Life Aboard Justinian - parts 1 thru 4
Archie Kennedy stood on the dock, while the jolly boat
taking him to his new life on the H M S Justinian rowed
towards him. Archie's father, Lord Bridgeleigh, was there
to see him off.
Archie asked his father, "Can't you change your mind on
this, father? Third sons are to go into the church, I
would much rather do that than go into the Navy."
"Nonsense, son, Captain Keene is a good man, he promised
me that he would take care of you. Just do your duty and
you will be all right. This is best for you, Archie. The
Navy will make a man of you."
"But, I am only 15, I'm not sure if I can be a man, yet,"
"The jolly boat is ready. Time to leave, keep your chin
up. They are expecting your arrival." His father adjusted
Archie's uniform. "Make me proud, son."
"I will Father, good bye," Archie hugged him.
This gesture made his father stiffen up. "Yes, yes, good
Archie boarded the jolly boat that took him to the
Justinian. It was a gray, foggy day, lucky it was not
raining. The fog made the Justinian seem misty and almost
ghost like. He hoped that wasn't an omen of things to
Archie didn't know what to feel -- he felt numb inside.
He missed his brother, Bobby. Bobby Kennedy was Archie's
staunchest defender against their father and big brother,
Joe. Their mother had died ten years ago, he hardly
remembered her. He remembered that she would read him
stories and hold him when he had nightmares. Archie's
eldest brother, Joe, Viscount Bridgeleigh, always tormented
Archie. If Archie dared fight back, Joe would torment him
even more and call him a nancy boy. Archie hoped that
there would be more men like Bobby aboard the ship, than
men like Joe.
Archie wish he knew where Bobby was. He had eloped with
the understudy to Katherine Cobham, an actress at Drury
Lane's Theatre Royale in London. Bobby would take Archie
to the theater at least once a week. Oh, how Archie
longed to be on that stage. He got lost in Shakespeare and
learned all the lines by heart. When Bobby eloped, the
life Archie knew ceased to exist.
His father disinherited Bobby and arranged to have Archie
put on the Justinian, which was ported in Spithead with
channel duty. His father's words, "That will get the
daydreamer out of you!", rang through his head like an
What lay ahead of him? He didn't know, but he hoped for
the best. Archie heard the clunk as the jolly boat banged
into the grand ship, which was to become his home.
Midshipman Clayton welcomed Archie aboard the ship and
said, "How do you do, Mr. Kennedy, let me introduce you to
Lieutenant Eccleston and Acting Lieutenant Chadd."
Clayton took Archie over to a tall, blond man, who was
standing next to a short, brown haired man. The tall man
shook Archie's hand and said, "You must be Lord
Brideleigh's son, we heard you were coming on board. I am
Lieutenant Eccleston and this is Acting Lieutenant Chadd.
We will see your dunnage makes it to the proper place in
the midshipman's berth. Clayton will be happy to show you
around the ship, won't you Clayton?"
"Aye, aye, sir!" Clayton said as he saluted and
below with Archie.
Archie was short for his age, so he didn't have to duck
his head to get under the beams. He noticed that some of
the men seemed to be stooped over, while others were
sitting at tables and on hammocks.
The men aboard the ship were all loud and boisterous, yet
Archie was more interested in the man showing him around.
Clayton looked more than twice Archie's age. The gray
eyed gentleman seemed to be a gentle soul. He was happy to
have him show him the ropes, as they were. He wanted to
hear more about him, so he asked when he joined the Navy.
"I joined about ten years ago. I wanted to fight the
Colonials in their War of Independence. It was quite an
"You volunteered?" Archie asked unbelievingly.
"Yes, didn't you?" Clayton replied.
"No, I was sent here by my father," Archie said bluntly.
"That almost sounds like being pressed into service by
"May I ask what is a press gang?"
"What is a press gang?" Clayton asked the unbelievable
question this time.
"What? Where have you been? Don't you know anything
about Navy life?"
