“Well ole man, wha’ are ye plans from here forth?” The Good Captain said having heard Ol’ Barrcuda’s full story.
Although Ol’ Barracuda had thought about little else other than his own demise and reuniting with his long lost son before that demise, he hadn’t really thought about his final minutes or how that last breath would be taken
“Hardly worth havin’ any plans me son. They be wasted thoughts even if I did ‘ave them.” Ol’ Barracuda answered.
“What’s t’ say th’ ole fortune teller be telling th’ truth?” The fair Maiden asked, hints of pirate talk slowly making it’s way into more of her speech as the days went on.
“No me dear. Booty tellers like wha’ tripped o’er me foot are th’ scourge o’ back alley trenches ‘n lane ways. They dwell in th’ darkness o’ th’ dingiest holes, th’ dodgiest alleys ‘n practice thar owns developed form o’ black magic.” Ol’ Barracuda said addressing the Fair Maiden alone.
During his story, the one relating the fortune teller, Ol’ Barracuda had failed to go into full details about the woman. It wasn’t a mistake it was a miss calculation, he’d wrongly assumed that the Fair Maiden was privy to the same stories most pirates had heard if they’d spent more than a few months at sea.
“He’s right, me dear. I recognised his words th’ moment he spoke them. Such dastardly devious scourges are rarely seen, many claim them t’ be a myth but they aren’t. Ne’er does a pirate survive when such hideous ole hags speak thar strange voodoo magic.” The Good Captain said to the Fair Maiden.
The room fell in since, the clock was past the time that the old man himself had asked for and was creeping ever more slowly towards the time the Fair Captain had offered as a sign of good will. Forcing the old man out of the castle and burning his ship seemed like an unlikely option after their chat but the old man was still on the edge of his seat.
It was the Fair Maiden who finally broke the silence. “Then we shall find this ole hag ‘n we shall make her change her mind.”
“Aye, that can nah be done me dear.” The Good Captain said.
“He’s right me beauty. Even if we had time, th’ search would be useless. Curses, voodoo, hoodoo, black magic, whatever th’ ole hag as done can nah be undone.”
“So yer only choice is t’ give up?” The Fair Maiden asked.
“I’ve lived a long life. Me future holds wee value. I’ve got me galleon. I’ve got mind. I’ve made me peace wit’ th’ young pirate I marooned all those years ago. Even if he can nah forgive me fer that I hope he can rest a wee easier knowin’ th’ truth.” Ol’ Barracua paused as he thought of his next words. “Goin’ out on th’ high o’ th’ seven seas, goin’ out wit’ no one around but meself be goin’ out in style. Me regrets be few me dear.”
“Th’ least ye can do is stay fer a feast.” The Fair Maiden whispered.
The old man looked at the Fair Maiden, then at the Good Captain, when he received a nod from his son’s head he then turned back to the Fair Maiden, agreed and thanked her for her hospitality.
The Good Captain still felt he was hard done by, the old man’s story had gone a long way to explaining why he was abandoned at such a young age, but could the story forgive that? Would he have been a better pirate had his father remained and taken him aboard a ship of his own? Did he grow far quicker and learn far more without his father’s influence? The good pirate did not have an answer to any of the questions. Even though he’d spent some of his worst days as a pirate under the tutelage of the evil and barbaric Captain Morgan they were days that taught him many a thing, they were the sorts of things even the worst of fathers could not teach their child but they were lessons that shaped the good pirate’s life.
After the feast Ol’ Barracuda decided his time on land was up. He thanked the good pirate and his fair maiden for the feast and for listening to his tale.
As the party made their way down to the jetty there was little talk, but there was also very little sadness. The Fair Maiden could be seen occasionally dabbing a tear from her eye, the old man the same, but the Good Pirate showed no emotion at all.
The sun was setting in the western sky but there was not a cloud in sight, the wind was a gently breeze that would push Ol’ Barracuda’s ship out the heads and over the northern horizon.
