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Hold Fast

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(no subject) [Oct. 23rd, 2006|08:12 pm]
Hold Fast

= It was a dark and stormy night. Rain had been pouring steadily from the skies since sundown, and a distant roll of thunder indicated that it wouldn’t be stopping any time soon. In fact, it seemed likely that the English port of Nassau would’ve all but washed away by morning, swept off in to the sea.
The weather, however, was the farthest thing from Alex Hawthorne’s mind. The captain, soaked nearly to the bone, made way through the narrow city streets, seeking the residence of a Mrs. Robert Marlowe. The old pirate had finally passed on—met his match and, undoubtedly, a water grave. Hawthorne was determined to locate Marlowe’s wife and child, in order to deliver the news of his demise personally… =

Dawson: Respectfully, Captain, might we have waited until morning?
Hawthorne: Absolutely not. *raps hard on the door*
Dawson: The news of a husband and father’s death isn’t precisely what one wishes to hear at midnight. If it has waited these weeks, perhaps—
Hawthorne: *coolly* They could wait, yes, Dawson—but I could not.

= Light spills onto the Captain’s form as the door opens; surprisingly, candles still burn in the main room of the house and the lady who resides there appears to be fully awake.=

Hawthorne: *reaches up to doff the soaking tricorn hat* Begging your pardon for disturbing you, Mrs. Marlowe, but I have something very important to discuss.

= The matron of the house narrowly examines the damp captain—dressed in a dark brown woolen coat and matching breeches, an off-white shirt and a fine—though heavy and limp with water—crimson sash bound below two thick leather belts, one of which carries the weight of a neat silver rapier. Muddy boots are on the captain’s feet, and a navy blue cloth is worn across the captain’s forehead.
Her eyes flick to the first mate, who is somewhat similarly attired in a tan-coloured shirt, sleeveless green vest with brass-penny buttons, grey trousers and boots. He is an older, though hardy and sturdy, gentleman with dark hair and a few day’s growth on his chin.
The captain, however, seems quite young, bearing features almost like a delicate little boy: a clean face with smooth, tanned skin, slight eyebrows and full lashes, a straight nose and a round mouth. A delicate jaw and thinner neck belie to the woman’s careful eye that something is a little…off. =

Mrs. Marlowe: What is your name?
Hawthorne: Captain Alex Hawthorne. This is my first mate, Mr. Dawson.
Dawson: *nods respectfully*
Mrs. Marlowe: English Navy?
Hawthorne: No.
Mrs. M: I’ll have no strange pirates in my home.

= The woman attempts to slam the door, but a swift foot in the door prevents her. =

Hawthorne: Respectfully, madam, it’s about your husband.

= Before Mrs. Marlowe can respond, the captain’s attention is drawn to a young lady rushing down the stairs. Her feet are bare and her hair is in wild disarray. She is clad only in her shift and a shawl wrapped hastily around her shoulders to preserve her modesty.
The captain stares at the girl with an odd fascination, studying her features carefully. The brilliant green eyes framed by sooty lashes bear a striking similarity to Hawthorne’s own eyes. The turned-up nose and delicately sculpted mouth are clearly inherited from her mother, but the graceful curve of her jaw and the elegant line of her neck are nearly identical to Hawthorne’s.
Oblivious to these similarities, as well as to Captain Hawthorne’s staring, the girl looks to the Captain with anxious eyes. =

Girl: You have news of Captain Marlowe?
Hawthorne: Yes. You are his daughter?
Girl: *nods* Robyn Marlowe.
Hawthorne: Please, Mistress Marlowe, may we come in?
Mrs. M: *reluctantly opens the door and allows the two pirates inside* Well?
Hawthorne: I had the honor of serving on your husband’s crew, Mistress Marlowe. He was a good captain and a good man.
Mrs. M: *presses her hand to her mouth and sinks down to sit on the steps, white-faced*
Robyn: *refusing to accept the meaning behind her mother’s gesture* What do you mean, “was”?
Hawthorne: Captain Marlowe is dead, may God rest his soul. He went down with his ship like a true man of honor.
Mrs. M: *begins to cry in earnest*
Robyn: *bites down hard on her lower lip, struggling to remain calm*

= Hawthorne has a tight grip on the hat that was removed when the pair entered Mrs. Marlowe’s home. Dark brown hair has been pulled into a tight ponytail at the nape of the captain’s neck, a braid bound tightly with leather cord. Green eyes are set intently on the breaking face of Marlowe’s daughter. =

Dawson: A great and noble captain, Misses Marlowe. We were both honored to have sailed under his command. He… He spoke of you often, and fondly.
Hawthorne: My very deepest sympathies, friends. I hated to bear such ill tidings. The captain’s death had a deep impact on me, but I could only know a… A portion of what you must feel.
Robyn: *looks down at the floor, the reality of the situation beginning to sink in* My father…

= A heavy silence hangs in the room, every party unsure of what to say or do. The captain’s eyes continue to rove over the young girl’s face and form, taking in the detail of her features, noting in her a reflection of Hawthorne’s own face. =

Mrs. M: *stands up* This is bad news indeed. *clearly deeply shaken and disturbed* Perhaps it would be best for you to go. Please, leave my daughter and me— *notices the young pirate’s intense gaze on her daughter and is perturbed*
Dawson: *lays a hand on Alex’s shoulder*
Hawthorne: *looks up*
Dawson: Perhaps it would be best, Captain… Another day.

