Along the way to City Hall, the Captain was stopped by a man of the same rank. It seemed their conversation lasted for hours before they parted. By that time we were horribly late and the Captain was reprimanded brutally by the resident Law Officer. They said nothing to me. I was just a sailor accompanying his commanding officer. While there I contemplated asking for a different ship but found myself whisked away by the Captain before I could decide on the matter further.
We returned to the Bloody Mary sometime before midnight, and I had to help the lower crew swab the decks. Everyone, including the lowers, had gone to bed but I had been ordered to stay up and clean the galley. It was well into the night before the Captain tiredly stumbled down in a stately outfit and told me to get some rest. I replied that I was too busy, as I hadn’t done the dishes yet. He told me to forget about them and sleep. We kept this up until I asked him why he was dressed as he was. He told me he had to go back down to the City Hall and that if I wasn’t too busy, I could accompany him. I said, yes of course, what do I wear? He told me to get a clean uniform and nice riding shoes, we were going on horseback to make it there quicker. I sloppily cleaned the dishes and went to change.
By the time I had straightened myself up, the Captain was already with the horses down on the dock. They whinnied incessantly and the Captain hoped the old man on the corner wouldn’t come out and shoot at us for the noise. He was a grumpy, violent old man and he had no tolerance for the Captain. He would often make snide remarks if we were out when he was sitting on his porch, smoking his large cigars that smelled of hellfire. I didn’t mind him as much and he didn’t mind me, and would sometimes strike up a conversation with me on very rare occasions. The Captain got upset when I talked to him, saying I needn’t listen to the old windbag. I once asked him why he didn’t like the man, and he told me he didn’t know, that they just had never liked each other. Fickle, they both were.
Due to his paranoia, we spent the next few minutes attempting to calm the horses down. Much to his chagrin, it only made them louder. A few house lights turned on and sleepy husbands peeked out their windows a few times. They just looked at us oddly and went back to bed. I suggested that we just quickly leave now and he said, no, they are too excited, we won’t be able to ride them properly. That didn’t seem very true, I’d seen him jump on a terrified horse during the heat of battle and ride off, and bareback too! But I supposed that he only did that for important things, life or death things. I guessed that this wasn’t a very important thing and we didn’t have a set time to go. I suggested that maybe we should walk there, and he said that was too slow. I said, if you want to get there fast why are we standing here and being all willy-nilly? He laughed and said, yes, maybe we should walk. He somehow managed to stow the horses back on the Mary and we started off to the City Hall for the second time.
We struck up a conversation about where to sail off to next after this leave ended. I suggested the Caribbean or somewhere with long beaches and sun. He laughed and told me, maybe next time, because he doesn’t know if there is a place with sun anymore. I told him that my birthplace had long sweltering days and beautiful blue water and white sand. He said he’d like to see that someday. I replied that I have drawings back in my quarters, maybe he’d like to see them when we get back? He said he’d like that very much.
It seemed like only minutes had passed by the time we got there. He was dragged into a meeting room and discussed things only Captains would understand, and as a sailor I understood none of it except for very few things. They talked about their crews, and if they would need to pick some more up, or if one of the crewman was misbehaving and needed to be kicked off or taken to jail. Or just transferred. Oh, how I would love to be transferred, I thought. Then I realized that, yes, I like it here, on the Mary, with the Captain and the other sailors. I do want to stay here, I like it here very much. The conversation turned to the growing threat of war and I tuned it out, I shouldn’t listen to a delicate subject as that. I saw the Captain glance to me a few times and I looked back. He just quirked his brow, smirked a bit, and then turned back to the talk smugly. I did not understand his pride, but then again I rarely ever understood anything he did anyway. Hours passed and we found ourselves walking back to the ship, he exhausted and I utterly lost in my confusion.
When we got back to the Mary he sluggishly walked to the Captains quarters and, I presume, fell asleep in seconds. I wasn’t as lucky and spent the entire night pondering about the few snips of the war I had heard.