Aug 21, 2019 9:27 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.

Total: 45
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"Well, maybe it wasn't. There was one the size of a horse near where I grew up once but I didn't get to see it, my mother kept me in the house."

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"Very sensible of her," opines Captain Tilney. 

Captain Harville wants to know how she's finding life aboard the Clarence.

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"It's all right. I suppose the only thing I'd want really is a piano and it'd be a bit difficult on a boat, wouldn't it?"

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Captain Morland had a Captain had a piano when he was ship's boy on the Royal George, but of course that was the service and things were different then.

"Do you play?" 

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"Well, I haven't practiced in weeks and weeks."

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The Surgeon has a violoncello, which she is welcome to come over and play if it's any good to her. 

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"I'd love to, I've never tried it but it'd be such fun to try."

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"Do you know your way around a violin? It's not so very different." 

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"Never had a chance!"

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"It wouldn't be any trouble to teach you, Miss Arden - only if you like - one does so rarely meet a music-lover at sea." This last is said with a pointed glance at Captain Harville.

(The second course was some sort of whitefish with lemon. It is being replaced by a roast). 

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Mmm, roast! "Music's my favorite thing in all the world."

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This is all the encouragement the Surgeon needs for a lengthy excursus on that time he saw Mozart performing in Vienna and could have died perfectly content right there in the theatre though really he thinks very little of the contemporary German composers and less of the French and doesn't she find American performers have no notion of taste? 

Captain Harville elbows him in the ribs. 

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"I tried for a bit to perform in America but it didn't work out. I'm not sure it has to do with anyone's taste though."

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"If it didn't work out, my dear, I'm sure it has everything to do with the audience's." 

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"It was my agent. I only got in front of a real audience one time."

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This leads to a lengthy discussion between Captains Harville and Morland about the cultural privations of life in the colonies. Emma is telling Kitty a story about an Indian sea monster with seven heads, all of them with terrible great fangs. 

(They take away the roast and bring out some Ambiguous Pudding).

 

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The ambiguity of the pudding will not stop Rebecca from having at it.

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And eventually it will be time to go. The Surgeon invites her over at 19:00 tomorrow, before her evening watch. 

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"I'll be there! Thank you."

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At 19:00 the next day the Surgeon will be enthusiastically tuning his cello! (It sounds a bit like a dead cat). 

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"Good evening! Do you have sheet music or will it all be by ear and memory -?"

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"I have some - it all depend on what want to sing, of course. I have some music for Haydn's Battle of the Nile, if you'd like, I've been looking forward to it but it does call for a female vocalist. Admiral Nelson performed it himself, you know, with the Lady Hamilton, her singing and him on the pianoforte." 

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"I know it! Does it translate well to cello?"

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"Not particularly! But we've already discussed the difficulties of getting a pianoforte at sea." 

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"Well, I suppose we'll figure it out!"

Total: 45
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