Pirates of Forgotten Waters

Cassandra March is prejudiced in every single way possible-of course she is. She's a nobleman's daughter in 1778! So when a pirate ship arrives in the bay, she has to go to it. She has to become part of it. But when she gets there, she gets much more than she bargained for. A few drunk captains, some stupid sword/cutlasses, and a boy named Jacob....it seems Jacob may give her a view on life she doesn't know of yet.

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2. In the Bay

 

The attic was mine. It always had been, and it always would be. I could get away from anything, and everything, in the attic. Nowhere provided as much refuge from others as the attic did to me. It was mine; and Anna and Father knew that.

          There was a little hangover at the edge of the attic. It was a bit warmer than the rest of the attic (because the attic really was quite cold) but it was still cold. Under the hangover there were blankets and a little wooden chair with a view of the sea. A view of the port, where I’d sit for hours and watch the ships come in.

          Well, the few ships that had come in during the past eight years. Well, at the beginning there were ships every day. Lots and lots of them. But for most of the time, there were none. No ships at all. The Tea Act was to punish the Colonists, but it punished us more in ways that the government didn’t think of.

          But since when do they ever think about anything but increasing their financial wealth.

          I ducked under the edge of the hangover before sitting in the wooden chair I’ve always had there and staring out the window. “Just like always,” I muttered, and I began to turn away, but then something caught my eye and I had to turn back out of curiosity.

          There, in the port, was a ship. The wood was worn and the sails were ripped, and it was flying the British Flag.

          This was nowhere near typical.

           Normally any ship that we saw in the port these days was either foreign, or else a pirate ship, flying a pirate flag. Of course, then the pirates either ran away or were found out and hanged in the square. More often than not found out, but I did see a few smart pirates who were able to get away, but that was rare, very rare.

          I did think it a bit bizarre to see a ship, but it could be a pirate ship. “These pirates must be smart pirates….” I muttered to myself without really realizing it.

          And then I looked closer. It was definitely a pirate ship, and it was one that looked somewhat familiar. I mean, not from experience, but from pictures in pirate books that Father had only allowed because he thought we were trying to prevent the pirates from escaping. And we just had to let him believe that.

          It was the Black Diamond, and to my knowledge it was captained by Captain Paul Paxton, one of the greatest pirates ever. And it was the fastest ship in the Seven Seas. And the strongest, most amazing ship ever built. No ship could out sail it. Nothing could.

          At this knowledge, I had to do one thing. It was risky, but it had to be done. I stood up and ran to find Anna.

 

“You say you saw a ship?” Anna cried. “Cassandra, that is stupid, ships don’t come here anymore! The Tea Act banned them, and that was practically years ago!”

          “But it was there!” I protested. “I saw it with my own two eyes! It was definitely a ship, maybe even a pirate ship. I’m sure it was there, whether you’re going to believe me or not.”

          “It’s absurd and childish to think that way Cassandra, and I refuse to believe it!” Anna could act like this sometimes, rude and sure of herself, and as though no one else could ever do any right.

          “Fine.” I muttered. “Have it your way.” I turned to leave, lost of hope of escape. “I guess you forgot about trying to get out. I guess you forgot about everything we used to live for. Escape. Freedom. That’s real now, and you don’t care anymore. But fine, I understand. You’ve moved on. You have better things to do now than try to leave.”

          Anna turned after me, and I could see recognition in her face. We’d gotten closer, but yet we were still so far from being close. Too far from ever being what we could’ve been. Nothing like me and Mother. Nothing like her and Mother. Nothing like it was with Mother. Nothing.

          “Cassandra…” she began, words barely surpassing her red lips. “I’m sorry…”

          I whipped back around. “You’re sorry for what?” I injected instantly, not aware of it in some sense.

          Anna looked a bit confused, as if not sure about what she had just said. “But you just said…Oh whatever; let’s just get on with it.”

