Through Wind And Sail

CHAPTER 1:

THE SMUDGE

I stood there as the night sky passed surely but slowly, the stars glistened through what any opening in clouds they could. The wind blew softly in my face as the HMS Tavington sailed through the calm atlantic ocean.

Suddenly an arm grabbed my shoulder forcing me to turn around to be presented a young boy, no more older than 14. " !" said loudly "How goes the watch?" he asked "good so far, calm wind, the occasional cricket… nothing out of the ordinary." i replied. "Good good…so… i have a question ." he asked once more. i looked at him suspiciously as isn't usually the one to ask questions, "do you ever intend on trying to become a lieutenant?" he spoke a little but too loud and his put my hand over his mouth to shut him up "be quiet, the others will hear us!" i whispered only to continue and answer his question "Not really, i would rather let someone else do it. i am not the kind of person to take control" i took my hand off of his mouth and returned back to looking at the sea. "But why did you join up for the navy and become a Midshipman?" he asked anxiously to know more. "i didn't, you see my father is Admiral Lewis Elliott and…well naturally he pushed me into joining the navy. i didn't want to though, i would rather have become a gentleman and live a quiet life, but i guess none of that is possible with Napoleon alive." i said with a sigh. "Indeed indeed… oh, wait, isn't it my time to be on watch now?" he said with a chuckle "yes yes, my bad for forgetting " i tipped my hat and walked away down the stairs onto the quarter deck.

Before i went down below deck to rest in my hammock with the other midshipmen i took one last look at the night sky, i stared mostly at the horizon but something caught my eye, it was a small black smudge just opposite our ship. i kept my eye on it and soon realised something, it was moving. " !" i shouted not caring about the others sleeping, i walked briskly up the stairs again talking as i went " your telescope if you please" he passed me his telescope not saying a word and giving me an confused look, i took it from him and ran back down to the quarter deck on the port side and looked through the telescope at the mysterious black smudge, it was gone. i looked around franticly trying to find it but to no luck it had vanished, i took the telescope away from my eye and looked down at the deck confused, just as i was recovering from my possible hallucinations a group of sailors came up onto the deck, one of them being the captain and another midshipman names . went up to the stern deck and stood next to and started talking to him asking questions, 3 other sailors went down to the foc'sle two of which looked overboard for reasons i did not know.

The captain recognising my voice walked up to me and, being only an officer i stood at attention and tipped my hat. "Good day Captain Wallis sir!" i said trying not to look at him directly, "Good day? good day! by god man its almost midnight! now whats all this commotion on deck?!" he yelled into my face. "uh, i uh s-s-saw something on the horizon sir!" i stuttered "Did you now ? let me have a look then." he took out his own telescope at the speed of light, i didn't even know he had took it out until he was already looking through it, "A ship you say?" he said still looking out at the sea "N-no sir, a smudge, it was moving almost as if it was following parallel to us." i said pointing in the direction i thought i saw it. " you ought to clean your telescope more often because all i see is clear seas." said the captain. as the 3 sailors were walking back to go to sleep and the captain was returning to his cabin i took out my telescope and rubbed the lens with my coat and looked through it once more, i searched the horizon and all of a sudden i saw something moving, i looked back at it and saw a barrage of flashes, i turned around to face everyone "DOWN, EVERYONE DOWN NOW!" i jumped to the floor and so did the Captain and . a tremendous amount of cannon fire ripped the deck apart, destroying the bell and blowing away the bottom of the main mast, a lot of the wooden handrails were destroyed and i looked to my right to see cannonball after cannonball destroy the windows and blowing away the captains table and book shelf, i could see screaming he duct but a cannon blew a piece of the wooden handrail which sent splinters into his face and chest, 1 of the sailors fell to the floor after getting his leg blown off and another was hit in the eye by a splinter, he fell straight down into the upper gun deck breaking his back. more and more cannonballs stuck the ship, all i could see was the deck getting utterly destroyed.

