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Soujin [userpic]
La! First fic.
by Soujin (rainbowjehan)
at July 14th, 2004 (10:12 pm)
current mood: artistic

Dorkfic of the year.

Title: The Omelette
Fandom: The Mysterious Island
Rating: G

The Omelette

In the last few days, Pencroff had gone from ecstasy to despair to hope to misery over and over again, so that he woke in the night sometimes weeping as though his heart would break and sometimes with his eyes lit, and ran to Cyrus' bed to shake him awake so he could say in a loud whisper, "Mr. Cyrus! Suppose to-morrow he knows me! What do you think of that? Might he be able to sit up by to-morrow?"

When he did the latter, he always had his hand pressed gently or felt Cyrus' fingers touching his shoulder comfortingly. "Maybe," Cyrus would say. "Maybe to-morrow."

"Do you suppose I could go look at him? I wouldn't be disturbing him, Mr. Cyrus--would I? If I were quiet...?" he would ask hopefully.

"Of course you may," would be the answer. He would notice Cyrus sounded sad, but be unable to concentrate on it.

Quietly, he would go to Harbert's room and look at his poor, beautiful boy lying on the bed. Harbert had always been a little pale, but now he was white. He sweated in his sleep. He shivered. He was delirious often. All Pencroff could do was sit by his bedside. He had given up praying. It didn't help.

So he would sit, because it was all he could think of to do.

Then, in the morning, Cyrus or Gideon would come and send him away, perhaps for willow bark, perhaps to help Neb. Anything to stop him sitting and watching Harbert die.

Once he had left Harbert's room, he would do what they had sent him to do, but he would do it screaming in his head. Damn the pirates! Damn Ayrton, too--it was his place to guard the sheepfold, not--damn him!--join the pirates, perhaps help them hurt Harbert--Mr. Cyrus might say that Ayrton was dead, but if that was the case, he was just as furious. Ayrton should have put up a better fight! Ayrton should have been able to do something, anything at all!

And now his beautiful child was dying--

Then the hope would come for a moment, and he'd realise what a fool he was being. Harbert would survive. Why, when he returned, Harbert might have opened his eyes already! After all, Cyrus, Gideon Spillet and their mysterious protector would all be taking care of his child, of course.

But he was being twice the fool he'd thought himself just a moment ago. As if he could suppose that Harbert would live. He had only to look at his face, Harbert's face, white and hot--his hair, wet with sweat--and if Pencroff were to take one of Harbert's hands, he was sure it would be trembling weakly. Harbert was as good as dead.

But no, no, how could he even begin to doubt Cyrus would save Harbert? After all, he was Cyrus! It would all be all right. It was only a matter of time, perhaps a very short matter of time. Perhaps he should go back now, so that if the first person Harbert wanted was him, he would there.

And on and on it went, the same thing nearly every day.

He was going through it all again on December seventh, when suddenly Neb ran down the hill to where he was fetching more willow bark. Neb was falling over himself, shouting to Pencroff.

"What is it?" he cried, hoping, hoping, hoping.

"He wants you! Master Harbert wants you!"

"Is he better? He's woken! Neb, Neb, then everything's all right again!"

"No, Mr. Pencroff, it's not that at all," Neb gasped, clutching his white kerchief to his head. "He's dying... he's been crying and screaming, only that he doesn't scream very loud any more, Mr. Pencroff...!"

For a moment, Pencroff just stood there, feeling sick. His child! His beautiful boy! Then he began running, up the hill and along the rock. He climbed onto the elevator and finally stepped off into Granite House with his head spinning.

"Mr. Cyrus!"

"Come in, Pencroff." Cyrus' voice sounded shaky, and Pencroff knew Harbert had already died.

But it wasn't so. Harbert was holding out his arms; crying helplessly, his cheeks covered with sweat. "Pencroff!" he wailed softly. "I don't want to die, Pencroff! Help me!"

"Oh, God!" Pencroff turned to Cyrus. "God! He isn't listening!"

"Help me! Pencroff!"

"Pencroff!"

"My child! Do you really believe, now, that there can be a G--"

"I don't want to die!"

"Harbert!" Pencroff took Harbert's thin, pale hands in his, leaning forward as he knelt by the bed. Harbert buried his face in Pencroff's shoulder.

"Oh, help me, help me, help me," he kept whispering.

That was when Pencroff began cursing, losing himself in all the curses he'd ever learned, in India, England, Spain, China, everywhere; but there weren't enough curses in the world for him. He just went on repeating them while he rocked Harbert jerkily, clutching him close.

Someone pulled him away.

After that, he just sat in the kitchen watching the fire in the stove. Harbert hadn't died this time, but the next attack, Gideon had said, would be the last. That would be the end of it. Harbert would be gone.

No.

No. No. No. No.

Night came on, and the kitchen was dark except for the coals at the bottom of the stove.

No. No.

No. No. No. No no no no no no--

Suddenly Pencroff heard a scream.

A moment later, there came the sound of Neb calling, "Mr. Cyrus! Mr. Spillet! Mr. Pencroff!" He dragged himself up and stumbled to Harbert's room.

His boy was thrashing wildly, trying to throw himself to the floor. Pencroff held him down along with Cyrus as Gideon took his wrist. The sun was coming up. Harbert was dying.

Then Pencroff cried out. "Mr. Cyrus!"

On the bedside table was a little box marked Quinine Sulphate.

"Our genie!" Pencroff bellowed, and he began to curse again, but this time for joy. "My God, he's come again. Mr. Cyrus!"

Neb ran for coffee, and carefully they gave Harbert the quinine. After that, they had nothing to do but sit and wait, the way Pencroff had before.

In a few hours, Harbert was resting quietly.

