Disclaimer- None of this belongs to me!
Cora scuttled around the tavern, pouring men's coffee and delivering food from the kitchen. Many of them were sailors, coming back from the raging sea and telling tales of cannon fire and treasure. She sighed as one spoke of distant lands and sparkling oceans. She wished she could come with them.
Cora had been working at The Crow's Nest tavern for about three weeks after she left London. Her husband, an insane seaman with an alcohol problem, was still stationed in Valletta, no doubt having his fair share of rum. She thought about him, his scraggly hair and unshaven beard, his brown eyes often red and sulky. He came home to her every month or so, telling outrages stories about how he defeated the French armada without any help. If she ever spoke up about how he should get some rest, he would become increasingly angry and strike her.
She winced at the thought of his icy hand cuffing her already thin face. They often had little or now money at all and Cora had to find various jobs at taverns or inns. She was tired of his abusive nature and constant absence, so when she left for Valletta, she packed up her things and money and ran off to Gibraltar.
She poured a captain's coffee as she shook her head to erase the thought of her husband.
"Is there anything else I can get you sir?" she asked politely.
"May I have some cream?" requested the man with a grizzled wig and glasses sitting at the other end at the table.
"And you sir?" she asked again, but to the man with blond hair and epaulettes on his uniform.
"No thank you," he replied.
Cora nodded and trotted back to the kitchen to fetch them some cream and sugar.
She returned to her rundown hotel room late that night, exhausted from work and unhappy with her meager wages. She plopped down on her lumpy bed and closed her eyes. She was working too hard for a girl of only twenty.
Sunday morning came with the usual whistles and shouts coming from the docks. Cora sat up stiffly and rubbed her eyes while she made her bed. She looked over to her dresser and saw the small piece of paper she had found with a stack of parchment in the tavern.
Wanted: A woman with experience in raising children, nursing, cooking, and cleaning. Must be good tempered and patient, along with tolerance to daily drills and cannon fire.
If interested, please see Captain Jack Aubrey R.N. at 213 N. William Street, Wellsburg Inn, Gibraltar.
Cora had planned to see him about this job, depending on how much it pays and what the risks are, she might just take it. Feeling confident in herself, she dressed in her best dress, which wasn't much to some, considering that its blue hems were tattered and there were some holes in the lower half. She hadn't enough money to buy a new one, so this would have to do. She snatched the parchment from the bureau and hurried out of her room while she locked the door behind her.
The streets of Gibraltar were dreadfully busy, full of sailors heading south to the docks, or north to where the taverns and inns were. Horses trotted past her as she turned left on William Street to the lavish Wellsburg inn. She envied whoever had the money to stay here, with its wrought iron fence and gilded doors. Its hedges were neatly clipped and petunias spouted up from the soil. She looked like a beggar compared to some of the ladies fluttering out of the doors, in their fancy gowns with parasols. Nevertheless, she waltzed in confidently and asked the clerk where she could find the captain.
She knocked at the door of room 428 quietly when a plump Catalan girl with raven hair opened it. She smiled and let a flood of Catalan seep out of her mouth. Cora was taken aback and hardly knew anything about the language and tried to remember some words she had heard in the tavern.
"Um..." she stuttered, "Capitano? El Capitano port favor?"
"Si, si!" said the girl excitedly, "Capitan, visitor!"
"I'm coming Mercy!" called a deep voice.
"Come in, come in," said the girl through her deep accent, "Sit, sit!"
She sat down daintily in the silk chair in the parlor. Cora looked around nervously at all the delicate and expensive items that littered the room. She crumpled the parchment in her hands enviously and tried her best to straighten up, but the chair was just too comfortable.
"Capitan!" cried Mercy impatiently, "VISITOR!"
"I'm coming!" he yelled back. Out of the elegant door emerged the same man she had served coffee to at the tavern. Her eyes widened and she hid her face while pretending to look at all the knick-knacks on the table. Unsure what to do, she stood up nervously and unfolded the parchment. The captain came to greet her.
"I saw your add at the tavern, I would like to apply for this position." She stuttered.
He smiled graciously, "Capital, here sit down." He pointed to the chair that she had just gotten up from. She plopped onto to it happily, like a little girl. "So," he began, "what is your name?"
Cora stopped settling herself in and replied, "Cora Wilson."
"Where are you from?" he asked.
"London sir, but uh... my husband is a sailor so we had to move here." She lied.
He nodded, "And have you had any experience with children?"
She grinned, "Oh yes! I'm the oldest of my family and have to take care of my brothers and sisters. I also had to cook, clean, and sew up my husband when he got into squabbles."
"Now," said the captain clearing his throat, "we will be having routine drills and confrontations with other ships, will you be alright with that?"
She shrugged her shoulders, "It can't be too bad."
The captain laughed, "Well, incase you haven't already found out from Mercy here, my name is Jack Aubrey."
Cora took his hand and shook it politely, "Pleasure to meet you sir. Now, I am compelled to ask and forgive me if I'm being a bit rash, but will you consider me? I really want to get out of Gibraltar."
"Doesn't everyone?" asked Jack more to himself, "Well, yes I will consider you, but you must understand, we will be out at sea for weeks even months at a time. That's a bit much even for an experienced sailor."
"I really don't mind," said Cora honestly, "Sure that's a long time, but I need some time to reflect."
Jack laughed, "Then I suppose you are perfect for the job!" He motioned for the Catalan girl to come, "Mercy dear, will you be a good girl and fetch Miss Wilson and me some tea?"
Author's Note- This is my first Master and Commander fanfic, so please R&R.