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Tuesday, July 11, 1705: An Affair of Honor RUINED
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Dear Journal, 

O, woe is the life of Benjamin B. Penworthy! I can never, never come back to Duxbury, Massachusetts, for they will surely stone me or drive me out of town or something deucedly awful like that. I can scarce believe the Evil that has befallen me! Kidnapped! Me! I am held hapless prisoner aboard this murderous barge!

Heaven help me!  

The day began normal enough. I was all set to die today, of course, ready for Alfred Townsend’s pistol ball to pierce my breast while Susannah Kilburn bewailed my fates to the moaning winds.  

Now, I ask you, what other twelve year old young gentleman do you know of who can face death so bravely? Ah hah, you can’t, you see?  

The War of Spanish Succession rages on the Continent, and our soldiers bravely fight the combined French and Spanish under that evil French king Louis. Well, you may safely say that those men have nothing on Benjamin Penworthy in the bravery department… well, at least you could have said that.  

It was misty this morning, precisely as it’s supposed to be for a duel. As you know, unlike Father, I have the tang of the land in my blood, as I prefer to trace my ancestors through my mother’s side of the family, old landowners and landed gentlemen the lot of ‘em. All my friends are destined to be landed gentlemen, you know, Putnam, Nigel, John and the others. My parents and I just have the cottage in Duxbury now, of course, but someday I’ll have more land than even Alfred Townsend. So, a mist upon the moors made it a perfect day to fight a duel. 

I woke extra early and crept out of the house, making sure Mother didn't hear me, and hiked down to the church, pushing through the wet grass of the open field behind it. Putnam was there, dressed in his black coat, looking every inch the Second he was to be for this duel. To my complete and utter relief I saw that he had under his arm the heavy wooden pistol case that belonged to his father. 

“Is it loaded?” I asked. In all honesty, we don’t own any pistols as Mother won’t allow them in the house. I begged and pleaded with Putnam to borrow his father’s dueling piece. 

“I had to rather lift it… ” Putnam said, looking around. His is a simple soul, this best friend of mine. Terribly rich and cursed with that homely horse face, Putnam is easily the most honest, most noble person I know. I was planning to miss him terribly when I was killed. “... so that Father wouldn’t know. But it’s loaded and primed. Ah, here they come.” 

Alfred Townsend and Nigel Remington pushed through the tall grass at the other end of the field. That hatchet-faced snob, Alfred, already has his pistol out of the case, of course, and was pointing it about like an idiot.  

“Gentlemen,” Putnam said, “over here.” 

Putnam and Nigel met in the middle of the field while Alfred and I stood a respectable distance apart. I never really did like Alfred as he’s rather snobbish about owning more horses than anybody else. When I get older, however, I plan to own more land and ten times the number of horses he’s got… except that he’s going to kill me today.  

If only he hadn’t made that crack about my father stealing the Grace and turning pirate. You know Father… he’s former Navy, for heaven’s sake. He could no more turn pirate than you can fly. But Alfred made that comment in front of Susannah Kilburn…  

Ah, sweet Susannah, how her lovely blue eyes flashed in surprise when he made the accusation.  
And he called me a dirty sneak thief. What could I do? I gave him his choice of weapons, as is the right thing to do, and the blighter chose pistols, knowing, no doubt, that I am far and away the worst shot on this side of the Atlantic. (Please don't spread that about.)  

And now he was going to kill me. O, cruel Fates! 

“Gentlemen,” Putnam said. His calling us gentlemen made us all feel more grown up. “You will stand back-to-back, take ten paces, turn and fire. Mr. Remington will count the paces for you. May God have mercy on both of you.” 

So, this was it, then. Alfred and I stood back to back in the middle of the damp field behind the church in Duxbury Massachusetts while the sun peeked meekly through the lifting fog, one of our lives surely about to end in a matter of ten seconds. Of course it was to be mine… why else would he have chosen pistols?  

“One,” Nigel said, solemnly, and I took a step. It suddenly occurred to me that Alfred had wanted me to hit him. Not in the duel, of course, but the other day, when he called me a sneak thief. He had been baiting me to hit him. If I'd done that all would be well now… I might surely have lost the fight… you know I'm not one for fisticuffs, being rather better versed in verbal combat… but the issue would have ended there. Oh, how I wish I’d taken the bait! But no, Benjamin Penworthy had to go that extra step and say something utterly stupid, like “I demand satisfaction!” 

