Title: Golden Vanity

Author: MavenAlysse

Based on a song by: Chad Mitchell Trio. At the Bitter End. Belafonte Enterprises Inc. 1962.

Golden Vanity

Oh, there was a lofty ship and she sailed upon the sea.

And the name of that ship it was 'The Golden Vanity'

And she feared she would be taken by a Turkish enemy,

As she sailed on the lowland sea.

Then up spoke our cabin boy, the age of twelve and three,

And he said to our captain, "Oh, what will you give to me

If I swim along-side of that Turkish enemy

And sink them in the lowland sea?"

"I will give you jewels and I will give you gold,

And the hand of my daughter, if you would be so bold

As to swim along-side of that Turkish enemy

And sink them in the lowland sea."

The boy made all ready, and overboard jumped he

And he swam along-side of that Turkish enemy

And with his little drilling tool he bored holes three,

And he sank them in the lowland sea.

Then the boy turned around and back again swam he,

And he hollered for the captain to haul him from the sea.

But the captain would not heed for his daughter he did need,

And he left him in the lowland sea.

The crew hauled him out, but upon the deck he died,

And they wrapped him in his blanket, so very soft and wide.

They cast him overboard to drift upon the tide,

And he sank beneath the lowland sea.

Oh, there is a loft ship and she sails upon the sea,

But she sails without her cabin boy the age of twelve and three,

And she fears she may be taken by a Turkish enemy,

As she sails upon the lowland sea.

It was with slowly dawning horror that he focused upon the floor and the wet footprints that tracked from the small chest beside his bed that held his personal stash of silver and gold pieces to his cabin door.

Cold pricked at his spine raising the hairs on the back of his neck, his own breathing heavy and raspy in his ears.

He rose from his cot, foregoing his dressing gown. He followed the foot prints, careful not to touch the wet silhouettes, cringing at the very thought.

The hallway was quiet and empty, the men either asleep below or on watch above deck.

There had been not-so-muted muttering after the events of the day, but he, as Captain, had quickly set down the rules and quieted the men – at least for now. He'd even managed to keep his daughter from finding out what had happened. She was to be betrothed to Lord Marshall Granadine – a much older man to be sure, but one with wealth and connections that would serve him well once his daughter was wed.

Though he had promised, there was no way he would allow Sarah to marry a mere common cabin boy. That the boy had even considered it likely, proved he was unworthy.

The Captain felt his heart pound in his chest as he neared his daughter's cabin. The footprints continued – one neatly bisected by the stout oak door.

He thought he heard his daughter speaking with someone and his eyes narrowed at the obviously male voice. "Sarah?" he moved to fling the door open, but found it locked. "Sarah! You open this door this instant!" He rattled the door – hearing her light laugh mix with that of another's.

He lost his temper, forgetting his initial fears, incensed that one of his crew would violate the sanctity of his daughter's room – and possibly her person as well. He forgot the keys hanging from his belt and threw his shoulder into the door, attempting to ram it open.

"Open this door, young lady. By God there will be hell to pay!"

"And you'll be paying it."

The voice was quiet, flat, and burned in his brain, chilling him more than the night air that whipped down the corridor. Before his mind could connect the voice to a face, to a name, the door gave way, spilling him to the floor amid the scattered footprints.

He lifted his head and his eyes widened in fear. There, beside his daughter's bed, was the cabin boy. Sarah, her face alight, sat on the edge of the bed, tiny feet swinging as she giggled at something said. She seemed not to notice anything odd about her companion. The captain, however, did.

The cabin boy's dark hair curled in half-dried locks, several strands clinging to thin cheeks; skin once tanned but now washed pale held a dusting of salt; water-logged clothing had started to stiffen; a small pool had collected at the boy's feet. The smell of the sea, the combination of salt and decay, clogged his nose, making his eyes water.

"Shall we?" waves echoed as the boy extended his hand.

"Oh, yes, please," Sarah smiled, voice sweet as a sparrow.

Before he could voice a denial or plea, Sarah took the boy's outstretched hand the two vanished.

"Sarah! Oh, dear God, what have I done?"