Nara Wilson-Hall

Страна: Новая Зеландия

Нара Вилсон-Холл – увлеченный новозеландский автор исторических детективов, художественной и научной литературы. Родом из Андижана (Узбекистан), она жила в разных странах и владеет несколькими языками. Имеет академическое образование в области психологии и инженерии. Она проживает в Аотеароа (Новая Зеландия) в уютном городке, недалеко от Нейпира, мировой столицы арт-деко, работает в British Petroleum и наслаждается садоводством.

Country: New Zealand

Nara Wilson-Hall is a passionate New Zealand author of historical mysteries, art, and science fiction. Originally from Andijan (Uzbekistan), she has lived in several countries and speaks several languages. She holds degrees in psychology and engineering. She resides in Aotearoa, New Zealand, a cozy town near Napier, the Art Deco Capital of the world, works at BP, and enjoys gardening.

Отрывок из перевода рассказа“Проклятие «Летучего Голландца»”

On the night of June 6th, 1863, the Deya Grazia was fighting a stormy sea blowing in from a fierce northeasterly gale in the North Atlantic. The passenger-freighter had departed Bristol, England ten days earlier, headed for Quebec, Canada; a part of the New World wrested from France by the superior British naval power almost a century ago.
Despite the ominous whistling and clanging created by every gust of wind blasting the sails and rigging, Dr Richard Greene slept soundly in his cabin. The physician, a seasoned ocean traveller who credited sleep for his excellent health, was then suddenly awoken by an urgent knocking at his cabin door, accompanied by a deep bass voice shouting over the storm’s din: “Doctor, doctor, open up!”
Leaping to his feet, Richard unlocked the door to be confronted by a tall, muscular man in a black uniform.
“My apologies, sir!” gasped the sailor, pushing his way into the unlit cabin, “But your help is urgently required! Please must come at once. The First Mate, Mr Smith, has asked that you report to the aft cabin to assist the watchman. I would advise you to wrap up well, sir, for the storm continues to lash the deck.”
Richard rubbed his eyes but no longer felt sleepy.
“Slow down, man. First introduce yourself and whilst I dress, give me as much information as possible about the incident to which I am being summoned.”
“Beggin’ your pardon, sir. My name is Brand and I am the ship’s boatswain.”
The seaman touched the brim of his cap and turned aside to afford the doctor some privacy. Within minutes, Dr Greene had donned his greatcoat and hat and forgoing his stockings, slipped on his leather boots. The two men hastened to the aft deck and over the rumble and roar of the ocean, the boatswain anxiously cursed as he related what had happened.
About a half an hour earlier, the watchman had gone to relieve the night-shift helmsman Eric Armand, otherwise known as ‘Monk.’ To his astonishment, he had discovered Armand in the navigator’s booth in a trance-like state. His eyes were shrouded in horror, and his body was frozen stiff, as he gripped the wheel of the ship. Since Armand remained unresponsive and unable to speak, the watchman called for help through the speaking tube connected to the main galley. Several of the night crew immediately rushed to the helm. It took two men to tear Armand from the wheel before carrying him on a stretcher to the aft cabin where he was administered a restorative tot of brandy. The boatswain Brand was sent to fetch Captain Morris, but receiving no answer when he knocked repeatedly at his cabin door, roused First Mate Smith. There being no ship doctor aboard, Smith in turn, had instructed Brand to summon their only passenger with medical experience, Dr Richard Greene.
