Work Header

Beechey's Second Grave

Work Text:

As an anatomist Harry Goodsir had to confess, he found less joy in his job when the death of the sailor, or cadaver he operated upon had left someone on the vessel bereaved of not only friend, but of family.

Sir John had ordered him to open up able-bodied seaman John Hartnell upon his death late in the night.

Poor Tom was not taking his elder brother's death well at all, he was an emotional mess, understandably, but with the discussion Dr Stanely had earlier with Captain Crozier accompanied by Dr McDonald and Dr Peddie, it sounded like it was quite possible the young sailor was to be transferred to Terror.

Shaking his head of the thoughts Harry took a deep breath as he lowered his saw to the pale lifeless chest of their fallen comrade.

Stanley was off doing God knows what, probably reading up on his Greek, or giving rather unorthodox emotional support to some poor sod.

The saw did it's work with the firm grasp of steady hands, sawing through the mid-shaft of both Mr Hartnell's clavicles as he was taught.

Finished with the bladed tool he set it down on towel spread out upon the counter behind him, an attempt, although quite futile, to keep from getting blood on every surface of the sick bay.

Getting to the messy part he reached his hands into the cold corpse of John Hartnell in search of the man's liver.

He was elbows deep inside the man's cold lifeless body when he heard voices, closer just yonder the doorway.

The words made his own blood run cold.

"Mr Hartnell, you're not supposed to be here." Lieutenant Gore's voice, normally rather chipper with positive, was void of such, instead it sounded with a gruff commanding air akin to a captain berating insubordination.

"Excuse me, sir, but I believe it appropriate that I bring something for John to be buried in?" Harry could hear the waver of confusion with the poor man's voice.

They hadn't told him for a reason.

Graham's voice when he spoke next, he could hear the sympathetic drawl to his words.

"I've seen you wearing that shirt before?"

He heard the bereaved sailor's breath hitch momentarily, then something akin to a whimper.

"Yes, sir" Tom said, "It is my favorite... I really don't have much.. but I.. I would like him laid to rest in it."

'That poor man...' Goodsir thought to himself.

A wave of intense emotion overcame him all the sudden and he couldn't fully comprehend the reason why moisture began to burn behind his eyes.

Letting out a shaky exhale he pulled his hands out of the cadaver upon their table, noticed how they were shaking something fierce as he tried to will himself to calm.

Why had the man's words upset him so?

Maybe it was because he briefly imagined his brother John on the table.

He heard booted feet on the floor planks, then a frustrated huff.

"Lieutenant Gore, please, sir. I'll just be a moment to speak with Dr Stanley and-"

Graham seemed to stumble of his words briefly.

"I can't let you in there Tom, I'm sorry."

There was an uneasy silence and then the sound of a scuffle.

"Mr Hartnell settle down at once!" Gore's voice ordered, firm, enforcing.

"He didn't! He didn't!!" Tom's hysterical, sob-broken voice reached Goodsir's ears.

"Thomas, you don't want to go in there. You don't want to see, we... we don't want you to see this sailor." the lieutenant insisted.

A loud cry of outrage followed a yelp of pain that sounded an awful lot like Lieutenant Gore made his blood turn to ice in his veins.

Frantic footsteps, then a shadow cast onto the wall from the oil lamp he'd set up to see easier.

He couldn't stop his hands from shaking as he looked up and met poor Tom Hartnell's horrified expression, a look of betrayal, hurt, outrage, sorrow, and pain all in one heartbreaking display of a mouth gaping in shock and big blue eyes welling with more tears.

It wasn't a sight the man needed to see right now.

Assistant Surgeon with white shirt sleeves stained a dark crimson from the insides of his elder brother's body. Blood coating his arms in a shiny, slick, dark sheen under the light.

The only thing the young man could manage at first was a shrill squeak as his voice crackled.

But then he found it.

"What... What in the Lord's good name are you doing to him!?!" he yelled furiously.

"Ah.. um.. I-I'm sorry Mr Hartnell... I was ordered t-"

He didn't have time to finish as the younger man dived at him. "Get the hell away from him!"

