As Captain Crozier made his way through the passage of Erebus’s lower deck, accompanied by his second and mister Jopson, it suddenly became clear to him that during the entirety of the expedition so far Jopson still hadn’t been on Erebus.
Hell, the last time the lad walked her upper deck, he was certain, was in 1842 on the Antarctic expedition with Sir James Ross.
Why did he come to this conclusion? How?
Well, that would be caused by the way Jopson kept looking around the ship’s passage, eyeing her woodwork and structure, which had no doubt, indeed, looked different than he remembered courtesy of the alterations fitted to her for this expedition.
The black haired lad was turning his head this way, then that, his pale hazel eyes wide and staring with fascination.
The Ice master Mr Reid could be seen talking with Mr Bridgens along the passage, as they approached the two men looked in their direction before starting to part ways.
"Captain Crozier, sir, may I a word with you and lieutenant Little?"
Sensing that the Captain and the lieutenant were soon to be busy with conversation with Erebus' ice master, Jopson smiled brightly at Mr Bridgens and the older steward came to a stop before him with a small, but warm, toothless smile of his own as he tilted his head down at him.
"Mister Jopson, a rarity it is to see you on Erebus."
Thomas blushed slightly with a nod, "It is, indeed. I’m afraid it’s been a few years since I've been below her deck, mister Bridgens."
“Ah, that’s right, you’ve sailed with her once before.” the man recalled with another warm smile.
Jopson noticed the articles that Bridgens carried in his hands appeared much, much too small to fit a man, or even the boys still on Erebus.
“Sir, if you don’t mind my asking, what are those?” he asked gesturing to the small pieces of clothing in his hands.
Mister Bridgens looked down at the items in his hands and smiled fondly back at the curious younger steward.
Young Jopson was a fine example for a steward, always ready to serve but at the same time still allowing his youth to let him be his inquisitive self.
“Not at all, mister Jopsons. They are outfits made by some of the men for miss Jacko.”
Jopson blinked in confusion,
A woman aboard ship?
Wasn’t that forbidden?
“Mister Jopson. I encourage you to keep pace.” Lieutenant Little’s firm voice gruffed over his shoulder.
“Oh!” the smaller man snapped back to attention, a blush on his face at the lieutenant’s light reprimand, “Yes, of course, sir.”
He turned back to Mister Bridgens with a nod and a smile, “Take care, Mister Bridgens.”
The older man chuckled, “And you as well, please, do give Mr Peglar my regards, and tell him that I ”
At the mention of the older man’s lover, Jopson nodded with a fond smile, “Always, sir.”
Jopson quickened his stride to catch up with them as they continued to make their way down the ship’s passage that spanned her lower deck.
Lieutenant Le Vesconte emerged from the ward room, a biscuit in his left hand as he readjusted his necktie.
When the man looked up his brown eyes got comically wide and an uncharacteristic blush appeared on his handsome face.
"O-Oh… Captain, I… good morning, sir." the silver haired man blurted quickly, blush growing darker as the man they had come to see emerged from the ward room a few moments later.
Little scowled disapprovingly, even though he knew he shouldn't especially with the fantasies that ran in his own head about what he’d like to do with the captain’s steward.
Still, how could the man just play it off?
He had to have been informed they would be coming.
Jopson on the other hand had to resist giggling as he heard mister Bridgens behind him, the man had been going the same way they had been and so of course was a few steps behind them when the spectacle occurred.
“Of all times, sir, god dammit.” the man grumbled in frustration, and as he spared the taller steward a glance over his shoulder he saw he was pinching the bridge of his nose to try to keep a headache at bay.
"Oh, Francis, you're early." James stated as he fixed his hair back into place.
Their captain groaned in slight agitation, scrubbing a hand over his face as he pushed past the two men to make his way to the great cabin.
‘Dammit James. Now is not the time for a quick tryst.’
“We need to have a discussion about provisions, James.”
The younger captain nodded before turning to his lieutenant who was still rather pink in the face and viciously gnawing on a biscuit to try to quell his discomfort.
“Lieutenant Le Vesconte, I expect a full on deck report in an-”
“He needs to be here for this meeting James, as does Lieutenant LIttle.” Francis interjected quickly.
With that the small group began to make their way to the great cabin before mister Bridgens cleared his throat to speak with the commander. “Captain Fitzjames, sir.”
Fitzjames turned to Bridgens with bright eyes, “Yes?”
The old man held up the small knitted articles, “Mr Collins made these for miss Jacko, sir, where do you wish me to put them?”
James snorted out something a mix of both amusement and groan, “More things? Good, lord, if he spent half as much time watching the ice as he did knitting for that little beast… ah take them to Mister Goodsir, surely he’ll know what to do with them.”
