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Where the Wind Blows Me
Author's note: I began writing this piece a few years ago, when I was going through a phase where I was obsessed with pirates.
I heard them as they broke into my home. Horrible, dirty pirates, in my home! They had already burned down Port Antonio. What more could they want from me?
“Eliza!” Father yelled up the stairway to me. “Go hide on the roof!” I paused, unsure whether to leave my parents. “We will follow you in a moment, now hurry!” he commanded. I sprinted down the winding hallways of my house as fast as my small legs could take me, heading toward the attic door. My dress and petticoat flapped around my legs, causing me to trip. I yanked off my top layers of my outfit before climbing the stairwell to the attic.
From downstairs, I heard the splintering crack of the doors to my house being torn apart. Father was shooting his pistol at the intruders.
I wretched open the old window in the attic. Dust flew everywhere, and I choked as I climbed out the window. The roof of my house is mostly flat, which gave me a better opportunity to hide. I lowered myself down from the window and lay on my belly, keeping my head down.
I heard more gunfire from below. Soon enough, the sounds of fighting moved up the steps. Would they come onto the roof? Would they burn the house down? Where were Mother and Father? I pinned myself down on the roof and tried to breathe.
I heard Mother scream. Her voice came from outside the house. I crawled to the side of the roof and peeked over. Mother and Father were being led away, guarded by several pirates with knives and pistols. I let out a terrified scream without thought. Immediately they all turned and looked up at me. Then one of the pirates broke off and ran inside the house.
I had to get off the roof, but where would I go? Our home was surrounded, and I just blew my cover. Still I scrambled from the rooftop towards the window. Just before I climbed in, a hand reached out of the window and a horrible, dirty face followed it.
“Ello sweetie,” the pirate said, the foul stench of his breath making my eyes water. “Yer commin’ with us now.”
I sat up in bed, panting. Looking around, I saw that I was in my cabin, just as I had been last night. A dream? But it could not have been a dream. The vision had seemed so real.
A knock came from the cabin door. My brother Lionel walked in. He looked at me with concern. “Are you okay?” he asked, noting the stricken look upon my face.
I nodded, still unable to speak.
“Oh,” he said. “I thought I heard noise in here. Anyway, you’d better get dressed. Yer breakfast will be here soon.” He kissed my forehead and left.
I threw the covers off my bed and went to my wardrobe. The floorboards creaked under my feet. I took out a plain dress and put it on. I went to my mirror and attempted to yank a brush through my hair. It was dirty and stiff from the salt water and my lack of a bath as of late. As soon as we land, I thought, I am going to wash my hair. My blue eyes looked bright against my skin, darkened from dirt and sun. I gave up on trying to keep clean on this ship long ago.
The door opened with my breakfast. The ship’s only black man, James, came in and handed me a tray with biscuits and bacon. “Good morning,” he said sarcastically. Then serious, “Have you talked to the captain this morning?”
“Yes, he was just in here. Why?”
“Nothin. Just think we’re changing course today.” James backed out of the room so I could eat in peace. The biscuits looked somewhat edible, so I ate those. The bacon was sprinkled with rat droppings. I threw the soiled pieces out the porthole.
After breakfast I went onto the deck. Everywhere crewmen were working, mopping the deck and flying sails. Clegg Brian came up from behind me and grabbed my shoulders. I jumped, bringing from him enormous laughter. “Mornin’ sweetheart,” he said.
“Go bother someone else Clegg.”
He smiled. “Ya know I’m just messin with ya, girl.” I punched him in the arm, and was met with water from his mop bucket.
I ran off to go find Lionel. He was standing at the quarter deck, beside Nat Harrons at the helm. Nat was one of the more decent members of the crew. He’d been Lionel’s first mate as long as Lionel had been captain. Nat was older than Lionel, by more than just a few years, but they both showed each other the respect only best friends could.
I climbed up the steps to them. “Where are we sailing?” I asked Lionel.
“Ask Nat here. He’d be knowin the best trading routes.”
“Well,” Nat said. “Ya could say that.” He was looking at a map of the Caribbean Islands. “We gonna head towards Charles’ Fort. Tradin business there.”
I didn’t recall sailing to Charles’ Fort before. “Is it nice there?” I asked.
Both of the men laughed. “I’ll be happy to tell ye, that no, it is not nice there,” Nat said.
I sighed. “How long?”
Nat consulted the map and then at the sky. “We should make it by tomorrow, if this here wind keeps up. If it weren’t being for these winds we are having, the trip could take bout four days or so. Thank the gods, Eliza.”
I looked out over the railing. The sea was so beautiful today; the winds Nat idolized were making crisp little waves down below, gently misting my face with the salt. That was my favorite part about living on the ship. I loved just standing on the deck, watching the water and the clouds moving across the sky.
The voices of the crew startled me out of my thoughts.
“Eliza! Cum’ere and dump out the buckets!”
“Don’t drop em girl, or I’ll have yer head!”
“It is not wise to threaten the princess; she’s got family in high places!”
I sneered and tried to ignore the men. I went over and yanked up the heavy buckets, filled with dirty deck water. As I dumped them over the deck, I realized as much as I loved the sea, I did not plan on spending the rest of my life here. The sea was beautiful and calming, but also dangerous. And I did not want to live like a criminal, on a ship with rude, dirty men, who not to mention were also criminals. But where else could I go?
That night after dinner and chores, the crew gathered on the deck for a performance from Pete’s piccolo. Others turned over buckets and used them as drums. I danced with Clegg and a few others, and rounds of rum were passed, though I never drank too much; I saw too often what happens to those who do. It was such a good time; I even allowed Clegg a kiss on the cheek. With no worries to fill our minds, we stomped and sang the night away.
Lionel was right; Charles’ Fort was not pleasant at all. It was dirty and disgusting, but not quite as bad as other towns I’d seen. And the whole place was filled to the brink with pirates, which was a good because we wouldn’t have any trouble blending in.
Lionel had said we would not be here long. I could tell that was a lie; he looked much too comfortable as we walked through the cobbled streets. Along with us came another crewmember, whose name I did not know, nor wanted to know. He carried with him a sack. I had asked what was in the sack, but Lionel would not tell.
We had come up upon a tavern. From the outside you could hear the loud voices and the clatter of glasses. Wanting to avoid the rude drunks, I told Lionel I would wait outside. I sat on a corner across the street and kept my eye on the door, waiting for them to return.
The smell of baking bread drifted my way. My stomach growled in response and I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. There’s nothing wrong with passing the time with some food, I thought. I followed the scent down the road. It came from a small bakery, not far from the tavern. It was actually the most inviting place I had seen since arriving at Charles’ Fort.
As soon as I went into the door, an immediate blast of warmth and delicious scents hit me. I staggered a little, the sudden strong smell making me dizzy. There was a whole wall filled with bread and pastries, much more fit than the spoiled biscuits on the ship.
I did not have much money on me, so I settled with a small loaf of buttered bread.
With the loaf in hand, I left the shop. When outside, I noticed the dimming sun. We had to board the ship and leave soon. I made my way back towards the tavern to get Lionel.
In the darker light, the walk to the tavern seemed longer than before. I kept a wary eye for any that strolled by me and kept my knife hidden in my sleeve. The closer I got to the tavern, the less people I saw on the street. I was almost there when I noticed a man following me. He had been following me for a while, but I had thought he would’ve turned off into one of the buildings by now. I sped up and flung the tavern door open.
The inside was dim, with little lighting except a few candles, and had a reeking alcohol odor. I spotted Lionel in a corner and headed toward him.
He and the other crewmember were passed out, laying with their heads on the table, drooling. Their pockets were outturned, and the person doing trading business was long gone.
Angrily, I shook Lionel. He drowsily came to. “Eliza, what are you doing?” he slurred. I slapped him hard across the face. Everyone in the room turned towards us, seeming to be suddenly interested in the show in the corner.
“How could you let them do this?” I shouted at him.
He rubbed his cheek, annoyed for his crude awakening. “What are you talking about? I only feel asleep!”
“Check your pockets!” I shouted at him. “And your bag, is it not gone? They took everything!”
Lionel and the other man, awakened by the commotion, wearily looked down at their trousers and their jackets, and saw their pockets emptied. They slowly began to understand.
“The bag!” Lionel said to himself, becoming distressed. “Where is the bag?”
“They took it too, you oaf!” I shouted. “How could you let this happen?”
Lionel tried to stand up but staggered over. “Eliza, it wasn’t my fault…”
“Shut up! No more excuses!” I said. My shoulders sagged. “This cannot keep happening, Lionel,” I said in a calmer voice. This was not the first time he had been careless while trading.
I wrapped Lionel’s arm around my shoulder and led him out of the bar. The other man staggered a ways behind, as if fearing I would slap him as well.
While heading back to the docks, I felt Lionel silently crying into my shoulder. He had to be really wasted to be crying. Captains don’t cry.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” he whimpered, liquor fresh on his breath. “I didn’t mean to.”
“I’m not your mother, Lionel,” I said softly.
He continued crying.
After the incident, Lionel avoided me for days. Whenever I tried to talk to him, he told a crewmember to take me away. One crewmember chuckled as he led me. “Little lady, yer must’ve done something bad, puttin’ out captain like that.” I didn’t even bother trying to explain the reason for Lionel’s solitude hat it was his doing, not mine.
