The Supply Deck of a Ship

Treasure on the Southern Moor; Chapter 5: Cleaning the Southern Moor; Pgs. 124-126

.     “And what is below us,” asked Adrianna. Her eyes looked down the open-shuttered hatch.
.     “The supply deck,” said Adrian. “Here, let me show you.”
.     He led her through the hatch in the floor and down a short flight of stairs to the next deck below. The light grew far less bright and far more mysterious. Some dim light filtered through from hatches above and let in duller shafts of sunlight that flitted to the floor. The only other source of light came from a few lamps lit throughout by those cleaning this deck, casting a murky yellow haze that flickered.
.     Adrianna also noticed that the roof was lower, and if she jumped, she could touch the ceiling with her fingertips. Running from bow to stern was a sort of path that cut its way through the supplies, stacked in wooden crates and other bundles. “It’s stuffy in here,” she whispered as she looked about, and her voice cut the silence.
.     “Just think how much stuffier it was in the storm, with all the hatches closed and the ship rocking as if it was going to capsize. But,” Adrian continued, “none of us had it nearly as bad as poor Jemmy Ducks. He lives on the floor below us right by the stable.”
.     “Does anyone live on this floor?” Adrianna asked.
.     “There are three small cabins near the bows,” said Adrian, “where the cook, carpenter, and cooper sleep. Other than that, this entire floor is just for stores and supplies. The replacement stove is over there, in case the first one is ruined somehow.” He pointed. “Here is extra dirt for the herb garden; we passed it in the forecastle. Many of the plants have died in the storms, but some have survived. And over there are the barrels of tea leaves. And that’s where we put the apple barrels. The water supply is over there, though we will need to refill most of those barrels when we reach land. One of them sprang a leak in the beginning of the storm when the barrel rolled right into the point of an axe, and though Mr. Perkins did his best at fixing it, we had already lost all the water from the barrel. The axe will be used on the livestock when we are ready to butcher them.” He continued leading Adrianna forward as he spoke. “Here are the other food bins, and over here is where I found spare rope the day Dick fell overboard. You can see most of our rope is used up, though we can obtain more in Spain or Portugal.”
.     “Oh, do stop,” said Adrianna as she put her hands to her head. “There is so much to sailing, and you’re making my head feel all swimmy!”
.     “That’s just what I thought on the first day of the storm,” said Adrian. “And I haven’t shown you the knives and sharp implements of the cooks that I almost fell into, or the tar barrel, sailor tools, fishing gear, washing supplies, or anything and everything that might be needed at sea.”

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The Gun Deck of a Ship

Treasure on the Southern Moor; Chapter 5: Cleaning the Southern Moor; Pgs. 120-124

