The Rainbow Chaser

Fiction By Ariel // 8/7/2010

       The lights of the mansion shone out over the still pond. A long string of carriages waited in the oval driveway. A footman was helping a thin woman descend from her coach. Waiting for her at the bottom step, was a man in a dark suit. He extended his arm to her and together they made their way up the wide steps to the front entrance. The sounds of a stringed orchestra drifted out through the open windows and a soft breeze ruffled the sheer draperies. Couples milled about the room, stopping at the refreshment tables or chatting with their hosts. More than a dozen figures whirled across the dance floor. The tall ceilings and elegant chandeliers created a majestic atmosphere. This was the party of the season; the time when the cream of society gathered to parade and strut their wealth. To them, nothing is more enjoyable than a lively party after spending the winter abroad.

***

 

       “I do declare, I have never had such an enjoyable time as I did this last winter in Paris. You should have seen the droll little dogs that everyone worth anything has now. I heard that Mrs. Pattinson has one now that’s valued at over 2,000 francs. Can you imagine? I really didn’t think she had that kind of money; especially with her husband and that financial trouble they were having.” A young woman was saying. She adjusted the lush stole that wrapped around her neck and shifted her prim position on the large brocade chair. A dozen other socialites clustered around her twitting about the bit of gossip she had just flung into the air above their heads. She stirred her tea deliberately, listening closely to the hums of astonishment that swirled around her and smiling wickedly.

       “Oh darlings, you wouldn’t believe the styles that are all the rage over there now. Cousin Ana and I found the drollest little dressmaker (Poor as a church mouse though she does marvelous work, I must say!) in the lower shops. She designed a whole new ensemble for me. Of course I couldn’t wear anything I got over there tonight though because that oaf of an attendant spilt my bag all over the station floor. Positively disgusting!” She shuddered at the mere thought of wearing clothes that had touched a floor and a common floor at that.

       She sniffed before continuing, “I do believe Cousin Ana is wearing her droll little blue silk that she got though…where is that girl?” she paused and craned her jeweled neck over the heads of her friends in search of a blue silk and thick brown hair. “Oh well, that child was always silly about such things; wouldn’t let Aimee put anymore than three roses on her gown…said it would ruin the design.” She sighed, thinking about the dozens of silk roses that were clustered on the pink silk in her closet at home and wondered silently if, perhaps, her funny little cousin had actually hit upon something. She shook her head and turned her attention to the girl sitting next to her who was busily explaining and cooing over life on the Riviera. Her cousin was immediately forgotten; society waits for no one.

***

       Across the room, a wide carpeted staircase curved up to the second floor. Guests leaned against the beautiful wrought iron railings or walked down the thickly carpeted steps. At the head of the flight two men lounged in a doorway. Cigar smoke curled out from the room into the hallway; the room behind them was dark and smoky. The sound clinking glasses and men’s voices pervaded the atmosphere. None of the ladies chatting on the lower floor would ever have dreamed of setting foot in that room, but, as it was, the faint outline of a girl could be seen in the far corner of the room. Her dark, silk dress blended nicely with the drapes behind her and the breeze from the lawn kept the smoke at the opposite end of the room. She leaned forward from her seat on the settee to catch the words of a stout gentleman who was engaged in rousing conversation. His face was red as he leaned forward to wave his glass under the gentleman opposite’s chin.

       “Those clipper ships are ancient history, man! The steam ship of today is much more dependable; no more waiting for the wind or worrying about torn sails and broken masts. With the steam ships we can maintain a standard pace and arrive in port right on schedule. Our profits will skyrocket above the meager takings the other captains are getting. Mark my words, Clay, you’ll be selling that top-heavy craft of yours for firewood before the year is out.” The man paused to gulp his drink and mop his brow with a large handkerchief. A younger man stood across from him with a cynical expression on his face. His voice was low and thoughtful but with an edge of mockery in it chilling it.

       “It may be that the steam ship will one day dominate the seas, Picot, but I would prefer the sail of my Chaser to the grimy boiler room of you steamy and day. Even if there are says when we rest on still seas, when the wind billows that canvas we fly toward the ports. You will have to admit, the steamers, as reliable as they seem, don’t bring in as much revenue as a fast clipper with a good crew.” The florid man across the circle chuckled into his glass.

