William Brand

The Watch Dog

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As I scribbled down notes with the armoury log book, I could hear the toils of the crew as they set open the crates and inspected each musket and brace for any need of repair. The powder monkeys brought forth the whet stones and left once in a half turn of the glass to fetch more oil for the blades.

Peering into the armoury as to gauge progress, I could see the small room rapidly condensing into various piles of arms needing repair versus the newly oiled musket barrels ready for battle. Several blades had been set aside for significant repair, somenearly needing a new recasting.

Finding Mr. Flint with an armfull of weapons, I assured him that in due time we'd see to it that those firearms would be repaired, probably not until a forge was found that could suffice such a task.

"Mr. Flint, ye have graciously taken upon yerself yer duty mate. 'tis time fer ye watch ta be up. See to it ye get some rest as the next few days I be requirin' yer services again . . "

Mr. Flint nodded and left those weapons he had secured with Eric Franklin and the lads still in the armoury at present. As Mr. Flint headed off to find some solace, I stepped into the armoury with the armoury log as to discuss with Eric what needed to be done in order to refit those arms.

"Well done gents. 'Ave Mr. Gage give ye yer proper double ration as I 'ave promised ye. "

Those men helping in the armoury each stood and stretched and slapped one another on the back and headed out of the musty room.

"Now Mr. Franklin, wot 'ave ye got fer me?"

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As the Watchdog under shortened sail crept past the island of La Blanquilla, much was being done on her deck. Mr. Tucker and Styles were heaving leadlines, Christopher in the Starboard chains, Jerrod in the larboard. They had worked out a fine rythm, when one of them was reeling in their line the other was throwing, so the chant of depths being called out like the beat of a drum. Nigel stood on the forecastle deck with Mr. Straw, both were scribing on seperate sheets of parchments, one laying out the chart, while the other recorded the soundings... Each of the lookout nests were occupied, all eyes were over the starboard side looking into the water or to the shoreline, with an occasional glance to the seaward side. As they made their way closer and began to navigate around the island, many adjustments were to be made to the sails to compinsate for their course changes and the changes of the wind. The possibility of a storm still loomed on the horizon and the occasional foul wind made everyone on deck well aware.

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July 18, 1704 - Aboard the Watch Dog

Two Bells of the Forenoon Watch

The forenoon watch crept by like a slow ebbing tide. It brought with it dozens upon dozens of soundings and Captain Brand and Mister Badger worked at the table on the quarterdeck comparing and re-comparing the changes as they went. The tiny table straddled the nine pounder affectionately called Blackwood and there was barely enough space for the chairs that William and Jacob occupied. William occasionally leaned back in his chair just far enough to rest it against the 12 pounder behind him, that he might stretch his legs, and they were both forever occupied in keeping the charts from blowing away through the use of heavy books.

Occasionally, William went to the Starboard rail with his spyglass to take visual cues from the island that he might compare them against the artistry of the ship's charts. He found himself shaking his head again and again at the stark, but also beautiful white and treeless island. It reminded him a great deal of those places he had visited in his youth, especially in and around Palestine.

While he was in these thoughts an unfortunate, but not uncommon accident befell able seaman Pascal. Far from being at fault himself, he was still the unfortunate victim of an accidental fall, though it was in fact Harold Press that slipped from the rigging. Harold was in the midst of one of Master Badger's many alterations on the mainsail when he failed to place he feet soundly in the ratlines. He dropped a full 30 feet onto an unsuspecting Pascal who was crossing amidships, and while Harold sustained no real injury whatever, he dislocated Pascal's arm and bloodied his mouth and nose.

William moved to the ship's waist at once while a concerned Mister Badger was forced to keep recording the soundings from the lead lines. Harold Press apologized three dozen times at least as Pascal was carried to the surgery, and considering his pain, Pascal managed to remain gracious enough in the face of Harold's repeated gratitude. For had Pascal not been there, Mister Press would very probably have broken his neck.

Once the injured and nearly injured were off the weather decks, everyone fell back into their rhythm of duties at once.

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Bill retired to his cot but had difficulty finding sleep. He tossed and turned, his mind reminding him of all that had befallen The Dreadnaught and Henry Walcott's fate. He resigned himself to sleep later and proceeded to the deck to find work.

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William had just settled into the chair on his side of the small table, allowing Mister Badger the opportunity to walk about awhile as he took the numbers cried out from those sailors at the leadlines, when Mister Flint came up on the weatherdecks. Mister Badger was in the midst of popping his back when he noticed the sailor and William noticed Jacob noticing the man.

