Just realized I haven't posted for a while. Now, if I were to follow the pattern I've established, I'd be posting another installment of "Thoughts on Writing." But today the mind isn't up to the task so I'll go for another excerpt from the Stone Island Sea Stories.
This brief peek comes from Sailing Dangerous Waters: Another Stone Island Sea Story, Chapter Twelve, "At Sea Again." In it you will find mention of voting, coincidentally on the day the United States is slated to certify the votes of the Electorial College.
Nothing to do with the post as a whole, but the day prior to New Year's Eve, we had epic amounts of snow. Warmed up and is nearly all gone now.
(Previously, the schooner, HMS Island Expedition had been in dry dock. It has just been refloated.)
Even though the crew now berthed aboard the schooner, they were not as self-sufficient as when at sea. Meals were not prepared aboard, and Pierce and several of the officers still dined at the Colony Building. As eight bells struck, ending the afternoon watch, Pierce grabbed his hat, shut the door to his cabin and hurried ashore. He had been active enough throughout the day that his appetite was sharp, whetted by the thought of another of Mrs. Packingham’s delicious suppers. He looked forward to the well-laid table, convivial conversation, and the usual informality of a meal presided over by Harold Smythe.
That late afternoon found many of Island Expedition’s officers apparently desiring the same thing. When Pierce arrived at the Colony Building, he heard sounds of conversation, bursts of laughter, and occasional but ineffective calls for quiet and restraint. It was a happy and even boisterous group that he joined. Other than those on watch, all of the schooner’s officers were there. Also seeking the pleasure of the meal and enjoyment of such a good natured company were several of the community’s leaders and other guests of some importance.
“Why Edward, “said Smythe near the end of the meal. “You do appear to be in a most amiable state today! Wouldn’t you all agree?”
“Are not we all?” asked Hotchkiss.
“I would certainly say it was so,” ventured Pierce. “If my personal affectations are indeed so noticeable, it must be that we are once again afloat and ready for sea. It is most trying as a sea officer to have one’s vessel high and dry, one’s crew berthed ashore, and only solid earth under one’s feet.”
“Most folks would welcome that, sir.”
“Indeed, my dear Mr. Mally,” said O’Brien between bites. “But to those of the sea, being at sea is the only natural condition, and the one condition we aspire to.”
“Well said, sir!” Pierce raised his glass. “A toast if you will, to the re-floating of His Majesty’s Schooner Island Expedition! And may it please you to know that with the tide Monday morning, we intend to stand out to sea for a few days. It is quite time we ensure the hands have not forgotten their skills. As well, we need to observe the effects of our recent repair efforts in a dynamic and real environment.”
“How long do you plan to remain, sir?” asked Gibbons.
“I would say no more than a week, two at the most. I know you will be voting tomorrow to accept or refuse annexation. Soon then we will be needed to fulfill our duty and carry those results to Vespica. Following that task, I believe we shall depart for England.”
Following that remark, the schooner’s officers simultaneously raised their glasses in salute. “To England!” they said to the clinking of a heart-felt spontaneous toast. “To Home!”
“Home!” echoed Morgan. “Surely England is home. But can one feel the magic of that word with respect to another place?”
“Perhaps one can,” responded Pierce. He imagined the struggles that surely must be raging in Tom Morgan’s heart. While he certainly desired to return to the land, indeed the world of his birth, Morgan had reasons and attachments far beyond those of the others for remaining here.
Pierce, with his overriding desire to see Evangeline, and his almost fanatical drive to be on the return voyage, could detect a slight desire within himself to stay. As he thought of it, he momentarily felt a strange fear of returning. It was not the actual return, but the imagined reaction he would face when he told of the entirely different world in which they had found themselves. Would he be able to withstand the ridicule and disbelief that would surely come his way?
Imagining the negative reaction, Pierce wondered why those here so readily accepted the possibility. While many of them, Horatio Newbury came to mind, voiced disbelief and uncertainty, the idea of different existences was not summarily scoffed at. Here, amongst those of both worlds, the possibility that it could be, was quite readily accepted.
“You have made arrangements for your crew to vote, have you not, Edward?” asked Smythe. The question brought Pierce out of his contemplation.
“But surely they are not eligible, sir. Nor would I think any in His Majesty’s Service, even those at this table would be allowed the privilege.”
“Nonsense, sir! Vespican citizenship was granted us all. Specifically it was granted to you to obtain your release. If any amongst us should have a say in deciding our future, it is you and your crew. You are as much a part of this colony, this potential eleventh Land, as are the rest of us.”
“True enough, Captain. Do you forget the advice I offered in Brunswick?”
“That was, Doctor?”
“To regard yourself as a Vespican while here and an Englishman while there.”
“Oh, I do remember, sir. However, I have always applied it internally, allowing it to guide me past any divided loyalties.”
“But don’t you see, sir,” offered Hadley, glad to be at supper here and not aboard, where tradition demanded he not speak unless addressed by the captain. “If we are Vespican while here, it is our privilege, even our duty to help decide the colony’s destiny.”