Wyatt stood there for a moment, taking in the strange look on the boy’s face. Ambrose had indeed been cowering at first, trying to fit his frail frame into an even smaller place than it usually occupied. As the seconds passed he had, however, slowly unfolded himself and now stood up straight with the stick held in front of his chest like a toy rifle. He was not looking at Wyatt, which was certainly what might be expected in this situation. He instead seemed to be looking at Claudia in the way people look at common animals in the zoo. Interested, but in a disinterested way, looking at something they have seen before but wondering if it is going to do anything unusual. That was what Wyatt thought the look was all about anyway until he stepped over, closer to Ambrose, and caught the actual look in his eyes. That was not the disinterested look he had expected. It was instead a menacing one, which seemed to be seeking a way to do some mischief to the girl even with an adult in the room. Abruptly Wyatt reached out and shook the boy’s shoulder.
“What are you doing in here Ambrose? Just what are you up to?”
As a response he received only a sharp howl, followed by Ambrose bolting out of the room, and perhaps not so accidentally poking Wyatt in the ribs with his stick on the way past. The sound awoke Claudia, who rolled over to look toward the door, and also Isaac, who shouted from the other room.
“What is going on out here?”
Wyatt paused to reassure Claudia before stepping out to confront his son. The ensuing discussion was loud and heated, although in the end Wyatt had to restrain himself from delivering his full suspicions to Isaac, who he knew would just laugh them off. Instead, he made his point about the inappropriateness of Ambrose being in Claudia’s room while she slept, and the fact that he thought he was up to some mischief, and left it at that. Four hours later they all stood on the edge of the pier at the St. Katharine dock by the River Thames, a look of considerable consternation on Isaac’s face.
“Just what is the meaning of this father? I asked you find us passage, and by that I meant passenger-style. Not this!”
Wyatt did not bother to respond, enjoying the moment and his son’s anger. Gazing up at the ship he finally replied.
“You said that we needed to leave today and I arranged it. You certainly know that arrangements on such short notice are not easy, and I did have to keep your frugal nature in mind after all, even after your outburst the other day. So, this is what we have and I’m sure it will be fine. We aren’t going that far after all.”
Isaac took a few steps over so that he could lean in and hiss in his father’s ear.
“I will not have my wife and child traveling in this way. This is too much, too far, you have mistaken my intent.”
Wyatt glanced over at Lydia, once again in her traveling clothes, and was fortunate enough to watch her eye. She was certainly furious.
“Well, we have the tickets and I cannot return them. And you need to get to Germany, so I guess you can take it or leave it.” Wyatt knew it was a rather bold move on his part, basically a dare offered to his son, and if Isaac refused to board he was not so sure what he was going to do.
The captain of the cargo ship, a rather poorly kept one at that, strode over to the bow rail and shouted down.
“If you people are planning to board, you best do so now. We cast off in five minutes!” With that he turned, pitching the stump end of his cigar into the water.
Wyatt took Claudia’s hand and stepped toward the ship. He heard Lydia whisper “No,” to Isaac but them heard his son’s small family following behind them. Once aboard, Lydia did her best to project some false air of prominence, trying to remain aloof from what she obviously considered transport beneath her station in life, such as it was. Wyatt and Claudia enjoyed themselves on the short journey, getting a tour of the engine room from a greasy mechanic named Murray and visiting the captain for several minutes on the bridge. They did not see Isaac or Ambrose until they were stepping off the ship onto the picturesque dock in Hamburg, Germany. His son’s family had apparently departed from the ship with extreme haste once it had docked.
The port area was bustling of course, mostly with persons leaving to emigrate to the United States, and there seemed to be much more traffic coming onto the long pier than there was leaving it. Claudia ran ahead of Wyatt all the way to the very beginning of the dock, suddenly much less inhibited than she ever had been before. He had to almost run himself to keep up and finally caught up to her near the small clock tower that stood on the main thoroughfare past the port. Sitting down, he purchased an apple from a passing vendor pushing a cart, and then cut it up with his pocketknife to share with her. They had finished it and were watching the passing crowds when Isaac and his family finally arrived.
“Nice place here. I like the clean air.” Wyatt had offered the comment as a gesture of peace, but received only a glare in return. Hailing a passing wagon, Isaac conversed briefly in German with the driver and then, at least from what little Wyatt understood, received directions to a nearby lodging house. With a hard look back at his father he then strode off with his wife and son in tow. Claudia stood up to start following them but Wyatt grabbed her arm and shook his head.
“They leaving us.”
“No girl, they aren’t going far. Don’t worry, we can catch up. It will be the most miserable looking hotel in the area, so it won’t be hard to find. But maybe I deserve it this time.” He finished with a wink at the girl, who laughed slightly and then sat back down. After buying and finishing another apple Wyatt finally got up to follow after his son.
…to be continued