Someone had to pull Pencroff away again.

~~~


A week later, Pencroff was sitting by Harbert's bed watching him sleep. He was still rather delirious from happiness, and every now and then someone sent Neb to make sure he was behaving himself and sitting still, rather than suddenly squashing his beloved Harbert in another enthusiastic hug of relief. Cyrus said he could understand it, of course--everyone was thankful Harbert had survived--but it wasn't good for his recovery to have his wind constantly knocked out of him. Pencroff agreed ashamedly.

He realised that no one really understood how happy and relieved he was, but that was quite all right. Harbert was well again. It was true, too, that once Pencroff had sat by as Harbert talked quietly about how he wished Ayrton were still there, but really, Harbert was also happy. That was all that mattered to Pencroff.

Then, one morning, Pencroff invaded the kitchen while Neb was cooking Harbert's breakfast.

"Neb, let me make him something."

"Mr. Pencroff, he's only to have certain things; Mr. Spillet said so."

"Can he have eggs?"

Neb rolled his eyes contemplatively. "Yes, Mr. Pencroff."

"Good. Then it'll be quite all right."

"What shall I do with what I was making?"

"Let Joop have it. He deserves a treat," said Pencroff cheerfully, fetching himself some eggs.

Neb took the tray and went to sit in a corner, where he ate the breakfast and watched Pencroff dubiously. "Do you think that's a good idea, Mr. Pencroff?"

"Of course it is. Eggs are always a good idea."

"Suppose he gets ill all over again."

"He'll be fine, Neb."

"It's going to come out a funny shape."

"That makes no difference as to how it will taste."

"It's dripping on the floor."

"Where do you keep your pepper?" asked Pencroff, trying to ignore him.

Neb fetched it.

Quite a bit later, Pencroff proudly put his creation on a plate and declared it finished. Neb eyed it warily, wrinkling his nose and shaking his curly head as Pencroff strode out of the kitchen.

"Harbert?" he said, rapping on Harbert's door quietly.

"Pencroff? Pencroff, do come in."

He did so, seating himself in his usual chair and looking fondly at his boy, who was already looking so much better! Harbert pushed himself up on his wide-sleeved elbows. He was still very pale and very weak, but Pencroff was pleased enough that he could sit up.

"I've brought your breakfast, my boy."

"Really? What's Neb invented now?"

"I didn't make it," said Neb, who was standing in the doorway. "Mr. Pencroff did."

"Pencroff! Whatever is it?"

"An omelette!" Pencroff announced proudly, presenting the plate. Upon it rested a yellow, bowl-shaped mound of egg that smelled of pepper. "And Harbert, do you remember when we first landed on the island and we found those eggs?"

"Well, yes," said Harbert, looking surprised.

"I told you I'd make you an omelette."

"You did."

Pencroff waited expectantly.

Neb shook his head again.

Harbert looked undecided.

"Well?" asked Pencroff.

"Er--"

"You asked me how I intended to make the omelette! 'In your hat?' you said! Well," Pencroff crowed, "I made you an omelette! In my hat!"

"He held it up over the stove and the egg went through the straw," said Neb gloomily. Pencroff had decided a while ago that he was displeased about having his kitchen attacked, and accordingly forgave him any remark he might make.

"Good Lord. Thank you, my Pencroff." Harbert smiled a little.

"Well! Aren't you going to eat it?"

"Yes, of course I am."

Pencroff beamed and went out to wash the egg out of the inside of his dear straw hat. He was feeling a great satisfaction. He had fulfilled the challenge presented to him three years ago; Harbert was recovering wonderfully and would really enjoy his omelette!; and all was well with the world.

In the meantime, Neb obligingly disposed of the yellow mound on the plate and brought Harbert a light, flat omelette, which he ate with feeble pleasure.

Comments

Posted by: Gileonnen (gileonnen)
Posted at: July 30th, 2004 09:02 pm (UTC)

+chuckles warmly+ My dear, you've done a fabulous thing with this fic--not only have you caught every aspect of Pencroff (I'll use your spelling; my book has it Pencroft), you've also managed to write fabulously believable angst and culminate it in even more believable humor. =) I particularly liked the stress on the surrogate-father-and-son relationship between Pencroff and Harbert; everyone in the book seemed to want to father the lad, but Pencroff was there first, and he knew it.

Furthermore, this fic was by and large in the Mysterious Island style, which adds to its appeal. You're really quite good at the Victorian style, particularly Verne's; I've noticed in your other fics that certain phrases which I've only seen and noted in his work ("pressed his hand" and such similar) often crop up, and it's like a little subtle homage. Makes me terribly happy to read it.

Also terribly charming--Neb's practical knowledge that omelettes from hats are probably not as tasty as omelettes a la skillet. =)

Posted by: Soujin (rainbowjehan)
Posted at: July 31st, 2004 08:15 pm (UTC)
Thoughts [made by Waen]

..Thank you so much for reading this fic. I was completely convinced Waen was the only person in the world who ever would.

Ehe. Um. Yes. You have the Kingston translation, yes? I read the Jordan Stump translation, and he had a v. long, v. prissy rant in the beginning about how his version is all cool and loyal to the author and the Kingston fellow didn't know half what he was doing, calling Pencroff "Pencroft" and Cyrus Smith "Cyrus Harding". It was rather amusing; he was getting quite worked up. Silly translator people. ^_^

I'm so glad you liked it! I like the Victorian style very much, and I do try to capture it a little, because I like the fanfiction to seem more authentic. Besides, the pressing of the hand is a half-adorable, half-gentle gesture that I really love, both in the sound of the phrase and the image it conjures in my mind.

Ah, Neb. :) Poor beleaguered fellow. Glad you liked him, too.

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