One night, about nine o'clock, I heard one of the sailors in the cabin saying quietly to the others, 'Shuan's killed him at last!' We all knew who he meant. Just then the captain came in. I was surprised to see him walk towards me and say kindly, 'My man, we want ye to help us in the round-house. From now on, ye'll sleep there instead of Ransome.' As he spoke, two sailors carried Ransome into the cabin. His face was as white as a sheet, and he did not move. My blood ran cold when I saw him.
I obeyed the captain, and ran to the round-house. It was a large room, with a table, a bench and locked cupboards. All the best food and drink was kept there, under the captain's eyes, as well as the guns. When I entered, I saw Mr Shuan sitting at the table, with a bottle of whisky in front of him. He did not seem to notice what was happening around him, and was looking fixedly at the table.
Mr Riach soon joined the captain and me. He looked at Hoseason meaningfully, and I understood from his look that Ransome was dead. We three all stood silently looking down at Mr Shuan.
Suddenly the captain stepped forward. 'Do ye know what ye've done?' he cried. 'Ye've murdered the boy!'
Mr Shuan put a hand to his head. 'Well,' he said, 'he brought me a dirty glass!'
The captain and Mr Riach and I looked at each other, almost frightened. Then Hoseason took Mr Shuan by the arm, and told him to go to bed. The murderer cried a little at first, but he took off his boots and lay down, like a small child.
'Mr Riach,' said the captain, when we could see that Mr Shuan was asleep, 'nobody on land must know what happened tonight. We'll say that the boy fell into the sea. Get us a drink, David, we both need one,' and he gave me the key to the cupboards.
In the next few days I was very busy, running here and there with the officers' food and drink. Mr Riach and the captain were surprisingly patient with me when I made mistakes. Perhaps they were thinking of the poor boy who had died. But Mr Shuan was very strange after Ransome's death. He did not seem to know what he had done, or to recognize me. On my second day in the round-house, he looked at me with a white face and fear in his eyes. 'You weren't here before?' he asked.
'No, sir,' I replied.
'There was another boy?' he asked. 'Ah! Yes, I thought so,' and sitting down, he called for some more whisky.
It wasn't a hard life for me. I was able to eat well, and talk to Mr Riach, who spoke to me like a friend. But I could not forget poor Ransome. As the days passed, I became more and more worried. I knew that, when the ship arrived in the Carolinas, I would no longer be a free man, but a slave. I thought hard, but there did not seem to be any way of escaping.