Everythin' I need to know, I learnt from me Cap'n.

Arrr, I be a pirate!

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Part Six

Postby Elastoman » Sat Jul 19, 2008 12:14 am

Th' applause were t'underous, as always. JB 'ad outdone 'imself, and th' ladies above me were prob'ly tossin every garment they had at 'im. I were wishin' they'd give it up already so's I could concentrate. Once th' noize died down some, JB come crashin' inta me room th' same way 'e did every night.
"What did you think, Emile? A command performance, no?" After closin' an' lockin' the door behind 'im, he picked up th' brandy I'd left by the door, and swirled his way across th' room to where I were sittin. He were stripped to th' waist, drippin' sweat from th' lights and th' heat, an' after a sip of 'is drink started washin' th greasepaint off 'is face.
"Hmm? Oh, yes. Saint Crispin. Moving, Sir."
"You do not like Shakespeare?"
"No, I enjoy it very much. Especially Richard III. But doesn' it raise yer 'ackles t' pl....OW!" 'E were standin' at th' basin, still drippin, wif 'is miniature pistol pointed at me gut. Th' balls it fired weren't big, and there weren't enough shot for 'em to stick, but they still left a welt an' a bruise.
"Watch your language please, Emile."
"Sorry sir. Aren't you, how should I put this, doesn't it rankle you to portray one of England's greatest kings?"
"Non. Why should it?"
"Well, you are a proud Frenchman, and the animosity between your nations is well known."
"Yes, but when I am onstage, I have no nation. No church. No family. I am he who I portray. Or she. Either way." He dried off, sat down in th' chair opposite me, and tended to 'is brandy and th' reloadin' of 'is pistol at th' same time.
"And you don't feel embarassed to perform in a woman's clothes?"
"Whatever the role requires, my dear Emile. It is not my decision to make."

'E'd had me in 'is basement, below th' stage, fer near on four months. 'Is rules were simple - I weren't there, I did whot 'e said wifout question, and above all else, I weren't there. While th' theater above us were empty, it were my classroom. It's halls, th' stage, th' seats, e'en th' gallery where th' Governer sat when 'e came to th' show. At three bells, I were to be below decks, in me library, bedroom, study, gymnasium - all were one room - th' basement. 'E'd lock me in, and not let me leave until 'e were sure everyone were gone, and 'is doors were all locked above. "What I will teach you," 'e said, "is how to pass as one of them. I do not know what you desire from them, and I do not want to know. All Mary has told me is that what you want is under the eye of the Governor, and I dislike him as much as anyone, so I will help you. Your money," 'e kicked me trunk, "will be returned to you - minus what is needed for clothes, food, and supplies - but for now it remains with me. You are unarmed, yes?"
"Aye, I left me cutlass and pistol in me bunk."
"That is good. Now, this is your room. Begin reading. You will read everything here before we are done, and I will help you understand."
"Thot's a fair bit o' parchment, mate. 'Ow long's this gunna take?"
"That is up to you, Emile. A good start," he motioned to th' washbowl in th' corner, "will be a shave. You do not smell like a woman or a dead fish, so I assume you have bathed recently. You will do both daily. And you will speak properly from now on."
I examin'd 'is raizor - it were sharp enough t' cut th' smile from a masthead wifout leavin' a mark. "Wot ye mean, prope...OW!"
"Properly, Emile. I will see you in the morning. Goodnight." 'E closed an' locked th' door, and I wunner'd wot I'd got into. I waited fer th' kettle to sing fer me, and set t' shavin'. It'd been a while since I'd seen me face wifout a bit o' beard onnit. It weren' bad. Ling wuld prolly laugh. After me shave, I found a bottle of whuskey inna cupboard, and looked at me books. Pickin' wun at random, I sit down an' read th' cover.
"Meta...mo...Metamorphoses. Ovid. Moight as well."

O'er th' next months, I'd read damn near all ov 'em. We'd spent a lot of time talkin', me and JB, and 'e'd helped me unnerstan' wot I couldn't see on me own. Durin' th' night, if 'e weren' off wif some fan or other, 'e'd march me aroun' th' theatre whoile I read. 'E taught me 'ow dem skinny swords work usin' th' blunt ones in th' prop closet, but I still thinks a cutlass an' pistol be better then them slivers o' steel. Mos' days I'd only as much t' eat as wuld keep me alive, save fer Fridays. JB, 'e were a believer, and on Fridays after th' show, we'd 'ave a right fine pasta dinner wif plenty o' drinks t' go wif it. Wun night I'd got 'im deep innis cups, thinkin' I'd be able t' get out fer a bit o' time wif Ling, an' 'e start'd askin' questions. "Emile?"
"Yes, sir?"
"You say you were raised by the ladies...which ladies, exactly, are we talking about?"
"The fine women of Miss Kate's Brothel."
"Your mother was a .... painted woman?"
"She was a whore, sir." I pour'd 'im another, and saw 'is eyes widen as I called me mother by 'er profession.
"That's a bit indelicate, isn't it?"
"For who? I'm perfectly comfortable with it, as well as the fact that I am a bastard. Miss Kate was very clear on both points."
"She sounds dreadful."
"Dreadfully large, yes, but very loving, in her way. She hoped I might fetch a good price, so she taught me to read, fed me well, and made sure I was completely obedient to my betters."
He paled quicker then any lass I've ever seen. "Fet..ch...a good price?"
"Yes. She sold me to a group of rum runners on my eighth birthday. I'm not sure what they paid, but Kate seemed very pleased."
"My god, Emile...."
"Your god indeed! You see, these were not only rum runners, they were Zealots. I was lucky."
"Yes. It was from them that I learned of him, and his chosen people. I was twelve, no, thirteen when I jumped ship and signed on with my Captain that I might be a pirate."
"I did not see you that way, Emile."
"As a believer?"
He laughed, "no, as one who would flee from his master instead of running him through." 'E got up faster than I'd thot 'im capable ov, and were at the door in a flash. "I think I've had more than my share of wine tonight, Emile, and if I'm not careful, it may come to be known that you are here. Therefore, I bid you goodnight," and 'e were out th' door, turnin' th' key, before I could clear 'alf the room.
"Damnit, ye blaggard! I'll skin ye whun next I sees ye!" I shouted at th' top of me lungs, defiant toward 'is rules.
"No, Emile. You won't." 'Is voice were soft from behin' th' door, "you still need me. See you in the morning."

