Story for the Day: Riggyls and Mowett
My tracker tells me I have not posted this story yet, though I could have sworn that I did. If I have, be very good and leave me a comment below. If not, here is a story about the beginnings of Danaco's crew:
He went over the names again, and when he came to the last two on the consignment list, he looked up from the page and said, “Riggyls.”
“Oye, sah,” said a voice, in a rasping grunt.
|Danaco by Cassandra Florence|
A raised brow and an interested glance was all the intrigue the captain would give towards the misshapen man standing before him: his mouth was clamped in a perpetual pout, his jowels hung down from his cheeks, and with his back bent and hands gnarled from work, the captain wondered at how such man could be used aboard a frigate. He looked again at the consignment sheet, saw the position of navigator beside his name, and as the man was set to sit in the crow’s nest or stand beside the helmsman, the mahogany hue of his cretaceous skin would do very well for a scout who must always be in the sun.
“Is that you, Riggyls? By Myrellenos, your name is impossibly Marridonian.”
“Oye, tha’ ittis, sah,” the scout professed.
“As is your accent. How amusing your drawl is. If you be a slipshot sailor, you should be a lark in the hold on a wet evening, to be sure. We shall have you skinned of your galligaskins and flogged till you dance in a circle.”
“Fank yewe, sah.”
Danaco could not but smile. “Do tell me where that accent is from. I must know, that I might import the species entire and have you galavant about my ship.”
“Awm from Lowah Alys, sah.”
“Well, I suppose you are. You someone must be. It is a place to live after all. Is everyone from Lower Alys as atrociously charming as you, Riggyls?”
Riggyls thought hard, and then said, “Aw dah say sow, sir.”
His mouth curled into a happy flout, and Danaco was enormously delighted.
“Very well, sir. You have a person and a character that are of a peace with what belongs on my vessel. Be you a good seaman, and you shall be welcome for as long as you should like to do the work. You may board.”
The scout saluted and shambled up the gangplank, and Danaco watched him mount the deck, cherishing a grin before turning back to the last of his new crewmen. He looked down at the page and saw there, in an unintelligible scrawl, the name of the helmsman.
“By Myrellenos, what a hand you have,” Danaco exclaimed, tapering his gaze and holding the page away from him. “How I can hardly make it out! Your sailing had be expert, and that’s all. What is your name, helmsman, as I cannot read it here?”
He put down the page to look at the only man remaining on the pier, but when he gave the helmsman a thorough inspection, his neat features, clear complexion, and general prettiness did not agree with his notions of a well-tanned seaman.
“Mowett, sir,” said the helmsman, tipping his hat, and bowing low.
Here was a chary look. “Another Marridonian,” Danaco remarked, affecting not to notice the graceful movements and easy mulebriety, “though certainly not from the north.”
“No, sir,” said Mowett, with a gallant obeiscence. “Llangolyn is my home, sir.”
The smooth tones, the melodious pitch and pleasing cadence played against the captain’s discerning ear, and the high cheekbones, sparkling eyes, and blushing complexion betrayed what clothing and cropped hair would try to conceal. Everything about the helmsman seemed incongruous: Danaco’s eye told him he was observing a man, but his intuition discerned something different, descrying qualities and features that recommended the helmsman as being a woman. He knew it must be so, for he knew no man who could wear so well the true blue eye, pallid skin, befreckled features, rounded maw, and pleasant smile that was so indicative of the higher ranks of Marridon life. While her attributes conveyed her femininity, her aspect told a different story: her expression was fierce, her carriage and hips were straight, and when she stood, she stood firm and at attention, rife with ambition so becoming in a young sailor. All this could not fail to tempt Danaco’s notice; he let it pass, however, hoping that whatever her history it would soon be told or found out. She must be an heiress running from her many thousands, or a lady escaping an untoward marriage. The all would soon be discovered, and Danaco was satisfied, for while it was not forbidden for a woman to be at sea, it was unlooked-for by many a captain: many feared for woman’s safety and tranquility aboard their vessels, some not having room enough to accommodate woman’s privacy, some fearing the appetites of wearied and ravening men on a two months’ journey round the seas. He wondered whether he should keep her at last: he would never suffer to turn a willing and able sailor away, be they man or woman, but here was one whom he would have to keep the men if he must maintain her secret. Few women were wont to disguise themselves to board and work a gunship, but why they should do so when their presense was not illegal was a wonder to himself. His silent would answer, and he owned himself highly interested to see how the thing would unfold and therefore only welcomed her aboard and walked with her up the gangplank.
“Hear you both,” Danaco announced, calling his newest crewmembers to attention on the foredeck.”I am a firm but fair master. I eagerly reward excellent service, but I never hesitate to punish where it is merited. My word on my vessel will be obeyed, the ship is to be run tight and kept in proper order, and any command you give must be first sanctioned by me.”
“Oye, sah!” Riggyls cried, slapping a fist to his chest by way of a salute.
“Yes, sir,” said Mowett, in a deepened voice, intended to be more masculine.
Danaco turned aside and spied Mowett with a sideways glance, the corners of his mouth wreathing in a sagacious grin. He wondered whether Mowett was sensible of his having found her out, but in sharing a pause and a conscious look, he saw no apprehension in her aspect, no fear of having been discovered in the features that pretended to belong to man. She returned his gaze with one of true sincerity, with the fervency and fortitude of an unwavering novitiate, and the captain smiled to himself and regaled in her little pretense.
“Well, you both of your have your orders and your duties,” Danaco continued, placing his hands on his hips and seeming satsfied. “Everyone seems accounted for, as I have only rescued a few of you from the ravaged bowels of Marridon’s lower quarter.”
Mowett tried not to laugh, and Rigglys appeared thoroughly confused.
“But where is my new deck hand? I thought we were to have one and yet there was no name on the list. I did order one. How inefficient your Marridonian docksmasters are. I ask for a full crew and I get but a portion of what I demanded.” Danaco glanced down at the floor boards. “The deck does look pristine, certainly more so than when I went ashore. There must be a new deckhand hereabouts, though I do not see him. Attention all hands!”
The bustle aboard the ship was suddenly silenced. All those on the foredeck were still and standing at the attention of the their commander.
“One of you has newly come aboard. The docksmaster at the yard has not put your name on the register. You will come forward and present yourself directly.”
“Here, sir,” said a reticent voice.
Danaco turned toward the foremast, and approaching from the maindeck was a small woman, coming toward him with a clointering step. Her hair deshelved, her back was bent and poorly formed, her head hung low at her chest, her long limbs lining an altogether distorted frame. The mop in her hand appeared to prop her up against the ground as she walked, supporting her crambling tread with mild gravity. She stopped before Danaco and inclined her head, though it was already somewhat inclined, her many skirts scrooping against one another in a conversation of material whispers, her mop sloshing against the deck as she dragged it from behind her round to the front. Her appearance could not disturb or disgust anyone aboard a vessel made up of so many questionable characters and disreputable countenances—Danaco certainly was delighted with her—but her being the only supposed woman, or openly admitted one, in the crew caused some exsibilation amongst the ranks.