As I See Fit - Part 7c
Charles Hammond had been sleeping soundly until the pounding on the door of his cabin, or rather cubbyhole, woke him. His feet searched for his list slippers on the deck as he grabbed his dressing gown. "Yes, Yes, I'm coming."
It only took two steps to reach the door. He could see the outline of two men, one tall and one short, maybe a ships boy or a middy. He jerked the door open to find Rimble and Pengarth standing in their shirtsleeves and holding ordinary pea coats over their arms. They both had pistols stuck in their waistbands and Pengarth had his dirk in his belt.
"What?" He asked, upset that his sleep had been interrupted.
"The Captain's gone. We think he's gone after Tom Hitchbourne. We're going after him." Came Rimble's whispered reply. The lieutenant did not want the others in the wardroom to hear. "Will you come? You know where these people are."
"Yes." He answered, much against his better judgment. 'This is going to get me in trouble with Emmie. I just know it.' He thought, "Let me get some clothes."
"We'll be waiting on deck, sir." Rimble said, ushering Pengarth out of the wardroom.
Moments later, as he climbed down the larboard side of the Altamira, he noted that the dingy was crewed by former Aurilies. All were dressed in nondescript clothing; none could be identified as navy men. Four men, plus Pengarth and Rimble, Six people to bring Edward Pellew back to his senses.
The pull to Hitchbourne's wharf was a silent one. The men, all seasoned crewmen, needed no stroke oar to keep their rhythm. The night watchman on the dock gave them a hard look as the tight group left the boat tied up without someone to watch it, and made their way up Prince's toward North Street.
They would have missed him if he had not moved. He sat on the steps of Old North Church, leaning against the wall that ran up beside the stairs. He was idly rubbing the stomach of a small gray kitten that lay, feet up, in his lap. He did not look up at Rimble and Hammond as they approached him. Charlie sat down beside him.
Pellew opened his mouth, worked his jaw a moment, and then closed it, choosing not to say anything. Hammond waited; Pellew would talk when he wanted. The kitten turned in Pellew's hands and rubbed its nose on the Captain's thumb.
"Tom's gone." Edward stated, quietly and matter of fact. "Richard sent him away."
"That's good." Rimble said.
"I would have killed him." Pellew confessed.
"I know, Captain." The lieutenant said.
"Hammond, I have to get along with these people. They are my in-laws. I would to God; I did not need to have anything to do with them. They used her, Charlie. They used her." Edward bit the inside of his lower lip and closed his eyes.
"No, Edward, THEY did not use her. HE used her." Hammond said. "Don't paint the whole family with the same brush. They are good people. Come on, Pellew, you have to rise above this. What was it you said, back on the Nautilus, you have to be an example to the men?"
"Yes, and it's a good saying, but somehow, I can't do it in this case. It's hard, Hammond. A hard thing." Pellew said. "I am a husband, as well as a captain. I damned her Charlie, for putting the ship in a compromised position." His shoulders rose and fell with his breath.
Hammond motioned Rimble back with the men. Pellew went back to playing with the kitten.
"I don't know how to face her, Charlie." Edward continued. "I can't let this go by, with her, I mean. I have to do something. She has to realize what's at stake. If I had done what my heart wanted to, we would be at war right now. If she were a crewman, she would be at Captain's mast next Thursday, and probably at the gratings after that. What do I do, Charlie? What do I do?" The kitten lay in his right hand, his hand just big enough for the little thing to curl up in it. His left hand fingers spread across his face, his elbow on his knee.
"I have no answers for you, Edward. She's not my wife." Hammond said, staring across the street to the houses that lined the other side. 'And glad I am that I didn't marry her.' He thought, 'At least she's his problem.'
"Well, my little friend," Pellew whispered to the kitten, "Are you ready to go with me or do you want to stay here?" He set the kitten down on the stairs and stood up. "Let's get back to the ship, Charlie, enough of this. Tom's gone, I can't do anything about that."
Charlie let out his breath with a woof and joined Rimble waiting in the street.