'E finished reloadin' 'is pistol, an' handed me 'is empty glass. I set down me book, and walked to th' cabinet to refill us both. I 'adn't skinned 'im yet, and were passin' sure I wouldn't. "What are you reading tonight, hmm?" 'E picked up th' book, keepin' me place wif a finger, and read th' cover to me. "Persian Letters. What interest does a pirate have in politics, eh?"
"Didn't strike me as politics. Well, not at first. Montesquieu was good at hiding himself behind his characters."
"As you will be, Emile."
"My thanks." I 'anded 'im another drink, and sat down again wif me own.
"So what strikes you from this? Anything?"
"Letter forty-six. I read it last night, and it has stayed with me."
He smiled at me, and returned my book. "What did it say?"
"The line I've been considering reads, "I would serve Thee according to Thy will; but each man whom I consult would have me serve Thee according to his.""
"And this applies to you because I keep you here in the basement?"
"No, because in spite of the language and the clothes I wear, I am a pirate. This, to me, is the essence of that. I serve as I can, not as they would have me."
He rais'd 'is glass to me, "a toast then, Emile. You are ready for your final training."
I touched mine t' his, "what's that then?"
"Finish your drink first. And then have another." 'E weren't won fer bein' drunk, and I knew summin' were comin', but since the night I tried t' get out, 'e'd not let me drink me fill again. I weren't about to let this pass. Instead of th' two, I had four quick ones. By th' time I turned 'round, 'e 'ad a whistlin' kettle in 'is 'and, and were pourin' it in th' basin. "Come here, Emile, quickly. Put your face in the water. It will burn you, but only for a moment."
"What are you suggesting, that I boil off my face?"
If I weren' drunk, and 'e 'adn't been true to me, I'd 'ave twisted 'is head, taken 'is key, an' been done wif it. But I were drunk, and 'e'd been true to me. It hurt more than I'd expected, an' 'is hand held me in th' stuff 'till me need fer air give me th' strength t' pull away. As soon as there were air in me lungs, it came out as a scream, an 'e started pourin' cold water o'er me mask t' stop th' burn.
"Emile, you will do this every morning until you have what you seek. You will use the cream I have prepared after you do so - it will give you a terrible appearance, but no one will recognize you. Keep your resolve, Emile. In the morning, I will tell you where to go next." 'E sigh'd at me, curled up on th' floor, whimperin'. "You will become used to this. You serve in your way, and your strength will see you through it."

Cap'n never told me to do anythin' like that. Worst 'e ever had for me were scrubbin' th' bilge, or scrapin' barnacles at low tide. But one time I'd got hit wif a bit ov mast after a cannonball'd splinter'd it. "Keep yer pain in mind, boy! And make them wot stand between ye and yer plunder unnerstand retribution!"
There's no need to stand on ceremony, nor call to impress.

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Re: Part Seven

Postby Elastoman » Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:35 pm

I wouldn' say I slept that night. Had a short period uv not awake, sure, but not sleepin'. In th' mornin' when I come to, JB were waitin' wif brekfast. "Good morning, Emile. Did you sleep?"
"Not exactly."
"Ahh. I suppose not. Here, eat. We will talk about the role I have written for you." He help'd me offa me bunk and to a chair, and I werked me way around a bit o' toast. Me face still hurt, and it were stretchin' it a bit to eat. I grimaced me way thru it ennyway. "I will let you choose what name you use, Emile, because it has to be something that you feel fits you. But I will tell you who you are, and how you came to be on the island. You are an American - I would have you be English, but your accent will not allow it. You went to England to study as a naturalist. Your study of birds lead you here. You will arrive via Curacao on a French trading vessel. I know the captain of the ship, and we will put you on it before it lands, three days from now. His crew is loyal to him, and will not give you up."
"I don't know anything about birds, sir."
"Neither does the Governor. Work from the little you know, and talk more of your interest than your knowledge. Think as a student of Socrates - always questions, never statements. We practiced, and you were very good."
"Why Curacao?"
"The Dutch are currently out of favor with our Governor, and he will be unlikely to contact them regarding you."
I try'd a sip uv coffee, and it were like tryin' t' drink th' sun. Me face were still too tender fer it. "So why is my face burned?"
"Two reasons. The first is that you have killed a procurer of the East India Company, and they will be looking for you. The second is a matter of character. You aren't a sailor, Emile. You spend your time with preserved animals, leaves, books. Your time on the sea has been a learning experience in many ways."
"My version of women's clothing?"
"Ha! Yes, I suppose it is. Keep the jar of creme near. I have prepared it to help keep your face soft, and it will help with the pain. Also, the callouses on your hands argue with our character. Try to keep yourself gloved." He got up outa 'is chair, and started openin' trunks that I 'adn't seen before. "You will find all you need here - I was fairly conservative in my choices. You will appear slightly out of fashion, but respectably well dressed. You are, after all, very well off."
"I am?" I 'ad a few 'undred Cronans wif me whun I met 'im - didn't seem like a fortune t' me.
"Indeed. With the money you had, and the sale of your jewelry, and a contribution from myself, we have had a fine season. We are too far from the Bourse to do this properly, but local trade can be quite lucrative if you know the mind of the dockmaster."
"What jewelry?" I 'adn't mention'd the false bottom in me trunk, but the blaggard 'ad found it ennyway.
"Emile, my dear, do not pretend at innocence. I am a thief, and while it was better than most, your attempt at subterfuge was infantile."
"I suppose so. And the dockmaster's mind was as easy to penetrate?"
'E giggled. "The ladies of the island, being bored with local pursuits, have turned to infidelity as their primary means of entertainment. And there is much said between the sheets that is not in the taverns." 'Is smile wuld put shivers in a whore. "So, as I said, you are quite well off."
I've never claimed t' be free from sin, an' avarice were part 'n parcel uv bein' a pirate. "How well off?"
"On this voyage, my little naturalist, you have earned ten thousand livres." I dropped me toast. All uva sudden like, me face weren' hurtin' no more.
"How many livers?"
"Livres. French currency. Ten thousand."
"And how did I accomplish this feat?"
"Officially? You helped an old friend complete his purchase of cargo in Savannah, sold it at a quick profit, and re-invested it with the merchant vessel that took you to Curacao. That being done, you came here hoping to view the King's nature reserve."
"So what did I really do?"
"Transported and sold quite a large amount of rum and gunpowder."
"Well, naturally." 'E chuckled at me as I pik'd up me toast. This were gettin' interestin'.

Three days later we put in at th' same dock me Cap'n 'ad left from four months earlier. This vessel were a legal merchant type, but I knew 'er skipper to 'ave a bit uv pirate in 'im afore 'e settled inta place behin' 'er wheel. As far as 'e were concern'd, I were an idiot whut JB 'ad paid 'im to bring inta port, an' tha's all 'e cared t' know. 'Is crew, fool'd by me act, made sure I stayed snug in me bunk until they was done tyin' 'er up, and that I were off th' ship as quick as they could move me once they had. Suited me fine. I hired a boy to take me things to a hotel I'd never uv chosen fer meself, and pester'd 'im about 'is manner wif me bags all th' way there. I'd be lyin' if I said it weren't fun. Checkin' in were easy - I give me name as John Hemminges at th' desk, and got me things packed away neat in me room. Me pistol and cutlass, return'd to me now, I kept hid in th' false bottom of me trunk, along wif me seafarin' clothes. Fer all anyone would know, I were Mister Hemminges until I left th' island. I took me time at th' writin' desk, preparin' a card fer the Governor, introducin' meself as a naturalist and ahntrepenoor, and sent it up to 'im wif the boy of th' house. Nell were gettin' closer by th' hour.
There's no need to stand on ceremony, nor call to impress.

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Re: Everythin' I need to know, I learnt from me Cap'n.

Postby pieces o'nine » Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:59 pm

Yarrrgh! This be thee beste long-winded tale oi've scrolled past me oiballs sins findin this forrrum! Oi be on tenterhoooks! (Oi don' hack shooly 'ave tenterhooks, an oi don' nose 'ow ter git on 'em iffen oi 'ad 'em, but hit be a met a four fer litter hairy heck sight ment.)
I will honor Monkey in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
~Charles "Darwin" Dickens

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Re: Everythin' I need to know, I learnt from me Cap'n.

