Under the Jo**y Roger, Part 1

Mr. L.A. Meyer is acknowledged as the creator of the Bloody Jack characters and story.

Forward: This is a sequel to Curse of the Blue Tatt** and is a modern-era version of the original Under the Jolly Roger story.

It's 7 May 2008 and the luxury yacht Pequod is off the south coast of Ireland. Our journey from New Bedford, Massachusetts has been uneventful until now. We're within a couple of days of reaching our destination, but Patience's baby decides he or she will be born today. Although her labour is progressing well, her husband Izzie, who is owner and captain of the Pequod, decides to call for a helicopter to fly Patience to a hospital.

The crew prepare the helicopter pad on the aft deck. Meanwhile I sit and say encouraging words to Patience, who is not living up to her name. I suspect she'd rather stay on the Pequod but knows better than to argue with her husband.

By the time the helicopter arrives Patience and I are all packed and ready to go. As her paid companion I'm the one chosen to accompany her to the hospital. The flight is mercifully short as I was having visions of the baby arriving mid-flight. But all goes well, and two hours after we arrive at Waterford hospital Patience gives birth to a fine healthy girl.

The proud father arrives the next morning, having docked the Pequod at Waterford. I leave the happy parents alone with young Prudence for a while and take stock of where I am and what I'm going to do next.

My worldly possessions are in the two bags in my room. One contains my clothes and a few personal items, such as my penny whistle. The other contains a large sum of money. $150,000 to be exact.

My escape from Boston was very confused and I still don't know everything that happened. I remember that traitorous spy, Reverend Mather, pulling a gun on me; revenge for me foiling his plans. Then there was a fire and somewhere in the midst of it all was Gully McFarland. Did he set the fire? Is he really the drunkard he pretends to be? More importantly, did he try to kill me?

My sudden wealth is due to Reverend Mather's greed. The Royal Navy had originally deposited the money with the Lawson Peabody Academy for Young Ladies for my tuition and board. When I was unwillingly made Reverend Mather's ward the money became his. For some reason he had drawn the whole sum out in cash and locked it in the safe in his house. Not very wise when Jacky Faber is around. My old bad habits from my days on the London streets came back with a vengeance. His safe was a very old model and it didn't take me long to work out how to open it.

Then Reverend Mather was killed in the fire, and someone whacked me in the face and left me to die in the flames. That was when I decided it was time to leave Boston. Fast! I returned to Reverend Mather's house and collected my things. I opened the safe and there was all this money. My money by rights, although I've no idea why the Royal Navy should grant me such a large sum after they discharged me from active service last August in Boston.

But back to the present. In all the rush to get Patience to hospital no one has checked our passports or baggage. Not yet, anyway. When they do there might be a few awkward questions about the money I'm carrying. And I don't know what a check on my passport might bring up. I could find I'm arrested and made to serve my suspended sentence in a Young Offenders Institution in England until I'm 18. Which is still 5 long months away.

I return to the happy parents and ask if it would be alright if I left their employ at once since I've now served the primary purpose of my employment. Patience agrees, and Izzie pays me my wages in cash. I say a tearful farewell to Patience and baby Prudence and depart without further ceremony.

I open several accounts at different Irish banks and deposit most of my cash. I give them Amy's address at Dovecote for correspondence. I hope she won't mind.

Then I catch an overnight ferry from Waterford to Fishguard in Wales and a train from there to London the next morning. After spending the night in a nondescript hotel in Paddington I head across the city to Cheapside. My curiosity is getting the better of me. I want to see in any of the old gang are still in our old haunts.

But our old kip under Blackfriars Bridge has new tenants. I manage to convince the new gang of my credentials after sharing some of the goodies I brought with me in hope of a reunion. In exchange I learn of what happened to the old gang. Most have left the area; Toby and Polly ran off together, Nan Baxter met a man from the country and they run an inn somewhere in the Cotswolds. Only Judy Miller seems to be still living nearby. But she hasn't been seen for some months.

I say goodbye to the gang and go see if I can trace Judy Miller. My enquiries don't meet with much success at first, but a few people seem to know her. Then one woman tells me she's now working for some backstreet clothing manufacturer. For a commercial business it is very hard to find. When I do I am horrified. These sorts of sweatshops must surely be illegal these days. There are a score of people working in cramped and unhealthy conditions in the poorly maintained building.

The owner is none too pleased to see me wandering around. I put on my best Lawson Peabody Look.

"I've come to see Judy Miller. Is she working here?" I ask in my most imperious tone.

The owner seems uncertain what to do at first, but then goes to fetch Judy. She looks half starved and a mere shadow of the girl I remember.

"Hello Judy. Do you remember me? Mary. Mary Faber. I'm back from my travels. We can leave here if you like."

She needs no second asking, and she grabs my arm and I take her out of that evil place. We head for the Rose and Crown which I remember has some decent accommodation at a reasonable price.

I rent a room for Judy and I for a week. I go with Judy to collect her few belongings from the dump she lodges at, and we bring them back to our room. I leave her to freshen up while I go and collect my bag from the hotel in Paddington.

Judy looks much cleaner by the time I return and after a good-sized lunch we spend the afternoon shopping for some new clothes for both of us. Neither of us know what we'll do next, but I'm not short of money at the moment, so it's a problem we can face another day.