The Aurilies walked in front of their captain and first officer as they started down the street back to the wharf. Pellew turned as he heard the mewling behind him. The kitten was following them. He stopped and bent down, the kitten crossed the twenty feet or so between the church steps and where he stood in four great jumps.
"All right, little one, I'll give you a ride. My Amanda loves cats and she hasn't had one for years. Maybe you can keep her company when I have to be at my duty." He picked up the scrawny gray cat and held it across his arm as the group made it's way back to the wharf.
He started to hand the kitten to one of the Aurilies as he prepared to descend into the boat, but the man wouldn't take the little cat. "No, sir, them cats bad luck on a ship. Or so I heard." The top man said.
Pellew tried to give it to another, with the same reaction. "Well, little one, if they won't take you, you'll have to ride here." He patted the big pockets of his coat. "Now, don't you make a mess in there, and be quiet." He opened the flap and lowered the kitten in, it's head popped up over the edge, but made no move to jump out. Pellew lowered himself into the dingy. The others followed. He looked at the half dozen men crammed in the little boat with him. "I'll keep it in the great cabin, men. It won't be a problem. And, thank you all for tonight."
Several of the men pulled at their forelocks and Rimble smiled at him, he smiled back, a wan thing, he felt the chagrin of these men having come out to rescue him from whatever trouble he might have gotten himself into. This would be the last time, the very last time, for any rash actions like this night's had been. An example for his men. Very well, he would be that.
'It must be hard for her.' He thought as he amended his standing orders once again. 'But it has to be harder for a little while. I have to make an impression. Make her realize what's at stake.' He signed his name, and dated it, 18 December 1773, giving the page to Jacobs.
The clerk read the few lines. "She's not going to like this, sir." He said.
"I know." Pellew replied. 'I will not like it either.' He thought. "But maybe, her new companion will help." He said as he reached down to pick up the little tomcat he had brought back in his coat pocket. He smiled at that memory, the kitten just seemed to know to be still and ride along, snug and warm in the tail of his burgundy coat.
A sharp rap sounded at the coach door. "Yes?" Edward responded.
"You sent for me, sir?" The senior of the three doctors, Reed, entered the cabin. He looked at the captain with professional interest. "Are you feeling well, sir?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I was wondering; could you geld my little friend here? I know he's not a horse and you are not an animal doctor. I couldn't see that he was a boy when I was adopted and now I'm attached. I can't have an intact tom cat on my ship."
"I understand why. I think we might be able to do that. Sometime later though, let him get a little growth on him." The surgeon inspected the referenced parts of the complaining kitten, holding up the three-inch tail. "He's a little underfed." The surgeon continued. "We are beginning to get quite a menagerie aboard. Cows, goats, cats and I understand our poultry is coming Monday. I wonder what's next?"
Pellew turned serious, "How is Amanda?"
"She is well this morning, the cut is healing as expected." The surgeon looked askance at him. "Have not you seen her?"
"No." The tone of the word from Pellew stopped any further questions from the surgeon. "We have a departure date. The twenty-third, next Thursday. You and your associates should look to your stores. Expect a hard crossing. I anticipate action, sir." Pellew opened the muster book. "Now, what is the condition of the crew."?
He shut the journal with a violent slam, hoping that his wife
never read it. He had declined her request to eat breakfast and
now he was late for his walk. 'How can I make her understand that
it's not only she and I that are involved here, but the ship and
her crew.' He thought as he walked out of the coach, grabbing
his cloak and hat.
He caught a glance of himself in his shaving mirror. His black eyes were turning a putrid shade of purple green. She had really given him a whack. It looked like a domino across his face.
He knocked at the door of the main cabin, Millie answered, wishing him a good morning. He handed in a small package he had brought back from Richard Hitchbourne's and the kitten. He instructed her to have Grimes move the rest of the cat's necessities out of the coach.
He closed the door as she swept in from the deck. Her old green cape was around her shoulders. 'The new one must still be drying.' He thought. The green didn't set off the mahogany of her hair as well as the new one did. She looked at him with surprise in her eyes.
