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Chapter 3 The Ship
Next morning, I opened the door of my uncle's room. But before he could tell me anything, we heard somebody at the door.
I opened it and found a boy outside.' I'm here with a letter,' he said.' And I'm very hungry.'
' Come into the house,' I said.' I'll give you some food.' When the boy started eating, my uncle read the letter. Then he gave it to me. It said:
I am now at the Howes Hotel, and my ship is ready for sea. Do you want to speak to me again ? Tell me today.
I talked to your lawyer, Mr Rankeillor. Perhaps we will lose money because of this.
After I read it, my uncle said,' Hoseason is the captain of a ship, the Covenant. You and I can go with this boy and see the captain at the Hawes Hotel. I will put my name to some papers. Then we can visit Mr Rankeillor, the lawyer. He knew your father.'
So we went. My uncle never said a word all the way. But the boy talked. His name was Ransome.
' I first went to sea when I was nine,' he told me.
I asked him about the Covenant.' There isn't a finer ship on the sea,' he said. And about Captain Hoseason, he said, 'He's a fine captain. He isn't afraid of anything or anybody. But he isn't a seaman. Mr Shuan, the first officer, is. He can take the ship anywhere in the world. The other people really do have a bad time.'
He talked more. These 'other people', I understood, were murderers and other bad men on their way to work in North America. Then there were children — kidnapped children. The captain sold them when the ship arrived in America.
At the Hawes Hotel, my uncle went in to see Captain Hoseason. They began a long talk with a lot of papers.
I went across the road and down to the sea. The ship's boat was there and some men from the Covenant stood near it. Then a man from the hotel came and spoke to me.
'Did you come with Ebenezer?' he asked. 'When I look at you, I remember Mr Alexander. He was a good man.'
' Isn't Ebenezer good?' I asked.
' No,' said the man from the hotel.' He was a fine young man. But he's a bad old man now.'
I saw Captain Hoseason go down to the ship's boat and speak to the men. He was a tall man and not the hard man of Ransome's stories. Then he came across to me.
' Sir,' he said, ' Mr Balfour spoke about you. You're a fine young man. Come to my ship with your uncle. We'll have a drink.'
I wanted to see the inside of the ship. But was it dangerous?
' My uncle and I have to see a lawyer this afternoon,' I said.
'He told me about that,' said the captain. 'But we'll go very near the town. The ship's boat can take you there later. You'll be very near Rankeillor's place. 'And when my uncle came to us, the captain suddenly spoke very quietly in my ear.' Be careful of the old man,' he said.' He's planning something bad for you. Come on to the ship. I'll tell you about it.'
So I got into the boat with him. My uncle got in and sat next to me. When we arrived at the ship, the captain climbed quickly up. Then he called me and I followed him. He showed me the interesting things on the ship.
' Where is my uncle ?' I said suddenly.
' That's a good question,' said Hoseason. He was not friendly now.
I was suddenly afraid. I ran and looked at the sea. Yes! There was the ship's boat! It was nearly at the town again! And my uncle was in it!
I cried,' Help! Help!'
My uncle turned round. His face was hard and cold ... and afraid.
Then strong hands pulled me away. There was a CRASH! I saw a great light — and then everything went black.