The boys' good luck

5-th of May 1792

"Colomba" had returned yesterday, with good wind. It was expected that they had been busy with unloading the goods and delivering them - the bulk in view of everyone, to the shipping companies, the more delicate orders delivered personally by a few sailors, accompanied or not by their captain. This morning they still had a few small deliveries to make, and they got the surprising news that tomorrow or the day after they were going to leave for England. One of the shipping companies had an important contract meant for London.

Between two errands, Fernand stopped at San Giorgio Monastery, looking for Padre Agustin. He had a present for him - incense and myrrh from Jerusalem, obtained in Ragusa via the Ottoman Empire.

"I have good news for you, Padre," he said immediately after exchanging greetings. "On May Day I officially proposed to Margareta and she said yes. We have thought about setting the wedding for the 23-rd of June. It's the Eve of Saint John's Summer fires, and we would like Saint John to protect our love and matrimony."
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Re: The boys' good luck

–continued from here

Agustin was pleased to see Fernand again, and to hear that there were finally good news to hear. He had felt sorry for the poor man and his beloved, and he had prayed for both of them, every day. Now that the news involved an official proposal, and setting the date for the wedding, these were even better news.

”I think it’s a wise choice. In Venice this saint is celebrated a bit less, but I know that on the mainland he is. And this is why people originary from there still light Saint John’s summer fires here too. I’ll be happy to officiate your wedding. Should I start publishing the banns already? Are you sure you’ll not be at sea then?” he further asked.

And speaking about being at sea, the detail dawned on him.

”Fernand, I kindly ask your captain to come here when he can. I’ll be waiting for him.”

He wanted to tell him about Paolo and Faxio, who now were in the animal yard, helping the novice who fed the animals.
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So Padre Agustin agreed with him, that it was the best wedding date, and he told him further that if in Venice Saint John’s summer fires were less celebrated, they were still known and cherished.

”Margareta’s parents celebrate them too with a bonfire in the garden. They are from up the mountains, as far as I understood,” he added, not sure where exactly from, neither what part did the priest refer to as main land.

His Venetian geography was lacking, because he had never been curious to look at a map of Venice.

”Thank you, Padre. You know I’ll be thrilled to have you marry us. And yes, you may start publishing the banns.”

The question if he was sure he wouldn’t be at sea then made him smile:

”Come on, Padre! I couldn’t be absent at my wedding! Besides, we are leaving tomorrow or the day after for England, so we will return before San Antonio.”

He had calculated the worst case possible.

As the priest asked for Captain Beppin, Fernand replied promptly:

”Surely I’ll tell him, just that might happen late after the evening mass, since he is here and about, with errands, given that we leave soon.”

He didn’t ask why the captain was needed. If the priest thought he deserved to know, he’d tell Fernand.
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Agustin understood that a Frenchman couldn’t know the details of the Venetian Republic as well as a local, when he knew only a few ports. He nodded at the agreement to publish the banns. The explanation that they would leave for five or six weeks to England and back made him think that he has found the right moment to talk the captain into taking the boys. Five or six weeks at sea would make them decide if they really think a sailor’s life is for them.

It made sense for a captain to be busy if the departure was imminent. But maybe it was wiser to gain Fernand first on his side, and only afterwards the captain…

”Whenever he’d succeed to arrive, he’d be welcome. Actually, I would like to tell you first what I have been thinking, to tell me if it is a good idea… There are two little boys I found in the streets. Orphans, with nobody to care for them, and having lived for a long time in the streets. You know what such children have the perspective of becoming, don't you? For orphanages they are a little too big, and they don't want to be separated. Rather logical for two brothers. And they dream of becoming sailors."

He didn’t say that he trusted "Colomba's" crew, as far as he had seen them when blessing the ship, to be a better fit than a large ship, where two boys wouldn't get enough attention and teaching, and where punishment would be the most common form of teaching them not to do things. This would be an argument for the captain.

"I think your ship would be a good one for them to grow into proper seamen, if they think they still want it after this first voyage. This is what I want to talk to the Captain. And I can introduce you to the children too, if you want."
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Fernand blinked, looking at the priest with curiousity, but not saying anything until he heard the summary of the story. He nodded that he knew, thieves and criminals were most often what street children had the perspective to become, if nothing took them out of that damned environment. He had heard how things were in the French orphanages, not knowing that in the Venetian ones things were slightly better.

Anyway, being raised with high discipline and without love, the ones who could adapt to the system, got to be useful members of the society, but enough of them were running away, unable to adapt and to resist in such an environment which transformed the little person in a pawn among many others in a sea of little people. He had heard enough stories. And some of them got, indeed, to run to sea and become ship boys, growing up into fine men. That was a chance. One of his past crewmates on another ship he had sailed on for a while had such a background.

”I would like seeing them. And I agree with you that we can teach them seamanship and proper behaviour. Where twelve people eat, two more little ones can eat too.”

