Chapter 7: Walk the Plank

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I spend most of the day watching the crew prepare for the voyage. All the healthy men have been on board since morning, fixing the damage, cleaning the weaponry, or - like the cook - resupplying the stocks. The four, new men the captain's hired also arrive with Mister Smythe, who begins to introduce them to life on the Phoenix Rising.

Winchell and another man are assigned to Master Gunner Tew, while the other two assist Master Crane with the carpentry. I don't envy these men for being the most inexperienced ones here, as they're constantly berated no matter what they do.

After repeating a chain of steps over a dozen times, the large, black-haired one finally loses his temper, chucking the pole used to pack the cannon overboard in frustration. Femi swiftly throws the man over the rails and doesn't let him climb back on deck until he has retrieved the vital piece of equipment.

Although I find myself always searching for his presence, Captain Kincade keeps to himself and only occasionally leaves the navigation room on the top deck. Because his services aren't needed, Henry eventually gets bored with not having anything to do and joins me. Offering to help bathe our new kitten, he earns the right to pick her name.

We unimaginatively settle on Ginger.

While she initially appeared meek, Ginger puts up a fight against cleanliness befitting a pirate. Henry gets his first battle scars in the form of kitty claw marks on his arms, and Ginger is more than happy to hide under my bed when we're finished.

Although I myself don't do much, all-in-all I consider the day well spent. I'm feeling more comfortable being on the ship and no one bothered me, which are both positive outcomes. When I return to my room after dinner, however, I'm met with a shock.

My entire bed is covered in hundreds of small, green limes. A whole barrelful, in fact.

Damn pirates!

I curse Benito's insolence, but if I want to ever sleep on the mattress again, I'll have to remove the fruit. Luckily, the empty barrel's been left behind, so I move it next to the bed and concoct a plan. Scooping up the four corners of the bedspread, I make a large pouch. But the limes are too heavy and there's no way I can lift the whole contents into the barrel all at once. I have no choice but to transfer small, armfuls of the fruit until I can do one big batch.

Getting the barrel two-thirds full takes me longer than I would have imagined. I even have to stop and light a few lanterns because of the encroaching darkness. When I'm finally ready to try the bedspread technique again, there's a knock on my door. Opening it, I find Captain Kincade leaning against the frame, arms crossed, and smiling.

He turns serious when he looks behind me. "What's going on here?"

"Oh, nothing," I move over to block his view of the small balls of green citrus still covering the bed.

He shrugs his shoulders and continues cheerily again. “Do you still want to take that swim?”

I blink in confusion, remembering his warning from earlier. "Is everyone else gone?"

"Not quite. Femi is staying to secure the cargo and Henry’s still here, but the rest of the men are spending the night ashore. They tend to take advantage of it any time they get a chance.”

I quickly take stock of the situation. Apart from an innocent boy who idolizes his master and a fierce fighter who couldn’t care less about my fate, I’m alone on board with the Pirate King.

Naturally, this fills me with a certain apprehension. “Why didn’t we go back to the village?”

“Your leg’s still giving you trouble,” he looks down at my knee. “Plus, it’s more comfortable here, wouldn’t you agree?”

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