Title: Adventures in Africa
Disclaimer: The recognizable ER characters belong to Warner Brothers and their Associates. The rest are mine. I am in no way receiving money from this piece of writing- It's just a great way to get feedback while you're trying to become a good writer! So don't sue me... like everyone else I have nothing important to others materially. Unless you count money as being important, and let's face it.... that's just sad... ;)
Archive: Anywhere as long as you ask ;) And if you want to use any of my characters in your story, just ask, too!
Summary: This is the second story in my Timeline jumping series and is MUCH more lighthearted when compared to My Mother's Eyes. It is set on the African savanna in the late 1890's. I hope you like it!
Feedback: Please, oh please! I need anything and everything and will love you dearly if you reply, even if it is only one sentence... or one word! I need all I can get! (as I'm sure you can tell by my writing...)
Adventures in Africa
"I do say, it's rather hot out, isn't it?" The young man emerged from his tent in the late morning light of Africa.
The older woman seated at a rather nice wooden table rolled her eyes. "Rather." She sipped her tea.
David Malucci ran a hand through his rather wild black hair, slipped into his suspenders, and put on his glasses before taking his seat next to his aunt Elizabeth Greene.
"Auntie, I think it's rather fair to say that when you invited me on this expedition I never thought we'd be having tea off of a fine wooden table on a hill overlooking the great savanna!" His enthusiasm showed through his animation.
"Yes, well, one as young as you perhaps doesn't think of such things."
David was all ready distracted and didn't hear her remark. "Auntie, where's Uncle?"
"Mark? Oh, he's gone out with one of the guides."
"He did what?! Why didn't I get to go?!"
"David Malucci, don't you whine! I have a mind to send you back to England after that little incident yesterday!"
Dave looked at his hands sheepishly. "I'm sorry. I all ready said that, you know. How was I supposed to know the natives took smiling as an insult?:
"Well, let's just see that it doesn't happen again. I doubt Mr. Ross will be very happy to receive any more bruises at the hands of those savages."
"Auntie, they're not savages!" he turned suddenly defensive.
"Young man, for a boy of nineteen you certainly have a mouth! Look at you- you're an absolute mess!"
He reached for a teacup and saucer.
"Oh no you don't! Get yourself cleaned up first!"
He rose forlornly and trudged over into heir main tent and over to the water basin. He returned fifteen minutes later with new, clean khaki breeches, stockings, a fresh-pressed white, collard shirt underneath his green vest and khaki coat. His hair was slicked and combed nicely.
Elizabeth smiled at her nephew. He looked to much better in her eyes- at least now she wasn't afraid to be seen with him even if only by a native.
Dave didn't look very happy and tried to straighten his bow tie. His clothes were so tight, stuffy, and, well, English. However, even dressed in what would be an extremely comical display of clothing to one from the twenty-first century, he still, as always, gave off a certain air of beauty. He adjusted his small glasses and strode toward his aunt with as much poise as he could muster. Ever since he was a child he'd hated to dress in such clothes. He felt they only served to tell the world of his inherited wealth, which they were meant to, but of which he didn't approve.
Elizabeth rose and adjusted his tie for him. "There," she stepped back, pleased with her work. "The perfect gentleman."
He tried to smile but it must have come off as being rather sarcastic for his aunt cocked a warning eyebrow at him.
Seeing his aunt's outfit contrasted to the raw beauty that is Africa was also rather funny. Her floofy, cocked hat and ruffly white dress. He wondered why she'd even come to Africa. She was obviously just barely surviving here without all of the comforts of her western wealth. It must have been Mark's doing. Dave was extremely jealous of her. Here he was, a young man who had dreamed of living out the adventures he had read of in books on this wild continent. He who would have done anything in the past to get to where he now was. And his aunt squandered it all by adjusting her hat on her neatly done head to keep the sun off of her face.
