Pirate Festival > Port of Call

PRELUDE TO EL LOBO DEL MAR

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Welsh Wench:
Beaumaris, Wales---1641


Daddy? You called for me?"
The imposing figure towered over her. "Yes. Sit down."
She sat on the edge of the chair, her feet never touching the floor. He stood there and cleared his throat. "I have made some new arrangements, child. You are being sent away to a convent."
"Daddy? I am to go away? Please! I'll be good. I promise!"
"You are beyond control. You have the house servants wrapped around your finger to the point where they are covering over for the mischief and mayhem you are causing. I shall not have this house in a constant uproar due to your shenanigans. We have already gone through five governesses in the last year."
Her lower lip trembled at the thought of not being in her home with her sisters. But she put on a false bravado.
"And where am I to go?"
"To the Order of St Brigid. They are expecting you there in the next few days."
Her father walked over to her and said, "I have Nanny Greyson packing your things now. Tomorrow she will be taking you to the convent."
She stood up and said defiantly, "I shall go but I am taking Muir with me."
She left the room, her little head held high but inside she was quaking with fear of the unknown.


The teacher, known affectionately to the little girls as Master Scholar, stood in the doorway and asked, "Do you think that was necessary?"
Her father turned around and said, "She's six years old! Do you know what she just did this morning? She demanded of Parry the head stablemaster that she will ride Goliath instead of her pony. Goliath! That horse stands 17 hands and is raw power! She told him that she had my permission. Parry knew I would never let her ride Goliath so when his back was turned, she opened the stall, climbed on the rails and hopped on the horse. She held onto his mane and the last Parry saw of her, she was galloping off towards the open meadow and into the woods. He tried to ride off to catch her but she was gone. He was frantic. And do you know where she was?"
The teacher shook his head.
"She went swimming in the pond in the middle of the clearing. Quicksand all around. Then she decided she was going berry-picking. She picked berries alright. She came home...BLUE! Seems she squished them in her pockets. Those were the ones she didn't eat."
The teacher said, "I admit that was a little extreme..."
The father interrupted him with, "Oh, that's her on one of her GOOD days."

The teacher said, "Mayhaps you have had the wrong servants watching her. She has a quick mind. If you would allow me to..."
"No! She is going. That is final. Let the order educate her."
"And what order is that, if I may be so bold as to ask?"

"That is not your concern. And if you continue to pry, you shall be out of a position."
The teacher finished his rum in one gulp and said, "Don't bother. Anyone that would turn such a little girl away from the only home she has known....I'll be moving on."
He turned and walked out of the study.

Welsh Wench:
From the stairways, the little girl had been listening to the entire conversation. The teacher was in his room, gathering his belongings. She hesitated at the door and then said in a small voice, "Master Scholar?"
He turned at the sound of her and smiled gently. "Yes, child?"
"I wanted you to know that I learned to read and write while listening to you."
She showed him a slate where she had written some words. She stood there and waited for his reaction.
The teacher took the slate and said, "That is excellent! You far outpass your sisters."
She took her slate back and said "Thank you. I sat outside the door and listened and copied everything you said."
He put his hands on her shoulders and said, "Remember this, child. Knowledge is power. You have that and you can rule the world!"
She looked up at him and tried to put on a brave face. "I shall be leaving tomorrow. I am taking my dog with me. He will protect me. And I shall fear nothing."
The teacher gave her a smile. "Perhaps some day our paths will cross, little one. Until then, keep safe."
Her wolf-dog came into the room and stood by her side. "We shall. Thank you, Master Scholar. I shall not forget that I owe my desire for learning to you."
He was amazed at her sharpness of mind and the adult way she had of speaking. It had touched his heart and he gathered his bag.
"God be with you, young one."
"And you, too, Master Scholar."
She offered her hand to him and he took it. On impulse she gave him a hug and then quickly ran out the door.
The teacher gave a sigh, grabbed his bag and walked out, looking back just once.
Then he walked away.

Welsh Wench:
She walked down to the docks of her coastal town in Wales.
'So what if I took Goliath out riding? It's not like I hurt him. No reason to send me away.'
Her wolf-dog Muir jumped along beside her. Suddenly the dog ran ahead and saw a young man looking over the port.
Muir jumped up on him. The man laughed and rubbed the dog behind the ears. "Good dog!"
The little girl ran after her dog and panted, "I'm so sorry, Mister. My dog means no harm."