"Captain, Mr. Baines says I may not take a boat to town." She spoke as she walked toward him.
He stood to the side to let her pass. "That is so." She didn't offer to touch him and he did not step to her. "I will save my officers and you some embarrassment. You are not to be on the quarterdeck either." He looked at the deck.
She walked on to the main cabin door, where she turned back to him. He looked up to meet her eyes. "Am I a prisoner?" She asked him, "In this ship?"
"Of course not. You may leave the ship if anyone else goes or if you can get a shore boat out." The Altamira had been moved to the greater roadstead in the bay, she now lay among the Boston fleet.
"I have forgotten, Amanda, since our marriage, that this is a ship of war, and that I am her captain. I have been far too lax where you have been concerned. I have to maintain order and keep her, the ship I mean, able to do her job."
"What does my coming and going have to do with that? She gathered her skirt in her hand. "Should I go ashore, I mean, to stay until we leave? Is that what you want?"
"No, Amanda. I don't want you to go anywhere." He said. 'That didn't come out quite right.' He thought, her face had grown stony at his words.
She didn't answer him, but went into the main cabin, closing the door very quietly behind her.
"I just want you to be safe." He whispered to the closed door. He stood for a few minutes listening to the conversation between Millie and her lady.
"The Captain left you a couple of things, Mrs. Pellew." Millie said.
"Please, Millie, my name is Amanda." There was a pause. "This is from my great aunt. She must have left it for me at Uncle Richard's." Another pause. "It's what I would call a matrons cap."
Pellew noted that her voice was flat. It obviously was not a welcome gift.
"What is that? MrsI mean, Amanda?" The servant asked.
"Women, married women, at least here in Boston, wear them. I always thought it to be a sign of subservience to their husbands." Amanda answered.
Out of curiosity, Pellew had opened the box when he brought it aboard. It was a white lace bonnet, made to fit close to the head with multiple ruffles and a tie to secure it. He had seen these, in different forms, all over Boston. It would cover that glorious head of hair completely. He understood the reference. A woman's hair was her crowning glory, to be kept only for her husband, and for sure, Amanda's was that. Red highlights in the dark brown tresses, thick grown, his hands could play forever in them, especially when they were loose on his bare chest-his eyes closed, the mental picture was overpowering 'No, no more of this' He thought, his body was beginning to react to his thoughts, but he could not tear himself away from the door. He stepped closer.
"I don't think I want to wear it." Amanda's voice came through the flimsy wood panel. "I am not ready to be a matron yet. I'm only twenty one!"
He heard Millie's voice next. "Well here's our newest arrival."
"Oh! It's so tiny! Look at its little belly swinging back and forth." Amanda exclaimed the joy in her voice a song to him. It was the first time in two days he had heard her even remotely happy. He had to smile at her words.
"It ought to, it's full of your cow's milk!" Millie said with a touch of distain.
"Captain?" The sentry's voice intruded on his eavesdropping. "You are wanted on deck, sir."
"Very well, I will come." He answered, finally moving from the corridor.
How she had talked Millie out onto the deck that morning, he would never know. He had never seen the woman outside of the main cabin area except to go ashore or run errands for Amanda in the ship since they had left Kingston. Now the two women walked the foredeck, almost in unison with his steps across the quarterdeck. He could not help but watch them, glancing out of the corner of his eye, never looking at them squarely.
He knew that she was doing the same thing. He had caught her eye once, only to receive a turn of the head and a flick of her green cloak as she turned around. After their conversation earlier in the day, she had waited an hour then went to find Charlie Hammond. She had come up empty handed. He knew she would, Charlie was gone at first light with the earliest boat ashore. There was a door closing between Charlie and himself, the more he thought about Charlie loosing her Thursday evening the angrier he became at the man.