She had sat back down as she attempted to hide from the life-giving light and now glanced up at his inwardly scowling expression. "David. Stop daydreaming." Her English accent broke the quiet of the birds.
"I wasn't daydreaming…" was his equally English whine.
Elizabeth squinted as she scrutinized her nephew as he took his seat beside her for a cup of tea.
"David, perhaps you should remain in your tent today."
"Whatever for?!" he looked absolutely shocked.
She tried to phrase her next words carefully. "You've… been spending too much time in the sun. I'm afraid your complexion has become rather…tan…" she forced out the last word as is it were hard for he to pronounce.
Dave furrowed his brow. "Meaning?"
She laughed at what she saw as the obvious answer. "Oh, come now Davey. You don't want to look like the working class, do you? Like you've been laboring out in the fields and sun all day?" The humor crept from her tone. "Honestly David, you are much better than that," she took a slow sip of her tea.
Dave was hurt and looked pulled back his sleeves to look at his wrists. He didn't look any darker to himself. As he was pondering this small, yet important matter he heard the birds in the nearby trees screech a warning cry that meant that someone was approaching. It was his mustached uncle Mark and one of their African guides.
"Mark, sweetie!" Elizabeth yelled and waved him over to her, as if he couldn't see her stark white form against the yellow of the grass all ready. Nonetheless he jogged up to her as she rose, took her in his arms and gave her a light, quick kiss, being in public as they were. He paid no attention to Dave, who now sat, tugging at his clothing.
His love bird aunt and uncle sat cooing to one another as his mind began to wander again. Dave sighed more loudly than he meant to. "May I please be excused?"
"Why, yes, of course. "Elizabeth looked at his questioningly. She and Mark watched as he meandered down the hill a ways. "Don't wander too far!" Elizabeth called after him.
Dave slumped down under the shade of an acacia tree and picked a piece of grass to tear apart as he sat in thought. He could see a herd of Thompson's gazelles grazing a ways off and let his imagination take hold as he imagined a cheetah appearing from out of nowhere, a blur of black and yellow, tackling its prey in a fury of speed.
Elizabeth sighed as she watched her nephew from afar. "I do worry about him."
"Oh Elizabeth, whatever for?"
"What are we going to do with him, he's absolutely hopeless."
"Oh come now, I wouldn't say that. He has his books and… books. I'm sure he can keep himself occupied."
"We never should have brought him along. He seems terribly unhappy. He belongs in London with libraries and cities and universities."
Mark nodded in agreement. "Yes, that's all very well and true, but it's not like we had much choice. His mother practically begged us o take him. The poor dear couldn't deal with such a lad for much longer. She needed a break."
"Well, family is family, and hopeless dreamer or not, he's still our nephew. I intend to teach him to be proper in every sense of the matter. Despite his surname, he's still a Levoy, and will do us proud." Elizabeth began to squint curiously at the gazelles as they began to flee. A moment later Dave leapt up, shouting in excitement.
"Did you see that?! Did you bloody see it?!"
Elizabeth and Mark couldn't discern what he was saying and looked worried.
"David, dear, are you all right?!"
Dave turned in Elizabeth's direction. "What?!"
"What?!" she shouted back, watching the dust from the animals' sudden movement rise.
"What?!" Dave yelled back.
"What?!" Exasperated, Dave jogged over to his aunt and uncle.
"Dearest, are you all right?" she put a hand on his shoulder while she used her other to hold down the brim of her hat.
"I'm fine, Auntie, I'm fine! Did you see that?! It was like something out of a book! The cheetah actually caught a fawn! It was magnificent- just like I've imagined it would be!"
Elizabeth put a hand to her gaping mouth. "Oh my! A fawn?! Oh the poor dear! Why, whatever will its mother do now?!"
Mark rolled his eyes and Dave had turned his grinning visage to where the heard had been.
Elizabeth smacked his arm. "And you didn't do anything to stop it! What a wretched, wretched creature! Killing helpless babies! Completely heartless!"
