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Taken By Surprise; att. Adoracion de Chucho
Topic Started: Sep 11 2013, 02:46 PM (1,493 Views)
Nicole Cavalier
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Shop helper, former pickpocket
Civilian Admin
[align=center] Date: 15-th of November 1719
Place: Port de Paix, Saint Domingue, Hispaniola,
in the herborist shop “Fleur du café”


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Nicole had been thinking about the mysterious privateer for a while after he left. First, it had been the strange mixed feelings that she had saved a life, and that she had enjoyed his presence, despite still being afraid of soldiers coming to her to further investigate the issue. But the soldiers didn’t come, so she forgot that aspect easier than his interesting accent and the expressive light in his eyes.

No, she was not in love – that was something she was sure about. She had never known romantic love, but she had read and listened to songs, and she was convinced she would know if it struck her at a certain time. She had seen that look on Madame Lucia’s face when the Admiral was coming… Yes, people would do crazy things for love, and they were more vulnerable to be hurt. She hoped it would never occur to her.

The misfortunes she had been through recently had made her more sensitive to people’s problems, and this was true for helping the wounded privateer too. Also, the confinement into the shop, except little errands around, for the latest five weeks, was felt differently, as a kind of isolation from the world, by a former street rat who was always in the middle of the crowd. And the brief presence of someone who needed her help in an unusual way was meant to be fondly remembered. Besides, she was simply not accustomed with being granted any attention, and he had shown his gratitude.

These were enough reasons to remember him… until she realized, later in the afternoon, that the two men had paid her only for the bottles of tonic. That was the payment she had received before claiming her price for the wound dressing, which had remained unpaid. And, yes, this realization had stung a little. All right, her work had gone for nothing; God above had seen it and valued it better. It didn’t mean, though, that she was less bitter about it.

Mixed thoughts and feelings alternated in this matter.

She would manage to put back the money for the bandages, as this did not belong to her. As for the stitching itself, while receiving the payment would have been nice… it was nothing she couldn’t do without. It could have been a gesture of charity… if he told her that he had not enough money. She wouldn’t have denied him her help anyway.

Or was he only intending to cheat her of the fee she deserved? Even in these circumstances, could she really blame him, when she had been, a few months ago, a pickpocket herself? How many times she had heard the words ”What goes around, comes around”? A repented thief having to get a taste of her own deeds, for strengthening moral, wasn’t impossible either.

Even in this case, he might have been sent by God to teach her a lesson about her past. However, she regretted that things had evolved that way, as she would have wanted her hero blemishless.

”And what if I am wrong?” another stray thought rebelled, defending the mysterious stranger. ”I had seen him in pain; couldn’t pain make him forget, and the imminence of the soldiers’ arrival? Maybe he didn’t do it on purpose!”

Now, two days later, she wasn’t thinking anymore about him. Yesterday she had wondered if he had got a fever, and how he was healing. But she was sure that he wouldn’t return to her, that she wouldn’t see him again.
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Adoracion deChucho
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Sailor aboard the "Twilight Shark"
Privateer
Adoracion had not forgotten the little lady with pretty eyes. He hoped that she had not forgotten him. Relying not on what little charm he had left behind, nor his show of strength in pain (Adoracion thought he had put on a pretty good face back then) to remember him to her, Adoracion had made the quick decision to... not pay her. In his logic at the time, the privateer had thought it might keep him fresh in her mind - if not bitterly, at least she would be thinking of him.

Today was well enough to find out if his estimation had succeeded.

He came alone, dodging Neil's attempts to come with him. It wasn't the wisest decision, possibly, but Adoracion knew that they would be leaving very soon and tat was likely the last time he would see the little lady before he headed out for another long expanse at sea. A sweet memory to take to water with him.

He moved through the streets as casually as he could manage, refusing to look over his shoulder continually. He had dressed in what he felt was inconspicuous clothing, just a loose white shirt over the black pants he'd been in the day he'd met her. Not that anyone would notice, most folks wore the same clothes all the time anyway. It's just that his purple shirt was bloodstained now. He didn't have much left in the way of wardrobe as the ship he'd been on had taken his trunk when he'd been left behind. Not much money, either.

He finally found his way to the healer's door, his heart feeling calm at the sight of the familiar building. Frowning, Adoracian bowed his head just on the stoop and listened. He was sure he would hear customers inside if they were there. And probably soldiers, too. But there wasn't much sound.

