Just in case you need to catch up:
“I’m sorry Paul. What would you have me do?” At least she was dressed with the clothes we stole off the line. We sat in the shadows of the wharf across from the ship, Sherry perched on a keg of rum.
“Din’t cross yo mind gist take a poke and yo meal and leave well nuff alone?” He glanced from one of us to the other in fascination. “I don’t rightly know what yor ‘spectin’ me to do with her. Shor you noticed she’s white.”
I had to board the ship before the crew got back from their night ashore. One or two men I might sway with my eyes, but not a ship full at once–especially not now with my concentration shot all to hell. Why couldn’t I leave her? Many young girls had trod that path before her and many would come after. Why this one?
“Did you leave the money like I told you?” I immediately regretted my words. “I’m sorry, I know you did. I’m frettin’ over every little thing just now. What?”
Paul’s lip quirked up at the edge. “Yor fine talk seems to be slippin’ a mite, Massa Tom.”
“I am no man’s master! I’m a poor orphaned Texas boy, who tried to make out as best he could and ended up as…” my hands flew about like angry hornets, “this-thing-that I’ve become. I want her to have a chance. Is that wrong?”
“Nothin’ be wrong wit what yo done or wit you, Sa. Takes her wit you, she a perty little thing. You two makes a fine pair!”
“No. Being close to her stretches my will to breaking.” I read in his eyes he didn’t understand and I didn’t have time to explain. Mariska’s fate hung in the balance. I had to go, Sherry to stay, simple as that. “Paul, I got no one to send her to, no one I trust but you. I can plant a seed in her mind; she’ll believe what I tell her. I could tell her you were her Daddy’s man before the war. He died fighting and her Ma of a broken heart soon after his passing. Might some even be true, she said her Ma was dead.” I sucked up what courage I had. “She’s virgin still Paul, how could I leave her in a whorehouse?”