"Susanna" Chapter 3 - Plymouth
Meanwhile, a not too far distance away, in the luscious hills and valleys
just outside the bustling streets of Plymouth, the midday sun was streaming
upon an impressive expanse of smooth green lawn. The remains of a picnic
strewn about upon blankets. Nearby the abandoned picnic, was a lovely pond,
complete with lilies and a few mallards. The only other sound besides their
occasional quacking was the cry of little Jonathan Fellowes, four weeks
and the first child of Sir Howard and Lady Lucy Fellowes. His had been a
long awaited birth, a triumph over a previous five years of miscarriages
false alarms. Indeed it was such a joyous occasion that Susanna, who was
fact Lucy's dearest cousin, had journeyed over from Exmouth to welcome her
new relation, as well to see her dear cousin and her Aunt Elizabeth, Lucy's
Susanna's own Mother had passed away shortly after Emma's birth, and as
two sisters were always each other's closest friend, it seemed only natural
that Elizabeth would step into the role of second Mother to Susanna. And,
like fashion, it was little surprise that Susanna and Lucy had in turn struck
up the firmest of friendships. Susanna had grown up the middle child in
house full of noisy and rambunctious brothers, and Lucy had been an only
child. Susanna was but three years Lucy's senior - - it was all a most
natural alliance. Indeed the only awkward portion of their closeness had
Lucy's difficulty in conceiving a child, or in carrying one through to full
term once she had become pregnant, while Susanna on the other hand seemed
very nearly thrive on pregnancy. Susanna understood the delicacy of this
matter and always tried to be as tactful as she could about it. Indeed,
one time Susanna herself had miscarried, about a year after the birth of
Freddie, she had not even said anything to Lucy, and had forsworn anyone
from mentioning it to her either. One had to understand her fear of not
wanting to invite sympathy from someone who most understandably would have
given her right arm for just one healthy child - - and here Susanna had
As it turned out, however, Elizabeth had gone against Susanna's wishes and
told her daughter anyway. In the end it was the right thing to do. Lucy
haste to pay a visit to her beloved cousin and found her then desperately
- - the bleeding and cramping symptoms of the miscarriage having given way
a fierce bout of influenza. As Aunt Elizabeth and the other members of the
household attended to the children and ably kept them from catching it,
attended to her beloved cousin and Susanna could never have wished for a
attentive nurse. Closer now than ever, it was at last her turn to do the
honors for Lucy.
She came to Plymouth just as soon as the family had been settled back at
Exmouth, and in addition to her doting attentions to Jonathan, she brought
all the latest news from London. They had been together five days now, and
Susanna had enjoyed it immensely. Tonight, she was to be their guest of
honour at a small dinner party, and even the Lord Mayor of Plymouth himself,
and his wife, would attend. Susanna eagerly anticipated the evening. Perhaps
there would be news on developments in the war, or perhaps word from the
Admiralty as to the whereabouts of the Indefatigable. Although Edward had
written to her twice since leaving London, he had said nothing about the
nature of their mission - only that it was a complete secret. She leaned
against the cool stone of the bench by the pond, savoring the sudden, but
welcome breeze that blew across. She watched dear Lucy pace by her again
Jonathan in her arms, his little head teetering over her shoulder, his
determined eyes refusing to close. Lucy continued to hum the tune that
Susanna said had always got her little ones to sleep, and perhaps in response
Susanna smiled and closed her eyes. She imagined Edward, caught up in this
same lovely breeze, as he stood on board his ship. Normally she always
imagined him standing strong and in full control - as indeed was nearly
always the case. This time though, for some strange reason, a vague feeling
of uneasiness overcame her. Some sort of resistance to pursuing the day
dream. For a few moments she was troubled enough to rise from the bench
begin pacing herself. Then, Jonathan burst forth with full scale sobbing
Lucy hurried to Susanna for help. As she took the little bundle to her
shoulder, and gently rocked him to a quieter state of calm, she also tried
calm herself. Surely Edward was all right. And, with any luck, tonight would
bring her even more news of him.
