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A Guilty Conscience

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A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:34 am

Leat made his way to the Great Cabin as soon as he had handed the deck over to Deverel to take the next watch. He needed to speak to the captain, and he hoped he would find Bolitho at liberty.

He approached the Marine sentry, stopped before the door and told the man to announce him.


Last edited by Edward Leat on Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:41 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  George Thompson on Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:38 am

Thompson stiffened to attention as the Second Lieutenant approached, fixing his eyes on the middle distance. What did Mister Leat want to see the captain about, he wondered? He knocked on the door of the Great Cabin. "Mister Leat, sir!" he called, letting his glance slide sideways to Mister Leat's face.

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:44 am

Knowing that this would be an uncomfortable interview Leat stood almost to attention, carefully ignoring Thompson's curious glance, whilst he waited for permission to enter the cabin.

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:04 am

Upon hearing the knock and Thompson's announcement of Leat's presence, Bolitho immediately called out "Enter!" without a second thought. After all the trying events of the day so far, he was more than ready to have a normal conversation with the second lieutenant--whatever it was Leat wished to talk to him about.

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:13 pm

On being given permission and the door opened for him Leat entered the cabin, hat under his arm, and walked up to the other side of the desk.

"Good evening, sir," he said, and paused only long enough for Thompson to close the door again to continue. "I am here to apologize on behalf of the wardroom, sir, for the embarrassment resulting from our conduct ashore the other night."

It was an apology well overdue, Leat knew, but it had somehow got lost in the drama of Perry's wife's arrival, then that of setting sail and all the preparations involved in that; not to mention the many other minor dramas of shipboard life... There had also perhaps been a frail hope amongst the lieutenants that Bolitho had not found out, but it was a ridiculous notion; of course he knew. The whole ship knew, had seen their injuries and hangovers, and though he may not remember it Leat was certain Bolitho could not have missed all his lieutenants coming back aboard (as he had been reliably informed) covered in vomit and carried on the backs of several roaringly drunk Marines.

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:39 am

Ah, so Leat wished to speak about that particular incident. Bolitho had been rather surprised at the condition in which his lieutenants had returned to the ship the other night, but he was certainly not going to rake them over the coals for it. He himself had over-imbibed on drink before, and he would not hold it against any other men if they ended up doing the same.

"I see. Well I appreciate the apology, Mr. Leat, but if you feel that I think any less of you all, your fears are unfounded. Yes, I would prefer it if my officers did not make too much of a spectacle while on shore leave, so I will ask you to use more caution next time. But I am not angry with any of you, if that's what you are thinking." He paused. "Unless there is something serious which transpired ashore that I need to know about?"

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:45 am

Leat paused for a moment, considering what he should admit; but he owed it to Bolitho to be honest. He admired his captain too much to lie by omission, especially where only his personal pride was concerned.

"Have you heard any rumours as to how I came by my black eye, sir?" he asked.

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sat Oct 16, 2010 8:55 am

He had heard a few rumblings on the matter. Something to do with a Portuguese woman and her husband. But Bolitho had yet to hear the full story.

"I have heard something of it, yes. However, if you feel the need to tell me more, please do."

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:18 am

Somehow that was the sort of answer Leat had come to expect from Bolitho; non-descript, but implying that he knew a lot more than he was prepared to admit.

"Well, sir, I thought I ought to, should anything come of it when we next dock. We were all rather the worse for drink, sir, and on our way back to the ship we spotted a Portugese lady sitting at an upstairs window."

He grimaced, embarrassed by the recollection.

"I confess to having been rather smitten with her, and decided to serenade her. She was not impressed and called her husband, who was not impressed either, and he came down into the street and thumped me one. Unfortunately for the man there was a party of our Marines nearby, who had also been drinking, and they retaliated on my behalf. We were chased from the scene by an angry crowd of Portuguese."

This last he had been told of second hand by Cartwright and Bush, who remembered more of the last stages of the night's proceedings than he did, having been by then incapacitated.


Last edited by Edward Leat on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:42 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:35 am

Bolitho raised an eyebrow as Leat recounted his story. The image of Leat serenading a Portuguese woman was not at all something he would have expected from the lieutenant--yet somehow he found himself thinking it would have been quite interesting to see. However, he was rather concerned to hear that the Marines had retaliated against the man, and that they had all been chased by a crowd of Portuguese.

"Hmm," he said at last, "Well it sounds as though you had quite an ordeal. What about Mr. Bush and Mr. Cartwright? Did they also have an altercation with the Portuguese man? Or with anyone else?"

Unless of course they had been even more drunk than Leat, which Bolitho found difficult to believe. Bush being drunk was nearly as hard for him to picture as Leat singing.

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:39 am

Despite his sense of guilt, a lopsided grin made its way onto Leat's face.

"I do not think they would have had the opportunity even had they been capable of doing so at that point," he replied.

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:44 pm

"Indeed?" So the other two had been equally--if not more--drunk than Leat. Bolitho could barely believe it, but there it was. He shook his head in amazement. "Well I'll be..."

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:42 pm

The smile slid from Leat's face.

"I apologize, sir," he said again. "The incident was my fault."

