The lady Abigail(Abby) was sent to marry a lord she never met, finds herself shipwrecked.
|"Oh Abby. Just think in a few weeks you'll be married, to Lord Lenard... I hear he is not only rich but handsome," my mother said excitedly, "and also 49th in line to inherited the throne." She smiled at me as she helped me pack.
I said nothing as I selected my reading material for the voyage.
"Aren't you excited?" my mother trying to get a response from me.
I looked up holding five books, "I guess."
"I guess? It is better than your sister did, she had to settle for a young..."
"Man that was 98th in line for the throne," I joined in, I heard this story so many times already, if I wasn't taught to be a proper lady, I'd gag.
"Really Abby, you should be excited."
"Mother..." I whined knowing what was coming.
"Ah just think, you, living in a big house, with all the amenities and more. With lots of little well behaved princes and princesses, and servants that make sure you don't have to worry about a thing. And did you see the picture he sent of the garden?"
"I bet you wish you could marry him."
"I do... now is everything packed? We need to leave for the shipyard soon." Mother said bluntly.
"Yes Mother," was the last thing I said to her in person before I was swept away to the ship with my belongings and hope chest mother had filled for me.
I have to be honest, I wasn't too fond of the idea marrying someone I’ve never met, half way across the world but, that is how the world works sometimes... right? After all he had more prestige then my sister's husband.
The first few days I was terribly sea sick before I got we got out to the open sea. I spent my time reading mostly but after the first 3 days I had read them all. I kept thinking how I should've gone to the book shop before I left for the ship, after all only the captain talked to me, the other sailors didn't say a word to me as they were not allowed.
We had hit mild seas and I started to go up to the deck to get fresh air... I started noticing things like how the men tied knots, how the sails worked, what a few of the orders meant. Stuff like that, I had always enjoyed learning and was certain beyond a shadow of a doubt, I could sail the ship by myself after 5 days, not taking in to consideration I would have to be in more than 20 places at once and not need sleep.
"Storm off the forward bow! Batten down the hatches!" the sailor from the crow’s nest shouted.
Indeed dark clouds where on the horizons. The captain came to make sure I was safe in my cabin. "Nothing to be alarmed of madam, just a wee storm and we don't need anyone overboard." he assured me. But the storm hid something else it turned out which wasn't detected until the sound of a canon being fired was heard. Lots of shouting followed, pirates had boarded.
How did I know? Well when a burly man with an eye patch plowed in my cabin door, cutlass drawn... that was a hint. Anyways he took one look at me and left, I suppose he didn't think he'd find anything of value, or he wanted no trouble from a lady who wouldn't be afraid to smack him upside the head, probably more of the first one. After that it was only a few minutes till they found what they wanted. or perhaps realized whatever they were looking for was not on board our defenseless ship.
I should probably mention it wasn't the pirates that sunk our ship... come to think about it they probably gave up looking for whatever the where looking for because the storm was coming up faster than expected for after the pirates turned tail one of the masts broke when a sudden gale wind hit the half pulled sail. The mast that broke off hit a weak spot on the ship and caused a large gaping hole in the deck. It was above the waterline but the waves started lifting water up and into the hold. That was when the first rat decided it was a good time to abandon ship.
I came up to the deck being told by the cabin boy to do so in case they had to abandon ship... it was exciting for me, being on a sinking ship, as ironic and crazy as that sounds, I was excited.
I was being rushed to a life boat just as another mast came crashing down, split the boat in two this time and separated me from my guardians. At this point I was more afraid then excited now, I was up to my neck in water and debris and realized I knew not how to swim, so I did all I could think about doing now, just grab a piece of floating debris and hang on for dear life.
With the ship sunk and clutching a piece of the broken mast to keep me afloat, I saw through the rain a life boat... I was about to make a swim for the life boat then I realized, I really didn't want to go back. That is when the civil war in my mind started, I kept going back in forth about what I WANTED and what was SMART, and by the time I decided to do the smart thing the storm and waves carried me so far away from the life boats, the only option was what I wanted, not to go back, not to marry a noble stranger, and have an adventure for a change.