"No, my father gave me a book -- Murray's Seamanship.
haven't read it, though. It is in my sea chest. Do you
think I should take a look at it?"
Clayton laughed out loud, then apologized, "I am sorry,
but you are green. I won't be surprised if your color goes
green as well. Have you ever been on the sea?"
"No, but I have sailed on my father's lake."
"Oh, then you have some knowledge of boats at least."
"Well, if you want to call a row boat as knowledge of
boats, then I have some knowledge. I know how to steer a
"Well, keep your eyes and ears open and learn all you
Maybe opening that book wouldn't be such a bad thing."
"I just hope the Justinian lives up to her name and is
"The Justinian is my second ship. I got transferred here
last year from the Arethusa. The Justinian is a good ship
and Keene, well. . . You aren't the only new midshipman,
for there are three others. We will be meeting them later.
Come and I will show you more of the ship."
Archie wondered why Clayton changed topics in the middle
of what he was saying. Was Clayton hiding something?
Archie had seen his father change topics on things he
didn't want to talk about. Something told Archie that this
was something important, yet he wasn't sure how to ask or
if he really wanted to know what Clayton was trying to say.
Clayton and Archie walked by a grizzled older seaman and a
younger, pock marked seaman, who remarked at Archie's
"Matty, take a look at that, what you think of him?"
younger one asked.
"He looks as if he comes from money. He has that air
"Maybe so, but he looks like he don't want to be here."
"I remember when you got pressed, you didn't want to be
here. I hope he makes it. He looks a bit soft to me."
"Being at sea is hard work. I bet the lad has never seen
a day of work in his whole life. He is in for a surprise,
don't you think, Matty?"
"That he is, Styles, that he is," the older one,
said to the younger one, Styles.
Clayton took Archie to the midshipman's berth, where he
introduced him around.
"Mr. Kennedy, I would like you to meet Hether and Murdoch,
with their proteges. Who are you two, pray tell?" Clayton
Hether said, "This is Cleveland and Murdoch is showing
young Lowe around."
Lowe shook hands with Archie and Clayton. With a thick
Welsh accent, he said, "How do you men do? My name is
Kevin Lowe. I look forward to serving with you on this
Just then a voice came from the shadows. "I see we have
some fresh meat come to be with us." The voice emerged
from the doorway. "Fellows, I am Jack Simpson. I am
senior here and don't forget it! My word is law and don't
you forget it! Understood?"
Lowe and Archie stared at the figure in shock and
surprise. All the men on the Justinian were pleasant
enough, a bit cold, but not mean.
Simpson was tall, lank fellow with thinning blond hair
and steely blue eyes. He circled the group of new recruits
with a smirk pasted on his lips. He halted his pacing and
stared into the fresh, young face of Archie Kennedy.
Archie had seen those eyes before, they belonged to his
brother, Joe. Archie had survived his brother's tyrannical
brutality, he was sure he could survive Jack Simpson.
Within the next week, Midshipman Reginald Fleet arrived. Reggie had just turned 13 years old. He was a bright lad, who had a natural talent for learning and loved to share his knowledge. His father would have sent him for higher learning, but two things stopped him -- money and the mere fact that Reggie Fleet wanted to be a sailor. He told his father that the sea was in his blood; he wanted to be Admiral Fleet of the British Fleet.
That afternoon, Captain Keene called all his officers into the stateroom. "Gentlemen, I have an announcement to make. First, let me have you welcome Midshipman Reginald Fleet. He is a natural sailor, one who you will learn from. We also need to congratulate Mr. Murdoch, for he is to be a lieutenant on the H. M. S. Victory. It is sad to see him go, but it is a pleasure to have Mr. Fleet take his place on our glorious ship."
While others welcomed Reggie and gave Murdoch congratulations, Jack Simpson stewed. 'Big deal, a 100 gun ship! What had Murdoch done so well that HE should have gotten the nod over me? Who is this little puppy, who Keene has taken a shine to? Doesn't he know I am better than these other idiots?'
