As the days passed and the daily routine became easier we found ourselves with time to get to know one another. Sea faring men form deep unspoken alliances from necessity and a common love of the sea. The captain had brought aboard liquor, which was rationed, after the evening meal. It was enough to bring a happy feeling, not enough to lead to belligerence.
It was on these balmy evenings playing cards and swapping lies under a billion stars, the ship gently rocking side to side that the conversation turned to our benefactor. He kept his distance from us for the most part. It was relayed to us that he spent much time in the captain’s quarters.
We bribed one of the cabin boys to listen at the door but little of interest was conveyed to us. Thus it was that some began to speculate about him. The main topic was the scar he bore. It had made a deep impression on us the first time we laid eyes on him, as I was certain had been intended.
Some ventured that it was a cut but the rest of us were quick to point out it was the result of an aborted hanging. Innocent men do not hang, someone asserted, and a long debate ensued. Me, I stayed out of the discussion for the most part. I’ve always been keen on the old saying that a man has two eyes and one tongue in order that he see twice as much as he say.
So it was that I sensed an undercurrent of mistrust of the one who had brought us all together on this journey. I’d been around long enough to know that things such as that become the seeds of destruction if not watched over with care. I was determined that disasters not overtake us if there was anything to be done about it. I wanted my share of any treasure to be had for sure, but more than that I wanted to stay out of harm’s way. I resolved to keep a close eye on things.
Night followed day and day followed night and we soon lost track of the days of the week I was grateful for such a convivial crew, so many times I had shipped out with personalities given to clashing but this lot fell into a rhythm in both work and leisure that gave me hope we would reach our destination united and thus the success of the operation would be all the more possible.
As time passed I kept as much of a watch on Isaac as I could and I kept in mind his promise to show us the first mate’s journal. One night he strolled the deck in the fading light of the day and I took the opportunity to ask for my look. With a broad smile he led me to his cabin and bade me stand outside while he fetched it forth. He brought it out into the corridor and led me to a lamp hanging overhead.
He opened it on a barrelhead and gestured for me to have a look. It was old and faded but sturdy as, all bound in leather and filled with a fine handwriting obviously that of a learned man. I turned to the first page and it was indeed the journal of the first mate of the Black Rock. I read a couple of random pages. Most of it concerned the day-to-day operations of the ship and the first mate’s impressions of the captain and crew.
I couldn’t restrain myself from moving further into the pages though I could feel Isaac’s watchful eyes upon me. When I tried to turn to the last pages his large hand came down over mine.
“You’ve had your look mate.”
With that he closed the journal and returned to his cabin leaving me to wonder what it was he didn’t want me to see.
Part 5 Tomorrow