As Baltazar predicted, within two hours, the storm hit. Waves crashed over the deck and rain poured down on the crew. Though the ship was secured to prevent it from taking on water, they were still struggling to tie down the cannons on deck. The men had gotten the sails up and the cabins were secure, but a loose cannon could do serious damage.
Papi and Melisande were on deck trying to help out as much as they could. Mel stood with Gilles as they tried to push the number two deck cannon back into position. The cannon by itself was heavy and water crashing over it, made pushing it into place even more difficult.
Once the cannon was back on its blocks, Gilles reached out to Melisande, “Quick hand me the line and secure it!”
She struggled to reach him, but didn’t make it in time. The cannon broke loose and rolled forward, sending Gilles flying over the side. Melisande screamed, “Gilles! Man overboard!”
Every crewman who had already finished securing their lines ran to the side of the boat. Melisande watched as they tried to throw him a line, but the force of the waves crashing over his head made it impossible. His head disappeared beneath the surface every time a wave hit.
Melisande knew that he would drown if they didn’t do something quick. She called out to him, “Come on Gilles, swim, swim man!”
Another wave crashed over his head and she could hear him struggling to breath. Without thinking, she stripped off the vest that she’d been wearing, leaving only her shirt and undershirt on, and jumped overboard. Papi saw her and cried out, “Messy, no!”
He was too late to grab her as she jumped over the railing and plunged into the ocean. She swam towards Gilles as quickly as she could. It took all of her strength to reach him as the waves crashed over her.
Within moments, Melisande grabbed him by the arm and held him above the water. The dirt washed off her face and the hat that had protected her hair fell off. She pulled on Gilles as she swam, “Its ok, Gilles, I have you.”
Gilles opened his eyes and looked at her strangely, like he had never seen her before. They swam back to the ship where the crew pulled Gilles back on board and tended to him. Half drowned, he was taken down below to rest. He didn’t say anything and just lay there with a confused look on his face. As the men returned to their duties.
Meanwhile, Melisande was struggling to climb back on board. Baltazar had been called out to the deck and was watching as the group pulled his new cabin boy up. When she was finally up to the railing, two men grabbed her and pulled her over the side. She lay on her hands and knees coughing for a few moments before standing up. She was surrounded by crewmen and Papi was unable to get to her. Her clothing stuck to her skin, revealing her figure.
Gasps could be heard from the crew as they realized what she was. Baltazar’s eyes went wide and he pointed at her, “You there, stand fast!”
He then turned to the two sailors nearest to her, “Bring her astern!”
Papi began breathing quickly and struggled to get passed the crowd. Two sailors grabbed Melisande and brought her to Baltazar. He looked her over for a few moments and smiled, “Well, well, Melisande is it? I should have recognized you sooner.”
Melchior appeared next to them, “You know this woman captain?”
“Aye,” he replied with a wide grin, “she kept me from falling into a puddle of mud and I saved her from some local ruffians.”
Melisande stood in front of him with a defiant look on her face as Papi came up behind them, “Captain… sir, I can explain!”
Baltazar turned to his cook, “You can explain this Mr. Clement, I belive that I would enjoy such a story. Why is there a woman on my ship?”
Papi nodded, “Sir she lives at Mont St. Michel, she was an orphan placed in the charge of the church. She must have snuck out and travelled to Gransville.”
“I see…” Baltazar replied. “So you know this girl.”
“Yes sir,” he replied, “a long time now.”
Shouts errupted from the crew as one large man with a thick black beard and matching locks of hair called out, “Having a woman onboard is a black mark on a ship! I say we throw her overboard.”
Melisande reached behind her back with both hands and pulled out a pistol and a knife. She turned the knife on the large sailor and pointed the gun at Baltazar’s forehead, “No one is throwing me over the side!”
Scattered laughs came from the crew as she stood with her hands shaking. Baltazar narrowed his eyes, “Easy there Mel, where did you get that pistol?”
She breathed deeply, “I stole it from the hold, just in case something like this happened.”
The quartermaster came up next to Baltazar, “Sir, be careful, those pistols were loaded, I saw to that.”
“Well, looks you thought of everything Mel,” Baltazar said with a smile, “but I wonder, how do you intend to shoot me with wet powder?”