Postby Elastoman » Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:21 pm

Arrr, pieces, oim sure dey'd be lovely if'n ye had 'em. More t' come soon.

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Re: Part Eight

Postby Elastoman » Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:43 pm

Th' boy'd been off wif me card, an' after a quick look inna mirror I made fer th' parlor. JB were right - I 'ardly recognized meself. I found a seat near one uv th' windohs what were clear enough to see through, an' th' lady of th' house bring me a cup uv tea. Afore I could finish it, th' Governor's carriage were rumblin' up t' the door, an' th' lad I'd sent wif me card were hoppin' down off the back of 'er. 'E come runnin' inside, nearly knockin' me over as 'e ran fer th' kitchen, an' one o' the Lord's Dandies werk'd 'is way out uv th' gaudy contrapshun. Th' lady met 'im at th' door, and I move'd back to th' parlor. 'E enter'd wif a crisp bow, an' I rose t' meet 'im. "You are Mister Hemminges, I assume?"
"I am. How may I help you, mister..?"
"Scoles. I am one of the Governor's assistants."
"Ahh! So he has recieved my card. Tell me, has he considered my request?"
"I cannot say, sir. However, we are to host something of a party this evening, and he would like to extend to you an invitation. It will be nothing grand, not a ball by any means, but I believe it will be a fine event in any case. Do say you'll come, Mister Hemminges."
"Well, being as I have only this morning stepped ashore I've had no chance to commit to any other engagements, and even if I had, I believe that I should break them for your employer. I would be honored to attend."
"Excellent! I shall send the carriage 'round at, say, six o'clock?"
"Perfect. See you then." 'E bow'd 'is way back out th' door, and left th' reek of 'is flower water in 's wake. I 'adn't expected this kin' uv welcome, but I'd be stupid not take 'er. I should've asked who'd be attendin', but there weren' many who'd know me on th' island, least, not among them what were 'avin dinner wif th' Gov. I finish'd me tea, an' walk'd outside. Knowin' full well where I'd find whut I wanted, I ask'd aroun' fer a general store. I shopped fer provisions, whut I figger'd were a weeks worth, an t' examine 'is selection of lace.
"Lace, sir?" Th' shopkeep were eyein' me hard.
"Yes, the tighter the knit the better."
"Something interesting in mind?"
"Hah! No, no. With any luck I shall soon be observing the King's lands, and not wishing to be eaten alive by the local insect population, I shall drape myself with this gossamer while I sleep."
"Does that really work?"
"I've no idea, but it seemed a good suggestion when I heard it." I took a look through whut 'e had on hand, an' ask'd fer a sample uv a few of 'em. I stuff'd 'em in me pocket, an' had 'im pack up th' rest t' be taken to me room. Th' afternoon were growin' short, so I 'eaded back t' me bunk fer a bit uv a wash afore I met wif the cream o' the island.

"D'ye like art, lad?" Th' Cap'n were in a rare mood. We'd 'ad a good turn wif our last raid, and 'e'd taken a paintin' from one uv th' locals. It were leanin' against a bulwark in 'is cabin 'neath a lantern, and 'e were jus' sittin' wif 'is rum, starin' at it.
"I like whut I kin sell, an whut I kin spend, and whut I kin drink. If art be one of 'em, then aye, Cap'n."
"Siddown, ye louse. Look ye at that. What do ye see?"
"A wench wif too much on, Cap'n."
'E kin' uv chuckl'd at me, "Aye, that's true. Whut else?"
"That be a fine string o' pearls she's got."
"Yer missin' it lad. Clear off me table, and fetch th' lantern." Wif 'is bottle in one hand, 'e laid th' paintin' cross th' table, and rais'd th' wick on 'is lantern so there were plenty uv light. "Him whut paint'd this were good. Don' look at th' wench, look at th' paint. See, here, 'ow 'e layer'd it? This weren' a fast thing, lad. I'm guessin' it took 'im months."
"Why'd ennyone spen' months drawin' a wench, when they could 'ave one fer a few cronans?" 'E 'anded me 'is bottle, and takin' off 'is sword and pistol, laid down on 'is bunk.
"Yer a fool, lad. But yer young yet. Put 'er back against th' wall fer me, and think a bit 'bout th' brush that made 'er." I lean'd 'is paintin' soft against 'is wall, and took th' bottle back to th' mess. I guess there were somethin' t' be admired in the one whut made the picture. 'E were persistent, and 'e could see thin's well ahead uv time, make sure 'e were set fer th' end.

On th' ride up t' the Governor's estate I ran me thoughts through me head again. Savannah, London, Portsmouth, back t' Savannah, Curacao, then here. Naturalist ideals, study. Observation, theory, experimentation, proofs. Business. Where an' when I'd traded, an' whut, an' whut I'd made onnit. Who was John Hemminges? Were 'e born rich? Where'd 'e go to school. When were th' first time 'e'd met a wench wifout 'er clothes? Were 'e married? Were 'e faithful, an' if so, t'what? Th' Governor were known to be more uv a pirate than most of us hands were. 'E were ruthless, an' cold. Aye, 'e sent 'is taxes regular and swore to th' King as ye'd expect, but to be true 'e swore to 'imself first, to gold second, and to th' King when et suited 'im. There weren't a gallows in 'is orchard, but as sure as I'm breathin', there'd been men hung there. If'n I didn't want t' be one of 'em, I'd need t' be careful. No mention of 'is mistress - she were kept safe, sure - e'en t' those what might help wif the gain of 'er. Wif any luck, I could perform JB's role th' way 'e'd suggested, wif only questions, never answers, and give me own command performance.
There's no need to stand on ceremony, nor call to impress.

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Part Nine

Postby Elastoman » Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:21 pm

Th' driver open'd me door, an' I foun' meself at th' Governor's doorstep. I were wearin' a foine suit - it were simple cut, like that Franklin fella wore, but as I weren't a puritan like 'e were, mine weren' quite as inky. I 'ad me gloves on, but 'ad decided that ol' John weren't one to wear a wig. 'Is doorman let me in, an Scholes intr'duced me as "Mister Hemminges, Fellow of the Royal Society." Th' Governor turn'd roun', and seein' me handin' me hat to Scholes, come over to make me welcome.
"Mister Hemmings! Very glad you could make it, and all the way from London!" 'E shook me hand more firmly then I'd thot 'e would. "Would you like something to drink, perhaps?" We'd started a stroll across the room, as much fer me to look around as fer 'im to be seen talkin' wif me.
"Ahh, no, thank you. After, ahm, a brief visit to St. Dominique between Savannah, and, ahh, Curacao, I've had to give it up. I would, uhm, thank you very much for a glass of, ahh, water, if it's not too much trouble."
"Dominique?" 'E 'anded me a tumbler of water wif a strange look onnis face, "what the devil took you there?"
"Well, I was sailing with a, thank you for the water, free French merchant from Savannah to Curacao, and he put in on St. Dominique to see to a family affair that he would not describe to me. Whatever it was, it left us in port for three days. On the second, being given permission to go ashore by the first mate, I spent a short while strolling around the market. It was mostly the local growers - tobacco, you know - but there were a few smaller stalls with local goods." I'd started to attrak a crowd. Good, I thot. Let 'em all get an earful. "Well, the one I had stopped at was being tended by a single old slave woman who claimed herself to be a priestess and a healer."
"I've heard of them," came a voice from me elbow. It were a clergyman from 'is looks. "Some kind of African black magic."
"Yes indeed! I had heard the same rumors, and was curious to learn more about it. After some conversation, she gave me a potion that she said would perform any number of miracles."
Th' Governor was beaming, "Such as?"
"Why, everything. Immense riches, long life, the sexual prowess of a buffalo, and strong healthy children were the ones that caught my ear."
"And did you take this potion?"
"The only poison that I could scent was alcohol, and a lot of it, so with a toast to my "priestess" I downed it in a gulp." Th' ladies gasp'd, an' th' collected lads proclaim'd me both brave an' a fool.
"And what effect did it have, I wonder?"
"Aside from a slightly upset stomach, nothing. It was several days later that I awoke with my complexion rather, well, altered. It has been improving over time, and I'm sure it will be right again soon. But for her miracles, well, I've yet to test them." Laughter. I were a hit. "But I'm afraid I must correct one item, Governor - Mister Scholes introduced me as a Fellow, but I can claim no such honor. I was allowed to study with them for a time, but have not applied to join their ranks."
"Nevermind the title, Mister Hemminges, you are a welcome guest in my home. Now, let me introduce you..."

