Chapter 1: I Need Adventure
What a waste of my life! All I ever heard people screaming at me was, "Rum! I need more rum!" or "Don't forget to scrub the floors before supper!". The concept of supper was pretty laughable for me, I mean really, it was just some lousy table scraps that the innkeeper, Mrs. Bulveridge, had leftover at the end of the day. There was very little lighting at the Admiral Benbow Inn, which was where I lived and practically slaved. Since I was now 14 years of age, Mrs. Bulveridge decided that I did not need an education as much as she needed my help running the place. Whatever, I guess I owed it to her. She didn't have to take me in when they died. I had learned how to read. I wasn't beaten, too often that is, and not by Mrs. Bulveridge mind you, but by the men.
The smell of their smoke and cheep rum permeated the air. It soaked into the old wooden tables and was impossible to get out. The men got a little rowdy sometimes, but it was nothing I couldn't handle, even if they did get away with thrashing me sometimes. There was one guy that lived there, he was a real trip. He told great stories, though I did not know if they were true or not. One that he was particularly fond of telling was that of a treasure map that led to a huge cache of gold. The man who buried it so many years ago supposedly killed the crew who helped him, and then died himself before he could return to the cursed island to claim it. The real mystery was that no one knew who had the map now. There was also something about a one-legged man that my friends and I were suppose to look out for, although he never really told us why. It would be pretty sweet to have all that gold. I sure wouldn't be living here anymore, that was for sure.
Even if they weren't true stories, they were the closest thing to entertainment that I found around that place. That is, besides my friends, Gonzo and Rizzo. They were a handful, but were a lot of fun. We loved to dream about magnificent places that we could explore. Going down by the docks to pretend we were explorers was the closest we had ever gotten before. There was always something amazing going on. All you had to do was look for it. Gonzo and Rizzo also held a practical place at the inn. They helped me out with the never ending pile of chores, and also lived at the Admiral Benbow Inn. Gonzo and Rizzo both had families, unlike myself, but like me they didn't really have anybody.
The night was coming to a close. Finally all the patrons were leaving. They paid me no attention as they dragged themselves out of their chairs to go home for the night. If it weren't for the occasional squeezes on the butt they gave me, I would think I was invisible. It was the usual routine. I cleaned up the tables, washed the glasses, mopped the floors, put out the candles, stoked the fire once more, then put out the lanterns. The last chore was the hardest, as I was only 5' 1", which was definitely not tall enough to reach the lantern hanging in the street. Thar was where the benefit of having friends came in handy. Gonzo climbed atop my shoulders, then Rizzo got on his on the very top. He could just reach the lantern, and this was the only way anyone could reach it. It just showed how dependent on eachother we were.
"I hate my life," I announced to my friends, as we stood in a tipping tower on the side of the street before bed.
"I hate your life too," Rizzo assured me.
"We work ourselves to the bone. What, just to survive? Guys, we gotta get out of here!" I exclaimed in aspiration.
No people in town seemed like my kind of people. There was no life for me there. I need to go out and see the world, and do it while I was young and had my heart set on it. I did not want this feeling to go away. I wanted a better life full of adventure and real excitement.
They would have loved to leave right then and there with me, but they reminded me of two things. One, that Mrs. Bulveridge needed my help, and that two, I was an orphan with no money. I would not make it long out there all on my own. I argued about it with them for a while, but I saw the truth in what they were saying. I was stuck there, doomed to wash and dry, and to do it till I died.
We walked back inside from the foggy street lamp, now extinguished, shutting the inn's door behind us. It was nearing 1 am. We needed to be getting to bed, but then in stumbled Mr. Bones in his usual drunken stupor.
"Rum! I need more Rum!" he shouted at me taking me by the arms and giving me a violent shaking.
This was not an uncommon thing.
Gonzo rushed to go get him a glass, but Mrs. Bulveridge had a keen sense of hearing and called down from her room not for us to get him anymore rum for the night. I was not in the mood to deal with him begging me to get him some, so I poured him a small glass, hoping that he would go to bed after that. Gonzo shot me a look of "not again" and we hoped together that the effects of the strong smelling float would set him to sleep, but it didn't.
There was a faintly knocking noise and then the front door of the inn flew open with loud bang! A ghostly looking man seemed to float inside the room with all of the tables.
"Oh, Billy Bones!" he cried, "where are you? I know you are hiding from me."
He looked horrible, like he had been out at sea far too long. No, make that, in the sea to long. He looked like a ghost that had just washed up on the docks. He must have also been blind because he stumbled over nearly everything in the room, including the moose head on our wall. Finally, after fondling my hair a bit and threatening my friends, he found Billy Bones, who had taken out a gun to shot him. Just in the nick of time, Blind Pew, as he told me his name was, went flying through the air, muttered a few insults and threats at Mr. Bones, gave him a small piece of paper, and the wandered back out the door into the streets, disappearing forever from my sight.
"What did he want?" I begged Mr. Bones to tell me.
A shriek of alarm and then an exclamation of horror resounded from him as he unfolded the paper in his shaking hands, "The black spot!".
He ran in a drunken whirlwind to his room pulling me along with Gonzo and Rizzo running by our side.
"Quick! There isn't much time, get my sea chest ready lads. Blind Pew and the rest of Captain Flinty's crew will be coming back to kill me. I'll go get that treasure myself. I have got to before they get the treasure map," he told us his plans, but was cut short when he fell back on the bed and started to have a heart attach. He pulled my closer to his side,"Take the map Gemmy lass, and run with it as far as you can, and then run still further. You are the only friend I got. Oh, but don't run with scissors," and with that, he died right before my very eyes.
"We are standing in a room with a dead man!" Rizzo yelled, and we ran out of the room, only to have dangerous pirates in the hallways set to kill. Rizzo, Gonzo, and I broke the glass of Mr. Bones' bedroom window, and jumped out of it to safety. Loud gun noises and yells were heard inside. Mrs. Bulveridge called to us that she would be alright, and told us to run for it, which we did, but not before a terrible boom was heard, and the inn caught on fire from the explosion that came from the storage room. We ran as fast as we could. I placed Gonzo on my back, and tucked Rizzo underneath my arm as I ran. We dashed down the alley, and in front of the village stores. The nasty pirates were following us, but were no match for us when I grabbed a horse from the stables and scurried out of town, not knowing that I would probably never return.
Chapter 2: I Need A Ship
It may have been going on three in the morning, but we were all way too excited to sleep. The inn had exploded in a burst of flames just minutes ago and Billy Bones, our best friend, had just died, leaving us with a treasure map. At least that was what we thought it was, we were only going on the words of Billy Bones as of then and were running around aimlessly on the back of a somewhat stolen horse. None of us had made it out of town before, so we had no clue where we were going. The beautiful black and white horse breathed heavily beneath us as we turned up the cobblestone road and over a hill that led out of town. The pirates that we had left behind in the last town still remained frozen in my mind. They would probably still be there for years to come.
