The heat of the Caribbean sun beat down on my back as I finished my chores for the day. It had been a week since I last looked at the book and I settled on reading it by candlelight come nightfall. In the meantime though, food called and the smell of meat cooking made my mouth water. As I watched it sizzle over an open flame, I recounted the last passage of the book. Being sold by her own mother like that… Charity sure has seen some rough times.
Looking around, I took in the scene around me. Trees swaying in the breeze, the smell of ocean all around me, and the juiciest, most tender meat I’ve ever enjoyed on my plate. Life was good, but I knew it would not last - not until I’d found the person I longed for most.
Night fell quickly, and before long the book laid open before me. Turning to where I left off, I scanned the last sentence again before continuing the fateful story of Charity Ironflint...
...It’s those memories that kept me going… and the reason I’m searching for my father to this day.
Eventually, taking the master his lunch was added to my daily duties. I would leave the house two hours before midday and walk down to his merchant shoppe near the docks. Each day, I took note of everything (and everyone) I passed. I learned the master’s ships, their names, their look, and their routes - and eventually, a plan began to form. If I were to find my father, the only family I had left in this world, I’d have to search for this “feared pirate” in the West Indies...
One day, I was going about my duties as normal… I had delivered the lunch to my master, but this time, deviated from my normal routine. Sneaking into his warehouse, I quickly changed into his 8 year old son’s pants, stockings, slippers, and shirt. It had taken me awhile to slip even these few articles of clothes from the laundry basket each week, stealing from the young master’s room, but I’d managed. Next up was my hair… it made it too obvious who I was, so using a stolen kitchen knife, I carefully cut it down to shoulder length, plaited it, and tied a ribbon around it in the back. I was not sure it’d work to convince those aboard the Merry Maid that I was a boy, but it was the only chance I had.
Two months we’d been at sea before anyone noticed me. It was one fateful date when the cook caught me stealing a bit of cheese and bread. Taking me by the ear and dragging me all the way to the captain’s quarters, he insisted on throwing me overboard to the sharks of the harsh sea… but the captain would not have it. If I was going to sail with them, then I would be used. My work as a powder monkey began immediately, and over the next 10 months, I worked my way up to handling the swivel guns at the stern. I was a fast learner, and enjoyed manning the cannons… and before long, a month had passed, and we finally made port at Hispaniola. One day, during shore leave, I waited for the crew to get drunk and careless off their rum - and made my escape. I found a dress roughly my size drying in the sun, hastily changed into it, unbraided my hair, and washed my face… once more I looked like the girl I was, and knew the crew would be looking for Charlie, not Charity. Remembering the tales of pirates frequenting Tortuga, I quickly found the nearest ship bound for there - and off I went.
After my arrival on Tortuga, I made quickly for the nearest tavern, as time was limited for me, and I did not want to spend more time than I needed. Being alone on the streets of Tortuga was no place for a young lass. The work of a chambermaid was hard, but I managed to find ways to muddle through it. As luck would have it, I was employed at the Faithful Bride - a common spot for skilled pirates - which gave me many opportunities to chat with patrons. Some took pity on me and would give me tips on how to handle a blade, while others lined my pockets with extra coin. Yet still… no news of my father was to be found.
Five long years I worked at that tavern, sneaking in sword practice whenever the nights felt long. For the most part, things went smoothly, until one particular night of practice. I grabbed my blade and went to finish the last of my chambermaid duties, tossing the kitchen scraps to the pigs, when I heard a commotion in the shadows. Sneaking closer to see what was going on, I spotted a stray Navy man attempting to apprehend a fellow pirate. Not being one to stand idly by, I quickly snuck up behind him and warned him to back away, sword pressed closely to his back.
As luck would have it, the man was smarter than he looked, and quickly scurried off from the scene. As I helped the wary pirate to their feet, she introduced herself as one Anne Bonney, and returned to the tavern with me to speak for a while. Impressed with the courage I displayed to help her, and moved by the story of the journey to find my father, she offered me a place on their ship… and it was not long until I found my place on a cannon once more.
The journey with her was not particularly noteworthy, but over the course of two years, I had learned many useful skills, furthering myself to places I never could have imagined before and eventually adopting the last name “Ironflint”. Alas, aside from the stories I heard of him, I never did find my father. While I may have grown stronger, I couldn’t help but feel as though my journey was a pointless one.
Eventually I departed from Anne and her husband Jack Rackham on Cuba. Having gained a small fortune of my own from our plunders, I decided to set out alone and went to purchase a ship of my own for the journey. Deciding to rest in the tavern before setting sail… well, I think you know the rest from here. You were so casual when you served me my drink, I would have never suspected you were one of the most powerful pirates to come before me.
Quite the touching story you have there, Charity. Very well then, I can see I made the right choice with you. What do you say then, ready to become a Keeper of the Code?
If it means finding my father, I’d do anything. Here’s to a long and charitable partnership!
A smile formed on my lips as I closed the book. It seems Charity would be alright with Alaina, and I certainly could not wait to meet her. I extinguished the candle and trudged up the stairs to my waiting bed. Sweet sleep at last, and I began to drift off… that is, until an earth-shattering bang threw me out of bed.