          Now it was my turn to be confused. “Get on with what? Anna, get your act together. You can’t go around confusing people like this. You just can’t.”

          Anna shrugged. “Well you can’t expect me to believe you if you’re not going to show me the evidence.”

          “Well I can’t expect you to believe me even if I do show you!” I shot back.

          Anna’s eyes went a bit weird, as if understanding finally. “Touché,” she said.

          I nodded, because of course, once again, I was right. “Come along then.” I said, aware of the ladylike air I was carrying.

          Anna smiled, and then she picked up her skirts to follow me. It was a bit difficult for her to fit through the passage that I had found so easy to get through, and she had to duck even lower than I under the hangover, but eventually I had gotten her to the window where the ship sat in the bay, still there, practically unchanged. Except for one thing.

          The pirates had become less smart, or maybe just let their guard down, because gone was our flag, and adorned was the Jolly Roger. The black background echoed loudly in the blue mid-day sky, awakening me, and for certain Anna.

          Anna didn’t care that it was flying pirate colors and not our colors like I had described to her, surely because she was so in awe that she couldn’t grasp it yet. “The Black Diamond,” she breathed, three words, but to me it was so much more than that.

          I nodded. “And so it is.”

          “Why do you suppose it’s here?” asked Anna, regaining her senses.

          I shrugged. “I don’t know. Probably to pick up something or other, as pirates always do. Maybe they are just refilling their rum supply… or do they even have rum here?”

          Anna shook her head. “I doubt that’s the reason, and there is no rum here in the colonies. There will never be, not since George took over rule in England, and it’s better that way. Rum should be left to pirates and pirates alone, with the occasional exception of ruffians and scoundrels, of course.”

          “Well fine, if you’re insistent that we not have anything to do with pirates and their pirate ways go right ahead and say it.”

          Anna looked at me quizzically. “I never said I was objecting to pirates.”

          “But you never said that you were promoting or permitting them either. Did you?”

          “You never said that I had to…Oh no Cassandra you’re not!” Anna’s eyes went wild, angrily wild and not wanting my still unspoken suggestion.

          I smiled deviously, and it felt good on my lips, devious, yet not so, as I spoke her dreaded words. “I am.”

          “But Cassandra…we can’t run away! And definitely not to a pirate ship with plunderful and disgusting criminals! Pirates, Cassandra, pirates! Don’t suggest pirates of all things! Oh sure, you want to get us killed if we don’t die anyway! But this is not freedom Cassandra, its lunacy! You’re a lunatic!” Anna’s eyes were flaring anger now, fury flowing out of her lips with every word. She began to pace the room. “My only sister is a raving lunatic!”

          I shrugged, an evil gleam in my grey eyes. “No one said that it was about us escaping. But neither did they say that there was anything bad about pirates.”

          Anna rolled her eyes, and a hint of her anger vanished. “I guess you’re right. So you do think we escape then? Considering you’re really not a raving lunatic.”

          I nodded. “Escape to the Black Diamond. Captain Paxton is rumored to be extremely hospitable when he’s drunk.”

          “When he’s drunk?” burst out Anna.

          “Sure! That’s about the only way they come, these pirates.”

          Anna continued to protest, and I gave her a glare.

          “Then why don’t we tell Abigail,” she said, standing up and leaving the room.

 

“YOU WANT ME TO WHAT?” Abigail screamed. “Pack up my remaining belongings in this wretched place and run away off to a bloody pirate ship? I don’t think so.” She paced the floor angrily, her hands nervously patting her legs.

          I grimaced. Not exactly what I had been expecting. I reached forward and grabbed her shoulders and looked her in the eye. “Abigail Josephina Speare. You’ll come with us, even if you don’t want to. But as the alternative is going to Finishing School, I think you’ll find a pirate ship an island in the sun.”

          Abigail raised her eyebrows despite the anger. “I hardly doubt it would be an island in the sun, but maybe they’ll be a nice island in the sun where we can hop ship onto.”

