The Girl from the Sea – Chapter 22

The Girl from the Sea – Chapter Twenty-two 

Jonas and the Captain wandered down to the port together.  Jonas would sleep on his boat for the night.  “Just tell me one thing, Joe,” asked the Captain.  “Was any of that true, what you just said?”

“Captain!  I haven’t changed that much!”

“That’s what worries me,” muttered the Captain under his breath. 

***

The three siblings curled around the fire sharing the warmth.  They were sitting up cross legged catching up on what had been going on.  Frankie’s story was hard to believe.  She was confused now after Jonas’ version of events.  Had she really seen what she thought she had seen?  Was she mistaken?  It had been dark and shadowy – perhaps she was mistaken.  What was she going to do?

The questions and theories flew around the fire place until the boys realised that Frankie had fallen asleep.  She felt safe for the first time in days and she slept soundly.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21

The Girl from the Sea – Chapter 21

The Girl from the Sea – Chapter Twenty-One 

There was a shocked pause around the room.  “You can’t be serious Luke?  Frances do not even think about agreeing to whatever hair-brained idea he’s having.  You’re not going to do it.  We’re going home.”

“What are you intending, son?”  The Captain said softly.

“I’m suggesting that we put out the story that somebody witnessed the murder – it’s not that far from the truth by the sounds of it, if our friend here can be believed.”

“But, they’ll come after her Luke.  You’re talking about using your sister as bait.”

“She’s not going to be in any harm.  We’ll be here to protect her – she’s not going to ever be on her own.  If everyone’s willing to help?”

“Do I get a say in this?” piped up Frankie.

“See! At least our sister has the sense to disagree with you!” retorted Anthony.

“If you’re going to use me as bait, I think it should be my decision.”  The grown-ups all stared at her, expectantly.  “Anthony, I know you’re protecting me, but if we can catch these men, then we may be saving somebody else’s life.”  Anthony looked like thunder.  “Mr Jonas, I’m not sure what to think about you.”  The Captain and his wife had been so good to her and she turned to them now.  “You’ve both been so good to me.  You know Mr Jonas.  Do you think he’s telling the truth?  Should we do this?”

The Captain and his wife glanced uneasily at each other.  They didn’t know what to make of all these developments.  The Captain prepared to smoke.  He was thinking.  Esther took the bull by the horns.  “It’s a very silly and dangerous idea.  I can’t believe you boys would risk your sister’s life, particularly after what she’s been through.  I would not have you risk it again.”  Anthony and Lucas looked shamefaced and shuffled their feet.  They hadn’t been told off like this for at least a decade. 

“Saying that – it’s Frances’s decision.  She’s perfectly capable of making her own mind up.  You will have to abide by her decision.  If she doesn’t want to do it – you take her home to her mother and no more will be said about this, by anyone!”  She looked pointedly around the room.  “If she does decide to do whatever it is that you’re planning, then I want some guarantees that her safety will never be an issue.  You must come up with a fool-proof plan, which everyone agrees with.  I will not be a party to anyone here getting hurt.”  She paused, to let her words sink in.  She could see that Frankie was ready to speak, but interrupted her. 

“Frances, quiet!  No decisions are to be made tonight – I think we all need to digest what’s happened and think things through.  Frances, you will stay here as always.  Your brothers may stay too and you can all sleep down here by the fire – I’m sure that you have to catch up on things.  Jonas you can go to wherever you are staying.  We’ll meet again tomorrow to discuss things.  Goodnight everyone.” 

Jonas was the only one who had to leave, so he shuffled to his feet.  “I’ll walk out with you Jonas,” said the Captain.  “Need to smoke my pipe and clear my head.”  The two old shipmates headed for the door.  Esther was putting the boys to work setting up mattresses around the fire.  Frankie was in charge of the sheets and blankets.  She felt amazing gratitude for the warmth of Esther and how glad her brothers were here.  She felt safe for the first time in days. 

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20

The Girl from the Sea – Chapter 20

The Girl from the Sea – Chapter Twenty 

Jonas began his tale.  “I’ve been around a lot since I left.  Various crews.  Various ships.  Various ports.  Never been an easy life – you know Captain.  You boys too by the look of you.  You look like you live on the sea.”  Anthony and Lucas nodded.  Frankie elbowed Lucas in the ribs for agreeing with him.  “I picked up some new crew in Plymouth.  Bought and sold various goods.  Got in a few scrapes.  Met a fellow who didn’t like me talking to his girl and he gave me my new face.  The face gave me a new reputation for being a bad seed.  People steered clear.  People just gave me whatever I wanted – no more bartering or struggling.  They took one look at my face and knew I meant business.  Never once have I had to resort to using violence to get what I needed.”