“Two.” The very worst part of the whole affair was taking the steps and waiting for the ball to come. I really just wanted to get the whole thing done – get shot and killed and have Susannah come and wail over my dead body and be done with it.  

“Three.” The tension of waiting seemed insurmountable. I tried to center myself. What would happen if I actually shot him? Susannah might wail over his crumpled body, of course, although in all honesty I'm not sure that would have happened. He's rather obnoxious. I pulled the hammer back on the pistol, two clicks as Father had shown me. 

“Four.” Most of all, I would miss Mother. I love Father with all my heart, but he's gone at sea on his ships so often. Mother is always there, always ready to kiss me good night, always ready to help me with my problems. She would be so sad to find out that her little Benjamin was lying in a pool of blood behind the church. Blood?  

“Five.” I began to panic. I could feel the pistol ball tear right through me. My knees started to shake.
“Six.” All right, I told myself, pull yourself together. If you throw the pistol down and run away, you’ll look like a coward and shred every last vestige of my honor. Maybe I was a coward. No. No… Just point the deuced thing at his chest and squeeze the trigger. It might be the only to survive the day…  

“Seven.” Pull yourself together, Penworthy, and get ready to shoot. It's just you and Alfred now, and you might win. 

“Benjamin? Benjamin, is that you?” 

A commotion rattled the bushes next to the church. I glanced over and spotted Uncle Neville, his recently cut hair making his head look somewhat small compared to his rather round body… as if someone had perched a grape atop a pear. I didn’t have time to wonder what he was doing there - although he might have brought Susannah.  

“Eight,” Nigel called. He said it rather uncertainly, because, I believe, he, too, had spotted Uncle Neville. I tightened my grip on the pistol.  

“Benjamin? Benjamin?” Uncle called.  

“Uhm, nine?” Nigel said. 

Uncle Neville achieved our little meeting, huffing and puffing. A couple of big hairy sailors ambled up behind him.  

“There you are!” he said with a fading smile. “What are ye about, playing with pistols?” He snatched the piece from my hand. “Why, lad, somebody could get hurt thus!” 

“Oh,” Alfred said, sounding hurt, “I say, that’s a bloody foul, isn’t it? One can’t have visitors in a duel, can they? That’s not Bristol!” 

Uncle Neville handed the pistol to one of the sailors, who carefully uncocked it. A look of panic spread across Putnam’s horsey face as his father's fine pistol went into the sailor’s belt.  

“Uhm,” he mumbled, “uh, that’s, uh…” 

But Uncle Neville had spun me around and dragged me by the arm across the wet grass and back towards the church.  

“Now, your mother packed your dunnage, lad,” Uncle Neville said, cheerfully, “and we’ve got it stowed aboard the carriage. We’ve got to get a move on else we’ll lose the tide” 

“Run, you coward,” Alfred Townsend called after us. “I knew a Penworthy would run away! You and your pirate father!” 

Well, that rather burned, I can safely say. I glanced about angrily, wishing I still had that pistol. Perhaps I would twist out of Uncle Neville’s grip and let that blasted Townsend have it for good.  

In truth, I was quite furious with Uncle Neville. How could he just barge in on my affair of honor and treat me like a child? I’d never been so insulted in my life. 

Another part of me breathed out a great sigh of relieve. Benjamin Penworthy, hero of the field of honor, dragged away before he could deliver the deadly shot to end the world of that awful Alfred Townsend. 
Looking back at the little scene from which I had been abducted, I spotted a look of relief on Alfred's hatchet face. He had been just as afraid as I was! Drat him! I wished again that I had my pistol…  

Bouncing along in the carriage as we rode to the harbor, I’m afraid the angry side rather took control of my thoughts. Beyond my fury at having been interrupted, at my having been treated like a child, I had quite clearly been kidnapped by my uncle and his nefarious band of sailors. 

“Where are we going?” I demanded 

“Why, to sea, lad,” Uncle Neville answered cheerfully. “Surely your mother discussed it with ye.” 
In truth, she had, and I’d known this day was coming. But that didn’t make me resent the intrusion into my life any less. 

