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A Pirate's Tale - Part VI

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03/01/2007 - From below deck, Charlotte could hear swords clashing, people yelling and heavy footsteps. She stood frozen in the middle of the cell, wanting to press herself against the bars and catch a glimpse of what was happening and pull back to take shelter in the corner at the same time. She knew that there was nothing she could do from her prison. She feared that whatever was happening on deck was the result of Duke's rebellion against the Captain. She knew if such was the case, she could not bear to watch, but she also clung so tightly to the hope it wasn't so that she longed to see up the stairs and set her mind at ease. She stood for what seemed like an eternity before taking a shaky step forward, wondering if she would discover something she'd rather not know.

As she leaned forward to look she was startled by two men tumbling down the steps in a brawl and she stumbled back to the corner in alarm. Neither of the men seemed phased by the fall, but continued fighting, the dirty water that was always gathered below deck splashing everywhere. Charlotte tried to identify the two men, but they both were moving so rapidly that it was difficult.

The fight went on until one of the men stopped struggling. The other cast a quick glance in Charlotte's direction, then ran back up the steps, two at a time. His face was in the shadows and the brief look had been too short for Charlotte to recognize him, but now she ventured forward to see the man that had been left behind. When she saw who it was she clapped a hand over her mouth, then began to frantically shake the brig door to no avail. She knelt down and reached her hand through the bars, trying to pull him closer, but she couldn't reach. She began to cry in frustration. She knew he needed her help, but even though he was only a few feet away there was nothing he could do.

Duke placed a hand on the wall to steady himself as he looked around trying to take in the scene before him. There were soldiers and pirates swordfighting, shooting and brawling everywhere he looked. Duke felt trapped. With his injury and without a weapon he couldn't imagine getting through the crowd. He believed that neither side would fight for him. The pirates were no longer his friends and how could the soldiers trust him when he appeared no different than the rest of the Silverado's crew. He felt alone, but his mind was more focused on saving Charlotte than himself. As he tried to come up with some way any way to help her, he was suddenly distracted as two men in uniform rushed to his side.

"Duke! Son! I can't believe it's you!" one of them said. He laid a hand on the other one's shoulder. "Take him to the ship, Matthew. Be careful!" he said. Then, turning to Duke and tousling his hair with a look of fatherly affection he said, "I'm so glad we found you! You'll be alright, Son!" Duke realized that this must be Captain Rogers. Suddenly his mind was flooded with questions, but his thoughts quickly returned to the present and then he remembered Charlotte.

"Captain! Charlotte's downstairs!" he exclaimed.

The Captain quickly scanned the deck until he spotted the narrow stairwell. Then he gave Duke's shoulder a reassuring pat. "I love you, Son!" Then, to Matthew, "Be careful!"

Duke watched Captain Rogers as he made his way through the crowd. He was amazed that the man still recognized him, but he was so glad. He had been wrong. He wasn't alone.

Once aboard the Charlotte, Matthew helped Duke to a bench to sit down, then knelt beside him and looked.

Duke nodded, "I'll make it. You need to help the others..." motion caught his eye and his voice trailed off as he looked up past his friend.

Matthew turned to see what had distracted Duke. Then quickly turned back, looking down a little to hide his face, hoping Crayford hadn't noticed them or would ignore them and move on since they were posing no threat. "Oh no!" he whispered.

"That's the man who tried to save Charlotte from me," Duke said with mingled shame for what he had done, respect for Crayford and confusion at Matthew's reaction.

Matthew looked back over his shoulder again. Crayford was drawing his sword and crossing resolutely over onto the Silverado. Matthew stood up with resolve and drew his own weapon from the scabbard. "I have to go," he said and took off in pursuit of the traitor.

"Daddy!" Charlotte exclaimed when she saw her father descending the stairway. He ran over to the brig and grabbed the bars on the heavy metal door. His eyes swiftly searched first the latch, then the hinges for some sort of weakness.

"Daddy! He's hurt!"

Captain Rogers turned to look where she was pointing. "Oh no!" he said kneeling by the man's side. "It's Jikes! I need to get both of you out of here!" he said, turning back to his task of loosening the door with renewed determination.

"Not so fast," a voice behind him said. Captain Rogers turned to see a pirate descending the stairs, gun cocked and ready. "Why don't ye stick around for a while?"

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Pirates Tale
A Pirate's Tale - Part VIII
A Pirate's Tale - Part VII
A Pirate's Tale - Part V
A Pirate's Tale - Part IV
A Pirate's Tale - Part III
A Pirate's Tale - Part II
A Pirate's Tale
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