In the aft cabin Richard was met by Smith, an energetic gentleman of medium build with a greying, well-trimmed beard. The doctor was told only that the patient’s name was Eric Armand. Smith led him to the couch and the sailors surrounding the pale Frenchman were ordered to move aside. Although more alert, Armand still struggled to breathe. Richard checked his pulse, listened to his heartbeat and covering the patient with a blanket, turned to address Smith.
“Mr Armand appears stable and the impact of whatever shock he endured, will pass. I am however, curious about what caused his catatonic state so with your permission, would like to ask him a few questions.”
More anxious than curious, the crew were growing evermore agitated. They knew full well that Armand’s seizure at the helm could have had dire consequences for had the ship gone off course and gone down, they would all have drowned in the cold Atlantic.
Impatient for answers, one growled, “Hey boy! Tell us what happened! Come on, Monk, spit it out!”
Armand drew a deep breathe. He seemed fully conscious yet still had a faraway look in his eyes as he replied in a tremulous voice: “Do not scoff at what I’m about to tell you,” he began, “I was alone on that watch. There should’ve been two men at the wheel. But our cheapskate Captain Morris would have none of it. It was pitch black and I had to battle hard to keep on course in that miserable, following sea without any help. Then suddenly, a gigantic ship emerged from nowhere off the starboard. All lit up, she was, with black, shimmering sails.”
Armand hands began to shake, spilling brandy from his glass.
“The Flying Dutchman?” Gasped one of the sailors.
“The ghost ship?” Stuttered another.
Armand took a sip of brandy as the sailors pressed him to continue.
“Aye that she was. The eternal wanderer of the seas. But before I could think of what to do, she glided silently past the Deya Grazia at great speed.”
Armand put down the brandy and as if pointing to a distant vessel, whispered, “I was able to make out the rotting name plate on her stern: ‘. he Flying Dutchm …’ She was a truly mighty ship, with stacks of decks topped by towering spire-like masts. Like all we sailors, I had heard about an ill-fated 17th century ship, doomed to forever wander the seas manned by a ghostly crew. The instant I saw her, I was reminded of old folks’ warnings that any sighting of that very ship spelt trouble and confess that I was petrified…”
The sailors stood still, listening with bated breath, before the cabin boy fearfully cried: “So, if what you saw was the ghost ship, we’re all doomed!”
He was immediately silenced when an old sailor spat: “Shut your mouth and let him finish, you yellow-livered skunk!”
The boatswain Brand then demanded, “But why on earth didn’t you call down to the crew or ring the helm bell, Monk?”
“I was paralysed by fear!” Armand closed his eyes. “Frozen to the spot. All I could do was grip the wheel for dear life. I couldn’t even call out to the captain, standing but a few yards away at the stern.”
First Mate Smith took a step towards Armand. “What was that? Captain Morris was on deck during this encounter with The Flying Dutchman? What was he doing there in the middle of the night?”
Armand appeared bewildered and shook his head. “I was so transfixed by the sight of that evil ship; I didn’t even dare turn around to look for the captain. I remained in exactly the same position that the watchman found me. I don’t know what happened to the captain.”
“Maybe he was taken by The Flying Dutchman?!” shouted one of the sailors from the back. A murmur of terror ripped through the assembled crew.

