Re: The boys' good luck

To Beppin, it seemed a fair trade. The priest to pay for the formalities, which was a bigger down payment, and Beppin to be in charge of getting them everything they needed until they would be eighteen years old and already ordinary seamen. He was ready to take this responsibility.

”Thank you, Padre. Of course we’ll return to get the formalities done, and Paolo and Faxio would tell you their impressions about their first voyage abroad and at sea.”

He smiled at the priest’s idea of offering the boys a kitten. He didn’t mind one more aboard, especially that the ship cat, Grisou, inherited with the ship, was rather old.

The boys were enthusiastic to leave.

”Then say good bye to Padre Agustin, as we are leaving, take your white friend with you and think about a name. Given how white he is, I think the best names for him would be Bianco, Ciaro or Nef (White, Light-coloured, Snow). Or maybe Leon, since all cats consider themselves miniature lions, and our country loves lions. I think you have seen the Venetian flag with San Marco’s lion, either on ships, or in San Marco Square.”

Looking at the priest, he said:

”We have to bid you good bye, since tomorrow we might be leaving, if the wind allows us. See you again upon our return!”

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Re: The boys' good luck

Agustin was amused too by the boys’ enthusiasm to go to sea, and also how quickly they decided on the white kitten.

”Go in peace, may God and all saints watch upon you and protect you and your ship,” he said, blessing them all. ”Looking forward to your safe return!”

It was fair; he had a puppy, the boys would have from now on a white kitten, besides plenty of new acquaintances and things to learn.

"I will be praying for you all," he added.

Hopefully these boys would have good luck and a better, fulfilled life from now on.

word count: 101

Re: The boys' good luck

Fernand had told Fantin, Jean-Pierre and Margareta about the boys and the possibility that the Captain might want to take them aboard. Margareta was thrilled to have two boys about her nephews’ age around, to mother. She prayed that the Captain would accept them.

”Of course he will, because he has been, like me and Rino, one of those boys who grew up aboard a ship, and he remembers how it was. Besides, they aren’t as young as we were once upon a time, that made our mothers look after us all the time not to get into trouble. They can understand dangers and can follow instructions.”

Would they follow them, was rather the question, as both Fantin and Rino remembered their share of mischief at that age. Surely Beppin remembered his own and Lothario’s as well…

”Jean-Pierre, it seems you will learn to be a big brother now, after having been the youngest all your life,’ Fernand told the ship boy. ”There are two younger ship boys coming. They haven’t been aboard a ship up to now, so you will be the one to teach them well, look after them and reply to their questions,” he added. ”They have a lot to learn, but you remember also how it was when you set your foot first time aboard Rigolette. Treat them how you wished to be treated right then.”

When the captain arrived, accompanied by the children, one of them holding a white kitten, Fernand and Margareta were the first to welcome them aboard.

”Welcome aboard, Paolo and Faxio! She is Margareta, my wife, and he is Jean-Pierre, who will teach you about the ship and also some French,” he introduced them to the two people who were next to him, leaving the captain to make the other introductions.

Margareta melted at their sight.

”Glad to meet you. Call me Margareta. I think you will be my helpers, the next days, in the galley, which is the ship’s kitchen. Do you like good food?”

Jean-Pierre smiled widely. Not only that the boys were small indeed, and rather shy, but, according to Margareta’s words, they would be the ones to help in the galley from now on and he could spend more time on the deck, learning actual seamanship. He was proud that during the latest trip the captain had entrusted him the task to explain to Liao about the functioning of the navigation tools. It was a step towards growing up and a proof that he was learning.

”It will be interesting being your big brother from now on,” he told them.

word count: 443

Re: The boys' good luck

The boys said goodbye to the priest, "Goodbye, Padre!"

The boys left without second thoughts, even while they liked the kind priest. They were far too interested in the ship and their crew. Besides, they knew they would meet the man again, after the trip.

They took the cat with them. Paolo nodded about lions, "Yes, we know the big sheet with the lion." Of course, he had never really wondered what was the purpose of flags and such. After this talk of cats, Faxio, who carried the kitten, replied talking like this was a serious matter, "Does he look like Leon or the others? I think he is Ciaro!" Paolo agreed and replied with smile, "I think he is Ciaro too!"

They entered the ship. Both of them had seen ships quite near at the port, but rarely had they boarded one. Faxio was amazed by all he saw with his eyes and mouth wide open of amazement. Paolo, on the other hand, had been expecting something larger, but he had no complaints about the vessel even while he was a bit less impressed than his little brother.

