Captains Prize (part 11)

Martha watched the ship come alive, men scurried about, some carried buckets, some climbed up the rigging adjusting and tugging at ropes. Smithy was on the deck shouting orders to the men in the masts, instructing which sails were to be set. There was a lovely breeze and as the sails were adjusted they caught the breeze and the ship was carried along.

There was an efficiency to everyone’s movements, no-one wasted energy. The men laughed and joked as they worked. Martha watched mesmerized. Sat as she was under the parasol, the breeze was wonderful, the sun was warm and she nibbled on the food in front of her.

“More tea?”

The Captain’s voice broke into her reverie. She turned to look at him and caught her breath. He looked so boyish, he had removed his hat and his hair was ruffled by the breeze. The stubble on his face accented his features making him handsome and his shirt was open at the neck. For one moment she wondered what the skin under that shirt would feel like against her.

“Martha?”

He said her name again, and she raised her eyes to his blushing.

“Y- yes please Sir,” she stammered.

“Angus!” The Captain shouted out and within a few moments Angus appeared.

“More tea?” He asked, gathering the tray and it’s contents.

“Yes please Angus,” they both answered together and then laughed. Martha stopped first, puzzled by her response. A frown creased her forehead, while the Captain continued to laugh.

“Why do you look so worried?” He eventually asked when he had stopped laughing enough to speak. “Am I such an ogre?”

Martha shook her head.

“This doesn’t seem real,” she said quietly. “It’s not what I thought a pirate ship would be like.” She surprised her self by her honesty and to her amazement the Captain burst again into loud guffaws.

“Oh Martha,” he said at last when his laughter subsided. “You are so funny. Did you think we would be killing eachother, and drunk all day? We’re called pirates but all we do is trade openly and occasionally liberate surplus supplies from ships we encounter.”

Angus returned with more tea and Martha poured two cups, as before. She settled back into her chair and continued to watch the men work. Smithy was talking to a young man. They had between them a drawing which they kept pointing to but Martha couldn’t make out the subject of their discussion. As she frowned to herself wishing she could hear them, the Captain, called them over.

“Still arguing over the design?” He asked them as they approached.

“Yes,” said the younger of the two. “I think mine would look nice, Smithy thinks solid,” he showed the drawing to the Captain as he spoke.

“Why not get a woman’s opinion?” The Captain suggested..

Martha tried to hide the surprise. Her opinion. The young man showed the drawing to her. It was a crib. Strange that a pirate would be making a crib, then Martha remembered the Captain saying Smithy’s daughter was expecting. Would this be the father to be? They were all looking at her. Waiting.

“It’s beautiful.” She smiled up at them.

“You think so?”

Martha nodded.

“I think you can see the babe in this and it will be cooler.” Joseph was pleased Martha approved of his design.

“May I make a suggestion?” Martha spoke quietly. They all looked first at her then, Martha, Smithy and Joseph looked to the Captain for approval.

“Certainly Martha,” he said.

“If you put a hook in the ceiling above the crib,” suggested Martha, “you could drape some net over it. It would look pretty and keep insects out.”

“There,” said the Captain. “It’s settled. Joseph’s design and I’m certain we can incorporate Martha’s suggestion too.”

Joseph and Smithy left to begin construction and Martha’s mind wandered with them wondering what the island was like.

“You look tired.”

The Captains voice interrupted her thoughts and she realised he was right.

“I shouldn’t be Sir,” she said, “I’ve not been awake long.” She yawned as if to prove the Captains observations correct.

“You’re not used to the fresh air,” he said. “Go rest a while and in a few hours I’ll come get you. We will have lunch out here. The dolphins usually come every afternoon and you can watch them from up here if you’d like?”

“I’d like that very much” she said getting up. She turned to leave, but before she did she turned back. “Thank you for allowing me to come out of the room.”

“You’re very welcome, Martha,” he replied.

She could feel him watching as she walked away, and her heart beat quickened. He was handsome she thought, and kind. It was strange to be taken care of. Her Da, and her Ma, had always said it was a woman’s duty to care for the men and to show proper respect. The way he had considered the effect of the heat. It was touching, she thought. She opened the door to the room and, closing it behind her she layed on the bed.

Closing her eyes she allowed her imagination to wander. What if he wasn’t a pirate. What if he was just a normal man. They could walk out together… Sleep took her and Martha’s dreams were full of the green fields from home. Full of a dashing man with long hair and a devilish smile, daring her to take his hand and follow him into paradise.

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