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Started by Welsh Wench, May 12, 2008, 07:28:47 AM

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Welsh Wench

This was a collaberative writing between Black-Hearted Pearl, Queen Bonnie, Ice Mage, Mad Jack Wolfe and myself (Welsh Wench).  The posts were lost in the forum highjacking but Mad Jack saved it in post form and I had put it in narrative form way back when.  So...we shall post the narrative to the point where the postings take over.

Since it started out loosely, it was named Bilge Pump Pub by BHP. Queen Bonnie and Ice Mage posted a few times. Pearl hung in longer and then opted out after a bit .
Jack and I took it over. 

The title will change to El Lobo del Mar since we only were in the pub for one bright sunny day~

For those that are curious...this is a prequel to Dead Man's Tavern. 

I also wish to point out that even though the post are from me, Welsh Wench, the story is half Jack's and alot from Black Hearted Pearl...this was the only way we could post it.
© 2008 by the respective authors.  All Rights Reserved.

Captain Pearl walked into the pub and looked around. There seemed to be several people milling about, drinking and carousing. It's the early part of the evening. Not all ships have released their crews for shore leave yet. I figured no time like the present. As the more experienced crews come in, I will have less of chance of convincing the young ones to take a chance on a female captain. I gathered up my nerve and stride to the the center of the room. Deep breath.

"Ahoy, I'm Captain of the Scorpion and am looking for some young green crew to learn the ropes. It's a small schooner, about a 75 meters in length. I prefer young strapping lads, but am willing to take on strong lasses as long as their strong wills do not get in the way. So what say you, who here wants to learn to sail the seven seas?"

She  looked around with squinted eyes, and waited for a response.

Captain Vardus strolled  into the pub,  looking to grab a pint before The Knight Hammer departed.
"Barkeep, an ale if ye please."
He sat down, and put his feet up on the chair next to him.

Pearl watcheed as another captain entered the pub. 'Bugger, now how I am to acquire crew with a male captain admists. What I need is a cute wench to distract the captain and not just any wench. The most beautiful in the town.' Until then, Pearl realized there is another opportunity here. Pearl wandered over to the captain.

"Good day, sir. What brings ye to port? Do ye have anything ye liked to trade?"  she asked, eyeing the captain who appeared to be eyeing not her eyes but rather lower.
"Nothing to trade as of yet, Milady. We simply stopped in to take on provisions."
The captain took a swig from his tankard.
"However, when we return our hull should be busting with goods from all over the world. If ye be abouts when we return to sell our Priz...... i mean our cargo, iI might be inclined to reach some sort of a bargain. In the mean time, how about a drink?"
The captain  motions towards a chair on the other side of the table.

Pearl eyed the captain. She doesn't want to get drinking with the man. She needs a crew. Her source has indicated the Spaniards are due to set sail with an armada of treasure from the new world. The Spaniards know nothing of the summer storms. It is a bad time to be sailing east. One shipwreck and Pearl will have it made for the rest of her life. She needs that crew. Perhaps she can acquire some from this captain. Mutiny, as long as it isn't against oneself, could be profitable.
"Aye, I'll join ye for a drink. That is,"  as she smiles sweetly and winks, "if yer buying."

"Certainly Milady. Take a seat. Oh I am amiss.  Let me introduce myself. I am Captain Daemon Vardus of The Knight Hammer. May I have the pleasure of your name?  I would hate to share a drink with one as lovely as yourself, and not catch your name."
"Aye, ye can have the pleasure of my name. It is Pearl and I'll take a rum."

Pearl sat down in the chair next to Captain Vardus and eyed him through lowered eyes. She placed down her pewter mug to be filled. On the mug is an engraving of a scorpion; It matches the one she wears on her finger.

"So Captain, what flag do you sail under?"
The door opened and another captain swaggered- or is it staggered in!
"Yarrr! Rum for me and my First Mate, Barkeep!- and a Rum all around for all here! Ye can Thank Capt Black Bonnie Macfearsom- of the Scurvy Cat . We have had some good sailin!!! Yo Ho!"
Capt Bonnie looks around to see who she is treating. " Ahoy Vardus!!! We have not seen ye in ages! "

Captain Vardus looked up at his table guest.
"Our own officially, we are a freelance vessel. But if we were to call a place home, it would be in Glenlivet. We usually fly The RF Flag of Glenlivet underneath our own. But some circumstances warrant us to lower it, in the interests of peace that is. How about y........"

Captain Black Bonnie entered the room, ordered drinks around the house. Without even a breath she spotted Captain Vardus sitting at the table, and started over to him.
"Captain why don't you join us?  We were just discussing our home port, and the flags we sail under."

Pearl looked at both Captain Black Bonnie and then at Captain Vardus. Can she trust these folks? Do they work for the Spaniards? She'll just have to test the waters.
"I sail under a letter of Marque from the Governor of Port Royal. Most me crew is tailors and such. We are always in the market for cloth, particularly from the china seas."

The 'such' being a cutthroats will ne'er a thought to slicing a throat for gold.

Jack strolled  in and took a long look around at the patrons. His left hand seemed to be tallying numbers of some sort, while his right hand danced off the hilt of his cutlass. His eyes darted suspiciously about the pub, when he spied a table that gave him full view of his surroundings. He took  a seat at the table, careful to ensure that none have made a move in his direction.
"Barkeep! Rum! And... more rum, if you please."

Bonnie  McFearsome  explained,  "We are sailing also under the Royal Flag of Glenlivet. No doubt you have heard of my Sister the Queen? We are under her protection.  Seafarin' tailors, eh?"
Bonnie raised one eyebrow in amusement as she gulped her rum.
"Must be handy when yer sails need mendin!"
She laughed heartily, as did Capt.Vardus. Capt Bonnie gave thought to her own scurvy crew of Elves, Fae and adventurers. She hoped they were keeping a weather eye on the valuable cargo she had in the hold. She took note of the pirate sitting alone and looking about nervously.
"Ahoy lad! The rum is on me this day! Drink up!"
She flashed a smile at the newcomer. In the business of piracy and pillaging one could never have too many friends!

:Jack thought quickly. "Well! If we have royals in this fine place, then I might ply Her Majesty for a Letter of Marque?"
He approached the most bonificent Queen of this fine realm.
"Mind you, I don't usually stoop to such things, but an empty belly can go far in changing one's mind, yeah? So, what say you, Your Majesty? Game for another privateer in your ranks? What say you to a Letter of Marque for a daring soul such as meself?"

Pearl watched  with interest the exchange between the new comer and Captain Bonnie Black. The newcomer had yet to identify himself and already he was asking for a letter of Marque. How bold, thought Pearl. Perhaps a deal could be made with him on the sly. All crew that sailed under her had the protection of a Marque, be it only through the Governor of Port Royal.

Wench entered the tavern, her eyes trying to adjust quickly to the darkness. She sat at a table and looked over the crowd. Scurvy lot, she thought.
She signaled the barkeep and he ambled over.
"What it be, miss?"
"A pint of ale, please." She slid a coin across the table. He nodded and said, "Be right back wit' the ale."
In a few minutes, he came back and set it down.
She looked up at him and said, "I didn't just come into this port green, you know. I'm looking for someone and willing to pay for information. But I'm savvy and when I pay for information, I expect it. Even if it is an 'I don't know' I expect a name of someone who might."
He said, "So. Be ye a lady or a wench?"
She looked him steadily in the eye and said cooly, "What makes you think I cannot be both?"
The barkeep grew embarrassed and said, "Well, ye dress and talk proper like but ye has the coolness an' experience o' a wench."
She folded her hands under her chin and looked him steadily in the eyes. "Let's just forget the social commentary and get down to brass tacks, as they say. I am seeking someone who frequents this port."

She looked over and swore under her breath. At the table drinking an ale with a captain--a female captain at that!--was her very own Captain Daemon Vardus!
She looked over. What?? Captain Jack Wolfe--with an 'e' no less!
Thought he was long gone!
Wench thought to herself, 'Forget the information!'
She drank the ale in one long gulp, and then she dropped quietly to her hands and knees and tried to crawl out the door without being noticed.

Jack caught  a hint of hesitation in the Regent's eyes. He leaned close and played  his hand in a rough whisper.
"Look, dearie. Word around these parts is that you're in thick with my kind, so formalities can be tossed aside, savvy? I'm offering you the service of a well kept 32-gun pyrate frigate, with a very hungry crew. You get 15% of our take, before expenses. No one else need know our arrangement, or else the deal's off. Now, what say you to putting pen to paper, and issuing that Letter of Marque? Make it out to one Captain Jack Wolfe, with an "e". No sense running afoul of the Rules of Admiralty, eh? Payment upon delivery of said goods, and all that rot."
Jack smiled, and looked expectantly at dear Bonnie. ::

Capt Bonnie laughed, "Ye are mistaking me for my twin sister, Queen Bonnie??? We look alike, but I am younger and much prettier, don't you think? For yer letter o' marque- you need to see Her Majesty! I have my own crew- Magical folks! Why our luck in pillaging be so good! Now, how can I help you, Capt Jack? Have another tot o' rum?" Capt Bonnie batted her long lashes at Jack.

Jack took a good, long, incredibly puzzled look at Bonnie. ::
"So, you are in fact not your sister, who is in fact the Queen? Well, that's different then, ain't it? I think I'll be havin' that rum you mentioned...."

The barkeep approaches the four sea dogs sitting at the table. Soon all mugs are filled. Each looked at each other, curious and expectant. Who will be the next one to speak? Pearl took the lead and raised her tankard.
"Well then my new mates, let us raise our rum to honor the seas! The sea!"

"Aye! To the Sea!"
Jack paused and cocked his head. 'I know that dragging sound!'  He stood with his hand over the butt of his pistol, and faced the noise he'd just heard.

"You there! In the shadows! That's right, mates, step up into the light where we can get a fair look at you! Exactly who is it that's keeping me from my rum?! And explain to me, in ten words or less, why I shouldn't kill you?"

Wench looked up from the floor where she attempted to crawl out inconspicuously.
"Oh! Hi!, Captain Jack. Um..guess my skirt was dragging on the floor. That's thirteen words... would you let me slide by with the extra three ones?"

Jack tried mightly to quash his laughter, and barely succeeded.  He walked over to the lovely Wench, and extended his hand.
"Nah, love, you needn't be dodging Ol' Jack! Here! On your feet, deary! That's it! Now, tell us why you went to all the trouble of trying to escape this rat's nest and avoid my less than honourable intentions?"
It didn't help matters that when he pulled Wench to her feet, his face was not but an inch from hers, their mouths dangerously close.

Wench took a step back and tried to put some distance between the two of them.
She whispered, "I always knew someday you'd come walking back through my door...."
"It's a smaller world than they'd have you imagine, love. Smaller that I'd ever imagined, that's for sure. But, here we are. "
Jack stepped  forward and caressed her cheek. "We can still catch up on old times, yeah? Did you honestly think I'd quit burning for you?"

Wench took another step back.
"I'd have thought you would have put that fire out a long time ago. I know I did."

Without closing distance, Jack smiled disarmingly.
"Some fires never die, love. No matter how much we'd like them to."
Jack chuckled ruefully, "No matter how far and wide I've sailed, you always manage to find your way into my dreams. And what fine dreams they be! Short of what we've known of each other, but fine dreams nonetheless. A poor substitute for your exquisite touch, I'll grant that."
Jack's cheeks flushed, knowing he's once again said too much.
"So, dear heart... you'd have be believe that you feel nothing for me, despite your attempt to scurry out on hands and knees? Such extravagant measures for one who no longer yearns for my attention!"

Pearl watched intently. It had been a long time since she had a man. It stirred longings in her she didn't want to remember. The sea was her mate now. It had never let her down and always provided for her. She didn't want to be an audience to this any longer.
"Hmmmm, excuse me. Miss, would you care to join us or perhaps you and this fine captain like to be alone?"

With her eyes never leaving Captain Jack Wolfe's face, Wench said to Pearl,
"No, that is quite alright. But I do owe him this.."
And her hand raised to slap the Captain across the face.

Jack caught her hand gently at the wrist, and felt the anger drain from her strike.
"Now, now, love. Such rash action! Hardly the kind of greeting one would expect from his wife, after all this time! Or had you forgotten that small fact, dearest? So, shall ye try once again to slap me face from me skull, as ye seem want to do?"
Jack stepped back with arms wide open.
"What's it to be, love? A tender embrace, of a decapitation? Your choice! You know I've no fear of death, with good reason. What's your answer?"
Jack tossed a strange gold coin into the air as he awaited an answer.

Wench took a step towards him and enfolded herself in his embrace. As his arms closed around her and his face buried into her neck, she took the dagger out of the sheath from the back of his belt She stepped back, drawing it and holding it in front of her.
"It's over, Jack. It's been over for quite a while....."
"So, tell me love... After you're done killing me, what have ye planned next? Your move, deary. Make it count!"
She reached around and put the blade back in the sheath. With a steady look, she said, "You just are not worth killing, Jack. And when I die, if anyone tries to send me to hell, I can honestly say I've done my time. With you."

Jack beamed at her.
"I thought you'd come around, love. We're much more destructive together than apart, yeah? Now, all we need is that Letter of Marque, and we're back on the Account. And this time, I need ye with me. At my side, as it were. What say you, love? Can you serve as Quartermaster aboard a pyrate ship?"

She leaned into Jack, gently touching his cheek. As they drew close together, just before their lips touched, Wench whispered to him, "And what makes you think you haven't been replaced?"
She drew away and the smile on her face was one he didn't expect to see.
"In all aspects of my life, love. All aspects! You have been gone a long time..."

Jack smirked at his beloved, and drew up a seat on the nearest table. "'Substituted', deary... But never replaced." Jacks eyes narrowed, and his smile grew feral. "It's true, I've been gone far too long; but to be replaced? You remember that month on the sands of Barbados, sweetness? The delicious oaths you made? How on earth can you say I've been replaced after all that? And the Dutch Merchantman we took? How her Captain soiled himself as you held your cutlass against his throat? You can't tell me that wasn't as thrilling as you made it out to be. We can have all that again, love. A letter of Marque, and we sail. Pure and free, living the life of Kings. Yes, or no?"

Her face coloured. "You can hardly hold oaths uttered in the throes of passion against me, Jack. I've grown up. I'm not that impressionable young lass you took on as your wife. I've shoved all that behind me. And that is what you need to do, Jack. Shove it. I'll not be your pawn again."

Pearl, tired of this banter, spied a bucket on the floor filled with liquid. Should she throw it? What would be the consequences? Aww, they bloody need it, that's fer sure. Pearl grabbed the bucket and tossed the contents on both Captain Jack and the Wench.
"Oh bugger! I didn't know that was tobacco swill."
Pearl dashed toward the door, tankard in hand, and tossed a matching gold coin to Captain Jack's at the barkeep.

"Here's for yer troubles", she shouted as she did a somersault through the door; nearly knocking down the marines entering. She quickly regained her composure and slyly averted her eyes.
"Good day, sirs", she murmured demurely and quickly walked away, bowing her head.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Wench stood there gasping and dripping. EWWWW!!
"THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!" she screamed at Jack. She yelled at Black-hearted Pearl, "If I didn't feel so icky, I'd thank you!"

Jack leveled his pistol at Pearl's deparing form. His finger tightened on the trigger, and the hammer slammed against the frizzen. No spark. The metal was so wet from the goo flung by Pearl that no spark could be had. In frustration, Jack hurled his pistol at the door, hitting one of the marines squarely in the forehead. The marine collapsed like a house of cards. Jack winced, and looked back at his petulant bride.
"I'm supposing that's my fault, too? Honestly, shall it always be this way between us? I was looking forward to a truce with you, love. I really was. But since it's come to this, so be it."
Jack drew his dagger, and held it against his beloved's throat, using her body as a shield against the intruding marines.
"You see, love? Whether or not you wish it, you're terribly useful in keeping me alive. Gentlemen! Step aside, and shoulder your weapons! That's right! Keep the lady breathing, and all's right with the world! Thanks, mates... We'll just make our way to the door, nice and easy."

Jack made his way to the door, with the lovely Wench positioned between him and the marines.
"Gentlemen! And my dearest love... She's all yours!"
With that, Jack shoved his bride forward into the marines, and ran at breakneck speed for the port.

Fizzel, snap! Pearl stayed low. That was close call, thought Pearl. Good thing that slime was all over Captain Jack's flintlock.
Still, Pearl was without crew and had better check on her sloop. It was tied up on the edge of town, in a growth of swamp and seaweed. If she wasn't careful, it would certainly foul the rutter. It wasn't a large ship, one that could be easily be crewed by six. Five of which she still didn't have.
What's this? Pearl spied Captain Jack running for the port, marines chasing him. "Better him than me", thought Pearl as she sauntered toward the edge of town.

Capt Bonnie looked at Capt Vardus!
"Well what do ye think of that?"
They both broke out in hysterical laughter!
"Shall we depart to my vessel for more and better libations?"

