"Susanna" Chapter 4 - Reunion
by Beth

At the same moment as the men were enjoying their dinner, Lady Anne Fairchild
was just entering the home of the Fellowes' and exchanging the usual
greetings and pleasantries. Except of course, that Anne had something to tell
and this was a most important and cherished thing for her.

"You cannot imagine the goings on at home, my dears," she said to both Lucy,
Howard and to Elizabeth as well. "Frankly, it is such a relief to be here in
this oasis of calm, if I may say so!"

Lucy laughed. Since when was a home with a newborn, especially one with an
especially bad case of colic, an oasis of calm!

"You just will not believe it!" Lady Anne prattled on. "One of our most
illustrious frigates happens to pull into port this afternoon. Indefatigable,
I think it was. Fine, you say, what's the worry about that? But wouldn't it
have to happen that its Captain comes to meet with the Port Admiral just as
he is having tea with MY husband in OUR home, wouldn't you know, in our very
sitting room! And what does he do, why, the poor man very nearly drops dead
at my poor Anthony's feet! Right there in our parlor! Turns out that he had
been shot! My darlings I have never seen so much blood. Well, with all the
fuss, the doctor, the guest rooms, all of these officers hovering about
downstairs, and me trying to get ready to come here -"

Lucy had paled, her hand flown to her mouth in horror, her eyes wide with
fear. In the rear corner, Elizabeth muffled a sob.

"My dears, what is it? Why, is it something I said, oh, perhaps all this talk
of blood, and you having just had a baby, oh, how thoughtless of me -"

"No!" Lucy cried out. "Please stop! Please! Anne, you must remember, did you
say it was the Indefatigable? Are you sure?"

"Well, yes, of course I did, my poor love. Whyever does that make a
difference about the blood everywhere -"

Lucy gasped again. "And you said it was her captain who was hurt?" she nearly
pleaded. "Is that right?"

"Well, yes, dear, that is what I said - that is who I refer to. Goodness, I
must say that I do not under-"

Lucy streamed away to the stairway, nearby her mother covered her face in her
hands. "Susanna!" she cried. "Please, come at once! Susanna! Please!"

Anne looked up to the stairs and saw as a most lovely lady appeared at the
top of the railing. What an exquisite dress, she first thought - such rich
shades of burgundy and cream colored silk.

"Lucy, my dearest, do you mean to wake the baby?" the lady replied, with a
strange sort of smile - which, promptly evaporated when she saw her sweet
cousin was truly distressed. "My dear, what is it? Oh, you must tell me!
Madam," she nodded in greeting to Lady Anne.

"Oh Susanna, I am so sorry. .." Lucy stammered. "It's Edward, he's been hurt,
very badly I'm afraid."

Susanna blanched, and drew her hand to her chest. "What do you mean?" How do
you know that?"

"My dear," Lucy gestured to Anne. "This is Lady Anne Fairchild." Susanna
nodded to her again. Anne's face had now faded to one of such sympathy
towards Susanna, as she began to put these astonishing pieces together. Lucy
continued. "Her husband is the Lord Mayor. Apparently the Indefatigable
arrived into Port today from France." Susanna nodded again, trying to follow
all of this. "Well, apparently Edward was meeting with Admiral Winslow at
the Lord Mayor's, and then-"

"Yes," piped in Lady Anne, "and then he suddenly collapsed, my dear. It turns
out that he had been shot - a wound to his right shoulder, I believe. Well,
of course we sent for the doctor right away, and I am sure that we have done
everything there is to be -"

Susanna snapped into action. "Lucy, please have my coach brought around. I
must leave at once. You must understand, please?"

"Of course, dearest, of course. Darling, " she said to her husband, Sir
Howard who had, until only just now, sort of loomed at the back of the foyer,
at this exchange. "Please, see to Susanna's coach, could you?"

At the mention of Sir Edward's name, Howard had moved forward. Everyone in
the family would be most concerned for his condition. "Of course, she must
leave at once. Right away, dear."

