Chapter 39

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"That would be for the best. I'll sharpen it this time but we will try this again later." He handed her a rag to wipe her hands.

"I still have not asked the Captain to stay."

"Do you want to stay?"

Hailie went silent. "I do not know. Sometimes I think I do but then other times I miss being alone and not having to think about anyone else but myself." She scratched her head. "I am not used to staying anywhere for very long."

"I need a firm decision before I can talk to the Captain."

"No. I will talk to the Captain when I have made up my mind. If I can stay I want him to tell me that I can. Also, it is rude to ask for something by going through someone else. I will ask him myself."

He nodded. "Fair enough. Another question, what is it that that you and the Captain are hiding from me? And why are you afraid of me finding out? This knife is getting dull but I know you only asked to sharpen it to keep me occupied."

"You will find out later. I cannot tell you now." They will have to cook the dolphin so it wouldn't stay a secret for long. The problem was if he saw it. She couldn't imagine Eli crying and throwing a tantrum, even if he was a young boy at the time. She watched him run the knife over the stone over and over again. Eli was big and strong. She could understand why people would be afraid of him but it seemed as if they were afraid of him showing any other emotion than that smiling face of his. She wondered just how much he must be hiding from them if he couldn't show anything other than a smile. She knew from experience just how tiring that was but even so, she couldn't stand the thought of seeing him cry and she couldn't figure out why the thought bothered her so much. She wouldn't normally care.

"You mentioned yesterday that you had siblings. How many did you have?"

Hailie thought about it for a little. Personal questions made her uncomfortable but there really was no harm in telling him.

"Six."

"Younger or older."

"All were younger than me."

"Somehow I expected you'd be the oldest." Eli paused for a moment. "What were they like?"

Hailie sat down on a stool. "I loved them but I would be lying if I did not admit that they were brats, spoilt brats actually."

"I didn't think you'd refer to them like that."

"I have eyes and I was the one who had to clean up after them and I also helped the nurses to take care of them since no one had the patience, not even their own mother. For the last four, I was the one who took care of her during her pregnancies and after."

"You must have been very young."

"I was old enough."

"Why did you say they were brats? How much trouble did they cause? What was it like having so many?" Eli asked. He seemed oddly interested in this topic.

"To be honest I did not get to see them half as much as I would have liked. They lived with their parents in the main house while I stayed with my mother in the servants' quarters. I did have my own room though while the others had to share." She tried to remember what it was like then. She'd been avoiding those memories for years. "They were the kind of children who would be able to play the violin at five but not know the difference between a broom and a mop or a hoe and a shovel. They were mischievous but I would not say they made trouble for the sake of making trouble. They were just very curious for the most part."

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