A Penchant For Pirates

Chapter 10

I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing.  I looked again.  Before me stood a mere boy barely reaching my mid-chest if I had been standing.  I realized that I may have imbibed a little too much this evening, but this was mere a child.  I automatically wanted to start asking questions such as where are your parents’ child; you look barely old enough to be away from your mother’s breast.  Did Nickolas have to cut the apron strings to get you on board?  My head swam with questions and scenarios as too why this child came to be with my cook, who was my ward until he turned of age and now he is my friend.  Little pieces of the puzzle slipped into place.  Nickolas has said that the chit had been in trouble on the docks and something about stealing. 

I turned to my cousin Brian to see if we were thinking along the same avenues.  Brian’s expression was one of mixed emotions, I could see turmoil, and morose, yet when he looked at Nickolas I could see something shifted in his look but I couldn’t tell what it was that had changed.

I motioned the boy to come forward towards me.  I studied him from head to toe; his looks seemed rather odd compared to most boys.  He was definitely cleaner than most of the ones I had met at his age.  Age; that would be a good place to start.  My eyes hardened as I watched the small chit focus on the floorboards instead of me.  I cannot trust a man or boy in this case, that wouldn’t look me in the eye.  I raised my hand to his chin and pushed his face up so that he indeed did look at me.  “How old are you boy?”

“Fifteen,” Nick answered for me.

“Fifteen is it?”  I looked at the boy who only nodded up and down to me.  “Are you a thief boy?”

“No,” Nick answered.

A.J. coughed rather loudly.  

The boy who stood at attention in front me shook his head from side to side.

“Do you parents know you left?  Because, I have no intentions of turning this ship around.”  Here I was just trying to get the boy to speak to me.  He stood in front of me, his back straight as an arrow and shoulders squared.  It was actually quite comical at first to me.  It reminded me of Daniel and The Lion’s Den. 

The boy nodded his dissension and again Nickolas spoke for him.  “He didn’t like home, like I didn’t.  I thought since you helped me out, that I would do the same for another.”

My frustration mounted at Nick’s answering for the boy again.  I was beginning to wonder if I was dealing with a mute since Nickolas was doing all of the speaking for this child.  “Can you talk boy?”

As soon as Nickolas opened his mouth, I scowled at him, “I would like the boy to speak, not you.”  I watched as Nickolas slowly closed his mouth and lowered his head.

I turned back to the boy and I heard a small harsh whisper of,  “Yes I can speak.”

“Well that’s good to know, now that you have basically managed to ferret your way on my ship you have a choice.  You can work it off such as Nickolas does or pay for your passage now.”

Suddenly the chit’s head snapped up.  I will admit the first physical feature to strike me were the boy’s violet colored eyes.  They were out of the ordinary and far too pretty to be wasted on a male of our species, they should be on a woman.  The boy was poorly dressed in loose pants, a shirt that was well worn as well as two sizes too big.  A wool seaman’s hat pulled tightly down covering his head all the way to his ears. 

The boy then spat the following words at me.  “I cooked your last two meals, I was told that you enjoyed them.  I believe that if I help cook the remaining meals during this voyage that it would be a fair trade.”

I laughed loudly along with my shipmates; the boy knew how to bargain, or at least he thought that he did.  He was in no position to broker a deal with me.  “I see.  Does it not matter that Nickolas has disregarded the chain of command on this shi, that you are a stowaway, and that you are nothing more than a child?”

The lad didn’t answer me.  My head was spinning from the rum, not to mention the problems set before me.  As a Captain, I was supposed to be in charge.  Nick would obviously need some type of punishment for his actions.  Nick had spoken of compassion before he went to get his new young friend.  Right at this point, I didn’t feel compassionate, I wanted to hit something.  There were times for compassion and this wasn’t one of them.  I had my agenda mapped out and it did not have plans of caring for a child while we sailed looking for more ships to plunder.  I closed my eyes to clear my head and the boy found his courage to speak.

“I did a job well done.  Sir; is that not what you want from a crewmember?”  Ray glared right back at the Captain.  She didn’t like Kevin much because she didn’t feel that he treated Nick well.  Nick had told her that it wasn’t true but that was not what she had saw over the last two days. 

The boy looked angrily at me as he spoke, his chin didn’t quiver under my glare, nor did he appear to be intimidated by my stature or speech.  This child didn’t not know the meaning of respect; he was as petulant as Nick had been at that age.  Now he was challenging me, I could tell by the stiffness of his body and the anger in his face and eyes.

“Did I not?”  Ray stared at the man with the goatee and mustache.  His green eyes were focused on her as if she were the only one in the room.  If she could fool him under this close scrutiny then the voyage would be much easier. 

I seemed to be drawn to this boy, his face was angelic and his cheekbones were set high.    I had to force myself to stop gaping at the boy; he seemed too exotic.  I stared, I stared hard, and some thing about this boy captivated me.

“Sir with all do respect...”