One night as I was putting on my bedclothes I heard a knock on my cabin door. I pulled on an overcoat before opening the door to find a crewmember named Brock at the door.
“Captain sent me ter fetch ya,” he said, with breath that could wilt flowers. He took me by the arm and dragged me up the stairs toward the deck. I wretched my arm away and spat at him, but he just shrugged and pushed me along.
Lionel was in his cabin studying stolen star maps at his desk.
“What’s the meaning of this?” I glared at him angrily as Lionel waved Brock away.
“Sorry, but I needed a time to talk to you in privacy.” Lionel ran his fingers though his hair. “After the recent incident of mine, I’ve been doin’ thinking, and Eliza, I don’t think ye should live on the Immortalis anymore.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
Lionel sighed. “I been noticing for a while that this life ain’t the one for you. That night at Charles’ Fort made me realize I didn’t want ya to live the life I do, on this ship.”
I just looked at him, still not quite understanding what he was saying.
He continued. “You are a wonderful, intelligent, beautiful woman. This ship, of all places, is not the place for you to be.”
“I have lived here for many years, Lionel! Why do you make me leave?”
Lionel looked up into my eyes. “Please trust my judgment. I be grateful that you ‘ave grown up so well, but it could‘ve turned out worse. I as captain have too many responsibilities without havin’ to worry about the doings of my sister. I worry every day that you’ll get hurt or killed; this just ain’t the place that a young lady, especially my sister, should be. You need to move on with your life.”
He wanted me to leave? I couldn’t ever leave. As unpleasant as it was, this was my home. Tears slipped through my eyes, slowly then faster until I was sobbing. Lionel came over and gave me a hug. “Why?” I could barely speak through my tears. “Why? Why?”
“Because ye still have your life to live, Eliza. I’m not gonna take it away from you.”
I pushed him away from me and stood up and flung open the door. As I ran, I hid my face, embarrassed by my puffy eyes and tears. The door to my cabin was still open, so I ran in swiftly and locked it.
Yes, I hated it here. But at least I had Lionel, my only family left. I couldn’t have him to taken away from me. Not again.
I spent several days and nights in a damp, cramped cell. Mother and Father shared it with me. The only other people I saw were the men who had brought us here when they came with our meals.
The men took all of my mother’s fine jewelry away. They took Father’s pocket watch, too. I didn’t have any pretty things with me, so I was left alone.
One night, a group of men came down to our cells. They took Father away. Mother was yelling for him, and Father yelled back. I just sat there, too small and confused to understand what was going on. Father was taken into another room. Mother fell to the floor and cried.
Soon we heard Father yelling, screaming almost. It scared me so bad. As Father’s screaming got louder and more painful, I too began to cry. What were they doing to him? Mother pulled me towards her and rocked me.
The screaming stopped, and after a while another man came. He unlocked the cell, retched me from Mother‘s arms and led her away. I reached through the cell bars, trying to bring her back. The man laughed cruelly at my attempts. Soon enough I heard Mother’s screams too. Hysterically crying, I tried to break out. My small arms failed me, and soon I gave up. I balled up on the floor, hands on my ears, trying to block out the screams.
Mother’s voice died down, and the man that took Mother came back. He opened the cell door and grabbed my arm. “It’s your turn now, little missy,” he said and led me towards the room.
Someone was shaking me. My eyes flew open to find Nat standing above me, a worried expression on his face. “Are you okay?” he asked. He took my hand and sat me up.
“It was just a bad dream, I guess.”
“You were yelling, Eliza. I heard you all the way from the storage room. I thought you were hurt.”
“No, I’m fine,” I said. “And Nat, please don’t tell Lionel about this.”
He looked at my face, as if deciding if this was important enough to tell Lionel.
“I won’t tell him,” Nat said. He turned to the door. “Oh, and Eliza, please don’t be upset with Lionel. He is only thinking of what is best for ya.”
I sighed. “I know. That’s what makes it even harder.”
Later that day Lionel came to my cabin. I was sitting at my desk reading when he came in. “I think I found a good place for you to stay,” he said. “You’ll like it, I bet.”
“Where? A school?” I asked. I closed my book.
“Eh, no. I’ve talked to Nat, ya see. He has someplace for you. It’s in Port Royal, so you’ll like it.”
“Wasn’t the school I stayed at when I was little in Port Royal? Am I going back there?” I tried to recall the faded memories of my times there, learning the basic principles of society with other girls. It seemed hard to believe that I had a normal life once.
“No, you’ll be living with Nat’s family.”
Nat had a family? I never knew of this. Most of the crewmembers didn’t have families; I just expected Nat to be the same. I only remember him coming aboard when I was very young, since he and my brother had been best friends. How could I have not ever thought of his life away from the ship?
“No one ever told me Nat had a family,” I said.
“Yes, he has a wife and a son. Son’s bout yer age I think. He sends them money monthly.”
“Are he and his wife divorced?”
“No, they’re married still.” He dropped his voice. “Nat couldn’t land a good paying job. They were starving and with the son on the way… Nat didn’t really have a choice. Besides, he likes the sea.”
“So, you’re sending me away from a pirate ship to live with a starving homeless woman and her son?”
Lionel said. “Like I said, Nat sends them money. They’ve got a house and Nancy, that’s Nat’s wife, gets an odd job here and there. They’re doing fine. They’ve got plenty of room and don’t mind taking a young lady in.”
“They know I’m coming?”
“Nat sent them a letter while we were at Charles Fort. They should be expecting you in a month or so.”
“Are they good people like Nat?” I asked.
“You will never meet kinder folk, I guarantee it,” Lionel said. “However, I don’t know much bout his son. Last time I saw him he was a tiny little thing!”
I was still a little uneasy. If he noticed, he didn’t show.
“Just keep in mind we’re landing in a few weeks, and don’t leave your packing until the last moment like ya usually do.”
Such casual words, but they nearly ripped my heart out.
I didn’t really know how I felt about leaving the ship. I was scared at the thought of leaving my home and Lionel. But after living on the sea for so long, the idea of a new place on land excited me.
My last week on the ship was emotional. All of the crew came eventually to say goodbye. It was harder to say goodbye to Clegg than I thought. He came to my cabin after dinner, and we talked about the first time we met, when he was just beginning working on the ship. At a break in our conversation, he looked away.
“Ya know, I’m really going to miss you.”
Tears swelled up in my eyes. “I know.”
“Well Eliza? Ain’t yer going to miss me too?”
“Clegg Brian!” I said. “You are the most annoying, selfish, absurd person I’ve ever met. And I’ll miss you too.” I hugged him and we both cried. I was sure this was the first time Clegg had ever cried. And I was the reason.
He looked me in my eyes. “Eliza, I love you. Do you love me too?”
“Yes,” I choked. “I love you too.” He kissed me on the lips and brushed my cheek, then walked swiftly out of the room. I did love Clegg, but I wasn’t sure how much I loved him, or in what way. But I did like his kiss.
There wasn’t much time for me to sort out my feelings for Clegg. Lionel had set a lot of time aside for us to be together, since he said he won‘t be able to say a proper goodbye when we got to Port Royal. After dinner we would take walks around the deck. I made a note to inspect every detail of the ship so it would not be forgotten.
I knew I would miss being on the sea. Nat said his home is near the beach and docks, but I knew it would not be the same. I loved the gentle rocking of the sea, the occasional dolphins and the wind. But this same wind was blowing the sails closer and closer to Port Royal, and my new home.
Nearing a month after Lionel broke the news, we pulled up near Port Royal’s harbor. The ship was anchored a ways off shore so the soldiers wouldn’t recognize our ship as pirate. Lionel, Nat and I set off in a johnboat, the crewmembers waving at me from up on the deck.
We had all dressed in our best clothes to draw away suspicion. If anyone asked, we were here from England to visit family. But no soldiers gave us any trouble as we paid the fine for docking the little boat.
The center of the city was enjoyable, with shops and entertainment all around. I asked Nat if this is where his family lived. He said no.
“Nat,” I asked, “You haven’t told me your son’s name yet.”
“His name is Logan,” he said.
Nat got a carriage to take us to his home. I guessed it was to make us seem upper-class. I certainly felt fancy, sitting in my best dress upon a horse-drawn carriage. I knew it must have cost him a fortune, but I didn’t ask.
We drove past the nice shops in town. Soon they were gone, replaced by elegant houses. We drove past those, too. Eventually we came upon some scattered trees, with small wooden houses plucked in between.
“Right down this way here,” Nat said to the driver, and pointed to one of the houses. The driver seemed uneasy to be traveling this far from the main shopping center. We pulled up by a house, with red carnations in the front yard setting it apart from the others. A woman was out by the side of the house, beating a rug. When she saw the carriage pull up she hung it on a line and ran towards us.
We hadn’t even come to a complete stop before Nat had jumped out and started running towards her. They met in the center of the yard and he swung her around and they kissed. So this must be Nancy. The sight of them together warmed my heart; I had never thought any pirate, even Nat, could have so much love hidden away for one woman.
Lionel paid the carriage driver and took out my trunk before heading over to the couple. We stood awkwardly behind them, waiting for them to part so Nat could introduce us. He turned around and brought Nancy over to us.
