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Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

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Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:40 am

Oxley had just been relieved from his post as duty drummer. It was a nice day and he wandered for'rard, preferring to stay topside rather than head below straight away. He stood by the rail on the starboard gangway, staring at Terpsy's surrounding without really seeing what he was looking at. He tapped his drum absent-mindedly with his fingers, wondering what was happening now, and where Terpsy would go after this.

He shook himself out of his reverie as a boy in a blue jacket approached, and turned sideways to let him past, offering a salute as he did so.

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Tom Oxley
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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Sun Aug 23, 2009 9:56 am

Fletcher remembered that he should not salute back a fraction of a second after his arm had started to rise to his forehead. He swiftly changed the action to clasping his hands behind his back - an awkward movement, but it served its purpose. Disaster having been averted, he stiffly noded his head in the direction of the drummer boy, hoping to cover up the near gaff with the impression of being aloof. It rarely worked, but there was no harm in trying.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Sun Aug 23, 2009 10:04 am

The young gentleman seemed a little flustered as he clasped his hands behind his back. Oxley could have sworn that the younger boy had begun to return his salute before catching himself and nodding stiffly instead.

He grinned at the lad, slightly shyly because although Mister Fletcher was younger than him - maybe as much as half his age - he also outranked him.

"Nice day today, sir, ain't it?" he said, before catching his lip between his teeth and looking down. Maybe the young gentleman didn't want to stop and talk with the likes of him.

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Tom Oxley
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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Sun Aug 23, 2009 7:43 pm

"Yes, it is, isn't it?" Fletcher thought it only polite to answer back. He had not really talked to Oxley before, and was wary of doing so as he had seen the drummer boy a lot around with De Guarde lately - but atthe moment there was no sign of the ex-Middie. And Oxley was right, it was a nice morning; after the intense chaos of the landing parties and the capture of the fort yesterday any relatively quiet and sunny weather could be deemed 'nice'.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:16 am

Oxley glanced up to catch the wary look on Mister Fletcher's face and swallowed. He wasn't used to people being wary around him, even if they were very young midshipmen. He tried a friendly smile. "I... I ain't goin' to bite, sir. Honest. You don't have to be nervous of me, I promise, sir."

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Tom Oxley
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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:32 am

Fletcher's eyes widened slightly in surprise. That was exactly what horrible old Uncle Wiliam used to say to him everytime he had visted the Admiral. He, Simon, had been briefly brought out to be presented to this boistrous stranger, who had clapped his shoulder hard and asked too loudly "And how is the little lad, eh?", then laughed heartily in his face. Each time he could not help but recoil.

"I never thought that, Oxley," he said, somewhat defensively.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:37 am

"I..." he began and broke off. It had obviously been the wrong thing to say, but he wasn't quite sure what he'd said wrong. "I'm sorry, sir." He gave a half-shrug. "I just... I ain't used to talkin' with you young gennelmen, see, sir. I never meant to be rude or nothin'."

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Tom Oxley
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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:59 am

"Oh no, you weren't being rude, Oxley," Fletcher said, quick to reassure as he hated upsetting anyone - ever if they were from the lower deck. "It's just that someone I didn't like used to say that. It's nothing really, no harm."

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:05 am

He managed a half-smile. "Sorry, sir. I didn't know. You just... Well, you seemed a bit nervous, that's all. And I thought it was summat I'd done wrong, that made you feel like that. Like I said, I ain't really used to talkin' with you young gennelmen, see, sir." He shifted the drum a little, and managed a proper grin. "But I don't s'pose you's used to talking to folks like me, neither, sir."

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Tom Oxley
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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:30 am

Fletcher put his head to one side and looked up at Oxley thoughtfully.

"No, I'm not," he said finally.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:42 am

Oxley thought for a moment and then winked conspiratorially at the midshipman. "Don't s'pose you want to talk with me then... if you's free to, I mean, sir," he said.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:56 am

Simon blinked at the wink, but did not seem uncomposed.

