A clammy hand came down over the mouth, muffling any scream, and anothe roughed up my wrists.
File after file of men stood straight in front of me many with stones, some with rifles, others with clubs. Women with mallets, stones of their own, and children with ropes, sticks and stones.
Out of the shadows two men came out and to my shock they were unlike the people surrounding them. Healthier for one, with fat on their bones and a prespiring glow to their cheecks, and with clothes that hinted at class. Even though they were were designed like workers' clothes.
The came forward and one with light brown eyes and fine jaws and cheeck bones stared at me, as I struggled in my white dressing gown, with one of Jim's dress coats pulled hastily over, my eyes wide, my light brown curls furled back by one of the rough hands that caught me. My hands were now tied.
He said with what could be clearly be a Northern accent, but with a kind tone and a careless half-smile, "You should have listened to 'em up' t' deck. You ought'n not seen this, Lady. But now that I' seen you, I thin' I will after all spare your life." My eyes widened even larger at that and I involuntarily cried with fear.
He blinked at me once or twice as if to reassure me of his friendliness, still keeping that half smiled through which I saw surprisingly good teeth, and he nodded paternally once and said, "Friends, release her." Suddenly I was roughtly released and I fell forward on the floor.
Hastily, feeling hot with humiliation I scrambled up and attmpted to adjust my dress for modesty.
The other man, thinner and narrow-shouldered, much paler and much sweatier than his partner came forward and gestured to the people, and asked: "Do you ever wonder what their stories are, Miss? Did your---bethrothed tell you all the truth about them?"
I stared at him and then took a look at the faces and the bodies that surrounded me. Drawn out faces, cheecks with holes, eyes with no fat, scrawny hands and thin thin legs. And through their rags I could see the welps of lashes. Hundreds. I winced. Those above deck where not so harshly treated, but I suddenly yrealized that they also were very very mute and quiet.
I opened my mouth to speak.