Th' entroductions took near on an hour, and I were beginnin' t' wish I'd taken a drop. "And finally," his lord high ruthless sed, "may I present my wife, Mary." Th' clothes 'id what I knew 'er t' be, and who, but 'er eyes weren't changed none. And they said not a werd 'bout our arrangement at th' Rose. I were glad t' be wearin' gloves, or the sweat on me palms would give me up.
"Madam," I took 'er hand as daintily as I could, and give 'er a good low bow.
"Please, sir, no need to be so formal. We dine tonight as friends." 'Er eyes were still cold, but she were searchin' me good.
"Ahh, well. In either case, if I may be of any service, I am at your call as long as I am here."
"And how did you come to be here, John?" She'd taken me in one arm an' th' Governor in th' other, and were walkin' us toward th' windows. I were half afraid she meant t' toss me out uv 'em.
"That, ma'am, is quite a tale, and I will admit, somewhat, ehm, embarassing to me." Aye, that'd hook'd 'em.
"Embarassing? Oh my, this will be a fine tale. You simply must convince him to tell us!"
Th' Governor look'd down at 'er wif eyes full uv love - he were a cuckold, and she were a murdress, but 'e loved 'er - "It may not be an easy thing, dearest, but if it can be done it will." Scholes appear'd wif one o' dem oriental bells, and announced that dinner were served. We were usher'd to th' dining room, and set down wherever Mary saw fit t' put us. I were sittin' cross from a local landsman's wife, one I'd eyed before wif a certain desire - aye, Nell. And were she ever as fine as I'd remember'd. I kept me eyes on me plate, and the Governor, and Mary, and tried to keep 'em offa Nell as much as I could, but th' glances she were givin' me told that she weren' scared o' me boiled face. If it weren' red already, I'd a been blushin' fer fear uv gettin' caught.
"Mister Hemminges, may I ask a personal question?" Mary'd called fer more wine, an' had me sighted from 'er end uv th' table.
"Yes, madam?"
"If it's not too indelicate, you've not removed your gloves, even as we sit at table. Did the slave's potion affect your hands as well?"
"Ahh, ehm, well. You see, the Frenchmen I was travelling with were, well, they were a goading lot. And being a fair sport in that sort of thing, when they called for me to do my turn in the rigging, well, up I went."
"But you're not a sailor, are you?" There were th' eyes I'd been watchin' fer. She'd got me scent.
"No, not at all, and that is precisely the problem. You see, my balance wasn't what it should have been, and I only managed to save my life by a well-placed grab at a free rope. I landed hard on the deck, and had damaged my palms awfully. But, at the same time, my willingness to try made me quick friends with the crew, and the Captain shared some of his private stores to help me with the pain, so it was, I think, a fair trade." I beam'd at 'er o'er a bite uv fowl, and gather'd the approval uv 'er guests. E'en if th' conversation were a risk, 'er cook weren't. 'E were a real credit to 'is craft, I say. Mary's eyes tol' me I weren' done yet, and th' rest of th' meal went easy.

After we'd done, there were a time spent wif cards an' cigars, an' one by one th' guests made thir way home. I'd spent me time gettin' 'is lordship roarin' drunk, sippin' me water, an' askin' questions about just how great 'e was. Finally it were just him and me, an' as I expect'd Mary come to see me off.
"Ahh! My wife! Isn't she beautiful, John?" Aye, 'e'd had it.
"Quite. You are a lucky man." I stood up and walk'd fer th' sideboard. Wif jus th' three of us, I thot I'd 'ave that drink now.
"And you, Mister Hemminges, are an elusive one. Despite my darling husband's promise, you still haven't told us your tale." Mary'd taken me seat, leavin' me t' pace. Fine to me. It helps me think, anyway.
"That is true. I will relate it on one condition: that it remains with us three."
"Of course, John! A story told in confidence should be kept just so. And I promise you that yours is safe with me!" 'E managed t' find 'is feet (lord knows how) and clink glasses wif me. As 'e realized that the deck weren' steady below 'im, I help'd 'im sit again, 'ad a taste of 'is best whuskey, and started in on th' largest pack o' lies I'd told yet. "After all," I thot to meself, "Cap'n always said t' be as quick in yer head as ye were on yer feet."
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Re: Everythin' I need to know, I learnt from me Cap'n.

Postby DaveL » Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:01 am

Geez, Oi though 'Walk the Plank' wuz long winded. Keep 'em comin matey, ye be doing a fine job there!
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Part Ten

Postby Elastoman » Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:37 pm

Stoppin' by th' sideboard to add a few more drops t' me water an' sauce, I started in onnit.