.     “Come along,” said Adrian when they finished. “We’re done with the prow. Let me show you more of the inside. You still haven’t seen the majority of it, and I have only seen it briefly while I was being tossed about as though in one of the sailor’s hammocks.”
.     Once their eyes adjusted to the dimmer light, they walked down the short hall, past the two cabins. “These are the chaplain’s and doctor’s quarters,” said Adrian as he pointed to the cabins. Past the front doors of the cabins, they walked around the stretched-out hammocks, a little further aft but still under the forecastle. The pole of the foremast was near the center of this area. Shafts of sunlight came down through open shutters above, though dimmer below the forecastle than in it, and a dim yellow light spread out from two lit lamps. It gave a slight glisten to the floor that had just been cleaned. No one was currently in any of the hammocks, though several chests aligned the walls where the sailors kept their belongings.
.     “We’re under the forecastle here,” said Adrian, “near the bows and in the belly of the ship. Yet there are more levels below us. This is called the gun deck, and as we begin to move aft, you’ll see why.”
.     Adrianna looked up warily. “Is it safe?” she whispered.
.     “Oh, yes,” said Adrian, “just wait until we’re under the waterline.” He looked keen. “Then you’ll really feel the weight of the ship above you. We’re as good as in the open air here.”
.     An open doorway at the end of the rest of the hammocks led further aft, and through this threshold Adrianna found the room to open up and expand widely from port and starboard. Many a sailor and soldier were about. They ran into Dick just past the doorway. His rusty red hair was slightly askew, and he nodded a brief acknowledgment.
.     “Isn’t the quiet nice?” Dick asked. “I fancied I was pretty near deaf when I woke up this morning without the cracking and snapping of the ship. And you might want to stay around to watch this! They’re about to test the cannon.”
.     Down along the vast room that expanded below the main deck, on either side along the walls, could be seen the cannon that were spread out and pointed out of little square holes in the walls, widely and evenly spaced. Shafts of light could be seen beaming in from these holes and dancing on the ceiling. There were eight of these holes, four on each side of the ship, and eight cannon to go with them.
.     “What are those open windows?” asked Adrianna. “I don’t remember seeing them when we were in Plymouth.”
.     “Gun ports,” explained Adrian. “The ports were closed during most of the storm and when we were looking at the ship in Plymouth, but they’ve opened them again now.”
.     The roof was high enough that a grown man could stand on the gun deck, and several shafts of light were also beaming in from open shutters from the main deck above. Several sailors were walking about, some cleaning and others attending to orders given by Mr. Heath, the master gunner. Captain Underwood was down inspecting the deck, looking over the powder kegs (a couple were found to be moist – a great nuisance at sea) and muskets, and he was preparing to observe the cannon reports. The cannon were oiled and checked for operability, and the ramrods were cleaned. They had been hoisted by ropes to stick out of the sides of the gun ports, and the soldiers would fire from one side before loading and firing from the other, allowing two soldiers to each cannon.
.     “Are you ready to load the port side?” Mr. Heath asked the captain.
.     “Yes,” said the captain, and then he shouted, “Load on Port!”
.     “Load on Port!” Mr. Heath echoed the command, for in war, the captain would most likely be above on the quarterdeck, and the master gunner would have to translate the command to his men.
.     The soldiers were quickly loading the cannon with their thick ramrods, and Adrian and Adrianna plugged their ears as the first volley sounded. Loud explosions rumbled in their chests and filled some of the gun deck with smoke, but only for a moment before it flitted through the open shutters and ports and dissipated out at sea.
.     “That was quick,” said Adrian as he saw his father smile approvingly.
.     Mr. Heath had the soldiers run to the other side upon the command to load on starboard, and the cannon was quickly loaded and fired when the captain gave the command, “Fire!” The smell of sulfur filled the air.
.     “It smells awful,” said Adrianna.
.     “Perhaps it just takes getting used to,” said Adrian, “like fireworks. You love the smell of fireworks.”
.     “I don’t think I shall ever get used to it,” said Adrianna. “The cannon powder smells different from fireworks. Shall we go below?”
.     “In a minute,” said Adrian. The soldiers were pulling the muskets out of the magazine and showing them to Mr. Heath for inspection, the captain watching. Sunlight was coming down through the shutters to gleam upon the flintlock muzzles. The smell of the explosions drifted away and soon the swords were pulled out and the blades checked.
.     “Oh, come along,” said Adrianna.
.     “Very well,” said Adrian, “Let’s explore the rest of the ship.”
.     When he and Adrianna walked aft, they could see several powder kegs lashed to the floor against the walls in case of emergency. In the middle of the room was a separate small enclosed closet where the weapons were stored, known as the magazine. Toward the stern of the ship was another set of walled-off doors, each leading to a separate cabin.
.     “That’s where Mr. Allen, Mr. Heath, and Mr. Thrussell sleep,” said Adrian. “And of course, right above them is the bottom floor of the aftercastle, where Mr. Toller and Mr. Northrup sleep. They all have their separate rooms.”