Eventually, Captain Keene tired of the congratulations and ordered, "May I have the following midshipmen report on the deck to Mr. Bowles? Kennedy, Cleveland, Fleet and Lowe. The rest of you are excused, thank you."
Archie scrunched up his nose when he heard about reporting to Mr. Bowles. He knew that meant more lessons. Archie read the book on Murray's Seamanship, which father bought him and studied it as if it were a Shakespeare play. He thought if he could memorize plays, maybe he could memorize the manuals on how to be a good sailor. Books, while they taught you a lot of things, didn't teach you practical knowledge. That is where Mr. Bowles lessons came in.
"Good day, Gentlemen. Today's lesson is how to load and maintain your cannon. This weapon is used in warfare and is a very integral part of a ship. Can anyone tell me how to load a cannon?" Bowles asked the men.
Fleet immediately raised his hand, to which Bowles replied, "Someone else, Mr. Fleet. We all know you know how to do everything."
A dejected expression crossed Reggie's face as he slowly put his hand down.
Archie raised his hand and innocently replied, "Don't you just put the cannon ball in the cannon?"
The other men laughed, Mr. Bowles calmly said, "That is not all you do, Mr. Kennedy. I thought you said you were studying. You must be spending too much time with Mr. Cleveland and Mr. Hether. Spend more time with Mr. Fleet, maybe you will learn something. Go ahead, Mr. Fleet, tell us how to load a cannon."
Reggie proudly stood tall and erect. "There are usually 6 men on a gun crew. First is the Gun Captain, he primes, aims and fires the gun. Number 2 uses a long spike to turns and raise the barrel. Number 3 loads the cannon. Number 4 sponges out the gun, ensuring that no burning powder is left to cause a premature ignition of the new charge. Number 5 moves the gun and passes ammunition. Number 6 is the powder monkey, who delivers the gunpowder charges from the magazine, which is located in the hold."
Bowles looks at Reggie and smiled. "Very good, Mr. Fleet, but what goes inside the gun?" He looks around the group and looks at Kevin. "Mr. Lowe, can you tell us what the Gun Captain puts inside a cannon?"
Kevin stood and replied, "A cartridge with gun powder gets put in the muzzle of the cannon. After which, a wad is rammed hard against the rear of the gun to ensure the powder was tightly compressed. Then you put the shot in the cannon's muzzle. . ."
"Does anyone know why Mr. Lowe said SHOT and not cannon ball? Mr. Cleveland, please respond," Bowles interrupted.
Cleveland sat there dumbfounded. Bowles shook his head in disgust. "Fleet, please respond."
"There are more than just cannon balls that you can throw at the enemy. One is chain shot, which is two cannon balls with a chain between, another one is grape shot, which is small iron balls put in a canvas bag, and canister shot, which is smaller balls in a tin or iron canister. There is also a bar shot."
Bowles asked Kennedy, "Which one of those shots can tear down an enemy ship's rigging?"
"No! It is the chain shot, which gets tangled in the enemy's rigging and can tear it down. You and Mr. Cleveland need to study more or else the ship will be in grave danger, if the enemy attacks," Bowles scolded the men.
Kevin raised his hand, "Can you use a bar shot in that case, also? I read that both the bar and the chain shot whirl around in flight and can cut through the enemy's rigging, bringing down masts, sails and spars and thus disabling the ship."
"Yes, Mr. Lowe! At least someone is studying. Very good! Now, finish your tale."
Archie's mind wondered as he fidgeted in his seat. ëWhy can't this type of knowledge be in those books I'm studying? I'll go to Fleet and ask him to tutor me on how to run a ship effectively. Maybe some of Reggie's smarts would rub off on me.' Archie heard Mr. Bowles calling out his name. He sat up straight and repeated the question.
