As I See Fit - Part 3 - Beginnings
Lawrence Endicott stood with the Governor's lady and two other women, all four of them balanced cups of coffee on one hand and the ladies at least were gesturing with the other. Endicott was listening more than talking. "Yes, but you didn't have to live with her." The Governor's lady's cackling laugh rang out. "Really, Lawrence, this night will do for her what all your talking could not do."
"You know, I saw them walking almost every day from my house. I knew that they would marry. They made the sweetest couple. You must be so proud, Mr. Endicott."
"There are times, madam, I am just glad to be having her out from under my roof, or rather from your roof, My Lady." Lawrence answered, turning once again, as he had done many times that morning to look at this daughter, his face radiating his pride, belittling his words. He knew that neither Amanda nor Edward had wanted any of this; wanting only a simple ceremony and then go off on their own.
Admiral Self, standing with his back to Endicott, was in deep conversation, serious conversation with young Pengarth, who was dressed in his only long tailed coat, white collar patches and shiny new dirk. All his uniforms had gone down with the Aurilie as well and he was clothed new from the skin out. His eyes shown with pride, for the Admiral was talking about him. Endicott listened with only half his attention. "So young man, I hear from Lieutenant Rimble that it was you who picked your captain out of the sea."
"Yes, My Lord, but couldn't have done it without the captain teaching me to swim. I should be forever grateful to him for that." The boy said, in a high pitched breaking voice, taking another drink of his coffee. "I am sorry to say, I fell from a yard, he pulled me out, then when he was sure that I was living, he had me thrown back in. It was sink or swim at that moment. I swum."
"I can see that young man, I can see that." Turning to Endicott, he said, "Does it seem like the group is thinning out, Lawrence? I was hoping to make an exit at some point, and the noise has died down." Endicott nudged him and nodded toward the bridal couple. "Oh my God, I was afraid this was going to happen."
Endicott saw only the edges of Amanda's wedding dress, her bonnet's plain veil, now turned back, was obscured by the feathers of Wyndham Simpson's headdress. He could see her face, framed between the Commodore and his wife, turned toward Edward. Her face was expressionless, her eyes huge.
"I'll break them both." The admiral muttered, the joviality completely gone from his voice. "I will do it." The man's mouth was open slightly, his jaw dropped, eyes hooded under his bushy brows. "I warned Pellew not to cause trouble and I warned Simpson when he showed up uninvited at the chapel this morning. Damn it, I will not be disregarded."
It was as if Edward had heard him. With his left hand grasping the scabbard and his right having withdrawn the sword a few inches, he had stopped. Suddenly he was conscious of his bride standing next to him and his friends around him. His upper lip drew resolutely down, as if he was biting it inwardly. His eyes never softened.
"Commodore Simpson. I will not let you draw me into this action. This is my wedding day, and I will not let you bring the specter of death to my bride's door." Amanda reached for his arm as it relaxed, reseating his sword back into the sheath. The sound of anger came through the civil words. "Enough." He sighed, turning to Wyndham.
Amanda's other hand stole over his forearm, he covered her hand with his, turning to her. "No, Amanda. This has to end here." He looked back at Wyndham. "Wyndham, I'm sorry for what I did. No man should ever attempt to take a woman by force. It was something no gentleman, or any man for that matter, should have done. I demeaned your honor and mine. Please, Mrs. Simpson, Commodore, accept my apologies."
Wyndham's face was haughty, one eyebrow drawn up, looking first at Amanda then to Edward. "It is not enough." She gave the Commodore a gentle push and the couple moved off, making their nods to the Admiral and the Governor and leaving the hall.
Edward did not loosen his hold on Amanda's hand.
What was enough?
The Admiral, his body relaxing, his own hand dropping from his sword hilt, said, "I think we've just seen our captain grow up."
"But at what price?" Said Endicott, beginning to move toward the couple.
"No, Lawrence. This is not your place now. Let them work it out." The Governor said, drawing his friend away from the hall into a small drawing room.
Amanda had been everything he could have asked for the remainder of the day, laughing on cue when he turned from the bride's cake she held to him and serious when she cut the groom's cake. When she tossed her small bouquet, she sailed it directly for Charlie Hammond, for most of the young women had latched onto him, resplendent as he was in his new captain's uniform.
When they finally climbed into the hired coach, and were allowed to be alone for a few moments, he saw the uncertainty in her eyes as she looked at him. She said nothing, but she did not lessen her desperate grasp on his arm.
Pellew could see that his gig was festooned with greens, white flowers hung from the gunwales, and white ribands floated from the prow. The crew were dressed in their best jackets and white bordered straw hats, oars tossed and his cox'n waited, hat off, to hand his bride down into the boat.
She was gracious to his men, thanking the boats crew and unwrapping the wedding cake she had brought them. He in return expected to feed the ships company a wedding breakfast on the next morning, it was already arranged with the cook and his mate.
Distaining the bosun's chair that had been rigged, she came up the side. Edward, grinning at her spirit, climbed behind her, helping with the train of her dress. The gun that should have been at the entry port was lashed against its partner to the right, still she caught the hem of the dress on one of the entry port steps and he had to disentangle her, him holding one hand on the man rope, one foot dangling loose above the waves.
