90. A Special Person

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The sudden silence was as loud as thunder in our ears. The deep thumping noise that had been our constant companion for the last few hours had suddenly ceased. The vibrations of the ship had stilled. The sudden change woke me from the half-sleep which I had fallen into after hours and hours of waiting in the dark.

"The engine has been stopped," I whispered, drowsily. "We... we must have arrived."

"What a brilliant deduction, Mr Linton."

Instead of making a snappish reply to his sarcastic remark, I asked. "Do you think we are in the harbour of this place Dalgliesh mentioned? This 'Ill Marbow'?"

"Isle Marbeau, Mr Linton," he corrected.

"That's what I said, Sir."

"No, Mr Linton. You pronounced it like grotesque, half-English gibberish. But I am quite certain the name is French. 'Isle' is French for 'Island'."

"Oh."

"Yes, Mr Linton. An Island. Do you see now how getting away with the file might be a bit difficult?"

"Well... we could steal a ship."

"And man it ourselves?" The cold, disparaging tone of his voice told me that this was not in the realm of possibility. And I believed him. Other than me, he had been on many ships, most of which he probably owned himself. He knew what he was talking about.

Isle Marbeau... The strange-sounding name reverberated in my head, and made my breathing quicken. With my mind's eye, I saw a desolate, dark rock rising out of the sea towards a night sky black and grey with storm clouds. On the very top rose the ruins of an old castle, in which the infamous Lord Dalgliesh ruled like the King he saw himself to be.

I cleared my throat.

"We are really and truly outside England now?"

"Yes, Mr Linton."

"Really? Truly outside England?"

"I believe I have already told you so. Yes, we are. Why?"

I didn't know what to say. All my life I had dreamed of adventure, of leaving England to journey to faraway lands and see the marvels of the world. None of my dreams had included being stuck in a wooden crate with somebody like Mr Rikkard Ambrose. Still, I found myself glad that he was here. With a queasy feeling in my stomach, I thought back to the fight in the alley, to my fear of being shot down by sharpshooters at number 97. Adventures were not as easy nor as glorious as I had imagined, and it was good to have somebody with me I trusted.

Wait just a minute! Trust? Are you nuts?

But I did trust him. When had that happened? When I had first met him, I didn't trust him as far as I could throw him. In fact, I was deeply suspicious of his dark business dealings and chauvinistic ways. Some part of me still was. But another part of me wanted him to put his arms around me again.

Suddenly, I heard a dull thump from outside. It was repeated, and repeated again, and again, getting louder as it drew nearer.

"What is that?" I asked.

"Marching feet on the metal floor," Mr Ambrose breathed. "They're coming to unload the ship."

Unload the ship? But—bloody hell! I was cargo now! So that included me! I stiffened.

"Don't move, Mr Linton!" His voice was cold, but his breath was hot at my ear. "Don't breathe. Don't even think about making a sound. No matter how much the jostle us about, we must remain absolutely still. If they hear us, we are dead." He leaned even closer to my ear and hissed: "Understood?"

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