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 Cathern Inspires Her Crew.

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PostSubject: Cathern Inspires Her Crew.   Wed Feb 13, 2008 4:57 am

“Papa, may I do it again Papa?” Cathern looked up at her father with adoring eyes. “Yes, my daughter, you can do it again”, her father responded then handed her the rope. Guiding Cathern’s small hands her father explained again how to tie various knots with a thin bit of rope. Cathern’s fingers worked the rope and tied the knots like her father showed her. “See Papa! I can do it just like you!” Her father smiled and messed Cathern’s hair up a bit with his rough hands. “You would make a fine sailor my little cherub. Just don’t tell your mother when we get back into port. You know how she thinks it improper and unladylike for me to show you these things.” Cathern giggled and nodded, “Oh yes Papa, it’s OUR special secret!”

Cathern shook her head a bit, letting the memory retreat away and focused on the task at hand. She always liked to check the cargo hold and make sure all was secure before setting sail. Shifting cargo in heavy seas could put the ship out of trim and send her to the bottom. The sea could be watched and kept at bay by the careful and skilled sailor but never be fully tamed. The ocean floor was littered with the wrecks of thousands of ships to prove that. Cathern finished checking the cargo then climbed up to the main deck. Cathern squinted in the bright light, her eyes having adjusted to the dimness of the cargo hold. Cathern’s eyes gazed over the deck. A few of her sailors were on board taking care of the multitude of things that needed done on a sailing ship. Most of the crew was on shore, carousing and whoring their last hours away before they set sail. The tides wouldn’t be favorable till the eve.

Resuming her inspections she checked the lines for fraying or fouling. A frayed rope was spotted and Cathern barked out an order to have it replaced. One of the crewmen answered and made his way to the rope locker to replace the damaged rope. A frayed rope could snap at a most untimely moment, causing serious injury or worse. Cathern demanded everything be in top shape and spared little expense to keep her ships as safe as possible. There were too many ways to die at sea. Silly mistakes like a frayed rope or loose cargo would not be the reason one of her ships went down if fortune failed to smile on them. Cathern finished her inspections reasonably satisfied that one frayed rope was the only thing she found amiss.

Her crew was well trained and getting better all the time. Some of it was her doing of course but the crew had worked hard for her. They didn’t have to. It took a lot to earn a crews’ respect. It took even more when the captain was a woman and a “half-English bitch” as she had sometimes heard when she first started captaining a vessel. She had to prove herself as much or much to them as they had to prove themselves to her. She had to prove it to herself every day. To have come so far so fast, it was almost terrifying. Cathern traced a finger along the rail in thought for a few moments then motioned for the nearest crewman. “Yes Capitaine? What can I do for you ma’am?” Cathern smiled and answered, “Go find Marcelle, I need to speak to him.” The man nodded, his bare torso glistening with a bit of sweat from his labors and the sun. “I know where he was going, is there anything else Capitiane?” Cathern shook her head and dismissed the man. She had a plan.

[more to come...]
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PostSubject: Re: Cathern Inspires Her Crew.   Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:11 am

Tap tap tap. There was a light knocking on her cabin door, Marcelle’s voice on the other side “Capitaine, you sent for me?” Cathern looked up from her collection of ruttiers, charts, logs and one other particular stack of papers. “Come in Marcelle. Jazelle, be a dear and make us some coffee.” The young woman had been cleaning the cabin. Her black hair was braided and under a red scarf. A small bead of sweat dripped down Jazelle’s dark forehead from her exertions. “Yes Mistress. Is there anything else I can prepare for you while I am at the galley?” Cathern nodded her head, “Perhaps slice up some fresh fruit as well. Thank you Jazelle.” The cabin girl departed through the door now held open by Marcelle. He gave a grin and swatted Jazelle on the bottom as she went past. Jazelle gave a little giggle and winked over her shoulder at Marcelle.

Marcelle strode into the cabin and closed the door behind him. “She’s quite the beauty for a darky Capitaine.” It was clear that Marcelle fancied the girl. He made no secret of it ever since Cathern bought the slave and brought her on board. “You ever want to sell that one, I’ll be sure to be saving my coin for her!” Cathern gave a slight snort and waved her hand at the bench that doubled as a storage cabinet when opened. “Take a seat. I didn’t invite you here to daydream wanton thoughts about my cabin girl. Besides, you know as well as I that I already promised Jazelle her freedom after five years of service. If you want her, woo her heart and in a few years when she is freed from my service you are welcome to have her. Be warned though, I have already been teaching her what she needs to know to be a captain of her own ship one day if she can find a crew that would sail under her, and of course a ship.” Marcelle gave a laugh. “Wouldn’t that just beat all, me marrying a slave turned Capitaine! Chasing her all over the seven seas? No, I think I am too old for such things. I need to settle down in a year or two and find me a rotund French girl to make babies with and continue my legacy and family line.” Cathern gave a pained look for an instant then smiled at the informality of the conversation. She had made it clear early on that needless formality only hindered things, not helped. Not everyone agreed of course but it was her ship and her rules.