Well the adventure started rather dull and depressing, clutching a broken mast for two days debating if I did find land if I would be physically possible to let go of the mast. I also had a gruesome image of a skeleton clutching a piece of mast floating through the sea and never washing ashore. Oh I was thirsty too, so thirsty and hungry, no way I could catch fish clinging to a mast and not being able to swim, and thanks to the dear captain I knew not to drink the water from the sea. I was lonely, wet and couldn't sleep for obvious reasons. Oh, I must've been a terrible site to see, if there was anyone there to see me.
Things changed on the morning of the third day clinging to the mast, I encounter a strange group of fish; they came up to me with smiles and laughing at my predicaments. One jumped clear over my head and landed sending a soaking splash of salty water to my face, sigh, I guess I can't be to angry at those silly fish they did end up pushing me to a beach of an island, that is, after they got their fill of amusement. Imagine that being saved by large silly smiling fish, maybe this was to be an adventure to be had.
Well I DID manage to let go of the mast once I saw land getting close. Surprisingly and not realizing it at first I had started to swim to shore, I guess you soak in water long enough you learn to swim, not well though, I guess, the fish started laughing even louder, until one just let me grab it's top fin and brought me to where my feet could feel the sand. Ahhh sand the soft squishy sand letting me know the shore was but a few yards away.
I honestly never noticed how dreadfully heavy a dress is after soaking in sea water a few days. But that was beside the point, I was on land now. A deserted island, I almost fell over at the anticipation of an adventure now, but it was probably more of the soaked dress I had on the made me stumble over the dry sand.
Well now I was on land, and the marriage was definitely off, excitement ran though my veins again, what a pleasant feeling dry land was. I didn't know what to do first, take a nap in the sun or find food. Well I ended up doing neither first after I realized my throat was so dry I couldn't utter much of a sound, finding drink it was, or something to quench my thirst... like fruit. Whole bunches of trees that looked like they held big bunches of beautiful fruit, and for my convenience there were several that where already fallen. I felt I had the luck of a clover and the grace of the land I now stood upon.
I looked at the brown-green oblong "fruit" and decided to peel it, it was very hard mind you, I soon looked for a sharpest stone I could find, and by sharpest, I meant I found one with a slightly less round of an edge... well the "peeling" turned into husking after I realized that they where actually coconuts. This fact disappointed me, coconut was not my favorite, but I needed to eat something, or at least chew on it.
Well as it turned out, after I broke one open with some rocks, white liquid splashed out over the rock and soaked into the sand. It was a surprise to me but a welcome one. I ended up husking four more to try to get the liquid to drink. The first one broke and I ended up losing all but a few droplets of the liquid, so try again right? The second one I broke closer to the end. Still my clumsiness ended up leaving only a few sips. Third time was the charm for I managed to keep a good amount in the coconut after I broke it open.
Did I mention I didn't like coconuts? Well things change fast when you hadn't anything to drink or eat for a few days. The liquid in the nut was refreshing to my parched throat. It took the rest of the day but I ended up struggling to open about twelve to fifteen coconuts that day before I decided to find a place to sleep.
And sleep I did. I dreamt about how my life would've been if I got a life boat, how I'd be married to someone I don't know, how I’d have a garden that I wouldn't be able to plant, how I’d have to run after all the little princes and princesses making sure they behaved. Then it flashed to this peaceful God sent island with nothing but a sea breeze and... A knife??? I had woke up to see a knife sticking out of the sand. Odd thing, a knife in the sand, and it was a good knife indeed, sharp as a claw and, Well you get the picture I was happy to see the knife when I awoke.
Not thinking who might've left it or why for it was too far away from the water just to have washed up, I happily took the knife and started on the coconuts. Do you know how much a difference a knife makes opposed to a couple rocks? Wonderfully! It was a wonderfully sharp sturdy knife the made eating and drinking coconuts an absolute breeze. Luckily I still had a new liking for brown furry orbs stashed within a thick hide of a husk. And just to add, I could, upon husking, now make a small hole in the shell of which then I could pour the white milky liquid into my thirsty mouth with ease.
