Mountains of Memories
Copyright © 2015 by Parker Sheaffer
While he had wonderful health and knew that his wounds healed quickly Lucas didn't know what would happen if he fell into the ocean. Would he drown or float around until he was rescued, found land or died of thirst and starvation? He was not inclined to explore that mystery.
His first crossing of the Atlantic was rather uneventful. They easily survived the one storm and his initial bout of mal de mer passed quickly, but both he and Tobias were happy to touch land again when they docked in Portsmouth.
England was a surprise for Lucas. He had a difficult time understanding many of the people, especially those in the vicinity of the docks. It was as if they were speaking an entirely different language, not only with their strange accents but they seemed to have a different word for almost everything.
Mr. Simmons, the first mate, took Lucas and Tobias under his wing and gave them a bit of a tour around the area and bought them some lunch. English pubs were noisy places with unusual food. Their guide suggested a stew for them and they were given beer to drink, although Tobias' pint was watered down a bit. Still, they soon felt aglow with excitement and a bit of alcohol.
Although he was more than old enough to imbibe, drinking was something that Lucas had never developed a liking for because his previous employer, Mr. McCarthy, had frowned on it and taught Lucas that it was a habit that led to poor judgement and to ruin. Lucas and his friends had only once tried some homemade corn liquor back in the mountains. A paddling from his father was all that it had taken to deter him from repeating his adventure. Aboard their ship, beer was the usual beverage with meals. The boys were not allowed to have rum or other strong drink.
Portsmouth was a large city, almost as large as Boston, and they had some modern innovations such as horse drawn trams. The boys had some money in their pockets, but it was strange money called pence and shillings and they were unsure how it ranked with their American coins. Fortunately, Mr. Simmons enjoyed showing the boys around the city and told them to keep their money. He paid for everything and after a day of exploration, saw them safely back to their work that evening.
It took them a few days to reload the ship and take on passengers. The small crowd of tattered looking emigrants that were taken down to the lower part of the ship made Lucas feel rather sad. They seemed frightened and the children clung tightly to their mothers skirts. It struck Lucas upon seeing the poor that he was able to recognize their lower social status. It had not been long since he himself had been dressed in homespun clothing with holes in his boots and at that time he would have thought these people to be quite ordinary. Now he was reminded once again of his good fortune and hoped that a similar bountiful future awaited these good people.
Since his exile from his mountain home and family, Lucas had not been a regular visitor to church. Earl had been an agnostic and Lucas held mixed feelings about God. He wasn't certain if his transformation had been a curse or a blessing and so he attended Sunday services occasionally, but without enthusiasm. Captain Johansson held a short service on deck once a week and Lucas resolved to attend more piously and show some gratitude, if not for his health, at least for his increased assets.
They sailed for home where Lucas took a turn at showing Tobias around Boston. Tobias had joined the crew as a transfer from another ship, one that mainly harbored in South Carolina, so Boston was new to him. The two boys had become good friends and would become even closer after several voyages back and forth to England.
At first, the problem of becoming too familiar with the men aboard the ship was worrisome to Lucas, but after a while he saw that there was often a change of staff. The crew members were frequently being replaced with different men and even many of the officers took higher positions on other ships. Eventually, only the Captain, the first mate and a few of the officers were part of the original crew Lucas had signed with.
Three years quickly passed at sea and Tobias had grown a wispy moustache as well as four inches in height. Mr. Simmons gave Lucas a strange look one day when both boys were helping serve at the officer's table. It was a look that Lucas recognized and he knew that his time on the Bonnie Lass was drawing to a close. Had it not been for the obvious comparison to his younger friend, Lucas might have been able to avoid discovery for a couple more years, but he had no desire to begin answering awkward and suspicious questions again.
A few months later he was getting dressed after a visit with the captain and he turned to the man and said, "Sir, I'm afraid that I am going to have to be leaving you before long."
"Why is that, Lucas? Are you unhappy here? Is anything wrong?" the man asked with concern.
"No, nothing is really wrong. At least, nothing that I can explain. I just feel that it is time to go."
"I know that it isn't really my business, and I only ask because I'm very fond of you, but does it have something to do with your countenance, your apparent youthfulness? You seem to be rather unchanged since your arrival here and I'll admit that I have wondered lately about you, but I am personally happy about it. You can stay just as you are forever, as far as I'm concerned," the man said and placed a reassuring, affectionate hand on Lucas' shoulder.
Surprised, Lucas said, "Yes, Sir. Actually it does. I can't understand it and in some ways it's a good thing, but it does make people uncomfortable after a while. I don't want to cause trouble here so I really must go."
"What will you do? Have you plans?"
"I don't know yet; perhaps another ship. I doubt if I will be fortunate enough to find another berth as pleasant as this one."
"Believe me when I tell you that I have seen so many strange things, unexplainable things in my life and voyages that I am seldom surprised by anything new. Yet as I said, your secrets are yours to keep. If you are determined to go your way, I may be able to help you with that. I will talk to a friend, the captain of the Cameroon, and I'm sure he will welcome you there. You've become a regular little sailor and everyone likes you so I know he will too."
When they arrived back in Boston the Cameroon was not in port and was not due to arrive for two weeks so Captain Johansson wrote a letter for Lucas to present to Captain Perez. With so much time on his hands Lucas first took his accumulated earnings to the bank and then returned to the hotel where he had first stayed. Two weeks of leisure were just what he needed.
Lucas was now thirty-two years old and often found it difficult to be treated as a child by most of the people he met. Without the frequent attentions of Captain Johansson and the occasional tryst with one crew member or another, Lucas soon needed some physical contact of a sexual sort. Unfortunately he didn't seem able to attract most of the men that he found attractive. They were not interested in young boys and while Lucas' preference ran to older men, teenage boys were usually his only outlet. The few men who did approach him were rather scary so Lucas avoided most of them.
He was pleased to see that Silas was still working at the hotel and Silas was pleased to see him.
"I remember you very well," the young clerk told him. "You haven't changed a bit. If you would like your old room, I believe it was 210, it's still available."
"That would be nice, Silas," Lucas said.
"You remember my name. How sweet," Silas said with a smile. He was a handsome young fellow with neatly trimmed brown hair and sideburns. His eyes seemed full of humor and he let his finger slide along Lucas' hand as he presented him with the pen so that he could register. With the welcome company of Silas, the two weeks passed very quickly for Lucas.
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