Reaching for the door handle, Adoracion pushed the door open slowly.
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Nicole Cavalier
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Nicole was counting the day’s earnings. Usually a herborist’s shop wasn’t a busy place, and they made just enough to get their living day by day. A few days ago it had been better, when a British ship doctor happened to pass by and buy larger quantities of plants, potions and salves for the ship, as they were going to a blockade, together with the French. This meant that Madame Lucia’s shop had to make it until the Rear-Admiral’s return without any help. It was rather difficult, but not impossible, Nicole mused, as Madame Lucia wasn’t so good with calculations and she had left the book keeping as Nicole’s task.

She was noting something in the book of accounts when the door opened again. Raising her head to see who was entering, she recognized the familiar face of the Spanish privateer.

Bonjour! How are you?” she greeted him with a smile, ready to forget or forgive, at least for a while, that he had left, last time, without paying her.

Yes, she hadn’t expected to see him again, but she was glad he had returned.

”How are you feeling, still in pain? Have you got fever?” she asked him with concern in her voice, taking seriously her role as a healer.
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Adoracion deChucho
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Sailor aboard the "Twilight Shark"
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Oh, maybe this had been a bad idea. Having Neil translate last time had obviously lulled Adoracion into a false sense of security as it pertained to what he could understand and what he couldn't What if he misunderstood and made a fool of himself? He would stick to small words, he decided. And short sentences.

He had peeked in through the door first and had met the herborist's eyes right away as she had been looking at the door. Most likely because he'd been opening it. He hadn't wanted her busy, but he hadn't expected her so idle as to meet his entrance. Didn't she have shelves to stock or anything?

He slipped in completely as she greeted him vocally, shutting the door behind him and smiling broadly in her direction. So she was happy to see him, then. Interesting. And certainly nothing he would complain about.

"I am well, thank you." he responded in her language. There. Easy, right? French 101.

He walked across the herborist shop's floor in her direction, moving his feet, one before the other, slowly. The Spaniard's eyes flicked to the window at his left, and then the shelves, but remained mostly upon her, following her mouth as he concentrated on the words, picking out those he understood and once again trying to sew understanding together.

He mostly assumed she was asking after his injury. And...fever? He had always noticed that some words in French were similar to those of his native tongue. So when lost for the french, he decided to speak in slow spanish...because...that was better than english. Right? It had to be.

"The doctor? From the ship - le navire? He liked your work." Adoracion smirked and nodded, making his expression positive. "Good job! ... Bon!"

Reaching out his right hand, palm up, Adoracion asked for hers. And if she gave it, the privateer slowly raised her palm to his forehead, tilting down slightly if necessary. There was the answer to whether or not he had a fever.
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Nicole Cavalier
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He had a nice smile – this was something Nicole knew already. And his foreign accent made his words sound more interesting. Anyway, better than the local Creole she had learnt to understand with years as a street rat.

She blushed when told that the ship doctor liked her work.

"Merci beaucoup," she said, looking a little to the ground, with modesty, but then meeting his eyes again... just to find the answer to her next question in an original, but appropriate way.

She gave him her hand, as requested, first not understanding exactly what he wanted, however neither minding it. He had a certain charm to which she partially succumbed... And yes, she understood when he brought her palm to his forehead. Nicole found amusing that he was so tall that she had to look up to him in this process. They were again so close that if anybody entered right then to surprise them, nobody would believe that she was just checking his fever. He smelt like the sea which was his home, she couldn’t help noticing. And if he had been sweating feverishly, it would have been sensed.

”No fever. Glad to know it,” she smiled. ”But you’ll need one more vial, to drink and clean your wound with it the upcoming days, until it heals properly. Will your doctor change your bandage or do you want me to do it?” she further asked, before remembering what he had done.

Her fingers lingered a few moments more on his forehead, as if her touch would smooth a frown and brush away a stray curl from that exact place where he had led her palm.

Nicole needed to step back in order to remember what was the issue.

”I didn’t expect to see you again, after you left without paying,” she said afterwards on a more serious, matter-of-factly, not scolding tone.

Her eyes were still serene and meeting his when she continued:

”You should have told me if you didn’t have enough money. I wouldn’t have denied dressing your wound anyway.”

Of course she couldn’t. If God had sent him to her, He knew why. Probably because, in her years on the streets, she had entered enough messes and she had been granted the good luck to escape, somehow, prison. If He considered it was time to return the favour in this way, she had nothing to say about it, and she didn’t regret having helped the privateer.
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Adoracion deChucho
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She understood his gesture.

And she kept her hand upon his suntanned forehead for far longer than was necessary.