The new knife I had gave me time to relax and think and realize I’ll probably get rained on if I don't make a shelter. I had seen clouds gathering over head. So off I went, gathering fallen palm leafs till I found a few palms that were not completely over my head. I felt like a true native. I was going to be in a small but grand shelter, Well you might think different I was perfectly happy constructing the two by two and a half meter shelter, though I found it hard to find proper looking sticks. And what a wonderful shelter indeed, to me it was.
I can say this, I was so proud of the shelter I made with just sticks and leaves. I felt I ruled this island, and this? This was just the START of my empire of one. That was until a gentle breeze came and left me with a pile of sticks and leaves. Luckily the rain wasn't that bad that night but yes, I did get rained on, though I slept like a rock dreaming about how I would make my mark in the world and that people from all over would come to my amazing empire and see all of my exotic crafts, fine clothing and warm fire place that glowed gently warming the room of my wonderful hand build house.
The next day I awoke, ironicly, to a nice little warm camp fire and a couple fish on sticks ready to be cooked... also some strong thin rope lay beside my knife. Well after a nice breakfast of fish, and nearly chocking on the bones, twice, I easily made a much sturdier shelter with the help of the rope, it was much sturdier this time., maybe a strong wind would tear it down but a normal one would have difficulties at least. I soon went about collecting drift wood to keep the fire going when it hit me; I was not alone on this island. My imagination soared at that point; I thought about a tribe of lovely natives helping me in the night, bringing food and what I needed, how nice it would be to thank them for their kindness and before I even could refocus on the task at hand I was placing fire wood on dimming camp fire. HA! I guess that tasked didn't take as much thought as I thought it would.
I was so wound up about other people on the island I struggled to get to sleep hoping I might see one helping me in the night with food and supplies but I did finally fall asleep before my friendly natives came again. I awoke to find it had rained again but I stayed dry this time... well drier then the night before, guess my shelter leaked a bit. I decided to stretch, un-lady-like my mom would've protested but it felt good but I tore the sleeve of my now tattered filthy dress, and thought I should take a bath or something somehow today... or at least rinse off. I turned my head wondering if the nice native people had brought me a gift again. "Oh my! My wonderful mysterious natives!" I thought as I turned to my right and saw a wonderful cut log with a lovely looking breakfast.
Anyway it had a coconut leaf with some salted fish lying on top and a coconut shell filled with an amber liquid. Now, I had never had any alcohol before in my life and well the amber liquid turned out to be rum. Of course I didn't know that right away, and gulped the lovely liquor down. It was a nice change from coconut milk but it was not long before the alcohol took effect and boy did my since of adventure go sky high. For a moment I was on top of the world, fearless and probably mildly drunk at that.
I had later decided this time that I ought to try spear fishing like the natives of the island probably did, don't ask me why I didn't just go looking for them. Anyway I managed find a long branch that was straight enough for a spear. I took my knife and started to whittle away a point of which I managed to turn a long stick, into a shorter stick... and since this was taking a long time, I decided to come up with a different plan of action, I decided to just tie the knife to the end of the now shorter stick with some of the rope I had left over. Finally I had something to get food other then coconuts which were starting to get back on my list of dislikes.
The rest of the day I spent fishing and how any man is able to catch a fish while drunk is beyond me, of course then again they are not spear fishing like I was, nor up to their knees in water trying to keep fish from swimming away, I noticed that all I ever did now was go to bed wet and I was sure I would wake up a mermaid one day after finding that someday my legs would turn into a tail seeing how I couldn't keep dry for any length of time. Just then I saw a fish and lunged my "spear" at it sending me toppling over with a splash. I swore I heard those laughing fish again out on the ocean when I missed my opportunity by a few seconds. No luck with fish that day.
The next day I woke up to the same salted fish and rum in a coconut shell. I decided to only drink some of the rum this time. It was probably the best decision I made to me thus far that day, seeing that I knew nothing about what a catch I would make today and how silly I would feel afterwards.