=The youth rather unwillingly resolves to depart for the night. =

Hawthorne: As I said—I am gravely sorry for your loss.

= The seaworthy pair turns to go, leaving the women to their grief. As the captain’s hand raises the tricorn hat, however, a cool, firm hand clutches Hawthorne by the wrist. =

Mrs. M: One moment.
Hawthorne and Dawson: *a bit puzzled*
Dawson: Ma’am?
Mrs. M: Come nearer the fire. Robyn. Stand near this “Captain Hawthorne.”

= As Hawthorne’s face is illuminated alongside Robyn’s, the familial similarity is apparent. These messengers were not sent by chance but by fate. =

Mrs. M: *warily, a bit stunned; tear-reddened eyes narrow at Hawthorne* You are no pirate captain. You are no man! Tell me your business here! What do you want from me?
Robyn: *bewildered, moves away from the stranger, eyes darting quickly over a face that seems all too familiar*
Hawthorne: *looks to Dawson for some guidance*
Dawson: *nods encouragingly* No time like the present, Captain.
Hawthorne: *brows furrowed, looks back to Mrs. M* Respectfully, I—that is… Ah. Well.
Mrs. M and Robyn: *stunned*
Hawthorne: *ahem* Yes, first of all, I’m a woman. And, ah—*glances at Dawson, who nods again* Respectfully, ma’am, I’m her sister.
Robyn: *utterly shocked*
Mrs. M: *goes from shock to anger* Why do you bring such darkness into my home? Get out.
Hawthorne: *disappointed* …of course.
Robyn: No! Mother, don’t make them go. How… How is she my sister?
Mrs. M: It seems to me that your question would be better directed towards Miss… Hawthorne, is it?
Hawthorne: Yes. Alexandra Hawthorne.
Robyn: Alexandra… That’s pretty.
Hawthorne: You’re named after him, aren’t you? Robyn.
Robyn: I am. You never answered my question, Alexandra.
Hawthorne: I prefer Alex. *takes a deep breath* The captain, he—I’m nineteen, and—*flounders* The captain didn’t know that I existed until I joined his crew. He knew my mother before he married yours and was gone before he could learn that she was with child.

= … =

Mrs. M: Perhaps we should all have a seat.

= The four gather around the widow Marlowe’s kitchen table. Slowly and carefully, the young captain reveals her tale, explaining how she joined her father’s crew, the skirmish with enemy pirates, and Captain Marlowe’s courageous spirit fighting to the very last. =

Hawthorne: Before our crew was utterly overwhelmed, your father—our father—entrusted me with a valuable document and ordered me to flee with Dawson and four crewmen… He wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Never did.
Dawson: We took the longboat and rowed away as quickly as we could, despite Miss Hawthorne’s protests. Cap’n Marlowe wanted it that way; wanted his daughter and his most cherished possession out of harm’s way.
Mrs. M: What possession?
Hawthorne: I was hoping you could tell me a little more about it. You see, what the captain gave me is incomplete, a mystery. *reaches into her coat and produces a twice-folded bit of paper*
Robyn: *peers*
Hawthorne: A piece of a map.

= The wrinkled sheet crackles as Hawthorne opens it and lays it flat on the table, smoothing it over with her hands. =

Robyn: *looks at the sheet thoughtfully* A treasure map?
Dawson: Hard to say with just this little scrap.
Robyn: …would it help if you had more?
Dawson: More what?
Robyn: More of the map.

= dramatic pause =

Dawson: Aye, I reckon it would.
Robyn: I thought as much. *rises from her seat*
Hawthorne and Dawson: *also rise*
Dawson: *looks at Hawthorne*
Hawthorne: *realizes her error and sits down* Sorry. Habit.
Robyn: Excuse me. *rushes upstairs and returns moments later with her own folded paper* Here. *unfolds the paper and places it next to Hawthorne’s, completing the map*

= A moment passes over the group. Hawthorne, Robyn and Dawson stare eagerly at the map. Mrs. Marlowe, however, watches her daughter’s expression with growing concern. =

Hawthorne: …well! That was easy.

