Trying to get back to posting regularly again, both with excerpts from the Stone Island Sea Stories and my "Thoughts on Writing." The mind isn't allowing me to concentrate at the moment, so here's an excerpt from the first chapter of the second book... Sailing Dangerous Waters. These ae the opening pages of that first chapter, "The Long Wait."
The first chapter of all three stories can be found on my web-site.
Perhaps a bit difficult to make out, but this fairly crude map of Stone Island is on the wall next to the computer desk.
A rivulet of perspiration trickled down Edward Pierce’s forehead and threatened to flow into his left eye. He squinted, changing the contours of his face so the sweat dripped off the tip of his nose. As the drop fell free, the persistent fly that had harried him for the past half hour landed on his right cheek. He swatted at it, ineffectively.
“We should rest. Tom grows weary.” Pierce was one of four men moving easily through the glade, balancing the desire to keep moving with the need to rest. Towering evergreens blocked the February sun’s brightness but did not ease the heat felt at their roots. No breeze cooled those moving through the undergrowth. Other creatures had sense enough to wait for the evening’s relative coolness.
“I’m quite all right,” Tom Morgan panted from the rear.
“Edward is right.” In the lead, the Original Vespican’s diction and accent strongly contrasted with his appearance. Darker than the others, he wore a breechcloth, linen leggings, and deerskin moccasins. His uncovered hair fell loosely about his shoulders. Two nondescript feathers were woven amongst its strands.
“If we are in no haste,” asked Isaac Hotchkiss, “why do we push so?”
“I must say, you learn quickly. I’ve seen those raised on the edge of the wilderness not master life here as quickly. That you are seamen amazes me that much more.”
Seafarers or not, the three seemed accustomed to life in the forest. Baltican in appearance, they dressed more completely but similarly to their guide. In the afternoon’s heat, none wore more than buckskin trousers and homespun linen shirts. Pierce and Hotchkiss sported old misshapen round-brimmed hats. Tom Morgan wore a fur cap, complete with the striped tail of the creature. He walked with a noticeable limp and worked harder to maintain their leisurely pace.
“We have an excellent teacher,” replied Pierce. “And Isaac is right to wonder about our haste.” He swiped half-heartedly at the fly.
Tom sank gratefully to the ground in spite of insisting he wasn’t winded. The three carefully leaned their muskets against a nearby stump. The leader’s rifle, a fine precision made firearm was also within quick reach. They weren’t hunting, nor did they fear any immediate danger. Still they remained alert, not knowing what threat might materialize out of the deep forested groves.
“The only haste is on Tom’s part, I believe,” said Isaac. “Were I enroute to see someone as dear as she, a little afternoon heat would not stop me.”
“Nor would a missing leg, Mr. Hotchkiss.” Tom twisted and stretched, the wooden end of his right leg clattering against an exposed root.
“Does it pain you, lad?”
“Not at all, Doctor. I believe it has healed completely over the past months. A bit of fatigue from continual movement is all it is.”
“Do I examine it and be assured? Perhaps the stump is not callused enough for such a prolonged journey.”
“If you choose to, sir. But any aches I feel are due the awkwardness of movement and not any tenderness.”
“Then I will forego a look, Tom. But you must promise to notify me of any additional discomfort.”
“Of course, Doctor.”
“Edward,” said Isaac, addressing the second individual. “Is this similar to your search for the herbs needed to treat Tom’s leg?”
“Yes, but we were mounted and did not roam so far away from the settlements. I’m sure Lord Sutherland was more troubled then because I was out of his immediate control.”
“With your behavior over the past months, and my own minute influence, I believe he is more at ease with your current absence,” said Doctor Robertson.
The four drank moderately from the water bags they carried. Silence ensued as each became lost in his own thoughts.
Edward Pierce took his rest stretched out on the soft carpet of the forest floor, his eyes closed and his breathing slowed. But he was not asleep, his active mind and the ever present fly would not allow it.