Chapter 9

The carriage rocked gently as it traveled down the road, again. The horses pulling it had set a pace that was even and almost melodic to Callum. He looked out the window of the door, watching the countryside pass by, as Dustin lay against him, again, now sleeping soundly. Callum held Dustin with his left arm, wrapping around Dustin's chest, his hand trailing off, letting Dustin sleep.

Callum, himself, drifted in and out of sleep, watching the passing of various trees and shrubs along the edge of the road. Not having much sleep the night before, and the activity of earlier, engaged with the love making with Dustin, had Callum near his end, wanting to sleep, needing to sleep. He looked down at the sleeping Dustin and smiled. He marveled at how Dustin could sleep through almost anything, possibly even through cannon fire. Callum looked up and looked out the window again. The rolling countryside, it was mesmerizing to Callum. His eyes heavy and his breathing slowed. His lids closed, then opened, and then closed more, and then opened. His thoughts were of the Dover, as his eyes went shut. His head fell back against the carriage wall.

Callum woke, not familiar with his surroundings, seemingly dazed. His head went forward, his body tensing. He looked about, hearing voices, and the familiar sound of gulls in the distance. He took in a deep breath and could smell the sea, the salt of it, the foam. He sat up a little, then looked down. He saw the still, sleeping form of Dustin, leaning against him, unmoving. Callum smiled to himself. He reached over and put a hand on Dustin's chest, shaking him a bit.

"I think we are here." Callum said in a low voice, as the carriage came to a stop. It rocked to and fro, slightly. Callum shifted Dustin, as he awoke from his long slumber, beginning to stretch out his arms, and then yawning. "Are you alright, my love?" Callum asked softly.

Dustin turned and gave Callum soft eyes. "Yes, I am."

"Good. I think we have arrived at the docks."

Dustin smelled the air filling the carriage. He smiled at it, and then up at Callum as he spun around on the bench. "I would agree. It certainly has the air of them." Dustin turned and looked out the window of the door, then pulled his head back in, looking at Callum with excited eyes. "We're here! I see ships in harbor!"

Callum returned the smile, and leaned forward. "Let me have a look, lad."

Dustin pulled back in, and Callum put his face out the window. He took in the view of several ships in harbor, anchored or tied to various docks. He smiled and pulled back in, sitting back on the bench.

"It would appear that Owen was able to get us here safely and well before dark." Callum said, and then smiled.

"Shouldn't we get out then?" Dustin asked.

"Standby." Callum said, grasping Dustin's closest arm, pulling him back to the bench with Callum. "The harbor guard is probably checking with Owen." Callum said as he leaned toward the opposite door.

There was a knock and then the door opened. A young sentry marine was standing there, now in full view.

"Beg pardon, gentlemen. State your business."

"I am Captain Callum of the Dover. I have business with the Harbor Master regarding my ship. This is my helmsman, Mr. Perkins. Where shall we find the Harbor Master?"

"He is at the building at the end of the dock, sir." The young sentry snapped to attention, seeing Callum's tunic and the epilates on his shoulders.

"Very well. Thank you, sentry."

"With pleasure, sir." The sentry snapped up even tighter. He leaned forward and closed the door of the carriage. Callum reached up and rapped his knuckles on the roof of the carriage. A slot opened in the front wall.

"Drive us down to the last building, driver. Our business is there." Callum said, sounding very official. The little door closed and then there was the sound of a whip snapping. The carriage leaped forward, pulling Callum and Dustin against the seat. They could hear the clatter of horse shoes on cobblestone, echoing into the carriage. Within a minute, they were at the last building, the carriage coming to a halt. They waited inside, and then the door opened. Dustin sat still, letting Callum exit first, and then he spilled out, standing behind Callum, who had turned to Owen.

"Are you familiar with Portsmouth, Owen?" Callum asked, looking at Owen.

"I have been here a few times, sir."

"Very well. There is an inn, near the center of the town. It is called the Heritage Arms Inn, do you know it?"

"Yes, I do."

"They have a livery as well." Callum said, as he reached into his breast pocket of his tunic. He pulled out his leather purse, and pulled out a few notes, then handed them to Owen. "This is for your services, thusly, and I would ask that you secure for us a room , if you wouldn't mind. The horses need tending as well. We shall join you, there, later, I should think. There are a few shops I wish to visit as well, after our business here is concluded."

"Very good, sir." Owen said as he nodded his head, taking the notes. "And, thank you."

Callum turned and walked into the building, Dustin on his heel. They walked through the wide entrance, looking about. There were old trunks, crates, flimsy looking boxes, stacked about along the wide corridor. Callum walked to an open door. He looked in, seeing an older man leaning over a desk, looking at some charts.

"Beg your pardon, sir." Callum said. "I was looking for the Harbor Master?"

The older man never looked up, but only pointed, "He is in the office further down the corridor."

"I thank you." Callum said, as the man just waved his hand at his voice. Callum turned and continued down the wide corridor. They passed several doors, until they came to one that was open. Callum stopped, looked in and saw several men inside, gathered around one, older looking man, listening to what he was saying to them in a low voice. Callum stepped in, Dustin behind him, then cleared his throat to get attention. All heads turned and all eyes were now on Callum, standing there in his bright uniform.

