Martha stretched out, she felt so comfortable so relaxed. Between the bed and the gentle sway of the ship she couldn’t remember ever feeling so, so, she struggled to name it.. happy? she thought. She allowed her mind to drift back to yesterday evening. The Captain so kind, so gentle. Sure it had felt strange having a man touch her feet, but once he had applied pressure, a sigh escaped her as she remembered the way her body had just melted. He was a strange pirate she thought. Martha laid warm and comfortable for a short while before she realised that she needed to relieve herself. She wasn’t bound and so reluctantly she sat up and looked around the room. She was alone.
Martha relieved herself quickly, concerned someone would come in at any moment, and then used the water bowl to wash her face. The heat was still something she hadn’t got used to and she was glad she was not trussed up in her old clothes. The Captain had been right the cotton clothes he had given her were cool and comfortable.
Someone was coming, and again Martha wasn’t sure if she should still be on the bed but she hesitated too long and she heard a key turn in the lock. Deciding to stay where she was, Martha squared her shoulders and took a deep breath. Angus walked in and when he saw her he smiled warmly.
“Good morning Miss,” he said. “The Captain sent me to get you, he thought you might want some fresh air. Follow me Miss.” He beckoned her forward. Martha smiled back and relaxed. She didn’t feel the least bit threatened by this young man. Instead she found herself walking forward following him out of the room.
The corridor was dull, lit only by the open door they went through, and the open door ahead. It smelled of salt and soap, the wood aged but clean. There must be two rooms either side of the corridor as there were closed doors on either side. Martha realised she hadn’t paid much attention on her way into the room, or the last time she had walked this way.
The sun was bright and unaccustomed to it as she was she screwed up her eyes as she emerged, raising her hand to cover them. Angus held something out to her, “oh Miss, here,” he said, “the Captain thought you might need these”. In one hand he held out a beaten looking hat, tan leather and wise brimmed, like she expected the captain would wear, she looked at him quizzically. Was he serious? “It used to me mine Miss, as I’ve outgrown it we thought it might fit you,” he continued, still holding it out to her, ” try it on it’s not so big and it will keep the sun off your head.” Hesitantly Martha took the hat and placed it on her head. It wobbled a little, but did shield her eyes very well. “And this Miss?” Angus was holding a second item out, and on looking she saw a lace parasol. Angus was holding it awkwardly as if he might dirty the delicate white fabric, and Martha took it from him curious to see the lace. She had never seen such beautiful fabric, rich people had these, grand people. Grander than them she had worked for. “Come Miss, this way,” again Angus gestured for her to follow him, “watch your step, Miss,” he cautioned as he led the way up the steps to the upper deck. They walked past the mast her Da had been tied to, Martha suppressed a shudder, and up the second steps.
The Captain was sat on a chair in front of a small table. A second chair was opposite him. Breakfast was layed out on the table, breads, jams and pastries. Martha’s stomach grumbled.
“May I fetch you some tea Miss?” Angus asked. Martha looked at him in amazement. She must be dreaming. She must be asleep. May as well enjoy it said that naughty voice…
“Yes please Angus,” Martha wispered. She hadn’t meant to but her mouth was dry. What on earth was this. She looked around. There was only the Captain here.
“Please Martha, sit down,” the Captain spoke up. He indicated she should take the chair opposite him. “I thought you may enjoy a change of scenery, and some fresh air. The men are having their breakfast so for the moment it’s quiet. Smithy suggested you may enjoy some tea, although we only have goats milk or honey.” As he spoke Martha sat down. Her face a mask of incredulity and disbelief. He was a pirate. Wasn’t he?
“I don’t understand….” Martha began but trailed off. Unable to put into words her confusion.
“It’s breakfast, Martha.”
“I don’t mean that,” she replied, “I mean why are you interested in what I would like, I’m your prisoner and you’re a pirate. Aren’t you just going to …” Her voice trailed off, as embarrassment washed over her.
The sound of his laughter brought her head up.
“Oh Martha, you funny girl, even bloodthirsty pirates have to eat,” he laughed and leered toward her. Despite herself she giggled. Then stopped abruptly, as soon as she realised what she had done. “I do love that sound, your laughter,” he clarified at her questioning look, “I care about the welfare of everyone on this ship Martha,” he continued solemnly, “especially you.”
