Note: Rosamund does not appear to have a July edition of Character Letters up, but as long as you link back to her, I'm sure she wouldn't mind participants. Who doesn't like participants?
On to Darkwood. Writing and reading are his two favorite pastimes, and as he does them frequently, he is quite competent at both. His penmanship is exceptional: bold, smooth, and flowing, as his thoughts come so quickly that he must keep his quill moving to stay a-pace. He never draws on the edges of his letters, and his writing, unlike Tip's, is surprisingly un-blotted.
23 June, 1803
The Seagull's Nest, Boston
My dear Amy,
I wrote to you just yesterday, but while I realize that writing again so soon is little short of pitiful, I hope you will pardon me. Is it so terrible, darling, that I want to talk with you as much as possible before we sail? It may be a year before I see you again, and there is no knowing when I will hear from you next. Write often, I beg, if it is not too much a burden for you.
Tomorrow Bent and I will have been here at the Seagull’s Nest three weeks. There is but little progress on the Argus, and I don’t expect we will sail before next month is up. I have not yet seen Lt. Decatur, although I hear he is in town, and until today, Bent and I alone of the brig’s officers had arrived in Boston. I confess, I find it better that way; I am not, as you so well know, cut out for the communal lifestyle of the sea.
But I fear my reprieve has ended: we have had an addition to our number, a new midshipman on his first voyage—out of Pennsylvania, I think he is. His name is Brighton, Tip Brighton, though I hope that is not his Christian name; Bent introduced him as such, however, and I smiled a little at the sound of it. I hoped then that he did not notice; I rather hope now that he did. At any rate, I will try to sketch an image of him for you (at the time he joined us I was more interested in my book, so my depiction may be somewhat lacking). He is a little older than Bent, a fair few years younger than I: perhaps sixteen, or eighteen. He struck me as being all limbs and sheer lankiness, rather like a colt that has yet to get all its legs beneath it. His expression when Bent first introduced us was almost sullen, not quite sour, but perhaps if that were otherwise, he would not be exactly unpleasant. You will forgive me, but my opinion of him at this particular moment is somewhat curdled.
To say where and when it started is not difficult, but how—of that, I still find myself uncertain. It was all a flash, really. If Brighton had not been there—but it is no good to say that, for he was, and perhaps it was just as well in the longer run of things. But I am unclear. I promise I shall do better.
You remember, my dear, what I have told you of Bent; and you know, too, how rash he can be. This evening was worse than usual. Mr. Lattimore, who runs the inn with a heavy hand, pushed Bent for his pay; he has been pushing, but until now it has been relatively subtle and I had thought him content to let Bent pay in installments, as he usually does. It is certainly the best he can offer, and far more, I think, than Mr. L. deserves. But it seems Lattimore thinks otherwise, and tonight he pushed too far. (I should very much have liked, Amy dear, to put my own fist in the man’s ugly face…!) But I fear Bent pulled a pistol on him instead.
I know Bent, and I know he meant nothing by it; he threw away his fire in a moment. But it was a stupid, wrong, bull-headed thing for him to do! I admit that. And yet I cannot see, at this moment, that it was any less stupid, wrong, and bull-headed for Brighton to step up (as though he were no stranger at all) and start a fist-fight with Bent. Of course as soon as he did the whole inn was in an uproar, and there was no chance to separate the two and smash their heads together as I would have liked. So you see, Amy, why my opinion of Brighton is curdled.
This has been our first evening together. What will it be like when we sail? Perhaps, however, I am too hasty and Brighton will yet redeem himself. I have already said that he is but a young, awkward fellow; I would hazard a guess that his upbringing has been none too good. Now that I have vented my emotions I will try to be more lenient.
—But I pray God to give me patience, for I fail to see how I will ever manage to keep Brighton and Bent off each other’s throats after this! It will, I think, be a very long trip indeed.