"Beg pardon, gentlemen. I am looking for the Harbor Master." Callum said with some tone to his voice. A man, the man, in the center of the circle stepped out, looking at Callum with a tilted head.

"And who might you be?" the man asked.

"I am Callum, Master of His Majesty's Ship, Dover." Callum said with a deep authority, his hands folded behind his back. All eyes went wide at the sound of the words.

"I am Mr. Harkins, Harbor Master." The man said as he approached.

"Then I would have words with you, sir." Callum said, still in authority mode.

Harkins put his hands together in front of him, walking up to Callum. He grinned at Callum, and then glanced at Dustin.

"What do we owe this honor of your visit, Captain?"

"I wish to tour the Dover. I want to make sure that repairs are going according to schedule. I have orders from the Admiralty to join the squadron on a certain date. I am here to make sure that there is nothing to keep us behind schedule."

A deep scowl went over Harkins face. " I shall not be dictated to as far as schedule, sir. Repairs are proceeding at their own accord."

Callum leaned forward, giving a half grin. "Very well then, I shall see for myself. And, if they are not, then I shall notify the Admiralty that there might have to be a possible change in how ship repairs are conducted here in Portsmouth." Harkins eyes widened at Callum's words and his tone. He leaned back a little.

"Well, uh,...very well, Captain...then, if you wish to see the Dover, I shall see to it that you are escorted, of course."

Callum narrowed his eyes. "Of course. Let's get on with it. I am due in London on the 'morrow."

"At the Admiralty, no doubt." Harkins replied, almost in a cower.

"No doubt." Callum almost growled.

"There was some considerable damage done to the Dover, you understand..."

"I understand that I bested two French frigates in the same engagement, not only winning the day, sir, but capturing both vessels, they are at anchor in the harbor." Callum said, as he tapped his toe on the wooden floor. "It would appear to me, without glance, that you have not engaged in the repairs of the Dover, at all. There seems to be something of a delay."

"Not at all, good sir, not at all. I have workmen aboard the Dover, as we speak."

"That remains to be seen." Callum said in a rather nasty tone. "I am waiting to be shown my vessel." Harkins turned and looked at the others, throwing his hands about, telling them to go away.

"If you will follow me, Captain?" Harkins said as put out a hand leading them to the door. Callum and Dustin followed, they turned down the corridor and walked along to another door. Harkins opened it and continued across the vast room containing more trunks and crates. They followed as they looked around a bit, then reached another door. Harkins pulled it open and then stepped out into the sunlight. He stopped outside a few steps away from the door.

Callum came through the doorway, looking at Harkins, as he held out his hand, showing the direction Callum needed to see. Callum turned his gaze, and then he saw her, the Dover, tied to the dock with mooring lines. He could hear the sound of thumping from mallets coming from her. Callum's eyes softened as he saw her there, as if she were waiting for him.

Rigging was all up and in place, sails were furled against cross arms, tied securely. Her bow rose and fell slightly with the swell of the water. Callum could hear the sound of wood shifting and creaking, ropes going tight and then loosening, ever so gently. Her lines were long and sleek. She beckoned to him, as a lover from a bed would. Callum took a couple of steps forward and stopped. He longed to be aboard her, to walk her, to touch her. Dustin stepped up behind him.

"She waits for you, sir." Dustin said in a hushed voice. Callum didn't look back, his eyes were moist at seeing her, his heart filling, his throat tight.

"You are welcome to go aboard, Captain." Harkins said. "I am sure that you will find everything in order. My workman aboard can answer whatever questions you might have."

Callum half turned, not looking at Harkins. "I thank you. I shall do my inspection, and if there are concerns I will direct them toward you in your office."

"As you wish, Captain." Harkins said, with a slight bow and then walked back through the door they had come from.

Callum just watched her in the water for another minute. Dustin stood beside him, not touching Callum, just waiting, waiting for the Captain of this vessel to make a move. Callum took in a slight breath and stepped forward, walking toward the gang plank that led from her to the dock. He reached the bottom and stepped up on it. He exhaled and then walked up the plank, then stepped over the tip rail onto the deck. His feet finally back aboard his ship, he sighed. He looked forward and then aft, hearing the thumping of the mallet from aft. He turned and went toward the sound. Up the steps to the Quarter Deck. Behind the wheel, near the Mizzen Mast, they saw the workman, pounding in dowels, to secure rigging to the larboard aft rail. Callum cleared his throat.

The workman stopped, turning his head, seeing Callum and Dustin standing there. Callum shone in his bright uniform, the workman turned round and stood straight.

"Can I help ye, gentlemen?"

"I am here to inspect the repairs." Callum said in a normal tone.

"Well, there they be..." the workman slowly held out his hands, looking all about the ship. "I be taking care of the railin' for now. Maybe later, I'll be repairin' the deckin' over there." He pointed to the larboard side stairs to the Main Deck. "Be lookin' like there was gunfire to the woodwork."

