Alanna, the daughter of the eccentric millionaire Ferrars, stepped onto the deck of the ship Jentje, and looked about her in wonder. She was in Falmouth, at the Tall Ships Regatta. The masts and rigging loomed above and around her, and the water rippled and shivered. Typically, it was raining. The drops spattered the sea, and filled the bilge tanks on board. Two strong men manned the bilge pump on each ship. The rigging was furled in waterproof bags.
But Alanna was there not for the boats, but for the people. Two days previously, she had received an anonymous letter to say that she would not be disappointed if she met the writer there, on Jentje.
Suddenly, a hand clamped itself over her mouth. She tried to scream, but the hand wouldn’t let her. She felt a stunning, glancing blow to the back of her head, and everything went black.
When Alanna woke, she was in darkness. It was hard to tell whether her eyes were open or closed. She tried to rub her eyes, but was caught with a jerk. Her hands were bound together and tied to her waist, and her feet were tied together. She was pinned halfway up a wall. In other words, she was trussed up like a chicken. She wriggled and struggled, but to no avail. As she felt the dark shroud of despair settle over her, she began to weep soundlessly, like a little lost child, wishing for a hand to hold.
For what seemed like forever, she waited in the dark. Suddenly, a door opened. Rough, strong hands tugged her from the wall, and dumped her on a pile of sacks. She saw the hand threading a rope through the tops of a row of full sacks. Suddenly aware of what was to happen, she squirmed and twisted, but it was no use. The man put a heavy blindfold over her eyes, a coarse gag in her mouth, and tied the sacks firmly over her her roped body.
“There now, m’pretty,” rasped the man. “We wouldn’t want you rolling around and getting hurt, would we? There’s a storm a’comin’.”
For an age, Alanna lay there, roped to the boards. She felt the boat pitch and roll with every wave. A sudden shudder ran through the boat. Alanna felt water lapping around her. She called out in alarm, but the gag muffled the noise. She felt the waves cover her mouth and nose. But Alanna felt strangely peaceful. As she felt Death lift her from her body, she breathed out all her faults, impurities and fears, and her last feeling was that of joy.