CHAPTER SIX Continues ….
She went into the cabin to find the two men scurrying to lay down again.
‘It’s only me.’ She told them shutting the door and running the bolt home.
Jake looked over to her his eyes shining, his nose still buried in her bed clothes, only one set of fingers visible on the folded sheet. She looked at him dismissed him as not Michael then looked back at him again wondering just what he was doing in her bed. Michael looked where she was looking and, as realization dawned, swung his legs out of the bed, and in one stride crossed the cabin and dealt the man in her bed a swift and vicious back hander, painfully cuffing the little lurid man across the head. He’d taken his jacket off earlier and now pulled it from the chair and put it across her shoulders. It dwarfed her and reduced her status from person to walking coat hanger. Michael hoped it would be much better around the lurid eyes of the despicable Jake. He was seriously considering shoving the dirty minded little man out the porthole and into the sea.
Giving the man one last look of warning mixed with disgust he sat back down on the chair his jacket had been on and scrubbed his fingers through his hair as if washing the man from his thoughts.
‘What’s going on?’ he finally asked her smiling up at her.
‘We have a guest. A Lord George Grey. He’s hitched a lift with us to Rio.’
‘George Grey? Are you sure?’
‘Well that’s what Gavin Fairchild told me just now.’
Michael turned and sat on a chair by the table running his hand through his hair in exasperation. ‘Not bloody Lord George.’ He said tiredly not seeing Rhiannan’s reaction. ‘I pity poor Maloney. I pity the whole crew for that matter. Has he still got that over fed monkey trailing about after him?’
Rhiannan stared at him, she couldn’t help the laughter bubbling up inside her at his description of the huge black man servant to this so called lord.
‘He has with him a large black man who I would defy the whole crew to take on en mass. Would you mean him?’ Rhiannan clarified ‘Yes he’s here too.’
‘Then the men better watch their backs.’
‘Why? Is he a murderer?’ she asked horrified at the thought that any of them were in real danger from one in their midst, let alone two possibilities; yet somehow this Lord George didn’t strike her as the vicious murdering type, but then who was?
Michael looked at her. He kept forgetting she was a relative innocent in this world.
‘Of sorts.’ He gave her.
‘They need to watch their backsides more like.’ Jake cackled from her bed.
She had no idea what the little man meant but in that instant she knew she would never sleep in that bed again and definitely not in those sheets until she’d boiled them for at least an hour in blue bleach and vinegar.
‘Well it’s also abundantly clear that we are to stay put till good old Lord George disembarks in Rio. Hopefully we can loose him there. The man has a reputation of being a ship’s leach.’
‘Meaning?’ Rhiannan asked
She stepped to stand next to Michael to lay her hand on his shoulder as she poured him fresh water in the tankard on the table. Belatedly she realised she only had two drinking vessels and so she resolved somewhat happily that she and Michael would have to share, for neither wanted to share with Jake and by common decency he would need to be allowed to drink also. She wasn’t scared but flinched slightly in surprise when she felt him slip his arm about her legs and suddenly they both wished they hadn’t struck that pose yet at the same time neither wanted to move from it.
‘Meaning we could be stuck with the man for several years if he wants to stay.’
The idea of someone outstaying their welcome was a new concept for Rhiannan. She understood the meaning, she’d often felt it when her mother had entertained and then again at the big house when the maids would filter down how the family were tired of having this guest or that still visiting, but she’d not understood that aboard a ship it could happen; surely a ship could sail off from someone left on shore, a house could not move so easily. The captain would insist a passenger disembark if they were being intolerable and creating mayhem for the crew. She was learning when people spend an excessive amount of time together in close quarters, and a ship was very close quarters indeed, the relationships between them were very prominent and highly volatile. Deep feelings brewed buried in their subconscious’ until a slight would be enough to explode the whole equilibrium and any addition or subtraction to the mix, positive or negative, would take them all ages to settle down over.
‘But how can anyone just stay on a ship?’ she asked ‘After all, if they’re not aboard when we sail then they’re left behind.’ A fate she’d learnt well on the island.
‘Oh it’s not as simple as that.’ He smiled up at her happily taking note she had included herself in the collective “we” of the ship’s crew. ‘There’s always a clever and plausible reason, a complicated but understandable explanation, of why he seems to always end up still aboard. He is a nuisance and a complete irritation; yet he grows on you and you cannot find a good enough reason to actually kill him. Not like some others I’ve met.’ Michael glared over at Jake to give the man full warning that he was one Michael could cheerfully find good reason to execute.
Her mind revisited her original thought when she’d learnt his name; “Was this her George?” She had at first dismissed it because her George had red hair and a thick Scottish accent and this man was a black haired Englishman. But there were still wigs being worn and he could adopt another accent that could fool people if he practiced it well enough. And, as her George was supposed to be responsible for the demise of her angel Grant and his brother Jack, what better way to avoid capture than aimlessly roaming the world on ships?
And really what did she actually know of her George? She nursed a child’s memory of a wonderful man with red hair and a beaming face. She had learnt since then that every man can smile beautifully but it did not mean they were thoroughly good and kind. Even she loved her mother although others thought very poorly of her indeed. She had not taken note of the face of this Lord George and she could not say he was shorter or taller than her George for she had no physical measure for her memory, and she herself had grown. Could it be him? Would she want it to be him?
☼ To again be continued ….
For my NaNoWriMo challenge
One Part of a three part novel.
A spin off from my Daintree Daughter’s Book
Beware: this is a realistic Adult book & not a pretty tale like my poetry
It tells of the fight to become free and happy, with the leading characters first facing the trials of the ugly side of life, and the shackles of their pasts dragging at them as they carve their own standard of living. But in the mid 1800s it was normal for the children of the poor to see the activities of their parents – good & bad; generally they weren’t sheltered … that came in soon after when everyone wanted to live like the well to do did & hide or ignore the brutality of the ugly side of life.
Remember in Australia, Corporal Punishment was only outlawed 35 years ago! Child abuse is still being fought & wives could not testify against their husbands for anything including marital rape until recent times also.
So all that aside I hope you can enjoy the story! ☼