CHAPTER 27 - TWO TO THE SOUTH AND TWO TO THE NORTH
Jack scanned the horizon as the Sparrow continued to tack against the wind and against the currents making slow progress to the south. The warm ocean breeze blew across his face and in this moment of solitude he felt the freedom of the open waters.
Freedom from the troubles of the land, freedom from his heart full of vengeance and freedom from the the desires of this world, he was a man at peace. The peace and the freedom of the moment came to a crashing end with the sound of his Captain's voice.
"Jack, ya look as a man deep in thought, thinking of how ye shall train the crew upon the guns I hope." spoke Captain Bonnie.
"Nay, just enjoying the day and the sight of these open waters. I see we are heading ever southward, to the Caribbean, I suppose." Jack replied.
"Not just yet Jack, I told ya that I spent a few years in Charles Town, biding my time for this occasion. We sent out three teams of men to gather ships before we enter those warm waters, where our fortunes lie. I have the Sparrow and Captain Greene commands the Fortune. His father, Jedidiah, and some of the lads went on to Norfolk in Virginia to seize another ship. I fear Jedidiah has met an ill fate as no ship has appeared upon our horizon. We shall continue our course, in the fading hope that Jedidiah shall join us. Our first target shall not be any ship at sea, Jack. I left many a good friends in Charles Town. We shall sack that city, Jack. For unbeknownst to the good citizens, over a hundred men within their gates await my command. And Jack, this should interest ye, the Custom House in Charles Town keeps excellent records of every ship that has entered port these past five years. In those ledgers are the names of every ship and every Captain and every ship's owner."
Charles Bonnie grabbed Jack by his arms and turned him so that they faced closely, eye to eye and nose to nose.
"Jack, ye shall know the name of every ship owned by yar friend, Archibald Campbell."
A sneer came across Jack's face as his heart once again filled with the fire of his vengeance as he replied.
"And with that I shall plunder all that the Campbell has stolen, and I shall shed their blood, measure for measure."
"That's a good lad, Jack. No one starts life as a pirate, we are all driven to it by such men as the Campbell, men of commerce who know nothing of honor."
In Bermuda, the Essex lay at anchor in the harbor. Kate and Mr. Hagney had returned from St. George's with enough men to bring a full contingent aboard the Essex, with promise of gold and of silver. Many a sailor had jumped ship from the merchantmen that shared the quiet waters of St. George's harbor with the ship of war.
Come the dawn, many an honest Captain would be searching the streets of St. George's for men to man their ships.
Captain Lewis had spent the early hours of the day escorting the French Captain and his crew to the fort. They would spend the duration of the war working the docks of St. George's. He also met with the Captains of the British ships of the line to report his encounter with the French navy, before returning to the Essex.
Mr. Howard had offloaded much of the cargo from the prize ship. All the cargo except for the many barrels of molasses which Captain Lewis had instructed to leave aboard the prize ship.
Captain Lewis called all the officers, with the exception of Mr. Crossland who remained in the Captain's quarters recovering from his wounds, to a counsel of war. Also attending the counsel of war were Kate Lewis, Master of the Ship and Mr. Hagney. The counsel convened in the officer mess.
"Gentlemen, I have gathered ye together to discuss our next move. I have been thinking it odd that after we seized the prize ship, we were set upon by ships of the French navy, first by the brigantine, which I suppose did sink in the storm and then two ships of the line. I surmise that the prize ship was a straggler, part of a larger convoy from the Caribbean under the protection of a French fleet. I further conclude that given the limitations of the French navy, this fleet shall not be heading directly back to France. Arcadia, they shall first head for Arcadia, and gather more merchant ships from the north before crossing the Atlantic to France. And gentlemen, do ye know what shall be in the cargo holds of these Arcadian ships?"
The officers of the Essex remained silent. Mr Howard, began to chuckle and smile as he broke the silence:
"What is the price of fur in Bristol these days?"
"Exactly, Mr Howard! A fleet of merchant ships filled with the finest beaver pelts from the Americas. And with war cutting off supplies, the felt merchants in London must already be starving for pelts. A true fortune, gentlemen, a fortune in furs. Thus I propose, that we sail for Boston. We shall sell the molasses to the rum distillers. With those funds we shall fit the prize ship for war. Mr. Howard, what is the name of the ship?"
"Bonnehomme, it means The Good Man."
"We shall call her the Goodman. Now gentlemen what say ye to my proposal."
The officers exchanged glances briefly then all nodded in agreement. Kate spoke up.
"If we are successful, do ye intend to sell the furs in Bristol?"
"Aye, is that an issue."
"Nay, tis just to be so close to Ireland, to home and yet forbidden to return. Tis a fine plan Aaron, a fine plan indeed."
"What of Mr. Crossland? Shall he be joining us?" Mr. Howard inquired, still feeling a bit guilty for his plight.
Kate spoke: "His fever has broken and the wound was not so deep. If the fever does not return, I suspect that he shall be fit as a fiddle by weeks end. Come the dawn, we shall know."
The dawn came and Mr. Crossland's fever did not return. The Essex and the Goodman set sails and silently slipped passed the fort that guarded the entrance of St. George's harbor headed north, north for Boston.
In the early light of the dawn the bodies of the mutineers could be seen blowing in the breeze from the scaffolds raised upon the ramparts of the fort. The Queen's justice had come swift and certain. Death for all mutineers, tried in the morning and hanged in the evening.
Captain Hanes ran through the streets of St. George's, stopping in every tavern along the way desperately seeking his crew. Five men had failed to return from the night before. He lacked enough men to set sail. He pulled open the door to a run down shack of a tavern at the edge of town. In the very back of the dark and dank tavern sat three men with a bottle of rum between them.
None were men that Captain Hanes recognized, he had failed to find his crew. Walking to the table, the Captain picked up the bottle.
"Do ye mind if I join ye for a drink. Tis been a hard night, as it seems I have lost and good portion of me crew."
The men laughed, and nodded in approval.
Captain Hanes, lifted the bottle to his lips and took a large swig of the rum.
"Is any of ye sailors?"
An old man with a large scar upon his face responded.
"Aye we are good honest men of the sea."
"Seeing as I am in need of sailors, would ye be interested and setting sail this morning?"
"Depends, on where ye be heading." replied the old man with a large scar upon his face.
"Charles Town in the Carolinas."
"I can only speak for me self, but I shall sail with ye to Charles Town. But no farther mind ye."
The other two men agreed, to sail to Charles Town and yet no farther. Captain Hanes could hardly believe his good fortune, to have found willing replacements for his missing crewmen.
And thus Jedidiah Greene gained his passage to Charles Town.