Back to fishing, in my defense I did not know fish could do anything besides swim and breath water, guess I should've been reading more nature books then mysteries and romance novels on board that ship. Anyway I did catch a fish this time, an eel, that can put out a mighty jolt. Oh I lived, and I did catch that eel. But I decided not to eat it. Instead I sort of passed out on the sand after struggling out of the water after the jolt.
I dreamt of my brother and sister laughing at me with their nice luxury houses looking at my currant difficulties. At lest I thought I was dreaming until the strangest conversation started within it...
"Boyz what do ye think you’re doing neglectin' your duties for four days straight?"
"We be just havn' some fun with the wrecked landlubber..."
"That lass we be watchn'"
"Don't tell me yas did the hunted isle bit agian.”
"Nah Captn' wes wouldn't do that to the lass"
"Then why she be knocked out for?"
"Lass speared the ol' storm mouth, she still livin' I think"
I felt a nudge on one of my shoulders.
"Still breathn' lass?"
I felt like a loose blob of jelly, hardly could move a centimeter without having to rest the limb I moved, But I did manage to open my eyes to the strangely dressed lady. As the blurriness cleared I saw a slender yet strong looking lady, wearing a blue and white vest and men's slacks which I knew my mother would be horrified to see, a women in slacks. Her hair was wavy with a slight curl to the end of her long red as a rose locks, with a cream colored completion she was despite a bit of age and the fact she was wearing slacks, pretty.
"Good lass. Wake up." She said in a rather strong and bold tone, she was smiling as I opened my eye the rest of the way, "I apologize for me boyz, watchn' ye and makn' light of ye follies and fums."
"Aww Capt'n we did help the lass the least bit." one skinny man said to whom I presumed was Captain Bonnie, as she, right then, gave him a bit of a dirty look.
"It be all in good fun," said the other, "We didn' know she be stabbin' ol storm mouth by mistake."
Bonnie seemed to sigh a bit before looking at me, "What be ye name lass." she smiled.
"Pirates?" I asked quite cowardly in a muffled tone.
"Oh Ye Be Right About that!" Bonnie jumped up at amazing speed drawing a sword that had gone unnoticed by me and pointing it to the sky, it stunned me a little.
"I be Captn' Bonnie McClair! The most feared Queen of the Sea! Captn' of the Pirate Rose!" she saw my sudden fear come out in a gasp, some adventurer I was, afraid of pirates? No, afraid of a pirate captian that had a sharp cutlass raised above her head and stating to come down fast, like a child that had done wrong I was terrified, so yes.
The cutlass came down faster than I could blink, right in front of my legs and Captain Bonnie leaned up on the hilt and handle seeming happy she scared me awake, "Now lass, you seem a bit frightn' of me? Relax..." she leaned up to one side examining her nails still leaning a bit on the cutlass in the sand, "All you need to do is three things to keep a pirate from killing ye."
I looked questionably at Bonnie. Scared, fascinated, excited... did I mention I was terrified?
She pierced me with a sudden stare, “but first. Tell me your name."
"A...Aa.Abigail?" I squeaked, hoping she was telling the truth. What a cowardly girl I must've been in her eyes.
"Ahh Abigail, that is nice sounding name... Okay Abby first you shake there hand... firmly."
I reached out to shake Bonnie's extended hand.
"FIRMLY, lass! Firmly I said," she corrected, I tightened my grip on her hand as much as I could.
"Humph. We hav' to work on that. Next. Take a swig of RUM!" she sounded as she took a swig of a rum bottle and handed it to me.
I wasn't sure what to do with it though she had already instructed me.
"Go on take a swig!" she sounded again.
I finally took a sip and had a hard time swallowing it because of a lump that had positioned itself in my throat.
"That was hardly a swig, I guess it be countn' though," Bonnie took back the bottle, "NOW!" she boomed," Now give a hardy 'ARRRRRR'"
What a time to have a lump in the throat,
"No lass... AAARRRRRRR!."
"Hmm that not be soundn' right... try again, this time let 'er out like ye mean it!" Bonnie encouraged.
I was taught not to never shout or yell by my mother so it did feel and sound odd when I finally belted out in my normally sweet sounding voice, "AAAARRRR!"
