Nathaniel Cannon and the Secret of the Dutchman’s Cross No. 25

Masaracchia brushed his hands off and examined his work. The open door revealed a yawning blackness.

“Wha’ kind of monk are you?” Iseabail said, eyebrows raised.

Masaracchia coughed. “The body is to be a temple.”

“Nae one o’ those old, run-down ones, is it?”

“Eighty-six the flirting, Isea, he’s a man of God,” said Cannon.

Iseabail gave him a cross look. “Ye dinna have tae make a wisecrack abou’ everything.”

Cannon played his light around the space past the door way. “It’s how I show I care. Let’s go.”


Silence filled Inconstant’s hangar. A breeze blew through the open launching hatch, but Charlie Henderson, sitting across the card table from Joe Copeland, was nevertheless sweating bullets.

Joe was happy to see it. His cards laid face-down on the table—a full house, and guessing from Henderson’s repeated hopeful glances at his hand, he wasn’t nearly as well off. On the table between them was strewn the stake, a collection of small-time pirate treasure, from antique coins and modern banknotes to pocket-watches, rings, and other little bits of lucre. Joe had a small pile of his own. Henderson had just put his last earring into the pot. For better or for worse, this was his last hand. Thirty or forty other pirates stood around the table, some of them players who had been knocked out earlier in the afternoon.

“One,” Henderson said, barely louder than a whisper.

Joe slid a card from the top of the deck and flipped it off the table. “Can’t bet,” he said, a smirk showing at the corners of his mouth. “Let’s see—”

The sound-powered phone on the forward bulkhead rang. “Full house,” Joe said, turning over his cards as he got up. Henderson threw his hand at the table, and a few cheers went up from the peanut gallery—as well-liked as Henderson was, for the last month or two he’d been on a good run at cards, and like all pirates, the rest of the crew hated to lose booty they had rightfully stolen.

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