SOME PARTS COULD BE CONSIDERED M, DUE TO CHARACTER DEATHS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
A/N: I just finished In the Belly of the Bloodhound, and this popped into my head. Yeah, it is pretty gruesome because I wanted it to stay true to history. And, historically speaking, this is what happened to pirates. T for now, but watch it. If it gets too intense, feel free to just click the nice little back button. You, as the Reviewers **HINTHINT** can tell me how I do.
"Miss Faber, by order of His Majesty, King George the Third, you are under arrest on the charge of Piracy!" An outraged cry goes up from all around, those on the dock, and those on ship. Down on the dock, I can hear some of my girls starting to hum. At least some of my storytelling can be put to use.
I look up at the two Marines. "Whell naow!" I say in my best southern accent. Thank you Clarissa. "Ah'm thankin' you've ghot the wrong gahl! Who aihs thais othah Jahkay Faybah?" I smile and bat my eyelashes, hopefully pulling off the innocent look. Clarissa shoots me a look. Sor-ree if I can't do your silly little accent right!
"Not so fast." Damn.
The Captain of the Juno comes over, one of the wanted posters conveniently in hand. He reads from it as he walks around me.
"Jacky Faber, Female," here he looks pointedly at my general chest area. Perv… "No doubt about that. A few chuckles from the Juno's crew. "16 years old … that seems about right. White left eyebrow …" Here he rubs whatever remains of the leather stain off of my eyebrow. I'm debating whether or not to bite him and take my chances in the water, or wait for a different moment to strike. He continues. "Small and slender, about ninety pounds. Probably a little less now, but who's really counting? And … ah! The final nail in the coffin."
The Captain goes into my seabag and fishes out my shiv, yet another description of me on the poster, and slices a neat slit across the fabric on the belly of my dress, careful not to harm the 250 pound body underneath. He tears the fabric open with an ah-ha! And finds … nothing. I knew the typo would clear me in the end! The Captain goes red in the face, and can't say anymore.
"Whell, naow that you've fhan-ished fheelin' maey uhp, Ah'l be taykin' mah leave." I pick up my seabag, put on the Look, step forward, and promptly trod on my dress, ripping it and the undergarments the rest of the way, showing the entire world, my cursed blue tattoo.
The last thing I remember seeing is Jaimy, his lips in a perfect "o" of horrified surprise, brows knit together, stumbling for the gangplank. The two marines haul me off to the brig, and the last friendly words I hear are Jaimy's frantic call of "JACKY, NOOOO!" before the dark hold swallows me up.
The passage back to good ol' England was surprisingly quick. It wasn't like the last time, on the Wolverine. I was chained to the bars of the brig the whole time, the heavy manacles chafing the skin on my arms. You'd think that the witty Jacky Faber would find a way to escape. Yeah, I thought so too, at first. But you see, they fixed the problem of me tempting the poor, vulnerable, horny sailors on board. They got a dog. A mean, snarly mutt. Not very friendly. And there was also a toughened old Marine, pro'lly seen too many women in his lifetime to care about one condemned young girl. He was the keeper of the Mutt. He sharpened his knife and sword in front of me on his first night watching me; an unspoken threat. We didn't say anything to each other. I did say my piece, every night in fact, how I was just a poor young girl who shouldn't hang because I didn't know the whole law about registerin' my ship with the prize office, and how I should be freed from these bonds. Gristle, the name I've come up with for the Marine, ended up whacking the bars I was pressed up against with his tin dinner plate and growled "Shut up."
At least I was fed.
I think it was when we reached England and I as finally allowed out of the brig that it hit me. I was going to hang unless I found a way out of this. And my time was running short. I was brought down onto the dock, wrists still chained, and put into a police cart, complete with bars on the back of the door and all.
But I wasn't being taken to the nice, beautiful prison that me and Rooster Charlie had been into so many times. They saved the worst for me. The prison ship.
I've been past prison ships before on my many excursions with Rooster Charlie's gang. We had decided one summer to go off exploring; seeing if we could make it in the country better than under Blackfriar's Bridge. We passed one ship, moored in a river miles from the ocean. The ship, once a proud vessel of the British Royal Navy, was currently holding the condemned. Sure there were guards, but we figured a fear of water kept most of the prisoners nice and content inside.
Clearly, we were mistaken.
This prison ship was horrible. The whole place had been converted into double caged, wrought iron, communal cells. I was shoved into one where the captain's cabin should have been. "Ten days in here before your trial," Gristle smiles as he growls to me. "I hopes you last that long," he goes on, unlocking the second door to the cell. "I've got a good seat reserved to see you swing." He shoves me inside, and I am locked back into darkness, save for a small light from a half-boarded up porthole, outside of the double cage setup.