As Jack made his run for the port, he tossed a sheaf of paper into the air in such a way that the pursuing marines could not help but notice. On the few pages was information about a sloop making berth near the town, mastered by one 'Black Hearted' Pearl, carrying several tonnes of contraband. Jack grinned as he heard the footfalls of the marines pull up to gather the documents. As he rounded the corner, he could see the masts of "El Lobo del Mar" in the harbour, and his jollyboat at the end of the pier. ::

As Pearl walked down the street, she heard a flutter in the wind. Slowly a piece of parchment floated down to her. Pearl was not from a wealthy family, but she does know how to read. The parchment stated, "A sloop is perched on the edge of town {giving location} and commanded by one "Black Hearted" Pearl."
Pearl seethed with anger. "It's a schooner, not a sloop! Damn you, Captain Jack. I'll get my revenge before the week is out."
Pearl made haste to her schooner. Luckily the tide was with her and she pulled anchor. The seaweed as mysteriously moved away and the schooner floated free, further down the coast. Pearl spied an inlet tucked further in. She hoisted her jib and used it to gently guide the schooner into the inlet. It's not the best, but it'll have to do for now.

Wench went back to her room and cleaned herself up. Damn that Captain Jack Wolfe! Always screwing up my life!
She changed her clothes and opened a small box. She took out a piece of paper that had been ripped and taped, ripped and taped.
Grabbing her cloak, she walked down to the business offices just outside the docks on the main street.
She looked up at the building. Yes, this is the place...
She walked in and went up to the magistrate.
Slapping the paper down, she said in a determined voice, "I want this marriage dissolved. And if it is stricken from the records, even better!"

Back safely aboard "El Lobo del Mar", Jack tried desperately to relax. He'd bathed off the wretched spew tossed upon him by Black Hearted Pearl... Tossed upon him, and his wife... His wife...
Jack pondered upon this at length. My wife, hmmmmm. That carries a fair portion of responsibility. A responsibility that I've not lived up to. Have I a child from this union?!
Damn it all!
"To the braces, lads!! Concentrate your fire agaist the waterfront! Fire now! And fire again! No survivors! Only at the waterfront, lads. I want no trade to or from this town. I want to find, if they exist, my child...."

The magistrate looked at the paper that had been ripped and patched together. He laughed, "Been in a snit-fit often? License looks to be torn and patched several different times."
He squinted at the paper. "What does it say for the year? I can't make it out. How long you and this--John Michael Wolfe, is it?---been married?
"Eighteen months."
"Can you come back in an hour? I have a wedding to perform and then I can look at it more closely."
Wench said, "Eigthteen months, another hour won't matter."
She walked out in the sunshine and saw her friend Kate.
Kate said, "I've been looking for you all over. Vardus wants to sail out of here tonight. He didn't have a chance to speak to you in the pub. And what are you doing coming out of the magistrate's office?"
Wench looked at her and said, "Trying to get rid of a problem that seemed to have been spawned during a rum-fueled weekend. But no worries, Kate. In about an hour, it will have been resolved."

Given a fresh shift of gear, Jack strode purposefully along the pier. He saw the Magistrate's office on his left, with two women outside the door. Cannonfire rained destruction on the waterfront, yet these two lasses seemed locked in dialogue. Jack quickened his pace, only to see the two women scurrued away. Too late, he recognized the taller one as his wife. He slammed open the Magistrates door.
"What did she want?"
"Sirrah?" pled the Magistrate.
"What did my wife want?!" Jack leveled his refreshed pistol at the Magistrate's head."Um...uh...Sir, I cannot say!"
Jack's pistol went from half-cocked to fully cocked.
"I beg your pardon, sir. You will say."
"She pleads release from your wedding vows! Do not kill me, I beg of you!! I have a wedding to perform!"
"A wedding? How ironic that is! You seek to dissolve one marriage, only to consecrate another? Surely even you can see the contradiction in this! I'll make you a bargain, my quivering minister. Refuse the dissolution of my marriage, and you can go on to soil yourself before the young lovebirds waiting in yon chapel, savvy? Surely, that cannot be as ignominiuos as your brains spattered against the chapel wall? So, what say you?"

'Oh Bugger, look at the time!' thought Pearl. "I must change quickly." Pearl grabbed a gown from a chest located on deck. She quickly slipped it. Pearl dashed down the gang plank, getting the edge of gown wet as she sprinted the extra way to shore. Why did she agree to marry that old man? Oh that's right, he promised to spend his money on her lavishly.
Behind, she didn't notice that the stern anchor had worked free and the ship had begun to shift in the water. As Pearl entered town, she quieted her gait and kept her head hung low. Back at the ship, a crunch sound is heard as the keel of the ship dragged against the coral.
Pearl made her way to the magistrate's office. 'How long could he possibly live?' She wondered. "Not for long." as she fingered the scorpion pin on bodice.

Jack's eyes narrowed as he stared at the shaking magistrate over the barrel of his pistol. The wigged official was obviously too frightened to be of any use.
Jack laughed and tucked his sidearm away. "On second thought, Your Honour, why should I care to see this fine young couple get off any easier than I did, yeah? Go on, perform your litte ceremony! Till death or whimsy do they part, and all that rubbish."
The magistrate could scarcely catch his breath. "Thank you, Captain! Thank you for sparing me..."
Jack gave the man an icey stare. "We're not done here, brother. Not at all."

Jack left the magistrate's office and faced the docks. He waved his arms over his head, signalling the lookout to cease fire. He looked around, remembering the direction his reluctant wife had departed in. "Ah, yes. This way. We need to chat, you and I!"

Kate and Wench entered the Shattered Blessings Tavern. Wench signaled for two ales.
"Wench, what is this about a rum-fueled weekend that requires the services of a magistrate?"
Wench sighed and traced her finger around the rim of her ale. "Kate, you know me better than anyone---well, maybe except one other person and he has sailed off too--so what I am telling you is in strictest confidence.
There are things I haven't told anyone and don't intend to. But on my way to Glenlivet I stopped in a seaport town for a week. And long story short, I ended up married."
"Married? You said your husband was dead!"
Wench waved her hand like the notion was an annoying fly. "No, this is another one. Lasted a month. He went off to sea and I took the opportunity to get out of there and run to Glenlivet. Still looking for Captain Spleen."
"I heard the Crude Organ Donor was in port. Obviously you didn't make contact as you are still here."
"No, I didn't. I literally ran into him and didn't even know it."
"So....what of this other marriage?"
She took a deep drink of her ale and said, "I need to deep-six it and pretend it never happened."
"How do you intend to do that?"
"Well, if it can't be dissolved legally, there is a loop-hole."
"Which is---?"
Wench laughed. "The marriage license is under the name of Captain John Michael Wolfe and Honor Bright."
Wench laughed and said, "Who's Honor Bright?"
They both laughed and Kate said, "I have to hand it to you, Wench. Always thinking ahead!"
Wench turned serious. "And no telling Daemon about it. He hates messes. By tonight, this will all be over and it's out to sea again for us."
They clinked their tankards and resumed their talk on the latest boot-fashions.
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Jack turned the corner near the magistrate's office, cursing himself for dallying overlong. "Where would she have hidden herself, I wonder?" he thought. The church? No, too predictable. And too many row-houses to search. Just then, he spotted the "Shattered Blessings" tavern. "Sounds like my kind of establishment. And if I can't get any information, libation will have to suffice."

He walked into the darkened tavern, and blinked as his eyes strained to adjust from the bright sunlight. Spying a familiar face at one of the tables, he smiled and sauntered over to chat with his bonnie lass. "Please be wearing it, please be wearing that damned pendant!" he muttered.

"..but I seem to prefer the ones which lace up the front. The fit is better and slimming to the leg so you-----"
A shadow fell over the table where Wench and Kate were sitting. They both looked up and Kate scooted her chair over to the shadows, a look of concern across her face.
Wench looked up into the intense eyes of a man who was actively her husband for all of one month. Four weeks. Thirty-one days. Thirty-one long days. And nights. Why couldn't it have been February?
She took a quick glance down to make sure her bodice dagger was effectively in place--and well hidden.
She said cooly, "Well, well.....I thought you would have sailed off into the sunset by now. Looks like you got the spewage off. I must say, I had to throw that dress out. So....what have I done to earn this attention from you, Captain? Aside from being your human shield."

With his best disarming smile, he took a seat at the table. Oddly enough, he felt like the pig at a luau... "Love, we haven't exactly gotten off on the best foot regarding our reunion, yeah? A bit stormy, what with the Redcoats and the bombardment, and all. I assure you, nothing over a 4-pounder was used, and no carronades. Strictly for effect, it was! Um... would you do us a favour and look upward, toward the ceiling? I do so admire your striking cheekbones, and ...Damn!"
WW locked eyes with Jack. "WHAT?!"
"Oh, nothing! Just that expected to see a wee trinket I gave you on our... *Jack bats his eyes* wedding night. Any idea where that bit o' shine might be hiding, lover? Out of innocent curiousity, mind you. Say you didn't sell it! Sorry! Sorry, please forgive me.... You know what?! I need to dwell on this, as me Indian Swami instructed me."

Jack affected a meditative state, all the while keeping his bride and her friend in full view. "Let this confuse them for at least the next 30 seconds while I come up with another plan!" Jack thought. "That pendant is somewhere, and I have to find it!"

"Jack burst from his swami state, and gazed bonificently at Kate and ... and... what the hell is her name? 'Think! This scam won't work if you don't recognize her name!' ...
"Oh, love, you surely jest!"
'Honour Brite'? That's it! "The laws of Admiralty are on my side! You cannot marry me, nor I, you, under an alias! So, my bonnie 'Honour Bright', you owe me that pendant I gave you as a betrothal gift... You know, the one you tought too spiney and pokey to be comfortable? Where is it now, my sweet? You make a fine and beautiful human shield, to be sure. There is a critical shortage of perfect breasts in this world, and I would hate to see yours damaged. But you also supplied the Admiralty with a false name. That goes far in dissolving our marriage, but brings me no closer to that damned pendant! Where is it? Tell me!"

Wench burst out laughing. "You always were SO transparent. Even in that long, tedious month I spent as Mrs. Captain Jack Wolfe. So....that hideous pendant you gave me still interests you! Family heirloom?"
She looked up and tapped her finger to her lips. "Something tells me no. Something tells me this is more important than you are letting on."
She took her foot and propped it on the seat that Jack was sitting on, barely missing the REAL jewels he so prized.
She pushed back and crossed her arms across her chest. "I don't know why you want it back. It was too large. And the back of it scratched. And since it was a non-betrothal gift, it now becomes just a gift. In my possession. And possession is nine-tenths of the law. Now where could it be? What could I possibly have done with it? Sold it? Threw it into the sea in a fit of ill temper? Gave it to a lover?"
Jack made a motion and she cooly said, "Damage these breasts, Jack, and the male population in this port will never forgive you..."

"Damage those? I'd sooner cut off..." Jack looked about the room and found an anonymous mark. "His feet. Yeah, those would do. Look, love... you don't want to stay married to me anymore that I want to stay married to you. As I see it, it's a win-win situation, yeah? We both get our freedon, and you get rid of an uncomfortable bit of jewelry that wasn't that impressive in the first place! So, given that splendid bit of logic, where is it, dear heart? Hand it over to ol' Jack, I sign the papers, and you're off doing whatever it is you do. Are we square?"

Kate began to look nervous. "Wench, really, just hand over whatever it is he wants and let's get OUT of here."
Wench looked steadily at Jack. "My, my...for a piece of jewelry that wasn't impressive in the first place, you seem to want it pretty badly. Wait! I've got it! You plan on getting married again and this is the be-all-end-all of betrothal gifts! And the way I see it, I've GOT my freedom. You yourself said that using an alias voids the marriage. So. What makes you think I even have it? And if I did, why would I, in a fit of generosity, turn it back to you? I consider it a trophy--a skin of a leopard, as it were--for having to put up with you for that month I so foolishly said, 'oh yeah' when the magistrate said 'do you?' And here is another piece of news--because of that night, I haven't been able to touch a drop of rum since."
Kate stood and began to pull on Wench's arm. "Let's go, NOW!"
Wench stood her ground and gave Jack a sweet smile. "I certainly wish I could remember what happened to it. It was so long ago. Over a year. Why, it could be anywhere. In my room. At the bottom of the ocean. On the bosom of a noblewoman in England."
Wench stood there with a slight frown on her face. "Of course, it would have to be a very large woman. And kind of homely too..."

Jack feigned a defeated posture for a moment, then smiled scardonically. "Well, good for you, love. You've bested ol' Jack at his own game. Nicely played." He paused for a couple of seconds. "Too bad you'll be missing out on your share, eh?"

Wench smiled politely and said, "Yes, it really IS too bad I shall miss out on my share. But I daresay YOU shall miss out on YOURS too."
She sighed. "If you REALLY must know what happened to it, I gave it to a captain. He in turn sold it for me and gave me the profit. Didn't ask a percentage, either. Just did it as a favor to a friend. Well, if you want to find it, I daresay it could be on the chest of any high-classed noblewoman. I'd start looking in the Caribbean. Failing that, I'd start in Cornwall and work my way across the continent. So it looks like we are BOTH out of luck. Ta, love---see you around--NOT!"

Wench and Kate left the tavern. As they stood outside the door, Kate said, "Whatever it is he wants, he surely wants it badly. Who fenced it for you?"
Wench grabbed Kate's arm and laughed softly, "Whatever makes you think I did that? Nay, it is in a place that is secure. And he shall never find it. Now...we just need to figure out why it is so damned important!"

Jack watched the two women depart. "No doubt she believes I've given up looking as much as I believe she gave it away. She's still got it, and I know she'll find where she's stashed it," he thought. He stood up and noticed that one of the mugs still had some ale in it. He downed the brew in two gulps. "Aye, this day's looking up!"

Pearl continued walking toward the magistrate's office. She glanced across the road and saw the wench from the Bilge Pump Pub coming out with another wench. Should she duck? Would that Captain Jack be with her. Pearl couldn't take the chance that he would fire his flintlock at her again. She quickly dashed into the magistrate's office where her betrothed was awaiting, Sir James H. Marshall.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Kate looked worried. "I don't know, Wench. He looks like the kind of man who plays for keeps."
Wench reached down to relace her boot. "Well, if he did, why did he wait eighteen months to hunt me down? As soon as he left for sea, I bolted."
"How on earth did you ever end up married? It's not your style."
Wench sighed. "We both had too much to drink. We were in a pub in Cardiff. I don't remember a thing. I woke up the next morning with a man next to me and a marriage license on the dresser."
"You always were impetuous."
"A little too much so."
"So..what happened next?"
"Well, I sailed to Barbados with him and after a month, he went back to sea. That afternoon I booked passage back to Cardiff. I had Taliesin stabled and left Muir with the innkeeper so I picked them up and headed for Glenlivet where Rhys told me Captain Spleen would be."
"Didn't you ever think about that husband?"
"Guess I kind of pushed it out of my mind. You know--that messy business with husband #1 kind of overshadowed it."
"So, you are stuck."
"Not necessarily. The marriage license has the name 'Honor Bright'. As she doesn't exist, neither does the marriage. So the license isn't even worth the paper it is written on. I just want to see the magistrate and get it stricken off the records."
"And this item the man-who-would-be-your-husband is looking for? What exactly is it?"
"The most god-awful pendant you can imagine. It was like a sun. The rays were like all spiny. If you wore it for any length of time, you looked like you came out the loser in a catfight. It was gold and had a hideous face carved into the sun. The chain was a bit heavy. I mean, look at me! Something like that around my neck? May as well drag a ball and chain around."
"So, just give it back to him and be done."
"Kate, the fact that he mentioned it and wants it back leads me to believe there is something there. Otherwiise if it was a worthless trinket, he could care less."
All of a sudden, Wench reached out and pulled Kate back.
"Wench, watch it! This is a new skirt!"
Wench looked through the glass into the magistrate's office.
"I don't believe it! It's that captain that baptized me and Jack with tobacco ick. And...looks like she is getting married!"
Kate looked through the window. "Wow, looks like he can hardly stand up! Bet he's going to be a real live wire!"
Wench shrugged. "Better her than me! Let's just wait out here for the eulogy--I mean ceremony!--to finish. Then I can be as free as a bird!"

Jack sat at the table Wench and Kate had occupied minutes earlier. With his feet propped up, he finished a second cup of rum. The innkeeper, with a deeply puzzled look on his face, approached Jack to try and satisfy his curiosty.
"Beggin' your pardon, gov'ner, but this is a terrible small room. I couldn't help but overhear that little dust-up with the lady..."
"And might you be helpful enough to be letting me know her name?" Jack interrupted.
"Eh? But, I thought you called her your wife!"]
"Very estute of you, mate! Your hearing's impeccable. That fair lass is indeed my bride. And I'm guessing that your perfect ears overheard, at some point, her name? I mean, her real name? The one I know's as genuine as that swill you call rum. Now, about that name that you may or may not have overheard..." Jack spread 5 shillings on the table, fanned in a neat arc.
"Honest, sir, I don't know. Everyone speaks of her as 'the Wench', or just 'Wench', if you please. Not at all flatterin', if you ask me. But she seems to pay it no mind." the inkeeper offered, his eyes never leaving the coins.
Jack smiled. "'Wench', is it then? Fair enough. That gives me something to work with, at least. Another rum, mate."
The innkeeper's puzzled look remained. "Gov'ner, I've never seen a man get in a public row with the missus and be as chipper as you! Then again, everyone I know what's married knows their wife's name... Aren't you going after her, to try and set things right?"
"All in good time," replied Jack. "Where's the sport in denying her a head start? No doubt, she's pleading her case this very moment to have our marriage anulled. And the longer the string I give her, the closer she brings me to what I want."
The innkeeper collected the empty mug to fetch Jack's refill. "You, my friend, are a strange one."
Jack winked, "You have no idea, mate."

