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4 June; Boys at Work

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4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:03 am

He'd found a hat, or at least the material to make one, and one of the sailors had sewn it into something resembling a hat for him. A misshapen blob of fabric was a much more accurate description, but to Fingers it was the greatest thing on Earth. Now no one could see the horrid mess that was his hair. Or what was left of it.

The hat was, now, the dearest thing he owned, after the clothes given him by the Shepherds and the hammock cobbled together by the men. Fingers still wasn't sure how they'd managed that. He doubted they'd have had that much spare canvas simply kicking around. Better not to question it, though. It was enough that the purser had been nearly beside himself when he'd found out. Unissued canvas appearing in the form of a newly-made hammock? He'd been hopping mad.

Fingers scuffed his bare feet over the freshly-cleaned deck and hummed to himself. He didn't yet have to report to the gunner for his daily chores and so was at odd ends. With the duty watch busy on the weather deck and the watch below seeing to their own affairs on the messdecks, Fingers was wandering the gundeck. It was a safe enough place to be, all things considered. Besides, if anybody cared to ask, he was checking the state of the guns' paint, which he'd touched up the day before.

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Fingers Smith
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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  George Thompson on Mon Mar 28, 2011 7:44 am

The stripes on his arm still felt strange to Thompson. Well, no, that wasn't quite right, was it? They didn't weigh anything, after all. But they looked strange every time he glanced down at his sleeve, and the rank they bestowed on him felt strange, as though he was pretending to be something he wasn't. He didn't feel quite so nervous about it as he had done; the day he'd received them and sewn them on, he'd felt as though everyone was staring at him and kept expecting one of the officers to have him up before the Captain for wearing a rank he wasn't entitled to.

He was heading for'rard after checking the sentries by the wheel and the quarterdeck steps - and even that was strange. It wasn't as though he didn't know how to behave, though - all he had to do was imitate every Corporal who'd ever checked him when he'd been on sentry. The strange thing was that it was him doing the checking.

Most of the sailors on watch were up on the weatherdeck, so Thompson had slipped down to the gundeck, to check the sentry by the Captain's cabin before taking advantage of the nearly clear deck to move for'rard. The only other person he could see down here was one of the ship's boys, who was pottering around doing nothing very much.

The lad was wearing a hat and at first Thompson thought it was young Button, who'd just shifted his duties to become servant to Mister Leat. The lad was too small for Button, though, and Thompson suddenly realised that it was Fingers Smith, who'd obviously acquired a hat from somewhere to hide his hair that the surgeon had had cut the other day. Poor lad. Thompson hadn't thought that the haircut was all that noticeable, not with Fingers' wild woolly hair. It seemed that the boy thought differently, though.

It would be churlish of him to walk right past without saying anything, the more so as Fingers' path was going to take him right in front of the newly-minted Corporal.

"Mornin', lad," he said, smiling, pretending that he hadn't noticed the boy's headgear. There was no need to make him any more self-conscious, after all.

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George Thompson
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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:02 am

Somebody had spotted him. No more than that. Somebody had addressed him. Fingers nearly jumped out of his skin, not having expected to be greeted, and certainly not in such a friendly sort of way. His gaze alighted on the red jacket first and the white stripes second. Corporal Johnson!

But it couldn't be Johnson. He wouldn't sound so cheerful. Or even bother with a 'good morning'. Fingers relaxed a little from his instinctive tensing-up. "M-mornin'," he squawked, finally daring to glance up at the towering Marine's face. Oh. Oh. "Corp'ral!"

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Fingers Smith
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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  George Thompson on Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:11 am

Anyone would think the boy had a guilty conscience from the way he'd jumped at Thompson's words. The honorific sounded strange, even as an afterthought as it obviously was. He wondered if he'd ever get used to being addressed as 'Corporal'. He supposed he would, eventually.

"Goin' to be a nice day, I should think," he said. "Mebbe even nice enough for a skylarkin' in the dog-watches."

The lad could probably do with something cheery like a skylarking, after the events of the other day.

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George Thompson
Commodore

Species : Royal Marine Corporal
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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:20 am

Nice day? Skylarking? Fingers wrinkled his nose and almost asked when the Marine thought they'd get to start a skylark. That wasn't a question you asked a corporal though. Even if the corporal was Thompson, who used to be a good sort. There was no telling what he was really like now though. Now he was wearing stripes like Johnson. Even though Johnson couldn't be that bad, really, since he'd let Fingers borrow his jacket.

"Are they heavy?" Fingers blurted out, only to immediately look stunned at letting such a nonsensical question escape into speech. "Them chevy-iron things, I means. Only... well is they?"

They had to be, for why else would Thompson be holding his shoulders so square?

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  George Thompson on Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:29 am

"I meant, this evenin', when you lot're off-watch," Thompson added, at the confused look on the young boy's face.

Fingers' question made him chuckle. He couldn't help it, though he supposed he shouldn't laugh at something like that.

"No, they ain't. Just feels strange, is all - I ain't used to bein' a Corp'ral yet, an' it's a bit strange seein' the stripes on me sleeve when I look down." He glanced at the breech of the nearest gun. "How's the blackin' doin'? I seen you paintin' 'em, yesterday."

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George Thompson
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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:38 am

Well, of course, Fingers thought. You couldn't do a proper skylarking during the day, could you? His question made the tall Marine laugh though, which in turn made Fingers grin. Maybe Thompson was still a good sort?

"S' 'oldin' up," he replied, giving the gun breech a loving pat. "I dunnit, so 'course it'll be good."