I turn, and in the dim half-light, I see my cellmates. 15 of the most dirty, ragged men I have ever seen begin to crowd around me, nearly drooling at the sight of a girl. "Look mates, fresh blood!" one rasps.
I'm sorry Jaimy.
That one never makes it to me. He is beat on the head by another cellmate. Hard. Hard enough to kill 'im. I shoot back, pretty sure this new fellow wants me all for himself. I hit against the bars, and sink to the ground, the first tendrils of despair starting to cling to my heart. "Chin up, girlie. Nothin'll happen to you if I have anything to say about it. I look into the face of the speaker. He has nice eyes, dark brown with flecks of green in the middle. A very whiskery chin, reddish in color. Reddish hair as well. He is tall and lean, but obviously as dirty and lice riddled as the rest of the men. But I can see him for what he once was. An Irishman! He introduces himself as Gentleman Torin o'Kennauthy. "And that very dead SOB was once one of the most vile people in here." The other inmates agree. "And what might your story be, Miss Lady of the Condemned?"
The 10 days do not pass quickly. The first day and night I tell my cellmates of my adventures, and I can see for a while they are free of these iron cages, in another world, on the sea of my stories, relishing every event. Then they tell me of their lives. Torin killed a man for trying to rape his daughter. That sounds familiar… But, his being Irish and all, he was brought here, due for trial in 20 days. Most of the other men are murderers, some thieves, but all are just waiting for their time to come.
7 days have passed. I had established on day 4 that there was no way out. Now I sit in my corner of the cell, going all the way back, wondering what would have happened if I had registered the Emerald and bought her all legal like. Would Jaimy and I be on her deck right now? Chasing down a Froggie's ship? A fine wine at dinnertime, me trying to force a snail down Jaimy's throat, You've got to try it at least once Jaimy, love. Oh God, it's too much. I start bawling.
Torin hugs me. "Shhh, you'll be fine, shhhh, just rest yourself," I fall into my nightmares.
I am taken out and put into the police coach. Before I go, Torin hugs me one more time and says, "Here's to a quick one, aye? It was nice knowin' ya, Jacky. You helped us get out of here for a little while, and that's all a condemned man can ask for."
The trial was a flop. It was all over in less than 10 minutes. I was brought before the court, and the accusation was read, and I said "Guilty, but…" and I didn't get a chance to say anything else. Jaimy was there, thank God, 'cause I don't know if I would have gotten through that trial without bawling if he hadn't been there. I had to stay strong in front of Jaimy. His lawyer, who I thought did a pretty good job, brought up the subject of what happened on the Bloodhound. The court pretty much said that, while it was nice I got everyone out, I still had to be hanged. The sentence was given: the Pirate is to be Hanged this afternoon.
It must have been a pretty large bribe Jaimy paid to come and see me. But come he did. I was being held in a holding cell near the gallows. "Jaimy!" I cried. I touched his sweet face through the cell bars. "Jacky," he murmured. His face hardened. "I can't believe they're doing this. I can't live without you. I don't think I will…" he started to say. I held my fingers to his lips.
"Now you listen to me Lieutenant James Emerson Fletcher," I believe that was the first time I ever got to say that to his face. It will pro'lly be the last. "You will live without me. You will find a wife, although she pro'lly won't be as charming as me, and you will have children and grow old. And then, in front of your wife and children, you can pass on the Legend of Jacky Faber. 'Cause I will hang today. There is no getting out of it. And I don't need you to die with me. No, let me live on. You know how to tell stories." By this time, tears are running down my face. We kiss, one, last, bittersweet kiss.
He is torn from me, and I scream, "Don't forget me! I love you Jaimy!" before more guards come in and shackle me.
I am marched up the wooden steps. My heart is pounding, and I'm hopin' it will stop before… yeah. Dum, dum, da-da dum. The snare starts. "Mary Jacqueline Faber, Accused and Convicted of Piracy, is to be Hanged This Day."
I am centered on the wooden platform. No tears come to my eyes, none are left. I close my eyes and hold my face up to the sun one last time as the rough, bristly rope is draped around, then tightened on my neck. I open my eyes, shoot one last look of defiance at the higher-ups seated on a platform facing me. I spot Jaimy in the crowd. I sense, rather than see the hooded hangman's hand grasp the lever. I see Jaimy's face. And then…