"Well good night, then, Westley, and good work today." Roberts said even as he handed Westley an extra blanket. "Sleep well, I'll most likely kill you in the morning."
Westley woke up with the sunrise, although the majority of men on the ship stayed asleep long after that. It was something about growing up on a farm, he supposed, so instead of getting up to milk the cows and feed Horse, Westley got up and then climbed the rigging, checked the sails, chatted a bit with Charlie in the crow's nest.
He knew his way around the Revenge by now, so he stepped over the loose planks on the deck, ones that he'd rather not have to secure by himself, pausing in the galley for a moment to swipe some bread and a bit of cheese. The ship was quiet, soft rustling of sails and the creaking of shifting timber as it softly groaned its way across the sea. He tucked the food into a handkerchief, squinting up at the dark sky with the glow of sunrise barely staining the far edge of the horizon. "Charlie?" He called.
"All's clear," the high-pitched voice came from above, a tiny hint of a straw hat barely visible over the edge of the basket. Westley waved a hand and then started to climb,swinging up the barely-noticeable handholds on the mast so that he could climb up to the nest.
"Thank you," Charlie said, stuffing the bread and cheese into his mouth quickly.
Charlie was one of the youngest on the Revenge, and possibly the smallest as well, which is why they let him spend most of his days in the nest looking out for merchant ships and the Navy, as well as whatever other dangers that there may be. "No hurricaines tonight?" Westley said.
Charlie looked positively green at the thought. "Don't even joke," He said seriously, his freckles standing out against his darkly tanned skin.
Westley shook his head, patting Charlie on the shoulder before he swung a leg over the edge of the nest and climbed down.
He swabbed the decks until his arms and shoulders ached and his shirt was drenched in sweat, and then he took a five minute break to guzzle water and splash some, icy cool and wet over his shoulder and face.
"You missed a spot," the first mate said, pointing at a place Westley had most definitely remembered.
"Yes, sir," He said through gritted teeth, and then he started over again.
Roberts finally awoke in the middle of the morning, strolling around the ship with the arrogant, lazy air that only a pirate Captain could attain. "Having fun, Westley?" He said. "You look rather tired."
"Oh no, I'm just enjoying my work, sir," Westley said, smiling because Roberts wasn't so bad a fellow, really, not quite as fierce as he'd been led to believe.
"Well why don't you let Louie do that -- Louie!" Roberts yelled, scowling. "Stop wasting time and get over here, you lazy blaggard!" He turned to walk. "Come on, then, Westley," and Westley followed him because there wasn't much else to do, really, other than do what he was told.
Westley'd been rather good at the sword right off, which is why Roberts and the others tended to let him stop doing the horrible boring chores, and occasionally he'd get to fight off all the tension. "Step lively now, Westley," the Mate said, swinging his sword in a slow arc. "I'm not going to take it easy on you forever," and they all had a bit of a laugh, because he'd never taken it easy on Westley.
He practiced his footwork and his patterning, attack and defense, from high ground and low, the other men putting obstacles in his way for Westley to evade or jump over. He was famous for it by now, not losing his balance, always keeping a steady stance and his feet properly on the ground. "Come on, then, Westley!" some of them yelled if they had a minute to watch.
The wind in his hair and the salt spray staining his shirt, Westley spun and danced with his blade, feeling alive and wishing, not for the first time, that Buttercup were with him. He could live like this forever, he felt, if only Buttercup were here with him.
Noon meant a bit of bread and some fried fish, pinched in one hand and eaten while also trying to scrape barnacles off of the hull of the ship. It was a tough job, dangerous and exhausting, but it meant that Westley had a chance to sit in the lifeboat, securing lines for the other men until it was his turn. Like the others, he went for a bit of a swim, swearing as he made contact with the freezing cold water, but feeling refreshed and rejuvenated when they towed him back to the boat and pulled him, dripping wet, out of the water.
"Fancy another go, then, Westley?" Capric asked with a wide, gape-toothed grin.