“So, this here is Miss Elizabeth Ward, who I’ve told you about,” Nat said, gesturing towards me.
“It’s very nice to meet our new family member,” Nancy said, bringing me into a tight hug. She backed up and inspected me. “Well look at this! Nearly a full grown woman!”
“I hope I’m not a bother just jumping into you’re lives like this,” I said, twisting the hem of my dress, feeling out of place in it. Nancy was wearing nothing but a dirty, torn dress and husky working slippers. Her sun-bleached hair was pulled back into a messy bun, her skin also darkened by the sun.
“No no! I’ve always wanted a daughter of my own! I guess you’ll do!” She said laughing.
She turned towards Lionel. “And you!” She pinched Lionel’s cheeks. “How could I forget you? What a great sister you have raised Lionel! You look swell!”
“Nice to see someone thinks so,” Lionel said and kissed her hand.
“Well come on in!” she said. “I’d like Eliza to see her new home.”
The inside of the house wasn’t too awful. It had two beds, a wardrobe, table and a couple of chairs. A kitchen area was off to the side. Despite the warm spring air, a stove was burning in the corner.
“Just heating it up,” said Nancy, noticing me glancing at it. “Use it for cooking and the weather gets cold when the sun disappears. I hope you brought some good clothes? We don’t want to mess up such a pretty gown yer wearin’.”
I nodded and we all sat at the table and caught up on each other. Nancy served us tea and bread, which she said she made just for this occasion. We sat there talking, and then Nat and Nancy had come upon the subject of their son.
“How is my boy?” Nat asked.
“He’s got himself a job,” Nancy replied. “It’s not a big job though. He cuts wood for a local teacher in town. Mr. Barley, I think that’s his name. Well, all the while Logan cuts the wood Mr. Barley is teachin him! Getting an education while he brings in money, can’t get much better than that, can we?”
“What’s this man teaching him?” Lionel asked.
“Arithmetic, grammar, the good stuff. He’ll also just answer any ol’ question Logan can think up. Very smart, kind man.”
Soon enough, the door swung open to reveal a boy. He was about my age, with hair like Nat’s, shaggy and brown. He was tanned by the sun, and particularly tall. He didn’t even notice the party at his kitchen table while he laid an axe by the door and took off his boots. When he finally looked towards us, he gasped.
“Pa!” Logan went over to Nat and hugged him. I noticed the hint of tears coming from Nat’s eyes, but he quickly wiped them away. They talked to each other for a few minutes, all the while embracing each other.
Nancy cleared her though. “Logan, this is Eliza, the girl who I told you would be staying with us. Lionel’s sister.”
Logan pulled away from his dad. “Nice to meet ya, Eliza,” he said as he shook my hand. “It’s exciting to have someone else livin with us. Ma’s been blabbing bout getting a girl in the house since we got Pa’s letter.”
Nancy blushed. “Well o’course I’ve been excited! Who wouldn’t be to have an opportunity to house such a fine young lady?”
“Ya look nothing like yer mutt of a brother!” he said, smiling and gently punching Lionel on the shoulder. “That’s a good thing!” he added, noticing the concerned look on my face. I giggled, not sure of the joke the two apparently shared.
Later on, Logan and I were sitting outside in the setting sun talking. I wanted to get to know the guy I’d be living with for who knows how long.
He was telling me about the adventures Nat had been on, and he paused for a moment. “I think I’m gonna like you, Eliza,” he said.
I smiled and blushed. “I think I just may like you too.”
And I knew I would.
Nat and Lionel stayed with us for two days before leaving. They would have stayed longer, they told me, but they had to get back to the ship and keep moving, or put everyone in danger. Before they left, Lionel and I went for a walk outside while Nat said goodbye to his family in the house.
“Why is Nancy still married to Nat?” I asked Lionel as we walked down the dirt road.
“What kind a question is that?” Lionel said. “Of course it’s cause they love each other.”
“Yes, but if I only saw my husband a few weeks a year I would start considering letting him go, even if I loved him. I’d just get so lonely.”
Lionel sighed. “It takes Nancy a lot not to leave him,” he admitted. “She’s talked to Nat before, about how she misses him and Logan needs his father around more often. But she puts up with it. That’s how much she loves him.”
“But she hasn’t seen him in nearly a year! And after a two day visit he’s about to be off again!” The reasons Lionel explained to me were still confusing.
“Once you fall in love, you’ll understand.” he said.
“How would you know, Lionel? Have you ever been in love?” I teased him.
He turned his face away. “Yes I have.”
My mouth hung open. “What?”
“Her name was Roxanne,” he said. “I met her way back before you came aboard the ship. But that,” he added, “is another story.”
“You will tell me eventually!” I warned. “I’ll see to it.”
He laughed and pulled me into a hug.
Nat and Lionel left a few hours before sunset. I stood with Nancy in the yard, watching their carriage move away slowly and slowly until it was a speck. We watched Logan race after the carriage. “Bye Pa!” he yelled, racing to keep up with the carriage. Nat and Lionel waved back.
After the carriage disappeared, Logan slowly came trudging back. Nancy touched my shoulder. “I’m going inside,” she said.
I nodded my head and sat down on the porch steps. I’m really here, I thought. I’m living on land now. It all still seemed so strange. When Logan came back he took a seat next to me.
“Miss him already?” he asked. I noticed that he wasn’t wearing shoes, not even his boots he wore cutting wood. His feet were bare, and caked with dirt from the road.
“Yes,” I sighed.
“I miss Pa already too,” he said. “I just got him back, I finally got him back, and he had to go rushing off again.”
“It must be hard.”
“Yeah, it’s real hard.” He shoved his hands in his trouser pockets. “But it’s worse for Ma, I think. She tries to hide it, but I know it hurts her.” I remembered my conversation with Lionel from earlier.
“So how ya liking livin on land so far? Pretty different from that big boat, right?” he asked.
“It’s very different.”
Logan hunched his shoulders over. “Ya think you’ll like it, though?”
I turned and smiled. “I’m sure I’ll like it here.”
“Good!” he said. “Cause me and you, we gotta stick together now. It’s just me and you. Mom doesn’t count. She’s too old.”
I wasn’t used to being with people my own age. On the Immortalis, I was the youngest by years and years. Logan couldn’t be more than two years older than myself.
A church bell rang three times in the distance. “I’d better be off,” Logan said and stood up. He went inside and came out with his boots.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“I’ve made plans to meet someone,” he said and slipped on his boots. “See you in a few hours, Elizabeth.” He ran through the yard and down the road.
I stood up and went inside. Nancy came out of the kitchen when she heard me open the door.
“Oh, I thought you were Logan. Is he with you?”
“He was,” I said. “He left to go meet someone.”
“Oh yes, he did mention that. Am I already so old I’m forgetting things?” She went back into the kitchen to resume her cleaning.
“Who’s he running of to meet?” I asked, taking up a dish to start scrubbing.
She reached for my dish. “Oh you don’t need to bother with that, honey, I got it,” she said. I told her that I was going to help out while staying here. She sighed and let me resume scrubbing.
“He told me he was meeting Maryanne today. At least I think he did. Heck, I probably wasn’t even listening!”
“Who’s Maryanne?” I asked.
“Maryanne,” she said, “is the girl who Logan is courting.”
The room they took me in was dark, gloomy, and damp. I squinted my eyes, and saw two bodies in the corner. My Mother and Father. The man dragged me to the wall opposite where Mother and Father were lying. He locked my wrists in shackles hanging from the walls.
“Lock it tightly, Hugh,” someone said. Only Hugh was attending to me, the rest of the pirates were standing off to the sides, looking almost bored.
“Well, little missy. Eliza, is not that yer name?” Hugh snarled.
“Elizabeth,” I whimpered.
“Allright, Eli-za-beth,” he said. “I’m gonna ask yer some questions. Yer gonna answer them correctly.”
“Have you ever met yer grandpa, Elizabeth?” he asked.
Sweat rolled down my forehead. “He was around when I was a littler, but I don’t remember him.”
I noticed Hugh was holding a knife. He tapped the blunt edge of the blade on his chin, as if considering my answer. “Did your mum and pa ever tell you bout him? Bout yer grandpa, Johnson Lee Goodhem?”
I shook my head. Father had told me stories about Grandfather and when he was a child, but that surely wasn’t what this man wanted to hear. Would he hurt me, like Mother and Father? I peeked at them in the corner, in a bloody heap. I prayed they were alive.
Hugh sneered. He raised his hand, ready to strike.
“Leave her alone.” Father’s usually loud, booming voice, was quiet, feeble and weak sounding.
“Shut it!” Hugh yelled at him. One of the men went over and kicked Father in the stomach, making him double over again. I yelped.
Hugh turned back to me. “Yer grandpa stole something from us. He took something that was ours, and hid it from us. That doesn’t sound like a nice thing to do, does it now?”
“No it doesn’t,” I whispered.
“He took some valuable gold from us. He hid it on an island. Did yer ma or pa ever tell you what island it was?”
Tears rolled down my face. I was too scared and confused to think properly. I remembered Mother telling me if you want grownups to like you, call them sir and ma’am.