“Enough!” announced First Mate Smith, angrily. “We will conduct a search for Captain Morris immediately. Brand, you take four men and search the deck. Watchman Johnson, lead a search of the crew’s quarters. We will leave the passenger cabins for the time being.”
The storm was still raging, but the boat was now ably steered by two new helmsmen. One of Brand’s sailors found Captain Morris’ body under a pile of anchor chains and ropes on a midship deck. It was then covered and carried to the aft cabin, to be examined by the doctor. The captain had been an elderly gentleman of medium height and strong build. There was clear evidence of asphyxiation, suggesting that he had been strangled by the type of rope found on any ship. From the captain’s pocket, Greene unearthed his pipe, tobacco pouch, and a woman’s thin shawl.
“I presume this belongs to his fiancée, Mademoiselle Laura Orly,” remarked Smith fingering the shawl. “We’ll wait until morning before telling her the sad news.”
“Is his fiancée on the ship?” asked Richard in surprise.
Smith looked around and lowered his voice; “Let us retire to my cabin, away from prying ears. There is something I should tell you.”
After giving orders to the crew, the First Mate led the doctor to his quarters. He sat him down at the table and poured them both a glass of brandy.
“Captain Morris was my friend,” Smith began. “This was to be his final voyage before he retired and married his French fiancée, Laura. I was a little perturbed by the speed of events but could understand why he seemed in such a rush. The lady in question is much younger, quite beautiful, and naturally, approaching his twilight years, such an opportunity was too good to miss. There is however, another matter which I should mention. It concerns the captain’s recent acquisition of a treasure map from a dealer in Bristol.”
“A treasure map?” repeated Greene.
“The captain told me about it in strictest confidence. Had I intended to unearth treasure and pursue a happy life with a young wife, I too, would not have wanted the whole world knowing about it. That said, I regard you as trustworthy and furthermore, someone with whom I can share my doubts about whether Morris fell prey to the curse of The Flying Dutchman.”
“Did the captain show you the treasure map?”
“I’m afraid not. He just mentioned it briefly after we left Bristol,”
“Do you know whether the map was in his cabin, Mr. Smith?”
“He didn’t reveal its actual whereabouts but I assume he would have kept it in his safe.”
“I would therefore suggest you search his cabin and in particular, the safe.”
“But of course, doctor! By good fortune, he entrusted me with a spare key to the safe, so I can do so at once.”
Although it seemed the most obvious course of action, Dr Greene was not completely satisfied and so, before Smith took his leave, asked; “Do you think Captain Morris could have told anyone else about the treasure map?”
“I very much doubt it; as I said, he kept things to himself.”
The doctor declined the cigar offered by the First Mate and as he waited for the latter to light up, asked: “Can you recall anything else that Morris said about that map?”
“No, I’m afraid not but there of course, various tales about the missing treasure which might interest you.”
“Go on,” urged Greene.
“Everyone who has been to Quebec is familiar with this story,” replied Smith. “Back in the 17th century, the founder of New France, Samuel de Champlain, accumulated a vast treasure horde. Hailed as a great explorer, trader, and administrator, he made his wealth from attacks on the Spaniards and British and during his time as Governor of Quebec, is said to have buried a chest of his treasure on the coast, near Mill Bay. As his soldiers were digging a trench for the chest, they were spotted by a young woman. As a precaution, de Champlain’s adjutant took it upon himself to shoot her with his musket. It transpired that she was the recently appointed abbess and strolling through the monastery grounds, had appeared on the scene by chance. Horrified by the injustice served, de Champlain ordered the immediate execution of the adjutant. Although the exact location of de Champlain’s treasure remained a secret, a local legend evolved around the murder. People said that the ghost of the abbess could be seen walking the beach whilst out at sea, sailed the ghost of a huge ship.
Despite endless searches, no one has ever succeeded in unearthing de Champlain’s hidden treasure. And because many treasure hunters either lost their minds or died horrible deaths in the process, people were convinced that the horde was cursed. Over the years, fake maps showing the treasure’s location have come and gone but de Champlain’s map has never been found.”
Turning his now extinguished cigar in his fingers, the First Mate looked curiously at the doctor. “Do you think there might be some connection between the appearance of The Flying Dutchman and the history of Samuel de Champlain’s treasure?”
Richard seemed deep in thought but after a while, replied; “What puzzles me is why Morris believed his map to be authentic. He was evidently not a gullible man.”
“I have wondered about that too. But here’s the thing: The place where the treasure is believed to be buried is called Mill Bay. But in de Champlain’s time it was known as Baie du Moulin. The English renamed it. So, when Morris found this old map in Bristol showing Baie du Moulin, he was convinced that he had found de Champlain’s original copy.”
“Very interesting. I have a few more questions if you will indulge me, Mr Smith, before you search the captain’s safe. Firstly, what was the family name of the young abbess killed in Baie du Moulin?”
“I don’t remember, doctor. But I can make enquiries. Many of our crew have ties to that part of Quebec,” replied Smith.
“And what can you tell me about Eric Armand?”
“This is his maiden voyage on Deya Grazia. An experienced sailor, he came highly recommended. He has proved himself diligent, does not get into fights and isn’t a drunkard. There was supposed to be a second crew member at the helm that night but because he took ill shortly before their shift, Monk agreed to take the watch alone. Given the circumstances, the captain arranged for him to be relieved at midnight instead of three in the morning, as is usual.”
“Why is he called ‘Monk’?” Continued Richard.
“Perhaps because the men heard that he once lived in a Franciscan monastery?” shrugged Smith.
“So, he took monastic vows?” queried Richard.
“The devil only knows!”
“One final question. Why do you think Captain Morris decided to venture up on deck in the middle of the night in a raging storm?”
“That’s something, my dear doctor,” replied Smith in exasperation, “that I too, find hard to fathom.”
Smith escorted Dr Greene from his cabin to check on Armand then proceeded to the captain’s cabin to look for the map. A short while later, he returned to report that everything was in order and furthermore, nothing had been found in the safe.
He had however, managed to find a crewman from the Mill Bay area who familiar with the legend of the de Champlain treasure, was able to divulge that the murdered abbess had been named Suzanne Orly.

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