|Summary:||The Clown Prince and the Flower of Oldtown go dolphin spotting incognito with various smallfolk. Oysters were harmed in the production of this log.|
|Related:||Related Logs (Say None if there aren't any; don't leave blank. You have to use full URLs, like http://gobmush.wikidot.com/logtitle)|
Dhraegon has been dressed in a simple, but well made emerald green tunic and matching hose. There is a touch of blue to Flox's standard grey tunic. Flox is handing a rather large hamper up into Eonn's boat.
The small sailing craft is docked, more or less out of the way of the major traffic at Oldtown's harbours. It's a pretty, neat little craft, painted a deep dreamy blue, and its low gunhales offer little difficulty in loading. There's a cat sitting on top of its cabin roof.
Marsei is not far behind Dhraegon, taking her time picking her way over the beach. She's clad against any potential winds off the water, braids tying the front of her hair back while the rest of the soft red waves are tucked into a looser braid, a full-length cape draping from her shoulders — not a dissimilar shade of blue than the boat that awaits them. Unlike the boat, it has a thick lace trim, although it's a simple decoration, as lace goes. Her dress beneath is similarly simple affair in a more subdued blue. She reaches for Dhraegon's elbow. "Is that a cat?" she notices first, immediately cheered by the sight.
It's that big orange tomcat. It watches their approach with dignity.
In fact Flox is not the only man in possession of a hamper. It's a point of pride for smallfolk being entertained by their social and financial superiors, to give as well as to receive; and Esme has baked an assortment of those highly flavourful pies and pasties which rumour has it have already earned her his lifelong devotion. Her son, dressed in his best, is clutching the covered basket which contains them as though it might serve both as passport and as shield… Next to his bulk she herself appears smaller and skinnier than ever, bustling along beside him with a guiding hand on his arm. She is wearing a very red dress, and carrying a smaller, lighter basket of her own. The enormous pale straw sunhat which was so much a feature of Dhraegon and Edmyn's picnic several weeks past, is installed upon her head by means of many, many pins.
Dhraegon offers Marsei a particularly fancy shell he just found. "Oh! It is! Wherever Eonn is, there cats are! They love him?" He is bright eyed and quite sober, as he has been just generally lately. It is then that Dhraegon spots Esme, "Pastie lady! Oh, her pasties are better than the Quill's, My Crocus! All spicy and full of interesting things! And that's Edmyn, who likes boats!"
The cat is a serious looking cat. The little glass windows of the low cabin are covered on the inside with white cloth, so one cannot see who's aboard, if anyone.
Marsei smiles over the shell, turning it about in one delicate hand, appreciating the beauty of the little item as much as she seems to appreciate Dhraegon thinking to pick it up. She has the sunniest of smiles for the woman and red and her son, although his face is even newer to her eyes. "Esme!" she greets warmly. "It's lovely to see you again-oh, what a pretty dress!" She speaks to the shopkeeper as though they are on the same level, were it not for the finely bred and educated inflection to her voice. "And this must be Edmyn. It's good to meet you. My name is Marsei." She turns to look at the boat, "Have you met this man Eonn and his cats?"
At a look from his mother, who is peering up at him encouragingly from under her straw hat, the tall young butcher from the shambles bobs his head to the Flower of Oldtown and recites: "It's an honour to meet you, Marsei." He beams, pleased with himself, his company, and the bright summer day itself.
Esme beams right back at him and pats his arm. "Why don't you go and give the basket to Master Flox, eh? He'll know where to put it." And with a nod she sends him off on his little errand; and her eyes follow him as far as Flox before she turns to Lady Marsei. "Thank you, milady," she says in a low voice, "for bein' so kind to my boy. It'd spoil his fun if he knew who you both were— and I daresay that'd spoil His Grace's fun too…" Then, in a more normal tone, and a smile for Dhraegon as well: "No, we've not met your friend Eonn, though Master Flox told us all about his cats. He must be a very fine man, if so many creatures like him so much. Animals have better taste in people than people usually have, don't you think?" she suggests lightly.
Dhraegon beams at his wife as if the sun rises and sets because of her. Then absandons her to go hug the newcomers in his effusive, trusting way. Taking Edmyn's hand, he starts towards the boat, "Come see the boat, Edmyn! I hope there will be dolphins!" Master3 Flox is happy to take the basket to free the lad up for exploring.
Marsei regards Edmyn closely as he's sent to Flox with Dhraegon, though her gaze is not critical; it simply remains warm, attentive, gaining a sense of him. "Oh, it's no worry," she assures Esme, upbeat, finding herself ducking her head ever-so-slightly down as though to meet the woman halfway under the brim of the large hat. "Today is all about having a good time, is it not?" She smiles toward the boat and its very serious orange cat. "I don't think I've ever been on a boat so small," she says and, while a comment with the same words could be an insult coming from another noble mouth, it's only a curious observation coming from Marsei (who is, besides, no avid seafarer). She, too, heads toward the vessel.
The basket is an important charge and Edmyn can't be easy in his mind until he's delivered it to Flox, and said good afternoon to him too in a warm and friendly way, and confided the secret that one of the pies is strawberry and rhubarb; but then he's happy to wander off with Dhraegon, hand in hand, with barely a glance back towards his watchful mother. A half-day! Sunshine! Boats! Dolphins! Friends! Pies! It would take a great deal to depress his mood, and nobody in this little gathering is likely to do so.
