Stanley placed his broad form in the doorframe. He was dressed in a loose white shirt, light grey smudges dotted in places, and black trousers with a yellow handkerchief threaded through his belt loop. It was Stanley I had noticed by his silhouette. He smiled a light smile with intense potency as he set his blue eyes on me, his blue eyes with their greyish flecks that seemed to swim with the sea that rolled against the rocks.
"Miss Corbin-Bradbury." He said, bowing his head slightly.
"Mr Venture," I smiled ", do come in." he stepped slowly through the threshold as if he were universally aware that his presence could frighten me. It did not, yet I could see how a weaker girl could be intimidated by such blatant, rough masculinity. I dragged the armchair from by the still open sash window where I had been sitting before the metamorphic footsteps of Carstairs to the hearth, which was still glowing. Then I began towards the chair which sat quietly by the writing desk in the corner, but Stanley coughed lightly and walked across me, picking up the chair cleanly with one hand and placing it near the armchair by the fire. "Thank you," I whispered, though I was not sure that he had heard. I gestured lightly to chairs, and he sat in the writing chair and folded one leg over the other. I sat adjacent to him in the armchair.
"If I'd of known that you would invite me in, I would have dressed nice." He smiled.
"If I had known you were coming, I would have dressed." I laughed, gesturing to my current state in a white nightdress and overcoat.
"It's okay." He smiled. "It's very warm in here."
"I should lock the door." I stood up and hurried over to re-lock the chamber door with myself and Stanley inside.
"I hope I explained it in the note," Stanley murmured.
"Explained what?" I asked.
"Explained that I was sorry for upsetting you earlier with all the talk of marriage."
"Oh that," I smiled ", there's nothing to forgive."
"Well, nevertheless, I thought it worth just a few lines on parchment." He smiled.
"Well, thank you." I smiled at his sudden change in phrase.
"Oh, and I'm sorry my writing isn't the best." He looked to his feet, half embarrassed. "'tis better than most the men round here."
"Don't be; it could be understood."
"Good." He replied, "My reading is better than my writing, but in my line of work, I don't get to practice half as often as a woman like you."
"Oh?" I giggled slightly. "Shall we put that to the test?"
"Oh, Stanley, you must start calling me Lucinda," I said, scanning around. Finally, my eyes fell upon a folded over newspaper stashed by the fireplace. "Do you think you could read that?" I asked, reaching for it.
"If I know the letters and the language." He laughed.
"You know Shakespeare's work?" I asked in alarm.
"A little." He nodded. "Yes, let's give this a go." He smiled, clearing his throat as he unfolded the paper.
20th day of March of the year 1854. There is word that on this day after the split of many political coalitions (he struggled slightly to say the latter word), the new Republican party is formed by opponents of the proposed Kansas-Nebraska Act, based on the founding ideas of Thomas Jefferson. They aim to combat the Democratic Party to ensure that slavery is abolished. Stanley paused.
"It is a turbulent America you have come to, Lucinda." He smiled, putting the paper down decidedly.
"I can see that." I nodded.
"It seems strange that we can say in 1854 that one race is owned by another."
"It does. But I suppose we say that about women as well, don't we?" I whispered. Stanley nodded in quiet contemplation. In my imagination, he didn't often get to discuss politics with the men he worked with which made our conversation much needed for both of us, for I didn't get to discuss politics with the ladies I knew in London or the gentlemen that wandered through my life. "Stanley," I swallowed ", earlier, you wanted to speak with my father, didn't you?"
"Yes." He nodded.
"What was it about?" I paused. "I mean if you don't mind my asking."
"Well, I wanted to speak with Sir Bradbury – "
"He's not a sir." I laughed, cutting him off. "He wasn't knighted in London." Stanley raised his eyebrows in a way that made him appear quite intellectual.
"Well, I wanted to speak with him about the next voyage of The Raven." He said. "You see, no one knows when it'll go out next, but when it does, I want to be the captain."
"How often do whaling ships go out?" I asked.
"Whenever they can."
"When was the last time The Raven went out?"
"October." He said with finality.
"That seems like an awfully long time."
"Do you know why, if I may ask, I know it isn't proper for a lady to talk of business."
"Ha!" he laughed. "Not proper? Well, you'll find there's more pressing things that ain't proper here Lucinda. The Raven was damaged when a whale Sanchez harpooned smashed into the side of her and she's not yet been fixed."
"Why?" I asked, intrigued, "Was the damage dreadful?"
"Not so much." He shook his head. "He just can't afford to fix it, so I hear."
"What?" I asked in shock. "It costs that much to fix a ship?"
"Not a huge amount for the damage on her and yet still more than he can pay. I don't mean to speak ill of your father." He added.
"No, no, but how is it that he cannot pay?"
"Well, he's in huge debt to his creditors, which they are wanting payment for, which he can't be paying with his best ship out of action." And then Mr Lloyd's visit all made sense, as did my father's lack of explanation of it; just as Mr Lloyd said, he was going around New England at his father's request collecting debts. And my father was a debtor. It was clear now that his great venture of faith of abandoning my mother and I to start a whaling town was failing. He had almost sunk; washed beneath a tidal wave of loans.