel better. Fitzwarren saw the fatigue on Callum's face, and worried about him. He looked about at everyone else and saw that most were just milling about and had stopped talking, just waiting.

"If it would be alright with you, Captain Callum, I shall take my leave." Fitzwarren said. "I however feel that the Major should remain for you two to finalize the details." Fitzwarren said, looking about again, then stopped at Simmonds. "Major, I'm certain that the Captain can have you rowed over to the Valiant, once your discussions have concluded."

"As you wish, My Lord." Simmonds bowed his head slightly toward Fitzwarren.

"Captain, most kind of you to hold our meeting here. My thanks." Fitzwarren bowed as Callum got to his feet.

"It was my honor, My Lord." Callum bowed slightly.

"Gentlemen, if you please." Fitzwarren said and headed for the door as he picked up his hat. The other Captains bowed their heads slightly toward Callum, and he returned it toward them. They all filed out, and Callum turned toward Simmonds, beckoning him to sit at the table with him. Callum sat back down, and let out a deep breath.

"Captain, are you certain that you are up to this, sir? I understand that your wounds are...extensive."

"I feel that there is no choice, Major." Callum feigned a smile toward him. "Shall we proceed?"



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