Captain Mills had told me it was a small boat. That it could hardly be called a ship by size standards. But as I stood on the windswept dock in the warm evening staring up at the vessel, gooseflesh crept across my arms. It was a giant! I certainly had never been on a boat this big before. But that isn't saying much, seeing as I'd never been on the open ocean before.
I couldn't bring myself to pull my eyes away from it. Captain Mills chuckled at my wonder and patted my shoulder with his heavy hand.
"Katarina," He said heartily, "When you manage to find yourself, come onboard and wait in the galley, alright?"
I nodded my head, hesitantly turning to look into his face. He smiled, his weathered eyes taking on a soft hue. A loud laugh made him look up and his face fell as a group of sweaty deckhands lugged the many bags from the passengers up the gangplank. He looked back into my face, putting his hands on my shoulders and staring me hard in the eyes.
"Listen to me, Katarina. Some of the crew… they do not understand why you're here. You are the only woman (not to mention the youngest) on board who isn't a "passenger" remember. You're basically crew, but I don't want people treating you that way, so if anyone asks you are my niece. You are here because you're my sister took sick and died. I'm going to take you with me to Bermuda, then bring you back to England to find your father."
I quickly nodded in agreement and then frowned.
"The crew, is that what you told them about me?"
Captain Mills paused and looked back at the crew. A tall, bulky man with huge arms was watching us darkly from the pile of luggage. The captain turned back to look at me.
"No… they know the truth but have sworn not to say anything. It's the guests I'm worried about mistreating you anyways."
He looked sadly at me, his small smile returning.
"Lets not let this damper our journey, though, eh? I'll see you on board when you're ready." He said, his husky voice so jovial. I quickly grabbed his hand before he turned to leave.
"I can't thank you enough." I said quietly, "This means the world to me."
He smiled warmly and nodded in reply before making his way up the gangplank and across the deck towards the helm. I turned and looked back on the city that sat tiredly watching the ocean's waves come in to the shore. The hazy purple of the horizon set a glorious glow about the buildings. Well, that was that.
I turned and began marching towards the gangplank, ready to leave land and set out for something new. Just take a deep breath Kat and-
A large hand gripped my arm and yanked me around. The burley deckhand smiled down at me as cocked an eyebrow. I tried to pull away but his grip was like iron. I frowned up at him. What did he want?
"Might I have my arm back, please?" I asked, making my annoyance clearly heard. His long greasy hair was slicked back, making a black tail streak down his back. A thick purple tongue slid out and licked his chapped lips.
"Where do you think you're going?" He asked, his scratchy voice like nails on a chalkboard. I cringed and stared in disgust at the yellow nails that dug into my arm.
"I'm trying to get on board thank you very much."
"Oh, but slaves aren't supposed to use the same passage as the guests!"
"I'm not a slave, now unhand me!"
My voice was getting louder, and had a slight squeak to it. Some of the passengers mulling about nearby looked up in mild curiosity. He glanced around, his face turning dark.
"On board then? Allow me to escort you!" He clung to my elbow and began steering me up the plank. I twisted against him, trying to make quiet protests without causing the guests any alarm. I looked over at their bored faces and realized that wouldn't be a problem. One lady in a flowing brown hat turned her nose up at me and looked away huffily.
I was being dragged across the deck now. When I thought I could pull away I turned the opposite direction. He pinned me against his side and I was tempted to spit on him. He turned me around a corner to where the luggage sat waiting on deck. I sighed heavily. This was ridiculous. I tugged at his arm fruitlessly. Fed up, I slapped him, the sting riveting down my arm.
I smiled in triumph, but too late I realized he still hadn't let go of my arm. He turned slowly to look at me, his face turning red where my hand had smacked him. He glowered at me and before I could react, I was being slammed against the side of the doorway. He pressed heavily into me, his hands wrapped around my throat tightly.
My ears rang and my eyes stung. I gagged and flailed my legs, realizing I was being held up from the ground. His stale breath slid rankly over my face and I choked on it.
"Let me go!" I stifled, the air escaping my lungs.
"Oh, Miss. Rent… you shouldn't have done that. Now you've made me angry." He pushed himself against me harder, crushing my ribs. I couldn't get air! My eyes began to swell with burning water. He grinned his disgusting smile at me and whispered into my ear.
"No one would even notice if I threw you overboard right now. Little slave girl, no family, no one would miss you."
I squirmed with all my might against him, kicking and trying to scratch him. It was useless! He was so much bigger then me! I couldn't get air! Dots began to form behind my eyes! A slow blot of darkness began swirling about me, like a stain growing larger. Was this dieing? It was too soon, I didn't want it to end this way!
A sweet voice reached my ears. Had I just imagined that? I couldn't see anything anymore.
"Piss off, this has nothing to do with you!"
"I said, let her go you idiot!"
That sweet voice…
Suddenly I was thrown from the wall and sliding across the deck floor. I crashed into the railing, but I hadn't regained myself enough to steady myself against it. I went flying over the edge of the rail, a deep scream erupting from me as I saw with all too much clarity the dark sloshing waters far below my feet. My hands groped for something, anything to hold onto as my body plummeted through the thin air.
Out of nowhere, my hand caught hold of something. Another hand. I hung on and looked up into green eyes staring widely down at me.
"Hold on!" The young man cried, his fingers clinging onto mine as best they could. I felt my legs dangling beneath me and began to panic.
He began pulling me upward; I reached for the rail with my other hand trying to help him help me. I felt myself being pulled back over the side of the rail and collapsed on top of my savior.
I shook violently and looked up with big eyes at a young man, no more then twenty-three, with long dark hair and luminous green eyes. His arms were around my shoulders and a small line of perspiration was forming on his brow. My lengthy brown hair whipped across my face, but I couldn't blink. We stared into each other's faces for a moment before I found myself.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" I cried, swinging my arms around his neck, unthinking. I heard his breath catch in his throat and he distantly put his hands on my shoulders and pushed me away.
"Are you alright, Miss?" He asked, his simply superb green eyes boring into mine. I breathed heavily and quickly replied, "Yes… thank you so much sir!"
"Alright… then…" He stood up, and somewhat coldly helped me to my feet. He dropped my hand, gave me a slight bow and turned to leave.
"I owe you my life! Sir, how may I repay you?" I quickly cried out. He turned stiffly back to me. He shook his head lightly, his face looking at me in slight distaste.
"Think nothing of it." He said and I stood in disbelief. I realized I must have been making him uncomfortable. I looked down at my simply blouse and cream skirt. I was a pauper, no doubt about it. And judging by his slightly ruffled suit, he was high class. Our kinds simply did not mix.
He stepped away and I leaned against the railing, my head hanging over the cool metal. A jovial cry from somewhere on the other end of the ship caused me to look up. Cast off. The ship started moving and we pulled away from the dock into the night. The movement made my legs buckle under me and I slid to the ground.