Wench and Kate sat at the pub across the street from the magistrate's office.
"Let's give that wedding another fifteen minutes and then I am on my way to total freedom," Wench said.
Kate took a sip of her ale. "So, you can't touch rum anymore?"
Wench folded her hands under her chin and said, "No, I can't. I drank so much that night I didn't even remember my own name!"
Kate laughed, "So, what IS your name? You won't even tell ME. Your best friend!"
Wench shook her head no. "There was only one person--a captain--that I would ever trust. I told him once I would tell him my name and only under the right circumstances. But there never WERE any 'right circumstances' . And after that little incident carving my initials in his sails, I doubt that will ever come about. Or that I can trust him again. Kate, I just can't tell you. Out of safety."
"Why not? You've been in Glenlivet for almost a year when you signed on with Captain Vardus."
"It's for everyone's safety, especially mine. Old Vinegar Vein's family is looking for me. His sons have bounty hunters that showed up at Dead Man's Tavern the night before we left. I had to climb out onto the rose trellis to leave. Almost broke my neck when I jumped. If I told you the name and they came looking for me, well, with your face you'd give it away. Don't give me that look! You know you don't have a lying face."
"So..why did you go off to Barbados with this Captain Jack Wolfe?"
"Well, I WAS technically his wife or so he thought. Hey, I needed a vacation! And who can beat the sands of the Caribbean? Don't forget, I'd been on the run for a month or two. I needed to put distance between me and the hounds, as it were. And how better than to go incognito as a pirate's bride? The station in life I held, no one would ever suspect it."
"Then why didn't you stay in Barbados and wait for him to come back?"
"Me? Wait? Hell, no! I had to look for Captain Spleen. He has the information I needed. Just can't find him yet."
"So why did you pick the name 'Honor Bright?' "
Wench motioned her closer. "All I will say is that old Vinegar Veins sat on the House of Lords. 'Honor Bright' is an assurance of truth or fidelity."
Kate giggled, "You are so bad!"
Wench smiled, "You knew I had a twisted sense of humor!"
"You stayed a whole month with Captain Jack. Why didn't you get an annulment the next day? Certainly both of you must have known you made a mistake!"
A small smile played upon Wench's lips. "Well......he WAS fun!"
Kate raised her eyebrow and said, "Oh. That."
Wench laughed and finiished her ale. "Yeah. That."
"Come on, let's go! I have an annulment to get and a ship to board."
And with that, they walked over to the magistrate's office.

The magistrate was acting nervously. Couldn't he just get on with the eulogy...hmmm ceremony?
"Do you Sir James Howard Marshall, take thee Lady June Pearl Whelan, to be your awful, I mean lawful, wedded wife?" asked the magistrate. The feeble Sir Howard crocked, "I do." The magistrate repeated himself to Pearl. She responded sweetly, batting her eyelashes, "Certainly."
'Finally!', thought Pearl. 'Now we just needed to sign the paper.'
A few more days, and she would have the money she needed and be free to sail the seven seas again."
Pearl glanced through the window to see the wench from the Bilge Pump Pub headed toward the magistrate's office. "Oh bugger, I hope she doesn't have any tobacco swill with her.", thought Pearl. "Doesn't anyone ever get drunk and pass out in this town?"
Pearl tried to hastily move the magistrate along, but he keep dropping books and then couldn't find the writing utensil. Pearl was becoming so frustrated, she almost pulled her small flintlock from under her gown to move the magistrate along. That would go over as well as her tossing the tobacco swill on the two love birds. She had just gotten Sir Howard to sign before the door was tossed open by the wench.

His attitude properly adjusted, Jack emerged from the pub and squinted into the light. As he looked down the street, he saw Wench and Kate cross the street to the magistrate's office. "Ah! A shackle undone, and a prize to gain. I'm beginning to like this town."
He crossed the street and stopped to check his pistol. And old woman paused to give him a questioning look. Jack looked up at her.
"A bit of privacy, if you don't mind? We're having a moment here." he mocked.
The old woman turned her head sharply, obviously insulted. "A pirate if I ever saw one!" she huffed.
Jack shrugged, and walked toward the magistrate's office. Taking up a position just outside an opened window, he eavesdropped on the proceedings within. "Well, this should be interesting" he thought.

Pearl quickly turned and grabbed the wench by the shoulders, "Dear Sister, I'm so glad you were able to make it!", cried Pearl. Leaning in closer, she whispered fiercly into the wench's ear, "Please, don't make a scene. Help out a woman in need, and you will be rewarded.". Pearl stepped back from the wench and turned to her new husband. "Darling, I would like to introduce my sister, Honor Bright."

Kate started to open her mouth, "But this isn't your...OW!"
Wench had subtly pinched Kate's arm. She raised her eyebrow and said, "Why, dear sister, there is no way on God's green earth I would miss your nuptials! Marriage vows are not something I take lightly!"
Kate snorted and could hardly contain her laughter. She whispered, "Oh, sure! Tell your 'sister' why you are REALLY here..OW! Will you quit doing that?"
Pearl turned to her new husband and said, "This is my little sister. Honor, this is Sir James Marshall. My new husband and the light of my life."
Sir James extended a cold, clammy hand-which was more like a claw--to his new 'sister-in-law' and said, "Very pleased to meet you."

Wench reluctantly took his hand and mentally went 'EWWW!!!' She turned to Pearl and she could barely contain a smile. "I'm sorry to be so late, sister. But I had an altercation with a substance and had to change my clothes."
She turned to Sir James and said, "Why, my dear sister practically raised me after Mother died and...what was that noise? Did you hear something outside the window?"

Pearl looked toward the window. She didn't see a thing. "Wait, what was that?" There in the corner, she could just make out the edge of a hat. "Who could it be?", thought Pearl. Just then, Sir Howard grasped her hand in his cold one, "Come dear, we have to get started on our Honeymoon.", he said in a weathered gravelly voice. Pearl had no choice but to follow Sir Howard to the door.

"It was pleasure meeting you, Miss Bright, but if you don't mind, your sister and I have to get down to business. Perhaps you can come to dinner some night soon?" He parlayed.
Pearl jumped at the chance, "Oh Darling, I haven't seen my sister in so long, perhaps she and her traveling companion can join us for dinner tonight?" Pearl batted her eyes at Sir James. He scowled in return. Pearl let the water works begin to moisten her eyelashes. Sir James sighed in compliance and turned to Honor Bright, "My dear, it seems my new bride wishes to hold me in anticipation. Will you and your lovely traveling companion join us for a celebratory dinner tonight at my home? It seems it would please my new wife very much."

Kate raised her hands and said, "No, thank you! I have a prior engagement for the evening!"
Wench looked at Pearl's face. Oh, I should SO get even with her for the tobacco swill.
She hesitated, "I'm not sure...I think I had something to do myself. I really would hate to come between the tender moments of a man and his bride..."
She caught Pearl's eye and then softened. I wouldn't wish that fossil on my worst enemy. Good Lord knows I had to put up with old Vinegar Veins...
She put on her sweetest face and said, "I think I can cancel my plans and I haven't seen my sister in such a long time. Why, I would be delighted to share your nuptial dinner. But only for a little while. I know you must be to cement your relationship."
She hugged Pearl and air-kissed her cheek. She whispered, "You owe me BIG-TIME now.."

After getting the directions to the manor, Wench realized just what a gold-mine this woman fell into.
"I'll be there by 7 PM," she said and fake-waved an enthusiastic good-bye.

Pearl hugged 'Honor Bright' back and whispered, "You have no idea." "We'll see you tonight then, dear sister, at 7pm." called Pearl. She grabbed ole what's his name's cold clammy hand and lead him to the door. "Come, dear, we have to prepare for our guests." Pearl said. Sir James Howard Marshall did not look pleased, but sighed in defeat. Pearl's lips turned up into a sweet, but somewhat menacing smile.

Her eyes darted to the movement by the window. There was a shadow now of a person.

Kate said, "Wench, I have to go now. I'll catch up with you later. Remember what I said about Daemon."
Wench said, "Yeah, I know, I know."

The magistrate came out of the chapel and mopped his face. He seems extremely nervous, Wench thought.
"So..what is the good word on this annulment? Where do I sign?"
He coughed and said, "I am afraid you have a slight problem."
He was still reeling from the near-death threats from Captain Jack.
"And what might that be? I gave a made-up name. So therefore it can't be legal. Jack Wolfe married a woman who doesn't exist."
He averted his eyes, "Well, technically. You see, your name may be fake but your body isn't. What I mean is, YOU were there. At the marriage. So he didn't marry your name, he married your body. What I mean is he married the person standing in front of him. She could have given her name as the Queen and it would still be legal."
Wench paled, "Are you trying to tell me I am married all legal-like to Captain Jack Wolfe?"
He looked down at the license. "I am afraid so. Miss--Bright, is it? You are lawfully wedded to Captain John Michael Wolfe. Until death do you part."
She snatched the license out of his hands. "No, no, no, no, no...there is NO WAY I am married."
"But I am afraid so...."
"You tell me you are 'afraid' one more time and you WILL have something to be afraid of. You had better be ready to scratch this out for all eternity. I need to find out how to get un-manacled."

She walked out of the magistrate's office into the sunlight.
What a fine kettle of fish THIS is! Married...MARRIED? STILL?
Some mistakes you never stop paying for....

Jack shook his head and tried not to laugh out loud. He returned his pistol to half-cocked, and shoved it into the sash about his waist. Rounding the corner and stepping into the magistrate's office, Jack looked about at the comical scene before him.
"Pearl! You seem to have traded up since we last met in Tobago!"
Jack strode forward and shook the cadaver's hand as strongly as he dared. Leaning close to the old man, he whispered "I hear she's a bit of a tiger, mate! I'm sure you're up to it, with all your experience, yeah? There's a good man! Off you go!"
Jack paused to smirk at Pearl as her new prize weakly dragged her toward their wedding bed. "He'll be dead before the morning, well played..." he mouthed.
Jack whirled, and shot a whithering look at the Magistrate, who quickly found papers to shuffle. Turning to Wench and Kate, shook his head slowly.
"Crashing a wedding? And they insist upon calling me a pyrate? Well, that's as may be..." Jack sneered. Taking Wench by the arm, he drew her close. "I possess the Moon, love. And you, the Sun. Both must be joined in union for the treasure to be unlocked. Much like us and ecstacy, yeah? Ah, you still remember! Good! I'll be needing that trinket you claim not to possess."
Jack's dagger maked its point at Wench's ribcage. "Do we have an accord, love? What say you?"

Jack shoved his pistol into his sash. "Sweetness, the one thing I've come to learn about you is that the more you protest, the less believable you are. I'll admit, we both felt the thunder. But that bit of gold I gave you is far too large and ornate for you to have merely pawned off somewhere. What I'm offering, since you have called for the privilege of parley, is that there are two keys to the chest in my possession. I have one of them. I, in a moment of indescretion, gave the other to you. Given the gravity of the item, you would have been loathe to discard said item. Now, if you'd kindly accompany me aboard my ship, I'll tell you how I came upon the chest after our matrimony."
Jack extended his hand to Wench. "Ale and rum abound upon 'El Lobo del Mar'"

"Jack, how stupid do you think I am? I board your ship, what is to stop you from pulling up anchor and I will be your bounded prisoner? Let's say I have the Sun pendant and I hand it over to you in a moment of...what shall we call it? Unbridled passion? What would stop you from pitching me overboard? Nay, I unloaded that amulet as soon as I could. I'll tell you the truth. If you really want it, it is in the coffers of St. Armand's church. In exchange for a confession well-done. Can't remember the name of the town but it is between Barbados and Glenlivet. THAT should give you something to occupy your time. Think of it as a treasure hunt! I know how you loved them!"
She crossed her arms and gave him that look of defiance he had come to know all too well during their brief one-month encounter.
"So you see--I am of no further use to you. I suggest we both go see the magistrate and end this travesty of a marriage. Then you can buy me that ale AT THE TAVERN and regale me with your little fairytale of how you came in possession of this so-called chest. IF you even have it!"

Pearl sneered at Captain Jack as the crypt keeper lead her away. If that Jack wasn't so handsome, she could easily run in him through without a thought. But a goodlooking man is hard to find these days, especially one with all his teeth. The fact he was a successful pirate made him all that more appealing.
"Come deary", Sir Marshall said drooling. "We may have time to consumate our vows before your beautiful sister arrives to join us."

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Jack smiled condescendingly as Pearl passed by with her walking carrion. "It's a shame our paths have crossed in such dissonant ways," Jack thought to himself. "Perhaps, perhaps..."
He turned his attention back to the petulantly defiant Wench, and smiled. "You know what, love? I almost believed you for a moment. But knowing that your heart is at least as black as mine, you're hoping I'll divulge more. Well, my sweet, I've learned a lesson or two since our last pairing. Foremost, I should never tell you too much. Secondly, you're better off not thinking that every single word out of my mouth is a lie. Only every other word. Every third word on a Sunday. So, when I tell you I have the chest in question, and the Moon key, I'm actually being honest with you. You, however, have been less than honest with me! I may not know your name, but I know you. You still have the Sun key, as you recognise it's value. Nothing that ugly and that substantial can be worthless, eh? I only wish I'd known about the chest's contents before I gave you that key..."
Jack sat wearily upon a wooden bench near the from of the magistrate's office. "I've tried breaking it, shooting it, and hauling it to pieces. I need that key I gave you. It's a fair offer, love. Half the contents of the chest."
He rose from his seat and looked Wench square in the eye. "If you have gotten rid of the Sun key, as your lovely lips protest, then the chest is no use to me. I'll just sail out into deep waters, and chuck it over the side. My time would be better spent chasing the Spanish treasure fleet, quite frankly! So, what is it to be, my love? Truth or consequenses time, 'Honor Bright'!"

Wench leaned against the wall of the magistrate building and ran her fingers through her hair, twisting the ends as was her manner when she was deep in thought. Unfortunately, Jack knew this in their brief month together that this was a tell-tale sign that the wheels were turning in her mind.
He grinned and took a step closer to her. She quickly whipped out her bodice dagger and said calmly, "Back off, Jack. Or I'll match that scar I put on your chest the last time we were together."
He deftly took the dagger out her hand and flipped it over his shoulder.
Well, that didn't work out like I thought it would, she mentally noted.
She took a step back. "You won't throw that chest out. You're bluffing. And that's alright. I can respect it. Now let us say for the sake of argument I DO have that hideous key. You say you have the moon. Well, since you once promised me the moon...."
Jack reached out to her and she went to pull a bodice dagger out. But she realized too late that he already took hers. DAMN!
She pushed him back. "I prefer to deal with you for the moment on the grounds of mutual respect, not...never mind. I have no assurance you won't pull that pistol on me once you have what you want. I haven't seen you in eighteen months and in the last two hours you pulled it on me once and your knife twice. I must say, 'Hello, honey, I'm back!' sure takes on a new meaning. I sure would have loved to have seen the look on your face when you pulled into port and your wife was gone. Along with a few other things you left in my possession.
So....what assurance do I have that I will be alive once the chest opens? And make it fast because I have to go to my 'sister's ' for dinner."

Pearl and Sir Marshall arrived at the Manor. Sir Marhshall was beginning to look very worn and gray, not that he didn't already look gray. It was just grayer than normal.
The butler came to take their outer wear, "Sir, I have your room ready." and while turning to Pearl, "and yours too, Mistress."
"She won't be needing her own room." snapped Sir Marshall. "She'll be in mine." Pearl smiled apologitically to the butler. Sir Marshall headed for the stairs on a somewhat stooped gate. "Pearl, come, let us retire a bit before dinner with your beautiful sister."
Pearl began to follow Sir Marshall to the stairs, but turned to the butler before proceeding up. "Sir, would it be possible for us to have some tea brought up to the room. I'm so parched from all the dust." Her crystal blue eyes pleaded gently to Sir Marshall. The butler looked to Sir Marshall for approval. "Yes. Bring us some tea, but tea only, no cakes." barked Sir Marshall.
Pearl and Sir Marshall continued up the stairs. The turned into the first room on the left at the top of the stairs. The room was lavishly dressed in gold and cream. Heavy curtains hung from the windows that overlooked the front courtyard and out onto the harbor down below. The room was dominated by large canopied bed that required stairs to enter it. Heavy cream drapes hung from the canopy enveloping the bed. Although the room was bright, there was a musty, sort of deathly smell about it.
Pearl began to remove her gown. "God, how she hated wearing such heavy clothing.", she thought. Sir Marshall was turned to look at her. A sneering smile played about his lips which grew wider when Pearl let down her blonde waves.
"Oh bugger!" thought Pearl. She had forgotten to remove her small flintlock from her bloomers when she had thrown upon her gown. Pearl turned away from Sir Marshall and slowly removed her underskirt leaving her bloomers. "I want to watch!" growled Sir Marshall. Pearl looked sultrly over her shoulder at Sir Marshall. "Anticipation, my darling, is such sweet pleasure. Don't you agree?" Sir Marshall's sneering smile returned. "Continue, my darling"
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.
"Your tea." called out the butler.
Sir Marshall snarled while Pearl grabbed the robe laying over the bed. "Oh I'm so parched." she exclaimed as she went to the door to retrieve the tea.
"Oh, Thank you, Benjamin" Pearl said quickly as took the tea from the butler. "I can serve Sir Marshall, Benjamin. You don't need to stay." Pearl stated.
"Yes, leave, now." snarled Sir Marshall.
"Calm down, dear" soothed Pearl. "We don't want to get you too excited too soon." said Pearl as she set the tray down on a gold gilt table.
"Why don't you wash up a bit before we have some tea?" Pearl gently suggested.
"Hmmph" replied Sir Marshall as to wobbled to the bathing chamber located just off the bedroom.
Pearl watched as Sir Marshall began to wash his face. She quickly unlatched a secret compartment on her scorpion pin and a fine white powder fell into her open hand. Pearl quickly placed in the white powder into one of the teacups and poured tea into it.=
"Here you, dear." said Pearl as she handed the now less pale Sir Marshall the teacup. "Let us have a toast to our union." as Pearl raised her own teacup and tapped Sir Marshall's. They both took a sip. Pearl eyed Sir Marshall over the rim of her cup.
"Come join me on the bed." said Pearl as she took the cup from Sir Marshall. He followed her to the bed, his eyes starting to droop.
"I feel so...." his voice began to slur. "This will be a night you'll remember, dear" said Pearl intently as she gently laid Sir Marshall down. Soon, he was sound asleep.
"Finally!" thought Pearl as began to poke about the room. "Where is that secret compartment?" Pearl knew she only had a short time before it would be dinner and the sleeping potion would wear off. She had to find it.