"Mister Badger, has Bill Flint been in bed a full watch yet?"

"I don't believe so, Cap'n."

"Please invite him aft, if you please."

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Bill arrived on deck, inhaling deeply as he stretched his arms and back. He had just set about looking for where he could lend a hand or two when heard his name being called above the din. Turning to the source of the summons he spied the Bosun, Badger, Bill recalled his name was, motioning him to lay aft. Bill nodded vigorously to convey his acknowledgement of Mr. Badger and made for the quarter deck.

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Bill reported to Mister Badger, who in turn had him report to the Captain. William was penciling notations from yet another sounding as the able seaman approached and made himself known.

The Watch Dog was not a part of any formal navy and protocol was seldom observed beyond a polite pecking order and an unspoken understanding of each person's responsibility. Still, despite his fatigue, and given his recent troubles, Mister Flint showed a careful posture and formality reminiscent of his time in the Royal Navy.

William was quiet a moment, studying the man who had so recently come aboard. He had meant to be direct and brief, his intent to order a strict observance of watches, for the Watch Dog was poorly undermanned and they were not accorded the benefit of three separate crew watches. They were limited to an almost even split of duties and those who were not on deck were often abed, resting only a short number of hours before returning to the necessary tasks aboard ship. Sleep was a commodity in short supply of late, and given the accident that had just occurred, an important one.

Mister Badger took a seat again opposite the small table to take the next sounding as the Captain paused. William took this opportunity to invite Bill to the Starboard Rail.

"How are you faring, Mister Flint?"

"I am well, Cap'n." he said in short, abbreviated way.

William was not surprised by the answer, for it conveyed at once the man's brevity. Bill was direct, wasting no time in frivolous and personal matters. Another sign of his time in the Royal Navy.

"The doctor assures me that Nathan will recover completely."

"Aye, Cap'n. It does me good to hear so."

William smiled a little at this, taking out his spyglass a moment to scan the coastline of La Blanquilla yet again as it passed by.

"I imagine that Mister Walcott is much on your mind."

"Aye, Cap'n."

William collapsed his glass, still watching the stark, white beaches pass before them. Then he turned to Mister Flint.

"I am not sure what comfort it can give you to know this, but I sent word to the Don on his behalf. I believe that favor, which the Don has showed to us of late, may find its way to Mister Walcott. I wrote at length of your forthright service in ferreting out those treacherous men who so recently came aboard my ship, though I was careful to leave out any actual names. I further explained that one Henry Walcott might be in the keeping of his junior officials, and if so, I asked that this man might be released, for he was no enemy of the Don's. I made it as clear as I might without drawing attention to the late Gaultier, that Mister Walcott was of little concern to matters touching the disagreements of those many nations in conflict at this time and that I would be most grateful to the Don if he would extend kindness to that poor castaway, Henry Walcott."

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"Ye have me thanks sar" Bill said with a nod. "Nathan'll do ye proud once he be fit fer duty, he be a good marine and what he lacks he make up fer wit talent." Bill paused for a moment staring out at sea and taking in the sights before him. He couldn't wait to see the islands they were making for, the wonder of new lands to behold never failed to impress him. Taking a quick inhalation through his nose to enjoy the wonderful smells of the sea he spoke."If'n I may have yer leave Cap'n I'd best return to me duties."

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"You'd best see to your hammock, Mister Flint." William ordered, taking the opportunity to return to his original course.

"Mister Flint, despite your much appreciated desire to add yourself to the laborers, you are hereby ordered to your hammock. There to remain until you have had sufficient rest. You need sleep, man. If the doctor should find you on the weatherdecks...well...she may deliver a broadside upon me in two languages. Already today, one man has been removed to the surgery from an accident, and this came as no result of fatigue. I need well rested men at present and I will brooke no argument."

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Bill was taken aback slightly by the command, but knew better than to argue. "Aye sar" he replied, and knuckled his brow. He turned sharply on his heal and headed below deck. On his way to the berths he decided to pop into the surgery and see about Nathan before seeking his hammock.

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July 18, 1704 - Aboard the Watch Dog

Four Bells of the Forenoon Watch

At four bells William was forced to follow his own orders and retire to his hammock. The limit of sleep that had visited him the night before was proving to be too little and it wasn't carrying him through the day.

He gave the deck over to Mister Badger with strict instructions to wake him if the storm descended upon them prior to the first dog watch of the evening. He also ordered out the cutter, there to remain between the Watch dog and shore as they circled in their soundings. This afforded them a more detailed estimation of the remaining water between them and shore and allowed some of the younger and inexperienced sailors a chance to learn the ropes from Dinwiddie and Roche as they steered about the shallows.

