I was confused.
The letter from Mr Hands and now from ‘T.’?
T – as in Thomas? Or someone else?
It didn’t make any sense.
Mr Hands had been so sure that Thomas was dead. I had to see for myself, who this mysterious ‘T.’ was, so I put on my coat and rushed out of the house. Of course, it could easily be a Chess Piece decoy. A way to lure us out, those of us who’d know that Thomas was dead.
The trip to the docks was a short one (it would have been more enjoyable if I could have walked there, but I took a cab as my leg still hurt). I looked around for a face I knew. I hadn’t seen Thomas in twelve years and wondered for a moment whether he had vastly changed in appearance.
I hoped not.
I was looking for a brig, a large one, with a man in a feathered hat and a frock coat.
Not the man in a fraying bandana, tattered tunic and browning britches who tapped me on the shoulder.
But the scar on his face made it plain. It was Thomas.
“Asa!” said Thomas, “Dash my buttons! It’s good t’see ye’ve come home!” he looked around and frowned, “Where’s every’un else?”
“You…” I pointed at him, “You’re alive.”
Thomas looked at me queerly, “That would be pointin’ out the obvious, aye.”
“You’re not dead.”
“Is that how ye hoped t’find me?”
“Well, yes,” I paused, “I mean, no. Your quarter-master had written to Midnight. He said you’d gone down with your ship.”
He stared at me, “Where’s Midnight?”
“What happened to you?”
With some hesitation, I explained to Thomas about recent events – about Kennedy going missing, presumably getting abducted, and then Midnight going after her.
“Bloody Hell…” said Thomas, “Is she a’right? Has she written t’ye?”
“She hasn’t, no. And I don’t think she intends to…”
“Did she say anyth’un about my death?”
“No… actually, I only knew because the letter fell out of her pocket and I read it.”
Thomas cursed. “That’s no good,” he muttered, “that’s no good.”
“What happened to you?” I asked again.
“I’ll leave the fishin’ boat I stole at the docks,” he tugged my sleeve and pulled me along, “Come on, we’ve t’go home. I need t’talk to Georgia.”
“Thomas!” I said, in an attempt to delay him.
“Aye?” he said impatiently.
“Um… You’re not wearing shoes.”
He furrowed his brows, his scar beginning to look threatening, “Least o’ my worries, mate.”
“Look, I… I haven’t told Georgia about Kennedy.”
He stared at me, “What?”
“I told her that Midnight and Kenny had gone to Normandy, not that Kenny got abducted.”
“Are mad, man?” he bawled, “You can’t just lie your guts out like that!”
“I didn’t want her to be worried!” I protested.
“Oh, because this is much better!”
“Thomas, you know my intentions were right.”
“Aye. And the Path to Hell is paved with good intentions!” he said, “Georgia has t’know the truth. I’m goin’ t’set out again. I’m goin’ t’find my wife. And to find my wife, I need to talk to Georgia!”
And that was that.
We went home and the children crowded around Thomas as he walked in. Even Queenie came out of her bedroom, using crutches for support.
Perhaps my time spent in the barracks had made me lose my sense of smell – because they all recoiled when they got too near to him. Georgia came down the stairs and smiled, and then frowned when Thomas looked at her with a serious expression.
“Daddy!” cried Saffron, “Did you get us–?”
“Sorry, Dessy, not now,” he said quickly, “I promise, you’ll get what you wanted later.”
She frowned, but nodded to her sisters and they didn’t say anything else.
“I need t’speak with you, Georgia,” he said.
“By all means,” she said, frowning slightly, “Would you like to take a bath first?”