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24th May, Morning - Deck

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24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:05 am

It was best to forget what transpired below, ignore the sole idea that he had talked in such secrecy with the master-at-arms. He said nothing that could have brought others into peril, snitched not even on those he had deemed to speak a word in ill manner. It was a grand change from what would've been done when first arriving on that deck. He sighed. It was a pleasant evening, a fine enough night that turned much less pleasant at the very end. But he was again alone, which he thought to cherish even if with few men passing or going about their duties.

He touched a rope, feeling the curves of its threads. He wasn't drunk, just contemplative, lost in the world that was no longer that of a midshipman, but of a mere Tar. Which, was not as bad as it once was. His arms, slowly forming with muscles, his palms somewhat harder from the actual work, even his gait was different and not as pompous as once it was.

There, on land people rejoiced, perhaps woke from their drink induced slumber, perhaps they were harried up to go on, or were just realising that their wallets had gone. Some would curse, some smile, wave their lasses good bye. He looked down at his palm where a small bag was tied, few coins in them. He frowned.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sat Sep 19, 2009 8:32 am

Bolitho came up from his cabin and walked out onto the deck, taking a deep breath of the fresh morning air. He glanced around the deck, expecting to find everything in order, and he was not disappointed.

Upon turning around, he very nearly walked into a small sailor standing nearby. It was De Guarde. The boy had been so quiet Bolitho had not even noticed him. The near-collision had startled him enough, but the fact that it was De Guarde startled him even more. That was not really in his nature to be quiet and unassuming, and upon looking again, Bolitho saw that he looked rather melancholy as well.

He fancied he could easily guess the reason for the boy's ill-temper, assuming that he was still smarting over his demotion. And he was surely going to smart over it a bit longer. De Guarde had been well-behaved so far, but Bolitho had no intention of returning him to his former rank anytime soon--if he would ever do it at all. Considering all this, Bolitho did not entirely relish having any sort of discussion with De Guarde. But having thus been brought abruptly into the boy's line of sight, conversation was unavoidable now. He at least had to give De Guarde a pleasant greeting.

"Good morning, De Guarde," Bolitho said, "I fear I was not really looking where I was going. My apologies."

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Sat Sep 19, 2009 8:39 am

A moment ago he was alone, and enjoying that solitude and peace, albeit with his thoughts not the merriest, then the next of all the people he would not have expected appearing the captain near stumbled into him. He took a quick step back, perhaps it was done too late , that it would have avoided any collision if that happened. His eyes darted to the man, and his initial reaction was barely to stand there stunned, speechless and not the least frightened.

The pleasant greeting had the boy's shoulders lower themselves, the stiffness still obvious, but fainter. The more stunned he was then by the apology , so that he resembled a fish, gaping, with his mouth opening and then closing. Not the sort of reaction he might've given so long ago, but even then he would possibly have been quiet about his feelings.

"Sir." He came to attention, how late that was, and saluted. "I..I'm sorry for being in the way." He spoke abruptly and took another step back, to give the man all the space he had wanted. He searched for words, though then he realised he could not speak, unless the captain would have so wanted. He didn't dare fidget, though there was more on his mind than just the captain's presence.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:01 am

In the way? The boy was not in the way. Bolitho simply had not seen him there, due to his unexpectedly subdued manner.

"No need for that. You are not in the way," he said. Nevertheless, he greatly appreciated the respect the lad showed and was glad to see De Guarde had at least learned that much. "But I suppose it would not go amiss to be a bit more alert on deck in the future."

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:09 am

"Yes sir, sorry sir. I will... make certain that it does not happen again. " The boy frowned. He felt awkward, eager to speak, ask and be informed, yet knowing that he could well thread on thin ice, and fall in without even a moment's notice. "Sir.." He began. What wore heaviest on his mind could not be mentioned, but perhaps there was something that might well solve the problem without a need to ever speak of it.

He slipped the hand that held his bag of coin behind him, and clutched at the wrist with his other. " .. permission to speak?" He bit his tongue.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:17 am

Bolitho was rather hesitant to hear what De Guarde had to say. But even though he had a good idea what the boy was thinking about, he could not know for certain. And perhaps whatever he wanted to impart was something important that Bolitho needed to hear.

