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Nosy Old Woman (1)

Writers: Ainsley, Jane
Date Posted: 21st March 2009

Characters: Lineal, Lihona, Barr, Gitta
Description: A curious journeywoman asks for a tour of the Sungazer, taxing Barr's patience.
Location: Elsewhere on Pern
Date: month 2, day 6 of Turn 5
Notes: Riverboat Sungazer

Having settled her things, Gitta stepped out of her cabin and inhaled deeply. In her seventy-one turns, this was her first time on a riverboat and she was rather excited about the experience. She was anxious to tour the vessel and learn more about how it functioned. As a Journeywoman technician, such things always interested her to no end. Yes, this was going to be a lovely holiday for her. Running a hand over her silver hair to make certain the braid was secure, she set off to find the captain to ask about setting up a tour of the Sungazer. Seeing a girl running by with the confidence of one familiar with the boat, she called out, "Excuse me. Can you tell me where I might find the Captain?"

"He's my father," the girl said, turning in her tracks and waving the woman after her. She didn't mind helping this passenger out - which they were always supposed to do - because she had been on her way to the lessons the riverboat had for the children most mornings in the crew dining room. "I'm Lihona."

"Hello, Lihona. My name is Gitta and it's very nice to meet you," the woman answered as she followed the girl.

"Gitta's a pretty name," Lihona said with a grin. People often said that to her and if she got in early she could fend off such comments. 'Lihona' was just a _name_ and she was sure adult only admired it for something to say. "This is my father's office but if he's not in here he'll be in the pilot house up on the next deck."

"My thanks, young lady. Have a pleasant morning." Gitta said, giving the girl a smile and a nod before turning to knock on the office door.

Lineal snatched the door open at the knock, grinning before the swinging wood revealed who was standing there. "Oh." He let out a laugh. "You're not who I was expecting."

"I hope I'm not too much of a disappointment," Gitta answered with a grin. "I just had a quick question for you, Captain."

"Hopefully one I can answer," Lineal said, stepping back from the door and inviting the old woman in to the office with a wave of his hand.

Walking into the office, she wasted no time getting to her point as she was sure that the captain was a busy man. "My name is Gitta," she offered by way introduction, "And as a journeywoman technician I have always been fascinated by the workings of a riverboat, though I never have had the opportunity until now to be on one. I was hoping that during my stay I might be able to have a full tour of your fine vessel."

For a moment Lineal was silent as he added up the obvious and guessed that this woman had been a crafter before the Craft Ban. While he supposed that being such a person might not be as rare as he thought, he suspected telling people in such a forthright way probably did make the old woman unusual. "I don't suppose a tour of my ledgers or the crews quarters are exactly what interests you most so let's see if the engineers have some time."

Pleased that there would be no nonsense concerning her being a female crafter, Gitta answered with a chuckle, "That would be just the thing."

"Our senior engineer," Lineal explained as he ushered the woman back out of the office and down the stairs at the front of the riverboat's upper decks, "Is my uncle, Barr, but with any luck - Well. He may not be available."

Gitta's brow furrowed as she followed the captain thinking she must have misunderstood him. It almost sounded as if he said they would be in luck if the man was _not_ available. "How many crew members does it take to operate this vessel?"

"That's a hard one to answer. We're all 'crew' - even the children. Most of us can turn our hand to much of the work aboard and there are forty-one of us - no, forty-three with Eliste and the baby - at the moment."

"That's a fair amount," she nodded surprised the number was so high, then less so as she gave it more consideration. There was the boat to operate, the cargo and passengers to see to, and then the day-to-day tasks involved in the lives of the families aboard.

"Right _now_ we've even more aboard. We're carrying some crew for another riverboat, one that's having her overhaul at the port. They either go back to their family's waypoint or they find berths on other boats for the duration. We're full to overflowing with crew."

"How often do these overhauls occur?" Gitta queried as she considered the dynamics of having so many extra people the vessel. What a challenge that must be to the crew as well as those from the other boat.

"Twenty Turns is the standard. It can be a rough old life for a riverboat, sometimes. High water, low water when we can run aground. And the engines." He shrugged. "The Sungazer's only five Turns since her last one, luckily." He wouldn't have to deal with the next one until he had been in the job for Turns - which was exactly how he wanted it.

Twenty turns seemed a good many to her but not having had the opportunity to examine the workings of the riverboat specifically Gitta did not really know. "Seems to me your engineers do a good job with their engines to keep the overhauls that far apart," she said, rather impressed.

"They're reliable engines. What's that thing about the axe? It was my grandfathers? The head's been changed four times and the handle six. It's a bit like that.. There are two engines so one can be shut down and the steam from the other ported to both sides while we're running downstream if we need to do repairs - but I'll leave the engineers to explain." They had walked almost the length of the riverboat down the narrow accessway between the port and starboard cargoes and were at the latticed room that contained the engines. "Here we are. I'll just see if Barr's around."

Filing away the information the Captain had given her, Gitta followed him to the engine room anxious to see and learn more about the fascinating boat. "My thanks, Captain."

Last updated on the March 25th 2009

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