“But, why must I go to sea?”  

“Now, Benjamin, your mother and I agreed that there’s no life for thee ashore, what with your father gone and all. Besides, this’ll make a man out of you.” 

“But, I don’t want to be a man. I want to be a gentleman!” 

“Stow it, lad. We doesn’t want to hear it.” 

This came from Uncle Neville’s right hand man, a tall, thin fellow with a long, sad, rectangular face. I believe his name to be Loudbuttons, or something similar. He was a quiet chap, and somewhat given to misusing the queen’s English. 

Here’s something that sent a chill right down my spine - he didn’t have a left hand. Lost it in some sea battle, I believe. Instead, he had, a perfectly formed hand made of metal - pewter, I think. The index finger looked almost like it’s pointing. He kept it rather nicely polished, as I rather imagined one would… 

No, I had to admit Mother had mentioned this going-to-sea thing to me some time ago, and had been a touch teary-eyed last night. I thought at first that she’d known about the duel, but now I knew the truth. Her poor boy Benjamin, off on a trading voyage with her brother the sea captain. 

In truth, I began to weep a little myself, there in that coach. I already missed Mother, and didn’t want to spend the rest of my days with these foul-smelling brutes. I was careful to face out the window, lest they detected my tears. 
The Katherine B, my uncle's boat sat like a toy ship above her perfect reflection in the calm waters of Duxbury Bay. A couple of fishing boats working their way out to sea were the only other of the sleepy bay.  

Two more sweaty sailors in a boat waited our carriage at the stinky little wharf. I looked about it: rough and simple and stained with fish guts though it was, I had spent many a sunny afternoon with Putnam and Nigel in our little skiff, the Courageous Lass, fishing, rowing, and playing pirates right upon it. Now I feared I might never see it again. 

I helped one of the sailors, a youngish man everybody called Swede, take my heavy trunk off of the back of the dusty black coach. This Swede fellow hoisted it onto his shoulders as if it had the weight of a feather.  
I sat in the front of the boat as we rowed out to the ship. Uncle Neville sat in the back of the boat. The sweaty, smelly sailors, grunting at the oars, sat between us. My heart sank even further: I couldn't believe this was really happening. I had been kidnapped into this world of grunting, smelly brutes. Goodbye, sweet Duxbury. Goodbye, sweet Mother. Goodbye, dearest Susannah. 

Little Duxbury receded behind us as we got farther and farther into the harbor… much farther than we’d ever taken the Courageous Lass, as my new home, the Katherine B, grew larger. As I looked at the ship, my floating prison, something caught my eye – something wrong. I sat up suddenly. 

“Where’s the other mast?” I bellowed. 

“Say what?” Uncle Neville replied slowly. 

“The mast… I only see two on our boat.” 

Uncle Neville cleared his throat rather violently.  

“She’s a ship, son,” he said quickly. “She’s got only two masts because she’s a brig. Were she a bark or a pink or a snow you’d be seeing three masts. But a ship-rigged brig like the Katherine B has only the two.” 

I turned back around and watched the ship-brigged snark, or whatever he said, as she approached. A keen-eyed observer is always welcome, and I believe I established that with my uncle. I have no idea why the men in the boat were chuckling. Sailors. 

We bumped right up alongside the brightly painted little ship as gentle as a lamb. I thought briefly about throwing myself into the sea and swimming back to Duxbury, but dismissed it: I am a dreadful swimmer, and I was certain these brutes would drag me back aboard their ship. 

That ship, which had seemed so toylike before, now towered above u. As I was in the front of the boat, I evidently was expected to climb aboard her first.  

Oh, it seems easy enough, climbing from a moving boat onto the slimy ladder built into the side of a ship, but let me tell you getting out of a boat and onto a ship is almost impossible! 

One is expected to heave one’s self out of the boat and up that ladder while the boat rises and falls and the waves come and go and I can tell you I didn’t do so well. Not well at all. We’ll just leave it at that. 

