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Pirate Fiction -- Blackthorne's Story
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Capt Peter Blackthorne
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SEVEN SHOVELS
__________________________


It was called “El Rincón” — “The Corner.” Once past this bluff jutting out from Puerto Rico’s northwestern coast, a ship left the calmer waters of the Caribbean and entered the wild Atlantic. Sailors headed northwest would not see land again for more than 1,200 miles.

As Legacy neared the end of the island’s coast, El Rincón was literally the last spot of land where Ginnie could be buried. But it was also fitting, Blackthorne thought, that she would be interred at such a distinctive landmark. The commanding promontory would be easy to find again, should Mrs. Henry ever wish to return and sit at her daughter’s graveside.

Ginnie’s tiny coffin had been constructed from planks taken from Legacy’s spares. George Hughes, a grandfather himself, had also made a headstone from a two-inch-thick oaken board, carving into it a cross and an inscription — “G. H. — 1639.”

Legacy anchored a short distance from the rocky shore, and a small group of men and officers rowed Mrs. Henry through the surf and onto a sliver of beach. Blackthorne and Sims each took one of the coffin’s rope handles to manage it up the steep, sandy trail leading to the top of the bluff.

Pale and silent, Mrs. Henry trudged up the path, lifting the hem of her skirt to avoid stumbling. Her once crisp yellow gown was dirty and torn. Her hair, normally lifted neatly off her shoulders, was in disarray — partially up, partially down. She said nothing and now grieved without audible sobs.

In a sunny clearing surrounded by ancient palms and mango trees and within view of the vast ocean to the west, six Legacy sailors and Blackthorne himself opened the earth for young Ginnie Henry. And after Sims’ last quoted Scripture and the “amen” of his final prayer, seven shovels closed it back up again.

Mrs. Henry and Sims lingered by the graveside for some time, while Blackthorne and the rest of the boat crew waited on the beach. This would be their last delay, the captain vowed. There would be no more engagements, no more damage to his ship, no more injuries to his men, no more deaths of passengers or crew. The next port would be Jamestown, and then this misadventure would be behind them.


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Capt Peter Blackthorne
Cutthroat
Posts: 312



7570 Gold -

PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Capt Peter Blackthorne
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Warning: May not be appropriate for younger readers)


DROWNING
___________________________


“Mrs. Henry?” Sims balanced a tray of food in one hand while he knocked lightly on the wardroom door. “I’ve brought your supper.”

“Thank you, no.” Her response was barely audible.

“May I at least come in and pray with you?” He waited, listening keenly.

“I am not good company, Dr. Sims.”

“The Lord takes us as we are, in whatever wretched condition we—”

Blackthorne stepped in front of him and turned the latch, finding the door bolted from the inside. “Beg pardon, Mrs. Henry. I need into my cabin.”

“One moment.”

Blackthorne gave Sims a pointed look. “Leave her be,” he whispered.

They heard the rasp of the bolt sliding free. Blackthorne took the meal tray from Sims, counted to five to allow Mrs. Henry to return behind the canvas screen, then pushed into the wardroom. “Your dinner is here if you change your mind,” he said, and he placed it on the deck.

He crossed to the door to his cabin, bemused to see that she had locked it, even though he had been above decks all day. And so. She was fearful as well as heartsick. He shook his head faintly before quietly sliding the bolt aside. “I will be in my quarters for less than an hour,” he called softly back to her, “but you may bolt the door if you like.”

For the next few days, Mrs. Henry was not seen above decks, but Blackthorne would catch glimpses of her as he passed through the wardroom. She had eventually allowed Sims to minister to her, and the Puritan’s sense of propriety demanded that the sailcloth curtain be left open to protect Mrs. Henry’s reputation.

To Blackthorne’s observations, every visit from Sims was the same. He would bring her a meal, and she would refuse most of it, except perhaps for some tea. He would sit in a chair facing hers, his Bible on his lap, and read passages meant to comfort. He would try to engage her in conversation — at times superficial, at other times encouraging her to speak of her bereavement — but she was largely wooden and silent. At the end of his visit, he would urge her to kneel with him in prayer, and she would passively comply.

But each time Blackthorne passed and she glanced up bleakly at him, he saw the bottomless grief behind her eyes. Despite Sims’ kind attention and well-meaning efforts to heal her spirit, Mrs. Henry seemed to be drowning on a ship that was still afloat.


.......................................................


A handful of silver and copper coins. That was all the French sailors were able to rescue of their own possessions before losing their ship. It was a pittance, but the coins were added anyway to Legacy’s plunder in Blackthorne’s sea chest.

“There is also this,” Alden said, and he presented Captain Robineau’s great coat. “The buttons are gold. And that—” He didn’t know what to call the heavy gold cuffs and gaudy trim.

Dickerson snorted.

“Should I remove the buttons at least, sir?”

Blackthorne shook his head. “The coat may yet prove useful intact,” he said, thinking a captain’s uniform could make Legacy more convincing when sailing under French colors.

Alden tucked the items into Blackthorne’s sea chest and added each to the ship’s log, with the notation for the great coat reading, “French navy justacorp bearing 16 gold buttons and etc.”


.......................................................


Legacy was under full sail that night, scudding across the Atlantic in the light of a waning crescent moon. Having retired at midnight, Blackthorne had been rocked to sleep by a placid sea, yet even in slumber, he was aware of the foreign sound of a slide bolt skating across its wooden hasps on the opposite side of his cabin door.

He lifted himself on an elbow, watching as his door creaked open and Mrs. Henry stepped through. She was silhouetted against his gallery windows, the moonlight accentuating her naked form through her thin chemise. As he gazed, she slid the chemise off her shoulders and let it drop to the deck.

For an interminable moment, neither moved. Then Blackthorne drew aside his blanket in invitation, and Mrs. Henry climbed onto his bunk and sat on her heels, hands clasped before her. She took a shaky breath, tears shining down her face.

Rising to his knees on the feather tick, Blackthorne cradled her face in his hands and pressed his lips to her tears, taking the salt of her grief onto his tongue. She sighed and melted into him, turning his face to find his mouth with her own. Her kiss became greedy, and with a low groan in her throat, she pulled him down to the sheets.

