01 - The Arrival.   Posted by The Lens.Group: 0
The Lens
 GM, 8 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Sun 24 Jan 2021
at 03:01
01 - The Arrival


“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

~ Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy

Mid-Afternoon Friday September 24, 1909, clear skies, calm sea. Beaufort 4 (windspeed ~9 knots); visibility good.

The notice came that Duncan Kirkness had gone mad at the Merigg post, so they sent the Yankee out. The journey up from Halifax had been a dull blur of being passed vessel to vessel and now Matthew Hall sat up front of the supply boat with his gear, wearing new boots that hardly rubbed at all and the sum total of his worldly possessions perhaps doubled by the Department of Marine and Fisheries. Seabirds occasionally floated alongside them like dainty ghosts, foam-white and briefly curious as to whether they were fishing before veering away on their own paths across the waves.

On the island itself the day had proved fair enough for everyone to settle on the shingle and wait at the low end for MacTaggart and his boat: though Kirkness had had to be confined to the cottage's upper room before Hetty had come out to Merigg at her uncle's request he seemed calm now, toying with the pebbles on the beach. The Captain sat beside Hetty, overtired from double shifts and trying not to show it, the wind quickly blowing the smoke from his pipe to a scented nothing. He'd asked her to stay on a little longer, until he had the measure of the new man at least, though Hetty knew he was less concerned with having another hand to help with daily chores than having her in sight. Home was an empty place right now and there wasn't always enough work to forget it.

Kirkness intermittently skipped stones across the water and Capt. Dowling frowned, though the force of the throwing was not suggestive of the attack the smaller man had made on the light nor himself. It was the absoloutely careless nature, heedless of what he might annoy with his pebbles. Hetty watched the Tammy Noir come in and considered what might be on board besides the newcomer - milk, perhaps; with another round of eggs that could mean pancakes for breakfast or even cocoa tonight, a moment of luxury that her uncle surely couldn't begrudge with the new man having come so far from Away, that word that encompassed the world beyond the eastern Maritimes.

At length the little vessel nudged up alongside the cobbled slipway and grumbled to silence as the water settled under her. Matt caught the boatman's nod that he should go ashore and picked up his kit to reach for the rusted rungs that would be his first contact with the island, a new job and new possibilities.
Matthew Hall
 player, 2 posts
Mon 25 Jan 2021
at 16:00
01 - The Arrival
Matthew said a quiet word of thanks to the boatman before climbing down, genuinely appreciative for his service. Recent years had taught him many things, the ease with which people could be taken for granted among them.

He took the rusted handholds one at a time, dropping down to the stone path. He took a deep breath of the salt air and looked about the shore. An island, not altogether different from the one he had spent most of his life on. Far fewer souls that called it home, obviously. Lonelier, perhaps. Perhaps not. On Deer Island he had spent hours surrounded by others without having connection to any of them. When acknowledged, it was for his reliability, the steadfast way he performed his work. He had been more of a set of completed tasks, rather than a person.

This was likely much the same situation. Only now, he would have the chance to save his wages. To build a reputation as good worker with Marine and Fisheries. From there, he might find his way into a career at sea, the only place in the world where he had a sense of belonging.

He glanced at the shore, watched one of the thrown pebbles skip into the tide. His eyes went to the man who threw the rock, the man he sensed that he had come to replace. He wondered why the man might be leaving his post. Something, perhaps in his careless demeanor, and the stern disposition of the older man nearby, Captain Dowling no doubt, suggested that all was not well. That he was departing in some degree of disgrace, or had possibly even been dismissed.

It was none of his affair, he reminded himself as he approached the Captain, shifting the weight of his pack, moving briskly up the slipway. He was present for one reason only: to work hard and give a good account of himself. That, he felt certain, he could do.

He raised his knuckle to the brim of his cap when he reached Captain Dowling, giving a polite nod to the young woman who was with him. ”Matthew Hall, sir. Reporting for duty.”
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 4 posts
Sun 31 Jan 2021
at 22:06
01 - The Arrival
Hetty had a hard time figuring out what to pay attention to. Kirkness as he picked up one stone after another and threw it into the sea-- she'd given up trying to keep count-- her uncle, who was lost in his exhaustion and thoughts, or the approaching ship and the promise it held. As the wind stirred a stray hand of dark hair across her face, she raised a fine-boned yet calloused hand to impatiently brushed away. Finally her eyes settled on the approaching ship.