Billy Bones had told us many stories about his years at sea with Captain Flint. Something in particular that he liked to talk about was the ship that he sail the sever seas with. Gonzo was fortunately able to remember the name of the man who had built the ship for Captain Flint and his crew, a man by the name of Trelawny. Supposedly, he lived in the town of Portsmouth, which was 22.1 miles from where we lived in Southampton. We had gotten far enough down the road to escape the pirates, but I wished that I would have had that horse to ride all the way to Portsmouth. About 5 miles down the road, we ran into a couple that frequented the Admiral Benbow in. They asked what we were doing out so late, and I explained to them what had happened. I also asked them to take the horse back to the stables, as it was not rightfully mine. So, the rest of the Journey to Portsmouth we had to make on foot, which is why I wished that I still had the horse, Rizzo made me carry him on my back. We still had 5 hours of walking ahead of us.
We continued ahead with our journey, but we were getting quite hungry and tired.
"Do you think Mrs. Bulveridge will be alright?" Gonzo finally broke the silence.
"I suppose so, she told us she would be fine," I replied.
"She always did have a pig headed nature to her," Rizzo consoled us.
The morning sun was starting to rise and the birds in the trees were waking up. The ground was so hard and rocky that it wore down what little was left of the soles of my shoes quicker than I wished. I couldn't go on much longer. Rizzo's little rat feet dug into my back and left little bruies.
"Guys, we need to stop. I can't carry him on my back much longer," I finally pleaded, "The sun is going to be up in the sky soon and then we really won't be able to sleep. The shipbuilder will just have to wait." With that, we stopped on the side of the road, walked back into the bushes so that we couldn't be seen from the road, and got ready for a very cold day's sleep.
A few hours later we were awoken by carriages going down the road, all of them heading to Portsmouth, which was where we needed to be.
"Wake up! We have got to get going now. The shipbuilder can't wait forever," I ordered them.
"Well, your attitude sure changed quickly!" Rizzo remarked.
The rest of the journey was uneventful and soon we were in town. We knew what town to look in at least, but we had not the faintest idea where Master Trelawny was. We had to ask a half a dozen people if they knew where to find him. Finally, we came across a middle aged lady who was able to point us in the direction of his office. "Go down the road and then take a right," she told us and smiled kindly.
There it was. It was a small, red brick building sandwiched between two taller grey buildings, each about three stories high. "Trelawney and Son: Master Shipbuilders" the sign read. It was a lovely sign that glistening in golden color as it was lit up by the bright sunshine pouring out of the sky and through the slats of the covered porch above it. The oval shaped sign had a rope border and a magnificent ship towards the top of the plaque that extended out of the perimeters of the sign. The richness of the mere sign alone made me second guess if Trelawney would really finance our proposed venture.
"Whoa, whoa! Reality check here, guys!" Rizzo finally voiced our craziness.
"It is worth a try, Rizzo," I countered him.
Just then a scholarly looking man stepped out of the red brick building and greeted us, asking us if we wanted to see Trelawney. He informed us that Trelawney was indeed gone and would not return for a few months. We turned to leave with our spirits crushed, but he stopped us suddenly and asked if we wanted to see Master Trelawney's rich, half-wit son Squire Trelawney. We entered the vast hall and were escorted into the squire's study.
"Well gentlemen, this is definitely bona fide treasure map," he exclaimed with great satisfaction of knowledge.
Evidently, it was a man whom lived in his finger that told him so. Even if he was a complete bozo, he had money. That was all we needed and lots of it. He agreed to finance our journey, complete with a schooner ship and a full crew! We could not believe that it happened. We were really going on an adventure now! Before we could set sail, a crew for the schooner had to be hired. Squire Trelawney assured us that he would personally hire the best crew possible with the help of a certain Long John Silver, whom we assumed to be a family friend of the Trelawneys. Since it was going to take at least three days for the crew to be ready and the schooner to be stocked, we had to find somewhere to stay in the meantime. Out of his father's wealth and his own personal kindness, Trelawney let us stay in the spare bedroom of the store his father owned. It was a nice looking room with a brass bed up by the window and a washing basin with a mirror and clean, white towel by the door. The bed had a frilly comforter on it with lots of plush pillows. I took two pillows and two drawers from the dresser to make beds out of them for Rizzo and Gonzo on the floor. Of course they complained, but that was nothing new.
Chapter 3: I Need Food
Finally the day had come when our schooner was ready to sail with a full crew. We had been getting restless and Gonzo was getting increasingly worried that the pirates whom had attacked our home would come looking for us. My map had to be kept as much of a secret as it could be. If people found out while we were still on land there could be major complications. The town seemed fairly safe, but no place was safe enough for such a valuable treasure map. For extra measure, the magnificently over priced room that Squire Trelawney let us stay in for free provided an excellent cover from the streets below, a great place to hide the map from prying eyes. Now it was finally time!
Squire Trelawney accompanied us down to the docks where the schooner was to be waiting. It glistened gold and wooden; the Hispaniola. There it stood towering stories above us; bobbing up and down on the beautiful waves of England's coast. It was a fine vessel made of solid wood, blood, sweat, and tears. It reminded me of the ark that my papa used to tell me about, the one that had helped save the animals of the earth. We were kind of like that. This ship was going to house us and save us from the pirates.
Men scurried around the Hispaniola getting the last preparations ready. Whistles sounded and music from the dockside market shared the air with laughter and bartering. I should have been uneasy with all the hubbub and strangers, but I had a faulty perception of danger. Meaning, it was barely there. The captain was not aboard yet, a stately man had told us so. He called himself Mr. Arrow. Based on what he told us, we figured it could be an hour or two before we set sail. Some of the sailors greeted us as we wandered around taking it all in. Rizzo was happy to see that they were fine fellows of the sea. More so if you viewed them individually. They still looked a little scary to him as a group though. He thought most anything was dangerous. Surely we would be safe here with plenty of adventures, a good crew, and a sturdy ship of healthy proportions.
Seeing that all was well, "Cool ship. I am starving. Where is the kitchen?" Rizzo asked unenthusiastically.
"I would know just as well as you," I reasoned. Wandering around some more and using our common knowledge we finally made our way to the galley door just below deck. We heard mellow singing as we neared the entrance. I opened the door slowly to hear more clearly whom I presumed to be the cook singing sea shanties. He had a distant and deep toned voice, that of a strong man. It sounded very good to me. Slowly we inched up closer, but Rizzo ran ahead of us out of his insane love of food. I poked my head around the corner to catch a glimpse of the cook and his voice matched his appearance. He looked rather rugged and wore typical sailor attire, except the he also wore an apron. Something about the way the swinging lanterns cast a yellow glow across his face scared me. For the first time in a while, actually scared. I noticed just in time that Rizzo had ran ahead and was about to eat an apple without asking. I burst around the corner without thinking twice to stop him and nearly ran into the next wall, "Rizzo, wait!"
The cook grabbed me harshly by the shoulder. "What have we here? Stowaways!" he exclaimed, pulling a knife up to my throat, "I am afraid we barbecue and shish-kebab stowaways aboard this ship!" He snarled at me in a way that left me feeling deep and empty and wanting to hide. Then he smiled in a way that really made me hate myself. "Wait, I know, you must be the new cabin boys." He stabbed the knife he held at my throat into a big pink apple. The juices flooded around the blade and spilled onto the counter.
"Yes sir, we are," I assured him, creeping towards the farthest wall away from him. My voice was pitched and faint.
