“Damn lucky they left you alive,” the Skip-
per had told them. Aside from a few bruises
and an almighty fright, they were fine, and
went off to Nassau, swearing never to return.
So far, the Swan hadn’t met with that sort
of trouble, but she’d met with everything else,
hence the need for a new anchor and chain,
among other things. Unfortunately for Moran,
the Dockyard had nothing to spare, though he
was able to pick up a new jib and foresail, and
arrange for it to be delivered to St George’s.
The quartermaster, a bluff Mancunian,
winked. “One of the fraternity, is it?”
Moran gave a noncommittal grunt.
The quartermaster smiled. “Bet it must be
something, booze running. Like taking candy
from a baby. Wish I could go!”
Moran nearly snarled. “You try it, and see if
you like it. I wish I could find a sailor or two
willing to make the trip, good men, who know
what they’re doing. None of ‘em want to go,
too scared they might get caught and have their
papers pulled. That’d be a hell of a note for a
working man, might even see the inside of a jail
cell before you’re through. But if you fancy it …”
The quartermaster grinned and shook his
head. “Good job here, innit? Why risk it?”
Which, Moran thought ruefully, was the
problem. The only ones he could hire were
the ones who had no prospects otherwise, and
that meant he got the scrapings from the bot-
tom of the barrel.
“Hey,” said Cooper, as they met at the
“This is Norwood, my cousin.”
dock. “You got a minute?”
Moran snorted. “I see Bingo’s not with us.”
Cooper grinned. “Naw, he’s making his own
way home. I want you to meet someone.”
A man stepped forward, as like Cooper as
not, but with a broken nose and lopsided grin.
He and Moran shook hands. “What about
it?” asked Moran.
“Well,” said Norwood, “It’s this way. I was go-
But he needed crew. If he turned Norwood
ing to take ship with the Dandy, you know her?”
“Aye. Nasty business, that.”
“Sure. But I was all ready to go, had two
hundred cases of my own, when the Dandy
had her troubles, and now here I am with two
hundred cases that I can’t sell.”
“He’s a good man,” Cooper chipped in,
“Grew up on the water, knows his onions. We
still need a few crew, right?”
“You’d crew for us?”
“And give you three dollars a case. That way
I get my cargo out to New York, where it’ll
do me some good. Otherwise I’m stuck with
it, and they don’t pay anything like New York
prices down here.”
Moran looked him over. He was young
enough, and well built, with a boxer’s pugna-
cious face. The hand he’d offered had been
thick with callus; no stranger to hard work
here. Yet there was something that sat not
down, Cooper’d be none too happy; like as
not he’d jump ship, find a berth on one of the
other rumrunners anchored at St George’s.
“You’re hired,” Moran told Norwood.
“Coming with us now? I need to get to Ham-
Won’t be long before I get up your end of the
ilton and send a wire to the Boss in New York,
before we go back to St George’s.”
“You go on ahead,” Norwood replied. “I
need to see some people here, about my cases.
The uneasiness grew.
Moran’s business in Hamilton concluded, he
tried to find out more about cousin Norwood.
Despite trawling through all the bars he could
think of – he wasn’t familiar with the island
even now, on the second trip – he couldn’t find
anyone who’d say anything, one way or the
other. Perhaps everything was as it seemed.
The Swan swayed dreamily at anchor, moon
painting the ocean around it a glittering
silver. It was a warm night, warm enough that
Moran’s cabin became stuffy, so he went up
on deck to stretch his legs. The lights in St
George’s winked cheerily, and he began to regret, not for the first time, that he hadn’t taken
a room ashore. What with the trade getting so
prosperous, rooms in St George’s were going
at exorbitant rates, and Hamilton was a little
too far out for his purposes. The Boss was due
down from New York in a day or so. Perhaps
when he arrived, they’d take rooms in a hotel
for the rest of the Swan’s time in harbor.
He stuffed and lit his pipe, his mind half-
asleep even though his hands were moving
through the familiar ritual. What was that
His muddy mind sorted through it, and
told him: someone was talking, below.
It was Cooper, he realized, as he began to
awaken. Cooper and, now, who … must be
Mac, the ship’s engineer, the only one of them
apart from Moran himself who’d been with
the Swan since she’d left Belfast, back in the
summer of 1921. What were they talking
about? He couldn’t tell. Cooper’s voice was
raised, and Mac, now, what was he saying?
He seemed to be none too happy about it,
whatever it was.
The talking died down. Moran wondered if
he dared creep below, see if he could get closer.
No; he had a better idea.
“Bacon and eggs, Mac?”
“What do you think of our Mister Coo-
The engineer nodded. “Sure. Let’s go ashore.”
The rowboat took them across the harbor,
as the early morning sun showed her face. One
of the rumrunners was getting ready to go to
sea. A crewman from another rumrunner was
up on deck, lazily scraping at his fiddle, tuning
it as he went haphazardly though Timour
the Tartar, sparking a memory of many a long
session back in Belfast. Otherwise the harbor
was as sleepy as ever Moran remembered it,
though on reflection, compared to the first
time he’d seen St George’s, the harbor was a
hive of activity.
per?” asked Moran, as he pulled at the oars.
Mac looked away. “Fair enough sailor, I sup-
pose.” No enthusiasm there, Moran noted.
“Fair enough? Well, I reckon,” Moran re-
plied. “Still, it’s a good thing his cousin’s going
to be on hand. We could use a reliable man,
“Eh? What’s that?”
“Cooper’s cousin, Norwood. He’s shipping
with us, so he can get rid of a few cases of
booze. Paying for the privilege, too. Looks like
a good man, does Norwood.”
“Does he?” Mac’s sour grimace went
further south by a notch or two. “I’d be hap-