“What are you doing here, old man?”
Lukas McCamden met the sailor’s gaze calmly. The pier rocked beneath them, the wind and the waves trying to push them into the choppy waters below. The steady rain danced on the ocean, sending dimples running across the crest of every wave. The noise was amplified as a gust of wind blew the raindrops diagonally.
“I’m here to meet the ship,” Lukas said.
“How’d you know we was coming?”
Lukas was steady. “I’ve my ways. I’d like to speak wi’ Sigmund.”
The sailor snorted. “Get off the pier, and he’ll meet you. We’ve got enough landlubbers about. You’re insufferable.”
Lukas returned the sailor’s sentiments. The pier creaked beneath his boots as he carefully made his way back to dry land, cautious not to slip on the rain-dampened wood. The rain had soaked through his cowl, scapular, and tunic; even his undershift stuck to his wet shoulders. The wind set a sharp ache in every bone he’d ever fractured. He wished for his cloak.
The ship was finally secured against the pier, and Lukas watched a young man as he ran, blond head ducked to the rain, towards dry land. He stumbled on the slick wood but caught himself before he fell. The metal tip of a hook peeked out of his left sleeve.
The young man’s head jerked up. “Lukas!” he exclaimed, running up to him and shaking his hand. “You’ll not believe all the Lord’s done in Hrafney!”
“The missionary trip went well, I take it?” Lukas asked.
“The chief himself was converted,” Sigmund said. “Seventy-eight salvations in total.”
“Seventy-eight?” Lukas repeated. Sigmund nodded, shivering as the wind blew through his slight frame, and Lukas wished again for his cloak. “God be praised, that’s good news! Now suppose we get out of the weather.”
Sigmund led him down the wood-paved street, every bit as slippery as the pier, to the tailor’s small longhouse near the center of town. “Of course. Remind me, though, I’ve got to tell you about a Scottish captain I met. He said he was a friend of Alynn’s father.”
Lukas glanced at Sigmund. He obviously didn’t know the magnitude of what he’d just said—glad instead to be on dry ground, anxious to see his wife for the first time in five weeks. “A Scotsman?” Lukas repeated.
“Judging by his accent, which doesn’t mean much. But he mentioned Alynn by name. Seemed rather concerned about the matter.” Sigmund once again ducked his head to the wind and quickened his pace. “Hrafney is sending a young man to study for the pastorate. I assumed you wouldn’t mind discipling him.”
“Not at all. I’ll be glad to meet him. What’s his name?”
“They haven’t decided who they’re sending. It’s either going to be the chief’s cousin or future brother-in-law.” Sigmund nearly ran the last four steps to the tailor’s house and rushed inside. Lukas heard the glad cries that only arise when a traveler is welcomed home—the shouting of names and the clapping of hands, the tears of a young wife who had never been apart from her husband before. It overpowered the din of the rain and the occasional clap of thunder.
And Lukas stayed outside, recalling the tales he’d been told of a Scottish sea captain, a friend of Alynn’s father.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.