Renaud exited The Crow’s Nest as the sun was coming up with his pockets a fair bit heavier, but the real prize was still waiting for him down at the docks.
I really am the luckiest man to have sailed across the Ismeran Channel! Renaud exulted. What a night!
He stopped by the bucket of a ship he’d ridden here on to pick up his things and tell his former Captain that he never wanted to see his liver-spotted face again, then he set off for the mooring labelled C-2 to greet his new baby.
And there she was, a two-masted brig. She was small for a warship, but far more grand than the Ismeran Lord had made her out to be, despite her obvious age and faded paint job. From the moment he laid eyes on her, Renaud was in love.
What is that it says on the side? La Giovanna? No way I’m letting my baby have a prissy Italian name. I’ll have to get that fixed right quick. Renaud patted the coins in his pocket. Should be enough here for a coat of paint, eh?
Grinning widely, Renaud set off with purpose toward the shipyard at the end of the dock. At the mouth of the wide opening, he stopped. The lift, he found himself staring at the marvel of modern invention fastened to the cliffside, it’s about to go up.
Sure enough, the lift had three people standing on it. A woman, elegant in a white dress with lace that flapped like a sail in the wind and a matching wide-brimmed hat she had to hold in place to keep from blowing away. A man – her husband, Renaud assumed – a tall, thin gentleman wore freshly pressed grey pants and a pristine white shirt under a grey vest. His dark ash-coloured hair matched that of their daughter, who stood beside them, except hers was long and wavy down her back, and bounced when she moved. She turned to look up at her father, with a wide smile on her young features that was both happy and trusting.
Now, that’s what real luck looks like. Though the sight of them made him acutely aware of his own unwashed state and the smell of sour ale that wafted from him, it also made him nostalgic and yearn for his home across the Channel in Saegard.
She can’t be more than ten, but she reminds me of my own boy. I remember when my son used to look at me like that. Now, at thirteen, I can’t do anything right in his eyes. His thoughts inevitably returned to his new acquisition. Maybe I’ll take him out when I get back home. If that ship doesn’t impress him, I don’t know what will.
He watched the lift soar upwards with the young family against the backdrop of the cliff face and felt his spirits rise with it. That boat’ll fix everything. No more serving with the unwashed masses under unfeeling Captains. Having a ship of my own means I’ll have guaranteed work. Maybe I’ll even get a commission and join the Navy. Ha! Wouldn’t that be a sight!
Capitaine Laurent, I like the sound of that. The smile back on his face, he strode into the shipyard with confidence.
He was soon led to the appropriate man for the job he needed doing. He showed the man the paperwork Christian had signed over, rumpled and wine-stained though it was, and paid him upfront for the paint job and renaming of the vessel. With that taken care of, he walked back to his new ship, boarded it, and proceeded to fire its old Captain.
“If any of the rest of you want to stay on,” he announced to the small crew once he had them assembled, “you’re welcome to, but this ship is bound for Saegard where it will make a new home port!”
Most of the sailors left, but a few stayed on, and he greeted them warmly. The cook, a woman named Dot, simply stated, “I go where the ship goes, Cap’n or no Cap’n.”
“Very well then.” Renaud surveyed his new domain and found it to his satisfaction. He finished his inspection in the Captain’s Quarters where he promptly fell asleep.
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