Twenty turns later, he saw she had stopped and was looking at the city. Millie had gone below. He looked at his watch, almost two. There would be no one leaving the ship today. He counted the ships boats in the water, the three smaller boats and his barge were tied on, and only the launch remained at wharf side. Amanda's gaze left the city and turned to his barge. She had full use of it prior to this day. It had been an indulgence, he realized now. One he should not have allowed. She was spoiled. Maybe she always had been.
There were provisions coming aboard as well, he could see the purser and Jacobs with their ledgers making notes and marking off lists as each net of supplies was hoisted in. With their departure only five days hence, the supply boats and hoys would become more frequent. The powder was due on Tuesday.
They had stepped by each other in the waist, he had moved aside between two cannon to avoid touching her. He had felt her eyes on his back as he continued forward. Baines stood on the foredeck, close to where Amanda had just been walking, watching their passing. A stern look in the third officer's direction was enough to cause the man to return to his duties.
An example to his men. It was killing him inside.
The first watch had been called; he heard the tramp of the marine sentries as they exchanged places outside of the cabin companionway. He could only pick at his food. She was only a few feet away, behind the bulkhead. She had sent word by Grimes of an invitation to dine with her. He had sent back his politely worded refusal.
He filled his fourth glass of wine, each poured a little closer to the rim of the goblet. Dimly he was aware that his fingers were a little less responsive to his command, but they could still reach the glass.
Grimes rapped once and entered at Pellew's bidding. "I've come to clear your things away, sir." Edward pushed back from the table, keeping his wine glass in his hand. "You've not eaten a thing sir, are you well?"
His reply was slow in coming, but the words finally made it out. "That's none of your business."
"As you say, Captain." The steward piled the still loaded dishes on a tray and tidied the cabin. Finally, about ten minutes longer than was required for his tasks, the man made ready to withdraw. Pellew placed the almost full wine glass on the tray. Grimes opened the door and stood, almost waiting. "Will you require me to help you dress for bed?"
"No." The reply was curt.
"Very well, sir. Goodnight." The good night was said about three times as loud as it should have been. The door was shut with a bang.
What had gotten into the man? Pellew extinguished all the lanterns except the one next to his cot and was unbuttoning his weskit when a light knock sounded. He spun around, doing up the three buttons he had just opened. "Come."
She stood there, a light colored wrapper around her shift, her hair pulled back in a white scarf, the dark tendrils descending around her left shoulder and flowing onto her breast. His hand tightened on the chair back next to him. "Yes, Mrs. Pellew?" His tone was exactly what he would have used for an officer of the watch.
He was sure that her next words were to be "Oh, Edward." If they had been it would have broken his resolve completely. But he was mistaken. She stood silent in front of him, just as he had stood in front of his admiral, forty-eight hours before.
"Goodnight, Captain." She turned without waiting for him to answer, left the cabin and shut the door quietly between them.
"Good night, my love." He whispered, reaching out his hand toward where she had stood then letting it fall to his side.
He walked alone again the next morning. A light rain wetted the deck, and the mist obscured the town. He counted the boats again, only one missing, his barge. He frowned a little at that, but thought nothing further. He would not be going ashore today.
Hearing the church bells through the grayness, he went below to prepare for Sunday service. Church was already being rigged and his crew was beginning to assemble. All of them in their best clothing, newly cleaned in fresh water with regular soap, their hair combed and plaited by their mates. The Articles of War would do for today. The reminder of discipline would be a good thing for what he was sure they were to face in the next weeks.
She still had not appeared as he left the coach, now dressed himself in his best uniform and carrying his hat. Millie was just reaching for the knob on the main cabin door. "Mrs. Grimes?" He opened the door for her.
"Captain." She answered.
"Is Mrs. Pellew ready to come up for service?"
"I'm sorry sir, did not you know? She went ashore with Captain Hammond early this morning. She did leave something. Let me get it for you." The older woman slipped by him into the darkened cabin. She returned in seconds. "Here." She handed him the note.
"Thank you." He jostled his hat under his arm, crushing it slightly in his haste to rip open the folded paper. He stepped onto the spar deck to read it.
