Distant Horizons Chapter 3

 

 

Rachel continued her day as always. Inwardly her anticipation for the approaching wedding was growing; four months and three weeks had passed, and Brock should be coming home any time now. She tried hard to loose herself in her work, but since the British occupation even that had been reduced to a trickle. Now it seemed her only business was with English ships that had lost sails in battle with the French or Colonial trade vessels caught by Spanish privateers. But even then, the English had adjusted the pricing for themselves under the guise of “God King, and Country. The only thing that worked to her favor was the stores of sailcloth she had purchased from the French prior to the blockade, and even those would be exhausted soon.

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Captain Hicks sat at his desk writing entries in the log of the Endeavors daily events when a knock came on his cabin door. “Enter,” he said looking up from his work. His first lieutenant entered and saluted.

 

“Approaching the Falkland Islands Sir, lookout called the Land-ho just.”

“Very well, see to the ship, remove half the sail and slow for entry into the harbor, I’ll be up shortly.”

 

“Aye aye Captain,” and he stood at attention, waiting for further instructions.

 

The captain continued to write in the log, seemingly impervious, then after a long pause Hicks looked up and continued. “See that the men form up and ensure they are dressed appropriately. I want to see clean uniforms and neatly shaven men. This ship represents England and I’ll not have us arrive looking like vagabonds or privateers. Is this understood?”

 

To the letter Sir, I will make sure all the men are presentable.”

 

“Very well, I will be out to inspect them before we arrive, and Lieutenant, have Mr. Malloy fitted with a British seaman’s uniform, I’ll not have him tainting the Endeavor’s image with his privateer attire. Carry on,!”

 

“Aye Aye Sir;” and he saluted and turned smartly, then exited the cabin.

 

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Captain Stephens stood on the quarter-deck of the Horizon, holding his meerschaum to his mouth and deep in thought. Reports were made in La Rochelle of the English trade restrictions and escalations in Boston. Unsure of his welcome when he returned home, he had documents on-board that should pass his cargo as English goods purchased from The East India Trading Company. However, his cargo did include French clothing and fabric that was much higher quality than that of the English; but, he doubted the English Magistrate would know much about clothing. His mind returned often to the lost man and he dreaded its report once he returned to the harbor. The rest of the voyage had been uneventful and although the injured men were back to work, and stories were being shared amongst the crew, no mention was made of Malloy. His thoughts were interrupted by a call from the Crows-nest.

 

“Land ho!” the look out shouted and pointed to the coastline of the Americas.

 

Topper approached the Captain, “We’ve spotted land Sir, your orders?”

 

“See that we don’t look like scallywags when we arrive.” Stephens remarked, “let me know when you spot the entrance to the harbor.”

 

“Aye aye Sir, I’ll see to it myself.” then he started to depart but was stopped mid stride,

“And one more thing Topper,” the captain continued, “Please see that all of Malloy’ things are gathered together. I will need to take them to his family.”

 

“Would you rather I handled that Sir? After all, I am First Mate and it was I that sent him aloft. I should be the one that tells them what happened.”

 

“No, I am the captain and ultimately all responsibility falls on me. I will see them after stopping at the Mercantile and Chandler.”

 

“How do you think she will take it?” Topper asked solemnly.

 

“How would you expect she’d take it? Not well I assure you.” Stephens took a deep breath and leaned back on the railing. “It will be difficult, she wanted him on my ship, and now her future will be forever changed.” He took the last puffs from his pipe, then turned it over and held it over the side; tapping it against his hand to empty the spent tobacco. The captain placed the empty pipe back between his lips while musing over the possible reactions then he nodded his head and began, “She is a strong woman and I’m sure she will persevere.”

 

“The brief times I spoke with her regarding ship’s business, were very professional and she portrays herself well.” Topper replied. “I would have more difficulty addressing her with the news than I would Malloy’s family.”