The young man stood up, running his hands through his unruly brown hair and smiled at her. She was quite the sight. Her light blonde hair hung down her back in a tangle. There was a streak of dirt on her face and her hands were stained with blueberry juice.
"Well, what on earth have YOU been into, little girl?"
She looked down at her chemise that was covered in blueberry juice and the grass stains on the back of her skirt.
"I...um...fell down."
"Really? How many times?"
She laughed. "Quite a few!"
"And blue hands?"
"I had blueberries." She pulled a handful out of her pocket. "I'd offer you some but they are a little squished...oh bother!"
"What, little lass?"
"My dress. I keep getting the laces all knotted. Nanny Greyson said it means I am trouble. With a capital T."

Muir was running excitedly up and down the docks. She frowned. "He never acts like that at home. I think he would like to be on the ships. His name is Irish for 'Sea' "
"Ah--you are Irish?"
"No--I am Welsh. Where do you think you are, anyways? Are you lost?"
He was taken aback by her forthrightness.
"Not at all. I just made port this morning.

She looked over the harbor, her finger on her lips, deep in thought as her eyes searched the newly arrived vessels.
"Which is your ship?"
He pointed to a large vessel with impressive sails."That one."
She looked over the harbor and said, " L-A-U-R-A..A-N-N-E."
She looked at him with pride. "The Laura Anne!"
"You can read? A little thing like you?"
She drew herself up and said, "Of course I can read! I'm already six years old!"
A grin crossed his face. She obviously was a lass who knew her own mind.

"So who is this Laura Anne and what did she do to deserve her own ship?"
"Well, um...I don't really know..."
She interrupted him. "Well, I think you should! After all, she is letting you sail on her ship. Can I meet her?"
The young man hesitated. There didn't seem to be any reasoning with a little lady who had her mind made up on certain things.
"I think she is indisposed right now."
The little girl tossed her blonde mane and said with a dignity that spoke of breeding, "Well, maybe some day Laura Anne's path and mine will cross. Until then, please give her my regards."

She looked at her blueberries and threw them in the water. "I should have planned better. I'm hungry now."
The young man took an apple out of his pocket.
"Will this help?"
She smiled at him and said, "Thank you!"
She bit into the apple, the juice running down her chin. She took her fingers and wiped her chin with them.

Welsh Wench:
She sighed. "I won't be here long. I am to go away to some sort of school. Father said so."
"Oh? And why is that?" he asked.
"Just because I took Goliath out for a ride, and other things that seem to upset my father."
"Really! He sounds like an impressive beast for one as small as you."
She said with a imperial air, "Oh, it's not the first time. I've taken him out lots of times! And I am NOT so small. I keep telling you--I'm six years old!"
He tried to keep from laughing. "Yes, I can see you are quite the young lady. So..when are you leaving?"

Sadly, she said, "I shall be leaving tomorrow."
She looked over the harbor and her face brightened.
"But I would so love to see your ship!"
He laughed and said, "Why not, little missy!"
She stamped her foot and said, "I am NOT little! I already told you that I am six years old."
He gallantly swept his cap off his head and dipped low into a bow. "And I am at your command, mademoiselle!"

She looked up at the sails.
"Those look different than the others."
She ran her little hands over the captain's door. "Oooh! Smooth! Why don't you carve your initials in the door? That way you will know which one is yours!"
He said, "I'm sorry but they are not mine. No one marks this door. The captain--and Laura Ann--are very particular about it. It is teakwood."

She looked over to the sun setting and sighed. "I guess I should be going back home. Why I don't know. They are already sending me away so what more can they do to punish me?"
She pointed to another ship. "See that one? That one belongs to Captain Henry Morgan. His ship is the Neptune Rising. Someday I should like to meet him. Maybe even sail with him! But he's an old man."
"Really! How old is he?"
She wrinkled her brow in thought and said, "I'm not sure. But he's probably as old as you are!"
The young man winced. He had just passed his twenty-first birthday and really didn't think of himself as 'aged.'

She turned to the young man and held out her hand. "I want to thank you for a wonderful time, Sir. Perhaps I'll see you again."
He took her little hand and kissed it. "I should be honored. My name is John Michael Wolfe. And you would be........?"
She smiled and said, "I'm not allowed to talk to strangers let alone tell them my name."
She then cupped her hand to her mouth and motioned him towards her. Conspiratorially she whispered, "But my name is Rhiannon!"
He smiled back at her, "I'm pleased to meet you, Miss Rhiannon."

