Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Various introductions aboard ship

A couple weeks ago I hit a wall with both Fly Away Home and Scuppernong Days. I possess a hideous talent for knowing where a story needs to go, and having no idea how to get there. But while I laid Fly Away Home on a shelf for a little while, I've been slowly pecking away at Scuppernong Days. I knew I needed to get Nick off shore and onto the ship and then the plot could begin. I did just that, and was surprised to meet one character in particular. Don't ask me why I was surprised--I just was. I knew I wanted a second cabin boy aboard Scuppernong, but I hadn't expected to find...well...him. Meet Elliott.
Okay, okay. I know there's no way this is 18th century garb, but who cares? :D

Nick squinted against the brilliant white light reflected into his eyes from the broad canvases that caught the wind and swelled like a grey goose’s breast. He stood, fascinated, but received a sharp blow on his back.
“Watch it, won’t you?”
Nick dodged the possibility of another blow as a boy slightly taller than himself shoved past. “Sorry.”
“Lookit—what’s your name and what are you doing on my ship? I’m the cabin-boy hereabouts.” The boy crossed his arms. His tone was blunt, but whether the boy was angry or not, Nick could hardly tell. His face registered nothing but disgruntled curiosity.
“Nicodemus Murdoch, sir.” Perhaps he oughtn’t to have put ‘sir’ after answering, but it was pure habit.
The formality seemed to appease the boy and he uncrossed his arms with a noonday shadow of a smile. “Mine’s Elliott.”
“Elliott what?” Nick asked. The boy crossed his arms again and his eyes were round. Nick wondered what he’d said wrong. He’d only asked a simple question.
“Just Elliott, Master Nicodemus Murdoch,” the lad said. He stared at Nick from his vantage point of two inches’ extra height, and sniffed with great contempt. Then he nodded toward a lithe, dark man carrying a keg on his shoulder. “That there’s Amaranto—he’s a Spaniard.”
Nick stared. He’d never seen a Spaniard before—he was more than a little disappointed to see the man wore none of the bright clothing of the matador that he’d assumed every Spaniard wore abroad or at home. Amaranto was clothed instead like all the other sailors in an open-necked cotton shirt and loose pantaloons.
Before Nick was finished looking, Elliott grabbed his arm and dragged him to the bow of The Scuppernong. Elliott pointed to the rigging on the foremast where several men perched like gawky birds on the yardarms, loosening some ropes and tying others. “Them up there—that’s Simon and Fisher and Jacob.”
“Does everyone have only one name of their own?” Nick asked.
“Aye. You didn’t expect sailors to have the luxury of addressing each other like gentlemen did you? Everything’s on short commons aboard ship. Th’only ones as get extra names is Captain Reynolds and Mr. Nesbit and Mr. Merrit. The bo’sun, Mr. Lightwood too, only most of us drop the formality. You don’t know a barebones thing about sailing, do you?” Elliott asked with another derisive sniff.

I just met him myself so I don't know a deal about him yet, but I do know that he believes he's superior to Nick (and nearly everyone else.) He uses titles of respect sparingly, and will often be heard to reference the first mate as "Old Nesbit," though I suspicion he'd not be so bold if confronting the first mate himself.
He picks on Nick once he finds that his new colleague knows next to nothing about sailing...

Nick’s hackles rose at this slight upon his upbringing. “I do too know a deal about sailing.”
“Then you’d know that we cabin-boys go through a keel-hauling every afternoon at three of the clock.” Elliott’s face was a handsome one, and he looked very virtuous indeed as he rested his hand for a moment on Nick’s shoulder. “Be sure ye be ready for it.”
This threw Nick into a state of some confusion. What was keel-hauling? Nick knew enough about ships to know that a keel was a long beam running length-wise down the ship’s belly—like a great long spine. But what did that have to do with a cabin-boy’s duties? Not to appear ignorant, however, Nick shrugged. “Of course. Any good ship has keel-hauling at least once a day.” It might have been a lie, and Nick felt his face grow pink. He hoped keel-hauling fell under the category of mopping and scrubbing and sweeping, in which case he was innocent of deliberately breaking a commandment.

But I don't think Elliott's all bad. Hee-hee. We'll see about that! I'm not certain of anything at this point! (Only I'll give you a hint of a character I love already. His name is Hans, he's Norwegian, and he looks like this:)
:) (only he's always smiling, and he doesn't have spiky hair.)


Always Narnian said...

awww it's Edmund! :) Err...well, I mean the picture is! :D
Keep up your work on your book! I haven't written in forever. And I myself can't wait to wrte my sea-faring adventure (which I have had in mind for some's part of my trilogy!)

Shi of Narnia said...

Of course I recognize Edmund, but I think I recognize Hans too. I could be wrong, but isn't he the guy on the third Love Comes Softly movie who is Norwegian, the one Willie hires?