"I am sorry lass. I did not see that you were the new cabin girl. My humble apologies," the cook exclaimed, as I stepped into the light coming from the open door. His voice trailed off as his eyes trailed over my tender body, boyish as I often looked. "Long John Silver, at yer' service." At that he gave a mocking little bow and a mysterious smile. "Hungry lass?" He tossed me the apple.
"Thank you sir," I stumbled, as I caught the apple.
"Oh, you needn't be calling a lowly ship's cook 'sir'," Long John stated, taking the knife he had held up at me, and laying it down to take my hand in his and give it a small kiss.
The feeling of his service came as quite a shock to me. I could see the color of his eyes, they were deep brown, but they sparkled like sapphires. He was a very charming and loud man.
"But we are just cabin... servants, Mr. Silver," I retorted.
"Long John to his friends. And believe me, lass... a friend you can trust is worth his weight in gold. There's many a dark-hearted scoundrel in these ports," Long John spoke in a hushed murmur.
"Like pirates?" I asked, quite worried at the thought of encountering pirates again.
Long John's facial expression changed in the blink of an eye to something that silently seemed worried and begging me to not mention that word. A loud squawk rang out and a lobster appeared on his shoulder.
"Allow me to introduce my pet lobster 'Polly', finest crustacean a man could ask for. Raised him from a fingerling I did," John stated with pride. Evidently sea faring men did not have talking parrots, but talking lobsters. You learned something new everyday. My thoughts were cut short by the sound of a trumpet blaring outside the ship. The sound was getting louder and closer.
"That be the Captain lass. Run along and go stand at attention. I will be there just as soon as I can," Long John directed us. But when he stepped out from behind the counter, my heart jumped. His leg was missing. His right one to be exact. All I could do was stare at it.
'Oh, that? Lost that timber-fighting brigands off Madagascar under Admiral Hawke. There's many a man lost a leg and worse in the service of the king. Why, look what a cannibal took off me... in exchange for me own life," the cook held up his hand with two fingers apparently missing. I flinched and diverted my eyes, but just as he saw me cower, he started laughing in that loud, boisterous way of his and opened up his hand all the way, thus showing me his hands were fine. He was a real trickster.
We ran out to the top deck to see the Captain's carriage come roaring around the corner. There was a man driving the carriage and a man next to him blowing a horn. The sounds echoed out over the beautiful blue waters and bounced off of the solid wood sides of the Hispaniola. Samuel Arrow, the first mate, made everyone stand at attention. He was a very hoity-toity man and made everyone shipshape. All on deck fell silent as a stern looking man with a white powdered wig stepped out of the carriage. To our surprise, instead of walking straight ahead, he stepped to the side. Then we saw the true Captain, an adorable little frog in white boots, a huge hat, and a beautifully decorated outfit of blue with gold buttons and a rack of military awards.
"Heigh-ho, everyone!"Captain Smollett greeted everyone.
"That is the raging volcano?" Rizzo questioned.
"Maybe he gets 'hopping' mad," Gonzo joked back at him.
Chapter 4: I Need A Better Crew
"This voyage has begun!" Captain Smollett announced. A roaring cheer resounded from the crew, but I only listened to the shout of one man. His voice was deep and strong even though he stood among many other men with similar tones. It was a voice that made you want to cling on to it, to never let go; like you could hide behind it and wrap yourself up in it all at the same time.
The gangplank was raised. Beautiful, billowing sails of flaxen hue unfurled in the gentle wind. However, the sight was more comical than I had imagined it would be. Rizzo had been busy selling tickets to the town rats for a 'cruise ship'. Now not only was our ship occupied to full capacity with crew, it was also shared by hundreds of vacationing rats aboard with their Hawaiian shirts and parasols to boot, which made for very cramped quarters. We set sail none the less. The sun was shining and the sea was calm. The waters were clear and sparkling blue. I had fallen in love with it already. Our dreams were finally happening is what I told the boys as they ran off to watch the waves lap the sides of the ships. "Don't watch too long or you will get sick!" I shouted after them. At least that is what I had been told happens when you are out on the water.
With them off exploring I was left to my own thoughts and I watched the horizon awhile before falling into the deep thoughts that only seem to happen when you are rolling silverware or, apparently, watching the horizon. The only town I had ever known was nowhere to be seen anymore. I thought about Mrs. Bulveridge and said a little prayer for everyone I had ever crossed paths with. Gonzo and Rizzo were all I had left. The last thought hit me a little harder than I had expected. Why were they the only two I had left? Why had everyone else left me or I left them? I didn't want it to be that way. Having seen more of the top deck than the bottom and being quite alone for being completely surrounded by people and rats on the former, I ventured downwards wondering the whole time where I should I should not go. That was something I admired about Gonzo, he didn't care much about what he should and shouldn't do. He just did things. My thoughts were interrupted.
"The stars will be coming out soon. Have you ever had the pleasure of seeing them out on the water?" Long John asked me with a twinkle in his eyes. My directional abilities were not the best. I hadn't even recognized the room I had bumbled into as Silver's galley, but it was. Seeing him there again in the yellow light the lantern cast reminded me, but I should have realized sooner. Feeling like an idiot I could think of what to say.
"I don't think so. I have never been on the water before," I admitted, as I leaned in closer to show him my interest in the conversation.
"Well then, there is a first time for everything." He grinned, grabbing my hand without asking and leading me out on to the top deck with him. My immature mind was stuck on the fact that he didn't seem shocked I had never been on the water before. Instead, his answer had been classy and suave, so effortlessly. He didn't laugh at me and that was all it took to make me think he was sweet. Living and working in a bar has a way of screwing your mind over like that. Even though we had made it up to the deck, he still held my hand in his. I say that because he did not just hold my hand, he held my hand in his. Even though there was a remarkable size difference, our hands were the same in that they were rough calloused from the lives that we led. Though they were different, they were very much the same.
We walked along the open deck over to the railing where Silver pointed up with his free hand and I followed his finger up to the sky filled with stars of all sizes, colors, and brilliance. He tugged me a little closer and looked down into my eyes. "Such beauties they are... as are you." I felt the heat rush into my face and gather on my cheeks in a fiery blaze. No one had talked to me like that before. Sure, I had gotten unwelcome swats on the butt from customers before and even been asked if I wanted to see things I had no interest to see, but no one had ever called me beautiful, compared me to stars. I hadn't ever felt this way before, to enjoy being so close to someone I could hear them breathing. Something, maybe something I didn't understand, or didn't want to understand, was connecting me to him. It was as simple as that.
Chapter 5: Sleeping together
His eyes were of the deepest brown in the world, so much so they made me drop dead nervous. They were more expansive than the ocean and were only surpassed in taking away my breath by the night sky itself. Even then those two things had something in common; the twinkle of starlight. He himself was mysterious and handsome, but it was his eyes that finished me off. From the same beautiful palette of God, his dark hair fell down around his shoulders and cut across the jaw bone of his deepened cheeks. There he stood next to me, a picture of heaven on earth, looking out across the never ending water. His demeanor was every bit the description of his profession; a pirate.