"I suppose I am free to," he said. "There's no harm in talking at the moment."

It wasn't as if he was on watch at that time.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:01 am

"Well, that's all right, then, sir. You ain't goin' to get in trouble for talkin' with me, are you?" He unclipped his drum and set it down on the deck, out of the way. "Least, I ain't goin' to get you in trouble, but I don't want you to get in trouble 'cause of me, I mean, sir." He took his hat off and ran his hand through his hair before putting the hat back on at a jaunty angle.

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Tom Oxley
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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:05 am

"If you're off duty I don't see how we could," agreed Fletcher, and Oxley would not have dared take off his drum nor wear his hat so were he on duty. He could see the replacement drummer in place further along as well.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:17 am

"True enough, sir," Oxley said, and cast about for something to say that wouldn't make him look like an ignorant yokel in front of the midshipman. Mister Fletcher might be half his age, but he had proper schooling and everything. "Terpsy's your first ship, ain't she, sir?"

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:29 am

Fletcher nodded.

"She is, yes. But I knew about ships long before I came, and had been on board them lots of times; though it is a completely different thing to actually serving on one."

And learning all the names of the sheets, the sails, the technique of sailing, the gunnery drill...

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:41 am

He turned to lean back on the rail and look aloft at the spars and cordage of the mainmast. "It is diff'rent, ain't it, sir. I usedta sneak aboard sometimes when they was in dock, bein' worked on - me dad was a dockyard carpenter, see. Usedta take him his lunch an' then go wanderin' around, explorin'."

He grinned at the memory. "Though I was allus more interested in the Marines, me, sir. I used to watch 'em, sometimes, doin' their drill or just marchin' round the dockyard. Wasn't till me brother was pressed that I decided to make a go of it for meself, though, sir."

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:50 am

"Yes, I wondered why you were a Marine and he a sailor," Fletcher said, looking up with interest at Oxley. Even this boy'd had more choice than himself over his fate; even if it was only a choice of craftsman, sailor or soldier.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:56 am

He grinned down at the smaller boy. "Well, sir, it seemed to me that I liked the uniforms and that. And I thought... Well, I wanted to find him again, see, sir. So I... I ran away from home to 'list, two weeks after Sam - that's me brother, sir - was pressed." He sobered a little. "He... he was drunk, see, sir, most the time, Dad was. And he's got an awful temper on him. And I knew I didn't want to get stuck workin' in the Dockyard all me life, like him, not when I could get out and see summat of the world."

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Tom Oxley
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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:00 am

Well, that was quite a bit of lifestory that Fletcher had not expected to receive. He was used to the lower deck being unnaturally silent in his presence, so this amount of conversation was proving quite a novelty.

"I was always marked for the sea," he merely said in reply.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:05 am

"I..." He wasn't sure what to say to that. It was his experience that... Well, for one thing, he didn't hold conversations with the young gentlemen, in his experience.

"How do you like it then, sir?" he asked instead. He'd seen him go aloft with one of the other young gentlemen, but he didn't really know whether it was something the midshipman liked doing.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:08 am

Fletcher, despite all the careful tutorage of his elders, shrugged.

"It's alright I suppose. I think there are worse things I could be doing."

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:11 am

Oxley nodded. "There are, sir. There really are. And if you like it - even bits of it - it beats doin' summat you don't like, for the rest of your life." He glanced down, and tugged his cross-belt straight.

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Simon Fletcher on Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:19 am

The movement brought Fletcher's eyes down to the crossbelt. He blinked and then pointed to it.

"There's a tarnish just below the middle, there," he said softly. "Just so you know before next Divisions. It's small, but they'll look for it, if you know what I mean."

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

Post  Tom Oxley on Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:25 am

"Oh?" He looked down. "So there is. Thanks, sir. It can be pretty hard to see things prop'ly, below-decks. I'd've missed that, cleanin' it down there."

He looked up again, into Fletcher's face. "I think... I think you'll make a real good officer, sir. I do, honest."

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Re: Topside, 23rd May, Mid-Morning

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