Title: Weeks by Day
On Monday morning, young Elizabeth followed the youngest commissioned officer - a studious Lieutenant Norrington - on his rounds. She asked who every man was, his role, rank and duties. She pointed at the ship and asked every part and purpose. She followed until Master Gibbs reprimanded her sharply for disrupting the orderly routine of the crew. She requested to know the necessity of orderly routine and Gibbs made the mistake of answering her question. This required a lengthy discussion and so, by that evening, she followed him to the Captain's quarters.
On Monday Evening, she watched closely as the pilot plotted the next day's heading using a map, compass, sextant and a small pad of paper. She asked how this was calculated and the girl who had, thus far, shown little interest in mathematics beyond the price of ribbon, suddenly developed an enveloping fascination with geometry and trigonometry. Weatherby was confounded, for that was hardly a lady-like pursuit, but there was little to do for the two months required to cross the North Atlantic.
It was, therefore, quite by accident that they discovered the purser had embezzled purchase funds, when Elizabeth took it upon herself to check the supply records. She asked why the man must be whipped in front of the crew, for it seemed petty and vicious. The newly appointed Governor of Port Royal, Jamaica explained that his role was to maintain the common good and on a ship of any size, the crew stood together or failed together, be they noble or common as individuals. Weatherby put a hand on her shoulder and warned quietly, as she flinched watching the lash of the cat, that good deeds frequently required humility in action even if one wished to proclaim their achievements. She did not say to any of the crew that she had discovered the incriminating figures and so learned the kindness of deceit.
On Tuesday Morning, a somewhat older Elizabeth arrived several minutes late for her weekly dance instruction. She was escorted by young Master Turner who - having been considered a man when he arrived at Port Royal - had been generously offered employment as the apprentice of a local blacksmith. He stopped at the front gates of the Swann estate, bowed stiffly as if he did not wear the stained and tattered clothes of a commoner, and took his leave. Elizabeth, believing herself to be unobserved, limped up the carriage path to the front gates.
Weatherby clasped his hands behind his back, waiting on the stairs. He saw his daughter's maid come rushing from the servant's entrance to join her mistress, as if she had remained in escort the entire noon. Elizabeth started when she saw him, explaining she had gone for a stroll about the grounds. Weatherby noted her sweat dampened hair, flushed face, the faint layer of metallic grime and one small cut and two bruises on her hands. Her limp disappeared and she smiled brightly.
Weatherby said, as mildly as one could, that she was late for her dance instruction and her teacher, rather cross, demanded she practice twice the usual period. His daughter's face fell, but then she smiled stiffly and agreed that was an appropriate compromise. He noted, several hours later, that Estrella put a shoulder under Elizabeth's arm as his daughter quite literally stumbled to her room. At dinner, her arm shook until he stared at it for a moment and Elizabeth forced it still. He asked how her day had passed and she claimed it had been effortless.
On Wednesday Morning, some time later, Weatherby knocked on his daughter's door and heard a very unladylike groan. Estrella answered, claiming that the mistress was somewhat fatigued but would come to breakfast shortly. He reminded her that the neighboring landowners were visiting. He saw his daughter's reflection in her vanity mirror - saw that she was clasping the sides of her head - and bellowed cheerfully that visitors were coming and wasn't it grand? He asked loudly what she preferred for breakfast and saw her cringe, doubling over, before she answered meekly that he could make a selection for her. He wished her a good morning and stomped off down the hallway.
Weatherby arranged for bacon, grilled ham, scrambled eggs, toast and coffee. He smiled pleasantly and urged Elizabeth to eat well for there would be quite a day ahead and wasn't it marvelous? She blinked at him several times, blanching until her lips turned positively blue. He relented, turning conversation in a subdued tone to the year's crops, the persistent predation of local privateers turned pirate, the health of the sheep and hogs, and young Master Reister's mother's failing health. Elizabeth picked at her food until the meal came to an end, at which point she excused herself swiftly.
Weatherby asked his guests if they would like to go riding, as it was such a fine morning, and there was a consensus. He mounted the stairs and reached his daughter's room in time to hear her finish retching her breakfast. He called loudly through the door that everyone was downstairs and the grooms were fetching the horses, so she should make haste for it was impolite to keep their guests waiting.