As he resumed his position on the quarterdeck, Pellew was greeted by the
grateful, albeit concerned stares of his officers. He had already admitted
Bracegirdle that he had injured his shoulder -- it seemed that that was
enough to keep any further questions at bay, thankfully. And, even more
thankfully, the Indefatigable seemed to have gained even more speed in the
interim. Soon, they would see the outer reaches of Plymouth. Then, they
put ashore. While Bracegirdle would see to the unloading of troops, their
wounded, and the requests for supplies and repairs, Pellew would make haste
for Admiralty House and get his long awaited audience with the Port Admiral.
It was going to be all right. What was more, he had also found that as long
he stood at the corner of the quarterdeck, he could brace his back against
the railing and somewhat ease the pounding pain his shoulder. He busied
himself in inquiring as to the status of each officer's company of men,
number of wounded, and their assessment of damage to the ship. When the
became too unbearable, he found a way, without tottering too noticeably,
get back down to his cabin and collapse into his desk chair. If he kept
pressure of any sort off his right arm and shoulder, it was tolerable. He
would breathe deeply and have a few sips of brandy. The pain then temporarily
eased, he would stagger back up to the quarterdeck and do it all over again.
On his fourth, faltering ascent up the stairs, he saw the shores of Plymouth
before him. Please God -- just another hour or so, and he could give in
The Captain managed somehow to survive the sideladder steps down into the
boat. That he held his right arm carefully close and across his chest and
obviously favoring it drew no more attention than he had anticipated. That
was a relief. But, he could surely just as well have done without that as
well. Inside, though, he knew he was getting weaker and that the awful
dizziness was now a constant. If only the binding could just hold him for
while longer, so that he could learn conclusively what dispatches had been
sent to the Admiralty concerning General Charrette's campaign. Then, if
necessary, he could set the record straight and deliver his own account.
then he could return to the ship and let Henson deliver him over to
Hepplewhite. At the same time he tried to dispel his increasing belief that
the musket ball was indeed still lodged in his shoulder. Surely he had only
been grazed -- all right then, deeply grazed, perhaps. No, he confessed.
truth, he had never felt pain like this before. By now, he could in no way
even slightly move his right arm - - not without causing such bone crunching
pain that he was instantly incapacitated. Please, he prayed silently, just
let me finish this, please.
The ride into port was blessedly smooth. Mr. Hornblower had wonderfully
anticipated that the Captain would need assistance in getting out of the
and was there to help. As Pellew stood up, though, everything began to go
blurry. He immediately grasped for the railing with his left arm, and forced
himself to take deep breaths. Within a few seconds, he brought his world
into focus, and managed, with Hornblower's aid, to get onto the dock.
"Captain," asked Hornblower, "are you sure you can manage
this? Perhaps we
should get you somewhere where you can rest for a moment, Sir."
"I shall be fine, Mr. Hornblower" the Captain snapped abruptly
where the devil is the carriage?"
Well, of course, the carriage was right there, ready and waiting. With
further assistance up the steps, Pellew was helped into the coach and
collapsed against the cushions. Hornblower sat across from him and while
did gaze at Pellew with concern, he was, God be thanked, silent. The Captain
carefully reached for his handkerchief and brushed it across his forehead.
