It was the sound of hooves that first caught my attention that day; we were forced to dock at Hillrock harbor-off the west coast of Europe- after a storm had caused damage to my ship.
When I was done giving orders to one of my crewmates, I looked over my shoulder to see what kind of commotion was going on in town. There were three guards on horses stalking the streets of the town, and they seemed to be coming right towards us.
Once the guards were on the pier, the head guard approached me, and asked, “We are looking for a run-away slave girl, have you seen anyone about 10 years-old.”
Truthfully, I answered, “No, sir, I have not. My crew and I have been busy with fixing up our cargo ship.” Well, mostly truthful; our ship wasn’t a cargo vessel per se.
I could tell the guard wanted to question me more, but they needed to move on to search the rest of the port-town.
“What was that all about, Captain?” asked a sailor boy, as he was loading a crate of supplies onto the ship.
“Eh, just something about a run-away.” I answered, bluntly.
I went back to overseeing the preparations, not thinking of the encounter very much. There were more important things to worry about anyway,
The next morning, when the sun was just peeking out from the horizon, and shining its golden rays onto the blue ocean, we set sail, all of us ready to get back out to sea.
We were a day’s out, and I was sitting in the Captain’s Quarters looking at the inventory list; our stored food had gone down overnight mysteriously, and I was trying to find a solution to the problem.
“Hey, get back here!”
I stood up from my chair at the sound of shouting on deck. “What is it now?” I asked myself grumbling.
I opened the door, and was shocked to what I found; my crew were chasing a little girl, who darted quickly around the deck.
I watched as the girl tripped over her own two feet, and was boxed in at the edge, a look of terror plastered on her face.
When I saw her scared expression, my heart softened, and ordered my men to stop. The crew froze in their place, and all eyes turned to me, including the girl’s glassy, ebony ones.
I descended the steps from the entrance of the Captain’s quarters, and made my way to the mob. Out of respect, my crew made a path, so I could walk to the girl.
The encounter from the day before entered my mind again, and I realized this was the runaway; her thin, frail form was evidence of that.
Seeing her terror, I knelt down to her eye level as to not intimidate her. “Where did you find her?” I asked my crew.
“She was below deck, Captain Watson. She was eating our stored food.” said one of the sailor boys.
I turned my attention back to the girl, and smiled, “What is your name, lass?”
“A..Amelia,” she answered; her voice cracked, and I could tell she hadn’t had water in a while.
“Amelia, what are you doing here?”
She didn’t answer this time; instead she looked past me and towards the crew, who were still towering over her; sensing her unease, I stood back up to address my crew.
“Everyone, back to work. I’m going to talk with our little stowaway, and if any of you does her harm, I will have you kicked off this ship, faster than a bullet leaves a gun-barrel, understand?”
My crew nodded understandingly, knowing I was a man of my word. They went back to work, and I turned back to the trembling girl, and outstretched my hand.
Giving her a small smile, I said, “Come on, lass, let’s get you some food.” She was hesitant at first-that was to be expected-but she eventually took my hand, and allowed me to lead her to the Captain’s Quarters.
Minutes later, Amelia was graciously eating the soup I had quickly put together and warmed up, and she seemed a bit more relaxed now.
“Now don’t eat it too fast, lass, you might choke.” I warned with a chuckle.
It was meant to be a small joke, but Amelia was quick to lower the bowl, and stop eating all together. She stared at me with ebony eyes, like…she was waiting for instructions. The realization hit my brain, and sympathy fell over me. The girl had probably thought if she didn’t stop eating she would have been punished. I need to choose my words carefully.
“Amelia, you can eat,” I explain, “Just not too fast.”
The girl lifted the spoon and slowly sipped the broth, and I sighed. At least she was eating.
“Now, may I ask how you came to be on my ship?” I made my voice as gentle as possible, so I wouldn’t scare her.
Amelia put the spoon back into the bowl, looked down at her feet, and shrugged, “I ran away from my master after some others rose against him, and I boarded the boat to hide, a…and I…fell asleep.”
The last part she muttered, but I was able to hear it. Once again sympathy fell over me…something I didn’t feel too often; I was a pirate after all.
I watched as the girl ate the soup in tiny sips, and another sigh escaped from my mouth, as I shook my head. “Amelia,” She perked up, and I peered down at her with a smile as I asked, “Would you like to stay with us?”