"Well, I suppose to make the tale complete I would need to describe my childhood from my earliest memory and progress from moment to moment until I arrived here, with your excellent Irish in my glass. But that would not be nearly as interesting, and many times longer, than the last several months of my life have been. We shall begin in Philadelphia. The recent, well, uncertainties among the colonies had gathered a number of great thinkers in one place, and I found myself among them." I stroll'd me way back to me audience, raising a hand to stop 'em from speakin', "no, I was not a part of their deliberations. I have been a friend to some of them, and known to others, and our discourse sat primarily on the subject of scientific observation. Where issues of state are concerned I'm afraid I have little knowledge, and honestly wish that it were less. Those things aside, news reached me there that an old friend, a merchant named Dumont, had been asking about me in my home town of Savannah, Georgia. I made for him at once, as our meetings usually left me richer in both mind and pocket." Th' Governor were rapt, and e'en Mary seem'd t' be enjoyin' me tale.
"When I arrived I found my home as I had left it, and my servants having prepared my home comfortably for me, I offered them a week to themselves. Before she left, I sent a letter to Dumont with my maid, letting him know that I was home and my hearth waited anxiously for his presence. The next night he arrived, and our discussion began. His offer was a good one - very little risk, sure commodities, and a very decent return. He needed only nine hundred pounds sterling to complete the purchase, and ensure for the transportation of his goods. I was happy to oblige, and upon hearing that his goods were bound for London, begged that I might be allowed to ride along. Arrangements were made, and we set sail less than a week later. While I am no sailor, I've always been comfortable on the sea, and I suffered no great discomfort. Our goods were unloaded and sold for an agreeable price, which was made better by some losses incurred by the Dutch in the Bourse earlier that day. I'd had a fine return - some two thousand pounds total - that promised to make my stay in England very pleasant." Mary's eyes were glowin' like emeralds in th' sun. She didn' know if th' money were true er not, but I were sure gettin' er appetite up. I set me glass on the mant'l, an' glanced around th' room fer a chair. Spyin' a stool near th' door to th' Governor's office, I gave a quick "Ah!" an' went over t' grab it. 'Is office door were cracked, an I could make out a bit o' the town through 'is windahs. Draggin' me stool back to th' fireplace, I set it up like a stage, and sat down wif me drink t' continue me tale.
"Well," takin' a sip, "I could ramble for hours about my time with the Society, but that's our topic. For now the important part is a discussion of ornithology I had one afternoon, and the suggestion that I travel south-west, towards Portsmouth, to find the home of a man who kept exotic birds."
"Portsmouth?! You didn't mean to go there, did you? The town is crawling with pirates!" Th' Governor were havin' a hard time restrainin' himself. "Why, the murderous filth that congregate in that town are famous for their disregard for society. And what's that they ramble on about? Some deity.."
"No, sir," I 'ad to intrupt 'im quick, or I'd lose th' thread of it. "I did not intend, at first, to visit Portsmouth, but knowing very little about the geography of England I overshot my goal, and found myself there in any case. I secured lodgings in what seemed to be a reputable establishment, and asked if there was somewhere nearby I could take a meal, as it was rather late and most of the tables were sure to be bare. The place they suggested, aparently quite well thought of from the glowing reccomendations I recieved, would not normally have been my first choice."
Mary's eye were lock'd to me like a grapple. "The Benbow, Mister Hemminges?"
"Yes, I believe that was the name. And I have to say that while I was, initially, quite afraid for my life, I had a wonderful night of it."
"And lived to tell the tale, it seems. Would you care for another drink?" Mary were sure uv it, and that were fine wit me. Knowin' whut she were, I thot she might help wif me little scheme.
"Yes, thank you. But, light on the whiskey, if you would be so kind - I fear it may go to my head. So, I found myself in conversation with a table full of men with whom, under normal circumstances, I would have very little to discuss. However; I had found, in that gathering, a finer knowledge of exotic birds than I could have imagined! And the next day, by their suggestion, I was returning to London intent on visiting your island, and the King's reserve."
"Birds? You sat in the Admiral Benbow, with nearly two thousand pounds sterling in your coat, and talked about birds with a table full of pirates?" 'E didn't believe me. That were fine. I didn't believe me, either.
"Well, at first there were several threats, and then I promised to pay for the rum, the food, and the company for the evening if I should be allowed to have a meal in peace."
"You bribed them not to rob you?"
"That was my thought. It seems I had instead invited them to spend the majority of my money in a night."
Mary 'anded me th' drink, "Do you remember any of them?"
"Thank you, madam. No, I'm afraid not. We were rather, well, festive. I'm not exactly sure how I found my way back to my rooms. But my pockets weren't completely empty, so I chose to write off the experience as a strangely enriching one. So, the first order of business was to return to Savannah and Dumont with our profits. The return voyage was similarly uneventful, and having used what remained of my funds, some eight hundred pounds, to reinvest in the voyage, I saw a better than average return on the company."
"You seem very willing to part with your money, John. Aren't you afraid to lose it?" 'Is mask were finally comin' off. It took longer then I'd expected, but th' villian were emergin'.
"Not a bit! And, after all, without risk, there is no reward. And my reward from the Curacao cargo was a fine one indeed."
"Oh? How did you do?"
"Unfortunately the Captain was slightly out of tune with, ehm, current political trends shall we say? He demanded to be paid in assignats, as he was ready to retire and wanted to do so in France as a landowner. I was able to argue my way up from land to livres, but had no luck in trading them for pounds."
"I may be able to help with that, John. What sort of figure are we talking about?"
"Ten thousand."
'E were surprised. I were smilin'. Mary were steadyin' 'erself on the back of 'er chair. "In bills, or coin?"
"Coin. Mostly suns."
"And you would like them exchanged?"
"As soon as possible, yes. From what I have heard, the situation in France is not improving."
"Very well. We can discuss it in the morning, if you'd like. I can't promise you won't lose a little by the exchange, but we will see what can be done."
"Wonderful, sir. You have my thanks. And, if I may ask, have you considered my request regarding the King's land?"
"We will try to make some arrangement, but I'm not sure it will be possible. Let us leave it, for tonight. These are serious issues, and, ha!, I think we are all rather light." 'E manag'd 'is way out of 'is chair, and bid me good night. I shook 'is hand, kiss'd Mary's, and followed Scholes t' the carriage. Me traps were laid. I'd sound 'im sure, and findin' Nell would be jest th' chain-shot I'd need t' drop 'is mast.

Scholes open'd th' carriage door fer me, and I noticed Mary at th' door as I handed 'im me hat. "Mister Hemminges, may I ask one last question?"
"Of course, madam. What would you like to know?"
"What was their suggestion? The pirates you met, I mean."
"Hah! That's the part I wished to leave unsaid, as it is the reason the story is an embarassing one."
"So you won't tell me?"
"No, no. It's simple enough. They had suggested that if I wanted to see a truly rare breed of bird, I should seek out a pair of Blushing Tits in the Caribbean. I was naieve enough to take them seriously. But I think I have gained enough from the voyage to overcome the insult, and look back on it with a laugh."
She smiled, an' it were almost genuine. "I think you'll find them without much effort, John. Just keep an eye out for pirates in the meantime." She went back inside, and I hopp'd up in th' cart. As we cleared th' gates, I give a knock on th' roof, an' shout'd, "Get 'er movin', Scholey - we'd not wanna o'er stay our welcome."
Scholes toss'd 'is wig through the windah at me, "yer a blaggart, an' a liar, an' turnin' inta a damn'd thief, Em."
"Sure, Scholey. But I'm th' one ridin' th' Governor's goods, an' yer th' one drivin me home. Get goin."
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Re: Everythin' I need to know, I learnt from me Cap'n.

Postby pieces o'nine » Fri Aug 01, 2008 9:50 pm

Oi be hovercome wiv hadmereashun wile reedin this tail.

Oi has ter' thank ye fer not submittin hit as a cereal in Playbilge. Waytin a munf between ever' too chapters wood be torchur!
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Re: Everythin' I need to know, I learnt from me Cap'n.

Postby Elastoman » Sat Aug 02, 2008 2:37 am

Arrr...I were tempted, sure. Th' offer uv vee eye pee viewin's uv th' centerfoldes were temptin, but I foun' meself in need of greatarr personnal expreshun.

Moar t' come.

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Re: Everythin' I need to know, I learnt from me Cap'n.

Postby Detective TurtleHolmes » Sat Aug 02, 2008 3:53 am

Iffen ye keep this up,ye'll win Planky's Golden Wig Award!
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Let's work together to keep the present inevitable.

So yeah, I went and got a blog.

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Re: Everythin' I need to know, I learnt from me Cap'n.

