By Josh Lanyon
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The captain cocked the weapon. “You damned Highland filth! I won’t abide an escaped convict putting my vessel at risk,” hissed the officer. ” As Duncan glanced up, wondering to which of the wretched souls present Arnold referred, a new sound rose from above, a thin wailing that was not the wind, followed by more frightened shouts. One of the men in the shadows darted out of the room, then another. ” a fearful voice cried out from the deck. As the captain turned, Duncan sprang away, grabbing Adam’s medallion, leaping past Arnold and through the open hatch, Lister at his heels, the captain’s curse close behind.
Night was when the rats came. He woke to the rattle of iron. A figure stepped into his cell, pulling the door behind him, squatting with a dim, hooded candle lantern. “Brought ye a blanket,” the man whispered, handing Duncan a tattered wool sheet and another crock of water. ” “Better, thanks to you, Mr. Lister,” Duncan said after he nearly drained the crock. ” “Captain wanted to make for Halifax for repairs. Reverend Arnold would have none of it. Foretopmast is gone. Prisoners on the pumps these past thirty hours.
Duncan could not make out distinct words, only the hopeless tones in which they were spoken. ” he whispered through his own tiny hatch after he had gulped down the food, suddenly yearning for any human company, even that of the madwoman. ” What was her crime, he wondered, what awful thing had she done to deserve condemnation to the deadly tropical plantations? He had once heard of a woman sent away for killing her infant. “I was frightened of the storm, too,” he offered, his voice weakening, shamed at his desperation for a single word of acknowledgment.