Moved by her need, driven by compassion as well as lust, Blackthorne withheld nothing while Mrs. Henry demanded everything, and together they were fierce and relentless, smothering their vocalizations into each other’s skin lest they be heard from the decks below.

At last Mrs. Henry shuddered, and he felt the pulse of her pleasure even as he surged into his own. Arms tightly around his neck, she nodded her face to his throat, pressing tears into his skin. He held her this way for a long while, simply listening as the pace of her breathing gradually eased. In time, she shifted away from him and rolled onto his pillow, closing her eyes.

His head resting on his bicep, he gazed at her in profile, memorizing in the darkness the curve of her breasts and pleasing contours of her face. He might have been content, if only she had been. But her lashes were wet, and her fine brow was knitted — and in a short while, she rose, collected her chemise, and slipped out, without ever a word between them.


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Capt Peter Blackthorne
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOVE AND LOSS
___________________________


For the next two days, the wind died altogether. Dense, gunmetal clouds hung motionless in the sky, their undersides dampening the pennant on Legacy’s mainmast. Though the ship was idle, the crew could not be, so Dickerson busied them with tasks too long deferred — polishing the ship’s brass fittings, changing the wicks on the stern lanterns, re-reeving worn lines, replacing the oakum where it had disintegrated between deck planks, painting over the chips and divots from the small arms fire of their previous engagement.

Recovering somewhat from their trauma, Dove’s passengers came above more frequently and, out of boredom, pitched in with the crew on menial tasks. Bertie loitered on the forepeak, too haughty to lend a hand but neither needed nor wanted on the quarterdeck with the officers.

Sims’ visits to Mrs. Henry had ceased — not at his choice, Blackthorne surmised — so the doors to the wardroom were always locked, and her sailcloth curtain always closed as he passed through. When he requested access, he could hear her stepping to the door to free the slide bolt, but she said nothing. She exchanged words only with Alden when he brought her meals and removed the empty dishes afterward.

Twice, in the small hours of the night, Blackthorne rose from his bed and stood barefoot at his cabin door, listening for some sense of her and nearly giving in to the temptation to knock. But instead he returned to his bunk, restless and mystified by her distance.

On the third day the clouds lifted and Legacy’s sails once again billowed with a fresh, strong wind. Every dive of her prow into the waves sent a white spray over the bow, creating fleeting prisms before the foremast. Bathed in sunlight and invigorated with this brisk easterly, the ship bucked and gamboled in the high swells.

Blackthorne had just finished taking a reading with the backstaff when he noticed a flash of yellow at the waist. Mrs. Henry had finally come above decks. She placed her hands on the rail and turned her face into the sunshine, eyes closed.

Replacing the backstaff to the binnacle cabinet, he stepped down to the main and stood next to her at the rail. Her hair was in place — as neatly appointed as the first day he’d met her. Her dress had been washed and smoothed out again, its rips crudely mended with sailcloth thread. He was acutely aware of her every movement — the tiniest lift of her chin, her thumb absently stroking the rail, the rise and fall of her locket between her breasts as she breathed.

After a long moment, he said quietly, “Will we never speak of it?”

She opened her eyes slowly and gazed at him, her eyes kind, her expression composed. “I trust you will come to understand the meaning of it, in time.”

He was about to reply when he spotted Johnathan Sims approaching in his periphery, and he moved away — too quickly — for he noticed a change in Sims’ expression.


.......................................................


Sims had found the wardroom door standing open and Mrs. Henry’s canvas screen pulled aside. She had not left the wardroom since taking occupancy there, nor had she ever moved about the ship unescorted. This unusual behavior — and her recent rejections of his visits, as kindly voiced as they were — had troubled him, and he’d immediately gone in search of her, finding her at the rail next to Blackthorne.

What had he just seen between them? He’d witnessed their flirtation in St. Kitts, and he was all too aware of Peter’s cavalier way with women. Blessed with a tall stature, broad shoulders and chiseled features, Peter Blackthorne never wanted for female attention. Had Mrs. Henry succumbed to his charms, even in her state of bereavement? Had he taken advantage of her emotional frailty? Had he deliberately insinuated himself into Mrs. Henry’s favors, despite his knowledge of Sims’ own feelings for her? In nearly every way, Blackthorne was Sims’ opposite — young, daring, ambitious and worldly — but Sims never had reason to question his loyalty. Until now.

“Mrs. Henry,” Sims said as he approached. “Did you come above decks alone?”

With a small, puzzled smile, she turned to face him. “Should I not have?”

“I was concerned when I found the wardroom door open.”

At that, Blackthorne stopped on his way to the quarterdeck, his head tilting.

“Please allow Mr. Alden or myself to escort you,” Sims said. “For your safety.”


.......................................................


His heart pounding, Blackthorne hurried below, nearly bowling over Alden as he passed.

“Sir?” Alden fell into step behind him.

The wardroom door was wide open. Blackthorne’s stomach twisted when he saw his cabin door also standing ajar.

He pushed into his quarters and threw open his sea chest. It was empty, save for Robineau’s coat, which had been stripped of its gold buttons.

The rest of the plunder was gone.


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Capt Peter Blackthorne
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MUCH AFOOT
_____________________________


According to the Articles, the penalty for theft was keelhauling, so brutal a punishment that those who survived wish they hadn’t. It was unlikely that anyone in the company would chance such harsh consequences for such little reward — a few hundred coins, two pieces of jewelry and some gold buttons. But Dove’s passengers would know nothing of this risk. With more than 200 Legacy sailors roaming about, a thief would be hard-pressed to stash away stolen plunder where no eyes would witness it, particularly shipwreck survivors without even a trunk among them.

Blackthorne made all these mental calculations in the time it took to replace the lid to his sea chest and turn to Alden. “Say nothing of this,” he ordered quietly. “Go above and count Dove’s passengers and report back to me those who are not present.”

Arming himself with his rapier, Blackthorne rushed out and took the companionway leading below decks. He bypassed the gun deck, where the crew and male passengers berthed, for it was rarely unoccupied. There would also be no need to search the orlop deck; the French prisoners were under guard there around the clock.

The thief would seek out a vacant area where the stolen goods would not be uncovered by a Legacy crewman going about his usual tasks. He did a mental inventory of likely hiding places: fo’c’sle, powder magazine, shot locker, stores, flag locker, hold, bilge...

