16 A Defiant Daughter
"Hurry up, Sam!" Jemima called as she swung through the rigging, clambering up like a monkey does through trees.
"Slow down!" He panted, regularly pausing as he chased her.
"Ah, come on!" She stopped, grinning. "If you're all out of breath now, then you can't teach me swordplay!"
"I've taught you everything I know," Sam breathed. "In fact, you should be teaching me!"
She laughed and scrambled down the mast, back to the deck. Ever since Thatch had taken full responsibility of his daughter, one of the sailors, Sam, had always been there to teach her the ways of a pirate. He didn't know her secret but he was one of her closest friends. Of course, there had been times where he had nearly found out, or she had desperately wanted to tell him, but her father always said the same thing.
"They're pirates, lass. They won't respect you for who you are. They'll use you for what you are."
Jemima sighed. One day, everyone will know of her true identity and know what a fearsome pirate she was. No one would cross her.
She stepped to the side of the ship, genuinely impressed by the size and majesty of the galleon. She smiled to herself, thinking of the friends she made. The wild, brash Kenway, the mysterious Mary and the just, loyal Thomas. She wished she could tell them who she really was but how would they react? She felt as if she could trust them, but her father's warnings had plagued her enough to not risk it.
"Hey, Jack? You okay?" Sam asked, making her jump.
"Aye, okay enough to give you a good kicking!" She recovered, grinning, drawing her sword. "Let's have at ya then!"
She lunged and he only just managed to deflect the blade at the last second. They battled on, the clashing of blades attracting the attention of the rest of the crew. One by one, they left their duties to gather around the fight.
"Come on, Jack!"
"Hit 'im, Sam!"
Choruses of cheers echoed around them, urging Sam and Jemima to work quicker, their swords swiping at each, the blows either parried or dodged. Sam was a skilled swordsman, an equal match for Jemima, so the fight continued, with no clear winner.
Out of the corner of her eye, Jemima saw the form of an eagle soar over the ship, its cry piercing through the air, piercing through her.
At the sound, she jolted and caught off guard, Sam seized his chance. His cutlass sliced her arm, its hilt smacking into her forehead. Jemima fell back, dazed, her hat skidding across the deck, loose strands of hair unravelling from the knot she'd tied it in.
"What's going on?" Thatch growled as he stepped out of the Captain's cabin.
All was silent as he walked closer. He stopped at a gunpowder barrel and picking up a flagon, he scooped up a decent amount of gunpowder. To the other side of him was a bottle of rum and he poured it into the flagon, the crew avidly watching his every movement. Swirling the concoction with his finger, he took a swig, without flinching.
As he stepped towards them, the crew parted, making the scene clear to him. Thatch caught sight of his daughter, sprawled on the floor, her hair loose. He snarled, shoving the flagon into the hands of one of the crew members before snatching up Jemima's hat. He helped her up and Jemima hurriedly hid her long hair under her hat, still nursing the bruise on her forehead.
"What happened here?" His voice was like thunder, his eyes like lightning. The man was a storm.
"It was just a fight, father." Jemima told him, shaking his hand off her arm. "I'm fine."
"Who was it? Who hit you?"
The crew was silent, as was Jemima.
"I did." Sam said, stepping forward.
"You, lad." Thatch growled, pointing a finger. "You are on thin ice. Hurt him again and you're overboard."
"Father, I'm fine." Jemima retorted.
Thatch looked from Sam to his daughter.
"Come with me." He ordered and reluctantly, Jemima followed him.
Thatch slammed the cabin door behind her and sat down heavily at the table. He signalled for her to sit down and she did so, her hands clasped.
"You've got to stop this, lass." Thatch said, his voice resigned.
"I can't help it. It's what pirates do, we fight-"
"Not with him."
"That boy, Sam. He's getting close to you."
"Yeah, he's my friend."
"But not for long. One day, he'll find out and then-"
"And then what?!" Jemima slammed her hands down on the table. "He'll rape me?!"
"That's what men do when they find a woman they want!"
"I'm not something they can just take! I'm a fighter, they'd die before they can touch me! Don't you understand?!"
"No! You listen!" She roared. "My entire existence on this ship has been ruled by you! I don't ever get a say on how to live my life! Well, now, I'm changing that. When I choose, he'll know- the whole crew will know- that I'm a woman. And you'll see, I'll be treated the same way I was before."
"That'd be a bad move, lass."
"It's my move to make." She snarled and turned for the door.
"Jemima, you always know exactly how another person is feeling, please, put yourself in my place for just a moment!"
She paused, but her anger clouded her thoughts and all she could think of was her overprotective father making all her decisions for her.
"You don't dictate my life anymore, father." She said, her voice firm. "From now on, I decide."
And with that, she left.