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.