I snorted as a heard Nick speak.  My hand reached out and dragged the young boy forward by his shirt collar.  “You are a stowaway on my ship.  You will cook every single meal that I demand and you will follow the officers’ orders on this ship.  Nick will show you your duties and Brian will keep a watchful eye on both of you.”

“Kevin!”  Nick yelped before he grabbed my arm and began to try and wrestle free his friend.

I looked down the length of my arm to my clenched fists.  My hand was tightly wrapped around the boy’s jerkin.  A slow smile crept unwillingly over my face as I saw the boys face warp with his emotions.  The boy didn’t struggle; nor fight to free himself from my grasp.  I commanded my fingers to open and the waif fell backwards into Nick’s body.  “I see we have an understanding now.  You are dismissed.” 

The boy ran out the galley door but not before slamming the large oak slab shut.  I frowned since I was now beginning to sober and could feel the likes of an ache in my head beginning.  I shouldn’t drink so much, I detest the feeling afterwards.

Nickolas began to follow until I called him back.  “Your place is here, not with him.  This dishes need to be tended too and the rest of the galley.”

Nick spun around and grabbed a crock from the table.  My eyebrows rose in a warning gesture that he had better not even slightly think about doing anything with the crock other than washing it properly.  He began to load a tray with the remnants of dinner but was lollygagging.

My cousin Brian intervened in our little argument that was just beginning.  “Why me?”

I clenched my jaw closed; I would not answer him while Nick was present.  I’m very angry with Nick for not being honest with me from the beginning.  If this boy was in such dire straights, I would have more than welcomed him onto the ship. Of course, he would have to sign the articles or indenture himself to me.  I even could have gone to the child’s parents and bought him outright, not that I had the funds to be squandering, but a life is a life.

 I raised my head to look at Nick who sounded like an old fish wife the way he launched into telling the others how miserable the boys life had been before Nick saved him.  I know there is more to the story but it will take some time to get all of it out of them.  Time was the one thing that we had an abundance of. 

Now I sit in my cabin writing in my journal.  I requested Brian to follow me back to my quarters so we could talk confidentially.  Nick heard me extend the invitation and in turn asked me if I wanted to play a game of dominos.  My mouth quirked up into a silly grin.  “I’m not feeble yet boy.  If I had wanted you there, I would have invited you.”

“Ray will be fine I promise.  I’ll watch out for him, he can help me here, and I’ll teach him everything you taught me.”

I closed my eyes at the persistent thud in my head.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Howard for his remark that sent Nick off in a huff.  “If you wanted to teach things to something Nickolas, then you should have gotten a dog.”

Brian and I spoke at length about the entire evening.  Brian informed me that Ray looked very much like the thief that had stolen his coin at the pub.  However, that person was of the female persuasion.  We would question Ray further as to whether or not he had a sister.  Brian would be the one to keep a close eye on Ray and see if the boy was indeed as good a person as Nick had told us.

Keeping the young boy away from the crew seemed to be the best option for now.  Ray would stay in Nick’s quarters, but Nickolas would move his belongings from below deck back up to the Officers quarters.  It was something that could wait until morning.

“The lad has captured your attention,” Brian smirked as he sat at my desk and poured us both a brandy.

“I do believe you are misinformed.  Right now I’m thinking of a severe punishment for Nick for what he has done,” I scoffed.

Brian returned a smirk to me and I him a frown.

“You will not punish Nick too harshly for this.  For one, it takes a consent of two and you don’t have it.”

“I don’t?”  I uttered as I pulled off my coat.

“Nay, you don’t,” Brian shook his head.  “I won’t punish Nick for showing compassion to another and neither will you.  Besides, if you did, I would tell your mama.”

I laughed, “You have the one advantage that the others don’t and you would use that against me?  Still there are the others.”  I made myself comfortable on the corner of the desk as we continued our conversation.

“I don’t agree.  Howard is thankful that he will be eating well.  Nickolas doesn’t count in this case, that leaves you Sir Alex.”

“Correct,” my eyes gleamed, “And we know how much Sir Alex likes pain.”

Brian laughed, “You’re not pirate Kevin, you are a privateer.  At the very least, a father to Nickolas right now.  Your ego has been bruised because he didn’t trust you enough to come to you and ask that you help the boy.  He is trying to demonstrate to you that he has grown and he is a man.”

“A man?  Please...”  I could feel my eyes roll around in my head at the statement.

“To you he isn’t, to others he is.  He’s taller than you now.  Let’s get to know this Ray before we pass judgment on him.  The boy seems bright and has a skill.  More to the point, it could be worse, half of your meal could have had raisins in it tonight.”  Brian drained the last of his brandy and stood up.  Either he was done talking or sensed that I was.  Quietly he took his leave.    

I guess I’m just befuddled right now and I will delve deeper into this mysterious Ray, but not for this evening for I’m tired and lonely.  I truly miss Isabella and Jocelyn as well.  What I would give to by lying in one of their arms right now or at least between their legs.  With these last words, I close my entry till the ‘morrow.

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