Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Bit of Conversation

This is actual play, straightforward no-rolls roleplaying, from my ongoing In Harm's Way: Napoleonic Naval IRC game. There has been a dinner on board the HMS Avalon, in the harbor at Fort de France, Martinique, in the year of our Lord 1800. Edward Jones, Captain of Marines, has just left the others and gone on deck in a passion. Miss Virginia Fortis, daughter of the Governor of Martinique, comes on deck, seeking him.

Meanwhile, below decks, the American naval lieutenant Simon Laurence talks with Commander Arty Wainwright, captain of the Avalon, Lieutenant Richard York, commanding the Seraph, Arty's Egyptian wife Maraya, her companion Demiana, and M. Gallinuille, the Lieutenant Governor of Martinique.

Virginia goes up on deck, looking for Edward.
EdwardJones is standing on deck, as far forward as he can get.

Demiana: "So, Mr. Laurence? you tell us how you capture big French ship with six mans?"

Virginia starts to go to him, but stops and leaves.

Gallinuille: "Six men? Merde du diable! How is such a thing possible?"

EdwardJones sees her as she is preparing to be lowered into the boat, and hurries over. "Miss Fortis?"
"Yes, Mr. Jones?"

Laurence: "We had spotted what could have been an enemy ship deep in the fog, so my captain sent me and six men out to row closer, to determine if the ship was friend or foe. As we got closer, I could discern that it was a french ship, flying the plague flag."

EdwardJones: "Leaving so soon? I thought you were enjoying the dinner and the company within."
Virginia smiles up at Edward. "The company I was enjoying left rather abruptly."

Demiana: "Were you not most afraid?"
Laurence: "Then a thought occured, 'this is a nice ship, and surely all the men inside of her are sick, or weak. Those still healthy couldn't number more than 30.' And with such small numbers, what was there to be afraid of?"
Maraya: "I will shiver me in the fear."

EdwardJones looks down at his feet. "Miss Fortis. I realize that the law and custom in this island is according to the rule of those who have been set over us. My wishes were not consulted, nor is there any reason why they ought to have been. It would not be surprising for a lady such as yourself to speak as those of the islands do, but I cannot like it."
Virginia turns to the men handling the boat. "A moment please. I shall be back shortly."
EdwardJones: "Now, that was more in keeping with the lady with whom I am acquainted."

Laurence: "So my men and I, stripped ourselves of our boots, and snuck aboard like wraiths, slitting the throats of the few guards that were there."

She walks away from them and turns to Edward. "I said the words deliberately, hoping they would let you know the kind of man Gallinuille is. They were the words he used in informing me of the happy occasion of their purchase." (Referring to slaves)
EdwardJones: "I already know. He is unfit to be governor and unfit to kiss the toe of your muddiest boot. But he is in a position of power, and I am not."

Maraya and Demiana squeal in delight!
Arty: "I am glad we are on the same side currently, Mr. Laurence."
Laurence: "Then we snuck down into the depths of the ship, searching for the captain, who we found to be likely the sickest of them all, whom we convinced that we were but a part of an entire gang of Americans."
Arty: [This sort of thing would be impossible to believe if I hadn't read a bit of naval history.]

Virginia: "And thus we see talent and virtue wasted. I do not like Mr. Gallinuille despite his charm and easy manner."

Laurence: "I remember him asking me, 'Why would you take a plague ship? Surely you don't wish to catch the plague?' to which I replied, 'Won't me much of a plague ship with all the sick dead and thrown overboard, yes?'"
Arty frowns.
Maraya and Demiana are thoroughly delighted by Simon's bloody tale. They laugh and ask him all sorts of questions.
Laurence will answer them as best he can

EdwardJones: "Do you not? But he would make you a wealthy husband, and it appears that you are in need of such. Any man would be blessed were you to link your life with his, but it should be one who can give you the life you merit."
She stands there, staring at him. "You think so little of me?" She whirls and goes back to the boat.
EdwardJones: "Not at all, Miss Fortis. I think so well of you that I would clothe you in silks and sables, had I the means."
EdwardJones calls after her, "I would not have you make a choice that would demean you!"
She stops. "I am happy in the skin the Good Lord gave me, and need no silk nor sable. Good cotten and linen suit me well, sir."
EdwardJones follows her. "Your skin is finer than silk, and should be dressed accordingly."
Virginia: "And what choice would that be, Mr. Jones? You flatter me. I shall one day be old and leathery from the sun, and you would despise me."

Demiana: "You scare the frogs to make them obey? How?"

EdwardJones chokes, but manages to get it out, "Choosing a rough-handed man of the sea, who is better fitted to do your bidding than to touch your glove. I have nothing other than myself. You are exquisitely beautiful, and exceedingly capable besides. Such a woman one meets only rarely in this life. Any man would want you beside him, but you should have one who can give you much. I have only hard work to offer."

