The Captains Wife (Chapter 2)
Chapter 2 - The Aftermath
I awoke to a shocking cold and wetness. I found my clothing soaked and as I tried to sit up I discovered my head was throbbing and spinning. It took me a few moments to understand where I was.
I was on deck, apparently. It was day, a beautiful blue sky with scarcely any clouds was above us and the sea was calm as far as the eye could see. I struggled to my feet glaring at the stupid sailor still holding the incriminating bucket.
"How dare you!" I shouted at him. "I am in need of medical assistance, you lout! Not seawater in the face!" He laughed and said something to his companions, I have no idea what--I can barely understand these ignorant brutes when I am clearheaded.
I turned angrily and saw the captain on the foredeck. "Sir," I pleaded. "Have this man whipped for his disrespect and get me the ship's doctor."
The captain looked at me and his look was grave and not very welcoming. He glanced at the sailor. "Take her below to her quarters, mate. Lock her in and stand guard by the door. I'll speak with her shortly."
Before I could scream the ugly sailor had picked me up and thrown me over his shoulder as though I were nothing but a rag doll. I beat on his back and screamed but he seemed impervious to my feeble attacks. He threw me on my bed. "Yew jus' be a good girl, there lass, and obay Captain Newman."
I screamed at him and leapt up to tried to scratch his face. Without seeming effort he slapped me down. I fell across the bed, my cheek stinging, stunned, and he left, locking the door behind him.
The slap had calmed me a little, but I was growing furious at this treatment of me. Where was my father? He would have all these men flogged, including that incompetent captain!
Just as I thought this the door opened and Captain Newman entered. I relaxed and tried to calm myself. For the first time since the storm I saw the captain up close and I was astonished to see how old he looked. He looked ancient, tired and beaten and waiting to die.
"I am sorry for what has happened, my dear. But God controls the oceans, not Man."
"You are speaking of the storm, captain? The storm is not the problem! Your man out there treated me like a common serving girl! Your servant _slapped_ me. He struck me, he did! I am the daughter of a Lord, Captain, and I expect to be treated like one! Now, where is the doctor?"
The captain's face grew dark. "He struck you? I shall flog him myself for that!" I felt pleased at that and smiled.
"The doctor?" I asked again.
The captain looked at me for a long while without saying anything. Impatience railed at me to speak but something in his eyes held me back. I waited.
His voice was slow and controlled, without emotion. I felt the truth of his words but I didn't want to believe what he was saying.
"The doctor, I'm afraid, is gone. Along with more than half my crew. That storm almost sunk us, girl, and the men are in no mood for your hysterics. You do not realize the gravity of the situation. We had to dump the cargo to lighten the ship. The storm contaminated most of our water and food supplies. There is very little
chance that we will make it back to shore alive."
I stared at him in disbelief. Could this really be true? Was I really about to die? When I spoke my voice was unsteady. "And my father, captain? Where is my father?"
His face was sad, so sad, and that told me everything before he even spoke. "He's with the Lord, girl. Washed overboard like dozens of others. There was no chance to save him."
The captain waited a moment and opened the door to go. Outside I saw the cruel sailor waiting and suddenly something softened in me. "Captain?" I said hesitantly and he stopped, waiting.
"Never mind about his flogging, sir. It doesn't matter." The captain looked surprised but pleased and nodded. He left me and I laid myself on the bed, my clothing still wet, and cried. A long time later I heard a knock and the sailor entered and placed a plate of food and a cup of wine on the far table. It was dried pork and I
only felt revulsion. "Take it away," I whispered. "Leave me the wine. I am thirsty, but not hungry."
"Are yew sure, m'lady? Yew'd better get while the gettin's good. There's not much where this came from. Yew got the best of the lot, if I do say so."
I shook my head and asked him to leave. He hesitated but nodded and took the food. At the door he stopped. "I'm sorry I struck, yew, m'lady. It was wrong." He paused. "Thanks for, uh, speaking with the captain." Embarrassed with this grand fount of emotion he left hastily. I cried even more after he left, dejected that I would die here on this Godforsaken boat with no one but ignorant brutes like him on board.
To Be Continued...