“If you would, Madam, allow me the pleasure of your satiating my curiosity. Tell me Lass, why be a gentle thing like you sailing with the likes of us? Take no offence, but ye look quite the flower girl to me,” Sliver asked. I turned my face to the side as I questioned him, “What do you mean?” Silver looked towards the heavens for a moment as he thought. I chose to stare at his red-lined vest with the golden buttons intently, finding it quite unbearable to make eye contact. Silver eyed me up and down just as he had the stars above. “Shouldn’t ye be with yer parents sewing petticoat and finery for the sea town’s homes?” he finally asked. Should I tell him the truth? “I’m an orphan,” I finally admitted. The empty feeling from the pit of my stomach crawled up and radiated unpleasantly from the spine of my meagerly clothed back. The stars up in the sky served as no refuge. “Whew, I’m sorry to hear that, lass. Coincidental to say the least, I were eight when my father died." He leaned against the ship’s sticky wooden railing. “The salt of the sea stings the fresh cuts of the flesh. The salt of memories stings the ancient cuts of the heart. I guess we have a lot more in common than I thought.” He tried to lighten the mood, but we both stood farther apart than I would have liked, so I took a step closer. “I was five when I lost my parents... How old are you now?” Noticeably amused, he looked down at me with a small smile. “I’m 57, Jennifer. And you be, lass?" I rung my hands together with the nervousness of telling him. “I’m about one quarter your age.” "Fourteen and a quarter?" His eyes were incredulous. “Oh, but don’t worry, I can do the work of two boys my age,” I blurted out, not even having a justification as to why. “I’m not worried. Not much unnerves old Long John anymore. By the stars I tell you what, why don’t I show ye to you yer room?” I followed in the shadow he cast on the deck as he led me to the galley of the massive ship.
There we were back in his work space with the yellow lantern hanging calmly from the low ceiling. There was a bed in the back side room of the galley, not terribly large, but adequate for one maybe two people. “Here we are, Jennifer,” Long John alerted me. I looked at the bed and then him and then back at the bed. “I can’t sleep with you.” We had just met and he was 57, after all. “Well, of course, you could sleep in the bunks with thirty other men,” Long John stated with a smirk. I thought for a moment, panicked. I really hadn't planned this one out well enough. “I will sleep on the galley floor tonight if all is fine with you," I finally answered him. With an indigent huff I gathered one of the cream colored blankets on the bed into my hands and turned on my heels to scamper off to the galley. “Go head, Lass. I wish you a good night’s rest. Just ye remember, if cold air or nightmares come to yer sleep, the bed is still open to you,” Long John said. "Oh, I think I'll be fine, thank you," I shouted back from the other room.
I laid my head down on the hard wood planking, thin blanket in hand, and took to my undertaking of well needed rest. He came out into the galley to extinguish the lantern as soon as i was situated. He flashed me an amused little smile at my bedding arrangement as the light flickered out. His uneven steps on the hardwood floor grew quieter before climbing into his own bed in the other room bed. Silently, I went over the events of the day in my mind for quite some time before finally falling asleep.
Around one in the morning I woke. The lantern had been re-lit. The blanket I had taken to bed with me was wrapped tightly around my body, but still I was freezing and unable to sleep. The heat radiated off of the glass dome, but still my body shivered and shook. I didn’t know what to do about the cold other than bed down with Silver. He was asleep anyways, so it wasn’t too bad of an idea. Anything seemed better than my current conditions.
I crept as quiet as I could over to Silver’s bed. The freezing floors cut at my bare feet. I looked back at the lamp that had been re-lit. That was funny, I remembered him extinguishing it as I went to sleep. Distinctly, I recalled the image of his face and the shadows that the yellow light had cast on him. Now there he lay beneath the covers. His brown hair was a tangle on the ever so inviting sheets. I breathed as quietly as I could as I tried to slip beneath the covers. The heat of the bed was intoxicating, so I slipped in further. “Gemmy? Caved so easily?” His voice quietly mocked me. “You did this on purpose,” I countered. He turned in the bed to face me. ”I be a decent gentleman to you, Gem. I lit that old lantern just so you’s might stick easier to yer standards.” I was taken aback that he had lit the lantern just for my comfort. “I’m sorry, Silver.” “No harm done. What are ye doin’ way over there? Ye look half froze. Come here. I won’t bite,” he said pulling me closer.
My body slid across the sheets as he yanked me in. Now I was nestled against his body with my leg obscenely across his. My face was mere inches from his and all was silent for a moment as he stared at me with deep eyes, until suddenly he let out a roar of a laughter. He found the whole thing funny for some such reason that he was influenced to laugh so hard that he shook the bed and gave off such a commotion that my reputation was certainly all but ruined aboard the ship already. He wrinkled his nose and snapped his teeth together in the air teasingly. He could sense my concern at the situation, but I dared not move back away from his close embrace. "Oh, don't worry Gem. I won't lay a hand on ya. Bright as flames yer cheeks are though. Oh, haha, bless me soul," he laughed, "Oh, get to bed, Gem. We has a long day 'head of both of us; even make you a bed for yerself tomorrow if ya like."
At that he pulled me in a little closer. It was oddly comforting somehow. He smelled of leather and deep, dark alcohols and I liked it.
Chapter 6: Gluten Allergy
I thought it would be really cute to give Gem a gluten allergy, much like myself. Then Long John could surprise her with gf treats :)
“Give this soup a taste would you, Lass?” Long John held out a spoon of steaming chicken noodle soup. I had smelled it cooking for the last hour; all carrots, chicken broth, and goodness. “Oh, no thanks. Thank you though,” I played it off. I just knew he was going to offer me something I couldn’t have. “Alright, suit yerself then,” Long John said before taking for himself the spoonful he had held out for me. He hummed to himself a little. It was a kind of melancholy sound, but I didn’t want to look at him to see what was on his mind. I was thinking about whether I should tell him or not. If I looked at him we would both be sharing thoughts and him knowing I had something on my mind was always worse than just saying what I was wrestling with. The awkward silence got to me quickly enough. “It’s not that I don’t want to,” I blurted out. “I just can’t eat wheat is all.” I shrugged my shoulders and kept at slicing potatoes; my eyes watching the sharp blade I guided between my fingers. “Don’t think I’ve ever heard o’ that before, Lass. Not that I don’t believe ye of course. It just be a new one to me is all.”
That night I found a bowl of vegetable soup in front of me instead. I looked over at Long John and he had the most permanent smile on his face.
Chapter 7: Broken Plate
Dinner was coming to an end. One by one the crewmen sat down their plates and took up their projects for the evening. Some of them repaired tattered sails. Others began to sing and play music. The wind had been picking up and I loved the way it made me feel free blowing all around me, but I still had a ton of work to do below beck. For instance, there were the dishes to clean. My apron was already quite stained and it was past time to wash it again. Cradling a towering pile of dinner plates in my arms while trying my best to keep the grime off of myself I fumbled my way down the stairs to the galley.
Secretly I hoped that no one would be around down there. It was so hard to find alone time on a ship of this size with so many crewmen. Lucky for me, it was dimly lit and empty. There were only those yellow lanterns hanging from the ceiling and the orange glow of the sunset coming down the stairwell to light the galley up for me. It was a beautiful glow. Sploosh! The dishes dropped in the sink and caused a tidal water of dirty dish water to soak the front of my dress. I swiped at my clothing with my hands to try and save myself, but it was in vain and I had to continue doing the dishes soaking wet in defeat. That evening had not been going too well for me, but still, I had a lot to be thankful for.