"That there was..." Dustin said, stepping forward.

"And who be ye?"

"I am Callum, master of this vessel." The workmans eyes narrowed at Callum's eyes. "This is Mr. Perkins, my helmsman."

"I see." The workman folded his arms across his chest. "It's not often I get to meet a Captain of a vessel under repairs."

"Understandable." Callum said. "There is special consideration with the Dover. We are under a tight time schedule to rejoin the squadron."

"Oh, she'll be fit and ready in about a weeks time, sir, mark me." The workman stepped closer. "I have seen much worse than your lady, here."

"I am gratified to hear that. Thank you."

The workman nodded to Callum. "Now, if you be excusin' me, I'll be gettin' back to me job."

"Certainly, and thank you."

"My pleasure, sir." The workman said and turned back, picking up the mallet again.

Callum walked about the deck, running his hands over some of the woodwork, feeling it, belonging to it. He went to the fore rail and put his hands on it, leaning, looking out over the rest of the ship. It was so quiet to him. No crew, no bustle or activity, only the sounds of creaking wood and tightening ropes. Dustin stepped up to him, touching him at the elbow.

"It would appear that your concerns were in vain." Dustin said in a soft voice.

"Something still nags at me." Callum whispered.

"Aren't you happy that repairs are going well?"

"Yes, but, there's still something wrong." Callum shook his head slightly, as he still looked forward. "Let's go below. I want to check there as well."

Dustin followed Callum as they made their way down the steps, across the deck to the companionway staircase down to the gangway. Dustin followed Callum past the galley, looking inside as if Carson should still be or would be there, past the small cabins of the officers, to the end of the gangway, to the door of the Great Cabin. Callum felt like knocking, but didn't. He turned the handle and opened the door. He stepped in and looked about. He smiled as he knew that this was now all his.

Four cannon occupied the room, two at the aft windows, one to starboard at the enclosed porthole, the other to the port side, resting against it own porthole. There was a table in the center of the room, surrounded by five chairs. Callum had had many a dinner at this table with Captain Powers and the other officers. Against the forward bulkhead, there was a small enclosed cabin, where there was a bunk, larger than his old one, but smaller than their bed at the house, Callum walked to the doorway, noticing that there were no beddings at all, and then he also noticed that there were no curtains on the aft windows where there had been before.

Obviously, Carson had taken everything down and had packed it, probably giving it back to Captain Powers' family. Callum turned and looked, most of the books were still on the shelves though. Carson had not packed those, Callum wondered why, he would have to ask him. Callum turned back and looked into the small cabin at the desk against the wall. He remembered that he had many conversations with Captain Powers as he sat at that desk. Callum smiled softly remembering. Callum held out an arm, beckoning to Dustin.

Dustin stepped forward, coming next to Callum, wrapping an arm around Callum's waist, leaning against him, as Callum wrapped his arm about Dustin's shoulders.

"Feel good to be back aboard her, sir?"

Callum sniggered once. "We're alone, my love. No need to call me 'sir' when we're alone."

"I beg to differ, sir. When we are aboard your ship, it will always be 'sir'." Dustin said, looking up at Callum.

"As you wish, Mr. Perkins." Callum smiled, then leaned forward and kissed Dustin.

"But, I will still love you." Dustin said.

"You are truly a wonder." Callum smiled. "What would I do without you?"

"I would hate to venture a guess, sir." Dustin smiled into Callum's face, kissing him softly.

"I am going to look about through the hold and then go forward to the folksel. Perhaps you should go and collect your purse from the paymaster?" Callum smiled.

"I had almost forgotten that." Dustin returned the smile, his eyes going wide and bright. Callum squeezed Dustin's shoulders with his arm. "I will be off then. Shall I meet you here?"

"Yes." Callum answered softly. "I will wait here for you. Then we will be off, and I wish to tour some shops along the way to the inn. I wish to do something for dear Martha."

Dustin kissed Callum on the cheek, then patted his chest softly with one hand. Dustin pulled away and walked out of the Great Cabin, leaving Callum alone.

Callum turned and walked to the aft windows. He stood at them looking out over the harbor. He put his hands together at his back, watching the gulls soar about in the distance over the other ships at anchor. His thoughts turned back to the Dover. It felt good to be here, yet he had something still nagging at the back of his mind, he knew not what. Callum turned slowly, and walked across the cabin to the door. He walked out on the gangway, closing the door behind him.

He slowly walked through toward the forward section of the second deck he was on, looking about as he went. All of the guns along her ports were lashed and secured. He touched one now and then as he walked along. He looked up now and again at the decking above his head. There were no gaps or cracks, she was good and tight. He came to the forward companion way, and went below to the lower deck. He surveyed the holds, the forward powder room, and the crew areas. There was nothing that was out of place. What was this feeling that was bothering him so? He couldn't place it. He continued his tour, going back up to the Main Deck.