Finally, finally, after handling the introductions to the officers and masters, they stood before the double doors to the main cabin. He opened one and held his arms open for her. He swept her across the combing and into the cabin to the clapping and cheering of the Altamira's hands.
At some point during this day her trunks had been brought across and were lining the bulkhead. She opened one of them and pulled out a dressing gown. "Help me off with this dress Teddy, it's about to kill me." He reached for the laces in the small of her back and pulled the bow loose. The laces pulled easily from the tiny eyelets and the hooks did not pose a problem, in seconds the dress hung loose and he helped her pull it over her head, loosing some of her hair from its combs in the process. He unlaced her stays and she let the cincher fall to the floor, rubbing her belly and breathing deep. "This is wonderful." She sighed as she bent over at the waist and stretched her back.
"Tell me Mandy, if you had to have help getting out of that dress, who helped you into it? And who will help you get dressed tomorrow?" He stood, rubbing his chin and watching her closely, one eyebrow cocked up and the other trying to frown.
Her face was blank. "The governor's wife's maid, and I do not know." She gave him a cowed look. "I didn't think about it. Father and I have lived so long in inns and other peoples houses, I haven't needed a maid."
"I despair, I really do." Was his entire marriage going to be a series of multiple subject sentences? He wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her from behind. "Tomorrow, m'dear, after we get you dressed, you will engage a servant for yourself. If you can find a manservant for me as well, I would appreciate it."
As she shook off his arms and reached for the dressing gown, she finally took a look around the cabin. "Teddy, this looks, uh, nice. Where ever did you find this wonderful material? I've never seen velvet quite so rich."
Sitting on one of the dining table's chairs she loosed her shoe laces and pulled them off as well, her toes digging with abandon into the Persian carpet that was spread on the painted canvas deck cover. Removing his own coat, sword and shoes and undoing his weskit, he sat on the window seat. They both spoke together. Giving each other their names. She touched her lips with a knuckle, waiting for him.
"Mandy, I'm sorry."
"Teddy, if you say you are sorry to me once more I'll throw you out those windows, then you can explain to your crew why you went into the drink." She smiled at him, a thin, almost imperceptible smile. "I married you for better or worse, so the worse started a little early. I know you Teddy, I know your problems and I know those things I love about you.
"You would have told me what you did at some point, you have never been able to keep anything from me before, I already knew about what happened in the garden, and I knew what happened in that room. I just wish for your sake the apology had been a little less public. And, I am so proud of you for holding your temper and not getting yourself killed. You never were a swordsman.
"But it's done and over now. We have the rest of our lives away from Kingston, away from the Simpsons. She thinks she's done her worst. What can she do to us now?"
Leaning back and resting his head against the window frame, using some of the overflowing curtain material as a pillow, he looked around the cabin. The lanterns were already lit, and a carboy of oil rested under his writing desk. On top of the desk a tray, covered with a white cloth, the outlines of a couple of bottles and a domed tray underneath. Over next to the starboard quarter gallery two ewers of water sat, ready for use. His crew had made sure their captain would want for nothing.
She rose from the chair and came to sit beside him on the window box. Her back braced against the starboard bulkhead, her knees drawn up and her toes tucked under his right thigh. Her dressing gown fell open, his eyes strayed, unbidden to follow the gap. "Turn around woman, and come sit over here." He held out his hand and she moved to come into his arms. He turned sideways in the window seat to put his back against one of the middle window frames using his uniform coat for a more substantial pillow, she rested against his shoulder both of them looking at the ships anchored in the Kingston roadstead.
"Teddy, you can see right into the cabins when the are alight! Can they see us?"
"Only if we light more lanterns and let the curtains stay open. See, there's Simpson's ship, and next to it is Radamanthus, I don't know who has her now." He pointed out two or three others, then let his arm come to rest around her shoulders, laying across her breast.
"Is there any other secret that I should know? Teddy, I don't like surprises."
"I don't think so. But I've lived a rough life, Amanda. And I'm not perfect."
"Edward, make me your wife." The stars had begun to twinkle and the dim light in the cabin from the one lantern only gave off enough light to avoid the furniture. He blew it out. The young man had no need for light, his hands had dreamed of this moment. The moon showed every promise of coming up, it's light already brightening the horizon.
She met his lips eagerly, trading him embrace for embrace, touch for touch. Pushing her dressing gown back and off her shoulders, he guided her to step out of it, he raised her shift and pulled it over her head. Her hands were busy, his already open vest came to lay on her dressing gown and she lifted his shirt, Her hands exploring his chest, playing with the few wisps of hair. She knelt down in from of him, loosening his knee buckles, caressing his calves and feet as she removed his stockings, "To have and to hold." She whispered as he drew her up from the floor.
"For better or worse," He replied into her ear as he drew the lacings on her pantaloons, loosing them from her waist, as they joined the dressing gown and shift, she encircled his waist with her arms, taking another kiss. He kissed her neck, his lips trailing fire down her shoulder. "Richer or poorer."
Touching her hip, he slid his hands downward to remove her garters, "In sickness and in health." He said as he rolled down the first of her stockings. She leaned over, untying his hair ribbon and freeing his braid. She turned his face upward to her.