"Yes, permission granted," he said, after a moment.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Sat Sep 19, 2009 9:31 am

He didn't feel like there was any reason that he could relax even if the first step was made. The captain allowed him speech, and yet the latter refused to come just then and he fidgeted gazing at the floor. He began to tug at the sleeve of his shirt and wish he had not met the captain on that day. How could one, who was a mere Tar ever voice anything but - yes , sir - if ever fall into a conversation with what was the god of that ship.

"...Sir..I..." He started and licked his lips, his voice had croaked, and he looked as though he would soon either need a gallon of water, or that he might shrivel like a dried piece of a leaf.

"..wos.., there's..." He frowned seeing how foolish it was to address a captain, but did he dare speak to a lieutenant? Neither Bush nor Leat would have done much but turned their backs, and even midshipmen felt distant now. "..I wos'..would like to ask.. two things.. sir." There, the stage was set.

"One.. one is.., " Ask that of a captain? Already his mind was wretched with doubt. One thing he could not speak of, another he thought was trivial to the man and then he was almost seeing Bolitho's face be replaced with his old captain's and it all went from bad to worse. "I'wusaskin'whetherIbe permitted'sumtime onshoreleave like everybody'else.." No, a fool's question, he knew it and already braced himself for the scolding that he was certain would follow.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:44 pm

"Pardon me?" Bolitho said, staring quizzically at the boy. It sounded like De Guarde had just asked to go ashore. "You were wondering if you could go ashore, is that it?"

That was not exactly what he had been expecting De Guarde to say. And truth to tell, Bolitho was not all that keen on allowing him to have shore leave. He had been on good behavior so far, but the question was whether he had been good enough to warrant such a reward.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Sun Sep 20, 2009 8:42 am

"Aye, aye sir." The boy fidgeted nervously. "I..m' name didn't come up not.. not last time or before, sir and...." He lowered his gaze. He felt guilty for what he had done the night before, though noone but a few sailors and two marines knew. He'd have liked if he was at last trusted with the leave, permitted.

"..and.. if ..if I would be allowed, it would .."He couldn't say that it would mean a lot to him, because obviously the captain could care less if he was happy or not. He had a ship to run, and though the morale was important, no man was going to be pampered like some rich born child. So instead of continuing the lad turned quiet instead.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:07 am

Bolitho pondered this for a moment. He was certainly hesitant about allowing De Guarde to have shore leave. The boy did not need to finish his sentence for Bolitho to know that he would appreciate being granted such a privilege. Yes De Guarde had been good enough so far, but the entire point of his demotion was that he had done wrong, by abusing his authority. So was Bolitho to go and reward him now for simply following orders and doing what he should have been doing all along?

"Going ashore is a privilege, De Guarde, and I must admit, I am not entirely certain that you have earned it," he said, giving the boy a serious look.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:17 am

"Going ashore is a privilege, De Guarde, and I must admit, I am not entirely certain that you have earned it,"

De Guarde's shoulders dropped a little. He should have expected as much. He sighed, though he tried to keep his feelings hidden at best that he was able and have a brave confident face instead of one of disappointment. Of course the lieutenants would not have spoken for him, not Leat he was certain, not Bush, not... well he'd heard rumours that there was going to be another change but one coming aboard so afresh would trust his fellows in rank more than a Tar.

"...I ... understand sir." Not that it was really important if he understood or not, nor if he agreed to it. He lowered his head, and for a few moments he was quiet. Was he even to say his other question out loud? If shore leave was not something he'd earned, then ... he squeezed his hand tight so that the few coins dug in his palm and a strained but evenly spared breath, escaped his lips.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:35 am

"I did not say no, De Guarde," Bolitho said, "But I did not say yes either."

It was apparent how much the boy had been obviously looking forward to the prospect of shore leave. How could he not? Bolitho could see that, but he also considered the source. He would not have hesitated a moment to grant any other sailor their request, but De Guarde was a different matter. Yet despite his past transgressions, the lad had been decently behaved of late. And Bolitho was not a tyrant, after all. Perhaps it would not hurt to allow the boy some time ashore...