After seeing them, he would have what to tell Captain Beppin.

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The boys could hardly recognise themselves from the mirror with their new look. They had been taken to bath and they had new clothes. Their hair was combed nicely. Neither of the boys liked all of these changes, but Paolo knew that this new look was the price they had to pay if they wanted give a good impression and get the possible apprenticeship. He had succeeded in telling this to Faxio as well.

The boys had been instructed to help with the animals at the yeard. Paolo had not known how many animals a monastery would have. The boys had been surprised to the surroundings in other ways too. This seemed to be a big place, like a town within a city.

The boys had fed little hens as their first little chore, which had been fun for both of them. Now they were following the goat. They had fed the little goats, both intentionally and unintentionally. One of the goats had stolen Faxio's little handkerchief, a white linen piece he had received just recently at the monastery. He had been sad as the goat had not given it back and instead bit it to shreds. But the younger brother's mind was quick to change and soon Faxio could not stop laughing at the little goats that always climbed over everything they could find.

Paolo found this amusing as well, but his mind was more focused on the future. Would the sailorman they were expecting come soon? What would he be like?
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As Fernand said that he agreed they could be taught what they needed to know, and he wanted to meet them, they headed to the animal yard.

”You’ll see how big Michela grew too!” he said on a warm tone, as Fernand had seen the puppy before.

As they opened the gate to the animal yard, they found the two children playing with the baby goats, one of the baby goats having pieces of Faxio’s handkerchief in its muzzle. Michela, at her turn, was playing catch with another baby goat, as big as herself.

”Paolo, Faxio, come here, please!” he shouted.

Michela, hearing his voice, came and jumped on him, happy to be hugged and caressed. Agustin didn’t reject her, but he made the introductions in the meanwhile too:

”Fernand, please meet Paolo and Faxio Molin. Paolo and Faxio, please meet Fernand Boissier, my sailor friend I told you about.”

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Fernand smiled when Agustin mentioned his puppy. Indeed, he had seen her when she was even younger and more playful, but he imagined that he couldn't have grown so much in three weeks or so, and she'd be as delightful as he remembered her. He had a puppy when he was a boy of 8, 9 years old, so for him puppies were childhood memories. As Agustin opened the gate, Fernand smiled also seeing lots of baby animals, with Michela and two children playing with baby goats. This animal yard could be a heaven for any child. He, as a fisherman's son, had never seen so many in the same place.

"She's a hunter by nature. How have you taught her only to play friendly?" he asked, curious and amused at the same time.

Agustin had called the boys, but Michela came first, recognizing his voice. After Agustin got the first greeting, Michela remembered him too, and Fernand petted her with delight, receiving a few friendly licks as thanks.

The boys came too, the priest making the introduction. They were so small and frail, compared to him, who was tall and strong, and for a second he feared that the boys would be scared of him. The eldest wasn't bigger than Julietta's Tonio, he thought, not knowing their real age and judging only after their short and thin look.

"Glad to meet you both, Paolo and Faxio. If you leave your plate clean at every meal, you'll grow as big as me," he told them. "And, of course, working aboard a ship makes muscles grow," he further smiled. "Do you further want to play with the baby goats, or do you want to come to the garden and listen stories about my latest trip?"

He didn't mind having them hear about May Day in Argostoli.
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Both of the boys became speechless when they saw the giant seafaring man. A dog was friendly towards the man, so the boys presumed that the man was not someone they should fear.

Indeed when inspected more closely the sailor seemed rough, but also very kind. When the boys were introduced by the priest both of them smiled, Faxio hesitated a bit, but he joined his brother's smile. They then said fromarry, "Hello, sior!"

Could they ever became so tall and wide shouldered like the sailor, even with food and work on board a ship? This was hard for the boys to comprehend. Nevertheless, Paolo replied about that theme, "That would be great, to be so big and tall as you. I guess no one dares to bully you?" Indeed this was clear admiration.

The boys faced a hard question. On the other hand attending the baby goats was fun, but they were also interested in this exciting mariner. After they look at each other, and whispered a bit between themselves, Paolo spoke for the both of them, "We want to hear your stories!"
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Agustin answered Fernand:

“She has always received food. I know I should teach her to hunt rats. Just that I don’t know how. Rats are dangerous. But while she was young – she was one month old, if you remember, when I took her, and for six days she had traveled down the mountains, tucked into my shirt - I was afraid the rats might overpower her and hurt her. So… a priest’s dog has to be friendly,” he smiled. ”And growing up with chickens and kittens around meant they weren’t enemies, but a part of her pack. Exactly how her humans are too.”

He didn’t mind the licks, petting her again. And he liked the way Fernand approached the children, smiling at Paolo’s words that nobody dared to bully the big sailor.

As the children wanted to hear the stories, they gathered all in the garden.
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