sighed and lay back against the seat, his eyes closed, as the carriage
lurched forwards. Where the rowboat into port had been a soft and gentle
slide, the lunging to and fro of the carriage was utter torture. Each crack,
crevice or gap in the cobblestones was yet another source of agony and Pellew
held onto his shoulder and withstood the ride with all the stoicism he could
manage. Only a half mile in distance, and yet it left him so much weaker
unsteady. Indeed, it was a few moments before he was able to grasp
Hornblower's arm and tackle the steps down onto the street. Once inside
Admiralty House, he recalled his composure yet again, and fell swiftly and
impressively into action. Hornblower was dispatched to see to the needed
supplies, arrangements for repairs, and of course, to pick up whatever news
he could ferret out from any fellow officers. Pellew made his way to the
Admiral's office, only to be told that the Port Admiral was at that very
moment at tea with the Lord Mayor. If he chose, the Captain was welcome
await his return. But, and the leftenant was indeed most careful to say
the Admiral had left the strictest of orders that if Captain Pellew should
arrive he was to be encouraged to report to the Admiral in all haste. That
being the case, the carriage was standing by to escort him to the Lord
Mayor's residence. Pellew looked down and mustered up every fiber of
determination left in him. Of course, he replied. He would be most honoured
to join the Admiral at the Lord Mayor's.
In the carriage ride over to the official residence, thus far at least a
smoother journey, Captain Pellew was, at last, alone. For the several minutes
of the ride, he could now, and finally did, let his guard down. He fell
against the cushions, exhausted and drained. He was fading faster than he
realized now, and it was nearly impossible to block out the crushing pain
his shoulder even though he kept it still. He was sweating even more
profusely, and the dizziness more present than ever. Even staying in a
sitting posture was now a struggle, and his attempts to breathe deeply
failing as well. Carefully, and with a pause and cry at the resulting stab
of pain, he clumsily tried to check the binding, trying to push his left
under his coat and weskit, without touching his shoulder. In a second he
could feel that both the binding and his shirt were soaked through with
blood. Oh, dear God. His mind raced to form an alternate plan -- he could
deliver his report to the Admiral, get Hornblower to post the dispatch to
Admiral Hood -- it was already written, praise God, and as long as the news
was as he hoped for from the Port Admiral, it would still stand. Then, he
could ask the Lord Mayor to get him to a doctor. Yes, that would work.
He felt the carriage grind to a halt. He carefully felt around the top and
back of his coat. Still dry, thank goodness. He mopped his face with his
handkerchief and once more tried to draw in deep, sustaining breaths. The
footman approached the door and unhooked the latch. The Captain lurched
forward, again propping his right arm across his chest, his left arm holding
it steady at the elbow. "Ah, my good Sir," said the footman, on
the Captain was nursing an injury, "please allow me to assist you,
"Thank you," the Captain managed to utter, now in a distant voice
not seem at all to be his. Once again, the world began to spin, and again
braced himself on the railing and the footman's strong arm, and breathed,
just breathed, and waited for it to come back into focus.
"Sir," said the footman, with well intended concern. "Are
you sure you should
"Thank you again," Pellew said it as sharply as he could, and
meaning man was left there by the carriage door, as the Captain emerged
rambled down the steps. He had managed to gather up enough momentum to make
it to the doorway, where a servant was there to usher him inside. He entered
into the foyer and was thankfully and quickly announced to the housemaster,
who scurried off to inform the Lord Mayor and Port Admiral that Captain
Pellew had arrived. In the interim, the Captain sought refuge in a small
velvet chair in the corner of the foyer. One of the domestic staff came
and he kindly asked for a glass of water, which was brought to him
immediately. He drank a few sips, grateful for the coolness of the liquid,
and then discreetly dipped his handkerchief into the remaining water. He
the damp cloth to his forehead for a few moments, it felt so good, and he
hoped it would relieve the awfulness dizziness. As he heard footsteps coming
closer, he quickly folded up the cloth, stuffing it back into his inside
"Sir, right this way, Sir. His Lordship is most anxious to see you."
Captain Pellew looked up at the gentleman who had just spoken so matter
factly to him. He was a Midshipman, not terribly young, in his late twenties,
"Midshipman Burton, Sir. I am an Attach to his Lordship. Right this
"Thank you," muttered the Captain. Another deep breath, and another
"You are injured, Sir!, " said Mr. Burton, seeing the way the
his arm, and walked slowly behind him down the hallway. "Do you require
"Certainly not!" Pellew gasped. "IÖ injured Ömy
shoulder in a skirmish
earlier today. It is troubling me now, but I will have it seen to very soon."
