Since that day, everything had changed for Henry Wellard. People treated with such an awkwardness and discomfort that he withdrew from everyone as much as possible. He scarce ate, he scarce slept. How could he, when he was being so isolated? Once again, he felt the familiar ache of lonesomeness, this time in such an intense amount that it was suffocating. This went on for quite sometime- the whispers, the stares, the overwhelming solitude. Until one day, a blubbering servant boy had informed him that his presence was required by Lord Callahan. Yes, Lord Callahan himself wanted to speak to him, a mere stable boy.

Henry had always tried his best to be useful to Lord Callahan. He had always, well, almost always done as he was told. Yet, after Isobel's death, even Lord Callahan had seemed to change his view of the child he had so graciously allowed as a servant under his household. Cautiously, Henry approached the desk of Callahan, fearing this man he had never met before. "Sit down," Lord Callahan commanded. Henry sat. Surprisingly, the Lord's voice had been soft, even kind- perhaps even holding a disguised hint of an Irish accent. Daring to glance up for a swift second, Henry saw that Callahan was not an old man, as he had always assumed he would be. No, he was younger, perhaps in his late thirties or early forties.

"Henry," the Lord began, finally looking up at the boy before him, "I have been terribly distressed since the death of your sister earlier this year." Henry fixed his eyes on the floor. This man had called him Henry, not 'boy', as everyone else had. Perhaps Bridgette had told him his name? "Henry, please, look at me," the Lord asked urgently. Henry noticed his voice was desperate, and filled with emotions he could not interpret.

Slowly, Henry looked up, staring first at the desk at which Callahan sat, then gazing at last into the eyes of his master. He gasped. Lord Callahan's eyes were a familiar brilliant blue, seeming to stare right through his being. Disbelief overcame him as he remembered where he had seen such a color before- it was in the own eyes of his own deceased sister. Henry had always been told he had his mother's eyes- a deep brown, whereas Isobel had always been told that she had their father's eyes- a radiant blue. "No," Henry whispered, too shocked to move.

"Yes," the man breathed, smiling. Then, arranging himself back into his serious and lordly self, he cleared his throat and spoke, "For reasons I cannot convey, I feel inclined to give you a future. I have arranged for you to be enlisted as a Midshipman in His Majesty's Service, the navy. This gift is not to be taken lightly," he said, pointing a warning finger at Henry, "For this was not an easy manner, seeing as you have no, connections or, erm... family."

Thus was ended Henry's servant hood under Lord Callahan. There had been no time for sorrow or excitement over this news of his new destiny and newfound relative. Indeed, Henry scare had time to hear the words from the Lord's mouth before his few belongings were packed and he was whisked off to be fitted for his uniform and gather supplies. The rather shattering fact of his departure was that no one had begged for him to stay. No one had cried or smiled, in fact everyone seemed as disinterested about his leaving as they were about everything else. Even Bridgette seemed almost relived at his departure. No longer would she have to feel the need to care for Henry. It was as if her duty, her debt to her long dead friend had been fulfilled. Even though Henry knew to expect as much, a small part of him had still hoped someone would care that he was leaving.

The obvious question, 'why', was never voiced aloud by any of the servants. It was not needed, for everyone seemed to guess at the reasons behind the Lord's sudden kindness to a boy he supposedly hardly knew. The reason that was given, of course, was that Henry deserved an education and a future, and that Lord Callahan was generous enough to offer him one. Henry could only hope that this was indeed the truth, and not that the Lord had tired of suspicious persons and simply wanted to dispose of his remaining illegitimate child.

Now, Henry climbed unsteadily aboard what was to be his home for the next few years, the HMS Renown. Cautiously, he approached the Captain and who he assumed to be the Doctor, talking quietly. That was, Captain James Sawyer, of course. James Sawyer was a man approved and appraised by all sorts of men- one of Nelson's own, even. Or, that was what he had been told by his excited companions in the jolly boat, who were also enlisted as Midshipmen. Surely his stay here would be an honorable and noble one.

Yet there was still so much he had to learn. Reading and writing were things his mother had managed to teach him, somehow, and he supposed that was a start. Perhaps he would make friends here, friends who did not care about his lack of fortune or family, friends he could rely on, as he had his mother and sister. It couldn't be too hard; after what he had already gone through, this would surely be easy in comparison.

As he cast his eyes downward respectfully, he tried to catch the looks exchanged between the Captain and the Doctor. Did their faces show approval, acceptance, or were they merely amused at the sight of an obviously nervous midshipman? Perhaps that was something he would never know; perhaps it was better if he didn't know. He saluted, the salute he had been practicing during the ride down from London.

This was, in a sense, a new beginning for Henry. It was now time to put his former life behind him. Lord Callahan had done a mighty favor to Henry Wellard. Perhaps some day he would be captain of his own ship, and be able to look back at the hateful servants of the Lord's household and laugh. As for a relationship with his father, whether he saw him again or not no longer mattered to Henry. It had been a true blessing that he had put here. For here, aboard the Renown, he could forget his past and start again. He could finally grow up without being shunned or reminded of his dead mother, his dead sister. Best of all, he would no longer be in wonder about his absent patriarch. Now, he knew the truth- and the truth had truly set him free.

Swallowing, he looked up to meet his Captain's gaze. Hoping he sounded much braver than he felt, he recited the words he had been told to say, "Come aboard, sir."

Das Ende. :) Review?