"To love and to cherish." She grazed the scar on his forehead with her lips. His hands became still on her feet.
He raised first one foot and then the other, removing the stockings from each, he remained, kneeling, his dark hair streaming over his shoulders to brush her feet, he followed the brush of hair with a brush of a kiss, then looking back into her face, now lit by the strong light of the risen moon, "With my body, I thee worship." He whispered.
Reaching for his shoulders she drew him up to stand before her. She began again to trace the wisps of hair on his chest, this time following them downward, he trapped her hands between them, holding her head with both of his hands and kissing her deeply, She could feel his arousal. He kissed her again, ravishing her mouth with his, demanding, impatient. "Amanda, this is no child's play." He said as he pulled away, his right hand moving to loosen his breeches, his left still held her close to him.
"Edward, I'm not a child." She returned his kiss with equal ferocity, pulling back to brush his hair from his face. "Till death do us part."
His voice caught in his throat, an intake of breath as the last buttons were freed and the last of his clothing fell to the floor. He forced her back, until the backs of her thighs rested against the cut down four poster. He drew every covering from the bed except the sheets, his strong hands around her waist he lifted her up, placing himself beside her, he drew the sheet over them both.
He felt her hands wonder across his back. He had lain awake, since all hands had been piped at four in the morning. Rimble was to have the deck, until he and Amanda should show at eight bells to host the breakfast for the hands.
She traced the ridges that criss crossed his back deliberately, her hands cool, where they had trailed fire the night before. Now, this secret, this shame must be faced. 'But this was all,' he thought, 'This is the last. I have no other things to hide from her.' He moved, preparing to turn toward her, her hands pulled back.
He turned his head to her. She pulled the sheet up to cover her breasts. "Go ahead, Mandy, touch them. They do not hurt, you know. They are quite old."
"What happened?" She asked, once again extending her hand, feeling the thin scar that cut between the tip of his shoulder and his neck, falling over onto his chest
"I was seized up." She looked at him, frowning slightly. "To the gratings, flogged."
"But, Edward, you are an officer."
"Not then, there were a few years I was turned before the mast. I did not tell you about it, not even in my letters to you." He turned on his side, facing her and reached for her hand. "I have not been a paragon of virtue, Mandy, you knew that before, before yesterday."
She sat up in the bed cross legged, sheet draped around her, feet sticking out on either side. Her hair was wild, streaming around her shoulders. He pulled part of the sheet over himself, covering his nakedness. He avoided her eyes, his fingers smoothing the sheet between them. "My first captain, allowed women in the ship in port, and he took his, shall we say, young lady with him. I was fifteen and full of my self. I thought I was God's gift to women, and acted like it. I thought if the captain could have his young woman, who was my own age, I could make a try for her too, and I very nearly succeeded." He closed her hand in his.
"He turned me before the mast, not even an able body, just like a pressed man. Then he turned me completely out of the ship in Liverpool. He had not left me ashore though, and maybe your father had something to do with it but I was taken up as an AB on another ship.
He drew her to him, sitting up and taking her into his lap her back to him, the sheet covering them both, he leaned back against the headboard, holding her. "This man, this captain, he knew us all, there were two hundred and sixty people, men and boys, and he knew our names. What a man, I would have followed him anywhere. He had his problem men, we all do, even in the best crews, and one of them was a gunner's mate who was in charge of my mess. He was fond of using his starter, used it more than was necessary, all my mess were seasoned man-o-war's men, we knew our jobs.
One day he beat the old man of the mess, we had carried this man, protected him, he had been in the navy for thirty years, I had seen enough and took the starter away from him. I almost threatened him with it, but remembered my place. Then the mate 'took my name' and I was brought before the Captain."
He tightened his arms around her. "He could have ordered me hung, but he did not. I was given half a dozen lashes. God, I remember them taking my arms and tying them to the gratings. I had seen it done often enough, but this was different." He stretched out his arms. He knew she was still in his arms, but the past was so real. He felt her turn in his arms to see what he was doing. His reality was not with her at that moment. His eyes closed, the grating was at his chest. She turned her back to him again.
"The lashings bite into your wrists, hurt almost as much as the cat. The bosun bent over me to check to be sure that they were tight and he whispered in my ear that he could not be easy on me, but he knew what I had done and that it was past time. He repeated that he could not be easy, the Captain was watching.
"I turned my head toward the quarter deck, and he was watching. I saw him signal to the first to start punishment, the drum rolled and that lash bit. I tried to pull away, but the grating does not allow that. Each stroke of the cat is nine independent cuts, for a half dozen that's fifty four lashes."
Her body, stiffening under his hands brought him back to her. He could tell she was revolted, but she let him talk. No one else had ever just listened to him. "The next stroke, I was as ready as I could be. I watched the Captain's face. Each time the cat bit, he closed his eyes. Most people watch the defaulter, but no one watches the captain. Each time his eyes opened, the pain was there. I wish I could tell you that I did not cry out, but that would be a lie.
"I took that half dozen and when they cut me down, my blood spattered the deck. I have never seen my own blood, you know, not in that way. But I walked, walked to the mess." His arms went around her and hugged her closer, an odd sort of triumph in his voice. "I expected my mess mates to clean me up, as we had done for others, but the surgeon was waiting for me. My courage faltered and he had to help me forward.
