The Longest Walk (3)
Characters: Lineal, Rahona, Fog, Lihona, Barr, Denna, Nalin, Neke, Tahna, Linli, Vaheri, Vidon, Jardon
Description: The riverboat crew and their holder relations bury Jesten.
Location: Elsewhere on Pern
Date: month 6, day 5 of Turn 4
With the support of his daughters on either side of him, Fog moved forward to say his last farewell before his uncles body was interred.
He could feel Linli and Tahna's hand squeezing his in a matched show of support.
"Jesten was always there for me. It was like I had two fathers at times." he spoke, meeting Barr's eyes across the crowd. "When everyone else seemed to give up on me, after my accident, Jesten was there for me." He knew it was a reproach against his father, but he was speaking the truth, Barr showed more interest in Jesten's grandson in the last few sevendays, than he had shown in his own son for many a turn.
"I know I can still pull my weight on the Riverboat, and I thank him for allowing me to remain and show others I could, as well. I'll miss him."
he finished quietly, bowing his head for just a moment and taking in the covered body before him, before he turned and led the girls off to the side, again.
Barr looked away from his son, instead looking down at his brother. He was now the last of his generation who had been born on the Sungazer still serving aboard her. Vaheri hardly counted - she was a marry-in, born on another riverboat, and Jesten should never have made her headwoman. There was only him left, now, and still he wasn't captain.
Though it had been clear that it would be Lineal - that was why the boy had come back, after all - it was still a blow to realise that there would be no more chances. He would serve out his life as the engineer.
An important role, his father had always told him when he had railed against Jesten's apparent 'right' to the captaincy.
Lineal was young; he would be captain for longer than Barr would be able to keep working.
Jesten was in the caves, where he would moulder away to nothing, but still he kept Barr from achieving his life's desire.
The funeral party head back
Lihona walked along behind a cart filled with old people. Old anuties and uncles, she supposed, though she knew very few of them. Even the runner was old, but that was good, because nobody seemed to be walking very fast.
Even though nobody was rushing she could still tell they were feeling different from when they'd walked the other way - with her grandfather, to the caves in the hills. Now people talked, even laughed. She could hear stories being told about his grandfather, but very few of them sounded like the man she knew.
Some people were still sad, though. Mostly from the riverboat, she thought, absently looking around to count sad faces. The hold people -
and she knew they were all part of her family, too - were smiley-er.
Perhaps they were trying to cheer the sad ones up?
Ahead a hold girl about Lihona's age skipped a few steps. Glancing around to see who was watching Lihona tried a few skips herself.
The old auntie in the cart caught her eye and smiled.
Sungazer crew and hold-resident family share a meal
The four of them sat together around a small table. It had been a long day for them all.
Neke was surprised when Linli stood up and took the couple of steps to Fog's side, but the surprise engendered a welling of tears as her niece climbed onto her fathers lap and snuggled down against him. She met Fog's eyes across the table and both smiled.
Linli was asleep within a few moments. Tahna offered to take her sister, but Fog demurred - more than content to sit there with his youngest daughter in his arms. They both needed the comfort the other offered right now. Neke reached out and pulled Tahna towards her, "I need a hug, too." she said quietly, gratefully pulling the younger girl closer as they hugged each other tightly.
Releasing the hug slowly, Tahna reached across and dragged her chair closer to Neke's and they sat arms around each other. The three of them sat there in companionable silence - all content for now, in their own thoughts and memories of Jesten.
Denna watched her mother as the afternoon turned to evening knowing it was an end of an era for Vaheri. It was possible that her mother would rethink things now; consider retiring ashore with her sons and grandchildren.
Selfishly Denna hoped not. She loved working with her mother and enjoyed their close friendship - something that couldn't help but be affected if her mother settled at the way point. But with Jesten gone -
Lineal might be able to replace his father as captain of the Sungazer, but it wasn't possible to replace the old man in the crews' lives.
Last updated on the September 13th 2007