Which hopefully meant that should anything come of it when they next made port - which could be anything up to a month - he, Edward Leat, would be the only one to suffer for it. Bush and Cartwright had been little more than bystanders.

But to be honest Bolitho looked more bemused than actually angry. Leat could only hope that the authorities in Lisbon would react the same, if they ever came to hear of it.

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:01 am

"Edward," Bolitho said, looking intently at Leat, "This is unnecessary. I do very much appreciate that you took the initiative to apologize to me, as befits a good officer such as yourself. However, since you did not commit some capital crime, I see no need for you to dwell too badly on it. I doubt that is the first time that sailors have been involved in a scuffle in the streets of Oporto, and it surely will not be the last. I merely ask that in the future you try to stay a bit more...coherent...when ashore."

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:52 am

Leat was mildly taken aback at this, and his surprise showed on his face.

For one, the captain had used his first name, which he had not heard him do before. Secondly, he had shown understanding and forgiven Leat and his fellow lieutenants their rather large indiscretion - and thirdly, he had been paid a compliment. Leat had never received a compliment on his abilities as an officer that had not been prompted by some recent action or sudden storm, and to be called "a good officer" after he had come to apologize for some very unofficerly behaviour touched him.

"Aye, sir. Thank you, sir."

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:07 pm

Bolitho could see that Leat was surprised, which was good because it meant that he had clearly gotten the lieutenant's attention. He had thought that if he spoke in a more personal tone it would prove to Leat that he was being completely sincere, that he did not hold any anger towards his lieutenants for their mishap. Granted he did not want that sort of behavior repeating itself in every port, but men were men--even officers--and if they made an error once, he would not hold it against them forever. Some captains would, but Bolitho was not one of them.

He nodded and resumed his impersonal, officerly tone. "Very good Mr. Leat. Now, is there anything else you wish to tell me?"

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:15 pm

"Not tell, sir, but there are a couple of things I would care to discuss regarding the ship's company. I find that I would greatly value your advice, sir."

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:45 am

"Oh? Advice on what things, Mr. Leat?"

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:48 am

Leat shifted his hat slightly, under his arm.

"I have some concerns about Mister Fletcher, sir," he said. "If I may voice them to you?"

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:52 am

Concerns about Fletcher? Bolitho hoped there was nothing seriously wrong with the boy.

"Of course you may. But is there something wrong with Mr. Fletcher? Is he unwell or unable to perform his duties in any way?"

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:00 pm

Leat wondered how best to voice his concerns. He had noticed things about Fletcher; he had always been too young, inexperianced and not very bright, it seemed - but he had stayed that way, and the incident up the mast had spurred Leat into voicing his concerns.

He also wondered whether the captain would invite him to sit down.

"No, sir, as far as I know; but it is not those sorts of concerns I wish to discuss. I am worried that he may not be suited for a life at sea."

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:18 pm

Bolitho frowned. Why would Leat think that? He himself had found Fletcher to be a decent midshipman. A bit skittish and shy, perhaps, but certainly not incapable of rising to the occasion. The boy seemed to have the makings of an officer eventually. Yet Leat seemed to doubt his abilities nonetheless.

He could tell this might be a prolonged conversation, so Bolitho gestured to a chair for Leat to seat himself.

"While I can understand your concern, I must ask why you feel this way," he said as he walked around his desk, "I also must urge you to think carefully about this. It will come as quite a blow to Admiral Rothschild if his grandson is deemed unsuitable for the navy."

Considering that the Admiral was the one who sent Fletcher off to sea, Bolitho did not relish the idea of informing him if the boy chose to deviate from that path. He sat down behind his desk and looked across at Leat, wondering what had happened to make the lieutenant doubt Fletcher's willingness to be a sea officer.

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:22 am

Leat had not forgotten about Admiral Rothschild; it was a factor that had been running through his mind since yesterday, but it had also made him wonder if the Admiral had been too insistant, too eager to send his own flesh and blood off to sea that he had chosen to ignore the boy's feelings and capabilities (or lack thereof).

"I have thought carefully, sir, and I am lost what action to take which is why I have come to you. There are several things that have made me worry for Fletcher, but yesterday I witnessed him take a fall from the mizzen t'gallant. Indeed, it is only blind luck that you are not writing to the Admiral today, sir, informing him of a tragic loss."

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Richard Bolitho on Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:24 am

"A fall from the mizzen t'gallant?" Bolitho exclaimed. He had heard nothing about this incident. "Dear God, what happened? Is the boy alright? What was he doing up there?"

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Re: A Guilty Conscience

Post  Edward Leat on Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:40 pm

"He is fine, sir; nothing but shaken. He somehow managed to catch hold of the shrouds so he only fell a few feet, but for a moment I thought he was done for. I have no idea what he was doing up there, either. He was not standing watch, nor had he been given any extra duties -"

He had checked that with the rest of the wardroom.

"- nor was he skylarking with any of the other young gentleman, which is something I don't recall ever seeing him doing. There was no apparent reason for him to be up there, and when I asked him to explain himself when he returned to the deck he offered no reason and very nearly burst into tears."

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