Kit turned to Nigel, who hadn’t been given much chance to say anything yet. “Were you able to straighten out the problem with your younger brother and have a good leave?”
“My brother?” Nigel asked puzzled.
“When you left, you mentioned something about him wanting to sign aboard a merchant ship—”
“Oh that. He’d already shipped out, so there was nothing I could do about it. Lied about his age, of course. Can’t say I blame him. Me mam’s got a new boyfriend and he’s worse than me dad.” Nigel’s outrage was raw, and although his nose was almost back to its normal size, Kit thought he had some new bruises on his jaw. The teenager was complaining bitterly, “The bastard doesn’t contribute a farthing to the household but expects my mam to wait on him hand and foot. Drinks too much too.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Kit replied, thinking his young gunner had a lot on his plate. Hopefully, he’d be able to concentrate on his job once he was back at the station.
“Ah.” Nigel took a deep breath and then added, “I suppose it’s better you know about all of it, sir. I got into a fight with the bastard and threw him out of the house. He called the police and….” He took a deep breath. “I got arrested, sir. I expect they called the Station, and I’ll be on charges — again — when I arrive.”
It flashed through Kit’s head that when he’d pictured being skipper, he hadn’t thought about these kinds of problems. He also wondered very briefly if Adrian was right to question Nigel’s suitability for his crew, but he dismissed the thought. He’d taken the lad on, and it was now his job to look after him as best he could. It was this responsibility that made the role of skipper more challenging than simply flying a kite. To Nigel he admitted, “I honestly don’t know how things like this are handled, but if there’s any way I can help, I will.”
Nigel’s expression cleared a bit. “Would you, sir? I swear I won’t let this interfere with the job. I didn’t take to drink or anything — not after seeing the way that bastard quaffed it down and then spewed it up all over the place for me mam to clean up!” He was shaking his head in disgust.
Kit could sympathise, and promised, “I’ll see what I can do.”
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