They were soon greeted by new faces, including a lady. Faxio commented immediately as he was surprised, "A girl on a ship?" Paolo greeted the woman normally, being more mature, "Hello!"

Despite Faxio's surprise comment, both of the boys liked the lady right away, and promptly replied together about liking food, "We do!"

They also met someone closer to their age. Faxio was a bit shy and remained silent, but Paolo answered Jean Pierre, "Nice to meet you too...I guess you can be a brother to us... I have never had a big brother before..."
word count: 286

Re: The boys' good luck

They knew about the flag, and they finally found a name for their kitten.

"He looks like a Ciaro, indeed," Beppin approved, making efforts to remain serious.

Beppin smiled at Fernand and Margareta, while trying not to laugh at the boys' shock that there was a girl on the ship. It seemed they would have from now on more fun moments aboard.

It made sense for Fernand and Margareta to be the first welcoming the boys. Fernand had been the first of the "Colomba" men Paolo and Faxio had been acquainted to, so it was somehow normal to feel protective of them, and Margareta would be the closest to a mother they would ever have. Entrusting a "big brother" responsibility to Jean-Pierre was also a good idea, in the effort to curb jealousy from him. And the boys seemed to like him too.

"I have never had younger brothers before either," Jean-Pierre said. "I have only older sisters at home."

His French accent could be noticed, but his Venetian was intelligible, even if not always correct.

Beppin let them get familiarized one to the other, then he started introducing the others who happened to be aboard at that moment:

"They are Paolo and Faxio, our new ship boys. And they are Rino, Fantin, Stephane, Barthemy, Elouan, Maffeo. You'll have time to learn more about them the next days."

The men shook the boys' hands with a smile. Some of them were skeptical on how these young and thin little ones would get along at sea, but they didn't say anything against the captain's idea, especially after having heard from Fantin and Rino that this was how their own captain had grown up.

"Jean-Pierre, would you give them a tour of the ship, telling them the names of various parts they would hear more often?" Beppin asked the older boy.

Now this was a proof of trust – and a way to establish him as the "big brother".

"Sure, Captain!" Jean-Pierre replied promptly.

word count: 339

Re: The boys' good luck

Fernand laughed directly at hearing their surprise.

"Yes, there is a girl on the ship. Margareta is my wife, and the best cook ever," he said, with pride and happiness in his gaze and tone.

It had taken enough hardships to be able to say this, and soon it would be entirely true, as for now their union hadn’t received yet the priestly blessing.

"I know that not all ships accept women aboard. Colomba does it," he added. "And they are lucky for this to have better meals."

"Hello!" Margareta replied. "And glad that you like food. We will have dinner soon."

Her next attention was to the lovely kitten. At the Drunken Duck they had a dog but no cats. Minou, here, was less interested in offering her any attention except when he received food. And it was a long time since she hadn't seen such a little white one.

"He's lovely! What's his name?" she asked.

She could imagine a livelier trip while having them aboard.

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Re: The boys' good luck

The boys nodded when they heard more about the woman on board the ship. It was interesting to learn these things and customs of ship's captains and crews.

The idea of food sounded good, indeed any kind of regular meals were already great for the boys. When they were told that they would have dinner soon, Faxio asked, promptly, with his usual eagerness "How soon?"

The kind lady then asked about the cat. Faxio smirked, "He is Ciaro. We just named him!" Paolo added, "We thought it was the best name for him. He is so white!"

Paolo felt already like home, and he was happy to see that Faxio was getting less shy by the minute. The captain and the crew were clearly accepting.

Paolo smiled to the ship's boy, when the boy admitted that he had no experience of brothers, "I have no experience of sisters..." He had actually had a young sister before she and his mother passed away, but it was long ago when Paolo had been too young to recall too much of it. He had learnt to simplify his past life stories when telling them to other by now, and he understood what mattered.

Then, a tour around the ship was offered. The boys were keen to see every corner of the ship and its cabins. As they walked with the ship's boy Paolo asked from Jean-Pierre, "How old you are.. or how old you were when you came here?" He wondered how early this boy had been accepted into the crew.
word count: 262

Re: The boys' good luck

Fernand liked the little one’s question.

”When the ship bell strikes again, we’ll be called for dinner,” he replied as seriously as he could. ”And we have meat stew. I know that in the monastery they eat no meat, so this is a welcome change.”

