40. Anne and Jacquotte

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Jacquotte black and white line

Anne and Jacquotte

After Captain Morgan talked with Dash, they ate a full with grateful hearts in the room as the clock ticked the hours away, boys just finished their thirds of meat and roasted vegetables when Captain Morgan re-entered the room.

“Nearly as good as Quilan cooks?” Morgan laughed as the boys nodded.

“The meat was great!” Dash said with a smile. “Cooked over an open flame instead of boiled to death in a tub.”

“And it didn’t melt my tongue!” Bradan referred to some of the over-spiced meals he had eaten of late.

The Captain kissed Mary with passion, slid his arms around her waist and pulled her into a tight hug.

“We are going to the “Bleeding Stump” pub. I’ll return before sundown. Set places for tonight’s meal for eight extra seats — we have guests! Five boys and three girls.”

“Come young Master’s! We have someone we need to meet. Maybe two or three!” He bellowed as he strode to the door, followed by Dash and Bradan. Mary laughed at the three of them. They were a sight and she wondered if the world was ready for that team of rogues.

The trio walked down the small street to the harbor where they entered a ramshackle construct that could be anything, save for the shingle of wood that someone painted with severed and bleeding appendage.

“Henry!” The group inside called in unison, it was obvious, Henry was home. The boys looked at each other and grinned.

“Sit, sit!” the man behind the counter looked as if he had been born before God made hair. His bald head shined without a single strand. But the tattoo’s on it and the great smile belied the glint in his eyes. He missed nothing in his range of vision.

Morgan motioned to Dash and Bradan as they sat around a table that was suddenly cleared for the trio. Clearly this was “his” table.

“I ha’ wee small beers for the young’un’s. The water is even brackish for drinking around here.” The barkeeper said in a basso-profundo voice.

Bradan raised his hand “I’ll take an ale.”

The barkeeper, gave an amused look for a moment, then said, “NO!” in a voice that felt like a small earthquake had rumbled through.

“I’ll nae have regurgitation from some bairns on me floor. You drink some wee small beers. Good for you and nae put your face in the dirt.”

Small beers in the area were a brewed without the effects of heavy alcoholic drinks.

“Rum, Henry?” The the big man sat a mug down in front of the Captain. “There are people looking for you the last few days. Couple of women, beautiful as angels.” Gerris coughed with a wink. “Angels with large knives.”

Captain Henry chuckled, “Thank you, Gerris. Just don’t tell Mary about any women, she’ll box my ears!”

“Aye, yer ears would be cut off if Mary caught ye. Well, ye’ll get yer chance t’meet these women soon enough. One of them is God-Wants. She’s Master of the ship…” Gerris laughed,

“The Firebrand, I know.” Morgan laughed with Gerris.

Then he turned to the boys, Morgan told the story of who this woman was with twinkling eyes as he rememberd the events of the day.

“Anne is her first name, you’d do well to remember that. She attempted to disembowel a man when I met her a few years ago.” Henry nodded, “She did quite well, too, until her opponent’s friends broke them up. I believe she would make a fine man if God ever chose to create one like her.”

Gerris laughed at the old story that he had heard often before and it amused the barkeeper as he watched the young men react.

“Well ye’ll nae ha’ ta wait long. Her longboat is still tied up at the docks. She ‘n’ Jacquotte Delahaye are still ashore.”

“Best man to have barter anything for you.” Henry said as Gerris walked away, “He bartered his way into this place and has done well since. He served on the “Liberté” as an able bodied-seaman. They had foul weather and nearly broke apart after a barbaric expedition down from New France in the north, near Halifax. They came in dismasted and bailing like madmen just to stay afloat. The ship went under at the mooring a few hours after they tied up and came ashore.”

Dash and Bradan listened in rapt attention.

“Why doesn’t he return home? By the sound of him, he is from the Highlands.” Dash asked after a moment.

“Indeed, He is a Scot from that area. He was a sailor on shore leave, at a pub where trouble happened and someone killed a man in a fight. Don’t know how it happened, but somehow he got the blame. He can’t leave for home, he left his family when he was but half his age now. No more than a boy, I’d reckon.” Henry answered.

“Morgan!” A woman’s voice carried in from the street. “Henry Morgan you besotted Welshman, are you here?”

“Well,” He whispered to Dash and Bradan, “One of our guests have arrived. I had hoped to talk with Christopher Myngs before she showed up, but I have no luck there it seems.” Henry chuckled and stood up to meet the new guests.