“Of course, sir.” Mister Bridgens replied with a polite bow of his head, and with that he began to make his way back down the narrow passage to Doctor Goodsir’s sleeping quarters.
It wasn’t long until they were all making their way into the great cabin and the officers were settling themselves around the large table.
Mister Hoar was already within the room tending to some things, but as soon as he saw who it was coming in, he was already bustling to make some tea.
“Jopson, if you will.” Crozier gestured towards him to help the other younger steward to which he nodded dutifully and began to help the man.
Mister Hoar was a couple years younger than he if he remembered correctly.
Not as young as he was when he first served as a captain’s steward, not to his knowledge anyways.
It didn’t take long for the two of them to get everyone served and things in order and soon they were both standing at attention as the men discussed the issues at hand.
“That’ll be all Mister Hoar, you’re dismissed. I shall ring should we require your services again.” Captain Fitzjames addressed the younger man.
“Sirs,” Mr Hoar said with a respectful bow of his head before leaving him to the wolves, or well not really, he assumed that Commander Fitzjames just forgot about him.
It wasn’t often that Captain Crozier brought his steward with him to the other ship.
Of course it was once Mister Hoar had departed the room, Thomas found himself feeling quite squirmy and out of place.
“Edward, how many tins, did you say showed up foul this morning?” Lieutenant Le Vesconte asked, grabbing for a biscuit of the plate.
“Mr Diggle found twenty-four. Almost twice as many as he found yesterday.” Edward replied before taking a sip of his tea.
“Sit down Thomas.” he heard from the side somewhere but of course he didn’t register it as being directed towards himself until the voice said his name again, and the catch of a large warm hand on his wrist.
“Oh?” he startled confused and rather flustered when he found the grasp on the end of his wrist belonged to Lieutenant Little.
“Thomas.” Captain Crozier called him again, a rather bemused expression on his brow.
“Sir,” he asked, a deep blush spreading across his cheeks as he realized he’d been staring into lieutenant Little’s dark brown eyes.
“Take a seat, rest a while lad. Make yourself a cup of tea.” the Irishman said, giving him his ease to get off his feet for a time.
Always much appreciated.
“Oh, well thank you very much, sir.” he said, with a respectful little bow of his head.
Right away the men went back to their chatter and he was left to his semi-leisure.
Still a little chilled from their trek he did quietly make himself a cup of port before he found a seat chair by one of the other side tables where there were some biscuits set up and decided to take his ease there.
As he was sitting down, he did not notice the little furry figure sleeping on the ledge in front of the window that overlooked their ice locked sea.
The little furry figure however, it did not fail to notice the new individual who sat so close to her and in doing so, skyrocketed her curiosity.
Slowly raising herself from her sunning spot, her little pants that were knitted for her by her most favorable Mister Collins shifted slightly against her fur and she tugged them up slightly before scratching at a spot.
After enjoying the nice little scratch she turned her eyes to the stranger who sat beside a tray of biscuits.
Jacko approached quietly and cautious, sniffing the air as she made her way over to the nice looking man.
Unaware of the small, unseen creature, Jopson startled, hands raising as a small furry thing suddenly jumped up on one of his shoulders.
“Oh!” he cried out, catching the attention of both the captains and their seconds.
A soft chittering in his ear before small furry hands were touching his hair, it wasn’t long after that whatever had so stealthily attacked him jumped into his lap briefly with a small noise, and then onto the side table where it sat beside the tray of biscuits, snatching one up and munching on it.
Jopson stared at the thing, his pale hazel eyes going wide with disbelief before a bright beaming smile caused two prominent dimples to appear on his face.
All four officers were surprised at first by the sudden gleeful almost shrill noise of excitement that came from the normally so composed Captain’s Steward aboard Terror .
“A monkey!” the lad cried, carefully reaching over to pet the small creature who immediately climbed back into his lap after receiving a few rubs on top of her head.
Captain Crozier and Lieutenant Little just blinked quite bewildered.
Surely the lad had known about Sir John’s capuchin monkey, miss Jacko?
Lieutenant Le Vesconte snorted a laugh while Commander Fitzjames despite having blinked briefly in confusion, offered the steward a warm smile.
It suddenly occurred to Crozier, that since he’d not been on Erebus yet the whole expedition that he probably didn’t and he smiled fondly at the lad as well, “Aye, Jopson, that there is Miss Jacko.”
He glanced up, smile suddenly dropping and his cheeks going red as he realized he’d interrupted their meeting. “I… apologies, sir. I’ve never seen a monkey before.”
“Not to worry, seeing a man’s day brightened is very much scarce these days,” the commander reassured, “She’s a capuchin from Argentina, she was a gift to Sir John from Lady Jane.”
As he listened to the commander, Jopson was absolutely smitten as the small creature ran her even smaller furry fingers over one of the brass buttons on his jacket, quite fascinated that she could see her reflection vaguely.