"We have, milady," admits Esme to Marsei; "Edmyn's father was a ship's captain once upon a time, and later on after we came to Oldtown he kept a wee boat about that size…" She nods to it, her lips curving as though with a fond reminiscence. "We'd go out on the Sound, sometimes, when he was a boy, and that's how he came by his fondness for boats, and for bein' on the water. It'll be such a treat for him, today. I really can't thank you enough, for—" She shrugs, looking from Marsei to Flox, sharing out her smile between them.
Flox waits to hand the women onto the boat, while Dhraegon is dashing about excitedly on the small deck. "Strawberry AND Rhubarb!" Oh the delight. Prince Dhraegon is incandescent with joy at the prospect of the outing. As Flox offers Esme his hand, there is a roguish glint in his eyes that belies his otherwise bland demeanor.
Eonn emerges from the cabin, ducking his head to exit. Well, more crouching than ducking, he's tall. He's not wearing his armour, for once, but is dressed simply in soft grey braies and a loose fitting shirt. Like smallfolk, though these clothes are of better fabric by the look of them.
Esme's fond recollection inspires a gentler smile in Marsei, who enjoys listening closely. "You really have Dhraegon to thank," she tells the woman through a warm chuckle — an inflection, really, in her voice — then nods in Edmyn's direction. "He is braver than I," she says quietly with a duck of her head. "I must admit it's a rare day I've gone farther than the harbour. But I'm sure I'll be fine in good company," she beams optimistically, "especially if there are dolphins to be found!" She continues beaming as she's helped on board by Flox. The lady is a bit nervous about her feet, as though expecting the boat to wobble over-much with the addition of her slight weight. "Hello Eonn," she says warmly as he emerges; though she scarcely knows him herself, she's fairly certain that he is, in fact, Eonn, friend to Dhraegon and to many cats.
Dhraegon calls, "We went back and forth by boat often. They aren't dangerous and scary like horses!" He shudders at the thought of horses, but soon forgets in his excitement at seeing Eonn, "Eonn! How is Daevon? Tell him to come visit us!" He attempts to hug the sellsword. Flox explains quietly for Esme in a tone pitched not to carry to Edmyn, "Eonn of Rills is his kinsman Daevon's Sword." Knowing she is a tourney goer, he rther assumes she knows which Knight that is. Flox keeps a steadying arm ready in case the Lady Marsei needs it, eyes lowered.
"Right now, my prince?" Eonn replies to Dhraegon. He smiles as he speaks, nodding to Esme as he does so.
Esme with her straw hat and her small covered basket is the last onto the boat; she accepts Flox's assistance nonchalantly, murmuring her thanks but never quite meeting his eyes. If she notices anything in his glance at her, it cannot be proven that she's noticed. In her sensible brown leather sandals she stands and moves as steadily on deck as on shore. "How d'you do," she says at once to the vessel's master who, having emerged from his cabin, is already practically under her feet; "Edmyn," she calls to her son, who is laughing with Dhraegon, "this is Master Eonn. Weren't you goin' to say somethin' to him?"
Edmyn turns round mid-jest, blushing slightly, and recites to Eonn: "Thank you for inviting us to go sailing in your boat, Master Eonn. It is very kind of you." Then, extempore, "I hope you like pie. We've brought lots."
Marsei holds onto Flox's arm, albeit lightly, although she seems to gain little stability from it; the handhold seems to put her mind at ease, more than anything, and after a moment she lets go, mind thusly eased. "Yes," she tells Eonn in agreement with Edmyn, "thank you. Is this your navigator?" she says with a joyous little laugh, craning her neck for a glimpse at the cabin roof for the cat.
Dhraegon giggles and shakes his head no, "Next you see him." He adds after Edmyn, "I like pie!" Flox is all perfectly correct, and yet there is something suggestive in the way he stands close to Esme, not touching her, not quite looking directly at her, but still close and easy with it.
Once one is aboard the boat, the cabin roof is low enough that reaching out to pet the orange cat is no problem, given that the cat doesn't run.
Eonn smiles at Edmyn, a bit bemusedly, and nods. Then he looks at the cat, then back at Marsei. "Orange Cat, m'lady," he says. "I'm not sure if that's a skill he has, but it's possible. I hope you don't mind them…"
The tremendous circumference of Esme's straw hat suffices to keep Flox at a respectable distance from her; once or twice however as she looks about her and the hat tilts this way and that the poor man is in danger of having an eye put out by its slightly fraying brim… "He looks very comfy there," she observes of the cat on the cabin roof, "stretched out in the sunshine. If he don't mind us, I'm sure we don't mind him," she chuckles.
Dhraegon looks at the cat and then his wife and then Eonn, "You all match!" More giggling. Flox is a nimble man and he must be watching for the hat out of the corner of his eye as it always seems to just miss him.
"I love cats," Marsei assures. "Especially orange ones." Animals are usually fond of her sweet nature, although she doesn't have the seemingly magnetic quality Eonn has over the feline persuasion. She reaches out slowly out to Orange Cat to let him decide for himself. She still holds the interesting sea shell loosely in that hand. Her only distraction from the cat is, momentarily, in a flash, Flox and Esme. She smiles at them. Both of them, at once, before watching only the cat. "Do you think it's a good day to see the dolphins?" she asks — presumably Eonn, for one who sails boats clearly must know these mysteries of the sea.
