“Tis a member of your family, your uncle, with whom I need to speak. Permission to come aboard, Captain? ” She asked.
“Permission, granted.” Morgan replied. ”
I’faith, I saw the consternation that was caused by my coming aboard in the eyes of the crew. E’en Morgan Adams herself, I knew was questioning the wisdom of letting me aboard her vessel.
A large black man, that I knewe to be the Quartermaster, stepped between myself and the Captain.
” Speak de trut womann, tell de captain dat you are a bruja, a sorcière, a Wytch! ”
My eyes did not betray any emotion and I allowed myself to take two breaths before answering.
” Aye.,” I said, ” Some may put those names to me. I am learned in herbs and potions. I sometimes can keen the knowing of events to come and those of the past. If that names me a bruja, a sorcière or Wytch, so be it. I’faith, I wish no harm to you, or your captain nor to this crewe. I only seek to find Douglas O’Riley,” I looked beyond the Quartermaster to the Captain, “or as you knowe him by the name of Dawg Brown. ”
” Stand down Mr. Glassepool. ” Morgan ordered her Quartermaster. She stepped ’round him and regarded me, her voice even, and I knewe by her eyes to be a faire woman, ” What is your name? ” she ask’t.
” Fanny…”I said meeting her eyes directly. ” Fanny Jones. ”
Morgan Adams hair blewe in the wind across her face and she brushed it aside with her hand, ” I do not know where my uncle is, but we are headed for Barbados. He has a friend…” Morgan began but I did not allowe her to finish her sentence, finishing it for her instead.
” Olin Winchester…” I said, unsmiling.
Morgan’s eyes widened and I saw her take in a sharp breath, “Yes, Olin Winchester. He might know of Dawg’s whereabouts.”
“We cannot delay and must make all haste, Captain,” I said, “Douglas is due to leave for shores further distant than e’er you can imagine.”
“I promise we will get to Barbados as soon as we can, ” We should be arriving on his shores in a fort night. Mr. Glassepool, take her below and settle her in the galley with Rasputina. ”
“Jest remember, Miss Fanny, if any harm befalls my crew from witchery, you’ll find yourself hanging from the yard with a dagger in your gullet. ” Glassepool said.
I nodded and followed Mr. Glassepool aft until at last we found ourselves before a door that he opened and indicated with a jerk of his head that this was to be where I woulde quarter.
“I believe Captain Adams wished for me to bed down in the galley,” I said, looking at him. He was determined, I knewe to keep his eyes from making direct contact with mine. I wondered if it was because he thought I coulde see into his heart, or perhaps something else. I did manage to catch his gaze once, and in the depths I sawe the heart of a man whose loyalty was deep to the captain he served. Of course his reception to me was one borne of protectiveness.
“It will be safa for all, Miss Fanny,” Mr Glassepool answered bluntly. “Dis cabin has a door you can bar against anyone who might seek to harm you.”
“I see…” I said, moved by this gesture, though probably just as confused as he why he was giving up his own quarters. “And I thank you for the use of your cabin, Mister Glassepool. Though you may not wish it, I’ll remember your concern. Thank you.”
Glassepool just shrugged and left, closing the door to his cabin behinde him. I stood looking about my surroundings with a less than critical eye. Surely I had landed in a better spot than within the galley on a cot. I would of course serve as well as I coulde for the time that I was on board Captain Morgan Adams’ ship. I wished none of these people harm, and silently I murm’red a prayer of protection for the good Captain and her Crewe, and especially to Mr. Glassepool, whom I suspected was still asking himself why he had given up his space to me.
I’faith I do not knowe if we had hit upon a faire wind, but as soon as we parted ways from Myngs’ the wind picked up and blewe us through a gentle but powerful gale. I founde the crew of Captain Morgan Adams’ vessel much more personable than those on board Myngs’ and I also had less to worry about. E’vry man aboard knewe why I was there and that I sought Morgan Adams’ “dreaded” Uncle Dawg. I was fairly certain that e’en Morgan herself was confused as to what I would want with her Uncle. And so it came to pass that one evening, I was invited to sup with her as soon as Rasputina could spare me from my duties in the galley.
And so to the Captain’s cabin I went.
What coulde I possibly say to Morgan Adams about why I was seeking her Uncle Douglas? How coulde I tell her that for a goodly portion of my life he had haunted my dreams, and that he had been in fact engaged to my twin sister, in another time, a lifetime ago? How coulde I confide to this woman who was formidible in her owne right that the man who was in fact a feared pyrate, was in fact the one man to whome I was tied? I mulled o’er in my mind the fact that I coulde not betray Douglas’ trust, yet I knewe that Morgan Adams probably knewe of this. Woulde she even begin to fathom what either of us had been through, or could she begin to undertsand, what even I myself struggled to understand – just why I needed to find him now?