= Dawson clears his throat, trying to figure out what to do now. Take the map and run? Bring the daughter along? Or let Robert Marlowe take his secret to his grave? =

Dawson: Aye, thank you, Miss. Captain, have a look here—Crossbone Reef, south of St. Eustasius. With full sails and a proper crew, it could be three month’s journey, starting here.
Hawthorne: *thoughtfully examining the map* Indeed, but to what, or to whom, does it lead? No clues?
Mrs. M: *slowly* It could be nothing at all. If Robert had this map so long, why didn’t he unravel its mystery already?
Dawson: Not like him to send his own children on a wild goose chase.
Mrs. M: *blanches a bit at the word “children”—plural*
Robyn: *studying the map* It’s not very helpful, is it? I mean, there’s not much that isn’t south of St. Eustasius. The only landmark appears to be this river, the Pantano. It looks as though whatever we’re supposed to find is up that river. Perhaps if we use a map…
Hawthorne: Er, Miss Marlowe? That is the map.
Robyn: No, I mean a regular map. Maybe we could find an island that looks like this one. Or locate this river.
Dawson: That’s not a bad idea.
Robyn: The map is in my father’s study

= Everyone moves from the kitchen into the study and Robyn pulls a map from the chest, spreading it over the desk. She trails her finger down the chain of islands south of St. Eustasius, looking up in delight when she finds what she was looking for. =

Robyn: Here! Between Guadeloupe and Martinique! *pointing*
Dawson and Hawthorne: *look at the map*
Dawson: Aye. That be our island. There it be, Alex, lass! All we need is to get there, now!
Hawthorne: *clearly excited* We can leave in the morning.
Robyn: I’m coming with you.
Hawthorne: Like hell you are! *eyes widen* I beg your pardon, Mistress and Miss Marlowe.
Mrs. M: *ignores Hawthorne* *to Robyn* Like hell you are! I’ve just lost my husband to that life. I’ll not lose my daughter, as well.
Hawthorne: It’s no life for any kind of lady, Miss Marlowe. *sets her hat atop her head once more* We thank you kindly for your help, but it was all the help we needed. *crosses to the door of the study* Dawson?
Dawson: *gives a little bow* We’ll show ourselves out.

= The captain and first mate make their way to the door, collecting the completed map as they go. =

Robyn: *following, indignant* I said I’m coming with you!
Hawthorne: *pauses a moment before walking to her new relative and laying her hands firmly on the other girl’s shoulders* And I am the captain, and I said you are not.

= With this remark, Dawson and Hawthorne beat a hasty retreat, disappearing into the deep, rainy night. Robyn and her mother, now Widow Marlowe, are left to their thoughts. =

Robyn: *turns to the table and lets out an enraged squawk* They took my map! The bitch took my map!
Mrs. M: Robyn! You will not use that language in my house!
Robyn: I’m sorry, Mama. *not really sorry*

= Upon returning to her room, Robyn does not go back to bed, but puts on her corset, a white cambric blouse, and a long skirt of dark green wool. A green woolen waistcoat comes next, followed by a wide brown leather belt with twin pistol holsters. She removes the pair of dueling pistols that were a gift from her father from their box in her clothespress and puts them in the holsters. She puts the extra ammunition in a sack along with an extra set of clothes. She ties her hair back with a green ribbon and puts on her shoes and stockings. The climb from her window to the street is an easy one and she makes her way quickly towards the harbor.

Ahead of her are the two houseguests, who make their way quickly, ducking under awnings and overhangs whenever they can in efforts to avoid the downpour. =

Alex: I say, though, Dawson! Did that girl really intend to come along?
Dawson: Seemed so, Captain.
Alex: I don’t care if she is Robert Marlowe’s daughter—I’ll not have dead weight strumpets on my boat.
Dawson: Fair enough!
Alex: And I’ll tell you, Dawson, having a sister is not as nice as I thought it’d be!

= The two share a chuckle as they reach the docks. The small ship is moored close by, and the gangplank already down. They quickly manage up the slippery plank and duck into the cabin, which bears two small rooms off the center chamber. The latter serves as a navigational room, the others quarters for the captain and his (or her) trusted officers, respectively. Once safely inside the map room, Hawthorne and Dawson bid each other goodnight. =

Dawson: I do feel bad about poor Robert’s wife, though.
Alex: As do I, as do I… I suppose it would be best if we just disappeared. Less reminders of unhappy events.
Dawson: Aye… That would be best. Goodnight, Miss.
Alex: Goodnight, Dawson.