Martha looked at her hands which were folded in her lap. His words made her heart beat quicken, and she didn’t know why, but she liked it. The hat was heavy and beads of sweat were forming on her forehead and the back of her neck. She opened the parasol and held it up. It was exquisite. She removed the hat and put it on her knee, her hair already damp. The Captain was watching her, she could see him through her lashes though she kept her eyes cast downwards.
“The hat wasn’t a good idea was it?” He asked with a frown. Martha shook her head, he looked so perturbed as he continued, “you can’t hold that and eat.” He pointed at the parasol as he spoke then so suddenly that Martha jumped, he got up and went down the steps to the lower desks. Martha used the moments alone go look around. The deck was clean and in truth it was nice to be above deck. She wanted to look out at the sea but stayed in the chair. The food looked delicious and she reached out to take a pastry, but withdrew empty handed when she heard footsteps approaching.
The Captain returned with some rope in his hand. Martha stopped breathing, holding her breath. Did he plan to restrain her again? He approached her chair and knelt down. Taking the rope he began to tie it to the chair, “May I have that please?” He didn’t wait for a reply but took the parasol and wove it into the rope, securing it to the back of the chair so she was shaded from the sun and had both hands now free. Satisfied with his efforts he stood and returned to his chair.
Martha looked up at the parasol and then at him. He was smiling at the parasol, very pleased with himself. “Thank you,” she murmured, frowning slightly. He really was strange. Martha looked to her right as she heard a rattle and footsteps. Angus was back with a tray which he placed on the table, and nodding once at the Captain, he turned and left.
“Please help yourself Martha,” the Captain spoke at last, “and when the tea is properly brewed please pour me a tea with milk.”
“I’m sorry Sir,” she said, “I don’t know how.” The tray contained a tea pot and cups, milk jug and some honey as well as a small sieve and, some spoons. She had seen these things at the big house but she hadn’t been allowed tea.
The Captain was frowning again. “There’s no need to be sorry Martha,” he said, “I’d rather you told me so I can teach you than you struggle. Here,” he sat forward in his chair. “The tea leaves are inside the pot with boiling water. And so we have to hold this sieve over the spout,” he picked up the tea pot and sieve as he spoke, holding them over one of the cups. He poured the liquid into the cup through the sieve so that the leaves were captured and the liquid in the cup was mid brown but clear. “Then we add milk or honey.. not both,” he said. “As you’ve not had it you won’t know which you like so let’s do one of each and you can try them?” He poured a second cup and added milk to one and stirred it with a spoon, and honey to the other.
Martha reached for the milk cup and took a sip. It was hot but nice. He was still watching her and she felt another blush. He looked at her in a way that made her feel naked. She replaced the cup and lifted the other. Taking a sip she grimaced. No she preferred the milk one, and she noticed a smile on the Captains face. “I think I like the one with milk best,” she said.
“Indeed,” her replied laughing, “you should have seen your face!” He took the cup from her and walked to the side of the ship. He flung the contents over the side, then returned to the table. “Eat!” This was a command there was no doubt and so Martha picked up a pastry and took a bite. It was wonderful, and she had soon eaten it and picked up a second. Her appetite had returned she realised. She had barely eaten since they left England but since coming on board she had actually felt hungry. Maybe that’s because the food is appetising she thought.
Martha realised that the Captain didn’t have a drink. He had emptied the cup but not refilled it.
“Shall I use this cup to make you a tea?” She asked.
“Yes Martha,” he replied with a satisfied smile. “That would be delightful.”
Frowning slightly at his words she made him a tea, copying what he had done. Her hand shook as she lifted the tea pot, it was heavy, but she managed to pour the liquid without spilling any. Martha added milk and stirred before pushing the cup towards him.
He picked up the cup and sat back in the chair. Martha picked up a piece of bread and spread some jam over it. She settled back into her seat thoughtfully, deciding that the Captain was indeed very strange. He was kind, and, it pained her to admit it, but she wanted to get to know him. She liked it when he smiled at her. She liked it when he touched her.
Her thoughts were interrupted by voices coming onto deck. It seemed breakfast was over, and Martha shifted in her seat expecting to be taken back to the room. “Would you like to stay here a while longer?” The Captain’s voice drew her attention. Martha nodded. The Captain simply waved his hand at her, gesturing that she could relax. Martha settled back and watched as the ship came to life in front of her, well aware that the Captain was still watching her every move.