“No sir, I don’t know anything. Can you let us go?”
“No, I can’t,” Hugh said, and dug the blade of his knife into my thigh. I screamed with pain, and blood ran down my leg and onto the floor.
“Hurts, don’t it? I’ll cut ya deeper if you don’t start giving answers.”
Father regained his strength again. “Eliza!” he called, and began to crawl forward, but not before being shoved back by the men. Mother was still face down and quiet beside him.
“I don’t know nothing!” I said, the pain bringing from me hysterics.
“Wrong answer,” grinned Hugh, and dug the blade deeper.
I woke with a start. I bolted upright, and frantically looked around. I was in Nancy’s house, in the bed Logan so graciously gave up to me. He was beside me on the floor, sleeping on a pile of blankets.
My leg was throbbing. I rubbed it through my nightdress, thinking of anything I had done the day before to make it so sore. Then I remembered the dream.
Frantically, I lifted the skirt of my nightdress, up to the part of my left thigh where the pain was. I screamed when I saw a dark, burgundy red scar. It was right where the man in my dream had put his knife through my leg.
My scream woke Logan, who jumped up, startled. “Eliza, is something wrong?” He jumped up onto the bed with me. I pointed to the scar.
“That,” I said, “that scar!” He examined the scar, seeming not to mind examining my bare leg.
“What about it, Eliza? It’s just a scar! It could even be a birthmark, really.”
“That’s what Lionel had always told me- a birthmark. But just now, I had a dream, and there was a man. He had a knife, and cut my leg open right there! And when I woke, it was hurting badly!”
“Has that happened before?” he asked. I shook my head.
Logan took hold of my shoulders. “Calm down Eliza, it was just a dream.”
Nancy came running in from outside.
“I heard screamin! Is someone hurt?”
“No. Eliza just had a bad dream,” said Logan, patting my hand.
“Good grief Eliza! You gave me a fright, you did!” She sighed and sat down next to me. “Does this happen often?”
“I don’t think so,” I told her.
“Nancy sighed again. “I hope it wasn’t a mistake bringin you here. The last thing I want to do is risk yer health.”
“No Nancy, I’ll be fine. Just a dream.”
Breakfast was tense. Embarrassed by my episode. Nancy and Logan talked, mostly about Logan’s work. Soon he got up and left for Mr. Barley’s, and I helped Nancy clean up. Thankfully, she didn’t bring up my screaming again.
At dinner a few nights later, I told Logan and Nancy about the boarding school I attended while at Port Royal, Benson Shawd’s School for Girls. I told them about my dormitory, the classes, and all the other girls.
“I know where that is,” Logan said. “It ain’t too far from here, neither. Tomorrow I got the day off, and I’ll take ya down there. How would you like to visit again after so many years?”
“I’d love that! But you should know, the girls there are a little stiff.”
“I don’t mind,” he said. “You came from that school, right? I don’t find you stiff.”
“I left before even completing my second term, and I was very young. And then I went to live on a pirate ship, of all things,” I pointed out.
“Well you turned out lovely,” Nancy said and patted my hand. “Not too stiff, not to wild. But would they even let Logan in?”
“If he washed up a good bit and put on a good coat, he could easily pass as an escort,” I said.
“I’ll find him something,” Nancy replied.
The next day I went through my trunks and got out one of my better dresses, one that I used only when I went with Lionel onto land, to help blend in. I pulled all of my hair up, into a ladies’ bun. I inspected myself in Nancy’s tiny cracked mirror on the wall. It had been so long since I had dressed like this.
Logan had dressed in a coat and trousers. His dress shoes were a little scruffy, but would do.
“Thank you again for taking me Logan. I’m sure my old headmistress will be glad to see me return after so many years healthy and well off.”
“But we ain’t well off,” Logan mumbled.
“Yes, but she doesn’t know that.”
When we arrived to the school, I was surprised. It was a lot different than the way I had remembered it. When I was younger, the school was a lot bigger, and it amazed and awed me to look at it. Now, it looks smaller, probably because I’d grown, and the simple gray bricks that made up the building had withered and dulled even more.
On the front steps, students had gathered and were talking. The girls were all dressed in black and deep crimson dresses, the school’s colors. They had their hair up in buns and their skin was porcelain white. I looked down at my arm and noticed how much my tanned skin stood out from theirs. I looked almost dirty.
“Take my arm,” I whispered to Lionel. He obeyed, and we walked indifferently past the girls and through the front entrance.
In the lobby, I paused to look around. From what I remembered, the school looked pretty much the same, with crimson rug on the floor and portraits of the old mistresses on the walls. Benson Shawd’s School for Girls was written on a golden plaque on the wall. A servant girl was polishing the plaque.
“Excuse me,” I said, and she turned. She had fiery red hair and green eyes, I noticed. She was quite pretty.
“Yes Miss?” she said and curtsied. She had a deep foreign accent, Irish, possibly.
“I’m looking for the office of Mistress Amelia.”
“Do you have a scheduled meeting with her?” She asked.
“Well, no. But I’m a former student of hers.”
She curtsied again. “This way, Ma’am and Sir.”
She led us down the hallway. As we passed doors to classrooms, I pointed them out to Logan.
“In here, I was taught French, most of which I have forgotten, and in there penmanship, and there grammar, and there sewing…” Logan seemed interested and followed my finger as I pointed. Finally we stopped outside a large door, with patterns carved into the wood. This was Mistress Amelia’s office.
The servant girl began to knock on the door.
“Excuse me, but what is your name?” I asked her.
She looked surprised by my question. “Flann,” she said, then knocked again.
“Come in,” said a voice from behind the door. Flann opened the door for us. We walked into a grand office, one I remember well. It had not changed much. Crimson and golden tapestries ran down the walls, matching a rug on the floor. I had seen nicer places, myself, but Logan was astounded, staring bug-eyed at everything. Behind a desk sat Mistress Amelia, tall and thin as ever. She was poised upright, head back, looking down at us.
“Visitors for you, ma’am,” Flann said. “A former student.”
“Thank you. You are dismissed,” the mistress said. Flann gave a deep curtsey and scurried out.
Mistress Amelia turned her gaze towards the sight of us.
“My, my,” she said. “Is this not the most notable Elizabeth Goodhem, returned to us?”
I curtseyed. “Yes, Mistress Amelia. I have found myself staying with relatives nearby, and wanted to pleasure myself with a visit to my former school and headmistress.”
She smiled warmly, a great contrast to her sharp blue eyes. “Sit, Elizabeth, you and your escort.”
Lionel and I sat in black chairs in front of her desk.
“This is Logan Harrons, a distant cousin I am staying with,” I said.
“Nice to meet you, ma’am,” Logan said.
“It is a pleasure,” Mistress Amelia said, then turned to me. “So, what have you done since leaving our school? How long has it been, six years?”
“Seven,” I said. “I have been living with my cousin, Colonel Rogers. He is away on business though.”
“Yes, I remember, he’s the one who accepted custody of you. Good thing that you have a relative other than that convict brother of yours. Have you found a suitable husband yet? You certainly must have.”
“Uh, no Mistress. Not yet, at least. My living conditions provided little social bondings of that matter. I believe that Colonel Rogers was also hoping to change that by letting me stay in the city.
She stiffened a little. “Hmm. You would think of a girl of your age, and so beautiful too. How old are you now?”
That worried me. I haven’t celebrated a birthday in years. Sure, my birthday would come and go, but we wouldn’t know it until we learned the date whenever we made port. Most of the time it would be months after, but I was sure now.
“Fifteen, Mistress,” I said.
“Ahh. But enough on that matter. It is a pleasure to get to see you after all this time, Elizabeth. What a fine lady you have continued to be!”
A knock came from the door, and it opened to reveal Flann.
“Sorry to disturb you, Mistress. There is a matter. The college boys have sent notice that they will be arriving early, and the ladies aren’t ready yet.”
“Oh goodness!” gasped Mistress Amelia. “I’ll be down soon.” Flann nodded and departed.
“Sorry, but you must make your leave. Boys from a local university are coming for a supper party with the ladies, and we must ready. Unless, you care to join us?” She raised her eyebrows expectantly.
“Sorry to decline your offer, but Mr. Harrons and I are joining his mother for dinner. Perhaps another time.”
“Perhaps,” Mistress Amelia said, and showed us out.
I had been living with Nancy and Logan for almost five months. We had come to a routine for our days: Nancy and I would make breakfast while Logan got ready to go to Mr. Barley’s. After breakfast he would head to work and Nancy and I would begin chores.
My new life was much less quieter than the life on the Immortalis. But as my life on land went on, I found that I was missing the sea. Not the crew or the ways of the ship; what I missed was the gentle rocking of the boat, the rolling waves and never ending sky. I missed visiting exotic places and seeing the world. But all of that was behind me now.
Whenever I had time to myself, Nancy let me go down to the docks and watch the ships come in. I would sit on a vacant dock and watch the beautiful European ships, crafted in such magnificent wood.
When the ships with the postage came through, I’d see if there was any letters from Lionel. The past couple of weeks had been unsuccessful, but then one cloudy Thursday morning a letter came through.
I hope this letter will find ya well. I am writing to you from Montego Bay. As soon as we leave from here, Nat and I will come to visit you. We have many stops on the way, and considering it’s almost spring, we should probably be there around July. In Nat’s letter to Nancy, we have explained what needs to be done when we visit to come upon land undetected.
I cannot wait to see how your new life has been treating ya. Give Nancy and Logan my regards.
PS. Don’t bother writing back. We’ll be long gone by the time it gets here.
A letter came for Nancy too, from Nat. After I read my letter, I stuffed it into my bag and rushed home to give Nancy hers.
When I got to the house, I was startled by what I saw. Logan was sitting on the porch with his face in his hands. As I got closer, I saw that he was crying. I dropped the bag in the yard and ran to him.
Logan did not notice me until I was a few feet away. He quickly wiped his tears away, not wanting me to see. I sat down next to him.
“Logan, what’s wrong?” I said, putting my arm around his shoulder.
He sniffed a few times before speaking. “Maryanne said she can’t see me no more,” he said, trying to keep the sadness out of his voice. “She said that her daddy doesn’t want her with me, but I know she’s found someone else.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
There was a long pause. His voice cracked as he whispered, “I saw them. I saw them together.” Lionel put his head into my shoulder.
I wrapped my arms around him. “I’m sorry Logan. No girl is worth this much hurt.”
Logan sat back. “Yeah,” he said lowering his eyes. He held onto my hands. “Thank you, Eliza. For being there for me.”
I hugged him again. “Why wouldn’t I? You said yourself we have to stick out for each other here.”
“Just thank you for being here,” he said. “I love you Eliza.”
I sat there quiet. After a moment, I said, “I love you too, Logan.”
The next day Logan took the day off and went with me to the docks. I pointed out the different ships.
We sat and talked until noon. Our days went on like this for a long time. Every Sunday and Wednesday he had the day off, and I would have him all to myself.
I had become very fond of Logan. He would sometimes bring me flowers when he came back from Mr. Barley’s, and he always held my hand when no one was looking. It felt strange at first. I never had any boy take such interest in me before, other than Clegg. Clegg never pursued me like Logan did though; on the ship, I was the captain’s sister, and therefore untouchable. But here, I was just another girl. And I preferred it that way.
April passed, and so did May. With July coming closer, we prepared for the arrival of Lionel and Nat.
Nancy was always running around the house, dusting a dustless chair, sweeping a spotless floor. She always had food in the cupboards. Since we did not know exactly what day Lionel and Nat would arrive, we had to make sure we were always ready.
One mid-afternoon Nancy sent Logan and me to town to get some more bread, convinced the loaf we had would go bad before our guests arrived. As usual, Logan took my hand, and we began our walk, discussing the arrival and Lionel and Nat.
Nat and Nancy already had a plan. Since they were both wanted by the Royal Navy, the only way to get them safely here was to sneak them in. As soon as the Immortalis was near land, Lionel and Nat would set out in a johnboat to the docks. There, they would find a young boy, no older than ten, and give him a pouch of money to deliver the message to us that they had arrived. Once the message came in, Logan would take a carriage that night to the docks, while Nancy and I waited at the house. They would stay for a few days, and then return back to the ship in the same manner. The ship will stay out of sight while they were here; if anyone saw it, they would know pirates were in Port Royal.
As we neared town, Logan led me off the road onto a little dirt path that led into the trees.
“Logan, aren’t we getting bread?” I asked.
“Just takin’ a different way today,” he said. “This one’s much more scenic.”
The trail went into the woods. We were still close to town; you could hear the horses and carriages bumping along the road. Soon, though, those sounds were replaced with something else. It sounded like waves.
We came to a clearing in the woods. The dirt at our feet turned to sand. The trees cleared away to reveal a small bay, with beautiful white sand and the clearest water I’d ever seen. It was probably the most beautiful place I had ever been to, despite my travels.
“Where are we?” I asked.
“This is a place my Pa showed me when he still lived with us.” He led me out of the trees, closer to the water.
“It’s beautiful here,” I said.
Logan smiled. “Ain’t it? Not many people know about it, because most ships can’t maneuver through here cause of a bunch of huge rocks at the entrance of the bay. But I like it without other people.”
“I like it that way too. It’s so peaceful. Why haven’t you brought me here before?’
“It’s kinda special. I wanted to save the moment for a special occasion.”
I was confused. “There’s a special occasion?”
Logan turned to me. “I love you, Eliza, more than I loved anyone else before Don’t tell Ma that, though,” he said. He knelt down, taking my hands. “Eliza, I want you to promise me that you’ll always stay with me, and never leave me. You’d rip apart my heart, Eliza.”
“I promise,” I whispered.
“Good,” he said again. “Now, I wanna ask you something. Eliza, will you marry me?”
Mother and Father were dead. I saw it, I knew it, but it seemed that my brain kept rejecting the idea. The men dragged their bodies off and threw them overboard. No one held me back as I ran to the rail, screaming and crying.
When the bodies were well behind us, two men came carried me off, each holding one arm. I did not fight them. It wasn’t worth trying. They took me below deck and threw me in the cell I had spent the last week in.
Mother and Father were gone. There was nothing left for me. These men would kill me, or worse. They had no use for me anymore. Father had given them the information they wanted, but they killed them anyway.
I crawled over to the corner where I had huddled in Mother and Father’s arms just the night before. What would happen to me? There was nothing left to live for. It was over.
I woke up before dawn with tears running down my face. I looked over to Nancy and then down on the floor at Nat. Thankfully, I hadn’t wakened them up. I lied back down and stared out into space until it was time to get up.
After breakfast Logan went to work, and Nancy and I cleared the dishes. She was excited about the engagement; Logan told her about it last night. And since then she had been talking constantly about the wedding.
“Who should be invited? You know, most of the guests are considered unwanted by Port Royal citizens. Oh, we need food! And a venue! Perhaps here? No, of course not…”
I wasn’t paying much attention- I was still thinking about my dream. “Nancy, what happened to my parents?”
She looked at me blankly for a few moments.
“How did they die?”
Nancy sighed. “I guess I shouldn’t be surprised you’re curious bout your ma and pa,” she said. “I guess you’re old enough to know.
“When you were real young, ya lived with your parents and Lionel in Port Antonio. Your family was well respected, until Lionel dropped out of school and went out to sea as a sailor, where he met Nat. But their ship was captured by pirates near the coast of Africa, and they were forced to join the crew. After a while they got their own ship, the Immortalis. You were about a year old when he left. He became a disgrace to your parents; that’s why they didn’t mention him much.
“Then, why you were round four or five, pirates came to Port Antonio to capture your family. Apparently, you have a relative who had a large amount of money hidden somewhere in the Caribbean islands. They took you on your ship, where they interrogated you and your parents. About a month later, the ship was captured by the Royal Navy. They found you in a cell, nearly dead. Your parents were nowhere to be found, and the pirates admitted to killing them.
“One of the officers took you into his home until you got your health back. Then they decided to use part of your inheritance from your parent’s to send you to that boarding school down the road.”
There was silence for a moment. “How come I can’t remember this?” I asked.
“I haven’t a clue, dear,” Nancy said.
In the end, we decided to have the wedding near the house, in a grassy clearing down the road. We preferred a church, but Nancy reminded us that our guests are unsuitable for public.
While Logan went to work, Nancy took me to a boutique in town to pick out a wedding dress. She fussed over me the whole walk there.
“Oh I wish I still had my dress! Much more sentimental, it would be! Or better yet, your mother’s! That would be so darling! Oh goodness…. Logan needs a suit! I will not let yall marry in rags, no…”
The shop we went to was called Dala’s Tailors. It was small and quaint, obviously the most affordable place. The seamstress, introducing herself as Dala, seemed glad to have customers. She was native woman, with dark skin and a deep accent.
“Oh, a weddin!” she said when Nancy informed her of our order. “I’ve done plenty of those. We’ll get yer something special.”
Dala measured me up and down, then started flipping through a sketchbook. She showed me a picture.
“How about dis one, dear? It’s got blue accents that I think will make yer eyes stand out.”
From what I could tell from the sketch, it was white, with sweeps of fabric from the waist to the floor. It had blue pearls on the bosom, and a veil.
“It’s beautiful!” I said. I turned to Nancy. “What do you think?”
“Looks perfect for ya!” she said. “How much?” she asked Dala.
“Onehundre’ fifty, if ya want da veil.”
Nancy was ecstatic at the low price of the dress. After we left Dala’s and were shopping for accessories, she went on about how smart she was for buying from Dala, who’s mother had made Nancy’s own wedding dress.
Later we stopped and bought tea and sat by the fountain in the middle of town. We talked and watched the clouds move across the sky. Then I thought of something.
“Nancy, what’s it like to be married?” I asked.
She looked at me for a moment before answering. “Why, it’s the most wonderful feeling. Well, that’s is if your married to someone you love. It takes commitment, though.”
I thought about that for a while. Did I love Logan? Yes. Enough to marry him? Sure. Enough to become a stay-at-home housewife? That was different. I had things I wanted to do with my life, and although I wanted to marry, I didn’t want to be tied down. Nancy seemed to fit this description. I wondered if she ever had dreams, things she wanted to do, big things. Maybe it was her choice to live this lifestyle, though. On top of that, and she had to single-handedly raise a son.
