Yo Ho Ho

Susan W. Hudson

Bonnie “Lady” Wren was born to privilege in 1701. Her parents were aristocrats in Europe and she never wanted for anything.  Cherished and spoiled, she never dreamed of any other life. That is until the family was attacked by the pirate ship, Cambridge, on their way to the New World in 1717, for her 16th birthday. The pirates took an abundant booty from the ship and found that much of it belonged to Bonnie’s parents.

Bonnie, being her precocious self, had clandestinely smuggled her black cat onto the ship. Among pirates there prevailed two dreadful omens, one was having a woman on board.  But, add a black cat to that, and they were terrified.

Bonnie’s father was a doctor. The pirates found that he had a medicine chest stashed away in his cabin that contained spices, tobacco, and even the coveted drug opium. The doctor had also stashed silver and gold coins in the lining of his luggage. The Captain mulled over his decision. Rather than execute Bonnie’s father and mother, Captain Morton ordered his crew to set them to sail toward upper Florida in a small sloop with few provisions. The crew took the medicine chest and took Bonnie hostage. 

Bonnie was nicknamed “Lady” at a young age. She was dainty with a headful of bright red curls and electric green eyes. She was tutored in English, French, and Spanish. She learned to dance and play the piano. She practiced her manners until they were impeccable. She loved dolls, clothes, and her collection of costume jewelry. She adored her sleek stealthy black cat named Jynx. She longed for the day when a handsome beau would give her a real gold ring with a real diamond in it and adopt Jynx.

Bonnie was far from ladylike when Captain Robert “Blade” Morton banished her parents, took the medicine chest, threatened the cat, and tried to contain her wrath. She cried, screamed, bit, and scratched and clawed like a wild animal. The Captain had her bound and gagged.

The captain claimed young Bonnie for his wife. She wanted no part of that, but after much cajoling on his part, (he let her keep Jynx) and much contemplation and planning on her part, she ultimately reasoned that he could teach her his ways and she would become a “Lady” pirate. She was penniless and she knew she would have to provide for herself somehow if he suffered an unfortunate “mishap.”

Piracy was at its height between 1690-1726. “Lady Wren” was a big part of the debacles that ensued. The period flourished with pirate activity as shipping traffic grew rapidly due to the triangular trade involving rum, manufactured goods, and slaves.  Many turned to government-sanctioned piracy. Lady Wren took full advantage of these events. She later became famous for her propensity to decapitate her foes. 

Captain Morton, unaware of her intentions to overtake him, taught Lady Wren to navigate, spy, steer the Cambridge, wield a sword and shoot a musket. She already knew how to issue a command, placate a pirate, and swim like a dolphin. She watched him closely. She learned how to produce a sailor’s knot in seconds. She was small, so she already knew how to wiggle through the most confining openings.

She learned how to hoist the sails, and load a cannon. She could climb the ropes twice as fast as any of the crewmen. Captain Morton presented her with a gold and pearl embellished cutlass to celebrate their wedding. She was so adept at wielding it that she could split a hair in half.

Bonnie was patient. When Captain Morton told her of his plan to sail the Cambridge close to the island of Tortuga and take over another pirate ship, the “Elizabeth,” and confiscate her booty, the pieces of her puzzle began to fall into place. Little did the Captain know that the “Elizabeth” was very well equipped with a huge, experienced crew and dozens of retractable cannons. They had been systematically stocking hundreds of rounds of ammunition. They promptly took Captain Morton down, so the legend goes, but “Lady Wren” struck the final blow with her beautiful cutlass. With some amount of shame in her heart, she knew she had to abide by the Pirate Code, “If one is left behind, we must move forward.” That she did!

She knew her captor/husband had gone to Davy Jones’ “Dead Man’s Chest.” She became the Captain of the Cambridge. She wore white pants, a white shirt, and a red jacket. She always had her cutlass and her black cat by her side. That was her signature, and it served her well. She chopped off her red hair into short curls which she covered with a tri-cornered hat.

Every time she overtook a ship and celebrated the booty, she called her crew top ship with a “Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum.” She rewarded them with a bottle of the best rum and a fair share of the booty. They were religiously loyal to her. 

“Lady Wren” ruled the piracy world for the next five years. Her loyalty and empathy to her crew grew her reputation. She finally defeated the infamous Black Bo and took the “Queen Anne.” Among her booty was much silver and gold. Still, she felt the need to decapitate him and display his head on the helm of the Cambridge. 

After annihilating Black Bo, Lady Wren retired. She promoted her Rear Admiral and best friend, Jake Dunn, to Captain and gave him ownership of the Cambridge. She divided the gold and silver stash among her loyal crew; she took only her share. Her only request was that when the Cambridge set sail she would be dropped off in Florida where she and her parents had been headed all those years ago.

Captain Dunn agreed. She disembarked her ship at St. Augustine. She took her bounty, her cutlass, and her beloved cat with her.  She changed her name, bought dresses and a small bungalow near the water. 

Bonnie Sparrow tutored children. She built a monument to her mother and father. She took her cutlass to a handsome blacksmith, who removed the gold and jewels, saved them for her, and melted down the blade to keep as payment for his trouble. Later, when he proposed marriage to her, he presented her with a beautiful ring made from her cutlass and studded with gold and pearl embellishments. They lived off her bounty until a ripe old age. 

The pirates were always seeking the silver chalice from which Jesus drank at the last supper. A mighty goal indeed. And what would be it’s worth? Another bloody battle would ensue. They would always be battling for the gold, the silver, and the sum of its worth.

She had found the mythical prize all pirates were vying for. She found the Holy Grail. She found the final piece of the puzzle. 

She had found the “Holy Grail.” She had found “Freedom.” She was free to live her life in leisure and comfort. She found the freedom to fight no more.

November 13, 2020 20:18

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