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Recent innovations in steam permit LaGatta to cross an ocean for leisure, where previously risky travel was only attempted for great gains in resource. A young Cameron visits his military father on the Anchorbon frontier, his mother Reiche attending.


part 1 of Imperial LaGatta

They were visiting his father on the frontier.

Nevertheless, Cameron sulked through dressing, stamping to avoid being shod inappropriately for the weather. His father had mailed him a mapbook to trace and treasure, and along with the fledgling trainline, it promised him beaches.

Wizened by experience, the provident nanny surrendered Cameron only to his mother's white-gloved command. The nanny would never admit it, but she had prayed harder than the Lady herself for a daughter. After raising four such sons for another family, this one came late in both servant and Lady's life. Cameron's restlessness made them sweat.

To spite his mother's efforts, Cameron lost his hat even before departure from LaGattan stone, and the harbour's wind blasted waxed hair into a stiff vertical quill. For a Cameron far into the future, salt tang on his lips was to become indistinguishable from freedom, as was the frontier's bitter dust.

Colour heightened by the elemental kiss, Cameron shook his mother's hold to run ahead, careful to mind the guiding ropes. Reaching the gangway first, he lingered beside the uniformed men, and gleefully lectured the sailors of their ship's statistics.

Against the wind, his round vowels sounded a pitiful chatter. The sailors appeared enchanted nevertheless, responding with unprovoked smiles. One dared to ruffle the boy's hair. A roughened thumb brushed Cameron's cheek in passing, and the oddness jolted the child. He had never felt a work-rough touch before. The roughness of a man's touch was to become indistinguishable from the same freedom promised by the horizon.

In the blowsy heat, he slept through their arrival. Transferred from ship to carriage, he sat flanked by his mother and his nanny, his view through side windows limited.

On wakening, the boy with a head full of navy statistics and a foreign bestiary had difficulty believing the locale the exotic one promised him. His father's homestead, occupants included, would not have outraged the neighbours in LaGatta.

Eventually, the nanny's snores sanctioned exploration.

The source of the ocean's susurrus was eventually discovered. Cameron walked daringly barefoot along the sand, to where stone arms tamed seawater to milky warmth. There, Cameron watched, entranced by the climbing muscular forms and luminous flanks of the frontiersmen enjoying their fully shed skins.

On his return to the dinner table, Cameron's emulation proved a fashionable rout.

April 2011

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