Susanna was hurriedly putting on her cloak and hat, and as soon as Lady Anne
confirmed that of course Susanna would want to stay at her home, and that of
course she would be most welcome (well, she thought, where else should she be
but at her husband's side). Susanna asked Lucy to please have Eliza pack up
the rest of her things and have them sent around to the Lord Mayor's. It was
all seen to and settled in but a few moments, and in a whirlwind of frenzy
Susanna found herself alone in the carriage, but a short drive away from
Edward's side. Her mind was a turmoil of attempts to reconcile the shock with
the immediate rationales, prayers and convictions she forced herself through.
Of course, he would be all right, of course he could not die. And yet, was
that why God had allowed her to be here in Plymouth, at this moment? Was it
fate that she should be at his side, when - NO! She could not allow those
thoughts to creep in! She couldn't! She cried again, reaching for her
handkerchief. Edward, her beloved Edward.

How did it feel to be shot, she suddenly wondered, was it the most awful pain
imaginable? Well, it certainly couldn't be worse than childbirth Susanna
reckoned, and then immediately wondered where in God's name that thought had
come from. Good grief, get hold of yourself, Susanna, she thought. She made a
mental note of things to be attended to - she must have word sent to home,
their home, in Exmouth, so that the servants would know that she most likely
not be back home by Friday. She wanted to know every detail from the doctor -
what had happened, what had been done, and what needed to be done now. Oh,
and she hoped she would see Mr. Bracegirdle, or perhaps even Mr. Hornblower.
She wanted to know all about this latest mission the Indefatigable had been
on. She had only had those two letters from Edward these past six weeks. The
first, written hastily while still at Admiralty House in London, confirming
that they were in fact to set sail early that morning and that while he
fervently wished it otherwise, he could not reveal anything to her about
their destination, or their mission. He loved her utterly, he told her and
she knew it, and he could not wait to return once again to her arms. To tell
the children his apology for his abrupt departure and to beg their
forgiveness. And that they must study their lessons in earnest. She could
have recited that last part word for word - it was the same proclamation each
time. Then, another letter had arrived once the Katherine had reached port in
Plymouth. Edward wrote that thus far their mission had been a success, and
not to worry as to his absence despite the return of the other 3 ships. The
Indefatigable had a different assignment and he would return at the earliest
possible moment. He trusted her journey from London back to Exmouth had been
without incident, it was, and he had also asked about his fruit trees, given
that it was now early June. He told her of the book he was reading, and
otherwise wrote some truly wonderful words of love and praise to her. He
offered Mr. Hornblower and Mr. Bracegirdle's regards as well. Susanna
breathed deeply again, she was beginning to feel calmer - more ready to face
what awaited her. She felt the carriage make a sharp turn and then stop. As
she peered out of the window, she saw that they were at the gatehouse to what
was obviously the Lord Mayor's residence. They were here. Edward, was here.

Her magnificent coach rambled up the carriageway - the Mayor heard it first
from his chair in the study, where the gentlemen had continued on after
dinner, for their cigars and brandy. He heard the servants of the house
scurrying to the front door. Admiral Winslow wondered aloud if he might be
expecting anyone. Just the return of his wife, Anthony confirmed, and it was
far too early for her to back yet. The Admiral wondered, aloud again, if it
might be someone from Admiralty House, or from the Indefatigable. Curiosity
got the better of them, and they all got up and went down the hall towards
the foyer.

Outside, the carriage ground to a halt and the coachman hurried down and over
to the door. "Thank you, Charles" said Susanna, as she grasped his arm to
descend down the steps. Charles went to the front door where the waitstaff
was assembled to tell them to please inform the Lord Mayor that Lady Susanna
Pellew had arrived. On hearing the name Pellew, and recalling it from earlier
this afternoon, the butler immediately ushered her into the foyer. As she
stepped in, she saw Mr. Hornblower, and he saw her. She felt herself start to
lose her composure and she brought her hand to her face to cover it. Horatio
immediately went to her.

"My Lady..." He said it with such empathy that she went to him and without a
moment's thought he immediately opened his arms to her and she rushed into
his secure embrace. At that moment, Susanna cared not a whit for convention.
She wanted, she needed, the comfort that Mr. Hornblower offered her, as the
other gentlemen assembled stood there dumbstruck. Finally, as Susanna stood
back and took off her hat and regained her composure, the Lord Mayor stepped
forward to greet her.