When I finally achieved the main deck, soaked to the skin and standing in a big puddle while the sailors from the boat climbed up the side like a bunch of monkeys, chuckling behind me, the scene that met my eye seemed to be one from a gentleman's club or something. Sailors lounged about the deck, chatting with one another, smoking, and laughing at what I am certain were rather stupid sailor jokes. 

As Uncle Neville came through the little doorway cut in the side of the ship, however, most sailors suddenly moved away, off to other business, I suppose. The place became suddenly rather quiet. 

“This here is the main deck,” Uncle Neville said, cheerfully. He then pointed to a raised floor off to our right, standing like a balcony above the main deck. 

“That’s the quarterdeck… officer country,” he chuckled. “Ye won’t be going up there unless you’re invited.” He pointed to another raised floor towards the front of the ship. 

“That there’s the foredeck, with the foe-cussel underneath. That’ll be where you’ll be working.” 

“Working?” I asked, trying not to sound alarmed. 

“Sure, lad,” he chuckled, “everybody aboard the Katherine B has to work. We don't carry no passengers. Now, you'll only be working half-shifts on account of your age, but you'll be our cabin boy!” 

“Cabin… boy,” I repeated, slowly. “Is that something of an honorary title?”  

“Goodness no, lad,” he laughed. “You'll be working from eight until noon up in the galley with Mr. Duffy, you know, helpin' to prepare the meals for the men, dumpin' slops, cleanin' up, that sort of thing.” 

“Ah,” I said, deep disappointment rising in my gullet. I had been kidnapped so that I could be dumping' the slops, and to be cleanin' up like some scullery maid. I suppose they'd say things like “oh, boy, I've dropped my napkin” and it'd be my job to come running over and pick it up. I looked about me sadly. Cabin boy? Surely there had to be at least a better title for the job. 

“Let me show you where to stow your dunnage,” Uncle Neville said, cheerfully, and walked underneath that balcony he called the quarterdeck. I turned to follow him.  

“Here, lad,” a sailor hissed at me from under the shadow of the balcony. “Come here!” 

The fellow wasn’t bad looking, as rather nasty looking sea folk go. He was a little shorter than usual, and was of a broad, powerful physique. He looked to me to be Italian or French or something, with a long dark ponytail and bushy dark eyebrows above his strong, tanned unshaven face. 

He approached me from under the quarterdeck. His eyes darted all over the place, as if he was afraid of getting caught. I glanced about, too, wondering who he was afraid of, for, just at that moment there was no one else around. 

He roughly grabbed me by the arm and dragged me into the shadows. While I resented the manhandling, the frighteningly odd urgency to the fellow’s manner made me listen to him. 

“Here,” he said, and he shoved something into my hand. It was smooth and round, like a very, very thick coin. I was too terrified to look at it. 

“Make you sure you give this to Aramoca… got it? Aramoca. Don’t ye tell a soul what ye’ve got, understand?” His breath smelled like tobacco and whiskey as he hissed the words.  

“Most of all, don’t let Diaz have it.” 

“Who… who's Diaz?” I stammered in a hoarse whisper.  

“Never you mind who, d’ye understand? You just keep it to yourself and let no one, NO ONE, know that you have it. It has to get to Aramoca.” His eyes darted frantically around the deserted deck. 

“Aramoca?” I repeated. 

“Shhh,” he put a grimy hand over my mouth. “Keep ye'r silence lest the devils hear you!” 

His face was so close to mine I could feel the stubble of his beard against my cheeks. The intense look of fear in his eyes told me I would have to carry his secret. 

“Why me?” I whispered through his greasy fingers. 

“You ain't part of this group, that’s why,” the fellow hissed. “And I know where you’re bound. Now,” he looked around quickly, “promise me you’ll give that to Aramoca and nobody else.” He pulled his hand away from my mouth.  

“All right,” I said, quietly.  

“Good, boy,” he shoved me farther into the shadows. I was instantly insulted. Here, I’d taken this fellow’s secret mission, and he simply shoved me aside. 

“I'm not afraid of you,” I snapped. 

He leaned in again, this time even closer, and his eyes bore into mine. 

“You don't need to be afraid of me, boyo.” His breath was so bad I had to squint. “If you don't does what I tell ye, if you tell anybody you has it, or if you lets Diaz get it, it won't be me what comes after you, but Huracán. And he'll be mad, he'll be.” 