Jack smiled. "Love, I left nothing with you that I minded losing. I have to say the the 'Sweet Trade' has been very good to me. And yes, I promised you the Moon. But the Sun was all I had to give at the moment, much to my later dismay. Thank you for confirming that you still have it! I was beginning to get worried. You're quite the bluffer, dear. You always have been."
He leaned close, his cheek nearly brushing Wench's. "You need assurances that I'll keep you alive? What words can I say, my lovely, that will reassure you? None that I can think of! But from what I'm told," Jack paused as he traced his finger along Wench's equisite cheek, "there's riches that would embarass Christ himself. I'm more than willing to go halvsies with you. And even if this chest is empty, no harm nor foul. I keep the chest, and you go on about doing whatever it is you do best. You'll never hear from me again. So, do we have an accord?"

Wench tried to catch her breath at his touch. A familiar sense of heat starting at her very core began to spread. Damn him! He always knew what buttons to push.
She tried to break the physical contact and felt powerless as always. She said softly, "Why did I ever marry a scoundrel as you is beyond me..."
But she then recovered and said, "You have no assurances. I would need to think this over. I don't really feel like being one with the fishes. I've seen you in action, Jack. You are ruthless and I am a disposable commodity. I am not that foolish girl you married. I'm twenty-one now! And I have a new..."
Jack raised his eyebrow.
She continued, "Never mind. I'd have to see this chest before I make any decisions. Grant you, I am NOT saying I have the key. Or even where it is.. Maybe I have a few connections to people who MAY know where it is. It would go through a few channels."
She pointed to a place behind Jack. " Now---a gentleman would retrieve my bodice dagger for me. There's a good husband that you are!"

Pearl continued to rattle about the paneled walls, tapping on the wood. Tap, tap. Tap, tap. Pearl sighed in frustration, "Hmmrph!" Tap, tap. Pearl was losing her patience which was never a virtue of hers to begin with. Tap, tap. Pearl's patience's snapped. She rushed to the bed and grabbed Sir Marshall about the shoulders. "Where is the compartment, you smelly old toad!" Sir Marshall slowly opened his eyes, "Pearl, darling, come let us a finish what we started." he slurred. "The compartment, you toad, then I'll finish what I started." snarled Pearl.
Sir Marhsall mumbled, "The oil lamp" and his eyes rolled back and his head fell to the side. "Out like a lamp." thought Pearl.
Pearl looked about the room. "The oil lamp" he had said. There were several beatiful oil lamps about the room, but which one could it be? The two beside the bed were tall brass with milky white globes on top. The brass was made to look like grecian columns. There was one the desk next to the window. This looked more ulitarian and clearly could not lead one to a compartment. Lastly, there were two oil lamps on red cherry bureau. These looked to be made of brass as well, but were not the grecian columns of bedside lamps. These were ornately decorated. One was a male merman of striking stature with curly hair about his shoulders. The other was a beatiful mermaid with long flowing wavy hair. The lamps were exquisite.
"This has to be it" Pearl grinned.

"Retrive your dagger? But of course!" Jack bowed , swept, and produced Wench's blade. "I see you've kept it as sharp as I taught you to. Well done. Now, about that chest.."
He gently returned the dagger to it's scabbard, slipping it between her ample breasts into it's sheath. Meeting her eye to eye, he continued. "So, you wish to see the chest? You know where it is, love. In my cabin, aboard 'El Lobo.'" Jack's lips nearly brushed Wench's. "My crew remember you, so no nocturnal boarding, eh? Jamb my rudder chain, and I take your life. I'm trying desperately to be above board with you, love. 12 hours. I'll meet you on the docks, and you bring the Sun. We open the chest together, in my cabin. And we share whatever wealth is contained within."
Jack smiled broadly, and stole a kiss from Wench. "Twelve hours, love! And all this will be behind us! You know where to find me. And I'll be waiting for you."
And with a flourish, he left the magistrates office, never offering to nullify their marriage.

Wench called out to him, "Wait! You forgot our----"
Her trailed off, "---annulment!"
Damn! She stormed off in the direction of her lodgings. What a day!
Checking behind her frequently to make sure she wasn't followed, she unlocked her door.
What do you wear to a dinner with your un-sis? And why did Black-Hearted Pearl all of a sudden want a familial relationship? Granted, if I had that cadaver pawing at me, I'd pick ANYONE--even Jack Wolfe--to delay the inevitable. I put up with that crap with Old Vinegar Veins for three months. He did wear that bodice dagger quite well though. Served him right, the old fossil.
Wench was pulled out of her reverie. What was that noise? Take a deep breath, Wench! You are just jumpy.
She looked through her clothes and picked out a peacock blue dress. Shedding her clothes, she slipped the blue dress over her head. It cascaded down her body as it headed toward the floor, skimming her hips and legs.
She reached over and put on her new boots. White leather. Acquired by unconventional means. What a lovely captain he was, too.....
She brushed out her blonde hair and caught it at the nape of her neck, twisting it up.
Pinching her cheeks and biting her lips to redden them, she grabbed her new suede cloak.
She headed out the door but turned back. She put on her scabbarded rapier. Was that on my right hip or my left hip? If I am right-handed...oh, who cares? Probably never use it anyways but just to be sure......

She headed over to the mansion where Pearl was now mistress of the house.
Mistress. Wench laughed to herself. Been there, done that. Damn Vinegar Veins anyhow.
Deserved that dagger!
Now to see what Pearl has in mind. I'm mildly curious, you understand....
But thoughts of Captain Jack Wolfe kept crossing her mind.
She didn't need to pinch her cheeks.
They were blushed enough.

Pearl walked over to the two beautifully adorned lamps. She felt about them. Nothing. She looked behind the bureau. Nothing. Pearl was starting to get very angry. She swatted at the merman's lamp, but only managed to tip it slightly before it fell back into place with jolt as if something was holding it in place.
As Pearl started to look at it more closely, a panel next to the bureau slide open slightly and seem to stick. Pearl's eyes lite up with a smile. "Aha, I've found it." Pearl leaned the merman lamp again, this time noticing the cord that ran beneath it. The panel slide open wider still until it was completely open.
Sir Marshall stirred on the bed. "Oh darling, this is wonderful!" he murmured.
Pearl raised her eyebrows at this. "What exactly did that vodoo witch give me?" she wondered. Pearl turned her attention back to the open panel. Inside, she could see a small wooden box, ornately carved with the images of slaves.
"Oh, how she hated this part of 'proper' society", she thought. '
The box did not lock. The owner must have thought if you could find the box, one deserved to open it. She pulled the box from the wall and wiped her hand across the dust on top of the box. Her hand, now dirty, she then whiped across her bloomers, not realizing the smear of dirt left behind.
Pearl was sweating with anticipation as she opened the lid to the box. What would she find? Gold, Rubies, Saphires? Inside was a velvet pouch and nothing else. Pearl's heart sank. Pearl decided not to leave empty handed and pulled the velvet pouch from the box. Inside was an old brass key, inlaid with black pearls. Pearl's eyes began to burn. She had heard of a key inlaid with black pearls. It was said to open a chest of magnificent treasure.
Suddenly, voices could be heard coming from the courtyard below. Was it dinner time already? Pearl put the key between her breasts and put the velvet pouch back into the box. She quickly put the box into the panelled compartment. "Oh bugger, now how to close it?"
Sir Marshall stirred again. "hmmmmm" he murmured.
Pearl tipped the merman lamp. Nothing. Pearl yanked the merman lamp back and forth. Nothing. Pearl pulled the merman lamp up and down. Nothing!
"Oh, bugger! Oh, bugger! Oh, bugger!"
Pearl heard the front door open and Benjamin saying "Welcome to the Manor, miss. May I take your coat for you?" Pearl didn't hear the reply. She was too busy looking behind and under the red cherry bureau.
Sir Marshall stirred again and started to rise from the bed. "Oh, I smell dinner." he said as he fell back on the pillow and seemed to fall back asleep.
"Oh, bugger! Oh, bugger! Oh, bugger!" thought Pearl again.
Pearl swept her hand across the the top of the bureau. Her hand hit the mermaid lamp, knocking it asckew. The panel began to slide close and stopped. "Of, course!" thought Pearl. "Leave it to a woman to finish a job!"
Pearl quickly ran to the bath chamber and splashed cold water on her face. Straightened herself, still not noticing the dirt smear on her bloomers and quickly jumped into bed next to Sir Marshall.
Knock, Knock.
"Pardon me" called the butler from behind the door.
"Come in" replied Pearl.
"Your guest has arrived." said the butler as he opened the door to see Pearl lying next to Sir Marshall who appeared to be waking up.
"Poor dear" said Pearl "I think I wore the poor devil himself out."
The butler looked embarrassed. "Sir, do you need my assistance?" He asked.
"No, No, I'm fine." Sir Marshall snapped "See about our lovely guest."
Pearl hopped out of the bed. "I must get dressed. Where are my manners?"
Sir Marshall stumbled out of bed and grabbed her by the shoulders
"I want a kiss!" he snarled, but as he turned her around, Sir Marhsall noticed the dirt smear on her bloomers.
"What is that from?" he look puzzled. ]
"Oh, dear, I didn't realise they had a smear when I put them on." exclaimed Pearl.
Pearl turned her crestfallen crystal blue eyes toward Sir Marshall. A tear trembled at the corner, "I had so wanted our first time together to be perfect and I have ruined it with my carelessness." The tear fell gently from down her fair cheek that was blushed from all the previous excitement.
Sir Marshall reached up a finger and caught the tear on the tip. His eyes softened as did his voice, "It's alright my dear, we shall buy you a whole new wardrobe of beautiful gowns and under dressings."
"Gowns" thought Pearl. "Gowns were nothing more than chains that men used to inprison woman." Pearl smiled sweetly at Sir Marshall and blinked away the rest of her tears. "Shall we join my sister for dinner?" She asked.
"Certainly" replied Sir Marshall.
They both gathered themselves and walked out the door to the grand staircase where the wench in a beautiful peacock gown looked up at them.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Jack sauntered back to his ship, a bit too pleased with himself for getting an admission from the lovely Wench. "Of any woman I've met, being married to her isn't so terrible... I could get used to it!" he thought. His reverie was broken as he met the King's men blocking the way to his ship.
"And to what do I owe the honour, gentlemen? I paid my dock fees."
"Captain Jack Wolfe! You are charged with bringing malice and mayhem upon a protectorate of His Majesty, King George the First! You will surrender yourself to us forthwith!" proclaimed the guard.
"Ah! So that's how you feel about it, then? A pity, really. That sounded so well rehearsed" Jack said. Looking up, he spied his Quartermaster.
"Mister Briggs! Snipers to the shrouds! Doubletime!" Jack yelled.
Briggs brought his fist to his forehead in a salute. "Aye, sir! Snipers, aloft! You know your targets, boys! If it's in a red coat, kill it!"
The guards shifted uneasily. "Captain Wolfe, you will accompany us to the stockade!" said the taller of the two.
"Gentlemen, you have ten men with muskets trained upon your backs. Withdraw, and no harm will come to you. Bother me further, and you will die. Understood?" Jack crossed his arms and waited.
The two guards looks sidelong at each other, then beat a hasty retreat. "I thought you'd see it my way!" Jack called after them. He walked up the gangway to the gun deck. Mr. Briggs was there to greet him.
"Did you really think that using carronade against this sleepy town would go unnoticed, Captain? What's got you in such a fine mood this day?" Briggs enquired.
"My wife, Josiah. My bonny bride. She'll be joining us at sunrise. See to it that the men don't shoot her?"
"Aye, Captain. We'll make certain we don't kill her." Briggs clasped his hands behind his back. "As if we needed more foul luck. He had to go and find her! We're all damned..."

Wench watched as Black-Hearted Pearl walked down the stairs with her not-quite dead husband. Sir Marshall smiled. 'Whoa, he looks kind of like a skull. Just missing the crossbones. Bet if he had on a cravat....'
Pearl extended her hands to her and took Wench's in her own. "Dear, dear Honor! I am SO pleased you have been able to join us. Have you news from home?"
Wench slightly panicked. Home? What home? Why is Pearl steeping me into this tea of deception?
But she recovered quickly. "Oh, Pearl, that is talk for another time. I am sure your bridegroom does not want to hear of people and places that he knows not of."
Sir Marshall offered his free arm to his newly acquired sister-in-law. "Shall we enter the dining room, my dear---Honor, is it? My, such an unusual name."
He pulled the chair out for her at a table that would seat fifty.
He seated Pearl to his right. She made a face and Wench tried very hard not to laugh.
Wench, in a small way, felt a kinship with Pearl. Looks like we both did what we had to do. Unfortunately mine had to die not so peacefully.
Sir Marshall rang for the first course. Soup. What else. Wench took a sip. Who am I to look a gift dinner in the mouth?
Sir Marshall asked again. "I was interested in why you were named as such."
Pearl rested her chin on her hand. "Yes, sister, dear. Tell my beloved. I always loved that story."
Wench thought quickly. "Well..our father was a magistrate. I was the youngest. Pearl here is older---MUCH older!---than me..."
Here Wench shot her a look. Put me on the spot? This is MY story, sorry if you don't exactly like it, Captain Black-Heart!
Wench took another sip of soup. "Father knew I was to be the last child as Mother was not in the best of health. Mother died in childbirth with me, you know. As a symbol of his everlasting love to her, with her dying breath, she told him I was to be named Honor Bright . An assurance of fidelity and truth. Because they loved each other so much!"
Here Wench paused to wipe a tear from her eye. Pearl choked on her soup.
What cheek this wench has!
Sir Marshall asked, "And what is a lovely woman such as yourself doing all alone in this port?'
Pearl added, 'Oh, do tell my husband, Honor! '
Wench took a deep breath. "My husband--God rest his soul!--died of an acute wound--DISEASE!--and died within three months of our taking our vows to cherish each other forever."
Another tear trailed down her cheek.
Pearl thought, 'Damn, she's good! She almost has ME believing this crap!'
Wench regained control and continued. "So I am here to mend my broken heart. The physician thought a month by the sea would do my disposition much good. I was--"
Wench faked a cough "---having a breakdown because I was so devastated on the loss of my dear husband."
She then delicately blew her nose on her handkerchief. "I am sorry, Sir Marshall. It is very difficult for me to talk about at this time."
Sir Marshall extended his claw--with yellow nails, I might add--and laid it on her arm. The old goat applied pressure Wench did not like at all. Why...the old boy is a pervert!
Then casually Sir Marshall asked, "What a touching story! But, please--explain to us about the unsavory pirate that accosted you at the magistrate's office! He acted awfully familiar with you!"
Pearl leaned over and said, "Yes, dear Honor. One would think you knew each other quite well!'
Wench said, "I'm sorry. He was a stranger who thought I was someone he knew before. I set him straight. I never saw him before in my life! Now---could you please pass me some of that divine bread there, dear brother-in-law of mine?" 
Dinner had progressed without much change in the dinner conversation. Sir Marshall asked questions and Wench had either conveniently lied or side-stepped the matter all together.
The wine had been flowing freely and it looked like Black-Hearted Pearl and Sir Marshall had more than their share.
The wedding dinner was a sumptuous feast of roast pig and turkey. Wench delicately picked at her food. By the time dessert came which consisted of frosted cakes, Sir Marshall was face down on the table. He narrowly missed getting frosting on his face.
Pearl was decanting yet another bottle of wine.
The day had been too much for Wench. First Captain Jack, her husband of all things, had re-entered her life with a crash landing. Now the nuptial dinner party from Hell.
She rubbed her temples. Damn! A headache! She stood up and said to Pearl, "I really have to leave now. I have an early morning appointment that I really can't miss. I do wish you's his face...a great deal of happiness."
Pearl grinned. "I have lots of reasons to be thankful for marrying this old coot."
Wench smiled back at her. "And I am betting they all are in a safe."
Pearl said nothing but stood up and gave Wench a quick hug. "Thanks for playing along, 'Sis'. You helped me fix it so the only arms around this skin-covered skeleton will be his man-servant as he carries him to the marriage bed."
Wench picked up her cloak and as she put it over her shoulders, she said, "I hope you know what you are doing, Captain Pearl."
Pearl gave her a mock salute and said, "Aye. That I do."
"Then I wish you the best."
Pearl opened the bottle of wine and poured herself a generous glass. "As I wish you and Captain Jack years of wedded bliss. Funny he never mentioned a wife."
Wench paused with her hand on the doorknob. "Isn't it? Funny thing is, I never mentioned him either."

