Sunday, June 2, 2013

An Excerpt from Scarlet Sails by TS Rhodes

TS Rhodes lives with two cats and a turtle that is in love with Nathan Fillian. She makes pirate costumes, reads history, and is the winner of the Robyn Harrington Memorial Short Story Competiton. She was a finalist on the reality show Project Publish. She is not, currently, in the market for a pirate ship.

Read her series of books, The Pirate Empire, on Amazon Kindle. Below is an excerpt from Scarlet Sails.


"Where's the bloody payroll?"

Scarlet MacGrath strode from the ruin of the captain's cabin, grabbed the schooner's captain by the front of his shirt and dug the muzzle of her flintlock into the flesh of the man's face, up under the cheekbone. The white of his eye rolled upward. They stood against each other for a long moment, and finally he said, steady enough, "There ain't no payroll, the men are in on shares."

She backed off then, half a thoughtful step, leaving the print of her pistol barrel on his cheek, and asked a little more politely, "What are you meanin' by that?"

"I own the boat. I suspected the merchant houses of cheating us, so it bein' the off season, I told the boys that any man who came south with me would have a percentage. I was aimin' to sell in Jamaica."

She lowered the pistol and gave him a little more space. "Well, I have a great respect for a man what treats his crew fair. We'll still rob you, mind, but I will apologize about your cabin." Litter from her search was visible through the open door, clothing and books scattered, the desk overturned, the sea chest rifled, the bunk torn apart.

Scarlet put the pistol away in her coat pocket and turned to her quartermaster. Burgess had just come up from below decks, and stood polishing his steel-rimmed glasses. "Captain MacGrath. I've seen the cargo. It's just as the men say, one hundred tons of salt cod, no more no less, and not a penny's worth of other cargo aboard her."

"You see, we're no treasure ship. Will you let us go now?" the schooner's captain asked, rubbing the mark on his cheek.

Scarlet ran a hand through her long red hair and laughed. "Do you think we only look for Spanish gold? If we held out for that we'd starve, sure as sure as sunrise. No, cod's good enough for us. Mister Burgess, how much can we take on?"

Burgess took the big brown ledger from under his arm and consulted it. "Five tons I should say, Captain."

"Five tons it is. Kindly ask Mister Flynn if he will rig the cargo crane, and we'll bring it over easy." She spared an affectionate glance to her own Donnybrook, bobbing alongside the schooner; sixty five feet of deck, ten guns, and Mister Bracegirdle hanging about them, still hoping for an excuse to fire.

Scarlet turned back to the schooner captain. "I've just one more thing to ask, but if you answer true, I'll make it worth your while."

The man still rubbed thoughtfully at his cheek, but his eyes traveled up and down Scarlet's body. She did not make a display of bosom, but her shirt fit her close and she had, as usual, pinned her skirts up nearly to the knee, showing her sea-boots. She let him look for a moment, laughed again and said, "Not that. I mean to offer you information. That is free and won't delay our parting."

"Well then, ask."

"How much liquor on board?"

"It's a long way from the cod banks. We've two barrels of cider left."

"Well, I will take one of them. And here"s your gift. Don"t sell in Jamaica. That"s a colony of England, and England owns all them northern fishing banks. Your cod merchants may have purchased some sort of monopoly from the Crown. If they have, and they notice you selling, they'll seize your cargo and fine you or jail you or both."

"Damn. You may be right. This long old trip for nothing."

"That ain't what I said. Where you should sell is the island north, Cuba. The Spanish love cod, and they'll pay dear, for they don't own any cod banks."

A slow, sly smile came into the sloop captain's eyes. Then he looked sharp at Scarlet. "And will you be selling my fish there, too?"

She looked out at the horizon. "Cuba's a little... warm for us right now. We'll find a buyer. Everyone wants the stuff, and I don’t need to bother about the price. If we can't sell, we won't go hungry. My navigator will tell you what you need to know." She called out to the Donny"s quarterdeck. "Pryce!"

The man beside her stared for a moment, his expression half annoyance, half curiosity. "I never thought I'd take advice from someone robbing me. What's in it for you?"

Scarlet grinned. "I enjoy fekkin' with rich merchant houses. You may not know, but there's three rules to pirating in these waters. Take what you want. Get away with it. Have a good time." She headed toward the rail, then paused and looked back. "Welcome to the Caribbean."

No comments:

Post a Comment