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Fiction by Mildred Pond

The Stowaway - page 6

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I carried sack away, turned to leave but noticed Gamal, talking earnestly with the purser, who had returned us our passports before dinner. So I danced with Ilona. The attention seemed to reassure her. “He’s making a deal,” she said. “That’s what he does.” “Surely Gamal doesn’t make import-export deals with our purser,” I re-assured her. “Don’t be so sure,” she said. I took another look at our shrewd-looking, slightly rumpled, purser, and realized he might willingly try just about anything to make a few extra English pounds – better still, American dollars. I slipped away as soon as the others went to their cabins for the night. A corner flap of the lifeboat’s canvas top was flipped back, not from carelessness, but for desperately needed air. I peered inside. A foul stench assaulted me and I stepped back, just as a scrawny hand yanked at my lapel. The stowaway thrust out his sallow head. His skin was blue under the night sky. Still firmly holding my lapel, he climbed out. I’d intended to question him first, give him a little bit of food at a time. In-stead, he grabbed my knapsack, ripped it open, and began eating ravenously. “Not so fast, please. You’ll make yourself sick.” I took back the knapsack. “Vas?” “You’re German?” I knew some German but spoke to him in English. “You theenk so?” His accent was so thickly German, surely he wouldn’t pretend otherwise. He seemed weak, but was still agile and moved, I thought, with the straight-backed discipline of the military man.