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Old 09-25-2005, 10:24 PM   #1
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On the rising tide Chapter 2

**Disclaimer – Though inspired in part by people who exist in reality, this story is not meant to represent them in any literal way. The setting and timeline for this story are complete tripe. The atmosphere of the story was considered far more important than accuracy, as it’s meant only to be a fairy tale of sorts. (Think of the movie Moulin Rouge. You don’t really think they sang songs by U2 and Nirvana, do you? ) So I apologize in advance to anyone who is a history buff. This is in no way meant to represent reality in any sense. No offense is meant to anyone who resembles in any way any of the characters in the story. It’s all meant in good fun.

On the rising tide Chapter 2

“Well, you don’t need a full crew to face the doldrums, at least.” Carra said as she stepped up beside Larry to stare out over the bow of the ship. The water was as flat and clear as glass, and the sun beat down on the ship mercilessly. There was not even the hint of a breeze to give them relief from the heat, let alone to be caught in their sails so they could move once more. The aingeal was dead in the water.

“There is plenty which you could be doing to occupy yourself, while we idle here.” Larry replied dryly. If there was one thing about sea life that he hated, it was the doldrums. You never knew how long you would be stranded, going nowhere, with nothing new to look at day in and day out. If he was prone to a foul mood on the average day, he was likely to have the personality of a barracuda on a day such as this.

“No, in fact, I think we’ve done every bit of maintenance the aingeal has been in need of, made a few improvements and inventoried the stock twice over. I suppose I could while away some time with that handsome young lord…” she suggested, lowering her eyelashes as she cast a glance over her shoulder at Adam and waved to him wiggling the tips of her fingers. Adam grinned at her and nodded in response. Larry scowled over his shoulder at the man and then frowned at Carra.

“Why don’t you go see if your father needs your help in my quarters? He’s going over the ledgers.” He suggested, and Carra bit back her smirk of satisfaction. While she told herself it was simply that Larry didn’t like her behavior, in her heart she hoped it was jealousy that made him dislike it.

They had been children together, running around the boat and playing, no regard to propriety. It wasn’t until the year after her body had started to change that he had started treating her as anything less than a mate. She could still clearly remember the way it hurt when he would no longer meet her eyes with his own, the way he pulled away from her touch as if she were a leper. She had wept every night that season, wondering what she had done to anger him.

Her father had been unable to explain it to her, either. In fact when she had asked him about it, he’d simply gotten red faced and sputtered incoherently. He had avoided her for awhile after that as well. Then he had sent her on holiday with his sisters family in Belfast. Her cousins had called her a dozen hurtful names and laughed at her lack of grace, but they had also explained a great many things to her which her upbringing had sheltered her from.

Immediately upon explanation of what men were, according to her cousins, physically programmed to want to do to women, Carra had laughed. Why on God’s green earth would such a strange and awkward act such as the one described make it impossible for men and women to be mates and equals? Surely, this was not such an all consuming desire for men that it was all he had room for in his mind when a woman was near.

When next she had been allowed aboard the aingeal, she had confronted Larry with her new information, much to his dismay. She had never before and never since seen him, or anyone else for that matter, turn quite so many shades of red. He’d told her it was an inappropriate topic for a woman to discuss, especially with a man. Carra had laughed at him and asked him who would be better for her to discuss it with and he’d scowled so hard at her she thought the vein in his temple might burst.

Larry had quickly declared the topic off limits and stormed away, and in all the years which had passed since then he had not uttered another word to her on the subject. She had tried to draw him out, of course. She had taken great pleasure in the way she could make him shift his weight uncomfortably and try to ignore her. At first, it was her favorite game, in fact, to try and make him say something, anything, about it.

Until the day, not long after her father had informed her of her betrothal to that awful, plain Patrick Gallagher, when she had to face the fact that though Larry would not discuss it with her, it did not mean he was unlike other men. She had seen the way women looked at him when they were ashore, of course, but hardly ever had she seen him looking back.

Her heart still ached when she recalled that horrible night. Seeing him in the arms of that… that… woman! That woman who cared nothing for him, Carra was certain, but for the money in his pocket. She cared nothing about the heat of his smooth skin, the softness of his hair or the fullness of his lips. She did not care that Larry’s eyes were like bottomless pools, which, when gazed into long enough, one might even catch a glimpse of his beautiful soul.