“I thank ye fer yer time ma’am. Look aft me lad. Ye be good fer ‘im. Wish I’d had a lassie half as good as yerself in me life.” Ol’ Barracuda said to the Fair Maiden as they stood face to face on the jetty.
There was not another man around to hear Ol’ Barracuda’s speech. Aside from the two large ships moored to the jetty, and the little punt the old man had arrived in, the jetty was empty. With his good bye to the fair maiden over he then turned to his son, stepped up to him and spoke clearly and proudly.
“I thank ye son fer allowin’ me time t’ speak. Ye may ne’er be able t’ forgive me but know this, I ne’er stopped lovin’ ye like a father should. I ne’er stopped hopin’ fer yer safety, ‘n I ne’er doubted ye’d become more o’ a pirate than I ever was. Look aft yourself, look aft yer lassie ‘n if ye can nah do anythin’ else for me, jus’ raise a tankard o’ rum fer yer ole man next time ye be sittin’ in th’ Gunnerman’s Arms.”
The Good Captain knew the Gunnerman’s arms was the tavern that his father had left him at, walked out the door never to be seen again until mere hours before his final breath. But he also knew, thanks to the old man’s stories, that leaving him there had been a calculate risk, a move done to give the boy a life the old man could never do himself.
“Goodbye ole man, sail right ‘n sail well. May yer sails be forever full o’ wind!” said the Good Captain
The two men did hug but it was a nervous hug, a hug that one party seemed not to want to continue.
It took Ol’ Barracuda fifteen minutes to row his punt back to his ship, a further fifteen minutes to ready her for sail. While he readied the ship he could see his son and the Fair Maiden standing where he’d left them.
With his stern to the jetty O’l Barracuda began to sail his final journey but he’d barely started when he heard the firing of a cannon. He turned immediately and looked back at the jetty.
Rubbing his eyes he wondered if they were deceiving him. On the decks of the Revenge and the Privateer stood the entire two crews of pirates.
A second cannon fired, then a third.
Ol’ Barracuda lifted his eye piece and looked back getting a closer look at what he was leaving behind.
A fourth short, and a fifth, both large ships were firing their cannons.
Looking along the decks of the ship each and every crew member stood side by side swords raised in the air saluting, but it wasn’t until Ol’ Barracuda scanned his eye piece along to the Good Pirate did he realise his only son was standing on the jetty with his sword raised, saluting proudly and giving the order to fire.
There was no twenty one gun salute when the pirates saluted their fallen or saluted someone who deserves the utmost respect of all who sail after him, to a pirate the ultimate salute emptied the hull of ammunition.
Cannons fired one after the other as Ol’ Barracuda sailed through the heads with tears in his eyes. The cannon fire did not stop until the hulls of both ships were empty and the ship could no longer be seen.
When the cannon fire finally stopped the Fair Maiden took the Good Captain by the hand and escorted him inside. A single tear ran down the good Captain’s cheek as they walked in silence towards the castle.
Previous Pirate story here.
Authors note: When the thought of the man standing on the bow of his ship counting the hours until he dies came up I was at first lost on how to write it and fit it in with the silliness of the Good Captain. Obviously I didn’t want him to die and all I could come up with was a unrelated story which didn’t fit with my ideas for this (the bigger story) or a dream sequence and I didn’t like either option. It wasn’t until someone suggested to me to the person on the ship could be a father figure that things took shape and what I thought was going to be one episode became what it is. (I haven’t even counted how many it is). Love it or hate it (and the final episode is a bit long) this pirate story was more of a roller coaster for me than the others and whether it works for all readers I don’t know, but it worked for me. One day I might even edit it for use somewhere else.
So to the person who gave me the idea for this story a few weeks back when I told her I had a dilemma trying to fit the latest ‘idea’ into the series I thank you whole heartedly, you turned nothing into something I never thought it would be.