Determined to finish the story, I awoke early and got the daily chores out of the way. Just the usual stuff, gathering a few days food and preparing my supplies for the journey ahead, I quickly pulled out the book and began reading the letter once more… where had I left off again?
All Thomas would say was to keep doing what I already do, talk to the officers and tell him stories and gossip, and he would explain more in time. The last thing he said as I left him in the stable that evening, was that there are some things worth risking your life for, and he believed what he was doing, was worth that risk.
Little did I know, that evening would change my life forever. I was still upset with Thomas but decided I would do as he requested. I mean, he was my best and only friend, after all. I walked around the party in my white ball gown, but instead of half-listening to the endless droning of the other women, I tuned into the conversations of the male attendees. I heard a naval officer talking of spies sharing secrets with pirates, and how they believed they knew who some of them were. I saw EITC correspondence asking for more navy guards to be sent. I overheard bits and pieces being said about skirmishes between the Navy and EITC against pirates, and something about weapons being moved or stored on another island. It suddenly dawned on me, what my friend had been up to for over a year.
Thomas was telling my stories to the mysterious woman in the tavern. He was passing along my information to her. He was one of the spies that the EITC and Navy were after! I told my father that I felt ill and begged him to make our excuses. It wasn’t a lie; I did suddenly feel ill with worry for Thomas. I had to get back to warn him. We left shortly after and made our way home, but it was too late. Mr. Hartley met us in the stable and told us that the Navy had come and arrested Thomas for treason! He was beside himself with worry. My father was in a state of disbelief and vowed to use all of his influence to rectify the situation. I, however, was not so optimistic.
The next morning, my father and I made our way to the Naval headquarters at Fort Dundee to try to have Thomas released. The appeal process should have been easy as the evidence was circumstantial at best. When we arrived, we were told that under Lord Cutler Beckett’s ruling, Thomas was already found guilty of treason and sentenced to death by hanging. I refused to believe what I was hearing. There was no trial, there was no evidence. It was purely a rumor, a guess that he was guilty. I ran into the courtyard in time to see my best friend one brief moment before the floor dropped from under him and I lost him forever. The crowd jeered as Thomas and several others hanged that day. That was the day that changed me. He was my best friend. He believed he was helping us all by passing along that information. I believe he was correct in that. That was the day I vowed my revenge against them all.
Here I am, almost two years later, and now I pass information onto the woman in the tavern myself. I know exactly what to look and listen for while attending these mindless parties and soirées. I know what questions to ask without appearing that I know anything that is happening outside of the ladies luncheons. I know how to appeal to a man's ego so that he wants to tell me what he knows. And I know exactly how to act when I ask these questions to have men falling over themselves to answer. I am not above putting a knife into the heart of anyone who stands in my way. All while presenting the front of a perfect gentle lady. If they only knew that Lady Grace Anderson was also Gracie from the tavern, I would be strung up like poor Thomas. It’s a good thing that no one would believe it, even if they were told.
Yours very truly,
As I finished the letter, I knew exactly what I had to do. Sure enough, Lady Grace Anderson was the person that would know where Alaina is. My only hope was that she would not think me a spy, as I was not keen on having a knife stuck through my heart.
As the cold winds began to pick up, I could tell that Jolly’s men were closing in. Always obvious with them, the telltale stench of the dead and a cold that chilled your very core. Gathering my supplies and storing the letter and book safely away, I hopped aboard my sloop and set sail towards Padres Del Fuego. The tides were rough, and I could taste the salt of the sea all around me… it nearly felt like home. Nearly… if only she was by my side. The words we spoke at every voyage together swarmed through my head, and eventually found their way past my lips, the first time I had spoken in who knows how long: