A/N: This story is a collaborative effort between two friends who have loved the book The Witch of Blackbird Pond since middle school. As seen in the summary, we have not made any changes to the original plot, but are instead telling the story through Nat's perspective. Because we've been wondering that. Enjoy.
"A fine company we have this trip," Caleb said, grinning wickedly at his friend as the young woman came again out onto the deck. She never seemed to want to stay below for very long, even though today had brought a stronger wind.
Nat Eaton glanced toward the young lady before returning to the rope he was untangling. "I suppose we haven't had such wealthy passengers aboard this ship in quite a while." There was a note of disdain in the way he spoke, and Caleb raised his eyebrows.
"I'm surprised you haven't paid her more mind. We've sailed for three weeks and you have hardly given her a look. I say, Nat, has the deprivation made you completely unconscious to women? I remember your head turning once or twice the last time we went inland at Boston!"
Nat had to laugh at Caleb's teasing. Truth be told, he had noticed the young lady aboard the ship, every day in a different dress. She withdrew from the others and was nearly silent at mealtimes. Out on deck, she was constantly looking out at the expanse of water—always in the wrong direction, if it was shore she was hoping to see. Clearly, she thought herself so much above the others around her, and Nat, being the captain's son, had taken silent offense at her arrogance.
Nat looked at her again and shrugged. "She's not extraordinarily pretty, mate—it's all in that ridiculous dress. Serve her right if she tripped over all that finery."
"If you ask me," Caleb said, "she's fine enough, being the only lady aboard besides your own mother." He laughed.
Nat gave the rope's knot a stronger tug than might have been necessary before turning back to Caleb, folding his arms. "If you think she's such a wonder, perhaps you'd care to say 'how do you do' to her when you have a spare moment."
It was Caleb who laughed this time, shaking his head in good-natured disagreement. "Considering she hardly speaks, even to Mistress Eaton, I'll be hanged if she'd find a common seaman worth her time." He grinned again. "The captain's son might be a different matter."
"I have better things to do," Nat said, stepping further away from both his friend and the young lady. It was in vain, for Caleb followed him until Nat stopped again, exasperated.
"There's not a man alive who has something better to do than talk with a pretty girl." Caleb held up his hand as Nat was about to speak in protest. "Don't bother to argue. I've seen you look at her a time or two when she comes out from the hold, so I know that your low opinion of her is all talk."
"Not exactly," Nat said, casting her a sidelong glance. "Haven't you noticed? She's quite proud of herself, I'd wager. She brought seven trunks aboard. Where in heaven's name does she expect to put them all in Connecticut Colony? Who does she think she is?"
"The daughter of King James himself, it seems like," Caleb said, his expression more sober this time.
"Indeed." Nat frowned thoughtfully. "I must confess, I feel a bit sorry for her. I've been to Barbados enough times to know it's an entire world away from Connecticut. Perhaps she doesn't know that. She might not know what she's doing."
"I've noticed she's got her sea legs, and a stomach for the waves, to boot. But she might not know what awaits her once she disembarks. Women can be a bit senseless with such things sometimes."
Nat laughed. "Perhaps I'd better give her a fair warning."
"If I see your father, I'll make an excuse for you." Chuckling again, Caleb nodded to his fellow sailor and went below to see to other duties.
With a shrug, Nat tossed aside the rope he had been untangling and moved toward the young lady. She was continually tucking her hair behind her ears, but it was useless on a day like today. Nat was ready to have another laugh at her expense, but when she noticed his approach and looked his way, he felt another twinge of sympathy instead. She did not look proud at all; she looked frustrated and worried.
"A fine breeze we have today," he said, resting his folded arms on the edge. "We should be seeing the shoreline before a fortnight is over."
"Then we're more than halfway there," she said. "I'm glad of it." After an awkward pause, she offered, "My name is Katherine Tyler."
"The captain's son, I gather."
"Indeed," he said, his own pride obvious in his smile and the sparkle in his eyes. "Best man on the seas."
She smiled, and they fell silent again. Once more, it was she who offered the next words in the conversation. "Strange…This is the first time I have introduced myself to someone without him asking if I am Sir Francis Tyler's daughter."
Nat had heard the name before, but it held little weight with him. "Are you?"
"His granddaughter. Finest man in Barbados, God rest his soul." Still smiling, she looked at him expectantly, as though he was supposed to be impressed with this knowledge. It was quite the opposite. Nat found himself once again a bit irked by her superior attitude. Perhaps it was expected of her in Barbados, but he did not think much of it on the Dolphin, and he knew it would not be well accepted in Connecticut—especially from a newcomer. The desire to warn her of the differences between the place she had left and the place at which she would arrive had quickly dissolved. Let her find out on her own, then.
"I'm glad to know we are sailing with such illustrious company," he said wryly, bowing a little before he walked away.