She had told her father that she did not wish to wed any man, and had told him often enough that he was nearly ready to concede. That night, she ran back to the aingeal in tears and threw herself into her fathers arms. She did not tell him what she had witnessed, nor why it had changed her mind. She simply told him that he was right, she was not a sailor and that it was time for her to accept that fact.

Larry had not objected, though she had hardly expected him to do so. Still, when she had returned to the aingeal, unwed and with a new perspective on men and women, he had welcomed her back willingly. He had even seemed glad, she thought, to see her. Despite his silent disapproval of her manner of dress and behavior, he seemed glad to have her back.

She thought about these things as she made her way to the captains quarters, stepping inside to find her father standing beside the desk while Edge sat in the chair perusing the thick leather bound ledger. Bono was walking around the room looking at the various items which were hung from the walls or stacked neatly on the shelves.

“Carra! Did you need something?” Paul asked when he saw her in the doorway.

“I was sent to offer you assistance but it would seem you already have plenty of help.” She replied with a smile. Edge, still ill at ease with a woman being aboard, quickly stood upon her entrance to the room.

“Oh for heavens sake, sit down. It’s a bloody good thing I wasn’t born a lady because all of that men standing when I stand and all those million other gestures would make me go positively mad!” she told him as she sauntered into the room. She saw the battle inside of him, his mind trying to decide whether to be shocked at her strong language or amused. His eyes were wide and round, but the corner of his mouth twitched upward. He cleared his throat and hid his smile behind the back of his hand as he seated himself once more behind the desk.

“Thank you for the offer, Carra, but it is rather close quarters here…” her father was saying, but Carra’s attention was already on the young man with the long, black hair. She stopped to stand shoulder to shoulder with him, though perhaps an inch or two shorter.

“And what of you? What is your purpose in Captain Mullen’s quarters?” She asked him, her voice lowering as she cocked her head to one side and smiled at him in the manner she knew seemed to melt men’s brains.

A broad, mischievous smile crossed the mans face, his blue eyes locking with her green eyes. A sudden, unexpected rush of heat spread through her body. She blinked at him in surprise.

“I was told there might be something hidden here that would interest me.” He told her in a whisper, as if confiding a deep dark secret to her.

“And have you found anything interesting?” She asked, licking her suddenly dry lips and wondering at the way her heart had begun to race in her chest. He smiled at her again, and her breath caught in her throat.

“Absolutely.” He told her, his eyes scanning the length of her body before landing on her own eyes once more. “But not the thing which I was seeking.” He told her, and her breath rushed out of her lungs as he turned back to the trunk he had been about to open. She chewed nervously on her lower lip as she watched him open it with his unusually thick hands. He certainly had the hands of a sailor, she thought, if not the manner.

“Ah-ha!” He exclaimed triumphantly, his hands reaching into the trunk and removing an odd shaped wooden case. He pushed aside the maps and compass to make room for the case on the desk and used his thumbs to open the rusty latch.

“Oh no.” Edge groaned when he saw the fiddle and bow inside the case were in perfect condition.

“What’s wrong?” Paul asked, peeking over Bono’s shoulder to inspect the instrument. Bono extracted the fiddle from the case and raised it to his shoulder, bow poised over the strings. Edge winced and closed his eyes.

“I’m not that bad!” Bono objected to his mate’s exaggerated reaction.

“It should be against the law for you to possess any instrument with strings.” Edge teased, taking the fiddle from his mate gingerly. Bono tried to scowl at him but could not help but smile. It was true that he did not play as well as Edge, but he did not know anyone who played as well as Edge.

“Maybe you would like to play for us, then?” Bono suggested and Carra caught Edge’s shy smile from her peripheral vision before he turned away.

“If you would allow me to finish this task, then indeed I would.” He replied, picking up the ledger again and turning his attention back to it.

“Some music would be a splendid idea. Perhaps before dinner. Until then, Carra, why don’t you and Bono go back up on deck and see if you are needed there?” Paul said, shooing the two out of the captains quarters and closing the door behind them.

The duo made their way back up onto the main deck, where several of the other sailors sat finding different ways to pass their time. Some men practiced tying and untying knots, another took a small blade to a piece of wood, carving out the shape of a mermaid. Adam stood at the starboard side, staring out into the vast blue that stretched out before him with a contemplative look etched upon his face. He had shed shirt and boots and stood there in just his breeches, soaking in the late day sun.

