A Quiet Moment

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“Sir?”

...

“Sir?”

"Hmm?"

“I’m very sorry to make you recall all this again."

"No, lady. It was a very long time ago. Time, heals ... If you"ll excuse me I need to use the head.”

#

"Excuse me Your Highness."

"Yes?"

"He’s crying in the private. What should we do?"

"We’ll wait. A lot of good people died. And he was at the heart of it from the beginning. Give him time, and don"t mention this to him. Honor. We must treat him with the greatest honor. The empress stressed that."

"He’s coming back, milady."

"Good. Perhaps some fresh java for us both."

#

“Pardon me, ma’am. Sorry I took so long. Things don’t work as fast when you get older, if you know what I mean.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Oh, some fresh java. Thank you. Now, where was I? Just getting to engineering, right? Well as you can guess it didn’t solve a thing. Most of the tools, gear, and spare parts in the machine shop had been washed out of that second breach. We were near the edge of the world, practically out of food with one working propeller, two working engines, no rudder to steer, no engineers, and a handful of small tools. We cut the power to the screw and kept the boiler burning enough to run the pumps and provide steam for some of the other machinery. After that, we were drifting until we could fix the broken propeller or the rudder. I’d have been happy with either.”


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