"Captain." He said aloud, shaking his head. 'Still no Teddy, or even Edward' he thought.
He read the rest in silence: "I have gone into town to go to church with father, Uncle Richard and little Emmie. I will have dinner with papa as well, and then be returning to the ship probably before the first watch. Come join us for dinner if you wish. If you have need of me I will be at the house on Mill Creek."
He folded the note, looked at her writing for a moment, then placed it in an inside pocket. He would be waiting outside the church for her.
The three of them walked to the rented house on Mill Creek. Amanda had rolled her hands in the tails of her shawl and Pellew grasped his behind his back, both under the cover of their cloaks. Lawrence didn't seem to notice the coolness between them, and it seemed as if she was not willing to let her father know there was anything wrong in the Pellew household.
At dinner, they were seated at a small table, only six places, with Lawrence at one end and Amanda at the other. Edward seated her, and then sat next to her on one side. About half way through the meal, he felt her leg against his. He pulled away; her answer was a sharp intake of breath. He looked at her, her eyes were glistening, water beginning to pool there.
She excused herself from the table; he rose and pulled her chair back but didn't follow her into the back of the house. He sat back down, looking at their almost untouched plates. He picked up his silver.
"What just happened here, Edward?" Lawrence asked from his end of the table.
"Nothing." He replied. "If I left her here, would she have a place with you?" He asked staring straight ahead and laying down his useless knife and fork, for he had no appetite.
"Yes, of course. I may not always be the perfect father, and I have been cruel to her this last week, but I would never turn her away. There is almost a wall of ice between you two. Are you thinking of dissolving the marriage?"
"No, never. I love her." He turned to look at Lawrence. "We are going into battle, Mr. Endicott. I don't know what will happen. The admiral has never said it openly, but he has ordered my powder stores double what is required to replace what I have used, and he has not complained about the cost.
"I do not want to carry her into harms way." He continued. "But I will give her the choice. If I am sure she has a place here, I will be more comfortable asking her."
Endicott put his own silver down. "Richard would have taken her in as well."
"I do not want her with them. Staying with the Hitchbournes, any of them. I don't want them having access to her."
"I understand. Wait just a moment." Lawrence rose from the table and walked through a short hallway into another room. Edward heard some papers rustle and then a silence.
Amanda had not returned and he was beginning to be a little anxious, but he remained seated at the table, toying with the glass of wine that the housekeeper had kept full for him. He touched her fork with the ends of his fingers, moving it slightly.
Lawrence returned carrying a small box, it reminded him of the box that Amanda had in the ordinary. "Here, Edward. Richard gave me this at church this morning and said to get it to you privately. I think that the leaders of this little party we had the other night are trying to apologize. Take a look at it. I was quite impressed by the work. It took three of them to do it and in only two days. Copley doesn't usually work that fast. Paul did the actual work." He stayed behind Pellew, looking over his shoulder.
Edward opened the box. It was for Amanda, obviously, for he would never wear something like this. He picked the piece of jewelry up. It was a locket, about an inch and a half wide. It was engraved silver and the work was excellent. He knew the Altamira by sight; the tiny Aztec feathered serpent figurehead was instantly identifiable. He turned it over; he was shocked at what he saw.
"Do I really look like this?" His own face stared back at him, "So stern, almost forbidding."
"Look at the eyes, Edward, the merriment is in the lines around your eyes. Anyone who knows you well would not say that you were stern. The lips are almost smiling, it looks like you are being stern to keep from laughing." Lawrence sat back down. "I've seen you look at her like that when she's not aware you are watching. Copley does a good job, and he has only seen you twice. Once at his house when you took her there and again at Richard's house at dinner. You didn't notice him did you?"
"No. I was overwhelmed that night."
"I know. Give it to her for Christmas. She will not stay here in Boston." Lawrence said as he picked up his own glass. "You two have to get over ----Amanda! Are you all right?" Pellew tucked the box in his lap, slipping the locket into it and laying it in the chair seat next to him. He rose to arrange her chair for her.
