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.“Oh yes, I have the great good fortune to be the master of the fastest vessel ever to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean.But at such a cost …” He stared bleakly down at the lamp.“Such a cost,” he muttered again.As if she had heard his words, the Fortuna bucked and plunged and her black timbers growled.She was suddenly like a ferocious rampaging beast, not a ship at all.Cleo cowered in Tolly’s arms and Trevanion reached out to steady himself, clutching the edge of a chest.The lantern in his hands swung from side to side – one second his lean face was bathed in yellow light, the next it vanished into shadow.In that odd moment, something made Jem fear for Captain Trevanion.He knew without a doubt that the captain was slipping into the dark.“When you hear us lower the anchor – and make no mistake it is a sound you will know – the two of you must be ready.Mingan here will make sure that the small hatch is unlocked.You already know where that is.The rest is up to you.Make your way to the deck if you can – there will be so much activity that you will not be noticed if you hide.There will be a chance for you to slip away when the quay is crowded and busy.If you are fortunate, you might escape this … hell ship.” Trevanion paused before adding quietly, “And if you do, you will be luckier than me.We have brought food and water for you.Here.”Mingan handed a small leather bag to Jem.“I don’t understand, sir.What about the justices? You promised Madame de Chouette that you would hand us over.And there’s Grimscale too – he’s itching to see us brought to trial.” Jem looked from Trevanion to Mingan.Trevanion drew a short breath.“Two more crewmen have gone missing since you were put down here.I have broken my promise and I will pay for that.I do not think this vessel will forget the oath I swore so rashly.”Jem remembered the captain promised on his life that no more lives would be lost before they made land.He thought about the strange glow that had played around the man’s fingers as he spoke – as if the ship was listening to him, binding him.The captain continued.“If I cannot save myself, I will save as many as I can.There is too much blood on my hands already.I’ll not turn you over to the authorities at Port Melas, for I do not believe you are guilty.I won’t endanger the nephew of an old friend.James Verrers was a good man.You, boy, for all your gypsy looks, have something of his quality.”He turned to Mingan.“Come, we will be missed.I will leave the lamp here.Save it and use it to light your way when the time comes.” Trevanion turned to make his way back to the hatch, but Mingan lingered.“Wait, sir!” Tolly stood up, Cleo cradled in his arms.“Your daughter – what will happen to her if you let us go free? It’s why you made this voyage, isn’t it?”Trevanion turned back and nodded.He face was strained.“But how did you know?”Tolly took a step forward.“You spoke of her that first time when Grimscale found us and took us to you – and you’ve mentioned her since.She’s ill, I think? Her condition has something to do with Madame and this ship?”Trevanion glanced at Mingan.“No one knows of this, except my old friend here.Mingan tried to help my daughter Jane with the remedies of his tribe, but the people in Swale, they —’“Didn’t trust him, because he was different?” Tolly stared hard at Mingan.“Something of that nature, yes.It is a sea-faring port and they are used to strangers, but Mingan is very distinctive.They did not care for his looks and I sent him away.I was a fool to listen to them, but I was a bigger fool when I made a promise to that woman.The worst is that, deep down, I knew all along what she was.”Trevanion slumped against the wall.“It’s a short tale and I’ll tell it to you now.You will likely be the last people to hear my story.Perhaps, one day, you can use it to warn others, although I pray you never have to.” He passed a hand over his brow.“Madame de Chouette arrived in her gilded coach at the end of November.It was during a great storm and she took rooms at the inn.“For two months before she arrived the children of Swale had been afflicted by a curious malady – a sickness of spirit and body [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]