I didn't really know why, but now that it was evening, it all came crashing at me like that tidal wave of dish water. Still, I tried to hold it back. Pirates, after all, were not suppose to cry. But then IT happened... it was a silly little thing really, but it was all I needed to be pushed past the breaking point. A cup fell on the ground, and shattered by my feet.
I was angry I broke the cup. I was angry that Long John would be angry. I was angry that I was going to have to clean it all up and my evening was full enough of things to do as it was!
It had been months since I had cried, so I guess it was time. I just stood there in front of the sink crying in self pity. I didn't want to stopa and I didn't care if anyone heard. I wanted someone, anyone, to realize that I was upset, and that I was disappointed.
I thought about my family, the voyage, my soaked apron, the stress of the crew, how bad I wanted maple candy, and just about everything else under the sun. I cried about all of it. I think that the worst part about crying is when no one can hear you. It is like you are protesting to thin air. Your cries feel as though they are in vain. The more you cry, the more desolated you feel.
Finally my tears let up and I feigned resolution. I had convinced myself that I would be fine; that I was strong enough to do it on my own and I believed it until I was no longer alone. It was only then that would I realize just how weak I really was.
Dishtowel in hand I began doing the dishes again and I even tried to hum a song that I heard being played on the top deck. Then I felt a hand on the top of my head. I spun around to face Long John staring down at me. He has been there the whole time.
"What be troublin' ya lass? Me never seen cryin' like that 'board this ship," he looked down at me and I looked down at the dishtowel in my hands.
"I'll be fine-" I couldn't hold it back any longer.
I flung myself in to his chest and started again. His hands cradled my back with the care that only he could provide me.
"Do you want to tell old Long John what this is about?" he asked me.
"Everything. Just everything. I broke a cup," I answered him, half embarrassed at the sound of it.
He let out a laugh, "An old cup! Why I've broken me own hand, and not cried over it."
"Well good for you," came my reply.
"Oh, come on now. Must be something worse than a broken piece of pottery going on," he questioned me, still holding me close to his body.
"The whole ship, the whole thing-- I don't know what to do about it," I threw my hands up in the air and waved them erratically.
He lifted a string of hair off of my face as he spoke, "Aye, it is hard, but that is what makes it worth it. If it were easy, everybody would be sailin' out here and where would that leave us? It takes a lot of strength to do what you be doin' and honestly I'm surprised ye didn't break down sooner."
"You really mean that?" a smile came to my face.
Long John got a serious look in his eyes as he told me, "Gemmy, never would I lie to ya."
He held me in his arms a little while longer before he told me to get back to work, which I returned to with a new found happiness.
Chapter 8: Stormy Weather
The hot sand warmed my stiff neck and back. Seas and seas of it covered every inch of the beach. My hands dug deeper and still the sand was warm. I buried my hands to my elbows and only then did I reach the cooler layer. The sand conformed to every plane of my body and the heat calming my mind, but then I woke up.
The thin linen sheets were tangled up between my hands and the heavy, salty air stuck in my lungs. The air here was smooth from the humidity, but made it hard to breath it was so thick. Next to me, Long John was still asleep. Why had I woken up? I wondered. Something like a canon fired. It rang through the night like a boulder falling off a cliff. The sound of thunder rolled over me. I waited to hear if It would happen again. Wooo crash! It peeled a second time.
"Wake up. Come on, wake up. I heard thunder." I grabbed Long John by the arm, my worried tone apparent. He tried to swat me away with his hand, but I persisted.
"What in the seven seas! Go back to bed," he grumbled.
"But it was really loud. Come on, wake up," I said.
I sat on my knees next to him in bed and slowly he turned to face me just as there was another deep and low rumble.
"Yer right. That doesn't sound good. Ya should go tell the captain an let me get back to bed," he replied before covered his head back up with the sheets.
Just then there was a loud knock on the galley door.
"Mr. Silver! Open up. It is Mr. Arrow," came the voice at our door.
I scurried out of bed, and double checked to make sure that my night gown covered me enough. "I'm coming!" I yelled, as I stumbled to the door.
"Good evening Miss Hawkins," Mr. arrow said, "I came to advise both you and Long John to stay below deck tonight. A terrible storm is on it's way, and I would hate to see anyone fall overboard."
"A storm, oh dear, thank you Mr. Arrow," I replied.
He gave me a small bow, and then continued on his way to tell all of the other men. I closed the door behind him, "Silver, did you hear that?"
When I looked behind me for his reply he was already getting dressed as best he could in the near dark. "Where are you going?" I inquired, scared of what his reply would be.
"Mr. arrow is wrong, somebody needs to get out there and help them with the sails," he replied.
He pulled his shirt over his arms and then did the buttons at the sleeves. They were little white buttons that I had sewed back on more than once for him. Next he grabbed his brown vest off of the vanity and fastened it. Then his headscarf and his boots were pulled on and tied up. The last article of clothing that he put on was his coat.
I had been searching for my shoes during this time, and had finally found them and was putting them on when he stopped me, "Oh no, lass. You are not going out there in that storm-" I stopped him mid sentence, "Well, I am not going to stay here alone!" He didn't think about it long before continuing again,"Well, you can't go out there Looking like that." And with that he took his coat off and draped it around my body. IT nearly reached my knees, and you couldn't see my hands.
The ship was rocking a lot harder now, harder than I had ever felt it. We opened the door, and a gust of wind tried to push us back inside the galley. It was still very dark outside. "get that rope over there and tie this one off!" silver commanded me. I fought the urge to wrap my arms around myself in the cold. Hurriedly I tied the rope to the deck while he shouted other commands at me. I knew that he wasn't trying to be mean on purpose. It was just the tension that he was under. If one of us messed up out there on the deck, it could mean the loss of a life.
Waves were washing over the deck. "Get out of the way, Gem!" Silver yelled at me. A huge wave crashed over the railing and knocked me off my feet. The water drug me to the end of the ship and pulled with all its power to wash me off. My hand grabbed at the water frantically. I was nearing the edge when rope washed around me and I tried to grab it, but it floated away before I could. The water was icy cold. As a desperate last attempt I grabbed onto the deck railing. My hands started to slip, but I was able to pull myself back aboard.
My heart raced as another wave roared up in the sea. I saw a pole on the deck and clung to it with all the strength I had left, but it was slippery and the rocking of the ship pulled me off. I felt something behind me. It was Long John. "Hold on!" he shouted as the wave crashed over the deck. With every inch of my body pressed hard against his, he shielded me from he wave. "We have to get below deck," his voice was lost in the crashing sound of water. Other sailors clamored around us trying to escape the same disaster we faced. He held me around my waist as we raced across the deck. All of the lines were tied down and we made out way along the middle of the ship back towards the galley.
A wave flooded down the staircase to the door at the bottom of it. Silver shoved me in the door as he locked it behind us. Water poured down our bodies and our soaked clothing. "Are you okay?" I asked him, noticing a gash on his forehead. "I'm fine. I'm just glad your safe," his voice trailed off, " I don't know what I would do if something happened to you." I sat down on the floor and removed the jacket he had let me borrow. The smell of a tropical storm, wet, warm, and sweet, replaced the normal galley air. The sound of heavy waves crashing at our door could be heard.