"Auntie," Dave sounded exasperated. 'If there were no cheetahs the gazelles would overpopulates and they'd eat so much grass that there'd be none left and they'd all slowly starve to death. Besides, that cheetah has to feed her children."
Elizabeth scowled into the distance. "Let the little rats dies for all I care. They should all be exterminated!"
"Auntie, if you would just listen you'd understand that-"
"I all ready understand! They're viscous creatures! They should be killed- all of them! They'd make a rather fine African purse to show off at home…"
Aunt and nephew were getting red in the face and struggling to keep their arguments proper. Mark immediately recognized where the argument was escalating to and intervened. "Well, whether they're vicious killers or caring mothers I say we meet up with the Ross'. They should be heading out soon."
Both expressed renewed enthusiasm as they agreed with Mark.
"If it ain't my favorite couple!" Doug opened his arms and hugged both Mark and Elizabeth in turn. "How are you all faring?"
"Rather well, thank you." Elizabeth smiled at him and his wife, Caroline. The two English couples continued to exchange greetings and short stories while Dave stood off in the distance, kicking at some rocks. Their African guide stood stoic as ever next to the young man.
"Davey boy! Aren't you coming?!" Doug looked a little bit too happy.
Dave decided that he had nothing to loose and meandered over to the couple he found as strange as his aunt and uncle. He couldn't help but smile when the beautiful Caroline took his face in her hands and kissed him once on each cheek as a greeting.
"Read anything interesting lately?"
Dave visibly brightened. "Yes, I have actually."
"Oh, do tell me all about it," she took his hand and led him off to two oak chairs under the shade on an acacia tree. The blacks of her travel gown, veil and hat made her seem like a black and white painting. A beautiful black and white painting. They each took a seat while the other three babbled carelessly about the trials and tribulations of vacationing in Africa in the late 1890's.
"So, tell me, what was this wonderful book about?"
"Well, it starts off with a great adventure scene. A white man raised by an Indian tribe called the Mohicans is the hero. He and his rifle, Killdeer, can best any enemy! Why, I wish I had a rifle like that! More modern though, of course, for this book was written in the wake of the revolution in the Americas. However, Chingachgook and Uncas are Natty Bumpoo's, the white man's, adopted father and brother…"
His recount of James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans didn't make much sense to Carol in the least bit, yet she smiled and stated the appropriate exclamations when she felt it necessary to show that she followed the tale. In truth, she felt sorry for the young man- being dragged around by his aunt and uncle, nearly constantly criticized about one thing or another, and an obvious misfit dreamer. But she did very much enjoy her time spent with him. He had the most wonderful imagination of anyone she'd ever met and nearly matched her thirst for adventure with his. Although she was nearly twenty years his senior she still remembered vividly feeling young a suppressed and so offered an form of support and strength that she could.
By the time he was finished with his tale and was cleaning his glasses her butt ached from sitting on such a hard wooden chair for so long.
"Darling, what were two bookworms discussing now?" Doug gave her his hand as she rose from her seat.
"Mr. Malucci was just telling me of a very wonderful book he's read titled The Last of the Mohicans. I would very much like to read it when we return to England." She smiled to Dave who grinned back his pearly smile. Yet his smile was swept from his face as he heard shouts from an African villager as he ran towards the small camp. The handful of guides conversed with the frantic villager in a tongue that Dave was desperately trying to learn. After a few shouts and wild hand gestures the guides announced to their white companions that a family group of elephants was nearby, and more importantly, that their great chief had returned from trading with another distant village. It was a goal of their expedition to both see the elephant and meet this great chief who was world-renowned. Doug had a servant ready the horses while the women readied their parasols.
In a good fifteen minutes time they were on their way, the Ross couple in the lead with the guides on foot ahead of them, followed by Mark and Elizabeth, and of course, Dave.
