Pirate Festival > Port of Call

ZARA

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Welsh Wench:



Zara Wolfe sat there in the cafe poring over her books and maps. Her brow furrowed as she fumed, "That island just appeared out of nowhere. Da was right. You just don't know what is out there till you look."
She took a sip of her tea and looked around. All sorts of vagabonds and riffraff plied their trade in the streets but no one would ever touch her. After all, she was the daughter of 'Mad' Jack Wolfe and her talent with a sword was well-known. Legend had it that her mother had bested a captain of expert swordsmanship. But that was just it.  A legend. Or so Zara was pretty sure.
The port town took on the atmosphere of the streets of Tangier or Marrakesh with its imports of silks and exotic spices. The smells in the air of coffee, cinnamon and salt air were home to Zara.
Taking a sip again, she sighed and stretched. The outdoor cafe was where she usually spent her afternoons. She told her Da that the salt air cleared her mind but in actuality it was the sights and smells that excited her. Her da always frowned but her mother understood. 'Let her be, Jack.' 'But Honour, darling...what if she meets someone?'
Her mother would giggle, "Like we met? The girl is only seventeen."
And then her father would say, 'Do you remember yourself at seventeen?'
There would always be a silence and then her mother would say, "Keep an eye on her!"

As Zara looked up, she saw some men taking stations at the entrance to the marketplace. They were dressed as  Saracens. Complete with turbans and cutlasses that looked like they could cut a forest in two. Her eyes darted from one to the other and she did a mental count. One...two...five...six.
Just then a young man walked into the cafe. He had light brown hair, blue eyes and was tall and broad of shoulder. His clothing was that of a pirate but he was well dressed for one. At least he was clean, she thought. His white shirt was of silk and showed a nice chest. Very nice, Zara noticed.
The breeches were black and his hair was held back by a red bandana. She took in the French rapier but something caught her eye.
Something she and her mother shared in common.
Great boots.

The man with the striped turban, who was obviously the leader, gave an imperceptible nod to his comrades.
They moved closer, closing ranks and cutting off any means of escape.
The pirate had ordered an ale and was unaware of the danger that was closing in on him.
Moving closer.
Zara looked and took it all in. A definite ambush was planned. Suddenly she jumped up and ran over to the young man.
"Benjamin! How dare you stand me up!"
The man turned to her and said, "I am sorry, Miss, I am afraid you have the  wrong man. I am----"
"Shut your mouth," she said between clenched teeth.
"But--"
She leaned over and threw her arms around him and kissed him soundly on the lips.
"But I forgive you, Benjamin. I'm just glad you made port and now you can come home to meet Mum and Da and we can tell them our plans."
She grabbed his hand. The Saracen chief motioned them to stay their weapons.  
"Come..let's tell them right now."
"Miss, I think---"
"Will you shut UP? Bollocks!"
She edged him to the edge of the cafe wall.

"Hey! You cheating bastard!"
The Saracens looked over and a fight was breaking out. At least that is what a bottle broken in the hands of a pirate in this town signaled.
When they looked back, their quarry was gone.
And so was the girl.
She carefully pushed the wall and it swung open.
"What the....?"
She said, "Shush!'
The pseudo door opened to a back lane.
"What is this all about?"
Zara looked over at him. "You were being stalked by Arab looking men. Did you not notice?"
"Of course I noticed. My father was right on the other side of me. I was to meet him."
"Father? I saw no one. Just Uncle Josiah."
The man looked puzzled. "Uncle Josiah? My father has no nieces. Just the daughter of a friend of his who calls him that."

 Zara stopped suddenly.
"But...he IS Uncle Josiah. I've always called him that."
The young man asked, "What is your name, lassie?"
"Zara. Zara Wolfe."

The man grinned. 'I don't believe it. Is it possible? The last time I saw you, you threw a mint chocolate cookie at me. I still have a bit of a scar where the nuts hit me on the hand."
Her face flamed with embarrassment.
"You don't mean...."
He bowed low. "Phillip Briggs, at your service, Miss Wolfe!"

Welsh Wench:
Phillip? Uncle Josiah's Phillip?"
He grinned. "The very same. My goodness, you have grown up, Miss Wolfe!"
She felt her cheeks blush. "I'd say the same for you. How long has it been? I was...what? Five the last time I saw you?"
He put his hat back on his head. "I think so. You were stuck in a tree and Father made me climb up and get you."
"You remember that?"
"Aye, I do. Father said you were always getting in one predicament after another. Like the time you were pulled out of one of the guns and your mother spent a week getting the gunpowder out of your hair."
"I did not!"
 
"Well, I wondered where ye ran off to!" Josiah puffed out of breath as he came up beside them.
" 'Ello, me little scalawag!"
" 'Ello, me Uncle Josie!"
Phillip laughed. "I thought only one woman called you that!"
Zara put her hands on her hips and tossed her hair. "Who do you think I got that from?"
"Renee."
"AUNTIE Renee. What were those men up to?"
Philip glanced over at Briggs and he glared at him.
"You may as well tell her since she saved your neck."
 
