Zhang Heng returned to the captain’s quarters. He was drenched by the rain and got a towel to wipe himself down. Anne quickly got out of her wet clothes as well. As they were both shivering in the cold, Zhang Heng poured themselves a glass of rum to warm up. Rum was the signature drink of pirates. It didn’t have a decent taste, and though fermented from sugar cane, it was very bitter. As compared to wine and brandy, rum wasn’t as smooth. Its only upside was its low price. Not only was it cheap, but it could also be preserved longer than drinking water.
After a month, the drinking water on the ship would start tasting awful as various kinds of plankton would start growing in it. Rum, however, could be preserved for at least a year. That made it an essential item for every pirate ship. Zhang Heng could feel a warmness radiating in his belly after he bottomed a glass of rum. Suddenly, someone knocked at his door.
Billy had come for Zhang Heng with a group of youngsters with him.
“This is Mr. Vincent. I passed the diaries that you gave me earlier to our crew, hoping that someone could read them. I think we are in luck. Mr. Vincent here knows how to read that language!”
Zhang Heng instantly recognized him. He was the Jackdaw’s doctor and had been personally recruited by Billy. Passionate in the field of botany, he was supposed to carry out some research somewhere, but along the way, pirates had unfortunately plundered his ship. Thus, he was forced to become their doctor. A year later, the pirate group that he was in joined forces with another pirate group. Finally, Vincent regained his freedom. However, he feared that others would find out that he once worked for pirates, choosing to stay on the island in the end.
In Nassau, he stayed right beside Billy. They were neighbors. He typically made a living by keeping accounts for the taverns and brothels. Greatly influenced by Billy, he eventually decided that he would join the Jackdaw.
“This is a list of goods on the ship. It’s written in Polish. It records everything they were supposed to transport. These are just everyday items—cotton, nylon, and wood.
This was the very first time Vincent spoke to the Jackdaw’s captain, and he seemed to be nervous. Naturally, he was worried that Zhang Heng might not believe him.
“My father is from Scotland, and my mother is from Poland. When I was young, I stayed in Poland for some time. That’s why I know how to read Polish.”
“How about these two books?”
Zhang Heng then handed the other two diaries to Vincent. Initially, Anne was about to leave but decided to stay. She, too, was curious about the sudden disappearance of sailors on that ship.
“I think… this is a poetry book,” replied Vincent after he opened up the book and glanced through its contents.
“A poetry book?”
“Yes. A book filled with romantic poems. Most of them were dedicated to a woman called Betty. I must say that the contents are mediocre at best. This is my first time seeing someone using a storm to describe someone he loved. His descriptions are pretty… sensual.”
Vincent blushed as he read through those poems.
“Can you read them aloud to us?”
“Okay. No… no problem.”
Immediately, Vincent glanced at Anne, quickly realizing that she was okay with it. He then started to look for a poem to read to them.
“Betty my love, I praise you, I adore you, You are my storm, I’m your master, Your breasts are like the fruits of a crooked branch, Your… erm… Your legs are like a river flowing with honey….”
Vincent began sweating profusely as he read the sultry literature. He couldn’t help but loosen his collar.
“Do you want me to continue?” asked Vincent while looking at Zhang Heng.
“Since you are halfway through…”
“Okay. You wrap me with your body, Whisper in my ear, You allow me to fly, I love you so much, Regardless of everything, I love you more than my soul, I’m willing to stay by your side for the rest of my life…. that’s it. You know, I can find you better Polish poems if you like these things.”
Suddenly, Vincent realized that the three other people in the room were staring at him. Immediately, he picked up the third book.
“It seems like this is a record of where they got their supplies from. The names of different ports, dates, and amounts of goods are recorded here.”
“So, the captain’s journal is not here?”
“I don’t see it here.”
“Did you forget to take it?” asked Anne.
“I don’t think so. I searched everywhere in the captain’s quarters. I even checked the books that were scattered all over the floor. There are three handwritten books in the room. The rest of them were published books.”
“All three books have the same handwriting?” Zhang Heng asked Vincent.
“Two have the same handwriting. These are the list of goods and supply records. The romantic poetry book has different handwriting.”
“Writing down the list of goods and supplies is the job of the records keeper. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the captain’s diary. There’s no way that we will ever know what happened to the ship,” said Billy, who looked a little disappointed.
“Hold on. This is weird,” Vincent chipped in.
“I know these two ports. They are far apart from each other. My brother and I spent a month sailing from one port to the next. Their supply records show that they only spent 15 days traveling between these two ports. That would mean the ship must have exceeded nine knots. I don’t think they had a ship that sailed that fast in that era,” continued a perplexed Vincent.
“Theoretically, they might be able to achieve that if they sailed at full speed. In reality, it’s impossible… unless the winds were at their backs for all 15 days and they managed to find a way to prevent the mast from breaking into half. The possibility of these two things happening would be like a bag with 1,000 gold coins suddenly dropping from the sky,” said Billy while shaking his head.
“It seems like the captain of that ship had different ideas. They loaded their vessel with 16-days worth of supplies before they departed. That’s cutting it real close. It’s only a day and a half away from their last voyage.”
“Ha! No wonder they met with an accident! We found a large number of supplies lying around when we got on board. Clearly, the captain’s ego wasn’t the cause of their mishap. I remember that there was a complete nautical chart on their ship. Let’s look for it and ask Vincent to take a look. I want to see if we can mark down all the ports that they stopped at. Then, we will be able to calculate their average speed. With that, we will know if they met with an accident or not.”