"Gentlemen, come in," Captain Utrecht offered after the initial knock on
his door. Alton Dix and his associates entered and crowded around the
table used by Utrecht as a desk. The dirty dishes left over from his
evening meal covered his maps and ship’s log. Cromwell at once
noticed Utrecht's forced smile and combed gray mane, both unusual
accessories to his normal appearance. First Mate Trixt reeked of
alcohol, Cromwell guessed he must sweat rum, and his black, stringy hair
seemed to ooze the grease accumulated from an unknown number of days of
Alton Dix wasted no time in expressing the reason for the requested
meeting. "Captain Utrecht, as spokesman for the group of gentlemen in
your presence who are in turn representing all the passengers, we demand
to know the status of our voyage. That is, our whereabouts, our present
course and our anticipated arrival date in Virginia."
"You fools can't demand nuthin' from the Captain!" yelled Trixt.
"Silence, Mr. Trixt!" Utrecht barked. "I will deal with these, uh,
demands in my own manner. Now briefly, Mister Dix, we are in the
Atlantic Ocean near the North American coast and our destination remains
Virginia, which we shall reach some point in the near future."
"Captain Utrecht," said Montgomery. "I have lost my young son and wife
on this voyage. Mr. Breathered here lost his new wife a fortnight ago.
By my own count, there are only fifty-nine passengers remaining of the
original one hundred and two. I also know at least four of your crew
have died since leaving Bristol and at least three-fourths of our
animals have died or been butchered. How much longer must we suffer?"
"If we knew a precise time, I am sure we would tell you," McFinney
"Damn you, McFinney, I can speak for myself!" Utrecht shouted.
"Montgomery, the length of your or your family's suffering is of no
consequence to me! My partners and me have already received our payment
for this voyage. The number of you actually reaching Virginia is in
God's hands, not mine."
"You bloody old seahorse!" shouted Dix. "When in the devil are we going
to reach Virginia? Can't you simply answer that question? Are you such
a poor sailor together with this scurvy, flea-bitten crew that you can't
tell us where you are or are you completely lost?" Trixt lunged for Dix
and with one slight shove knocked the little man to the floor. Campbell
and Rogers grabbed Trixt by each arm and tossed him against the wall.
"You stinking bunch of cattle!" Utrecht shouted, drawing his dagger.
"Your condition, much less your demands, is of little concern to me.
Whether you all bloody die or I dump you off in Virginia cannot come
soon enough. The faster I return to Bristol, the sooner I can reap more
profits from another godforsaken cruise. Now all of you get your filth
out of my quarters before I slit your bloody collective throats!"
"Time to go!” Cromwell ordered. Dix's position on the floor had
quieted temporarily his ever-moving mouth. The six men escaped the
Captain's quarters and hurriedly went back down into the hold before
Utrecht changed his mind and pursued them. Trying not to disturb the
other passengers, the men isolated themselves in the lower chamber of
the hold near the rusting chains lying nearby.
"How does one deal with men who are nothing more than murderers?" asked
Breathered. "Another confrontation such as that and they will kill us
"That will be inevitable unless we reach Virginia soon," Dix commented,
still shaking with anger.
"I'm afraid I agree with Mr. Dix for once," said Cromwell. "I suggest
any future plans we have for speaking with the Captain include all the
healthy male passengers on board the Oranje."
"We will begin planning tomorrow," Montgomery said.
"Yes, but be guarded with your words," Rogers warned. "One can never
anticipate when the wrong ears may be hearing your conversation."
Excerpted from "New Beginnings: A New Home" by Mark Edward Jones. Copyright © 2017 by Mark Edward Jones. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.