Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bloody Jenny

Jenny Flanders, "Bloody Jenny", as she would one day be called, looked down at her dead husband. He'd taken his last breath only a few moments before. Life on board ship hadn't been all bad, though it was hardly the one she thought she'd signed up for. When she and Jeremiah married, she'd known he was a privateer. It seemed romantic, and growing up on ships herself, she knew enough to be of help. They had a good crew and once they no longer had the blessing of the crown, they'd continued their life of taking from those who had more than enough and spending it far too quickly. She put away a little of each haul for their future, one they wouldn't have now.

"Damn you, Jeremiah." She beat his chest, still full of fluid from the sickness. The chest had been her pillow for eight years. "Now what do I do? Do I try and captain the ship? Or do I steal away and start afresh?" What made matters worse was she knew the new life would include their unborn child. Banging on the door drew her away from self pity.

"Ma'am." It was the voice of Zaccheus, their first mate. "How fares he?"

Now it was time. Time to at least come forward. She stood and made sure the flintlock pistol tucked into her sash was ready. She touched the handle of the short cutlass. She would fight, if she had to. She walked to the door of the cabin and opened it, letting in fresh sea air. "He has gone to be with the Lord."

The tall, slender man had skin blacker than the flag they flew. He wore breeches and shoes but nothing else, the sweat on his chest beading thanks to the beating of the sun. His gaze went to the deck. "M'sorry, ma'am. He was a good man, he was." The accent, a blend of the tribe he was born among and the English who owned him for a time, was deeply pitched and occasionally hard for strangers to understand.

She put a hand on his shoulder. This was the one person she knew she could trust without question. "He was. As are you. If the vote goes ill, will you side with me? I would have you by me as Jeremiah did."

He looked up at her. "Of course, ma'am. You and he saved me. You have my loyalty. As for the vote, the men would be foolish not to make you their captain."

She blushed at the compliment. "Let's have it then." The pair walked out onto the deck. Once at the ship's wheel, she had Zaccheus ring the bell.

The crew gathered, a mix of races and backgrounds which spoke to how far they travelled and how fair the captain was. There were no other women, though.

She cleared her throat and squared her shoulders. One hand grabbed the wheel and the other rested near the smooth bore pistol. "The captain has met his maker. We will bury him at the next island, or barring that, at sea. He was loved by us all. "

The crew cheered, most of them. She noted the faces of those who held back.

"I would be your new captain if you'll have me." There it was. The decision on her part was made. Now it was simply a matter of the vote. Sweat bloomed at the nape of her neck and the breeze suddenly stilled. She could hear the call of seabirds and the creaking of rope.

"I vote, aye." Zaccheus' deep voice boomed. The chorus of ayes which followed was heartening. There were a few nays, but the majority had it.

"We set sail for the southern seas. We'll celebrate the life of our old captain and future of our crew for the rest of the day. Then it's back to work for us all! Double rations of grog for the crew, Mr. Zaccheus."

This time, every sailor shouted with joy.

Art Source: R by Pheberoni on DeviantArt
Story and Characters (c)/by Scott Roche

#Pirates, #ScottRoche, #History, #1800s


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