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A Port In The Caribbean

by Firestarter



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1259 Reviews


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Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:30 pm
Firestarter says...



*Locked*

This draft has been abandoned. For all who are interested, see my blog, a new draft will hopefully be in the making soon, with a fancy name change and all that.




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Mon Jul 24, 2006 5:52 pm
Ares wrote a review...



Ok, this is from TSR, so forgive me if there are any mixups. The chapers probably don't match up.

Chapter One

I thought it was okay, I liked the different aspects and things you were adding into the story, like how Robert felt and everything, but I think it was a little weighed down by your word choice and sentence structure. Read over it, out loud and in your head, and maybe you'll see what I'm talking about. Also, sorry I can't find it but you write Everybody has a duty. I think it should be Everyone. Sounds better for this piece.

Also, Donovan? Haha, the name rings a bell.


Now, Chapter Two

Definetly better than Chapter 1. I liked it. Don't have anything to complain about. I liked the crew members you introduced, especially the gunner. I pretty much liked all of chapter two.

Keep up the good work, and 3 & 4 will be read and critiqued soon.

--MH

Now, Chapter three and four

Nice installment. Not really anything wrong with it. Maybe you should take a character out though, this early in the story I'm already trying to keep track of people. But yeah, I liked the talk of curses concerning the Pegasus. Cool stuff.

Ever Onward.

-MH

Anyways, it's so loooooong! What's with that? I like some of the new stuff going on here, and how all the ships are gathering. Nothing much to say except...well, it's moving quite slowly. Some action would do good right about now. Maybe some shorter installments also.




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Sat Jul 22, 2006 9:51 pm
Firestarter says...



Chapter 3

The days after were empty of action, or direction. There had been no news of Pegasus’ purpose, but two more frigates joined the ship in the waters at Plymouth, which gave the men and the officers the only talk and excitement during the dull period. It was debated to and fro in the wardroom; with the general consent being three frigates congregating at the same time must indicate some sort of important mission. The important questions were to why and where, but no answers came until a few days later.

The decks of the Pegasus were almost at full complement, as more midshipmen had arrived from the mainland, and men from in and around Portsmouth had been impressed, willingly or unwillingly, into the ranks of the Royal Navy. However, Captain Robins expected and desired perfection, and to him an almost-full ship was an affront to his reputation. In the last few days he had thus sent out a large number of men and officers to the Impressment Service, that rendezvoused in the same inn Robert had stayed before being introduced to the Pegasus.

Robert was once again watch officer on Pegasus, a duty almost as boring as it was unnecessary, as the frigate lay still in the Plymouth dock. He had been a little insulted by the menial task, believing a senior warrant officer such as Mr.Talbot could have easily performed the duty. He slowly realized it may be the consequences of his poor introduction to the Captain, or perhaps because he wasn’t trusted to do anything more complicated. Lieutenants Gray and Jenkins-Hall were both leading press gangs ashore, something far more glamorous. Robert figured that if was at least given a chance he could impress Captain Robins.

The wet weather had subsided, but had been replaced by powerful gales that led to a cold, biting atmosphere. The waves below Robert, swept into action by the winds, crashed against the hull of the Pegasus. He looked out at the two new frigates that had anchored just a few days previously. They were both of similar size. They sat impressively against the grey, stark background; the sails and masts were black in the dim light but still contrasted with the sky. Robert had found out in discussion in the wardroom they were HMS Ghost and HMS Incontestable, both of 38-guns.

“They’re both fairly new,” Jenkins-Hall had said in the wardroom one evening. “And not too successful, just like us. They’re collecting all the not so triumphant frigates for some sort of public execution. I feel almost like I’m waiting for the gallows.”

Robert had seen the smile on his face, and knew he was joking; on the other hand his comments had hit home and he discussions explored exactly what three frigates were doing awaiting orders in Plymouth. Without a commander or a mission, everyone, including Robert, were suitable perplexed.

He held his bicorne as the wind increased. There was serenity upon the docks, despite the wind that whipped through the sails, and Robert appreciated the calm. In his first week upon Pegasus he had struggled to become used to the constant movement and business on a ship that had at first been almost oppressive. Such moments that allayed this were welcome indeed, so as he stood, holding his bicorne, he smiled despite the weather. Since his arrival on the Pegasus and his rebuke from Lieutenant Gray, Robert had tried hard to conceal the emotional turmoil brewing inside of him. Luckily, he had been kept busy and his mind had little time to wander. Here, though, stood watching the ocean waves, he could see the clear nighttime again, and the deadly silence broken by his anguished screams. The empty look on Kate’s face as they dragged here from the rocks. Your life ended that day.

He looked out to the ocean. Where minutes before it had been empty, the horizon bare, he swore he could see the vague outlines of a ship. Feeling his mind drifting away from the pain, he felt glad to be distracted. He withdrew his telescope and focused it. His instinct was correct, the eyepiece clearly showing the foresails and bowsprit, which rose and dropped, battering against the waves. It was a ship coming to dock at Plymouth, and Robert’s curiosity heightened. Immediately he checked himself, knowing full well it was most probably a merchant ship, as many came and went from the harbour. His telescope remained trained on the figure, however. As it approached, he began to see more and more details – he watched as the blurs became visible, and at once knew his instinct had been proved correct – she was undeniably a man-of-war, a large one by all signs. Robert had been raised around ships and as the ship was pushed sideways by the waves, he noticed gun ports on her starboard side.

Robert heard footsteps behind, and lowered his telescope and looked behind to see the small figure of Mr.Talbot walking toward him. The man had a crippling limp on his left leg, and it made him almost drag it along the deck to walk properly. He rested against the weather rail.

“Seen somethin’, Robert?” he asked. Robert felt the bridge between him and the sailing master had been breached, for they were on first-name terms and got on well. He didn’t feel the lack of proper courtesy was a lack of respect, and appreciated the man’s friendliness. Robert welcomed the company he brought.

He nodded in response to the question. “A man-o’-war on the horizon. Doesn’t look like another frigate.”

“May I?” Mr.Talbot asked.

Robert nodded again, and handed him the bronze telescope. Talbot held it to his right eye and watched in the direction Robert had indicated for a few moments.

“Ah. I’ve seen ‘er before, I ‘ave indeed. Can tell by the cut of ‘er fores’ls. It’s unmistakable. Gotta be the Defence, that ‘as.” He noticed Robert’s confused expression, and added hastily, “I served on ‘er about ten years past. She’s a third-rate, 64-gun, Defence. Good crew, happy. Captain MacGregor, if he’s still around, commands ‘er. A stubborn man, but skilled all the same.”

“What’s she doing back here on her own?”

“Now that’s a question, Robert! Maybe she’ll solve our mysterious frigate collection. A third-rate and a few fifth-rates almost constitute a convoy, if I was t’say.” Talbot looked through the telescope once more, studying the ship again. “She’s definitely the Defence, no doubt about it. I’d swear my life upon it.”

“I can’t see much other explanation why a ship that size would be without a fleet or squadron, unless she was separated from them by a storm or some such,” Robert added.

“Exactly, Robert. Maybe ol’ MacGregor was under orders to return to Plymouth by the Admiralty. It’s all too secretive, this. The Cap’n hasn’t been seen or heard from for days, and nobody knows what’s going on. You know what that says t’me? It’s important. If it weren’t, we’d have set sail a week ago.”

“But what about full complement?”

“Robins has never tried this hard t’find seamen. It all smells rather funny. Important, like I said. Maybe Pegasus ‘as some good t’do after all, rather than patrol African coasts for weeks upon end. With the French as they are, maybe we’ll be called on to protect some far-off colony.”

“The second Lieutenant mentioned the West Indies,” Robert stated, rather more formally than the conversation had been heading, but he thought a subtle hint of regulation might reinforce his position.

Talbot laughed at that. “Don’t listen t’the nonsense of the second Lieutenant, Robert, advice you would do well t’heed.”

Robert looked quizzically at him. “You don’t like William?”

“Of course I do! What a jovial fellow he is. Impossible not t’like! But he does tend to lean t’ward the nonsensical. We may go to the West Indian colonies by all means, I don’t doubt that – ‘cept maybe a few convoys ‘ave already departed in that said direction – it’s just anything said by our friend William should be received with a hefty wad of salt.”

“How did he come to be on a ship, anyway? Seems out of place for a man like that – almost imprisoned. I’d have expected to see him entertaining guests at some expensive dinner party.”

Talbot laughed again, a frequent habit of his. “Quite so, Robert. You might not be so off the mark, so t’speak. But now ain’t the proper the time to discuss it,” he said in his confusing myriad of dialects. He always sounded like a man of two worlds, rich and poor, and his sentences were so often an amalgamation of both speech.

Robert started to speak, but a stern look from Talbot stopped him in his tracks. He felt somehow his power was being usurped, and he could order the man to tell him, but in the same moment he realised there was something else at play, and whatever it was about Lieutenant Jenkins-Hall that Talbot had hinted at was a private matter and this wasn’t the place or the time.

“The Cap’n is eatin’ tonight, thought you might like t’know.” The statement was voiced casually, yet with a hint of tentativeness.

“I thought Robins never came to the wardroom? Who invited him?”

“The first Lieutenant, but by all probability it was by the suggestion of the Cap’n himself. There’s something he wants t’tell us, that’s all I can say.”

Robert peered out again at the sea, and the distant sails on the horizon, and reckoned whatever it was would have something to do with the arrival of the 64-gun Defence.

*

Midshipman David Fawcett was tired, cold and above all embarrassed. The day’s work had been a mixture of rebukes, shouting and bullying from all corners; from the ice glare of the brooding first Lieutenant, to the constant insults of the older young gentleman, especially Betteridge, the most senior. David stole a glance toward him, looking over his large body fearfully. He used his seniority to be a tyrant and Midshipman Fawcett, one of the younger ones, and the most inexperienced, was easy prey for his traps.

He longed for the comfort of bedding, or a warm fire at the least. They had been tracking the countryside for a good half-day, looking for suitable hands to fill the hammocks of Pegasus. The results had been disappointing. Four men had been discovered, two of which had never sailed before, and Betteridge had said they were probably outlaws looking to escape the hangman’s rope; the other two were experienced seamen, but the grey hairs in their beards far outnumbered the others. One had a misshapen left arm that hung awkwardly at an unnatural angle. When David saw the man it made him feel sick.

Their bad luck meant that the first Lieutenant had become angry, and had blamed Betteridge for their misfortunes, while Betteridge transferred this onto the younger Midshipmen, like Fawcett and Oliver. David struggled to stand up to his belligerence and became accustomed to meekly accepting the treatment and avoiding him as best he could. Betteridge was taller and stronger. David was a boy who felt like he had been placed in the wrong world.

It hadn’t been his choice. His father, a clerk, had died when he was a young boy, and despite leaving a fair amount of money to his mother and his two sisters, they had struggled to hold down a permanent residence. His mother was never a strong woman. He didn’t blame her for what happened. Not anymore. She had run to the American colonies, dreaming of marrying a rich settler, and took his two sisters with her, thinking they could marry too. David, however, was an obstacle to be moved: a weak boy with little talents. With a little money she entered him into the Royal Navy and David was forced into a life he had never wanted. Better get used to it.

They trundled along the country lane; dusk beginning to set in, the last fragments of sunlight fading behind the horizon. His feet were ragged and his muscles aching. Betteridge had laughed constantly at his tiredness, saying that once they made it to sea he would collapse from the effort it took. Perhaps he’s right.

David suddenly recalled the incident but three days ago, as Betteridge had attempted his bullying in front of the new Lieutenant and failed miserably. He smiled at the memory. Betteridge had made a casual comment about Fawcett being ‘not up to the job’, and instead of ignoring it, like the others did, Lieutenant Shaw turned on him, telling him to say his comments to somebody who cared more. It was a subtle gesture, but David had felt a friendly warmth from the new Lieutenant, a certain camaraderie; two people feeling like they didn’t belong.

“What are you smiling about, huh?” Betteridge’s deep, aggressive tone broke the quiet.

David didn’t answer. He had learnt quickly that a response to Betteridge’s anger simply furthered the engagement. He had no desire for a fight. Instead, he tried to concentrate on other things – the ocean in the foreground, the masts of the ships swaying slightly.

“I said, what are you smiling about? You haven’t got anything to smile about.”

David managed to mumble, “Nothing.” It was an attempt to gain a respite from the expected bullying. He’s just a tyrant.

“Quiet back there!” growled a bitter Gray.

David sighed in relief as Betteridge’s anger interrupted for once.

One of the other Midshipmen brought for the press gang was Martyn Oliver, and he moved aside David as Betteridge walked off, annoyed he wasn’t able to torment David further. In the brief time they had known each other, David had been friendly toward Oliver and vice versa; they had both found each other’s company a way to survive the grueling introduction to the Pegasus.

“What did he say this time?” Martyn inquired, whispering, so they didn’t attract Gray’s potentially murderous attention.

“Nothing because of the Lieutenant. I think he just wanted a target for his anger.”

“I can’t wait to get back to the ship. My very bones are shivering.”

David nodded, and the conversation ended there, each boy unwilling to say more which could attract either Betteridge or Gray, and both were too exhausted and cold to spare more energy.

He thought back to Lieutenant Shaw, the quiet-spoken, but not unfriendly new officer. He silently wished he had been given the responsibility of the press gang. Betteridge had boastfully said it was because the man was incompetent and useless, but he was still hurt from Shaw’s berating. Even David, a novice in the customs of the Navy, had found it odd Gray was given the task, first Lieutenants rarely stooped this low. He didn’t understand, but he shrugged off the confusion as he had with countless other things during his first week. Being on a new ship was like arriving in a new country. The customs and the unspoken laws you had to learn.

David heard the pounding of footsteps ahead of them, a man running in the half-darkness, speeding toward the party of men.

“Lieutenant Gray, sir?” came a shout.

“Who is it?” Gray shouted back viciously, unwilling to be disturbed without need.

“I’ve been searching all over for you. The Cap’n requests your immediate presence on the Pegasus, sir.”