"How does one load a cannon? The gun captain primes the cannon and puts in a cartridge, followed by a wad, shot and wad. Then, a pricker is inserted into the breech hole to open the gunpowder charge. A small quantity of fine powder is poured down the firing hole and into the flintlock pan. The flint lock is then cocked and lit at the command of the word, ëfire', sir."
Bowles eyes widened with surprise. Kennedy was listening. What of Mr. Cleveland?
"Where do you stand when the cannon is firing? Do you stand beside the cannon or right behind it? Mr. Cleveland, please don't answer this wrong, your life may depend on it," Mr. Bowles told him.
"You should not stand behind it because it may roll on you. Cannons get burning hot when they are fired, so I would stand away and off to the side," Cleveland replied.
"Very good, Mr. Cleveland. Mr. Lowe, how long should all of this take? The loading and reloading of a cannon?"
"A crew of five or six should get it done within two minutes, sir."
Bowles stood before his pupils. "All of you will get experienced in doing this. Gentlemen, I know you are to be officers, but there are times on a ship that everyone is needed to do their part. While you are here, you will learn how to work the guns, how to set the sails and how to steer the ship. We want you to be prepared for anything in case of an emergency. If there is a war, you need to be prepared. Good day, gentlemen, your lesson is done for the day. Cleveland, Kennedy -- I want you two to pay more attention to your studies. You do want to make lieutenant someday, don't you?"
As they were walking to the Midshipman's berth, Archie caught up with Reggie. "Would it be all right if you tutor me? Where on earth did you learn about how ships are run?"
Reggie's eyes glowed with excitement. "My Uncle Thomas was a sea captain. I loved to hear all his tales of adversity and adventure. I had him explain and show me what he could about sailing. I don't know why, but I seem to soak up knowledge like a sponge. My father wanted me to use my knowledge for a better purpose than being in the Navy. But, that is all I ever wanted to do. I just don't want to be a captain; I want to be an admiral someday. I can help you study, if you like, Archie. You can join Kevin and mine's study group, would you like that?"
"Aye, that I would. Anything to please Mr. Bowles. Today was such a humiliating experience, any help would be welcome."
Fleet looked at Archie with an amused eye and said, "Well, at least you know how to load a cannon now."
Archie's blue eyes twinkled as he laughed. "That, I know I can do, now."
Life Aboard Justinian - Part 3
Archie made fast friends with Lowe, Fleet, Hether and Cleveland. He wanted to be friends with Clayton, yet Clayton always seemed distant. It was almost like he didn't want to get involved.
One night, when Captain Keene was away, Hether and Cleveland decided to go to Cochrane's Pub. They invited Archie with them.
"You want me to go with you? Sure!" Archie exclaimed excitingly. "Are you sure we are allowed?" He asked.
"Yes, we were given shore leave by Lt. Eccelston, who is in charge, while Keene is gone," Hether told Archie.
"In fact, we asked him if it was all right for all of us to go for the night," Cleveland added.
"He agreed to that?" Archie inquired.
Hether laughed. "He would agree to anything. We were playing cards with him and Chadd. Well, let's just say that Cleveland and I bet the two of them. Not just at cards but at drinking, too."
"You want to go drink more?"
"Sure! To celebrate our win. Still want to come?" Hether asked.
"Most certainly. Did you invite Kevin and Reggie?" Archie asked.
"Lowe said he abstains from liquor and does not want to associate with us. I didn't ask Reggie. After all, the lad is a bit young, only 13. Besides, he prefers to stay on board and read anyway," Cleveland told Archie.
Hether, Cleveland and Kennedy went into town to a pub that was smoky
and filled with people. They got their drinks and sat down at a table.
Hether said to Archie, "I bet this is different from what you are used to, huh, Archie?"
"You mean the pub or this type of life in general? I have been to a pub before. In fact, my older brother, Bobby, preferred these type of establishments to the gentleman's clubs that my father preferred. I, myself, have never stepped inside a gentleman's club. My father never took me."