"I found the captain waiting in the sick berth. He was
sitting on my sea chest. I thought that chest was lost when I
was broke. He took off his coat and weskit and he dressed my back.
He washed the blood off, I could see his hands as he rinsed the
cloth out. 'You have a quick temper and you are impetuous.' He
told me. 'When you can govern these passions, Mr. Pellew,' Not
just Pellew, but Mr. Pellew. 'You can regain my quarterdeck. You
have shown you can defend those who depend on you, but you must,
must govern yourself.' He worked the salve into the cuts and crouched
down beside me. 'I will be watching you, Mr. Pellew.' He was as
good as his word, I walked his quarter deck first as midshipman
and a month later as an 'acting.'"
He buried his face in her hair. "Amanda, I think I would have, I do not know. I was desperately unhappy, lonely. I could not come home to you and your father, I was too ashamed for that. It is strange, but that beating may have saved my life. From that moment I began to form what I wanted in life. To command my own ship. Fly my flag in due course. To marry and have a family to come home to, when my commissions are ended.
"Amanda, do you still want your poor, scarred husband?"
"Edward, of course I want you. I didn't pull away from your arms, am I not still touching you? You worry too much. Don't be ashamed of these scars, they are part of who you are." They were silent, quiet until it became uncomfortable. "Don't you need to go and do something with the ship?" She said.
"Not right now." He kissed the back of her neck and she turned in his arms. Her hands once again playing across his belly. "I have other duties to perform."
"I'm going to send the carpenter to you today." He said as they returned to the great cabin after breakfast. "He is to do two things for you, he will measure you for your cot." He motioned to the cut down four poster, "That has to go, it will not do at sea. The other, and I am afraid you will hate me for this, you must get down to one trunk, and that the strongest. These ten, and I think I counted ten, must be cut down to one. When we clear for action, and we do it every day, that trunk has to be struck below. The other nine will go to the hold and you won't see them again until we drop anchor at Plymouth."
"Very well, Ted..I mean Captain."
Lawrence Endicott received his son-in-law in a torn up set of rooms at the Governor's residence. "We're packing up here, Edward, I understand I need to be aboard no later than Thursday noon."
"We sail with the tide, sir." Pellew looked around the rooms, here too, a number of trunks stood open, all being packed. "I need to give you the same instruction that I have given my wife, you travel on a ship of war, sir, one trunk only, sir. The rest travel in the hold."
"How does it feel to be a married man?"
"I think it quite suits me sir, I did not know it could be so, umn, well, comfortable. Waking and seeing her lying there in my arms, knowingcomfortable, sir" Lawrence, amused, watched Edwards face as it went through a range of emotions, ending with a half smile half scowl. "She is, well, far more spirited than I expected."
"Thank you for being charitable, Edward. I and my things will be on board on time."
The coach of the Altamira had become the business office of the ship, with Amanda in the main cabin, there was no other place. This day five men sat in the coach with the ships books open. First Lieutenant Rimble; Jacobs, the captains clerk; Bennington, the master; Forbes, the purser and Edward.
"The admiral was serious about the crew he could give us. We should have a complement of at least 350 souls, we have 250 and at present six passengers." Edward said turning the muster book around for Rimble and Bennington to see. "We don't have enough lieutenants. I will take a watch, but we still may have to use some of the senior petty officers perhaps? We could use the two older midshipmen if they prove to be decent sailors."
"What about our passengers? I know about your family, sir, but what of the others? Can they be of assistance if needed?" Rimble said.
"Charlie Hammond would stand watch if we need him to, but I'd rather not ask unless we have an emergency situation. The remaining three are doctors on the way home. They will be a help if we, well we should not. So. There may be at least one more passenger, I have asked my wife to engage a woman servant, she should not be the only woman on the ship. Normally we'd have the warrant officers wives aboard, but not on this trip."
Rimble spoke, "Captain, can we divide the main cabin, I would not want a single woman in the wardroom."
"Make it so. Mr. Forbes, what about our stores?"
He had welcomed Lawrence aboard that afternoon, Charlie had transferred his things earlier in the week. He had to admit, he was a bit envious when Charlie took Amanda ashore to do some last minute marketing, but it did get her off the ship before the powder hoy came alongside. "All fires out sir!" Rimble called to him.
"Very well, Mr. Stowe, you can begin transferring your casks!" Edward in working clothes, no uniform jacket, only breeches, vest and shirt with a new straw hat, peered over the quarter deck rail at the hoy as it was tied up alongside. The gunner and his mate, along with Buckland were supervising the kegs of gunpowder coming over the side. Buckland had been filling in wherever he was needed. Almost as if the man, for Edward had found that he was nearly the same age as himself, was trying to make up for the rough beginning.
Powdering was always a nervous time for any ship, all fires out, including the galley, everyone in the working party either barefoot or wearing list slippers. One spark could blow up the ship, He particularly knew about what could happen in that event, and in this case, possibly taking out several other ships along with his own. All other work was stopped and those who were not actively involved in transferring the casks of gunpowder were sent below.