"Not for myself, no," Westley answered, wiping the water from his face and smiling back.
"Ship 'ho!" Charlie yelled in the afternoon - pointing off a little to the east. The Revenge came alive, all of the men strapping on their swords and their headbands, stripping off shirts to stand shirtless and gleaming in the afternoon light.
Roberts himself stepped onto the deck, fearsome even though his stature wasn't as tall or muscular as the others. "Are you ready, men?" He asked, a terrible grin on his face. "Not you, Westley," he added without even looking.
Westley wasn't a pirate, not yet at least, although he'd known beforehand that he didn't have many options open to him for career choice. Instead, he had to stay on the ship in the galley, helping the cook to prepare dinner. He peeled potatoes even as he heard them hoist the sails and head towards the merchant vessel. He chopped onions as the two ships clashed - or rather, as Roberts issued a challenge and the other ship attempted to flee. He stood strong and tried not to bump into the stumbling cook as they tried to make their endless supply of fish taste like anything other than fish --
And then finally the sea was quiet and Roberts came stomping down the stairs to the galley, blood on his boots and a smile on his face. "Come on, then," He said. "I've not much use for a valet if you're never around, Westley," and then Westley handed his potatoes and his onions and his knife to the cook and scurried after the captain.
Roberts didn't talk much, although he liked to hear Westley talk.
"Tell me more about this Buttercup," He ordered, as Westley unstrapped the man's sword belt.
"She's lovely," Westley said automatically. "Perfect and lovely, I don't know where to begin. Where had I left off?"
"Her elbows," Roberts said, a small, knowing smile on his face. He seemed to think that WEstley was besotted, which was obviously true, and Westley knew it too. There was nothing wrong with being besotted, provided that the woman you were besotted with was lovely and perfect and kind and sweet and incredible and completely oblivious to how beautiful she really was, besides being rather frighteningly lovable.
"She has lovely elbows," Westley said. "All of her is lovely, but especially her elbows. They are beautifully shaped, a sublime curve of elegance, incomparable to any other elbow you may have seen. I can tell you this, Roberts, there is no more beautiful elbow in all of the world than the elbows of Buttercup's arms. She has such soft limbs, like you would not believe - toned muscle underneath a soft layer of fat, but with a gentle, graceful air, so wonderfully youthful..."
The pirates were raucous through dinner, trying to tell Westley stories of their own bravery, all of which the others would denounce as a lie and none of which Westley would believe. As the only person who hadn't witnessed firsthand what had happened, he was the only one they had left to brag to, so he listened politely and made disbelieving noises, only half paying attention.
"Oh, here," Charlie said, tossing Westley a bit of sparkle.
It was a bracelet, wide and flat, not gold or silver but perhaps some type of brass, pretty and sparkly with a lovely intricate design on it. "For Buttercup," Charlie added, a smile quirking on his lips.
"Oh, yes," Capric said, digging in his pockets and coming up with a small, rather plain silver ring. "This 'un for the missus too, aye?"
And then the others joined in, digging through their loot and booty to find something small and not too valuable, something they didn't mind parting with.
"For Buttercup," they said.
"This 'un, for the little lady,"
Westley smiled down at the pile of jewelry and coins in his hands, growing by the moment, more riches than he'd ever seen in his life. For Buttercup, who he hadn't seen in more than a year. Oh, how he missed her.
Before bed, Westley helped the other men fasten the rigging, check the sails. In his head, he composed a letter to Buttercup, the way he did every night.
My dearest darling Buttercup, light of my life, he began. The sun shone today and I love you. I woke up at sunrise and I love you. My feet ache from running about and I love you. The other men have finally accepted me and I love you. They send their regards and I love you --
"Well then," Roberts said, frowning at Westley as he prepared to go to sleep. "A good day, then, I'd say. Good night, Westley, and thanks for everything. I'll most likely kill you in the morning."
"Aye," Westley agreed. "Good night then, Roberts."