Once there, the breeze hit him, gently washing over his face. He went forward to the bow, looking over the rigging as he went. All seemed to be in order. He came across a couple of other workmen, who nodded to Callum as he watched them do their repairs, then he continued on. Once at the prow, he turned and looked upward, his hands still behind his back, he spread out his feet a little for balance as he looked skyward, noting the lashings about the canvas of the sails. Yes, all seemed to be in order. He sighed heavily, still having this feeling, a feeling of dread.

Callum looked toward midships as someone came up the gangway, stepping onto the deck. An older man, dressed in a long coat, carrying something in his hand. Callum narrowed his eyes at him as he approached. Callum had seen him before.

"Good afternoon, sir." The man said as stopped in front of Callum. Callum nodded to him. "I am Mr. Fuller, of the harbor supply office. Are you the Captain of this vessel?"

"I am." Callum answered.

"Are you here to make an accounting of your supplies, sir?"

"No. I am here to make an inspection of repairs." Callum said in a flat tone.

"I see. Whom should I see then regarding your refit?"

"Mr. Arvin, upon his return, my First Lieutenant, and Carson, the Quartermaster."

"And when will they be returning?"

"We set sail with our squadron in less than a fortnight. Mr. Arvin should be arriving within the week."

"Very good, sir. I was trying to prepare a list of provisions."

"You will have your list at that time, upon their arrival, I'm sure."

"Very good, sir. I was speaking with Mr. Harkins, he told me that you were aboard."

"I see."

"Thank you for your time, Captain." Fuller nodded, and then turned to walk away.

"Good day to you, sir." Callum watched him walk away. There was something unsettling to Callum about this Fuller. Callum had seen him before when they were in port. Not many cared for him or his manner, Callum had heard. His breath smelled of spirits and he had a bad odor about him. Callum turned toward the breeze to clear the air of him. Callum looked skyward again.

Callum caught movement out of the corner of his eye on the dock, he looked and saw Dustin returning. He smiled as he watched his young love hurry up the gangplank onto the deck. Dustin was smiling toward Callum as he approached him. Callum took a few steps toward him to cut the distance between them.

"Did you secure your business with the paymaster?" Callum asked. Dustin was grinning wide, then nodded. "You seem to be pleased with yourself."

"Oh, I am...I so am, sir." Dustin was still grinning.

"You have money in your pocket, then?"

"More than I had imagined."

"Looks like you are eager for something." Callum grinned in reply to Dustin's beaming.

"I was wondering..."

"You wish to visit some shops?"

"Actually,..." Dustin stepped closer, "I was wondering if we could go down to the Great Cabin." Callum grinned even wider. He sighed, letting his breath out slowly, feeling a stirring in his pantlet.

"You are feeling a little...wanting?"

"You promised me that we would make love in the Great Cabin."

"So I I did." Callum wiggled his eyebrows. "I feel a wanting myself." Callum winked. Dustin almost squirmed with delight. Callum chuckled, then started walking toward the companionway stairs, Dustin right behind him. They reached the bottom and walked along the gangway, Callum in the lead. Callum opened the door to the Great Cabin and stepped in, then turned inside the door, thinking Dustin was right behind him. Callum didn't see him. He looked about and then turned back around, there stood Dustin, his clothes in his hands. Callum looked him up and down, seeing his young naked lover, fully erect. Dustin had been stripping as they had been walking. Callum closed the door and turned the lock, then stepped over to Dustin, who dropped his clothes on the deck.

Callum scooped him up in one arm, the other hand grabbing Dustin's hard length, fingers going around the soft skin, sliding up and down it, as Callum pulled Dustin to him, then kissed him passionately, Callum thrusting his tongue deeply into Dustin's mouth. Callum worked him firmly for the longest time, drinking Dustin in, his taste, his desire, driving Callum to an almost frenzy to have Dustin, to take him, here, in what belonged to him now.

Dustin pulled back from Callum and then from his grasp on him. Dustin gave Callum a devilish boy grin and back across the cabin to one of the cannon, leaning against it. His grin turned to a look of lust. Dustin raised his hand and used his finger to beckon Callum to him, watching Callum walk slowly toward him, removing his tunic, dropping it to the floor. As Callum drew near, he undid his flap on his pantlet, letting it fall open. Dustin looked down at it, seeing Callum's length beginning to rise, pointing in his direction. Dustin licked his lips softly, hungrily. He squirmed against the cannon, as Callum drew near to him.

"I see that you do have a want as well." Dustin said softly, as he lay back over the cannon.

Callum bent forward as he reached Dustin, grasping the base of Dustin's firm length. Callum tipped it toward his lusting mouth, and opened it. He sent out his tongue first, licking at the clear fluid coming from the slit. He tongued all around it, and then all over the head, then once down the backside of the shaft to his fingers, then sent his tongue back up. Once at the tip, Dustin moaning, and hissing in breath through his clenched teeth, Callum took it all in his mouth, falling down on it roughly, clamping his lips about it, and then tightly drew them back up. Dustin moaned loudly at the pressure on him, his hands going into Callum's hair, fingers digging in and pulling at it. Callum reached the tip and then went back down again.