“It bothers you doesn’t Capitaine?” Marcelle rubbed his trimmed beard while taking a seat on the bench. Cathern looked down at some drawings of various ship plans. “What do you mean Marcelle?” Marcelle pulled out a whalebone pipe intrically decorated with carvings and packed it with some tobacco. “Capitiane, we have known each other too long to pretend I don’t know what crossed your mind just a moment ago. The thoughts of marriage, a family, finding love, finding a man worthy of your charms. You may be the Capitaine but no amount of sea time will change the fact that you are still a woman with romantic ideals and hopes.” Marcelle took a lit candle from Cathern’s desk and lit up his pipe. “I didn’t ask you here to discuss my personal life either Marcelle”, Cathern said knowing Marcelle had scored a direct hit with his assessment. “Aye Capitaine. So what do you wish to discuss with me then?” Marcelle puffed on the pipe while looking at his captain. Cathern looked up from her desk and passed a sheaf of papers with notes and diagrams on it. Marcelle looked them over one by one. “Thinking of having a new vessel built then Capitaine? It looks a fast. I have heard that ships of this design could out sail the Devil himself.” Cathern nodded. “I have heard the same, seen the same. It won’t come cheap though.” Marcelle nodded and continued looking over the stack of papers.

[more to come..]
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PostSubject: Re: Cathern Inspires Her Crew.   Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:04 am

The two continued discussing the merits and downsides of the new vessel till the tide began to shift. Finishing up their conversation the two left the cabin and proceeded to the main deck. The crew made their way back to the ship, some being carried by their comrades who were less in the cups. The most sober of the lot began to get the ship ready for sea. Marcelle and Cathern stood on deck watching the crew get the vessel ready. Cathern started issuing orders which Marcelle repeated, barking them out at the crew. The routine was well established between the two. It wasn’t long before the ship pulled away from the docks and headed out to sea, the warm glow of the orange sunset bathing them. Marcelle and Cathern walked the decks giving another last inspection before the shoreline disappeared from both distance and darkness. Finding all in order, Cathen bid Marcelle good night and retired to her cabin.

Jazelle as usual was waiting with a snack and tea prepared. “And here we are again Jazelle, another voyage and more lessons for you to learn.” Jazelle nodded, “Yes, Mistress. There is so much to learn I may ask to stay past the day I have earned my freedom as you promised me.” Jazelle was very bright and had a flair for languages. Her previous owner had taught her to read and write French to be of more help. Teaching a slave to read was frowned on of course but it wasn’t unheard of. Cathern had bought her after her original owner lost his business due to making poor deals and was deep in debt. Under Cathern’s tutelage Jazelle had learned to read and write passable English and to a lesser degree, Spanish. She had learned much in the past two years since Cathern purchased her. Though still a slave, Jazelle knew that in a few years her owner would free her and she would be able to make a new life. Other freed slaves ended up little better than they were before, having no particular skills or education on how to actually survive as a free person. Jazelle would do just about anything to please her owner to ensure that the dream of a better life would come true. Cathern could be harsh as only one woman to another could be if Jazelle disobeyed or showed resistance but as long as Jazelle did as she was told in a quick and pleasing manner life was good.

“Tonight’s lesson will be on mathematics. A ship captain needs to learn about numbers. Without mathematics a captain could end up with the crew starved before the voyage ends. Without mathematics a captain could get cheated on the sale of cargo. Navigation also requires its use to name but a few reasons to learn it.” Cathern munched on the food Jazelle made for her and sipped her tea. “I can count and add and subtract already Mistress, you know that”, Jazelle protested just a little, not liking the subject. “Those are just the basics and there is more to the world of numbers.” Cathern started refreshing the slave girl on the basics before getting into more advanced things. The lessons lasted several hours before they retired for the eve, Cathern on her bed and Jazelle on the floor. Jazelle listened to the breathing of her Mistress. She wouldn’t sleep till her owner did. Sometimes she would serve her Mistress in the bed, a task she didn’t particularly relish but it was better than being left to “sleep” in the crew quarters. It only took one act of resistance to this task to learn that staying in the Mistress quarters was far more desirable than being left to a lecherous crew and it wasn’t very often she needed serve in that fashion. Cathern’s breathing slowed into a steady rhythm as sleep took hold. Jazelle finally felt sleep coming for her too; it had been a long day.