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Sword Practice

Treasure on the Southern Moor; Chapter 8: Repairs and a Rest; Pgs. 207-209

.     “As a longtime clerk of ships that sail the seas,” said Mr. Thrussell softly to Adrian afterward, “I have learned a thing or two about swordsmanship. I saw the way you handled your blade with Winton Northrup back on the supply deck. Winton is clever with a sword, and if he had been given another moment, the contest would have ended quite differently I fear. It was well you did not meet him alone.” He paused before asking, “Would you like a lesson or two?”
.     Adrian, eyes lit with wonder, stood for a moment without speaking. “Rather,” he said at last, “or that is, I would like to learn if I could.”
.     “It is just the exercise needed before breakfast,” said Mr . Thrussell. “Follow me down to the magazine, and we can lend you one of the duller swords for practice.”
.     The master gunner was now departing with the captain to meet those who were hired for ship repairs the previous night. There were already many who could be seen gathering on the shore, and morning sunlight was beaming down on them from the ship. The seagulls were out and about, and many were perched on the remaining yards of the Southern Moor. The cook had caught a few of them, and it was them that were currently being cooked for breakfast, though it was some time in the cleaning.
.     Some were still continuing to sing while others had left off, attending to other duties. All of the shutters to the weather decks were open on such a fine morning, and the gun deck was rather airy and fresh smelling. Adrian stood right outside the magazine as Mr. Thrussell rummaged through the armament to find a dull sword.
.     “I think this will suit you,” he said as he handed Adrian the weapon, hilt first.
.     Adrian played with the feel of it a little, testing its weight as he tossed it from hand to hand. Mr. Thrussell eyed him intently, and as soon as Adrian seemed comfortable with the weapon, Mr. Thrussell lunged forward with his own sword, eyes glinting, bearing down upon Adrian’s blade. No more had metal hit metal when Adrian’s blade was twisted out of his hand and a slight sting felt at his side as the clerk swatted him with the flat of the blade.
.     “I say,” said Adrian, “but I did not even have chance to move away.”
.     “It is a tricky skill,” said the clerk with a smile. “Now stand, like so, with sword point up.” He demonstrated. “Toller might tell you of the Scottish way, with hilt held high and sword point down at an angle. Yet these are not claymores, and we are true Englishmen.” He began to lunge in different ways and show Adrian how to parry and block his attacks.
.     Time and time again, Mr. Thrussell twisted Adrian’s blade away, yet the clerk was very patient in instructing his mistakes. Adrian was sweating before the ship’s bell rang for breakfast, and his arms were sore and aching. His sides were stinging in several places where Thrussell had taught him with the blade’s flat.
.     “You have learned something,” said the clerk. “I am not sorry to teach you, though there’s a great deal more to be taught. Tomorrow, if we’re not too busy, we can practice again.”
.     “Did it hurt much?” asked Adrianna once Adrian had stepped onto the main deck. The plates and dishes were just being passed out.
.     “No, or that is, not much,” said Adrian. He sat down tenderly.