"There we be on good terms now Abigail!" Bonnie smiled, "It be best that ye follow me back to the pirate camp me newest hearty," She said grabbing my arm and pulling me up.
"Now, you boyz, best not be skippn' out on any mor' dutys." She said raising he cutlass to one of the men's throats. Oh, I never saw men run so fast from a women before, shouting, "Yes Captn'" as they ran cowardly away.
"Now." Bonnie brought her cutlass over and tapped my chest lightly with the blunt side of the blade, and putting her other arm around my shoulders, "We be goin' that way, lots fo' us to discuss when we get be getting back to thee fort." She pointed her cutlass in the direction the "boyz" went.
I couldn’t believe it, I was friends with a pirate captain now, was I? THAT was EXCITING! It was too bad I was too scared out of my wits to realize it at that time, however, and as scared a hen I was, I went, not that I had much of a choice.
It was not long till we reached the camp, which surrounded a cove. I guess the island was cercent shaped. The cove had a port in it, which makes since, seeing that the pirates needed a place for thier ships. It had crates and barrels scattered around along with huts here and there. Sigh, if only I decided to explore a bit more, I would've found this place easily.
There where several men in this camp, I strained to look for any other women besides me and Bonnie. No luck at all. Most of the men where working, including the "Boyz", while some where enjoying rum and some swordplay. None of them payed any attention to me walking into camp with a ragged dress, which I was thankful for.
Bonnie led me into her cabin, which was decorated with many elegant peices of furniture and paintings, the trunk she had seemed out of place though, being so worn and old.
"Now," she said opening the trunk, "We be gettn' you sume bettr' lookn' cloths." She eyed me for a second and proceeded to dug through the trunk until she came out with a pair of dark slacks and a beige shirt and a medium blue vest, "This should be fittn' yas." and pointed to a changing screen.
I had not worn anything besides a dress in my life, but I was not going to argue with Bonnie. After all I've seen how quick with a cutlass she could be. So I went and changed. The cloths did fit, perfectly, in fact. The slacks felt a bit odd though.
Bonnie and I talked after I was dressed, I was a bit nervous but I found Bonnie to be oddly nice, almost like my mother except a bit bolder, louder, and did I mention the slacks? Okay she was nothing like mother at all except she was nicer then she first appeared.
I guess Bonnie liked the idea of having a female in her crew.
“Now we be seen’ what ye be capable of doin’” Bonnie stated.
A job? It might seem odd that a women of my er… former stature would get excited about work, but I was. I had an odd liking for Bonnie, I guess Captn’ Bonnie was the women I always wanted to be.
Well I was not strong enough to do any of the men’s work, and I think I made a few men sick with my cooking. Finally Bonnie let me swab the decks of some of the ships in port, at least I managed that.
The men were always respectful of me, whether or not Bonnie was around, especially the “Boyz” who’s names turned out to be Rick and Wilie. Those two were pranksters to a fault, always playing pranks on the other men but never Bonnie nor me, again. They were also the best at mixing black powder and extra quick at loading cannons and firing them.
Mason Black was a strong and polite man, normally seen loading and unloading cargo with his team of men, but his team knows, he has a mean punch if you make him mad… he is one of those men you’d rather be friends with then be in front of his fist, as Rick put it once. Mason would’ve been a fine captain as well but he doesn’t have the knowhow like Bonnie and he will admit this too.
Now Engal is one of the best swordsmen on the crew and he’ll make sure you know it, he is also a horrible drunk when not at sea, he constantly boosted and if it wasn’t that Bonnie was better at the sword then he, he would’ve challenged her for the rank of captain… well according to Mason he did… 17 times since Mason started helping Bonnie. Engal was not well liked by any of the men.
It was a day when Engal’s boosting was really getting to me, all the men where hard at work and trying to ignore his taunts as he was sitting on his bum doing nothing to help and sneaking rum rations at that. He was calling all the others lazy, and carrying on like a drunken sailor. Bonnie was of course not around at the time when he tripped Wilie while I was bringing back a pail of soap and water.
I honestly don’t know what got into me but after Wilie was out of the way and Engal was too busy laughing with himself, I dumped that whole bucket of water in his mouth. Engal was none too happy with soap in his eyes as well as his mouth.