"Lady Pellew, an honor, my Lady. You must forgive our lapse in manners, my
Lady, er, I am Lord Anthony Fairchild, the Mayor Plymouth. This is Admiral
Lord Winslow." he said, gesturing to his friend. " Well, you are most welcome
to our home. I must, however confess that I am rather confused as to how it
is that you are here- "

" Lady Fellowes is my dear cousin, my Lord. I have been visiting with her
these past several days, on the occasion of her first child, as I believe
your wife, and perhaps you are aware, Sir." She said it quickly and with some
detachment. Each moment of explanation to him was one moment taken from
Edward's bedside. What else did the man need to know?

"And your wife, My Lord Mayor, was so very kind as to have informed me, once
we were introduced, of my husband's situation." She continued. "At which
news, as I trust you can imagine, and no doubt, understand, I immediately set
out for your home. I thank you for your welcome, and now, which of you is
Doctor Adamson?"

Mr. Hornblower nearly had to stifle a chuckle in spite of the levity of the
situation. She was truly amazing. You would think this was the mirror image
of the Captain holding forth in his cabin.

Doctor Adamson stepped forward. He liked this Lady already. Well, he liked
anyone who, when warranted, gave a flying fig about protocol, and cut through
endless pleasantries to get to the point of the matter.

"I am Doctor Adamson, My Lady." He smiled and put forth his hand. Susanna
shook it firmly and regarded him as though her life depended on his next
words to her. "Tell me honestly, sir, I pray you, how fares my husband?"

"My Lady, I will of course tell you plainly, as you wish me to. The wound
was not so deep, but nonetheless your husband sustained quite a loss of
blood. I was able to extract the ball, and indeed most brave was your husband
as I did so, and he is now resting comfortably. That, and the laudanum I gave
him. He is terribly weakened, to be sure and there is the very real risk of
infection and fever to concern us for awhile." He reported, as she hung on
every word. "We shall just have to see how it goes, I am afraid. I shall be
but a brief ride away should any change occur this evening, and I shall call
on the Captain in the morning. And, with that, I shall bid you and these
gentlemen good evening." He went to fetch his satchel and his cloak. Susanna
returned her attention to the Lord Mayor.

"Please, take me to Edward" she said, urgently.

"Of course, my Lady," he replied. But Mr. Hornblower stayed by her side.
Perhaps I could show Lady Pellew to the Captain's chamber, my Lord. And, you
can see to your guests, and arrange for rooms to be readied for her."
Hornblower offered.

"Yes, Mr. Hornblower, thank you most kindly." said the Mayor, grateful for
the advice. Admiral Winslow said his good nights to Lady Pellew and the
others, and ushered out by the Mayor, he and the doctor departed for
Admiralty House.

Once in his room, Susanna had eyes only for Edward. He was still deeply
asleep, lying on his back, but propped slightly towards the left, so that
nothing pressed against his shoulder. His right arm was held close to his
body, and through the open collar of his nightshirt she could see the heavy
wrapping of linen. She sat gently down onto the bed, careful so as not to
disturb him, but so that she could stroke his forehead and very gently lean
in to kiss him. She whispered some words to him, words of love and
reassurance, and caressed his cheek. His skin was cool, and his breathing
deep and even. As she carefully took his left hand in hers, she heard
someone clear his throat in the rear of the room. She turned around to see
dear Mr. Henson, standing rather hesitantly next to Mr. Hornblower. She
smiled.

"Mr. Henson, how wonderful that you are here."

He smiled with relief. "My Lady, if I may say, how fortunate that you, are
here!"

"Has there been any change since the Doctor was here, Henson? I spoke to him
downstairs."

"No, My Lady. Don't think I've seen ëim move a twitch since ëe left. ëCourse
it was quite a dose of laudanum he got, I reckon, what with the pain, and
all"

"Yes, I expect so." Carefully, she got up from the bed and went towards him.
"Henson," she said affectionately, "you look like you're ready to drop. Why
don't you leave us awhile, and get yourself some refreshment, or have a
rest."

