Charlotte & The Pirate Ch. 01bymcfbridge©
The following story is going to be at least a 10-parter, with each chapter in a different category. If you enjoy this story, I'm afraid you'll have to go find each part. Hope it's worth it.
Charlotte D'Ormond was the daughter of Francois D'Ormond, Comte de Filleaux. She was 19 years old, and her father had finally arranged a marriage for her. It shouldn't have been difficult to find a husband for the daughter of a count, but Charlotte's father wanted the very best for his daughter. So, it had taken over two years for the Comte de Filleaux to settle on a man.
The man he had selected was Andre Panvois. Lord Andre was 25 years old. He was also a rising start in the court. In fact the king had selected young Lord Panvois for a very important post. He had just been named governor of the island of St. Dominique in the Caribbean. France controlled the island but the area around it had become a pirate haven. The king had given Andre the task of rooting out the corruption that apparently had taken hold in this territory. Andre would be governor of the island for six years. If in 1688, at the end of his administration, he had cleaned up the area, Andre would be called back to court and be named a Duke.
Charlotte had only met her future husband once, and that briefly. Andre had dined with both her and her father the night before he sailed for his new post. That had been almost a year earlier. Now it was time for Charlotte to sail to the New World and join her betrothed. They would be married upon her arrival and she would be the First Lady of the island. The fact that Charlotte hardly knew her fiancée didn't concern her. That was the way that all marriages among the aristocracy were arranged. And the young lady was very excited about being the wife of the governor of a tropical island. It was all just so exciting.
Traveling by sea was dangerous, and the Comte de Filleaux was taking no chances with his beloved only daughter. Charlotte would sail on the Marie LaMont, a French galleon sporting 32 guns. Francois would make sure that his child was on a ship that no pirate would even consider attacking. The French warship was much too heavily armed for any pirate to even be a threat to her.
The trip to the Caribbean was long and uneventful. Charlotte had made friends with most of the crew. After all she was a lovely and friendly young lady. By the time the month long journey was nearing its end, the young count's daughter had almost all the young men totally charmed.
They were only four days away from their destination, before Charlotte even saw another ship. Early that morning, the lookout reported a small ship headed towards them. She was approaching off the port bow. These were pirate waters, and the captain was a little nervous. He knew that he outgunned any pirate craft, but he didn't want to be involved in any battle which might risk having the daughter of an influential noble injured. That was a good way to end a career.
The captain was just going to order the crew to general quarters, when the lookout shouted that the ship was a sloop bearing a French flag. Both the captain and the first mate sighed with relief. Aside from the fact that a sloop only carried at most 14 guns, this was a friendly vessel. Also, if a French warship was already in these waters, then there would be no chance of any pirate encounters before reaching St. Dominique.
The small ship passed within 100 yards of the Marie LaMont. Charlotte could see the crew going about their tasks on the deck. It was obviously a well-disciplined crew. As Charlotte watched, the little sloop turned to starboard, and began to slowly pull away. As the ship disappeared into the morning fog that was trailing the Marie LaMont, Charlotte went back to her normal activities. Neither she, nor any other member of the crew saw the sloop swing hard to port, and take a new course directly across the stern of the French galleon. Between the fog, and the fact that the ship was small and appeared friendly, not even the lookouts had paid attention to her as she had disappeared astern.
Black Bill ordered the Anvil hard over. As she quickly came to her new heading, which would take her directly across the stern of the big French galleon, Bill ordered the portside guns ready. The huge warship badly outgunned his sloop, but the Anvil was very fast and highly maneuverable. And that galleon would be a very rich prize if they could take her.
Black Bill. The name terrified sailors in the Caribbean. Bill himself thought the name rather silly, but all things considered, the nickname had really been unavoidable.
William the blacksmith had been a young man in southern England only 5 short years earlier. Frankly, he had been a bit more that just a blacksmith, William was a very talented weaponsmith. By the time he was barely 20, his swords were the choice of many young knights preparing for tournaments.