Callum reached up with his other hand, grasping Dustin's butt, pulling at the muscle in the cheek, then pulling it away from the other spreading Dustin out wider. Fingers began to creep along, finding the crack, then probed until they found the waiting opening that was loose in Dustin from the overwork of the morning. Callum slowly entered Dustin with two fingers, dry, going slowly, making Dustin moan and spread his legs wider, wanting more of Callum.

"Oh...God...yes,..." Dustin moaned as clenched Callum's hair. "take me...go deeper, yes,...yesss..." Dustin moaned in a deep voice, deeper than Callum had ever heard from him, as his fingers bottomed out to his palm. He twisted them, rocked them, then sent them in and out rapidly, making Dustin throw his head back, his feet going in the air, balancing against the cannon. Callum went up and down on Dustin with his mouth, being unrelenting, almost brutal in his tightness. Dustin was reacting to it, wanting more, being so very vocal over every motion on or in him. It drove Callum on further.

"Quintan..." Dustin moaned deeply, "I'm going to...ugh...ugh..."

Callum knew, he could feel it rising up through Dustin, the tensing, and then the pulsing began, shooting into Callum's wanting mouth, taking every bit that Dustin could give, swallowing him, his fluid, not being able to taste it as it shot to the back of Callum's throat. Callum groaned on Dustin, then breathed deeply though his nose, swallowing the last of the shots, sucking every bit out of Dustin's length. Callum slowly withdrew off Dustin, letting his length fall against Dustin's stomach. Callum smiled, coming up to meet Dustin, as he was breathing heavy through his mouth, still clenching Callum's hair. Dustin slowly let go as he worked through his intense orgasm, fingers releasing, then hands and arms falling back, as he lay back over the top of the cannon. Dustin spread his legs wider, getting balance.

"Oh, Quintan..." Dustin breathed deeply, "each time with you is like it's all new to me,..." Dustin exhaled, "I love it so."

Callum leaned closer to Dustin's face. "I know you do, by the way you move, the way you sound, the way you feel in my hands." Callum looked into Dustin's hazy eyes, the color had run out of his face. "I love you so." Callum took a deep breath and stood up, grasping himself, placing his tip at Dustin's longing hole. Callum pushed in gently, making Dustin moan softly. "I'm going to give you what you want now. I'm going to take you, like I have never taken you before." Callum looked back down at himself pressing into Dustin, then back up to Dustin's face, which was still pale. Dustin licked his lips, then took in a deep breath, almost bracing himself. "Are you ready for me?" Callum asked. Dustin closed his eyes, then placed his hands on Callum's shoulders, hanging on. Callum pushed, hard, sliding his thick length into Dustin, going all the way in on the first push, making Dustin moan loudly, almost to a scream. Dustin's hands clenched deep into Callum's shoulders as Callum bottomed himself out, then he pulled back, not giving any time to either of them, then back in. Out and then in, out then in again. Dustin's head dropped back, trying to get air. Callum pushed in and out a terrific pace. Dustin was growing hard again as Callum was pounding against the spot deep inside of Dustin. Dustin, so overwhelmed by the intensity, the ferocity of it all, couldn't utter a sound, couldn't catch his breath. Callum watched his young lover, as Dustin's eyes rolled back in his head, fingers loosing their strength and grip. Callum used both his arms now, scooping up Dustin as the grip was lost by Dustin, his arms falling down and going wide. Callum was balancing aginst Dustin and the cannon, pounding Dustin, harder, faster. Callum's breath drew tighter, he felt it building inside of him. Dustin's length was bobbing with the thrusts, bouncing off his stomach, his balls went tight, Callum could feel the muscles inside of Dustin as they tightened. They both lost control at the same moment, Callum shooting into Dustin with every thrust, Dustin shooting up between them, covering Dustin's chest and stomach, Callum looked down, watching the eruption from Dustin.

Dustin awoke, his eyes fluttered. He felt weak, drained, and very parched, like he had not had water in weeks. He smelled something, he couldn't place it exactly. He focused, his eyes looked up, as he lay on his back. His hands opened and he felt next to him. It was soft, yet rough to the touch. He was still not certain where he was or what had happened. He slowly sat up, looking about. When he realized where he was, his eyes went wide. He was laying on the Captain's bed. Now he knew what the smell was, dust from the rough fabric, must from the goose dander inside. He swung his legs to get off the bed. He realized that he was dressed. How? Where was Callum?

Dustin got his feet to the deck and slowly walked to the doorway. He backside hurt, making his walk slow. He had had pain from being with Callum so much before, but not like this. Dustin leaned against the doorjamb. He saw Callum sitting at the large table, a book was open and lying on the surface before him. Callum turned a page, and Dustin slowly walked forward, approaching the table. Callum looked up with wide eyes. He jumped to his feet, pushing the chair back. He stepped forward to Dustin, and grasped him tightly.

"Oh, my God." Callum said, as he hugged Dustin tightly. "I am so sorry that I have hurt you. That was not my intention." Callum kissed Dustin's neck and his ear. "Can you forgive me?"