The tackles creaked as the net with about twenty kegs was pulled up from the hoy. The wind, which had been gusting all afternoon, now sent a strong wind athwart ships, knocking the lowering net into the nearest cannon's cascable. "Avast!" The winching stopped.
Was that Buckland? Pellew came to the quarter deck rail. The gunner stuck his head up out of the companion way. "Why'd ye stop. Come on, we've got to get stowed!" The gunner was angry, every line in his body showing it as he stepped onto the main deck.
"Sir, the barrels might be damage"
"Continue bringing them over, get that winch started again!"
"Mr. Stowe." Edward's head appeared at the edge of the quarter deck railing. "What is the problem?" The question gave Buckland enough time to check the barrels.
"This 'ere man, sir, he stopped the loading." The gunner pulled off his cap to Edward. "We'm on a schedule sir, we need to have the hoy back by eight bells sir."
"Are you convinced there is no problem with those kegs?"
"None that I can see, sir, I decided it was best to check before going further."
"I see. Mr. Stowe, you may continue."
Pellew sat in his day cabin in the coach, it was the first time all day that he had allowed himself a little privacy. Earlier he had made a decision, he would take a chance on Buckland. Much as the Kingston port admiral had done on him, and give the man his step to midshipman. The man had shown good sense this afternoon and deserved a shot. He had also cleaned himself up and as far as Edward could tell was not drinking to excess. Was he looking for a watch keeper? Maybe, but he did need another senior midshipman.
He checked the funds he had in his possession. There was still plenty from the prize money left. Amanda had brought her dowry, which was considerable, but he had bestowed it right back on her. Endicott had settled funds to procure a house and land by means of a wedding present. Simpson's words had cut deep and he was resolute that he would not use any of the Endicott money for his own advantage. Mandy's house, and he had seen the plans, was a pocket castle, and if it pleased her, well, that was all right with him. He would live in it, but he would make sure that every care was taken that HIS money would handle every thing else. Mandy was sure that the estate, with it's orchards and farmland, would become self supporting in a few years.
Mandy had told him that the land she had entered negotiations on, the minute they had agreed to marry, was in a spot he would like but was holding it as a surprise for him. That virtually assured him that it was on the sea somewhere.
'I'm not ready to settle her down yet,' He thought. 'I want her to go to sea with me. I want to show her the world. To have her see what I have seen. She can buy her land and build her house. But I don't think I will let her live in it just yet.'
Could he contrive a war? With the command of a frigate, prize money was always a possibility. His current pay was 150 pounds a year, give or take a few pounds, he could save some by only having one servant, he was doing better than that now. He had no servant as of yet and the navy would pay him eleven pounds a year times the eight servants he was allowed, let's see, that's eighty eight pounds a year, but he did need at least one servant. So that's eighteen pounds, 9 every month. To support himself and Mandy and chino he was not going to think about that now. Mandy could spend more than that in one day. And probably just had, for he heard Charlie and she in the passage.
He counted out five pounds from his funds. That should be enough to provide for the man's first set of uniforms. Laying it on the table, he sent the sentry for Buckland.
Amanda was moving through the short companion way to the main cabin, "Good evening, Mrs. Pellew." She smiled at him, he caught her around the waist, "You've been gone all day."
"I have been taking care of your stores. Charlie and I have procured everything that we could think of for our comfort and your ease. Also, Edward!" He had pushed her back against the bulkhead and had taken advantage of the absence of the sentry and her good mood to nuzzle her neck and take whatever kisses he could get away with. He had been a bit cruel earlier in the day and she had been perturbed.
"Do you want to try out your hanging cot tonight, Mrs. Pellew?"
"Did you know that your carpenter told me after he measured me that he would have to measure you again? When I asked him why, he laughed at me!"
"He probably made an assumption we would want to sleep together at some point on this voyage. I don't understand that idea, do you?" He felt her arms go round him under his coat pulling him to her. "You wanton. Seriously, though, after tonight I will be sleeping in the coach. I will get called during the night watches and do not want to disturb you. That horrid four poster will go in the hold in the morning." He bit at her earlobe.
"Captain Pellew, behave." She pushed him back without much force. "Also," she said trying to pick up where she had been interrupted. "I have the local news and gossip." He stopped trying to steal kisses, but kept his body pressing on hers. "The gossip is that we will have a consort on the trip north to Boston."
"I knew that, came in the orders this morning."
"The rest is that there is another privateer, held by the same consortium that had this ship, and that will try to retake it. This is not going to be the honeymoon cruise you set out for us is it?" She had become serious, he stepped back. "They also know you are undermanned. Is that the right word?"
"Yes." That was to have been confidential. That information had been given to him, earlier in the day by Joshua, Admiral Self's secretary.
"Captain, your steward will be on board in the morning. I have hired a married couple for our servants. They are older, Captain, and want to return to England. The governor's wife recommended them. I would rather have a companion than a servant in any case."
"Mandy, we're going to clear for action at sunset tonight. We will do it every night from now till we reach Boston, then until we get home."
"Captain, you sent for me?" Buckland and the sentry appeard from the deck. The sentry's eyes followed Amanda, who was disappearing through the double doors to the great cabin. He would have to repost the sentry on the outside of the companionway to both the great cabin and the coach to allow them some privacy. "Mrs. Pellew, you will eat with me?"
