Okay, this is the first part of my pirate story for WriAShorStorWe. Be warned, it’s very rough, even though I have tidied it up a lot compared to the original.
In the harbour of Port Royal sits the pirate ship Revenge, a silent floating menace, dark and brooding in the moonlit night. The ship looks to be a hive of activity as small craft return to it and men and merchandise is hauled up the sides. Among the haul are a number of captives to sell as slaves. As the tall, imposing Captain Ardent runs his eye over the men and women his crew have taken, he notices one who stands out amongst the rest: a beautiful young woman with dark flowing hair and impossibly smooth, pale skin, dressed in the finest clothes. Even with he hair a mess, soot streaks on her face and a torn skirt it’s obvious she’s not ordinary. Stopping as he wanders past, he checks the grabs a handful of her dress, feeling the fabric.
“Who brought this woman?” he calls.
A small rodent-like pirate, called Dobs, steps forward.
“I did, Capt’n. Ain’t she a beauty, should fetch a good price.”
“Where did you find her?”
He examines her more closely, grabbing her under the chin and turning her face this way and that like he’s examining cattle. The woman breaks free of his hand.
“Take your filthy hands off me.” The response if fiery and filled with venom.
A sudden urgency comes over Ardent, he turns on his fellow pirate, barely concealed anger in his voice. “Quickly man, where did you find her?”
“L-large house up the hill, like all the other big houses.”
“Did it have a red door with a coat of arms on it?”
Anger rising: “That’s the Governor’s residence, I thought I made myself very clear when I said no-one was to touch the Governor’s residence.”
“Sorry, Capt’n, I made a mistake.”
“Yes, you did.” He raises his voice to the rest of the crew, not taking his eyes off Dobs. “Did anyone else make a mistake?”
“That’s something at least.”
He casts a glance at the rest of the captives. Spotting a reasonably well dressed, rather elderly gentleman. “Dobs, put him and the lady into a launch, we can’t have her rowing back to shore alone. Do it now, do it fast.”
Ardent returns to the poop deck and watches as Dobs shoves the two prisoners into a small launch and lowers it over the side with the help of another crew member. As Ardent looks on, watching the small launch head back to shore, the old man pulling well, his first mate, Joseph Jackson draws alongside him. Jackson is nearly as tall as Ardent, with a weathered look from the time spent exposed to the Caribbean sun, his powerful upper body has been created by the hard grind of sailing a ship and more hand-to-hand fights than even he can remember.
“I know you said the men weren’t to touch the Governor’s house, I understand that it saves us a whole lot of trouble, but he wouldn’t have cared about one maid, we’d have been better off to keep her.”
Ardent continues to watch the launch, hands clasped behind his back.
“That wasn’t one of the Governor’s maids, that was the Governor’s daughter. And before you say it, yes, we could have ransomed her, but it wasn’t worth the risk, he’d have had the entire British navy, and anyone else he could hire, hunting us down. We’ve got enough problems, and enemies, without adding one as big as that.”
“You’re right, Captain, as usual, it was a good thing you noticed who she was. She’s as beautiful as they say she is then.”
“It would appear so,” said Ardent, grinning as he looks at Jackson.
“Captain, I think it would be wise to tell the crew why you let her go, they’re beginning to think you’re afraid of the Governor and the Royal Navy.”
“Afraid? No, I just afford them the degree of respect they deserve, they’re a formidable foe. Besides, the crew doesn’t care what I do as long as I keep making them money. Tonight’s haul should keep them happy for a while.”
“True, and they’ll be singing your praises and telling stories about this one in bars all over Tortuga, that’s for sure. The entire fort unable to fire their cannons because the powder was spiked, brilliant idea, Captain.”
“Hmm.” He pauses, deep in thought. Tell the crew to make sail, we’re headed out before anyone happens along, no sense letting someone take our dishonest earnings.”
Three months later
An ornate carriage arrives at the Governor’s mansion. A servant opens the door to find Commodore Richards, a tall, impossibly thin figure and Captain Morgan, young, athletic, clean cut, both dressed in full Navy uniform despite the sweltering heat. After taking the Commodore’s hat, he leads him through to the hall and and into the Governor’s relaxing room, where he introduces him. The Governor, a rather short, portly gent with glasses, is seated in a satin-covered arm chair, sat at a small table by the window is his daughter, Amelia, looking breathtaking in the warm midday sun.