“B… Huracán?” I squeaked. 

“Aye, Huracán. He'll descend on you like an angry hawk, he will, and he'll strip away your very flesh. That's before he plucks out your eyeballs and holds 'em for ye, so ye can watch him drag your skinless body through mountains of broken glass, and see your bones torn open and shattered. Then he'll drag you through the claws of his undead minions, scratching for your very soul!” He chuckled softy. “Ye dunna need to worry about me lad, but Huracán… do ye understands me?” 

I couldn't but nod at that.  

“Swear you'll give it to him,” the foul smelling ogre hissed between clenched teeth, “swear it!” 

“All right,” I replied. 

“No, say the words,” he hissed again. “Swear it to me.” 

Well, for all that, enough is enough. This fellow was urgent, and of course this Huracán fellow seemed to have a bit of a temper, and it was certainly important to him that I give this coin thing to this Aramoca chap, but I could not, in any part of my being, imagine why I should stand there like some stupid parrot and barf back the words exactly as he said them. 

“You have my word,” I said, smartly. 

There was a little look of surprise in his eyes. He looked at me oddly, canting his head to one side like a confused dog, and shoved me back into the shadows. 

“Here he is, Mister Duffy,” Loudbutton’s unnaturally loud voice barked out behind me.  

At first I thought certain he was referring to me, so I turned around to speak to him. I had in my mind the thought of venting my spleen on this whole sea voyage topic in general, and on this scary sailor business in particular, when I realized the tall thin man with that strange metal hand was in fact pointing at the sailor who had given me the coin thing. In truth, he couldn't have seen me as I was under the shadows of the quarterdeck.
Another chap, a handsome bloke in simple clothes, joined Loudbuttons as they crossed the deck towards us. I say handsome in that way some people have of appearing completely comfortable in their manner, with an easy grace about them.  

Loudbuttons’ face wore a hard look as he reached out for my interlocutor. The sailor stood up straight and backed away from me. 

“I was coming to find you…” he began. 

“I’m certain you were,” the handsome fellow, whose name I took to be Duffy, said. 

“No, it ain’t as you think,” the sailor said. “Diaz is all wrong. He’s taken it too far… ” 

“Come now, O’Brian,” Loudbuttons said, “over the side.” 

He grabbed this fellow O’Brian by the arm and dragged him across the deck to the little doorway cut in the ship's side. 

“No, no, you’ve got it wrong… I’ve switched!” O’Brian protested.  

“The problem,” Duffy said, “is that I don’t believe you, Reynaldo.” 

Loudbuttons pressed the small, dark O’Brian right up against the wooden side of the ship.  

Duffy glanced quickly around. These three fellows were all alone on that part of the ship. Except for me, of course, but they couldn’t see me. 

“I’m surprised to see you so close, Reynaldo O’Brian,” Duffy said. “Thought to join the crew, did you?” 

“N-no, I been tryin’ to find you,” O’Brian squirmed. “I’ve switched… ”  

“I believe I know why he wanted to see you, Mr. Duffy,” Loudbuttons said. With his good hand Loudbuttons reached inside O’Brian’s short black jacket and jerked a pistol from an inside pocket. He flipped the pistol right over the side of the ship without so much as a blink of an eye. 

Duffy looked around briefly again and then motioned to Loudbuttons. They dragged O’Brian the couple of feet to the doorway in the side of the ship. With a quick heave-ho they shoved this poor O’Brian fellow backwards through the doorway and over the side. It took him about two seconds to splash into Duxbury Harbor. Loudbuttons and Duffy turned their backs to him is if he’d never been there. 

“That was close,” Loudbuttons said. “I wonder how he got aboard?” 

“Your friend Neville must have hired him,” Duffy replied, “not knowing who he worked for.”  

I gasped in horror. Both men turned and stared at me.  

“And who is that fellow, Mr. Lourdburton?” Duffy asked. 

They quickly strode over to me. I quietly dropped the thick coin into the pocket of my breeches and stepped out of the shadows. 

“This is Benjamin Penworthy, Mr. Duffy. He’s the captain’s nephew. He’ll be your cabin boy.” 

