“I cannot believe that I let you talk me into this, Little Bear!” Sarah managed to say between gasping coughs as she tried not to swallow the water that kept splashing over her head.
“Be quiet!” Hissed Little Bear, who could tell that Sarah was mad by the way she called him by his first name. It was little wonder; she was quite literally out of her element. “They will hear you!” Little Bear was actually amused; Sarah was rarely flummoxed.
“You said,” Sarah’s voice came in an approximation of a yelled whisper, “that there would be no one on board! That is why we have chosen to swim out into the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the night to board a pirate ship!” Each phrase was given special emphasis to demonstrate the compounded danger in their excursion.
“It would be foolish to be unnecessarily noisy” Little Bear said. The moon provided ample light, and they came along side the black silhouette of the ship. Little Bear felt along side the hull until he found some netting slung over the side, low enough for them to reach. “Try not to make any noise.” he said.
He had to give her credit; there were few people Little Bear knew of that would have come with him to the pirate ship, whether they were men, boys, women, girls, Indians, or Pilgrims. Sarah was brave indeed. Once onto the deck, they saw that the ship did indeed seem deserted. Why were the pirates in Salem? Little Bear had little interest in the goings on of the colonists, but this was intriguing. Pirates usually kept to the south. On the rare occasion that they ventured north, it would be to nearby Boston that they would go.
“Let us go below to see if we can find a clue to their plans.” said Little Bear. Of course, he did not know that such plans would probably be in the captain’s quarters which were aft and above, not below the main deck. Nevertheless, what they would find below would answer some of their questions, and create even more…
Sarah was dripping wet. They had argued over what she would wear on the swim out to the ship. Sarah had been swimming before, but not at night, with a boy so far to a pirate ship. Her usual skirt, apron, and several layers of undergarments would have been impractical. In the end, she had decided to wear stripped stockings, over this went her under bloomers, and her old blouse that she had stopped wearing when it had torn on a thorn last summer. The tear was in the back over the kidney, and wouldn’t be noticed; nevertheless, she had been compelled to get a new one and discard the old one in her dresser, until tonight. She felt she was dressed a bit like a pirate herself.
As they crept below, the hold was lit by lanterns which threw lurching shadows as the ship tilted back and forth on the tide. The smell was a combination of sweat, seawater, wet wood, and smoke. They both stopped short and froze when they heard the sound of a human voice.
“Are you going to show your coward faces or not!?” came the call from behind a door. The two children wanted to run, and in fact they had both begun to do just that, when something made Sarah stop in her tracks again. She pulled on Little Bear’s arm and he followed more from not wanting to think a girl was braver than him, than anything else.
The door was locked; however, they noticed the key was hanging on the wall next to it. Sarah pulled the key off its hook and unlocked the door. As it creaked open, Sarah saw what she had suspected from the timbre of the voice. What she had not expected was that the voice would belong to someone behind bars.
She and Little Bear stared into the ship’s brig at the face of a boy not much older than them, standing for all the world like he was in charge of everything.