“Commodore Richards, what a pleasant surprise, and Captain Morgan, how good to see you.” He looks quickly at Amelia. The Commodore is in his late forties, a stern-looking man. Morgan is in his late-twenties, obviously going places.
“We’re happy to announce that we’ve caught the pirate Ardent and nearly twenty of his crew, Governor.” Amelia looks up.
“Excellent news, where is he?”
“Locked in our cells at this very moment. We’re scheduling his hanging for tomorrow morning, I didn’t feel there was any sense in waiting, with your approval, of course.”
“Excellent thinking Commodore, please make the necessary arrangements. I wonder though, would it be possible to see him behind bars before his sentence is carried out, I would like to make sure he is aware of what is going to happen to him after the ordeal he put Amelia through?”
“For you Governor, of course.”
“Excellent, I shall be along this afternoon.”
“Congratulations once again Commodore, I shall write to London to sing your praises in ridding us of this vile criminal.”
“Thank you, Governor. I look forward to your visit, good day.”
“Good day, Commodore, and to you Captain Morgan.”
“Good day, sir.”
Amelia stands, steps closer to the window and stares out.
“Father, when you go to the cells, can I go with you?”
“Why ever would you want to? I don’t think it’s a place for ladies of your breeding to be seen.”
“It’s just that I think it would put my mind at rest seeing that barbarous pirate, who nearly kidnapped me, behind bars.”
He pauses for a moment.
“Very well. And who knows, we may see that Captain Morgan again.”
The Commodore leads the way into the cells with Captain Morgan, the Governor and Amelia in tow.
“Well, here he is, Governor. James Ardent, supposedly the smartest, most daring, most brilliant pirate in the Caribbean, behind bars.”
“Once again, I extend my congratulations, Commodore. Excellent work.”
He looks Ardent up and down with barely concealed distaste.
“Well, well, Mr Ardent, how does it feel being outwitted for a change?”
“Oh, humbling, sir, so very humbling. It just goes to show that our betters really are better than we.”
“A sore loser I see from your sarcasm.”
“Only when my life’s on the line, if you were to give me leave to go on my way I’d be of much greater cheer I assure you.”
“Your hanging will serve as a warning to all other pirates, no one can elude the law, and those that break it will be punished.”
Ardent simply stares back.
“Allow me to show you some of the others we caught,” said Commodore Richards.
As the Governor is shown further down the cells, Amelia hangs back. She looks at Ardent who is watching the Governor, then notices her.
“It’s a privilege to see you again, my lady. Please excuse my bad manners at our last meeting. Captain James Ardent, at your service.” He performs as mock bow.
“Why did you let me go?”
He straightens up.
“Because I didn’t want to give the Governor a reason to hunt me down.”
“Is that the only reason?”
“Can you think of a better one?”
She turns to join the others.
“Dobs was right about you, my lady, you are extraordinarily beautiful.”
She seems momentarily shaken, not sure whether to be outraged or flattered, then turns and stalks off. Ardent grins. The Commodore walks back toward him.
“We caught them as they came ashore, supposedly sneaking into town to gather supplies. Of course, I can’t take all the credit, we had some help: one of his crew turned traitor. Would you like to know who, Ardent?”
“Bring him through.”
A pirate, accompanied by a marine, walks into the cells. Ardent charges the front of his cell. There are jeers from the his crew.
“Roberts, you son of a whore, you gave us up.”
“So would you for the money they offered me, but, truth be told, I’d have done it for free you arrogant ass. You always were a little too cocky. Not for much longer, eh?”
He mimes someone being hanged, his tongue sticking out. Ardent, enraged, slams his cage wall.
“I’ll get you for this, Roberts, in this life or the next. I’ll wander this planet and haunt you, mark my words.” “Now, now, Ardent. I thought you might like to see the person who caused your death, he’s done Her Majesty a great service. I hope you enjoy thinking about your impending death, knowing Roberts here will be walking around a free man long after you’re gone.”
“Not for long, knowing him. One of the others will find you Roberts, they’ll find you and kill you. You won’t be able to enjoy your reward when you’re dead.”