Phillip sighed. "Seems I played cards with a marked deck. Alfonso who heads the 'enforcers' in this town took offense that I lightened his purse. He must have put a price on my head."
Josiah sighed. "I was about to talk to Alfonso when you took Phillip out of the picture. I must be slowing down!"
Zara gave him a hug. "Never, Uncle Josie! And if anyone could do it, you could!"
He held up his finger. "Ah-ah, scalawag! You are forgetting who still carries weight in this town."
She sighed. "Ah yes, it would be Da."
 
Phillip looked over at Zara and marveled at the way she had changed. Her chestnut hair with auburn highlights was almost to her waist and a mass of curls. Eyes the colour of summer skies, so like her mother. And the tilt of her nose was Honour's but the defiant tilt of the chin was definitely a Wolfe's. But was she blessed---or cursed, depending on how you looked at it and were the recipient--with her mother's temperament or her father's?
Not that there was much difference....but could she receive a double portion?
 
Suddenly a prediction from years ago emblazoned his memory. From a voodoo woman in a dusky little tavern called LeLoup.....
"I see a female animal and she draw close to you. Very frisky, very young. She cause you problems. But one day she save you life."

Could it be...?
No.
Not possible.
Could it?

Welsh Wench:
 Josiah looked over at a tavern on the corner of the lane affronting the docks.
"I suppose I should talk to Alfonso so ye don't get your arse kicked, young man."
He held out his hand and the young man sighed. "Very well. It's all there."
Phillip handed over a pouch of gold coins.
"Please send my deepest regrets to Alfonso. What are you going to tell him?"
"That you had no idea the deck was marked. That you learned how to read a marked deck when you were on El Lobo in your formative years and subconsciously read them. When you realized the reason for your stroke of luck, you were filled with remorse and were on your way to pay back your ill-gotten gains."
"Think he will buy it?"
"Alfonso will figure it to be a lesson learned and your pockets are lighter."
 
To Zara, Briggs held out his hands.
"And you, little one--what are you doing in a tavern? Your father would have a fit."
She winked. "Then I guess it is best we don't tell him, do we? You know--for his sake."
Briggs pushed her hair back over her shoulder. "So like your mother you are--always quick with the reasoning and the wit."
She walked back to her table where her tea was cold and the sea birds had eaten the last of her scones.
"Bollocks!" she muttered.
Briggs burst out laughing. "I heard that."
Zara laughed too. "Old habits are hard to break. As much as Mum would try to."
She rolled up her maps."I guess I should put these away and..damn seabird! Left his mark right on the island!"
"Allow me." Phillip dipped his handkerchief in a cup of water and sponged off the offending matter.
"It's the least I can do."
"No, the least you can do is buy me a new hot tea and a scone."
She plopped herself in the seat and pushed the chair opposite her with her foot.

Briggs looked from one to the other and a wave of deja vu swept over him.
Wasn't it like this one time before in another world, another tavern? Another man and another woman...
And the result was seated there demanding a new scone.

Welsh Wench:
"Come, Phillip--time to leave."
Phillip gave his father a grin and said, "Now, I would be remiss in my manners if I didn't replace this young lady's scone, wouldn't you agree?"
Zara looked up at Phillip from under her long eyelashes, smiling demurely.
"I'm partial to the blueberry ones."

Josiah took out his bandana and began to mop his brow.
"Blueberries? Just like your mother."
"Mother and I are quite a bit alike, Da always said."
"How is your mother?" Phillip asked.
Zara took a sip of her tea.
"Doing wonderfully. She had another baby, you know. The 'Wolfe' pack, Da calls us."

Josiah put his hand on Phillip's shoulder.
"A word with you, please, son--if you don't mind, Zara? Ship's business, you know."
"Not at all, Uncle Josiah. I know how pressing things like that are."
Phillip sighed. "Oh, alright, Father."
He leaned over to Zara. "I'll be right back."

Josiah walked him out of earshot.
"Alright, what is the problem, Father?"
Josiah nodded with his chin. "There. There is the problem."
"Miss Wolfe?"
"I've seen that look on your face. The same look that got you in trouble in Havana. Remember that Count's daughter? The same look that got you in trouble with those triplets in Martinique. The same look that got you in trouble in Aruba. The same look that got you in trouble in-----"
"Alright, you made your point."
"Well, said young woman happens to be Miss Zara Wolfe. The daughter of Captain 'Mad' Jack Wolfe. The daughter of my best friend."
"You have reiterated who she is. She's a child, Father."
"Yes. A child of the female persuasion and from what I can see, she's laying a pretty good foundation to leap into womanhood. You watch your step. Friendship is one thing. Jack's daughter is another."
"I promise nothing is going to happen. I always throw the small ones back."
Phillip glanced back at her.
"I'll buy her another scone, send her on her way and meet you back at the ship. Alright? ALRIGHT? And Da, please don't give me that furrowed brow. You will clear it with Alfonso?"
"I will. Payment of your debt will lift that price on your head. The payment and then some. Penalties and interest no doubt."
"Great. But I will keep my sword and pistol handy. Just in case."
Josiah looked over and grinned. "She is a lovely little thing. Just like her mama."
He poked his finger in Phillip's chest.
"And she is my honorary niece so that makes you unofficially a-----"
"Cousin. I get it. Don't worry. Besides, I have a dinner engagement with Lenore."
Josiah looked over at Zara.
"Alright, you can catch up with your 'cousin'. But remember--I am trusting you."