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Fingers Smith
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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  George Thompson on Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:45 am

"I daresay the Shepherds'll not be averse to havin' a good frolic," Thompson added. "You allus do a good job o' them guns when you don't slack off, I'll say that for you."

He was glad that his promotion hadn't suddenly meant that people were nervous around him. He wasn't sure how he'd be able to cope with that.

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George Thompson
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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:04 am

He puffed out his little chest and hooked his thumbs around the ends of the braces holding his trousers up, much like he'd seen Mister Evans do with his belt. "Course I does," he said proudly. He might skiv off a little more than he should, but his work was always good.

And the Shepherds. Fingers grinned broadly. Those two were always a laugh.

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  George Thompson on Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:12 am

Thompson laughed properly as Fingers stuck his narrow chest out, hooking his thumbs under the braces he was wearing.

Braces? He vaguely recalled the surgeon saying something about Fingers' old clothes needing to be burnt... and the fact he was wearing trousers with braces could mean only one thing: the drummers had somehow come up with some old clothing of their own to give the poor boy. Good lads.

"All right, then. I'll let you get on with checkin' your work over," Thompson said, though he was in no doubt that the lad was skiving off as usual, preferring the fresh air of the gundeck to the stuffy darkness of the magazine.

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:33 am

"Jes' seein' I don't gotta do't agin," the boy explained, cheered by the Marine's laughter. No officer ever laughed when anyone was in trouble and that was how Fingers knew he was in the clear. " 'Fore I 'ports t'Mister Hennock, see."

It was a bit of responsibility he didn't normally take willingly, but he was feeling particularly upbeat today.

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  George Thompson on Mon Mar 28, 2011 9:38 am

"I see," Thompson replied, and smiled. "Ought I to tell the twins there's goin' to be a skylark later, d'you think?"

All the boys could probably do with a bit of fun after the other day and if the drummers wanted to join them, Thompson was not inclined to find any reason that would prevent them.

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George Thompson
Commodore

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:05 am

His hat-covered head bobbed eagerly. "Couldja? Corp'ral?" The inclusion of the Marine's rank was an afterthought, for Fingers was excited by the prospect of a skylark that same day.

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  George Thompson on Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:18 am

"O' course I can," Thompson said, not minding the belated honorific in the least. It seemed it was going to take some getting used to, for everyone - though maybe everyone else would be used to it long before he was himself. "Is there anythin' else you think I oughta tell 'em?"

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George Thompson
Commodore

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:50 am

Anything else. Hm. Fingers' brow wrinkled in thought, then he grinned. "Tell 'em they's gotta bring they fife - whichever one've 'em's better attit."

That was about all he could form for requests. Not that he could really ask too much of a corporal.

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  George Thompson on Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:54 am

"I'll do that," Thompson said, nodding. A skylark wouldn't be a proper frolic without a bit of a jig. He wondered if he'd be welcome to watch, now that he had stripes on his arm.

"All right. Carry on, then, lad - don't be too late goin' down to see Mister Hennock, will you?" He couldn't stop the boy from skiving off, of course, but a friendly reminder wouldn't go amiss.

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George Thompson
Commodore

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:04 am

"Won't!"

Beaming, Fingers almost - almost! - forgot to saluting. Then he was gone, scampering for the aft ladder. A skylarking. This afternoon. This news that had to be shared!

He'd find Button first. The other boy would be in the wardroom by now, Fingers thought, since he was servanting for Mister Leat now. The lucky beggar!

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Terry Button on Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:10 am

Terry was coming out of the wardroom, carefully holding in both hands a basin containing Mister Leat's used shaving water.

He let out a startled yelp and only just managed to avoid tipping the water all over himself, and the deck, as Fingers came running through and nearly knocked him over.

"'Ere, what's alla the rush for?" he wanted to know, once he'd got a better grip on the basin.

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:24 am

There he was!

"Corp'ral's settin' us uppa skylark," Fingers burst out, heedless of the disaster he'd nearly caused. He was beaming fit to bust. "Wiv the Shepherds an' all!"

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Terry Button on Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:31 am

He nearly dropped the basin for a second time in as many minutes, and gaped at his friend. "Johnson?" he queried, blinking in shock, before he realised that there was a second corporal aboard Terpsy now, one who was far more likely to be arranging such a thing than grumpy old Cross-Eyes Johnson.

"Shepherds an' all?" That would be the best fun - the twins were always full of good ideas for having fun.

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:48 am

Fingers giggled. "No! Thompson!" He'd nearly forgotten about Johnson. "Shepherds'n'all. Wiv they fife too!"

He was all but bouncing from foot to foot in his excitement. Shame it was still the morning watch!

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Terry Button on Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:54 am

"He ain't a bad sort, is 'e?" Terry said and had to put the basin down before he spilt it. "'E's much nicer'n old Cross-Eyes, for sure!"

And the Shepherds were going to bring a fife? That'd be even better!

"'Bout time we had anuvver sky-larkin' - an' wiv a fife, too!" He was almost hugging himself in glee at the very thought.

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:01 pm

"Course he is," Fingers agreed. "Don't gotta arsk if you's comin', eh?"

Of course he didn't. This was Button, after all!

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Terry Button on Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:06 pm

"Course you don't gotta arsk," Terry retorted. "You try keepin' me away an' I'll give you a proper thumpin'!"

What a stupid question. There was no way he was going to stay away!

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Re: 4 June; Boys at Work

Post  Fingers Smith on Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:17 am

Good! Fingers giggled again and, in an instant of inspired glee, danced forward to snatch at his mate's hat. The fact that he now had one of his own was irrelevant. Corporal Thompson's promise to get them a skylarking had sent his spirits soaring. A bit of a game before he had to report to the gunner seemed like the perfect thing.

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