I fell in love with the Princess. I had a hard time leaving the steamboat scenes and moving on to other parts of LIVING HALF FREE. I wrote this scene to show that Arthur didn’t have easy on the Princess even though he is the steward and has Mr. Barlow’s trust. Throughout the editing process I decided it would show more Zachariah’s character if I changed this scene to one where Charlotte was attacked instead of her husband. I always save every scene I remove, however, just in case I can use the tidbits later.
This scene is written from Arthur’s POV.
**Disclaimer–being an outtake, this is unedited and unreviewed!**
The bell tolled calling passengers to the dining area. Arthur got himself a cup of coffee from one of the waiters. He noticed an elderly white gentleman sat alone at one of the tables. Here goes nothing. He ran his tongue across his lips and casually approached.
“Sir,” Arthur said quietly, his gaze lowered, “this table is reserved for the ship’s officers. You cannot sit here. You may move to any other table that you wish.”
The white man glared at Arthur. He rose from his seat, his face scarlet, a vein protruding on his neck. “No nigger can order me around!” His voice, a gruff shout, made the glassware shake. The man showed his gritted teeth and struck Arthur on the head with his cane.
Arthur cried out and stumbled backwards, spilling the hot coffee on his suit and hand and chest. The dark liquid seeped into the burgundy carpet.
One of the waiters ran to his aid, Charlotte not too far behind.
Arthur took quick breaths to stifle his anger, stifle his bitterness, stifle his uncouth vocabulary.
“If you want me to move,” the old man said, “have the captain come down here and tell me himself.”
Arthur shot a pleading glance at Mr. Barlow.
Montgomery’s eyes narrowed and he nodded.
Arthur cradled the wrist on his burned hand, his other hand holding his head. “Yes, sir,” Arthur said. “I’ll do better than the captain.”
Montgomery walked briskly over to the old man. The parlor became eerily quiet. Everyone watched him.
“What is your name, sir?” Montgomery demanded.
“Mr. Neely,” Montgomery said in a stern voice that instantly grabbed the man’s attention. “My name is Montgomery Barlow and I own this steamship. I expect you to follow the rules that I and my officers set.”
Arthur pressed his lips together to prevent a smile. Mr. Barlow was using the tone he took when reprimanding a slave.
Mr. Barlow continued. “I also expect you to not attack my steward. Your servants are stowed on the main deck and you don’t see me whipping them. If you are unable to follow the rules, I will refund your money and have you escorted ashore at the next port.”
Mr. Neely’s face turned pale. “Yes, sir.”
Montgomery turned to Arthur. “Are you all right?”
Arthur held his breath and moved his hand revealing an ugly knot on his forehead. His other hand was already blistering.
“No you’re not,” Montgomerysaid. “Charlotte, are you good with burns?”
Mr. Barlow sighed. “I’m sorry, Arthur. Take your time.” He looked at the waiter. “Clean the carpet.”