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Death and Purpose

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The Captain was in a pensive mood.

It wasn't often that he felt as useless as he did now. In life, he had always managed to find something to do, or somebody who needed his guidance. But as a ghost, there was precious little that he could do. He found that he could interact with things only if he expressed no desire to alter their state; he could sit on chairs and lay on beds, but the cushions would not dip and the sheets would not crumple. That he could not open a book or pick up a cup, close a door, even turn on a tap, he found unendingly frustrating.

The only time he ever got the actual sensation of touching something was if he touched his fellow ghosts, an improper thing that he avoided doing if at all possible. The living as well, he had discovered, made the ghosts nauseous if they passed through them. This had been very unfortunate back when the house was still being used as a base of operations, given the sheer volume of people everywhere, the Captain not long dead and unaware of the side-effects. He shuddered to think back to that time just a few months ago, and yet he missed having the familiar faces around, the familiar atmosphere. All gone now, of course.

That he was still here at all perplexed him, if he was being honest with himself. If some higher power had a plan for him then, he didn't see how he was expected to fulfil it with such limited capabilities. All he could really do was hold stilted conversations with his fellow ghosts. Truth be told, he found them hard to understand. He understood Fanny, to a certain extent, but the rest of them were whimsical and undisciplined, and didn't seem to have much of a problem with the lack of purpose that death afforded them. Thus far, they all responded very reluctantly to any regulations that the Captain had tried to put in place, in an effort to establish a structure to their otherwise meaningless days, but he did feel that he was starting to get through to them regarding a curfew-

"Excuse me, sir, but you seem to be sat upon my sighing spot."

"Oh, do excuse me. There is plenty of room for the two of us here, however." The Captain indicated to the rest of the window seat, though privately he was desperately hoping that Thomas would leave instead.

"No thank you, I wish to be in solitude."

"Well I am dreadfully sorry about that. I suppose that you shall have to sit elsewhere in the meantime."

Thomas, however, was not budging. "I do not wish to, thank you very much. Would you kindly vacate my spot?"

"Now look here Thorne, I was sat here first and I intend to remain seated here." A petulant look crossed the other man's face. "Why don't you find another window to sit and sigh at?"

"I don't want another window, I want this one! It has the best view of the lake." He punctuated this statement with a small stamp of his foot, an action the Captain found irritatingly childish. He was a grown man, for God's sake!

They both glared at each other, neither man willing to give in. This lasted a good 5 minutes, before Thomas crossed his arms with an angry huff and turned to glare at the wall instead. Well, if Thomas was going to be unreasonable about it, then so was the Captain. He turned to the window, letting his gaze rake across the grounds, taking note of tactical positions.

As if to emphasise the point of Thomas' argument, he felt his eyes drawn to the lake, which shimmered beautifully in the afternoon sun. It really was a rather nice view of it from here; very calm and picturesque. He almost forgot his reason for being angry, finding his mind drifting back to his time at school, and all the poetry that he'd had to memorise.

"O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,
"Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free.
"*

"Lord Byron…he was one of yours, wasn't he?" he asked, hoping to smooth things over with Thomas. It was a poor show to have bad relations with the man, after all. He was sure a casual conversation about poetry would win him over.

He turned to look at the other man, but Thomas' eyes were hard and cold.

"Do you mock me, sir?" he demanded.

"What? No, I merely-"

"I will not stand for this!" he declared, his face crumbling with hurt, and fled the room.

The Captain stared after him in utter bewilderment. Had he thought that, in quoting him, the Captain was implying that Byron was the superior poet? That surely went without saying! After all, Byron was a highly respected literary figure!

Just as he huffed and turned back to the window, Kitty came running into the room.

"Oh Captain, there you are!" she exclaimed. “Have you heard the news?"

"What news?" The Captain asked, disgruntled that something might have happened without his knowing. He always liked to keep on top of the goings-on in the house; despite there being little he could do about them, it almost felt as though he had some semblance of control over the situation if he was kept informed.

"The family are holding a party," Kitty announced, "to celebrate that they've put the house back to rights again after the army left."

"Oh, I see. Yes, I had heard about that." He felt a pang in his chest; Kitty’s words were a painful reminder of how the one familiarity he'd had in death had packed up and left.

"Don't you think it's awfully exciting?" Kitty asked, swaying around to some imaginary tune. "All those people in their fancy clothes..."

"Not really Catherine; it's not as though we can join in, after all."

"Of course we can! We can have our own party, right here!" She punctuated her statement with a graceful twirl. When the Captain made no comment, she sat down next to him and clasped her hands together. "Oh, please! We never get to do anything together and you're still quite new so it would help you get to know everybody and when I saw Thomas just now he looked upset although he always does but it would cheer him up as well and I know that Lady Button secretly enjoys parties even though she pretends that she doesn't and I know that Mary would enjoy it and Robin-"

"Fine."

"Sorry?"

"I said, fine. We can have a party, but on one condition: I shall be the one who organises it."

"Really? Oh, thank you!" And with that, Kitty flung herself around him for a tight hug. The Captain tensed up and made no move to reciprocate, quietly stunned by the unexpected contact, but once she let go, realised that he actually rather missed the feeling. He pushed that aside, however, and stood up, straightening his uniform. After all, he had his new mission (for the time being anyway).