“Until now?” interrupted the Captain.

“You’re not listening Emos.  I mean it.  Never once have I resorted to violence.  My last trip out, we picked up a man who was desperately looking for passage somewhere, anywhere.  He seemed normal enough to start with did Billy.  Willing to work.  Mucked in and did his fair share.  Kept his head down, nose clean etc.  Didn’t speak much about his past, but who does on a ship?”  The men all nodded.  Everyone kept their own business. 

“He drank a fair amount on the shore, but there’s nothing abnormal
about that.  One time, he confided in a drunken state that he had people after him.  I just laughed it off as drunken rambling.  It turns out that it was true though.  When you saw us, Miss, I’d just come across him at the back of the tavern, pierced through the chest. I swear that I had nothing to do with it.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense!” exclaimed Frances.  “There were other men with you when I saw you.”

“I’m coming to that bit, miss.  He hadn’t been lying when he said that he had people after him.  While I was looking at his wound I found myself surrounded by those men you saw, miss.  Nasty pieces of work I can tell you.  Well…they didn’t like the fact that I was taking an interest in their handiwork, so they decided they need to ‘take care of us’.  Luck, hah, if you can call it that, was on my side though.  When they found out who I was, they had heard of me…”

The Captain snorted disbelievingly.

“…I told you I had a reputation. Anyhow, when they found out who I was, the situation changed.  They figured that I would help them, so that’s what I did.  I gave them what they wanted – a boat, an escape route and a means of getting rid of the body.  I thought the sooner I could get them out of my life the better.  Nobody had counted on picking up a hitchhiker though.

“One of them spotted you, miss.  Hiding there.  I was ordered to grab you.  There weren’t meant to be any witnesses.  Whilst you were below deck they were planning all sorts of things for you.  It turned my stomach, miss.  I had to come up with a plan to get you somewhere out of harm’s way and I figured that you stood a better chance with the sea than with those men.  That’s why, miss.  You had to go overboard.” 

He paused in his story and looked down at the scrubbed table top.  “I’m mortally ashamed of what happened to you, miss, and it’s credit to you that you made it.  Right glad I am to see you again.  You’ve got some strength in you to come through that storm in one piece.”

“One piece!” exclaimed Esther.  “She arrived here black and blue and scarcely breathing.  I’d hardly call that one piece.  Why were you so keen to find her then?”

“I wanted to see if you had survived, miss.”

“Hmmm.”  Esther sounded disbelieving.  “So if you’ve turned up here to find her, what’s to stop these other men from doing the same?  Also we have a responsibility to the poor dead man.  What about his family?  Don’t they deserve to know the truth?”

“Well I tried Esther.  After I had dropped the men along the coast,  I went to Billy’s hometown to find his family and tell them what had happened.  And to be a little bit nosey – my curiosity was piqued.  I wanted to find out who had been after him – fill in the gaps if you know what I mean.

“I tried to speak to his wife but she wouldn’t talk to me, not even to hear the fate of her husband.  I couldn’t even get past her front door.  The sister lived across the street and saw me struggling.  So I made my explanation to her and told her that we’d buried her brother at sea.  Well, she didn’t mind about that at all.  Best place for him, she said.

“I asked, if she knew of anyone who had wanted to harm him and she laughed.  Not a nice sound, it wasn’t.  He wasn’t a well-liked man it turns out. Had a habit of rubbing people up the wrong way and it had got him into trouble.  He’d double crossed these men and they caught up with him.  He’d figured he’d be safe enough on a boat, calling at different ports all the time.  I guess someone must have recognised him.  She said that the men had come and harassed her sister in law – that was probably why she wouldn’t talk to you, she said.  She was afraid of me.”  Jonas paused in his long tale and looked glum.  He was aware of his looks causing fear in people.  He’d meant no harm – he’d just wanted to give them some closure in Billy’s death. 

He took a deep breath and looked over at Frankie.  Lucas shuffled closer to her.  Frankie stared back into his black eyes.  “So, the sister was quite a chatty lady,” he continued.  “I thought I could try and find out who these people were.  She said that she’d recognise them again if she saw them. I figured that we could get them put away for what they’ve done!”