"There are probably more," Eonn says. The orange cat remains in his spot, dignified, looking at Marsei unconcernedly, and Eonn replies to the woman, "There are always dolphins. More at this time of the year. What did you all bring, besides pie?"
The smile Marsei bestows upon Flox and Esme is returned by the latter with easy nonchalance from beneath the wide brim of her hat. "Oh, more pie," Esme says then to Eonn, chuckling again as she finds a place for the smaller basket she brought with her next to the larger ones, "and a couple of different kinds of pasties. The ones you liked the last time, Dhrae," she promises him.
Flox mouths "Red Wine," then adds out loud, "Honeyed lemon water, Bread, cheese, fresh oysters, peaches…." Dhraegon is quite ernest, "Those were very good pasties. Thank you."
"I would not at all be surprised if it were all pie," Marsei notes in a light, jesting tone, not sounding as though she'd be particularly perturbed if that turned out to be true, while attempting to pet Orange Cat in all his dignity.
Orange cat accepts the stroking. He's some tough old street tom with scarred ears and a somewhat coarse coat.
Praise of her cooking is almost the only kind Esme can accept without having to fight it off in some manner. She gives Dhraegon a furtively pleased look from under the hat. "We're goin' to end up so spoiled by your Hightower peaches," she chuckles, "and oysters too…" She shakes her head, marveling. "I must say I'm rather partial to oysters," she admits, "though if you'd only told me—!" A reproving look at Flox, who seems still to be quite near at hand. "I do a very good sauce for 'em, I had the recipe from a Braavosi woman I knew in King's Landing. Never tasted a better one, though I say it who shouldn't."
"Hot sauce?" asks Eonn. Then, "Shall we put out?"
"Vinegary," explains Esme, "with a special kind of onion in. Can't always get 'em here," she sighs, shaking her head in rather a different manner. Meanwhile her son's eyes light up at Eonn's suggestion; he exclaims, "Oh, please!" and she stands quietly watching him, one hand on the gunwale.
Dhraegon jumps up and down and claps excitedly, "Yes please!" His long hair is in a single braid down his back, a few strands already escaping it. He is over by his wife in a second, studying her, "There is something special about the wind when one gets away from shore." His tone suggests he is rather pleading for her to like it.
"Let's!" Marsei is in agreement, looking out to the waters of the Sound. After a solid scratching around the ears, she lets the tomcat be, for now. "The dolphins are waiting for us." Her smile up at Dhraegon is eager in response to the pleading tone. She looks to Esme, curious, "Are you from King's Landing?" she asks, piecing together a previous part of Esme's conversation to this one. "I spent a lot of time there after my sister…" she trails off, not quite glancing at Edmyn, "… was wed, and before I was."
"Vinegar, without the peppers?" says Eonn. "I like them in a little sea water, too." He moves around beside the cabin towards the boat's bow, agile in spite of the narrow space. There he unties the ropes that hold the little vessel at the dock, and uses a long gaff-staff to push them gently backwards and out into the harbor.
The revision of Marsei's sentence isn't lost on Esme, who gives her a small, appreciative quirk of a smile. Thank you, dearie. "Edmyn's from King's Landing," she explains; "he was born there, but we left when he was so young he don't remember it. We fancied a fresh start. Somewhere nice and warm, and near the sea…" To Eonn she nods in agreement. "Their own water, aye. Keeps 'em alive and wrigglin'." A most agreeable state for an oyster, to judge by her tone of voice. Her dark gaze, shadowed by her straw hat, follows Eonn about the boat with interest; she herself makes for the seat built into the stern, beneath which luncheon has been stowed. "… I think I'll get off my feet for a minute," she murmurs, to nobody in particular, certainly not to Flox.
It certainly seems that the space in the stern, near the tiller, is the most comfortable for sitting, and even has benches built in for that purpose.
Dhraegon is all sunshine again, seeing his lady wife is game for the adventure after all. He's off to the gunwhale to ask edmyn what his favorite thing about what boats is and what animals he likes. He wrinkles his nose and declares, "Oysters are weird!" Flox bows, "I will remember next time, Esme." Then he offering Esme an arm in case she wants one.
Eonn clambers about the boat, unhurriedly and quiet in his bare feet, pushing it clear of the dock before he starts to unfurl the triangular sail and raise it.
Marsei half-disguises the beginnings of a downturn of her mouth over the description of oysters between Esme and Eonn (of a rather like mind with her prince, in some ways, it would seem) before going on, "There is no other place like Oldtown." Her voice expresses a clear affection for her city. She watches the pebbled beach slowly get further away before she, too, finds herself at the gunwale. She finds a spot to politely interject in Dhraegon and Edmyn's conversation in order to ask if Edmyn likes sea shells. The one she'd been holding had disappeared from her hand, but appears rather suddenly, almost by sleight of hand, as she holds it out, the light catching its natural iridescence.
Flox gazes at Esme, though it is Marsei he answers, "I like it here very much. Far more than I ever would have guessed." Dhraegon easily makes room for Marsei, always happy to have her close.
"Take the tiller," Eonn says, evidently to Edmyn.