Unfortunately, William's judgement hadn't been as rewarding. He still remembered the night everything changed. William had accompanied a customer to a local pub. He had never seen the man before, but he had offered to buy the beer and that had been good enough for the smith. As they drank, several more men joined them. They appeared to be a tough lot, but William wasn't too worried. As a blacksmith, he was quite strong, and at a little over 6 feet tall, William figured he could handle anything that happened.
The men continued drinking throughout the night. William really didn't even know how many pints he had downed. All he knew was that every time he finished one, his new friend bought another. By the time the club crashed into the back of his head, William was so drunk that he might very well have passed out anyway.
William woke up with a headache and a very upset stomach. The headache he could understand, but why did the world feel like it was moving? When he stood up, William realized that the world felt like it was moving because it was. Or at least the ship he was on was moving.
Someone passed by, and the young blacksmith tried to reach him. That was when William realized his hands were chained. Then someone called his name, and as William turned around, a man slapped him hard across the face. Young William glared at his captor, but he realized there was nothing he could do. So the smith just stood there and waited to hear what was going on.
The man introduced himself as Edward. He was captain of the ship they were on, a merchant vessel named the Lovely Liz. The captain informed William that he had signed aboard as a crew member for the voyage to the American Colonies. Once there, the crew would pick up a shipment of furs and spices from the colony for sale back in England.
William thought about objecting, but he realized there was no point in it. He was on the ship, and there just wasn't any place to go. Besides, the captain also explained that each crew member was entitled to a share of the profit. Even the small share a new crewman was entitled to would be more money than William had ever had in his life.
The long voyage to America had been a challenge. The captain was a tyrant and the entire crew hated him. It was only the promise of the riches to be earned that kept the crew in line. Finally, the merchant vessel reached port, and everything went just as the captain had said. Within 2 days the Lovely Liz was back at sea, fully loaded with a cargo of fine furs, as well as numerous spices and fragrant woods. William wasn't well acquainted with these types of items, but he did know that they were every bit as valuable as the captain had claimed.
Two weeks later, the weather had turned bad. The captain hated to delay his return, but there was no way he would risk his cargo. So, unhappily the man turned his ship south to avoid the storm that was definitely coming in from the east. The Lucky Liz successfully avoided the weather, but she had to sail south for several days. By the time she could safely turn east again, the ship was well behind schedule. The voyage would now take at least two weeks longer than planned.
This meant that they would need more supplies. The captain told the crew that the British controlled an island another day to the south, they would stop there and resupply. The crew wanted to go ashore, but the captain ordered everyone to stay on the ship. Only he and two hands would go ashore.
As the three men left, the rest of the crew was in a foul mood. There they were stuck on the ship, when a fine port with whiskey and women was just waiting there. Add to that the fact that the rum was running low, and there wasn't one happy man left on board.
William never knew who the man was who broke into the captain's cabin. It didn't matter who it was anyway. The man had only been looking for something to drink. The crew was convinced that the captain had some fine whiskey stowed in his cabin. If he was going to leave the men aboard, then the least he could do was to share with them. They were right. The man found a case of good Irish whiskey. But not one man felt like drinking. They were all too amazed at the other thing that had been found in the captain's cabin.
The other item appeared to William to be a small book. As it was passed around, William realized it was the captain's personal log. Normally, that was a sacred item on a ship, and no crewman would dare touch it. But the captain had left it open when he'd left, and the crewman had been so angry at what he read, that he had to take it. When it reached William, he read it as well. By the time he finished, the blacksmith knew that blood was going to spill on the deck of the Lovely Liz.
Only a few men on the ship could read. It had been sheer Providence that the man who had entered the captain's cabin was one of them. But he could, and as he glanced at the log, he couldn't help reading the captain's notes on his expected profit.
Edward was so proud of himself for fooling his stupid crewmen. The idiots actually believed that they would share in the sale of his cargo. As if he would share with that lowly lot of bilge rats. No, as soon as they reached port, Edward's buyer would send a crew aboard the Lovely Liz to retrieve his merchandise. He would pay Edward, and there would be enough men there to handle any member of the crew that complained. Edward would leave a rich man, and his crew would have the memories of a long voyage.
