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.”