In which the Captain investigates
The group of us what ran fell apart and night fell on the Maid riding at anchor, lee of Round Island. Half the crew needed the night to sleep off their shore-drunk. The rest need be checking cargo and provision.
Before we began our duties, I called every man to the foremast. "Hear this. You'll know we departed before time and half-legged in a mass of ships. You'll know a scarlet woman stood screaming on the dock for a boy what escaped. The boy is onboard.” Every man nodded. “Make the ship tight. No lights on deck. With luck, one guest will join us for breakfast and another will miss us in the night."
I turned and walked toward my cabin. Behind me, aye, aye, aye.
Ropes creaked. Boards moaned. No sound came from the boy. "Hello the boy. We left her at the dock. Will you come out? There is an extra hammock below-decks."
The sailcloth lifted. As the ship rolled, the cast of a lantern revealed an eye rimmed in red peering out at me. An eye unblinking and unable, without tears, without lids. A head wrapped in wide leather and nary a hole for nose nor mouth. I called out. The light swayed away.
Surely not. A mummied boy, living and dying in my jolly boat. I’d not sleep that night and yet I missed the theft.
The Skirtling Boy will be posted on Mondays and Thursdays for the next two weeks.