Thankfully, they turned into the Lord Mayor's drawing room, and there perched
on settees, were the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Lord Anthony Fairchild and
Port Admiral himself, Admiral Elias Winslow. Winslow's smile was immediate
and genuine when he saw the Captain. Edward immediately felt a slight flood
of relief - perhaps there was to be no bad news, or admonition after all!
"Captain Pellew! You are returned to us, at last! Praise the saints!"
Admiral bellowed in a booming voice. "Please join us at once!
"Yes, I insist on it!," added the Lord Mayor, who could have passed
Admiral's brother - same age, mid fifties perhaps, round and well fed, with
well receded gray and curly hair.
"Thank you, My Lords." Pellew said, nodding carefully.
"What's this? Are you injured, sir?" asked the Admiral with concern.
"We encountered two Courvettes on our return from the coast of Brittany.
seem to have injured my shoulderÖ but, I am sure it is nothing,"
he lied, as
the throbbing neared ever closer to overwhelming him. He could feel his
prickling with perspiration, as the men invited him to sit.
He was offered tea, which he accepted, though once he had leaned back into
the plush settee, he knew that there was no way on earth he could possibly
reach across to retrieve the tea cup. That was no matter, he was here to
insure that his report was delivered, and that both the reputation of his
name and his ship were as sterling as they were when the General's campaign
was begun. He handed his report to the Admiral, as well as the dispatch
Lord Hood, which Admiral Winslow assured him would go by courier that
afternoon. Winslow confirmed that the Dunbarton, Katherine and Sophia had
all returned safely to London - that was good news. While it had been
unfortunately suspected by many, not just Pellew, it turned out, that the
campaign was considered doomed from the start, it was still disheartening
the Admiral to learn that both the General's campaign and the attempt to
the bridge at Muzillac had failed, and that all French Royalist troops were
presumed lost. Captain Pellew's most urgent questions, though, were
thankfully answered as he had hoped - there were in fact no reports, not
of General Charrette, or any of his men attempting to retreat back to
Quiberon, where the Indefatigable was to have remained. Indeed his death
been positively confirmed by the British liaisons in Paris. His conscience
now at last cleared, Pellew told all to the Admiral.
"It is what I have written in my report to Lord Hood, sir" he
slightly, but suddenly the spinning was back and closing in on him quickly.
"In fact, I did not fully obey my orders, sir. I could not, in good
conscience, remain at Quiberon Bay, when it was clear enough to me that
General's campaign had been utterly defeated." He stopped, for a moment,
pausing to hold his shoulder closer to his body.
The Admiral leaned in towards him, "Captain, are you all-"
Pellew raised his left hand to stop him. It did. He needed to get this out,
and then he could collapse, and indeed he sensed that he was about to. "Sir,
I ordered the ship back to Muzillac, assuming, that as the Revolutionary
forces had overpowered Charrette, they would next head there. Our infantry
and artillery forces there would have been overwhelmingly outnumbered and
outgunned, sir." He stopped again, to weakly take another breath. "Surely,
we would have sustained far greater - -"
"Captain Pellew, surely you do not in any way think to reproach yourself,
sir?" the Admiral queried him with concern. "Your analysis of
was spot on, Captain. You know it was. Your decision was heroic, Sir, and
praise you for it. As will Admiral Hood, no doubt, when you next hear from
him. Why, he has already confirmed this to me."
Pellew swung his head down and sighed. With the very last bit of his reserve,
he allowed himself to feel relief. He had been right, and had been proven
judged by his superiors to be so. It was done. As he felt himself start
pitch toward the sidearm of the settee, he heard the fading voice of the
Lord Mayor ask if he was all right.
