CHAPTER 33 - WINTER HARBORS
Angelica McPherson stood on the docks of Bath Towne as the sun began to rise in the eastern sky, scanning the horizon for the sight of sails in the distance. Every morning since here arrival she had a habit of rising early, to to the docks, in the fleeting hope that one day, one fine day the man who had saved her and her son, Andrew, would return from the sea. Today had been like all the others, for no sails were seen upon the horizon. As the sun's bright light lit the sky, she turned her back towards it and made the short walk back to the house of James Murray, to prepare breakfast and begin the hard days work. With Andrew's assistance, James Murray's dream of producing naval stores had come to life. The red bricked kilns to render tar and pitch from the tall Carolina pines had been built. Kilns that were fired every morning and burnt throughout every day. Her life in Bath Towne had settled in to a set routine, a daily grind of fire, tar and pitch with the only brightness provided by a fire in her heart for the return of Jack Henry.
The Hopewell, Captain Marshal commanding, made good speed to Boston where the French prisoners were turned over to the British authorities causing some consternation among the merchants of Boston who were expected to pay for their imprisonment. Mr. Marshall though it best not to sell any of his remaining cargo in Boston, as he felt the merchants of that city would attempt to recoup their losses imposed upon them by the French prisoners of war by offering less than a fair price for their plunder. The Hopewell stayed but one night in Boston before setting sail to Philadelphia and a heroes welcome from Lord Pembroke. While most of the crew would spend the winter aboard ship, Mr. Crossland was granted a room in Lord Pembroke's manor home so as to recuperate from his injuries.
The Essex and the Goodman had set sail for Bristol. The journey was a bit longer than had been hoped for, as in mid passage the winds did die in the doldrums which were common in the Atlantic during the late Fall. For two full weeks the winds failed to blow leaving the two ships stranded upon the ocean that resembled a sheet of glass. With each passing day, Captain Lewis became ever grateful for the good counsel of Mr. Marshall, for had the French prisoners remained, surely many would have died for the want of food and water. After a fortnight the winds began to blow and once again the sails were full with the strong westerly winds of the north Atlantic.
Two days before their arrival in Bristol where fortune awaited them all, the call came from the crows nest, the call of "Land ho! Tis Ireland!". Kate O'Donnell Lewis, rushed to decks for the sight of her island, the green island of home. Cornelius Hagney and the Select men manned the railings by her side. Not a word was spoken between them for the entire day, just silence, and a sadness as each struggled for a better glimpse of Erin's shore. Captain Lewis gave the order, that every Irishman was relieved of duty that day.
The Essex and the Goodman sailed into Bristol where the crew was greatly rewarded, in silver, for their share of the captured French cargo. The merchants of Bristol paid a high price for the furs, with some grumbling that the price was almost twice as high as it had been before the Fall of war.
Captain Bonnie had already laid his plans for his winter harbor as he set the course of the Fortune towards the south, towards the Caribbean, to Nassau in the Bahamas. Nassau had become the harbor of choice for pirates and smugglers.
The Fall of war had been good to Captain Bonnie, for he now commanded three ships, the Fortune, the Sparrow and the Thistle. Each ship rode low across the water, full of plunder from Charles Towne. Though their recent defeat at the hands of the Governor was an unfortunate event, Captain Bonnie consoled himself that every man who he had lost in the battle was one less man to lay a claim to the prize. In the Bahamas, he paid his crew well for their share of the plunder as the cargo was sold to smugglers who no doubt would sail to Charles Towne and sell it back to the merchants of that city for a large profit.
And though the pirate crew had received their fair reward, Captain Bonnie with the assistance of Sally Brown and her girls, would have the crew's silver back in his coffers while the ships lay at rest that winter.
The Fall of War had indeed been good to Captain Bonnie. He had only two concerns as his ships lay at harbor in the clear blue waters of the Bahamas. Could he really trust his captains, Nathaniel Greene and his father, Jedidiah Greene or would they betray him as they had betrayed their own men that night in Charles Towne. His other concern was for Jack Henry, his old gunner. Jack had proven his worth in battle and for his skill there was no concern. It was his heart, a heart set on vengeance against the Campbells. For a heart full of vengeance is driven by a passion that becomes reckless, and recklessness is the mortal danger of every pirate.