Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11
When I was a walking out one day
Down by the London River
A pretty little fair maid I chanced to spy
Now we walked along together
Her lips were like two roses red
A fine feather bonnet was covering her head
So I took the harboard on her, she said she was a maid
That saucy little trim-rigged doxy
I shan't and I can't go along with you
You saucy ramblin' sailor
My parents now they would not agree
And I'm promised to a tailor
But I was all too eager to sample all her charms
A dearest guinea to roll in your arms
Well the deal was done, up stairs we went
That's me and the trim-rigged doxy
From The Trim-Rigged Doxy Traditional Sea Song
KATHUNK! KATHUNK! KATHUNK!
“John!” Elly shouted, thundering up the stairs and down the hall to her husband’s bedroom. She pounded frantically on the closed door. “Wake up!”
The door opened to reveal a tousle-haired, bleary-eyed man clad only in pajama bottoms. “For God’s sake!” he muttered, scratching at himself. “Why all this fuss? Why are you pounding on my door at this time of night? If it’s what I think it is, Eleanor, you can forget it. It hasn’t even been a month since—”
“Of course it’s not that
,” Elly hissed. “It’s this! Read it!”
John took the letter from Elly’s trembling hand. Sighing and scratching himself again, he began to read aloud. “Dear Mrs. Patterson. I know all about Elizabeth’s shameful condition and I know that you have been trying to conceal it. If you do not want all of Milborough to learn of her disgrace, you will do as I say. Details to follow in a separate letter. Remember, if you do not follow my directions exactly, all will be revealed.”
“Oh, no!” Elly mourned.
“Well, this is a fine kettle of fish!” John exploded. “As if we haven’t trouble enough!”
“What’s going on?” Elizabeth said, poking her head around her bedroom door. “Why are you shouting so?”
“I’ll tell you why, Missy!” John shouted. “We’ve received a letter. A blackmail
letter! The author knows of your predicament and has threatened to reveal all if we do not give in to his demands!”
“No!” Elizabeth gasped, her face paling. “What – what does he want?”
“He didn’t say,” Elly replied, her voice as grim as her face. “But I wager that it will be money.”
“Then we are in a pickle,” John said. “We haven’t got any.”
“We’ll have to sell something,” Elly decided.
John gave her a bemused look. “Sell something? But we haven’t anything of value besides my train collection and – oh, no, no we’re not!”
“We must,” Elly said. “There is no other way.”
“But they’re my
trains,” John protested.
“And she,” Elly replied, gesturing towards Elizabeth, “is your daughter
“But I don’t see why I should have to suffer for that,” John said sullenly. “I didn’t tell her to run around with that Paul Wright character and get herself into trouble!”
“It wasn’t all Paul’s fault,” Elizabeth began. “I’m just as much to—”
“That’s enough, Elizabeth,” Elly told her sternly. Turning towards her pouting husband, she continued, “Regardless, John, we must see that news of Elizabeth’s condition does not become public. If it does, Anthony Caine will never marry her!”
“I don’t want to marry him anyway,” Elizabeth muttered.
Elly ignored this. “Furthermore, this sort of thing would be just the ammunition that dreadful Baroness Sobinski would need to put an end to any chance Michael has of marrying Lady Deanna! We have concealed Elizabeth’s mistake this long, in another few weeks all will be well. We must meet with this person and find out what he wants. We must deal with this before the Marie Chantal
returns to port!”
Michael Patterson lay in his bunk, too excited to sleep. So many new things had happened all at once, and he was bursting to tell someone, though he realized he could not. Firstly, he had no friends on the ship, and secondly, he knew that secrecy was of the utmost importance. Weed had stressed that, and had Michael Pinky Swear to keep everything secret.
Sighing, Michael turned on his side. The broom closet to which he had been assigned for his own protection was lonely sometimes, but better than sleeping with the other hands as this way he at least stood a chance of waking up in the morning.
He just didn’t understand why it was so hard for him to make friends. He was always putting a foot wrong. In Milborough it hadn’t mattered so much as he had his mother and sisters and latterly Deanna to keep him company. But now, for the first time in the company of real, red-blooded men, he was always blundering. He longed more than anything to find a true chum on board, one he could laugh and joke and occasionally partake of alcohol with. Something like the friendship between Paul Wright and Warren Blackwood.
He was convinced he’d never find such a friend. That is, until he’d found Weed hiding in the storeroom. Suddenly he had a bosom pal, and such an exciting one at that! Michael had grown up in a largely feminized world, with no toughening influences such as his school mates had in their fathers or brothers. Michael rubbed his hands together with glee. At last, a chance to be a real
man, a manly man. The sort of fellow who featured in the adventure stories Michael so loved. Why, he could hardly wait to –
Michael sat bolt upright in bed. He knew that noise well, having heard it during the several episodes in which he’d had to be rescued from the water. It was the sound of the skiff scraping against the side of the ship. He whether or not he should go investigate …
“What the hell was that?” Paul said, sitting up in his bunk.
“Sounded like the skiff,” Warren yawned. “But what’s it doing out at this time of night?”
“We’d better go see,” Paul said, jumping to the floor and heading to the cabin door.
“Damn,” Warren said, following him. “If this in any way, shape or form involves Michael Patterson, I’ll keel haul him myself.”