Having been brought up to eat everything his mother eats, Edmyn is in favour of oysters. He has much that is good to say of them, as well as of the clever way in which boats are put together, every piece in its right place to make them float, no matter how big they might be. (He's a tall lad himself. Almost the size of Dhraegon.) Then this young butcher on his day out sobers in speaking of animals, his blue eyes wide and earnest as he explains to Marsei as well as Dhrae what Flox has already heard him say: that his mother says it's all right to kill animals if it's for people to eat, if their sacrifice (two tries to pronounce that) isn't wasted. He makes sure it's very quick so they don't feel it, and he prays for his animals each night, especially the lambs. He worries about the lambs… The sea-shell is an apt distraction: it enchants him, and he asks Dhrae to help him look later on for one just as pretty to give to his mother. Do they think she would like that? He hopes so.
Sitting in the stern of the boat, where she made her way easily enough without the aid of Flox's arm (not having noticed it…?), Esme has an ear open to as much of this conversation as the wind brings her. And when Eonn makes that offer, so generous that at first Edmyn doesn't understand that he truly means it, she nods her encouragement to her son and mouths 'go on'. Joy suffuses him. Eonn is his new best friend. His hands upon the tiller are reverential.
Dhraegon is rather wide eyed at Edmyn's careful response. He had himself been thinking of cats and ducks and the like. To play with. He tears up a little and hugs edmyn just in case he is distressed. The shell is a happy distraction for him as well, "Oh! we should look! I will help you find a good one, Edmyn!" He claps happily as Edmyn takes the tiller, happy for his new friend's getting a treat.
Eonn fixes the sail. Here in the harbour it's not so windy, but still, one can feel it catch the breeze and start to move the boat. Eonn calls back to Edmyn, "Push it the opposite of the way you want to go, and slowly, we don't want to turn too hard. Or go too close to anything. Don't bump my boat into things, mm?" He doesn't really seem worried about it, and goes forward again to unfurl the second, much smaller, sail.
Marsei, who had listened absolutely to everything Edmyn had to say, encouraging where it's apt along with Dhraegon (definitely his mother would like such a pretty sea shell), smiles to see him at the till. She brushes Dhraegon's arm and sits down somewhat near Esme; with space between, still, should someone like to sit next to either of them. She sits rather on the edge of the bench, as though to unconsciously be further from the water, yet seems otherwise relaxed, watching the waves ahead of them, quietly enjoying watching Eonn let down the second sail, the view of the Sound, and the hints of sea air.
Dhraegon settles at his Lady wife's feet to watch the men work, clearly quite happy to just be here right now with people and scenery to look at. He is relaxed the way he was at the picnic instead of anxious the way he was at the pie tasting. Flox is not quite comfortable enough to sit in the presence of Lady Marsei Hightower unbidden, and so leans nearby against the rail.
Happy in his work, careful and earnest as always, Edmyn… asks his mother which way they ought to go. Well, he's not a big picture man. Esme, who is never surprised to be called upon for such guidance, slides nearer to him along the built-in bench and promptly provides a suggestion which will take them further out into the Sound and into what is indeed the likeliest path of the dolphins who remained behind after the festival. Her low conversation with her son contains quite a bit of nautical terminology: she's explaining to him, in short words and simple phrases, step by step, not too quickly, just how it is that the tiller controls the rest of the boat, reminding him of what his father used to say about such things, and praising him whenever he recalls something she hasn't mentioned yet. After the tiller, she goes on to the sails.
The sails set and the little boat turned out toward the sound, Eonn seems quite satisfied. He just stretches out on top of the cabin with the cat.
Dhraegon tugs gently on Marsei's skirt, pointing out into the bay. "Is that a dolphin do you think? That bit of grey?" So hopeful.
When she's finished her impromptu lecture Esme leaves her son hanging happily onto the tiller, scanning the horizon for dolphins, living all at once this sunny afternoon and the others of his childhood; and she sidles over on the bench again, nearer to where Marsei is perched at the edge of it with Dhraegon at her feet. She ventures to whisper something to the Hightower lady.
Eonn closes his eyes and turns his face up to the sun. The cat doesn't lie on its back, but they do look rather alike there.
Narrowing her eyes where Dhraegon indicated, lifting a hand from the bench — she'd pressed them on either side of her, keeping her steady as she watched the view unfold ahead of the boat — to shield her gaze from light amplified by the water. "I— I can't be certain," she admits, but she does sound terribly hopeful. "Do you see anymore? They like to swim in great families. I've always liked that about them. Ever since I was small, to think they had as many brothers and sisters and cousins as I did." She tips her head toward Esme, then, to listen to the woman's whisper - the contents of which have her looking unexpectedly baffled, at first, but then she mouths "oh" through a quiet, but warm, chuckle. It's only moments later, in the midst of spying determinedly for dolphins, that she turns her head to Flox and says, "Oh, Flox! Why don't you have a seat? You'd be so much more comfortable, and we wouldn't want you getting sea legs," she says, the last part more of a joke. Flox is obviously immune from sea legs, in her mind. Just as she offers him a seat, however, she leaps up from hers, pointing excitedly at shimmers in the water and what look like fins.
"Don't look for the dolphins," advises Eonn lazily. "Look for their breath."
Flox bows and obediently prepares to sit on Esme's other side, when he stops shading his eyes. There is a flash of sunlight on a spray of water. Dhraegon is up shrieking his delight and urging edmyn to go that way.