“Wench! Damit, what the hell did you do that for!” Engal yelled.
“You have been spitting out foul language all day, I simply decided your mouth needed a good wash before the decks.” I simply stated not being phased by the wench commit as I started to go back to refill the bucket. Many of the men cheered and laughed at least till Engal pulled his blade on me.
Mason was quick to intervene and for my sake I’m glad he did or else Engal would’ve killed me then and there as long as Bonnie wasn’t there.
“Engal… if you be wantin’ a fight ye be better doin’ it like a proper pirate…”
Well it would seem that Mason extended my life for a few seconds at least; Engal immediately challenged me to a sword fight.
I have never held any type of sword in my life, but it had seemed there was no way out of this. Mason was kind enough to give me a few pointers before the match… including how to hold a cutlass, at least in this adventure I would not die a coward.
When the match started I picked up my sword the wrong way. Luckily to Engals annoyance, one of the men stepped in.
“Stop helping the dam wench!”
“It is hardl’ fair Engal, the lass hasn’ ever held a cutlass. Why don’ ye just simpl’y it and start with weapons drawn first match.”
“Fine but who said there would be more than one?”
So thanks to one of the men, I later found out his name was Evon, I could start with a cutlass properly drawn. I guess I was the underdog, Mason looked as if he was ready to run in if Engal went too far.
I had to admit, I was terrified and when the signal was given to begin all I could think about was dodging Engal’s blade.
Engal shouted at me, “Cowardly Wench!” and about the third time he shouted that I had enough… I swung the blunt edge of the cutlass as hard as I could against his wrist whilst avoiding his swing.
All was silent… with the exception of Engal crying like a baby at his bruised up wrist.
Bonnie had just come in time to see me with a cutlass in hand and Engal crying like a baby with the occasional clamored “beginner’s luck” being uttered.
“Abby? Engal?” Bonnie used her unusual feminine voice and then changing to her more dominate Captain voice demanded to know what happened.
Mason was more than happy to explain seeing I was a bit stunned at myself.
“Capt’n Bonnie, Engal challenged Abby to a lit’ sword play, cause Abby gave em’ a drink of soapy wat’r to wash down the rum rations he be stealn’. Didn’ help his langage thou’ like she be hopin’. Mason explained with a big smile.
Engal finally recovered, “She just had beginner’s luck.”
Bonnie eyed the two of us for a minute, then looked around and back to us.” Fine, round two…”
Once again I kept dodging but this time with a bit more confidence, until I saw an opening on Engal and struck with as much force as I could muster to send Engal to the ground.
Mason and Bonnie stood like statues mumbling things to each other till Engal got up from the dirt again but about the fourth time I knocked him down as he got up he swung at my feet… I simply jumped over the blade to his shock, I guess those ballet classes I was forced to complete as a girl actually had some use.
“Abby! Ye be bein’ too nice, that be a low blow… kick ‘im in the head ‘or that.” Bonnie ordered.
So I did, a little too light for Bonnie’s tastes, so of course she demonstrated for me and insisted I try again… I didn’t kick Engal as hard as Bonnie… but of course Bonnie just smiled and said “We’ll have to be workn’ on that.”
Then turned to Engal, “So ye be likn’ to steal rum and slackn’ off? I be thinkin’ Mason’s men be needn’ a few breaks.” She grabbed Engal by the collar and through him to Mason whe cracked his knuckles and grinned.
I sighed grateful to have survived and picked up the bucket which Bonnie snatched away from me, “and after Mason is done with ye, ye can finish Abby’s job swabbing the deck!” Bonnie through the bucket at Engal and nailed him in the head. Bonnie didn’t have to till the rest to get back to work as they gave of a hardy “hars” as they went back to work.
“As for you Abby…” Bonnie wrapped one arm around and tapped my chest with a blunt side of her cutlass, “We be needn’ to teach ye’ when ye should be bein’ a lady an’ when ye bett’r off bein’ a pirate, but I be thinkn’ ye’ll learn fast’r then any landlubber ev’r did.
Abigail Ruth Adams