“I speak Swedish, Anglish, er, Englander and a little Netherlander,” Lars said. He could not understand what he was being told, and it was very frustrating. The man who bought him led him along with a rope tied in a noose around his neck, and he talked to his two fellows and ignored Lars but for the occasional tug. Lars decided it was not yet time to resist since they were still too close to the guards in the slave market. He figured the opportunity would either be forced on him or present itself in due course.
“Sveedish.” Lars understood that much and the rest was gibberish, but the men knew what they were saying.
“I just know he is a sailor. I would not be surprised if he guided the boat with his friends all of the way from the Old World.” The captain spoke first.
“Almost as good as for the ladies,” the second man said.
“Did you see that black-haired beauty?” The first man’s eyes, hands and mouth all praised her.
“Only a glimpse,” the captain admitted. “But I saw enough to know she is too much for the likes of you. I am sure she will be some rich man’s first concubine soon enough.”
“I would guess a very rich man,” the second said, and they all agreed and laughed as they came to the port. New Ark was not a very big place.
A small boat rested on the bank, one just big enough for two oarsmen and a couple of passengers. It pointed at a much bigger boat in the kill, which had large lateen sails, but looked to be of a shallow draft, like a ship designed for coastal sailing.
Lars stopped walking when the men stopped, and he grabbed the rope to keep from being choked when they were ready to go. He tried to think how he could get out of going any further. The two men with the captain were getting that small boat ready, so Lars knew what was coming. He would have balked at being taken aboard any ship for fear of losing his ticket home, but then he saw something that caused him to blink. He shouted.
The girl stopped what she was doing, looked up and wrinkled her nose with a most curious expression. “You know my name?” She asked, but Lars did not understand a word of the language she spoke. Lars responded to her quickly in Swedish but the girl shook her head. She looked curious, though, as if she grasped something of what he said, because she kept squinting at him.
Lars felt a tug on his rope necktie. The Captain, who had paused to see what captured the big man’s attention, looked ready to go. The others held the boat and were prepared to shove off. Lars tugged back hard enough to rip the rope free and fling the Captain to the ground.
“Papa?” The girl put down her netting and came close. At least she spoke Englander. “But Papa, you died ten years ago. How can you be here?”
“Your mother, Angelica?”
Kirsten’s eyebrows went straight up. “She died in Devon, back in England when I was taken and sold.”
At once Lars realized his mistake. He remembered where he was and that this was not his daughter after all, but he marveled at the subtle changes that made the world what it was. He also noticed the Captain fumbling for the rope and the two mates getting back out of the boat and sporting knives. Lars began to run. He had to find the others. He had to get home, to his own Angelica and to his own Kirsten in his own world.