Neither man was quite sure they should be making this journey. The fresh salt air and sunshine were encouraging, but the stodgy old sailors mending their nets and smoking their pipes were not. The Captain of the Princess proved the most helpful although that was clearly not his intent. “Lazarus Key?” he asked them. “You mean that old island where they stashed the lepers?”
Mitch shrugged. He didn’t know about any lepers. All he knew was that Lorali lived there and he wanted to find out why she had left him. “I guess so. I only know the place is called Lazarus Key.”
The captain looked Mitch and Kit up and down. “You’re the second one to ask me about that today. You look smarter than the other guy. Why don’t you take some advice and just forget you ever heard of the place?”
“I can’t do that,” Mitch told him. “I’ve got to meet someone there.”
The captain sighed. “Chasing that Sinclair girl I’ll bet. Well I don’t care how pretty she is, she ain’t worth risking a voyage to Lazarus Key.” He started to return to his work, then thought twice about it. “Look, can you read a map?”
“Mr. Pembroke,” Kit informed him, “was a pilot during the Great War.”
Mitch colored with embarrassment, but the captain was evidently impressed. He disappeared into the Princess and came back with a map which he spread on the dock between them. “Look, we’re here in Miami,” he pointed. “Here are what we call the Florida Keys. Lazarus Key isn’t really one of them. It’s way over here nearly fifty miles west of the traditional keys and one hundred twenty miles south and west of Florida. It’s surrounded by some uncharted coral reefs. Practically no one alive knows the way in and out of those reefs. It’d be suicide for just about anyone besides the Sinclairs to try and pilot a boat in or out of that harbor. I won’t try, and you won’t find a sane pilot in this town who will try it either.”
Mitch looked at the map and tried to decide if his own sailing skills would be adequate. His father could afford the boat, and he was fairly certain he could get Kit and himself to the island, but he had to admit that he had no reason to believe that he could find a way through the reefs.
"Those waters are full of sharks,” the captain added to discourage him, “tiger, gray reef, you name it.”
“You said that no one sane would take us,” Kit noted, a small part of him wondering why he was helping Mitch to do something that was clearly stupid. “Do you know someone insane enough to try it?”
The captain sighed and spit. “Just what that other fool said. Captain Jack and the Lucky Lady is who you should ask for. Let it be on your own heads.”
“Captain Jack?” Mitch asked him, his voice brightening with anticipation.
The reply lacked any enthusiasm. “He learned the route in the Yellow Fever days. You’ll find him at the end of the wharf.”