As I passed from the galley toward the Captain’s Cabin, the crewe regarded me with suspicion, some crossing themselves, which was the usual response, and others grumbling under their breaths. It was Mr. Glassepool who was polite, even underneath his veneer of pretended superstition and contempt. If the Quartermaster, Mister Glassepool were superstitious about anything, it woulde have been that he knewe to treat a Wytch, sorciere’ or Mambo with respect. It was evident in smaller things and the fact that he gave up his cabin to me. I knewe that in so doing, that there were practitioners of Voudo in his owne family. Perhaps he and I woulde get an opportunity to speak at length. When one is aboard a ship time seems to shift to being e’er to long or too short. I coulde only hope for the best.
I found myself standing at the doore of Captain Adam’s quarters. I rapped my knuckles on the heavy wooden door. From deep within the cabin, I heard the Captain’s voice.
I turned the latch and walked in to see the Captain, comfortable and enjoying a bit of grog and the last bits of her supper. In the dim evening light, the family resemblence between Morgan and her uncle, Douglas, was remarkable. Gathering myself up I met her eyes with my owne,
“I trust supper was to your liking, Captain Adams,” I said.
“Aye! ” Morgan nodded taking another sip of her ale to wash down her last bites, “I take it Rasputina didn’a knowe you added spices to my supper. She tends to be a bit light handed with them. I thought I sensed your handiwork in there, for Rasputina has no talent for cooking ‘tall. I’d be better off with my meanest swab than the slop that comes out of the galley now! I’m grateful to you.”
“Aye,” I nodded, “she does at that, but I explained to her that if she were a bit heavier handed with the warmer herbes, the crewe would have far less problems with sickness o’er time. T’was just an observation.”
“Yer being kind to the wytch….” Morgan stopped herself realizing that her joke woulde not sit so well with me perhaps, “let’s keep our jest about Rasputina’s lack of cooking talent amongst ourselves, shall we? I’ll not have her poisoning the crewe outa sheer spite.”
“A’course, Captain Adams, ” I said letting her potential faux pas wash o’er me and fall into nothingness, “I’ll not mention a worde to Rasputina..”
“Well ye are in my quarters now, and so we can dispense with ceremony. Ye may call me Morgan here if you wish, Miss Jones.”
“And you may call me Fanny, Morgan.” I said.
Morgan indicated a seat next to hers that was to the right of the head of the table where she sat indicating me to sit. She grabbed a tankard from the sideboard, barely leaning back to get it, and began to pour me some of the rum from the bottle on the table. She slid it across the heavy wood table to me, and for a long moment she studied my face, particularly my eyes.
“So tell me,” Morgan said after a long silence, “Why is it that you’re seeking to find my Uncle Douglas….that is if ye don’t mind me asking. ”
“No, I donna mind, ” I said taking the rum and took a long sip. The warming liquid was dark, good, and was not the swill that they served in most of the bars in Tortuga and Port Royale. T’was obvious that Morgan Adams and her crewe had taste as well as skill. She had discovered the secrets of successful pyracy and it was obvious that the aptitude toward the ‘sweet trade’ ran in the family.
“Many a year ago, he saved my life, and for o’er three years after that he and I were together.”
“How did ye separate then?” she asked.
“T’was my turn to save his life, Morgan.” I said, “and t’is a very long story.”
Morgan lifted the bottle and poured a bit more in her glass and then in mine.
“The bottle is still near full, Miss Fanny,” she said, “and we have a bit of time till we get to Barbados. I am anxious to hear more about it.”
“I’faith, where to begin?” I said, taking a sip of the sweet, sharp amber liquid in my tankard, “Douglas found me in Tortuga to be burned at the stake. We did our pirating together and that was a fine thing. We were inseparable – until one day we pulled into a port, where we met up with one of your Uncle’s old friends. He’s called Hector the Horrible in some places, other pirates call him ‘the Beast’ or ‘The Great Barbarian’. Whate’er he is called, he is a horrible man. I knewe the moment I set my eyes upon him that Douglas’ friend was no friend at all, but to our faces he was charming enough. He was tall with red flaming hair and beard and by all rights, I suppose some woulde have call’t him handsome. But when Douglas had gone to tend to something and left me in the care of his ‘friend’ Hector, he pulled me aside, and said he had never laide eyes on my like before. ‘Come away with me’, he begged, ‘I will showe you places that you have ne’er seen before and I will prove to ye that I am a greater pirate than e’er Dawg Brown could be! Heare me, Fanny Fae, he said, and I shall make ye a pirate queen in yer own right!’ ”
“I see, Morgan said, “and a’course you did’na go with him?”
” Not willingly, no. I forced myself not to laugh in his face,” I continued, ” and I politely refused him, explaining that my course was set, but he was insistent. ‘I will have ye, Fanny Fae’, he nearly hissed at me, ‘and I mean to do it whether you choose to be at my side or not! If ye do not have a mind to come with me then I would sooner kill Dawg Brown – and ye will fall into my hand like a jewel’! ”
“And the way that his words were spoken, it ran like an ice wind through my heart, for I knewe that Hector the Horrible meant every word of his threat. I was of course going to go warn Douglas of the treachery of his so-called friend, but b’fore I coulde make any move to express what I had heard and seen to your Uncle, Hector, that Barbarian slapped me in irons. He threw me into a place among the storehouses along the docks. I was stashed where Douglas could’na find me, and Hector told him that I had run off. I tried to cry out, but I was where I coulde not be heard, and Douglas went his way, convinced, I am sure, that I had abandoned him. I ne’er at that time got the chance to tell him that I was carrying his child, his son. I am sure that Hector told Douglas how I had ran off.”” I fought the rising pain that wrapped its way around my chest for the remembering. I took a long swig of the rum that was in my tankard now, and Morgan, poured yet more from the bottle into it.
