Keith Jones – Pirate
Fooks – Gunnery
Terry Brakston - mate
Micky Folliger – new mate
Big George - crew
Monique Debeer – governess (30+)
Madrigal – brown hair eldest sister (19)
Melissa – light brown hair second sister (17)
Angela – blonde third sister (15)
April – light black maid (17)
May – flat and black haired maid (17)
June – brown haired (17)
Augusta – pale hair( 39)
Zanubia – pale straw hair (25)
Nell – cook
Bill Non-mad Bill to distinguish him – handiman and husband to Nell
The ship was well-armed, he could see that through the telescope. Well-armed and alone. So; what prompted a ship to carry a lot of guns but not sail with a navy escort? Was it hoping to be less visible as a single ship but still able to fight off a chance encounter?
The last naval escorted convoy had run into an English squadron and had, as a result, been engaged as the enemy. Single merchant ships were, so far, unmolested by the regular navy, but of course they then found themselves prey to the pirates. It was a risky, but very lucrative business running the Spanish, French, and Portugese empires in South and Central America.
He stood beside the helmsman, offering occasional advice to adjust course slightly. The aim was to keep all sail and make the maximum use of the wind to catch the quarry. Once again, the well-dressed captain of this ship amused himself by thinking how this kind of hunting was similar to stag-hunting, but could last days rather than hours. Sometimes the quarry escaped at night by dousing all their lights, sometimes the quarry was fooled by the hunter dousing their lights and sending a lit pinnace in a different direction. Sometimes a storm saved the day, and sometimes it destroyed all chance of escape. He almost enjoyed the chase more than the capture at the end. His crew didn’t, they enjoyed the rampage through the ship, the discovery of valuables.
Some enjoyed the torture and violence too. He kept an eye on those; the ones who would make the crew walk the plank simply for the fun of it. He never did that; as long as they were willing, forthcoming and compliant, he would give them a chance to join him or a chance in an open boat. Killing for the sake of it wasn’t part of his nature. It had made him something of a legend. As had his success. He was one of the richest pirates – which meant, as he knew, that he was in danger of being betrayed for a reward. He stayed generous to his crew, not greedy; that way he hoped to maintain a loyal team.
He was also hoping that the vague hostilities between the various powers might break out into full war, then one side or the other might look to employ him as a privateer captain. He didn’t need more money, he needed an escape clause now; otherwise hung, drawn and quartered, or tied to a stake at low tide or similar endings, were the likely epitaph to his life.
“Cap’n. We’re gaining; when shall we open fire?”
Captain Jones looked again, there was puff of smoke, the ball on a low trajectory might bounce off the water and reach them; but accuracy would be poor and damage light at this range. “Load the two sisters with double powder, we’ll give them a shock. They might strike their colours” He didn’t think they would, but it was worth a try.
The sisters were meaty bastards; they fired forward rather than broadside because their kick back was massive. But sometimes the enemy was so shocked to be within range already that they would lose heart and allow themselves to be captured without a fight. Merchants, especially, hoped for kinder treatment that way; and often got it from him.
When he’d taken this ship, acquired? Stole? Who knows what the correct term was; he’d been an assistant to Mad Bill for a couple of years and the crew began to realise that Bill was drunk and disabled more than he wasn’t. When the cannon ball took his head off there were few who shed a tear. When he’d taken over – by virtue of simply saying “I’m in charge now, anybody arguing?” (a couple did, brothers; they launched themselves at him and he demonstrated a fine ability at unbridled fighting. One lost his leg and Keith Jones threw him over the side, the sharks smelled the blood and quickly arrived, by that time the other was floating headless beside his brother) – he had moved them to a more organised, trained crew. After the initial bellyaching, when they took more prizes with fewer injuries, they came to accept him as the natural leader.
He had created the role of Gunnery Sergeant for Fooks (no first name; never, ever, had one it seemed). Fooks was good with the guns. He fired the sisters and they watched the splashes near their target. The explosion of the two guns was deafening. The ship did not strike sail. The chase would continue.