There's nothing much to bump the boat into just here, so perhaps Edmyn may be forgiven for the alacrity with which he abandons the tiller and rushes to look where Lady Marsei is pointing. His mother shakes her head indulgently, straw hat bright in the sunshine — she's the only one of their party never obliged to squint, or shield eyes from the light — and when the excitement and the leapings up and the rushings about only continue, the little boat rocking with the passage of such big and enthusiastic men, she waves away the visibly torn Edmyn to join the dolphin-spotters and takes the tiller herself. After all, it has just become the boring job. The quiet job. The job ideal for someone who likes to keep an eye on everyone and everything in any case.
The cluster of dolphins are elusive, there and gone if they were ever there at all, and Marsei, in her eagerness, appears almost frantic until Eonn's advice lands true mere moments later and there's that spray of water. Her seawater eyes light up when she catches sight of the shimmering creatures, full of pure, innocent joy and wonder, as though the lady has never seen one before in her entire life — when in fact she's seen many, dolphin season after dolphin season, and every time her reaction is the same. She's all the more uplifted to witness them from upon the small sailing boat. "They truly look magical, don't they?" she says. "A blessing from the Seven."
Eonn opens his eyes to watch Esme take the tiller, then smiles at the sky again.
They are small dolphins, barely longer than a man, though the watchers may not be aware of the existence of the larger kind. They're pale grey, speckled with darker blue-grey spots, like water spattered onto a tablecloth, random.
Dhraegon is wriggling with excitement, Dolphins being much rarer sights up at King’s Landing and Dragonstone way. He reaches for his lady's hand blindly as he stares out to sea. He is speechless for the moment, but his expression echoes hers. Flox quietly moves in to sit beside the widow, not quite touching her, but easy to hand.
Only Flox can hear Esme let out a deeper breath as he sits down beside her. She doesn't look round at him; her eyes are far away over the water, looking for dolphins as surely as the others, her hand on the tiller guiding the small boat little by little, imperceptibly, in a direction remembered from long years ago. "Beautiful, ain't they?" she murmurs. "I'm glad we've seen 'em, at least."
Eonn turns his head to look toward the dolphins.
Flox nods, his voice quiet, "It's a wondrous thing.” He braves her hat to murmur in her ear.
Eonn glances towards the whisperers, briefly. So does the cat, but he looks at them longer.
Her smile near as bright as the sky above, Marsei clutches her hands under her chin while she watches the beloved sea creatures swim in and out of the waves. Waves that cause her to swoon a little bit, now that she's so enthusiastically on her feet again, staring into the Sound. "Oh," she murmurs softly, dizzied, and clutches Dhraegon's hand tight … but is bound and determined to keep watching the dolphins until there are no dolphins to watch.
Esme murmurs a couple of similarly soft words for Flox's ear and the wind; and she draws away, her hat wheeling past his face, and finally looks straight at him. Her expression is light, amused. "Don't worry so much," she insists, bantering. "He can swim a bit, and I've brought a change of clothes for him, too." Then she glances to Lady Marsei, raising an eyebrow: is she…?
Dhraegon seems of like mind to his wife. "Yes!" He is happy to watch the pod as long as it is in sight, the treasures in the hampers forgotten. Flox studies his guest, concerned, but willing to let it drop. "May I bring you any refreshment?"
The boat isn't going fast, Eonn didn't set the sails to catch as much wind as utterly possible. But still, eventually it'll pass this little pod of dolphins. Ooh, look, there's a tiny one, this year's calf. It can't be more than a month old.
Edmyn is clutching the gunwale in both hands, staring out over the Sound, like Dhraegon hungry only for dolphins; his mother, watching him again, deducing all she needs to know of his mood merely from the line of his back, concedes to Flox, "A drop of that lemon water wouldn't go amiss, if you're gettin' it out anyway. And a cup for Lady Marsei," the name and its title murmured far beneath Edmyn's hearing, "I reckon the sun's startin' to get to her…"
Dhraegon bounces and points, "Is that a baby? I've not seen a baby one before!" Flox is up in a moment and soon coming round with wooden cups, beautifully carved with careful measures of lemon water, calculated not to spill with the movement of the boat.
The lady's hand grows clammy in Dhraegon's, and she is, perhaps, one shade paler than she was when she boarded — rosy cheeks in the sun not withstanding — and yet she still can't pry her eyes from the treat that is the dolphins or pay any mind to anything else whatsoever. She takes the cup but only clings to it. A baby dolphin is paramount. "How small it is!" It might be another blessing when they do pass the pod, for Marsei gives in to admitting, "I-I think I should go sit down for a moment. Where I can't see the water, and the horizon. I feel a bit…" She smiles and shakes her head reassuringly, which doesn't help matters in the long run, for it only dizzies her further. "Only for a moment…"
Eonn thumps the roof he's lying on with his knuckles, not too loudly, and says, "Go inside. There is a bed." It's true. Even short folks have to duck their heads to get down the little companionway, and just inside there are just a few chests and other little things, tied down — a water keg, a bin of charcoal. But towards the bow in there there is a bed, a wide one, covered with a few blankets and feather pillows but no sheets, and smelling of Eonn, and occupied by a mother cat and five kittens.
Mention of a baby dolphin has Esme, whose constant thought is to get off her feet, up on them again to look; but, between her chat with Flox and the lemon water, she missed the moment. She calls Edmyn over to the tiller and, in her capacity as the only other woman on the boat and a mother besides, fusses a little over Lady Marsei, endorsing Eonn's recommendation that she go inside out of the sun, yielding however to Dhraegon's superior right to escort her in and make her comfortable amongst the nest of kittens which awaits her.