"What is this I hear about your brother running off with an actress?" Cleveland asked.
"You heard about that? Father did say that it caused quite a scandal. Bobby and I spent a lot of time at the theater. I felt like it was a second home. I wanted to be an actor, but my father forbid it. That, gentlemen, is the real reason I am in the Navy," Archie told Hether and Cleveland.
"Your father didn't want anymore disgrace on the family," said Cleveland.
"Precisely," Archie responded.
"Now, I have a question for you, did you just see the plays or did you go backstage?" Hether asked.
"I spent a lot of time backstage. So much so, that the ladies who worked there got so used to my presence and didn't even try to cover themselves," Archie said with a matter of a fact tone to his voice; but a blush on his face. He tried to impress Hether and Cleveland with his sophistication.
"You saw them undress?" Hether gasped.
"Yes, some of them were very lovely," Archie said in an unpretentious manner.
"Did you get to be with any of them?" Cleveland asked.
"Be with them?" Archie stuttered.
"Come on, Kennedy, you know, sleep with them!" Hether added as both leaned in to hear the answer.
Archie's face had been pink since they got there, now it was in shades of magenta. "No . . . No! I have never slept with any woman. I guess that is why they felt safe to undress in front of me. They never flirted or tried to seduce me. They called me a sweet boy. To them, I was just Bobby Kennedy's little brother."
Hether was astonished. To be with scantily clad women and not do anything about it. He exclaimed to Cleveland, "Well, Cleveland, have you ever?"
Cleveland simply replied, "No, I haven't. I have never been with a woman, either."
Hether shook his head and announced, "I have to have both of you experience the joys of womanhood. I can't keep you fellows in the dark. You need to know how to charm your ladies. I will get you the perfect teachers."
Archie's felt a mix of excitement as well as trepidation about what was to happen. Cleveland literally jumped in his chair as Hether called two sparsely dressed women over to their table.
"Ladies, come over here. I want you to teach my friends a thing or two!"
The two women sauntered over to the table and were introduced to the men by Hether.
"Gentlemen, this is Bridget and Moira. Ladies, this is Archie Kennedy and Wally Cleveland. They both need to be tutored in the art of love. Make sure you teach them well."
Moira took Cleveland by the hand and said, "Let's go and have some fun."
Bridget, who was a big bosomed Irish lass, sat down on Archie's lap and asked him, "How old are you, Archie. It is Archie, isn't it?"
Archie blushed and quietly said, "Yes, ma'am, my name is Archie and I am 15 years old."
Bridget laughed at him and said, "I am not a ma'am, but thank you for the compliment. You are such a sweet boy, come with me."
Bridget brought him to an upstairs bedroom and had him sit on the bed. As she started to undo her shirt she turned to him. Archie sat there peacefully and just looked at her with his bright blue eyes.
Bridget stopped what she was doing and sat down beside him. She asked him, "You have never been with a woman, have you?"
"No, Ma'am," Archie said nervously.
"You are such a sweet, innocent little boy, aren't you? Here now, let me show you the first thing you do when you are alone with a woman. You take off your coat," Bridget said as she gently took off his uniform jacket.
She continued as she said, "You have to get close to your girl and touch her. Touch is very important. You have to place your hands in a certain way, you understand me?"
Archie shook his head ëyes'.
"I want to show you how to make love to a woman. To show you the way a woman wants to be loved. Women want to make love and not just have sex. Remember that Archie."
"I will remember," Archie said to her.
She kissed him gently and then with passion as she undid his shirt. Archie liked the kiss, but broke it off. "Wait, do we have to do this? Can't we just talk?"
Bridget smiled at him. "Yes, we can do anything you want to do. If you want to have sexual relations or just sit here and talk, we can do that. It is just a part of my job."
"What is your job?" Archie asked innocently.
Bridget gave a little laugh, "I am a whore, Archie, didn't you know that?"
