Adoption

Chapter 6: There Are Stories

Elizabeth sat in that run-down hovel of a house, staring thoughtfully into the bottom of her now empty eighth cup of tea.

The man, who she had discovered was called David Moore (and also was her uncle), was explaining why she had come to be adopted by Governor Swann.

"You see, my dear sister Sarah was not in a good way at the time. She had recently been fired from her job as a nursery maid at the big manor house at the top of the road. The Taylor's, they call them." Elizabeth was moved by the amount of compassion in his voice. There was something irresistibly soothing about him, but he also had the aura of a man who was not to be trifled with. Even the seemingly untameable young Joseph had fallen for his soft voice, and now lay docile in his lap, dozing.

"She was a nursery maid?" Elizabeth inquired.

"Aye, she always did love children." David nodded.

"Then why did she give me away?" Elizabeth couldn't hide the hurt in her voice.

"She didn't give you away, far from it," her uncle said as if the idea appalled him. "Money was thin on the ground and we didn't think we'd be able to give you the quality of life you deserve."

"Why was she fired?" Elizabeth asked.

"She was accused of witchcraft," her uncle said with more than a little sadness. "She was lucky to escape the noose."

Elizabeth's face was agast. "Whatever for?"

"She was charged with bewitching the Taylor boy, Jacob, he's called." David shook his head as if he still couldn't quite believe the ridiculous injustice himself.

"Bewitching him? How?" Elizabeth's voice rose with incredulity. The sleeping infant stirred in her uncle's lap.

"Sssh," David whispered to the child, stroking his flaxen locks gently. Joseph sighed and settled back down in his father's arms. "She was having…let's say…relations with the lad. The only was she was able to postpone her hanging was because she fell pregnant, and they say there ain't no greater sin than sending an innocent unborn child to its death."

"But you said she escaped the noose!" Elizabeth was indignant.

"Temporarily," her uncle said, remaining calm. He was about to explain further when his son shuffled in his arms again.

"Is that lady still here?" The adorable boy asked, without even bothering to open his eyes to see for himself.

"Yes," he said. "Cousin Elizabeth is still here."

Elizabeth smiled at the word cousin. It seemed so nice to be related to someone after such a long period of loneliness.

The youngster soon dozed off again. David continued, "After you were born, Sarah was carted off to the gallows-"

Elizabeth shuddered. It sounded even more horrible put like that.

"And your father didn't feel he could look after you properly." Her uncle paused, inhaling deeply. Elizabeth looked at him expectantly. "I tell a lie. Your father loved you genuinely. His family threatened to disown him if he did not send you away, and those were hard times. It was difficult to find work, and even more difficult to get paid for it. He would probably have been killed at sea in the battles against the Spaniards had he not put you up for adoption. There were a good ten years between your mother and myself, so I was barely more than a lad myself at the time, and could barely take care of myself, so I was definitely not ready to take care of a baby."

Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief. Even though she resented very much being deceived by her adoptive father, she would ave resented even more being responsible for her birth father's death. "So where is he now?"

David shrugged as best he could with his arms around his son. "That's the thing," he said vaguely. "No one knows. The Taylor family went bankrupt about five years back, and last he was seen fleeing the house when the bailiffs knocked down the door then."

"So he could be anywhere," Elizabeth buried her head in her hands. She was basically back at square one again.

"Perhaps," Her uncle apparently had more tricks up his sleeve. "But there are stories."

The three magic words of piracy. There are stories. Elizabeth leaned forwards in interest, her attention caught by the promise of a good tale.

Meanwhile, Jack strolled the streets of Shipwreck Cove aimlessly after being ejected from his father's office by an irritated Captain Teague. Henry had disappeared into a tavern owned by a wench that he would rather avoid and Estelle had disappeared. He now searched for the young witch, who he had taken quite a liking to these past few weeks on the ship. She was very demanding and high-maintenance, but as long as he kept her happy, she was a very charming young lady. He was now looking for her to see if he could invite her for a drink and see if the rum could get her to let her hair down a little…

He nipped into a nearby tavern to see if he couldn't get himself a little bottleful to whet his throat, when he spotted her.

She wasn't alone, however.

Situated at the table furthest out of the action and hustle and bustle of Shipwreck Cove, she sat cozied up to none other than George Anderson, the timid clerk from his father's office.

Afraid his anger might make him do something he'd regret later, he left without even waiting for the rum he had paid for to be delivered and went to a more secluded part of the island to storm about in frustration.

Elizabeth wasn't feeling any less furious than Jack at that moment. "He is an employee of Beckett?" She was almost shouting in her disbelief.

"Elizabeth!" Her uncle scolded her. She slapped a hand to her mouth in guilt as her cousin whimpered.

David glared at her.

"But he could have been one of those killed in the battle? Heaven knows, I could have killed him!" She was panicking now.

Her uncle shook his head fervently. "No, no, no, Elizabeth," he said forcefully. "He was – is and employee of the East India Trading Company, not Beckett."

"Same thing!" Elizabeth squeaked.

"No, it isn't," David told her. "And besides, he was never a fighter. I once saw him in a brawl with a mugger in the street. He would have been floored too if it wasn't for my intervention. No, I believe he'd be employed as military intelligence."

"A spy? But that's just as dangerous!" Elizabeth voice was high-pitched and panicky.

"Not a spy," Her uncle continued. "Like, someone who got out and about, on the streets, hearing the gossip and talking to all the right people and sorting fact from fiction. That's the kind of thing I can see him doing."

"But how can I find him?" Elizabeth wanted to get to the point.

"Now that is another story…" David gave a wry smile.

I'm ending it here, but look forward to sequel. I believe it will be a bit more action-filled than this!