“By God, man! What took you so long! Lead us back to the boat, then, and hurry up about it!” His screams were livid with anger, and David was happy he wasn’t the man on the end of it.

They upped their pace suddenly, and David wondered what was so important that required Lieutenant Gray’s presence in the immediate. The other Midshipmen had talked about the arrival of the two new frigates with excitement. David had simply listened. He had no real opinion, but he picked up information quickly, and soon learnt the commonly accepted view was that three frigates in Plymouth meant some sort of mission. Now, with the Captain wanting the Lieutenant back so quickly, it made it sound like whatever it was would be revealed soon enough.

He yawned heavily as they half-walked, half-ran back to the dock. He quickly forgot about his musings on the mission, and the two frigates, and soon he only dreamt of a warm brandy and comfortable bedding.

*

Captain John MacGregor felt the coastal winds blew behind him lightly. He stood straight and tall on the quarterdeck, watching the land carve itself out of the horizon in front of them. He wondered what each man was thinking, even though he knew full well they would be dreaming of land and home. Guilt weighed on his conscience. If they knew what he knew, there wouldn’t be the silent expectance that dominated the decks.

The masts and spars creaked as the wind picked up a little and the topsails strained forward. They made steady progress, and he began to pick out the details of the dark land and the oncoming docks – the mastheads of the many ships, a building here and there, outlines forming in the distance. The sun was just about to set, but its last light still illuminated the air enough to see without hindrance.

There was little action upon the main deck. The helmsmen waited patiently at the wheel; the boatswain by the mainmast, looking to Captain MacGregor for the order. Seaman stood by the lee braces, watching the boatswain for his command. There was no relaxed atmosphere; instead it was quiet and tense.

He took a few steps to the side toward the rail. Nine days ago, in Gibraltar, he had received orders from the Admiralty from a cutter bound from England. The letter had been brief and to the point, the way it always was. They weighed anchor and made for Plymouth with all due speed, as was required. Here, about to anchor in the familiar surroundings of Plymouth docks, which he had seen hundreds of times before, he wondered whether he had acted correctly.

They don’t need to know yet. Even to his closest friend, if a Captain could have friends, the first Lieutenant Gilbert, he had kept quiet. He had asked, and John had been forced to avoid the questions. The crew assumed they were going home. Full stop. Shore leave. To homes, and families, and a well-earned break. A deserved break. If only it were that simple, he thought, making sure his expressions didn’t betray his feelings to his men.

The news would benefit him, and only him; for the rest of the crew, it would be like chainshot to a mast – destructive. Captain John MacGregor, the orders had read, master & commander 0f His Britannic Majesty’s Ship Defence, of 60 guns, will hereby by given the temporary rank of Commodore. The first rungs of the ladder toward flag rank, he mused, yet his allegiance to his crew made the guilt outweigh the joy. He was to control a convoy containing Defence, and three small frigates, escort a merchant convoy traveling to the colonial possessions in the West Indies, and reinforce the fleet there. So simple, and yet so difficult.

Morale would be the worst hit; the crew was expecting to be released from their sea prison, while the reality was different. They would be forced to make the gruelingly slow journey escorting a convoy across the Atlantic, where they would then be left in the West Indies, where disease was rife and the heat insufferable. Unlike some Captains, John cared deeply for the feelings of his sailors, too much sometimes, some would say. My promotion is at the expense of them.

He looked out and saw the guard boat marking the anchorage spot. The ship creaked and moved forward in the wind. There were few ships in the harbour; he spotted the outlines of what he assumed would be his three frigates and one seventy-four flying a white ensign, but otherwise it was mostly deserted; the fleets, he assumed, were patrolling the seas after war was declared upon revolutionary France. They drew closer to the guard boat, which looked frail and vulnerable on the waves.

Lieutenant Gilbert looked at him. John knew instinctively it was time. “All hands wear ship, Mr. Gilbert.” His voice was emotionless, empty.

The answering calls came and went. The boatswain was in his element, striding to and fro, barking commands. Seaman strained on the lee braces, pulling the yards and with it the ship’s topsails. Two marines, clad in their contrasting red, ran forth to support the fore braces.

Captain MacGregor, satisfied with the work, nodded his head to his first Lieutenant and made his way down the steps and turned aft toward his cabin. He smiled at the helmsmen as he passed them, their hands grasping the large wooden handles.

“Helm a-lee!” came the shout.

The helmsmen swung the wheel over, and Captain MacGregor paused in the doorway.

The ships turned across the water, cutting through the waves. The hulking ship pulled away from the wind into the allocated spot, beside an anchored frigate, where figures watched and perhaps analysed the entry. The bowsprit pointed defiantly forward, the jib canvas rippling above it.

“Let go!”

There was a great splash as the heavy anchor smashed through the surface water, carrying the liquid high into the air, wetting the edges of the forecastle. John watched as the sail drill commenced immediately, the topsails being neatly furled by the nimble topmen. Lieutenants checked to see if the work was carried out efficiently. The guard boat was making its way aside the Defence, its oars rising and disappearing with regularity. The officers and the men breathed sighs of relief, and finished the formalities, such the raising of a fresh masthead pendant, bright compared to its ragged, worn-out predecessor.

The flag rose a little in the wind, but still fell. There are no ends, John whispered to himself, only new beginnings.

*

“I double the stakes. Do you accept?” Robert asked.

In the situation his question seemed preposterous. Jenkins-Hall, already red in the face from several glasses of port, looked at him with wide eyes and a noticeable frown across his brow. Tracey, the surgeon who always seemed to be away from the ship, was viewing the encounter with some degree of confusion as well.

“My dear Robert, you cannot seriously begin to think th-that you could actually win from this position?” William Jenkins-Hall’s words, while an attempt at incredulity, actually came out in a disbelieving stutter. Robert looked across at his opponent and smiled a little. William had offered him a match a little earlier in the evening, to stave off boredom. He had said he had been unable to play since nobody else in the crew was a suitable player. Robert had accepted with enthusiasm. His father had played Backgammon with him when the Navy allowed him back, and as a young boy he had thoroughly enjoyed the games.

The atmosphere was tense; the wardroom was badly lit by a solitary lantern, shadowing the whole area in a half-darkness. Tracey, the only other inhabitant at this time, had paused his reading, to watch. Jenkins-Hall was still unable to belief Robert’s request. If William accepted, it would mean the game would count as two games for whoever won, and because William was currently leading 3-1, would hand him the match, since they had decided on the best of 5. It might have been a brave attempt to level the scores; the problem being, as William saw it, was that he had almost all his checkers in his home table, while Robert had only a few, with two in the bar.

“The request is there. Reject if you will, and hand me the game.” Robert’s smile remained, and behind it laid a quiet confidence. He was willingly manipulating William, knowing he was in a losing position.

“I’m three-one up, and I’ve almost filled my home table! This is madness. If I win, the match is mine. Unless you’ve been holding back on me?

“I profess sincerely this has been played to the best of my ability.”

“Well then … why throw away the match? You could lose this one and still have an outside chance of coming back!”

Robert offered no answers. “Do you accept or reject?”
William spluttered and coughed, then took another sip of his glass to calm his throat. “Accept, accept of course. The stake is doubled.” He eyed Robert suspiciously, the seeds of doubt growing in him suddenly. He turned the doubling die from 1 to 2 to indicate what multiple of the original stake was now being played for.

It was Robert’s turn, and he rolled two fives. Luck on his side, this enabled him to hit William’s blot into the bar and meant he could move both his checkers back into the game. The double gave me double movement, and he moved them both to the same place, protected. William muttered something about luck of the dice. His turn bore less fruitation; the dice gave him only a four and a one, which were the only two spots in Robert’s home table covered by multiple checkers, meaning his checker remained stuck in the bar and he could do no more. The game continued in this vein for some time, William’s advantage undermined by Robert’s luck, which allowed him to cover all but one of his home table points. William, frustrated by the dice, began to turn redder in the cheeks, but this time it wasn’t because of his drinking.

“Damned luck,” William cursed, as he got a 2 and a 1, still unable to move his checker from the bar.

Robert rolled a double 6, and was able to move the last four of his checkers into his home table. Suddenly the whole direction of the game had changed; Robert held the advantage, William was still trapped and unable to press home.

“Tracey, sir! What do you make of this game? I had our man Robert trapped, and now he’s escaped like a rabbit and almost won! It belies sense.”

The surgeon was busy in his book, but he peered over his spectacles to see the proceedings. “I must admit Backgammon passes me by.”

William laughed, his first for a long time, and took another sip. He seemed now more amused than annoyed by Robert’s sudden turn-around. A few minutes later, Robert managed to bear off all his checkers much before William, who had still been obstructed by the imprisonment of his checker.

The scores lay at 3-3. Robert was still smiling. The hours of playing with father have paid off, he thought.

They started another game, William taking first turn. He still seemed confident of victory, and in his boisterousness began to make small mistakes. He didn’t notice of them, but multiple times Robert thought he could have made safer moves. He was stretching his checkers, and had left a couple of them on their own when such a position could have been avoided.

Jenkins-Hall, on the other hand, was completely unaware. Such was his confidence, in all probability fuelled by the port that repetitively graced his mouth, that he offered to double the stake, making this game the decider for the match. He had no great advantage in the game; so far it had been mostly even.

Robert nodded at the raise, and once more the doubling die was turned to 2.

In his turn he rolled a double three, and was able to hit not one, but two of William’s checkers in an expert move, while also being able to safely transport two more of his pieces into his home table. William spluttered again, suddenly noticing how close he was to defeat, and how Robert had now almost overturned a 3-1 deficit into a victory.

Robert somehow rolled another double, this one of fours, and safely moved four more pieces into his home table, meaning all fifteen of his checkers were home and he was ready to bear them all off and win the match. A couple of minutes later, this happened, and Robert happily took the small number of shillings and pence that had been betted earlier in the evening.

“By God,” he exclaimed. “Although He seems to have abandoned me. How can one man have such luck with the dice! It’s not natural. I shan’t bet with you readily again, Robert. I happen to like my shillings.”

“It seems Robert has a killer sense under all that nice externals, should I dare to say,” Tracey added, looking over as the match was completed.

“I’m glad you’re here, Robert, my good man, luck is exactly what the Pegasus needs.” Jenkins-Hall looked at Robert in all seriousness, no shadow of sarcasm etched on his features.

“I daren’t suggest my luck with backgammon will transcend to watery superstitions, unfortunately, William,” Robert replied modestly. “Besides, if you didn’t like your port so much, you might of won yourself!”

(unfinished)




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Sat Jul 22, 2006 9:44 pm
Firestarter says...



*

His first encounter with the Captain had made him feel wrong-footed and unconfident before he had even begun his duties. At harbour, the work was little, but he was expected to keep watch at regular intervals and keep control of the men who got rowdier as the ship lay anchored for longer. Some longer for shore or freedom, others just for something to do.

The stocks were replenished and the ship checked over, cleaned and made ready for sailing. Not that it was ever achieved. The Pegasus just sat in the harbour, waiting for the orders that never came and the mission that was never issued.

Robert’s first impression of the Pegasus was apathetic. From Lieutenant Jenkins-Hall’s words, she seemed like she would be a magnificent vessel, superbly built. Instead she was just another medium-sized, modest frigate. Robert hoped that his examination would prove unfounded when they left port and sailed, for he was told she was light to handle and flew like a bird across the open seas. But here, tied to the Plymouth waters, she was nothing to excite.

He stood, motionless, on the quarterdeck, leaning over the bulwark. Pegasus had her topsails unfurled to dry, after the month’s heavy rainfall. The air was warmer, but that brought darker clouds too, and Robert looked unhappily up at the grey sky. Since meeting the Captain, he had seen so many names and faces, many which escaped him. Lieutenant Jenkins-Hall, the snobbish short man, stuck in his memory, along with the completely opposite First Lieutenant Gray, a tight-lipped, tall thin man with a contemptuous look nearly all of the time. In the wardroom they were the reverse of the other. Robert was somewhat in the middle, and found himself attempting to balance an unstable camaraderie. Then there was Mr. Sullivan, the crazy gunner, with his untamed beard and feral appearance. And the unforgettable Mr. Raven, the ship’s boatswain, a giant of a man with a voice so loud Robert swore it could splinter the very keel of a ship. One of the young midshipmen had had an impact on him, as well: the young, gentle-spoken David Fawcett, a lonely boy, bullied by the rest the young gentleman, but a boy that reminded Robert of his young self.

He looked at the David who stood at the forecastle at his watch station. Over the past week Robert had developed a sincere fondness for the naïve lad. He had almost taken him under his wing. He remembered Captain Robins calling the blond-haired fifteen-year-old “weak” and felt pity for him. Robert thought there could be only one reason why he had ended up in the navy. Abandoned. His mother had probably seen no better place, save an orphanage, to dump her unwanted child. She’d then of run off to some far-flung corner of the world. The result was an undernourished young boy who was expected to command grown seamen. Robert remembered his days as a midshipmen being scary and confusing. At the same time that you were learning about the world, you were being put under pressure to command and impress your superiors, while still being able to grow a beard. Not even men.

Seven bells were rung, the sound reverberating from the belfry on the forecastle. The timekeeper, a reliable seaman, turned over his half-hour sand glass. Robert had another thirty minutes on watch duty. His stomach was rumbling and he highly anticipated supper in a couple of hours.

“Boat ahoy?” called the Midshipman of the Watch from the poop deck, and Robert turned to see a shore boat on the starboard side, battling the steep waves, with two oarsmen rowing hard in unison.

“No! No!” came the answering call. Robert knew at once the boat must carry some junior officers from the response. Possibly some more midshipmen to fill the empty hammocks?

The boat escaped his view as it came alongside the Pegasus, by the poop deck’s gangway. Two small figures stumbled with all the dignity they could muster as they attempted to clamber onto the ship. They retained some balance and walked towards Robert. They were both small and gangly, but one had long, wild brown locks, while the other had similarly untamed hair but they were coloured a light blonde. They were like brothers except for the hair. And there was something about the brown-haired one, something familiar …

They both raised their hand to their hats. The blonde-haired one, the senior Robert supposed, said, “Come aboard, sir. Alexander Gerrard, sir, Midshipman and this is Martyn Oliver, sir, Midshipman.”

