An Introduction To The Eternal Collection Jubilee Edition
endless expanse of blue sky, but she knew that the information was what Rodney was waiting for and the mountains which would soon come into view should be of Dominica or Guadeloupe, while the Channel between these islands was the gateway of the pirates into the Caribbean Sea.
    It was the thirty-seventh day since they had left Plymouth. On the twelfth day they had sited the Canary Islands and watered the ship. Rodney was not disposed to linger there, as the Spaniards were well aware that the Canaries were a convenient calling place for the English ships and it would be easy for a fleet of their great galleons to take them unawares.
    So they hurried onwards, seeing on the way nothing more formidable than a whale and a school of porpoises, but they were all of them continually alert for a sight of the enemy.
    Lizbeth had gradually adjusted herself to life aboard ship. At first it was a continuous chain of surprises. She had imagined, listening to tales of the adventures of Hawkins and Drake, that she had learnt a little of what life at sea could be like.
    But here, aboard the Sea Hawk, reality had nothing in common with her romantic dreams. The life was hard, and as soon as the fresh food was finished she found it difficult to endure the eternal diet of salt beef, salt pork, weevily biscuits and a glass of lemon juice twice a week to keep off scurvy.
    It was hard to accustom herself to the rough food, but it was harder still not to reveal how surprising she found those to whom it was ordinary fare. For the first time in her life she saw men at close quarters behave as men and not as gallants. She had never before realised or even anticipated what masculine company would be like without the social veneer which had been so very apparent in all her previous encounters with them.
    It was not that the men were over-coarse or in any way repellent because she saw them off their guard. The officers, with whom she associated daily, were all of them decent, cleaning-living men and not in the least lewd or repulsive in their conversation.
    It was to be expected that their sense of humour was sometimes a good deal broader than it would have been had they realised her sex, and it amused her on these occasions to know that Rodney was far more embarrassed than she was herself. No, she was not shocked by anything that happened aboard; she was only surprised and even astounded by the strictness of the discipline, the exhausting, unending work there was to be done, and the stern, rigid segregation of the Captain from the rest of his crew.
    He sat, it seemed, upon almost Olympian heights, and the officers as well as the men looked upon him with awe and respect. Lizbeth told herself not once but many times a day that this was no superhuman figure, but Rodney Hawkhurst who was here by the grace of her father’s money and who believed himself betrothed to her half sister, Phillida. Even so, as she echoed the “Aye, aye, Sir” of the others aboard and waited, as the others did, for orders which must be obeyed promptly, she found herself moved by a deferential respect which she had never before accorded to a man.
    At first Rodney’s anger allowed him to speak to her only when other people were present and then in the most formal manner possible, but as the voyage advanced, he eventually found it impossible not to become more friendly. She alone ate at the Captain’s table, as was the custom with an honoured guest. She breakfasted in her cabin off a tray that was carried to her by Hapley, but dinner and supper were taken alone with Rodney, unless he invited one of the other officers to join them.
    At first they sat in silence and then gradually, because there was no one else to whom he could talk, Rodney talked to her. She realised all too clearly that it was no particular compliment that she should receive his confidences – he was more often than not thinking out loud and the subject chosen was seldom anything but plans for the future, all

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