"You are?" he coughed in realization. "You are. Well, I knew that." Archie coughed again and blushed from embarrassment.
"Men pay me for my favors. You don't have to pay me, your friend Hether paid me to make a man out of you. I think you are quite a gentleman all ready," she said as she looked lovingly at him.
"Thank you, Ma'am," Archie fidgeted.
"Call me Bridget. If you didn't want to do anything, why did you agree to come up here?"
"I didn't want my friends to make fun of me. Part of me wants to be with you, while the other part is scared."
"You aren't ready yet, that is all right. It is all right to be scared sometimes, too. Why don't you just stay with me tonight."
"Oh, no!" Archie said as he pulled away from her.
"We will only sleep next to each other. That way, your friends will never know we didn't do anything. I won't force myself on you," Bridget said as she gently touched his face.
Archie gave a giggle. "I didn't think you would. I don't understand why you are not with a man. I think you are very lovely."
"Thank you, Archie, but nobody wants a whore for a wife. It is sweet you would think of me in such a nice way." Bridget kissed him on the cheek and moved towards his lips.
He noticed that he was a bit tense in his embrace. She looked him in the eye and asked, "Would you like me to teach you something?"
"Remember what I said about touch? I think you should learn how to kiss a woman properly. You should learn to make a woman go weak in the knees. Kiss me Archie."
He reached over towards her and awkwardly kissed her. Bridget took some patience and showed him how to kiss properly.
She kissed him with passion, then stopped. Archie wanted more and leaned into her as she leaned back.
"Kiss me again, just the way I showed you," Bridget instructed him.
Archie did as he was told and kissed her passionately.
Bridget sighed and slightly swooned in his arms as she remarked, "You are a quick learner."
"You are a good teacher, Bridget. I wish we could just stay like this as friends. It is nice to have someone to talk, to be with. I would like to do that with you," Archie told her.
Bridget smiled. "I would do anything for you, Archie. We can just talk, if that is what you want. I like you, Archie."
She leaned against the headboard of the bed and Archie followed her. He yawned and said, "I like you, too."
She put his head on her chest and soon the two of them were fast asleep.
When she woke up the next morning, he was still asleep beside her. She never knew innocence could be this sweet. If all men were like him, she would be so happy. She wished she could be a lady. If she was, maybe she could get to be his wife, but that was never to be. Not in this life at least, yet she could still be with him for a little while.
Bridget smiled and kissed Archie's forehead. Big blue eyes looked back at her as he awoke. "Good morning," he said.
"Good morning. Sleep nice?" Bridget asked as she smiled at him.
"I have never had such a nice sleep before. It was so peaceful. What time is it, half past eight? I have to leave. But, I wish I could stay," Archie said.
Bridget smiled, "I was wishing the same thing. You will come again, won't you? We don't have to do anything, if you don't want to. But, I want to be with
you, Archie. Why don't you stop by the pub again. Hopefully, I will be free."
"I would like that. I'm sure that there are more things that you could teach me. In fact, I know there are. Maybe sometime we can try them together."
The two of them hugged. Archie knew he had found someone to be close to. He would come back to Cochrane's, back to Bridget.
Hether and Cleveland waited for Archie the next morning.
"I see the experience was a good one, eh, Mr. Kennedy?" Hether asked.
Archie smiled and said, "I don't kiss and tell. But, I can tell you that I will be seeing Bridget again."
Hether laughed and asked Cleveland, "Was yours as satisfactory?"
"Why yes, Moira is a good teacher. Did you learn something last night, Hether?" Cleveland said meaning if he was with a woman.
"I learned that making you two novices into men was merry. Now, we should try getting straight laced Lowe into my little study group," Hether said with a snicker.
"Good luck, I'm sure that is one study group he would rather not want to be in. He would want to wait until he gets married," Cleveland remarked.
"He might be serious minded, but he is a nice fellow," Archie said.