“Very good, Mr. Gerrard, and Mr. Oliver. You’re the last of them, it seems. Make your way down to your berth, and I’ll see it to your possessions are taken below. The Captain would like to see you as well, so you can clean yourselves up and make yourselves known,” Robert replied, formally.

They nodded and made their way toward the main hatchway.

A flash of recognition hit Robert like a wave. His Father’s wife, Catherine, marrying a churchman from Hampshire; the man’s untidy wavy strands of unmistakable bright blonde hair; the Reverend Oliver being his name, there being a young boy, his cousin …

“Wait … you, Midshipman Oliver was it?” he asked, staring at the young adolescent suspiciously.

Oliver stopped in his paces and swung round, with a mixed expression of surprise and fear tinged on his cheeks. “Yes, sir?”

“Do I know you?” asked Robert, although it didn’t sound like a question as he said it, but rather a semi-conscious, dreamy conjecture.

“Umm …” the boy started, obviously puzzled. “I don’t think so, sir.” The other Midshipman was watching the exchange, switching his glances between Robert and then Martyn, as if there was something he had missed.

Robert frowned. “Never mind, then. Carry on.”

The two boys disappeared down into the ship. But the brown-haired Midshipman’s face stuck in his mind. There was something about it, something that reminded him of someone he knew … maybe he just had one of those faces. Robert shook himself mentally and concentrated on the task in hand, even though it seemed needless in a harbour, where action was rare. Robert felt the familiar emptiness digging at his midriff. He almost wished they were on the sea, chasing the enemy, the blood rushing to his head … everything else was forgotten. It was what he needed. An escape.

“Mr. Shaw!” said a man with a hard tone.

Robert knew who it was before he turned. The ever-vigilant first Lieutenant.

“Yes, sir?”

“Come here if you please,” he commanded, standing on the larboard gangway. Robert had no idea when he had appeared.

He drew alongside Lieutenant Gray, and looked into his dark brown eyes that lay deep within his skull and looked large against his thin, withered face.

“Is there something wrong, Lieutenant?” he said with a hushed voice, though still stern in its pronunciation.

“Sir?”

“I said: is there something wrong, Lieutenant?”

Robert had heard him perfectly well the first time. Having no idea what was irking the pedantic second-in-command, he shrugged unsatisfactorily. From first time he had met the first Lieutenant, he had never once said Robert’s first name, and instead addressed him exclusively as ‘Lieutenant’ or ‘Mr.Shaw.’ It was the same the other way round too. “I don’t understand exactly what you’re implying, sir.”

Gray sighed forlornly. “Mr.Shaw, we are on a man of war, a running, living ship that holds over two hundred men, and some women while we’re at harbour. While we sit here, anchored, there is no chance of prize money or reward for these men. Do you understand?” Gray was talking very condescendingly, as if he were explaining to a young boy.

Robert nodded. “But what does this have to with me?”

Gray sighed again, but heavier, his whole chest collapsing several inches with the apparent effort of explaining to a third Lieutenant. “You walk around the deck with the largest frown I have ever seen. You’re supposed to set an example to the men. They see you looking glum, and they know something is wrong. They need you to reassure them.”

“So you want me to grin pleasantly on the course of my duties?” Robert replied, and was half-sure the response created a faint smile on the hard formations of Gray’s face.

“At least pretend to, Robert,” Gray replied, speaking his name for the first time. “Very good. Carry on,” he added louder, so the men could hear, and made his way aft to go below.

Robert felt suddenly alone, and in the wrong. It had been a long time since he had last stepped foot on a ship. And a long time since he had commanded men. It looked like he would have to learn all over again.

*

The wardroom was notable in its lethargy.

Robert sipped some of his claret to fill the awkwardness he felt in his stomach. The conversation was dead. Even the normally loquacious sailing master Mr. Talbot had his lips closed. The surgeon, Jeremy Tracey, who Robert had only met recently because the man had been onshore, seemed content to allow the bad air to remain untouched. Robert himself almost felt a duty to revive the place as the newcomer, feeling that it may be his fault in the first place. That or the obvious bad blood between the third and first Lieutenants. When they decided to part words with each other, they were constantly antagonistic, despite the fact Jenkins-Hall was one of the most genuinely kind fellows Robert had ever met.

He looked between Gray and Jenkins-Hall swiftly, noting that both the officers were looking determinedly down at their food and not anywhere else. Robert’s patience was thinning. Though he knew both of them little, he felt some sort of moral obligation to force a conversation out of them just because it was making him feel very uncomfortable.

He slammed his claret down on the table. Gray looked up coldly at him.

“Sorry,” Robert said, baulking under the glare. “Didn’t mean to drop it so hard. Must be getting to me already.” He grinned nervously. Talbot smiled at him. Jenkins-Hall hadn’t moved.

It was the surgeon who decided to break the silence. “Tell me, Robert, how have you found the Pegasus so far?”

They all looked at him, even Jenkins-Hall. Robert reddened a little under the attention but hardened himself. “She seems like a good little ship. I haven’t seen her under sail yet, but I’m sure she’ll impress me.”

“I suppose you find her a little, er … cramped after the Inflexible? We’re no ship of the line,” asked Gray, but it sounded almost like he was forcing himself to be cordial. His last words though were laced with bitterness that wasn’t a result of the harsh-tasting fish they were eating. Robert thought Gray probably desired a more powerful ship than Pegasus.

In truth, Robert was simply delighted to have a berth in any ship, be it brig or a three-decker. “I’m happy to have anything, to be honest,” Robert replied. He still didn’t know Gray’s first name.

“Ah,” Gray said, his mouth forming into what seemed a mix between a victorious smile and Gray’s ordinary hard expression. “But, of course, you’d been left dry by the Navy, hadn’t you?”

Robert felt his cheeks hotting up, and looked down at his food, embarrassed, and began to play with it using his fork. Gray had a talent for ending conversations.

“Well, our most gracious superiors at the Admiralty don’t always make the best decision when it comes to selecting officers, it would appear,” Jenkins-Hall spoke, looking directly at Gray as the words left his throat.

A cough came from the end of the table. “Gentlemen, gentlemen. I think a toast ought t’be in order.” Talbot had finally entered the talk. “To Robert, for bein’ a lucky un, and all the rest of the poor souls left wretchedly on land, may their futures be better!” He raised his glass in a gesture. Robert joined him. Gray did it half-heartedly, but Jenkins-Hall, maybe to irk the first Lieutenant, grandly clicked his glass to Talbot’s and Robert’s, and then Tracey’s as the surgeon lifted his own.

The gesture seemed to alleviate some of the deadness that had earlier accompanied the meal. Different conversations emerged. Gray and Talbot began to speak about the recent outbreak of war, and revolutionary France as a political body. Robert, who was interested in affairs of state, looked to make a comment, but Jenkins-Hall interrupted his proposed attempt.

“I have something to ask you, my dear Robert, although do pardon my bluntness,” he said, with his typical grandeur. “I was wondering, has your mind ever wandered what Pegasus will be assigned to next?

Robert frankly had no supposition. “I remember you mentioning the West Indies.”

“Ah, indeed, my good man. It is rumoured somewhat-” he paused, and changed the loudness of his speech to a faint whisper, “that we are to join a small band of frigates bound for the Caribbean to protect the colonies. Jump to it before the Frenchies get other ideas! We might even be called on to seize a few of their possessions. Make ourselves useful, eh?”

Gray was arguing with Talbot and Tracey over the strength of France in her new state. Robert had never seen Gray so hotheaded amongst other officers. He noted inwardly that the man had a quick turn to anger. Something to watch out for. He looked back at Jenkins-Hall and saw him eagerly awaiting an answer, or perhaps a thank you for the information provided.

“How many times have you seen action on Pegasus?” Robert wondered aloud to the rotund Lieutenant. His mind was thinking about possible fights in the future, and whether the crew was experienced and whether he would be found out to be a complete novice in the cruel arena of war.

“Not many. We seized a pirate brig off the coast of West Africa a few months back. That was quite possibly the only time we’d seen an enemy, such as it was, head-on. Otherwise we’ve been in a few chases, but the luck of the weather always turns against us.”

The other conversation had seemingly dissipated and the other three seemed to have caught on to the last statement by Jenkins-Hall. Robert considered it. He’d heard Pegasus was a fast ship, one of the speedily built frigates.

“She’s not cursed, William, for godssakes,” Gray stated angrily.

Robert warily looked between them.

“Whether you believe it or not, she is. Every time we see a sail there’s something that turns against us. Wind, water, rain. It doesn’t matter,” Jenkins-Hall replied fervently. “I know it, Robert. There’s something about the Pegasus that Our Lord just doesn’t approve of.”

Robert looked around. Gray’s face showed scorn, his eyes narrowed. Talbot shrugged. Tracey looked faintly interested.

It was Tracey that broke the temporary lull in conversation that followed Jenkins-Hall’s last statement. “There’s a theory going round, Robert, that luck has abandoned ol’ Pegasus, or God has, or something we need has. One of the men on our last mission blamed Captain Robins: he was flogged raw. No one points at the Captain anymore surprisingly. A few picked on a Midshipman because he was young; he was so upset by the ordeal that he was transferred. Now the men just don’t know. Either way, Pegasus has never won any prize money or anything.”

A shock for a frigate of this speed and agility. Frigates were renowned for being liberated of the constraints of a fleet, or slower ships. They were free to catch their prey. They were faster than pretty much anything on a good day, and had the guns to match anything but a ship of the line. So it was surprising a ship like the Pegasus had never caught anything in her service. Maybe Captain Pears was unaccustomed to such a command. Maybe the officers were bad. Maybe the men were. These explanations and a thousand others broiled in Robert’s mind, but none came closer to allowing him to understand.

“Stop filling the man’s mind with your theories,” Gray said strictly. “The ship’s not cursed.”

Robert didn’t know whom to believe. But the word moved around in his mind, and wouldn’t leave for days afterward. Cursed.




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Tue May 09, 2006 10:42 pm
Snoink wrote a review...



Yes... I am finally getting to my stack of stuff to critique. Amazing, isn't it?

And the invisible enemy had taken the love of his life from him barely five months ago, on a night similar to this one, albeit [s]it[/s] warmer, where the darkness meant the sea and the sky were blended.


Get rid of the "it."

I think that's all the grammar I really want to cover. Otherwise, this is remarkably well-written. You did good, Jack. ;)

Robert hurried along the snow-covered, cobbled street. The cold air made him shiver. He pulled his muffler scarf tighter about his neck. At this time in the evening, the town was mostly empty: a few others traversed the wintered ground, and the continuous heavy snowfall that clouded the dark air, but they were rare, and for the most part he travelled alone. But he had no need for company right now.


For some reason, I think the second sentence is a little out of place. When I see the first sentence, I want more description of the street. Why? Because it sounds interesting. Cobbled means old, and what other delights are on the street? What do the houses or buildings look like now, clothed in their white garments? You say there are a couple of other people there. Who are they? How do they react to Robert?

So I would love some description of the setting before you introduce the main character. I think it makes it more like a movie. Imagine the camera, just zooming over the town, looking at every possible angle before finally setting down on one man who is struggling through the snow. I think it's cool.

Robert was eager to get back to his lodging and before a fire that would warm his frostbitten skin. The weather just mimicked to the coldness of his emotions, the deadness of his soul. The emptiness. It had been five months since the accident and he still hadn’t forgiven himself.


Frostbitten? He may be cold, but unless his skin is truly frostbitten, then you're not going to want to use this description.

The future seemed a bleak place to walk into, just like the rest of the street that was masked in darkness and swirling snow particles. There was no favourable wind, nor the superstitious luck every sailor wished for. It was either the storm or the just as terrifying calm, where there was no one there for him. There’s nobody here for me now.


This paragraph is right after a brief tidbit of information, and I think it's awkward because you jump from the past to the future all of the sudden. It's not bad, mind you. I just did an insanely careful reading of it, because I thought/hoped you would like it. Still, one of the things that I think is awkward is that you're constantly trying to draw analogies to the snow and Robert's feelings. You don't need to do this.

Finally, by setting up the scene meticulously, you create a backdrop for Robert's feelings so you don't have to go in to them and keep repeating that he's lonely and he messed up his life. You're relying too much on the analogies... instead, be a poet. Allow your imagery to hold up your feelings.

...and yes, your imagery is good enough that you can do that.

Just like they taught a King’s officer to act. Even when the bullets were flying, and the cannons firing, and the smoke rising, you were taught to act like nothing was wrong. Even when a man was cut brutally apart in front of you, blood and guts and all spilt half over you and half over the deck, you must show nonchalance. His love had been cut brutally apart from him, and his tears had wetted the grass.


The last sentence contradicts the entire rest. If he must show nonchalance while the bullets are flying, he isn't going to cry. I'm not, for a minute, suggesting that he shouldn't cry, but still. I would rather see something like:

"His love had been cut brutally apart from him and he hadn't been able to cry. Until he was alone."

Once again, I think you're trying to hard for a compare/contrast story than is necessary. Just calm down and let the words do their work.

Anyway, some REALLY good stuff in this as well. The description is marvelous (I want more!) and I can picture the image quite clearly... always good.

Anyway, good luck. AND KEEP WRITING!!!




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Tue May 09, 2006 9:14 pm
Colier wrote a review...



I couldn't read it all but I have a few comments, not all of which are demonizing.

He turned his face to the side to take away the worst, and stumbled onwards.
This is a good sentence. It's a term editors use called fluid.

There are other problems though. Dry use of grammar. I saw a proper noun, those are bad, you want to avoid those. For instance: "The house of bitter ghosts." "A night of wind and rain." That 'of' is bad, bad news.

I read about 1,000 words. At your age your writing is mediocre, which is very good, because there are too many writers out there who can't write no matter what they do.

It is kind of sad, I'm going to college for editing but this lazy, hot summer is keeping me busy in my boredom. I'll take a closer look when I get the chance.




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Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:02 pm
Firestarter says...



