‘Tell me,’ I say, watching a seagull dive into the sea for its early morning meal. ‘Why did you all decide to go to sea? Surely there are many sinners on land who need saving.’
‘We go where we are sent, where we are needed most,’ she says.
I twist my head back, there is a kindness behind those blue eyes. She is happy with her life – has no regrets. Her husband, grown up children, are all she requires for a healthy, happy life.
I want answers, none of which can be given by strangers – even generous ones. They share food, laughter, and a love for all. I have told them about my mother, but not of her abilities as a witch. I don’t think they would understand a white witch’s place in the world.
‘I was two when I was brought to my island, but I still remember him, my father, a kind, caring man, with a . . .’
‘Go on, whatever you have to tell me, I’ve heard before. We’ve all led imperfect lives and sometimes it helps to talk.’
Should I tell her the truth? That my father was a pirate, whose only aim in life was to steal treasure. There were plenty who told tales of pirates – they were never good.
‘My father, I have only vague memories of him you know. He loves the sea, or that’s what my mother said, and in the end she was his mistress. I’m sure you’ve heard stories about . . . about pirates, but he wasn’t like that.’
‘Your father is a pirate?’
I expected her to jump back in fear, tell her husband to push me away on my little boat. It is insane to give a pirate’s daughter safe passage. There were other lives at stake, apart from my own.
She reaches for my hand, and it envelopes mine. We stand there looking out to sea, without speaking for a while. Waves amuse themselves, chasing each other across the surface in a game of tag.
‘I should go, I know he won’t harm me, but I can’t be sure of what type of pirate he is. I’ve heard the stories too, but it isn’t what I remember of him.’
‘What do you remember?’
‘Him singing lullaby’s, I know, not what you’d expect.’
Clouds cling together, as the blue is masked by the grey. Tiny droplets of rain fall on my face, as I wonder what mother would think of me now. She is alone because of my refusal to leave the sea.
‘My father, he died before I was born. I didn’t know him at all. It’s good, to know there is a light, even with pirates.’
‘Will you tell Charles?’ I ask.
‘I must, but Bethany, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Your father’s . . . profession isn’t what you will become.’
She left me to my thoughts, of a life drawn to the sea. His profession, my life is linked in way Mary can never understand. If I were a pirate, I would seek treasure just like the rest of them. I was aware of one thing – I couldn’t stay here and put their lives in danger.