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Mr. Lasseter slept heavier than he normaly would, given that he had spent almost four watches on deck, the last two navigating the ship in darkness close to their present location. He even slept through the mishap on deck and the sounds of the cutter being rigged out. He did not know weather he snored or talked in his sleep, the only thing he did know was that he was on a fine ship in goode hands. He felt a certain way that he did not feel often in his life; safe... Deep in his thoughts and dreams he walked the decks and through the lower reaches of the ship, finding all was secure, everything in its place, every man sure of his duty. He even dreamed of meeting certain persons in their cabin, just across the passageway from his own. He occasionally shifted himself in his hammock, finding a slightly more comfortable position than what he had just been in. The rocking of the ship only lulled him further into depths of slumber.

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::Finishing the list of what would need repaired, Eric Franklin and I both agreed that our double rations of rum would taste right nicely looking upon the new island we've been hearing much commotion about.

With the muskets back in their proper place and the brace of pistols which were once scattered upon the deck of the armoury, now hanging above the muskets, (in order for a simple reach with both hands to grab the pair in times of necessity,) we removed the shaded lantern and set the armoury once again under lock and key.

"Eric, remind me ta give Mr. Lasseter 'r list o' wot we may need ta refit 'r full compliment o' arms." Nodding he ducks as we leave the our cabin for the berth deck. "Pew, lest we not ferget to make a visit ta Mr. Gage for 'r own refittment as it were," tapping on his tankard strapped to his belt.

"Aye, mate". With a chuckle we ascend the ladder stairs to the gun deck where in the aft we can see Mr. Gage busy trying to boil up some sustenance for the crew. Looking forward we hear a sheepish yelp from behind one of the cannons on the starboard side. Quizzically we look at each other and head forward to see Thom fitch holding a small rag becoming rapidly stained crimson.

"Wot ye do lad?", Eric asks with his question reverberating throughout the deck.

"Mr. Franklin, Mr. Pew, well sahs I was jus' chipping rust off of wot cannon shot we 'ave stacked 'ere and the chisel must've slipped outta me 'and inta the other".

Looking at the amount of blood amassing on the powder monkeys hand, we tell him to go see the surgeon, since a powder monkey with only one hand, isn't to helpful in the midst of battle.

"Plus how 'r ye gonna swing from cannon to cannon ya nit . . ." Eric swings his arms, scratches and beats on his chest like some wild ape, bringing a smile to the young lad's face.

We take him aft, and Eric takes the young boy into the sick ward, while I find Mr. Gage for our double tot I had promised . . .

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Tudor took a moment to look up from the charts and soundings log spread out on the make shift desk and casted her gaze over the glassy pane of water, and the small series of islands it surrounded. She closed her eyes and enjoyed one of the gentle breezes that brushed past her face and mussed her hair. She sighed in a sort of melencholic contentment as she listened and watched the crew in action, working the rigging, prepairing the ship. The noise of the crew calling to eachother, of working in syncopation, sounded in her head like the epitome of life.

"Miss Smith!" Mister Badger's voice finally broke through her reverie, after having to repeat himself more then once. After voice a simple apology, Tudor looked down at the quill in her grip, and quickly made a notation of the current sounding.

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The laceration presented was not as viscious as rouge soaked cotton tried to imply. Two small sutures laid into place conquered the dragon and the young boy was sent on his way. Pascal's dislocation was remedied by Chanault's prowess of manipulation, though the righting of joint was not a pleasant experiance and the tar did well to mind his tongue against nationality opinions in the heat of the momment. Mister Flint sat near Nathan's company and the two conversed easily as old aquaints are want to do. Suggestion had been poised to Billy that perhaps he would wish to take Nathan above for fresher air...but only after proper rest had been obtained and not before.

The Surgeon, having quelled the latest medical storms, took seating at old worn desk to make notations of the events laid to rest. Near at hand, perched on familiar seachest roost, Raphael considered appetite's desire and after conclusion reached that meal would be the only course in belaying nag, waited patiently until his comrade in arms looked up from current scribe. Offer of Galley trek was made and readily placed into accord. The Frenchman, after quick survey of chamber, quit the inner realm for the reality beyond...

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July 18, 1704 - Aboard the 25 foot Cutter, Patricia

Between Six and Seven Bells of the Forenoon Watch

Lawrence Dinwiddle was at the tiller of the cutter and explaining several key elements of understanding required to maneuver a craft of that size to the other able seamen in the boat. All of them were junior to him in age and experience except for Maurice Roche, who was taking soundings fore the mast.