          “So you’re suggesting we maroon ourselves?” Anna asked quizzically, who was not a fan of the idea anyway, and clearly hated the idea of marooning.

          “No.” Abigail replied, clearly embarrassed. “I’m just suggesting we find a nice island where we convince the pirates to drop us off.” And after a look from Anna, she added something like; “That’s all I’m saying! No offense suggested.”

          “Good luck with that.” I said, turning towards my suitcase to begin packing.

          We packed in complete silence. Abigail was done first, but she refused to forage in the kitchen for food, so we waited till Anna was done. When she left, Abigail and I sat on the edge of my bed to talk, not saying it exactly, but more as a silent promise.

          “How’s life?” asked Abigail, turning to face me, and I realized how beautiful she was, with her red hair and blue eyes, which were pleading.

          I coughed. “I don’t know. What is your meaning?”

          “Well… how’s your Father treating you? I mean, besides what I’ve seen.”

          “Like you said. You saw.” I replied simply, wanting anything but to talk about the current way Father was treating us. “He still doesn’t love us, and he’s nowhere close to it.”

          Abigail smiled, warm and reassuring. “Well who knows? Maybe someday he’ll come through and love you like we all know he never has.”

          I nodded glumly. “That would be the hope, but it’s not going to happen.”

          “Maybe someday it will. Just have hope Cassandra, and maybe he’ll finally come through. Hope is all you can have in tough times, and sometimes you can never have too much of it.” Abigail put her hand on my shoulder to show her meaning. “Just like I hope there’s a nice sunny island out there for me to land on while we’re at sea, no doubt having the time of our lives, you can hope that you Father will love you, one day, once you’re home and your life is better.”

          “I just don’t get him.” I murmured sadly. “He puts us in a constant state of worry and insecurity, and then he’ll tell us that he loves us which is the utter opposite of what he really does love. He loves money Abigail, and his government position is more important to him than our happiness, which is really stupid if you ask anybody except for him and his little governmental chums. He thinks he’s still safe, he hasn’t been found out, but guess what? We found him out years ago. He’s been living in a false sense of security while we live life with no security. He’s not a man, Abigail; he’s a devil, if even worse than that. Or at least he listens more to the devil than he does to us.”

          “Maybe that’s true, but I’m inclined to doubt it,”

          I rolled my eyes, which were filling with tears. “He listens to the devil, and not to me, and now you’re not listening to me either! No one listens to me! No one! I’m not beautiful, I’m outspoken, I’m loud, and I’m even obnoxious sometimes! I’m not anything anyone would pay a nickel for! I’m a stupid, short, ugly 15 year old girl stuck in a corset and a frilly bodice! Who would listen to that?”

          Abigail nodded to show that she understood what I was going through. “I understand,” she said. “But I cannot help you. Some battles must be won on your own. But I will make you one promise.”

          I wiped tears out of my eyes as I stared at her through the teary haze. “And what might that be?”

          I really couldn’t see how she could help me. After all, she was the one who said that I’d have to fight this battle by myself, and now she was trying to help me. I didn’t know what she was up to, but it was a bit suspicious.

          “I promise you that I will always be by your side, through thick and thin, through happiness and trial. And if the pirates finally get to you and you go absolutely crazy, I’ll be there.”

          I gulped; amazed at the kindness Abigail had just shown me, and unsure except for one way of how to repay her. “And I too, promise.” I said, freshly brewed tears running calmly down my face. I saw that Abigail’s face had the same reaction with tears, happily and playfully running down, like childhood days but so, so different in its own way. Nothing like childhood, and yet everything like childhood.

          I hugged her, and she hugged me back. And we sat there till Anna returned, hugging, crying, sharing in a tender moment that would never be repeated. And no one would stop it. Anna could and probably would try, but our love wouldn’t be broken. This day was special; escaping from evil, and approaching new love. New love that we’d need if we didn’t need anything else. And these days, all we really needed was love, so I wasn’t too worried. After all, I’d found it.