Dhraegon looks outright alarmed at his wife's distress. He lets go her hand, but only to curl it around her waist and help her to the cabin. For all his simplicity, he is incredibly gentle and solicitous of her. He does cast grateful looks on esme who clearly shares his belief that Marsei is wonderful person. The cabin is rather low for him, and he does yield to her request he go back up so as not to miss the dolphins.
It's certainly cosy in there, and feels oddly safe for all the boat's rocking on the waves. It's head-crackingly low, though.
Eonn watches Esme lazily now, just like the cat.
Esme of course is not watching Eonn or his cat. Oh, no. She's anxiously encouraging Dhraegon to mind his head in the cabin; and calling out promises to Marsei to let her know the minute they see any more dolphins; and going back to sit down again with Flox on one side of her and the tiller on the other; and encouraging her son to keep hold of the latter, and quizzing him about it, to see how much he remembers from their lesson earlier; and sipping her lemon water, and telling Flox how refreshing it is; and, in general, bustling about just like the harmless little old shopkeeper she is, full of kindly words in a Shambles accent just touched by Flea Bottom. That Eonn and his cat remain within her field of vision, this is pure coincidence.
Flox gets out the pail of oysters and starts taking his knife to them, offering them around to everyone but the Prince, who, being shooed out of the cabin is now attempting to scritch the cat, eyes as empty of thought as the sky.
Well, that gets Eonn moving. He sits up, avoiding the boom, and scoots down to the bow end of the cabin roof and hops off, just to the side of the companionway.
Somehow the first of these treats comes to Esme, in return for a small smirk. She lifts the half-shell to her lips and slurps the oyster itself whole into her mouth, chewing appreciatively, enjoying the flavour of the sea… "Ah," she sighs, when she's swallowed, "these are from down Three Towers way, ain't they? Amazin' how they always taste of just the very waters they came from."
The bucket is alas not all that large, but the oysters are alive in cool sea water, so fresh as can be. Flox shares them out fairly between the four of them, knowing better than to try to offer them to the Prince who tries not to look at what they are doing, focusing on the wee beastie instead.
Eonn collects an oyster from the bucket and opens it himself. He's practiced at it. And at tipping the unfortunate mollusk down his throat.
Occasionally Esme passes one of her oysters to her son, to augment his share of them. She's used to balancing his greater appetite and her lesser one, and he wouldn't be the size he is if she weren't so assiduous in feeding him… "Lovely," she sighs, throwing her last half-shell over the side, which it is of course in order to do with the remnants of seafood. "Though we forgot to say our prayers, didn't we, Edmyn? It's easy to do," she chuckles, passing him a handkerchief and making a little gesture next to her face which soon has him dabbing brine conscientiously from his own lips, "when you're not eatin' at a table… We'll have to remember before we make a start on the pie." She gives her son a firm nod, and reclaims the handkerchief. "Such a fine day," she muses; "do you come out on the water like this often, Master Eonn?"
Flox looks chastened, "I'm sorry…. I didn't think." Being an agnostic in service to an atheist.
Eonn looks at Esme, shrugs, "Often, since the boat came to me. When I am not working, hmm. I fish. If you would like, we can set some lines."
Esme gives another easy chuckle and pats Flox's hand. "I didn't think either, did I?" she points out. Then, to Eonn, a small smile quirking at the corners of her mouth, "Oh, best not. Not with me here. Fish don't like me, see? They start swimmin' in the other direction…" she confides. "I wouldn't want them to take a horror of your boat for my sake, and spoil all your fun."
Flox looks to Esme, "Ought I get out the pasties, or would you rather wait?" Dhraegon perks up at the mention of pasties.
Eonn raises his eyebrows. "That would be terrible," he says. "Though I think the fun is more in the eating than the catching. I have a little coal-braiser and grill them here, little fish." He grins, toothily.
"Ask the lads what they think," suggests Esme promptly to Flox, having seen and sensed the pair of them scenting the wind at the mention of her pasties. No surprises there. To Eonn she nods her complete understanding. "Ah, now you're temptin' me," she admits, tilting her head (and her hat) in his direction; "I always think what you make yourself tastes the best, doesn't it, and then, the fresher it is the better… but I ain't jokin' about me and fish. My late husband despaired." Rueful smile. "You're a lucky man, I'd say, havin' free time and a boat to sail — and a generous one too, to let us in on the fun."
Eonn takes another oyster. "It is Prince Daevon's boat, in truth," he says as he opens it. "I'll fish another time, or dive for crabs if we go in the shallows. Or do you also frighten crabs?"
Dhraegon makes pleading eyes at Flox. Flox asks Edmyn, "Are you about ready for some pasties?" He is already up, and refilling the lemon water for the boys, while setting a bottle of arbor red to breathe for Eonn, Esme, and himself. Dhraegon looks concerned, "Didn't he want to come look for Dolphins too?"
"Is it," murmurs Esme, whose life seems to contain so many more princes these days than ever it used to… She gives her head a little shake. "Well, the ocean's everyone's, ain't it?" she suggests. "I don't know about crabs," she admits, nibbling her thumbnail, "the question's not come up. I suppose if you went divin' for 'em and couldn't find any, we'd have an answer, wouldn't we?"