Still, he remained silent for a few moments, watching De Guarde and pondering.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:39 am

If it was neither yes or no , then what other option remained and what would it mean for his future hopes of actually finding his name to be chosen and him granted something that looked suddenly quite precious. He chewed at his lip, then realising that he stopped and tried to relax his fist, and stop also the tugging at his sleeve.

What did the man mean? Neither yes, nor no. What then? "..what... what do you mean, sir?" He asked, braving himself up for such a question. Still the other remained unsaid. And he wondered if he would have mentioned or dare mention it anyway.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:55 am

"I meant that I had not made my decision yet...but now I have." Even though he feared he might end up regretting it later, Bolitho had decided to allow De Guarde shore leave. "I shall grant you shore leave, De Guarde. But--" and he made a point to emphasize the word-- "I want you to swear that you will be on your best behavior. I do not want to hear about you doing anything which would reflect badly on the ship or on me." He gave the boy an extra-stern glare as he added, "Is that clear?"

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:05 am

When the captain had said that he had just made a decision the boy froze and felt that even if at that moment he needed to run, he would quite possibly fail at even twitching his pinky let alone anything more. He stared when Bolitho continued and it wasn't with a simple - You did something wrong just a second ago, so you are destined to remain aboard forever! - but rather he was suggesting that he would grant him that!

"Sir." The boy felt himself shrinking under that gaze and knew that the man could be frightening if he only so wished. It did not need even to be supported by a threat for the glare itself had promised none of the good things and his past experiences had argued against distrusting that. He hadn't responded right in that instant and it was hardly that he hadn't meant to or that he disagreed with the terms, though he would have wished for slightly more lax ones. He was sure none of the sailors had been preached to before they were allowed of the ship. Perhaps they were told not to desert or even just trusted that they would know what, not returning to the ship, would mean.

"Is clear!" He found his breath, his mind and his voice. The very next moment he was smiling. ".. best behavour, sir, I swear .. I.. I mean, I promise!"

Movement returned to him and he nearly dropped what he held in one hand so glad he was of the news. "Sir.." He then pressed, not perhaps to test his luck, but with the knowledge that perhaps it would be a good long while till he was permitted or able to speak to the captain again. If there was the opportunity at all. He took a deep breath, steadied his nerves, still kept his eyes down respectfully and then added :" ...May... may I inquire on... may I ask just ..one more question sir, please."

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:12 am

Bolitho raised an eyebrow. Since he had just granted the boy shore leave, he could not imagine what De Guarde was going to ask now. Unless of course he would be so bold as to inquire about his hope of regaining his former rank.

"Yes, what is it?"

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:16 am

"..Sir.. I know.. I imagine that it shan't be soon and I am well aware it will be purely your decision and..." He was not starting the way he knew would have sounded best but then, he'd done many a thing that day, that he would not dare even consider and a few of those during the night too.

"..... though it does not matter whether I do.. I do respect.. and understand that I shall...." He hesitated and bit on his lip. "... I would like to ask...whether... You ...could suggest... how long... how soon.. might it be.. that.. you.. you may consider .." His voice trailed off and took his courage with it so all the lad could do was wave as if that would explain what he had meant.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:26 am

He was asking about regaining his former rank. That was quite bold of De Guarde to attempt such a request after having just gained something which Bolitho still felt he did not really deserve.

"If you are inquiring as to if I might see fit to consider reinstating you as a midshipman, the answer is that I will give the matter thought," Bolitho said. He had even made a point to say "if" instead of "when," since he was definitely not going to be thinking about that matter any time soon. "But I will not tell you when I will consider it, if I ever will at all."

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:39 am

The boy nodded. If ... the captain said If. It meant it wasn't certain he would ever want him to become more than a Tar and even if it was years later when he was reaching the age of twenty or more, to become a midshipman then.. the prospects of ever becoming more, would diminish, he was sure of that.

And if the if remained merely a decision that he would not be more than a Tar, he felt his lip tremble and willed it into stillness. "Yes sir." His voice had squeaked and his cheeks coloured in shame.