After the appropriate protests, Henson was insistently relieved by Susanna
and off he went. First to get some supper, and then to see that proper
arrangements had been made for the Lady, and for Eliza, once she arrived.

Susanna and Horatio brought their chairs close together before the fire.
Susanna positioned hers so that she could still see Edward. But, if luck was
on their side, he would sleep peacefully through the remainder of the night
and there would be sign of fever.

There was so much she wanted to ask Mr. Hornblower. She yearned to know about
this most recent campaign, what day to day life was like on the ship, did
Edward ever speak of her, of the children, of home? Probably not, she
surmised, he was so bloody private. Hornblower in turn bit his lip to keep
from blurting out all of the things he wanted to know - how did she manage
it? What did this remarkable captain think of him, really think of him? Did
she know that her husband had twice saved his life - most recently by
disobeying an order and returning to Muzillac to rescue his men? Did she know
anything about what had happened to them? To him? Dear God, to Mariette?
After a few more comfortable moments of staring the firelight, Susanna broke
the ice.

"Mr. Hornblower, I must confess there is so much I would like to ask you,"
she began tentatively. "My husband would surely disapprove, I fear." She
shook her head with a smile.

"My Lady, I confess that I am bursting with questions myself, though I fear I
am already too familiar."

"No, Mr. Hornblower. As you must surely realize, it is not often that I have
one of my husband's most trusted officers all to myself in conversation." She
sighed. "Nor, is it often indeed that I have my own husband for such a
thing..." her voice trailed off and she stared over at Edward.

Horatio had an opening and he decided to take it. "My Lady, if I may, what,
what is it like to be you? I mean how do you manage it? The long separations,
the anxiety....Oh, please forgive me, I know I am now being too bold, but I
have had much occasion to think on it lately. How shall I ever hope to find
someone who will put up with a life such as the one I have chosen? You must
have some secret, Lady Susanna, you must!"

She laughed gently. God love him. "I don't suppose I have really ever thought
about it, Mr. Hornblower, as you must think I have. Life has just sort of
happened to me, as I suspect is the case for most women in our time." She
smoothed out her dress and relaxed back into her chair. Despite her worry for
Edward, she felt herself beginning to relax.

"My father sat in the Lords, Mr. Hornblower. Instead of the sea, his life was
the Parliament. As my mother detested London, we very rarely went there
with him. When he was home, he seemed to care more for his constituency than
his family. But, I don't know, I guess I just accepted it because I knew of
nothing else. Make no mistake, we were a happy family, I think, but perhaps
rather aloof about it. Yet, when I visited with friends or my cousins, and
saw that their fathers were in fact actually in residence, I honestly never
noticed that much of a difference. I was always closer to my mother, anyway,
and she, of course was the one who was there for us. I know that she and my
father loved each other very much, but I think it was a more muted kind of
love, do you know? When I think on how I feel about my husband" she said,
staring intently at Edward with nearly palpable longing, suddenly on the
verge of a blush. "Well, I guess I just know that I have indeed been very
blessed." And she left it at that.

They talked well into the night, sipping brandy, sharing their experiences.
Horatio at last told Susanna of the ill fated Muzillac incident. Her heart
leapt as she learned of the lives lost and the sheer madness in sending those
troops in there the first place. Yet as Horatio described the departure from
Muzillac with such emotion and such vivid recall, Susanna suspected it had
exacted a harsher toll than one of mere defeat.

"It was more than that, was it not, Mr. Hornblower?"

"Aye, My Lady....There was, a girl...The schoolteacher to the children. A
lovely creature - someone who had been truly exhilarated by the revolution,
don't you see!" He saw her all over again. He sighed. "First, we turned her
life into chaos- then, we crushed her spirit...And, then, ...." his voice
broke.

"She was killed?" Susanna half asked, half answered the question. "You cared
for her very much, I see that."

"And I am responsible!" He described those last frenzied moments, their
attempt to flee the village together.

