Bird Of The Sea

37 A Toast

"Anne! Darling!" Rackham called as Jemima and Mary stepped up to the tavern in Nassau where the red headed barmaid turned at the sound of her name.

"Jack?" She strutted over, setting her tray of tankards down on a nearby table, approaching them.

"Anne, you have to listen to me, these two bloody-" Mary kicked his shin and Rackham winced, changing his choice of words. "These two lovely pirates have decided it was better for me to return to Nassau instead of taking any more ships."

"Aye, I heard what you did." The barmaid, Anne, put one hand on her hip, the other pointed at his face. "That was a terrible thing you did, Rackham. Sold two good people and left another three for dead. You've got what's coming to you."

"But, darling Anne-"

"Look, Rackham." She put her head in her hands. "You know I love you, but I don't know how considering all the harm you've done!"

"The harm I've done!" He scoffed. "Alas, I've done a great grievance to many people, but you of all people should be able to look past that!"

"How can I when you're off sailing and I'm stuck here, serving drinks and kicking the drunks away?"

"Hey, lass, I can't settle down, you know that." Rackham told her. "I'm like the waves of the sea, never in one place, setting out somewhere, lapping up at another beach. And at stormy times, I roar at the ships, reckoning-"

"Alright, Rackham, that's enough." Jemima said, cutting him off.

"Maybe... Maybe you could leave here and travel with us?" Rackham suggested.

Anne bit her lip, pondering the idea.

"Perhaps. I don't have any great ties here, not anymore." She shook her head. "Oh, I don't know! Jim, what should I do?"

Obviously, Anne had already met Mary but under a different name. Perhaps it was back when she captured Rackham after he took the pardon, Jemima thought.

"It's an idea. I can see you standing tall on a great ship, shouting orders to the crew, cutting down opponents with a cutlass in your hand." Mary grinned, picturing the scene as the three woman left Rackham by a table and approached the bar. The miserable man slumped down in a seat and reached for the tankards that Anne had left unattended.

"I don't know, Jim." Anne bit her lip again. "I haven't the faintest idea how to pilot a ship. That ain't work a woman does."

"Tosh!" Mary scoffed. "I've seen a score of ladies who can reef a sail and spin a capstan. I mean, Jemima here is living proof of that!"

"And would you teach me to fight? With a cutlass, like?" Anne asked, her voice growing excited, her eyes darting back and forth between the two brave pirates. "And maybe handle a pistol?"

"All that and more." Mary promised.

"But you have to want it." Jemima stated. "And work for it. There's no stumbling into true success."

"Oy! Lad!" Rackham drunkenly yelled at Mary. "That's my lass you're making love to! You lay off or I'll cut ya!"

"Up your arse, Rackham." She spat back. "Lad is the last thing you should be calling me."

"Oh! Oh, is that right, is it? Lad!" He called, draining another flagon, slamming it down.

Mary stormed up to him and grabbed his collar, dragging him to his feet.

"Yeah, that's right." She snarled through gritted teeth. "Call me lad one more time-" her wrist blade shot out, nearly taking off an inch of his chin. "-then you won't be a 'lad' anymore either."

Rackham swallowed and she dropped him. He scrambled to his feet and sat back down, muttering abuse under his breath.

"So, what do ya think?" Jemima asked Anne, arms folded. "Who says a woman can't be threatening?"

Anne grinned.

"Aye, I'd like to prove that."

As Mary approached them, wrist blade retracted, Anne had made up her mind.

"You know what?" Anne announced. "I will, I'll join you."

"Truly?" Rackham asked, the word slurred together as he staggered to his feet again. "You'll join us?"

"Did you get rum in your ears as well as your gob?" Anne laughed. "Aye, I'll join ya."

"My darling Anne!" Rackham stumbled towards her, arms outstretched, then tottered to the side, eventually thumping to the ground.

"Is he-" Jemima stood over the drooling drunk, passed out on the floor.

"Oh, he'll be fine." Anne waved it off. "So, when do we set sail?"

"As soon as we can." Mary said, glancing to the unconscious man.

"A toast is in order, I believe." Anne told them, passing two tankards around. "To the strength and ferocity of women!"

"To fighting for what's right and true!" Mary added, raising her tankard.

"And to the goodness of the future, may it hold us and all we love in good stead!" Jemima finished and the three clanked the tankards together before taking a swig.

Each woman held onto these hopes from the day it left their lips until the day they died. Which for some, was sooner than others.

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