Within the hour, Timberwolf’s crew found themselves in front of the far-famed Captain Kincade. She was more intimidating than any captain they had met before, with an ageless face and piercing hazel eyes that sized the boys up in seconds. Kincade was not only well-known for the sharpness of both her tongue and sword, but also for her wisdom and strategy.
Together, Red and Silas explained their predicament. Kincade’s eyebrows slowly gained altitude throughout the story, and when the boys finished, she said, “That certainly doesn’t sound like James. He’s a madman, but he wouldn’t leave his own crew – again, I mean.”
Silas and Red looked at each other, alarmed.
Kincade continued. “I fear there are darker forces at work here. May I inspect his cabin?”
The crew led Kincade back to their own ship. Upon entering Timberwolf’s cabin, she made her way to the window and inspected its frame. “Ah,” she said. “It is as I thought.”
Squinting, Silas tried to figure out what she had seen. “What is it?”
Captain Kincade tapped her finger on a small carving to the left of the window. “The initials W. H. It’s the mark of William Halloway, an old enemy.”
“Of yours, or Timberwolf’s?” Red asked.
“Both of us, actually,” Kincade replied, pursing her lips in a frown. “I believe Halloway has taken your captain.”
“Like, taken out to dinner?” Silas asked hopefully. For what were they to do if their captain had been taken hostage?
Kincade shook her head. “I fear not. You and your crew, however, may stay on my ship for a few days so that I can tell you all I know about Halloway and where your captain might be held.”
“Thank you so much.” Red smiled broadly. “You truly are a benevolent captain.”
“Don’t thank me until Timberwolf is back on this ship,” Kincade said grimly. “You have a long way to go yet.”
. . .
The next day, Captain Kincade requested an audience with Silas, saying she wished to speak with the first mate. She told him that Timberwolf was most likely hidden away in Halloway’s stronghold, which was situated all the way across the ocean. Unfortunately, Kincade was unable to go with them, as she had her own agenda to follow, so she told Silas that he should be the one to lead his crew.
Silas shook his head vigorously. “No, Red should be the one to lead us. He has known Timberwolf for longer, and the crew listens to him.”
Kincade laughed. “Boy, why do you doubt yourself so? Timberwolf obviously trusted you a great deal if he made you his first mate.”
Yet Silas still declined. He had thought he was ready to be leader, but when it came down to it, he had no idea what to do.
At supper that night, he told his crew where Timberwolf was being held and announced that Red would be the one to lead them on this journey. There was a great deal of cheering at the second announcement, which relieved Silas; and though he didn’t want to admit it, made him rather envious.
However, the next morning Silas awoke to unpleasant retching noises. Red had gotten a stomach illness of some sort, and between bouts of emptying his stomach, he managed to politely decline Silas’ invitation to be stand-in captain. “Already,” Red choked out, “it’s going to be difficult enough for me to come along.”
So, Silas had no choice but to lead his crew on their quest. The truth was that while he wanted to prove he could take on the responsibility of captaining the ship, he was deathly afraid of failure. He took up the mantle of captain with more than a little bit of reluctance.
Silas gathered his crew from their various places around Kincade’s vessel and thanked the captain for her help and hospitality. Then Timberwolf’s crew returned to their own ship and prepared to set sail immediately.