Chapter 6: Lily-livered Landlubbers

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The next morning, it takes me a few minutes to get my bearings. The smell of dry grass and smoke permeate the air, and when I open my eyes, I have to force myself to remember how I got into this primitive hut. I push myself up into a sitting position before I realize I wasn't alone when I fell asleep last night. Sure enough, Captain Kincade is still lying on the mat near the door.

He was probably just waiting for me to wake because as soon as I move, he also gets up. I don't particularly have anything to say to him and we go about our morning preparations silently. In the daylight, I can now see that he's brought along my boots from the ship and I happily slip them on. My belt is back, too so I can carry the returned dagger. Exiting the hut, we find the water basin to wash up and then join the others around a campfire.

The native women - who kept out of sight last night - are busy making breakfast. With their torsos just as bare as their men's, they bring around plates of banana leaves topped with some type of boiled mush. Using a makeshift spoon, I blow on the steaming offering before taking a small bite. I recognize the taste as plantain, but I've never had it in this form. I prefer it fried like Senora Ayala – bless her soul – used to make, but this will do.

Femi's boiling water and after taking it off the flames, he pours it into a container filled with a coarse, dark mixture. The mouthwatering smell of coffee escapes into the air and I gladly accept a coconut shell filled with the drink.

Some of the injured men join us around the fire and after finishing my meal, I go around and talk to each of them. They're already healing well and tell me it's in no small part thanks to the local witch doctor. The paste he applied to their wounds and a miracle potion he made them drink is hastening their recovery.

Although I don't believe in tribal remedies, I'm happy to hear the men are getting better. I'm finally starting to learn more of their names, but I'm afraid it'll take me a while not to get some of them confused.

Charlie and Sam could be brothers. Both handsome and muscular, they're quite a few years older than me. They even have similar injuries, having been hit by shrapnel during the battle. I can only remember who's who by their hair color.

Charlie's the blonde . . . I think.

Butler will most likely be forever in my memory as the first man I treated, but his lanky frame and black hair also makes him resemble Taylor, the helmsman. Luckily, while it's Butler's leg that's bandaged, Taylor's shoulder was wounded in the melee. This obvious difference helps me tell them apart for now.

Master Gunner Tew is an easy one, though. Short, thin, and bespectacled, he's definitely one-of-a-kind amongst the others. He got a nasty bump on the head that needed stitching and the men joke he's lost even the little bit of sense he had previously.

I'm glad that they're in good spirits, but I wonder about the rest of the crew. Mister Smythe and all the other healthy sailors who came with us last night are conspicuously absent.

"Where's everybody?" I whisper to Henry, who's happily eating his boiled plantains next to me.

 He swallows before answering. "They're fixing up the ship, miss."

"Back at the beach?"

He smiles. "Oh, no, miss. At the harbor in town."

"Town?" I widen my eyes. "There's a town?"

"Of course, miss. It's about a ten minute walk that way," he motions past the nearest tree line.

My breathing becomes shallow and I can feel my face warm. Whipping my gaze toward Captain Kincade, I can't help but raise my voice.  "You told me the island was practically deserted!"

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