[More to come...]
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PostSubject: Re: Cathern Inspires Her Crew.   Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:19 am

The ship rocked gently with waves as the sun began its climb over the horizon. The sunlight filtered into the cabin through the small windows. Cathern stirred a bit as the sunlight fell on her face while half asleep, half dreaming. The smell of coffee filled the room helping to bring Cathern out of her slumber. Cathern yawned and half opened her eyes, shielding them against the sunlight. “Good morning Mistress. I have prepared you some coffee. It looks like a fine day in the making and I have completed the book learning assignments you have given me.” Cathern propped herself up in the bed. “How long have you been awake Jazelle?” Jazelle placed the coffee on the cabin table then took a cotton cloth and poured some water into a basin. Taking the cloth Jazelle washed Cathern’s face and neck. “I’ve been awake a while Mistress. I didn’t sleep well. I never do the first night out to sea, you know that ma’am.” Cathern stretched her arms out, yawned again then reached for the coffee. Taking hold of the cup Cathern sipped the coffee feeling more refreshed and awake from Jazelle’s ministrations. “I have a task for you Jazelle. I want you start copying my sea charts. There is plenty of writing material but do be careful with it.” Jazelle nodded and looked at the desk. “May I ask why Mistress?” Cathern got out of bed and started dressing, Jazelle lending a helping hand. “Every captain needs a set of charts. A captain would be extra careful when copying their own.” Cathen turned and faced Jazelle with a smile. “They…they are for me Mistress?” Cathern nodded, “You’ll need them when the time comes Jazelle”. Jazelle beamed with happiness, her dream of being free one step closer. Cathern smoothed out her clothes then opened the cabin door. Turning to look at Jazelle, Cathern gave another smile. “Take your time and do it right girl. Your future crew and your life might depend on these charts one day.” Cathern could hear Jazelle squeal with excitement after the door shut. Cathern smiled and laughed to herself as she strode onto the deck.

Marcelle watched as his capitaine came up on deck. Shooting a grin Cathern’s way he bellowed a good morning. “You look well rested and in good spirits today Capitaine! The sea always seems to agree with you after a few days on land. You are indeed your father’s daughter.” Marcelle had served Cathern’s father in the same capacity as first officer. Marcelle never had the desire to captain his own vessel though he was eminently capable of doing so. The security that ultimate responsibility for the ship and the crew rested with another suited him fine. Cathern walked over to Marcelle breathing in deeply the cool morning air. “A fine morning it is Marcelle. I slept very well. After the morning meal have the crew assemble on deck. I want to give them the good news. It should put a smile on their faces after the recent reports of French defeats around the Carribean.” Marcelle responded, “Aye Capitaine! With pleasure.” Cathern took out her scope and swept the horizon with it. Nothing but open seas. Cathern put her scope away then told Marcelle about Jazelle’s new task. “Would you like a copy of the charts for yourself Marcelle?” Marcelle laughed, “Are you still trying to get rid of me Capitaine? No, I have no desire to have my own ship and all the headaches that come with it. As always though, many thanks Capitaine.” Cathern smiled and clapped Marcelle on the back knowing the answer before she had ever asked the question. “You old sea dog! You have been riding the waves longer than many men live. I do hope you find your fat French girl to make babies with before your bowsprit falls off!” Marcelle gave a booming laugh. “Such talk from a lady! Your mother is blushing in her grave may the saints bless her.” Cathern laughed as well and responded, “She may be blushing but Papa is laughing with us.” Marcelle pulled out his scope and gave a sweep of the horizon still smiling. “Aye, that he would Capitain, that he would.” The two laughed a bit more while a few of the crew in earshot smiled at the banter. It was good news when both the Capitaine and Marcelle were in fine humor.



[More to come...]
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PostSubject: Re: Cathern Inspires Her Crew.   Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:53 am

The crew finished off the morning meal and quickly made their way to the main deck at the prompting of the mates. They were a motley lot. The clothes they wore were often in tatters. Many were shirtless, the once pale skin well bronzed by the sun. Some of the crew was free Africans, some Spanish, many French and even a few English were to be found in the polyglot mass of humanity assembled before her. The overwhelming scent of man sweat and other less palatable odors flowed across the deck and assaulted Cathern’s nostrils. This was nothing new and only grew worse the longer they were out at sea, but the nose adjusts to even the foulest reek in time. Cathern and Jazelle were by far the cleanest of the lot but cleanliness was relative on a sailing ship in a time when there is no running water. People in future generations would be appalled but to Cathern all was normal. The crew looked at their captain expectantly, wondering what this was all about.

