Initiation: The Bath
Keegan and the boys of the crew laughed over a joke that Colm had made about the ship they had just stolen from the Navy Royale when the mistress of the guns, Granuaile walked up and punched Keegan on the shoulder as hard as she could. Those that knew the relationship laughed as the Captain groaned while he rubbed his shoulder.
“That’s never going to heal, you know!” He complained while following her across the deck. “Granuile, wait. There is someone I want you to meet.” motioning to the newest of the crew to come close, Keegan introduced Dana to Granuaile asking her to get him fed.
She took the skinny lad to the cook and had him eat his fill. Then returned to Keegan and complained that the boy stank of gunpowder, sweat, grease and general filth, which the Master of the Ship found in great humor. An unwashed body it seemed to give the Captain of the ship an idea.
The unwashed body that offended Granuaile was one that she would scrub within an inch of his life.
“Hmm… Well, as a new member of the ship, he needs an initiation, maybe.” Dash noted. “Perhaps a good cleaning as one would scrub a cannon?”
Granuaile never showed any affection to any boy, but she would stand next to Keegan as he led or called orders, often she competed for his attentions with the first officer, the small and intense Angelcries.
“You want him cleaned like I keep my guns? We will wash him. I will not allow him below as he is now, he reeks and you will have a mutiny on your hands if he stays below with us to sleep.” Granuaile told her Captain. “We’ll clean him up after he finishes eating. He will be as clean as a newborn!”
Angelcries sighed as she watched the newest buccaneer eat from a distance.
“I do not think they fed him in all the time he was on their ship.”
“Get some buckets and scrub brushes.” Keegan motioned to Iollan and Colm, nodding. “After he eats? We have a new member of the crew to clean.”
“This will be a challenge, but fun.” Colm laughed with a wink.
After he had eaten, Dana protested with all his voice as the boys along with Granuaile and the boys and several girls stripped Dana down to his underwear, pinching their noses at the smell that was under the unwashed clothing was worse than he trailed behind him when he walked. Granuaile dragged the blond, smelly body towards a large tub, and the group scrubbed the child until he sparkled in the warm summer night air.
Wearing new clothes that they gathered from chests of leather and silks they had collected, Dana Surya stood and smiled as he looked in a small hand-held mirror.
“Ooh! I look good! But –” Dana turned around. “never, ever, ever do that again!” Dana growled as he looked in the mirror. “I could have washed myself.”
“Hardly…” Granuaile shook her head. “You had powder in your hair that we had to scrub three times to get clean!”
Rubbing his still tingling scalp. “Ya, I felt it. Did ya have to scrub so hard?”
“We’ll never lose you Master Dana,” Keegan said. “Your hair is as pretty as mine.”
Iollian made sleeping arrangements with the Captain and first officer Angelcries. Normally up to four children in a full-sized hammock. Dana shared the his with Iollan until he was comfortable.
Angelcries often threatened the small blond for his snoring. In his first days often he coughed up black mud from his days in the holds of the English powder stores.
Months passed and Dana Surya, the saved boy of the ships, showed new knots that he had learned from the English that could be tied more quickly and were stronger than the ones they learned with the pirates.
Quietly one evening, after a month at sea, Keegan talked with Dana as they sat on the rails of the quarterdeck and the boy-captain explained his name from when the first pirate could not pronounce or spell his real name to the alias he now used as a family name.
“I am known as Dash MacDíoltas to the English. In Irish Gaelic, I am Dash, Son of Revenge. I have sworn to undo all that the English has done to my family or make those cry for all the tears I have shed after they killed my Mamo and Seanathair.” He sighed. “But my real name is Keegan O’Danu.”
Dana looked down at his hands.
“I never knew my parents. I only remember being on a ship carrying cargo or ball for cannon. That is how I learned to count, so I can stack a full count in racks. I have always been alone.” Dana said softly.. “They called me Dana, for a man from Denmark. And Surya because my hair is the color of the sun.”
Keegan paused and took a deep breath, nodding, understanding the part that the world took from the newest of the crew could never be replaced. But as someone other than a captain, he could do one thing.
Sighing slowly. “Dana, one thing I know about is being alone. I have no brothers or sisters and when we find my Da’, you will be my brother and we — you and I — will no longer be alone.”
Dana hugged on his Captain and brother. Keegan told Dana of the stories of Bradan. After nights of such stories by all the crew that told of their lost friends, Dana knew that he was never again would be a lost boy. Dash the Captain who was also Keegan the Brother gave his word that he would never let that happen again.