The cutter made it's way along the shore of La Blanquilla between the beach and the Watch Dog. The water was almost flat underneath them and it made the work of soundings easy for Maurice. Mister Roche was sounding as fast alone as the two men aboard the Watch Dog were together, but the water was significantly less deep and the shallows were fairly consistent in depth. Still, he was mindful to drop the line as often as he retrieved it, determined to know the island well enough to make a good report of it. Besides, the work was a pleasant break from the routines of maintenance aboard the light frigate and he enjoyed the smaller company of the cutter.

Dinwiddle was also enjoying the change in tasks and gladly tutored the other junior seamen as they went. They answered questions almost as fast as he asked them. He tried to trip them up by asking questions in odd ways and by adding variables of circumstance to see if it changed their answers. Sometimes he asked them what would be done in a gale. Sometimes in a calm. He soon learned how much they understood for their short years. Had he been an egotistical man, he might have minded that that they knew so much despite the fact that many were almost half his age.

A breeze was crossing the island almost perpendicular to their course by then and it bore the smell of a promised rain sometime in the evening. The sky overhead was blue enough to hurt one's eyes, but a grey line was forming on the Eastern horizon. It was too low for the men in the cutter to see, but both of them knew it was there.

Still, Roche continued to drop the lead and cry the depth across the still water to the Watch Dog.

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Despite the long hours previously on deck, and the depth of sleep, old habits die hard... four and a half hours had passed and his internal clock caused him to come to wakefulness... He lay there momentily and blink several times... as the bells sounded he silently counted... seven... but of what watch? Shifting his weight, he brought his feet to the deck and stood, stretched and yawned. He ran his hands across his face, then stooped and put a hand into the pitcher of water, splashing a bit on his face... Feeling more awake he automatically put on his belt and the sea service pistol, unslung the baldric and dropped it over his shoulder. He opened his cabin door and stepped out. Directly across the passage was the Surgeon's room and he thought to visit, maybe see how she was getting along.... Stepping over he gently rapped on the door...

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All in its proper bearing, Jacquelyn stepped into the calm of adjoining quarters to await Chanault's return. The emotional wreckage that lingered in the wings of her mind caused wear which was not allowed to show beyond the small living space. Propping the line of delicate chin to elbowed support, she allowed her thought processes to fuzz into comfortable blur. A quiet rap on chamber door brought forth unconscience furrow to brow as she focused on the structure doggedly.

Inwardly she hoped that what lay in hall keeping was not another wayward lamb in need of tending and with caution anounced permission to enter...

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"Entre-voue..."

He smiled as her voice came through the door. Slowly he unlatched the door and allowed it to swing open. As the room came into view, he saw her seated as he had many times before. A look of relief washed over her face as he stepped into the chamber. Tilting his head to the side he raised an eyebrow as a question. She slowly took a deep breath and closed her eyes, let it out just as slowly... Stepping closer he took a perch on the edge of her desk, raised his hand to her cheek, then to her jaw, raising her face so as to look into it...

"Ye look 'bout as worn as I do... all seems quiet n' well taken care of... what say you?"

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She pondered the question briefly, allowing the comfort of his weathered touch.

"I am a bit worn, though I have suffered worse in the past. What is it that you had in mind, for Monsieur Chanault is retrieving a light meal to be shared as we speak. He should be returning momentarily"

Jacquelyn noted a hint of shadow fleet the Quartermaster's expression and quickly vanish.

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"Hmmmm.... I s'pose a light meal then...."

He let his hand linger on her cheek, slowly caressing to her ear, then slowly retreated. He removed himself from his perch and found a sea chest to sit upon, sstretching his arms out infront of him...

"Has Monsieur Chanault come out o' his shell a bit? I had hoped he would be something of a conversationalist... or somethin'... mayhaps 'e plays whist.... Piquet even... "

She looked at Dorian and slightly shrugged her shoulders...

"Mo matter... I's sure we'll find out soon enough..."

They sat in silence for a time, waiting for the return of the young frenchman with whatever he might bring from the galley, unsuspecting of a guest for this meal...

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Monsieur Gage had been most accommodateing and although the fare offered was far from accustomed taste, Raphael assumed it would serve well enough. The negotiation of tray and burden proved cumbersome to Surgery door and was placed on the floor below to gain entrance. The pale jade sights surveyed medical chamber before gaining its surround and the tray was placed the the side once again to open the adjoining door to private quarters. What was taken in with portal opened wide was unexpected and the Frenchman kept features neutral to the interloper therein, offering a smallish nod to the Quartermaster's presence.