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Island Shopping

Treasure on the Southern Moor; Chapter 8: Repairs and a Rest; Pgs. 196-198

.     It was indeed warm. As they walked through the streets, the sun continued to beam down upon them, and the gentlemen were finally obliged to take off their outer coats. There seemed not a cloud in the sky from horizon to horizon, and the party was glad when they finally stepped into the shade under an overhang. It turned out to be none other than an entrance to a tea shop, with even English imported tea that they must have acquired from another merchant vessel. There was an English-speaking merchant there who could help them with their currency exchange.
.     “Excuse me,” began the captain to the merchant, “’tis a lovely tea shop.”
.     “Thank you, good sir,” said the merchant with only a slight Portuguese accent. “We sell the finest teas of China, and you couldn’t find better if you were in your own English shop back home.”
.     “Some green tea would do nicely,” said the captain, “though what we are really in need of are long-lasting foods for sailing. Our ship is a little under-provisioned at the moment. We will also need wood, though I’m certain we can find that further inland.”
.     “Yes,” said the merchant, “we have food shops, though it might be a little different to what you’re accustomed to. Look in the shop two buildings over, though you’ll have to go to more in provisioning that large vessel. It has been the talk of the town ever since its anchor has dropped only last evening, and I’ve already spoken to some who met you in the inn last night.”
.     A small crowd had formed around the sailors and crew, and the doctor was speaking to as many of them as he could in their own tongue, telling them who they were, where they had sailed from, and mentioning transporting cargo, though most of the people had already heard their story from those they had spoken with the night before. The doctor was of course wise enough to leave out anything about treasure or fortune.
.     “Excuse us, excuse us,” said the captain and chaplain as they tried to make their way through the crowd. Captain Underwood had to resort to using the broken bits of Portuguese he knew.
.     Not all of the crew had entered the shop, but the cook had, and as he was closest to the door, he was the first to leave it. He made his way toward the shop the tea owner had mentioned and was soon inside it. Several barrels and counters filled with all sorts of food aligned the walls and were spread out in rows. There were coconuts, other tree nuts, apples, clams (and other small sea creatures that could be eaten), fish – lots of fish – some fruits the cook couldn’t recognize, and a type of hard cake biscuit. There was also meat hanging from the ceiling and freshly baked bread and strings of onions and sacks of potatoes. Mr. Moore was disappointed not to find any cheese, though there was some cow’s milk, and he knew there must be a cheese shop somewhere close by. No one in the food shop spoke English, and so the cook had to wait for the captain and doctor to arrive before even discussing prices. When the others did arrive, there was a lot of discussion on what they could afford.

Audio Continuation of Story; Pgs. 198-200

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Discourse with the Gamekeeper – Added Scene

This is for those familiar with my book Treasure on the Southern Moor:

.     Adrianna stepped below the main deck, descending down the ladder that took her to the middle of the gun deck. She would always see Mr. Heath there around that time inspecting the gun ports. Sunlight was filtering through the open holes and shinning on the freshly oiled cannon. Adrian used to always have to walk with her down this way especially after the three week storm. Yet, over the last couple weeks, she had ventured down by herself.
.     Once she stepped below the gun deck down to the supply deck, she was once more reminded of the night, seeming so long ago and yet still fresh in her mind when the loyal crew defended the ship against Mr. Northrup and his men. Most everything had been put back to its original place, but some of the barrels still formed a half barricade just to remind the faithful crew what almost befell them. Adrianna smiled at the molasses barrel.
.     The sounds of the crew members talking above were muted, yet the sounds of the creaking of the ship sounded louder and more threatening. Adrianna shuttered, as she always did, at thinking how it must have sounded for Adrian in the storm, when he would go down to the supply deck to fetch something for the cook or another crew member.
.     Then, lifting the hatch to the cargo deck below, Adrianna descended into darkness, down into the deep of the Southern Moor. She went quickly aft, feeling the ceiling with her fingertips until she caught hold of a lantern, which she promptly lit. Then, she continued her way aft past the pump house and toward the stable door. No matter how long they stayed aboard ship, Adrianna could never get used to the way the walls sloped outward on this deck. There was more ceiling than floor, and it always looked as though the ship would tip over at any moment, though it never did.
.     The stable door was unlocked, but Adrianna always knocked.
.     “Come in, come in!” said a voice from inside, and Adrianna knew it to be the gamekeeper.
.     “Thank you, Mr. Ducks,” said Adrianna. “May I see the ox?”
.     “I suppose you may,” said Jemmy Ducks, “yet remember what I said about getting too attached to it, ma’am. I hardly had the nerve to do my duty the first time I was gamekeeper aboard ship – I became such close friends with the animals.”
.     “I know, and I suppose you’re right,” said Adrianna. “Poor things,” she continued, “stuck down here every day and every night, without any hope of living in fresh sunlight again. Do you think?”
.     “I’m afraid we must eventually,” said Jemmy Ducks. “That is, after all, why they were brought with us, miss – to provide us with a few more square and honest meals, and I suppose the crew does need it.”
.     “But it’s nice to tend them in the meantime,” said Adrianna.
.     Then, in the far distance above them, they could hear the bell toll, and a very faint voice was calling out, “Land ho!”

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