Then, all of a sudden the firing stopped and everyone got to their feet and i yelled "BEAT TO QUARTERS!" the captain blew his whistle signalling everyone to get out of bed, but im sure the cannons did the for them. as i walked down to the upper gun deck i stopped to see dragging into cover tending to the giant splinters, i had a sickly feeling rush through me as i thought he could be dead. i saw the captain give me a nod and i went down below to see many dead sailors and splinters everywhere, even a lot of cannons were out of place and destroyed. "EVERYONE, BEAT TO QUARTERS AND WAIT FOR MY ORDER TO FIRE!" i yelled. at once all of the men stopped running around and beat to the cannons and brought them out ready to fire "2rd and 3th divisions ready sir!" came an unfamiliar voice "RIGHT, PORT SIDE BATTERY, FIRE!" a tremendous roar of cannon fire almost blew my ears off as they all kicked back and the men began reloading. one of the men who looked to be another midshipmen, possibly looked out of one of the hatches at the enemy ship and as he did i asked him "did we hit them?" he slowly turned to look at me with a shocked face and instantly knew what he meant "BRACE FOR IMPA-" just like before, cannons ripped apart the ship, it was even more horrifying below deck. Cannon after cannon, and man after man were being blown away. just like that everything slowed down, i could see all of the splinters and even small fires bursting out, i could see men screaming and lots more dead on the floor, the captain was shouting orders on the top deck but i was trapped down in this hellhole, then, i realised at that very moment we had lost most of our cannons on our port side and worse more, we had lost a lot of men.

Just like that everything phased back in and i looked to see if was ok, but he was nowhere to be found. i went back up to the quarter deck and just as my feet got to the top the stairway was blown to bits and i tripped, hitting my head on the hatch opening. it took a good 30 seconds to recover but the captain lifted me back to my feet and i looked around trying to regain my focus " ! ! good god man wake up! whats the situation down there?" he shouted into my ear. "uh- ah- gu, i wh… oh uh, s-s-sir, w-we lost most of out port side cannons, about 10-15 wounded, maybe a few dead. i don't know if is ok though sir!" i replied still recovering from the shock "and we have lost one of the stairways to the upper gun deck" i replied again "well then, uh…because of your bravery efforts in commanding the fire team, even though we lost many, and your quick reflect skills im going to pro-" he was interrupted buy "Sir, Sir! i have some bad news, and uh, more bad news." he said catching his breath "well, speak up then lad!" said the captain wanting to know "We, uh well, I looked through my telescope at the enemy ship, sir and its defiantly a Frenchie!. i didn't see the name of it sir, but the other bad news is uh, its , sir. He's dead." i was shocked at what said, i couldn't move i just froze in place. "Well. uh. put his body in my cabin for now" said the captain. "Sir, they are going the opposite way from us! she is retreating!" shouted from down below. i had never felt so refreshed to know he was ok and that the enemy was finally leaving.

As i walked up onto the stern deck to see i was interrupted by the Captain who calmly pushed me away from the stairs and to one of the masts, "follow me into my office, now" he said with a rather annoyed look. i walked briskly towards his office as he held the door open for me and i walked into, for the first time, probably one of the best looking cabins i have ever seen in my life. The captain sat down at his table and looked at me rather harshly, "i would like to talk about your promotion, " i suddenly looked really surprised "Sir?" i said trying to not screw up my words. The captains face turned from a frown to a smile as he spoke "Well, today you proved great efforts with the crew and being the first to not only see the enemy vessel, but also tell everyone to get down before they were blown to bits!" he had small chuckle until i responded "w- uh well sir have to thank for signalling that she war firing a second time, sir."

"Oh? did he now well i- wait, did you say ?" asked the captain confused "Y-yes sir, another one of the midshipmen, i believe" i said stuttering. The captain laughed hysterically and slammed his hand on the table as he did, "Aha! M- , ' ' as you recall is my first lieutenant!" the captain was still laughing a lot when all i could say was "Oh, sorry sir"

i never knew anyone could get so much humour from me mixing up the ranks of an officer. "Ha-Ha A-anyway, i am making you post lieutenant for now and ill decide wether you're capable of being a good leader. Besides i need someone to lead the ground team tomorrow" he said now going back to his serious mood "Ground team, sir?" i asked "Yes yes, the ship needs repairing badly after that bombardment and we need an new mast and wood to repair the hull. so im sending you and with 14 Royal Marines to get it."