"Of course, Captain." She closed the door between them.
"Buckland, where have you been? Come."
Once again, Pellew looked over the quarter deck railing at the starboard quarter of the Altamira. Everything was now set to rights and no scar of the Aurilie's sinking remained. This time tomorrow would see them well out of Jamaica and away from Kingston. The Emerald, thirty six, had moved her moorings and now was anchored where Simpson's flagship had been.
The harbor seemed particularly empty with the Antilles squadron
gone, but Edward had not been sorry to see them leave. Nor would
he be sorry to see Port Royal fall astern.
His attention returned to the Altamira. On the spar deck he saw Charlie Hammond who had a knot of civilians around him, including Amanda and Lawrence. When he ordered the ship cleared in a few minutes, Charlie was going to explain to them what was happening and where they should go, and go with out question or pause, when they beat to quarters.
Mandy had already received a rude awakening to military life when she had attempted to walk with him as he took his stroll earlier in the day. Before he had commanded the Aurilie, he had wondered why that walk was so important to the other captains he had served with. Now he knew, that it was about the only exercise a commander received!
It had been the new third lieutenant on watch when Mandy had climbed the ladder to the quarter deck, where he had already begun his walk. She had cut across the deck between the wheel and the mizzen and was making a straight line for him. 'I could have stopped it right there.' He thought, but it had been just too delicious to see Mandy flustered and it would also do to see how the new officer handled the situation.
She had walked with him almost every day since their marriage four days previous. Both of them treasured those hours as a bit of normalcy for her in this new life. However, this day she was late and had not appeared on deck with him. She was pinning the planter's hat to her hair when the new watch officer stepped in front of her, bringing her up short. Even if she was late, she was in a good mood.
"Good morning, lieutenant."
"Morning Ma'am." She tried to brush past him, he again stepped in front of her.
"I'd like to pass, sir."
"Sorry, Ma'am, no one is allowed on the starboard side of the quarter deck Ma'am."
"No Ma'am." Mandy's mouth had opened and then closed again, looking around for Rimble or the master, both of whom were usually on deck at this time. Today neither of them were. He could see her head tilt down and her mouth set.
"I will go to the other side of this deck, sir." She took another step. The lieutenant reached gently for her arm.
"Mr. Bennington?" The lieutenant called for the master.
"Yes, Mr. Stanfield." Bennington answered from the fife rail at the main mast.
"Please send two of the bosun's mates to the quarter deck, if you please.
"Aye sir." Answered the master. Edward stopped pacing and looked over the rail towards Kingston, biting his lip to keep silent. The lieutenant was going to remove her by force. Mandy was no less resourceful, she tried another tack.
"Mr. Stanfield, could you please ask my huthe Captain, if I might join him?"
"I'm sorry, Ma'am, I can't disturb him. Really, Ma'am, could you, would you, please return to the main deck."
He could hear the smile in her voice. "Lieutenant Stanfield, I will be glad to return to the main deck, if you will stop calling me Ma'am." Edward, in hindsight savored her answer, for he had never heard her claim his name openly before. "My name is Mrs. Edward Pellew," She answered slowly as if talking to someone who was not quite all there. "The Captain is my husband." And the rest was meant for him to hear, she still spoke slowly. "Please tell him, when he finishes his walk, that I called on him."
Stanfield's tone was relieved. "Yes, Mrs. Pellew, thank you."
"Mr. Stanfield." Edward said turning from the rail. "Mrs. Pellew may join me if she wishes. I will amend my standing orders later today."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
When they had reached the stern, Amanda pulled him to a stop. "Why did you do that, Teddy," He knew she used the name deliberately, "You knew I was there."
"It was a test, Amanda: to see what the man would do and to see if you would obey an order from someone other than I. Although, Lord knows, you don't obey me. If we go into action, you will need to obey others, for your own good."
"Well? Did I pass?"
"Do you want me to answer that question as the captain of this vessel or as a husband?"
"As the captain, no, you did not. When he asked you to leave, you should have left, your life might depend on it. I would have sent for you. As a husband, yes, you were resourceful and changed your course. I will be comfortable leaving you alone on shore when we have a family." He locked his hands behind his back, he saw Amanda wrap hers into the tails of her shawl, crossing her arms underneath it. He turned forward and began to walk. She followed. For several turns they did not speak or touch. He knew she was a pace behind him and was careful when he swung about not to cut in front of her.
On the fifth turn, he wanted to reach back for her, but he did not. Her obeying his orders was something that he must be firm on. On the eighth turn, he felt her hand steal around his elbow. He unclasped his hands from behind his back, bent his arm and trapped her hand. "Amanda, will you obey me? Instantly, without question?" He did not look at her, but uttered the question under his breath.
"As long as we are aboard your ship, and you are my Captain, I will obey you and your officers."
"Thank you, Amanda." 'I think we just had our first married argument.' He thought, 'And I think I won.' He was very happy she could not see his face, for he still led her by a half step, he was sure he wore a smirk or a smile he was not sure which and she would like to see neither. He controlled his face before the next turn and wore an abject look of adoration
"Captain, you look like a love sick puppy." She whispered. "Your deck crew might want a bit more decorum. Personally, I like your love sick appearance. But it might be better served later in the day."