I went around to the other side of the bed to try and shield myself from Silver's view. Even though we shared a bed, we still took what privacy we could. Hastily, I removed my drenched clothing and wrapped myself up in the top bed sheet. It draped around me like a Roman gown. My tangled hair dripped water on the rough wooden floor as I searched for a towel to wrap it up in.
"Well, that sure was close," I said, as I tried to dry my hair with a rag as much as I could.
"The storm isn't over yet," he reminded me, "the worst is yet to come, I'm afraid.
He was holding an old rag up to his forehead, but blood was soaking through it. He noticed me looking at his wound and answered my unspoken question.
"I will be fine, Gem," he assured me.
"C'mon. I mean, I know you aren't going to die, but would you at least let me look at it?" I asked. "Here! Take a clean rag for goodness sake. You are going to drip blood all over the floor and I ain't going to clean it up," I said, grabbing one for him out of the barrel of washed rags.
"You dote on me far too much, lass," Silver sighed.
I got him to sit down on the bed for me so I could dress the wound on his head. His eyes were at my chest level, but we both tried not to notice. Maybe now would be a good time to tell him... my heart was beating faster.
"I care about you is all," I rushed my words.
"I've noticed," he said with a smirk.
"You know what I think?"
"I think that you are not nearly as cold and heartless as you claim to be. I think deep down inside all you really want is to love and be loved."
"That is a blasphemous lie."
"I'll prove it to you. Let me love you and the only thing you will want to do is love me back."
"Gem, I already do."
Chapter 9: Little fists
It was one of my rare days off galley duty. Silver was still working away. Usually, even when I wasn’t scheduled to be working beside him, I was. Having the option for a day once a week to not be was a relief, but not always what I wanted to do. I most often would rather be by his side working than recreating without him.
Today was different. I could feel it soon after waking up. It was one of my bad days mentally. I hated those days. I knew I was short tempered and unhappy that so I wanted to avoid being around anyone, even Silver. There were few private places on the Hispaniola and I was convinced I had found all of them. The best of them being below deck in the storage room for the spare riging. Our quarters in the back of the galley was private for Silver and I, but not for either one of us individually. My plan was simple; draw, read, write, and sleep until I felt better or found the solution how to.
Before I left Silver for the day, I got a glass of water with him in the galley. “I’m not doing well today in my head, so I’m gonna go be by myself for awhile, okay?” I clued him in on my way out the door. “Take that glass with you,” Silver said. I just told him I wasn’t stable, it was my one day off, and all he could tell me was something to do! I wanted to tell him how that made me feel, how angry I was, but I didn’t. I was going to cry instead, but I didn’t want to. So, I hit him. I didn’t want to do that either, but I did it and regretted the decision before I even contacted him. My small, balled-up fist hit chipped on the top of his shoulder. I recoiled away from him in horror at my own actions. “I didn’t want to hit you, I didn’t want to!” I blurted out, “I’m sorry.” He grabbed my fist in his own. “What was you thinkin’, Gem?” he questioned me. “I told you I’m not feeling well!” I said. “Either way, I shouldn’t of hit you. Really, I didn’t want to. It is bad to hit people. I shouldn’t.” He released my fist and placed he glass of water in it instead. “Here, take this,” Silver said. “So long as you promise not to throw it in my face.” He continued, “I were only trying to get you to take it with you because I know how crying dries a person out and in this heat we can’t be havin’ none of that.” I hated myself for hitting him and him talking to me so maturely only made me feel worse. Silver looked off to the side, “You are right. You shouldn’t hit people. I understand you are having an off day and you usually wouldn’t do that to Ol’ Long John. I forgive you.” The water glass felt heavy in my hand. He had been worried about me and wasn’t just telling me to clean up my mess of leaving it on the counter? “Thank you. I never want to hit you again,” I told him. He smiled and said, “Neither do I, those little fists of yours hurt.”
Chapter 10: Bottle Of The Good Stuff
“You know, Silver, sometimes I wonder if we are ever going to reach that island,” I sighed.
The ship rocked gently from side to side and it was a familiar feeling now, so instead of being scary, it was somehow comforting. It meant that we weren’t currently experiencing a storm; that I wasn’t going to be washed overboard again for good. Silver lay beside me. The two of us just lying there together looking up at the ceiling was serene. My mind was put well enough at ease that I dared to venture out my worries with Silver.
“Remember, Gem, Captain Smollett sails by rules and laws,” Silver spoke, his voice barely above a whisper, “but if it makes you feel any better, I’ll take you above deck and we can map things out ourselves by the stars.”
“Thanks, but no thanks. I’m too comfortable. Unless you want to, that is,” I flashed him a small smirk as I spoke.
Silver looked over at me with his soft brown eyes and just when I thought I couldn’t get any more bliss, he rolled over on his side and produced a bottle of rum from the sideboard.
“See now, Gem, I’d love to go top side out in that wonderfully cold night air, but just imagine how much safer me old bottle of the good stuff would be if you and I stayed here in the back of the galley where no one will bother us. If I took this out there, we’d have to fight the others off with me crutches,” Silver laughed. “It is task enough having to beat the men away from you.” He handed me the heavy glass bottle. “... and it is a task to my liking, yes sir.”
“You know plain and well I can beat them off myself,” I said.
After which I took a drink so long that Silver had to fight me for the bottle.
“You little scallywag, I know that all too well, but I can’t let you have all the fun, now can I?” Silver handed the bottle back to me with a wink before turning on his side to prop himself up beside me. “You know the first thing I’m going to do when we get to that island?” he asked me with a twinkle in his eye.
“No, what?” I humored him.
“I’m going to wish I was back here in this bed with you by my side, like we are right now, alone, staring up at the ceiling, going wherever the wind may take us,” he whispered.
“Why is that?”
“Because then I could imagine being on that island, imagining being here with you right now and the cycle would happen over--,” he paused to kiss me, “--and over.” Another kiss. “--and over.” One more. “--and over.”
By now I was laughing so hard that our kiss were less like kisses and more like laughing with our mouths together, but he continued until we were both laughing so hard he couldn’t get the words for the repeating like out and I could barely breathe. I braced my stomach with my arm it hurt so bad from laughing. I wrestled the bottle from his hands and rum nearly shot out my nose I was still laughing so hard.
“Maybe we should put this away and go up top,” I said, handing the bottle back to Silver who took one last swig before storing it back safely in the sideboard.
“So long as you promise not to fall overboard, thinking the ocean is the tub,” he laughed, also obviously drunk.
“Don’t worry. You could tell if I was thinking it was the tub because first my blouse would come off, then my trousers, and by then I think you could tell, because who takes a tub with their clothes on,” I snorted. “Certainly not I.”
Silver had pulled me to my feet during this whole drabble and now had me headed out the door with him to the galley. He followed behind me on his crutch and gave me a playful swat with it before we went out the door to the top deck.