She left the bright lights of the house and continued her way to her lodgings. She contantly looked behind her to make sure she was alone or at least not being followed. She put her key in the door and opened it cautiously. I really need some sleep, she thought. Five o'clock in the morning...what a preposterous time to meet on the docks. It's still dark then.
She hung up her cloak and looked over. The moonlight shone through the window, casting just enough light to see.
In the corner was a rapier. A trail of clothes lead to her bed, with a great pair of boots next to the armoire. She smiled to herself and began to undress in the dark. Quietly she slipped into bed. As she curled up next to the warm body, a voice in the dark whispered drowsily, "Honor, where've you been?"
She put her fingers to his lips and whispered, "I think that's enough talk, darling....."

Pearl smiled deviously as the Wench left the house. "Now to put my plan into action."
Pearl eyed her husband dozing, sitting in his chair. She pulled a small vial that was tucked into her cleavage. She opened the vial and poured a clear odorless liquid into Sir Marshall's cup. Pearl added a bit a more wine to the cup, but not too much. She couldn't risk the servants finishing it after they had left the table.
Pearl cleared her throat loudly. "Oh dear, one last toast before we retire to our wedding bed?" Pearl called loudly.
Sir Marshall mumbled, opening his eyes, seeing his beautiful wife eyeing him expectantly. "What you say?" grumbled Sir Marshall.
"A toast before we retire to our wedding bed." said Pearl seductively. "Oh yes, indeed" said Sir Marshall, his eyes glinting a sinister look.

Sir Marshall snatched at his cup, downing the wine with one fell swoop.
"Time for bed, my dear" he sneered. Pearl smiled like a cat who had just eaten a favored pet bird.
"I shall lead the way, my darling." With that, Pearl turned her back on Sir Marshall and called out to the butler in the kitchen.
"We shall be retiring to our room now, Benjamin."
Pearl headed for the stairs, knowing Sir Marshall would be keen to keep up with her.
Pearl had just reached the top of the stairs when she heard a gasp from behind her. She turned just in time to see Sir Marshall grasp at his chest and fall down the stairs. The butler had just come from the kitchen and saw Sir Marshall fall from the halfway point to the bottom. He looked up at Pearl, shocked.
"Sir! Sir!", he called crouching down to Sir Marshall. Sir Marshall was completely still.
Pearl watched with a shocked expression on her face. "Is he dead?", she stammered. Benjamin put his hand next to Sir Marhsall's mouth. "I'm afraid so, Madam."
Pearl had to catch herself from smiling. "Quick, call the doctor." said Pearl.
"Madam, it's too late." Benjamin replied.
"NO!!" screamed Pearl as she fainted on the stairs.

With the 5:00 AM meeting on the dock in the subconscience of her mind, Wench raised her head and looked at the old clock on her mantle. Uhh....time for me to get up, I supposed. I should just forget it. That chest probably holds nothing but a bunch of baubles. Why would whoever have the keys not unlock it? I should just stay here....
She snuggled closer to her bedmate, his arms around her. So nice when he makes port, she thought. But the nagging thought of the chest and its possibilites kept her from sleeping.
She sighed. May as well get this over with. IF I decide to hand over the Sun key.
She extricated herself slowly from him. Carefully she took her pillow and placed it where she was. No sense waking him up and having him try to talk me out of it.
She quietly got dressed, putting on breeches instead of a skirt. Never know when I may have to make a break for it or even end up in some sort of combat. Don't need a skirt in the way.
She looked over to where her rapier was, hesitation on her face. If the thought even crossed my mind to take it, then take it I shall. She scabbarded it and put it on.
Reaching over to where she had dropped her clothes the night before, she picked up her bodice dagger and put it in place. Then she picked up the black velvet pouch that her friend Lilaney had given her with a quantity of herbs that suited a specific purpose. You never know, she though.
Lastly she slipped the Sun Key in her bodice. What am I doing? That is the first place Captain Jack Wolfe would look. She put it in her boot and then inserted her sgian dubh. That should camouflage it. Wrapping herself in her cloak, she started out the door.
'Honor? Where the hell are you going, love?' A sleepy voice came from the bed.
Oh dear, the Inquisition begins....
'Nowhere, darling. Just go back to sleep. I have to run an errand and I'll be right back.'
'It's barely daylight, for God's sake.'
She thought fast. 'Well, if you want to get the freshest bread and fruit, you have to hit the docks early. Don't worry. I'll be back within the hour.'
Before he could give her the third degree, she let herself out, locking the door behind her.
The sun was just starting to come up over the town. With a bravado she did not feel, she headed towards the docks. Her fingers nervously tapped the hilt of her rapier. What am I doing? I should be back in a nice warm bed. Instead I am meeting the Devil himself.
Within ten minutes she reached the docks. Shading her eyes, she gave a sigh of relief.
Looks like I have been stood up...
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

The sun rose over the sea like the Phoenix, bursting anew with joyous flame. Jack watched from the quarterdeck over his morning cup, and smiled at the promise of "Honour" bringing the Sun key.
A lookout, Mr. Stinson, called from his post. "Cap'n! She's at the docks, but she's stopped! She's out of range, sir, so what'll you have us do?!"
"Oh, dear 'Honour Bright'. How you do tease us so!" said Jack. Josiah Briggs, the Quartermaster, snorted sharply.
"Tease 'er yourself, Cap'n, and we'll take the key and be done with it!"
"That's enough, Mr. Briggs! We''l have her on board. No matter what the ill omen. I have the Moon and the chest. She has... everything else. All in due time, Josiah, my friend. All in good time."
Jack grabbed a rum bottle from behind the binnacle and took a deep tug. He walked down the steps to the gun deck and called out to the small for of his bride through the speaking trumpet. "Oi! You! The pretty blonde! Yeah, you, love! Don't be so shy, for you know I don't bite... too roughly! That's it! Come this way, or I shall voice more personal matters for all the good people of this town to hear!"
Jack smiled as Honour grudgingly walked down the pier.

Oh, great, she thought. Why can't he just act like a normal person? Why does everything have to have a bend to it?
Standing within speaking range, she put her hands on her hips, drawing back her cloak ever so slightly so Captain Jack would be sure to see she was weaponed with her rapier.
"You said to meet you on the docks. Well, this is the docks and this is where I am standing. So get your arse down here, Captain Jack Wolfe. I'll not venture any further. This is neutral ground. You should be glad I made it down here at all, having met you here at this ungodly hour."
Just then, Father O'Malley walked by. He tipped his hat to her and said, "Good morning, Honor, my child. Awfully early for you to be up and about, isn't it?"
Wench looked at Jack and then to Father O'Malley. "Yes, it is. I should be snuggled in my bed. But it seems I couldn't resist the Morning Sun. Or the Moon."

"As you wish!" Jack called, and he laughed as he handed the speaking trumpet off to Josiah. He checked his cutlass, and with a chuckle, handed his pistol to the quartermaster.=
"Cap'n, she came armed. Aren't you the one always preachin' about peace through superior firepower?" Mr. Briggs inquired.
"Aye, my friend. But I also have snipers, and a sharp crew on the swivels. If I fall, so does she. And you stand next to command, if elected. You're a good man, Josiah. And a good friend. We'll both be aboard soon."
Jack hung his justacorp on the binnacle, and strode down the deck to the gangplank, then to the dock. "How poetic is it, my lovely Honour, that you greet me with the Sun? I hope in more ways than one!" He took 5 casual steps forward. "Now, what is that on your lovely hip... a blade? I hoped we were over all that, darling. And I'll ignore that blush on your cheeks."
Jack's voice grew cold, and his eyes narrowed. "You, the Sun, and I the Moon. Always chasing one another, never quite catching up lest one eclipse the other. To business, Honour Bright, aboard my ship? Or to arms, here and now? Your choice." He hooked his right thumb in his belt, inches away from the pommel of his cutlass, and waited.

She took five steps back. She looked at him and then at his cutlass, his fingers tapping it casually.
"You wouldn't. You COULDN'T!"
Wench looked over and saw the men on deck, intently watching her. Her voice matched Captain Jack's in frostiness and she tilted her chin up to look him in the eyes.
"And that is no blush on my cheeks. It is just the reflection of the sun. So, it is quite clear now. You think I have what you need and after you have it, you shall be done with me. How typical of you. I hand over the key and what assurance do I have that my back will be to your rudder in the next hour? And I don't mean floating face down."
She casually tapped her own fingers to her rapier. "And don't try to snow me, Jack Wolfe. I've got captain friends that will hunt you down if anything happens to me. How can I trust you that I will still be alive an hour from now? And on dry land."

Jack took a step towards her and she made a motion to unsheath her rapier. "You know I can wield this with the best of them. After all, who taught me the finer points of thrust and parry?"
Jack held his place, but his hand remained near his cutlass. "I remember those days love," he said, with an almost feral smile. "Quite the student you were. And how exciting the lessons! I wonder... how much do you remember?"
His hand drew near his blade, but he restrained himself. "No doubt, you remember much. But I have no desire to search your lovely body for the Sun key. And since, as you say, your cheeks are flushed by the Sun, I take it you indeed have the item you so mightly protested not to have."
Jack assumed a relaxed stance. "You can quit fondling that blade, love. You know I have little concern for what your other courtiers might think or do. I'm resigned to my own damnation. And we have business to attend to. I swear, upon pain of death, that you shall return to this very dock, or at least as close as my navigator can get us, safe and unharmed. You're more a liability to me dead than alive, love. And upon the completion of our business, you'll get that annulment you're so hot after. Do we have an accord?"
He twisted momentarily toward El Lobo del Mar and motioned furtively, even comically, for his men to stand down. No visible weapons, no threats. We're all one big happy family...
Jack swiveled back toward Wench with an uneasy and forced grin. "Oh, I hope she doesn't realise how little control I have over these pyrates..." he thought.
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Wench looked at him and laughed in spite of herself. "Oh, those lessons! We were together a month but you taught me much, Jack. Taught me so well I bested Captain Jonas Corwin. I must say, you would have been proud and said, 'That's my girl!'"
She then frowned.. "Except I did get sliced from a faulty blade. But I knocked him out with a few well placed kicks. One on the chin and one south of the border as it were. Stepping on a cat didn't help his cause, either. So if you ever hear the legend of how Corwin was beaten by a mere wench, you are looking at yours truly."
She looked over and saw the men of El Lobo del Mar stay there weapons. "I knew you could be reasonable in the end, Jack. You always were impressed by a woman with a blade even if you wouldn't admit it. It always got your blood hot. So let us negotiate and get this taken care of so I can go back to bed. IF--and this is a big IF--I decide to hand over the Sun Key, we split the treasure 50/50 and I regain my freedom from you. You promise to go right to the magistrate's and sign the papers and we part. If those are the terms, then yes. We have an accord."
She extended her hand to Jack.

Jack grinned and gripped Wench's hand. "You'll get your release, my pretty. As soon as we're done." He gripped her hand tighter as he spun her in front of him, and presently a knife was to her throath. "And you know how fond I am of insurance policies, dear Honour. Your life buys me immunity, as your multifarious sea captains will not attack with you in peril. Briggs! Cast off! Men to the tops, and full sail! We are away!"

Jack hustled Wench aboard his vessel, and released her once they set foot on the gun deck. He eyed her ominously. "You're in my world now, dear Honour. Once we're clear for the city's guns, we'll talk business. Mr. Briggs! Mr. Harlan! See to my bride's needs, as I'm sure they are as complex as her complaints... Take her below!" Jack stalked off to the holy ground of the quarterdeck, and fixed his gaze on the bow of his ship, his thoughts as dark as night.

"YOU BASTARD! You always were and you always will be! This is cheating! I have to go back home. I can't leave! I can't!"
As Wench was dragged below, she kicked Briggs in the groin and Harlan received a clip on the ear and a graze on his cheek from the bodice dagger she whipped out.
"OW! OW! OW! YOU LITTLE TART!" He raised his hand to her and she ducked as he drove his hand right into the door jamb. Briggs pulled him back. "Ye canna do that, that be Mrs. Captain!"
The two of them opened a door and thrust her into the chamber.
She caught herself before she hit the floor, landing on a soft bed. She looked around. Oh, great. This looks pretty familiar.
She sat there and swore softly to herself. Then out loud.
"Damn! Damn, damn, damn!"
Ok, so I give up the damn key and get dropped off at the next port. I can deal with it. That's not going to happen though.
She looked out the portal window, the town getting ever smaller in the distance. Wonder if I can squeeze out this window and swim to shore.
She pulled a box up and stood on it. If I can just open this window, I can be long gone. She carefully opened it up and started to slide her body through it. One good push and then I am home free!

Jacob Davis, a gunner's mate, heard an odd noise off the starboard side, just below his station. He peered over the side, and spied Wench trying to squeeze through the porthole of her cabin. He chuckled lasciviously, and grabbed a musket from a barrel near the main mast. He quickly affixed a bayonette, and leaned over the side. Tapping Wench gently on the head, he met her eyes as she looked up at him. "Hallo, deary! And where are we going this fine day?" He fixed the musket's barrel between her eyes. "Cap'n Jack ain't gonna look nicely on your escape, poppet. So snug yerself back in that hole, if you please. Otherwise, I have to raise a fuss, and we wouldn't want that, eh? The Cap'n can be thrown into quite the murderous mood, if you follow my meaning." Davis grinned with his stringy hair and yellow teeth, sizing Wench up as she struggled.

She looked at Davis with disdain. "You don't scare me. And neither does that mistake-for-a-husband I have! He wouldn't be the first man who ended up on the wrong side of a bodice dagger, if you get my drift. Murderous mood? Oh, poo! He gets cranky if his rum isn't up to snuff. So don't scare me with idle threats. As long as I have what he needs, he won't do away with me. The only reason I am getting back in the cabin now is because I'm hungry. The least you pox-ridden arses can do is get me something to eat."
She pulled her head back into the porthole but yelled out, "Strawberries dipped in chocolate and a bottle of your finest champagne. And hop to it, you scabbrous cur!"
She sat back on the bed, crossing her arms. Boss ME around, will you? HA!
She took out the Sun Key and held it in her hands. Time for you to go, little fella! She walked over in his chamber and hid it in a place he would never think to look. Now if he decides to search me, he won't find it. I'll be of no use and he can just drop me off at the next port. Tobago, Tortuga, St Thomas...I don't care. Just got to get off this God-forsaken ship!

Davis approached the quarterdeck and caught Wolfe's attention. "Cap'n! I caught your missus trying to escape. She's back in 'er quarters, but she didn't go kindly! And she protests mighty cravings of the belly, sir."
Jack shook his head. "And, no doubt, she demanded the best of everything we have."
Davis nodded in agreement. "Things what I've not heard of for victuals, Cap'n. But no doubt they be luxuries..."
"Fair enough, Mr. Davis. A plate of whatever the cook has for us tonight, and a full ration of rum for my bonny lass. No grog, but hard rum. Serve it with a false French accent, if you please. That's as soft as it gets aboard this vessel."
Jack turned his attention to the matters at hand. "Josiah, the ship is yours. I'll be in the great cabin, plotting our course for Isla Muella. Maintain full sail until I call a new course. As much canvas as she'll carry!"

Wench sat there looking at books on the bookshelf. What boring books! Oh, what have we here! She pulled a book out and could scarcely contain a giggle. Japanese prints, huh? I didn't know that was physically possible...I guess if you don't mind the blood rushing to your head....She heard a noise and hastily put the book back onto the shelf.
The door opened and Davis came in. "I have dinner for zee Madame, s'il vooz plaited. Voila!"
Wench shook her head as he pronounced it Vooil-AHHH.
He whipped off a towel and handed her a plate.
"And what is THIS?? Did you scrape it off the bottom of a parrot's cage?"
Davis grinned. "Tis what the rest o' us be eatin' and Cap'n says ye eat like us."
She shoved the plate back. "You may tell the Captain that I refuse the bord de faire. I am guessing the strawberries are out, let alone the chocolate."
He just stared at her.
"Oh, very well, garcon. You are dismissed."
He looked uncomprehendingly at her. She said, "It means SCRAM! But leave the rum. And it better be top-shelf, too."
As she poured herself a tankard, she thought long and hard about how foolish she was to trust Jack Wolfe.
A noise was heard outside the door. She grabbed a vase and stood behind the door, poised to crack it down on whoever the next person to disturb her would be.

