It was her third day aboard The Sparrowhawk, and Claudia was distinctly the worst for ware.
Her cabinmates had accepted her without question, after she had knocked one of them unconsious for ten minuites when he had tried to steal her food.
But it was very awkward for her, all the same. When she did change, it was in the dirtiest, most unhigenic part of the ship - The food storage cupboard.
Even then she had to be careful, because the punishment for stealing food was a flogging.
IN addition to her noraml baggy white top and brown trousers, black thigh-legnth boots, she had aqquired a sword and a hat.
Her job was easy - climb the mast to fix things. She kept lookout as well, but lookBACK might be a better explanation. Claudia still felt a pang of guilt every time she thought of Arlexa. But, she reminded herself, everyone would benefit in the long run.
Today, she told herself, today we make port. We have to. If we don't, I swear to god I'll jump off and swim to the place myself. THAT was how bad it was on board the ship.
The overall worst was her first night, where she had had to share a hammock with two other men. She had barely slept that night for thier smell and noise.
She sat atop the mast, swaying with the boat's movements. Suddenly, the horizon changed. Now, there was the thinnest line of black where before there had just been blue.
'Land!!! East! Land!!! East!'
The cry echoed down the ship after she had set it off.
Finally. She was coming home.
'Claudia, now that you're here, I have a responsibility to-'
'Like that mattered to you when you didn't know I existed.'
'Touche. But still, now you are in my court, and so you must behave like a Lady. And you will meet your brother.'
Claudia stopped. Dresses. Etiquete. And a...
Her father turned to face her.
They were in the most beautiful gardens she had ever seen. But even the sweet, heavy perfume of all the flowers and oranges and flowers couldn't dull her finely trained senses, and all the different scents were, admittedly, making her feel a little woozy.
'Did you think I would do nothing? I got married, and prduced an heir. I do have a life, you know.'
She rolled her eyes at his tone, and he scowled.
'I'll go get changed.'
You'd think she hadn't been mugged, sent to prison for nearly killing the person that mugged her, broke out of prison, and stolen a horse to get here.
Good thing she was a princess, or she would have to be umm... Executed.
When she finally came out, dressed in a red puff-sleeved, velvet dress, with the sleeves slashed with gold, her father was still in the garden. He turned, from leaning on the fountain, to her. He walked foward, a great smile on his face and embraced her.
Well, she thought. He can't squeeze worse than the corset.
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