By Wednesday Evening, Weatherby spoke with the stable lad and confirmed a horse had gone missing the prior evening. Then he chose a footman and paid him to follow his daughter the next time she chose to gallivant off in the middle of the night and come back home thoroughly soused. It was difficult enough to maintain order in this den of barely concealed depravity without word spreading that the governor could not keep control of even his daughter. Conversely, he maintained order by meeting regularly with the merchants and traders in the town who organized discreet purchases. His land would hardly be profitable otherwise and the Crown of England expected proof of his success in the form of a percentage. The important thing was to neither be barred from the inner works of the city, nor caught red handed doing his job.
On Thursday Morning, some time later, he had only raised his hand to knock on his daughter's door when Estrella opened it and said that Elizabeth was not well at all and should remain abed. He attempted to glance through the vanity mirror, only by now the maid had learned the trick as well. Estrella stepped slightly to the side, blocking his view, and met his eyes seriously. Weatherby saw quite plainly that his daughter had a black eye and nursed a compress to it, hunched against the headboard, holding her side with the other arm. He smiled blandly, for a mirror worked at both angles, and asked if he should call for Doctor Marber. Elizabeth called out that she was merely ill and required rest.
That afternoon, after some consideration, he arranged a luncheon with his other neighbors, the Quigleys. Their oldest was a merchant, perhaps somewhat older than Elizabeth, but not so greatly as to be noticeable. They would ride at an even pace to a charming bluff and eat a cold lunch while the Quigley's youngest son played. Weatherby eyed the footman he paid to follow his daughter and asked what had occurred the night before. The man hesitated and Weatherby stopped smiling, demanding to know what she had on him or he would discover it himself. Shamefaced, the man bowed his head and, as if it pained him greatly, admitted he kept a young lady in a cottage near the slave quarters. In his defense, he insisted that Miss Swann concealed her identity under numerous guises of youths, and generally kept to herself, watching the patrons of local taverns and other business establishments. Though she engaged in quite unladylike behavior in an effort to maintain the illusion, and frequently carried a concealed weapon, she did not incite others beyond curious questions. Weatherby fired the man on the spot and turned to smile brightly at Elizabeth who had donned riding attire as ordered.
She reminded him that she felt genuinely unwell and he nodded, pretending he could not see the shadow of her bruised eye behind the veil of her hat. Unfortunately, partway to the bluff, she fell off her side-saddle, collapsing in a heap. The Quigleys were quite surprised, perhaps not as much as Weatherby, who invented that his daughter had fainted from the heat combined with a lack of attention to her horse. Their eldest son was dubious as Weatherby shielded Elizabeth from any overly perceptive gaze, helping her to rise. There was sweat on her lip and she reached involuntarily to her side, before stopping the gesture. Weatherby said he would call for a doctor and when she protested, he said it was for the fall. The eldest Quigley agreed earnestly but Weatherby could hear the young man mutter, under his breath, that he could not abide fainting women and their false frailty put forward as modesty.
Weatherby invited the visiting family to continue their luncheon while he escorted his daughter back to the house. She stayed silent but to apologize once, rather quietly. When the doctor arrived, she claimed her injuries were the result of falling from a horse. Doctor Marber patted her hand, checked her eyes, advised a compress and suggested she wear sterner stays to prevent further fractures of her ribs. He frowned for a moment at the age of the bruises, glancing speculatively at Weatherby. The governor stopped smiling, narrowing his eyes at the man.
By Thursday Evening, Weatherby found Elizabeth asleep in a chair of the study. A book was in her lap and he was surprised to see she did not wake when he walked up in front of her. Before clearing his throat, he leaned forward slightly to see what she was reading. It was a survey, written in cramped print, of the Windward Isles, listing their locations, features, size, populations, fauna, produce and recent histories. He sighed and cleared his throat as intended. Elizabeth jerked awake, raising the book and the outward cover claimed it to be a pamphlet on ladies etiquette. He smiled blandly and told his daughter she could study manners in the morning but it was well past her bedtime. Though she was old enough to protest, she nodded and closed the book and set it on the table.
