|Snowfall at Sea
Author: Lady Patriot PM
One-shot. Surprise's crew enjoy the benefits of the weather.Rated: Fiction K - English - Adventure/Humor - Words: 1,020 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Published: 01-16-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5670610
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Snowfall At Sea
Rating: K (Suitable for all ages)
Disclaimers: I don't own Master and Commander or any of the characters appearing in the movie. Neither do I own any of the novels.
Original pen-date: 29 November 2008
Summary: Surprise's crew enjoy the benefits of the weather.
Author's Note: There are probably some historical/canon goofs in here and I apologise for them.
It had been a long time since they'd seen warm weather. Captain Aubrey had set their course to the far south, the farthest south that many of the crew had ever been. The chill and brisk wind was enough to make the Marines glad for their heavy coats, for once. The seamen, of course, hardly seemed to be affected and other than the occasional pause to blow warm breath into their hands, scampered around in their bare feet and ragged trousers as if they were in Gibraltar's smothering heat. Even Bill Reeves, who hailed from Yorkshire, said he'd take being out on the moors in winter over the current sharp cold at sea. Other Marines who came from the north were inclined to agree with him.
Unfortunately for Bill Reeves, he was stuck standing sentry by the ship's bell as Surprise slipped steadily into a thick snowfall. His grey over-coat was covered liberally in white and it was difficult to decide if his black round hat was actually black. And it was bloody cold. He curled his hands back into his over-coat sleeves as much as he dared and tried to get some feeling back into his fingers. The off-watch seamen were coming up on deck in ones and twos, many peering about in wonder and awe at the glistening of snow on every surface. Older hands were already dispersing about the deck, some clearing snow away from the steps and the boat tier. A few more moments of quiet passed before the younger hands were scooping up handfuls of snow and flinging it at each other.
Reeves watched them with a hint of envy. As cold as it was, he had never turned away from a snowball fight in his life. Lucky sods. He grinned when he spotted one of the master's mates ducking behind the boat tier when a seaman threw a snowball at him. Even the warrant officers were falling prey to the merriment. A midshipman appeared and tapped the glass, then turned it over. Reeves struck the bell and his grin broadened. Two bells and he'd be relieved. He'd be free to join in the fun then! He knew just who to drag topside with him too. Two bells was all. A snowball burst against the belfry and Joe Nagle cheered. An instant later, three other seamen pelted Nagle with snowballs, laughing like madmen as they chased the carpenter's mate around the boat tier. It was a relief to see the seamen so light-hearted.
The cry had come from young Joe Miller, who hadn't seen snow since he was a boy. Reeves laughed outright as Miller came dashing up from the aft companionway, his drill jacket helping him blend in with the stirred-up blanket of white around the ship. He could easily imagine the scene below-decks, where the rest of the Marines were no doubt lounging. Tomilson would be huddled near a cannon, cleaning his musket. Others, Boyne and Farley chief amongst them, would be playing cards. His fellow Yorkshireman, Wiles, would no doubt be fast asleep in his hammock. At least below-decks it would be warmer than up here. Reeves flexed his fingers and grimaced at the feeling of stiffness. Two bells, he reminded himself. Then he could warm himself by joining his mates in their romp around the deck.
Something cold, white, and damp splattered against his collar and he straightened up with a jerk as trickles of slush oozed down his neck. What! Miller's delighted laugh echoed from somewhere close by. Reeves couldn't reach up to dig the snow out of his collar, lest Corporal White catch him moving unnecessarily, so the cold, damp slush soaked into his shirt and wormed its way down his back. Miller was in for it once he was off-watch, though. Another Marine, this one still in his red coat, dashed past him in close pursuit of Miller. The off-watch seamen paused in their pitched battle to laugh and cheer the two Marines on. Reeves grinned again. Noble, at least, was getting after Miller for that treacherous attack.
Across the ship, the officers watched the men play with warm amusement. It was rare that such a scene of spontaneous merriment was created by the weather. Captain Howard chuckled to himself when he saw a Marine in his drill jacket pelt the man on sentry by the ship's bell with a double handful of snow. His fellows were a lively lot, to be sure. A snowball that missed its intended target arched through the air and struck Howard's hat, knocking it cleanly off his head. There was an instant hush over the deck, broken only by the regular hum of wind through the rigging. Howard stooped to retrieve his wounded hat and examined the faint splatter of snow on the felt. It had been a well-thrown snowball.
Somebody cheered when Howard scooped up some snow and threw it at the nearest Marine. The light-hearted engagement swirled back to life again with renewed laughter. Miller was dashing around again, chased this time by a pair of seamen. Noble joined a couple of other seamen in their attempt to build a snowman. By the belfry, thoroughly soaked around his collar now, Reeves laughed. Of all things, he hadn't expected Captain Howard to accept such an incident so gracefully, never mind strike back in the same manner. It was the weather, it had to be. Even officers weren't unaffected by it! That was something, sure. Nobody could avoid being cheered by the wonders of snowfall at sea.