That had been the word his Captain had used when talking to the crew that morning. His Captain had decided that at age 65 he had 'earned' his retirement from piracy and was no longer going to continue sailing the seas.
If there was one thing Edward Newgate knew, it was that he would never retire. Even if his hair turned grey or fell out all together, he would die fighting side by side with his crew.
A crew which currently did not exist.
The ship he had been sailing on was to be sold, the money funding the Captain's remaining years. Whilst several of the crew had been disappointed, more had been shocked at the suddenness of the decision. The First Mate of the ship had said that he would step up to be a captain, for those that wished to continue with him, but with no boat, the reality was that most were more interested in going their own way. The abandonment of the crew had left a number of the crew disgruntled, with a series of mutinous mutterings being whispered under breath. The damage to some was irreparable, and like Newgate, many had chosen to cut their losses and move on to other crews or carve their own path.
This had left the 35 year old man strolling around the backstreets of a nameless town, pondering his next course of action. There was one particular train of thought that lingered persistently in his mind. Since as early as he could remember he had longed for a family. Growing up as an orphan, watching other children being looked after and loved had made him crave and treasure the idea of a family above all else. A family that protected one another, that shared what they had no matter how much or how little that was. One that was accepting and encouraging. To have someone there for you, to pick you up when you fell and guide you back onto life's track.
Gold, jewels, money...
All of it was worthless in comparison to having a family. He would give all of it away to protect even just one person that he called family. He had mentioned it once when he had first become a pirate. The crew had laughed, strong hands slapping him on the back as they told him that people who thought like that were dead men walking.
"There ain't no such thing as a family on the sea lad. There's ya crew but it's each man for himself, when it comes down ta a fight."
That had been the moment that he had know that the crew would only be his temporary home. He would stay whilst he learnt the ropes, and understood the seas well enough to protect his own crew – the family he would build for himself. He may not have mentioned it again whilst in the crew, but the dream had never faded, never dimmed, it merely waited beneath the surface for the right time.
Now, with his release from the crew, Newgate knew that this was finally his time.
The conundrum he faced was therefore not what he was going to do with himself, because to him that was a foregone conclusion, but the how still eluded him. His decision had been clouded earlier in the day by one of the older members of the crew who had wandered around the town with him for a while. He was a perceptive man, with the unassuming name of John Bart Junior. He was perhaps the only man on board, that hadn't laughed or forgotten about Newgate's words on finding a family all those years ago.
"You're still a youngin' lad, why don't you find a nice lass and start a family."
Newgate's response had been a noncommittal 'Mhm' sound.
"At least think about it lad."
Newgate was slightly caught out by the sincerity in Bart's tone. Examining the elder man's face, he found himself nodding to the request as his mind processed the expression of remorse. Remorse over an opportunity lost to time.
"I'll think about it."
The corners of the weathered lips quirked up into a slight smile, as Bart nodded back.
"Good lad. I wish you luck in making your family."
Newgate didn't reply as he watched Bart chose a different direction and head off into the distance. The encounter had disturbed the relatively calm waters of his mind, however not in the way one might expect. It was the remorse over lost opportunities that had sparked his internal unease.
A life without regrets, without remorse, was a life well lived.
That had always been his mantra.
The sea would always be his mistress, and no other woman could take her place. Settling down to 'make' a family was not the type of family he was after.
Turning his back on the sea...
A shiver tingled down his spine as his thoughts froze. He couldn't imagine a life without her; the sea was in his very blood. No, he needed a sea fairing family. However, it seemed that no one believed that he could live the life of a pirate and still have a family. Perhaps, they perceived him as having a mentality of 'wanting his cake, and eating it too'.
He would do it though.
He would have his family, protect it, and still live life out on the seas, it was just a matter of how. It wasn't just a matter of how he would form his family, but a matter of how he could do it and have none of his family regret their own decisions. Newgate stroked his growing moustache in contemplation.
It would be difficult, of that he had no doubt.
But he would prove them wrong.
Everyone deserved a life without regrets, and he would make sure that his family would have just that.
No regrets or die trying.
Releasing a breath he didn't know he was holding, Newgate's eyes narrowed in a fierce determination.
The questions of how, no longer mattered.
His family was out there waiting for him, and it was up to him to find them.