"Do you need a brandy, Captain?" asked the Admiral. By now it
was too late.
"Captain, you are not well!"
Pellew collapsed against the sidearm and fell back onto the settee cushions
unconscious. His tan had paled to an ashen gray, and his face streamed with
sweat. Immediately the two men went to him. As Winslow tried to revive him,
the Lord Mayor yelled out for his aide, his housemaster, anyone. There was
general clamor towards the sitting room and both Peabody, The Lord Mayor's
servant, and Lefttenant Burton collided into the room. The Lord Mayor shouted
out his orders first.
"Peabody, for God's sake man, we need a doctor, and right away, sir!
to Admiralty House this minute and fetch their man. If he's not there, then
get Doctor Sheridan from the town. But hurry! Oh, and have someone get one
the room upstairs made up, right away!"
Then it Admiral Winslow's turn.
"Mr. Burton, go with this man to Admiralty House, see if any of Captain
Pellew's officers are there and tell them what has happened. Get one of
back here right away. See that they bring along his servant as well. And,
don't forget to- -"
He said this as he was trying to remove Pellew's frock coat. Most likely
Captain's condition had something to do with his shoulder. He got the coat
off of Pellew's left arm and was reaching around his back, when he saw the
blood. My God, it was everywhere. His gasp was so audible that even Mr.
Burton heard it from the doorway.
"Dear God-," the Admiral whispered.
The Lord Mayor jumped into action.
"There must be a wound somewhere. We must try and stop the bleeding,
it's too late. Peabody, Have someone fetch some linen, towels, anything
can find sir, and hurry! Go now, man, we must have a doctor!"
The two men scurried away, and as they ran down the hall Peabody's frenzied
voice could be heard as he hurriedly distributed each of the Mayor's orders
to anyone and everyone he encountered.
Back in the sitting room, Admiral Winslow had shifted the Captain so that
was rather lying on his left side, towards the sidearm of the couch. The
Mayor had scrambled to bunch up the tea towels and the tablecloths, anything
he could find in the room that they might use as a bandage. Winslow had
managed to remove the Captain's weskit, it's back soaked through with blood
as well. It was certainly no use to them as a bandage at this point. The
shirt was more difficult, as it seemed that it had been soaked through
several times, and parts of it were sticking against either the Captain's
skin, or against what appeared to have been some sort of binding or bandage
long since bled through. By this time, thank heavens, Mrs. Peabody
arrived with armfuls of towels, linen sheets, old nightshirts - whatever
she'd managed to raid from the laundry room. She cried out when she saw
Captain lying against the settee, and the bloodied clothing everywhere,
dropping the load of laundry onto the chair, her hands flying up to her
"My Heavens, is he dead?" she cried, "Oh the poor man, the
poor, poor dear -"
"Thank you Mrs. Peabody, thank you very much- and, no, he is not dead,
poor creature, and yes, we have sent for the doctor," the Mayor barked
"We must get him upstairs and see to his wound properly. Now is there
"Yes, my Lord, all ready. I saw to it meself, I did."
"Excellent." he replied. "Then send Stevens in here or one
of the other lads.
We'll need help to get him upstairs. Any sign of the doctor yet, woman?"
"The doctor, My Lord" she stammered, carefully. "But, well,
sir,ÖWell, sir, it has only been twenty minutes or so that Peabody
other fine gentleman rode off, Sir."
"Yes? So?" the Mayor uttered back, getting flustered now. "Well,
keep a look
out for him, then, will you!" What a damnable business this was!
"Aye, my Lord. I shall, My Lord." she hurried off to find Stevens.
Admiral Winslow had by then finally managed to peel away the Captain's shirt
and the bandage enough to bare his back. The blood was flowing freely now,
and he reached across for a wad of linen to wipe away as much as he could,
and to try to see where it was coming from. It didn't take long.
"My God, that's a gunshot wound, that is," gasped the Mayor.