"I never said he wasn't nice. We should be getting back. The Captain will be returning around dinner, we want to get on board before he does," Hether told the other men.
"Quite right," Cleveland said.
With that the three went back to the Justinian. Archie wanted to make more trips to Cochrane's Pub in the future. The pub and Bridget would become his retreat.
Life Aboard Justinian - part 4
"Weigh the anchor and man the capstan!" Bowles shouted to the men.
Captain Keene watched over everyone from the quarterdeck. The whole crew had to help pull up the anchor.
Simpson did not understand why, since they were in dry dock, they should have so many drills in lowering and raising the anchor. Why did he and the other midshipmen have to help do what should be a seaman's job? Captain Keene made them learn how to do everything on the ship, which was something Simpson loathed, but another fellow seemed to delight in these drills. Jack Simpson sneered at the poor, unknowing soul, Jack would deal with that man today. No one showed up Jack Simpson and got away with it.
Reggie Fleet eagerly took a hand in raising the anchor. His smile glowed as he told Archie, "You see Archie, that even though this seems like drudgery to some, it is an essential part of running and maintaining a ship. These are things that everyone must learn. That is why the Captain and Mr. Bowles are teaching them to us. What would you do if something happened and no one knew how to raise and tack the sail or man the cannons? It wouldn't look good for your survival, would it?"
"No, I guess not. This part of sailing is exciting to me. I like learning all the ins and outs of seamanship. It is much easier actually doing all the duties, than just reading about them. There is just one thing," Archie remarked as he looked over at Jack Simpson with some trepidation.
"What is it?" Reggie asked.
"See that man over there? Simpson, he intimidates me. There is just something about him. I would hate to get on his bad side."
"Him? He is a scrawny bugger, how could someone like that hurt anybody?" Reggie asked naively
"You must not have actually faced him yet. When Kevin and I first came on board, he told us that we had to follow his orders, because he was senior in the mess. Since then, I have kept my distance. Hether says that if you just do as Simpson says, he won't harm you. I don't know about that. He seems to be looking at you with daggers in his eyes."
"You are just seeing things, Archie. I seriously think you worry too much. I am sure the officers will see that discipline is kept on the ship. So, if anyone gets out of line, I am sure justice will be done. That is how it was done on my uncle's ship."
"He's coming over here now. Smile and just do what he says, all right?" Archie asked Reggie.
Reggie had no qualms about Mr. Simpson, he didn't understand why Archie would be so suspicious of the man. As Simpson walked over to them, Reggie smiled pleasantly and said, "Good day, Mr. Simpson. Come to lend us a hand?"
Simpson's eyes glowed with smug pleasure, this lad was so unassuming. He would be an easy picking, almost too easy. Jack would take great delight in showing him the world was not as rosy as he thought. "Mr. Fleet, I hear the brass speak well of you. So, when do you plan on taking over the ship? I hear you know how to run it even better than the Captain."
"I am joyous of your praise Mr. Simpson, yet I think Captain Keene is doing a fine job. I will have my time in the sun, as you may say. I am just learning how to be a seaman."
"Ah, yes, I heard you want to be an admiral one day. Very honorable, I think. Admiral Fleet of the British Fleet, has a ring to it, don't you think, Mr. Kennedy?" Simpson asked Archie.
Archie's eyes widened with apprehension as a shudder went through his body. "I think that Reggie would make a good admiral someday."
Jack turned to Archie and remarked, "Reggie is it? My, my, Mr. Kennedy, such sincere adoration. So, I see you have made friends with Mr. Fleet. The Admiral here can teach you many things and after the other night at Cochrane's, I am sure that you can show your friend something, as well."
"What are you implying, sir?" Reggie asked indignantly.
Jack had a look of virtue on his face. "What, me imply anything corrupt? Never on your life! I only suggested that the two of you have been learning a great deal from each other. I am sure you will keep learning things," Jack said as he winked at Kennedy.