Raising his hands to defend himself from a possible blow to the face, it was at just this point Lieutenants Gore and Le Vescante came running into sick bay making lunging effort to grab the younger man before he struck him, barely managing to do so.

"Let go! H-He... look what he's..." the poor man sobbed, struggling against the two men with every fibre in his body.

"Silence!" came the bellowing roar from their Captain as he entered sick bay with Captain Crozier, Commander Fitzjames, Lieutenant Irving, and he believed that was Crozier's steward accompanying them.

Henry hadn't yet many encounters with the handsome young steward that was said to be so fiercely loyal to Terror's Captain, he found himself a loss for the man's name.


Jopson. Yes that's it.

Mr Hartnell stilled in the two lieutenant's hold, glaring through his tears at Sir John as he wept quietly.

After a few moments of silence Sir John motioned for both men to release him and give him some space.

"Dr Stanely said it was tuberculosis and pneumonia!" Hartnell shouted breathlessly.

Sir John frowned deeply, staring at the young sailor in disapproval at his raised voice.

"Mr Hartnell, none of us can begin to share the amount of grief that you have. Losing family is a painful experience, you have all our prayers with you in this time, but life goes on-"

"H-He tore him apart, Sir!" the able seaman shouted cutting him off.

That seemed to set Franklin off because his next response surprised even Lieutenant Gore in it's harshness.

"Because I ordered it Mr Hartnell! We had to ensure it was not scurvy. You will be gathering your things I am having you transferred over to Terror tonight."

Hartnell was left gaping in outrage, his face turned red all the way up to his ears.

All at once he darted forward toward Sir John, and Henry could have sworn he'd never seen Captain Crozier's eyes go so wide, "Why you pompous-!"

Everyone was so shocked that none of the lieutenants nor captain moved, but Commander Fitzjames came to attention with a jerk of alarm making to move when something, or rather someone, swiftly collided with the other man.

To Harry's surprise, and it looked like everyone else's as well, it was Crozier's steward who had moved forward, not with a blow or a restraining hold but to pull the bereaved sailor into an embrace.

It seemed to do the trick in diffusing the other man because he slumped against the steward and promptly broke down in a hysterical mess of angry, mournful sobs, knees buckling beneath him which caused Jopson to grunt as he leaned into him heavily. "Easy.. shh.."

Hushing the man softly Jopson let himself sink to his knees with the mourning sailor.

"There, there... sir, I know..." the dark haired man cooed such gentle reassurances, running an idle hand up the man's back in soothing circles as Hartnell let out a shrill sounding sob that left him gasping for breath.

Hartnell's arms lifted to clutch desperately at the stewards lapels as he continued to weep, Jopson noticed how one hand held a shirt in one hand as the fabric was now shoved against the front of his pea coat.

"I-I just wanted.. him to be.. t-to be buried with s-something of h-home..." Tom choked out between agonized hiccups and gasps for breath.

Jopson hummed softly nodding his head in acknowledgement as he continued to comfort the young sailor. "I think that is a fine idea, I am sure he appreciates."

Captain Crozier cleared his throat to garner the attention of the officers in the room.

"Mr Jopson, if you will escort Mr Hartnell over to Terror. Find somewhere quiet for him to get some rest, away from prying eyes."

Mr Goodsir was surprised by the generosity of Terror's Captain.

Surely the man can't be as awful as Commander Fitzjames says.

"Of course, sir." the steward replied with a polite nod.

He helped the blonde haired man to his feet, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder as he gently took the shirt still clutched tightly in a quivering hand.

Crozier stepped forward and moved a heavy hand upon Hartnell's back.

"Mr Hartnell I shan't see you on deck until you get a decent night's sleep lad. Take time to recover yourself. Help shall be around should you need it son. Understand?"

Tom just nodded, uttering so very softly, his voice hoarse from crying, "Yes, sir, thank you."

Captain Crozier offered him a sympathetic smile and took the shirt from Jopson when he handed it to him before they made their way down the hall.

"Such a hell that poor man is going through." Fitzjames muttered softly.

"Mr Goodsir, I would like to see that report before supper." Sir John announced but Harry hardly heard him.

No he was busy staring at his blood covered hands.

They were still shaking.