The captain called Rudy to the stern and asked him to peer through the spyglass. He took the telescope in hand and, reverently, put it to his face.
There, far beyond the strand of a green and lonely islet, was a woman perched on a slab of rock, surrounded by coral. The woman was nude. Her only claim to modesty was the length of her wet hair, which draped down from her shoulders and covered her shimmering skin.
Rudy had to have the spyglass pried from his hands.
After a moment’s collection, the young boy swallowed and addressed the captain. “Sir, there appears to be a woman in the middle of the ocean.”
The captain brought his corn cob pipe out of his pocket and proceeded to chew on the tip. With a grimace, he sighed and nodded. “I was afraid of that. I was hoping it was a manatee.”
He dismissed Rudy to the main deck and the boy drifted starboard to gaze abeam at the pink ghost in the distance. The gunner appeared beside him.
Squinting, the gunner shaded his eyes and followed the cabin boy’s hungry expression into the ocean. “Jove!” the man exclaimed. “There’s a gal out there!”
“Do you swim?” the gunner asked. No, said Rudy. “Shame,” said the gunner. “She looks lonely.”