That evening back at the house, there was a knock at the door. Knowing Logan couldn’t be home from work yet, I opened it uneasily. There was a little boy standing there, wringing a hat in his hands nervously.
“Is dis the Harrons’ home?” he asked.
“Yes, can I help you?” I smiled sweetly at him.
“Some men wanted me to tell you that they are here. And that red coats in boats followed them. That’s all I know.”
My heart dropped down to my stomach. “Thank you. You may go.” He ran away eagerly, coins jingling in his pocket.
I shut the door and turned around to find Nancy standing behind me, mouth agape. “Oh my God.”
The Royal Navy was here.
That night, Logan set out to retrieve Nat and Lionel. We women waited at home, restlessly pacing the floor.
“They should be fine, right? They shouldn’t be caught. After the Immortalis drops them off, the Royal Navy should follow the ship out of here. They should be fine, right?” I had been reassuring myself with these words for the past hour, hoping to convince myself that they were true. It was driving Nancy crazy.
“Of course they’ll be fine! May I remind you, our boys have done many a more dangerous things.” Her confidence faded as her speech ended, and she turned to the window and continued to bite her nails.
“What kind of things?” I asked.
Nancy looked at me with a tired look on her face. “Darlin, I think it’s better if we don’t know.”
Three quick raps came at the back door. Nancy quickly shut the curtains as I cautiously opened the door. Lionel came bursting in, throwing me back.
“Eliza! Oh, Eliza!” he said hugging me. “I’m so glad ter finally see ya!” He hugged me tighter.
“Lionel!” I exclaimed. “You look older!” I said teasing him.
“Ah, but I have not grown as much as you. Getting married, are you? Why, I’d never thought I’d see the day! My little Eliza! Oh, if only Ma and Pa could’ve seen this.”
Nat had came in and was greeting Nancy, with Logan following behind. He shut the door and latched it quickly before he finally relaxed.
“Why, Nat and I knew we were close, but never could we have thought that our kin would ever marry!” Nancy shushed Lionel, who was practically yelling with excitement.
“Never would have guessed it! Way to go my boy!” Nat said, laying a hand on Logan’s shoulder.
“Yeah, thanks Pa,” he said. I could see the smallest sign of redness coming to his cheeks.
Later Nancy set Nat and Lionel down to explain to them the plan. She told them how the wedding was planned around their arrival, so all we had to wait for now was for Dala to finish the dress. Then as soon as it was ready, Nancy would get her old friend Pastor Abraham to marry us. Pastor Abraham was the only person she trusted to do the job. Said he owed her favors.
That night after everyone had gone to bed, I laid awake thinking. As soon as the dress was done, I was going to get married. The dress is almost done, maybe two or three days until, based on what Dala told us when Nancy checked on her earlier. That meant, within the week, Logan was going to be my husband.
The next day I took a break from cooking with Nancy to take a walk outside. Lionel followed me out. With Nat accompanying Logan to work, he had been bored out of his mind helping us cook.
We walked away from town. We weren’t sure if any of the people would know of Lionel, but we kept our distance just in case. We were talking pleasantly, until I thought of a question.
“Lionel, after the wedding, are you going to go back aboard the ship?”
He was quiet as he considered the question. “Of course. I’m still captain. Why? Did ya want to come?”
This threw me back. “Did I want to come? You mean, if I did, you would accept me back?”
“Well ya,” he said. “I mean, you’ve changed a lot here. You’re a grown woman now. I think livin here is better for you, but I believe that you’re old enough to be able to know what is best for yerself.”
I’m wasn’t used to Lionel being this deep. I liked it, but in a way, it sort of startled me.
“I think I’ll stay. But the reason for me asking is… I’m sort of worried that Logan would want to leave on the ship with you.”
Now it was his turn to be startled. “Why would he? He’s about to get married. I doubt he’ll just run off after the reception.”
“I know,” I said. “I don’t mean right away. I mean, after time. He might miss his father more, or get bored with this life. I don’t want to end up like Nancy.”
“What do you mean?” asked Lionel.
“Can’t you see Lionel? Yes, they love each other, but soon after they had a son Nat joined a pirate ship. A pirate ship, Lionel. Not the world’s greatest father. And he’s rarely home. Nancy misses him, and it hurts her.”
Lionel stopped walking and stood upright. I heard a twig snap behind me. I turned to see Logan less than ten feet from us. His expression read a mixture of anger and sadness.
I froze as he closed the distance between us. Lionel looked away. Logan took my hands and nearly pierced me with his eyes.
“Eliza, I’m gonna screw up a lot of times in the remainder of my life. I ain’t perfect. But one thing I’d never, ever do, is leave you. I assumed you’d know that.”
Tears fell down my face as I hugged Logan, hugged him as hard as I could. I saw truth in his words. Logan said he’d never leave me, not like Nat did to Nancy. And I knew he wouldn’t.
The wedding took place the next day. Everything about it was perfect. The dress was amazing, the food was delicious, and it was peaceful and beautiful. Soon after the wedding, Pastor Abraham returned to his church and Logan, Nancy, Lionel, Nat and I retired to the house to celebrate. Lionel even surprised us with the finest champagne around. I didn’t bother to ask where it came from.
Logan and I were even presented with wedding gifts, something I didn’t expect. Nancy gave me a new dress, a beautiful one she’d secretly ordered from Dala. Lionel and Nat gave us a few sacks of gold, and wine. Lionel also gave me something else, a gold locket in the shape of a heart.
“It was our mother’s,” he told me. “I found it still in our house when I went to see the damage. I guessed they… missed it. I was saving it to give to you when you were older; you‘re a woman now.”
My eyes swelled with tears as Lionel fastened the chain around my neck. I turned and hugged him as hard as I ever have. It was the only thing I’d ever had of my parents.
After everyone settled down, I changed out of my wedding dress and joined Logan on the porch.
“You looked so beautiful today,” he said, bringing me closer to him. “I mean, you do every day, but today was just… wow. I’m never going to forget today.”
I didn’t respond. I didn’t have to.
“And now, you’re mine. And no one else’s.”
He reached into his pocket. “I know it’s a little late,” he said, “but this can’t quite be official without this.”
Logan took out a small ring. The band was pure white, with the center occupied by a beautiful pearl. I gushed as he placed it on my finger.
“Mr. Barley showed me how to make it,” he said shyly.
“I love it! It’s perfect!” I leaned in and kissed him.
We stayed on the porch for a long time, till after dawn’s first rays. We sat there, husband and wife, holding hands and staring at the night, waves distant in the wind.
“Who is this?” A man prodded me in the ribs, jarring me conscious yet again. Why wouldn’t these people just let me sleep?
“We found her in the cells in the bottom of the ship. Prisoner, I assume. Nearly dead, the child.”
Vaguely, I knew they were talking about me. I knew they were men from their voices, but I couldn’t open my eyes wide enough to see their faces. That would require too much effort.
“Why in the world would these bastards want her? She’s just a little girl; no real value I assume.”
“Oh, no. This girl has value. One of our captives told that she is Elizabeth Ward. Daughter of Henry and Jane Ward.”
“The millionaires in Port Antonio? The ones with the outcast son?”
“The very same.”
I finally worked enough energy to open my eyes. I was in a fancy room, filled with lush furniture and rugs. I could tell by the rocking of the room I was on a ship. Two men stood in front of the sofa I was lying on. One of them was the same man who pulled me from the cell. The other I recognized as a lieutenant, from the parties the governor invited my family to. Both wearing the famous Royal Navy red, and white, powdery wigs.
They both jumped when they saw my eyes open. The man from the cell rushed forward.
“Elizabeth, is there anything we can get for you? Would you like some food?”
I didn’t want food. I wanted Mother and Father. But that wasn’t going to happen. So I just stared at him blankly, not saying a word.
“What is to become of her?” the other man said.
“I’m not sure. Her parents are dead, and her only living relative is a wanted felon.”
They were silent for a moment. I closed my eyes, not caring if I ever woke up again.
“Well, I assume since all of her parents’ money is now hers, we could put her in a boarding school. There’s one in Port Royal; my nieces attend it. Benson Shawd’s School for Girls, I’m sure you’re familiar with it?”
Why can’t I just die?
Unfortunately, Nat and Lionel couldn’t stay forever. Their crew was to return for them in a week, and the week was up. They had to meet the johnboat at the docks that night, or the ship would be spotted. Their goodbye that day was emotional.
“I’ll drop by as soon as I can, after my business on the Black River. Tradin with the natives, not sure how long it’ll be…” Lionel was hugging me so tight I could hardly breathe, but I didn’t complain. I loved his crushing hugs.
“I’ll miss you,” I said into his shirt.
“I’ll miss you too.”
Nat and Nancy’s goodbye was much the same. Logan and Nat would say their goodbyes in the carriage that Logan would take with them to the docks.
Nancy and I stood on the porch, waving sadly as the carriage was erased by the dust from the road. We moved inside to do chores.
The sun went down, and Logan had not yet returned. Nancy and I returned to the positions we were in while waiting for Nat and Lionel to arrive a little over a week before, me pacing the kitchen, Nancy in the main room staring out the window. But soon it became to late for me, and I began to nod off. Nancy put me to bed, promising to stay awake to greet him.
