Remix: Sea Fever (The Jolly Roger-ing Remix) [Aubrey/Maturin, 300 words, PG], by simplystars
A life at sea is a life of music. Nature is never silent, and man's creation – HM brig Sophie - could never be so.
Sophie keeps no secrets; all is revealed in sound. Wind rushes over her canvas with a tell-tale rattle, describing course and speed; the woven hemp of her rigging hums loudly under the strain of its load. Held at bay by stout heart-of-oak planking, relentless waves slap at her hull before parting to hiss along her sides.
The crew adds their own tune: the rhythmic tramp and stamp of bare and shod feet around the clank-clank-clank of a slowly turning capstan; ragged, untrained voices - whose enthusiasm compensates for lack of talent - raised in bawdy chorus.
In the captain's cabin, a duet - the pairing of violin and cello, and the men who play them. Snatches of melody float through open portholes, slip through cracks beneath closed doors.
It begins with the adagio and the andante, slowly and carefully as the players ease into the comfort of familiarity - with notes scribbled in black ink on thick paper, and with each other. Before the allegro, tricky fingerings are practiced, repeated in a rondo; glissando becomes appassionato becomes crescendo. The captain's steward mutters sotto voce when the proper jigs and reels falter, as instruments screech and scrape against the wooden table and bows clatter to the floor.
Then the crew turns a deaf ear to the altogether different sounds issuing from within. Guttural groans and moans are surely just the Sophie's timbers, creaking; the thump of discarded shoes, of bodies pressed hard against a wall must certainly be the trundling of cannon and chain-shot across the deck.
This is the ship's song: cacophony and harmony, dissonance and cadence. Independent and interdependent. Nocturne by candlelight.