The Girl from the Sea – Chapter Twenty-three
Frankie had to clear her head in the morning for there were decisions to be made. She wandered down the cliff path to the beach. She crept out while her brothers were still snoring. The Captain and his wife were still upstairs. Water was always soothing for her. She stared out at the turbulent sea while the things churned over in her head. Joe was down there collecting treasure. Frankie wandered over to where he was sifting through the sand. His shrimping net was resting against the rocks and a bucket was filling up nicely with shells.
“Hello Joe.” Frankie sounded glum. She perched on the rocks next to his shells.
“What’s up Frankie?” Joe could tell that something was bothering his friend.
“It’s complicated.” He passed her the bucket and they wandered on the shoreline together while Frankie talked through her dilemma.
Jonas woke up with the sunrise as he was sleeping on the deck of his boat. He couldn’t sleep on dry land any longer – the movement of the sea rocked him and everything he did. The first step onto the quayside felt more wobbly than the roughest sea. There was a lot of activity in the harbour that morning. The winds were favourable and the fishermen headed off for the morning’s catch.
There was one boat heading against the wind though and coming in to make port. It caught Jonas’ eye and he watched their approach with interest. They came about swiftly, lowered the sails and gently nudged the quay side, making berth. A small boat, so they obviously didn’t spend much time away from land. Local fishermen he guessed doing a spot of night fishing and just returning home. They were dressed like all the rest of the men in the village – three of them, remarkably similar and looking very familiar. A shiver of unease quivered down his spine.
They weren’t doing anything suspicious – just making their boat fast and secure. They were doing it with swift professionalism and what Jonas couldn’t see was that while they were tidying and stowing ropes and sails away, one of them was constantly scanning the quayside. They finished up their tasks wordlessly and then jumped ashore, heading to the nearest inn for some breakfast.
The men sat down and tucked into a hearty breakfast. There was more eating going on than talking from what Jonas could see. He recognised the ritual though. Stomachs needed to be tended to first. Sailors didn’t talk much at the best of times but hunger kept conversation at bay the longest.
The largest of the men held up a hand and gestured to the innkeeper. He still didn’t speak. The innkeeper approached the table. Jonas was watching them through the window and couldn’t make out what they were saying but he saw the innkeeper shake his head. They handed over the appropriate money for breakfast and shuffled to their feet. Jonas pulled his collar up and his hat down and turned away to light a cigarette. They walked past without a second look in his direction. They weren’t looking for a grown man.
They headed for the town centre and were carefully looking around them, at each store that they passed by as if they were memorizing the town and its inhabitants.