Now, in the late afternoon, he unconsciously played with the ring on his finger as he paced alone on the starboard side of his quarterdeck. The bell had rung and the glass turned, he was ready to send his ship to quarters. It had been two and a half months since he had sent the Aurilie to quarters for the last time.
'This has all been too fast.' He thought, 'Aurilie, Mandy, Altamira, master and commander, post captain and husband within six months.' He was secretly relieved when the Emerald had been assigned to sail to Boston in their company. Her captain was a man he had never met, and knew nothing about. Pellew felt that he was either being trusted by men who had faith in him that he could do this job, or he was being set up for a failure.
He stopped his walk and closed his eyes, still rolling his wedding ring around on his finger. 'Dear Lord, keep my ship and her people in your hands, give me the wisdom to be an able captain and a good husband.' He turned to Rimble. "Beat to quarters, if you please, Mr. Rimble."
"Aye aye Sir."
He could hear the Emerald follow suit and clear for action. He pulled out his watch, he knew his people would be dismally slow. A new ships company could not be expected to clear in the time a crew that had served together for any length of time. "Mr. Jacobs, we will walk the ship." He led the clerk forward, they would go from forward aft deck by deck.
Dimly in the back of his mind he was listening for the cessation of the drum that would signify that Emerald had completed her clearing. Twenty one minutes. The Nautilus, a larger ship had cleared in less time. Still, twenty minutes would be their goal. It had taken his crew thirty three minutes.
He lay in the early morning sunshine. Six bells had been struck a few minutes ago, but he was not expected on deck for awhile yet. It would be just short of three weeks before he would wake up beside her again and he was jealous of their time. Last night, she had teased him without mercy, building to a climax that had left them both breathless. Now, she lay on her stomach, one hand tucked under her head, the other just touching his side.
He shook her shoulder, "If you want to walk and eat breakfast with me, you'd better get up. Out or down." She turned over, rolling up in the sheet. He could watch her in his shaving mirror as he brushed the lather over his jaw. She stretched like a cat, pointing her toes and arching her back. "You are not getting up are you?"
She shook her head, stretching her arms up. "I'll meet you for breakfast. I'm still tired." She watched him finish shaving and get dressed, she helped him comb out and plait his hair. "I won't do this tomorrow." She said with a tinge of sadness, "Your servant will take care of it." He knew she was reviewing the little ways they were being separated.
As he sent the hands to breakfast and started his walk, he was surprised to find that he had dwelt on those 'little ways' of separation himself. Was this how you slipped from young love into staid married life? 'If it is,' he thought, 'I don't think I like it.' He looked down at the deck to his left, where she should be and found no footsteps there, his arm almost ached for her hand. He spun on his heel and walked right aft, hands clenched behind him.
He felt her fingers before he heard her footsteps. Oblivious to the people working around him, he drew her close not missing a step, his arm around her waist. "You changed your mind."
"Yes, Captain, I did." She paused, wanting to say more, but decided not to. They made their turn, so practiced that it seemed like a well known dance. Their pose changed as well, the arm around her reverting to her hand in his elbow. "Are you happy, Edward?"
They turned again, with their backs to the crew, she placed her left hand under his coat touching his ribs just above his hip. "Yes. M'dear, more than I have a right to be. I love you Amanda Pellew."
"Captain, may I speak of personal things?" He looked into her face, it shown with the early morning sun and with something else, an afterglow perhaps? They turned again.
"As long as you wait till the next turn, and whisper." They walked in silence, turned.
"Captain, when you hold me like you did last night, and I feel your love, I know I am the luckiest woman in the world. I am so blessed with you as a husband." His body reacted to the memory. They turned back forward. He quickened his pace, hastening the turn aft. "Edward, are you all right?"
"Ohhh, I'm just fine." He stopped, turning to look at her puzzled face. "I think we'd best go to breakfast."
"But we still have more time, we won't have been served yet, this is too early."
"We have to go below, Amanda."
"Is that an order? For my safety?" If he were not watching her face, he would swear she was being coy. But Amanda didn't have a 'coy' bone in her body. What you saw was what you got.
"For your decorum, if not your modesty." He checked his watch, enough time before the breakfast things were brought. He spoke again, his voice reminded him of her's on the preceding day, slow and measured. "Mandy,..we..have..to..go..below. It is an order."
He stepped away from her side and pulled her in front of him. Her face changed in sudden recognition of what he needed. "Oh, aye, Captain." She said, as she led him below, a delicious grin spreading across her face.
He slammed the door to the coach behind him, slipping the lock into place. He could hear the carpenter's crew in the main cabin beginning to dismantle the cut down four poster. He drove her back against the bulkhead, his mouth ravishing hers. "Amanda," he gasped between kisses, drawing her skirt up, and working at the fastenings of her small clothes. "I love you." He drew the table away from the bench seat and sat down, drawing her onto his lap. In this position, she was taller than he and her arms went around his shoulders, her head was thrown back in ecstasy as he took possession of her. As quickly as it had begun, their passion spent and left them almost exhausted.