"Aye, My Lord, indeed it is." Agreed Winslow. "But how the
devil could he
have managed this long with a hole in his back, for Christ's sake?"
The Mayor was about to wonder aloud that perhaps it hadn't bled out quite
much at first - but then Stevens streamed into the room and the three men
quickly and carefully lifted the Captain's limp body, and followed by Mrs.
Peabody, who carried the Captain's coat, and the rolled up weskit and shirt,
and the bunches of towels, linens and cloths, they took him upstairs to
of the guest bedrooms.
The Lord Mayor's residence was an impressive one, and one that no doubt
saw its share of guests, and important ones at that. The Captain was taken
a grand bedroom paneled in deep oak, with forest green draperies adorning
expansive series of windows, each with a most exquisite view of the harbour.
Indeed, there in dead center was the Indefatigable, her mizzen masts
glistening like spires in the light of the sunset. The bed was curtained
the same green drapery fabric, although drawn back now and turned down to
receive its visitor. The gentlemen gently set the Captain down onto the
Winslow taking care to remind them to place him on his left side, so that
they could continue to address his wound. At this point, it seemed
appropriate that the Mayor should let the rest of his household, and of
course, Lady Fairchild know what had happened and to check on the whereabouts
of the doctor. He left the Captain in the capable hands of Winslow and
Stevens. No doubt he would return as soon as he could - hopefully with the
doctor in tow.
There was little else that the Admiral could do for his prized officer at
this point, except to continue to apply pressure to the wound, and that
course, he did. He couldn't tell how deeply unconscious his Captain was,
either. Occasionally, when he would press more firmly on the wound, Pellew
seemed to start slightly, and draw a sharp breath. Then, he would lapse
into stillness. But who knew what was happening on the inside? Dear God,
all the blood he had already mopped up and that which had seeped through
clothing, what of the internal bleeding that had already occurred, or that
was occurring now? He gazed at Sir Edward's face - his skin was warm but
feverish, although damp to the touch, and he was still pale beneath his
After awhile Stevens asked if he should undress him and get him under the
bedclothes. Yes, that was the right thing to do, and for a moment, Winslow
chastised himself for not seeing to that earlier - to make sure that this
in fact the only injury the Captain had sustained. And yet, there was no
other sign of bleeding, to be sure. Stevens was quick about it, and matter
fact. As Winslow continued to keep the latest round of linen firmly against
the wound, Stevens removed the Captain's shoes, breeches and stockings,
quickly covered him with the bedclothes, adding an additional blanket for
warmth. There did not appear to any other injuries from what either man
tell - now if only the doctor would get here. Winslow thanked Stevens and
told him that would be all for now - he would stay with Pellew until the
others arrived. He did ask for a brandy, though. This whole mess was bloody
hell on his nerves.
Thankfully, in a few more minutes, just before the darkness of evening had
descended upon Plymouth, a small entourage of carriages rushed past the
towards the entrance to the house. The Lord Mayor's wife, Lady Anne
Fairchild, was all aflutter with the activity. Here she was, trying to dress
for a dinner party she had been invited to over at the home of Sir Howard
and Lady Fellowes, dear friends of the family's, and who had just recently
had celebrated the birth of their first child. There were bound to be all
sorts of wonderful people there, and Lucy had mentioned that certain of
friends and cousins who had just been in London would be there as well.
of the latest news and gossip to be had - there was no way she could miss
The Mayor agreed, of course, but insisted that he would stay behind - he
needed to wait until the doctor had arrived and attended to the Captain
everyone knew where things stood. For God's sake, the man was one of the
most celebrated officers in the fleet and here he was, fallen in his very
house, dammit to hell! He had a responsibility to stay here, did he not?
he heard the great doors opened and voices below in the foyer, he hurried
down to see to them.
Doctor Adamson, the physician to the Admiralty House was a small and wizened
old man, balding, with equally small glasses perched atop his spindly nose.
