St. Jamesport

 

Chapter 9

 

St. Jamesport – city of the dulle

 

“As we lefte Port Royal I saw my old nemesis enter the harbour; Goldmouthe sailed past us on ‘The Fury’. She lay heavy in the water, and filled up with cargo as she was, she would be no threat to us. I hoped that was the last we would see of that accursed ship. Goldmouthe is as dark as midnight with a mouth full of shiny gold teeth. Though we had fought on the same side several times, both at sea and on land against the slaveowners on St. Thomas, I really didn’t like the man. He had a mean streake, a cruelty I could not abide. I had crossed him more that once, and last time we met, he made me a promise that I’d rather he would forget. I certainly hadn’t! I had friends among his crew, runaway slaves as they were each and every one of them, but they would not dare stand between me and him, if it came down to it. Well, we left them well behind us, and a few days later I had forgotten all about them.

 

On Captain Velasques’ request I tried to stay inconspicuous on board, but I must admit it was harde. I yearned to do my bit, to haul robes and secure sails, to feel salt water on my skin, and feel my body labouring to serve the ship’s every need. I spend a lot of time talking with Jean-Luc when he was topside (and quite a bit when he was under decks too). That man… Well, top quality sailor that’s was he is – worthy of admiration for sure!” (She has never confirmed this to me – talks around the subject every time I have tried to probe into the matter – but I think that Fiona bend her rules of not getting involved with shipmates when it came to Jean-Luc. I have hearde quite a few rumours about the two of them, but I’ve had no luck confirming them, especially by Fiona, who clams up every time I bring the subject up. I believe she thinks it is none of my business. JW).

 

“Three dayes after we had left port a gale blew up on our taile. We took advantage of the winds that blew us halfway to our destination, before it turned into such a forcefull storm, that we had to strike all sails. We had calculated that it would take a little monthe to reach St. James Port, barely in time to be there for the full moon. Now we were certain to be there in time, if only we survived the storm! Finally I got my time doing what I was born to do. The cargo shifted under us and we started taking water in from above. I grabbed the nearest bodies and we ran below and started getting things back in place. It was hard worke, but I loved being back in business! The following days I got to climb masts and riggings, hauling and carrying next to the common sailor, and none thought anything of it. I was back where I belonged; on a prober crew! It didn’t last longer than the storm though. But at least now I had earned some respect, and that is the first step towards being ‘one of the guys’ in stead of being ‘the Woman on board’.

 

After the storm we ran into one of the Haroldbrothers’ boats. They lay low in the water, had apparently not handled the storm as well as we did. We argued a bit about boarding them or not, but the Captain saw it as his personal duty to bring up any smugglers we came across, and so we did. I sprung aboard along with the Captain, Jean-Luc and a few others, flashing my birthmark around to make a statement. Not the cleverest thing to do, I know, I just liked showing the Haroldbrothers who was in charge here. Turned out they had a lot of undeclared rum and sugar on board which we confiskated. We left them with a cheerfull comment, something like ‘Looke on the bright side: now it will be much easier to reach port without sinking!’. They called us some rude things that I will not bother your readers with…

 

When we passed between Harwichtowers Passage on our way to St. James Porte, we passed what looked like the entire Island Kingdoms Fleet, going south to war it seemed. Though a bit daunted about the number and sizes of the ships passing us, I rejoiced inside: my trade is allways so much better in wartime! Jean-Luc and I started talking about future plans; a small privateer-fleet of our own; three ships, one for captain Velasques, one for Jean-Luc and one for me, going after the codorian merchant ships – they were allways rich pickings!

 

We entered the harbour two days before the full moon. St. James Port must be the dullest citie in the worlde! Everyone wears black clothing, everything pleasurable is a sin, everyone who sticks out in any way are heretics. They go to bed before 10 pm, they don’t drink and they prefer their food tasteless. Fortunately we found a fellow sufferer in the harbourmaster Sir Revlington, who was apparently sent there by his brother Lord Revlington to test his patience. Sir Revlington, a pleasant middleaged man of soldierlike stature and big hands, bid us more than welcome, gave us a fair price on the confiscated goods, and offered us lodgings in his humble abode (a manorhouse right on the harbourside). He had very obviously missed civilized company and was very willing to help us out. He told us that the Slythe-family was very rich, and lived outside of town on the manorhouse Werlatton Hall. They were extremely pious and their son Ebenezer was about 20 years old. He had different coloring than his parents, a lame leg, and he surely must be the missing heir. Sir Revlington warned us though; he was every bit as dull and pious as the rest of the family. His 16 year old sister was somewhat less pious though, he confided in us. Apparently she frequently enjoyed bathing in the nude in the estates’ brooke…But before going to meet the charming relatives outside of town, we decided to take a closer looke at the cathedral.

 

While captain Velasques stayed at home playing with some magic light ball of his, Jean Luc and I went to the cathedral, which was locked. We thought that we might as well try out the key Jean Luc had in custody, and lo and behold; it fitted! We entered and looked around to find Grandpa’s headstone, but soon a priest showed up and asked in a very stern voice, what our busines was in the church outside of hours. We did a ‘we are travellors from abroad and we don’t understand a word you’re saying to us’ stunt, but it ended up we were thrown out by bystanders (as the menfolk didn’t know where to grab at me, a couple of determined women decided they knew exactly where to grab and threw me out). The moment before I ‘left’ the cathedral four letters caugt my eye: M I N E. I recognized them from the clue and when I told Jean Luc about it later, and he told me it ment ‘my’. So maybe it was not Grandpa’s headstone we were looking for but MINE’s!