Dave shaded his eyes, searching the surrounding savanna for any signs of elephants. He'd read about them many times before in books. He'd even seen one once in a zoo. They were truly magnificent creatures.
They came to a groove of intermittent trees where a guide stopped them and pointed into the distance. Dave rode up alongside Mark and Elizabeth. All three men shaded their eyes while the women tilted their hats and squinted into the distance.
"I don't see anything…." Carol was becoming uncomfortable, dripping with sweat as she was. Damn this humidity and heat. But Africa was worth it, even though it was enough to make a civilized woman of her day miserable.
"There!" a guide shouted, pointing to a large shape that suddenly moved from the trees. It was a great elephant bull with large ivory tusks and ears pointed forward, assessing the threat of the humans on horseback and foot. He scrutinized the small group for a moment before casually continuing on his walk out of the trees. Soon after a calf appeared, running clumsily. All five let out a gasp of joy and awe. The calf was followed closely by her mother who guided her child with her trunk. A few more cows and adolescent males appeared two more in the company of yearlings.
"It is the time the elephant like to make," the guide explained. "For this there is a male. Otherwise, she would control the herd," he pointed to an old female with slightly worn tusks who walked on the side of the group, near the male.
The five tourists watched her for a moment. Dave immediately recognized something about the old matriarch that made him grin in recognition. "Why, she looks just like you Auntie!" Before he realized just exactly what he'd said it was out. Mark gave him a hard whack with his crop as the Ross' looked at him in puzzlement. The blow from Mark had caught the young man completely off guard and was now hurt more with embarrassment at being disciplined in front of guests and not speaking before he spoke, than in physical pain.
"Well, she does," he let out defensively before he had the chance to stop himself. Lucky for him only Mark heard him and didn't smack him so hard this time. They continued on their way and Mark fell to the back of the line next to Dave and gave him a stern look. Dave never could handle people when they were angry with him. At least not as gracefully as he felt he should be able to. He found himself immediately looking away, back towards the elephants. Mark read this gesture as one of disrespect and tugged on his nephew's sleeve to get him to face him once more. "You and I will discuss this matter further this evening," his voice was firm. Dave looked down in shame. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
"Yes, Uncle, I'm sorry, Uncle," Dave practically coughed out.
"Thank you," he patted Dave on the shoulder. "Sorry about that swat. No harm done?"
"Of course not," he would normally smile but couldn't manage to at the moment.
"Well then, See you when we reach the village. Stay out of trouble back here," he kicked his horse and trotted up to the pouting Elizabeth, prepared to argue with her that she didn't look like an elephant.
Dave let his head hang as he fought his facial muscles not to scowl and desperately tried to take his mind off of the painful lump in his throat. Oh, how he wanted to cry. He was so angry, frustrated, and embarrassed. Why'd he say that?! He couldn't help himself. But did Mark really have to strike him in front of everyone like that, as if he were ten years younger. He felt the back of his neck begin to tingle in shame. Natty Bumpoo would never have to deal with this. Everything Natty said was so eloquent and timed. He was never reprimanded in public. He never did anything wrong. Oh, how he wished right now that he were Natty Bumpoo!
It was about five minutes since the "elephant incident" and Carol stole a glance back at the form of an obviously hurting David. He seemed determined to focus on the passing blades of grass as they walked along. She felt sorry for him. She knew, like everyone, what embarrassment felt like. However, she now looked ahead at the beauty of Africa and couldn't help but smile remembering the old elephant. She covered her mouth to hide her laugh. Dave was right. The elephant did remind her of Elizabeth in a way. Doug glanced over at his wife and also cracked a smile as he realized what she was trying not to laugh about. The two of them eventually gave into a fit of giggles that eventually spread to the English-speaking guides ahead of them. Their rich laughter echoed off of the plains. When Mark and Elizabeth looked up they blamed their laughter on the happening the other day when Dave had smiled and waved at a passing native which had only served to get Doug attacked.