Reggie was naive in ways, but smart enough to know when things were not going the way they should. Reggie stopped what he was doing and pushed Simpson away from them saying, "If you are not going to help, leave us be!"
Simpson decided to overact and draw attention to the three of them. He fell backwards onto the deck and dramatically exclaimed, "Please, Admiral, I only did as you said. I don't think that rolling cannon balls are necessary."
Reggie now knew that this Simpson character only wanted to cause trouble. He wasn't just implying things, he was incriminating them with something that never happened. Reggie's face reddened in anger and he screamed in retaliation. "Mutiny? Is that another one of your tales, Simpson?"
Others heard him and came to their side. Lowe whispered to Reggie and said, "You can't be serious about mutiny, Reggie, that isn't a thing that is taken lightly."
"I am not talking about mutiny, that man is trying to create problems," He said, pointing to Simpson.
"I should have told you to be leery of him. Didn't you tell him, Archie?" Lowe asked Kennedy.
"It started out innocently enough. I tried to warn Reggie," Archie replied.
Simpson laughed out loud at the friends trying to protect each other. He had done his job. Lieutenant Eccleston and Captain Keene were making their way to the group.
"What is going on here!" demanded the lieutenant.
"Yes, I heard talk of mutiny, Simpson are you causing havoc among the crew again?" Captain Keene inquired.
"Me? Would I do such a thing?" Simpson asked innocently.
Reggie looked at Simpson with earnest disdain and replied, "Yes!"
"Gentlemen, I do not know what the quarrel between you is, but it will stop now. I will allow no fighting on my ship. There will be no threats of mutiny. If I hear anything more of this, there will be a court martial."
"Dear me, Admiral, you have gotten yourself in trouble now, haven't you?" Simpson remarked with mock sympathy.
Reggie wanted to fight him right then and there, but Kevin and Archie held him back. "You don't want to be doing this, Reggie," Archie quietly told him.
"Yes, listen to your friends, Admiral," Simpson said.
Captain Keene wasn't amused. He told Eccleston, "I want both of these men in the rigging. I will not have this kind of talk on my ship. Anymore from either of you and I will have you flogged, is that clear?"
"I didn't do anything, sir. Why do I have to be punished?" Simpson asked.
"Because, Mr. Simpson, I know you caused all of this. Don't think I am completely blind to what is going on. Mr. Fleet, I think you will be a great leader of men, but you have to learn to not have the miscreants of society getting the better of you. This, I hope will teach the both of you to work together."
Eccleston called over the bosun and told him to put Fleet and Simpson in the rigging until eight bells. This prospect didn't excite Simpson at all.
That night, Reggie was on the orlop deck. He wanted to finish all the duties for the day, even if it meant working all night. His wrists still felt a bit sore from the rigging and he felt a bit sunburned on his face. The autumn sun shone bright over the day and while it would have been nice weather to walk around in, Fleet felt as if he was baking on the rat lines.
Maybe Archie was right about Simpson, that man was not to be trusted with anything. He understood why Archie chose to stay clear of him, if he could. Reggie heard the captain say that he was going to be an excellent leader someday. That was a comforting thought, for Reggie knew he had the captain on his side. In the meanwhile, he would work hard, do his duty and no harm would come to him.
As he was doing his duty, a shadowy figure lurked near him. The figure walked closer and asked, "My Admiral, where are your friends? Aren't they going to help you?"
Reggie looked in the direction of the voice, it was Jack Simpson. "What are you doing here?" Reggie stuttered.
"I hope you shake in your boots, boy! There is only one ruler in this place and it is not going to be you! How dare you make me look bad in front of the captain!" Jack yelled at him.
"I didn't make you look bad, you did it yourself. Captain Keene knows all about you. You may be senior in the mess, but you are not the ruler here," Reggie told him.
"I think I should teach you a lesson. How to obey your elders. This is lesson one. . ."
Simpson said as he twisted a piece of rope around his hand.