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Passarinho and the Highlander
She could see the ship better now as it cut through the surf towards her. Had they seen her? Pain shot through her legs as she lifted herself onto her knees. To stand up, she knew, would capsize her makeshift life raft. She did not care if they were pirates or if they were French, Spanish or British. All she wanted as she knelt looking at the ship was a drink of water to slake her desperate thirst.
Susannah may have grown up in a sheltered environment back in Boston, but she was no foolish or naive girl. A semi-naked woman appearing before men who may have been at sea for months may invite disaster. But water… she needed water.
Now the ship was close enough for her to see the people onboard, though she could not tell their nationality. A man stood on the poop deck with a telescope that she hoped was looking at her. She pulled up her chemise to try to cover her breasts.
An awful feeling swept through her body when she saw the ship turn away from her, and then elation.
They lowered a boat over the side, furled the sails and dropped anchor. Susannah looked up at the sky. “Thank you!”
Her eyes searched the boat party for an officer or gentleman as it approached. That was more of a hope than a likelihood as she checked them out. Her mind flitted through available options and found none.
Without a doubt the vision that the nearest sailor beheld must have been the strangest he’d ever seen. Had he read Robinson Crusoe published twenty years before? His tarred pigtail and scarred face did not suggest to Susannah a reader.
The boat pulled alongside Susannah’s raft. Still on her knees with one hand trying to hold up her chemise, she looked at the sailors. “Hello, could you help me? I’ve had rather a difficult problem. I would appreciate passage to civilisation.”
The men in the boat roared with laughter.
One of them seemed to have a slight resemblance to an English gentleman from the way he held himself. His clothes, though well-worn, did have signs of quality, and he wore a tartan sash.
“Glory be! And of whom do I have the pleasure?” said the man in a cultured Scottish accent, much to Susannah’s relief.
“Miss Susannah Fitzpatrick of the Boston Fitzpatricks, sir. I am a survivor of the Diana shipwreck.”
“Well, Miss Fitzpatrick, I do believe you will have a fascinating story to tell. It must wait until we are aboard. We cannot anchor off for long for reasons that will become clear to you. I am Donald Murray of the Auchterarder Murrays, Miss Fitzpatrick, at your service.” He gave a slight bow while still sitting down in the prow of the boat and then offered his hand to help her aboard.
Donald Murray, in Susannah’s brief assessment, was a man in his late twenties. Under his sunburn, red beard and long, unkempt hair that matched the colour of his beard, he may even have been handsome. His bearing, which she first mistook as that of an English gentleman, was that of a proud Highlander.
|Fran Connor, Author|
I live in SW France for the lifestyle after a career in a UK Police Force. I have six published novels, three more in the pipeline and six plays that have been produced on stage. My screenplays portfolio contains seven feature length scripts with one about to go into production.