She looked at the gun and was about to respond when Baltazar grabbed it from her hand. Two crewmen grabbed her from behind and ripped the knife away from her. Baltazar shook his head, “It never work have worked anyway.”
He then turned to the quartermaster, “Put this back in the hold, and this time, see to it the weapons are secured.”
The quartermaster nodded and took the pistol, “Aye, aye sir.”
Baltazar turned back and looked at Melisande. There was a lot of worry in her eyes as she waited to hear her fate. He smiled as he spoke, “Our former cabin boy will have my cabin. We’ll set her ashore once we’ve completed our mission.”
A look of relief and gratitude came over Melisande’s face as the crew protested, “You would risk a black mark on us?”
Another crewman spoke up, “Aye, looks like the captain may have actually taken a shine to this tavern whore! I say we throw her overboard.”
Baltazar grabbed her, pulled her away from his men, pushing her towards the cabin, “And I say she stays aboard.”
Baltazar faced the angry stares of his men and drew his rapier, “Or would any man jack here dare challenge my orders?”
The looks on the crews’ faces turned from anger to fear. One by one, they slowly began to back away. Baltazar nodded as he put his sword away and stabbed the knife they had taken from Melisande into the mast, “No one, no one is going to challenge me? Disappointing… at least the tavern whore was willing to put up a fight, back to work, all of you then!”
The men grumbled as they returned to their posts. Baltazar snorted and turned his cabin. Melisande had already gone inside and shut the door. Baltazar opened it and walked in.
Melisande was sitting at his desk with her face in her hands. She was clearly upset. Baltazar pulled up another chair and sat down next to her. He grabbed a towel and began wiping her face to help her dry off, “Why the tears?”
“All I wanted,” She replied, “was a life of adventure. I was so tired of living behind the abbey walls. I wanted something more for myself. I wanted to find out about my family, where I come from, and who I am.”
Baltazar smiled, “So you escaped the abbey and came all the way out here.”
She nodded, “I was desperate to get away.”
“Was anything you told me about your family true?” Baltazar asked.
“My father wasn’t a blacksmith.” She said quietly. “I’ve spent most of my life studying and reading, that’s how I know so much. I was taught how by the church, but what I told you about them dying when I was young was true. I don’t even know my family name.”
Baltazar frowned, “I am sorry for you. I can sympathize, believe me. My family and I have a… troubled history. I haven’t spoken to any of them in years. My father denied that I was even his son. So I can understand what that’s like.”
She looked up at him, “More than anything, I was hoping to find some answers. There has to be evidence out there. I need to know where I come from.”
“Take it from someone who knows,” Baltazar replied, “sometimes ignorance can be bliss. If you keep this up, you may find out that you were happier before knowing.”
“It doesn’t matter… That’s all over with now isn’t it?” She asked sadly. “What do you intend to do, kill me?”
“Are you joking,” Baltazar replied, “you saved my best helmsman. In return I’ll give you safe passage to our next port. Once there, you can do what you want. If you want to try your luck on another ship, all power to you.”
Melisande nodded, “I thank you for that…. Captain.”
“You’re quite welcome,” Baltazar said as he got up and left the cabin.
Papi was waiting outside, “Captain, please don’t hurt her. She’s an innocent soul. I swear she never intended to hurt a fly.”
“Relax man,” Baltazar replied, “pull yourself together. I have no intention of harming her in any way. I swear it on my family name.”
Papi nodded, “Then please turn us around and return her to the abbey.”
“Put about?” Baltazar scoffed. “Have you gone mad? We’re out at sea. Going home now would not be good for business. I will set her ashore after our voyage.”
Papi looked at him concerned, “But where sir?”
Baltazar placed his hand on Papi’s shoulder, “Relax my friend, I promise you that she will be cared for. For the time being, just know that she is well protected in my cabin.”
Papi sighed, “Very well sir.”
“Thank you.” Baltazar replied. “Now return to your duties.”
“Aye, aye sir,” Papi said, not at all convinced that his captain wouldn’t defile her at the first chance he got.
Baltazar felt the rain begin to slow and looked up. The clouds were beginning to break and the storm was passing them by. He smiled and turned to the helmsman that had replaced Gilles, “Steady as she goes, helm! We’ll beat this storm yet!”
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
Catch you on the flip side!