“If so much as a single man dies, it’ll be on your soul,” the Skipper said at last as he shrugged away from his restraints. He pointed a finger at me, spittle flecking his chin as he did so. “On your soul!”
Fearing that I might be too overwhelmed by the dread I had been seized by the last time I had touched this new, lower trapdoor, I wrapped my handkerchief around my fingers and immediately pulled upon the hatch’s handle. It opened upwards without a sound.
A most astonishing thing has just occurred. I am trembling with nerves and barely able to write. But write I must! I am stricken with terrible delight! If I do not capture these thoughts, then I fear that I will come to dismiss them as the result of some feverish, sleep-poor delusion!
While removing what remained of the unsorted miscellanea, I exposed a trapdoor. It was firmly rusted closed and completely unusable, but nonetheless inspired a level of discussion I had come to think beyond them.
Illuminated by only a single lantern and with naught but the sound of our breathing and the muted sea, the air in the room became uncomfortably close. I felt a chill pass down my spine, even as I became aware of quite how far I was leaning towards the retiring Skipper…
2nd June, 184__
As promised, I began writing this as soon as I was able to do so on my safe arrival.
I hope you received the letter I sent prior to leaving the mainland. The owner of the inn assured me that he would have it sent on my behalf, and I tipped him well for it. I was exhausted after the long journey across the Pennines and fear my handwriting may have been illegible. Hopefully my instructions to him were not!