He was pleasant enough, though, and he was a dear friend of Admiral Winslow.
Best of all, he was very skilled at his chosen profession, and this was
known. It was indeed to the Captain's good fortune that he was called in.
had been accompanied in the following carriage by an extremely worried and
nearly panic stricken Leftenant Hornblower, along with Henson, the equally
troubled and now rather guilt ridden valet to the Captain. Once the briefest
of introductions were dispatched with in the foyer, everyone was quickly
ushered to the upstairs bedroom, the Mayor leading the way. Hornblower
immediately paled at the sight of his Captain. He was still unconscious,
lying on his side in the great bed, bared to the waist, and Stevens was
applying pressure to the wound, as the Admiral opened the door, brandy in
hand. Winslow looked utterly spent, and as Dr. Adamson first looked to him,
he had the first indication that this was going to be a long night.
Winslow greeted Hornblower, who in turn introduced Henson to him.
"What do we have, my Lord?" the Doctor asked Winslow, quickly
coat, and rolling up his shirt sleeves. He took his fine leather satchel
over to the bedside, beside Stevens, and set it on the night stand. Stevens
moved aside to allow the Doctor room, and took away the bloodied bundle
linen he had been using.
"Gunshot, I think, sir. No, I know it is. Got to be." As Winslow
Doctor took his first gentle probe of the wound, and at his touch, the
Captain suddenly gasped and uttered a slight cry.
"Indeed it is, my Lord. " agreed the Doctor, pursing his lips
tightly. "I'm afraid the ball is still in him." He shook his head
and reached for a fresh clean cloth and then took a bottle of some sort
solution from his case. But his words of confirmation were too much for
"Oh God, oh God, I knew it, my Lords!!" he burst forth in some
impromptu moment of confession. "I knew it was a musket what did that
Oh, I knew it, I did!. But he wouldn't listen, wouldn't hear of it. Just
bind me up, says he, patch it up and off ëe goes. Oh good sirs, please,
believe me, I tried to tell ëim!" He looked on the verge of tears.
"Oh for God's sake, man," blared Winslow, "Relax! Nobody
blames you. Surely
you, of all people, realize it is a most well known fact in the Admiralty,
and certainly aboard your ship, that Captain Pellew is a man of most
considerable will." Everyone nodded. "I've no doubt he'd try to
hold the helm
with a blasted knife in his chest, for Christ's sake. You were his loyal
servant, Henson. You did as he instructed you, Sir."
"And, you may still serve him, now, Mr. Henson," interjected the
too, Mr. Hornblower. Both of you, now, on the other side of the bed,
please." He folded a clean sheet in half, then quarters, and placed
directly behind the Captain's back, and then looked up again. Henson had
moved to the bed as instructed; Hornblower still stood there somewhat dazed.
"Well, come on man, I need you to help hold him down, Mr. Hornblower!"
"Sir?" asked Hornblower.
"I've got to extract the musket ball, Sir." Dr. Adamson chided
him. "He may
seem unconscious to you now, but pain is one of the most powerful stimulants,
and I can't have him flailing about while I'm in there trying to dig out
ball, for God's sake! Now let's go, Sir."
Reeling, Hornblower rushed to his Captain's side, and while Henson held
Pellew's shoulder down, Hornblower placed his hands firmly over his waist
hips. The doctor nodded, signaling that it was time to begin.
First, he flushed out the wound with some sort of astringent solution which
smelled of menthol. At the sting of it on his wound, the Captain jerked
forward and groaned in pain. While Stevens assisted the doctor and wiped
excess solution from the wound, and the blood that was still slowly flowing,
Horatio and Henson tried to keep the Captain's body still. The Doctor took
his metal probe in hand, and pausing slightly to confirm that both men had
firm grip on their charge, he began to insert his instrument into the wound.