“I’d be more wary of the sunlight, were I as pale skinned as you.” Carra told him gently. Adam turned and smiled at her with his unusual upside down smile.

“I suspect you’re fairer skinned than I am, but have spent more time in the sun. Though I doubt I would look so charming with all the freckles that grace your pretty face and shoulders.” He told her, his blue eyes shining mischievously. Carra smiled and tried to hide the blush that his words brought to her cheeks.

“So, we know what it is that brought me to be here, but what of you? How did a woman of such grace and beauty end up aboard a merchant vessel sailing with this crew of misfits?” Adam asked, sitting near the rail and starting the painstaking process of rolling a cigarette.

“I grew up aboard the aingeal.” Carra replied proudly. “Some men sail because it is all know, all they believe they can do. Others sail because they feel the urge to wander to foreign ports and see the world. I sail because I was born with saltwater in my blood.” She settled herself next to Adam and watched as he licked the edge of the paper to seal the cigarette and hold it’s form.

“A great many others seek the solitude of the sea. They are running from something they have done or something which was done to them. Hiding from the Crown and his majesty’s justice.” Carra continued, turning her eyes back on Bono. “So what is it you’re running from?” She asked. Bono glanced up at her in surprise. He considered denying the accusation, but he could tell that Carra was not the type of person who would be easily fooled.

“I do not run from justice, rather I seek justice. Not the king’s definition of justice, which serves a few, but natural justice. Justice that sees every man as equally worthy.” Bono informed her.

“Good luck with that.” Adam mumbled. “You seek a dream many have had but none have caught.”

“Just because a thing has not been achieved is no reason to stop trying. Nothing new would ever be accomplished if that were the case.” Bono said, his blue eyes reflecting the passion in his voice.

“I know who you are, now! You’re the bard. Your words, when printed and distributed, are dangerous enough to have you thrown in prison. When most men might print their thoughts and deliver them to the public in secret, though, you broadcast them proudly. In song, in speech, in whatever manner gets you the attention you desire.” Adam said, lighting his smoke and inhaling a long stream of smoke. His eyes narrowed as he let the smoke out of his lungs in a slow steady stream.

“You seek peace, between the English and the Irish. The Catholic and the protestant. The lions and the lambs.” A small voice added from nearby. The trio turned to look at the young boy, Finn, who had barely spoken yet on this voyage. It was a surprise to them all to hear him speak, let alone to join in on this particular conversation. His face turned red and he looked back down at the length of rope in his small hands once more, working on his knot tying.

“What about you, then? Most boys start sailing much earlier than your age of, what, twelve? Thirteen?” Carra asked him, and he peered up at her suspiciously. “Why did you decide to start sailing now?”

“My family lived far from the sea.” Finn lied. She prepared to tell the story of Finn. It was a story many of the people she had known as Fiona had lived, though the story was not her own. “My father was a farmer, before he died. After he was gone, we could not pay the rent. My mother begged for a little more time, but the landlord brought the sheriff and they burned down our cottage.”

“I’m sorry.” Bono told him, resting a hand on the boys shoulder for a moment. Finn winced and jerked away from the mans touch, despite it’s gentle intentions.

“It wasn’t you that burned our home to the ground.” He muttered, casting an accusatory glance in Adam’s direction.

“I suppose because of my father’s title, because you will not see me attending mass, you think I deserve the blame?” Adam asked. Although his tone was light and his lips curved into a slight smile, his eyes flashed with a bitterness, a hidden but deeply felt pain. Finn simply stared at the rope as it twisted and turned in his hands, and said nothing.

For a long moment there was nothing to be heard but the creaking boards and the straining ropes. There was no wind to catch the sails nor stir the water up against the hull, and not a soul seemed to have a word to speak. It was, in fact, the screech of the bow meeting the fiddle which finally broke the awful, choking silence.

“About time, Edge!” Bono exclaimed, jumping up and hurrying toward his friend eagerly. “I was afraid I would have to start a row just for the sake of something to keep everyone occupied!”

“I would hate to see young Finn beat you senseless in front of Carra.” Edge teased, earning an outburst of laughter from everyone within earshot.

“Just for that I ought to take the fiddle back.” Bono threatened playfully.

They took their turns sharing songs they knew, others joining in when the song was familiar to them. Bono sang far more than anyone else, but before long most of the crew was on deck enjoying the music. Some danced a bit, others simply laughed and clapped their hands, watching as Bono and Edge weaved their own particular magic with their songs.

