Her expression looked so absurd in that first moment coming over the rail, so defiant and apprehensive at once, I couldn’t help but laugh. The short curls were not unbecoming, and undoubtedly more practical, but I could see her battening down the hatches for a storm. I regretted afterward laughing in view of the crew—not for the sake of her dignity, but for mine. It was not how I would set the tone for a voyage just beginning. Captains are fearsome, not frolicsome.
I had made up my mind before she came onboard that her choice to sail would be on her own head, that I would hold sternly to her promise not to be an impediment. Still, the worries of having her aboard distracted me as the Mate bellowed orders and the men ran out lines. The sideways looks of the pilot when he came onboard had only compounded my anxiety. Yet Gayla stood quietly behind me on the quarterdeck, showing no signs of illness or apprehension herself as we passed out of the harbor and onto the open swells of the Atlantic. She probably had no idea how much upheaval she was already causing. And looking so outrageous. I wondered if she recognized the disproportionate number of Pacific Islanders among the hands, or if she would know why.