As he clambered down to the hold, he saw Jonas Fitch’s upturned face at the bottom of the companionway. Fitch’s eyes widened, and he pivoted. Before Blackthorne could reach the deck, Fitch grabbed an axe from a nearby becket and swung, nearly striking Blackthorne’s leg at the ankle.

Blackthorne leapt off the companionway and rolled. Fitch struck again, missing Blackthorne by inches. The axe head sunk into the planks, and as Fitch struggled to free it, Blackthorne drew his rapier and held its tip at the man’s jugular.

“Yield!” he panted.

Fitch slowly released the axe handle and raised his hands.

“Where is it?” Blackthorne’s eyes were fiery, his jaw clenched.

“I do not know what—”

With a flick of his wrist, Blackthorne caught the man’s ear with the tip of his blade, lacerating the lobe and causing him to scream and cower.

“WHERE?”

“There,” he said meekly, and he led Blackthorne over to a crate containing bottles of Madeira plundered on Legacy’s previous campaign, which had been reserved for rare occasions celebrated by the officers. Blackthorne shot Fitch a dark look, though a deeper part of him was impressed by his cunning. It could have been months before they’d had reason to open that crate again.

With his sword hovering at Fitch’s temple, Blackthorne watched as the man removed a sack containing the stolen items and spilled them onto the deck, then sorted the coins in stacks of ten.

“Aboard this ship, those who steal from the company are keelhauled,” Blackthorne said, observing as the last of the plunder was accounted for.

Fitch’s face went white. “No... Please, sir... I had no choice. I could not land in Jamestown empty-handed. The Governor— He’d have had me horsewhipped and hanged.”

“What Governor?”

“Governor Harvey, sir. Of Virginia.”

Blackthorne squinted. “What has he to do with it?”

Dove were carrying goods meant for the Governor — goods... traded free of duties.”

Blackthorne released an incredulous huff. “Who sold him the shipment?”

Fitch squirmed. “The Earl.”

Blackthorne gazed at him a long moment. “Was Bertie aware?”

He shook his head. “The Earl had no notion how poor a mariner his son would be. Dove’s master died a month after the ship sailed. Bertie was not up to the task.”

“Clearly. What was the shipment?”

“Gunpowder.”

Blackthorne grew still, recalling the tremendous explosion that took Dove to the bottom of the channel. If the smuggled powder had not been aboard, the little galleon would not have sunk so quickly, and there would surely have been more survivors. Mrs. Henry’s children might yet be alive.

“You will face the judgment of the company for the theft of our plunder,” Blackthorne said tersely. “Now move.” He gestured with his rapier toward the companionway.

“No, please! Wait!”

“Move!”

“The boy lives!” Fitch blurted, trembling.

“What? How?”

Fitch moistened his lips, gazing warily at Blackthorne. “I will tell you... only if you release me.”

“You are hardly in a position to negotiate!”

“He lives! I swear it!”

Blackthorne released a string of oaths. “Tell me.”

The boy was thrown from the ship by the explosion, Fitch said, and then carried by the strong current toward the French frigate. He saw the sailors toss a line and haul him aboard, shortly before the ship made its escape.

“You’ll regret it if this is not the truth,” Blackthorne warned. “Do not speak of this to anyone. Return above, and, by God, do not ever act against this company again.”

“Cap’n!” Alden’s voice sounded from the companionway. “Fitch is missing—” He stopped abruptly, seeing Blackthorne with Fitch — his ear dripping blood onto his shoulder — and a pile of gold coins on the deck.

“Indeed. He was the thief, and he is paroled of the crime — for now.”

While Alden replaced the plunder to the sea chest in his quarters, Blackthorne spread out his charts, pondering wind and weather and the damage sustained by Beaufort which, by his estimates, would take at least two weeks to repair. From the site of the battle, the nearest French port with a sizeable shipyard was Port-de-Paix — a five-day sail from Legacy’s current position.

If Fitch’s tale was true, William was still in Port-de-Paix.

“Mr. Alden,” Blackthorne said quietly.

“Cap’n?”

“There is... much afoot... and I require of you the strictest confidence.”

“Always, sir.” Alden’s young face was earnest and puzzled.

“Say nothing of the plunder. And convene the officers immediately on the quarterdeck.”


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:19 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Capt Peter Blackthorne
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Posts: 312



7570 Gold -

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Capt Peter Blackthorne
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

POISON
______________________

Blackthorne’s announcement to his officers of a change of course to Port-de-Paix was met with stunned silence. He wanted to dismiss them with no further explanation, but these men had trusted him to lead them for campaign after campaign. Dickerson had been a shipmate aboard the Draktarre. Pound was the gunner on the first prize ship he’d been given to command. The expectations inherent in their long camaraderie compelled him to say more, yet Blackthorne could not reveal the whole truth of the matter, not even to them.

He knew these men, and knew they would have insisted Fitch pay for his crime. But Fitch was the Earl’s man, and the Earl was the King’s man, and if harm came to Fitch while aboard Legacy, Blackthorne was certain the King would hear of it.

And what if Fitch was lying? If Blackthorne failed to find the boy, he could possibly improvise another reason for the sortie, possibly cover the debacle with a deflection. But not if the officers knew the truth in advance.

So he told them only that the detour was necessary to complete an errand for the Crown, and would it not be advantageous to earn even more favor with the King under his Letter of Marque?

That lie again.

“This Letter of Marque has earned us naught but misfortune,” Nicholas Pound. “We were earnin’ more as pirates, and were free enough! I say we burn it and to hell with the King.”

The officers fell silent, all eyes on Blackthorne. “Did you believe the Admiralty completely unaware of our crimes?” he said, looking to each in turn. “Did you think the King’s navy incapable of putting an end to us? We had been given leave to attack the ships of other nations because it was in the King’s interest to weaken them without culpability. And now it is in the King’s interest that Legacy conduct his business. And if we fail to do so, I promise you we will feel his wrath.”

“And what is the King’s business in Port-de-Paix?” Pound demanded.

Blackthorne was silent a long moment. “I have told you all I can.”

His officers’ expressions shifted from dismay to indignation and then — most troublingly — to distrust. After they were dismissed, he saw Pound and Dickerson exchanging quiet remarks as they stepped off the quarterdeck. Both men glanced back at Blackthorne over their shoulders.