Before long they had sung ‘The Battle of the Boyne’, ‘Star of the County Down’ and ‘Join the British army’ (To which several of the words had been changed, altering the sentiment dramatically). Finally, just as the sun was about to disappear below the horizon, they started a jovial round of ‘What do you do with a drunken Sailor’, each man adding his own suggestion as the chorus rounded to a new verse.

“Sling him in the long boat till he's sober!” the first man sang, and the suggestions ranged from that simple possibility to ‘Shave his belly with a rusty razor’ and ‘Trice him up in a runnin' bowline’. Until finally someone changed the line ‘Put him in bed with the captains daughter’ to ‘the first mates daughter’. To which Larry added, ‘Oh you’ve never seen the first mates daughter!’ The expression of horror and disgust on his face meant to earn a laugh, and it did from most of those on deck. Carra tried to hide the irritation by turning her back on the man, but could not keep her lower lip from protruding as she bit back the angry tears.

“Supper is ready. It’s barely edible when fresh, I suggest we not let it set too long.” Larry announced, breaking up the party. The others filed down to the galley right away, but Carra lingered on deck, staring out into the fading light.

“If I believed in the stories some tell, I’d think he was a selchie.” A small voice said, taking Carra completely by surprise.

“What?” she asked, blinking at Finn, still seated in the same spot he’d been all afternoon.

“A selchie. You know, the tales of men and women who aren’t really men and women… not human, that is. They’re sea creatures, seals most often. They shed their skin and come ashore, and they are so enchanting, so incredibly beautiful and charming that most would not or could not deny them. They come ashore to seduce someone, most often in the tales after they have spoiled the human who they chose to seduce, they murder them. Not all of the tales go that way, but even if the seduced is left alive after their seduction, the selchie returns to their skin, returns to the sea. The person they seduced is left alone and longing for their lover to return.” Finn said, and Carra felt as if he had reached into her chest and taken hold of her heart.

“Perhaps those who kill their lover are truly more kind than those who leave them alone and waiting.” Carra muttered, wrapping her arms around herself to warm herself from the sudden chill that had taken her. She turned and frowned at the young boy suddenly.

“How is it that you have such insight into what I was feeling? Or perhaps it’s just that you think the Captain is beautiful and seductive? What does a boy your age even know of such things!” She demanded, and Finn looked up in shock, his hazel eyes wide and round, his fingers fumbling with the rope and letting it fall to the deck.

“Oh, No… I wasn’t… I just… I… was just thinking of the tales was all…” Finn stammered, standing and looking back and forth, like an animal feeling trapped and needing an escape route.

“Are you coming to supper, Carra? I’m not certain I can defend it from the men much longer!” Larry’s voice proceeded him as he returned to the deck with a plate in each hand. He stopped and looked at Finn in surprise, but Finn took the opportunity to dart past them both and out of the awkward situation.

“I’m not hungry.” Carra told Larry, turning her back to him. Even though she could not see him, she knew he was scowling at her. She could practically feel it.

“Not that I care…” Larry said, his teeth clenched together, “But if this is because of the stupid song…” he let his words drift off but Carra was not about to assume anything. Least of all an apology from him.

“Suit yourself.” He finally grumbled, setting the plate down on the deck beside her booted feet and retreating back to the galley. At least in there he knew how to behave, knew what he was supposed to feel and say amongst the sailors. Carra bit her lip to keep it from trembling, then she turned and kicked the plate so hard that it skidded across the deck before overturning and leaving a mess of spilled food. She didn’t want his pity. She didn’t even want his apology. She wanted his love.

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Old 09-25-2005, 11:24 PM   #2
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I just read the first chapter, commenting that I can't wait for the next one. And I turn around and here it is! Wonderful!

I can't wait to see what happens next!

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Old 09-26-2005, 05:02 AM   #3
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Poor Carra

Can't wait till the next chapter!
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Old 09-26-2005, 03:12 PM   #4
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I can't wait for he next chapter
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Old 09-26-2005, 04:01 PM   #5
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love it!

next chapter........

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Old 09-26-2005, 10:22 PM   #6
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Another amazing chapter! Looking forward to the next one. You're an awesome writer.
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Old 09-27-2005, 03:05 AM   #7
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I this one!
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Old 09-27-2005, 10:50 PM   #8
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wow SG!

great chapter, I look forward to the next

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