Within an hour of the theft of the log, every crewman on board had either read it, or had someone tell him what it said. There was talk of murder, but cooler heads prevailed. Mutiny was a capital offense. The captain would be dealt with, but it would be when the ship was safely back out to sea.
The next day, the captain returned with the stores, and the Lovely Liz set sail again. Two days later, the ship was in open water with no land anywhere in sight. The captain was simply walking the deck, when two of the larger hands came up to him. Edward started to ask what they wanted, when they simply grabbed him and slammed him to the railing. The angry man screamed at them, and told them what would happen to them for mutiny, but the men just laughed at him. Then, when one of them showed him the log they had stolen, Edward understood the real danger he was in.
The captain tried to convince his men that it was all a joke. None of those things was really going to happen. As he talked, though more and more of the crew crowded in. Then someone yelled that he was right. None of those things were going to happen. William heard someone laugh. Then one of the men holding the captain laughed as well. He told his captain that he would be the one who would end the voyage with only memories.
The other man grinned and told the captain that of course it was likely to be a very long voyage for him. After all, England was a long way off to have to swim to it. Edward barely had time to react, before several men had simply scooped him up and thrown him overboard. William knew the man was dead. Between the sharks and the distance, Captain Edward would never be seen by mortal man again.
After the mutiny, the crew decided to sail for the nearest island. According to the charts, there was another English isle a week's sail away. The island they had left was closer of course, but they didn't dare go back there. It would raise way too many questions. A week later, the Lovely Liz reached her final port. The crew unloaded the cargo and scuttled the ship. She couldn't be left afloat for someone to find and begin to ask about her captain and crew. Besides, after selling the cargo, the crew would have enough money for them all to live comfortably.
William had been one of the men who negotiated the sale. As it turned out, he was one of the more respected members of the crew. Between his huge size and quiet manner, William was trusted by almost everyone. The smith had wanted to return to England, but he knew that was impossible. The crew had mutinied and no English court would bother trying to decide which members of the crew were guilty and which were innocent. No, if they were taken, they would simply all be hanged as an example to other would-be mutineers.
The sale was indeed profitable. The entire crew was rewarded with enough money to set them all up comfortably. That should have been the end of the story. The group of men should have lived out the rest of their lives uneventfully, enjoying themselves with drink and women. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.
Tommy had been a deckhand on the merchant ship. He also didn't hold his drink well. He was drinking at one of the bars with some new friends, when one of them asked him where he had gotten all his money. Poor Tommy was so drunk that he told him the truth. Well that man told his friends and those friends told other friends. Within a few days, the story had gotten around to a group of navy sailors at another bar.
The navy men were not at all amused by the story of mutiny. These criminals had to be taken, tried, and hanged. It was another two days before the sailors located the part of the island where the mutineers lived. Those two days saved William's life.
The navy sailors planned a raid for the morning of the third day. But just like poor Tommy had proven, it is almost impossible to keep a secret on an island. By the end of the two days, most of the mutineers had heard the stories going around the bars.
Most of the mutineers ignored it. After all they were rich men now. This story would just make them even more famous throughout the island. But a few of the men, William included knew what a disaster this was. The men quietly asked around, and very quickly found out about the naval sloop anchored off the south shore of the island. William and the other men knew that the navy wouldn't ignore any story of mutiny. No, they would come looking for them, and it wouldn't be long.
It was William who came up with the plan that changed everyone's life. They had to get off the island if they wanted to live, and the only way off the island was by ship. As it happened, there was a fine sloop right off shore, and the crew of that sloop would be occupied looking for mutineers. Surely, while most of the sailors were involved in the hunt, the few who remained wouldn't object to lending them their sloop.
The next morning, the navy men raided the mutineers' homes. Over thirty men were taken. At the same time, another twenty men were on their way to the navy ship.