Sims’ bitterness carried over into the hour he and Blackthorne customarily spent together before supper on the captain’s gallery, causing an uneasy silence between them. Finally, Sims said, “Why Port-de-Paix, Peter?”

“You’ll know in time.”

“I must wonder what could matter so much as to risk mutiny,” Sims stated bluntly. “Or perhaps it is not a ‘what’ but a ‘who.’”

Blackthorne shot him an annoyed glance, but Sims’ expression was firm. “Is there something between you and Mrs. Henry?”

Revealing his intimacy with Mrs. Henry was out of the question, and so was lying to his oldest friend. He glanced dourly at Sims, irritated at the personal intrusion and infuriated to be forced into this position. He rose and walked out without another word.


.......................................................


Peter Blackthorne was guilty, Sims concluded. He had incriminated himself with his silence.

It nearly took his breath away to imagine Mrs. Henry complicit in — what, precisely? What had happened between them? He could think of nothing else. This uncertainty — and the jealousy behind it — was so overpowering, Sims could concentrate neither on his duties nor his prayers, and he felt it as poison to his soul.

Sims intercepted Alden on his way to bring supper to Mrs. Henry and took the tray himself to the wardroom, relieved that she invited him inside. Pouring out her tea, and hoping for the most casual of tone, Sims said, “Curious. We have changed course and are now bearing south.”

Mrs. Henry’s gaze rose to him. “South? Whatever for?”

“I thought you might know,” he replied lightly.

Mrs. Henry’s brow creased in confusion. “I?”

“Mmm. On account of your... friendship... with the Captain.”

Startled, Mrs. Henry stared a moment. “Has the Captain spoken of a... ‘friendship’ with me?”

“No, no. Not explicitly. I have only observed a certain ... affinity... between you both.”

“I do not know why we are sailing south, Dr. Sims,” she replied curtly. “And I would thank you not to speculate on my personal life. You were kind to bring my supper, but please allow Mr. Alden to do so henceforward.”

His skin burning with humiliation, Sims exited hastily. He had been dismissed by the woman he loved, betrayed by his closest friend, and even his communion with God had been damaged by his fears and resentment. He had never before been tried so harshly, and he wondered whether these troubles had been sent by God to strengthen his faith or by the Devil to destroy it.

He trudged the long corridor forward to the surgery, stopping on the way to his compartment to check on the patient who concerned him most.

“How fare you this evening, Mr. Lester?” Sims murmured. He hung a lantern on an overhead beam and gently peeled back the bandage protecting the amputation of the man’s leg above the knee.

“Hurts like hell isself,” Richard slurred. “A pistol. Give me a pistol, Sims.”

The skin flap covering the stump had become inflamed, and white pus was oozing from between the sutures. He pressed gently on the margins, forcing out the purulence and causing Richard to snap his head to the side from pain. “Very sorry,” Sims murmured, and he stepped to his cupboard for clean bandages and preparations.

“The wound festers yet,” Sims said softly as he sopped up the pus and cleaned the incision. He held a small pewter bowl over a candle flame, swirling its contents periodically as it warmed, and the scent of pine bloomed into the compartment.

“What is’t?” Richard murmured, his eyes closed.

Unguentum elemi.” Sims spread some of the thick, warm liniment onto the incision. “Yellow basilicon mixed with turpentine and pine resin. This will draw out the bad humors and hasten healing.” He glanced up to the man’s face, wishing to tell him that he would not be needing a pistol just yet, but he expected to smell gangrene when he changed the bandage in the morning. A shot to the head would be a more pleasant death.

When he finished redressing the wound, Sims placed a cup of rum in the man’s hands. “Drink it all, Richard, and I will give you another. And then you will sleep.”

Sims watched the man’s face relax, and he took the cup from his slack fingers. He placed his palm on his forehead, feeling the heat of his fever. On any other day, he would have prayed for the man’s healing — for his soul — but Johnathan Sims could no longer feel a connection to the divine, nor hear the still, small voice of God in his own heart. He had crowded it out with suspicion, jealousy, anger, lust and self-pity.

He withdrew to his cabin, and took the bottle of rum with him.


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PORT-DE-PAIX
______________________________

Every man in Legacy’s company knew the ship had reversed course. Only one man knew why.

Perhaps, the crew conjectured, Captain Blackthorne had renounced his Letter of Marque and had washed his hands of the obligation to transport Dove’s survivors to Jamestown. Perhaps he will hold them all for ransom. Perhaps he is ravishing the beautiful Mrs. Henry in his cabin every night. They threw inquisitive and envious glances over their shoulder at Blackthorne on the quarterdeck but could read nothing but resolve in his expression.

Resentment was building in the men who brought the prisoners of war above to relieve themselves. Knowing the guards could be easily needled, the Frenchmen had taken to deliberately undershooting the rail and spraying piss all over the gunwale and deck — and sometimes their guards’ bare feet — even if it earned them a kick in the kidney. The crew would not stand for this humiliating duty much longer, Dickerson warned the Captain. Something must be done — and soon.

So the steady rain of the next few days came as a relief to Blackthorne. It shortened the time the Frenchmen spent above decks and washed away their errant piss. It encouraged Sims to remain in surgery, tending to his patients, so Blackthorne was not subjected to his scowls.

And it kept Mrs. Henry confined to her sailcloth cabin, curbing his impulse to speak with her — to ply his charms and perhaps persuade her back into his bed. He understood it to be the path of a lesser man, and he resented this temptation at the same time entertaining it. But a part of that lesser man justified his interest in Mrs. Henry with her apparent disinterest in Sims. If Sims had no chance of winning this woman’s heart, then would it be so wrong for Blackthorne to dabble with her? True, she was complicated and enigmatic, but he preferred to dwell instead on the raw simplicity of their mutual lust. Questions of friendship and loyalty were shoved aside by the power of his skin’s memory and the feel of her body beneath him.


.......................................................


“Wake.” Blackthorne gave Sims’ shoulder a not-so-gentle nudge with his knee.

“What?” Sims scrabbled to sit, blinking at the light from Blackthorne’s lantern. “What is’t?”

“Shhhh. Get dressed.” He pulled Sims’ breeches from a peg and tossed them to him. Then, taking his white linen shirt in hand, he ripped the square Puritan-style collar from the neckline.

“Here now!”

