Chapter 45 - Homeward Bound
The sails of the Spanish treasure ship snapped hard as a sudden gust of wind blew from the south, carrying her ever farther out to sea, ever farther north, ever closer to home for the men of Frisco.
The men laughed with joy and bantered back and forth of how God Himself had delivered them from their hard pressed service under Captain Bonnie. It must have been God, for to them only God would have set them free and grant unto them a fortune in silver.
The entire crew agreed that there most certainly was a God and He had fought for them that day.
Almost the entire crew agreed, for two lonely souls aboard the ship could not see nor hear God no matter how hard they searched.
The hearts of Jack Henry and the lad from Frisco, John Smithfield, had grown hard and tired of life.
Vengeance, and not love, kept their hearts beating, ever restlessly driven by the single desire to set the scales right.
Jack noticed that the lad had remained perfectly silent staring out across the waves, wincing at each mention of God and of deliverance.
The sight of the large red cross upon the mainsail of the Spanish treasure ship enraged Jack as he began to mutter.
"Where were ye when that poor lad was ripped from his hearth and home?"
"Where were ye when his mother was slaughtered by that vile creature for protecting her only child?"
"Where were ye when he was tied to the gun and given the lash? Were his screams of pain not loud enough to breach the gates of heaven?"
"Ye would have him condemned a murderer for taking his vengeance on that vile creature!"
"Where were ye when the Campbell came to Glen Coe and put my house to the sword?"
"Where were ye when my wife and children froze to death in the cold mist that terrible night?"
"Where were ye when my dear Maggie died giving birth to me son?"
"Are my tears not enough for yar justice?"
"Where is my salvation? Where is my hope? Where is yar justice when the wicked prosper and the poor are sorely abused?"
"If Ye are not moved, then what good are Ye to me?"
"Ye even say that vengeance is Yours! Stealing from me the last bit of life worth clinging unto!"
"Nay not this time, for by my sword I shall set things aright. If Ye love the Campbells so much as to render unto them all the pleasures and all the wealth of this world then I shall send them back to Ye!"
The lad had seen Jack muttering and drew closer for he felt the call of a kindred spirit, a spirit full of vengeance.
"Ye alright, Mr. Henry?" the lad sheepishly inquired.
"Aye, lad just talking to God." Jack smirked. "Seems God is a good listener, yet He seldom speaks, at least ways not to ole Jack Henry."
"I fear I know yar meaning. My mother always trusted in God, even as her life slipped away under that dog's knife. Where was he as her blood poured forth from her neck onto the sands of Frisco. Truth is Mr. Henry, I am glad I killed that man."
"John, I told ye never to speak of that again."
"I know sir. But hearing all this talk of returning home to Frisco and even more so of God's hand in it, has me a thinking. Frisco ain't my home no more. I am alone in the world. The hatred in my heart for the men who stole so much from me is the only thing I feel. The only thing I have left in the world. The only thing that keeps me alive. If I may be so bold, Mr. Henry, I reckon that is what keeps yar heart beating as well."
Jack smiled, for one so young, the lad could see much, perhaps too much for his own good.
"Go home to Frisco, lad, become a fisherman, grow tall and strong. And some day find a good woman to make yar place in the world, with a fine hearth and a fine home. That would be best for ye lad."
"Aye for that is the dream of all men. Tis but a dream to me now. For what good is it for me to dream such a dream, while wicked men roam the world seeking to destroy, kill and steal . Nay, Mr. Jack, the wicked of the world have stolen far too much, far too much for me ever to dream that dream again. Is ye planning on setting roots down in Frisco, Mr. Jack?"
Jack glanced down at the lad and simply shook his head, no.
"I did not think so. I have watched ye carefully. I reckon ye intend to get these men back to their homes so that they may once again fall into a deep slumber, to dream that dream of hearth and of home. Then I believe that ye shall seek vengeance, upon the same sort that stole from me. Tis this not so?"
Jack glanced down at the lad and simply nodded his head, aye.
"Ye and I shall get these men to their hearth and home with a fortune of silver in their pockets. Then ye and I shall depart one night unannounced to wage our war of vengeance. Aye Mr. Henry?"
"Nay, lad. That path only leads to the gallows, and ye shall not walk that path with me."
"Whether I walk that path with ye or no, tis the path I shall follow even unto the hangman's noose. If my young life is cut short, then may it be a life that shames men who trade the small comforts of the world for justice. Let my short life shame those who refuse to stand against such wickedness. With ye or without thee, these scars upon my back drive me ever forward. If it be a sin to kill those who kill, then before God Himself, I am proud sinner."
Those words struck deep into Jack's heart, for he often spoke unto himself, tis no sin to kill those who kill. Nor tis it a sin to steal from those who steal, these words, the very words Jack so often spoke over his own heart from a lad so young.
The lad continued:
"See sir, with or without ye I shall have my vengeance. I reckon that with ye I might live a little longer. I reckon the sting of my wrath just might be felt a little greater. Mr. Henry, it would be best if I came with ye."
Jack relented, glanced down at the lad and nodded in agreement.
"There are some men in world who need killing. Young master John Smithfield, ye and I shall sail the seas, unto the gates of hell itself, to hunt them down, to arrange before God their hour of justice."
Into the night the men of Frisco sang songs of joy as the Spanish treasure ship plied through the waves ever northward, ever closer to hearth and to home.