Chapter 11: In The Apple Barrel
We waited silent as a barrel of apples for the men to leave. One by one they did. Silver, however remained below deck for a while longer, pacing back and forth, visibly upset, before leaving up the stairs to go about his duties.
Rizzo hugged my leg and Gonzo sat on my shoulder patting my head as I cried. Rizzo offered up to me the little green handkerchief from around his neck to wipe away my tears with. I took it from him, grateful to have such wonderful friends.
“I’m so sorry I have been neglecting you guys to be with Silver,” I cried. “You are the best friends I’ve ever had.”
“You had no way of knowing he was planning a mutiny,” Gonzo tried his best to console me. “Apology accepted.”
“That goes for me too,” Rizzo chimed in. “We need to go tell Captain Smollett right away. He could be in danger.”
“I-- I don’t think I can,” I muttered, beginning to cry again. “Maybe we misheard them or something. I don’t see how Silver could be one of them. How could he be? He loves me or at least I thought he did. He said he did.”
“He also just said he was going to kill us all, so I don’t know what to believe, but we need to tell Captain Smollett. It is the right thing to do, Gem. You know that. We’re your friends,” Gonzo said.
I looked up at my friend on my shoulder and my friend still holding onto me and gave a small smile “I know guys, I just don’t want to believe it right now.”
“Don’t cry again, Gem. We’ll hold your hand the whole time, won’t we Rizzo?” Gonzo looked down at our littlest friend.
“Ya, that’s right,” Rizzo agreed with a nod of his head for emphases. “And if I ever get my hands on that Silver fellow, he better… he better…”
“Look out,” Gonzo helped the little guy finish his sentence.
“Ya, he better look out,” Rizzo repeated.
“I don’t want any of you messing with Siler, you hear me? I appreciate your protectiveness of me, but I can handle my own and none of us are much of a match for Silver,” I sighed. “We’ll let Captain Smollett take care of Silver.”
“Land Ho!” came a loud voice from above deck accompanied by the clanging of the ship’s bell.
All three of us stared at each other in disbelief and horror.
“I hope we’re not to late,” I nearly screamed. “We have to go tell Captain Smollett right away.”
I helped my two friends out of the barrel as soon as I got myself out which was no easy task in a
terrified hurry. We ran up the stairs and threw open the door to see the whole crew running about on deck, preparing to drop anchor and lower the longboats into the ocean.
The joy I had expected to feel hearing that we had found the island was damped by the fear of death to myself and those I loved, well most of those I loved.
“Captain Smollett! I need to speak with you,” I shouted.
“Is it alright if we speak later? I’m quite busy at the moment,” he replied, not intending to be rude, but instead just being honest.
“I know you are, but Captain, we just heard Long John is planning a mutiny and he’s got the treasure map,” I rushed through my words.
“I see,” Captain Smollett stated bluntly.
The Captain called Silver over and asked him to take the men he had selected ashore on the longboats to bring back water and provisions for the rest of the crew. I listened intently to every word the two men spoke, trying hard not to let my shock show. As soon as Silver left to gather his men, Smollett turned to me.
“Gem, I need you to gather the officers and meet me in my quarters at once,” he instructed me.
“Aye, aye, Captain,” I saluted him.
I didn’t look at Silver as I passed by him dangling off the side of the Hispaniola in a longboat. That is, I tried not to, I may be peaked at him quickly. Well, when I did, he called out to me.
“Gem, hand me my crutch, would you please?” he asked.
Doing him a favor was the last thing I wanted to do, but still I knew how much he depended on that old wood crutch of his. I bent down to pick it up for him and hand it over the side of the ship, trying not to look into his eyes again, know all too well I would start crying again if I did.
“A little closer, Gem, lass. I can’t reach it from there,” he reprimanded me.
I must have lost my footing when I stepped closer for him. Silver pulled me into the longboat with him and his men . As soon as my feet left the ship, the longboat dropped into the ocean and Silver’s men rowed us quickly away towards the island. I fought with his men and kicked at Silver himself, but they just held me down and Silver held his hand over my mouth when I screamed for help. The Hispaniola grew further away as the island grew closer in sight. I kept my eyes on those two things, still not wanting to connect again with Silver.
Chapter 12: Gentlemen of fortune together
Tight rope bound my hands behind my back as an equally tight blindfold blackened my vision. All I could hear were the filthy laughs of the pirates as they stood in a circle around me and took turns pushing me and spinning me around. I couldn't tell which way was towards the sea or the bonfire. I just hoped neither of them were getting too close. Finally, one of the men forced me down to my knees on the sand by my shoulders. He stood in front of me as I knelt and he removed my blindfold with strong hands. A cannon shot echoed deep and heavy off the island's shores. "There! Captain Smollett coming to rescue me," I shouted smugly. Long John's shining, brown-eyed gaze was unflinching down on me. His voice was smooth, "Don't get your hopes up, Lassie. I've taken the liberty of hiding a few of my best men aboard. If a second round follows--." He adjusted himself on his crutch before continuing, "It means they've taken over the Hispaniola... and I'm the new cap'n." He had a Cheshire grin on his face, but mine was in disgust and fear. "Now, then," he continued and held a hand to his ear. I stared at the darkness of the forest not knowing what was in it, as I too listened for the second sound. I was hoping and praying it wouldn't happen, that Long John's men hadn't taken the ship and instead that Smollett and his men were on their way. Oh, how I wished...
The second round sounded just like the first though and my heart squoze itself harder at the noise of it. The short was a sound of defeat for me and-- I didn't want to think about what had happened to Smollett and the others. "Yea!" Silver's men cheered. For them, this was the best night of their lives. They now had a ship and with it they would be able to carry all the treasure they could find.
I wanted to die. I just wanted to die. It was a more comforting thought than being at the mercy of murderous pirates. They had humiliated me enough already. Silver reached across his body and brandished his cutlass. Maybe I was going to get my wish after all. This was it. I was ready. I shut my eyes softly and waited. "Reach out to me," Silver ordered. I complied. His blade slashed through the cords binding my wrists together. Why was he freeing me? "I'm the only friend you got in the world now, Gem. Let's dig up the treasure together, eh? Shipmates, remember?" The false sentiment in his voice scraped together from the dark corners of his emotions made me want to punch him right in the face. Shipmates? I remembered. All the encouragement in the world from him didn't mean a thing to me now, even if only a month ago so much as his smile was enough to make me float on air. I didn't want to have to depend on him like this, but it looked like I had no choice. Maybe he did mean it; shipmates. Maybe...
"We'll be needing your compass, though," Silver said rather matter of fact. "No," I defied. He cleared his throat before continuing. "I'll be taking it either way, Gem," Silver leaned in closer to me. What was the other way? The look in his drunken eyes told me all the answer I needed. His men cheered when I handed him the compass. "Come on then, Lass. Let's not waste time."
Chapter 13: Overboard
For once couldn't he of just obeyed Captain Smollett? I certainly didn't want to be put in this position. I had been trying to get to sleep in our bed, but not having him there, knowing he was locked up in the bottom of the ship, didn't exactly make for good mental material to sleep on. Instead, I decided to walk around on deck and have nothing but my thoughts and the wind blowing over the ocean to pay attention to. That was when I heard the lifeboat drop into the water below and splash against the side of the Hispaniola. I peered over the edge of the ship and there was Silver rowing away, surrounded by gold. There was menace quickly replaced by fear in his eyes when he saw me looking down at him, like I had just seen somebody murdered. I pressed the whistle to my lips. The metal was cold, but somehow comforting. All I had to do was blow it and captain and crew would be at my side. They would lock Silver up again, return the gold to the ship, and I would never have to see Long John again.
