Editor's Note: This manuscript was found in the paper of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). Scholars consider it an early sketch for his later masterpiece Treasure Island. He apparently decided that his earlier effort was far too risqué for the Victorian era and the executor of his estate seems to have agreed. The work was suppressed until just recently, when a group of scholars discovered it behind a wall in that gentleman's house. Because of its sexual content, those scholars have agreed that SOL is the most appropriate place to make it available to the public.
"Aye," said he, "she was a snapping piece. The wife of the late guv'nor, it turned out. A high-bred woman."
"High-bred?" said I. I poured him another tot of rum from the bottle. "And you the captain of a pirate ship?"
"In those days, aye."
That part, at least, was not hard to believe. He was a man of fifty or more years, his beard grizzled, his clothing twenty years out of fashion, his eye dulled by age and drink but still with that glint of command. We had been sitting in the Duck's Head Inn, Squire Connor, the solicitor Batterton, and myself, waiting for a fourth player to walk through the heavy oaken door. One glance at this man us that he was probably not the gentleman that we required, but we politely inquired whether he was interested in joining us.
"Ye'll not likely be gettin' many for a game like that, gents," he said with a croak of a laugh. "Ye be new to the Duck, I'll wager."
"We are in town for a meeting with the Board of Trade," Connor said.
"Aye," said he with a nod. "This be largely a seafarers' house, ye see? Per'aps a little rougher around the edges than you gents are accustomed to. We tend to play more dice than cards. One of the ladies will likely give you a game, though."
His use of the term "ladies" had us looking from one to the other. None of our usual haunts allowed "ladies" who came independent of gentlemen. Yet, as is oft the case with men, we were all of us loath to admit that perhaps we had stumbled into the wrong establishment.
"Take a chair, sir," Batterton offered. "Let us offer you a drink."
"Would ye be havin' a tale, then?" he asked.
"A tale?" Connor asked.
"Aye. A story of the sea. From me days as captain of a pirate boat in the Carib sea."
He pulled a watch from the pocket of his coat and carefully laid it on the table.
"It's exquisite," Connor said, picking it up. "Quite pure, if I'm not mistaken."
"The gold? Aye. More pure than what ye'll find on the inside, I wager, though not half so exquisite."
Connor had passed the watch to me for my inspection, and I took our guest's remark as an invitation to open the watch. I nearly dropped it on the floor.
The old man chuckled.
"What is it, Doctor?" Batterton asked me.
I was reluctant to hand it over to him. Inside the watch was a pen-and-ink drawing of an absolutely ravishing woman. She was naked, with long, flowing hair, an exceptionally fine bosom, and a mons pubis completely free of hair.
"It is indeed exquisite," I finally agreed in a choked voice. Batterton and Connor reacted no less strongly.
"We found her a-floatin' in the wreckage of a British frigate," he said after his brief introduction of her which I have quoted at the beginning of my story. "She'd come to grief on the Wallbern Shoals, which any mariner ought to have known about. Takin' the new Guv'nor to Grenada."
He nodded toward the watch, which Connor had returned to the table without closing its cover.
"She was the only one what had the sense to tie herself to a piece of wood. Still, she was a sorry little waterlogged rat when we first seen her."
"She must have been relieved to see you," Batterton said.
"Aye, to a point. Until she learned she was on a pirate ship. And that her presence there made her subject to our agreement."
"Agreement?" I asked.
"Between me and the crew. On dividing the spoils."
"But surely you can't have meant that to include a woman of character and birth!" Connor protested.
"It be the law of the sea, mate," the pirate said, fixing his eye on Connor. "A different law than you gents have here, to be sure."
"So you allowed the crew of the ship to..."
Connor found himself unable to finish the sentence.
The pirate chuckled again.
"Nay. She was too fine a pearl to let that lot have her. I bought her meself."
"You bought her?" Batterton asked.
"Aye. Bought their shares of her out, I did. And a damned poor bargain it seemed at first. She was a wildcat, gents, and no mistake. Spat at me, tried to claw me eyes. I had to lash her in a hammock each night to prevent her from killin' me with me own sword."
He shook his head and poured himself another drink.
"As I can well imagine she would," Connor said with his typical fastidiousness.
"Per'aps so," the man said with a shrug. "Still, she came around."
"Oh?" Batterton asked with as much ease as he could muster.
"Aye," the man said. "Well, ye be knowing women."
Not our lawyer friend. The poor man had loved only two women and them from afar. He had never approached either one to my certain knowledge, and was about to pass into his fourth decade with his life unsullied by romance. I decided to save Batterton from having to make further inquiry.
"Come, man," I said. "You can hardly expect us to settle for a tale that incomplete in exchange for your rum."
"'Tis a fair point, lad. One day we be out mendin' sail. I gave her the freedom of the cabin on those days, after removin' all the weapons, o' course.
"The lookout spots a ship, far away, ye see, so I returns to fetch me glass. From the cabin. And what do I find in there but her ladyship, her skirts raised to her hips, her bloomers dropped to her knees, a-workin' her hand in and out o' her cunny."
Batterton was shocked. Connor and I traded looks. The pirate simply chuckled again.
"Do ye believe, laddie, that only men have the fever?"
Batterton apparently was quite willing to expose his ignorance.
.... There is more of this story ...