This can't be happening right now, Nathan thought to himself as he reached for the door handle. This day was starting to be too much to handle, even for him. Arrest, imprisonment, beatings, escape, knife wounds, an attack on his ship, an impossible hostage, and now a near-mutiny by one of his crew. Can it get any worse? He pondered. When he opened the door, he knew the answer.
If he had not ducked, he would have no doubt been knocked unconscious by the flying object that whirled past him at a high rate of speed. He had no idea what it was and didn't wait to ask. He was, however, surprised he could move so swiftly, since he hadn't slept properly for what seemed like ages. The business on deck must have woken him up a little and he was grateful for it now.
"What have you done?!" he heard Brigitte shriek from across the room.
She looked frantic, now half hidden behind his desk like a trapped animal.
"What the bloody hell are you on about?" he asked, closing the door behind him.
"The screams..and then the gunshots," she replied. "What have you done to Sebastien? I know you've done something."
"I haven't done anything to him," Nathan replied, "but that might change if you don't sit down and keep quiet!"
"There was an incident on deck. I took care of it but now I have to make sure things are running smoothly," Nathan replied as he put on his boots. He did not have time for her right now.
"What happened?" she asked again, more insistent this time.
"It doesn't concern you," Nathan answered, securing his belt around his waist.
He just wanted this day to end and he decided not to give her a chance to argue. He immediately turned back for the door.
"Stay in here," he commanded. "Do not leave this room."
He walked out, closing the door behind him and left Brigitte inside. With that, he made his way across the deck and to the stairs. He had to put a stop to this madness.
Brigitte stood there, silently. Debating whether she should listen to Murdell's insistence that she stay put or risk seeing for herself what had happened, she was at a loss. A few minutes ago, there had been a blood-curdling scream outside and Murdell had gone out to see what the cause was. She had heard a couple of gunshots not long after that and this had sent her into a panic. She had immediately thought of Sebastien and had feared the worst.
Now Murdell didn't seem like himself when he had returned. He seemed preoccupied and flustered. What was going on? She wondered. She had to find out. She couldn't rest until she did. Murdell had told her not to leave the room. He said nothing about taking a look outside, though. With some hesitation, she crept to the door. She didn't want to draw attention to herself, so she grabbed the handle and slowly opened the door, just an inch or two. Just enough for her to peek out.
Dawn had come. It was getting light out, enough for her to see well enough. It just looked like business as usual to her. Some of the crew were working the rigging, while others were leaning over the edge of the ship, watching the sea. Nothing strange. But as her eyes scanned the deck, she noticed Sebastien was gone from his place at the mainmast. Where was he? He was just there. She noticed the little cabin boy was mopping around the mast and that the floor looked especially dark to her. She squinted, trying to make her eyes see more clearly in the distance. As she did this, her heart began to sink for she could make out the reddish cast of the liquid around the bottom of the mast. For a moment, her breath caught in her throat and she froze, staring at the puddle of blood being slowly washed away from the place her husband had once stood.
She didn't want to believe it, what the image was saying to her. Was Sebastien...dead? Is that why he was gone? Is that why Murdell had acted strangely upon arriving back in his cabin? She wanted to deny it. No, that's not what happened. That couldn't have happened. But the screams...and the gunshots. Those told her something different. Those told her what she didn't want to face, couldn't face. She decided that she wasn't going to draw any firm conclusions until she found out the truth. If her husband was dead, she had to see the body. If he wasn't dead, she needed proof of that as well.
She would have to wait for Murdell to return. If it were completely up to her, she would have already bolted from the room and searched the ship for her husband, intent on finding him, alive or dead. It was not completely up to her, though. For one thing, she was on a ship with a crew of pirates. Pirates that she did not trust. She couldn't just go parading about on her own. Whether she believed Murdell's threats or not, they were pirates, after all. They weren't known for being civil or gentlemanly. If she were caught, how could she defend herself against a crew such as them? She dealt with three of them back in France and couldn't escape. How could she escape on this ship when there were so many more on board? No, she would have to be smarter than she had been. She would have to think before acting from now on.
However, if she found out that Sebastien was, in fact, dead, then all bets were off. It would be clear that Murdell would not be planning on letting her go. So, she had to find out. She closed the door and sunk back into the room. Her stomach in knots and nothing left to do, she wrung her hands as she sat on the bed, waiting for the captain to return.
Nathan Murdell arrived in Richardson's quarters to check on Tom and Sebastien.
"What's the prognosis?" he asked the ship's doctor, all business.
Richardson looked up from his activity, which was stitching up Sebastien's hand where his index finger used to be. The warden was still unconscious.
"As long as gangrene doesn't set in, I suppose he'll live," Richardson replied without enthusiasm. "You here to get those gashes looked at?"
Nathan glanced down at his chest, bare underneath his coat, and shook his head, "No, it'll wait. I have more pressing matters right now."
"Don't be so sure," Richardson commented, "I've heard about your back..and your leg...and-."
"Alright, alright," Nathan waved him off, "later, Doc. I'll be down later. I just wanted to know if he would survive."