"Of course father, just a little queasy. I am fine now." She said as she sat back down, very careful not to touch Edward, as he returned to his seat, even with the hem of her skirt.
"Amanda, Edward, you are going to the dance at Faneuil Hall tomorrow, are you not?"
"I don't kn-" She started to answer.
"Yes, we are." Edward answered, cutting her off. This was the first he had heard of the festivity, Amanda had not told him and evidentially was not going to tell him. That meant she was not going to go. 'She will go, and she will enjoy her last few days in Boston.' He thought. He had a visit to the Admiral to make before that event, and a favor to ask of him.
They were in the passageway to the main cabin before they spoke again, outside of the pleasantries when he had assisted her down into his barge. Preparing to help her with off with her wrap, he pulled her hood back and in doing so he touched the lace of her "matron's" cap. He was beginning to hate it. 'I don't think I like her as a subservient woman. I prefer the fire of before. How do I get that back and have her keep consideration of my position and the ship? Can I have both?' He handed her cloak to her.
"Captain," He almost winced at the words said so devoid of feeling. "Thank you for escorting me to the ship." She said as she opened the door to the cabin. Her voice was flat and there was no love in it. He was behind her and was glad he could not see her face. "Captain-"
"Yes." There was a pause, he waited, hand on the door to the coach.
"Nothing. Good night, Captain." The door shut between them. She had not even waited for his response.
Within five minutes, he stuck his head back out the door. "Pass the word for Grimes."
The sentry called out for the steward. Ten minutes after that a slab of cheese, some fresh bread and a knife to cut them with and a bottle of wine stood on his table. An hour later, when the watch changed above his head, the bottle was almost empty and the captain of the Altamira was lying in his cot, half dressed and dead asleep.
'Summer' He thought as he climbed the ladder to the quarterdeck. He smiled to himself, the three prizes were still behind the Altamira, one privateer, the sister ship to the Altamira. He could see Rimble standing behind the quartermaster, behind that ship two sloops captured from Yankee smugglers. Young Pengarth commanded the last one. That lad had grown.
It was Baines who stood beside him, the man turned to show a hideous, half healed slash across his face, one eye obscured by a patch. A wicked grin appeared on the third officer's countenance. Edward backed up a step. "My God, what happened?"
"Why, Captain, can't you remember?"
"No." Pellew felt his face screw itself into a frown. He turned forward. There were only a handful of men at work; the decks were spotless and pristine. But, he could see, here and there the remains of what must have been a pitched battle. Peering through the lines, he could see right forward.
Boston Harbor. The waves were glistening in the summer sunshine. His attention was drawn to the physician, Reed, who had asked permission to approach him.
"Well, Captain Pellew," He said as he addressed Edward. "With these ships bought in or sold at prize court, you will have enough of a fortune to come out from under your wife's shadow."
"Indeed." Edward kept his voice non-committal. It was unusual of the doctor to speak of these things, and in that tone of voice. He turned once again to look at the prizes. The privateer, bought in to service as a sloop, would set him up quite well.
'We are at anchor,' He thought, 'How did we do that?' He turned the prizes were moored around the Altamira like trophies. The third officer was with him still.
"Home, Captain Pellew, we are going home. It's about time. I miss England. When I transferred into this ship, it was with the intention of going to Portsmouth. I did not expect to be sent off on patrol duty." Baines said.
"Well, we do what we must, Mr. Baines." He replied. There was something wrong, everything was so silent, not even a creak of the shrouds as the ship rose and fell with the waves. There was no one on deck except he and Baines.
"You will be able to take Mrs. Pellew home this time." Baines commented.
"Yes." He said. 'What business is it of yours if I take her home or not.' The thought followed on. It was forgotten in a moment as he once again thought about the small fortune these ships would place in his hands.
Something was wrong. He could not put his finger on what it was, but there was a non-reality about the Altamira. Why couldn't he see the town? It seemed that all he could see was Hitchbourne's wharf and the small boat that was setting out for the Altamira.