“SHHHH!” Blackthorne glared. “We are going ashore, and you must look more ... worldly.”

“Ashore? Why?” Sims struggled to pull on his leggings with Blackthorne occupying almost half of his tiny compartment.

“William may be in Port-de-Paix.”

At that, Sims froze, gaping. “How—“

“I will explain later. Just... get on with it.”

Sims muttered, looking down as he tied his breeches. “You might have told me afore. Do you not trust me?”

“I trust my old friend, but this one — with a heart besotted — is new to me. No, you may not take your coat. Or hat.”

“He may be hurt. I will need my medicinals.”

“Naught larger than a traveler’s pouch. Bring only what you need.”

The Boucher brothers were waiting on the waist, along with Alden and Dickerson, who were lowering a jolly boat. It was four in the morning, and Legacy had hove-to three miles east of Port-de-Paix and now bobbed in calm seas under a sliver of a moon.

As the others climbed down to the boat, Blackthorne turned to Dickerson. “Be here in this place in 24 hours,” he said quietly. “If we are not returned by dawn, then ... you are in command, and you decide what next.”

He gazed at his quartermaster for a moment, recognizing how easy it would be for Dickerson simply to sail away here and now and assume command of a crew discontented with Blackthorne’s recent leadership. He studied Dickerson’s face, searching for some sign of commitment, some sign that his loyalty had withstood the strain between them.

“Understood,” Dickerson said. And that was all he said.

At the tiller on the mile-long row to shore, Blackthorne briefed Sims and the Bouchers on what Fitch had told him, admitting that all of it could have been a lie.

“What would the French navy have to do with a boy so young? William is only six years old,” Sims said, exasperated.

Marcel pulled on the oars, his pace matching that of his younger brother on the thwart behind him. “Aboard Galliarde,” Marcel said, “they would sign a powder monkey at eight years of age. Six is not so far from eight.”

“Outrageous.”

“Do you suppose they intend to return the boy to his family?” Blackthorne asked.

“Perhaps in time,” Marcel said. “After the war? If he survives?”

They beached the boat on a secluded stretch of shore hidden from the road, a hundred yards inland. Armed with cutlass and flintlock, Maurice remained with the boat, while the rest of the men set off for Port-de-Paix.


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:21 pm; edited 5 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The story so far.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BEAUFORT
__________________________

After agreeing to rendezvous at sunset by the milepost at the edge of town, Blackthorne headed for the shipyard and Sims and Marcel Boucher went in search of the marketplace and taverns, where they would make discreet inquiries about Beaufort and its company. The tale of Beaufort’s narrow escape had certainly spread by now — perhaps word of her young English prisoner had as well.

The sky was pinkening to the east when Blackthorne located the shipyard just beyond the town’s edge. Beaufort’s hull damage had been repaired, and she had been returned to the water and moored at the shipyard’s dock. A few laborers had gathered near the gangway, awaiting permission to board to start their workday.

Blackthorne jogged into an alleyway behind a row of shops, then ducked into a stable, where he noted that the horses’ feed troughs were empty and dry. Knowing the hostler could arrive at any moment, he hoisted himself into the hay loft, where he hastily stripped off his weapons, hat, vest and boots, hiding it all under the hay. On his way out of the stables, he swiped a farrier’s hammer and slid it into his belt.

By the time he returned to Beaufort, the gangway was open, and workers were streaming aboard, including a group of three men who were struggling to carry a heavy timber across the gangway. He fell in behind them, taking the end of the beam and resting it on his shoulder as he followed them onto the ship.

While Blackthorne understood most of what the workers were saying, he avoided responding, fearing that his French was tinged with the accent of the Haitian sailor who taught him the language. To the casual observer, he was another laborer — a new man today — who pleasantly did as instructed and said little in reply.

But as he worked, Blackthorne noted the sentries posted at key locations on the main and quarterdeck, blocking access to the companionways. He would not be able to search the ship as he had planned. Instead, he followed orders — painting, tarring lines, hoisting materials from the dock, taking up one end of a bow saw for a man whose hands had blistered raw.

Mid-afternoon, he was directed to the forepeak to help bend a new spritsail to the yard. As he stood on the bowsprit facing aft, the angle afforded a clear sightline to the maintop some 65 feet above the deck, and his heart seized. A tow-headed boy was bound to the mast, his mouth gagged with a cloth. Blackthorne’s long stare earned him an elbow to his ribs from the laborer next to him. “Oui, oui, d’accord...” he replied, returning his attention to the sail. “Qu’est-ce?” he said with a nod to the maintop.

Le garçon qui vole,” the man said with a snicker.


.......................................................


“The boy who flies!” Sims exclaimed, outraged. “He has been there almost 12 hours, with 12 hours yet to pass!”

Blackthorne nodded, his face grim, then looked at Boucher. “Why would they do this to him?”

Marcel shook his head. “It is a punishment for boys who will not stop crying.”

“God in heaven.”

The townsfolk of Port-de-Paix had been only too pleased to gossip about the English boy taken prisoner by the heroic Beaufort. Oh, he was young, they agreed, but apparently not too young to serve aboard the man-o-war falsely sailing under the fleur-des-lis. Let the enemy sailor take his punishment like a man.

Beaufort’s captain drinks every night at an alehouse up the lane from the wharf,” Sims said. “He returns to his quarters around midnight.”

“Any sense of crew complement?” Blackthorne asked. He glanced at a farm wagon heading for the plantations outside of town, then tilted the brim of his hat to further shield his face.

Boucher shook his head. “I heard only that the crew was granted two weeks’ leave.”

“There were three sailors guarding the companionways while the shipwright’s men were aboard. Yet only one in the morning guarding the gangway.” Blackthorne paused. “Why would a captain stay aboard ship in the yard when he could sleep in a featherbed in town?”

After a thoughtful moment, he looked decisively at Sims and Boucher. “Let us fetch William.”

.......................................................


The alehouse was jammed with patrons when Blackthorne arrived, its air thick with pipe smoke and drinking songs. Beaufort’s captain was easy to pick out — there was no mistaking the flamboyant gold-trimmed justacorp and powdered wig of French nobility. He was sitting alone at a corner table — by choice, it appeared, as he had placed his chapeau on the chair next to him. Small and lean, he was hunched over his drink, like a dog over a bowl. Blackthorne observed from across the great room as the taverner refilled the captain’s pewter cup with red wine from a clay pitcher.