Edmyn meanwhile is indicating his absolute readiness to get stuck into the pasties, which he could smell while he was carrying them but wasn't even allowed to try, not even to make sure they were properly baked.
Eonn tips the oyster down his throat and says to Dhraegon, "Not today, my prince. I am sorry."
Flox winces at all this mention of Princes. Dhrae bounces excitedly, moving to sit with the others, "You make the best ones! She helped with the pie contest too! She's an expert at pie!"
"Well, I am quite partial to pie," allows Esme, a trifle flustered by this influx of praise but determined to keep the conversation moving along so that perhaps her son won't notice what he's just heard. "Shall we fetch them out, then, and see how they taste in the sea air? Master Flox?" For he has constituted himself the master of ceremonies for their luncheon.
But Edmyn is still looking, mildly baffled, from Eonn to Dhraegon. There's something here he doesn't quite… Ahh. The light dawns upon him. Visibly.
"I missed the pie contest," says Eonn, looking from one face to the other thoughtfully. "Of course, I wouldn't get a taste anyway, that day."
Flox is suddenly quite busy getting out pasties and supplying wine to the three people apt to have wine and generally letting Esme handle what is clearly his cock up, but which he is not sure he can adequately explain.
Eonn gives Flox a questioning look as he accepts his wine.
The red dress which is Esme's best at present is of summery linen. She rubs her arms briskly with her opposite hands and remarks, "I think I feel a bit of a breeze comin' up. Edmyn, my love, before we all get too comfy, will you fetch my shawl from my basket…?" Which errand her son rises upon immediately: it only takes him a few paces away, but her shawl happens to be in the bottom of the basket in question (if it hadn't been, she'd have asked for whatever was), and she didn't request to be brought the actual basket, and what with one thing and another he's occupied long enough for her to lean down near to Eonn and murmur, "We've agreed not to mention anybody's rank, today. You see…?" Her well-lined dark eyes meet his to deepen the hint.
Then she straightens in time to receive her shawl, a sizable hand-knitted triangle in a cheerful shade of lightweight blue wool; "Bless you," she says firmly to Edmyn, and pats the seat next to her to indicate his proper place, between her and the tiller. There's room for Flox on her other side, of course.
Flox leans in and murmurs "Best not to make him self conscious." Once everyone has fresh beverages and food is in reach, and Dhraegon is settled by Eonn, all eager for digging in, Flox mentions, "Prayers?"
Eonn responds to Esme's whisper just by raising his eyebrow. He does not comment on that, or on prayers, but sips more wine.
Esme looks to Flox with the ghost of a smile. "Yes," she says firmly, and turns to Edmyn, whose duty it always is at home to recite a suitable prayer before each meal. He does so now, thanking the gods in general for their bounty and the Mother in particular for bringing Her dolphins out to see them; his words are simple, sincere, some with the eloquence of long practice, some informal almost to the point of silliness before he returns to familiar, time-honoured phrases. He really has been brought up with care. At the end he opens his clear blue eyes to find his mother watching him with her usual steady smile.
And then, well, that beef and bacon pie's minutes are numbered.
Eonn listens to the prayer with evident interest.
Dhraegon starts to reach for the food, but subsides with a stern look from Flox. They both listen solemnly to Edmyn's sincere prayer, taking Esme's lead on how to behave during it.
Eonn does not behave correctly. He doesn't silently join in that prayer. He just watches, not even lowering his eyes. And he sips wine partway through.
Esme herself sits with her head slightly bowed, her eyes open, focused upon her son but quietly alert to the other men as well. She makes no comment upon who stares and who doesn't, and who'd rather be becoming more intimately acquainted with his luncheon. They have their different ways… and the pie, thereafter, unites them. Her beef and bacon pie is one of her best. The beef succulent, the bacon crisp, the spices her own lavish and surprising blend developed over many years. She has brought along one of her own kitchen knives to cut it with, the blade well-honed but the handle battered from long use — "I've just thought," she chuckles, depositing slices upon plates, "I gave you the same yesterday, didn't I, Flox? I am sorry. You needn't eat it again to spare my feelings if you'd rather have somethin' else," she insists, looking up at him.
Flox gazes at her and says with sincerity and in a completely bland and unexceptional tone, "Oh, I think I'll never have enough of your pie, Esme. Not as long as I live." Dhraegon starts to reach for the first piece, but a warning glance from Flox has him remembering his manners, "Thank you for the pie. May I have a piece?" He is giving her the begging look shared by children the world over when adult nonsense is standing between them and pie.
Eonn watches this exchange, and sets his wine glass on the cabin roof before hoisting himself lightly back up to sit there.
Blandly too, Esme murmurs, "Well, that's all right, then." And, because rank is being discounted today — and cooks have certain prerogatives all their own — she awards the first piece of pie to Flox himself and only the second to Dhraegon, who must be unaccustomed to being passed over in this fashion.
She quickly cuts another; "Edmyn, my love, will you take this to Master Eonn," she nods to their host for the day, who has so discreetly absented himself, "and then knock on the door of the cabin and ask Marsei if she's ready for a bite to eat yet, eh? I'll have yours waiting," she promises, for she knows this will be a strain upon even her son's exceptional manners. He does indeed look a bit reluctant upon the edges as he traipses away with Eonn's plate.
Eonn watches the young fellow. It's hardly a few steps to get to him, and he accepts the plate with a polite nod.
