Mutiny - Part I: Death of a young rigger
The boatswain, that everybody except Antoine Lemieux knew under the name of Jacques Fresne, was looking at his mate at his son, with approval. The lad was learning. He was getting better at mastering the art of being obeyed by the sailors.
On his side, Jacque was barking his orders to the riggers, to work quicker and better. Claude, afraid of the man, hurried to pull a line through a block and it fell back, hitting Jacque in the face. The boatswain cursed, rubbing the painful place, and, in a fit of rage, climbed the few spars separating him from the offender.
How do you dare to do it to me? Youll pay dearly, sacre fils de chienne! he shouted, punching him in the face, while still holding tight with the other hand.
The lad, shocked by what had happened, and frightened, already trembling in waiting his punishment, was caught unprepared by the bear fist landing in his face, so he lost balance completely, falling on the deck.
Elouan, a yard farther, arrived too late to be able to do anything for the Little Fish. But his enemy, the boatswain, was there, looking at him with injected eyes, all his concentrated rage seemed on the verge of bursting into incandescence.
"Go back to your work! There is nothing to see here! Jacque said, wanting to get down. This lad never learnt to pay attention to his work. He had an accident before, its not the first one but probably his last one. A weak breed, nothing to build on, he added, convinced that everybody would say the same thing.
It had been merely a work accident, and the lad had been in sickbay before, he was prone to accidents. What investigation could prove anything different?
But Elouan had seen what had happened, and he was seething, at his turn. The Breton faced the enraged boatswain unflinching, snarling, unafraid, his eyes launching back poisonous flames to the Provensal.
No, it was not an accident. You have thrown him down, I saw it, and I think there are other witnesses too. This time, the acting captain will learn more about your ways to behave with the men and especially with the ship boys and younger sailors.
He was shouting loud enough to be heard by all the sailors around, and a few approved.
Who knows if other work accidents involving people whom he disliked had been genuine or not? another said now, that he felt supported by the other riggers.
Jacque didnt believe them. He knew the officers wouldnt either. It was a warrant officers word against the dirty sailors.
"Shut up, you bastard! Everybody, go back to your work, or I'll trim your dirty hides!
As Elouan was the closest to him, he raised the hand to strike him, more or less like he had done with the unfortunate lad to whom he didnt spare a glance to see if he was still moving or not. This was the best opportunity to take his revenge on the damn Breton. He had buried better men than this one
And the confirmation came from the deck, for who was able to pay attention to what happened below them. Somebody went to look at Claude, and he shouted:
"Little Fish is dead! He broke his neck falling from the rigging!"
Elouan was stubborn and full of hate. He had liked the young Claude, who had been under his care. He was sick of the boatswains hatred and abuse. And, more than everything, he remembered that he had been the one who had ordered Armelle's attack.
Yes? The same way you have done it to Armelle, because she is my fiancée? Bad choice from your part; we got engaged anyway and I am not going to leave her just because you wanted it to, he hissed, raising his own fist as a guard, and deflecting the mans blow.
It was a fight between two men with a close age gap between them, only that one was better fed than the other but the better fed one had also his body weakened by an addiction to opium.
So what if you got engaged to her? Not the first, nor the last woman to mourn for her betrothed! Jacque replied, as he fought back, intending to throw him from the rigging as he had done before, then to claim that he had been attacked which was true.
One of the sailors in the rigging above them cheered for Elouan, which angered the boatswain even more. They have exchanged a few blows, one stronger than the other... but the one who succeeded to make the other lose balance was Elouan. With a well placed fist, he sent the boatswain flying into the sea below.
Elouan heard the cheering, but now it didnt impress him. When Benoit told him to let the bastard drown, he nodded.
Then he returned to his work, hate and anger still not calmed down, focusing on the shrouds he had to tie properly. Those were knots not to be untied so easily...
Besides everything you have witnessed by my side, and his continuous picking on me, he had sent thugs to attack my fiancée a few months ago She hadnt properly recovered yet, and shed be disfigured for life, he explained his reasons, while he kept securing the shrouds as if nothing had happened.