He wasn't keen to straighten away from her, either.

Whatever she said the whole time her hand was on his head, however, Addie wasn't sure that he'd caught. She'd said a lot very suddenly, some of the terms being ones he was unfamiliar with. He squinted at her, silent, as he tried to decide whether to guess at what she'd said or ask her to speak slower - but she moved the conversation on, his silence must have reminded her of something.

Her hand slipped away, leaving an empty cool upon his face. The Spaniard straightened.

I didn't...see you... you left without paying. he gathered. You should have told me if you didn't have...money. I wouldn't have... your wound...

Adoracion frowned and took a deep breath - well, to a point. Too much expanding ached his stitches.

He didn't speak. Instead, his expression grew neutral as he reached a right hand for his corresponding pocket. It came out with a small leather purse. Which he held out in the herborist's direction by its strings, so that it dangled.

If she reached for it, the privateer would tug it up by the strings, snatching it up into his palm.
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Nicole Cavalier
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Nicole didn’t realise when he didn’t understood her words, because he usually understood – not each word, she was sure, but the whole idea. She knew he understood some words, even if he was linking them through imagination or guesswork. And his answers were always at point, no matter how many words in general – or correct French words – he used. Once she got accustomed to the sound of the Spanish words he used when not finding the right French ones, she would notice the similarity. And as long as both of them were intent on understanding each other, that was enough, in her opinion.

She hadn’t met too many foreign people – and the few ones were mostly allied English seafarers, no matter their ship rank, most of them speaking French better than this privateer. His personal charm aside, the mere fact of building a bridge of understanding between them was extremely interesting in a life which didn’t escape the boundaries of a daily routine. And if taking into account the fact that she was living, eating, working in the same shop… her world now was indeed narrow.

Having helped him, having done what she usually didn’t have to, and having him return unexpectedly to her, were interesting routine – breakers. She liked it. …Well, she liked him too, at least sort of, taking into account the bitter tingle at remembering how he had left last time. Moreover, having to pay an unusual attention to each other in order to be able to communicate was pleasantly challenging.

When she reminded him that he had left without paying, he took out his purse to her. As she had initially suspected, it didn’t seem so full – neither too empty either. However, she didn’t reach for the purse, how her instinct of a former street rat was telling her. Nicole the one of a few months ago would have done exactly this; instead, the repented former pickpocket turned respectable shop helper smiled and extended her palm towards the purse, waiting for exactly those three coins to be poured into it.

And, given that he obviously didn’t have much money, she was firmly decided what to do with those three liards if she received them: she would put them all in the drawer, for Madame Lucia. These would cover the cost of a new vial of tonic, for him to have the next days, to prevent fever, and of the bandages used last time and today – because yes, if he wanted to let her see how the wound was healing, she would clean it and change again his bandages. Her work, both last time and now, was meant to be free of charge. It was her choice to take care of him – just that it didn’t mean she was really willing to pay herself for the supplies.
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Adoracion deChucho
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Adoracion smirked slowly as she held out her hand, palm-up. As primly as anything she waited for him to hand her some form of payment. It made him laugh, a sound that came out abruptly and then was cut short by a frown. Ouch.

The purse still dangled from pinched fingers, swinging mightily now in the wake of its master's laughter.

"I could not pay you last time." he spoke slowly, still holding the purse aloft, but using his left hand to gesture slowly between himself, the money bag and her, giving his head a shake to help along the message. "Know why?"
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Nicole Cavalier
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Nicole didn’t let herself mesmerized by the dangling purse. She threw him a questioning gaze, surprised, but not offended by his laughter. She didn’t understand why he was laughing, but she understood better the frown of pain. And, for his sake, she didn’t like it.

When he said he couldn’t pay her last time, she nodded affirmatively. She got it. If he didn’t want to, he wouldn’t have been here, now. So that third alternative was ticked out. There remained only two, and she answered, with the same serene smile, and still looking at his eyes and his lips:

”Not enough money or too much pain.”
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Adoracion deChucho
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Yes. Because he had been in too much pain. And because he was broke. But he wasn't going to tell her that.

"Non..." he said, and a few tut-tuts and shaking his head slowly, as though slightly offended by her suggestions that he was poor or weak. "Non." He lifted a finger of his left hand between them.

"Because...I was afraid."
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Nicole Cavalier
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She raised a brow.

”Afraid of what? Shouldn’t have you been afraid of not paying instead?” she ended with a chuckle.