 

We had dinner with Sir Revlington, a very fine meal after so many days on sea, and after the city had gone to sleep (at 10 pm!), we returned to the cathedral the three of us. MINE’s tombstone turned out to belong to Matthew I. Newton Esq.’s. On one corner of the stone was the symbol of the full moone. We poured the liquid from the bottle with Earth written on it. The liquid ran in streams along a design and ended up in a very clear X. And as all pirates and treasurehunters know: X marks the spot! We pryed the stones apart and found dirt underneath. A little digging on our part revealed a coffin with some long dead bloke in it. Clutching in his hands was a small wooden chest wich contained a wooden plate with some numbers on it (it looked very much like longtitude and latitude, except the seconds in the longtitude was missing) and a text, which the gentlemen read: ‘Air. The resting place of the Lord of Winds’. Though Jean Luc and I sat up late pondering the mystery we didn’t solve it.

 

Right! That was it; the next clue was found (though not solved yet), now we only needed the fourth heir, or rather his key…

 

The next morning I was up early as allways. Jean Luc slept a couple of hours longer, but he had had a strenous night and deserved his rest. Sir Revlington had promised us that we could borrow his coach, but before we left we decided to practice a little; first Jean Luc and Captain Velasques fought with rapiers (which are not quite as delicate or harmless as they looke!). I was extremely impressed by them! They must have had goode teachers, and they both really had style! I asked to fight the winner, and though Jean Luc made at least one move neither I nor the captain had seen before, the captain won. I brought my cutlass and left hand dagger to the fight, while he brought his rapier and maine gauche. It was a good workout. He was extremely fast, and had I fought him for real I think I would have died. To end the battle he caught both my weapons with his and pulled me in. Just to show that you didn’t do that unhurt I marked a headbutt right on his nose. He wasn’t much impressed by it as he followed it up with disarming me and finished off by kissing me on the cheek, the scoundrel! He was by far the superiour fighter, and I hope I will never have to go up against him!

 

Well, off we were in the coach to Werlatton Hall (after we had changed our clothes into something more suitable – which meant a dress on my part). I don’t much like travelling in coaches, but it beats by far travelling on horseback which I really hate! Camels are different; that’s almost like sailing. But I have never gotten the hang of riding a horse. Nimble I might be climbing masts and trees, but I’m a complete sach of grain on a horse’s back! As we got closer to Werlatton Hall, we thought we might have to get a plan together. I thought we should go through the sister, as she sounded much more accessible than her dour brother. She sounded like a girl ready for adventure, and here we came along; two handsome gentlemen and an exotic lady (of sorts). She had to find us interesting as soon as she saw us.

 

As it turned out; we saw her first. We had stopped at the outskirts of the Werlatton estate, walked a bit off the road and found a pond and a brooke, and there she was discarding her obligatory cap and let the wind blow through her hair. Before we had a chance to say anything, a cripled boy humped towards her crying “I see you! I’ll tell father!” and off he was again, as fast as his bend legs could carry him. Ebenezer we rightly guessed, not a very pleasant boy at all. We called out to Emily that we would carry witness on her behalf, but she – startled and ashamed to have had witnesses to the incident, turned it down and fled.

 

We followed the road and soon after we arrived at Werlatton Hall, a sinister place if I ever saw one. We knocked on the door, and Mr. Slythe himself opened the door looking very angry. The more observant of us noticed that he didn’t wear a belt and we could hear moaning and sobbing somewhere in the house. Rather gruffly he showed us into his study and said he would be right back. We could hear him beating Emily for whatever sin he thought she had commited. It did not exactly improve our attitude towards him. We were all angry about it, but none as much as the Captain. He practically seethed. All diplomacy was thrown completely to the wind when Mr. Slythe returned. He was an allround unpleasant fellow. At first he wouldn’t admit that Ebenezer was adopted, but when we mentioned our willingness to offer money for the missing key, he changed his tune. He let the matter be up to Ebenezer himself though, and called for him. Ebenezer had the exact same unpleasant personality as his adopted father. But he refused having a key, said that it must be his sister we were talking about. We happily assumed that Emily then was the fourth heir, and we were willing indeed to share with her! Though we soon found out that she was not who we were looking for (Ebenezer hissed at us that the sister he was talking about was a whore and he did not know her whereabouts), we kidnapped her anyway. She was quite willing to leave the house. Our last hours in St. Jamesport was thus somewhat hurried up; we collected our things from Sir Revlingtons, who made Emily write a letter saying she had gone with us willingly (so we couldn’t be prosecuted for kidnapping), and we ran for the boat that sailed us out to Fortuna.

 

Mr. Slythe had us followed by boat and he was screaming bloody murder at us. His followers were armed with muskets, pitchforks and spears, and some might have found the man himself intimidating. But when you stand behind a swivelgun somehow pitchforks don’t seem so frightening anymore. One shot across their sterne made everyone but Mr. Slythe himeself flee, and as we sailed out the harbour he was alone on a boat shaking his fist at us.

 

Right out of the harbour we found an old enemy lying run aground on a sand bank. It was a codorian flute called ‘The Hyena’ known to belong to the Harold Brothers. But as we got a closer look it looked like it was manned with Goldmouthe’s men. Black Jacko, Goldmouthe’s former first mate, stood as captain. While Goldmouthe was my most feared enemy, Black Jacko certainly was no friend of mine either. Black Jacko was a brilliant first mate, and would be a very good captain as well, but cruel, nearly as cruel as Goldmouthe himself.

 

We sailed passed them with baited breath. All gun ports were opened and both ships were ready. But as the Hyena was stranded and unable to manoeuvre she did not seek a fight that day. So we passed eachother well knowing that we would meet again. And we did… Much sooner than I hoped for.