“It was as if Hector had thrust a dagger into my heart” I said when I had regained myself, ” Shackled in that small room, I coulde see the Reaper moored just off the coast and I watched them sail away. I was crying lost in my tears when I saw a young lad, dark eyes and dark hair, well heeled but not looking so very English looking down at me. At first I could have mistaken for a Spaniard, and yet he was a bit different in feature and face.”
“I saw hope when I saw that young lad,” I continued to tell my tale, smiling at the memory of my rescuer that day, ” And looked at the keys that hung on the wall, and then at him, ‘Young one,’ says I, ‘ I beg you to help a lady! I have been put into this place and the men who have done so mean to kill me. I have done nothing wrong, lad. Please help me, I implore you!’”
“With a nod, my dark eyed young friend carefully looked about to make sure that no one was coming, and handed me the keys, quickly I was able to get the shackles undone, and I thanked my young friend, ‘What is your name, child?” I ask’t him.
“I am John, John son of Lord and Lady Ainsley,”he answered me.
“You remind me of one of the lucky bird that we see at sea. Do you know what little bird that is, Master Ainsley?
“A sparrow?” he asked.
“Aye. That it is. You’re as welcome a sight as a sparrow, you know.”
“My father calls me a magpie sometimes,” he sighed, not at altogether impressed with my associating him with a small bird.
“You’re far from one of those,” I said with a slight laugh as he worked the key in the shackles. Leaving one to drop first from one wrist then from the other, T’was clear to me that he was extremely clever for one his age, ‘You you are a good lad, I told him, ‘ Someday you will be a prince. ‘”
The lad shook his head at me and said emphatically as he wrinkled his nose, ‘No, I don’t want to be a prince. I want to be a highwayman, or maybe a pirate captain!” he said to me with great conviction.
’By of your own mouth….I whispered’, you have named it’, Regaining myself I smiled at him as he helped me up, “And so you shall be, my young friend. You will be a prince among pirates.”
He looked at me with a strange expression as if I had made a pronouncement of such a puzzlement that I must have appeared mad to him.
“It is possible, my lucky little sparrow,” I bent down as if telling him a great secret,, “Remember, that with your freedom, anything is possible.”
“Where are you going? he asked me, warily.
“We need to get out of here before the man who put me in shackles returns again. He may harm you, too, my friend, and I could not bear that.” I looked out a crack in the door of the storage shed craning to see up and down the alleyway, “How is the easiest way to get to the beach from here, John? I need to reach a ship that is moored just out there, and I cannot see her anymore its too dark, now.”
He put his child’s hand in mine and led me through the back alleyways and passages through the streets of the port town.
When we were safely enough away, he dropped my hand and looked anxiously. “I have to get back, Lady,” he said, “but someday when I am a pirate, I hope that I meet you again.”
“I touched his sweet face and smiled, “Aye, ye shall, my Sparrow Prince. Ye shall see me again someday, but it will be a long time from now. Now….go quickly, and if anyone asks ye after me, tell them that you saw me go off toward the fort. Do you understand?”
“Aye, ” he answered…and with a mischievous smile he flashed over his shoulder at me, he slipped off into the night.”
“I got to the beach but it ‘twas too late. Douglas and the Reaper were gone and I knewe that in order to catch him, t’would be nigh impossible unless I coulde hire a ship. Alone, no money, and pursued by Hector, I arranged to make passage to Port Royal.”
“What of my Uncle’s child that ye were carrying?” Morgan asked.
“I carried our son nearly to term, but alas, I was ill and my time came too soon. I was ill and there was no doctor to help. I was thankfully found and helped by some of the Mambos and other women who are sisters of vodou who livein and around Port Royal. They nursed me back to health in time, but alas my infant was too young and not strong enough to fight off the illness that had passed to him also.”
“I am sorry for your loss…” Morgan said with sincerity, “Both of them. I think I understand better now.”
“I need to see Douglas again. I canna let him keep believing that I left him and ran off. Hector’s star is rising again – and he means to face Douglas this time, his treachery knows no bounds.” I said, my heart wrenching once more. For once my second sight did not help me, and I felt completely devoide of all a Wytch’s knowing, leaving only to that one thing that one cannot ever predict: trusting that love and right would prevail. Given the trail of lies and the nearly twenty years that had past since Douglas and I laid eyes upon one another, I was still filled with feare.
“We will be in Barbados soon,Miss Fanny, and we will help you find my uncle,” she said, almost as if she sensed that trepidation in me. I was grateful that this Captain was a woman, and coulde at least understand somewhat of what is in a woman’s heart.
“I knowe,” I said forcing myself to calm, “and with luck and the lwa, “time and the tides will be with us.”