Dhraegon looks a bit put out at going second, but soon there is pie and all is well. Flox is a very mannered eater, and waits for all to be served first. Dhraegon opens his mouth to jam pie in, then remembers his wife, blushing. "She can have mine if she wants…?"
"There's plenty for everyone," insists Esme mildly to Dhraegon, "I'm cuttin' it very carefully. But if she ain't feelin' quite herself, she might rather just have fruit, and maybe a little bread, rather than pie…"
Edmyn lingers with Eonn a moment to thank him, not for the first time, for letting him pilot the boat; then he knocks on the door of the cabin to speak with Marsei, and returns to the stern of the boat to report that she's feeling a little better but certainly not hungry. He seems crestfallen on her behalf. It's not fair, is it, that someone so pretty and who likes dolphins so much shouldn't be able to enjoy them as much as she likes—? "Ah, well," says Esme sagely, "we'll get her back on dry land soon, and she'll be much the better for it, I'd wager. Here you are, dearie," and she presents Edmyn with a slice of pie made generous by stinting her own. One remains in the tin.
"Shall we turn around, Dhraegon?" asks Eonn. "We could put up at the beach, I think, if you'd rather." He smells the piece of pie he's been given, consideringly and with pleasure.
Dhraegon is satisfied with this and does start to eat, casting the occasional worried glance back at the cabin. Dhraegon eats as if they have been starving him, which surely they have not. "Could we save her some for later? It's very good!" He thinks a bit, "If we go to the beach Edmyn and I can look for shells!"
Unaware that she's the intended beneficiary of the shell hunt, Esme declares, "That sounds lovely. And I'm sure it'd help Marsei to feel better… Edmyn, if you finish your pie," not that he's not almost finished already, "perhaps Master Eonn will let you help him turn the boat round, mmm?" She herself is a slow eater, rather dainty by smallfolk standards, and hasn't touched her wine.
"Not all the way around," says Eonn. Then he takes a bite of pie and points towards where the crescent beach lies.
Flox gives Dhraegon an encouraging smile. Dhraegon grins, "We can chase the waves in and out too!"
Eonn laughs and says, between mouthfuls, "Will you catch a wave and keep it for a pet?"
In his haste to be sailing again Edmyn begins to bolt the rest of his generous portion of beef and bacon pie: Esme insists that he slow down and chew every mouthful fifteen times, an instruction it's obvious from his face he has heard too, too many times. Nonetheless, he obeys his mother. He's a good lad.
"… May I have another drop of that lemon water?" murmurs Esme in an undertone to Flox, for it's not within her reach at present.
Dhraegon giggles, "I could not bring them home with me. Everything would get wet!" Flox hastens to bring more lemon water. So obedient, our Flox.
Esme murmurs a word of thanks to Flox for filling her cup, at least so far as is prudent on a small and swaying boat. "I reckon you could take a wave home with you, though," she adds to Dhraegon, "since you're livin' in the Hightower now. You could keep it just below your gardens, couldn't you?"
Eonn smiles at that, but watches Edmyn now.
Dhraegon giggles, "There is one there right now, I bet! We are making a new garden, did you know? It's going to have things to climb on!"
Of course Esme is also watching her son. With her cup in her hand she turns slowly, almost brushing Flox where he's sitting beside her again and now slightly behind her, the better to keep an eye on the efforts of this keen amateur sailor who has, let's be honest, had more to do with boats even smaller than this one… But he's so happy, bless him, and he hasn't wrecked it yet. "I think I heard something about that," she adds, glancing to Dhraegon with a smile; "it must be lovely to have so many gardens to play in."
Eonn finishes off his pie in silence as the boat makes its way toward northern shores of the sound.
Flox watches her with open admiration now she's turned away. Dhraegon nods, "It's going to have fruit trees and mint and strawberries and lots of soft grass for if people fall and climbing statues of different sizes in the shapes of various…" He gives a worried look at Edmyn. "They will be different sizes so the littles can have fun too."
Eonn stands and goes to drop the little jib sail, slowing the boat a touch.
Though Esme's slice of pie was the smallest she's the last to finish eating; and then she busies herself collecting stray plates and napkins, making sure nothing gets lost, whilst Edmyn eagerly asks thirty different questions about the new garden and Dhraegon's plans for it. The animal statues can't be talked round indefinitely, but they at any rate don't seem to trouble him.
Dhraegon is happy to go on about it at length, which edible flowers and interesting plants to touch and the various animal statues they want to put in and how it will be great for hide and seek and tag and would Edmyn like to come when they are digging to put the plants in?
… Edmyn assuredly would. Beneath all that garden talk Esme murmurs to Flox, in the tones of a pleased mother, "He's havin' such a lovely time."
Eonn listens, now moving about so he can drop sail as the boat enters the shallows. "Mind how we go, lad," he says mildly, "We'll scrape a little on the sand."
Eonn's boat is just drifting into the shallows here, her sails dropping.
Dhraegon seems utterly content to sit about with a fully stomach talking gardens excitedly with Edmyn. Flox tidies up.
Of course Esme can't sit there watching someone else tidying up, even if this is somebody else's boat rather than her own home. Thus another pair of hands pitches in to help Flox, their fingertips brushing now and again in passing a cup or a plate — and their eyes meeting more often than is strictly necessary. Shh.
(rained off by everyone sleeping)