_ _ _
“Can I help you, Miss?” – I heard a strong male voice behind me.
“I’m going up to deck A. Isn’t this the right way?” I replied. And then I added: “I’ve just received an invitation from Oona Sheehan to visit her in her first-class cabin.” I quickly showed him the message I had got from Oona. “Very good, Miss. Allow me to go with you,” the man said. He led me up to Oona’s cabin, knocked on the door and we entered. “If you please, madam, there’s a young lady to see you – her name is Molly Murphy.”
“How good of you to come, Molly,” Oona said.
“Miss Sheehan, why exactly did you invite me?” I asked a moment after the steward had left the cabin. “You hardly know me!”
Oona said: “Molly, I know that you are a lady detective, so you must be the kind of woman who likes a challenge and perhaps you would like to earn some extra money on this trip. I have a small proposition for you. It’s not always easy being me. I can never be alone, never have a chance to be myself. Even now, on this ship, in the middle of the ocean. People follow me like puppy dogs. It can become very tiring. I’m taking this trip home because my doctor has ordered me to slow down and rest. I would like some peace and quiet during the voyage.”
“You said you had a proposition for me,” I said.
“Yes. I want to change places with you on this voyage,” Oona said to my surprise.
“You want what?” I asked.
“Exactly what I said. For this voyage I want to become Molly Murphy, and I want you to stay in this cabin and become Oona Sheehan.”
“But that’s absurd,” I said.
“I’ve thought it all out. I’ll announce that I am feeling ill and I am staying in my cabin. If anyone knocks on the door and tries to talk to you, tell them that you have a terrible sore throat,” Oona said.
“Let me get this right. You’ll take my second-class cabin, down on E deck?” I asked.
“Yes. Say you’ll agree, and I’ll pay you straight away,” Oona said.
I thought for a moment. “I’ll do it,” I said.
She handed me a hundred dollars. Then she said: “Let’s exchange clothing and I’ll make my way down to E deck. And of course, feel free to use anything you like.” When we had switched clothes, she left. I stood in my new cabin, still feeling shocked. This was certainly the strangest thing which had ever happened to me. I was about to start a great adventure in my new role as Oona Sheehan. Then I heard someone knocking on my door.
“Come in,” I called, trying to sound like a famous actress with a sore throat. A pretty young woman entered the room and smiled politely.
“Good morning, Miss Murphy, I’m Rose, and Miss Sheehan has just asked me to look after you and give you whatever you need.”
I realized that it was going to be an unusual voyage.
Na podstawie: In Dublin’s Fair City by Rhys Bowen