William and his friends had purchased fine clothes from town. They had also bought a small boat. Now they were sailing out to the ship. In the boat with them were cases of whiskey. To the five sailors left on the ship, they appeared to be nothing more than wealthy merchants coming to sell drinks to the sailors. Drinks which the men would be more than happy to buy.
Sure enough, the twenty men reached the ship and began to unload the booze. William told the officer of the deck that the captain had purchased this fine whiskey. It was all bought and paid for. The men were to enjoy as much as they liked, and then stow the rest away. Well, the men had always known what a fine officer their captain was, but this was beyond anything he had done before. That deserved a toast, and within minutes everyone on board was drinking the health of the captain.
Two hours later, the five crewmen were unconscious and adrift in the small boat. William and his crew ran up the sails, raised the anchor, and took the sloop to sea. To William's surprise, the men named him captain. After all, he had been the one who had come up with the plan that saved their lives. From here on, they would trust him to lead them.
A sloop can handle a crew of 75. 40 men can handle her easily, but for 20 men, it was a challenge. William knew he had to get more men, but more than that, he had to come up with something for he and his men to do. They couldn't just sail around the ocean until the food and water gave out. After much thought and soul searching William came to the only choice he could make. He and his men would become buccaneers and stalk the ocean as pirates.
Well, if one had a pirate ship, and one needed additional crew, there was only one place to go. Tortuga. The island of Tortuga. Controlled by a French governor, it was a haven for every pirate in the Caribbean. The governor made it very clear. As long as he and his friends were handsomely paid, no action would be taken against any pirate. Also, no warships would be allowed to land at the island. No one exactly knew how he kept those ships away, but the governor was as good as his word. Every pirate knew that the place to go and sell captured booty and buy supplies was Tortuga.
It took about a week to sail to Tortuga. Upon their arrival, William and a couple of men began to wander the bars on the wharf. They spread the word that they were looking for men. When someone asked who the captain was, they were told it was William the Blacksmith.
William the Blacksmith just didn't have that pirate ring to it, but as word spread around, the name changed. It became William the Black, and then Bill the Black, and finally, Black Bill. The next morning, over forty men arrived at the dock eager to sail with the notorious pirate Black Bill.
William wanted to tell the men that this was actually his first voyage, but his mates quickly talked him out of it. So William and his crew selected 20 men from the lot, and thanked the rest. The new captain was delighted with his new crew. He had 20 experienced buccaneers. Most importantly, he now had 4 experienced gunners. It was one thing to have cannon on a ship, it was quite another to know how to aim and fire them properly.
With a full crew, and a resupplied ship, William, or Black Bill as he was now known, sailed back to sea. As they began the voyage, the crew demanded that their ship have a name. It was terrible bad luck for a ship not to have a name. Many possibilities were thrown around, but at the end it was decided that if their captain was a blacksmith, then their ship was his anvil. And the Anvil she became.
A pirate vessel needs good seamanship, a brave crew, and some luck. William had the first two, and three days out he got an incredible amount of the third. As the dawn rose on the third day, a large ship loomed on the horizon. She was a large merchant vessel. Not only was she heavy laden, but she had obviously been in battle and was very badly damaged. While normally, the merchant ship could have probably fought off the smaller Anvil, in her current condition she didn't even have enough firepower to try.
The Anvil fired one shot over the merchantman's bow, and she quickly lowered her flag and surrendered. As the pirates boarded their prize, they found only 32 men left alive, and of those barely 10 fit enough to sail. The captain and most of the officers had been killed, but one of the two remaining mates told what had happened. A couple of days earlier, they had been approached by a pirate ship. Battle had been joined, and the ships traded several broadsides. The merchant vessel was on the verge of defeat. Her main mast had been destroyed and most of her guns were gone. Then, a lucky shot had hit the pirate's powder magazine, and a moment later, the enemy ship exploded into millions of pieces. After that, the remaining crew had tried to sail home, but between their limited number and the heavy damage, all they had really managed to do was drift. By the time the Anvil had attacked, the remaining men were almost relieved to see another ship. The pirates were welcome to whatever was on board, if they would simply help the remaining men and wounded to land.