"There is nothing to forgive, my love." Dustin said as he slowly lifted his arms, wrapping them about Callum's shoulders. "I would have wanted that eventually. I'm just glad that it was here, and not at the house." Dustin chuckled. "Martha might have fallen to the floor listening at the keyhole." Callum pulled back and laughed out loud, then hugged Dustin again.

"You are the true treasure, Dustin. The crown in my life. Thank you."

"Thank me? For what, sir?"

"For being you. Honesty, and very sturdy." Callum answered, pulling back again, looking Dustin in the eye with a wide smile.

"Are the workmen still aboard?"

"No, they left quite a while ago." Callum said, "Thankfully before all of the screaming started."

Dustin laughed now. "So, we are alone, totally alone."

"That we are." Callum said, searching Dustin's eyes.

"Then I would say..."

"No." Callum said, firmly. "We are going to wait until you recover a little more."

"As I was about to say, sir...perhaps it is time for us to leave and visit the shops you wished to see."

"Oh..." Callum looked surprised, knowing what he thought was always on Dustin's mind, "perhaps you're right. Do you feel up to it?"

"The walk will do me good, I think." Dustin gave Callum a faint smile.

Slowly the pair walked down the gangplank to the dock. Callum turned and looked back at the Dover. She wasn't calling to him as she seemed to do earlier. His mind was more at ease now, his concern was more to Dustin. He had hurt him, physically. It was tearing at his heart that he had done that. He would have to make it up to him somehow, but that would be later, he knew. They turned and slowly walked down the dock toward the gates of the harbor. Callum walked slowly so that Dustin could keep up.

"I know how your wound feels now, sir." Dustin chuckled. Callum just looked at him and laughed.

"I would trade your pain for mine, any time, Mr. Perkins." Callum winked.

They walked the streets, on their way to inn. Callum saw a few shops along the way, and as he looked over at Dustin from time to time to see how he was doing, it looked like Dustin was walking better now. They stopped now and then looking in various windows, Callum not seeing what he was really looking for until they reached the end of this one street.

The shop had a sign above the door, labeling it a general mercantile. Callum looked at Dustin and smiled. Callum stepped into the door, Dustin followed. Callum looked to and fro, seeing various items that he had been looking for. An older man approached them.

"May I be of assistance, gentlemen?"

"Certainly." Callum said as he looked at the worn older face. "I have a list of things that I require." Callum turned his gaze, looking around the shop. "It would seem that your establishment might be able to satisfy my needs."

"Why, thank you, good sir." The man clasped his hands together in front of him. "And, pray what might your list be?"

"I have need of certain personal items to outfit my cabin aboard ship. I will require heavy linen curtains, beddings, and items to set out for a table."

"I see. Well, good sir, you have certainly come to the right place. May I show some flatware that I have, befitting a man of your position?" He held out a hand to guide them, Callum followed as Dustin began to look around on his own.

The man showed Callum various items that Callum had requested and as Callum saw what he liked, he selected them, the shop keeper taking note of his choices. Callum had the man tally his selections and then set them for delivery to the Dover toward the end of next week, when Callum knew that Carson would more than likely be back aboard. Callum pulled out his leather purse and opened it. He pulled a few notes as the man held out his hand, Callum placed them in the open palm.

"Thank you so very much, good Captain. I see that you are a man who knows what he wants. I will be happy to make sure all your items are delivered to your ship."

"Most kind." Callum said. "Now, perhaps you can do one more service for me?"

"Most certainly, sir."

"I am in need of a dress shop." Callum said, the older mans eyes narrowed. "I have a family member that I am returning home to and wish to surprise her with a new attire."

"I see." The older man smiled wide. "Then, might I suggest that you visit Ferguson's. It's a shop that I know well. He is just down the street on the opposite side."

"Very well. I will follow your suggestion, and I thank you."

"It is I who thank you, Captain." The older man nodded. Callum turned from him to walk to the door. He saw Dustin, and smiled as Dustin had a few things in his hands. Callum stepped closer to him.

"Find something that you like, my lad?" Callum smiled at him.

"Oh, yes." Dustin said with a broad smile, looking up at Callum. His bright eyes melted Callum's heart. "I decided that I would try long pants and am in need of a couple of more shirts."

"Long pants, really?"

"I liked the look of the ones that you have, and I thought I would try them as well."

"May I get those for you?" Callum asked.

"That's very kind of you, sir. But, I think that you have already done enough for me as it is."

"Oh? What makes you say that?"

Dustin turned and looked into Callum's eyes. "Don't you know?"

Callum looked confused. "Know what?"

Dustin smiled softly. "You have given me a home, a purpose, something that I never really had before. A family, with Martha."

Callum's eyes softened, and he smiled as softly, reaching up and cradling Dustin chin with a finger. "You deserve it." Callum whispered.

"Thank you." Dustin whispered and turned. He walked toward the older man, who was now at the counter, watching them. Dustin set his things on the counter and reached into his pocket, pulling out a small bag, tied with a string. It jingled with sound of coins in it. He untied it and began to count out what the older man wanted, placing the coins on the counter counting them as he went. The older man picked them up one by one.