         

Dinner was eaten in complete silence. It was too much to bear having to sit at the same table with Father for an hour, let alone right before we’d leave Father for what we could only hope was forever. The cook didn’t say anything about our peculiar behavior, because she was our friend so Anna had told her of our plight and she had promised not to act like she knew anything, though, of course she did. None of the waiting mistresses were allowed to say anything unless spoken too, so as far as we knew our secret was safe.

          Still, I desperately wanted to talk to Anna and Abigail. Not necessarily of our upcoming escape, but more just about something. I had always had issues with silence, and nothing was different now. If anything, it was worse. I wanted to talk. I wanted to be a part of something other than the silence. I hated silence. Silence was always so painful, and I hated it.

          Finally, Father’s short patience span got the best of him and he spoke. “Girls, please,” he pleaded, as we knew that it was only too soon before  he would. “Cassandra, Anna, please. I do love you. I really do. Believe my words. I do love you. I really do.”

          I felt the anger well up inside of me, but inside was where it would stay. I wasn’t going to let the anger out today, not here, not now. With waning daylight hours, I could survive, I just had to keep quiet, take control, and breathe. And, of course, not say or do anything.

          “Please!” Father pleaded again. “Just forgive me for my false wrongs, lies, and mistakes. Those things can be forgiven if you set your mind to it. And I hope you will forgive me because whether you believe it or not, I do love you, I really do. I love you. I love you.” Tears were beginning to well up in his eyes, and I had the urge to tell the maid to take away his glass of water so he would have to stop faking. But I didn’t.

          The same words, the same words, and less meaning in them. None of the words Father had ever spoken meant love. He didn’t know the meaning of love. His idea of love was society’s idea of a bad and unbroken crime. A crime almost worse than killing. A crime that to society was worthy of a hanging. And only pirates and the worst criminals were hung.  But, he was a pirate more than the pirates we were about to meet were.

          I coughed huffily to show that I thought this had gone too far, but speaking was not an option. I’d speak all right… when Father decides that he loves us, or once we’re gone, neither of which could come soon enough.

          Anna stood up and pushed in her plate. Abigail and I followed suit. We all stared him down angrily until Anna braved speaking. “We’ll forgive you when your crime is worth forgiving. But as of now, your crime is worse than death,” she said determinedly before she left, leaving a desperate Father in her wake.

          Abigail and I followed.

 

The attic was cold. Bitter cold. Unbearably cold.

          But the cold would have to be born. It was almost time, almost there, and it was my job to make sure that the ship didn’t leave. It seemed like it would be boring, but it had the utmost importance in our endeavor. Twenty minutes of boredom would be worth the outcome: a life without Father, and a life with freedom. Was it a small price to pay? Yes, it was. The outcome was much greater, although much scarier and much more dangerous.

But did I care? No.

          I pulled out a blanket and I wrapped it around my shoulders to try and harness the cold away from me. The cold stopped for a moment as the warmth from the blanket washed into me, but then the cold lapped against the side of the blanket again. I looked out of the window. The ship was still there.

          I laid back and relaxed, feeling it would be alright even if I fell asleep. Anna and Abigail were going to come and get me anyway when they were ready unless they had been informed that the ship had left. Since the ship hadn’t left, I felt that I could sleep.

          “Cassandra, get up!” The voice was loud and shrill, probably Anna’s. “We’re going to miss the stupid boat if you don’t hurry up and come with us!”

          I sighed, standing up and handing blankets to Anna and Abigail, still wiping sleep away from my eyes groggily. “Wrap these around you. It should still the cold for a while.”

          Abigail did, but Anna held back. “It’s not cold outside.”

          “Fine.” I said. “Have it your way.”

          She did have it her way, but we all had it ours. With one final look back at the only world we had ever known, we stepped out into the real world. In this world, there would be no one to protect us, no one to save us if danger came up. No protection but ourselves… but we’d be able to show our true worth.

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