On Friday Morning, Weatherby was astonished to discover Elizabeth had already risen and was preparing for breakfast. While they ate, he considered the changes that had slowly crept through the town over the years. The lasting peace, though he feared the unrest over the Spanish throne would soon erupt at any moment, was courtesy of routine naval patrols throughout British Caribbean waters. Though honest merchants prospered, many of the citizens were not honest and so suffered. It was more difficult to turn a profit when it was taxed at every turn and the Royal Navy and John Company grew fat off the proceeds. He wondered, with a disloyalty that alarmed him, how long it would be before the Company appointed its own governor to this island. He was growing old surely as his daughter had become a young woman, in a very treacherous world.
Elizabeth was watching him and asked what troubled his thoughts. Weatherby did not reply that he calculated how to best secure her future amongst so few options, for he knew his willful daughter would become hostile and resistant. Conversely, he felt that a certain minimum of will and defiance were necessary qualities for survival in these provincial lands and was disinclined to douse her spirit. He told her that Norrington had been promoted to captain, of the Royal Navy, in service to the East India Trading Company, recently returned from a tour of duty during which a straggling band of buccaneers had been captured. He had always been tolerant of Elizabeth's predilections - those of which he was aware - and would likely continue his rise to power if not killed in battle. There would be a hanging this afternoon and it would be polite to attend the ceremony. Weatherby smiled in his well practiced innocuous way and baited her with the possibility that Captain Norrington would have daring tales to share of his recent adventures. Elizabeth looked at him for some time, then nodded once, agreeing that it was the polite action to take.
They attended as the Governor, his daughter and the newly elevated hero of the day. Norrington was a bit stiff in his dress uniform and a bit more concerned with keeping his chin up and shoulders back, though he did often glance at Elizabeth. There were nine men hanged, from a gibbet below the high water mark. When the fifth pirate mounted the short steps, Elizabeth flinched, staring at him as if she knew the man. Then, glancing about the crowded dockyard, her eyes fell to rest on a woman, hunched on the steps of a closed butchery. The older woman had pulled a shawl around her head, and held her temples with her face down-turned. Weatherby saw Elizabeth swallow and noted that she did not watch the fifth man strangle to his death. He cleared his throat and his daughter snapped back to attention. He watched surreptitiously until her gaze strayed to the HMS Dauntless, rocking faintly in the bay. She studied it far more intently than she had Norrington and Weatherby stepped between the two, breaking her gaze, walked to the pulpit to make the obligatory speech.
By Friday Evening, very late, the fourth man he had hired to follow his daughter came back on a stretcher. He was grievously bruised and sported shallow gashes and a black bruise on his temple where he had been cudgeled. The man insisted that he had not been attacked with murderous intent, but merely beaten and robbed as he attempted to follow Miss Swann from the Hog's Bay tavern. Weatherby insisted he begin at the beginning and the footman reported that miss had left shortly after midnight, armed with a saber and dagger, dressed as an unkempt youth. She had drunk lightly, watching the patrons and listening to their discussion of the recent execution. Em Rutger had been there, staring off on her own and the Miss Swann had gone to her to offer sympathy at the loss of her husband but the older woman hadn't seemed to notice. After this, miss had gone to a corner, brooding it seemed, until there was a commotion amongst the girls about a ruckus in the alley. Miss Swann had launched off with her sword and he had arrived only in time to see her scuffle with a man and bash his nose soundly after cutting his arm. She had gone to and spoken with one of the girls, but seeing no harm had yet been done, made to return to the tavern through the side entrance when she made the footman. Weatherby asked if she confronted him and the man denied it, saying she had gone inside and spoken with a man he did not recognize and might have paid him a sum. He was attacked as he attempted to follow Miss Swann back out of the tavern.
On Saturday Morning, not too much later, Weatherby finished reading a missive sent from England, via Navy courier. He smiled slightly, leaning back in his chair. His performance as Governor was satisfactory and the Crown would soon send reinforcements for young Captain Norrington. While piracy was well curbed, it was strategic to bolster the Company's position in Jamaica in to secure further exportation of fine sugar, rum, tobacco, rice and fruit. Weatherby heard an upstairs door open and shut, then ordered the servants to fetch the morning meal. Elizabeth was alert, despite the shadows visible under her eyes, and smiled at him. She wore a simple summer dress that revealed forearms that carried greater sinew than those of a typical young lady. He watched as she played with her breakfast knife absently, until he asked if she would pass the salt. When she did not begin a conversation, he asked if she had stayed up late, rather baldly. She raised her eyebrows and admitted she had been reading a historical text. He made a noncommittal noise and suggested they ride to the Quigley's for it was their younger son's birthday.