After Dustin's things were bundled and handed to him, Dustin smiled at the older man and thanked him. The older man only nodded, watching the pair leave his shop. Callum led the way, Dustin beside him, walking down the street. Callum crossed after a carriage drove by. Callum stepped to the door of the shop they had been directed to. He looked toward Dustin and then opened the door, going inside, the bell snap ringing as the door opened. Callum closed the door.

Looking about this shop was like setting foot in a strange land. There were dress stands, with different dresses on them, some looked more formal, more for a lady who would wait for her squire to return to her, than really what Callum was thinking Martha might would want to wear. Callum's attention was diverted by the sound of a mans throat being cleared.

"May I help you, sir?"

Callum looked at the man approaching. "Perhaps you can, yes. I was directed here by another shop keeper from down the lane. He assured me that you might have what I would be looking for."

"Very well, sir. And what is that?"

"I have a family member that I am returning home to that is in need of a surprise. She wears a dress that has seen some years and is a bit tattered."

The man smiled. "I see, your mother, perhaps?"

"Close. My aunt, actually."

"Well, sir, as you can see, our selection is rather extensive. Perhaps if I knew what she would like?"

"I am...rather..." Callum was uncertain in choosing his words, being in unfamiliar territory.

"Perhaps," Dustin said, setting his bundle down on a table. "I may be able to help." He stepped around Callum up to the man. "I'm afraid we are unfamiliar with purchasing dresses. It's rather new to us." Dustin said, as he looked back at Callum, then back to the man. "We cannot give you size or anything. But, she is about so tall," Dustin said holding up a hand to almost his shoulder, "and she is a little...more robust than most ladies."

"Eloquently said, young sir." The man grinned, and then nodded his understanding. "May I show you a few that I have over here?" He turned and led them to a large wooden shelving unit. There were several dresses that hung within its frame. He selected one, that seemed to shimmer in the light, he turned and held it out to them, as they stepped up near him. Callum looked it over, but was unsure. Dustin put a finger to his chin and was clearly thinking about it.

"I think not." Dustin said softly. "Her tastes are simple. She is more...dutiful than a lady of luxury. This might speak to her of that." Dustin looked at the large case behind the man, and stepped around him. He pushed a few dresses back and forth, looking them over, and then pulled three off, comparing them, and then turning to look at Callum. Dustin held up one, looking it over again himself, as Callum was pursing his lips. "I agree," Dustin said, turning and hanging it up. He held the next one up which was simple in statement and fabric, a high neck. Callum nodded, and Dustin smiled, handing the dress to the man. Dustin held out the last one he had pulled. "This one. Yes, this one would be the right one for Martha." Dustin said as he held it out further, turning it back and forth. The neckline was squared and not to low, the fabric was soft, but not too fine. It seemed to be sturdy to Dustin.

"Very well, sir. If you think so."

"I do." Dustin said. "Would you not agree, Quintan?"

"I shall follow your lead, my lad." Callum smiled, then looked at the man. "I should think we will take both of them. Now, would you have an apron that might do well with that?"

"Indeed I do, sir." The man lay the dresses on the closest table, then walked away. Callum looked at Dustin.

"I'm sorry, Quintan. I did not mean to take charge like a bull."

"I'm certainly glad you did." Callum leaned closer to him, with wide eyes. "I think you have missed your calling. You should have your own dress shop, Dustin." Callum winked. Dustin's eyes went wide, then relaxed knowing he was being funny.

"I should think not. If I was not at your helm, you might get yourself lost or something."

"Easy, lad, easy." Callum said with a narrow eyed glance. Dustin looked down at the floor.

The man returned with a few aprons. Dustin stepped forward, running his hands over a couple of them, selecting them as to color and fabric. The man smiled at Dustin when the selections had been made.

"The young gentleman certainly has a discerning eye."

"I have said that many a time as well." Callum said, clearing his throat. "I think that we are done, wouldn't you, Dustin?"

"I believe so."

"My good man, would be so good as to have these sent to the Heritage Arms Inn? We are returning home in the morning."

"It would my pleasure, sir."

The bill was paid and Callum and Dustin left the last shop, Dustin carrying his bundle. They continued to walk the streets, heading for the inn. They passed several people who stepped out of Callum's way, noting his uniform, obviously most were seamen as they nodded their obedience as they stepped out of the way. A few more streets and Callum walked up to the door of the Heritage Arms. He grasped the large throw bolt and slid it, opening the door wide, stepping in. Dustin closed it behind them.

There was the sound of laughter and the smell of pipe smoke filling the air, along with the smell of spirits and oaken casks. Callum had been here several times before as he grew up. He walked over to the long bar and stood at its corner. He looked across, seeing a man, about his age, with long brown hair, tied into a ponytail. He wore pantlets, stockings, and a white cotton shirt, his back was to Callum as he filled tankards of ale from a cask.

"I see that some things never change." Callum said. The man lifted his head, but didn't turn.