Even as I rankled to hear that offensive term applied to me, I realized in horror that this metal-handed fellow’s name was Lourdburton, not Loudbuttons. I scanned that flawless Penworthy memory of mine to see if I’d called him by the wrong name. I believe I was safe on that score.  

Duffy gave me a funny look… I could tell he wasn’t certain if I’d seen him murder that O’Brian fellow or not. I’m not certain it really was murder, actually, as that O’Brian fellow may have swam… swum?... not swimmed, of course… may have made it to shore by swimming. Clearly, however, he could be killed, and here I was talking to his killers as casually as if I was talking to the preacher of a church. It sent quite a chill down my spine! 

I thought of the coin thing in my pocket. I wondered if he knew I had it. I briefly wondered if he was going to kill me, too. 

He suddenly smiled. It was a warm, friendly smile, and I found myself instantly liking this fellow. This handsome, cheerful, murderous fellow. 

“Welcome aboard, Mr. Penworthy. I trust we shall get along famously.” 

He shook my hand as I stupidly muttered “I would like that, too” or something equally inane. The hand I shook had just shoved another human being to his watery death. 

“Mr. Lourdburton,” Uncle Neville’s voice suddenly called from under the quarterdeck. “Isn’t it time we were getting under way?” 

“Aye, Captain,” Mr. Lourdburton brightened up suddenly and strode up the ladder towards the quarterdeck. “I was just about to give the order.” 

“Oh, well, carry on, then,” Uncle Neville said.  

I wondered how I was going to tell Uncle Neville about this business with O’Brian. Then I began wondering if I should tell him. If I told him about the murder of O’Brian, the subject of the coin might come up, and if that came up I would surely end up betraying O’Brian’s dying wish. I can just imagine what would happen: Benjamin Penworthy's eyeballs ripped from his head to watch his body fed to undead minions by wrathful Huracán. 

My father has never let me come aboard his ships – too dangerous, he said. Perhaps this was what he meant.  

As Uncle Neville and Mr. Lourdburton climbed up the ladder to the quarterdeck, Mr. Duffy turned and went back under the other deck, and I was for just a brief moment alone.  

I dashed to that doorway and peered over the side to see if I could spot O’Brian. The water seemed smooth and calm… no rings or little waves marked where he might have struggled. I looked farther toward shore, but couldn’t see anything that looked like somebody swimming. What happened to him? Did he sink? 
Lourdburton began bellowing orders, and the men came running from all of the ship. Of course O’Brian wasn’t among them. O’Brian wouldn’t be running again. 

In the very middle of the deck, between the big hatchway and the mast, sat a sort of a four foot tall, mushroom-shaped, wooden column. Sailors cheerfully stuck a half-dozen poles. I’m guessing because I didn’t count them. These poles were about four inches in diameter, but perhaps eight feet long. They seemed very heavy. 

Swede pushed past me, holding on to the end of a pole. Another sailor, a little round fellow, carried the other end. 

“What is that?” I asked, pointing to the pole. 

“It is the capstan bar, “ Swede grunted. “To turn the capstan to raise the yanchor.” 

“I thought Uncle Neville was the captain…” 

“Capstan, ye dimwit…” 

All of the men in the ship, save for Uncle Neville, Mr. Lourdburton, and Mr. Duffy, pushed on these capstan bars, grunting and heaving as they turned the column. Another sailor squeaked out a dreadful tune on his fiddle.  

“Up and down,” a fellow up in the front of the ship called out. The men pushed on the bars a moment longer. 

“Anchor’s aweigh!” the fellow out front called, and all of a sudden the ship began to move. She wallowed a little, and the deck tilted slightly. 

“Hands aloft!” roared Mr. Lourdburton. Most of the men working at that mushroom column took out and put away the bars, and ran for the ropes, climbing like monkeys up into the masts. 

Being rather new aboard, I must say I felt rather useless. Sailors shoved past me without so much as a how do you do as they dashed for their various duties. I felt rather as if I were on a theatrical stage, and had not a clue as to what act I was to perform. 

“Let go the topsails!” bellowed Mr. Lourdburton. The big canvas sails dropped like curtains down the masts, and all of a sudden the ship leaned over.  