Jack opened the door, and ducked as Wench tried to brain him with a flower vase. "Really, dear. You should take better care of your quarters. I might get the idea you don't appreciate them!"
He presented the square wooden platter Davis had attempted to serve moments earlier. "You see, my lovely, you're off the chart where luxuries be concerned. You can eat this stew of salt beef and biscuit like the rest of us, or go hungry. Have a bit of rum, first, though. It'll make you care less about the weevils."
He left the plate on the bed, and saluted mockingly. "You really should relax, my love. You'll come to no harm whilst in my care." And without further word, he departed, locking the cabin door behind him.

As the door closesd and the lock was heard to tumble, she picked up the platter and hurled it at the door.
She saw the stew drip off the wall . Cocking her head, she looked at it. He can frame it and call it a DaVinci for all I care, she brooded.
She walked over to the door and kicked it. Hard. OW! Need to get heavier boots...I could set fire to the place. Tip over a, with the way things are going, I'd be kindling wood before anyone got around to rescuing me. Rescue! Why didn't I tell at least one person where I was going? I would have at least have him come to save me. As it is, he's sleeping in my bed waiting for me to come back with bread and fruit. And I've now dropped off the face of the earth.
She looked out the portal and could barely make the outline of the harbor town. I'll just turn over the key and he can have the whole damned treasure. What do I care? I just want the annulment and off this ship. OK, Wench, don't push it. Just get off the ship.

Jack stifled his laughter as Wench's meal slammed against the door. Her kicking the door didn't help matters. He beat a quiet retreat to the quarterdeck.
"You're in a fine mood, Cap'n" Briggs entreated. "How goes it with the ball and chain?"
"Tempestuous as ever, Josiah. She's not changed one whit." Jack retrieved his coat from the binnacle, and looked out over the gun deck. "How many days until Isla Muelle?"
"A day and a half, given the present wind, sir. Two if she dies down. We've piled on all the canvas we can."
"Good enough" mused Jack. "That will do nicely. We'll drop anchor between the main island and the islet. The longboats can refresh our supplies for the return trip. Fall back to standard running. We've no reason to overtax our masts. No one is following, and any who decide to shall be dealt with. The ship is yours, my friend."
Jack walked down to the crew deck, and unlocked Wench's door. "My apologies, love. I've been a most unhospitable host. You have free run of this ship. But I'll be taking these..."
He deftly relieved Wench of her rapier (which is patently wrong for close quarter combat) and her bodice blade.
"Such lovely, shiney cutlery. I'll have to scold my crew for allowing you to keep them. Off you go! You have free rein. And if your quarters displease you, you may join me in my digs. I know you remember the way."
Jack sauntered off to the Armoury, where he locked away Wench's bladed toys. Locking the door behind him, he proceeded to the gun deck.

As Jack turned his back and stood on the gun deck, Wench bent over and took her sgian dubh out of her boot and hurled it. She deftly pinned Jack's shirtsleeve to the mast.
"You forgot one, " she said haughtily. "I shall stay in my chambers, thank you very much. It will be a cold day in hell before I find my way to your quarters."
She turned and walked back to her own quarters and took out her black velvet bag of herbs. How he didn't see that when he took the bodice dagger, I'll never know, she thought. She stashed it behind the book of risque Japanese prints. Checking her other boot, she saw the other sgian dubh buried down there. It was worth the look on his face to lose that one dagger!
Now...where to get some decent food. Maybe it is about time I befriended the cook. Weevils, indeed! She poured herself a hefty tankard of rum. At least this is halfway decent. Maybe inebriated is the only way I can stand this trip. She fell back on the bed and contemplated her situation.
Not good, Wench..not good at all!

Jack snorted with indignation as the celtic dagger caught the fabric of his shirt, pinning him to the main mast. He grasped it's hilt, furiously trying to wrest it from it's station. "A very nice trick, love! I'll remember this once we reach Isla Muelle! You dirty little..." Suddenly, the dagger popped free, and Jack found himself flat on his back.
"Ow!" Jack coughed. "Bugger, bugger, bugger!" He scrambled to his feet. "What are ye looking at, ye scabrous dogs?! All of ye, to yer posts! Don't make me say it twice!"
Holding his aching head, Jack looked at Briggs' smirking face. "Josiah, do not make me kill you today. Better yet, call Mr. Howell to duty station. I've had enough of your insolent face."
Briggs dropped his smirk and called Gregory Howell to the watch. Jack looked about, holding his throbbing head. "Steady on, men! We'll be done with this business soon enough! I'll be below..."
Jack walked the short stairs to the main cabin's deck. He paused outside WW's quarters, then shoved his shoulder against the door, bursting it open.
"Comfy, are we? Enjoy my hospitality, love. My patience for your antics is wearing thin." With that, Jack slammed the cabin door, but did not lock it. He stalked off to the great cabin, and contemplated the coming day's events.
Though his pride was wounded, he secretly hoped that Wench would rap upon his door....
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Wench did a very mature thing. She stuck her tongue out at the slammed door.
Damn! Here I am on this floating prison with NO decent food and nothing to wear..NOTHING TO WEAR!
I can't be seen in this two days in a row! I can't! What will the pirates think of me? She began to laugh to herself. What do I care?
She rummaged around in the dresser drawer...could it be where I left it? All the way in the back, she found it. Decent soap! The one that came from France. I remembered I bought it when we were in Port Royal that night. Ah, glorious, decent soap! Not that brown crap those guys have been using. No wonder they all look like beef jerky. Well, except for DOES he avoid getting that leather look is beyond me. Smells pretty decent, too.
She scrounged around some more...ah, more clothes! The 'unmenionables' that I threw in the drawer that night I got really mad at him and moved in here for the night. Her face coloured at that memory.
Wench walked over to the armoire...should be in here...She flung open the door. My gowns! Where the hell are my gowns? The red one...the maroon one....that wonderful blue one....
She remembered she had left them all in Jack's cabin. Well, I can sneak over to there and pick them up and be out of there. He's probably on that gun deck lamenting the rip in his fine silk shirt. She smirked as she remembered the astonished look on his face as the dagger pinned hiim to the mast. How fortunate that Rhys taught me the finer points in throwing a dagger. If he hadn't, I 'd be dead from that skewering old Vinegar Veins tried to pin me to the pillow with....
She stealthily left her chambers and went over to Jack's cabin. Quietly she pushed the door open with her hip and let herself in.
As she turned around, she looked up into the eyes of Captain Jack, sitting at his desk, surrounded by nautical maps.

Pearl awoke the next morning with sun shining brightly into the room. She had to catch herself from smiling. Her plan was going well.
The maid saw her mistress awake and ran to her bedside, "Oh madam, you are finally awake. We were so worried." Pearl thought quickly, "Oh my husband, what of my husband?" she cried. The maid responded, "I'm sorry, madam, but your husband has been murdered." "What! Murdered!" cried Pearl. "Who could do such a thing?" The maid looked down at the ground, "They suspect you, madam."
Pearl knew there was a possibility of being caught. She was silently patting herself on the back for inviting the wench to dinner that night.
"How can that be?" cried Pearl "I love him!" She almost made a mistake in saying "loved". She knew she must keep up the pretense or be found out.
"Oh, what as my sister done?" Pearl cried into her hands just as the doctor was opening the door.
"Now, now, dear, calm down." the doctor stated patting Pearl on the top of the head. Pearl turned her bright blue eyes up to the doctor.
Tears glistened from her lashes, "Oh doctor, I fear my sister is to blame. She is so jealous."
"Don't worry, my dear, we shall get this all straightened out." the doctor said assuringly.
"Oh thank you, doctor." replied Pearl as her eyes looked adoringly up at the doctor. Soon she would have her treasure. So what if the wench spent a little time in the prisons. She would be safer there anyway.

"If you must know, neither. I came to pick up a few things of mine that seem to have been left behind. And as far as sharing rum with you, no thank you. I have had enough rum in my OWN quarters."
She walked over to the armoire and flung open the doors. Good! Still here! All of them. Loading them up in her arms, she was lost under the sheer volume of all of them.
Stopping suddenly, she picked up her red gown and smelled it. Roses? I never wear anything that smells like roses! Strictly a jasmine girl! She took the maroon one. Lilacs? What the heck is going on?
The blue one.....GARDENIAS! And look at this!
Under the arm was a big rip. And some sort of sauce spilled on the front.
Wench threw the gowns down and raised her arm to strike Captain Jack. He caught her hand just in time. Their eyes locked. She whispered vehemently, "You bloody bastard! These gowns were from Paris!"
She wrenched her arm away, picked up the tankard of rum and dumped it on Jack's head.
Quickly she grabbed her gowns and ran down to her quarters, locking the door behind her.
She looked at the dresses and then thought, 'They were sooo last year anyways..'
Jack shook the rum as best he could from his shoulder-length hair. "Hmph! That went well..." He poured a bit more rum, and began rummaging through his sea chest. Finding the package he sought, he made his way carefully to Wench's quarters.

"Ahem! Let me start by saying those 'ho-bags' you referred to were rather expensive. And why should you be so upset, given that you've been out of the picture for some time, love? I never expected to see you again, what with you making off with the ships's boat in the middle of the night, and all. Not exactly an action one would consider convivial to a lasting relationship, aye? So, here I stand, on the opposite side of a locked door from your lovely self, with a bit of rum and a package that reeks of jasmine and spice... Fair enough! If you won't open the door, over the side this finery goes... Good night, love!"
Jack slowly strolled away from Wench's door.

Wench yelled through the door, "I don't care if you paid them in Aztec gold and you swung on chandeliers! What makes me mad is the fact that they squeezed their sausage bodies into my clothes! The blue one looks like it can't be fixed. What did she have, arms like an ox? To split a dress like that! And she must have had a hand-eye coordination problem because it looks like Hollandaise--which is egg-based by the way--is cascading down the front of it!"
She opened the door and threw the dress at Capt. Jack's back.
"If it can't be cleaned, you owe me one blue dress! From Paris!"
She slammed the door again and yelled through it again. "Buy yourself as many bimbos as you want! I haven't exactly been sitting around a widow's walk knitting and waiting for you to come home! And whatever trinket you have that you THINK I may be mildly curious about, well, I suggest you pitch it into the sea. Because like the Sun key, guaranteed in six months you will want it back!"

"Ah!" Jack thought. "Despite her protests, the Sun key is in her cabin. Maybe not on her lovely body, but there, nonetheless."
"T'would be such a sin to waste finery as this! I'll be returning it to my cabin, in case you change your pretty mind." Jack announced through the door. "You know, dear Honour Bright... Oh, damn it all! Enough pretense! From here on out, I call ye 'Theresa'. It's better than any counterfeit name I can politely call you! So, Theresa, you know how far out we are from Isla Muelle. You know where we will make landfall. And you know what I expect you to produce. Mull that over, as you brood in your cabin!"
Jack stalked down the companionway to the great cabin. On his way, he met Mr. Davis, who became immediately fearful of Jack's mood. Jack looked at him, and threw the sweet-scented package at the startled crewman, who could only stand there in astonishment as blue chiffon cascaded over his head. Jack slammed the door to the great cabin hard enough for it to be felt all about the ship.
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Wench felt the reverberation of the door slamming into her cabin. She caught several books as they started to fall from the shelf. Throwing them on the bed, she said to herself, 'what is HE so touchy about? I'm the one with ruined dresses.'
She held her nose as she tried to put the red one on a hanger. Maybe a day out in the ocean breeze will get the 'Eau de Ho' out of it.
She cautiously looked out her door both ways and saw the coast was clear. She came face to face with Mr. Davis. On his head was something filmy and blue and looked suspiciously like a lady's garment. She picked up a corner of it and said to him, "That shade of blue does absolutely nothing for you!"
As she walked up to the quarterdeck, she hung the dress up on a crossbeam. Now..which way to the kitchen? I think Cook and I need to have a tete a tete about what consists of decent food.
And I don't mean weevils au gratin either.

Pearl was working her magic on the doctor when the Commodore was announced. "Doctor, Madam, Commodore Wellington is here." announced the Butler. "Send him in right away!" demanded the Doctor, taking charge of the household.
Got his eyes on the prize, now does he?, thought Pearl. Well, I don't plan on sharing it with anyone! Even if the doctor is devilishly handsome with black curly hair and piercing green eyes.
"Commodore Wellington, Madam has some evidence as to the killer of her husband." stated the Doctor. "Out with it, Madam" demanded the Commodore. "Now, Now, there's no need to use that tone of voice with her." replied the Doctor.
"I'm afraid my sister, Honor Bright, may have had a hand in this." said Pearl sadly. "I saw her early yesterday at the Magistrate's office with that scoundrel, Captain Jack. I'm afraid they are after my husband's" "Oh Commodore, how could they do this to me! My poor husband had some many more years left to give. I'm a widow on my honeymoon." cried Pearl.
The Commodore turned to his first Leutenaint "Captain Jack made sail this morning. The Brig 'Spirit' went after him. Send a message via pigeon that as well as being a Pirate, Captain Jack and his consort, Honor Bright are wanted for the murder of James H. Marshall."
"Right away, Sir" replied the Lt.

Jack sat as his desk and stared aimlessly at the charts arrayed before him. There wasn't much to do, as Isla Muelle lay little more than day's journey out.
"Damn my temper! Why should she have a greater hold over my moods than anyone else? I lose all reason when I'm near her."
A polite knocking came at the door. Jack openend it, to find a most uncomfortable Davis standing there, a blue dress bundled in his arms.
"Begging your pardon, Cap'n, but the, um, lady didn't much care for the dress." Davis mumbled.
"No doubt, as I left you wearing it as a hat. Presentation is everything, mate. Remember that."
Jack nodded sharply as Davis stared at him with a look of utter incomprehension. Jack took the dress, smiled uncomfortably, and slammed the door. Davis shrugged, and went back about his duties.
"Nicely done, Jack. Next time, try to be a bit more volatile with... whatever her name is! That should do the trick, you damned fool." He hung the dress up in the armoir, and settled back at his desk, intent on steeping himself in more rum. Being a less-than-charming hothead won't get him an inch closer to the Sun key, or the treasure...

Wench made her way down to the kitchen galley. What a mess! She screamed as a roach landed on her cleaveage. She swatted at it and as it landed on the floor, she stepped on it with her boot.
No wonder I can't eat. There were leaky barrels and food was dropped on the floor. What? No fresh fruit? No vegetables? No green beans almondine??
This is an unsanitary mess! She opened a larder door. Two beady eyes were looking back at her. She let out a blood-curdling scream and slammed the door.
She ran to the side of the ship and clutched the handrail, fighting the nauseousness. We'd better get to Isla Muelle before I starve to death.
She went to the other side and found the cook. He was sitting on a barrel passed out with a bottle of rum.
"Hey! YOU!" She poked him. He fell over and she thought, "Oh ****, he's dead!" She shoved him with her foot. He snored.
She stepped over him. Looks like I shall be on a liquid alcohol diet till I can get to a decent port and get some real food! Hey, I can go zero to sixty on the rum...
She pulled her chemise away from her body. Yes, definitely losing weight. As if I could keep this swill down. After all, you can never be too thin.
She made her way to the quarterdeck, shading her eyes. No ships that I know. Who you trying to kid, Wench? No one knows you are here.
She felt her eyes mist up. Hastily she wiped her eyes. As she stood on deck, she watched the sun dip below the horizon and into the liquid sea.

The Spirit was making good time. They soon would be caught up with the pirate ship. But they had to stay directly in the sun's path to avoid detection. Afterall, it wasn't easy to take a pirate ship.
Captain Kirst was carefully looking through his spyglass. Any glint could catch it and they would be spotted. Ahhhh, there she is, just over the horizon. Kirst called to his first mate, "Specks, lower the flag. We don't want to display our colors too soon."
"Aye, Aye," responded Specks. "Step two, you scalywags, and lower those colors." shouted Specks.
The pressganged crew snarled at Specks, but did their duty. To disobey would be a painful reminder that at sea, in her majesty's navy, there is little democracy.
With the british flag lowered, Kirst called out to Specks yet again. "I'm going below. Do not disturb me until we are close enough to see her decks."
"Aye, Aye" called Specks.
Back on shore, Pearl was now dressed in a beautiful new gown. No doubt a wedding gift from her recently departed husband. Her cleavage was quite on show. The man had good taste. She was sitting in the magistrate's office, accompanied by the Commodore.

"Yes, I met the lady Honor Bright a few minutes before the Lady Pearl came in with her betrothed. She was upset about her nuptials to Captain Jack." said the magistrate. "I explained that she was bound by the laws of her majesty and was therefore the property of Captain Jack as his wife." he continued.
"I thought she was here from my wedding." said Pearl. "That dirty scoundrel, Captain Jack, has turned her into a pirate and murderer." she exclaimed. "My poor sister." Pearl wailed as she buried her face into her hands, appearing to cry.'
It was really because she had to hide her grin. "God, she was a good actress." she thought to herself. But there was even less honor in being an actress as there was in being a pirate. Besides, being a pirate provided much more adventure and freedom.
"Now, Now, Lady Pearl. We shall have this all soon handled. Your husband's killers will be brought to justice." the Commodore stated while patting Pearl on the back in an awkward manner.
"Oh thank you, Commodore." replied Pearl as she looked up adoringly at the Commodore. Just then the doctor walked in to the magistrate's office. A frown burrowed across his brow. He had seen Pearl look at the Commodore as she had looked at him. "Was this all just a game to her?" he thought to himself. Pearl looked over at the doctor and saw the anger spark in his eyes. "Oh bugger" thought Pearl. "Why can't a girl have many consorts. Men do." she thought.