“Greetings to all of you stalwart lads! Most of you know me having sailed with me before and those that don’t soon will know me. Of course, I am sure you new man have heard about me from your fellow sailors. I can assure you that I am not in league with Satan and have not made any agreements with Davy Jones to send you to his watery locker!” Cathern paused a moment and there was some laughter among the hold hands. “I have called you all together today because you are among the finest I have sailed with.” A few shouts of appreciation echoed out. “You have shown your bravery and competence in the face of cannon and musket, wind and wave, and all dangers that the sea can throw at us.” Many of the crew nodded in agreement and made a few exclamations. “Today I am going to ask more of you. It will be dangerous. There is no getting around it. It’s also completely voluntary.” One of the gun battery captains hollered out in a jovial manner, “Inviting us to your cabin at night then Captain?” The crew that had sailed with her before broke out in laughter, while the new ones wonder if the man was about to be flogged. Cathern smiled then gave a barb back to the sailor, “You wouldn’t know what to do in my cabin at night Reynaud. I don’t keep a drunken goat for you to have your way with in my cabin!” The crew roared with laughter, pleased that this female, this woman had a sense of humor and could give as good as she got. Now that the crew was receptive, it was time for business.

“As much as Reynaud might wish it I didn’t call assembly to discuss the merits of intimacy with goats or other farm animals. I have commissioned a new ship and it should be ready for the sea in short order. It’s supposed to be very fast. I have petitioned the Crown to allow me to be more aggressive against enemy shipping. I have already received affirmation of this move to be more aggressive. The new ship with any luck will aid us in these endeavors. So what does that mean for you? Those who wish can transfer to the new vessel. Since I plan on taking her into the most hostile of waters I want this to be voluntary and everyone to understand the perils that entails.” Cathern paused for a moment gauging their reactions so far. There was low volume talk and it was clear they were digesting the new information. “Now, I am not asking you to do this without recompense. Those who do sign on will be given the following in addition to their normal cut of prize pay. One: All ordinary seaman and able seaman will get a thirty doubloon signing bonus. All mates and officers will get a fifty doubloon bonus.” The crew cheered at that. Although it was not much to Cathern, to an ordinary sailor it was a large bonus who didn’t work for pay but a share of any prize money. “Two: All crew who loose a limb from enemy action will receive fifty doubloons per limb lost. Three: In the event of your untimely demise your family or a designated person will receive fifty doubloons.” The crew grew somber at these thoughts and quieted down. “Lastly, in addition to the signing bonus the crew as a whole will get an additional share of the prize money to be divided evenly among all of you!” The crew gave a loud cheer, ecstatic with their soon to be riches. Cathern had previously divided the shares into sixths. Two-sixth went to her, one for the Crown, one for the officers, and two for the crew. “The extra share will come out of my own pocket. This will be awarded at the end of six months time. You must serve six months or be killed or invalided out to get this prize. The officers will be briefed fully tonight so if you have questions, be sure to ask them. You have time to think about this. Let the paymaster know if you decide to sail with me. Thank you for your time. Dismissed!” The crew seemed joyful and in high spirits. Good, she needed them and she intended to go deep into harm’s way. She was sure she had her crew and that they would follow her to the gates of hell if need be. Men were such simple creatures with their greed. A voice in the back of her head echoed back, “Are you any better than they Cathern?”

[the end]
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PostSubject: Re: Cathern Inspires Her Crew.   Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:02 pm

Excellent read Cathern!

I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it, and look forward to seeing what your new ship, and freshly motivated crew, will encounter on their adventures upon the Open Sea. You will have my eyes on anything else you write, thats for sure. Smile

I'm curious, what kind of ship did you get? I have a very fast ship, The Gemini (a modified Sleek Packet-Boat) and I would love to join you as a fast interceptor squadron sometime, should you have me. I think it would be fun! This is just to tide me over until I can get my hands on a Triton. I thinkth at will be the perfect ship for me for some time to come...

Keep up the great writing!
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PostSubject: Re: Cathern Inspires Her Crew.   Thu Feb 21, 2008 8:38 pm

[Namo is building me a Triton. I need to hit 43 to use it so it'll be a litlle bit longer before i start writing stories involving it. And thanks for the compliments.]
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