A Life of Duty: Interlude
by Dutch

Wearily, Archie descended from the quarterdeck at the end of his watch.
He knew Dr. Sebastian was waiting for him, but the second letter from
Josephine rested heavily in his pocket. On his way, he pulled the note
from his pocket and decided to read it before going to see the doctor. He
continued on to the wardroom, and closed himself into his room. With
trembling fingers, he broke the seal.

For long moments, he simply looked at the sheet covered in her
handwriting, not reading a word. After a time, he shook himself to
attention, and began to read.

"My love,

I've contacted a clergyman to perform the ceremony.

He will be available tomorrow late afternoon. Is that alright? I will
press him further if the Indefatigable has orders to sail before then.

I've arranged with him to use the standard ceremony in 'The Book of Common
Prayer'. I trust you agree. If not, please send word, so we can arrange
for a more formal ceremony.

Have you sent word to your family? I'm sorry to have so many questions,
my love, but time runs short, and there are many preparations to be made.

Ever yours,
Josephine"

*The wedding night. Oh God, what do I do? So soon... Horatio, why did
you have to go and die? One of your ill-timed and unfunny jokes would do
well about now.* his thoughts whirled in his head. Without realizing it,
he began hyperventilating. Shaking, he rose to his feet, and got out pen
and paper.

"My dearest,

I am sorry I cannot help you more with the arrangements, but my duties
aboard ship keep me here. What you have arranged so far is fine. My
captain and some of the other officers will need to be invited, so plan the
dinner for a large group. I will write again with more definite numbers.

'The Book of Common Prayer' would be my choice, you know me so well. I
eagerly await tomorrow.

Yours,
Archie"

He gulped as he wrote the last sentence. *What am I doing?* he asked
himself. He folded and sealed the note. With a ghost of a smile, he added
it to the growing stack of papers in his breast pocket. He straightened
his uniform, and rose to his feet.

*Dr. Sebastian awaits.* he thought as he opened his cabin door. He nodded
at the other officers in the wardroom, and left to head to the sick berth.
His feet felt leaden as he made his way to Dr. Sebastian.