Character: Jack Aubrey, “Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World”
Disclaimer:The following story has been written with no intention of claiming ownership or solicitation, No claim reassignment of copyright or copyrighted material is intended, nor should such be inferred by the publication of this work. The movie character(s) have been borrowed and are not being used for any other reason except entertainment. Please do not copy, publish or alter this work in any way without the written permission of the author.
Jack Aubrey was on land—and he hated it. He was the proverbial “fish out of water.” If it weren’t for Stephen, he’d stay on board his ship the whole time they were docked. It’s not that there weren’t people whose company he enjoyed. But why couldn’t they come onboard to see him?
As Jack was heading down a London street, he decided to walk through Mulberry Park, one of several in town. He found the trees and babbling fountains relaxing. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Various birds chirped merrily as they went about their daily routine.
“Fresh air is wonderful, isn’t it?”
“M-Miss Linton!” If a roasted pig marched by, his face wouldn’t have lit up any brighter.
Donna Marie Louise Linton, daughter of Adm. Horatio Linton, sighed. Like most women, she found the young lieutenant a handsome man. Many admired a physical attribute or quality of his. For Donna Marie, it was his hair. Although she felt the word “hair” fell far short when describing his long, luscious blonde waves. It was with good reason his men called him “Goldilocks”.
“How are you this morning?” She hoped he couldn’t hear the excitement in her voice.
“At this moment, I’m finding myself better than before you came.”
“What a nice compliment!” Her voice was lilting and sounded like one of those colorful exotic parrots. Fortunately, Jack was tongue-tied. Certainly, his thoughts were innocent and he always meant well. However, telling Donna Marie she reminded him of a parrot probably wasn’t a good idea. “Are you docked for long?” she asked.
“I hope not,” he said honestly. Jack thought better of the reply. “What I mean, is I like being on the water better than the land.” He frowned; that didn’t sound any smoother. “That is, Miss Linton, not to say I don’t enjoy your company, because I do.” Now he blushed at the familiarity of his remark. “I would enjoy it more on my ship—with a chaperone, of course.” He smiled weakly.
Donna Marie smiled, hoping to calm his nerves.
“Ah, I have a cabin we could dine in,” he said, trying to patch up any wrong ideas.
“Do you have a cook?”
“At the present, yes. And he’s a very good one. He could fix us–and, of course, the chaperone–a delicious meal. I always get sleepy after a big meal; don’t you?” Instead of letting her answer, he kept plowing on; certain if he ceased talking, he’d actually hear what he was saying. “And there’s a bed in my cabin,” he announced proudly. Jack ran one large hand through his unruly mop of hair. “There’s only one bed and–.” He swallowed loudly. “Of course, you may use it….” How did he get talking about such things to a lady? “That is, ah, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to speak in such an ill-mannered way.”
Donna Marie giggled. “I know what you meant Lt. Aubrey.” Jack looked around trying to find something else to discuss. “You don’t feel comfortable off your ship, do you?”
Jack smiled shyly. “No, I’m afraid not.”
Suddenly a little ball of black fur ran rapidly up to Donna Marie.
“Oh, Princess!” she exclaimed.
Jack looked at the dog suspiciously. He had been in contact with few dogs in his life; and they were all large, useful breeds. He was puzzled as to how so much noise could come out of such an itty, bitty mouth.
“Princess, this is Lt. Aubrey,” Donna Marie announced. The black Pomeranian shifted her gaze from her doting mistress to this other human. She sniffed the air in his direction, coming closer to examine his boots.
Jack’s eyebrows were raised in anticipation of what this little fluff ball might do. Finally, he smiled. “She’s so tiny,” he marveled. “No bigger than a stuffed pork chop.” Princess wasn’t pleased with Jack’s size, or the fact that he was distracting her mistress. “I think she likes me,” he said delighted. It would be a feather in his cap if he could win over Donna Marie’s Princess.
Donna Marie knew better. Princess was exactly that—a spoiled, self-centered canine, who immediately began yapping furiously. “Princess, stop! That isn’t very nice.”
Jack was enthralled with the little mite. Somehow he didn’t read the threats behind the barking Princess. He bent at his waist and commenced conversing with Her Highness.
“Good day, my dear,” he began.
“What’s a pretty Princess doing running around the park?”
“She was just bathed. Apparently she escaped before they could dry her off.”
“An escape artist?” Jack asked, leaning over closer.
“Yap! Yap! Yap! Yap!” Princess jumped up on her hind legs trying to grab Jack’s nose.
None of this bothered Jack. He was happy as a clam that such an elegant lady was paying attention to him.