       “You sound like my daughter, Clay. She came on the last voyage my old Elodie made across the Atlantic. She wouldn’t stop gushing over the wind and the lines of the ship; cried when I sold it to Warburton for scrap. Women can be so sentimental!” the girl in the shadow’s pursed her lips at the man’s statement and buried her clenched hands in the folds of her skirt. Those days on her father’s ship had been the happiest she could remember. She had woken up every morning with the sun streaming through the porthole and the sound of the water rushing by the hull. The breeze on deck had been cooling and the thrill of standing at the prow of the ship and smelling the salty air. She leaned back and thought about those golden summer days. The younger man was talking again and she listened carefully to his words.

       “I can’t see how your daughter would even enjoy being at sea, Picot. It takes a hearty constitution to survive a life at sea. I can only truthfully say that I know more than a dozen men who are real sailors. You have to be rugged and able to weather any storm; skilled in anticipating weather and emergency things that will need to be taken care of. I’ve narrowed my crew down to no more than a dozen men that actually know what they’re doing. A ship is no place for a pleasure seeking sailor and certainly not for a heady woman. I wonder that some captains even allow the creatures to come aboard as passengers. Of course they wouldn’t be able to get at their beloved French bonbons if that were the case would they? Only those that are able to handle anything and everything that the sea has to offer should be allowed on a ship. I plan to set sail tomorrow at first light to pick up a cargo of spice. My men are the best the sea has to offer and they know what they’re doing.” The men around him lifted their glasses to the young captain’s statements.

       The girl in the shadows was breathing angrily. Something in her vowed to make that man eat his boisterous words once and for all. His coolness and cynicism irked her to the core; thoughts sprang into her head that she would never have dreamed of even thinking before. Something like fear shot through her for a moment but then it was gone and the delicious feelings on impending adventure filled her. She lifted her skirt silently and slipped towards the doorway, pausing only to watch her father lift his glass again in the young man’s direction.

        “And I’m sure you’re the expert on just what makes the perfect sailor, eh my boy?” Matthew Picot asked with a sarcastic yet good-natured tone in his voice. The young man’s face had a caustic smirk on it as he drained his glass.

       “Naturally, my dear Mr. Picot, naturally.” The laughter of the two men and their companions followed the girl as she swept through the door and on down to the ballroom below.

Comments

Note -

I've been meaning to put this  up for a year and a day. I feel like such a failure though...I've neglected my ApricotPie life so much lately :( Oh well.

Anyway, I know this is rather cliche and silly, but hopefully I'll throw a couple things in there that you aren't expecting.... Ideas are welcomed with open arms though :D

Ariel | Sat, 08/07/2010

*****************************************
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

Interesting

It's a great start.

P.S. Are you Ariel~Liesse on DioM?

Julie | Sat, 08/07/2010

Formerly Kestrel

Oh, how I love boats and seas

Oh, how I love boats and seas and sailors. Please continue, or I will be very sad for weeks.

E | Sun, 08/08/2010

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

oooh!

I like it!! Do post more soon! She should totally join the young man's ship, pretend to be a boy, bravely endure the hardships of the sea, maybe save his life at some point, and then in the end reveal herself to be...gasp! A woman! :-D

KatieSara | Tue, 08/10/2010

Katie:-)

"Are all humans like this? So much bigger on the inside?"
-Idris/TARDIS

...

Wait, I've read this before, haven't I?  WAIT!  This is the one you showed me on the message board!  (The one where you haven't been in a while - *hint, hint*)

Bridget | Tue, 08/10/2010

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Very interesting ....what I

Very interesting ....what I find even more interesting is that I once wrote a story with a man by the name of 'Clay' as well ...he was much different than the one you're writing. =)

Tahlia Grant | Wed, 08/11/2010

Very Intriguing...

  I like the conversation in the ballroom; it reminds me very much of one of the scenes in "Old Fashioned Girl", a wonderful book by Louisa May Alcott.  I shall look forward to hearing more of your story!

Johanna | Sun, 08/15/2010

"Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of."
- Charles Spurgeon

I'm glad I read this.

I certainly hope you have more coming.

Anna | Fri, 08/20/2010

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

I absolutely love this, can't

I absolutely love this, can't wait to read more, and will bug you until you post more, mark my words!

Mary | Sat, 08/21/2010

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Brother: Your character should drive a motorcycle.
Me: He can't. He's in the wilderness.
Brother: Then make it a four-wheel-drive motorcycle!

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