If the first woman came through the door was blond and beautiful for her age, she was old, almost elderly — At least nineteen or twenty. Almost twice Dash or Bradan’s ages. The two boys froze in their seats as the intense blue eyes locked on Captain Morgan and she made a beeline right to him. The next woman through the door was unlike they had seen before. Dark red curly hair, steely blue eyes and skin the color of dark-honey.

“Dash, Bradan” Spoke Captain Morgan “This is Anne and Jacquotte of the Firebrand. Anne? Jacquotte? This is Dash my Master Sailor and Bradan, my Quartermaster’s apprentice.”

“Oh Henry! You have held out on us, trading in beautiful men now it seems?” Said Anne, who sat next to Dash and ran her fingers over his head, “This one is beautiful, and this dark-ginger hair!” She was looked the boys over like they was a tasty morsel of food.

“You have all your men, Anne, you are just plain spoiled. You can’t have just anything you want.”

“Henry! I can and I will! They sent us away, I can have anything I want! I will not back down, ever.” Hissed Anne in a dangerously quiet way, “You have need for these youths? Are these all you have?”

Dash and Bradan were felt the fear of prey that was the next meal that this woman was about to have.

“You are a beauty!” Jacquotte smiled as she sat next to Bradan, “How long do you have left in service, boy?”

“We are free.” Dash spoke up. “We serve no one. We are working our way back home and no one will stop us.”

Dash paused when the two women had looked at each other with wide eyes and started to laugh.

Jacquotte smiled wide as she ran her fingers through Bradan’s hair.

“Ooh, young man, I would keep you safe in my home forever.”  Then the smile turned  to Dash and she looked into his emerald-green eyes. “Baby-boy, you serve someone somewhere. Where do you call home?” Jacquotte asked.

“Henry, I want this boy and his friend. They are needing a woman’s touch, I swear!” Anne injected.

“Ladies! Ladies, keep your hands off. These boys are just  here for a visit and as they have said, they are free to do as they wish. E’en a couple of beauties as y’selves must respect the fact they only just now approach manhood.” Henry admonished the two women.

Bradan stared at Jacquotte, his eyes frozen on her eyes and his ears bright red from the attentions of the woman buccaneer who men would kill to have such attention paid to them.

“You have never seen a woman who wears breeches?” Jacquotte’s long fingers ran through the red-faced boy’s hair. “I can turn you into a man who would command fear and respect.”

“Will my skin become dark like this if I stay here?” Bradan asked, “I have seen servants from Africa, but none like you. You are much lighter.”

“I’m what you might call ‘Black-Irish’, me mum was from Clonmel and me Dad, a French buccaneer from Haiti and he was fond of her as you can tell. One day the Spanish came when I was out at the market, they killed everyone on the mountain.” A far-away look filled the eyes of the red-headed woman pirate. “I never knew what they were looking for.”

Her eyes focused again suddenly, “I took to the sea and have not been back to there since. I’ll put a hole in any ship I find flying a Spanish flag.”

Even Henry had stopped to listen, never had he heard this woman’s story.

“I’m not of any country, only the sea is my home. I have survived through more than most men. I know of whispers that they call me behind my back for when I hid among the dead when the Spanish were looking for my skin.”

“What do they call you?” Bradan asked.

“Back-from-the-dead-red.” Jacquotte laughed softly. “I like to see the faces of the Spanish devils that wiped out my family, left me to care for my simple-minded brother until they returned, and then they killed him for no reason. Now, when we take their ships, I’m looking for one captain and when I find him I will use more red blood from his heart to paint with.”

Bradan boggled at the dangerous way she said it. Softly, but with the rage of a Sidhe that his father would tell him about. A raging spirit that might lull you in with soft sounds and destroy you in a moment.

Jacquotte was a pirate that the Spanish feared more than they had fear of an entire navy of men and cannon.

“I’m in love.” Bradan whispered to Dash that made Dash laugh into his tankard of small beer and he choked as suds covered his face.

“You made my beer come out my nose!” Dash complained. Which made Bradan laugh even harder.

Henry looked around, several men were walked towards the pub from down the road. He could see out to the end of the street from his vantage point — it was the reason he liked this table so well. He watched the men with a sharp eye, he recognized one of the older men, a fellow Captain that he had sent a message to some time before.

It looked good if Abraham Blauvelt had responded. Henry and Abraham had served together under the command of Myngs when they had managed a hugely successful raid along the Spanish Main.

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Sail into the harbor of my soul; tell me your heart

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