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“It was at this point,” says Sherrinford, “that he shook my hand–”

“Aha!” says Sacker. “From which gesture you surely gathered a panoply of interesting details.”

“It was neither limp and cold, like a dead fisherman’s, nor crushingly tight like that of some great Russian sadist,” says Sherrinford. “His fingers were slightly moist from the exertion of climbing the stairs. The shake was appropriately firm, and ended after a clasp and a slight vertical movement.”

“And what did you deduce?” asks Sacker, mustaches twitching.

“Almost completely nothing,” says Sherrinford, “the only people who don’t shake hands like that are in books.”


“Pirate ships don’t come with instructions,” hisses Sacker. “If those nice men find out you’re not really a captain–”

“Okay!” Sherrinford paces the cabin. “Go get the whatsit. Cabin boy. He’ll know how things work, but he won’t sway the crew.”

Sacker does. Sherrinford squats. “Hi, Simon,” she smiles. “Pop quiz! When your old captain wanted to go to Bermuda, what would he do? Slowly.”

“First,” says Simon slowly, “he’d get the instructions.”

Sherrinford looks hard at Sacker, who rolls his eyes. “You’re lying, boy,” he growls.

“Yes,” mutters Simon.

“The truth this time?”

Very first,” Simon sighs, “he’d bugger me.”