"I've seen worse," Richardson confirmed as he resumed his stitching. "Gallagher, get the light over here."
Nathan watched as Gallagher left Tom's side, who was sitting uncomfortably in the corner waiting his turn, and walked over to assist Richardson. Nathan used this time to deal with other business. He went over to Tom, who looked up at him in pain from the bullet lodged in his side.
"What was that about?" Nathan inquired, standing in front of him. He hated having to punish one of his crew but Tom knew the rules and had decided to break them.
"Because all of this, everything that's happened, is his fault, Captain," Tom gestured wildly in Sebastien's direction before leaning back in his chair.
"And you saw fit to dole out punishment on your own?" Nathan asked. To him, this was an extremely serious and important matter. He could not have members of his crew take it upon themselves to do whatever they wanted. It did not send out a good message from his standpoint.
"Captain, do you not see all the trouble he and his wench have caused?" Tom asked. "I've been shot twice in the last day and that never woulda happened had it not been for him."
"You were shot by me because of your own disobedience, Tom," Nathan reminded him. "Don't forget that. You were shot by Gaillard because he obviously got the upper hand on you. Whatever the reason, you understand I cannot have this on my ship. It's not tolerated."
"What do you plan to do, Cap'n?" Tom asked, his sweaty face showing signs of discomfort.
"I think I've done enough for now," Nathan answered. "But I warn you, this is your last chance, Tom. Fall out of line again, and it will be the last time you ever do so. Remember that I still make the rules aboard this ship."
Tom looked a bit put off by this comment, as if he couldn't believe what he'd just heard. Nathan didn't care at the moment, though. He was through with all of the misfortunes of the day and didn't need his crew adding to them. If they couldn't follow orders, then they don't belong on the crew. For a second, it seemed as if Tom was going to come back with some retort, some snide remark. Then he must have thought better of it, because he simply nodded, pursing his lips together as he did so.
"Aye, Cap'n," he finally said and went silent after that.
"Well, then, since that's settled," Nathan started, "I suppose I'm no longer needed here. Can I trust you all to behave while I take a much needed sleep?"
Tom nodded sullenly but didn't look him in the eye. Nathan hoped he wouldn't be anymore trouble.
Gallagher voiced his agreement, as well, "Don't worry, Captain. Everything under control, it is."
"It better be," Nathan said as he turned to leave. "Let me know if anything changes, Richardson."
"Certainly," Richardson responded, a needle pursed between his wrinkled lips.
With that, Nathan left their company and returned to the main deck to speak to Wes, since he hadn't seen him downstairs. He found his first mate in a deep conversation with Higgins, the ship's cook, near the forecastle deck. They both stopped talking when he approached, turning to him with concerned expressions.
"What is it?" Nathan asked, suspecting that the bad news had not ended for the day.
"The situation with the water and food is worse than we thought, Captain," Wes informed him.
"Meaning?" Nathan asked, impatient.
"We only have enough fresh water to last us...seven days at the most if they're rationed," Wes elaborated.
That was not what Nathan had wanted to hear. "I thought you said only half of the barrels were gone."
"Aye, I thought so, Captain," Wes replied, "but turns out some of the standing barrels are actually storing limes and gunpowder. I got them mixed up, I did."
Nathan sighed, looking out at the vast sea surrounding them. It took all of his willpower not to throw a fit at this predicament. He was beginning to think he should let go of his entire plan with De Fornier and his wife. After all, he had encountered nothing but trouble since coming into their company.
"What's the closest port?" he finally asked, coming to terms with the fact that they were going to have to take a detour.
"Uhh, Le Havre, I think," Wes suggested.
"Fine, set the course, how long do you expect the journey?" Nathan inquired.
"Shan't take more than a few days, Cap'n," Wes answered.
Nathan nodded his understanding before excusing himself from his first mate's company. Making his way back upstairs to the main deck, he ran the events of the past twenty-four hours through his mind. He had been arrested, beaten, escaped from the Bastille with hostages in tow, cut by the not-so-fair maiden in his cabin, his ship had been attacked, his crewman shot, his plans thwarted, and now their water supply had just been cut in half, forcing them to alter their course and more time to this hellish trip. He didn't know how it could possibly get any worse.
Author's Note: Well, it's been almost eight years since I updated anything on fictionpress. So sorry for the long delay. I know this was a short chapter and nothing really happened to advance the plot, but I've just started writing again after all these years and it doesn't flow out of me easily. I will get the hang of it again, though. Again, I apologize to all of the people who were following this story nearly a decade ago. I've been concentrating on finishing up some old novels. I just published a romance novella online (you can go to my profile for more info if you're interested in reading it) and I am in the final stages of publishing a very long book (over 180,000 words) that I used to have posted on this site, it was called "Prison of Desire". The title has been changed, it will be released in 2 volumes (the first one free), and I should have it up on Amazon and similar sites within a week. So, that's what I've been up to recently. I hope you all are well and enjoy this chapter, hopefully I will have another one up soon (before years pass, :) Thank you all for reading.