He flinched with those last words, it felt as if Bolitho decided to emphesize on that If, just to make sure that he noticed it, if he perhaps had ignored or misheared it earlier. The feeling of despair was creeping up on him slowly and he fought hard to keep it at bay. Atleast he had shore leave, he was allowed it, he could go. He could think to take one step at a time and cherish a day because of one good thing that happened in it. "Aye..aye, sir."

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:50 am

"Very well, De Guarde. You may be dismissed."

Bolitho could see that his pronouncement had had a decent effect on the boy. Perhaps that would help to keep him in line while he was ashore. The last thing he wanted was to hear about De Guarde causing a ruckus in the town somewhere. Bolitho vowed he would not give him shore leave again if the lad abused his privilege this time. And as for considering reinstating him as a midshipman, any troublemaking would certainly be the nail in the coffin for the boy's hopes of returning to his former rank.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:58 am

"Aye, aye sir." The boy began to turn. The last word, the single and so short, still remained in his mind, the if that bothered him more than if Bolitho would have promised him punishment. The uncertainty gave birth to all the negative suppositions and ideas of what would really happen.

"..Sir.." he began when he was already half turned, his voice timid and quiet, quite different from his cruel and cunning ways of the midshipman days, when he would only sound timid if he wanted to play a man on that feeling, though frightened he was even then.

"..is there... anything that...I could do, that would.. " He bit his lip. " reassure..... earn.. your favour sooner..'r least ..c..change if to.. when?"

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:17 am

"You can start by behaving while on shore. After that, I simply recommend doing exactly as you are told and not getting into any trouble here on ship." Bolitho eyed the boy, showing that no amount of pleading was going to change his mind. "Patience is a virtue, De Guarde, and you will need a great deal of it if you hope to ever become a midshipman again. And I cannot promise you that 'if' will ever be changed to 'when,' so there is nothing which you can do to alter that."

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:26 am

De Guarde felt that it was perfection that Bolitho demanded of him. How could a young boy of his age not get in trouble? How could he prevent others from getting him into it and what would even account for it? He felt a tightness at his chest, the urge to shout and wake up from the nightmare - for it was one to him. Perhaps someone else would have felt grateful and blessed, for in all truth his life wasn't that bad. Atleast if one did not remember the scrubbing of dung and the sort of any form and origin.

Patience was a word he was beginning to loathe. "..Thank you sir, for...grantin' me your time.." He whispered his voice quivering. He knew he'd been allowed more time than an average Tar would have, and that he had indeed been lucky.

"I... will.. try my.. finest." He added and then gave the man a sharp salute, more out of necessity than want.

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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Richard Bolitho on Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:41 am

"Good." Bolitho nodded, acknowledging the boy's salute. "Carry on, then."

He knew De Guarde was unhappy, but such is life. If he ever was going to consider reinstating the boy, Bolitho certainly was not going to tell him so. It was quite bold of the lad to even ask, but Bolitho was willing to let that slide for now. But if De Guarde continued to pester him with the same question, his chances of reinstatement would quickly diminish for certain.

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Richard Bolitho
Commander

Species : Royal Navy; Captain
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Location : Sailing towards the horizon
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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

Post  Mathew De Guarde on Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:00 am

De Guarde was quick on his feet to leave the captain's sight and did not stop till he was nearly at the railing leading below. He sighed and gazed at the land and then sea, that was considerably peaceful for the time being. He'd considered the captain quite a cruel individual who enjoyed and was highly entertained to see a lad in distress only because he did not grant him something that would end that worry. No, not only that, but he fueled that distress by offering no promise that the change would ever happen at all.

He frowned and gripped a hand at the wood. He had to step aside, for a sailor came past, and then gazed into the dark depths of the ship. "...bloody...." He uttered and disappeared below, pondering the words of the captain and how he could ensure himself not to be caught in no trouble. One thing was for certain,.. Chase, Shepherd, Thompson and the lot needed be asked a favour, even if they've already done it.

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Mathew De Guarde
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Re: 24th May, Morning - Deck

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