Thanks, fishr. No problemo about everything. The clothing probably needs more detail anyway.




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Wed Apr 05, 2006 3:26 pm
Fishr says...



It's 1779 ... why would it not be? I'm confused as to what you mean about their uniforms (??) The present day of the narrative is 1792. His father died in 1782, at the Battle of the Saintes, where a British Fleet met a French Fleet in the West Indies.
This is my fault for critiquing something so late in the night. When I started yours, I had just did some editing on mine and I guess I just got mixed up - lack of sleep and all. I'm guess I'm fixated on laced collars and wrists, breeches etc that I didn't differentiate between the two clothing attires last night. Although, the West Indies were mentioned, I should have made a minor connection, seeing how in '73' the Indies were responsible for supplying the tea to the colonies. :)

I'm also not familiar with the Battle of Saintes, nor heard of it. Sorry. :( Maybe it'll be explained what the battle entailed later on? :)

Hmm ... this is from the first chapter of the story -

"The envelope was from the Admiralty. Robert had been on half-pay for a year, when his former ship Inflexible was decommissioned. Now, over six months after Britain had joined the First Coalition, six months of surviving on low income and a bored soul, would Robert been given a ship at last. He had served briefly on a sloop that patrolled the south coast, but he had been deemed surplus to requirements and put in reserve again. A similar story for the thousands of Lieutenants in His Britannic Majesty’s Navy. "

So his last ship was about a year ago (not including the sloop). I didn't mean "out of practice" to mean he couldn't sail anymore, so I suppose I should clear that up. I meant that he was out-of-practice in leading mean and making decisions, living on the sea and all the life that comes with that.
I'll reread chapter one. I must have missed it because I was critiquing so late. Sorry about that but thank you for clearing that up! :D Very imformative.

Also, thanks for clearing up Robert's adjustment on a new ship and how Robin's demeanor will directly affect him.

Thanks for the crit ... very, very useful. You've picked up on a few things I'll need to edit, where the meaning isn't so clear. I like these analyses because it shows how someone else understands my story. When I look at it from my perspective, with my own knowledge, I perhaps understand things others don't or write them in a way that isn't very good. Or it's just bad, lol. Thanks again! Will do some editing this week.
lol. Such as mine too. We both have a ton of knowledge but it's hard to determine if readers are actually following the plot itself and especially when a dash of history is thrown into the mix. You're very welcome. I apologize again for getting the naval uniforms mixed up with my fatique.

Best of luck with your novel. :)




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Wed Apr 05, 2006 10:55 am
Firestarter says...



I'm not familiar with this era. Actually I'm not sure where in time we are? I only know that Robbins spoke of the year '79'. So, I'm guessing we're in 1879 or least the 1800's? Can't be 1979 because automobiles were obviously invented already, lol. And it mentions in the story about horse drawn carriages, or at least I think so? I'm positive it's not 1779 because you describe their uniforms; Jenkins and Roberts. So, it seems we're not in the 18th century. Anyway, back on track, lol. The father seems to have died or suffered an extreme injury since his mother, who is usually mentally strong, cried.


It's 1779 ... why would it not be? I'm confused as to what you mean about their uniforms (??) The present day of the narrative is 1792. His father died in 1782, at the Battle of the Saintes, where a British Fleet met a French Fleet in the West Indies.

This just seems so final. If Robert is not meant to be permanently on the ship, between 'him' and 'now' place a 'for.' So, you'll have - But there was nowhere else for him for now. With that one extra word, the sentence suggests that until Robert's transferred again, he's home is on the Pegasus until then. It just come off as a final decision where Robert is doomed to spend his remaining years on this boat.


That sentence is a bit melodramatic. I don't really like it either. Thanks for the tip.

-Hmm... Being raised on the ocean (father was a Captain) it has been a while (But exactly how much time has passed since Robert was last on a boat?) since he was last at sea.
-A great deal of time away from the ocean (If Robert says he's out of practice, for someone who was raised on ships, then I'm guessing he's been away from the sea for somewhere around a decade possibly? It's difficult to determine because it's not mentioned in the story. Although, I'm certain he still remembers the basics - masts and locations of a ship.
-Doesn't care for a hard-to-please Capt. at all


Hmm ... this is from the first chapter of the story -

"The envelope was from the Admiralty. Robert had been on half-pay for a year, when his former ship Inflexible was decommissioned. Now, over six months after Britain had joined the First Coalition, six months of surviving on low income and a bored soul, would Robert been given a ship at last. He had served briefly on a sloop that patrolled the south coast, but he had been deemed surplus to requirements and put in reserve again. A similar story for the thousands of Lieutenants in His Britannic Majesty’s Navy. "

So his last ship was about a year ago (not including the sloop). I didn't mean "out of practice" to mean he couldn't sail anymore, so I suppose I should clear that up. I meant that he was out-of-practice in leading mean and making decisions, living on the sea and all the life that comes with that.

Have to ask, but where it's bolded, what do you mean? Why doesn't Robert have much time to adjust to knew surroundings? Sorry. Moving on...


'Cos Robins is a tough Captain and doesn't allow for incompetence. So Robert is worried that the fact he hasn't been on the sea recently will mean that he has little time to readjust to the Pegasus.

Thanks for the crit ... very, very useful. You've picked up on a few things I'll need to edit, where the meaning isn't so clear. I like these analyses because it shows how someone else understands my story. When I look at it from my perspective, with my own knowledge, I perhaps understand things others don't or write them in a way that isn't very good. Or it's just bad, lol. Thanks again! Will do some editing this week.




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Wed Apr 05, 2006 3:57 am
Fishr says...



Round two. 8) *scratches head* I wonder what I'll come up with this time? Let's see, last time I discovered Robert's strength. Now, I have two chars to 'dig' into. :D I'm more than likely going to skip back and forth between the two characters as they make their presence in order of the chapter.

Chapter 2

Robert

-as the story starts out - still sad
-waiting for a ship that he's been assigned too
-Unsociable? (It describes other people in the Inn but Robert choose to sit away from them. Interesting. Seems that he almost prefers to be alone)
-respectful and patient (He's quietly waiting until it is time for him to board by the Captain himself. Hehe. If it were me, I'd probably be shot on contact. I literally have no patience and would have boarded the ship regardless)

Sitting unaccompanied before going to a new ship, a new home where’d he live until he died or was moved or transferred as the Admiralty saw fit, was ultimately frightening – and there was no there to experience it alongside. Better get used to it.
In this sentence alone, I pulled the fallowing information from it:

-Has spent the majority of his life at sea or on ships in general. Ships (and Navy) is all Robert knows since he mentions he'll probably die or be transferred.
-Enlisted in Navy (unless there's another term for it?)
-frightened (Robert doesn't seem to cope with changes very well, especially when it revolves around a new ship.
-Longs to have a friend (wants someone with him to experience any conflicts, though it doesn't specifically say Kate, so I'm assuming a friend in general. Maybe he's not as anti-social as I first thought? ;) )


William Jenkins-Hall

-pompous (At least, that's my impression of him)
-good-natured
-Very direct, straight to the point type of guy
-seems to enjoy smiling and laughing
-An extremely important man, at least in the Captain's eyes. (I would think a Capt. would want a tightly timed crew and not have to wait but Jenkins seems to have an incredible amount of respect with the Capt. by drinking instead of following orders. Leeway might be an understatement.)

Robert

A Captain hard to please. Not a good omen for himself, who hadn’t experienced sea time for longer then he cared to remember. He was out of practice and it would take time to readjust, especially to a new environment, and if Hall was correct, he didn’t have that precious time.

-Hmm... Being raised on the ocean (father was a Captain) it has been a while (But exactly how much time has passed since Robert was last on a boat?) since he was last at sea.
-A great deal of time away from the ocean (If Robert says he's out of practice, for someone who was raised on ships, then I'm guessing he's been away from the sea for somewhere around a decade possibly? It's difficult to determine because it's not mentioned in the story. Although, I'm certain he still remembers the basics - masts and locations of a ship.
-Doesn't care for a hard-to-please Capt. at all

He was out of practice and it would take time to readjust, especially to a new environment, and if Hall was correct, he didn’t have that precious time
Have to ask, but where it's bolded, what do you mean? Why doesn't Robert have much time to adjust to knew surroundings? Sorry. Moving on...


Jenkins

We’ve tested his patience long enough, and that’s about as sensible as playing with gunpowder.”
*smiles* So, Jenkens has a sarcastic sense of humor?
-Greedy (at least when it comes to food and importantly salted pork, lol. I wonder how much food is served to the officers?)

Why not while I'm at it? Might as well go all out right?

Captain Robins

-Stern
-requires trustworthy officers
-must inspect officers first before their allowed to be apart of his crew
-if Robin despises a crew member, life is pretty damn hard, according to Jenkins
-humorless
-short in stature


Robert

-intimidated by Robins
-seems nervous of the Capt.
-Father died? (I'm not familiar with this era. Actually I'm not sure where in time we are? I only know that Robbins spoke of the year '79'. So, I'm guessing we're in 1879 or least the 1800's? Can't be 1979 because automobiles were obviously invented already, lol. And it mentions in the story about horse drawn carriages, or at least I think so? I'm positive it's not 1779 because you describe their uniforms; Jenkins and Roberts. So, it seems we're not in the 18th century. Anyway, back on track, lol. The father seems to have died or suffered an extreme injury since his mother, who is usually mentally strong, cried.)

-seems to miss his father; has trouble speaking about him to Robins much less keeping his composure.
-feels that he let Robins down in some way; unimpressed him
-feels he was put to a test and failed
-feels that the Pegusus is already a difficult place to co-exist
-mentions there is nowhere else for him to go too (So, at the end, does this mean he permanently on Pegusus until death? Or just for the time being? I ask because of this:

But there was nowhere else for him now.
This just seems so final. If Robert is not meant to be permanently on the ship, between 'him' and 'now' place a 'for.' So, you'll have - But there was nowhere else for him for now. With that one extra word, the sentence suggests that until Robert's transferred again, he's home is on the Pegasus until then. It just come off as a final decision where Robert is doomed to spend his remaining years on this boat.

Hehe... There we go. Um, I kinda slipped into the old criting habits at the end and I went into depth with the dates. *shrugs* I was curious, lol. So, I typed exactly what I was thinking about what era we're in and what '79' actually meant in a time frame.

Out of the three characters, I like Robins the best. I've always been drawn to the 'jerks', the antagonists, the people that you rather poke with a ten foot pole. Robins has that certain appeal I enjoy about characters; the 'rough around the edges' type of deal. Hard to explain but he's my favorite thus far.

Jenkins is pretty cool. Pompous characters are amusing, lol. And he has a sense of a sarcastic humor and is good natured to boot.

I typed this late, so if something doesn't make sense; ask.
-fishr :D ;)




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Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:24 pm



I don't know if fishr has gotten back to you on tides but here are some useful things.

Description of riptide - http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Rip_current; its presented here much more coherently than I could.

As slack tide is one that does not exceed .05 knots.

The moon and its magentic pull to the earth are what create tides and because of that there are no tides around the equator and such. The sun's force also creates tides but their effects are less, much less.

You also might find this site interesting: http://home.hiwaay.net/~krcool/Astro/moon/moontides/

:D Hope this helps. A least a little. CL

(Edit: The most extreme tide difference (between low and high) is in the Channel Islands, particulary noticible on Herm, I've been there during both extremes, it's rathering cool to see.)




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Tue Apr 04, 2006 3:14 pm
Firestarter says...



No, I don't really know anything about tides, so rips and slack tide goes straight over my head. Perhaps you'll need to educate me one day!




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Tue Apr 04, 2006 3:10 pm
Fishr says...



Hehe. You're welcome, Jack. It was entertaining. Analyzing is a lot of fun but over-analyzing is much better. Unfortunately, I don't get to do it often on here. Grammar errors make me twitch but your story didn't have any that I saw. Besides, I can't analyze if a character is poorly developed like a carbon copy. ;) Clearly this isn't the case.

Just wondering, but did you know what I meant by rips and slack tide?

Thank you for clearing up my misunderstanding about the death. Whoops! Heh, and it looks like you have something new to work with - Robert's strength.

Wouldn't be cool if both our novels were published? :D

I wonder what I can do with Chapter 2? :twisted:

-fishr




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Tue Apr 04, 2006 2:37 pm
Firestarter says...



Thanks fishr, you already know from my PM that I loved this crit. Very refreshing! I'm glad you appreciate Robert as a character. By the way, all your guesstimations about Robert's wife dying and the details are pretty much correct. It was close to shore but high tide and there was a storm! Your comments about the strength of Robert was useful, too. To be honest I didn't really think about it but now you've given me some ideas on how to explain his strength. Also, he didn't actually murder his wife but simply blames himself for the run of occurences that eventually led to her dying. I reckon you probably already know that, though.

Thanks again!




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Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:10 am
Fishr wrote a review...



Hiya, Jack! First, before you strangle me, I'm very sorry to have taken this long to comment on your story. Unlike the usual critiques I'm going to analyze your characters. I figured you might be a little tired of the usual pointing of grammatical errors, unnecessary words and the like. Besides, analyzing chars are so fun and helpful to the writer too! Enjoy! :D

Chapter 1

Robert Shaw

-extremely cold due to shivering
-prefers to be alone at this time
-melancholy
-feels guilty for the death of his wife
-seems to be in denial presently (At least in the beginning of the story. This is refreshing because in my opinion most people will automatically assume when someone dies the first thing they'll do is cry. That's not always the case as everyone grieves differently. So, kudos to you for locking on that particular emotion - denial. It makes his character more realistic.)
-has been involved with the Navy since childhood
-extremely lonely and probably depressed

His coat caught the air like a sail and he found it hard to make fast progress. Like a ship caught dead in the water.

-seems to related to the intense tides of the ocean to his emotions. (An intense tide can be unforgiven such as a riptide so it seems that Robert uses nature's fiercest elements to describe his sadness. I came to that reason through the quote. ;))
-his wife had an uncanny specialty of making people smile, even in the worse of times.
He had pushed too hard and she had fallen.