On the way, a rabbit darted from the bushes startling her horse. Elizabeth kept a firm hand on the reins, settling the mare and laughed about skittish animals. Though she attended her mount, her eyes wandered toward the sea, visible in gaps through the cane fields where slaves burnt ripe canes to ease their harvest. She looked away and asked if the older Quigley would be present. Weatherby said he would not, for he was aboard a merchant ship coming back from Africa. The vicar and his son would be in attendance and perhaps some of the well-liked tenants. Elizabeth went silent, nodding, then saying very well as if she were giving permission rather than noting the information.
It was Casper's fifteenth birthday and his father, Lloyd, rewarded him with a commission to the Royal Navy, should he choose to accept. The boy crowed, waving about a new sword, rather recklessly, promising that he would murder any pirate or filthy Spaniard he found. His father reprimanded that England was at peace with Spain and the boy shrugged. Weatherby saw Elizabeth study the sword, but between the time he turned away to speak with Lloyd and returned his attention, she had disappeared. Making an excuse about needing a breath of fresh air after all the wine and ruckus, he went in search but discovered Elizabeth had not gone far. A burst of subdued clapping caught his attention. The servants were having their own party in the back, behind the kitchens and there was his daughter shadow fencing with Master Turner. The two were laughing as if they were children, and had apparently concluded their imaginary bout, for they stopped to mock bow at each other. Master Turner saw him first, taking two rapid steps back from Elizabeth, and pivoting to bow formally at Weatherby. Elizabeth claimed she had gone to escape the chaotic party and Weatherby smiled blandly. He agreed it was quite noisy and turned with the knowledge she would follow.
When they returned, the vicar's son, Michael focused his attention rather directly on Elizabeth. The two young people remained seated at a discreet distance, with the boy flirting clumsily and Elizabeth making encouraging noises while hiding behind her fan. Lloyd watched the performance for a time before throwing an arm around Weatherby's shoulder. He promised that it wouldn't be long now and bemoaned what an irresolute hooligan his eldest was. He pointed at the Vicar and said, with certain resentment mixed with admiration, it must be a proud man to have a well learned, studious, loyal, polite and honorable son with such strong sense of direction to his life. He made a falsely sympathetic face and reassured Weatherby that a son by marriage would be just as fine. Then he laughed and said that at least Weatherby was spared the aggravation of a wayward son, in return. The Governor sputtered into his wine, coughed several times, then agreed jovially.
By Saturday Evening, Weatherby asked Elizabeth what she thought of young Michael, for they had seemed rather friendly. His daughter went quite still, her lips tight, before she broke her own tension by claiming he was a polite, courteous man. It was a bland compliment from such an opinionated young lady, so Weatherby pressed the point. He suggested they could take lunch an afternoon in the upcoming week. She asked if he meant out in the fields, away from prying eyes, but used an odd tone of voice. Weatherby resisted the urge to tease his daughter about skittish animals when he saw the expression on her face. He would not consider his daughter to possess a fearful nature, if the footmen were to be believed, yet there was the clear edge of terror in her eyes. She broke his gaze, taking a deep breath, and took him off guard with a fierce parry. She admitted that though it was time she must consider marriage and would, quite naturally, respect his wishes, she believed the Vicar's son an eminently unwise choice. Weatherby resolved to ask his guard dog to observe how young Michael entertained himself, while restraining the urge to ask Elizabeth directly what she had witnessed.
On Sunday Morning, Weatherby found Elizabeth staring out the south window. The town and harbor were visible, sparking in the distance, as ships came and left for the open sea. He admired the view at her side, for a time, making no attempt to match the intensity of her study. He asked if she had been serious in her admission regarding marriage and she answered indirectly by admitting there were limited choices. He said, obliquely as one could manage, that compromise was often necessary to navigate one's future. Elizabeth did not reply, shuttering her eyes. When he mentioned that he intended to invite Captain Norrington once again for dinner, in what had become an informal tradition, she answered evenly that she had no objection. Weatherby stepped back, leaving his daughter to survey the ocean.