26 A Reply
Nassau, Bahamas, July 1718
Perched on a steeple, Jemima overlooked the rotting town. People walked below, oblivious to the pirate that watched over everything. At the red swarm that plagued the beach, dotting around her, Jemima turned away. She sat back and looked up at the clear blue sky, the sight sickening her.
Jemima whipped around, snatching her pistol from her coat and pointing it at Thomas' forehead.
"Oh, sorry." She sighed, drawing back.
"Are... Are you okay?" Thomas asked, clambering up to her side.
"I don't know."
"My father left me behind months ago, so I could follow Kenway to find the Sage. But Kenway's made no move to continue his search! What am I doing here?" She exclaimed. "And not only that, look over there."
Thomas glanced to the beach where she pointed.
"The King's men have been arriving all day. They're here to tell us about the pardon."
"Are you going?"
"I'll have to. My father isn't here and I'll have to represent him."
"And would you take the pardon?"
"Me, no. But I want my father to. From the moment I stepped aboard a ship, he's been trying to protect me. Now it's my turn."
Jemima stood and threw herself off the tower, arms wide as she flew.
Thomas knew she had a rebellious heart but refusing the pardon would kill her.
"Stupid girl," he muttered and followed her.
"By the will of God and our majesty, George the first, we do hereby promise and declare that in case of any of the said pirates shall on, or before, the fifth of September, in the year of our Lord 1718, surrender him or themselves to any one of the principle secretaries of state in Great Britain or Ireland, or to any governor or deputy governor of any of our plantations beyond the seas... Every such pirate and pirates so surrendering him, or themselves, as aforesaid, shall have our gracious pardon, of and for such, his of their piracy, or piracies, by him or them committed before the fifth of January next ensuing. And we do hereby strictly charge and command all our admirals, captains and other officers at sea and all our governors and commanders of any forts, castles, or other places in our plantations, and all our officers, civil and military, to seize and take such of the pirates, who shall refuse or neglect to surrender themselves accordingly."
Jemima yawned at the announcement and received a deadly look from Woodes Rogers, despite his attempt to maintain a friendly composure. At her challenging expression, he looked away, put on a smile, as he led the pirates back out into the fort.
"I pray you take the prudent course, gentlemen... And woman." Rogers said as he stepped out of the warehouse, an awkward glance sent to Jemima. "Accept the King's pardon as soon as your hearts allow."
The group of pirates spilled out and stood ominously around Rogers, dark faces covering them.
"For until such time all of you will be confined to Nassau." He continued and Jemima raised an eyebrow.
As soon as she could, she was leaving this damned island, whether she was allowed to or not.
"I am sorry for this, but in lieu of a public trial, this pardon is your best bet."
"The governor puts it far to brightly, maggots." Roger's second in command spat. "Take this message home, accept the King's protection forthwith or we will raze this town to its foundation and stretch your bloody necks."
"Peace, Commodore Chamberlaine." Rogers said. "We are messengers, not executioners. Not yet."
"Oh, thank you, sir!" Vane mocked as Rogers and Chamberlaine stepped back inside the warehouse. "God save you!"
"Look on this as a stroke of fortune, lads." Hornigold said as they left the fort. "We should take the King's pardon and salvage what dignity we own."
"Dignity?!" Jemima threw her hands in the air. "Any dignity we have left will be crushed to pieces as soon as we accept that damned pardon!"
"Ah, come on, lass!" Hornigold sighed, exasperated. "This could keep you, your father and all the men here safe!"
"Oh, piss!" Vane exclaimed. "I'll be hanged before I surrender to that bobbin."
"Check your head, Vane!" Hornigold snapped, turning on him. "We had here a rare opportunity, a chance to take something base and shape it into a government, made and maintained by men of vision. But in two years, we pissed it away. I won't make that mistake again."
"It's truth he's telling." Said another pirate, dressed in a similar uniform to Hornigold. "And you whelps can't handle it. Adieu, you fo'c'sle-headed fuddlers! See you at the gallows!"
"You'll all be dead men!" Vane roared after them. "Bastards." He turned around to Rackham and Jemima who stood behind him. "I need a drink."
They left the fort, heading for the tavern when Thomas approached, seeing the pirates.
"Jemima!" He called, jogging over. "What happened, with the pardon and all?"
"Rogers talked a load of shite and we left. Nothing more to it than that." She said.
"And you took the pardon?"
"It's still on offer, but-"'Jemima signalled to the two men beside her. "So far, no takers."
"Hornigold thinks it's a grand idea." Vane muttered bitterly. "Thinks we should all be decent men and kiss the King's arse for the rest of our lives!"
"So, are we going to get that drink or what?" Rackham drawled.
"Aye." Vane breathed, recovering from his furious outburst.
"Jemima," Thomas reached for her arm. "I need to talk to you."
"You coming?" Rackham asked the two.
Jemima shook her head.
"You lads go on ahead. I'll meet ya later."
As Vane and Rackham made their way for the tavern, Jemima turned to Thomas as they walked towards the docks.
"So, what's the news?" She asked.
Thomas grinned, brandishing a letter with British stamps on it.
"Elizabeth, aye." Thomas nodded.
"What did she say? Come on, Thomas, tell me!" Jemima exclaimed, just as surprised as Thomas was when he received the letter.
Thomas drew the letter from the envelope and unfolded it, reading it aloud.
"My dear Thomas,
I too have thought of you often and how my heart leapt when I saw the letter was from you! Despite parting on difficult terms, I feel that our time apart has shown us both that we need to be together.
I am so happy that you have found adventure in the far seas but likewise, I wish you were back here with me. I know you must find the Sage and defeat the Templars, but all the while I'll be waiting for you.
"Oh, Thomas," Jemima smiled. "That's wonderful! All this time, you were fretting about her not loving you and here, written on paper, you can see she does!"
"I can't believe it!" He laughed. "When this is over, I can go home to London and start over, maybe even spend the rest of my life with her. And, Jemima..."
"It was that letter that won her back. It's all thanks to you." He patted her shoulder.
"Huh, yeah..." She faked a smile, wishing that she had never said those words.
There was something, something deep in her heart that was greatly pained by the rekindled love between Thomas and Elizabeth. But, if he was happy, so was she. So, she put on a smile, hoping that it all worked out for him, all the while, breaking inside.