He did not look up at the taverner, nor did he look up at Blackthorne when he later reached over his shoulder with an identical clay pitcher and filled his cup with identical wine — except that it contained an ample measure of laudanum from Sims’ medical kit.

An hour later, the captain was sprawled over his table, unconscious. Leaving a generous amount from the captain’s purse, Blackthorne lifted the man onto his shoulder, grabbed his chapeau, and carried him through the busy great room, grinning and shrugging, as if he were only half as inebriated as his drinking companion, and laughing uproariously when the captain’s wig fell off and caught on the tip of his boot.

Grateful for the man’s compact size, Blackthorne conveyed him down the lane to the shipyard and across Beaufort’s gangway. “Il a trop bu,” he said, laughing, attempting to replace the wig onto the captain’s shaved head. He made a move to transfer him for the guard to carry.

The sentry sighed, shaking his head. “Viens avec moi.” He opened the door to the companionway, then led Blackthorne down to the next deck, where he unlocked the captain’s cabin and pushed the door open.

Merci,” Blackthorne grinned, and as he was rolling the captain onto his bunk, he heard the crack of wood against skull, and the sound of the sentry slumping to the planks.

Marcel Boucher appeared in the doorway, holding a bloody belaying pin. “No others above,” he whispered.

Blackthorne nodded. “Go.”


.......................................................


At Boucher’s return to the main deck, Sims climbed the rest of the way up the Jacob’s ladder from the jolly boat below, then over the rail. Sims was first up the ratlines, with Boucher hanging back for a moment to watch for more guards.

Sims had scaled Legacy’s shrouds many times, and he confidently ascended Beaufort’s ratlines. Upon reaching the main top, he glanced back at Boucher, who was gazing up at him expectantly from a few feet down the ratlines, then pushed through the lubber’s hole and heaved himself onto the platform. He moved immediately to the boy, finding him weak and dazed. His captors had not allowed him the dignity of a break, so his leggings were wet and soiled, nor was it likely they’d provided food or water.

“You mustn’t make a sound,” Sims whispered as he removed the gag, and after he’d cut the ropes binding the boy to the mast, he gently eased him to the lubber’s hole, where Marcel was waiting to carry him down.

Blackthorne was on the main deck when they finished their descent and, to their surprise, he was not alone. The unconscious captain lay at his feet, his uniform in a bundle on the planks. After Sims and Boucher had seen William safely into the jollyboat, Blackthorne tossed the uniform in after them. “Bring her ’round to the stern,” he said quietly. He lifted the inert French captain onto his shoulder and started up the ratlines.

While the Boucher brothers quietly positioned the boat under Beaufort’s great stern galleries, Sims tipped a flask of water to William’s mouth. The boy began to whimper, so the surgeon wrapped him up in the French captain's great coat and gathered him into his arms. “Shhh,” he said, rocking him gently to calm him. He glanced nervously at Marcel, wondering what could be taking Blackthorne so long.

Finally, Blackthorne appeared on the stern gallery of the captain’s cabin. With a grunt, he lifted a large trunk onto the rail, then leaned over and lowered it with a rope. “Handsomely, lads,” he whispered.

It took both brothers to ease the heavy chest into the bottom of the boat. “What is it?” they asked Blackthorne after he took his place at the tiller.

“Naught but what is rightfully ours.”

Beaufort’s captain remained bound and gagged on the maintop until someone finally noticed he was not the English boy they’d mast-headed the day before. And by then, he’d soaked his trousers.


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RENDEZVOUS
___________________________

Three hours past midnight or thereabouts, Blackthorne reckoned. They had been waiting for two hours, but still no sails on the dark horizon.

With the Captain’s permission, the Boucher brothers had crawled into the bottom of the boat and were now both snoring. Blackthorne himself was feeling the exhaustion of more than 24 hours without sleep, but his rising anxiety about Legacy kept his nerves on edge and drowsiness at bay.

His gaze fell on Sims, and he watched for a few moments as the surgeon murmured words of comfort to the boy huddled on his lap. William was clearly in distress from his recent maltreatment, but had he also been injured in Dove’s explosion? How could he not have been?

Even more concerning, what if Legacy’s crew under Dickerson had mutinied? What would Blackthorne do next if Legacy failed to rendezvous? He had no alternative plan. Three miles offshore, in a rowboat with an injured boy, a surgeon and two lightly armed sailors, he had rarely felt so vulnerable.

And if his company had revolted, what would that mean for Dove’s survivors? Murdered, most likely. Mrs. Henry raped, and kept alive to be raped again.

His stomach churned with dread.

He looked down at his hands, which were still smudged with tar, and rubbed a blister raised by his day’s work as a shipwright’s mate. If Legacy had deserted them, if this was how his career would end — captured by the French navy in a rowboat, no less — would he know as he faced the hangman’s noose that the attempt to rescue Mrs. Henry’s son had been worth the risk? The answer eluded him, and he was dismayed by his ambivalence.

Drifting on the ocean’s swells in the darkest hours of the night, awaiting a ship that might or might not arrive, Blackthorne could not even remember why he undertook this mission. He liked William well enough, but he was not his own blood, so why should the boy’s fate concern him? Did he hope to win Mrs. Henry’s heart? No, that could not have been the reason. As appealing as she was, no woman was worth this sacrifice. Was it a way to assuage his guilt over the loss of Dove? Why should he feel even guilty? By every indication, she had been safe where he’d left her. No one could have known she would be attacked within the hour. And even if he’d not forced Bertie to jettison his rabinets, Dove could not have defended herself. Not with those tiny guns and inexperienced crew.

“At last,” Sims said quietly.

Blackthorne’s head snapped up and he peered eastward, where a square-rigger was emerging from the gloom. His heart swelled with pride and relief — he knew every line of his ship, even from a distance, even in the dark. As he took the tiller in hand, he nudged Marcel and his brother with the toe of his boot. “Lads. Legacy est arrivé.”


.......................................................


“I’ll be damned,” Dickerson said as William, still swaddled in the French captain’s great coat, was lifted up and over the rail to the main deck.

“Mr. Alden,” Blackthorne said, following closely on Sims’ heels. “Kindly escort Mrs. Henry to the surgery. Tell her ... Dr. Sims has found her son.”