"You tried to help her, Horatio. You tried to save her, Sir!" Susanna put her
arm upon his. "I wish...oh, I so wish I had words of comfort for you, Mr.
Hornblower. You have surely suffered a loss. From what you have told me,
though, I think she cared for you as well. She would not blame you, Sir. And
she would most surely not wish you to blame yourself!"

He smiled. God bless her. They toasted each other with their snifters of
brandy. Hornblower realized it was well after midnight. The captain was still
sleeping soundly - indeed he had not even moved or made a sound. Hornblower
had to get back to the ship - no doubt Mr. Bracegirdle and the other officers
would want to know the very latest. On his exit, Susanna went to her chamber
and changed into her nightdress and dressing gown. She took one of the
pillows from the bed, and one of the blankets from the cupboard. It was a
very lovely room, she finally realized once she had had a proper look at it.
The bed had been turned down, the fire set, and a candle burning steadily on
the nightstand. But, she had no intention of using it tonight, other than for
changing. She returned to Edward's bedside and made herself comfortable in
the large upholstered chair by the bed. She undid her hair, and brushed out
the long curls into smooth, shiny ripples. She reached once more for his
hand, and took it into hers. To her immeasurable joy, she felt him weakly
curl his hand around hers. Perhaps it was only an instinctive reaction, but
perhaps it wasn't! Hands entwined, she snuggled up in her chair and within
moments was soundly asleep.

She was awakened with a start at around eight the next morning, by Henson,
who was concerned that she could not have been comfortable sleeping like that
for the whole night. They both looked over to the Captain. He still slept
soundly, and when Susanna placed her hand on his forehead, he was cool to her
touch. They both sighed with relief - there was no fever. Henson gently
lifted up the collar of the Captain's nightshirt to see if there was any sign
of infection to the wound, but from what he could see, it looked fine. Oh,
God be thanked, thought Susanna. Henson reminded her that the Doctor was to
return at around 10 that morning, so Susanna decided to return to her room to
make herself more presentable. It was at about that time that she realized
that she was starving and so she asked Eliza to get her a tray as well.

Edward awoke in another hour or so, still rather dazed and most certainly
disoriented. He opened his eyes slowly and blinked several times to get his
vision to clear. Henson was peering down at him, looking somewhat anxious.

"Captain, sir, so glad to see you awake, Sir!"

Edward looked about the room weakly, closing his eyes again in an effort to
shake off the awful fog he seemed to be under. Where the hell was he? What
had happened? Perhaps he had been dreaming? He had some memories of being in
awful pain, of strange people gathered around him, he even recalled hearing
Susanna's reassuring voice sometime during the night. As all these thoughts
circled in his mind, he opened his eyes again. Henson was still staring down
at him with concern. He took a deep breath and tried to sit up, but was
immediately seized with such stabbing and searing pain through his shoulder,
that he fell back against the pillows, panting for breath. Henson gently
pressed down upon his chest, lest the Captain got any foolish ideas of giving
that sort of move another try.

"Now, you just lie still, Sir. You've got to rest easy for awhile. We don't
want to re-open that wound, now, do we?"

"Henson," the Captain breathed, his eyes still closed. "Where am I? What time
is it, man?"

"You're at the Lord Mayor's, Sir, in Plymouth, Sir...It's just after 10 in
the morning on Tuesday. You've been out for quite awhile, I must say - since
yesterday evening. But then the doctor gave you enough Laudanum to choke a
horse, I'd reckon. He said he'd be by this morning to see how you were
doing, Sir, to make sure there's no sign of infection or fever, but I should
say, Sir, that I think he'll be pleased. Oh, and there is someone very
special here to see you, Sir, I can guarantee that, I can..." Henson was
actually relishing his role as nursemaid - it wasn't very often that the
tables were turned with a man like Captain Pellew and he was going to enjoy
this. And, while he thought, several times, of reminding the Captain that had
he only listened to him when he'd first been shot that he might not be
bedridden now, well, let us just say that on further reflection he thought
the better of it.