Laurence: "By being everywhere at all hours. Always watching. And, once, one of them tried something, to which I replied with a bullet to his forehead."

Virginia says softly "I have no need of a servant, Edward, but a helpmeet would suit me well. As for work, I have never minded it. It is a thing to do and good for one."
EdwardJones: "It is true that beauty fades, yet one can delight in it for much time. Also, I have noticed that many ladies find it all the more important to barter their youth while it is freshest and will, if you forgive my phrasing it so, bring the best price. I would give all I have, save my honor, such as it is, but what I have is small compared to what such as the Governor, or another if you prefer, would offer."
EdwardJones dares to reach for her hand, and gently slips his finger under the wristband of her glove. "A helpmeet is what I have always wished for, but not dared to desire."
Virginia smiles. "It is my dream, Edward. And a dream I thought we shared."
EdwardJones slides the glove off, and strokes her palm with one finger.

The women think your description of haunting the Frogs at all hours is vastly entertaining.

EdwardJones: "You will not regret your lost diamonds and sables?"
Virginia: "I would regret nothing."
EdwardJones: "Your father is too ill for you to leave, or for me to ask his permission. To whom should I apply, then, for the right to care for both of you?"

Maraya: "you kill Frog Captain? With your Jambiya?"
Laurence: "No, he died pretty much the day after I took his surrender."

Virginia: "You may apply to me. I am of age."

Demiana: "Maraya would have killed him. She is bloodthirsty. She make good pirate."

EdwardJones laughs. "Well, then, will you share my fortune, such as it is? You know what I am; you see what I own. If it is enough, it is all yours."

Laurence: "He was essentially dead, why chance the rust on my blade?"

Virginia: "Most happily, dear silly man!" She smiles, and her hand covers Edward's.

Maraya: "Drama."
Arty: "Indeed. I expect the frogs will welcome their new home in our holds."
Gallinuille: "Capitaine? Why do you not leave them on the island? We have plenty of room."

EdwardJones lifts her hand to his face and kisses her fingers, then holds her palm against his cheek. "You know that I must sail with my Captain. Where would you prefer to live? And with an eye to the time when I need no longer sail, would you prefer a smallholding? Or should I plan to be a merchant?"

Laurence: "I didn't want to leave a gaggle of convalescent frogs in your broken jails, to spring up and take over your island now would I?"
Arty: "They need to be guarded in a place not already under difficulties. We don't want this island being under French control again."
Laurence: "Of course, if the Island did fall under french control, it would be a simple matter to make this island then an American one."
Laurence smiles
Richard: "Have you planned this for some time, Mr. Laurence?"
Arty: [And that is why Arty never invited the other American ship in.] "Which would be an act or war against Britain."
Laurence "No, it'll be a plan that waits until we are at war again, though I hope that doesn't happen."

Virginia: "I would prefer to live with you, wherever that may be - the islands, or England, or the plains of Tartary, and you will be amazingly successful at whatever you choose to do, and I will be amazingly happy, and we shall be so even when we are old and wrinkled as plums."

Arty: "I hope not as well, Mr. Laurence."

Edward kisses her hand again. "I trust all shall be as you say. I will do my best to make it so."

Richard: "You do sound as though you expect it again, sir."
Arty: [methinks the GM is setting us up for a future game in the War of 1812]
Laurence: "Hmmn, well, I believe the British aristocracy can't let their last loss stand for long, and many English still impress our sailors as if we were still a colony."

Virginia laughs, like a spring bubbling from the earth. "I will wait for your return, pacing to and fro on the waterfront. You had best return, or I shall have to go and find you."

Arty: "You've already tried two of these written 'Constitutions'. They don't work, you know."
Laurence shrugs "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
Richard: "Doubtless the young country will have to learn that for themselves, sir, like all younglings. In the meantime, I rejoice in the peace between our two nations."
Arty: "It's only a matter of time until you rejoin us. I mean, what language do you speak?"
Richard: "Depends on whom you ask, doesn't it, sir?"
Arty: "Well, I do not speak 'American'."

Virginia touches her fingers to her lips, then to Edward's.

Richard: "And many of them do not speak the King's English, sure enough."
Arty: "That I will grant."
Laurence: "Then I shall gladly wait for the day I can trounce you in the game of war."

EdwardJones kisses her fingers in return. "In truth, my dear, you tempt me almost beyond bearing. I must return you to shore before I forget you are a lady, and kiss you as I long to do."
Virginia: "Sometimes being a lady can be damnably tiresome." She sighs.

Arty: "I hope the day does not come when we cross blades; but if it does, you might just regret the fact, Mr. Laurence."

EdwardJones kisses her fingers again, fiercely, then helps her down into the boat.
EdwardJones: "I will visit as soon as I can. Do you require anything for the care of your father?"
Virginia shakes her head. "My father is doing as well as can be expected. Hurry back to me!"

I just love how this is all happening in parallel, and I love the language.


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