Amelia’s eyes filled with confusion, and she tilted her head slightly. “Stay?”
I nodded, and watched as her eyes lit up with hope. “You mean it?” she asked again, tearfully.
With a chuckle, I nodded again, and her expression split with a smile, but I could tell she was containing most of her excitement.
“Th…Thank you.” Amelia exclaimed.
I stood from my seat, and knelt down in front of where she was sitting. “Welcome to the family, Amelia.”
After that, I introduced her to the rest of the crew, and made sure that they respected her like anyone else on the crew.
A couple of weeks went by, and when she felt strong enough, I began to train her in the ways of sword-fighting-a requirement on my ship.
I soon found out that Amelia was a quick learner, and figured out the beginner techniques rather quickly, but kept her there until she was 12, so she wouldn’t feel like she needed to rush.
The years came and went; Amelia experienced her first raid when she was 15, and though she didn’t get a kill-in all honesty, despite me being a pirate, I didn’t want her to kill unless she had too-but she did an extraordinary job at defending herself, and she evened eared her doubloon.
Now, she is 18; it has been eight years since that fateful day, and she went from a frail, shy lass to a young maiden who is one of my best sword-fighters.
However, despite the joy I want to feel, not all is well.
It was a few weeks following Amelia’s 18th birthday when a pain formed in my stomach, and grew to the point where I was mostly bed-ridden.
Amelia began to grow worried, but I tried to reassure; despite my optimism, she brought me a doctor, since I was unable to get out of bed, when we stopped at the nearest port-town, and the news wasn’t good.
A wound from a raid had been infected, and it was too late to do anything. Now, the only thing anyone can do is make me comfortable.
After the news of my coming death, Amelia had broken out into tears there at my bed-side, and the doctor left us alone.
“Amelia, it’s going to be okay,” I tried to reassure, but it didn’t help, so I let her go so she could calm down. I needed time to process the information too.
It’s been about a week since then, and I feel my death is nigh. Amelia doesn’t know my side of the story, so I wrote it down in my Captain’s Log journal as my final log.
So, Amelia…my daughter, know that I love you, and take care of the boys when I have passed on to the afterlife.
-End of Captain Watson’s Log
Captain Watson sighed as he closed the book; he turned to his care-taker, and nodded. The care-taker solemnly nodded back, and he exited the room.
Outside the crew was on deck watching a fierce fight between a sailor boy-Thomas- and Amelia. Metal clanging echoed throughout the open atmosphere, until a sharp whistle broke through.
The fight stopped, and all eyes turned to the upper-deck. “Amelia Watson,” the caret-taker addressed, “The Captain…would like a word with you.”
Amelia’s breath hitched in her throat, but she climbed the stairs, and entered the sick bay. The care-taker stayed outside, knowing that they wanted to be alone.
Amelia took a seat next to the bed, but didn’t look at her adoptive father; she was filled with too much sadness.
“Amelia,” the girl felt a gentle hand being placed on her hand and forced herself to look up, being greeted by Captain Watson’s smile.
He slid the journal into her grasp, along with his tricorn hat that had the red-feather- that Amelia loved to play with when she was younger-poking out of it.
“I don’t understand,” she admitted, through teary eyes, her thumb rubbing over the feather.
“You’re captain now.” Captain Watson answered.
Amelia’s eyes shot up. “I…I’m not ready, I c…can’t lead…I…”
Tears were running freely down her cheeks, and Captain Watson gave her hand a tight squeeze, and gently said, “Yes, you can Amelia. You’re ready. Just remember to keep that fire you’ve always had, and your wits about you.” He paused for a moment, taking a deep, labored breath, before finishing, “Now go, my daughter, your crew is out there waiting.”
Then, Edward Watson, Captain of the Ocean Raider for 15 years, died, leaving the ship to Amelia Watson.
His body was wrapped with fine silk, and placed on a wooden raft. After he was pushed out to sea, Amelia lit an arrow on fire, and shot the raft, a tradition when a pirate passes on.
Minutes passed by in silence, and the crew looked on with tearful eyes as the raft slowly burned away.
Amelia then turned away, and pushed through the crowd, ascending the stairs of the upper deck so she could be seen. All eyes were turned to her now; all eyes were on their new captain.
The young maiden, though scared of the future, placed her father’s hat on her head. She was the Captain now, and she would continue her father’s legacy.