Sunday, May 06, 2007


The short squat man laughed with his head thrown back. “Always business with you, eh, Bellamy?”

“You would be the vewy same if you wewe in my position,” Bellamy glowered, his menace somewhat undercut by the screechy tone of his voice. “Wapscallions like you awe always a twial.”

“Well, here’s your merchandise,” the kidnapper shouted shoving Alice and Lizzie toward the imposing-looking figure of the captain. “And here’s your payment, you sea dog,” he said thrusting a leather purse into the captain’s hands. “Bon voyage,” he said lifting his cloth cap in mock polite regard to the two young women. Then he turned on his heel and strode away, whistling as if he hadn’t a care in the world.

I shall hate him forever, thought Alice, although it is doubtful that she should keep such an all-encompassing effort foremost in her mind. There had been many occasions on which Alice had planned similarly long-lasting and comprehensive vendettas, such as the time she declared she would never eat anything but lettuce, or the day on which she vowed to always coordinate her hair ribbons and gloves. However, it did seem entirely likely that Alice would indeed loathe if not in fact hate that short squat man for a very long time, as she been terribly inconvenienced by him, and things looked likely to deteriorate further before they improved.

“Come with me, giwls,” the captain wheezed, patting the purse full of money fondly, “You awe my wesponsibilty now!” As if to emphasize the point, he drew a revolver from his belt and waved it at the two of them, who meekly trotted up the gangplank to the ship’s deck.

“Welcome aboawd the Demetew!” the captain said with surprisingly sincere zeal. “We sail with the tide fow the land beyond the fowest.”

“Are we really going all the way to Transylvania?” Lizzie asked with admirable coolness. She had come to the conclusion there was little to lose now (although she still held out hope for the letter Emma Saint John had promised to post o her behalf), so she might as well be bold with the captain. Perhaps it was that he had rank, she feared less his anger—with the short squat man of indeterminate class, they had no way to anticipate his behavior. Surely a captain would uphold some of the general laws of behavior and show good form.

She was somewhat nonplussed to see the weather-creased face break into a smile as prelude to a cackling laugh. Very bad form, Lizzie thought and shared her disapproval with Alice by means of an archly lifted eyebrow. Alice was uncertain what Lizzie intended with this gesture as she had been mesmerized by the captain’s strange laugh.

“Twansylvania?! Oh no, my child, you will not be going to Twansylvania. We have othew plans fow you. At pwesent, howevew, you shall be going below decks to youw cabin whewe you will be spending much of youw time.” He cackled again and Lizzie felt her heart sink.

As they turned in the direction the stern captain indicated, a thought unbidden rose to Alice’s mind. “Oh,” she said, turning suddenly to Lizzie, “We have forgotten our book!”

Lizzie groaned inwardly -- another long journey and nothing to read, but Alice could not help thinking that she was glad not to know what immeasurably valuable lessons Betty Ford would be learning from Mrs. Teachum.

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