Pellew tried to relax against the pillows and force himself to stay still. It
was hard. Even dazed and groggy, his mind was racing. So, it wasn't a dream,
then? Who were these people? Whose tender voice had he heard? Who was that?
He was about to ask Henson, when Susanna stepped back into the room.

She was beside him in a flash, and she leaned in to kiss him gently. She
smiled as he stared at her in wonder, as she tenderly brushed the hair back
from his forehead. He seemed to want to say something to her, but first she
pressed his lips with her fingertip and, then, gently, she helped him drink a
few sips of water. He softly stared up at her from his pillows.

Slowly, he whispered. "It is you...I thought I must be dreaming...How...did
you get here?"

As he spoke, he reached up with a great deal of effort to touch her cheek and
caress its smooth silkiness. He wasn't able to hold his arm up for very long,
and even the effort of talking had begun to exhaust him. As she explained
Susanna reached up to take his hand and gently patted his arm back down to
his side, and smoothed the comforter back up over his body. She told him that
she been visiting with Lucy, when word had reached her. The Fairchilds had
been wonderful hosts, she also mentioned. But, most important was that he
needed to rest and stay as quiet and still as possible. And, he needed water.
She took up the glass again and helped him to drink a few more sips, and she
asked him if he was hungry. He shook his head - right now it seemed to be all
he could do to stay awake, let alone think about food. Susanna reminded
herself to ask the cook to heat up some thin soup or broth for Edward - it
might be all he would be able to manage today.

The day went on pretty much as it had begun. Edward slept through the
majority of it, waking intermittently for small periods of time - enough to
have another few sips of water, or soup, or to engage in the briefest of
conversations. Even so, a steady parade of visitors streamed in and out.
First, of course, the doctor, who was delighted, and indeed most relieved to
find his patient free of both fever and infection. Then Mr. Bracegirdle, Lord
Fairchild, and of course Admiral Winslow. Everyone was pleased that the
Captain's recovery seemed well underway, and Henson and Susanna were most
diligent protectors of their invalid -insuring that no one overstayed his
welcome and overly tired Edward. By nightfall, the pain seemed to have come
back on rather badly and he had difficulty falling into a restful sleep. It
took a bit of convincing, but finally Susanna was able to get him to take the
laudanum, and the remainder of the night passed without further incident.

As Susanna stepped into Edward's room on Wednesday morning, having slept in
herself till well past eight, she immediately caught a whiff of shaving soap
and lime. It smelled wonderful. Edward was lying back against the pillows,
apparently asleep, with several dispatches and other sheets of paper strewn
in front of him, his quill fallen from his hand. Susanna smiled - so he'd
tried to write with his left hand, had he? That must have been a challenge!
He was indeed freshly shaven, his hair had been coaxed back into a proper
queue, and even his face seemed to be regaining its tan. But, as she went to
gather up the loose paper and the quill Susanna saw that his breakfast tray
had hardly been touched. This would never do, she fretted. He had had but a
few sips of soup yesterday. How was he supposed to get well if he wasn't
eating anything? The rustle of the papers, or perhaps the lavender scent of
Susanna's hair roused Edward from his nap and he awoke. He smiled as he saw
her.

"Good morning, my love, how are you feeling today?" she asked pleasantly.
"You certainly look much improved!"

"Yes, my dear," he nodded. "I do feel rather more like I have returned to the
living today, I think."

"But, you hardly touched your breakfast!"

"I did," he protested weakly. "But, it was- I guess, I just got tired..."

"Then you must let me help you." She sat beside him and reached for the
napkin.

"Susanna, what are you - -" he said as she unfolded the napkin over his
chest and tucked it under his chin. "Susanna, please, you cannot be serious!"

She had taken the bowl from his tray and was stirring it gently with the
spoon. She looked up at him in all earnestness.

"Madam, this is most unseemly," he argued again.

"Edward, listen to me," she started. "You and I both know that in a matter of
a very few days, against the doctor's orders, and certainly my own wishes and
better judgment, you are going to be back on that ship of yours. After 14
years of marriage I confess I have learned that there are some things about
you that I simply cannot change, your determination being one of them. Fine,
understood, I assure you. But, dear Sir, the least you can do for me, the
very least, is to permit me to do all that I can to so as to send you back to
the Indefatigable in as fit a state as possible, and that cannot be
accomplished unless you eat!"