It took another day to catch the ship near nightfall. The doused their lights to make a less good target and shadowed the ship as it grew dark. Then the small, fast pinnaces were unshipped and loaded with men. A night attack was often unexpected for some reason. The assumption was that the pirates would await dawn to renew the attack. Actually, by dawn the fight had gone out of the merchant crew.
The sun rose and the Devil’s Seahorse slid closer to the ship whose crew were killed, injured or surrendered.
“Gentlemen” announced Jones “You have a genuine choice. I -”
“CAP’N. COME SEE!” announced the Mate. The rule was that, once surrendered, the crew were confined below until the pirate captain was aboard. It avoided the unpleasantness of general massacre and mayhem that sometimes resulted from the bloodlust of the crew. Then the Mate and a party began to search the ship. Officers of the captured prize were ‘invited’ to divulge where the valuable goods were stowed. The First Officer lay on the deck bleeding, an arm broken. He had mentioned gold before fainting with pain.
“Look ‘ere sir” The mate showed his captain an unexpected prize. In the captain’s cabin a small group were cowering in a corner, an old man stood in front of them holding a sword hopelessly. He knew he would die if he fought these ruffians, but he knew that honour decreed he had to defend the women. The group was made up of six younger women and a striking older women of thirty. It was plain from their dress that three girls were higher class and three maids. The older woman was in plain black, she was a governess.
The mate expressed his utter contempt for the old man by ignoring him entirely.
“Sir” said Jones “You stand no chance. Indeed, if you fight, there is a danger that the women might get hurt. Put up your sword and you shall not die. I give my word”
“I will not let you misuse my daughters sir”
“Ohh, well then your fatalistic stance is understandable. But, honestly, you will not help them by dying.
Ladies, I appeal to you, tell your father to put up his sword” Captain Keith noticed the eye movements of some of the girls, not the ones he would have expected. He smiled “How would it be if I promised that we would only rape the serving girls?” The girls all looked at each other, wide eyed. The old man realised his mistake.
The mate had been sidling sideways. Now he launched himself and the man’s sword clattered uselessly to the ground, followed by the man himself.
Jones went to the girls and took their hands “As I thought, these are not the hands of a servant, they are smooth and clean. You dressed the servants as the ladies and visa versa. Not a bright move really. Still... “ He helped the father up “At least you tried”
At that moment, the gold was discovered. The crew went wild, there was money beyond their wildest dreams. This was the kind of prize that was rarely found. “Why so much gold and so unprotected?” Jones asked the old man
“Sir Adrian Dunbar at your service. We had thought to slip away without the governor realising, and return to England. Yes, I’m English. Our family has been making the Spanish a fortune by showing them how to farm more efficiently; but they would not allow us to leave with my fortune. I made the mistake of being too successful and making enemies. Now I have lost everything”
“Just so” An idea was occurring to him. Yes, why not.
“As I was saying to your crew. GENTLEMEN! Yes, you have a choice. You can join us, we always need new crew – I will not pretend. The life of a pirate can be quite short; or you can leave. We will put all who wish to leave into a pinnace with some food and drink. Land is not so far away, though you “ he indicated the old man “may find the welcome back by the Spanish to be less than effusive.
I’ll even give you some gold to purchase a passage home, if you survive. You might be able to raise a ransom to rescue your daughters?” He returned to speaking to the whole assembly
“As you see, the rewards can be great; though they are rarely this rich, and you will not share in this prize of course. This ship will be worth keeping, so I need more crew. Consider.
Now, to my crew. I have a proposition” The captain’s propositions were rarely debateable “I will give up my half of the prize; the gold that is. All the money will be divided amongst you all. How does that sound?” It sounded excellent, they realised there had to be a catch “In exchange, I keep the women. You would only ruin them in any case. With the money you have, when we reach Barbuda you can each buy women who will do all you can imagine and more. Any objections?”
.... There is more of this story ...