"Aye, that much is certain. I should have known that you would be along at some point, with your ship in harbor and all. Change is something that you know all too well, isn't it?"

"Hello, Farrow."

The man turned, shutting off the tap of the cask, setting the tankards on the bar top. He looked across to Callum, resting his clenched fists on the edge of the bar. He looked Callum up and down, seeing only a part of him as the bar blocked his view from the waist down.

"The great Sea Lord is gracing us with his presence, I see. Your driver was here earlier and secured your room. Your presence was preannounced." Their eyes locked together over the counter. "I see that the rumors are true then. You have been given the Dover."

"That I have."

"I heard that Powers was killed, and that you were in line for promotion. I suppose congratulations are in order." Farrow's gaze turned to Dustin. "And who do we have here? A crewman or a...?"

"Mr. Dustin Perkins, may I have the honor to present Mr. Farrow Dunhill, post of His Majesty's Navy, First Lieutenant of the Dover." Callum said. Dustin's eyes widened and his mouth fell open slightly. Callum looked at Farrow, sternly. "Mr. Perkins is my helmsman. We are here to see over the repairs of the Dover."

"Mr. Perkins." Farrow nodded, then looking back at Callum. "Will you be needing an additional room?"

"That will not be necessary." Callum said.

"Oh, I see." Farrow said, then pulled back from the bar. "Have a seat, gentlemen. I shall be with you presently." Farrow said as he gathered the tankards and walked to the opening in the bar. He walked over to a table and set them down in front of the patrons seated there. He watched out of the corner of his eye, Callum and Dustin taking a table against the wall. Farrow left the table after scooping up coins and walked over to them.

"What might I fetch for you...Captain Callum?"

"We shall have our supper and two ales, if you please, landlord."

"Very good, sir." Farrow turned and walked away. Callum and Dustin sat in silence.

A few minutes later, Farrow returned to them, carrying a tray, setting two tankards down in front of them, along with two plates, filled with hot, steamy roast pork, potatoes, and fresh baked rolls. Farrow set down knives and forks as well.

"Would you care to join us for a few minutes, Farrow?" Callum asked. Farrow smiled out of the corner of his mouth and pulled a chair.

"So, Callum, or would you prefer...Captain?"

"I think I would appreciate less hostility." Callum said softly. "If you would like, we can find other lodgings?"

"That won't be necessary." Farrow said, resting his elbows on the arms of the chair, clasping his hands together. Farrow looked over at Dustin, who was shoving food into his mouth very quickly. "I must apologize, Mr. Perkins. Your Captain and I have history together." Dustin's eyes widened, looking back and forth between the two, swallowing what was in his mouth, hard. "I see that you still have an eye for the younger ones, Quintan. He is very pretty, though." Dustin slowly picked up his tankard and pulled from it, still watching them.

"You of all would know my tastes, Farrow, as you also share them. Dustin is not much younger than we both." Callum said, reaching for his own tankard.

"I see. So tell me, Quintan, how did it happen? How did you obtain the Dover? The rumors around the docks have you destroying the entire French fleet, singlehandedly."

"Nothing quite so colorful, I assure you." Callum said, setting his tankard down. "It was nothing more than being there at the right time."

"Begging your pardon, sir." Dustin spoke up. "It was much more than that, and you well know it." Dustin turned and looked at Farrow, bearing down on him. "If he hadn't taken command when he did, when Captain Powers was killed, we surely would have all been lost."

"Seems that you have a true supporter in your adventures, Quintan." Farrow said as he sat up in his chair. "Rest easy, son..." Farrow said to Dustin, "there has been many a time that your Captain here has saved my own skin, and the day." Farrow looked back at Callum. "I suppose that is what has made me so bitter."

"Falsehood and regret, Farrow. You made your decision, and I'm certain you thought it was right for you at the time."

"At the time, perhaps. Regret, possibly." Farrow said, his voice trailing. He snapped back to attention. "I must see to my other patrons, if you gentlemen will excuse me. Avail yourselves of my hospitality and my humble inn." Farrow said as he rose and walked away. Callum watched him leave and then looked back at his plate.

"Quintan..." Dustin said in a low tone, "may I ask you a question?"

"Let me answer it for you." Callum said, leaning over the table, slightly. "Yes, he was my First Lieutenant, I was his Second. Yes, we were...together, at one time. He resigned from the service before you came aboard. I'm sure that some of the older crewmen still speak of him. He and Captain Powers never really got on with one another. It made Farrow hard to deal with, temperamental, angry. We soon stopped seeing one another after that."

"He said that you fancy the younger ones?"

Callum smirked looking at Dustin. "I have no secret of that point. You know that I have always found you...most appealing to me."

"Were there others? Aboard ship?"

"No. Farrow and I were at school together. He is one that I spoke of yesterday, one that took me the first time."

Dustin sat back in his chair, looking at Callum, watching him eat, and then looking at Farrow as he went from end to end at the long counter, serving the other patrons. Dustin was feeling hurt, and a feeling of jealousy sprang to life in his chest, making it go tight.



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