"Mr. Baines, get the sharpshooters into the tops again."
There was no answer. Baines was gone. The boat came on.
Silently, almost as deathly silent as the Altamira, but not quite, he could hear the sound of the oars as they backed water, the launch hooked on to the side. "Pellew!" It was Tom Hitchbourne. He looked into the boat, looked closely; no, Amanda was not there this time. "Come on. We've come to take you across. Your friend Charlie Hammond is waiting there."
"Why did not he come with you?" Edward said, his hand tightening on the rail.
"He is taking care of other things, he sent me."
Charlie Hammond would never send Tom Hitchbourne to get him. What was going on here? Hitchbourne's face bore a smirk, almost one of some kind of triumph.
"I'll call away my own boat. I will follow you." He said.
"No, this is faster. They want you on the shore. Your Admiral Montague is waiting there too!"
He evidentially did not have a say in the matter, he found himself on shore, with a coach in front of him. He could hear Tom's laughter behind him as he stepped in, the sailor who had helped him save Amanda served as the coachman shut the door.
The ride was short; he was let out at the house on Mill Street. There were a lot of people here. He strained his memory to identify them. Most had been at that family supper, but there were some that he had met other places. There were a few Navy men there, but no sign of the Admiral or of Hammond. Come to think of it, no sign of Lawrence or Mandy.
The people made a path for him to the door. It was totally silent here too, the men and women in the dooryard were moving and talking, their lips were moving, but no sound. None at all.
Hammond, in full dress uniform, opened the door and stepped through. "Charlie! What are you doing here?" Pellew asked, a grin lighting his face. "I thought you were in the Falcon off New York! Did you see? Did you see my three prizes! Amanda will be so proud!"
Charlie was silent, concern in his eyes. "My God, man, has no one told you?" He finally said.
Charlie pushed the door open and led him into the house. He automatically turned to the right, toward the main room, where he and Amanda had eaten Sunday dinner. The Admiral, also in his number one uniform, stood between him and the interior of the room. "Edward, I'm sorry-" The old man had started to say.
Pellew pushed the Admiral out of the way. He could see the black drape over the sideboard mirror, and across three chairs lay a familiar shaped box."Oh no." The words were shaky; he crossed the room in two strides. "OH AMANDA!" He screamed.
He sat bolt upright in his cot, setting it swinging. He was wide-awake.
The lantern was still lit; the remains of his bread and cheese still were on the table. He plucked at his shirt, pulling the damp material away from his body. He looked down at his fingers. They were shaking.
He must have been dreaming. No this was no dream, he covered his face. This had been a nightmare. He could hear a commotion outside of the cabin.
"You can do whatever you need to Sergeant O'Hearn, but I am going through that door." It was her voice. He drew a long breath, she was still alive! "You can call the officer of the watch, you can shoot me if you wish, but I am going to go to my husband. Now get out of the way!"
She must have shoved the marine over; he heard the musket clatter to the deck and a muffled oath by the man. He saw the knob begin to turn as he heard the footfalls, as several men must have run across the quarterdeck above his head. He found he was still shaking so badly that he was unable to climb out to the deck. Her hands found his as she knelt beside him.
She had not even thought to put on a wrapper; her nightgown clung to her body as she reached forward to touch his face.
He could see Baines and the marine officer as well as O'Hearn at the cabin door. She turned to follow his gaze.
"It's all right, Mr.Baines, it was just a nightmare." She said looking over her shoulder. She stood beside the cot, not letting go of his hand; she held the box still as he started to climb out. "You may go back to your duties." Her eyes found his again. "We'll be fine here."
The officer touched his hat. "Yes, Mrs. Pellew." He herded the marines out of the coach.
"He just took an order from you." Was all the captain could say to his wife.
"Yes." She answered. "Enough of this foolishness
Edward Pellew. Come to bed. Our bed." Never removing her
hand from his grasp, she led him into the main cabin and shut
and locked the door behind them.