Overall rating: G, humour
Character: James Norrington
Feedback: very welcome. Good or bad.
Author's note: my contribution for the "Witching Hour" Hallowe'en Challenge on pirategasm.
WHIPS AND WIGS AND WEEVILS, OH MY!
James was tossing and turning in his bed, unable to get a wink of sleep. Over the last weeks, the uncomfortable feeling had turned into fear and now, with the prospect of the next day's journey suspended over him like the sword over Damocles' head, into horror.
Tomorrow a coach would carry him away from his father's home and to Portsmouth.
James' sea chest was packed; an angular, threatening shadow in the corner of his bedroom. It contained all he would need, plus all those little amenities his mother's loving hand had packed between his shirts and breeches. His father wouldn't have approved of the two bottles of brandy, had he known about this silent protest of his wife against his decision to send their son to sea.
The brand-new uniform - of best quality, made by his father's own tailor - was laid out for the big day. Before clouds had covered the moon, James had been able to see the shiny buttons. He could also make out the shape of his hat on the side table; it had cost more than the maid's wages for a year.
James knew what to expect. Uncle George had told him all there was to know about the Royal Navy. In all details. Floggings and canings and birching and hangings and battles and amputations and maggots and drowning and whips and weevils and then even more floggings and - James shuddered. His father really must hate him to send him aboard HMS Purgee.
Purgee, hah! More like HMS Purgatory! Why couldn't he stay at home and help managing the family-estate? Or become a clergyman like Uncle George? Or maybe get into trade with the colonies, just like his cousin Henry?
James had begged and pleaded and sulked, his mother and five sisters had wept bitter tears, yet Captain Norrington had remained unmoved.
"You and the girls have mollycoddled him enough, Mary! He's thirteen now, almost a man. It's about time he's facing life and learns to take on responsibility. I almost fear you want him to end a milksop!"
Yes, no doubt, his father did hate him. Why that was so, James couldn't tell. He didn't know his father well enough to fathom the reasons. Captain Norrington had not been home much, and James' earliest memory was his father returning from some war or other, head bandaged and one arm missing. And now this stranger wanted him to suffer the same fate?
James crossed his arms over his chest and stared at the ceiling, pouting. Maybe his father could force him to join the navy, but he couldn't force him to like it. Who knew, maybe he'd be killed in the first battle? Then his father would be sorry, oh so sorry!
James liked the idea.
In his imagination, he saw his own funeral - a pompous, impressive affair, of course, the hoarse drawn by at least eight black horses - and his mother and sisters condemning his father for his cruelty. Everybody would weep, and people would line the streets, throwing roses and glaring at Captain Norrington, who had sent his poor, unfortunate young son to certain doom and death!
And he, James, would haunt his parents' house, a terrifying ghost slamming doors, walking the corridors and moaning in agony, maybe tearing his sisters' hair in the middle of the night from time to time. Everybody would be sorry and miserable.
James smiled at these bright prospects, closed his eyes and finally fell asleep.
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