Postby pieces o'nine » Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:32 pm

Oi be sensin a speshul haward at neckst yeare's Jim Lads fer "Best Screeneplaye"!
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Part Eleven

Postby Elastoman » Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:50 am

Scholes soon 'ad me home, an' open'd me door so's I could get out. "Em," 'e said, "are ye determin'd t' go after 'er?"
"Aye, Scholey. I ain't thot uv nuthin' else since ye told me uv 'er."
"Arrr. Good. Ye've got me at yer back, Em, e'en if ye arr mad." 'E grinn'd, an' reachin' back in th' carriage, lift'd a cushion outa th' way. 'E 'anded me a foine bottle uv brandy, and put th' cushion back wher it were. "'Ave a drink on th' Governor. Oim sure 'e won' mind, seen as 'ow yer mates now."
I laughed at 'im, an point'd at th' cushion 'e'd moved. "Don't ferget yer wig, Scholey. Ye'll need t' be back in costume afore ye return." Scholey were a good man. 'E'd been a pirate fer a while, and when 'e foun th' love uv 'is life, settled in noice wif a little land. 'Course, th' Governor want'd the land for hisself, and 'ad poor Scholes arrested. Th' land went t' the Governor, and 'is family t' a fever. Whun it were decided that Scholey'd done 'is part in irons, 'e were released. A time later, wif a new name, 'e appear'd askin t' be a valet fer the man 'e hated. Aye - I could be sure uv 'im. Hell, it were him whut told me of the mistress in th' first place.
"Aye, Em. I know't well. G'night." 'E shook me hand, and turn'd back fer the manor. I made me way inside quiet like, so's I wouldn't 'ave t' deal wif th' help. A quick look aroun' me room told me it were as I left it, that me things were safe. I toss'd off th' costume Oi'd been wearin' fer th' night, and set meself up next t' the windah. Th' breeze 'ad come up, an' et felt mighty refreshin' cross me toes. I crack'd th' bottle, pour'd a glass, and set back t' savor it. Th' Governor 'ad good taste en brandy.

Near midnight, as I were finishin' me secun glass, I 'eard 'er on th' stairs. I knew it were her. She were tryin' t' be quiet, but not en thut slow, careful way that shews yer worried about wakin' someone. Nah, she were movin' quick, just tryin' not to make a racket. Th' sound uv skirts brushin' th' floor. Boots. I were tempted t' think it were a man, but when she knock'd on me door, it were too soft. I open'd it for 'er, an' me guess were correct. Mary were grinnin' at me like a dog wif a scent. Th' same getup as she'd wern earlier, but 'er bustle were gone, an' 'er hair were let down. "Care fer a drop uv yer 'usband's brandy, Mary?" I left th' door open for 'er, and went back t' me chair. "Best oive tasted."
She closed th' door behin' 'er, and I 'eard me key turn in th' latch. "Yes, it is good. And I would love one." Affer pourin' 'erself a drink, she put me key on th' table, an perch'd on th' windahsill. "You're good, Em. I hadn't the faintest, at least, at first."
"Aye, Jaybee done 'is part fer me. Now et's my turn t' finish th' scene."
"And who was Hemminges, hmm? Some unfortunate victim?" She smelled 'er brandy as et roll'd roun' 'er glass, an' grinn'd at me again.
"Oim really not that vicious, Mary. I prefar not killin' folk if I kin avoid it."
"I'm sure the Pope already has you on his list to be a cardinal."
"Less hope not, lass. And fer Hemminges, 'e were an actor. One uv Shakespeare's lot. Thot th' name were appropriate."
"Why Em! That's almost romantic. Now, why are you here?"
"I wont sumthin that yer husband guards close. Fer me t' get it, I 'ave to get close to 'im. Find out a few things thet don't quite fit."
"What is it?"
"His mistress."
"What? Nell? Oh Em, don't worry about that. I'd give it less than a week, and you'll have all of her that you could ever desire."
"How d'ye figure?"
"Em, if you think I'm unfaithful, then you're in for a shock." She stood up again, an' walk'd behin' me t' where oid left th' brandy. "So that's really all you're after?"
"Aye. Jest the mistress." I lean'd back, an rest'd me heels on th' sill wher 'er ass 'ad been a moment ago. Th' breeze felt good.
"Em, what did your captain say about looting?"
"When you're looting something, when you've boarded someone's boat and you're stealing from them, how much do you take?"
"Everythin' ye kin see, an anythin' ye stumble across in th' dark. Once she's sunk, ye can't go back fer moar."
"That's what I thought." I glanc'd back at 'er, and she were standin' wif 'er back t' me. Wif one hand she were 'oldin' 'er glass, and wif th' other, she'd mov'd 'er hair over 'er shoulder, and were tappin at th' top button on 'er back. "Well, come on, pirate. I can't get this thing off without a little help."

A while later foun' us layin' on th' floor, perfectly 'appy t' stay ther fer a bit, and silently decidin' who were gonna get up t' fetch th' drink. "Em?"
"I could use another drink."
"There it be. Bring 'er back fer us t' share."
"Ass. A gentleman would fetch it for me."
"Ye'd think so, but oim a pirate."
"So you are." She kissed me quick, an made 'er way across th' room to th' bottle. I lay there enjoyin' th' view, an thank'd 'er as she took 'er place beside me again.
"So, is this sort uv thin' common wif ye?"
"An yer not shy t' admit it?"
"Not at all. We don't usually talk about it openly, but everyone knows it, and everyone's in on it. Celebrating promiscuity among the nobility may be the one good thing the French have ever done."
"Want me t' shew ye another then them frogs 'ave come up wif?"
"Not yet."
"Arrr." We lay there quiet, an th' breeze finally managed t' stir th' air enough that it weren't damp anymore. I decided thet she weren' gonna slip a knife in me ribs, and let meself start t' sleep.
"I should go, Em. You have a meeting with my husband in the morning, and it would be bad form for us to arrive in the same coach."
"Aye, that's true. Kin I ask ye a question, afore ye go?"
"Th' man ye had me kill - who wuz 'e?"
"My husband. And I never thanked you properly."
"Yer...ahh. Oi see. Is that just as common fer ye?"
"No. Usually I poison them."
"And Nell - does she follow ye in that game as well?"
"Hah! No, that one is my own." I pull'd me pants on, and set meself on the foot uv th' bed, watchin' 'er dress. If'n she weren' evil, oid be tempted t' keep 'er on. As it were, Mary an' me were allies uv sorts, an' so long as we kept thins informal, oi'd be able t' use 'er. Th' trick were th' Governor.
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Postby Elastoman » Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:49 pm