Sims shot a startled look at Blackthorne, but then hurried below with William in his arms.

“Best get us under way again, Neville,” Blackthorne said. “Then I’ve something I think you’ll want to see.”

After seven blows with an axe, the lock on the strongbox finally gave way. Inside the captain’s cabin, Alden, Dickerson, and the Bouchers huddled over the chest as Blackthorne lifted the lid, revealing a mass of gold coins within. Atop the coins was a leather journal, which Blackthorne thumbed through, found illegible, and then handed to Marcel Boucher.

Alden held one of the coins next to a candle on Blackthorne’s secretary, studying its detail. “Gold crown of Louis XIII,” he said, slightly awed. “Struck last year in Rouen.”

“These funds were meant for Martinique, Guadeloupe and Montserrat,” Marcel said, reading the journal’s notations. “Port-de-Paix’s share was delivered six days before we fought her in the channel.”

Beaufort had sailed from Calais six months earlier bearing financial support for France’s struggling colonies. She was not a patrol ship after all, but rather a courier, with Galliarde sailing as escort. Somehow they were separated — as Beaufort sailed south through the channel, Galliarde took a parallel course on the westward side of Isla Mona. With a blink, Blackthorne realized that when Galliarde had charged north up the channel, she was rushing to Beaufort’s aid. Dove was never truly under pursuit — she was always just in Galliarde’s way.

The chest contained 17,505 gold crowns. Even after the King’s tenth was set aside, it was a handsome sum, more than enough to turn the mood of the crew back in Blackthorne’s favor.

Tomorrow would be a good day, Blackthorne thought when he finally retired to his bed. Legacy was en route to Virginia again. He would announce the acquisition of the plunder at the muster of the next watch. And he would see Mrs. Henry’s joy at her son’s return.

It would be a very good day.


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

STERN CHASE
_________________________________________


“Cap’n!”

Blackthorne awoke with a start, briefly disoriented. “What is it?”

“Beg pardon, sir,” Alden called through the door. “Mr. Dickerson said to inform you we are being pursued.”

The officers had allowed Blackthorne to sleep until nearly noon. When he joined them on the poop deck, they were standing at the taffrail, conferring with Marcel Boucher.

“She’s matched our course point for point all mornin’, an’ makin’ better speed,” Dickerson said, and he handed the captain a telescope.

Blackthorne took a cursory look through the glass, then again with his naked eye, and his lips parted in surprise. She was the biggest sloop he’d ever seen, and she flew French colors.

Reflexively, Blackthorne glanced at Legacy’s sails, finding every inch of canvas set. He’d always counted on Legacy’s superior firepower to ward off swift fore-and-aft rigs, and if any were bold enough to board, their numbers were easily outmatched. But a sloop as big as this one might have a crew complement rivaling his own — possibly even more.

“Do you know her?” Blackthorne asked.

Marcel Boucher shook his head. “Non, but I think she knows us.”

Blackthorne set his jaw, glancing once at the fleur-de-lis atop Legacy’s main mast. False colors were worthless, as apparently the French navy now recognized Legacy on sight. “Well then. Let us hoist the jolie rouge.”

“Do ye mean t’ fight, Cap’n?” Dickerson asked.

Blackthorne shook his head. “She would gain too much ground were we to angle for a broadside. Run out the stern chasers and fire when she is in range.”

Sailors were ordered below to shutter the glass on the stern galleries, but that was the only precaution against damage that could be taken. When every knot of speed was needed, the topsails could not be reefed for battle. Legacy would be laid bare for whatever was to transpire in an hours-long stern chase.

As the afternoon wore on into early evening, Legacy’s crew remained at the braces, constantly trimming for the best point of sail in winds that shifted from east to southeast and then back again. The sloop was steadily closing the gap, now near enough for Blackthorne’s long glass to reveal that her main deck was teeming with Troupes de la Marine — a fighting force established two decades earlier by Cardinal Richelieu — who were specifically trained in naval artillery and hand-to-hand shipboard combat. He lowered the glass, his face troubled.

“Captain, may I approach?”

Blackthorne turned, startled. Mrs. Henry was standing at the bottom of the companionway to the quarterdeck, and he wondered if she even knew Legacy was being pursued by the French navy.

“Aye, quickly,” he replied, waving her up to join him at the taffrail, and he glanced again at the sloop astern.

“It is a miracle,” Mrs. Henry said, her eyes shining. “How can I ever thank—”

Her words were lost in the thunder of Legacy’s stern chasers opening fire two decks below, and three seconds later, the sloop answered with a barrage of grapeshot. The shower of slugs raked the ship stern to bow, ripping through sails and lines, slamming into timber and flesh. A man on the mizzen brace took a shot to his throat, and he fell at Mrs. Henry’s feet, gurgling blood. She screamed, covering her head with her hands.

Blackthorne pulled her down to the deck, shielding her with his body. “This way!” he shouted. Crouched with his arm around her shoulders, he guided her to the quarterdeck, then down to the main, where they were protected as another volley of grapeshot mutilated the rigging overhead and caused Legacy’s canvas to shriek.

Blackthorne could see daylight through an alarming percentage of sailcloth, and he knew each fresh round of damage compromised the ship’s speed even more. Legacy would be boarded if he could not find a way soon to turn the tide.

He escorted Mrs. Henry to safety below decks, but it was several minutes before he returned to the poop deck. And when he did, he had Captain Robineau in hand, a pistol at his head. Divested of shackles, Robineau was wearing his commander’s justacorp — minus its buttons — and the chapeau pilfered from Beaufort’s captain.

While the enemy’s guns were loading, Blackthorne forced Robineau to stand on the taffrail and held him there at gunpoint, and the sloop’s bow chasers fell silent.

Both ships held their fire in a precarious stand-off, giving Dickerson and his security detail time to bring the rest of the French prisoners above, where they joined Robineau on the taffrail in full view of the approaching sloop, now 300 feet astern. Blackthorne ordered Legacy’s lanterns to be lit, so the enemy captain would be sure to see the Frenchmen’s faces, uniforms and ranks in the waning daylight.