She wasn't necessarily a chatty sort even on what passed for a normal day and today was definitely normal. Her deep blue eyes narrowed slightly to focus in better, smooth freckled brow furrowing. Hetty rose to her feet-- anxious or anticipating? both?-- as the ship ever so slowly approached the shore. She even took a moment to brush off her clothing and tug at it a bit to make herself more marginally presentable.

Hetty unabashedly stared at Matthew as he disembarked, watching as he approached. He even acknowledged her. Before addressing her uncle! Was there a glimmer of approval in the depths of her gaze as she inclined her head towards him as regal as any lady as he started to address her uncle?
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 1 post
 Experienced Wickie
Mon 1 Feb 2021
at 13:47
01 - The Arrival
Matt recieved a warm if noncommital "-nae bother, buddy," from the boatman as he left. The tide boomed low against the rocks further out.

Captain Dowling looked the newcomer over as though assessing him for seaworthiness or chipped paint, though he spared a glance at Hetty noticing that she was noticed. Whatever conclusions he came to on either front were opaque, but he offered a strong, rough hand over to Matthew, taking his pipe in the other. "Welcome to Merigg, Mr. Hall."

"Captain Absalom Dowling. This is my niece Henrietta. Barry, d'ye have much for us?"
he called past Matthew's head.

A distant "Aye," came from the boat. Down on the beach, Kirkness had picked himself up to leave, making some last adjustments to his pack. The Captain turned to Matthew, nodding that he might put down his gear.

"Here's your first task, Mr. Hall - up in yon boatshed's a barrow, and I'd thank ye t' bring it down to us. Hetty-" he didn't need to explain further to his niece, replacing his pipe in his mouth and pulling an all-weather notebook from his jacket: she was to take a primary inventory of what was coming in, to be inked in the ledgers later.
Matthew Hall
 player, 3 posts
Fri 5 Feb 2021
at 01:43
01 - The Arrival
Hall nodded at the Captain and his niece when the lighthouse keeper introduced them both. His gaze moved to Henrietta, thinking he perceived a hint of a pleased expression on the girl’s face, but he did not allow the look to linger, uncertain of his place, and mindful that the Captain was likely protective of the young woman, especially from those he regarded as strangers.

”Yes, sir,” he answered, moving quickly to fulfill Captain Dowling’s request. As he walked, he stole a glance at the lighthouse, suddenly curious about the age of the structure, and how long people had lived on the island, maintaining the light, and keeping watch for ships that drew too close to the shoreline. His thoughts drifted again to the young man who had been throwing the pebbles into the sea, wondering what might have transpired that would lead him to depart his life here, or be forced away from it. Had the solitude overwhelmed him?

He stepped inside the gloom of the shed, taking only a moment to survey the interior before retrieving the barrow and returning to the Captain.
The Lens
 GM, 13 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Sun 7 Feb 2021
at 01:56
01 - The Arrival
The lighthouse loomed up over Matthew as he climbed the little strip of track to the boatshed, almost as though it was a thing in motion: a taut limb hauling the island upward of its own volition. For a moment, midstep as though his foot were lifted from the earth by vast upheaval, he could imagine the island's gradient as a tilting raised by the light and about to flip over and plunge into the sea. All the same, his new boot returned to the ground the next instant and the lighthouse remained rearing high.

Pausing to look at it from the boatshed door, Matt noticed that despite the well-maintained paint and roughly contemporary look of the lighthouse itself, the foundations had the blocky, unlovely look of eighteenth-century military work. The left-hand platform he took to be the foghorn might at one point have been a gun emplacement against either the French or his own ancestors, no matter how foolhardy a raider would have to be to brave the north shoals there. Setting his hand on the boatshed doorway and stepping in to see the big salt-scarred tarred timbers overhead it seemed the buildings might be contemporary: perhaps some miserable redcoats had huddled here, made a hearth where now the dory lay on trestles and dripped saltwater on an earthen floor. More likely it had been locals, maybe half of them with a brownish cast and a quarter redheaded, deep voices cursing at the biting cold as they piled timber to feed the beacon's fire.

The floor was paved now and the one high window even glazed, the shed equipped with ropes in various states of antiquity, a small stack of creels awaiting repair; glass floats; a folded canvas and tin bucket part-full of tar; a few varnish tins, an old tin bath a man would have to fold to fit in hung to the wall; a set of marlinspikes and sundries bagged in oilcloth hung on a nail and, as advertised, an old wooden barrow to his immediate left. Matt felt the heft of the thing and managed to wheel it out without knocking anything over, letting the lighthouse loom as it would at his back.

