Freedom Pioneers : "Expeditions" [Ch6i]

CHAPTER SIX

Rhiannan sat on her bunk preparing for her forthcoming wedding. In spite of the heat she had dressed for the occasion and wore her full undergarments chemise, camisole, corset, crinoline and several petticoats. The dress itself hung on a hook behind the door; a marvel of pearl satin and matching hand tatted lace that again Maloney handed to her wordlessly. The morning sun streamed in her small porthole window as she looked in the small silver backed hand mirror from within the trunk. It had been one that lay on the chest of drawers in the room and, like so many others of the landlord’s originally loaned things, seemed to be hers now.

She looked at the reflection of her eyes, trying to see what Michael saw. When they’d secretly met early that morning he’d smiled at her and told her that her eyes were like the whole world; they reflected all the colours of nature; the deep green hills, the olive greens the crystal blue of the sky and sea, and flecks of the browns from the darkest rock to the whitest of sands. All she saw were eyes that had no specific colour or anything. Her mother’s eyes had been brown deep rich colour like cow’s or dog’s eyes, loyal and loving. Suddenly she threw the mirror from her squeezing her eyes shut, uselessly against the image of her mother sitting hauntingly lifeless by the fire.

‘Miss Rhiannan?’ came a tap at the door.
It was Maloney. She grabbed the large but flimsy wrap that had also been in the room, and pulled it around herself; not wanting poor Maloney to be embarrassed by her state of undress again. The blue dress, he’d given her, he’d refused to take back and it now lay in the bottom of the trunk under her spare petticoats and for some reason both had mutually decided not to speak of it again to anyone. And even though her undergarments of now were several layers thick and covered almost all of her but her arms shoulders and neck, she felt better with the rap around her.

‘Yes?’ she asked opening the door a fraction.
‘Are you alright? I heard a thud …’
Yes, she noted the slight disappointment in his eyes, did he want to play gallant knight or did he just not want her to marry Michael? He hadn’t been all that celebratory about their decision even though he was playing the full part of the protector of her virtue and not allowing them to see each other as from luncheon the day before until the time of the ceremony. Or was it something far worse, had he wanted her actually hurt? She mentally shook herself of the thought, she couldn’t believe the big hairy man would want harm to come to her.

‘Fine thank you I just dropped something.’ She smiled back at him
‘Very well. You will be ready for the ceremony I take it?’
‘Yes I shall be. Thank you Mr Maloney.’
‘Right then, ten minutes.’ He said and touching his forehead moved away.
Door closed and Rhiannan gave a sigh before seeing to the business of donning the dress.

A cleaned and polished Furness had been given the job of escorting her to the poop deck where the captain would marry them, although his eyes were so teary it was more she doing the escorting as he almost walked her over a stack of coiled ropes.

She looked up to the men standing at the wheel and gave a lopsided amused smile at poor Furness’ over emotional display then her eyes widened in surprise. She was not the only one to dress up for the occasion. Every man had put in an effort to be as clean as he could be. Hair and beards had been washed, trimmed and combed and faces shaved to appear pink and polished white where the sun had not tanned through the now removed whiskers.

And there on the deck the captain and first mate stood in their best attire either side of her intended husband who looked suddenly the most handsome man she’d ever seen. His blonde hair was docked with a red ribbon and he wore a black velvet frock coat and crisp white collar. His trousers were blue and his high boots polished shining black. When he turned to see her, she saw the most wonderful embroidery of jeweled colours on his chest the vest equal to any she’d seen on the London high roads. And in the middle of his billowing white cravat a pin that reflected the sunlight like a miniature rainbow framed in gold the shape of a thistle. Subconsciously she touched her own thistle hat pin she now wore as a brooch pinned to her dress above her heart and remembered Cookie and the only family she knew.

“Sail ho!”

Every face looked up to the boy in the crow’s nest and then to the port side where he was pointing and on the horizon there was indeed a sail. In fact several sails.

Maloney swore a string of colourful expletives as he followed Michael’s lead and lept into action barking orders that had every other man running at the double to do the bidding. Furness held Rhiannan as sails dropped and a wind filled them and suddenly they were on the run … away from the ships on the horizon.

‘Why are we running away?’ Rhiannan asked as Furness bustled her to the helm where Michael took over her care so that Furness could get to his own job.

‘That fleet is either the British, in which case I’m not hanging about to be social, or the Spanish in which case with you aboard I am definitely not hanging about to be social, or they’ll be merchants or traders or slavers, nice enough chaps but not if they catch whiff of you or our rum load, or else they are pirates and they are never catching whiff of you or our rum.’ He started bustling her below. ‘In any case I want you below safe in your cabin.’

