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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Repairing a Sailing Ship

Treasure on the Southern Moor; Chapter 8: Repairs and a Rest; Pgs. 209-212

.     The cook had come out of the galley, and those aboard ship had sat down to eat. In the distance, they could see the boats at the shoreline, and the hired crew had all left to gain materials and more supplies. They would soon be coming back with loads to work with the ship.
.     “How long do you think the repairs will take?” asked Adrian as he lifted his wooden cup to his lips.
.     “Not long,” said Mr. Toller. “We should be out sailing in another few days.”
.     “And what land are we headed to next?” asked Jemmy Ducks.
.     “All depends for certain,” said Mr. Toller, “yet the Canary or Cape Verde Islands will probably be next on our way to where we are sailing.”
.     No one else said much as they looked out at the shore, with the ship swaying gently under them, turning around its anchorage. It was always a surprise over the next few days to see where it pointed in the morning after turning throughout the night.
.     After breakfast, the crew was soon busy afoot with pulling more canvas and rope out from below and hoisting yard and rigging and bringing their own tools out from the supplies to be ready when the Portuguese came. And before they were finished preparing, Captain Underwood was back with the first set of help to lend a hand, and he stayed aboard and let others depart with more of the ship’s boats to bring more hands aboard the Southern Moor.
.     Mr. Toller continued about his normal work to stay out of the way of those making repairs, and he inspected the chip log with Mr. Thrussell. Adrian and Adrianna could not be of much help either, as there was already a great many people aboard ship, and they remained in the captain’s cabin for the day, mending the mattresses and other items that had been torn or broken by the traitors. The main deck had become crowded, and only the doctor and captain could speak to the Portuguese as they were the only loyal ones aboard who knew their language.
.     “Do you think we will have to replace the crew with all Portuguese-speaking people?” asked Adrianna, pausing from her work for a moment as she looked out the stern windows of the captain’s cabin at the sunlight upon the waters. “I would think it would be hard to communicate with them.” As she spoke, she saw a fish splash from somewhere ahead in the waters and cause tiny ripples to flow out in circles.
.     “That is if we can replace the whole crew,” said Adrian. “We might just have to sail shorthanded. And we may run into storms on the way back.”
.     “Storms are such a nuisance,” said Adrianna, biting off a needleful of thread as she held her mattress in her lap. The slashes the pirates had given it ran up and down near the seam. “Was Mr. Northrup really a pirate?” she asked, wanting to turn the conversation away from bad weather. The prospect of more storms didn’t give her pleasant thoughts.
.     “Either that or very much near it,” said Adrian. “I heard Father once say that he knows of nearly every coin, and his former journeys that he has spoken of were never to any particular country. Father said he probably was pirating treasure along many sailing routes.”
.     “He was beastly,” said Adrianna, “telling us he had Father locked in irons and threatening to set fire to the ship. You’re the hero of the crew, Adrian, rushing upon him the way you did.”
.     “I only did it by accident,” Adrian admitted again, “when I slipped from the hatch above. But I say – Mr. Thrussell knows all there is to know about sword fighting, and I’m still sore from where his flat hit me.”
.     “I thought you said that it didn’t hurt much,” said Adrianna.
.     “Well, maybe a little more than I let on,” said Adrian, “but it was still wonderful. He says he will show me more later.”

Audio Continuation of Story; Pgs. 212-214

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Assessing Things Landward

For those who love Treasure on the Southern Moor. . .

Treasure on the Southern Moor; Chapter 8: Repairs and a Rest; Pgs. 191-194

.     The sun had come over the horizon and was beaming its rays upon water and land. Splash, splash, splash was the sound the oars were making as Mr. Toller related the story of the previous night’s events. Captain Underwood listened with great interest to the tale that was given him, watching as the ship’s boat took them closer and closer toward the Southern Moor.
.     “Well, well,” the captain said at the end, “that is a different turn. We will have to be more careful for sure, and of course I do apologize for hiring them in the first place and for the danger it put you all in. There was such a short time before we had to set sail, and I’m only all too sorry our suspicions about Mr. Northrup were true. At least,” spoken with relief, “Adrian and Adrianna are safe.” He went on, with some strain, “yet we are shorthanded now, in addition to needing repairs.”
.     They had by this time come up to the side of the Southern Moor, and a rope ladder, or Jacob’s ladder, was dangling down to receive them. The captain was first to ascend, coming up onto the main deck, and was greeted by Adrian and Adrianna and then by the loyal crew.
.     “We have been up all night and have nearly died,” said Adrianna in her father’s embrace, yet she was so tired from the night’s activities that she didn’t sound nearly as frightened as one may have thought.
.     “And it wasn’t so bad,” said Adrian. “We made it out safely.” His face turned sickly as he thought of the soldier and sailor who hadn’t. “But not everyone did,” was all he said aloud.
.     “We have been narrowly saved from disaster,” said the captain. “And I can only thank you all for your loyalty and to the Lord for His protection. I have a word to speak with the traitors before we need to discuss our plans, for our plight is plain. How are we to sail with more than half the crew unable or unwilling to lend a hand? This will have to be discussed among us, and since we are so few and every one of you has proved your loyalty with your lives, it is my wish that everyone have a say in the deciding. Yet it need not be discussed now aboard the Southern Moor. I suggest we partake of the victuals Robert Moore has prepared, and afterward go ashore where we can discuss our situation over solid ground with a larger meal.” He looked around at the tired faces of the crew. “It also appears that an hour’s sleep before we depart would not be amiss.”
.     Mr. Moore was nearly done with preparing breakfast, largely consisting of porridge, and everyone readily agreed to the proposed plan and sat down to eat. “Going ashore to Africa at last,” said Adrianna as she took her bowl of porridge. Steam was still rising from it.
.     “Aye,” said one of the two remaining loyal sailors. He said no more, but started humming the tune of an old sea song. Adrianna remembered that he was a sailor who had lived his whole life on the rolling of the stormy sea and therefore did not think of land as most landsmen think of it. She wondered if he had ever before faced a mutinous crew and what had happened if he had. Yet even sailors have a desire to visit land now and then, and Adrianna caught the glint in the man’s eye as he looked out over the shores.
.     When the light breakfast was over, during which Captain Underwood had had a strained discussion with the traitors (and he could get nothing out of them that Mr. Toller had not already told him), the crew of the Southern Moor took an hour’s sleep before preparing to go ashore. There was some discussion about what to do with the prisoners, locked below in the stable, and it was finally decided that Mr. Heath with one of his soldiers would stay behind to guard them, making sure they didn’t make any movements toward attempting escape. Of course, their hands were securely tied, but one can never be too sure. Mr. Heath was chosen because he was reliable to stay awake even after the rigorous night before, and it was promised he would have much time on land the following day.
.     “The oxen don’t seem to mind the fresher air in the officer’s cabins,” said Jemmy Ducks with a laugh. “It will do the traitors well to spend some time down there.”
.     The departing party assembled on the main deck and said goodbye for the day to Mr. Heath and his soldier who stayed behind with him. Some of the ship’s boats were lowered.

Audio Continuation of Story; Pgs. 194-196

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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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