“Oh, she likes me all right!” he declared brightly.
Donna Marie was a little puzzled at his response; it was obvious Princess was being anything but likable.
“Gr-r-r! Yaap! Yaap!” she continued. Suddenly Princess leaped at one of Jack’s muscular calves.
“Oh, dear!” Donna Marie cried out.
Jack began laughing. “Look! She’s hugging me.” Wrapping her teeth around the top of his boot, she tried to tear into it. Fortunately, her little teeth couldn’t penetrate the thick leather. “I think she wants me to pick her up,” Jack determined.
Donna Marie opened her mouth to protest, but Jack already had one massive hand poised over the barking dog. Jack scooped her up and, holding her at arms length, commenced cooing and making over her.
Donna Marie tried not to laugh at this sight, but it was impossible. She began giggling.
Jack decided he had spent enough time impressing the dog and was ready to move his attentions to her mistress. The excitement was building inside him. Could he convince this dark-haired beauty to go to the next King’s Ball with him? It mattered not that he detested gatherings, was an ox around the table, and totally lacked conversational skills. Holding Princess with one hand, he attempted to stroke her chin.
“Be careful,” she warned, knowing Princess had bitten others.
As Jack’s long fingers reached her furry chin, she clamped her little teeth on them. Donna Marie was mortified, but Jack was too busy trying to come up with a clever way to ask her to the dance.
“She’s bitten your hand. Let me see.” Upon examination of the large, masculine hand, she was torn between concern and excitement.
“It’s nothing, Miss Linton, really. A tough old sea salt such as myself has faced cannon balls and ugly pirates.”
“She’s only behaving this way because she’s with her mistress.”
“When the cat’s away, the early bird gets the worm.” He smiled brightly at his glib remark.
Her green eyes widened and she felt a tug at her heart for this endearing man.
Jack realized the antics of her dog were taking Donna Marie’s attention away from him. So, without further ado, Jack tucked the little fur ball under his arm, as he would a loaf of bread.
This was more than Princess could bear. She twisted her head from side to side, her little jaw opening and shutting with rapid movements, trying to get her teeth on some part of this man.
“Yaap! Yaap! Yap-yap-yap!” she cried in her tiny, high-pitched voice.
“Miss Linton, I was wondering—that is, if someone hasn’t already asked you—.”
Donna Marie was trying very hard not to look at her dog. The idea of putting such an expensive, blueblood dog under one’s arm was unbearably funny.
Jack noticed Donna Marie’s shoulders shaking. He stopped talking and saw the mirth in her eyes. He immediately blushed.
She read the doubt in his face. “No, Lt. Aubrey, you’ve misread my gestures,” she apologized. “It’s not you I find humorous, but my Princess. You were saying, Lt. Aubrey?”
Jack cleared his voice. He was so close to paradise, so close to sitting beside her in a carriage, so intent on making whatever he said next proceed from his mouth correctly, that the ship’s bell scared him.
“Oh!” Jack jumped excitedly. “It’s the ship’s bell. We must have new orders!” He turned and headed down the path leading out of the park. Stopping suddenly, he ran back. “Excuse me, Miss Linton, I’m so sorry to run off. But I have to go.”
“That’s quite all right, Lt. Aubrey.” She laughed joyously, her brain in a delicious whirl from Jack’s manic behavior and boyish charm.
Jack hurried off again. There was no question Lt. Aubrey would not be the conventional suitor. Some women might be embarrassed by his lack of polish; but, she was far too fascinated with the heart and soul of the man.
Jack was half way out of the park, when she saw him halt once more and head back in her direction. She began laughing.
Jack reached Donna Marie and passed Princess to her head first. He ran towards his ship as fast as his muscular legs could carry him. He felt a twinge of regret; he had been so close to asking her to spend time with him. Then he laughed to himself. What was he thinking? Did he imagine for one moment that an intelligent, charming woman would actually be seen anywhere with a bull of a man such as himself? The idea was ridiculous. Another thought occurred to him—her father, the Admiral. Even if she had agreed to go to the King’s Ball with him, her father would never have permitted it.
Donna Marie finally calmed Princess down and walked back to her waiting carriage, hoping the opportunity to see Lt. Aubrey would again present itself.
Jack got his new orders from Adm. Linton. As Jack ran to his cabin to retrieve maps and other tools he’d need to plan the trip, the Admiral smiled to himself. He was quite fond of the young lieutenant, who was a brave and intelligent seaman. The Admiral made a mental note to introduce Jack to his daughter next time they docked.