Th' next mornin, fair after dawn 'ad come en gone an oi'd scalded meself fresh, I were waitin' fer Scholey an th' carriage by th' door t' me lodgins. Th' day were o'ercast, an showin' signs uv stormin, but wern't no cooler fer it. I watch'd me mate roll th' cart slow down through th' street, troin not t' run enywun down, an' chew'd 'appily on me mornin' cigar. Th' fun were about t' start. "You're late, mister Scholes."
"My apologies, sir - several ships made port this morning, and the roads are busier than usual."
"Very well then," I climb'd en th' back uv the thing, "let us meet your master with as much haste as possible." I start'd t' toss me cigar out th' windah, but decided it were a rare pleasure, an' oi'd keep it fer th' ride. I'd left behin' me fancy dress, an' were in me explorer's state. Coarse fabrics they were, and leathers. Good fer a bit of werk land-side, an' still cut proper loike. Oi'd brought me good knife, 'angin visible on me belt, an' th' one I use fer close werk inside me vest. Not thet I expect'd t' use 'em, oi were comin' at th' good part. Th' porters were strugglin' t' get me box uv coin on th' back uv th' wagon, and soon as they 'ad, we were off. Mary were waitin' fer us as we came t' the door, an offer'd me 'er hand when I were back on me feet.
"Mister Hemminges! I'm pleased to see you again so soon. Do come in - he's in his office, and has been waiting for you to take his breakfast. Have you eaten?" I want'd t' laugh inner face, but kept et t' meself.
"No, not yet, and a good meal would be most welcome. After spending all those weeks away from land, I've come to appreciate the pleasure of eating well more than I had imagined I would." Me box hit th' groun' wif a bang, an' ye could 'ear th' coin clinkin' en it. Mary start'd at th' soun, and seem'd t' be listenin' t' all them coins like Penelope standin' et th' shore. She were gunna take 'im fer all 'e was worth. "Are you all right, my dear?"
"Yes, Mister Hemminges. Merely startled. Shall we go inside?" I took 'er arm, an' follow'd 'er thru th' house. She were prattlin' on, playin' th' host, an watchin' 'er hide 'erself made me sad uv what I'd turn'd inta. I weren't loike 'er, I told meself, I were still a pirate. I 'oped I were right.

"Well, John, are you satisfied?" 'E sipp'd 'is tea, and lean'd back from th' table.
"I think another bite would do more harm than good, though I am sorely tempted. Your cook is a genius, sir."
"Please, please. Call me Richard - we are business partners now, and it is my dear hope that we shall be friends in the future." 'E were fleecin' me wif th' exchange, an' good. That were fine wif me - it were still more'n enough fer me ends, an th' new scrip from th' Bee of Eee were solid enuff, e'en wif th' Dutch. Easier t' carry, too.
"That would please me, as well. Now, let us dispense with business so that we may enjoy a cigar in peace."
"Yes, certainly. It was, if I remember correctly, ten thousand livres?"
"Minus some small amount that I have used since landing, but yes, very near it."
"Well, you understand of course that French currency in a British colony holds less weight, and with rumor being what it is, it may soon hold no weight at all."
"Ha! We've been listening to the same birds, then."
"Yes. Well, as it stands, I believe I can offer an exchange of three livres to the pound - I would offer more, but you understand that I brook some risk in the matter..." 'Is eyes told me 'e were lyin. 'E could give me two an' a hav fer 'em an still be seaworthy. Well, let 'im think me a fool.
"That will be fine, I'm sure. To tell the truth, I'm more concerned with the fact that they are so dreadfully heavy, and I hope to soon be japeing around the jungle." I gave 'im a grand smile, and turn'd meself to me cigars. Oi'd pick'd 'em up th' day before, an' I knew 'em t' be better wraps that whut were usually sold t' the upper crust.
"Yesss. I've been considering your request, and I'm afraid I must refuse." I'd got me smoke 'alfway lit, and took 't back outa me mouth. "Please understand, John, I have no desire to limit you, but there have been rumors of pirates using some of the far coves to hide from the Navy, even going so far as to establish camps in the forests. I know your request was made with only the interest of science at heart, an interest that is in every way a truly altruistic one, but if I cannot guarantee your safety I cannot grant what you ask of me."
"But...perhaps if I limited myself to the areas nearest the town?" I left me cigar 'alf lit, an' tried t' fill me eyes wif hurt an betrayal. "Surely they would not come so close."
"John, I am really sorry, but I cannot allow it." Mary open'd th' door, an' after allowin' th' servants to clear our plates, came t' our table, placin' a hand on Richard's shoulder.
"Perhaps, dear, there may be another answer?" 'E look'd up at 'er, an a flash uv somethin' loike anger ran through 'im. "Missus Flannigan, Nell, was telling me last night that they had completed their little guest house. Perhaps Sean would be willing to let it to Mister Hemminges?"
'Is anger soften'd, an' 'e patted 'er hand. "Mary, you are a treasure. Do you remember Sean? I believe you met last night."
I cautiously lit me cigar. "I believe so, yes. Dark hair and eyes - owns a plantation on the windward side of the island?"
"That's him exactly. His land may not be quite what you were looking for, but much of it is unworked, and almost as rugged as the area you had set your sights on. I'm sure he would be happy to accomodate you. Sean and Nell Flannigan are fine people, John, and generous as saints. In fact, let me write you a letter of introduction to take round to him - you'll have your study yet!"
"Well! I really don't know how to thank you," oi shot an eye et Mary as 'e were writin', "either of you, for your kindness. Do you really think Mister Flannigan will be willing to help?"
"As if you were his own brother, John. I'll see to that." 'E sign'd an' seal'd th' letter, an pass'd it to me. I tuck'd it en me vest wif a pat fer luck.
"You have left all my desires fulfilled, Richard, and I imagine there must be duties that you have postponed on my account. Really, I cannot thank you enough." I reach'd t' shake 'is hand, an' found et cold. Somethin' 'ad scar'd 'im. "And you, Mary - your hospitality is second only to your lovliness. I really believe that even if the world goes bad, then wrens would not dare perch here, for fear of the island's eagles."
"Do come 'round again, John," 'E moved from th' table t' his desk, makin' airs uv gettin' down t' work. "Let me know how that study comes along, hmm?"
"I will indeed." Mary escort'd me out, an' we stopp'd at th' door t' say our goodbyes. "Be well, Mary," an' leanin' in, oi added, "if'n ye can't be good."
She give me 'and a squeeze, and let 'er eyes fire et me. "You were taunting him, you scoundrel. Wrens and Eagles?"
"Ahh, I thought you might catch that. Did he?"
"No, he hates theater."
"Better for me, then. And you, Mary - there's a worser part to you. I hope that someday you might cast it out, and live purer with what's left."
'Er eyes narrow'd an she whisper'd, "Not sure I'll live to see that day, my prince. But feel free to hope." I nodded, an' give 'er a grin, and headed fer me carriage.
Openin' th' door, Scholes ask'd unner 'is breath, "an' how'd it go in there? As ye thot?"
"Better. I'll tell ye when we get t' Finn's." I climb'd aboard, and we made fer th' coast.
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Postby Elastoman » Thu Aug 07, 2008 9:29 pm

Th' night before, et dinner, oi'd not recognized Finn. Th' last time I'd seen 'im were th' day I jumped ship, freein' meself from th' rum runners. 'E weren' part uv th' crew - 'e'd always thot it were safer (an' 'e were right) t' be on th' supply side of th' bargain. Sugar Finn, er t' our lads, Whiskey Finn, were a good man fer a farmer. As Scholey took us closer t' 'is lands, I thot over whut 'e'd told me uv ol' Finn since I'd last seen 'im. 'E were still farmin' cane an' makin' molasses, an' th' best parts uv 'is crop still went t' booze. Sumwher along th' way 'e'd met Nell, married 'er, an' not fer lack of tryin' they'd no young'ens yet. Aroun' th' time our benevolent Governor came t' 'is seat, ol' Finn's enterprise seem'd t' grow by leaps an' bounds. Everyone knew Finn'd made 'is deal wif th' devil, an' none seem'd t' mind - Finn were a good man t' scallywags n' citizens th' same, an most were jes glad t' see 'im find sum fortune. I'd no idea uv 'ow t' tell 'im I meant t' make 'im a cuckold, but as I'd need 'im in th' future, I 'ad t' let 'im know. Wif any luck, we'd be well toward th' bottom uv a bottle of 'is finest when et came up.

