Chapter One

Nestled in a little nook of a nice apartment just off Broadway, a little woman sat on a wide window ledge with a typewriter beside her. Her short, slim legs were crossed in front of her, and her customary trousers were carefully arranged to not wrinkle. Her thick, black hair fell over her blue eyes, obscuring her vision as she hurried typed from a set of notes propped against the window beside her.

In only a few minutes, she had finished typing the last of around twenty pages. The short woman jumped from the ledge to the creaky wood floor of the room, taking the typed pages with her. She left the typewriter where it was, only stopping to grab her hat, coat, her violin case, and bag before rushing out the door toward the docks.

When she arrived, Preston was already there to greet her. "A tramp steamer?" she asked him with an elegantly raised eyebrow.

"It's all we could afford," Preston said with a shrug.

"Carl had better get here soon. I am so late for rehearsals," she said worriedly.

She walked toward the ship, but a black man stopped her and asked, "Are you going on the ship?"

"Yes, but I shan't be accompanying it. I must talk with Mr. Denham. Apparently, it's urgent," she said pleadingly.

"Very well. Miss, if you don't mind, be careful with Mr. Denham," he said, his tone coloured by an accent wholly dissimilar to hers.

"It's Miss Victoria Magnus, Mr…" she said, waiting for his answer.

"Hayes," he said before gesturing roughly to the ship.

She nodded to him and began to walk up the gangplank to board the ship. As he followed her, Victoria said, "Thank you for the warning, Mr. Hayes."

Some minutes later, she heard Preston call, "Carl!"

She looked up to see Preston hurrying toward Carl. She followed, hoping to find Carl and get whatever business he had over and done with.

When she arrived, Carl had just finished conversing rather secretively. Carl looked up and called, "Englehorn! Cast off! Hoist the main sail! Raise the anchor! Whatever the hell you do we gotta leave!" He began to board the ship.

The man he was talking to, presumably the captain, turned slightly and said, "I cannot do that. We are waiting on the manifest."

Carl stopped, turned to face, Englehorn, and asked, "What? English, please."

"Paperwork," she said, interceding. She walked over to stand between them, yet to the side. She was not intimidated by this, though both men were substantially taller than her as she stood only five feet high.

Carl said briefly, "Victoria Magnus, Driscoll's assistant. Moving on..." He nudged her out of the way and whispered something to Englehorn. The captain responded with more volume, "You haven't given me the first thousand yet." German, by the accent.

"Can't we talk about this later? Can't you see we're in the company of a VIP guest," Carl said, gesturing behind him to a blonde woman, presumably Maureen's replacement.

Englehorn merely took his cigarette out of his mouth and walked slowly toward the other woman. "Ma'am," he said respectfully.

"Ann Darrow," she said, holding out her hand to shake.

"So you are ready for this voyage?" he asked.

"Sure," she answered, looking away. Lie.

"Nervous?" Englehorn asked.

"Nervous? No. Why? Should I be?" she said.

"It isn't every woman who would take such risk," he said bluntly. A warning.

Carl looked over at Preston, who hurried over to bring Miss Darrow on board. Victoria merely shook her head and followed. However, as she walked someone grabbed her upper arm in a gentle but firm grip.

"Miss Magnus, was it?" Englehorn asked, turning her around with the hand on her arm.

She quickly glanced over him appraisingly. Clean for a sailor. Blue eyes. Blonde. Intelligent. Confident. Used to his lifestyle.

She nodded and asked, "Captain Englehorn, I presume?"

"How do you know about ships?" he asked, accent apparent.

"My brother ran away from home to a ship. I visited him a number of times and picked up a few things," she explained frankly, shrugging.

He nodded before asking, "Did Denham convince you to come?"

"Actually, I'm only here to conclude some business with him. I will not be going to Singapore, as Mr Denham says," she said before pointing to the ship and asking, "Oughtn't you to be getting the coal engines going?"

"I'll leave you to Mr. Denham, then," he said.

"Thank you, Captain," she said, nodding before walking up to the room where Carl was.