Leaving everything behind in the little boat, I clamber back aboard the ship. Mary is mopping the decks, waiting for me to leave. She holds the stem, and I can see that she has been crying.
‘Mary!’ I shout, but she doesn’t hear me at first. ‘Mary! You have to warn them!’
‘Bethany? I thought you would have gone by now.’
Breathless, I point to the ship crashing towards us. The blue crossbones waving like stormy seas is not a beacon of hope, but of disaster.
‘You have to gather everyone around you, don’t let anyone be on their own,’ I say.
‘They will not harm us,’ Mary says. ‘We are peaceful people. They will let us on our way.’
‘I haven’t got time to argue – see that blue flag, I recognise it. You have to gather your family about you, in the galley, let me do all the talking.’
The mop swept aside in the port side, she rushes down to her little brood. I can hear Charles calling for calm. He wants to be with me, but she manages to persuade him to stay.
Hidden behind a barrel of water, I gather my heart beats into a slow and steady pace. As the ship surges forward spray sprints across the sea like a young lion after its prey. Silently, in stealth mode, the waves draw apart until the ship is within spitting distance.
I stand up now, for the kind souls, who took me in, when I was close to death. My mother would want me to repay their love with generosity. My father – I wasn’t sure. My memories were of a kind man, but there are different sides to a penny piece.
I stand firm against the railing now, so they can see me. I’m not sure why. If my father has passed on to the next realm, then there really is no hope. Nothing can save them.
I half expect an army of men invade the ship like ants going for sugar, but instead, a young man climbs aboard. He is slightly taller than me, with the same fiery long, red hair. He pulls out his sword, and I try to remember the spell my mother taught me long ago.
‘Leave this ship be, all souls to be safe,’ I chant, rearing towards him.
‘Who be ye to cast a spell witch?’ he says.
‘Leave this ship be, all souls to be safe,’ I say, but my bravery falters in my throat. It isn’t clear enough to stop him.
Pirates tend to be hangry, it is the over use of rum and dry biscuits aboard their ship. This one is as lean as a garden rake, with a sneer across his face, he laughs at my attempts.