Long John started at me, “I suppose you'll be blowing the whistle on me now, won't you, Gem?” I could feel it welling up again, that feeling I got when I saw the crew taken Long John away to be locked up. My throat got tighter and tighter, but I dropped the whistle out of my mouth to reply.
“I suppose I will. You have to return to Bristol to stand trial.” Why did I have to say that? He knew about the trial already. Idiot. Why else would he be escaping in the middle of the night? “Oh, I'm sorry, Gem.” Silver brandished a gun out from under his belt, pulled the hammer back with his thumb, and aimed it at me. “I got a terrible fear of hanging.”
Wound up so tight I wanted to pass out, all I could do was cry silently. Too afraid to move, I didn't even wipe at the tears running hot down my face. How come it had to end this way? I wondered as I waited, just waited for him to pull the trigger. The next noise I expected to hear was his gun, but instead it was his voice, shakier than I had ever heard it.
“We're shipmates, aren't we, Gem? Gentlemen of fortune, together,” Silver choked. “Give us one more chance?” I couldn’t say it, feel it, dream it, or be it. I still had time to blow the whistle. What? Did he just expect me to let him go and never say I saw him escape? One more chance… I didn't have time to dream about one more chance. Any second now I would have a bullet in me.
“Oh, hell, Gem!” Silver screamed at me and lowered his gun in defeat. “I could never harm you. You're honest and brave and true… You didn't learn that from me.” I sure didn’t.
“I learnt it from my friends, Mr. Silver.” My voice cracked at saying his name so formally. I had whispered, sighed, and even screamed it, but I had never spoken it with such contempt. “Now take your oars and row away. I never want to see you again, ever.” I meant every last word. Every single messed up word. What had he given me to trust him again. He really was nothing but a murderous pirate. I was so naive to think differently. If he had only given me one last sign or reason--
“Oh, Gem!” Silver’s voice brought me back to the moonlit deck I was standing on and looking over the railing at him. He took something from his pocket and threw it to me. It landed in my hands before I could even put two and two together and I realized-- it was my compass. Me heart upended itself and reality hit me. He had never wanted to hurt me. He just needed the compass to find the treasure. He intended all along to return it to me.
“‘Tis a shame, really. We'd have made a great team, Gem.” Long John admitted to himself more than me. "A great team, Silver? We were a great team and you ruined it! You took my trust and lost it." "Aye and I wish I could give it back to you. But maybe it be a life lesson to you. Sometimes we lose what we love." He gave a half hearted smile as he rowed off. The fog obscured him from my sight completely.
I would never forgive myself for letting him go.
“Damn it!” I screamed. My breath went in, I threw myself over the railing, and plunged under the dark and icy water with my compass still in hand.
I have no clue what Silver said while I was under the water, but he was probably cussing himself out. All I know is that he was rowing furiously towards me by the time I resurfaced and soon his hands were around my own, pulling me into his boat.
"Let her go, Silver!" Captain Smollett ordered from aboard the Hispaniola. My heart broke in two pieces when I heard his voice. Why hadn't I just blown the whistle? How long had he been standing there? Silver pulled my face into his chest and covered the back of my head with one hand, while he pulled a gun up to Smollett with the other. "She is mine now. The lass has made up her mind on her own accord," Silver shouted. "There is no stopping the love of a young woman."
"Don't do it, Silver," I whispered.
"Gem, listen to me. Get back on this ship and I will let Silver go," said Smollett.
"Or I could just kill you now," Silver shouted back.
"That's what you think!" Came a very strong female voice. It was Benjamina behind a barrel with a long gun pointed straight at Silver.
"You wouldn't risk shooting her, now would you, Benjamina?" Long John mocked her.
He was right! They wouldn't shoot at him with me plastered to the front of him. I turned to face the ship, stood on my toes, and reached my arms up to cover more of him. "Dive, Gem!" Benjamina shouted as Smollett ducked behind the railing and she fired a shot in the air, just as another gun fired off and my world went suddenly black with pain. I crumpled to the floor of the lifeboat, falling on a trunk overstuffed with gold in various forms. It was Silver's bullet that hit me.
Silver cursed everything that ever breathed, knelt down and kissed me. "You win, Smollett," Silver cried. "Don't shoot, I be bringing her back." He rowed the lifeboat back where Gonzo and Rizzo came running to the side of the ship. "Help me get her aboard, men," Smollett told my two friends. My arm burned and I screamed in pain when Silver lifted me in his arms and whispered, "I'm so sorry, Gem lass." I struggled to open my eyes to take one good look at him. With my good arm I pulled my father's compass off my neck and shoved it into his hands as he let me go into the arms of the men on board the Hispaniola. As soon as he had me back on board, Silver rowed off and disappeared into the fog like he had the first time, but this time I wished even more that I could be with him.
"Get her immediate medical attention, men," Smollett commanded. One of the larger crew men carried me off below deck and saw to it that the hole in my arm was properly bandaged and that I had a strong drink before falling asleep for the first time that night.
Chapter 14: I need you to hold me
"Oh, Gem, I could never stay angry at you, even if I tried," Silver sighed into my hair and kissed the top of my head. "It be a weakness of mine for you, really. Old Long John doesn't let everyone off so easy as you."
"Ya, ya, Silver," I mocked him, "I could do just about anything and you would still love me."
"Aye, that I would."
"Even if I did this?" I asked as I reached up, wrapped my arms around his neck, and kissed him long and hard.
"Especially if you did that," Silver answered; his voice barely above a whisper.
"Good." And I kissed him again.
"I think that is the second time you have coerced me into a lifeboat with you," I chuckled, "In a way, I'm glad for both times."
"No need to fool Old Long John. I can tell you are still sore about it."
"Well, the first time at least, maybe just a little."
“You were my saving grace, Gem. Captain Smollett was going to leave us stranded on that island and you were our only way out of that. You saved us is what you did,” Silver explained to me as we sat together on the beach. There had been a question heavy on my mind since the day we first landed on the island and I continued to think about it was we got up to walk along the shore. There was nothing but shades of blue around the island.
Things were so silent and safely remote that I decided to bring it up. “What would you have done without my father’s compass?” I asked him quietly. Silver turned to me and rested his hands on my shoulders. “It were night when I asked you for it. The stars were already out. I didn’t need it, Gem. I never did,” he replied. A kind smile spread across his face. “Why did you then?” I asked, still visibly confused. He bit his lip and stared up at the sky for a moment. “I meant what I said. I really did want to be gentlemen of fortune together.” He gave a small laugh before continuing, “I had my reasons for asking you for it. I can’t go telling you all my angles very well, now can?”
"Well, it looks like I will have plenty of time to find all of them out from you."
"Yes indeed, lass. Yes indeed."
Why did dreams have to be so realistic? I woke and he wasn't there beside me, which made my heart break all over again. I had been trying to repair it for three years now.