‘Michael I could help!’ she protested stopping a step behind him on the poop deck stairs.
‘You will wait below deck in your cabin until I come fetch you.’ He ordered turning to face her discovering she was at his eye height with the advantage of one stair higher. ‘We’ll out run these intruders and then see about our intended nuptials.’

It was the only time his face softened and he raised a hand to trace her hair line and jaw. Then when every ounce of his being wanted to kiss her he stepped away down the next step and slid his hand into hers to draw her behind him.

‘Tis English sir.’ Maloney reported to him; he and Jake catching up with them. ‘And they’re gaining.’
‘I’m not here then.’ Michael replied. ‘Him I’ll take with us.’ He grabbed Jake by the collar and shoved him before them. ‘I trust you about as far as I could throw you.’ He warned the man. ‘Don’t make me toss you overboard.’

They waited in Maloney’s cabin that she had occupied the whole trip. She busied herself in setting her things to rights. The cabin was below the captain’s where Maloney had been staying, bunking in with Michael, and shared the same rear window view although due to the tapering lines of the ship was somewhat smaller. There were two bunks along each side wall beneath port holes and her trunk fit below the rear window. Then there was just enough room in the middle for a small round table and two chairs. Michael and Jake moved the trunk against the door and then sat at the table.

‘I really would prefer not to be in my wedding dress if we are captured.’ Rhiannan stated sitting huffily on her bunk.
‘But it is so beautiful.’ Michael said softly then decided she might be right. ‘Perhaps not.’ He agreed aloud for her. ‘Jake bury your eyes and if I see you so much as twitch I’ll slit your throat.’

The man slammed his face onto the table and covered his head with his arms.
‘And you?’ she asked him her eyes twinkling in mischief.
‘My eyes are on him only to be sure his eyes will not be on you.’ Michael replied.

Still she turned her back on him as she opened her white dress bodice and slid it to the floor pulling the blue dress on over it. Again she slipped her hands up her skirts to remove the crinoline and a layer or two of petticoats. Not that she planned on going overboard but if she did she may have a better chance of surviving without yards and yards of heavy wet material dragging her down.

Michael saw out the corner of his eye movement at the door and he flicked his glance to see what it was … and wished he hadn’t. It was her reflection as she stepped out of all the skirts on the floor. She was holding the remaining skirts high and so gave him a tantalizing view of her legs and feet but what had his pulse racing was the fact her bodice was still open and he saw the very intoxicating creamy roundness of her breasts above their confinements. It reminded him that right then he could have been married to her, fully legally permitted to race her away to his much more spacious and comfortable cabin and discover her complete beauty beneath all the layers of frustrating material and confounded corsetry; that right now, had they not been interrupted by the bloody English, he could touch that creaminess, cover it in his palm, draw the nipple into his mouth … The vision was broken by her shoulder as she turned putting her garments aside and saw to buttoning her bodice. Disgruntled he flicked his eyes back at the still hiding man before him and aimed all his frustrations as an angry glare vented on the top of the ugly little man’s head where a bald patch made a perfect bull’s eye.

‘There, better, thank you.’ She told them pleasantly stowing the large hoops again and then turning to the table to look at them. Jake rose his head to smile at her seeking approval that he’d done the right thing and not looked. But his face froze in fear. ‘What?’ she asked and Michael looked up to her. His face also registered fear but it was quickly masked with anger as he moved in one motion to step past her to the rear window behind and grabbing her shoulders to turn her with him as he passed.

‘Damn!’ he swore.
‘What?’ She rose on her toes to look over his shoulder to see the prow of a ship so close she could not see the bo’sail. ‘Oh.’ She commented dryly.

☼ To be continued …..
…. here

Freedom Pioneers : "Expeditions" [Ch6i]

adgray

Frankston, Australia

Artist's Description

For my NaNoWriMo challenge

One Part of a three part novel.
A spin off from my Daintree Daughter’s Book

This chapter continues – here
Expeditions starts – here
Ch5

Beware: this is a realistic Adult book & not a pretty tale like my poetry

It tells of the fight to become free and happy, with the leading characters first facing the trials of the ugly side of life, and the shackles of their pasts dragging at them as they carve their own standard of living.

Who knew what really happens in the mystical Tropical Islands of South America? Who knows what went on the the dens of iniquity encouraged by the tropical heat and scantily clad people.
Back in the mid 1800s there was still a strong pull for Piracy if for nothing else than the immoral indulgences and the black market trade the world over.

I do wish to apologise if this fictitious re-enactment offends anyone – my intention was to put my leading characters through extraordinary experiences, not offend.

So all that aside I hope you can enjoy the story! ☼

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