Lenora made her way to the door and I bid her stay behind, but she was a stubborn lass and would have none of it. Maurice led the way to the galley and there we found Rupert lying face down on
the table. I thought at the first that he had gotten into the store of rum that was under his watch. The man was known to have a taste for it, but he never drank to the point of incapacity and the thought that he had both angered and surprised me. Then he raised his head. Lenora gasped and I feared for a moment she would faint, for the cook’s face was a hideous sight. The skin along one cheek puckered, angry red streaks running rivulets from his eye to his neck like tears.
“Get me a cloth and fresh water,” Lenora said. I might have known it would take more to shake my girl and for this I was sore glad.
Maurice ran to do as she asked. Rupert flinched as I drew near and I knew he was not in control of his senses. “What has happened?” I demanded.
“Accident.” The word hissed from Rupert’s throat.
Maurice returned and Lenora took the wet cloth and held it to the cook’s face. She was tender at the task, but poor Rupert blacked out from the pain of it nonetheless.
“What happened?” I demanded again, this time of the cabin boy.
“’Twas the soup. Cook fell into it. Boiling, it was.”
Lenora wrapped a dry cloth over the wound.
“How, pray tell,” I asked, “does a cook fall face first into a pot of soup?”
“I can’t say, sir.”
I took Maurice by the shoulders and attempted to shake the sense back into him. “You can’t say, or won’t say? I need the truth, boy.”
Lenora stepped forward. “Anton, please.”
“I need the truth,” I repeated. I’ll admit I did not like that she had stepped into the affair.
She turned to the boy. “If you know what happened, Maurice, you must say.”
“I have told you. He fell into the soup.”
I grumbled, ready to throttle him again. Then Lenora said, “You and I both know cooks don’t fall
into the soup unless they are sore drunk. And I don’t believe that to be the case.” Maurice stared at my wife, seeming uncertain that he had heard about drunkenness from the mouth of a lady, and I had to
suppress a grin. Lenora stood her ground. “So Cook was drunk, then?”
Maurice looked at his shoes. “No, ma’am.”
I stared at the boy. He blinked up at me and whispered, “’Twas no accident. Mr. Abercrombie dunked Cook’s head into the boiling pot."