 

“Never the less, she must be told and the responsibility falls on me to be it’s barer.” He began filling the bowl with fresh tobacco.

 

“I will gather his things and bring them to your cabin.” Topper assured him.

“Carry on then,” Captain Stephens replied, “I will wait to hear from you.” He lit the pipe and went back to his cabin, to make the final voyage entries in the log.

 

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Trevor Bryson, a retired Sea Captain, walked the dock of Boston’s harbor looking to the inlet.  Off in the distant he could make out the familiar sails of his old friend’s ship. He smiled softly to himself and turned towards the mercantile.

 

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Lieutenant Farthington sat at his desk in the temporary garrison established in the town square, going over reports of activities by colonist. Sergeant Colby Tanner knocked on the entryway of the open door to the office. “Lieutenant Sir?”

 

 “Enter…” Farthington answered with out taking his eyes off the documents before him.

 

 “There’s a ship entering the harbor.”

 

 “And it’s sails?” The lieutenant inquired.

 

 “I’m not sure Sir, its sails look French but the ship appears English.”

 

 Farthington looked up from the reports, “English ships do not sail with French sails sergeant!”

 

 “I understand sir, but I only observed…”

 

 Farthington cut him off, “Get me the name of the ship and her Captain. Take a detachment and bring him before me when he moors. I want to see his ships log, manifest and bill of laden.”

 

 “Very well Sir.” He came to attention and rendered a salute.”

 

 “Carry on Sergeant,” and he returned to the documents.

 

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Captain Hicks walked onto the main deck of the Endeavor where his lieutenant had ships company dressed and standing at attention. “Ready for inspection Lt. Barnes?”

 

 “Aye aye Capt.n”

 

 Captain Hicks walked down the line of sailors in their dress uniforms and ready for their arrival in Port Egmont on the north east point. As he passed each man he examined their uniform and appearance. “Lieutenant?” he said as he paused in front of one man.

 “Aye Sir?”

 

 “Does this man not own a razor?”

 

 “I would assume so.”

 “Well perhaps he needs instructions on its proper use?” The Captain remarked sarcastically. He turned and addressed his First Officer. “See to it he is instructed on it’s use and he can stand inspection after his watch tomorrow morning. Then we’ll see about shore leave.”

 

Lt, Barnes turned to the man, “Return to your bunk and prepare for watch, dismissed.”

 

 “Aye aye Sir,” he replied falling from formation and went below.

 

 Captain Hicks continued walking the line until he came to Malloy, “Well you look presentable now, I trust you will not dishonor the uniform?” Malloy stood at attention and made no response. “You see Lieutenant; these colonials can be made into citizens.”

“You will remain onboard for now Malloy, until I decide your station.”

 

 Brock tried to reply “Sir if I may?”

 

“There is no talking in ranks, you’re at attention!” Lt, Barnes scolded.

 

 “Its all right Lieutenant, He will learn as time goes. Now Malloy, what were you going to say?”

 

 “Its my Fiancé, I was hoping to get word to her of my whereabouts.”

 

 “You forget, Mr. Malloy, you are a prisoner until I can find reason to change your stature. You are not allowed outside communication until after we return to England, and you appear before the magistrate. But I will send word to the Colonies of your safety and status.” He turned to Lt. Barnes, “Lieutenant, make a note to send word while we are in Port Egmont.”

 

 “Aye Aye Sir” The Lieutenant replied.

 

 “Will that be sufficient Mr. Malloy?”

 

 Brock’s face shown disappointment but he nodded his head and answered, “Yes Sir, Thank you very much,”

 

 “Think nothing of it, it’s the least thing I can do. Now go below and prepare to stand watch.”

 

 “Aye Sir,” Brock replied dejectedly and fell out of formation.

 

After he had gone below the Lieutenant turned to the Captain. “How will we send a message to the colonies, and to whom shall we wend it?”