The tray and its offerings were set to rest nearby, the other's existance always kept in peripheral view. It was not that the Frenchman felt any reason to purposely be watchful of the Quartermaster, but rather an ingrained instinct. Retrieving a bottle of vin rouge from locker guardianship, Raphael spoke in native tongue with usual soft manner and was answered in kind. Three goblets were set on desk surface; three shallow depths filled; one kept in possesion, two dolled away.

Raphael-Etienne Chanault sampled the deep red than focused on the other male in proximity. The cool jade scrutinzed momentarily before the soft verbose played to ear, saturated with the accent of origin.

"Monsieur Lasseter...Are you familiar with the passtimes involving games of stratagies and chance? Perhaps the rulings of Piquet?..."

It was simple curiosity that inspired query, a curiosity born from Lamaire's relating of knowledge in regard to the couple nearby. Raphael was intregued by the obvious diffence in social status and what qualities the Quartermaster bore that would vanquish the borders of such.

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Bill and Nathan sat and conversed for a time in the the Iroquois tounge. Not out of some desire to keep secrets from the company but because they both had spent a great deal of time amongst the people of the Five Great Nations, Bill with the Mohawks and Nathan the Tuscarora, and the two men simply found the language quite pleasant to the ears. It was suggested that after a bit more rest Nathan should visit the weather deck and recieve some fresh air. Bill thought this a grand idea and agreed to make it so. He bid his farwells to Nathan and then sought his hammock as ordered by Captain Brand.

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"Monsieur Lasseter...Are you familiar with the passtimes involving games of stratagies and chance? Perhaps the rulings of Piquet?..."

Before answering, Dorian sampled the wine given, allowed the flavour to swirl about in his mouth and smiled...

"Merveilleux..."

He raised his glass in salute...

"Aye, Monsieur Chanault... I am a, fair, hand at Piquet... And Whist fer that matter, among others... Mayhaps if we c'n scare up some cards once we drop anchor an' get settled.... If, yer inclined for such..."

He took another drink and shifted his eyes to Tempest and back, noticing a slight smile just before she tilted glass to lips. Chanault gave a slow nod.

"Oui... I hope it is possible..."

Dorian gave a nod and wink, "Very goode... I'll seek out a deck when I can..."

As he spoke the last words, the ships bell tolled out eight times...

"My apologies, I know not how long I slept what change of th' watch is it, might ye know?" he asked looking between the two of them. Raphael and Tempest traded glances, then the Surgeon answered.

"It would be the change to the afternoon watch..."

Mr. Lasseter sat up a bit more stiffly...

"My apologies... I should see what's happenin' topside... Merci du vin..."

He finished the glass and set it on the desk, smiled at Tempest and nodded to Chanault, excusing himself to the passageway. He headed out into the waist, looked up at the sails and nodde some greetings to the crew about him. He spied the cutter sailing off their quarter, noted they were doing soundings as well... Up to the quarterdeck he headed, greeted Mr. Badger and Miss Smith, asked after the Captain and was informed that he was in his cabin, then looked over the charts and other notes in the logs and reaquainted himself with the business for the day...

"How long has the lads been out in th' Cutter?"

"They been oout for a full watch, ser" answered Mr. Badger.

"Hmmmm... Have 'em come alongside... Have Mr. Warren and some other fresh crew take over..."

"Aye Ser."

Mr. Badger took the speaking horn and barked the QuarterMaster's orders out to the cutter, Mr. Dunwiddie gave a wave and the cutter changed course to intercept the ship...

Mr. Lasseter took in a deep breath and smiled, assumed his usual stance of command with his hands behind his back...

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(His watch coming to its end, Ciaran raised his glass and took one last look toward the far horizon. The grey clouds he had been watchin' fer the past couple hours were growing in size. Dark they appeared now, although where the Watch Dog sat, all was still sunny.

Although his shift were endin', he would remain in the riggin and around the nest, as John McGuinty now climbed up. Ciaran was beginnin' the task of trainin' the lad to become an eye, to replace Diego and others who were no longer with the crew.)

Arr, John. Good to see that ye brought yer glasspiece along. Now ye are goin' to be keepin' a close watch on the Cutter o'er there, makin' sure she don't get into trouble, as well as scannin' the horizon in e'ry direction. I also want ye to keep a check on that storm growin' on the horizon. Remember what we've been workin' on, the proper way to use yer eyeglass.

That's right, good.

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