-(by the quote)he technically murdered his wife accidentally; a causality.
His mind turned once more to the funeral. He hadn’t even wept, when, after she was buried and the earth filled

(Ah, this brings home what I mentioned earlier about denial, which is a very powerful emotion separately. I believe you did very well on capturing what this emotion actually does - masks a terrible loss and in such a realistic way too! Excellent job. :)
Only when everybody had left, and the Vicar whispered his condolences to Robert, and left him alone, with just the gravestone and the deserted cemetery for company did tears fall down his own cheeks.
(Again, you've captured another important trait. Some people do not show emotion unless they're alone. Robert just becomes more and more real. :))
-blames himself for the death of his wife
-seems to have a strict dad
-depressed
-very strong physically (I say this because Robert jumps overboard. Have you ever been in the middle of an ocean? There are usually many rips, the tide always changing. The ocean is most certainly unpredictable. I'm assuming they were near land and if that's the case the depth was probably 30-50 feet; enough where the current could easily carry you away in a few seconds. I speak from experience because I often go deep sea fishing and believe me it's VERY tiring to real in a 30lb+ striped bass against the tide. My shoulder is always tired and sore at the end of the day from the immense tug of the fish followed by the rips. Just thought I'd point this out. If Robert leaped overboard, he had to have been physically fit to not only attempt to haul a body but to tread water long enough to be saved.)

-boat had to have been fairly close to shore but in high tide (What brings me to this conclusion is that the boat had to have been near shore for the crew spot the body. There is no logical way otherwise for them to find Kate's body near rocks if the boat was father out in the ocean. Also, it they were near shore, it would have to been high tide. Near shore during low tide, a boat has to be extremely couscous for they will get stuck on a sandbar or worse; damage their motor on rocks. Besides, if it was low tide, surely Robert could have saved his wife since the tide is usually no more then neck length in depth, which lead me to believe she died during high tide, since she wasn't saved.)

-the day Kate died there had to have been a fierce storm (My guess this was the case since her body was washed up on shore the next day. If the tide was slack, this wouldn't have been the case. She would have drifted straight to the bottom.)

Hehe... I think I covered what I wanted in this chapter. Towards the end, I do what I enjoy most and that's over-analyzing characters and their predicaments. I hope by the over-analyzing you can compare these notes to your original ones. Gaining two completely different opinions (mine and yours) not only helps the writer but it sheds new light. You are seeing what the reader (me) thinks of the character and hopefully that will help in the future.

About Robert -

What can I say? He totally rocks! You've done an amazing job of creating a believable character in the first chapter. Robert's personality is something one person or another has experienced and therefore readers should automatically connect with him. So often I've read stories (not on YWS) where a writer well have a character suffer a tragic loss but forces that character to do obscene and ridiculous stunts, like going on a 'warpath' by displaying loads of unneeded anger, which is stupid because that's generally how a real live person wouldn't act.

So again, kudos to you Jack for describing sadness but in a realistic way and how that emotion effects Robert. It's just plain cool!

If you'd like, I can do this same type of critique for chapter 2. I mean *cough*William Jenkins-Hall




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Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:17 pm



I forgot, it's exam time isn't it? Those evil, evil exams. Well good luck! :D




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Fri Mar 24, 2006 4:44 pm
Firestarter says...



Thanks, Cal. Yeah I love writing for Jenkins-Hall, he's a laugh.

Progress is so far stalled by my exams looming and busy times anyway. But thanks for the corrections!




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Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:20 am



me likes the revised edition. :D moshes to Snow Patrol.

and there was no there to experience it alongside.
- should this be no one there

from snow to rain but his loneliness was left unaffected
- I would cut this down a smidge: ...snow to rain, his loneliness unaffected.

The inn door swung open, creaking at it’s hinge as a fleshy man with a rotund face walked cheerfully in. There was an incessant grin on his face, despite the weather, which had drenched his blue navy coat so it resembled a puddle, and battered his tricorne, which he duly removed from his head and wiped it down.
- I love, love this description, 'specially the puddle part.

“Do I make the acquaintance of Lieutenant Robert Shaw, of His Britannic Majesty’s Royal Navy?”
- Is the comma necessary? I'm not quite sure.

So I’d get into full dress, though the rain might spoil your parade
- Hahaha

His Coxswain is currently drowning outside, I believe.
- Hahaha, great image there. :D

Jenkins-Hall is such a full-bodied character, you have taken what could have been a two dimentional and made him 3, plus he makes me laugh. I imagine him to be saying any moment, "I thank the Gods everyday for the pleasure of my birth for I would have made a miserable peasant." :lol:

So anyways, I like the new entrance to Chapitre Deux immensely.

Ciao, CL.




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Sun Mar 19, 2006 12:18 am
Firestarter says...



I didn't particularly like how Chapter 2 had begun, so I totally revised the beginning. Here's the new version (for all who are interested):

Chapter 2

Frozen raindrops, like tear-shaped icicles, blurred the inn’s windows. The aromas of burning roasts and the sounds of ales hitting tables filled Robert’s senses. Between the other naval officers, possibly waiting for ships like him, and the ordinary town workers relaxing after a hard day’s work, Robert sat alone on a table, watching the condensation misting the glass, stroking with the edge of his emptied mug. He sighed gently, and fiddled with the buttons of his undress blue coat, his informal attire, and his working uniform. He was hoping to change into his full dress uniform before meeting the Captain, but had tallied drinking brandy and ale. Sitting unaccompanied before going to a new ship, a new home where’d he live until he died or was moved or transferred as the Admiralty saw fit, was ultimately frightening – and there was no there to experience it alongside. Better get used to it.

He’d had a message from a young midshipman that had been anticipating his arrival that Captain Robins was not yet on board, but expected to be there soon. The first Lieutenant was currently in command but Robert was not to make himself present until the Captain was there to greet him. To Robert, it felt like a pointless formality. So he was left to waste time in a paltry inn, drinking alone and simply waiting as the weather turned from snow to rain but his loneliness was left unaffected.

The inn door swung open, creaking at it’s hinge as a fleshy man with a rotund face walked cheerfully in. There was an incessant grin on his face, despite the weather, which had drenched his blue navy coat so it resembled a puddle, and battered his tricorne, which he duly removed from his head and wiped it down. He scanned the inn’s inhabitants, and fixed on Robert.

“Do I make the acquaintance of Lieutenant Robert Shaw, of His Britannic Majesty’s Royal Navy?” he said with a fervent pompousness.

Robert blinked, wondering if the officer always spoke thus. “Yes, that would be me. And you, sir?”

The man, if possible, grinned more. “Second Lieutenant William Jenkins-Hall, of the beautiful Pegasus, at your command, my good man.” He bowed, spiralling his tricorne downwards to be presented before Robert. His words, though dripping with grandiosity, seemed to be voiced with all seriousness. “I’m here to inform of you of the most recent developments.”

Robert simply nodded.

“Our most competent superior, Captain Robins, has arrived to take residence once more on the Pegasus and requests your presence on board immediately,” he said, without taking a breath, though his corpulent cheeks turned a pinkish red. “He wants to assess you,” he added, with a hushed voice, and then a childish giggle.

“Assess me?”

“Indeed. Our Captain is very much a believer in first impressions. So I’d get into full dress, though the rain might spoil your parade,” he replied, his smile fading for the first time when he glanced outside at the stormy downfall. “The Captain has offered his gig for your transference to the Pegasus, such as it is. His Coxswain is currently drowning outside, I believe.”

Robert didn’t know how to reply to that. “There go my hopes of another ale.”

“Nonsense, my newly-found friend. I’ll get us two and pay as well. What good are sailors if they don’t know how to get wet? Let the man suffer a little, it’ll only harden him.”

“But the Captain-” Robert began.

“Will expect some delay, only to be explained by the constant fluctuation of weather. Just tell him you’re awfully sorry but the gig couldn’t navigate the harbour waves.” He gave Robert a grin. “Ahoy! Landlord. Get us two of your finest ales, and I’ll take some boiled pork to warm my insides.”

Robert was forced to smile a little. William’s enthusiasm was infectious. The man was obviously of the aristocracy, for he seemed indifferent about irritating the Captain, which showed he had some leeway, and his speech echoed in stately dialect. “I have a thousand questions to ask but they can’t seem to find my tongue.”

William Jenkins-Hall bellowed with laughter. “I suppose you want to know if she’s a happy ship? If the men are good? If moral is high? Why you have been appointed here? What might be our mission? What the Captain is like?” He paused for a second, as the Landlord delivered their drinks, and told him Hall the food would be given soon. “I’ll answer the best I can. Captain Robins is a tough, stubborn man, who knows how he wants his officers to work and won’t budge. If he doesn’t like you, God help you. You’ll know what I mean when you meet him. Just try not to disappoint. The ship for the best part is fine, but we lost a lot of men in Africa, and half the men are landsmen or pressed, and we’re lacking in strong officers. And of our mission? The rumours whisper of the West Indies, but sometimes they’re so wrong I wouldn’t be surprised if our ensign ended up fluttering in the winds of India.”

Robert took a sip, and deliberated on an answer. There were so many thoughts swimming in his mind he didn’t know which to give prevalence too. A Captain hard to please. Not a good omen for himself, who hadn’t experienced sea time for longer then he cared to remember. He was out of practice and it would take time to readjust, especially to a new environment, and if Hall was correct, he didn’t have that precious time.

As his mind wandered, he remembered the long, delayed journey had been forced to suffer from Torquay to Plymouth. Despite the distance, and the towns lying just about half a day’s journey from one another, the stubbornness of the coachman had meant he was forced to stay a night in the quaint village of Ivybridge, below the harsh but beautiful moorlands of Dartmoor. Robert grudgingly admitted the place itself was ideal for a traveller’s stop, but had hoped to make it in one day to Plymouth. Instead the driver had flatly refused to move too quickly on the frozen paths for fear of harming his carefully oiled wheels, or forcing his horses to trot too far without rest for fear of them getting too cold outside.

Robert was shaken from his recollections as Hall cleared his throat. He had greedily eaten all the boiled pork, clearing his plate to leave nothing but greasy water gathering at its edges. “We better be getting on. The Captain can’t wait all day. Where’s your chest?”

“Upstairs. But I thought I should better change?”

“No time now! No, no. I’ll just go and tell Leigh where your chest is and we’ll have to go henceforth. We’ve tested his patience long enough, and that’s about as sensible as playing with gunpowder.”

Robert, ten minutes later, just a little bewildered and bedraggled as they stepped out into the unremitting rainfall, took a deep breath. Waiting for the plunge.

*

“Third Lieutenant, sah!” shouted the marine guard standing ceremoniously at the Captain’s cabin doors, straightening his posture and banging his musket butt on the deck as if he were on drill parade.

The great cabin door swung ominously open in front of Robert, revealing the luxurious (at least for a fighting ship) quarters of the ship’s commander, leader and God, for everything he said was law. Captain Robins sat behind his desk, scrawling some notes, but beckoned a hand for Robert to come forward. He was a small man, from what Robert could make out, with balding hair. Not the idealistic picture of a modern military commander. But from what he didn’t make up in size, he made up in presence. As soon as the Captain looked up, his eyes had a sudden alertness, strength behind them. Robert knew that it would do no good to fail a Captain with of stern a face as that.

“Lieutenant Shaw, I presume?” he said, looking down at his papers once more.

“Yes, sir.”

“Welcome onboard. You’ll be directed to your quarters soon. But I preferred to greet you presently, for I like to get to know my officers before they work beneath me. I like to know their … qualities.”

Robert felt slightly intimidated by the Captain’s tone of voice. “Of course, sir.”

“Your last ship was the Inflexible?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Under Captain Hammond, I recall?” he asked, though Robert supposed he was reading it off the paper in front of him.

“Indeed, sir.”

“A capital man! What did you think of him?”

“A fine officer to serve under, sir. It was a pleasure.” Was this a test?

Captain Robins moved back his chair laboriously, scraping it across the wooden flooring. He stood up, and despite being much shorter than Robert, maintained an aura far beyond his physical height. Robert felt like he could hold a baying crowd to silence. The Captain turned to look out the stern gallery windows, with his hands held loosely behind his back. “He’s a good friend of mine. We served as midshipmen together, back in ’79.”

Robert didn’t know what to say, so kept his mouth closed.

“Your father was at Saintes?” asked Robins.

He knows. “Captain of the Bedford, sir.”

Robert could see from the reflection in the window and the back of his head that was he was nodding solemnly. “They say she fought admirably.”

There was a silence. Robert’s mind was paralysed by a sudden memory that pierced the emotional broil, stirring since Robins had mentioned Saintes. The Battle of The Saintes. He remembered his Mother, usually so tough a woman, weeping and screaming like a possessed. He remembered being so young he didn’t know what was going on. Only that it was to do with his Father, because a man dressed in uniform had knocked on the door. Thrown to the present, he realised Robins was watching him. He breathed deeply and attempted to regain his composure. This is all just a test.

“They told me it was a gust of wind sir,” Robert replied, gulping and holding his head high. “That it was luck that cut her through the French line and let her rake them.”

“Nonsense!” Robins replied, keeping his glare unblinkingly on Robert, his eyes beaming down. “A Captain must use luck just as he uses any other tool of warfare. They say it was a sharpshooter that got him.”

Just a test. Robert swallowed hard again, nodded and replied tonelessly, “From the mast tops.”

“You come from a good stock, Lieutenant. I expect much of you,” Captain Robins said, without a smile or any sign of emotion. “You are dismissed. Midshipman Fawcett will show you to your quarters. He’s waiting outside. Good day.”

And that was that. Without a further glance from the Captain, Robert stalked out of the cabin, feeling like he had lost some sort of game. He certainly hadn’t impressed. Within the space of two hours, he already felt like Pegasus would be a hard home. But there was nowhere else for him now.




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Thu Mar 16, 2006 7:33 pm
blob wrote a review...



this was.......like the........blue buttock of voldermort, the god of love.

ps: this was great , it had an atmosphere that is rare and realistic, i could almost feel the weather , not because you said it was cold and frosty but cs you added the little details and what happened. :D great job.