The next morning I awoke with the sun coming through the window. I looked around, and spotted Nancy, leaning back in a kitchen chair snoring. I jumped up and shook her.
“Nancy! Is Logan back yet? Nancy! Wake up!”
She flung her eyes open and jumped up.
“Oh, darlin. Don’t scare an ol woman like dat.”
“Nancy! Did Logan ever come back?”
Her eyes became wide. She ran to the window, and I followed. The sun told us that is was midmorning.
“Oh no! He ain’t back?” She ran to the dresser and got out our shawls and hats. “Get dressed, dear. We’re goin to town.”
When Nancy and I finally got into Port Royal, our hair was wild with wind, hats were askew, and breath lost. But still we ran towards the docks.
There was no sign of the carriage that took our beloved men away, or the johnboat that was to receive them.
“Wait here,” Nancy said, and hustled towards a group of sailors. Of course I followed her.
The men stopped talking as she approached. “So, fellows, what be the news of late?” she asked, playing the innocent old woman.
“Didn’t ya hear?” one said. “Somethin scandalous last night. Two men, pirates, I hear, caught tryin to leave the docks on a johnboat. No doubt tryin to board a ship of the coastline. The pilot of the johnboat was arrested too.”
I could hear Nancy’s heard breaking. I’m sure the men could hear mine, too. I kept my face expressionless, though, and so did Nancy.
“Don’t forget, Jim. Someone along was arrested too,” another added. “A young lad, I hear, helping them.”
I couldn’t help it. A tear slipped from my eye, followed by another. I quickly turned away, pretending to be suddenly fascinated by one of the shipping boats.
“What to be of them? A trial?” Nancy asked. Unlike me, she acted casual, as if discussing the weather other than her husband and son’s fate.
“A trial? Course not! These be the same lot the Royal Navy came to the Port last week looking for. They be wanted. A hangin goin down at sunset.”
As soon as we were out of sight of the men, I collapsed to the floor, knees to weak to hold the burden. Nancy sat beside me, caressing my head in her lap.
“They’re gonna die, Nancy! They’re gonna die! My brother! Nat! Logan! Oh God, I’m too young to be a widow!” I could barely choke the words out of my mouth. Nancy finally let her own tears fall.
“How could they let this happen, those idiots!” I nearly screamed. “How could’ve we leave Logan responsible for those drunken fools? Oh God they’re gonna die!”
Nancy took me by the shoulders and slapped my face. I stopped crying and stared at her, shocked.
“Why’d you do that?” I asked her, tears still falling.
“They ain’t gonna die, child. I’ll make sure of it.”
Confusion and relief mixed in my heart. “How?”
“Well, since neither the johnboat nor the captain and first mate arrived on the ship, they must know something went wrong.”
I stayed silent, waiting for her to continue.
“And when the sun came up,” she continued, “they would’ve have to have hid the ship, daylight exposin them. But they would still have to stay nearby…”
Suddenly Nancy jumped up. “Get up, Eliza. I know where they’d be.”
“Where?” I asked.
“This is just a hunch, and I’m gonna need you to help me find it again. Eliza, take me to the beach where Logan proposed to you.”
All the way to the secret bay, Nancy wouldn’t explain what we were doing. All she said was “Wait child. We almost there?” We ran as fast as we could in our dresses, picking them up above our heels and still running. I remembered the path to the bay clearly, so finding it wasn’t a problem.
We came to the clearing in the trees, I saw the shimmering blue water on the horizon. But something else also caught my eye. I saw a big ship with huge sails, glimmering letters spelling out its name on the side.
The only real home I ever remembered.
Seeing her sitting in the middle of the bay, I forgot all of my present worries, overcome with only joy of seeing the beloved ship. My ship. My home.
Nancy’s yelling awoke me from my trance. She was halfway down the beach from me, waving and yelling. I saw almost half of the crew was sitting on the beach, gathering water and fish, drying damp clothes on the rocks. As much as I hated most of them, I was overwhelmed with joy of seeing them.
I ran down towards Nancy and the men.
“Nat and Lionel were arrested!” She yelled at them. They looked up in surprise.
A Jamaican crewmember named Brock stood up. “Captain arrested?” he asked, his accent thick with Jamaica and rum.
“Yes, and Hakel too.” I vaguely remembered Lionel mentioning the name of the member who would be steering the johnboat. Hakel, I remembered him. He’s a shady looking guy, which probably didn’t help their situation.
“If we’re gonna get em out, I need you to do some things for me. It‘ll be dangerous, though,” Nancy said.
A young man named James Kelley came forward. “Ma’am,” he sneered. “You dunn’t know where we been.”
“Good,” Nancy said simply. “Let’s get a move on then, boys.”
The setting sun cast shadows as we hid in our hiding spots by the jail. The hangings of Port Royal take place in the courtyard of the jail, where spectators can watch without being too close to the unfavorable in the prison. This was where I would watch my brother, husband, and father-in-law die if the plan did not work.
Beside me behind a wall of shrubs was Brock, a man whose real name was Cathy but the crew called Catch, and Clegg Brian. How I was stuck with Clegg in my group, I will never know. In my hands was an axe, the blade grimy with sea salt. Not much protection when compared to a gun. James Kelley and another man were with Nancy, who knows where. Any more of the crew on the mission would be too dangerous.
We crouched there waiting for the prisoners to be hanged to be led into the courtyard.
“So, ya married Nutty Nat’s boy?” Clegg asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Somethin wrong with that?”
“Ah, no,” he said, running a filthy hand through even filthier hair. “Just ya know, though that after that fit you had when I wanted ter marry ya, you’d pick someone a little more.… classy, than I.”
I ignored his comment. This was not the time for that. I perked up as trumpets blared and drums were pound. The time had come.
A group of men and one woman were led from the prison up to the nooses. They were shackled together. The British guard came out of all doors, all with guns, to guard the event. Spectators were already arriving, children on shoulders as not to miss the show.
We got into position as a guard said the charges. The first up was the woman, followed by another man, Nat, Logan, and Lionel, then two other men.
“Sophia Bowen. Charged with four counts of theft and one count of assault. Found guilty by court. Sentence: death.”
Sophia was led up to the ropes. I could see from my spot she was about middle aged, near Nancy’s age, with light scraggly brown hair. She was so skinny her ligaments were bones.
Before the hangman placed a sack over Sophia’s head, she was asked for any last words. She shook her head no, with tears running down her eyes. The sack was placed over her head. I saw her shoulders shaking as her tears turned to muffled sobs.
The hangman pulled the lever with a heartless yank. Sophia’s body fell through the boards, and with a loud snap, was motionless.
“Lookin pretty stony faced, ain’t ya lasse?” Clegg asked. “Thought miss a’lady like yerself wouldn’t want ter be succumbed to watchin such events.”
“This ain’t my first hanging, Clegg. You know that.” He should know that. He was there when I witnessed my first one. Two years ago, some of our men got captured, like today, and were hanged. We were too late to save them. I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
The next prisoner was led up. “Charles Worley. Charged with rape and murder…” I didn’t listen to the rest when I spotted Nancy and her group rounding the corner of the prison building. Brock signaled to us and we knew it was almost time.
Some last words from Charles, which I didn’t catch. Before the hangman put the sack on his head, a man walked stepped from the crowd. He walked to the guard speaking and whispered in his ear. The guard nodded and turned back to the people.
“The court of Port Royal has granted Mr. Cason Bartley permission to personally go through with the hanging of Charles Worley, as consolation for the murder of his daughter.”
“I tell ya, I didn’t do it!” Charles cried, but was silenced by a blow in his ribs by the butt of a nearby soldier’s gun. “You’ve had your turn to speak,” the guard grinned.
The hangman stepped aside as Cason Bartley re-fastened the rope around Charles, and gingerly placed the sack on his head. After the lever was pulled, I understood the reasons for his re-fastening the rope.
Charles hung there, neck unbroken, suffocating on the rope. Cason Bartley just stood there, grinning as the man who murdered his daughter hung suspended slowly choking to death. I closed my eyes, suddenly dizzy.
Clegg clasped my hand. “Don’t worry, that ain’t gonna happen to em,” he whispered in my hand. I buried my face into his shoulder.
Several minuets passed before Charles was finally dead. His body was removed, and the noose re-strung for the next.
“Nathaniel Harrons. Charged with piracy. Automatic sentence of death.”
Nat walked up to the noose. There was no fear on his face. There was nothing at all. As if he’d already given up.
The guard hung the noose around Nat’s neck. When asked for last words, Nat just shook his head. He was too good for that.
The black sack was placed over his head. The hangman stepped away, towards the lever. But just before he could pull the lever, a shot rang out. The hangman stiffened, looked around for a moment, then collapsed. Women screamed, and families fled the yard. I looked up to see James Kelley standing in the open, rifle aimed towards the noose.
Brock, Catch and Clegg, ran out from our hiding spot, guns drawn, shooting every British officer in sight. James Kelley and the other followed suit.
As soon as I was covered, I ran out from the brush into the yard, towards Nat and the shackled prisoners. I saw Nat still standing with the rope around his neck, head covered. With every shot he panicked and turned his head towards the sound, desperately trying to undo the rope tying his hands.