Then he placed an empty keg in Robineau’s hands and shoved him overboard, watching as the sloop dropped her sails to pluck him from the sea. The rest of the prisoners were similarly tossed off at quarter mile intervals — like a beads strung on a rosary — ensuring the maximum delay as the sloop raised and lowered her sails to retrieve each man. For Blackthorne knew Robineau would insist his men be saved as well, as any good captain would.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NORTHWARD
___________________________


Shrouded in darkness, under a sky made barren by an absent moon and dense high clouds, Legacy limped northward into waters which, by the light of day, were proven vacant in every direction. For the next few days, fine weather and smooth seas afforded a much needed reprieve in a voyage fraught with struggle. Four men had died in the sloop’s attack. Many more had been injured. The surgery was packed with men and Sims was rarely seen above decks.

Legacy’s stores of spare sailcloth had been depleted by repairs required after the action in the channel. Her tattered sails could not be replaced whole — they would need to be patched with whatever could be found, including canvas salvaged from Dove. One by one, Legacy’s damaged sails were unbound from the spars and brought to the main deck to be stitched back together by any man who could manage a needle and thread. Even Mrs. Henry joined in, keeping a watchful eye on William as she worked. The boy had been bruised head to toe when Dove was sunk — lucky not to have suffered more serious injuries, but he was slow to regain his spirit. He shrank back from Legacy sailors who passed by too closely or looked at him too directly, retreating to his mother, who was never out of sight.

On Christmas Day, Legacy crossed the Tropic of Cancer, and the officers decided to mark both occasions by dropping anchor and serving dinner for the entire ship on the main deck. It was as splendid a meal as the cook and his mates could contrive: ham from a newly slaughtered hog, corned beef, lobscouse, cheese, boiled eggs, plum duff and savory pudding. In an impulsive act of generosity, the officers gifted sixteen bottles of their prized Madeira to be meted out to the company and Dove’s survivors. A measure of rum followed.

Blackthorne had invited Sims to bring Mrs. Henry and William to the poop deck, where a small table had been set up for their dinner. Before leaving them to join his men on the forepeak, Blackthorne presented William with a gift — a scaled-down rapier that he’d carved from part of a cracked spar, with a delicate hilt lashed to the blade — and a promise that he’d teach him a bit of fencing, if his mother would allow it. And then he exited quickly, for it seemed Mrs. Henry had warmed again to Sims, and he feared spoiling this state of affairs with his presence.


.......................................................


William brightened with the gift, and he moved away from their table to swing at imaginary foes near the rail. Mrs. Henry gazed a long moment at her son before speaking. “He will miss his sister,” she said quietly. “He will miss the girl she would have become.”

She took a sip of wine, her eyes taking on a distant quality. “Ginnie was my fourth child,” Mrs. Henry said softly.

Sims looked at her with surprise, remaining silent but hoping she would reveal more.

“Our first-born son died of fever before his fifth birthday. Our second baby was still-born. Ginnie was our only daughter.”

“I’m very sorry for your loss,” Sims said, adding gently, “Do you blame Captain Blackthorne?”

She shook her head, her gaze on the horizon astern. “We are at war,” she said with a small, pained smile. “My daughter died because powerful men use other people’s lives to settle their squabbles. Such is the world we live in.”

“And your husband?” Sims broached very softly.

“He died for no reason at all.” When she looked at him again, he could see that her eyes had welled. “He was shot for the contents of a purse that did not even belong to him. He and rich man inside the coach he was driving — both murdered by a highwayman.”

“I am so—”

“I know.” She gestured as if to wave away the entire matter, then took a bracing breath. “But my William is returned to me. And I thank God — and you, Dr. Sims — for I could not have borne another loss.”

Sims fell silent, his face troubled. It was Peter who learned that William was alive, Peter who made the decision to divert to Port-de-Paix, Peter who commanded the rescue mission, Peter who gained access to Beaufort, and Peter who had instilled in Mrs. Henry the notion that Sims was responsible for all of it. Though he risked losing the new respect and fondness in Mrs. Henry’s aspect when she gazed at him, he could not allow the misrepresentation to continue.

“Mrs. Henry... ’Twas more than I—”

“I understand,” she said. “’Twas you and the Bouchers and Captain Blackthorne, and I have thanked them all. But ’twas your face that William saw first. And so you will always be his champion, and mine.”

She smiled and gave him a frank look. “Now, will you please allow me to sew the collar back to your shirt? Truly, you do not seem yourself without it.”


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:25 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PAYMENT IN FULL
_________________________


“Blackthorne.” Peregrine Bertie stood next to Blackthorne’s desk, hands on his hips. “As I no longer have a ship, you will provide passage for me back to England.”

“That is quite impossible.” Blackthorne set down his calipers and leaned back in his chair, gazing calmly at Bertie.

“My father will—“

“Your father will mind his own affairs does he know what is best.”

“How dare you!”

“How dare HE?” Blackthorne retorted, rising to face Bertie. “He packed your ship with enough powder to blow it to Kingdom Come, and did not so much as mention it to you.”

“Powder—?”

“Sold illegally to the Governor of Virginia.”

“I do not believe you!”

“Then ask the Governor. And find your own passage to England.”

“The King will hear about this!” Bertie shouted, his face reddening.

Blackthorne glared, resisting the urge to reshape the young man's Roman nose, but the King would surely hear about that as well.

He returned to his chair, drumming his fingers on his desk a moment. “I will take you as far as Port Royal, where you may make demands of a ship in the King’s fleet.” This would be no sacrifice, Blackthorne reasoned, as he had planned to put into Port Royal for provisions anyway.

“Very well.” Bertie gave the front of his doublet a tug and started to turn.

“One moment, your Grace. You’ll pay for your passage aboard Legacy.”

“What? Everything I had went under with my ship!”

“Not everything.” Blackthorne’s gaze rested on the bulky gold rings adorning the nobleman’s hands.

“This is my signet ring!” Bertie sputtered. “And this one has been in my family for generations!”

“Well then. You may find passage from Jamestown, do you wait long enough.”

Muttering oath after oath, Bertie ripped the rings off his hands and slammed them down on Blackthorne’s desk.

“This is not quite enough,” Blackthorne said mildly, and at Bertie’s blank expression, he pointed to the silver buttons on his doublet and the front of his bag breeches.

“You wouldn’t!”

“I would. And I do. What would you expect from a pirate?”


Last edited by Capt Peter Blackthorne on Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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