Whilst Hall toiled up towards the sky and came down with a barrow, Hetty helped with the unloading of goods. At least, she was helping in the counting before Barry Macmorran hefted things over to her uncle. [Language unknown:  "Strmo, ati, ro...ch th wh ncpaou?"]

From up on the boat, Hetty could confirm they did have butter and even a dreaded tin of beef extract she hoped would be used for stock or offered for Hall's drinking rather than proffered at her for supposed vigour and strength. She watched one of the big seagulls skim swiftly across the sky and returned her attention to the others as the conversation turned to Kirkness, who was currently drawing slowly nearer the boat: [Language unknown:  "...our fidiev hat st ro, ersee miar, un notkorate ofio n moyin to etal il rile'omchur omurek koroutver kor onswheous i leevckut p ai. Niman lo arse com n ast Yankee eeos, menintsonure asone be?"]

Macmorran handed down a sack of flour. [Language unknown:  "O, a intntithi ivdin k itres o mo di haard, traithare, n laprck fo st leca nero lapratfi."]

[Language unknown:  "Hmph. Ilin rutntesta thent acssstwa, osous ie anin al pro ort nce."] Kirkness was considering a couple of cobbles he'd picked up, seemingly picking a favourite as souvenir.

[Language unknown:  "No, ssiv. Oveoerint'nceich weroin p we i Ti bleartera taroca ine oscedi ion besefo"]

[Language unknown:  "ion art llilha,"] Hetty's uncle broke in, not looking at her but making the point all the same.

[Language unknown:  "Llver, haturever ichingoutone dihi-resepe ar as, weloee ofrut tiame,"] Barry remonstrated, though there was humour in his voice knowing exactly who was trying to warn Hetty, of all creatures.

Captain Dowling gave a small grunt under a sack of coal passed to him. [Language unknown:  "On, St ndethiint stibutall wit ofcom rattr n usrom wasos at ekth,"] he allowed. [Language unknown:  "Ounstaear thu nt staconare"]

Matt caught the Captain switching back from Gaelic for propriety and his comfort as the barrow's wheel rumbled on the slipway. "-of wickie they've sent, and it'll be good to have a sane and sober man for all I can't be seeing to myself. Ahoy Mister Hall - you can pack your gear in first, one of these coal sacks and the foodstuffs." He helped Hetty back to the slipway and stood aside a moment, smoking.

"Speaking o' which, Mister Hall - are you anything of a cook?"
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 6 posts
Mon 15 Feb 2021
at 01:51
01 - The Arrival
Henrietta happily helped with the counting and unloading. Whatever other faults she had, she was not one to shirk responsibility. She took her duties quite seriously. Much could depend on the inventory and her accuracy would insure they would be able to order necessary supplies in a timely fashion and the budget didn't suffer.

She didn't pause in her work but she did spare her uncle a glance at something he said. She turned to Barry and rolled her eyes good-naturedly at him. For a moment she turned to look in Kirkness's direction, a thoughtful frown on his face.

Not everyone could stand under the demands the lighthouse placed on them. It could be grueling, mostly thankless work. Oh, but how she loved the wind and the sea, the crashing of the waves accompanied by the cries of the seabirds...

She blinked and drew her thoughts back to the present. Hetty cast a side-long glance at her uncle when he asked Matt if he could cook. Though to be fair, her cooking was... passable at best. There were always so much better, more interesting things to be doing than standing by the stove and she resented the notion that it was her responsibility simply because she was a woman.

"Anything else I can help with?" she asked, her voice low and pleasantly husky, as she stepped downwind from the smoke.
The Lens
 GM, 17 posts
 Thy focus of
 the Light
Fri 19 Feb 2021
at 14:15
01 - The Arrival
Duncan Kirkness seemed to have narrowed his choices, but his pensive look had changed when he'd noticed Hetty's attention: he looked wary to the brink of being afraid, as though she might sieze the beach cobbles from his hands and strike him staggering. He flinched a deferential smile and looked out to sea.

