03/01/2007 - "Papa! Papa!" the young angel-like figure practically flew up the stairs of her father's ship, the Oceania. "Pirates!"
Her father was on the deck with Mr. Crayford, who held a telescope in his hand. When he heard Charlotte's warning he extended it to it's full length and took a peek through. Angrily he slammed it shut again. "Load the cannons!" he exclaimed, "they're gaining on us!"
The Captain turned around and echoed the request a little louder. Then, quieter, he whispered to Mr. Crayford, "Is that the very ship that raided San Mateo two days past?"
Mr. Crayford's expression was discouraged. "It is. The Silverado. I don't know why you indulge your daughter so much. She is becoming quite the spoiled little princess. To think that we would actually go out looking for a pirate ship that raided our homes just a few nights past! All to find a boy that most certainly has been dead for nearly eight years!"
"Mr. Crayford, I'm afraid that you have been far too impertinent with me of late and it began when I turned down your request for my daughter's hand. I command that you watch your tongue and be respectful while serving under me. I acknowledge that I am questioning the wisdom of my decision as well at present, but tell me if you have ever looked into Charlotte's eyes and maintained the composure to turn her down had she asked you for anything in the world."
Silence was Crayford's reply, for he could neither deny the fact to the Captain, nor admit it.
At that moment the Oceania shook violently and the Captain commanded his daughter to return to her quarters below deck in the hopes that once the pirates were aboard, they would not be aware of the presence of a beautiful young woman. After all, it was not the custom to bring a young lady along on a mission like this one.
Once downstairs, Charlotte realized what it was that caused the ship to shake. A cannonball had made a large hole through the hull of the ship, and it was rapidly filling with water, while fire was traveling up the side and threatened to destroy the upper deck, so she found herself dashing back up the stairs, crying, "Papa! Papa!" just as she had a few moments prior.
Once at the top of the stairway, she knew she'd made a mistake. Charlotte did not know how any pirate crew could act so quickly, but every member of her father's army within sight was on their knees with hands in the air and weapons surrendered on the floor in front of them. The gruff looking crew were positioned all over the place, some with weapons at the ready, while others searched the area for loot.
"Well would you look at that!" one of them said approaching her. "They 'ave a lady aboard!"
"Well no wonder 'tis been such bad luck!" another replied, shaking his head at the army. "You shoulda known better!"
The first interjected, "Well it may 'ave been bad luck for them, but it's good fortune for us!" with a smirk.
The second tossed the former a gun, "I suppose you'll be doing the honors, then?"
"Oh, no! 'Tis poor etiquette to kill a lady. Below our honor!"
"You know the Cap'n always says to take no captives! Think 'ow much bad fortune the last one 'as brought us!"
"The boy? 'E's as good a swordsman as all git out!"
"'E's bad luck, sure as shootin'. Now if we don't take 'er life, the sea will. This ship is sinking fast! We 'ave our loot, let's go!"
"If the Cap'n don't like 'er, we can always give 'er the plank, but I'm inclined to think this is one treasure 'e'd not want us to pass up." He took Charlotte's hand and made his way back to the railing that he'd climbed to get aboard the Oceania. "Farewell!" he said before making the leap.
As soon as the pirates were gone, Walton ran to the cannons and lit a match.
"Hold your fire!" the Captain exclaimed. "Charlotte is on that ship now! We can't fire! Load the lifeboats and we'll have to go after her when we're better equipped."
"But, Sir!" Walton replied, "By then it will be too late!"
"For once follow my orders without, question Mr. Crayford!" the Captain stood firm. "I'm as horrified by the idea of her aboard that ship as you, but if we fire, we could kill her, and our ship is already on the way down. When the Oceania's gone, we'll have no way to defend ourselves and the attack will be directed at us again, since we did not drop the pursuit. Then where will we be? A pirate ship against a couple of lifeboats!"
Mr. Crayford carried out the request, but he and Charlotte's father were both following the Siverado with their hearts, just wondering what would become of the angel now.
Duke ran excitedly up to the deck, when he saw that the men had returned. He was brimming with excitement when he ran into the captain. "Did you see what a shot I made? I downed the ship with naught but one cannonball!"
It did not take him long to recognize that what he perceived as his own effect on the captain at present was a less than positive one, so he quieted down. The only reply he recieved was, "Well done, young Duke. There's a lady downstairs."
"A captive?" Duke inquired, surprised. The captain nodded and Duke rushed down to the brig, where they would hold captives if the captain ever permitted them to. Duke had been the last person to board the Silverado that had neither been chosen by the captain to be a member of the crew, nor been an already long-established one. He approached the cage-like bars and grasped them, while leaning his head againt the cold metal. It was dark below deck and he could tell little about the young lady except that she was small and slender in form and was crying. She did not look up even though Duke was certain that she'd heard him approach. He said "Hello," hoping she would look up at him for at least a moment, but her face remained buried in her hands.
Duke shifted uncomfortably. Though he was not generally compassionate, something about this pretty little lady caught his attention. "Are you okay?" he asked. Charlotte still did not reply. He didn't know what to say other than, "Can I do anything for you?"
Charlotte dropped her hands and leaned her head back against the bars. "Not unless you can perform a miracle." Her face was still in the shadows and her voice was wavering and thus unfamiliar.
Duke snorted. "I'm afraid I can't help you there. I can't even get one for myself. He sat down in the mucky water that was gathered. He was accustomed to it after so many years and his clothes were often wet from sitting below deck as were the other crew members'.
"What miracle do you need?" Charlotte asked. As always, her tender compassionate heart was reaching out to the person she adressed. She looked up, but when Duke had taken the seat, he did it facing away from her, so all she could see was his back.
Duke took a long time to reply. Finally he said, "I need an angel."
"I'm afraid I don't understand."
"I knew an angel once," Duke did not know why he was telling all of this to a perfect stranger, but it felt good to let out the feelings that had been bottled up inside of him for so many years, for that is how he'd felt in his heart all along and he had simply denied it to himself and to his comrades aboard the ship. After catching a glimpse of her a few days prior, the feelings had resurfaced, and he was well on the way to burying them again until now. He had even began to wonder if he was mistaken in his memory and had not seen her at all.
"What was the angel's name?"
"She had the most beautiful name that was truly fit for an angel. She was only seven when I lost contact with her and I do not even know if she is dead or alive, but if she is dead, it is so much the better for her, for Heaven is where she belongs and not with some worthless cursed pirate like me."
Charlotte had now pieced together in her mind the clues from the conversation and was almost certain of the man's identity, but she needed confirmation. "Will you turn around and face me so I can hear you better?"
"I will speak, louder, Woman, for I am a shame for a lady like you to behold. By the way, what is your name?"
"Will you first tell me yours?"
"I am Duke Rogers."
"And I am Charlotte, your angel."