Looking at the sun dipping in the sky, she sighed and said, "I really must be going."
He took her hand and kissed it again and said, "Good day, Miss Rhiannon. It was a pleasure to meet you."
She waved and ran off the docks, her dog trotting alongside her.

What a precocious child, he thought. And for sure she will grow up to be trouble for any man.......

Captain Jack Wolfe:
Four months later, off the coast of Antigua...

“Get off me, damn you!” Jack cursed.  The pirate kept a firm grip on the collar of Jack's shirt as he dragged the young man toward the cell.  Jack struggled and tore at the big man's hand, to no avail.  Finally, the cell door swung open, and Jack was thrust inside.
He whirled and lunged at his assailant.  “I'll do you for that, you bastard!”  As he dove forward, a heavy fist caught his chin and sent him spilling to the deck.  Jack saw stars, and could feel the world caving in on him.  He shook his head and fought off unconsciousness.  A minute or two passed with him on his hands and knees, trying desperately to grasp what was going on.  The taste of iron became more than he could take, and he spat a mouthful of blood  onto the deck.  He ran his tongue over his teeth, and found them to all be in place.
“Ain't no use in fightin', Jack,” said a weary Briggs.  “The Laura Anne be theirs, no matter what we think about it.”
Jack dropped to the deck and rolled onto his back.  “You saw what they did.”
“I saw a hell of a lot, Jack.  You're gonna have to narrow it down a bit.”
“Captain Pritchard!” spat Jack.  “They murdered him, right before our eyes!”
Briggs shook his head sadly.  “Cap'n Pritchard had been lookin' for a way to die ever since his wife passed on six years ago.  He found it today, tryin' to save his ship.  An honourable way to go, no matter how ye look at it.”
Jack stared at the overhead as he listened to his friend.  He kept running his tongue over his teeth, and was unhappy to find that the left canine and surrounding teeth were somewhat loose.  “I never knew the captain was so despondent.”
“Aye, he hid it well enough,” said Briggs.  “Buried himself in work, he did.  But we knew why.  And not a one of us could blame him.”
“And this is supposed to make me feel better?” asked Jack.  “What's next?  Tea and crumpets with our new pirate master?”

Briggs laughed darkly.  “Yeah, somethin' like that.  They'll be wantin' to press us into service, seein' as we're the skilled ones.  Same with the cooper and sailin' master.”
“I won't turn pirate,” said Jack sternly.
“Then you're gonna find yerself dead, Jack.  Harkness ain't known for playin' around.  Best ye drop yer high-minded ideals and look to what keeps ye drawin' a breath.”
Jack thought about his friend's words.  William Harkness was notorious for disposing of anyone or anything he didn't find useful.  But what did he have to offer?  Briggs was obvious.    Ten years on the sea had made Briggs an expert sailor and a fierce warrior.  Jack had two and a half years.  What use was he?

Heavy footsteps on the deck caught their attention.  Jack rolled over to see two formidable looking men approach the cell and unlock it.
“You,” one of them said as they pointed at Jack.  “Come with us.”
Jack dragged himself to his feet, with a balled a fist behind his back.
“Jack!” called Briggs.  “Don't do anything stupid!  I'll never forgive ye if'n ye get yerself killed for no good reason.  Think!  You're good at that!  We'll get out of this alive, I swear.”
Jack looked back at his friend, and uncurled his fingers.  With a nod, he turned and went with the two pirates.

They led Jack up one deck, and down a long companionway to a room with an ornate teakwood door.  The largest of the two men rapped three times on the door.
“Come!” came a voice from within.
The door was opened, and Jack was shoved roughly inside.  He struggled back to his feet and tried to get his bearings.  He was standing near the middle of the ship's great cabin.  Behind him, to either side of the door, were bookcases stuffed full of books, journals, and charts.  A large, four-poster bed was to his left, and a heavy table that could easily seat six lay before him.  To his right was a simple desk, covered in charts.  The setting was more what Jack expected to find in a governor's mansion, not a pirate ship.  Everything was orderly and clean, with just the right amount of opulence to let anyone entering know they were in the presence of a wealthy and powerful man.

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