“Pay attention. Look what you have done now. You have gotten blood on the fabric and the stitching is all wrong!” Cathern’s mother was not happy. Cathern sucked on her finger where the needle had poked, but didn’t cry. “You need to learn how to do this properly. All young ladies need to learn how to sew and do stitch work.” Cathern protested, “Mother, this boring. I’ll never need to do this. I will have a servant to do it for me if I need anything sewn. I want to go outside now.” Cathern’s mother sighed in resignation and shook her head. “What did I do to be cursed with such a troublesome daughter? Some day you’ll wish you were skilled with a needle and thread. Fine, go on out then; just don’t mess up your dress.” Cathern didn’t need to be told twice. She was certain she would have no use for sewing things. She jumped up and ran outside to play like a boy of ten instead of a girl of ten. Her dress was torn and dirty in short order but young Cathern paid it no heed.
“Hold still! I can’t sew up the wound if you keep squirming Jazelle!” Jazelle quivered in pain as her owner attempted to sew up a laceration from their latest battle. A cannon ball had crashed against the hull wall of Cathern’s quarters. Though it did not penetrate, it did cause spalling inside the cabin, splinters tearing a gash across the slave’s thigh. Cathern again pushed the needle through the slave’s skin then tied a knot to complete her primitive first aid. Jazelle whimpered in pain. “Is it done?” Cathern took some whiskey and poured it over the wound causing the slave to screech in pain again. Using a cloth Cathern wiped the blood and whiskey away and cleaned her hands. “Now I am done.”
Johan poked his head into the cabin since the door was open. “Captain, the repairs are completed on the rigging. Do you need a hand here?” Cathern motioned for Johan to come in. Jazelle tried to push her dress down to cover her wounded thigh. Cathern slapped at the slaves hands. “Let’s give the wound some air for a while.” Johan glanced and cringed a bit at the uneven stitches. “Uh, Captain, did you sew her up?” Cathern looked over at her first officer. “Yes, what of it? It might not be pretty but it will be good enough.” Johan arched a brow and nodded. “Not much of a seamstress are you Captain? I think I could have done better blindfolded.” Jazelle peeked down at her wound then whimpered. Cathern blushed a bit. “She, she kept squirming around! How am I supposed to sew her up when she twists around like a fish on a hook? And the light is poor!” Johan smirked a bit, finally finding something his captain was terrible at. “Right then Captain. Any orders?” Cathern, still blushing a bit at her own ineptitude ordered that their previous course be resumed then dismissed Johan.
Cathern helped Jazelle to her palette. “Rest a while now girl. We don’t want to rip the wound open.” Jazelle moaned a bit in pain. “Yes, Mistress, thank you Mistress.” Cathern started cleaning up the blood, dust and splinters in her cabin. The British frigate that inflicted the damage had gotten away but only just. There was never a sure thing where sea battles were concerned. One mistake by either captain was all it took. This time it was Cathern who had made the mistake that allowed the British frigate to escape hers. Although her ship sustained only minor damage, a few poor turns allowed the British ship to gain enough of a lead to escape in the gathering darkness. Well it wouldn’t be the last time an enemy vessel escaped her she was sure.
Finishing tidying up Cathern rested on her bed. She took her small crucifix down from its nail over her bed. She ran her fingers along the chain and cross. Jazelle watched, unable to sleep from the pain. “Mistress, where did you get that? It is very pretty.” Cathern looked down from her bed over to Jazelle. “A friend Jazelle, a friend.” Jazelle propped herself up, grimacing a bit from the pain. “Just a friend Mistress?” Cathern shrugged a bit. “It’s from a man isn’t it?” The slave girl gave a small hopeful smile. “Yes, from a man. Rest now girl.” Cathern undressed and put on her nightclothes. She started to hang the cross up on the nail again, thought better of it, then slipped it on instead. Cathern blew out the lamps then returned to her bed. Jazelle said good night, closed her eyes, and eventually fell to sleep. Cathern lay awake till Jazelle finally slumbered. Cathern gently and quietly touched herself through her nightclothes, imagining it was another touching her. Feeling guilty at what she thought must surely be a sin, Cathern prayed for forgiveness and tried to sleep.