Nancy progressed into the yard, also wielding an axe, which was slowing her down considerably. “Brock!” I yelled. He turned from shooting. “Cover her!” I said, pointing at Nancy. He nodded and was off towards her.
Logan, Lionel and the other prisoners were stumbling along, but were getting nowhere with their leg braces. I hurried towards them and smashed the chains binding them together.
“Come on!” I shouted at Logan and Lionel. We started towards the path in the woods that would lead us to the ship. Nancy and Brock advanced towards Nat on the gallows. Once Nat was free they would follow us.
“The ship’s in the bay!” I yelled. Logan took my hand as we neared the edge of town. We were almost there; I could see the dirt path that led towards the house. The trail to the bay was just beyond the corner.
A big boom sounded, and almost immediately an enormous pain hit my arm. I let out a piercing scream. I stumbled on the ground, my vision failing.
“Keep her going!” Lionel yelled as Logan braced me with my good arm.
My senses were going crazy. The ground was shaking, my vision blurred with gunpowder and tears and ears filled with shots. Blood was seeping through my fingers where I clutched my arm, but still, we kept going.
Then I heard another shot. There was gunfire all around, but this one was different. It sounded different, like a dull thud. It sounded too close. I glanced over my shoulder, and saw Lionel falling to the ground.
I stopped running. Logan stopped, and when he gasped I knew he saw too. I couldn’t hear the gunfire anymore. There was no longer pain in my arm.
I ran to Lionel, Logan following. Still in a daze, I shook Lionel, shook him as hard as I could. “Come Lionel, we have to go! Get up! We have to go Lionel!”
He still lay on the ground, facedown. I began pulling him. “No, Eliza, no…” Logan said, but he sounded miles away. I mustered up enough of my strength with my good arm and turned him over. His eyes were wide open, mouth agape. Right in the middle of his forehead lay a bullet hole, blood gushing from it and down his face.
“Oh my God… Lionel wake up…” I knew he wasn’t going to wake up. He was never going to wake up again.
I looked up to see the culprit, desperately trying to reload his pistol. The tears that were close to spilling stopped in their tracks. My blood started to boil. I clenched the axe in my hands, my wounded arm a distant memory. I felt someone grab the back of my dress, but I yanked away, ripping the fabric, and advanced on the man.
When he saw me approaching he became more desperate in reloading his gun. But he wasn’t going to get a chance to fire that gun into any one else. I wasn’t going to give him that chance.
I advanced on him and knocked him down with the blunt end of the axe. Blood was coming through the cut were the axe made impact. He held his hands above his face, pleading. “Please, please!” he cried, but I ignored him.
I lifted up the axe and brought it down straight on the top of his head. Blood splattered the ground and my dress, but it wasn’t enough. I kept chopping. He was going to suffer for what he did. He was going to die.
Down and down again the axe came. My hair fell out of its bun and around my face, which was already streaked with dirt and wet with blood that was not my own. I laughed at this miserable little creature. He was no longer a man; a man would not kill another man while hiding behind a gun, then subdue himself to be hacked to death by a young girl. He was lower than that.
I lifted up my axe, and used the strength I had left to bring it down as hard as I could. Blood and insides shot everywhere. He was done.
“Oh, Eliza.” Logan was standing behind me, looking down at the soldier. He looked back up to me, the blood, my hair, my crazed expression. “Oh, Eliza, you’ve gone mad!”
“He deserves it, Logan,” I said, anger rising in my voice.
He ignored me. “We need to leave before any others catch up,” he said, nodding towards the dust and noise escalating from us from the direction of the fight. But I wasn’t going to go.
I turned away from him, towards the battle. He gripped my arm by my wound, and I screamed as more blood gushed out of my wound. “You’re in no condition to fight. Let’s go.”
I yanked my arm away from him and ran towards the battle scene. As I ran, I stripped off the top layers of my dress, which had been slowing me down. Logan was calling my name, which only gave me more incentive to keep going. He needed to let me do this.
Soon I came upon the crew and soldiers. Bodies lay everywhere, along with blood and discarded guns. I spotted Clegg. He was just firing a missed shot as I came up beside him.
“God, lasse. Don’t yer look a sight!” he said, noting my appearance.
“Shut up and shoot!” I yelled at him. He nodded, knowing I was serious. I covered his back as he shot. A soldier came up and missed us with his shot, and I put a blow to his head as he was reloading.
“That’s the girl I know!” Clegg said smiling. He reached down and grabbed behind my back, kissing me hard on the mouth. Clegg held on for a while before pulling away, face grim. “I had to do that. At least once.” He turned back around to face the scene.
A shot rang out and Clegg collapsed.
“Clegg!” I crouched on the ground beside him.
“I’ll be okay sweetie. Just a little grazed.” But I saw on his face how much it hurt. I looked up to see who shoot, and noticed a brigade of soldiers descending on us.
“Eliza!” Logan appeared about a hundred yards away, flanked with Nancy and Nat, holding a newly found gun.
“Go!” Clegg yelled. “Get out of here!”
I held onto his hand. “I can’t just leave you!”
“Yes you can,” a gruff voice said from behind. James Kelley pried me away from him, in the direction of my family. The force broke my mother’s necklace, and it fell into pieces onto the ground.
“No, no!” I cried. “Clegg!” The squad circled around him, and I knew he was gone from me forever. Just like Lionel.
Leann and I skipped to our dorms after dinner. Today the cooks gave us a treat: pineapple cake. It was the best I’ve ever had.
We licked the remains off our fingers as we pushed open the door. We stopped immediately, seeing Mistress Amelia standing in the middle of the room. I took out my handkerchief and wiped it on my sticky fingers. Leann followed suit.
“Pack your things,” she said. My heart did a back flip. What did I do so wrong that I’m being expelled for? I said, “Mistress Amelia, all I did was lick my fingers! I will not do it again! Please don’t make me leave!”
She revealed a rare smile. “No, Miss Elizabeth. I relative has come to retrieve you.” This confused me. I knew of no relatives that would want me, besides… No, he wouldn’t do that. Would he?
After Leann and I packed my bags, I hugged her goodbye and followed Mistress Amelia into the hall.
“Which relative has come?” I asked.
“A distant cousin by the name Colonel Rogers. Bares the name Harrons, so he‘s not too distant. He owns a sugar-cane plantation near Black River, good money. You should be well taken care of.”
We walked into her office. Sitting in a chair with his back turned to us was a man, with broad shoulders and shaggy dark brown hair I recognized immediately.
“Colonel, Elizabeth is here. Have you filled out all the papers?”
He stood and turned towards us. “Yes, ma’am. I have,” my brother said, giving me a wink. He held holding out his arms. I ran to him and gave him a big hug.
“Are you ready to go home, Elizabeth?” he asked.
“Yes I am,” I said, and buried my face into his elegant jacket, probably bought just for this purpose. I was going to have a family again.
I screamed as the metal bullet was pulled from my arm. I kicked at Nancy, and she backed away.
“It’s out! It’s out!” she said. “I got it, Eliza, relax!” My tears still streamed as she placed a clean cloth over my wound.
“Thank you, Nancy,” I said.
“Anything child. You didn’t think we were just going to keep it in there, did you?” She dabbed my forehead with a dusty shirt. “Logan, come ere!”
Logan opened the door to my cabin and peeked in. “Is she okay?” He had been standing outside the door for nearly an hour, afraid I might lash out on him in pain during my surgery.
“Yes, dear. Get me a cup of water for her, please.” Logan ran off.
“I’m glad that’s over,” I said.
“Took a lot of grit, but it ‘tis,” Nancy said, cleaning up her station. I fingered the blanket of my bedding.
“Nancy…” I began.”
“Yes, child?” she said without looking up.
“I need your advice on something…”
She glanced at me. “What is it, dear?”
“It’s just that I’ve been having this feeling for a while now, and I’m not quite sure what to do…”
Nancy stood up. “Out with it, child! What’s troubling ya?”
I took a deep breath and looked her in the eyes. “Nancy, I think I’m pregnant.”
I stood on the deck on the Immortalis, watching the outline of land on the horizon. It had been in sight since the night before, but hadn’t seemed to get any closer. What will my new home be like? Certainly not the beautiful tropical paradise I had grew up in. But was it as good as it was said to be?
Logan approached me from behind, carrying our newborn son, Lionel, in his arms. “Are you packed enough?” he asked as he gently placed the sleeping child in my arms.
“Yes, everything. You?”
“Are Nancy and Nat ready?” I asked. After a talk with Logan, Nancy had decided that she would join us on our quest to America. The sea, she said, was not for her. Nat, wanting to be with his family in his old age, agreed to join us. For the year after Lionel’s death Nat had been caption, with no official first mate. James Kelley would take over when he left, with the ship’s only black man James Drodger as first mate. The Immortalis would have to go on without Lionel or Nat.
“Yeah, they ready. But Eliza, are ya really willing to do this? Are ya sure this is what you want?”
“More than anything in my life,” I said. “I want my baby’s life to be different than my own.”
“So after we get to Boston- do you know what you want to do?”
“I have no idea,” I said, hugging Lionel close. His sweet eyes fluttered and he sighed in his sleep. “I’ve just always gone where the wind blows me.”