“So what now?  Now that you’ve found Frances?”   Lucas asked. 

“Well at least she’s safe and didn’t end up in their hands.  For all I know they don’t even know that she exists.”

“So, we can take her home with us then?”  Anthony said from his place at the fireside.

“Wait a second…I think we’re missing an opportunity here,” interrupted Lucas, getting to his feet.  “There are murderers out on the loose still.  We know they’re guilty of killing one man – who knows if there are others?”

“What are you getting at Luke?”

Lucas put his arm around Frankie’s shoulders.  “Frank, how do you fancy doing some fishing?”

“Fishing?” she queried, bemused.  “For what?”

“For murderers?”

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19

The Girl from the Sea – Chapter 19

The Girl from the Sea – Chapter Nineteen 

No one had seen the dark man looming there in the shadows.  The men started, Frankie moved behind her brothers in fear and the Captain reached out his arm to protect his wife.  “So this explains a lot.  I should’ve been looking for a girl.  I tell you lass, there are not many boys who would have put up with what you did.”  He looked at Frankie with something close to respect. 

He stepped out of the doorway into the increasingly smaller room.  The Captain’s wife rarely entertained so many people especially so late. 

“Good evening Captain, sir.  It’s been a long time.  Esther, how are you?”  He moved into the firelight and stood in front of them so that they could both get a look at him.  They were looking blankly at him.  “I’m not surprised that you don’t remember me.  My own mother barely recognises me these days.”  Frankie and her brothers were just looking confused – how could these good people know the Scarface who inhabited Frankie’s nightmares.  “Come now, Captain.  Look closer.  Look beyond the scars.  Ah, I see the light dawning now.”

“Jonas!” the Captain gasped.  “It can’t be you.  What on earth has happened to you?”

“Jonas?” Esther queried.  “How are you mixed up in this business?  What do you mean you should have been looking for a girl?”

“The young lady and I have some unfinished business, Mrs Captain.  I caught her trying to catch a lift on my boat.”

“No, that’s not true!  You kidnapped me!”  Anthony and Lucas were standing protectively in front of their sister.  They watched the two older men’s exchange with interest and confusion.

“Such an imagination!”

“I’ve heard what she says, Jonas.  You’d better explain before we call the guard.”

“Oh I’m sure the guard have better things to do than worry about me.”

“Like a body on the beach? Like this girl, who was almost dead, washing up on the beach?”  The Captain was showing his anger now.  “If you have anything to do with this Jonas, I swear to God…”

“You’ll what?  You’d never hurt me Emos.  You owe me your life, remember.”  The man was bringing back all sorts of emotions from that night they had watched his precious boy get swept overboard.  Jonas had been his second in command and had prevented him from jumping in after his boy.  It was true that he did owe him his life. But to think that this was the man that was responsible for one murder and one attempted murder was too much. 

“What happened to you Jonas?  You were a good man.”

“And how do you know that I’m not still a good man?  You’d take this girl’s word over mine would you?”  His voice rose in anger and indignation, but he managed to control his temper. “That night…that terrible night, Captain.  That should be enough for you to give me the benefit of the doubt.  At least long enough for me to explain?” 

The Captain nodded his assent and pulled one of the wooden chairs out from the scrubbed table.  He gestured at him to sit.  Esther took the other chair.  Frankie kept as far away from him as possible and was huddled on the stairs, peering through the bannisters at this man called Jonas.  Lucas sat next to her while Anthony took up position by the fireplace.  The Captain perched on the sideboard next to his wife.  “We’re waiting.  Out with it.”

“I’m not sure where I should start?”

“How about with where you’ve been for the past twelve years?  Where did those scars come from?  Then you can fill us in on how you know our Frankie?”

“Frankie?  A boy’s name?  That explains a lot.”

“Don’t get sidetracked – just get on with it.”

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

Chapter 18

The Girl from the Sea – Chapter 18

The Girl from the Sea – Chapter Eighteen

The Captain and Pete waited on the harbour front for the brothers.  They weren’t far behind them.

“You know where Frankie is? You’ve seen her?  Is she alright?”  They both garbled together. 