And with that final rather forceful utterance, her eyebrows raised, she
picked up the spoon and positioned it firmly in front of his mouth.

Edward regarded it with a wary but defeated glance and then looked up at her.
There was no chance of mercy at this point.

"Are you quite sure, Madam, that you were not a Naval officer in a previous
life?" he suggested.

She burst out laughing, and held onto the spoon for dear life. "What, and not
the King himself? Surely you could aim higher than officer, darling!"

They both laughed, and she leaned in to kiss him. But then, just as quickly,
she repositioned herself and held the spoon to him once again. "Now, eat!"

Meekly, he complied. Actually, it was quite delicious. He hadn't had creme
fraiche in quite some time, and some great spark in the kitchen had seen fit
to add some orange zest to it - it was really rather refreshing. As she fed
him, she told him about all the goings in the house, most of which he was
partially responsible for. The Port Admiral had been here last evening, after
Edward was asleep. Susanna had sat with him for awhile - she had never met
him before and she quite liked him. Well, much more than that Admiral Lord
Hood anyways, she hadn't cared for him at all. Edward tried to quiet her -
for God's sake she was talking about his superior officer! But, then he
laughed as well - deep down he rather agreed with her. In between spoonfuls,
he asked about cousin Lucy. He had remembered that that was why she was here
in Plymouth. But, he hadn't been up to much in the way of conversation
yesterday. He was either too exhausted, or the pain had prevented him from
focusing on anything for very long. He did feel marvelously better today -
more alert, and not so distracted by the pain. Yes, he would be determined to
make it out of bed today - perhaps over to the desk by the windows. Finally,
of course, he wanted to know all about the children. Were they still upset
that he had left them so suddenly in London? It was not how he liked to leave
them, and yet, it had saved him another of those heartwrenching good-byes,
hadn't it? Susanna assured that they had understood. In fact, Emma had done
some lovely pencil sketches that she had wanted to send to him. Susanna had
brought them with her, thinking to get them off to Edward in one of the
dispatch pouches out of Plymouth. She would be sure to show them to him later
on.

Their interlude was delightful and indeed Edward make remarkable progress
towards recovery on Wednesday. Doctor Adamson had suggested leaving off the
bandage altogether as there had been no further seepage from the wound and it
was still healing very nicely. Edward visited with Admiral Winslow, with
Lord Fairchild and of course, off and on throughout the day, Susanna. While
her husband tended to business, Susanna enjoyed a lovely afternoon with Lady
Fairchild, and with Lucy and her mother. When Mr. Hornblower came by later in
the afternoon, he was thrilled to find the Captain sitting in the chair by
the desk, resplendent in his brocade dressing gown, going through a
mountainous pile of dispatches. Pellew was likewise pleased with the reports
from his ship. Repairs were being completed as planned and supplies had all
been replenished. Admiral Winslow had even dropped a hint the possibility of
the Indefatigable heading back down towards Cadiz, perhaps as soon as
Saturday or Sunday - assuming of course, that her Captain was fit to lead
her. While the need for the patrol was not exactly clear to Pellew, he was
most assuredly eager to prove to the Admiral that he would be ready. He did
not disclose this information to Hornblower - not just yet. Best, perhaps to
give it another day or so. In the evening, he and Susanna shared a quiet
supper in his room, enjoying their private time together in front of the
glowing fire. Edward insisted on going without the laudanum that night, and
thankfully his sleep was not disrupted by pain.

By Thursday, he was fully up and about, though still very much favoring his
shoulder. That evening he and Susanna joined Lord and Lady Fairchild for
dinner in the main dining room, his first venture down to the main floor of
the residence and it was truly a delightful evening of delicious food,
wonderful wine and stimulating conversation. It reminded Susanna of their
dinner parties back in Exmouth, when they would host lively evenings of
incomparable cuisine, most of the ingredients provided from their own estate
crops, and vivacious discussions on a wide ranging array of topics.