The following is a sneak peek of Christmas in Beaufort.
Important: If you somehow ended up on this page, but you haven’t read the other books in the Adam Fletcher Adventure Series, you’ll definitely want to check those out before you read this!
The first book in the series, The Smuggler’s Gambit, is available as a free ebook. Click here for links to vendors.
The mild November days that the residents of New Bern were enjoying lately provided a welcome time of rest for Adam Fletcher and the companions of his most recent series of journeys. They had taken him from Beaufort to Boston with a number of unexpected, and highly stressful, stops along the way.
He knew his family would be worrying about him back in Beaufort. He also couldn’t help but wonder how his father had fared on his own leg of the journey. After dropping Adam and Will off in Edenton, Santiago had gone much farther south — towards Havana — with a number of his crew-turned-mutineers being held on board his sloop, La Dama.
If it weren’t for the absolute exhaustion that was felt by Adam and the others after their recent ordeal, along with the fresh scars on Adam’s back from the lashes he had recently received, they would have likely already left for Beaufort with Laney and Aunt Celie.
As it was, however, Dr. Beasley, a kind-hearted old physician, was checking in each day to look after Adam’s wounds.
He recommended that Adam stay put for at least a few days to give his injuries a chance to scab over well and that he not risk possibly being caught in rain or other circumstances that could interfere with the healing.
That first morning after the night Adam, Will, and Charles Jr. had arrived back in New Bern, Adam was taken by surprise after breakfast when Laney and Aunt Celie insisted he remove his shirt and lie down on the settee in the parlor so they could examine his wounds, and clean and dress them.
Dr. Beasley arrived as they were finishing up. When he saw what they had done, he commended the women on doing a fine job of cleaning the lash marks. “It’ll make my job a good bit easier,” he said.
Adam was still stretched out on his belly, his head resting on his arms. He tried his best to see what the doctor was doing.
“Laney, why don’t you take that out back so Dr. Beasley will have room to work,” Will suggested. He was referring to the basin that Laney and Aunt Celie had used for cleaning Adam’s wounds. It was still on the table next to the settee.
She nodded and took the basin and rags out of the room.
The old man sat in a chair that had been pulled right beside the settee and opened up his medical bag. It contained a number of small bottles of a variety of tinctures that Adam couldn’t begin to identify. However, he ended up taking out was a jar of a substance that did look familiar to Adam.
“Is that honey?” he asked.
“Mm-hm,” Dr. Beasley replied, as he took some cloth strips out of his bag and draped the bundle in a pile at the small of Adam’s back — the only area of flesh that was not covered in angry red stripes.
The doctor turned and looked at Aunt Celie. “I forgot to bring a spoon. Go get a spoon for me, please.”
Aunt Celie gave him a nod and said, “Yessir,” and then went into the dining room to find a spoon. She brought it back to him, and then she excused herself to tend to other work.
Dr. Beasley plunked the spoon down into the jar and began applying honey directly to the wounds on Adam’s back. He only spread it on the areas where the skin was visibly broken. There were some welts where one could see that he had been struck, but the skin was intact. The doctor wouldn’t worry about those, but across the the broad, muscular part of Adam’s back and his shoulders, there were several places that had been torn by the whip, and they looked like they were beginning to show signs of infection.
“Are you just going to leave it like that?” Adam asked, as he felt the sticky substance getting slathered onto his skin. It did burn a little bit — but then again, anything touching those cuts would’ve burned.
“I’ll be covering the honey with these bandages. The honey is sticky, of course, so the bandages should stay in place. Do you have a clean shirt?”
“Hmm…” Adam wasn’t sure what to say. He looked over at Will, who was standing by the door that led to the foyer.
Of course he didn’t have a clean shirt. When he began his travels a month ago, he didn’t expect to be gone longer than overnight.
He definitely didn’t bring many changes of clothes.
Will said, “I have something clean he can wear.”
“Well,” said Dr. Beasley as he applied the last bandage, “you’ll want to put on a clean shirt to keep all of this covered.”
Adam nodded. “Alright.”
“Try to keep everything dry,” said the doctor. “I suppose after a day or two we’ll know if it’s time to remove them. We’ll have to wait and see how they’re healing up.”
The doctor put the jar of honey and a couple of leftover bandages back in his bag and then he stood from his chair. “Well, I suppose we’re finished here,” he said. “I’ll come back to check on you tomorrow.”
Adam rose from the settee. He shook the doctor’s hand and thanked him for coming by and tending to him.
The old physician excused himself and left.
Adam felt a bit awkward, standing there while he waited with a back full of uncomfortable sticky bandages. He glanced across the room and noticed Laney standing near the door to the hallway. When his eyes met hers, she blushed and said, “Oh, I was just looking for Will.”
Just then, Aunt Celie called to her from somewhere down the hall. “Your brother’s done gone upstairs to fetch a shirt for Mr. Adam,” she said.
“Oh? Good! Thank you,” she called back in response. “I’ll go find him, then.” She smiled at Adam and then disappeared down the hall, heading towards the stairs.
Adam suspected the girl wasn’t looking for her brother, but he figured she was clever for trying that excuse, anyway. He was also amused that Aunt Celie was evidently watching her like a hawk.
One thing was certain: Things had definitely changed between him and Laney now. He wondered how things would be once they were all back in Beaufort.
He remembered what his father and Martin had said to him about letting her know of his intentions, but he still didn’t think there was any need to do that anytime soon. What would be the point?
And speaking of Martin, he wondered what had happened with him and Jenny Green… and Hardy’s brothers.
Well, one thing was certain, there would be plenty of catching up to do when they all got back home.
To be continued…