Aug 18, 2019 11:14 AM
Fabulous Rebecca encounters the Napoleonic wars
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Rebecca runs away from the convent before she's been there a month and a half.

She's lucky in her timing fetching Catherine; Beth hands her through the window and puts a pillow in the baby blankets to make it look like Rebecca broke in on her own whenever the baby's found missing, and Rebecca makes a run for the harbor. By the time she gets there it's really obvious she doesn't have any milk left after her absence, and Catherine's wailing heartbreakingly with hunger, but Rebecca shouts over her to get passage on a ship for the value of the coins she took from Father's hiding place in the yard, and once she's aboard she can listen and watch for other babies, offer smilingly to trade off nursing them with the other mothers, and if there's five women nursing five babies and only four of them have milk that should work out, shouldn't it?

The trip is long. Catherine grows, Rebecca measures her against her arm, but then before they get where they're get going Catherine gets sick. She just keeps getting sicker. When she won't try to nurse any more Rebecca kind of knows.

Rebecca wakes up in the morning and sees herself all grimy and pathetic-looking on a backdrop of stars, and she wonders if she'd be able to nurse Catherine back to health, if she weren't just pretending - she doesn't know how to do it, she fiddles with her chest until she thinks it feels familiar -

- she blinks away the stars and Catherine already isn't breathing.

She doesn't remember very much of the next few days but more or less comes to with a piece of salt pork in her hand and one of the other women sitting next to her, rocking her still-healthy little boy.

Rebecca eats her salt pork and gets up and goes over to the railing and decides that if jumping in the water makes her not want to die any more she can just turn into a mermaid, now, can't she, and she jumps.

She turns into a mermaid and claws her way back up the side of the ship once she's got her legs back and one of the crew sees her and tells her they'll pay her if she gets wings and warns them if she feels bugs. She says all right. She sits in the crow's nest with beautiful angel wings, white edged in gold, waiting to feel something.

They're not far out from port; she doesn't notice anything before they arrive and she collects her money. She goes out and spends it immediately on a hot dinner and a room and a chance to sing for somebody who bills himself as an agent.

A week later she's been on stage just once and he's coming at her and it's no longer even thrilling in addition to frightening, it's just plain repulsive and dreadful, and she's cleaned herself up enough by this point that she can -

- well, he doesn't chase her.

She goes back to the harbor in her blue-marble Grecian dress, angel wings spread a little, and walks up to the first boat she sees. She'll get out on the water again.

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This will be difficult in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, but she can definitely go for it when they reach San Domingo!

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That's the plan! In the meantime she'll just sock it away.

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Two days later, she and Emma are invited to dine with the captain of the Exeter and his officers. 

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Sure, okay! Maybe it won't be stew?

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Probably not! Captains usually have their own food stores. 

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She shows up with Emma come dinnertime.

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It's a regular dinner party. There's the Exeter's Lieutenant and Surgeon, and the Captains of the Ceylon and Albemarle, along with the latter's daughter. Emma and Rebecca are the only guests from the Clarence. 

The Captain of the Exeter is clearly well-off, judging by the quality of his flatware. Rebecca is seated at his left, Emma a bit farther down between his Lieutenant and the captain of the Ceylon. The first course is a clear soup. 

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Variety is nice even if it's just clear soup. Slurp. "Thank you for the invitation!" she tells the captain.

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"The pleasure is entirely mine." He inclines his head towards Rebecca and Emma in turn. "The least I could in recognition of your bravery." 

"Why, Captain Harville, no one in our position could have done less." Emma is smiling, but she's more subdued than usual. 

 

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"Couldn't just leave it there!" agrees Rebecca.

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"Vile little creatures," says the Surgeon with feeling. "Take chunks out of a man's arm the size of apples. Impossible to stitch. Good clean job you made of 'em." 

The little girl seated across from him looks fascinated. 

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"Thank you," she says to the surgeon. And she smiles at the little girl. "What's your name? I'm Rebecca."

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"Kitty!" 

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"It's nice to meet you, Kitty!"

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"Papa tells me you fought a swarm! I've never seen a swarm except once back home and Plymouth and then Mama made it go away before I could even get a proper good look. Was it very frightening?" 

"Mind your manners, dear," her Papa says absently. 

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"It was a little scary! I'm sure I would have been much more scared if I'd gotten hurt but I stayed out of its way and just used magic."

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"What sort of magic can you do? I can make things move about just by thinking, it's terribly useful." She demonstrates with the salt-cellar. (Captain Tilney plucks it out of the air with the disinterested expression of a man who's done this many, many times before). 

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"That's a good one! I can make ice." She hands a hailstone across the table.

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Kitty accepts it solemnly. 

"My Mama does lightning! She also used to go on ships before she married my Papa and had me." 

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"Lightning would be useful if you found a big monster, I bet!"

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"Wouldn't it just?" She slumps in her chair. "I never have, though." 

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"Well. Y'know. That's good."

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"That's what Papa always says. But if I do find one I won't be scared and I shall give it a good thumping." 

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"Perhaps you shall."

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"There was a monster at Plymouth when I was a very little baby, Mama says, and she and Mrs. Forster - Mrs. Forster is Mama's very particular friend - and Miss Allen and Miss Carter and Miss Wright all together had to drive it off so it wouldn't get into the port." 

Total: 72
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