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Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:16 am
Firestarter says...



Crysi, you rock. I wouldn'd mind you living with me if you give me critiques like this every time! I'm glad you like Robert. I don't know too much about ships, so don't get worried. While on the ship it's not going to be all about what sail they're putting up each time, cos I know some people get lost in naval fiction like that. I'm going to concentrate on developing my characters :)

Thanks!




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Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:51 am
Crysi says...



JACK! You should know better than to post when I have a lot of work to do and I need to get to bed early! *laughs* You're really churning these chapters out, and they're good quality, too. Impressive. All right, let's see what I can do here...

As Robert exited the carriage after paying the driver, he grumbled over the long, delayed journey. Despite Torquay lying just about half a day’s journey from Plymouth, the stubbornness of the coachman had meant he was forced to stay a night in the quaint village of Ivybridge, below the harsh, but beautiful, moorlands of Dartmoor. Robert grudgingly admitted the place itself was ideal for a traveller’s stop, but had hoped to make it in one day to Plymouth, to impress his new Captain.


Good. I was a little confused by the "stubbornness of the coachman." I guess I'm not sure what he was stubborn about... Oh well. Oh, and I think you can take the commas out around "but beautiful" - it'll still work and won't add too many parts to the sentence.

He gave the coachman one last look of hatred, dropping onto the dusty street, and watched as a sailor grabbed his chest from the rear of the carriage to take down to the jetty.

“Care of the Cap’n, sir,” the seaman had said, saluting. An old hand, by the look of his grizzled expression but friendly demeanour. “Cox’n will want a word with you too, sir.” He followed the man’s eyes to a broad-shouldered, with an air of confidence about him.


I had a hard time picturing this - wouldn't it be hard to salute while holding a chest? If the timing's different, you might want to make that more clear. Also, did you mean to have a word after "broad-shouldered"? And who had the air of confidence about him, the seaman or, I assume, the "Cox'n"? If it's the latter, take out the comma after "broad-shouldered" (or whatever word you might add after that).

Robert nodded. “Thank you, err?”


Again, I had a hard time with this line... Maybe if you wrote it something like "Thank you, er...?" it would come out more obvious that he was asking for the man's name. Otherwise it reminds me of "To err is human..."

One of the boatmen. Robert smiled and took the scene in. The tall masts dominated the harbour, reaching upward toward the clouds. Robert knew that although the ships, which from this distance, looked small and inconsequential from this distance, would feel massive and invincible from up close. It was the ultimate deception. Ships were floating artillery batteries, which could dispense a horrifying amount of lead at one time. A few pendants fluttered in the light sea wind. Robert was always slightly in awe when he stood on a King’s Harbour, so he stood for a while taking it all in.


I love the descriptions here! I think you forgot to take something out while editing, though - "which from this distance, looked small and inconsequential from this distance," so I'd take out the first "from this distance," (including the comma) to help with flow and symmetry. Also, I'm not sure about the two contrasting sentences discussing the danger of the ships and then the pendants... I think they switch feelings too suddenly. You go from a threatening and intimidating description to an innocent, light description. Perhaps it would be better if you separated those sentences a little or put a neutral sentence between them... get what I'm saying?

A request wasn’t a request, Robert knew, just a direct order worded tactfully. “I suppose the gig is ready, then?”


I love this line! :)

It wasn’t a question of the Coxswain’s competence, rather an innocent question; Robert felt surprisingly uncomfortable in front of the man, whose unerring confidence made him feel small. Leigh stepped back and screwed his face up slightly.


Hmm... I didn't get the feeling the question could be taken as an insult, but perhaps if I knew more about the subject (and the role of the Coxswain - I'm unfamiliar with the term and the position) it would be clearer. I'll let you be the one to decide that.

“Third Lieutenant, sah!” shouted the marine, straightened his posture and banging his musket butt on the deck as if he were on drill parade.


Is this standard procedure for gaining entrance to speak with the captain? I could help thinking of, well, drill teams. But hey, if it's correct, go for it.

The great cabin door swung ominously open in front of Robert, revealing the luxurious, at least for a fighting ship, quarters of the ship’s commander, leader and God, for everything he said was law. Captain Robins sat behind his desk, scrawling some notes, but beckoned a hand for Robert to come forward. He was a small man, from what Robert could make out, with balding hair. Not the idealistic picture of a modern military commander. But from what he didn’t make up in size, he made up in presence. As soon as the Captain looked up, his eyes had a sudden alertness, strength behind them. Robert knew that it would do no good to fail a Captain with of stern a face like that.


I'm not sure how you feel about parentheses, but I would consider putting "at least for a fighting ship" in parentheses so it doesn't jumble the sentence so much. It's hard to fit everything into that sentence, but it's necessary. I really like your description of the captain and his aura of power. One tiny nit-pick - I'd change "like" to "as" in the last sentence. Just how I always say it; I'm not sure if your way is incorrect.

There was a silence. Robert’s mind was paralysed by a sudden memory that pierced the emotional broil, stirring since Robins had mentioned Saintes. The Battle of The Saintes. He remembered his Mother, usually so tough a woman, weeping and screaming like a possessed. He remembered being so young he didn’t know what was going on. Only that it was to do with his Father, because a man dressed in uniform had knocked on the door. Thrown to the present, he realised Robins was watching him. This is all just a test.


I really like the detailed flashback here. I'm not sure about the line "He remembered being so young he didn't know what was going on." I understand it, I'm just not sure I like how it's written... Maybe if you switch it around a little, "He remembered not knowing what was going on because of his youth" or something. I don't know. I think I'm just being picky again. Also, I really like how here he starts thinking to himself that it's a test. I do the same when I'm in a tough situation - usually I just remind myself to breathe or stay calm, and this is his way of doing it. Very nice.

“Nonsense!” Robins replied, keeping his glare unblinkingly on Robert, his eyes beaming down. “A Captain must use luck just as he uses any other tool of warfare. They say it was a sharpshooter that got him.”


I shivered when I read this part. Robert's trying to hard to impress the captain, and here it seems he's said the wrong thing. Thank you for not making Robert perfect! He's so realistic, and having him slip up here just adds to that.

And that was that. Without a further glance from the Captain, Robert stalked out of the cabin, feeling like he had lost some sort of game. He certainly hadn’t impressed. Within the space of two hours, he already felt like Pegasus would be a hard home. But there was nowhere else.


I like this ending... But I don't like the last line. Maybe add just a few words, like "But there was nowhere else for him now." I don't know. Again, I'm picky tonight.

This seemed to have a few more errors in it... I don't know if that's because you wrote it relatively quickly or if it's just the usual thing where people tend to make more mistakes as they get into the piece. Don't worry about it though - that's why you have people critique it. :) And it's still by far one of the best things I've read in a while.

I absolutely LOVE Robert Shaw. You've made him such a complex character and he's real from the start. I've never doubted his actions or words. You've done a great job with him. I really love reading his responses in the character question game thread... thing. You've given him such a strong, unique voice that it really stands out and makes him believable. I worship you, lol.

I have a feeling I'm going to get a little lost once we get onto the Pegasus, because then you can really show your knowledge of ships and I can really show my LACK of knowledge of ships, lol. But you're a good writer, so I'm sure you'll be able to pull it off without losing your audience.

I gotta type up a few more critiques and then get to bed, so I'll end my praise here. :) Well-done! Keep it up. Oh, and Mesh suggested I move in with you because I mentioned I'd love to be English. I said I wouldn't mind that as long as you kept writing this story. Don't worry, I'm staying in California... for now. ;) Keep it up!




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Tue Mar 14, 2006 9:53 pm
Firestarter says...



Thanks, Cal, ultra-useful. Edited everyone's suggestions in now. Also, Truro has now changed to Torquay (it's not directly important) since Truro actually lies on a river *is embarrassed*. Still, not too much harm done. This is the first part of Chapter 2. More to come, soon, hopefully!

Chapter 2

*newer version, see below.*




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Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:36 pm



...a pirates life for me... oh sorry wrong plot...

At this time in the evening, the town was mostly empty: a few others traversed the wintered ground, and the continuous heavy snowfall that clouded the dark air, but they were rare, and for the most part he travelled alone. But he had no need for company right now.
- This sentence(s) is a bit mullied. Rather - At this time in the evening, the town was mostly empty: only a few others traversed the wintered ground because of the continuous heavy snowfall that clouded the dark air; for the most part he travelled alone. He had no need for company right now. - or something like that.

The weather just mimicked to the coldness of his emotions, the deadness of his soul. The emptiness. It had been five months since the accident and he still hadn’t forgiven himself.
- Lovely.

A sudden wind sharpened the edge of the storm, and it threw a blizzard into Robert’s face.
- small nitpick; the rather than a before blizzard

The future seemed a bleak place to walk into, just like the rest of the street that was masked in darkness and swirling snow particles. There was no favourable wind, nor the superstitious luck every sailor wished for. It was either the storm or the just as terrifying calm, where there was no one there for him. There’s nobody here for me now.
- love the analogies...though I agree with Mesh, the last sentence could be cut.

The vicar, who had known her, said Catherine was a beautiful creation that would be missed by all. It was impossible, thought Robert, to describe what she was in words. Only those who had seen her smile even when everything fell apart could possibly comprehend how special she truly was. He still hadn’t wept then. It didn’t seem real. Robert felt like a man out of place, at the wrong funeral perhaps, like all the proceedings were a horrible fantasy that he was being forced to watch. Maybe the truth just hadn’t hit home. What was it his father used to say? Some fools don’t know what they’ve lost until they need to use it.
- I love this paragraph, quality stuff there, Jack. :D

he wanted her to come even when she refused. He had pushed too hard and she had fallen.
- I love the fact how you build up to what happened to Kate.

His expression turned glummer as his body felt colder, and he began to shiver continuously.
- I don't think anyone touched on this yet, is glummer even a proper word? I mean it works with the alliteration of the sentence, but...

He hadn’t even wept, when, after she was buried and the earth filled, the Vicar read a passage from the Bible and almost every other person there broke down in tears.
- a bit mullied, the first part. He had not wept, even when, after she was buried, the earth filled, and the Vicar's passage from the Bible read, almost every...

Only when everybody had left, and the Vicar whispered his condolences to Robert, and left him alone, with just the gravestone and the deserted cemetery for company did tears fall down his own cheeks.
- cleaning up the language: Only when everybody had left, and the Vicar whispered his condolences to Robert leaving him alone with just the gravestone and the deserted cementery for company, did tears fall down his own cheeks.

Only when there were no one to watch, no one to judge, would he show just how broken his spirit was.
- I agree with Mesh: Only when there was no one to watch, no one to judge, would he mourn.

Even when the bullets were flying, and the cannons firing, and the smoke rising, you were taught to act like nothing was wrong.
- cut down on the ands: bullets were flying, the cannons firing, and the smoke rising... I have this sudden flashback of Episode One of Hornblower, "I killed two, Horatio!"... and I'm not sure why.

Even when a man was cut brutally apart in front of you, blood and guts and all spilt half over you and half over the deck, you must show nonchalance. His love had been cut brutally apart from him, and his tears had wetted the grass.
a bit of sentence recasting here: over the deck, nonchalance must be shown. and the following sentence about his love being cut - that had me going - whaaat?

The wind had stayed a little, lulled, and he quickened his pace to take advantage.
- hmm... stayed a little, then lulled...

albeit it warmer, where the darkness meant the sea and the sky were blended.
- recasting: albeit warmer, where in the darkness sea and sky blended.

And she had fallen overboard.
- cure angry death nell, fire and brimstone music...

He had screamed and shouted until his voice was hoarse, but there were no replies. He had thrown himself into the water and swam until his skin was blue and his muscles torn. He had wept until his eyes hurt too much. But she had gone.
- I need a tissue.

The fire stuttered even as he nudged it with the poker.
- I love that sentence.

where the snowstorm had only thickened and hardened since he had left it
- recasting: had only thickened and hardened since he left it.

His old ship, Inflexible, that had me a laugh.

A pause, and a silence.
- Possibly: A pause, and then silence.

The familiar spirally writing, the black ink and the sudden realisation.
- recasting to either: the black ink, and then sudden realisation. or the black ink, the sudden realisation.

contrariness
- ick, bad wording, get rid of the ness. If I come up with something better, I'll send a line.

He was quite junior for a Lieutenant and didn’t expect to hold much seniority upon the Pegasus. That was how it always had been. How it always was. You might put your life on the line and die for His Majesty, but in the end you were just part of a process; a slow process, determined by time and luck, for if other officers didn’t die or change ships you were destined for little.
- So true, so true.

The storm from last night had finally calmed and left a blanket of white powder melting slowly and stubbornly on the streets and seafront.
- one less and would be nice: white powder melting slowly, stubbornly on the streets...

And where his father, over ten years ago, had left for America and never returned.
- The And at the beginning is superfluous. Nice little tidbit about the father. :D

To hell or high waiter, or wherever the sea would take him.
- Isn't that supposed to be - To hell or high water...? Hell or high waiter, kind of an interesting thought...

I think I caught everything that stood out. Another general nitpick, you seem to not have spaces between the names, ie. Mrs.Donovan should be Mrs. Donovan. Just a note.

I am super excited about the piece, and can't wait to see what happens to Robert, although I've gleemed some from your other short.

About the funeral, tis plausible it took 5 months. What with paperwork, pay and the like.

Totally with Crysi, I'll be in that line right behind her.

I hope the blue's not to hard to read.
Ciao CL.




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Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:23 pm
Niamh says...



This is really a brilliant beginning. The only thing I can comment on, is that a few of the sentences are a little choppy, and I would suggest trying to combine them, espeically descriptive sentences. Other than that, I can't wait to read more!




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Mon Mar 13, 2006 7:56 am
Firestarter says...



Crysi! Thank you!

Sam -

I'd mainly like to commend you on how much better this this than most of the things you've written insofar. I daresay you've matured a bit more than the last piece you wrote- the aim in this one is not so much 'How many Froggies can I finish off in this paragraph?' it's more, 'How real can I make this to people?'. And with that, human tragedy and the pain that comes along with it is more accurately portrayed than you've ever done it before.


