Chapter 36

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Hailie hurried down the stairs and lit the cigarette as soon as she was on the same floor as her room. She was about to go down to the cargo hold when she spotted Shen's workshop. Her curiosity spiked. She wanted to see what those men had broken.

There were no lights coming from under the door, and she couldn't hear any sounds from inside. Hailie slowly opened the door. She used her lighter to shed some light and spotted a lantern hanging from the middle of the ceiling. When she lit it she could now see the entire room. There were piles of wood, a table full of tools, a bin with discarded pieces and another table with a sheet of leather laid on the top.

Hailie went straight for the bin. She could see pieces of something poking out. She held up one of the pieces to the light. It was a carving. She pulled out all the pieces she could find. The smaller ones were in the bin. The bigger ones were stacked behind it. She spread them out on the floor and pieced it together like a puzzle. What she ended up with was a relief carving, about four and a half feet wide and three feet high of the Sea Fog, the name was written on the side of the boat. There were people on the deck. She could see Zigzag and Kendra and Tom and Dylan and Eli and the Captain and Lilly who was in the bird's nest. Everyone on the ship was there, and even people she'd never seen before. They must have been the crew members that Patrick Carabis had killed. The waves crashed on the sides of the ship. There were clouds in the sky. The border around the picture was an intricate and complex Celtic knot. The letters 'WS' were at the bottom carved in with the waves. Even with pieces missing, she was amazed at the quality. It was better than anything Mother had bought for the main house.

"I was wondering who was in here."

Hailie almost fell in her haste to turn around. She'd heard the crashing and swearing that morning.

"Smoking in a room full of dried wood isn't very smart," he said.

"Sorry," she said. She'd forgotten the cigarette in her hand, but there was nowhere to get it out without risking a fire. "I was curious."

Shen took one look at the carving and sighed. "It was supposed to be a surprise for everyone," he said turning away from it.

"I will put them back," Hailie said, taking up a few pieces and throwing them into the bin.

"Please do. In fact, next time you and Gordon are cooking use it as fire wood."

It seemed like such a waste. She could understand why he'd been so angry. He must have put a lot of time and care into it. Even though it had no colours, the carving looked almost lifelike and everyone was smiling in it.

"This is what I will use to make your vest," Shen said. He held up a corner of the sheet of leather. Hailie took a hesitant step toward it and felt the corner between her fingers.

"What good is a leather vest? This is easy to cut."

"True. Right now it is easy to cut but that's what the beeswax is for, and when I layer it even a sword would have problems reaching you. Of course that's only if the sword isn't very sharp and the person isn't trying to stab you, but I'm sure you can handle yourself in a situation like that. A punch at this thing will break the person's hand."

So many questions ran through Hailie's mind, and she was having problems to figure out which to ask first. She decided to go with the least personal.

"Will it make fighting more difficult?"

"It shouldn't. Since it will just be a vest and arm guards, your arms and legs will be free to move," Shen said. "I can't speak for the weight or the heat since this is the first time I'm making something like this."

"Leather smells bad when it gets wet." She couldn't imagine how it would stink after one fight.

"The beeswax will make it waterproof so no worries for the smell, but I wouldn't advise you to try to swim in it. But like I said, I've never made this before. The first one might not even come out very good."

"I doubt that," a voice said. Celeste was standing in the doorway, one arm leaning heavily against the door post and the other cradling the slash wound on her abdomen. "Don't listen to him. He says that every time. It is some sort of ridiculous modesty."

"What are you doing here? I told you I'm not stitching you back up if you rip out those stitches," Shen said.

"Shen, your panties are in a twist. Untangle them and calm down. I'm not going to rip the stitches," Celeste said. She sat down on the stool he placed next to her. "And I'm sure Hailie can do it if you don't want to."

Hailie doubted that. She stitched cloth not people. She really hoped Celeste was just saying that to harass Shen.

"Speaking of stitching, I need to fix Eli's shirt," Hailie said.

"The stuff is on the table," Celeste said. "Try to make some adjustments if you can. Not once have I ever seen that boy wear a shirt that fits."

"You want me to make his shirt smaller?"

"If you can." Celeste raised an eyebrow. "Or is it that you can't do that?"

That was a direct stab at her pride. "Of course I can. Anyone who can hold a needle could do that." When she used to work as a seamstress, she was the most popular one in the town. If she'd been working for herself, she'd have been rich instead of barely making enough for food and cigarettes.

"There's that temper. Haven't seen it for a while," Shen said.

Hailie felt like throwing his broken carving at him though he was right. Her temper hadn't flared in a while. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"How could she fix his shirt? We don't have a sewing machine on board," Shen said. "She can't fix it by hand, and even if she could, Eli would never wear it. He'd faster walk around without a shirt than wear one that fits."

"If you do not think I can do it then how about a bet?" Hailie asked. She was definitely going to regret this later.

"Interesting. Go on," Celeste said.

"I will not only adjust his shirt so that it fits perfectly without using any measurements, but I will also get him to wear it in front of everyone. If I do that then you both owe me six packs of cigarettes."

"Six? Cigarettes are a bit cheap," Shen said.

"Forget that. What happens if you lose?" Celeste asked.

Hailie gave them a mock bow. "I am at your service while I am on the ship. No questions asked. Whatever you want me to do, excluding immoral things of course. I do not do things like stealing." Not a total lie. She only stole when it was necessary.

"You already do what we tell you to," Celeste said.

"No. I did what you asked me to, not what you told me to. I only agreed to follow Eli's orders, no one else's. I think of your orders as suggestions at best. Also I have nothing else to bet. These clothes aren't even mine, and the contents of my bag are off limits to everyone." She shrugged. "It's mainly cigarettes and lighters anyway." Again, not a total lie. Eli had both the notebook and the music box, so all she was left with was the pearls.

"You do know what this means right?" Celeste asked.

"You have two days until we reach the next town," Shen said.

"You have to fix the shirt—"

"—and get him to wear it in that time."

"So it is a bet then," Hailie said.

A/N: Thank you for reading. Please remember to comment and vote.

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