As we pull'd t' his house, I 'ad t' admire the comfort uv th' place. It were large, but not fer th' sake uv showin' off. Ther were folks everywher - most uv 'is warehouses an' mills were near enough, an 'is office were part uv th' house. Scholey took off 'is wig an' coat, an' wiped th' sweat from 'is forehead. "Finn'll be aroun' somewhere. Don' worry about yer image, Em. Finn's wif our kin' uv folk."
I were glad t' hear it. I left me coat en th' cart, an' roll'd me sleeves t' cool off some. Lookin' roun', ther were summin missin', but I couldn' tack to er. "All these lot - ther all freemen?"
"Aye. Finn'll buy slaves, but 'e don' keep 'em. 'E gives 'em a job, puts 'em up in th' house, an if they wanna go their own way, well," 'e wave'd 'is wig at th' town, "that's th' way out. Not menny leaves." Th' size of th' place were startin' t' make sense. "Let's go find 'im - I'm curious t' see whut's in that letter ah your'n."
"Lead on, mate. There's more then that I'm curious about."

We spent a bit askin' roun', more then once askin them whut don' speak English, but gettin' pointed ahead ennyway, and foun' ourselves in th' Kitchen. Finn's Kitchen, th' one 'e were workin' in, were a magnificent thing. It were, t' my guess, th' largest distillery en th' West Indies, and due to th' deal 'e'd made wif ol' Dick, were largely free frum th' taxman's eye. Th' Governor got 'is tithe, an Finn got land, money, an' freedom t' trade wif whoever should come. We finally foun' th' little Irishman sittin' near a small still en a room full uv barrels. Th' noize uv 'is works seem'd t' quiet en this room, an only th' soun' of pure uisce beatha workin' et's way thru th' still disturb'd it. Scholey an I stopp'd at th' door, an 'e shouted cross th' room: "Bit far from Erin's Isle t' be cookin' that kind uv mash, ain't it Sugar?"
Finn near lept outa 'is chair, an' turn'd t' meet us wif th' fire uv hell in 'is eyes. Seein' Scholey, 'e calm'd a piece, an' came t'ward us wif a grin. "Well, if I can't go back, I might as well try to live well here, Scholes. And there are some things that I'm not ready to leave behind." 'E shook hands wif Scholes, an' turn'd to look me over. "Yer Hemminges, right? I'd have thought you were more interested in trees than liquor."
"Finn - d'ye remember the lad I were tellin' ye about?" Scholes wav'd a hand et me, "this be him."
"Emile? The lad that hit me in th' gut with a belayin' pin and used my back t' jump ship and swim for Saint Lucia?"
"The same, but I meant ye no lastin' harm, Finn." I gave 'im me hand, an 'e took et loike a father takes 'is son's.
"Oh, boy, just seein' you alive is miracle enough. But if what Scholes has told me is right, you've had quite a charmed life. Come sit down and I'll share a drop with ye." We pulled chairs next t' his, an' 'e went searchin' through a rack of bottles. "There we are. This was a good run. Now, tell me what I can do for you."
"Th' official story is thet I've been deny'd permission t' ramble thru th' King's lands, and I've come t' ask if ye'll let yer guest house fer th' sake uv me studyin'."
"And the real story?"
No reason t' hide et, I told 'im. "I'm here fer yer wife, Finn."
"That all, now? Here, this one for yer health, Em." 'E raised 'is glass, an' we all put 'em back in a gulp. "The next for mine. And none for my wife."

Th' story ran like one uv them Greek tragedies. 'E foun' success, but 'is wife'd foun' every man on th' island. She were a drunk, an took out all 'er hate on poor Whiskey Finn. An as 'is trade got better, Nell jes got worse. And then th' Governor shows up, an' Nell's changed en a shot. She stops foolin' 'round, cleans up, an' instead uv makin' Finn curse 'is life, she jes disappears from 'et. Whenever there be a reason fer 'em t' be together, the dinner et th' Governor's fer instance, they'd play et bein' th' happy couple, an' as soon as they were home, they were apart. We'd gether'd a good armload of Finn's water, an' taken' th' cart to me new home. It were a nice place. A couple uv rooms, near th' shore, away frum th' noise. Good place t' drink.
"So why not cut 'er loose, Sugar?" Scholes 'ad sent th' carriage home wif one uv Finn's lads, an' a letter sayin' he were ill, an would return hisself in th' mornin.
Finn stared at th' sea, cradlin' 'is glass in 'is hands. "Not my fashion, boys. I gave her my word."
"An' she gave ye 'ers, for all th' good thet it is. An' she broke it. There be no good reason for ye t' suffer 'er if ye don' wanna." Scholes moved 'imself from th' porch t' a couch inside, "least, not th' way I see et."
I sat up in me chair, "Finn?"
"Aye, Em?"
"About why I'm here - I mean, when I sed I were here fer yer wife."
"You're welcome to her, Em. At least you're a better man than that one," 'e used 'is glass t' point over 'is shoulder, "up on the hill." I pick'd up th' bottle, an' seein' 'is nod of assent, refill'd us both. I check'd inside - Scholey were flat on 'is gut, an' startin' t' drool.
"I think she might know somethin' whut Scholey don't. I don' want 'er fer meself, Finn. I want 'er so's I kin find a fairer lady yet."
Finn's face 'ad gone red from th' pure, but now it were goin' pale. "How do you know about her?"
"Frum th' lips uv Rumor an a few scraps learn't 'ere an' there. I know 'e keeps 'er, Finn. An' I think I know where. An' I'm gonna take 'er."
"Are you sure, Em? This ain't nothin' to joke about."
"Serious as usin' yer back fer a divin' board." I 'ad a sip uv me drink, an' walk'd t' the edge uv th' patio t' take a piss.
"So what do you need from me?" 'E were still comin' t' terms wif me news, but there were resolve innis voice.
"'Ave one uv yer boys take thet letter t' Lam's daughter. She'll know whut we need, an will send et along when et's ready."
"D'you think I should read it first?" He took th' letter from underneath an empty bottle and turn'd et over in 'is hands. I lit a lamp an set er' on th' table so we could see as we drank ourselves blind.
"Nah, 'e probably wants ye t' kill me. Or keep me 'ere, away from places 'e don't want me t' be. Maybe both. D'ye have eny food aroun', Finn?" He'd open'd th' letter, careful not to break th' wax of th' seal, and havin' read it, drop'd it back on th' table.
"Aye, but it'll take a bit. And you were right about the letter. I was supposed to have you drowned by now."
"If we don' get fed soon, you'll have et done wif yer water uv life."
"Finished already? I thought you were a pirate, Em!" 'E took th' lamp aroun' th' side uv th' house, and hoodin' et wif me hat, flash'd three times toward th' main buildings. "Food's on the way. Now, what are we drinkin' to?"
There's no need to stand on ceremony, nor call to impress.

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