Of course she was a simple herborist, but not a leaf doctor like those she had heard about, and the tonic was already prepared and bought at that moment. He shouldn’t have been afraid that she might poison him or do something else if not paid.

And he wasn’t afraid – this was why he was here now, instead of remaining safely aboard the ship. He hadn’t done it with intention, no matter what he was persuading her now.

”I have a deal for you: you pay the three liards you owed me, and you get today for free a new bottle of tonic and the bandages changed. Deal?” she looked at him.

She had deliberately spoken slower, to be sure that he understood the ideas.
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Adoracion deChucho
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Ah, she was not a game-player. Quickly she grew tired of his suspense, but it only made Adoracion more delighted by her. She asked the proper question at first, of course: "Afraid of what," but then she went on, offering up a deal of her own.

Addie shook his head slowly, mischief playing in his eyes.

"Non. What I am afraid of," he said, "Is that if I pay you, you will forget me."

He shrugged a little, tilting his head to the side. "Anger can last a long time. It can last until I return."

He had heard and understood all she'd said, but his pitch wasn't done. He liked this woman, he did not know why, but he knew that he would think of her, and wanted to pretend she would think of him, too. It made pining after women feel less pathetic, maybe.

Though, admittedly, a free change and bottle of tonic did sound worth the liards...
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Nicole Cavalier
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This answer was indeed a surprise! Nicole kept looking at him, with a spark of light in her green eyes:

”I can’t forget you anyway! It’s not that I have every day a wounded hero to take care of,” she further explained. ”I only sell herbs and potions to healers and people. So you are special.”

Her words were sincere, with no trace of jest in them.

As he said that her anger would last until he returned, her attention focused first on the return part.

”Will you return here when back to Port de Paix?” she asked him on a serious, somehow dreamy tone. ”To tell me stories about your life at sea?”

Yes, she meant it. Yes, she wanted him to return to her, and she liked paying attention to his words and guessing the meaning of some.

When he explained his way of thinking, she smiled again.

”Why would you want me to think about you with anger? Wouldn’t be better to know that I am praying, instead, every night, for your safe return? And I’ll do it if you tell me your name.”

Why has she got this impulse? Hard to say. If she was wondering, a rambling thought might have answered her „Because you have taken care of his wound and you don’t want your work to be in vain.” But was this the only reason? Wasn’t loneliness adding to it as well? Since her parents’death, she had nobody else to pray for, and she somehow felt he needed her prayers.
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Adoracion deChucho
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Adoracion smiled, a little self-satisfied.

He nodded as she asked if he would return to Port de Paix, dropping his hand with the purse slowly. They would return as far as he knew. Most ships made it back to familiar ports eventually, even if they weren't the preferred place to make berth.

"Would- be better to know...I am praying instead, every night, for your safe return?"

Was that such a selfish desire? He liked the sound of it...

"And I'll do it if you tell me your name."

He nodded pensively.

"You," he gestured, "will pray for me?" He made a soft noise in his throat. "That is better than anger. I like."

He smirked, now. "My name is Adoracion."

Five syllables. Five.
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Nicole Cavalier
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Nicole grinned widely at his nod that he would return – not to Port de Paix; she knew that ships returned to familiar ports. That when back here, he’d return to her, to this little herborist’s shop which was her whole world since she had buried her parents. This was enough of a promise to her.

When he asked, almost not believing, if she would pray for him, it was her time to nod affirmatively, but this was not enough. She looked at him, saying a clear ”Yes, I will. Every night. I want you to come back safe.” It was a solemn promise.

There was somebody else on her prayers list – but if she prayed, together with Madame Lucia, for the Rear Admiral’s health and return only because she was extremely aware of the fact that the financial stability of the shop really depended on his return, she would pray for the brave privateer just because she wanted him to return safely. And this might be better. She grinned in answer to his smirk, knowing that always prayer was better than anger.

She liked his unusual name. She repeated it, with the nasal French accent, making it to sound slightly different even if all the letters were at the right place (and all the syllables too).

”A beautiful name. When is your saint’s feast day?” she asked, curious as she usually was.

She actually wanted not only to get a hint what was the idea behind the name, but to know what patron saint to entrust him to in her prayers.

Then she curtsied gracefully, as if he was a noble man in front of her, introducing herself the most politely possible:

”Nicole Chevalier, glad to make your acquaintance.”

In her case, it was easier to know that Saint Nicholas's feast day was the 6-th of December. And he was, among others, the patron saint of orphan girls without dowry, like her, and also one of the patron saints of the seafarers.
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