Margareta took Rino aside and instructed him to talk to Julietta when he went to the Drunken Duck, and bring some of the dessert of the day for the boys. Most likely, biscotti of a kind or another, as these were easy to carry back to the ship. Then she turned again to the boys, petting the scared little kitten who longed for a firm place under his little feet.

”Ciaro is beautiful. Indeed, it is the best name you could give him. He’ll receive some stew sauce too,” she reassured the boys. ”I’ll look for a wooden bowl small enough so he could eat from it.”

Fernand smiled too, knowing that he would have to be around when the little kitten would be introduced to old Minou. Hopefully the old tomcat would get along with the runt of the litter.

Jean-Pierre went with them, pointing to the helm, to the compass, to the rails, to the masts, explaining the name of each and what it did. His Venetian language had a noticeable French accent, but it was almost correct and easy to understand. In the elder boy’s opinion, they didn’t lose much for not having sisters, as long as they had each other.

”I will be 14 in a few days,” he said, ”and I am aboard this ship since I was twelve. This means for two years. The ship was named differently and we were in France then,” he added. ”Captain Beppin bought it last autumn, repaired it and changed its name before bringing it to Venice. How old are you?”

This was the ship;s history in a nutshell.

”Now let's see how she looks inside," he invited them to follow him below the deck, on the narrow stairs. "It's a big hold, which can be separated in smaller compartments on types of cargo," he showed the neatly loaded compartments, ”and this is where we sleep, before the mast.”

This was the first lesson of naval terms.

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Re: The boys' good luck

Both of the boys were pleased to hear that meat was on the table. On streets they had rarely eaten meat at all, and they had not received it in the monastery either. Even while both of the boys felt they could wait for the dinner bell, the others things soon occupied their minds.

Faxio let the cat on deck and spoke first to the lady about the cat, then to Ciaro the Cat, "He will surely love the sauce! Come one boy, his is your home!" Paolo commented, seeing that the kitten seemed hesitant, "I hope he will get used to this..."

The boys followed Jean-Pierre. Paolo commented neutrally when he heard the other boy's age, "Well you would be big brother to us indeed. I am ten and Faxio is eight...." He realised that they were really young to be onboard. Indeed, only the cats were younger than they here.

They were shown their places. It was not much room, but not a shock for someone who was accustomed to sleeping on the streets. Paolo asked, "Can we choose our sleeping spot?"

Faxio had more questions about the hold they had just seen, "What is the cargo?" Paolo smiled to himself for his brother as he was sure that Faxio was expecting them to transport gold or something similarly exciting.
word count: 224

Re: The boys' good luck

Fernand smiled at the hesitant kitten and the overenthusiastic boys:

”He is tiny and the ship is huge. He’ll get accustomed aboard. He is also lonely without his brothers and his mother, as it is the first time without them. And, unlike you, he doesn’t understand yet our language, to know he is safe among friends here. You know this, though.”

He waited for their return from the ship tour provided by Jean-Pierre, as he was curious of their first opinions about the ship.

Jean-Pierre smiled with the satisfaction of the big brother. Ten and eight. Tonio, Julietta’s older son, with whom he had been playing sometimes at the ”Drunken Duck”, was almost eight. So he would have to take care of them, and to teach them… That was going to be interesting, for sure! Once he had wished to have brothers, both older and younger. Now, he had Stephane as a sort of an older brother, maybe Rino too, as they two were close in age, and the youngest of the sailors, Stephane being the one he had to help in the galley until Margareta arrived. With Faxio and Paolo… his world was going to be complete. He shrugged at their question about choosing their sleeping spot.

”You will be assigned a hammock, most likely installed somewhere next to mine, because most sleeping spots are already taken. I’ll have to help you roll and stow the hammock, since you aren’t strong enough for this work yet. When I came here, for a few months my uncle helped me too, so it is no shame. You are small, so I think you’ll fit both in one hammock for now.”

It was good, as the space before the mast was cramped anyway. Besides, he thought that, exactly like the kitten, these two brothers had been never apart, never alone, so remaining together would give them a feeling of safety.

The next question was about the cargo:

”I have seen fabrics, I have seen also olive oil barrels… There might be other things too, I have no idea.”

Right then, the bell resounded loudly enough to be heard until there, in the hold.

”We are going to dinner,” Jean-Pierre said.

That was good news for everybody. Who wasn’t hungry aboard a ship?

word count: 393
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