Martha woke up with a start. There was a hand pressed over her mouth. She knew instinctively it wasn’t The Captain and she started to struggle.
“Shut it,” a voice growled near her ear, and she felt warm breath on her face. “I’ll cut ya if ya makes noise,” the voice continued.
For one moment she considered doing as he said. Hadn’t she been expecting this from the start? Instead in that moment of stillness she decided she would not. She would not be hurt and used.
“Be still and quiet, right?” The voice mumbled. “So pritti an’ sweet, an’ why sho’ he ha’ ya to hi’sel. Eh? Ain’t I seen ya longest” he wasn’t paying much attention to Martha as he spoke. His free hand roamed over her body and Martha fought the urge to vomit.
She nodded understanding, hoping he would move his hand from her mouth.
His free hand reached for the rope that The Captain had left tied to the loops in the wall. Panic began to build in her. She wouldn’t be able to run. She wasn’t going to be able to run….
She slowly moved her arm away from her so he would need to reach for it. He was looking the other way…. He had managed to loop one wrist into the rope but he could do the other… She could see his hesitation… Then he did it… He moved his hand…
Martha took a slow deliberate quiet breath, breathing in as much air as she could…
“HELP ME!!!!!!” She screamed with all her might. He jumped startled momentarily by the loud noise, then wham, she felt the blow and dazed she struggled to stay conscious.
Her eyes rolled, his hand was back over her mouth, on her throat, she couldn’t breathe.
He was muttering something but she couldn’t make it out. Her ears were ringing. She tried to move but her body wouldn’t respond through the haze.
The pressure increased in her head, lights seemed burst in her eyes and all she could hear was the blood rushing in her ears as the world disappeared.
Suddenly she could breathe. She gasped in dragging breaths. Each inhale painful and difficult, the shadow of the hand remaining, closing her airway. Martha became aware of sounds slowly. Banging. Cursing. More banging. Her face was wet. She was crying.
“Get that filth out of my sight!” The Captain’s voice spoke firm but not loud. “Martha? Martha?” Gently he approached her. Like she was a startled animal, likely to bolt. He crouched next to the bed, not crowding her. “Martha are you hurt?” He was holding out his hand towards her.
Martha looked at him. She saw the concern in his eyes. She saw the strength in this arms and needed him. She held her arms open like a child to its parent when they need comfort and he hessitated only a second. He climbed onto the bed and pulled Martha to him, rocking her gently, stroking her hair as she sobbed.
“Oh baby, shhhh, you’re safe you’re ok, I’m here,” he whispered. Eventually the sobbing eased and she relaxed.
“I’ll get something for you to drink,” he said. “Your throat will be sore a while, and there’ll be bruising, but it will heal. I’m sorry Martha. It shouldn’t have happened. I told you you’d be safe.” Although she wasn’t looking at him she could see the frown in his voice and she wondered what he was thinking. She wanted to ask but her throat was so painful.
There was a knock on the door.
“Sorry, Captain. I brought Miss a warm drink.” It was Angus. He pushed open the door. “It’s lemon and honey Miss it will help.”
He put a tray on the table and went to leave, but The Captain stopped him. “Wait a moment Angus,” he said.
“Martha? I need to take care of something, would it be alright if Angus here stayed to keep you company?”
“It would be my pleasure, Miss” Angus said in response to something she couldn’t see. Probably The Captain.
She felt him kiss her head and he moved off the bed. As soon as he moved she felt bereft and as if sensing the change, he turned and pulled a blanket over her. He adjusted the pillows into a pile, and helped her to recline on them. She felt taken care of in a way she hadn’t since she was a girl.
He turned and said something to Angus so quietly she couldn’t hear. Then leaned over, kissed her again on the forehead, turned and walked briskly from the room.
Angus passed her a cup filled with the warm liquid, and smiled.
“You’ll be ok Miss,” he said.
“Why did he have to leave?” Martha croaked. Her voice barely audible.
“He has to deal with Bert,” he said looking at her. “Decide the punishment for what he done.”