He did not let her go, but held her, her face buried in his neck. He answered her statement on deck, "We were made for this, Mandy. Never before have I felt this complete."
She repinned her hair back into place as the cook's mate brought in the tray and placed it on the table that Edward had repositioned by the bench. Pellew served her eggs and soft tack, she poured his coffee and sugared it. Sitting down next to him she buttered her bread. He began to fork up his bacon. "If I were an animal, Edward." She said between bites. "I'd swear I was in heat."
He choked, coughing out the bite of bacon, sending it flying across the table. He grabbed after it with a napkin.
"I want you all the time." She continued, "I didn't mean to say what I did on deck. I don't know what put that thought in my head. I'm sorry."
"No need to be sorry, m'dear, I enjoyed every minute of it," He looked across his coffee cup at her still flushed face. "But really, Amanda, it was wanton." He grinned at her, wondering just what kind of lady he had caught.
He wished that they had time for a proper honeymoon, to get this infatuation out of their heads before they had to parade themselves before so many other people. He realized that this woman, his wife, was not a prim and proper cold maiden, as so many of the 'ladies' he had been introduced to and had rejected, but a full blooded woman who gave as good as she got. He would never get her out of his head.
"Telling your husband that you enjoyed sleeping with him, is probably not a good subject of our morning walks, Mandy. I can't be running off the quarter deck with you every day, no matter how much I enjoy it." He forked the last of the eggs on his plate, dragged them through the fiery Jamaican hot sauce that he had become fond of and fed it into her open mouth, she shut her lips in surprise and he kissed her, grabbing his hat and disappearing out onto the deck.
He met Charlie Hammond who was coming up from the wardroom where he had breakfasted with Lawrence. The look on Hammond's face, one of a cat just having finished eating the canary, reminded him that the coach was directly over the wardroom mess. "Oh no."
"Oh yes!" Hammond laughed, "That bench squeaks worse than an old chain pump. You ought to have seen the look on her fathers face when he figured out what was going on! Ha Ha!" Hammond reached out and pulled a couple of long, dark hairs from Edwards coat, shaking his head.
"Give me some sea room here, Hammond, I've been married less than a week! The ink's not even dry on our marriage lines!" Pellew grabbed the dangling locks from Hammonds fingers and looked at his shoulders to make sure there were no more. "At least they are Amanda's."
Amanda had welcomed their servants, Mr. and Mrs. Grimes, on board and led them to the port side of the great cabin, where they were to be quartered, to be close to their charges. Mrs. Grimes, Millie, was a tall, thin woman with a pleasant face and work scarred hands. Millie hand carried her large sewing basket with her, held tight, as if her life depended on it. Mr. Grimes, balding, shorter than his wife, with a ruddy good humored countenance and white side whiskers, carried his aprons over his arm as he came up over the side.
In the harbor boat, the last three supernumeraries were vying for precedence to come aboard. Rimble and the ships surgeon met them at the side.
"Captain Pellew, Sir!" Rimble called from the spar deck.
"Yes, Mr. Rimble?" Pellew moved to the quarter deck rail.
"Passengers and last stores are aboard sir, we are ready to weigh at your discretion!"
"Thank you, Mr. Rimble." He turned from the spar deck and moved aft, picking up the speaking trumpet as he went. "Captain Gainsborough!" He hailed the Emerald's captain. Edward could see the man standing next to the binnacle, an older man, and one not fond of young men's caperings. Gainsborough was the senior captain, he was in overall command. He took his time moving to the larboard side of his quarter deck.
The Emerald, a smaller vessel than the forty four gun Altamira, also rode lower in the water, Edward's quarter deck, while it did not tower over the Emerald, was higher and Edward looked down into her.
"Yes, Captain Pellew?"
"Ready to weigh at your command, sir." Edward touched his hat to Gainsborough. The Emerald still had provisioning boats surrounding her sides. It would be some time before they were ready to up anchor.
What else could conspire to keep him in Jamaica?
"Mr. Rimble, come up to single anchor. I want to be able to depart as soon as the order is given." Rimble touched his hat and began to give the necessary orders. Within minutes she skewed to port, riding to the best bower anchor.
Pellew checked his watch, five fifty five, high tide in ten minutes. Boats were beginning to come away from the Emerald's side. Gainsborough had known today was the day for sailing, and he knew the hour. He and Rimble had the Altamira ready for sailing over forty eight hours ago. Pellew was offended by a brother officer's lack of preparedness. He began to feel the anger build.
He looked forward to see Amanda and Charlie walking toward the bowchasers. Charlie was doing what he would have wanted to do, showing her the ship and explaining the activities going on around them. Not for the first time, he wished he were the passenger and Charles Hammond the captain. She looked aft and caught his eye, her smile, proprietary for Charlie, widened into a true smile of delight for him. His anger at Gainsborough died.
He was almost startled when he heard Gainsborough hail him. "Captain Pellew, you may weigh and precede me into the channel. Let's go to Boston, sir!"
"Aye, aye, Captain Gainsborough." He turned to Rimble,
"Weigh anchor Mr. Rimble, Mr. Bennington, course south by
west for Portland Point, if you please. We're going home."