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.”As the Fortuna lurched, the boys were soaked by a deluge of freezing salty water that crashed over the side.“I’ll tell you another fing, Jemmie.” Spider rubbed the stinging water from his eyes with his raw, cracked hands.“You and your mate over there,” he waved a bit of frayed rope end at Tolly, who was sitting cross-legged at the other end of the deck, working on a section of tattered sail alongside Pocket, “you’ve found your sea legs quick enough.I was sick as a dog first time out.”“How many trips have you made?” Jem wondered what made a boy like Spider prefer the sea to the land.“This’ll be my third, same as Pocket.Never seen a ship go like this one, though.” Spider grinned up at the bulging sails.“You’ve brought us first-timer’s luck.That’s what I told Ned this morning when he said we were riding a witch wind.As a general rule, I don’t hold with that superstitious stuff and neither should you.If you ask me there’s too much of that kind of talk.”Spider shuffled a bit closer.“A couple of the lads reckon they’ve seen an owl in the sky.Now, that’s a bird of ill-omen, I’ll grant you that, but what’s it doing out here? If you want my ’pinion on the matter, they’ve been taking an unfair go at the grog rations.And that’s not right.”Jem plucked at the rope as Spider lowered his voice to a confidential whisper.“You have to be careful with the grog.It’s strong stuff for all it warms you up.Ned says someone’s gone overboard already – slipped on the ice, I reckon.We’re a man down, but you’re not to say I told you that.”Another wave of ice-cold water slammed across the deck, but that wasn’t why Jem shivered.A man down? Was that the splashing sound he and Tolly had heard last night? He closed his eyes and ran the scene through his mind again – the eerie noises from the water, the way the woman had dragged something from beneath the sailcloth stack, the heavy splash …“Oi! Wake up.” Jem felt a sharp prod in the ribs.“If Grimface catches you napping on the job he’ll have his cat out of the bag quicker than you can empty your grog can.” Spider grinned.“You were nearly off there.”“I wasn’t.I was thinking.” Jem reached for another coil of rope as the other boy continued cheerfully.“I don’t hold with finking, me.Dangerous that is – slows the brain, clogs it up with all manner of rubbish.What was you finking about, anyway?”Jem grinned now.“If you must know, I was finking about ways to stop your snoring.If I did nearly fall asleep just then – and I’m not saying I did – it’s because I can barely sleep.At night you sound like a pig with its nose stuck in a bucket of swill.”Spider nodded amiably.“My brothers say that too.I daresay they’ll be happy to have the bed to themselves at home now I’m at away sea on a permanent footing, like.I’m the oldest, but they’ll be at sea themselves soon enough.It’s what Swale men have done for a thousand years.”“How many brothers do you have?” Jem asked, wondering what it must be like.“Six, and three sisters too.”“And you and your brothers all sleep in one bed?”“Course.But we top to tail so there’s plenty of room.Look sharp – grog’s up.” Spider leaped to his feet and scuttled to the prow end of the ship where Grimscale was prising the wooden top off a fat-bodied barrel.A queue of thirsty crewmates began to form along the deck, clanking their pewter mugs expectantly on the rail.Another crewman was handing out flat, stale biscuits from a second barrel.The porridge-coloured ovals were as hard as stone and tasted of dust, bnking about, anyway?”Jem grinned now.“If you must know, I was finking about ways to stop your snoring.If I did nearly fall asleep just then – and I’m not saying I did – it’s because I can barely sleep.At night you sound like a pig with its nose stuck in a bucket of swill.”Spider nodded amiably.“My brothers say that too.I daresay they’ll be happy to have the bed to themselves at home now I’m at away sea on a permanent footing, like.I’m the oldest, but they’ll be at sea themselves soon enough.It’s what Swale men have done for a thousand years.”“How many brothers do you have?” Jem asked, wondering what it must be like.“Six, and three sisters too.”“And you and your brothers all sleep in one bed?”“Course.But we top to tail so there’s plenty of room.Look sharp – grog’s up.” Spider leaped to his feet and scuttled to the prow end of the ship where Grimscale was prising the wooden top off a fat-bodied barrel.A queue of thirsty crewmates began to form along the deck, clanking their pewter mugs expectantly on the rail.Another crewman was handing out flat, stale biscuits from a second barrel.The porridge-coloured ovals were as hard as stone and tasted of dust, but Jem now knew that they were the best rations he could expect on board the ship.His stomach rumbled as he watched the men chewing, their jaws bulged as they worked on mouthfuls of dry stuff.They needed the grog to get the disgusting, worm-riddled things down.Jem’s mouth began to water.He was starving, but today he was going to have to go hungry.This was the moment he had been waiting for.From now until the change of watch, everyone on the Fortuna would be allowed to leave their duties.Sometimes groups of the older men sang shanties, others smoked or played cards or dice [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]