Now she was moving through the water. You could feel the wind grab her sails, and Mr. Lourdburton spun the wheel to catch it just so. He placed the spoke of the wheel in his metal hand. With a slight twist, he locked it firmly on the wheel as easy as you please. 

I tell you, the ship felt alive. It was like riding atop a hundred smoothly surging stallions. She moved through the water with a grace that I just couldn’t believe. It was all so beautiful, the sparkling green sea, the dark green trees on the shore, that beautiful blue sky split by our white sails… so this is why people become sailors. 

I grabbed onto the side railing of the ship to keep from falling over as the deck leaned. I looked over the side once more to see if I could see that O’Brian fellow. But I couldn’t: he was safely in Neptune’s Locker.
We spotted another ship on our way out to sea. She was all burnt and dilapidated… she looked as if she’d blown up. I asked Uncle Neville about it, and he said she had, in fact, blown up. Someone dropped a lantern down in her hold, and “up she went.” Although she rather seemed to have gone down, sinking as she had in the shallow water of the south bay. It made me think twice about our Katherine B. She seemed so sturdy, but something as simple as a lantern could send her to the bottom. 

So far I'd seen a man murdered and a blown up ship. My father's saying that sailors led a dangerous life took on a new life. 

For supper we had lamb and some fresh vegetables in the after cabin - that’s what they call the wide room at the back of the ship. That fellow Duffy is not a bad cook for a murderous sailor. He warned me not to get too used to fresh food. He said it would change once we got to sea. He also advised me that tomorrow I would be the one serving the food.  

Cabin boy, indeed. 

Now, at this very moment, I am propped up in my cot, a rustic little wooden box slung from one of the big wooden beams overhead in the aft cabin… to use the charming language of this seagoing lot… writing in my journal like a ship’s captain, aboard this dreadful little ship called the Katherine B.  

In fact, Uncle Neville is the ship’s captain, and I am sharing his cabin with him.The cabin is rather quaint, with a black and white painted canvas rug on the floor, and somewhat smeary but numerous windows across the back wall. He has a big desk and a very nice chair and a cot, not too dissimilar to mine, hanging along the side of the ship.  

I tell you, this cot is the very thing - the ship can shake and roll and I feel not a whit of it because I’m hanging from the ceiling. 

I’m tired now, and shall cease to write. Tomorrow Uncle Neville said we shall hit the open sea… that should be an adventure. As if I need another adventure.  

Why do you suppose that fellow O’Brian said he had switched? Switched what? And what was that name? Aramoca, that’s it. Who's Aramoca? Who's Huracán?  

The coin isn’t a coin at all; it’s a rock. A circular disk of stone about an inch and a half in diameter. It’s bright red in the center, almost with a sort of flame-like design melted into the middle of that. And the red part is surrounded by a ring of a bright blue stone, a lapis perhaps. The whole thing is edged by a stone the color of the fat of the lamb we had for supper – kind of a fleshy tan color.  

But, for all that, the stone doesn’t look like it was made by a person. It looks melted and fused together, like it might have blown out of a volcano or something. Except that there is a deep groove that's been carved into the face of it, running from the center of the red flame all the way to the edge. And the groove has a sort of golden coating, so that it looks like a splinter, or maybe an arrow, pointing right into the middle of it.  
It is a fascinating piece, probably of some value – that fellow O’Brian certainly lost his life over it. Why did he want me to have it for safekeeping and not tell anybody about it. Maybe Huracán's mad at him, too. 

I have to be careful about this rock thing. You can't break a promise you made to somebody just before they die, that's for certain. They say that person will haunt you for the rest of your life… Lord knows, I certainly don't want my eyeballs ripped out of my head, or my bones shattered while I watch! I shudder just to think of it! So I have to keep this a secret, and give it to this Aramoca person. How am I supposed to recognize him? Or her?  

While still alive, I can safely tell you I’ll be deucedly glad to get back ashore to my beloved Susannah Kilburn, who now thinks, of course, that I’ve run out on my duel and that I’m a gutless coward.  

Ah. My life is ruined. RUINED! But I can't go back yet… not just yet… now I've got to figure out this Aramoca thing.  
I have the honor to be your most faithful and loyal servant. 
Benjamin Penworthy, ruined fellow
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