“Shhh,” the older men hissed, looking around them.  “Come with me quickly,” said the Captain.  “Pete, stay here and make sure nobody’s following us.  You know what to do.”  Pete nodded darkly and made himself disappear into the shadows.  The Captain set off at a brisk pace up the path to his cottage.  The younger boys followed blindly, wondering how the older man was coping with the steep incline better than they were.  “Can you tell us anything, Sir?”  Lucas puffed. 

“It’s probably better if Frankie tells you herself.  All you need to know from me is that I found her in a terrible state on the beach and brought her home.  She’s been through the mill.”  Not even out of breath at all.

“But who might be following us?  What danger is there?  She just ran away from home.  I don’t understand,” continued Anthony. 

“Not sure.  Let’s just say that you’re not the only ones who have been looking for Frankie.”

The rest of the walk carried on in silence and darkness, now that they were away from the village.  The only light was on in the Captain’s cottage.  Esther must be still up.  He felt warmth stir his heart at the thought of her being there.  The brothers were each in their own worlds turning over what might have happened in their minds.  Their search for their sister was coming to an end, but there was obviously much more to this than her running away from home.

They approached the stone house and the Captain pushed the door open on the homely scene of Esther sitting in her rocking chair by the fire, with a cup of tea, staring into the flames.  She was always like that when she had things on her mind.  She said she could lose herself in the flames and things just came to her.  The Captain gestured to the boys to wait outside while he explained.

“Esther, is Frankie asleep?”

“Yes love.  A while back.  Why?”

“Her family’s here – two brothers at least.  They’ve been looking for her.”

“Her family?”  Esther’s face fell a little at the thought of losing the little girl.  She had enjoyed being a mother again.  She recovered herself quickly.  Frances had her own mother who missed her too.  “Why that’s marvellous.  Where are they?”

“Boys, come in.  This is my wife, Esther, and I’m Emos.  What are your names?”

“Anthony and Lucas, sir.  Please tell us what’s going on?  Is Frankie here?”

“She’s upstairs, asleep,” said Esther.

“No she isn’t.”  Frankie appeared in the doorway.  “I heard voices.”  She threw herself at Anthony and Lucas.  “What are you doing here? Oh I’m glad though!  So glad to see you.”

“What are we doing here, Frank?” queried Lucas.  “What are you doing here?  Do you know what kind of trouble you’re in with Ma – ready to kill you she is!”  He saw her eyes fill with tears and she bit her lip to stop them overflowing.  He realised that now was not the time.  “It’s good to see you too, Fishface,” he said hugging her tight.

Anthony drew them apart, and turned to the Captain and his wife.  “Thank you for looking after her.  We’re amazingly grateful to you.  You told us you found her on the beach in some kind of state?”  He could see the bruises covering her face and the bandages on her hands.  “What has happened to you Frank?”

The tears welled up again.  Anthony knew that she was not prone to crying as other girls were.  “Come on, Frank.  It can’t be that bad?”

“Anthony, they killed him!” she whispered.  “They killed him and threw him over the side!”  She threw herself against her older brother and dissolved in to hysterical sobs.

“Killed who?”  He asked gently.  When he wasn’t able to get any sane response he looked at the Captain and his wife and repeated.  “Who’s been killed?  Is this one of Frank’s stories?” 

Emos and Esther exchanged glances.  The Captain spoke up.  “We’re not sure who.  But there’s been a body wash up – a man, badly beaten and stabbed through the chest.  He appeared a day or two after your sister.  It seems to hold up to her story.” 

“He’s the man I saw on the boat,” sobbed Frankie.  “I know it.  They shut me in a cabin with him and he was dead!  I fainted when I saw him and when I woke up, he was gone!”

“Wait, who shut you up in cabin?”

“The man with the scars on his face!”

“This man…” interrupted the Captain slowly, “…has been in town too, asking questions.  He’s looking for a young boy though.  When I found Frances she was wearing boys’ clothes.”

“Sounds like our Frank alright.”

“We’ve got to get her out of here, before he realises that she’s not a boy.”

“We have our boat moored on the quayside.  We’ll take her home with us, first thing.”

“Son, he’s still going to be looking for her at home.  You said yourselves that you were searching every village along the coast for Frances.  What’s to stop him doing the same?”

“But he doesn’t know that he is a she.  Surely that’s to our advantage.”

“Maybe,” pondered the Captain.

“What should we do then?” 

“I think we need to stop him, that’s what.”

“And how exactly do you plan to do that?” whispered a threatening voice from the doorway. 

Catch up on previous chapters here: 

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17