I awoke after what felt like several hours of deep satisfying sleep. I was wrapped in a warm blanket still sat near the stove. I removed the blanket and went up in deck. The morning light was creeping reluctantly over the horizon. It was a misty cold morning that showed little promise of improvement. I checked my pocket and was astounded to see that it was only a quarter past five o’clock. The captain stood at the tiller silently. The land to the starboard side was flat marshland. There were isolated farm buildings and the occasional windmill. It was a mysterious, haunting landscape that looked not in the least bit inviting. However given the events of last night, this would be the perfect hideout.
“On our way to Queenborough harbour. Beyond the harbour is Deadmans Island. They used to bury the dead french prisoners from the hulks on there. Its a god forsaken place and that’s for sure” The captain said not once turning to look towards me.
Templeton emerged from the lower deck and stood next to me looking out.
“I trust you are rested. That was a close thing last night Travers. We are found out and now are fugitives from the lawless. They will not cease till we are disposed of. You showed great fortitude Travers. Your uncle is sleeping down below deck. We shall be mooring at Queenborough. There is a public house near the harbour. We shall go there this evening after the cargo has been unloaded. My contact will meet with us and take us to more spacious quarters from there. It would be advisable if you were to stay out of site below deck today. Try and catch up on some more sleep” Templeton said with the air of one who was giving an order rather than a suggestion.
We rounded the headland and Sheerness was to our port side. The town of Queenborough and the harbour came into view beyond. The garrison on the mouth of the harbour stood watch over the mouths of the rivers Medway and Swale. The barge slowly and steadily manoeuvred to the quayside. The town was a quiet unimposing settlement. There was little movement on the street adjacent to the quay. I noticed a brick built public house some fifty yards from our mooring. A cart trundled slowly up the street with its driver staring vacantly into the distance.
I retired to below decks where a freshly made mug of tea and a much welcome bacon sandwich awaited me. Templeton moved around the galley with consummate ease, cleaning up and tidying away.
After my meal, I settled down and pulled the blanket around me again. I put my feet up on the bench and lay back. Sleep came easily again.
I woke some hours later with Templeton anxiously stood over me.
“Quick! we must move now” he said. I gathered my coat and followed him and Uncle Harold up on deck and then