Yes, that's unfortunately pretty true - I was pretty obsessed with killing lots of people last time.

Oh, and thanks for making it Featured Story! Wow.

And thanks for picking out those things Misty, I'll change 'em.




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Mon Mar 13, 2006 6:52 am
Crysi says...



More to read and critique! Yay! :D This weekend has been my Pirates of the Caribbean obsession weekend, so I'm totally in the mood to read this story.

The envelope Mrs.Donovan had given him, when he had finally gained the courage to turn the doorknob, still lay on his desk. So was the hot mug of tea, steaming profusely in the cold surroundings. The fire stuttered even as he nudged it with the poker. It was stubborn in the weather and the embers refused to turn into full-fledged flames. The room was barely warmer than outside, where the snowstorm had only thickened and hardened since he had left it.


Love the details. :)

The envelope was from the Admiralty. Robert had been on half-pay for a year, when his former ship Inflexible was decommissioned. Now, over six months after Britain had joined the First Coalition, six months of surviving on low income and a bored soul, would Robert been given a ship at last. He had served briefly on a sloop that patrolled the south coast, but he had been deemed surplus to requirements and put in reserve again. A similar story for the thousands of Lieutenants in His Britannic Majesty’s Navy.


I really like the little insight into Navy procedures and traits. Brings me into the story even more.

But he didn’t open the letter. The letter opener lay the distance of his arm from his grasp, but he made no effort. Robert knew that after he cut through the paper, and read the orders from the Admiralty he would have to sail on the sea again; the sea that had taken Kate from him. And would have to watch others be taken yet. But at the same time he knew there would be a new place for him, where he belonged. The sea was both his nemesis and his ally.


Good good good. You use "but" a lot in the paragraph, but (hah) I absolutely love the last two sentences. I've been waiting for those sentences this whole time. After all, he wouldn't have continued this far if he didn't feel a calling for it.


“Who is it?” Robert stuttered, his voice cracked because of his surprise, and his sadness.


Blech, Jack! It was excellent until this point. Showing, not telling, would be a good choice here. Even your word choice is too simple. You can do better than that. (Tough love, mate. That's all I'm givin' ya.)


“Jus’ me, Mr.Shaw,” answered a female, drawling in a deep accent. “Food is bein’ served right about now and I was hopin’ you’d come down and that.”


I love the little dialect you put in here! It was easy to "hear" when reading it. Adds a nice touch.

A pause, and a silence. Cut apart by the howling of the wind, and the battering of the icy snow on the window. Robert almost smiled. He suddenly realised he would be glad of some company, someone to take his mind away from places he no longer wanted to stray in to. Where the only image he could see was the last forlorn expression on his wife’s face as she was flung from the deck.


This paragraph didn't flow as easily to me. While I usually don't mind sentence fragments and the like, I think it splits it up too much here. Especially the first two sentences - I had to reread them to understand what you were trying to say.

“I’ll be there in a minute,” he replied, inconclusively, for his response sounded neither definite nor vague. The wooden handle of the letter opener was already gripped in his palm. Everybody has a duty.


Love his determination and decision here.

Proceed with all despatch to His Britannic Majesty’s ship Pegasus, anchored at Plymouth, the letter had said. Under the command of Captain Robins, she was a 32-gun frigate, with an experienced crew from duty in West Africa and the Caribbean. And joining them was a washed-up Lieutenant with little sea-time under his belt since he had been promoted from Midshipman. Robert was twenty-two, eight years since he had entered service, and three years since he had passed his Lieutenancy test. He was quite junior for a Lieutenant and didn’t expect to hold much seniority upon the Pegasus. That was how it always had been. How it always was. You might put your life on the line and die for His Majesty, but in the end you were just part of a process; a slow process, determined by time and luck, for if other officers didn’t die or change ships you were destined for little.


This is a wonderful paragraph, although it took me a few read-throughs to understand that the "washed-up Lieutenant" was Robert.

He sat, pensive, on a chair in the room he would be soon vacating, watching his chest containing all his belongings that would be soon moved to a carriage waiting patiently outside. The storm from last night had finally calmed and left a blanket of white powder melting slowly and stubbornly on the streets and seafront. The gulls squawked to pronounce the morning’s coming, as the sun finally pulled itself over the horizon and brightened the cloudless sky.


The first sentence uses "soon" twice... I'm not sure if that's intentional to emphasize the fact or if it was just a convenient word. You could play it either way, but I think you'd have to add another "soon" if you were going with the first choice or take out a "soon" if you were going with the second.

There were so many memories in Truro to let go of, and some he’d never be able to. For some reason the town held a special place in his heart: from the marriage of his childhood sweetheart and their live together, and the centuries of his family that had taken residence in the picturesque fishing settlement that had turned his heart on many an occasion.


"live" should be "life," and I think the "and" in the second part of the sentence should be "to" since you started it off with "from."

And now he would leave for Plymouth. The place where several generations of Shaws had also taken up commissions, and sailed across the world. And where his father, over ten years ago, had left for America and never returned.


Ooh, I like the somewhat mysterious and apprehensive feel of this paragraph.

Death seemed to trace his footsteps wherever he chose to walk. Or was ordered to walk. Everyone close to him was torn away. It didn’t matter where he was. So with a heavy heart, Robert lifted himself from his seat. To hell or high waiter, or wherever the sea would take him. He straightened his bicorne. The sun shone through the window and reflected onto his smartly dressed uniform. There was the recognisable splash of waves from outside as Robert walked out the building, without looking back. To a new life.


I'm not sure "Or was ordered to walk" should be a separate sentence. While it's a good point, I think it might cut the flow a bit... I'm not sure about it. And I think you meant "To hell or high water" instead of "waiter," lol. I love this paragraph otherwise.

So far so good, eh? Heck, you even got me to postpone watching PotC for a third time AND you got me to critique late at night. That's quite an achievement, lol. Well done.




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Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:44 pm
Misty wrote a review...



ho hum. I tried to do an actual crit and I just got, well, you know "nice, great, cool," and so on so forget that. There were a couple of sentence errors like "wetter" and "clummer" that you can fix easily. Other than that, it is quite good. You really make it real, which is something. And I've never read anything that actually seems interesting having to do with water. Except Heart of Darkness. And this starts off far more promisingly. So there's that. Good luck w. this I'm intrigued and ready to read more.




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Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:03 pm
Sam wrote a review...



Ah, Jack. That's pretty much sums it up...pain and passion amidst the gritty backdrop of early 19th century Britannia? One word- yum.

I'd mainly like to commend you on how much better this this than most of the things you've written insofar. I daresay you've matured a bit more than the last piece you wrote- the aim in this one is not so much 'How many Froggies can I finish off in this paragraph?' it's more, 'How real can I make this to people?'. And with that, human tragedy and the pain that comes along with it is more accurately portrayed than you've ever done it before.

It's a bit rough at the beginning, since you apparently warmed up a bit as you went along (it'll go better with some editing). The burial and all that isn't exactly tissue-worthy (the only thing that made ME weep was the fact that you used the words 'wept' and 'vicar' each twice in the same section) but oh, man, the end is. The end makes you feel all 'WHAT? WHAT JUST HAPPENED?' which is good. In this instance at least. :wink:

Very, very well done.




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Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:55 pm
Firestarter says...



Thanks, Ari, means a lot. If you're excited, that shows something. Looks like I might have a few readers breathing down my throat for more and that can only mean a good thing for my productivity levels. And uh, about the "Mrs. Donovan" thing, I think that's probably just bad habits on my part. I'll go and change them at some point.

Oh, and don't worry, I know you love dialogue, so they'll be some more a-coming. And more action. This just had a lot of introspection for the introduction of a character, I guess.




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Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:42 pm
Areida wrote a review...



Wow, Jack, just wow.

My first reaction is the same as CL's: "Oh, mercy. Where's a tissue?"

Like Kay Juran said, I love your use of short sentences, because most of your sentences are long, and so when you throw one in, it's usually a lot more dramatic. At first I was going to berate you for starting out so slowly, no dialogue, no action, just introspection, but it was so well-written and intense that there's no way I could get onto you about it now.

I too liked the little lines of thought, because they really helped me get a good idea of who this man was, what he'd been through, and how he handled situations. I also liked (not much I didn't like, in case you couldn't tell) the fact that you didn't introduce a character, then say, "It had been five months since the accident and he still hadn't forgiven himself. She had fallen overboard one time on the sea and he had swam to find her and screamed and there was no answer. She washed up on shore and he still felt the pain. Robert continued to walk..." Well, not that you would have written it that badly, ever, even if you were trying, but the way you interspersed it really added a dramatic and realistic touch that I don't think would have been there otherwise.

Very nice work overall, Jack, I'm looking forward to reading more as you post! :D

EDIT: And I get more! Only nit-pick I have at the moment is the fact that there doesn't appear to be any space between "Mrs.Donovan" anywhere I've seen her name. I'm not sure if that's a formatting issue that it shows up differently on my computer than it looks on yours or if it's a British thing or what. :P But it just stood out to me.

I'm excited that you're throwing us right into the story instead of meandering around for a bit. So here we go! I'm excited!!! :D




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Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:40 pm
Firestarter says...



Thanks, Mesh. Was just posting some more as I saw your post, lol.

Following directly on is the rest of Chapter 1:

*

The envelope Mrs.Donovan had given him, when he had finally gained the courage to turn the doorknob, still lay on his desk. So was the hot mug of tea, steaming profusely in the cold surroundings. The fire stuttered even as he nudged it with the poker. It was stubborn in the weather and the embers refused to turn into full-fledged flames. The room was barely warmer than outside, where the snowstorm had only thickened and hardened since he had left it.

She had offered company, but he had turned it down. He had wanted to be alone. I’m alone whether I want to be or not. She was a strong woman, who had taken over the business when her husband had died. Robert liked her. To those who didn’t know she was hot-tempered and contemptuous; to those who knew her she was hardened but soft underneath. Usually unwavering with the rent, she had given him extra time after Kate’s death. Only those who have felt it too can truly understand. He had learnt then she was fair: strong, but fair. He sighed and looked again at the desk.

The envelope was from the Admiralty. Robert had been on half-pay for a year, when his former ship Inflexible was decommissioned. Now, over six months after Britain had joined the First Coalition, six months of surviving on low income and a bored soul, would Robert been given a ship at last. He had served briefly on a sloop that patrolled the south coast, but he had been deemed surplus to requirements and put in reserve again. A similar story for the thousands of Lieutenants in His Britannic Majesty’s Navy.

But he didn’t open the letter. The letter opener lay the distance of his arm from his grasp, but he made no effort. Robert knew that after he cut through the paper, and read the orders from the Admiralty he would have to sail on the sea again; the sea that had taken Kate from him. And would have to watch others be taken yet. But at the same time he knew there would be a new place for him, where he belonged. The sea was both his nemesis and his ally.

There was a single, solid knock on the door.

“Who is it?” Robert stuttered, his voice cracked because of his surprise, and his sadness.

“Jus’ me, Mr.Shaw,” answered a female, drawling in a deep accent. “Food is bein’ served right about now and I was hopin’ you’d come down and that.”

A pause, and a silence. Cut apart by the howling of the wind, and the battering of the icy snow on the window. Robert almost smiled. He suddenly realised he would be glad of some company, someone to take his mind away from places he no longer wanted to stray in to. Where the only image he could see was the last forlorn expression on his wife’s face as she was flung from the deck.

“I’ll be there in a minute,” he replied, inconclusively, for his response sounded neither definite nor vague. The wooden handle of the letter opener was already gripped in his palm. Everybody has a duty.

Mrs.Donovan’s footsteps as she walked downstairs reverberated around the walls and the whole building. Robert trembled a little as the blade slid smoothly through the paper, and revealed its contents. The familiar spirally writing, the black ink and the sudden realisation.

Five minutes later he descended the stairway, with its low ceiling that he avoided banging his head upon, and walked into the front room, where he was greeted with the strong smell of roasted meat and the sight of one of the maids clearing the dinner table. No one else was down yet, and he was saddened a little by that, for he had something positive to say at last.

Mrs.Donovan saw his expression, and the letter grasped defiantly in his fist, almost like a symbol of contrariness. “Mr.Shaw?” she said simply, for there was a subtle understanding between the two of them. Something that transcended the usual awkwardness between the person who paid the rent and the person who collected it.

“I have a ship,” Robert said, and smiled for the first time in months, “An appointment.” A home.

*

Proceed with all despatch to His Britannic Majesty’s ship Pegasus, anchored at Plymouth, the letter had said. Under the command of Captain Robins, she was a 32-gun frigate, with an experienced crew from duty in West Africa and the Caribbean. And joining them was a washed-up Lieutenant with little sea-time under his belt since he had been promoted from Midshipman. Robert was twenty-two, eight years since he had entered service, and three years since he had passed his Lieutenancy test. He was quite junior for a Lieutenant and didn’t expect to hold much seniority upon the Pegasus. That was how it always had been. How it always was. You might put your life on the line and die for His Majesty, but in the end you were just part of a process; a slow process, determined by time and luck, for if other officers didn’t die or change ships you were destined for little.

He sat, pensive, on a chair in the room he would be soon vacating, watching his chest containing all his belongings that would be soon moved to a carriage waiting patiently outside. The storm from last night had finally calmed and left a blanket of white powder melting slowly and stubbornly on the streets and seafront. The gulls squawked to pronounce the morning’s coming, as the sun finally pulled itself over the horizon and brightened the cloudless sky.

There were so many memories in Truro to let go of, and some he’d never be able to. For some reason the town held a special place in his heart: from the marriage of his childhood sweetheart and their live together, and the centuries of his family that had taken residence in the picturesque fishing settlement that had turned his heart on many an occasion.

And now he would leave for Plymouth. The place where several generations of Shaws had also taken up commissions, and sailed across the world. And where his father, over ten years ago, had left for America and never returned.

