The water felt freezing and sapped strength. It crushed Douglas as was the fool pushing his head underwater. There was a wave of panic waiting for him to give in. Douglas tried to get the hands off his hair but he the cold and the lack of air had made him weak. It was not possible to fight the strength of a panicked person while submerged. He saw the full moon above and felt a fleeting moment of regret. He should not have jumped in. Ignoring the cries of help was not what he could do. The pain and bile were rising and Douglas let go of the hands holding him submerged. He had no clue of the time. Or if someone was coming for help. He punched with as hard as he could but it was a feeble thrust. The water felt like molasses and red dots in his eyes made it hard to gauge the distance. Instead of trying to hit again, he grabbed hold of the man. He pushed and raised him to silhouette him against the moon. His hand slid forward and grabbed a tight hold of the groin of the man. The tearing of his hair stopped as the man curled like a spring. Douglas kicked hard to reach the surface and drew in both water and air but when through the sea water the air was like nectar to his lungs. He coughed and looked for the man he jumped to save and took a tight grip on his ponytail. Douglas swam towards the pier and pulled the man behind him.
“Damn you, rookie! Take hold of the rope!”
Douglas looked up to the pier and saw Sergeant Luddock standing there with a rope. He was swinging it in a short arc and let it go as the frayed knot reached the end of the arc. It landed just to the side of Douglas, who grabbed it. He would get a lecture. Jumping in was the only right choice. The man would have drowned had he waited for the boat. The sergeant had yelled to him to wait a moment before he dived.
“Sergeant, I got it, just tie it in and Let’s wait for the boat.”
“Now he wants to wait. I told you to wait. Why did you not wait then? Well, any ideas who that fool is?”
Douglas pulled the shivering and whimpering man closer but did not recognize him.
“No one I know. Fancy suit though.”
“Damn, the emblem on the left arm?”
“Yeah, swan or something like that.”
“Shit! Tie him to the rope. I pull him up. A bloody lordling!”
Douglas tied the rope around the man and watched as Sergeant was pulling him up. Men called Sergeant Luddock a bull, not to his face, due to his enormous strength. Douglas always felt like a stripling when standing next to him. Douglas could see over the Sergeant but his frame was rather slight. Where Sergeant was an oak, he was a willow. Without the need to keep the man floating it was an easy task to climb up the pier and after just a few slips Douglas was up. He pulled the splinters out of his palms. The timber above the water was coarse.
“Fetch blankets, lad. And something stronger to warm up his lordship.”
There was a guardhouse on the wall separating wharf from the town. It was a long trip but Douglas ran it. It kept him warm in the cool night with all the wet clothes. He put his jacket by the fire and ignored the gasps of the constables sitting in the room. It always happened when he took the shirt off but he had learnt to ignore people. He donned the jacket and took a bunch of blankets. He also took a pair of bottles of what seemed like liquor and ran back out to the pier.
“You were fast, lad. Seems Lord Betonneren got waylaid on his way to a meeting.”
Douglas dropped the blankets at the feet of the man he had saved. He looked like a wet dog, no, more like a wet puppy. Douglas knew he was not that strong compared to Luddock but Lord Betonneren was just a kid, in his teens and rather weak looking teen at that.
“Meeting here? There is but smugglers and whores here.”
“I asked him that, but he declined to tell more. I bet he does not have his purse on him anymore. So, what to do now patrolman Douglas?”
Douglas straightened when he heard the word patrolman, it was a mark to act professionally. He thought about the situation before answering.
“We get few patrolmen with us and do a raid on the Scurvy Seadog. Whoever took his money will spend it right now and with Lord Betonneren here expected to have sunk to the bottom of the bay, they will be open about it. I gather it was a whore whom we will arrest, I would say it is Alissa.”
“Why you think it would be Alissa, patrolman Douglas?”
“She is still a fair looking. I doubt any other of the women could get a lord all the way here at the end of the pier without it seeming suspicious.”
“Sounds good. Anything else?”
Douglas frowned. It sounded that he had forgotten something but could not figure out what it was.
“That is all. Go in, arrest the woman, charge her with a murder attempt.”
Sergeant Luddock shook his head and offered a bottle to the Lord. He took a swig from the bottle and grimaced at the taste.
“Patrolman Douglas, then you ensure that no one will be the wiser about this incident. You arrest whoever stole the money, and that is all. Nothing else happened here. Am I right Lord Betonneren?”
The lad nodded while shuddering as if he was sitting on ice. Douglas looked at him and nodded back. Doing so went against his instincts but orders were orders. It might be a bad mark for a young lord if people heard about an incident including Alissa, a known whore. It bothered Douglas to ignore the murder attempt.
“Sergeant, I will do as you say but I object.”
“I hear you. Change into a clean and dry uniform before you go to the Scurvy Seadog. Appearances and all that.”
Douglas nodded and turned. He had thought when he joined the constabulary, he would fight crime and bring the evildoers to the justice. That did not seem to be so. A theft would land Alissa in jail unless she could get someone to bail her out. At most, she would receive a fine. Attempted murder would have landed her in jail for years and that was what she would deserve. She was a suspect in at least five similar cases already but there was no proof.
Douglas had thought life would simple and full of order after he left the Navy. The life on the seas was chaos packed inside a ship. Commanders were old and wanted to retire. Douglas had hoped a change but life on the shore was chaotic. Even more than on the sea.
If he had not gotten used to command structure in the Navy, he might have acted out. Spoken out about the problems, arrested the guilty ones on the spot. It gnawed his insides to allow them to walk away, but he was not naïve enough to think he could walk away unscathed if he did. Perhaps if Amelie would not be pregnant, no perhaps if he would not have Amelie, then he could just fight the system. He pushed away the thoughts and prepared himself for arresting Alissa. It would be quite a noisy thing. She would act innocent. There would be men acting chivalric. It would be a nuisance but he had his duty and his vow to uphold.