Thursday, February 10, 2005


A Pirate Tale - 28

As Sally waited in the brig of La Herida que Filtra de la Cabez she saw Baastian remove six girls, one at a time and take them away. Finally, he came for her.

Standing defiantly she pulled her arm away as he went to escort her from the jail cell where the rest of the girls remained. “I am fully capable of walking without assistance.” Sally’s voice was firm and unyielding. With a gentle smile to the girls, she stepped out of the cell and marched up the steps to the upper deck.

Baastian walked her to the Captain’s Cabin where she saw Lady Fanny sitting behind a desk. She was busily writing and held up her left hand as if to silence any potentiality of a voice. Sally saw Genevieve Rubette tied to a small chair with hemp. Genevieve’s eyes were wild with fear and her mouth was gagged and wrapped. She was a far cry from the girl who only a few months earlier had given such a moving performance in a play she had written for the drama club – “Lonely as a Cloud” played for three weekends to sold out performances. Genevieve’s portrayal of a prostitute-turned-axe-murdering-political-candidate was the highlight of the evening.

Lady Fanny finally finished what she was writing and turned her attention toward Sally. “Oh, hello dear!” The saccharine tone left a mawkish taste in Sally’s mouth – but she countered with a pleasant smile and a demure nod of the head to Lady Fanny. She had seen what Fanny could do even when she hadn’t been provoked. Fanny continued, “Do come in and sit down. May I offer you some tea?” Sally sat where directed and nodded politely when asked if she would drink tea. Fanny never broke her stride, “I have been meaning to apologize for all of the inconveniences and deprivations I have put you and the girls through, but I had to be sure that loyalties were placed properly. One mustn’t make assumptions now, must one?”

Sally marked her own words carefully. “Your Ladyship shows great wisdom in her caution.”

Lady Fanny stared at Sally with all of the warmth of a frozen spider. “Yes. I have. Haven’t I? And who benefits from my bounteous wisdom, Sally? Who reaps the harvest of my benevolent plans, dear? – Oh don’t worry yourself in trying to guess, I’ll tell you. You do. My girls do – and, yes, the world does. That’s who.”

Sally spoke clearly – “We are all in your debt.” “STOP THAT!” Lady Fanny’s face contorted into a cartoonish caricature of evil, “STOP being obsequious or I will KILL HER NOW!” Genevieve’s eyes became as big as saucers as Lady Fanny produced a long thick knife – almost a short sword, from the sheath strapped to her boot and held the point of it to the girl’s delicate pink throat. Sally lurched forward, spilling her tea but stopped motionless as Fanny’s tone changed yet again.

“You know, I derive no pleasure from hurting these girls …” she pulled the blade away from the girl’s throat and with her left hand, began stroking Genevieve’s hair. “I only want what’s best for them – those things in life of which you and I have been sadly deprived.” Her voice became suddenly sincere, “I want to give them a world where they answer to no man and can create a destiny for themselves – one that they build – on a course that they determine. We have, for far too long, been saddled with second class citizenship and subservience – but no more! Sally, you and I can show them a world where women build not just future generations, but The Future itself.” She stepped away from the girl and slipped the knife back into its sheath and stepped close to Sally. “Will you help me, Sally. I need your help.”

The reasonableness of Lady Fanny’s words and the sincerity of her tone were hypnotic for the traumatized Sally who nodded and prayed that it didn’t look “obsequious.”

“Wonderful!” Lady Fanny clapped as she spun around on her right foot, whipped out her knife and cut the girls bonds. “Sally, the girls are all on deck and I need you to inspire them to work hard at their sea-woman-ship for the next few weeks. Their lives and their dreams are at stake here – we mustn’t let them down.” Then, Lady Fanny moved in very close and whispered in Sally’s ear, “And I want you to root out any dissension in the ranks – if you catch wind of any nay-sayers or slackers in the midst, I want you to deal with them harshly. If you fail to inspire them, I will take it upon myself to hold you personally responsible. Of course, that doesn’t mean I would ever hurt you, my dear – but I wouldn’t put hurting one of them past me. Would you?”

“No M’Lady.” Sally curtsied, “May I take Miss Genevieve with me?”

“Not just yet, Sally.” Lady Fanny struck a conciliatory tone, “I feel the need to mend fences with Miss Rubette.”

Sally nodded and left the cabin, closing the door behind her.

Lady Fanny stepped gracefully over to the chair where the now unbound girl was removing her own gag. She cast her big brown eyes up at Lady Fanny who stood above her and began laughing. Lady Fanny smiled.

“Oh, Auntie Fanny! That was marvelous! You should have been an actress! I can’t wait to grow up to be just like you so I can have hostages of my own!”

Lady Fanny laughed as she circled around the girl to her back – then, in a quick violent motion, she drew her knife again, covered the girl’s mouth with her left hand and pressed the point of the knife to Genevieve’s belly as she sat motionless in the chair – the fear in her eyes had returned – in earnest.

“Two things you should keep in mind, my darling niece:” She hissed, “One – never refer to me as ‘Auntie’ ever again and Two – If I see any further display of ambition toward my position, I will slit open your belly and feed your intestines to a goat.”

Fanny re-sheathed her knife, stood and helped Genevieve to her feet. “Now, be a dear and keep an eye on Mistress Sally for Auntie, won’t you, Sweetheart?”

Genevieve collected herself and curtsied, “Yes, Lady Fanny.”

She hurried out and re-joined the other girls.

Alone in her cabin, Lady Fanny muttered to herself, “And Auntie has eyes, watching you as well, my niece.”

Juan was stoking a fire to melt tar for the repairs on the beach when Slappista passed him in search of ham sandwiches for his cannoneers. “Capitan?” Juan’s voice stopped Slappista short and he turned around to see his former first mate working to repair the same ship they once dreamt together of sinking. “Juan Garbonzo! Mi Amigo!” He rushed toward Juan and embraced him. Juan did not return the embrace and stood motionless.

Chumbucket saw this reunion from a distance and ran quickly down the beach to intervene followed my Cementhands McCormack. They reached the two men, mid-embrace. Chumbucket panted – “I see you two have met.” He fought to catch his breath.

Juan stood for a moment, a million thoughts raced through his head. His hatred burned, but he showed nothing.

He glanced briefly at Chumbucket and fixed his gaze back on Slappista. “This man,” he said, nodding toward his former Capitan, “This man is useful to you, yes?”

“Aye,” Chumbucket asserted. “That he is.”

“Then I will hold off my challenge to him until that day when he ceases to be of use to you, Schumbucket – but when that day arrives, I will demand satisfaction – not for myself, but for those hombres who died for his weakness.”

Slappista looked at the sand. He knew the argument against him was heavy and, more painfully, correct. “And on that day, Juan Garbonzo, you shall have your satisfaction. Today, all I can offer you is my meager apology.”

Juan stood unmoved. Slappista set off to the cannons with the lunch for the men. After he left, Juan returned to stirring the tar.

(This entry was written while out of town by Cap'n Slappy and posted by Ol' Chumbucket)

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