 

 He’s a prisoner Lieutenant. “I have no intention of sending any message. See that the men on duty get the supplies off-loaded and dismiss the crew.

 

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Trevor entered the Mercantile and Chandlery. Mr. Cuttleford stood behind the counter stocking tobacco, and arranging the tins. “Mr. Cuttleford,” Trevor began, “Would your daughter be about?”

 

 “Yes, I believe she is in the Chandlery. Is there some way I can assist?”

 

“No, just thought I’d mention there’s a ship coming in the harbor, thought she’d might like to know?” he grinned.

 

 Cuttleford smiled, Yes yes that she would,” he replied excitedly, “that she would.” He hurried back to the rear portion of the store to get Rachael.

 

 “Rachael, come come, Captain Bryson has news, it’s the Horizon. She’s coming in.”

 “The Horizon?” Her face lit up, “It’s coming? He’s finally back!” She hurried to the front of the store and out into the streets lining the harbor.

 

 As she waited for the ship to come along side the pier, her anticipation grew. The Horizon looked proud as it’s captain skillfully brought her in to a soft birth. Lines were tossed over to men waiting on the pier. She watched anxiously as the Horizons sails were stowed and tied to the yardarms. The men onboard pulled tight the mooring lines and set the shock ropes, securing the ship so her cargo could be safely off-loaded.

 

 Rachel’s eyes searched the rigging for Brock, she knew he must be somewhere; but as hard as she tried, she could not discern him from the other men onboard. Then she saw them; a squad of English soldiers information coming down the pier. As they reached the mooring the sergeant ordered them to secure the pier.

 

 “By order of Lieutenant Farthington No man is to leave this vessel or contents removed until it has been cleared.” Sergeant Tanner announced as the men took their positions. The sergeant then turned to the Horizons and to the Captain standing at the gunwale. Captain, you and your first officer will accompany me to the magistrate and you will bring your manifest.  

 

 “Captain Stephens face showed no emotion, “Is there a problem Sergeant? My men have been onboard many months and are anxious to get back to their families.”

 

 “In good time Captain, now if you will comply with the Lieutenants orders…”

 

 “I am not military Sergeant, nor is this ship. By what right do you restrain my ship and hold my men?”

 

 “Many things have changed since you left Boston Captain. This port is under English Law by order of His Majesty King George. All trade in the Americas are to be conducted with the East India Trading company and taxes imposed. Any goods not bearing proper documentation or the East India seal will be confiscated as contraband. Now please bring your manifest and accompany me to Lieutenant Farthington for clearance. The sooner this is done the sooner you can off load this ship and your men can return to their families!”

 

The captain remained stoic in appearance and mannerisms as he calmly turned to his first officer. “Topper, bring the manifest and accompany me to meet this Lieutenant. Suds,”

 He called out below. The lanky crewman appeared from below.

 

 “Aye Capt’n,” he replied as he came on deck.

 

   “You know the routine as well as any man on-board. Have all the cargo brought on deck, I’m sure they will want to compare it to the manifest before we can get it off-loaded. By the time you have it all topside, we should be back.” His eyes caught Suds,  “Make sure the East India seals are in plain sight so we can get it cleared when we return.  ”

 

 “Aye Sir, We’ll ‘ave it ‘ready when ye coom back.” He smiled and gave the captian  a nod.”

 

   Captain Stephens turned to Topper, “Alright lets go.”

 

   Topper turned to the men standing on the quarterdeck, “Lower the gangplank for the Captain. After it was lowered and secured  the Captain and topper walked down and were escorted from the pier. Rachel’s eyes met Captain Stephens. His blank stare gave her an eerie feeling; she knew something was wrong by the way he looked at her. But, she would have to wait until he returned. Again she searched the ship for Brock but could not see any sign of her betrothed. Her building anxiety was now turning to fear and concern.  

 

 

  ‘

 

 

 

 

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Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for this perfectly written chapter. Can't wait for the next.

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