As an exhausted Melaynie and her equally tired brother slowly walked homeward in the twilight, Melaynie's mind was on the details and last minute plans before departure. Although her determination had not wavered, she was feeling twinges of guilt at her betrayal, especially since her father was so easily fooled. Her latest absences had been explained away as a knitting project with her friend Anne. She planned to use Anne's name as her means to leave the house the evening of their departure, praying that her father didn't choose to do something entirely out of character, like searching for her at Anne's home. She could hardly let Anne in on the deception.
Tonight David would have to cut her hair; she couldn't leave this important detail to the last day. She would wear her muffin cap at home to conceal its shortness. Instinctively, she put her hand up to feel the hair tucked inside her cap, and in her self-absorption failed to notice the familiar figure walking toward them.
It was her father! And just when she was feeling she could easily anticipate his habits. What could he be doing leaving the print shop so early? Would he recognize her? After all she was his beloved daughter; there might be some unknown sense that would inform him. There was nothing to be done but to brazen it out. Darkness was falling fast, and the shadows might be all she would need. She elbowed David quickly and then furtively pulled her hat lower.
Edward drew up in front of them, his attention all upon David. "Son, I was finished early and thought to catch you aboard ship. I am very curious about this Drake fellow. Are you to sail soon, then?"
David stopped and smiled down upon his earnest father. "I am all in, Father. We have been loading all this long day, or I should take you myself. We are set to sail on Whit Sunday eve."
"I am sorry to see you go, Son. Shall we walk home together then?" Edward Morgan caught himself, realizing he had been rude and gestured at David's young companion. "Is this a fellow younker?"
Melaynie looked quickly at her father, gave the tiniest of shy smiles and then looked down at the ground.
David touched his father's sleeve to divert his attention. "This is Christopher, Father. I am afraid he is a green captain's boy, too tired to speak. He had a great deal to learn today."
"He looks familiar. Do I know you, Son?" her father asked.
Melaynie kept her eyes on the ground and let her shoulders sag to indicate her weariness. She mumbled a negative response.
David barely caught himself before he blurted out "she." "He comes from Compton, Father."
"My wife had family in Compton, the Cushings. Perhaps you know them, young man."
"Uhuh," Melaynie mumbled negatively and wondered how she was going to get out of this. How would she get back into the house to change her clothes? Would he discover her ruse just before her dream's fulfillment?