"Oh doctor, thank you for coming." Pearl exclaimed as she rose to her feet. As she stepped toward the doctor, she began to feel dizzy and started to fall. The doctor and the commodore rushed to her side. "Are you feeling all right, my lady?" inquired the doctor. "Actually, I'm feeling a little faint. I don't know what's come over me?" replied Pearl. Actually, she was feeling faint. All these heavy gowns in this oppressive heat were taking a toll on her. She needed to get back to the cool trade winds of the open sea.
"I think I need to rest." she said to the men hovering over her. "Yes, we will continue this questioning later, madam." said the Commodore. He called out to his men, "Take Lady Pearl back to her mansion for resting." "I'll be by later to check on you." he said in a low whisper as he leaned toward her.
"I think that is my job, commodore." stated the doctor as he eyed the Commodore. "Yes, that is correct." stammered the Commodore. "Contact me once she is well enough to continue questioning." he said straightening up. "Someone has to pay for this crime." he declared.
"Oh bugger" thought Pearl as she was lead away to the waiting carriage. "Why did they have to discover the poison?"

Jack looked out the great cabin's window and took note of the dying daylight. He shuttered the windows, and went topside to check the ships position.
He approached his quartermaster quietly. "Josiah, about my earlier interperate outburst..."
Briggs stifled a chuckle. "No worries, Jack. I'd of been mad enough to spit fire, meself. She had ye in fits the last time, as I recall."
Jack laughed. "And history repeats. So, my friend, how fares our mutual taskmistress?"
"We're making good enough time, and only one sail espied near the horizon, but she fell away. I'm a wee bit confused about our heading, though, Cap'n. On our current bearing, won't we make the port of Isla Muelle proper instead of the cay?"
"Aye, Josiah, true enough. And if we can believe the tales of that chest, I'm not of a mind to take any chances. Douse all lights on deck, and order the men to keep the gun ports closed and tied fast. No watch bells, no music. And the cook can put out the kitchen fire, if he bothered to light it at all. Once that's done, I want the tender made ready with the largest canvas she'll carry, and half-a-dozen signal lanterns."
Briggs beamed. "Aye, sir! It'll be a pleasure!"

The crew worked quickly to finish as the available light finally faded. The tender had been rigged with an improvised lateen sail, and the lanterns affixed to short poles affixed around the boat. She'd been lowered into the water and hauled behind the ship with a towline. The ship's dinghy had also been towed along to retrieve the two crewmen readying the tender. When all was ready, and darkness fully fell, the order was given.
The tender's rudder was lashed in place, the lanterns quickly lit, and the sail set. The two crewmen scrambled into the dinghy and cut the towline from the tender. As the towline was hauled in, Jack enacted the last part of the plan.
"Now! Set the tops! Steersman, take us 5 points to starboard and hold us there." He watched with satisfaction as the tender, lit like a vessel 3 times it's size, sped off on it's way. El Lobo settled into her new more northerly course like a swift, silent shadow.

Wench looked over and saw Captain Jack talking in a low tone to Mr. Briggs. She kept well out of sight and heard their low laughter. He's standing between me and my quarters, she thought. Damn!
She hastily ducked into the shadows and under some canvas and rigging. I just hope there is no vermin here. Something brushed against her leg and she stifled a scream. It was orange and big and furry. She sighed with relief to see it was just a dock cat. The cat rubbed against her face and she tried very hard to hold back a sneeze. 'Nice kitty, nice kitty--now go find mice,' she whispered.
She peeked out from under the canvas and looked at the commotion. Men were running all over. Hope they don't need this piece of sail. She could hear the gunports close. Two men were dangerously close. One stepped back and stepped on the hem of her dess through the canvas. That was close! He could have stepped on ME! The two men hurled themselves over the side. Well, that was interesting. A mutton taking place. Or is that mutiny? I always get those two words mixed up.
She saw Captain Jack's boots as he paced back and forth shouting out orders. His cutlass swung dangerously near her. He's going to put an eye out with that thing.
What seemed like forever, the two men jumped back on the ship. Wench slowly came out of the canvas but kept part of it wrapped around her like a blanket. I can still blend. She kept part of the sail over her hair so it didn't shine like a beacon in the moonlight. As she put her hands on the rail and peeked through it, she saw a tender fast paced in a different direction, lit up like the bonfires of Samhain. Her eyes grew wide at the sheer beauty of the tender cutting through the waters and away from El Lobo.
Something is up. And I don't like it. Why didn't I stay curled up in bed? They were right. Curiousity killed the cat. And it just may be my demise.
She waited till the rest of the crew were sitting on the other side of the ship with their grog before she came out from under the canvas. Quietly on her hands and knees so as not to be detected, she crawled back to her quarters, quickly opened the door, entered and locked it.
She took the chair from the desk and propped it under the door knob.
Just in case.
Looking behind the books, she saw that the Sun key was right where she had hidden it. She replaced the books.
Hastily stripping off her clothes, she slipped under the blankets and was asleep before her head hit the pillows.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

"We're coming up on her, Captain!" shouted the mate from the crow's nest. "Quiet about you, now." whispered Specks fiercely.

"But we're coming up on her fast." stammered the mate. "That show is too low in the water for it to be a ship!" exclaimed Specks. "Why, that's nothing but a decoy."

"She can't be far?" queried the mate. "Aye, that she can't. We'll make for Tortuga. I think the Governor there could do with a visit." replied Captain Kirst came up from down below. "5 points to Starboard and why are those lanterns lite?" growled the Captain. "Out with them now and no bells. You, in the crow's nest, will have to take another watch. We can't afford to lose time."

It was nighttime by the time Pearl awoke. The manor was silent except for the sounds of the ocean in the distance. "Ah, the sea." thought Pearl, "She needed to get back to the sea."

Pearl slipped from the bed. She was in nothing but her chemise. "How did she get this way?" she wondered. She hoped it was the dashing doctor and she hoped he had enjoyed the task.

She slipped off the chemise. "Who could sail with these long things?" Pearl thought has she grabbed a pair of trousers and a man's shirt from her husband's drawers. "These are very nice." she thought. "It's good to have some new clothes, even if they belonged to a dead man."

She looked around the room. "Ah yes" she sighed and reached her hand far underneath the large four poster bed she had been laying on. "There they are." she smiled as she brought forth her soft lambs skin boots. The boots were scuffed and spotted from the salt from the sea, but nothing else would do.

She went to the window and opened the shutters. She was on the second floor, but a bougenvilla had gripped the wall of the manor, climbing it's way to the second floor. It would be painful to climb down, but no more so than the hemp rope from the rigging of her ship. "Her ship, oh how she missed it."

Pearl threw a leg of the window sill and slipped out of the window. She grasped at the vine. Slowly, she made her way down the vine. Suddenly, her foot slipped. Then her other foot slippped. "Oh, Bugger" she thought. "Here I go." ~Bumpf~ Pearl fell the rest of the way to ground, landing in a Bird of Paradise. "Good thing I wasn't on that dreaded isle with the spiney plants." she mused. "That would have hurt alot more."

She got up and brushed herself off. An old long eared dog came from around the corner of the manor. He looked at Pearl and seemed to bothered to bark at a female. Pearl smiled. "Good dog." she whispered as she turned to escape the manor grounds. The moon was bright and Pearl couldn't help but skip a little has she made her way to the sea.

Pearl slipped into the shadows of town.
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

The Bilge Pump Pub was alight with drunken sailors, merchants and pirates a plenty. "Time to recruit some crew." thought Pearl. She spied a drunken merchant coming out of the Pub. He started to smile a leary snear. Then his eyes rolled back into his head as he tilted his head back. "Boom!" the merchant fell over in a drunken heap. "Oh, he is way too large and noticable to be much help, but this cloak will help." Pearl smiled.

Pearl grabbed the cloak and wrapped it around her. "Hmmmm, the smell of Tortuga Rum." Pearl sniffed, "The merchant had good taste." Pearl slipped into the pub. There lying on the floor, in a drunken sleep, was a master sailor. "Ah, just what I need" thought Pearl. She grabbed the sailor by the ankles and dragged him from the pub. No one seemed to notice as Pearl continued down the cobblestones to the stables. There, Pearl hog tied and gagged the master sailor. "One down, five more to go." thought Pearl as she continued her way back to the Bilge Pump Pub.

As Pearl walked toward the door, it flew open and a tall scruffy fellow fell upon the street. Pearl smiled, "Ah, here's another crew member." as she grabbed the fellow by the ankles and pulled him to where she had hog-tied the other sailor. Soon, Pearl had both men tied up and sleeping their rum off like babies.

Pearl turned to go back to the Bilge Pump Pub. The two sailors stirred. Pearl whispered "Shhhh honey, go back to sleep. I'lls takes care of you." Both men snuggled closer together, thinking the soft voice had come from the person lying next to them. Pearl smiled and walked back to the Bilge Pump Pub. "Just three more!" she thought as she skipped gleefully down the cobbelstone street.
As Pearl approached the Bilge Pump Pub, the door flew open and yet another man staggered out the door. Yet instead of falling at Pearl's feet, the drunkard spied Pearl watching him. "Come here ye little maid" the man slurred. "I's in need of some bedding and you'll do just fine." he continued.

A snarl began to fill Pearl's face. She was not for some man's satisfaction. Men were for her satisfaction. "This one she'd make swabbed the poop deck", she thought. Just then Pearl saw clearly the man's face.

"Why, Jeremy Jacobs, you scruvy dog, how dare you speak to your Captain this way!" Pearl said in a low gruff voice. The man, Jeremy Jacobs, straightened up at the voice. His eyes wide with dismay. "I beg your pardon, Ms. Pearl." he stammered. "I didn't realize it was you, mum." Mr. Jacobs began to look around, "Where be your husband? he queried. "Lost to the sea and Davy Jones." said Pearl. "But I have his ship and I'm looking for good crew." she replied. "I believe you still owe us two more years of service, Mr. Jacobs." Pearl said in an authoritative voice. "Shall I call the constable, or will you be reporting for duty now? She queried in return.

"Jeremy Jacobs, reporting for duty, Miss" replied Mr. Jacobs as he saluted. Then he began to bow and as he did so, he threw up at Pearl's feet. Mr. Jacobs continued leaning over until he fell flat into his own vomit, passed out drunk.

"Things are looking up." thought Pearl.

The dawn was beginning to peak over the horizon. The sunlight filtered through the buildings and began to sprinkle down to the streets. Pearl's recruiting for the night was over. She would have to "recruit" more crew as the sun set for tomorrow. For now, she had to return to her "crew."

"To your feet, you scruvy dogs." Pearl growled as the men slowly staggered to their feet. "Get yer wits about ya, now!" She snapped. The men appeared confused. They looked at each other and then over to Pearl. The two new ones waved their hands at her as to shoo her away. Pearl leveled her pistol at them. "Ye be owing me debt, sirs, and you'll pay up with yer sweat or with yer lives. The choice is yers." Pearl said menacingly.

"Who do you think you are?" asked the scruffy younger one known as Goldie. "I'm Captain Black Hearted Pearl, and you will do yer time, sir." she replied. "It was yer husband who was Captain." replied Goldie. "My husband is lost to Davy Jones, but yer debt to him is still owed." replied Pearl. "What's in it for us?" replied the older one with a darkness of skin. "Treasure, Raphael, treasure." replied Pearl. "For I have the key."

Raphael's eyes lighted up with excitement. "Treasure, you say, I do believe we have an accord." Goldie, always trusting of his friend, Raphael, reached out to shake Pearl's hand in agreement. "An accord, we have."

Jeremy Jacob came up behind Pearl. Raphael and Goldie when to pull thier cutlasses when Pearl stopped them. "Gentleman, this is my first mate, Jeremy Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs, this is your crew." Mr. Jacobs looked at Goldie and Raphael. "Captain, this isn't enough for a crew." "I know, Mr. Jacobs, but I have faith that the Lord will provide." Pearl said smiling.

All men looked at each other and shrugged. They all had faith in Captain Black Hearted Pearl. She had never let them down before.
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

The morning sun broke over the horizon to the forward larboard quarter of El Lobo as the ship knifed through the sea toward Isla Muelle. Jack took a reading of the sun's position, compared it with the vessel's present heading, and made a slight course adjustment. As he lashed the wheel in place, he saw Josiah Briggs emerge on the weather deck. Jack smiled as he saw that the quartermaster was bringing more strong coffee.

"Your timing is excellent, Josiah. Thank you." He took the coffee and felt renewed at it's very aroma. "I'd say our friends bit on the bait! They should be halfway to the Havana by now, unless they turned back to their soft beds."

Briggs laughed. "Aye, Cap'n... I'd wager they turned for home and hearth. They'd be no match for the bawds in Havana! And I'd say we caught our own break in all this." Briggs motioned astern to the low, dark clouds scudding off to the west and north.

Jack sipped his coffee. "It's fortunate for us we've no business in Tortuga right away. I put us a day and a half out of Little Muelle Cay. We've got good winds and no company. I think we can reef sail a bit. No use straining the masts unneeded."

"Little Muelle Cay, Cap'n?" Briggs asked. "Not the island proper?"

"I've no desire to be clapped in irons by the Spaniards, Josiah." Jack leafed through the journal he'd been reading before Briggs arrived. "We'll settle up with them soon enough. Now, would you do me the favour of rousting my ever-so-mild bride, and bring her on deck? I'd hate for her to miss such delightful sunrise."

Josiah chuckled. "Aye, sir. It'll be a pleasure. Leastwise I know now to duck, not like before!"

Briggs went down to where Wench's quarters were. He knocked gently. No answer. He knocked harder. Then he pounded on the door. She finally heard it.
"Go away!" she mumbled. She snuggled deep into her blankets.
Briggs said through the door, "Cap'n requests your presence on the deck as of now."
She rolled over onto her back, throwing her covers off her face and looking up at the ceiling. Oh, that rum! Why did I drink so much of it?
Where am I again? Oh yes..on this god-forsaken ship of my soon-to-be-ex-nightmare-of-a-husband.
She rolled back over and snuggled down ever more so and said to herself, 'Tell me what to do? Uh..I don't THINK so!'
Briggs began to panic a bit. After all, when Captain Jack Wolfe wanted something, he got it.
Until now.
"Beggin' yer pardon, Cap'n Jack...what do I call you again?.....I really would prefer if ye come wi' me. T'would go so much easier fer the two o' us and...."
Wench groaned and muttered, "What part of 'NO' doesn't he understand?" She arose and wrapped a blanket around her.
Making sure the chain was in place, she cracked the door open.
"Go away. The sun is barely up and yesterday was the day from hell. I need my SLEEP!"
She slammed the door just as Briggs had stuck his nose in it.
Wench replaced the chair and she crawled back into bed. For emphasis she threw a candleholder at the door and yelled, "TELL THE CAPTAIN HE CAN GO----*CRASH*"
Her last words were drowned out by the sound of brass against oak.

She murmured as she went back to sleep, "No one tells Wench what to do...NO ONE!"

Only a scant few minutes had passed when the quartermaster returned to the weather deck, holding his nose.

"Does something smell, Josiah?" Jack inquired, barely hiding his amusement.

"Only the brimstone from that she-devil's... She damn near took me nose off! Harder to move than a fouled anchor, that one. And she say's she'll have none of your invitation. Leastways, I think that's what she screamed. In between throwing things about the cabin." Briggs looked like he'd tangled with a mongoose and lost.

Jack descended the 7 steps from the quarterdeck to the weather deck. "Well, at least she's awake. That's a start. The ship is yours."

He went to a barrel by the mainmast and took a short boarding pike, then sent one of the deck hands after a bowl of coffee. Briggs watched with a puzzled look on his face as Jack headed below with the pike and coffee. Jack winked and said "Josiah, you've known me 10 years now, and I still haven't been able to teach you how to handle a woman."

Briggs shook his head as Jack disappeared. "If ye didn't find every woman what Hell's spat back out, I'd pay more attention..."

Arriving at Wench's cabin, Jack placed the steaming bowl of brew at the base of the door so it's odour would seep into her quarters. He waited a couple minutes, then rapped on the door with the boarding pike. "Honour! Wake up, darling! We've been boarded by mad Turks, and I know how you love to kill things early in the morning!"

He sidestepped to the hinge side of the door, and rested the pike where the door met the frame, just above the doorknob.

She moaned, "Won't any of you let me SLEEP??"
The smell from the coffee wafted from under the door.
*Sniff* *Sniff*
Her hunger pangs were beginning to kick in. Oh, great! I haven't eaten in twenty-four hours. I certainly don't intend to eat weevil stew. Or weevil waffles. Or weevils au gratin. Or weevils almondine. Alright, Wench, don't make yourself retch.

Her head was still pounding from the hangover she was nursing. Rum was the only way she could have gotten through that day and into the night.
And now that one-month mistake of my life is pounding on my door? What was it he said about angry turkeys?
Who cares? And where are you going to put turkeys on a ship deck anyhow?
She pulled the blankets ever closer to her.