Death seemed to trace his footsteps wherever he chose to walk. Or was ordered to walk. Everyone close to him was torn away. It didn’t matter where he was. So with a heavy heart, Robert lifted himself from his seat. To hell or high waiter, or wherever the sea would take him. He straightened his bicorne. The sun shone through the window and reflected onto his smartly dressed uniform. There was the recognisable splash of waves from outside as Robert walked out the building, without looking back. To a new life.




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Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:38 pm
Meshugenah wrote a review...



arg. for the.. at least third time, I shall start this, and most likely post before I'm done, at least at first.. sorry 'bout that, but I don't trust my computer right now. I'm going to put my comments in green, ok? anything else in blue, red, etc. and I'm in a nit-pick mood for work choice.. so heads up, k?



Robert hurried along the snow-covered, cobbled street. The cold air made him shiver. He pulled his muffler scarf tighter about his neck. At this time in the evening, the town was mostly empty: a few others traversed the wintered ground, and the continuous heavy snowfall that clouded the dark air, but they were rare, and for the most part he travelled alone. But he had no need for company right now. I like the fragments to start this. It sets up a tone of almost.. detachment. but it's cool

Robert was eager to get back to his lodging and before a fire that would warm his frostbitten skin. The weather just mimicked to the coldness of his emotions, the deadness of his soul. The emptiness. It had been five months since the accident and he still hadn’t forgiven himself. ACK! bad Jack, bad. Rather cliche, don't you think? frist sentence is fine.. but the rest is just.. yuck. I mean, it does work as you character is a bit angsty thus far.. by design, I know, but I still think you could reword better. I'll leave that to you, and go take my anal-ness elsewhere..

A sudden wind sharpened the edge of the storm, and it threw a blizzard into Robert’s face. please tell me that last part was exaggerated.. a blizzard??He turned his face to the side to take away the worst, and stumbled onwards. His coat caught the air like a sail and he found it hard to make fast progress. Like a ship caught dead in the water. Robert didn’t smile at the analogy um.. "the analogy did little to cheer him"? I just don't like it, can't tell you why.. I agree with Crys, though. it's realistic, just.. over-the-top to methat formed in his mind. He had found that his life had been inextricably linked with the ways of the seas since his childhood, when his father has been a Captain in the Royal Navy.

The future seemed a bleak place to walk into, just like the rest of the street that was masked in darkness and swirling snow particles. There was no favourable wind, nor the superstitious luck every sailor wished for. It was either the storm or the just as terrifying calm, where there was no one there for him. There’s nobody here for me now. agreed, last sentence you can do without

Barely an hour had passed since he had stood in the graveyard, below the leafless trees, among the small congregation of mourners, and watched Kate’s body buried solemnly in the earth prepared for her. I didn't think about this until just now, but what? so he's been in the graveyard for about an hour. and he could she Kate's body? metaphor? clarify, please.. or is this suddenly a bit of a flashback to when she was buried? if so.. maybe a slightly more clear transition?

He hadn’t wept. He just watched her lifeless corpse, wishing the blood still flowed. Imagining that her eyes still moved in that sparkling way, hoping her hand would be imbued once more with that soft touch and it would find his, like it did all those wonderful times. They were almost lost in his memory now; they seemed like from a different world. A different person.

The vicar, who had known her, said Catherine was a beautiful creation that would be missed by all. It was impossible, thought Robert, to describe what she was in words. Only those who had seen her smile even when everything fell apart could possibly comprehend how special she truly was. He still hadn’t wept then. It didn’t seem real. Robert felt like a man out of place, at the wrong funeral perhaps, like all the proceedings were a horrible fantasy that he was being forced to watch. Maybe the truth just hadn’t hit home. What was it his father used to say? Some fools don’t know what they’ve lost until they need to use it. the last line threw me some.. "need to use it"? just wondering, there

He shivered again, wrapping his arms around his body in a futile attempt to warm them. It had been five months since she had died and he still expected her to be there when he got home, looking at him with those eyes that never ceased. He needed her now. There was emptiness inside him that nothing could fill, a gap that could not be bridged, and a sea that could not be crossed. not sure the last sentence is entirely nesecssary.. but I like it, so i'll ignore that little voice in my head for now

The sea. Stubborn and unchanging. Always a constant enemy to every man that had sailed its treacherous waves and passed its incessant challenges. But this time he could not blame the sea. This time he could only blame himself: he wanted her to come even when she refused. He had pushed too hard and she had fallen.

The wind increased, and his muffler unravelled itself and flew from his neck, leaving it unprotected. Robert grasped at thin air while trying to stop it flying it off, but it was pointless. The garment disappeared into the night. Another casualty. His expression turned glummer as his body felt colder, and he began to shiver continuously.

His mind turned once more to the funeral. He hadn’t even wept, when, after she was buried and the earth filled, the Vicar read a passage from the Bible and almost every other person there broke down in tears. Only when everybody had left, and the Vicar whispered his condolences to Robert, and left him alone, with just the gravestone and the deserted cemetery for company did tears fall down his own cheeks. Only when there were no one to watch, no one to judge, would he show just how broken his spirit was. you had me this close to crying until the last line. I would change the last clause.. "would he allow himself to morun." something like that.. anyhoo

Just like they taught a King’s officer to act. Even when the bullets were flying, and the cannons firing, and the smoke rising, you were taught to act like nothing was wrong. Even when a man was cut brutally apart in front of you, blood and guts and all spilt half over you and half over the deck, you must show nonchalance. His love had been cut brutally apart from him, and his tears had wetted the grass. just a thought.. do you really want to use "love" here? and, do you want to use "you"? You revert from third person, to rrather instruction manuel-esque, and back to third. but as I didn't even notice the first time through.. I'll be quiet now

He turned left when he reached the end of the street, across from the baker’s, and made his way down toward the seafront where his lodging was aft of the harbour. The wind had stayed a little, lulled, and he quickened his pace to take advantage.

The invasive but familiar smell of salty sea air, always present in Truro, increased. He could hear the splashes of the waves despite not being able to see them this late at night. But though he couldn’t see the vast body of water that stretched far to the very edge of the horizon, he knew it would be there, just like it always had been. And probably always would be. A fear gripped at the base of his throat and he had to physically swallow to calm himself. The worst enemy is the one youeh.. wh? can't see, the one that shows you everything. The message his father had beaten into him from as young as he can remember. And the invisible enemy had taken the love of his life from him barely five months ago, on a night similar to this one, albeit it [color=green[ix-nay on the "it"[/color]warmer, where the darkness meant the sea and the sky were blended. same for the "were"

And she had fallen overboard.

He had screamed and shouted until his voice was hoarse, but there were no replies. He had thrown himself into the water and swam until his skin was blue and his muscles torn. He had wept until his eyes hurt too much. But she had gone.

In the morning they had found her body, bloodied and shredded amongst the rocks, floating on the tide.

Robert took one last look in the direction of the sea, and turned toward his lodging, a small house wedged between others that were of similar appearance. He knew his landlady, Mrs.Donovan, would be there, to offer a hot drink or something comforting.

But Kate wouldn’t be. And that was why he finally wept again, as he stood on the doorstep with the snow catching in his ruffled hair. Alone.



and, as usual, I WANT MORE! *ahem*, ok.. that's cleared up now. But, honestly? Gods, I love this. And.. I think I'll join CL with a tissure box.




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Sun Mar 12, 2006 1:24 am
Firestarter says...



Wow thanks Crys! I reckon you shall be a good source of motivation :P

Seriously, that means a lot to me. Thanks for the crit, too. Lol, your excitement is helping my own! I'm suddenly imbued with more motivation to write more!




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Sun Mar 12, 2006 1:02 am
Crysi wrote a review...



*jumps up and down* You posted! You posted!

And it was even better than I expected it to be. Which is saying a lot, since I know how great your writing is. :D

A few critiques, if I may...

Personally, I like the two sentences KJ pointed out. I think keeping them separate enhances the image.

Robert was eager to get back to his lodging and before a fire that would warm his frostbitten skin. The weather just mimicked to the coldness of his emotions, the deadness of his soul. The emptiness. It had been five months since the accident and he still hadn’t forgiven himself.


When I first read this, I groaned at the thought of another emo phrase. However, I think it's realistic here. The accident crushed his soul. On a side note, I like how you reveal the information of the accident slowly. It creates a lot of suspense.

The future seemed a bleak place to walk into, just like the rest of the street that was masked in darkness and swirling snow particles. There was no favourable wind, nor the superstitious luck every sailor wished for. It was either the storm or the just as terrifying calm, where there was no one there for him. There’s nobody here for me now.


While I like the overall feel of this paragraph, I'm not sure you need the last sentence. I think people can fully understand the metaphor without it.

His mind turned once more to the funeral. He hadn’t even wept, when, after she was buried and the earth filled, the Vicar read a passage from the Bible and almost every other person there broke down in tears. Only when everybody had left, and the Vicar whispered his condolences to Robert, and left him alone, with just the gravestone and the deserted cemetery for company did tears fall down his own cheeks. Only when there were no one to watch, no one to judge, would he show just how broken his spirit was.

Just like they taught a King’s officer to act. Even when the bullets were flying, and the cannons firing, and the smoke rising, you were taught to act like nothing was wrong. Even when a man was cut brutally apart in front of you, blood and guts and all spilt half over you and half over the deck, you must show nonchalance. His love had been cut brutally apart from him, and his tears had wetted the grass.


I think this is my favorite part of the whole piece. It reveals a vital part of his character and is very well-written!

I think I like the rest of it. Your details are amazing and they completely transported me into the world you've created. You repeat the fact that Kate was killed five months ago, and I'm not sure whether you repeat it so often to reinforce his anguish (as you switch between "already been five months" and "only five months") or whether it serves some other purpose. I was going to continue by saying I wasn't sure it was necessary, but after realizing the transition of his thoughts through the remembrance of that fact I really like it.

I can't wait to read more, Jack! This is excellent. Wow. If you finish this (years from now, I'm sure) you could definitely get it published. Heck, I'd be one of the first in line for it. I can't tell you how excited I am about this piece! Very awesome job. :)




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Sun Mar 12, 2006 12:03 am
Firestarter says...



Thanks! And yup, Truro is the capital of Cornwall.

@ KayJ: Thanks for the crit, very very helpful!

I feel like the last two of these sentences could work better with a conjunctive between them. Take away the full stop and put 'and' inbetween maybe(?) Of course, you don't have to. I just think it'd work better like that.


Funny thing is I had them linked with an and originally then I changed it to two sentences. I looked at it again and maybe I should use "so" between them ...

Hang on a sec. Didn't you say the accident was five months ago? Have they taken five months to bury her, or is this a different accident that you're talking about..?


Err, same accident ... I guess funerals cost some and Robert isn't exactly wealthy on a Lieutenant's half-pay! But I guess I could make it a smaller time period, you're probably right. It wouldn't take that long.

@ CL: Thanks! Thanks for reading it over, can't wait for your comments. And it was supposed to be sad, so I'm glad it had that emotional response :)




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Sat Mar 11, 2006 6:53 pm
Caligula's Launderette wrote a review...



Yes Kay, Truro is a real place.

More exposure, agreed.

I just finished reading it once-over, but I've got stuff on the stove, so I'll post my crit later.

First impression at the ending, can I go cry now? Lovely first chapter, Jack.

CL




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Sat Mar 11, 2006 6:48 pm
-KayJuran- wrote a review...



Funny thing, but I'm not sure I've ever read any of your stories before.. All in all, I thought this was well-written, but I've been good and found things to comment on, which I *really* hope are useful, and help you with writing it. Here goes...



Robert hurried along the snow-covered, cobbled street. The cold air made him shiver. He pulled his muffler scarf tighter about his neck.


^ I feel like the last two of these sentences could work better with a conjunctive between them. Take away the full stop and put 'and' inbetween maybe(?) Of course, you don't have to. I just think it'd work better like that. :?

his emotions, the deadness of his soul. The emptiness.


^ I like this bit a lot. I guess I'm a sucker for this type of writing.. :P

threw a blizzard into Robert’s face


^ Still works either way, but maybe you could change it to: 'a small blizzard'. Otherwise it almost seems too exaggerated.

Like a ship caught dead in the water.


^ I've always thought you can learn a lotabout the character by the odd personal thought thrown in, and this says a lot. You can tell that Robert's linked to the sea in some way, even before you read on to the next sentence.

Barely an hour had passed since he had stood in the graveyard, below the leafless trees, among the small congregation of mourners, and watched Kate’s body buried solemnly in the earth prepared for her.


^ Hang on a sec. Didn't you say the accident was five months ago? Have they taken five months to bury her, or is this a different accident that you're talking about..?

in a futile attempt to warm them


^ Just had to say that I love the word futile. :P

and his tears had wetted the grass.


^ Can you say 'wetted'? Just 'cause if you can, I never knew that...

always present in Truro


^ Is Truro a real place, or did you make it up? I'm going to assume this is an actual place as you've already classed your story as 'historical', and it seems fairly realistically written.

, albeit it warmer,


^ I don't think you need the 'it' in the middle of this..(?)

where the darkness meant the sea and the sky were blended.


^ 'blended' is a verb, so I'm pretty sure you can get rid of the 'were'. I can't really explain why, it's just a gut feeling. Sort of thing you're meant to know when you're a language student, so please correct me if I'm wrong! :wink:

And she had fallen overboard.


^ I like how this is in it's own paragraph. It somehow makes it more dramatic.

but there were no replies.


^ I think it'd sound better if you put: 'but there was no reply'. I can't explain this one either, maybe it's 'cause it's harder to have a negative plural, unless there's a good reason.

until his skin was blue and his muscles torn.


^ I *think* you need 'were' between 'muscles' and 'torn'. If it was singular you wouldn't need it, 'cause you can then re-use the 'was' that you've already written. But a plural word requires a different verb part, so I don't think you can do that here...

eyes hurt too much.


^ I don't know... This just sounds wrong. Maybe get rid of the 'too much', or describe how they hurt instead, using a simile or something.



Again, I really hope this helps, and good luck with it! Feel free to pm me when the next parts done and I'll critique that too.

~KayJuran~





"What is a poet? An unhappy person who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music."
— Søren Kierkegaard, Philosopher & Theologian