"Where do they get the dirt?" I asked Ash. He and I were putting our mops in the storage locker on deck. "We're hundreds of feet in the air, and over the middle of the bloody ocean at that! How do the men manage to grime up the deck?"
Ash laughed openly at my frustration. "Oh you know, they bring on barrels of it just to smite us ship's boys." A cocky grin spread on his friendly face.
"I'd believe it." I said. "So, you made any progress with Pat yet?" I said, changing the subject.
"I think so. I mean, he doesn't get mad when I talk to him anymore." We had both been trying to crack the shell on him for a couple of days. Ash and I had a sort of "mop shift" together, so we got to talk regularly.
"I'm having trouble finding any common ground with him, he only seems to like talking about pipes and mechanics." I said.
"At least you can have conversations, I just sort of talk at him while we work." We both laughed at our endeavors."
"Oi!" Uh oh, it was Pete. "Don't you have anythin' better to do than sittin' 'round starin' at the water?"
"Sorry, Pete." Ash apologized. "We just finished mopping so we thought we'd take a few minutes to ourselves, like."
"Haha, well, since you've found yourselves with so much free time, you'd best chat in private, 'else someone'll set you to polishing the pipes." He winked broadly at us.
We took the hint and headed below decks. "Thanks Pete!"
I had strung my hammock in an empty closet in Sims' classroom. It was actually quite spacious, but more importantly private. "Well, now that we're in his lordship's quarters, what kingly manner shall we discuss?" Ash's cocky grin was back in place.
"Oh, leave off." I poked him in the ribs.
"I won't." Ash huffed. "You don't have to kip with the lot of us other ship's boys. Do you know how loud the men snore? I won't even mention Pat, whose mouth is only a meter away."
"Well, thank you for that." I returned the cheek. "I think I'll sleep twice as well tonight knowing that I don't have to listen to that."
"Hey, you know how Pete said that we might have to polish the pipes?"
"Oh, yeah, Sims told me that The Voyage had all of it's pipes replaced with polished bronze when it was docked. Captain Weatherford had it done as an extension of his love for the ship."
"And he does love this ship." Sims had just flung the door open. "Ashwin, Earls needs you, Something about a grinding gear."
"Not again! Sorry, Flint, gotta go!" Ash sprinted out of the room.
"And Flint, you and I have to plan for our first lesson to the Midshipmen tomorrow." I groaned. Sims had been talking so excitedly about "flora" and "fauna." Sure, I listened, but it was all so... Boring.
I needn't have feared such boredom. From the speaking tube in the corner of the room emerged a call wrought with terror. "Attention all hands! Prepare for emergency crash landing!"