1. I don't have school on Fridays, which is just nice.
2. I'm sick, but I've only got a little phlegm. Nothing like what some are dealing with.
3. We own blankets. They just feel nice.
You'll need to read Part 10 for this post to make much sense.
Why would he need to know if Stacey could shoot a gun. Stacey was a cook. He'd been an assistant cook when he was twelve and completely did the job on his own when he was sixteen. Then Stacey remembered that he'd seen The Captain participate in 'duels' when agreements couldn't be come to. Surely Mattias didn't think Stacey capable of beating anyone in a duel with a weapon that would be completely foreign in his hands. Cooks were the last people asked to fight in battle and Stacey was hardly an exception.
"Sir, I hardly think a duel will be necessary. Why not just shoot me and get it over with?"
Mattias grinned and sniggered a little at The Cook. "Why would we have a duel?"
"Well... I just thought..."
"You just thought I was some blood thirsty pirate who could only see violence as a solution."
"Well, yes sir."
Mattias only smiled harder at Stacey's honesty. "To be truthful, it's probably not too far from the truth. But the actuality of our situation is that this ship here is a Frigate. And it can use around two hundred men. Your old captain hired one hundred and eighty three of us. It would hardly seem smart for the few men we have to engage in games of murder now would it?"
"I supposed not sir."
"You suppose." Mattias handed him the rifle, "We just need to know if you can be useful at something other than making eggs. If you can't, then we'll figure out what to do with you."
If Stacey had his way he would have tried out for a spot on the sailing crew, not the fighting, but he was hardly in a situation to be choosy about his placing. Mattias obviously thought they either needed another fighter, or that it'd be fun to see the old cook try to shoot a gun, or perhaps he saw something in the old seaman that the rest of us might not have seen. Of course, to ask a pirate to do the last is almost unthinkable, but we shouldn't disregard it as a possibility.
Stacey took the rifle. Luckily for him, Mattias had been reloading while they spoke, or he'd have been holding a useless tool without the knowledge to make it useful. Mattias pointed to the bell. It was on the opposite side of the ship. "Stacey, it's time to ring the bell mate. Ring it for us, from here."
The Captain had only allowed them to get into an occasional fight. It could be said that he, and subsequently his crew, was a scavenger. He sailed from place to place, finding other people's treasure so long as there were not too many traps or swords in the way. In turn, Stacey had only seen battle a handful of times. So, it took him some work to remember what others looked like when they held the rifle. For his lack of experience he didn't look too bad. The butt of the gun went to his shoulder, and he dropped to a knee to attempt to stop his shaking (it did little good). But can we really blame him? This shot meant life or death. Stacey put the gun to his eye and looked down the barrel at the bell. He would never hit it. Mattias might as well have asked him to shoot out a candle and leave the wick.
It's hard to say whether Stacey actually meant to leave the shot to luck, or if he was just too terrified to look, but he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and pulled his index finger back toward his hand. He thought of Sally. He thought of the inn he wanted them to own. And in the end, he wondered what that high pitched sound was, followed by cheering. Mattias's rising above the rest.
If Stacey had been a master marksman he couldn't have made the shot he did. Not with the rocking of the sea and the lack of scope on the gun. For, amid it all, the ball flew into the bell, rattled around a little, and then fell to the deck. Stacey couldn't have impressed the crew more if he'd meant to. And he didn't even see it happen.
After hearing the bell, Stacey opened his eyes, stood up, and was met by one hundred and eighty three warm smiles and congratulations. He would live, that was sure. Perhaps not past their first battle, but at least he'd live for a while longer.
Mattias yelled above the throng, "Let him to his quarters! He deserves a nap, he does." and then followed the old cook to his four by four home. Mattias stood at the door smiling while Stacey tried to catch his breath. "Mighty good show Stacey. It was a good shot to be sure. But next time, try opening your eyes."