Still...the smell of that coffee....I suppose he's back on the quarterdeck and I could just slip over to the kitchen galley and pour myself a mug. IF there are any clean ones. She hastily threw a chemise on and held it away from her body. First thing I do when I get in a decent port is get some clothes that fit. Have I lost that much weight?
Wait...this isn't my chemise! She sniffed it. Cheap perfume! Must be a left-over from one of his doxy-for-a-day.
She put her boots on. You never know what slime is on the deck. Some of it even human-form.
She cautiously opened the door....

A broad, victorious grin spread over Jack's face as he heard Wench pad over to the door. "That's it, love, open the door just a bit for Ol' Jack" he thought. He adjusted his grip on the pike, ready to thrust it into the opening and catch the door chain. The knob turned, the door opened, and Jack struck! He thrust forward to break the chain before she knew what was happening... except for the simple fact Wench had already unchained the door. The coffee lure had worked too well.

The momentum of Jack's thrust carried him stumbling through the door, sending Wench sprawling backward against the bed. The pikehead wedged itself in the foreward bulkhead of the cabin, and Jack's head rebounded off the wall with a resounding thud. He shook off the impact and turned to see his reluctant wife staring at him from the bed like some wild-eyed Fury.

"Morning, love! I, um, brought you coffee! Oh, my. Has anyone ever told you you look like hell this early in the morning?"

Jack awkwardly tried to stand in front of the pike as he spoke. His attempt at a disarming smile faded into a mask of distress as he watched Wench's face turn red with rage. "Merde... Briggs got of easy, the bastard." he muttered.

Like any sane man in a similar situation, Jack made a break for the door...

"YOU CAME IN HERE TO SKEWER ME!" She yelled at his retreating form.
With a leap, she jumped up to slam the door after him. He had just cleared the door when it slammed.
Unfortunately for him, his shirt caught in the doorframe as she slammed the door. The momentum with which he propelled himself forward jerked him back against the closed door as if an invisible hand yanked him backwards.
He slid down to the floor but was caught like a bilge rat.
He knocked on the door.
"Honour, love...I um...seem to be caught in the door. If you could see your way clear to just..."
"Oh, dear, Jack darling....I am so sorry. I just have one thing to say...DEAL WITH IT!"
"But the shirt is silk and...."
"Oh, and so was that blue dress from Paris that your trollop for hire dribbled hollandaise sauce on!"
She put her lips to the keyhole and whispered, "I am sure one of your minions will come to rescue you...oh, but I dare say they will have to cut you out of it! Well, bye-bye silk shirt! You may just have to move on to muslin!"
She dusted off her hands and said, "Tell me I look like hell in the morning, will you? I don't think so!"
She took the pike out of the wall and put it in the corner.
'Next one who comes into my room uninvited becomes a shish kebab...'
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Jack sat on the deck, frustrated beyond belief. "Fine, my lovely Honour Bright! Bloody hell, what do I call you, now that we've firmly established that 'Honour Bright' is an alias? And what will it take to get your recalcitrant arse up on deck to discuss business?! Pretty please with sodding rum on top? Jesus H. Christ in a rowboat, woman! What will it take? We're a day and a half out from our destination, and you want to quibble over amenities?!"

He pulled his dagger from his belt, and sliced the front of his shirt. "Sorry about that, Dreamie. If that really was your name. It certainly described the experience..."

Jack stood and faced the door. "All the appetising food's in me bloody cabin. You've found it before, and you can sodding find it again, yeah? Otherwise, let your damned belly argue with ye a bit! You'll come around! And that was a nice shirt, I'll have you know! Besides, if you won't talk to me, you'll never find out what's in the..."

He stopped, and patted himself down frantically. The journal was still there, tucked into his belt.

"... in the journal that tells how to unlock the chest. By the by, darling; you've never tarried long enough to actually see said chest, have you? Hmmm. Good food, a resplendant chest, and my fine company. Fine. Stay cloistered. I think I'll have minted lamb for breakfast..."

Jack made a big production of sounding like he was walking away, and stopped. Turning, he saw Master Briggs at the end of the companionway, smoking his pipe.

"She does this to you every time, Cap'n" Briggs whispered. "Have ye learned naught about women?"
She was still fuming about the 'hell in the morning' comment. She looked in the mirror over the chest. Well, what does he want? I've been on this sailing vessel for the last twenty-four hours. No food. Too much rum...and my clothes are back in port. Thank goodness I left some behind.
She poured a pitcher of water into a basin and found her lavender soap. Washing her face she looked in the mirror again. That's better.
In the armoire was her red dress. Red, Wench? Before five o'clock? Isn't red what harlots wear? Oh, what do I care? These pirates have no taste and don't know about protocol.
She pulled the dress over her head, letting it cascade its way down her body and towards the floor.

Brushing her fair hair until it shone, she twisted it up and clipped it. Then she pinched her cheeks and bit her lips to redden.
Hell, indeed, Jack Wolfe!
She looked down. Stuffing and fluffing, she thought, 'a resplendent chest?' OH! He meant the thing that has the two keys, not...well, I'll show you a resplendent chest!
At least maybe I can get some decent food out of it. Something to tide me over until I can get to Isla Muelle.
She started to leave her cabin and stopped. On second thought, it wouldn't be a bad idea. Under the circumstances. She opened the dresser drawer and moved a few items. Buried under some chemises, she found what she was looking for. She picked up her sgian dubh and stuck it in her boot, the hilt barely being seen. You can never be too safe. Especially after what he pulled that night we were in that tavern in Tortuga....
Making sure her boots were laced up and everything was in place and where it should be, she took a deep breath.

Head held high, she marched down to the Captain's quarters. Knocking on the door, as he opened it, she said imperiously, "I'm here. Let's discuss business, shall we?"

He opened the door of the great cabin to find Wench there, haughty and full of bluster, and stunning. Jack blinked as he caught himself eyeing her up and down. She cleared her throat and shifted just enough to thump her boot heel on the decking.

"I can tell you fully intend to hold my faux pas against me. Fair enough. My appetizer shall be my own words. Please, darling, do come in."

Jack motioned for Wench to enter, and she did so with the aire of an Empress. The small dining table was packed with food; roasted lamb and chicken, boiled potatoes, fresh bread, fried apples, and assorted fruit. The napkins were of fine linen, the utensils Spanish silver inlaid with gold, and the plates made of Connemara marble. A large pitcher of rum punch served as a centerpiece. He offered to assist her into her chair, but Wench shot him a withering look and sat herself.

"You 'invited' me here to talk business, so, I'm here. Start talking." she said.

Jack smiled. "Wouldn't you rather eat first? This has to be better than what you netted on your 'secret' raid of the galley last night" he offered, carving off a large slice of lamb. He tore off a section of bread and took a bite, then held up the uneaten portion for Wench to see. "Look, no weavils!"

He knew about that night-time stroll to the kitchen galley? How did he know that? He must have spies on this ship everywhere. Bet it was that Briggs who ratted me out...

She tried to fight her hunger, not really wanting to give in. Good Lord, where did he find all that food? He must have a secret galley the rest of the crew doesn't know about. Either that or they all eat like this and he was trying to break me down with weevil fricasee.

"I'd rather talk business---" she looked longingly at the fried apples... Where on earth did he find them? "---and not be breaking bread with you, Jack Wolfe! I remember the last time I ate with you. You pushed my temper to the point where I had no choice but to pull your waistband and dump the creme brulee down your pants. I was sorry it burned you--but only for a nanosecond."

She folded her hands under her chin and rested her arms on the table. "As I understand it, you---" I'll just bet there is mint to go with that lamb, wouldn't you know? "----have a key, I have a key. Together we can unlock the mysteries of the chest with them."
He carved another slice of lamb and put it on his plate. She tried not to look at the food.

"So, you are agreeing---" Mmm...boiled potatoes. And is that butter with chives over there? She tried to focus on the porthole to avoid looking at the food. "-----to go halves on the contents, all or naught. Is this correct?"
She glanced around the room. Nothing has changed in it except my things are out of it. And it is so much bigger than that dinky little room I am stuck in....
She sighed and finally looked at the marble plates and Spanish cutlery.
"Alright, alright. Please pass me some of the fruit. BUT NOTHING MORE!"

She casually bent over to pretend to check her lacings on her boot but touched the blade to make sure it was there.
"Oh! And maybe some of that lamb. And a slice of bread...and for goodness sake, don't be stingy with that rum!"
She thought, 'I'm so going to regret this--but a wench has to do what a wench has to do.....'
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

Jack sought to sate every gluttonous desire Wench might present. Food, conversation, and alcohol; she consumed it greedily, like a soul delivered to Nirvana. When her pace slackened, his smile broadened.

"Yes!" he said. "We both have keys; you the Sun, and I the Moon. And I possess the chest, itself."

Jack motioned to the starboard aft corner of the cabin, to an innocuous crate labelled "Sundries."

"In there, my sweet, lies riches of the Ancients. You follow me? If the legends prove out, we shall be rich beyond human measure. And I swear upon pain of Death, here and now, to go halvsies with you. No shares for my crew beyond the miscellany we find scattered at the site at Little Muelle Cay."

He produced a small book, unsettlingly bound in human flesh, and held it before Wench's bewildered eyes.

"This text tells us how to open yon chest." He motioned to the Sundries box.

Wench rocked back in her chair, with a look of utter digust on her face. "You brought me all the way out here, away from my life? Away from my... from my priorities, for a damned crate?" She reached for her boot. "Damn you, Jack Wolfe! I'll..."

"Oh, before you try and kill me, like at Tortuga, watch this." Jack said. He kicked the crate, and the sides splitered away, revealing a cast golden chest, inlaid with silver. It sparkled and shimmered in the lamp light. The chest was a good three feet in length, and almost certainly two-and -a-half feet in width. It stood a solid two feet in height.

"We open it now", Wench started.

"Tut, tut, love! No matter what we try, it won't work. We must follow the writings of the Journal." Jack admonished. He placed the moldy, tattered book on the table, but kept it close by. His right hand fell back against a gold-mounted pistol.

"Care to know what happens next, dearie?" he mocked?

"Jack, you don't scare me with that pistol. You never have, you never will. Not even that night you drunkenly pointed it at me. I'll never forget the look on your face when I kicked it out of your hand! Now, I suggest we get past all this. I may be married to you but this is a business arrangement and that is all it is."

She poured herself another rum punch from the pitcher. She leaned back in the chair and looked at him speculatively. He still looked really good even after their last argument before he sailed off eighteen months previously. She shook her head and said to herself, 'Focus, Wench. You need that dissolution of marriage if you are ever going to move forward. After all, that captain isn't going to wait for you to get an annulment forever...'

She crossed her arms and said, "So I suggest you put that pistol down and let us deal with this on a level of mutual trust. Once we share the riches, I fully expect to get an annulment and we go our separate ways."
He said nothing and she raised her eyebrow at him. "So yes, I do care to know what happens next. Do enlighten me, oh husband-of-mine-without-any-conjugal-rights".
Jack laughed riotously at Wench's bravado. "Still on that anullment, are we? Even though we shared diverse intimacies? Delicious and decadent as they were, I don't think the most pious Priest would grant you a confession, much less an anullment. Do what's right by you, dear lover. I'll not stand in your way. I'll not even ask his name."

He sat again in his high-backed chair across the table from Wench. "Here's the plan of attack, my dear wife who'd I'd not tough with a ten-foot pole." Jack bit back hard on that lie. He'd take her in a heartbeat, given the chance. "According to the Journal, we have to place the chest in an altar located within a cave on Little Muelle Cay. Then, and only then, will our keys work. We stand a full day and a half from our destination at full sail. I'll not add an ounce of canvas, since our pursuers bought our deception. So yes, my dearest. You get half the contents, no more or less. I have little use to force you into compliance. Dead, my men can search your cabin and find the required key eventually. Alive, your own self interest will prove a more powerful ally. Would you care for mint sauce with your lamb, dearest? It's from London, and it's quite delicious."

She stood up, her face flaming red. "Our past relationship has no bearing on an annulment. I can't believe you would have the bad taste to bring anything up! I want an annulment for the sake of it. I want to forget I was EVER your wife! Do you know what a shock it was to wake up and find you next to me? The real surprise was the marriage certificate, all signed, sealed and legal! So..I gave an alias. I still don't see why it is binding."

Her chest was heaving with indignation.
"You wouldn't touch me with a ten-foot pole? Thank you from the bottom of my heart! You can keep your damn mint sauce! You can wear it for all I care!"
She picked up the bowl and made a move to dump it on Jack's head. He caught her wrist and their eyes locked.
She never dropped her gaze, fury in her blue-green eyes. She whispered, "Free of you I will be! Just you wait, Jack Wolfe! You will be a chapter of my life, never to be opened again. I shall get my share of the treasure. Oh, that I shall! Consider it my reward for putting up with you for thirty-one days. And nights. Oh, why couldn't it have been February? At least I would have done three days less with you!"
She headed towards the door.

Pearl and her small crew started out of the stable. They were headed to the inlet where Pearl had earlier stashed her sloop. Pearl was leading the way when she rounded the corner and came face to face with.....
"Oh, Commodore Wellington." Pearl exclaimed. The pirates behind her looking nervous.

"Ms. Pearl, what are you doing dressed like this and surrounded by these men?" asked Commodore Wellington suspicously. "Do you need my assistance?" He stated beginning to pull his sword from the hilt ready to save the lady from the pirates.

"Oh, Commodore, I was really hoping not to have to do this....yet." said Pearl as she whirled around grabbing the cutlass from Jeremy Jacobs hilt and swinging it against Commodore Wellington's sword.

CLANG! The pirates behind Pearl parted like the red sea. Commodore Wellington's eyes went wide. What is this, he thought. CLANG! Pearl sliced again. Wellington responded without thought. Pearl could see that Wellington was surprised that it was her attacking him.

"Sir, I'm afraid to tell you that it's not these men you should be concerned with, it's me." Pearl yelled.

CLANG! Wellington's eyes grew into slits. Was this the she pirate he had been warned about? CLANG! She certainly seemed adquate with a blade, he thought.

CLANG! Pearl jumped behind a barrle. How she hated sword fighting. Pearl popped up from behind the barrel. CLANG! CLANG! Pearl pushed the barrel at Wellington causing him to tumble.

Pearl yelled at the crew, "Get yer bloomin arses to the boat!" Mr. Jacobs began directing the crew, "Ye heard the Cap'n, move yer arses!" Jacobs started running down toward to inlet where the sloop had been.

CLANG! Pearl attacked Wellington, trying to keep his attention from the direction the men were taking. CLANG! She had Wellington's attention again.

Pearl's blouse had started to come undone in the fight. "Why Ms. Pearl, I could give you a wonderful life, if you would let me." Wellington asked while eyeing her front.

Pearl looked down, seeing her bossum exposed, thought "I may not be the best sword fighter, but I have my advantages." CLANG!

"Sir, I do not want or need the life of a sedatary nothing next to a man. I need excitement, adventure and freedom. None of which you could provide."

CLANG! Pearl spied a barrel of molasses. The ants were beginning to crawl around it, looking for holes. CLANG! Pearl positioned herself near the barrel and the sea. Wellington, now entranced with glimpses of Pearl's soft creamy bossum flesh, was not aware of Pearl's positioning. CLANG!

"My dear, we WOULD have adventure. I would take you around the world on my ship." Wellington conjoled. "As your whore! Nay, I'm the Captain of my ship!" replied Pearl as she dumped the barrel of molasses at Wellington's feet. The slippery substance caused him to fall to the ground hard. Wellington cried out in pain as his elbow connected with the cobblestones.

Pearl turned a ran as fast as she could toward the inlet. With that howling from Wellington, he might be quickly found.

"To the sea!" Pearl smiled as she ran toward the inlet.

Pearl and her crew arrived at the inlet where the ship was. "She's gone up against the coral, Cap'n. We'll have to do repairs before we leave."

"We've no time for repairs unless you want to spend time in the brig for considering being a pirate." replied Pearl. "We'll have to make repairs while at sea."

Pearl and her men climbed aboard the ship. They were releasing the last line when around the inlet came a small boat. Rowing the boat was the doctor, dressed for fishing.

"Ahoy there" the Doctor shouted. "I've got some fish, yer welcome to some." Mr. Jacob's looked at Pearl. The Doctor couldn't see Pearl as she was too far to the other side of the deck. Pearl shrugged her shoulders and nodded at Mr. Jacobs.

"Aye, we'll take those smelly things off yer hands, if'n you'll help get us off this coral." replied Mr. Jacobs.

"Aye, that I will" said the Doctor. He was tossed a rope and a few of the sailors jumped into the small boat. One handed up a small satchel full of fish to Mr. Jacobs standing on the deck.

Mr. Jacobs held up the satchel of fish for Pearl to see. Pearl smiled and nodded. "Handsome, Supplies Food, comes with his own boat and he's good with his hands." thought Pearl.

The doctor and the other sailors began rowing the small boat. The sloop turned toward the ocean and with a crunch and jolt, she was free of the coral. The men continued to row until they were clear of the inlet.

Pearl whispered to Mr. Jacobs, who then called out to the Doctor. "Are ye up for a little adventure, sir?" "How long of an adventure are we discussing, sir?" asked the Doctor. "Oh, about 30 days" replied Mr. Jacobs. "Well, 30 days it is." said the doctor as he came aboard with the other sailors.

"Welcome aboard, Doctor" said Pearl as she stepped from the shadows on the deck. "Welcome to my ship, Scraping By. Aptly named, you wouldn't you say?"

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....