A couple of seals were bobbing in the surf near the far end of the bay, likely this year's youngsters indulging their curiousity. His pack already settled on his back, Kirkness slipped the long dark cobble in his left hand into his coat pocket with a soft click. He was looking at the pale round rock taking up his right hand with concentrated nervous intensity when Hetty's uncle gave his reply:

"Let's see what Mr. Hall can get on the barrow, then we'll pick up what's left and get him introduced to the place - leave the other sack of coal t'me, mind, and you two can go up ahead, I've a few last things t'settle here."
He frowned at Kirkness, who wouldn't look at him.
Matthew Hall
 player, 7 posts
Thu 25 Feb 2021
at 03:21
01 - The Arrival
As he had taken in the lighthouse itself, along with the shed, Hall found his restless thoughts swimming with more questions, curiosities that would likely never find answers. Although the military origins of the tower stirred speculation about what manner of threat prompted the emplacement, and whether the anticipated danger had ever truly materialized, it was the shed that momentarily stole his attention completely.

Beyond the salt caked structure itself, and the stories it had likely borne witness to, Hall found his gaze lingering on the objects collected within it; the creels, bath, and floats. Each one had a tale to tell; a narrative of how it had come to be here. Strangely, for a moment, he found his thoughts drawn to his home on Deer Island, the collection of trinkets from the shipyards and docks that he had kept in his drafty room as a boy, the building blocks of dreams of the sea, his escape from the suffocating melancholy that his family had become.

He blinked, forcing himself back to the present. There was no time for dawdling. He had a job. A lone chance to show himself worthy of something better.

He made haste with the barrow. Not running, but making for the unloaded supplies at a brisk pace. He caught of the language the Captain and the boatman were speaking, the lilt in some of the words providing him an educated guess as to its origin. When Dowling gave his instructions, Hall moved quickly to comply, putting in his own pack before adding one of the sacks of coal and the foodstuffs. He strove to arrange things efficiently, adding as much to the barrow as he safely could.

The Captain’s question took him slightly off guard. Answering honestly, he said, ”A fair one, sir. Had to learn on my own. Picked up some things from a few ship’s cooks back home. I had good reason to improve my skills. I had to eat whatever I was able to put together.”

From the corner of his eye, he noticed the man with the pebbles again, his nervous demeanor sending a brief whisper of unsettledness winding through Hall’s chest.
Henrietta Dowling
 player, 9 posts
Sun 28 Feb 2021
at 23:21
01 - The Arrival
Hetty nodded at her uncle and silently helped to load the barrow. It was best to keep her hands busy. Her fingers were itchy. Would she have the chance to get a memento of sorts from Kirkness? Maybe one of those pebbles.

No, no time. There were supplies to unload and put away, inventory to complete. She smiled to herself when Matthew declared himself to be a fair cook. Better than her, probably! Her meals were edible and that was probably the best anyone would be able to say about it.

Hetty nodded in satisfaction at the barrow when it was as full as it could be. She spent a few moments arranging things in her arms so she could take as much as possible with her. The fewer trips they would have to take, the better. The sooner everything was unloaded the sooner she could slip away...
Captain Dowling
 NPC, 2 posts
 Experienced Wickie
Sun 28 Feb 2021
at 23:54
01 - The Arrival
All but a couple of boxes and the other coal sack fitted nicely on the barrow, making of the old implement a squeaky cornucopia of assurance against hunger. Captain Dowling gave a grunt of what might have been sympathy or bemusement at Matt's frankness.

"Well, you'll not have to be down cracking the limpets here," he assured Matt, then brightened. "Good t'hear, though, good to hear - poor Hetty's been stuck with all the galley shifts this past week and the best you'll get from me is beans n' bacon, sometimes bacon and beans. Still, 'twill keep a buddy filled out."

At this point he was distracted by some movement of the man beyond Matt. "Kirkness, will you stop being so rabbity! Took against the island, said the Devil was in the lens and tried to break my head and now you're set to be shot of us all you're havering at the shoreline! Get on the boat!"

Kirkness mutely gripped the pebble he had - small, smooth and red like a coin, the round white rock set down when choosing it, perhaps, or stashed away - and slunk rapidly past those on the slipway. He passed close to Matthew but turned his face away as though there might be something terrible passed on in his look. He made some vague sound to the boatman and settled in where Matt had sat, toying with the small stone in his hands. The captain narrowed his eyes at the man but turned to his charges seeing that all was well.

"All right, you two get on for the house, I'll be up presently," he said, motioning that they could head away from the shore. "Hetty, if you'd show him where things go and where to stow himself, that's fine."