Phillip made his way back to Zara.
"Everything alright with the ship?"
"Yes. Father just needed a little clarification on things."
Zara pushed her plate towards Phillip.
'Well, that was wonderful. And I thank you, Mr. Phillip Briggs. And now I must be going home."
Zara leaned over and gathered her maps but her neckline and what it afforded was not lost on Phillip.
"Da will want to see the progress I made on this map assignment he gave me."
"Map assignment?"
Rolling the maps up, she said, "Yes. Da always said that just because I am a girl, I should be able to support myself and not rely on a man for my comforts. At least material comforts," she said with a smile.
"So Da and I talked and I have an artistic talent and am good with figures and he thinks--as so do I--that being a cartographer would be a good occupation. So he pulled a few strings and called in a favor or two. I am apprenticed to Mr. Cosgrove."
She extended her hand to Phillip.
"Thank you for an exciting afternoon."
"And thank you for saving my life, as it were."
"Any time, Phillip Briggs. Any time."
Phillip watched as she put her cloak on.
"Well, I would be quite the scoundrel if I didn't see you safely home."
She gave him a dimpled smile.
"I'd like that."

Welsh Wench:
"Let's not go home just yet. Why don't we walk over by the dock? There is a lovely park just beyond it. I love to sit there and watch the ships come in. And I always see some that I know."
Zara gathered her maps and walked over to the cafe barrista. "Pierre, would you please hold these for me? I'll be back to pick them up later."
"Mais oui, Mademoiselle Le Loup. For you---anything!"
Zara linked her arm with Phillip's.
"Shall we go?"

"Now, then, Mr. Phillip Briggs---tell me what you have been up to since I last saw you. How long has it been? Five years?"
"I imagine about that. Mostly I have been sailing with Father."
"Whereabouts? I would love to see the world but Da is very protective. He says there is a lot of men who aren't the nicest."
"He's right. I've been overseeing the commerce side of our operations."
She looked up at him and smiled. "The legal or the illegal?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean I know all about it. I overhear Da talk to Mum about it. Late at night before they go to bed. But believe me, they do more than talk. I can only hope to find a man who loves me as much as Da loves her. And the latest proof is sleeping in MY cradle!"
Philip didn't know whether to laugh or blush. So he did both.

Coming around the bend was an old woman in a shawl. Zara said, "Wait here."
She walked over to her and hugged her. "Bonjour, Madame Hermione!"
"Ah, Mademoiselle Zara! Comment ca vas?"
"Je vais tres bien. Et vous? Permit me to introduce Monsieur Philip Briggs."
Hermione nodded cordially at Phillip.
"Est-ce que je peux prendre des sucreries pour mes frères et soeurs?"
Hermione handed over some sweet candies and Zara tucked the sack in her purse.
"Et pour les canards, s'il vous plait."
Holding the bag, she smiled at Phillip. I need to show you something. "Au revoir, Madame Hermione!"
I always buy something from her. She used to be Louis XIV's mistress, you know."
"Really?"
"No...but I like to imagine! Ah...here we are!"

She sat down and spread her skirts, patting to the ground next to her.
"Asseyez vous, s'il vous plait, Phillip. Now we wait!"
Within a minute, a large white duck with five ducklings trailing behind sought her out.
"She had them about a week ago. Are they not precious?"
The mother duck marched up to Zara. She quickly broke off a piece of bread and handed it to the mother who took the morsel out of Zara's hand. The babies followed suit.
"Amazing! She trusts you."
Zara gave him a puzzled look. "But of course! What's not to trust?"
"Well, animals usually shy away. They must have a sense about you."
She brushed the crumbs off her skirt and stood up.
"Let's walk a bit more. It's been ages. Aunt Renee looks wonderful. It was about time Uncle Josiah made a right proper married woman of her."
"Renee is the closest thing to a mother I ever had. She always said I was her son without the snot and dirty nappies!"
Zara laughed. "Yes, but she gets that faraway look in her eyes when she holds one of Mum's babies. Like maybe she wishes it was she and the life she could have had if my mum hadn't come along."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I think Da and Aunt Renee were once involved. I know she knew Da when they both lived in England. And she and Da have been there for each other through the years. But she and Uncle Josiah are well-suited. He grounds her and she puts the spring in his step."
"Miss Zara, is there anything you don't pontificate on?"
Zara looked thoughtful and put her finger to her lips.  Then she broke out in laughter.
"No, I guess there isn't!"

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