Throughout the next few torturous moments, Horatio could only imagine the
overpowering agony consuming the Captain. He writhed in pain, gasped and
panted and twisted his face into contortions of such suffering that without
even knowing it, Horatio began whispering words of comfort to his commander.
"Sir, you must stay strong. It will be over soon, I am sure of it."
As Horatio spoke, Henson released one of his hands to reach for a damp and
cool cloth, which he placed about the Captain's forehead, anything to try
soothe him and ease his agony. The doctor paused for a moment, to wipe his
own brow of sweat. The tense ordeal and the need to keep his hand steady
wearing him out as well. Once more he flushed out the wound, this time in
effort to provide himself with more visibility, and again Stevens followed
with the linen to swab away the blood and fluid. Once more the two men held
the Captain firmly still and again the doctor probed for the ball. But this
time the Captain hardly moved or struggled, his breathing shallow and rapid.
As was his pulse, when the doctor stopped to check it. He shook his head,
what with all of the blood loss and trauma to his body, the Captain was
nearing a dangerously weakened state. He had better find that ball quickly,
or it would all be for nothing. This time, when he went in with the probe,
he both heard and felt it click against something metal. At last, he had
found it. Now, to get it out, and out safely. He set the probe down onto
nightstand took up a long and slender pair of metal tongs. He looked again
Hornblower and Henson.
"I've found the ball," he told them. "Now, you've got to
hold him steady so I
can draw it out," he warned.
They nodded and once again renewed their firm hold. He reached in with the
tongs, and with a bit of delicate manipulation, and a last groan of the
Captain, knew that he had a hold of it. Carefully he pulled it free of its
lodging and gently pulled it out.
"Thank God," he sighed. He dropped the ball into the bowl at the
side of the
bed. As it clinked to the bottom, Hornblower offered up his own silent prayer
Thank you, Mr. Hornblower," said the Doctor. "You may take your
Sir. I believe that Henson and I can manage from here. I'll be downstairs
shortly to speak with you and the Admiral."
"Yes, sir." Said Hornblower, somewhat reluctantly. He did not
really wish to
leave his Captain just then, but then perhaps there was some protocol at
here that he did not know about. Whatever, he was not troubled enough about
it to linger. He closed the door behind him and went down to the sitting
Once the doctor had finished dressing the wound, and tied off the strips
linen about the Captain's chest and shoulder. He stepped aside to prepare
solution of laudanum. The best thing now for the Captain was as much sleep
and stillness as possible - time to give his body a chance to restore itself.
As he mixed the concoction, Henson stepped over and sponged off the
Captain's face, neck and upper body to wipe away all of the perspiration
streaks of blood. He had brought along one of the Captain's nightshirts
together he and Stevens got it onto their patient. Doctor Adamson suggested
they leave it unbuttoned so they would be able to check for any problems
the dressing - in case of renewed bleeding or if infection should set in.
Finally, the doctor gently lifted the Captain's head up and spoke to him
gently, telling he needed to drink the glass held to his lips, and that
would help him sleep and keep the pain at bay. Whether he heard the doctor
or simply responded by instinct, his lips parted and he drank. The doctor
and Henson gently guided him back down onto the pillows, his upper body
propped up to keep the pressure off of his right shoulder and allow him
sleep peacefully. There was no more to be done at this point. The ball was
out, but there was now a very real risk of both fever and infection. They
would know soon enough if the worst was yet to be.
As the doctor packed up his case, and gave Henson instructions on when to
check the dressing and when to administer more laudanum, Pellew sank into
deep sleep. Soon, his breathing was deep, steady and even. The doctor bade
Henson good night, telling him that he would return in the morning, sooner
He joined the men downstairs just in time for dinner. After all that he
been through that evening, he was most glad of the occasion to sit down
repast of excellent roast beef and to share the company of dear Admiral
Winslow and Lord Fairchild. All of the men acknowledged their hope that
Captain Pellew would soon recover, and drank to it in a toast of the Lord
Mayor's finest burgundy.