= Robyn, who is not Robert Marlowe’s daughter for nothing, is able to catch up with her sister and Dawson, being much more familiar with the town than they. She notes their ship with interest and makes a mental note of its location before heading into a local tavern where she is well known. There she waits until the wee hours of morning, using the time to write a note of apology and farewell to her mother.
Close to four in the morning, she finally creeps aboard her sister’s ship. She might not know one sail from another, but she’s practiced stealth since she was a child. It’s only trifling to tiptoe past the snoring men in the crew hammocks and down into the hold. She burrows herself back into the farthest corner and finally falls asleep.
“If you don’t remember anything else I tell you, love, remember this: Wait for the opportune moment. It will come, I swear it.” That had been a favorite maxim of Robert Marlowe, and he had been right. For the opportune moment came the very next night.
When she was certain that everyone was asleep, Robyn made her way to the map room. It was there that she slept and it was at the captain’s desk that she sat waiting for her sister in the morning.

One day passes largely uneventfully, with Hawthorne and Dawson mapping the route they intend to take and—more importantly—waiting for clearer weather. On the night that Robyn chooses to make her move, a red sky at sunset is a fortuitous indication of fair weather ahead. Taking advantage of the calm sea, the ship creaks out of the harbor and sails through the smooth starry waters. (Two lax night watchmen fail to notice the quick young lady slipping into the cabin.)
With the sunrise, the sky is clear and blue, the heading set west-by-southwest. Almost a straight line to Guadeloupe.
The ship’s captain rises with the dawn, mostly on account of uncurtained windows. She dresses in her usual clothing, short the wool coat due to the warmth of the just-rising sun.
The door of her room opens and the sight that is before her in the map room causes the usually level-headed captain (yeah, right) to shout— =

Hawthorne: Good God! The hell are you doing in my cabin?! On my boat?! At sea?!
Robyn: *nonplussed* Waiting for you. I’ve been here for quite some time, actually. Do you really wake up this late, or does it just take you a long time to get dressed?
Alex: *sputters* *speechless* *dumbstruck* *gob smacked*
Robyn: *stands* You took my map.

= Said map is currently affixed to the table with the weight of various nautical instruments. Pins tied with red string indicate the course. =

Alex: You had no use for it! Dawson! *throws open the door of the cabin* DAWSON!

= Several crewmen look up to see the captain, notably angry, storming onto the deck, one hand on her sword. =

Alex: Which of you good-for-nothing sons of bitches was on watch last night? DAWSON!
Dawson: *arrives from the hold* Captain?
Alex: Dawson. *grabs him by the shoulders* I want you to go…and look…in the map room.
Dawson: *puzzled* Hawthorne, what—
Alex: Please. *through gritted teeth* Go. Now.
Dawson: Aye! *hurries up to the cabin*

= The captain, tense with her fists balled up, turns to the crew. A moment passes as Alexandra Hawthorne endeavors to regain her composure. She fails. =

Alex: *yells very loudly* All hands on deck!

= Opening the door to the map room, Dawson finds himself almost nose-to-nose with the Other Daughter. She had been watching from the small window. =

Dawson: Mary and Joseph!
Robyn: Robyn, actually.
Dawson: What in blazes are you doing here?
Robyn: I came for my map.
Dawson: The captain’ll… Well, the captain already is in a terrible fix.
Robyn: I fail to see how that’s any of my concern.
Dawson: It’ll be your concern if she throws you overboard, I wager.
Robyn: Yes, I suppose then it would be.

= outside =

All hands: *scrambling to be on deck*
Alex: *pacing furiously*

= in the cabin =

Dawson: The wind was strong and we’re already too far from Nassau to be turnin’ around, else we’d be takin’ you straight home.
Robyn: *shakes her head* No. I want to find whatever’s on that map.
Dawson: If you don’t agitate her, you might be able to convince her to drop you off at the next port, rather than straight overboard.
Robyn: *lifts her chin stubbornly* I’m not leaving.

= on deck =

Alex: Dawson!
Dawson: *rushing to her side* Yes, Cap’n?
Alex: What did you think about our guest?
Dawson: I think that she’s your sister, true enough. And Robert Marlowe’s daughter, too. A spirited and stubborn lass, to be sure.
Alex: I want her off my ship.
Crew: *stunned murmuring*
Edward the Pirate: Sister?
Crash: Marlowe’s daughter?
Cordingly: Respectfully, it’s—it’s bad luck to have a woman on board!
Francois: Aye! Bad luck!
Alex: *looks flat*
Dawson: Ah, they mean other than, ah… Other than the captain.
Alex: Aye! It is bad luck! And terrible, fierce bad luck for whichever of you mother’s sons let a STOWAWAY BOARD MY SHIP! *whips a knife from her belt* I’ve a good mind to start slitting throats, you lazy oafs!
Dawson: Captain, do you really th—
Alex: If you’re any sort of man, you might come forward now and I’ll spare your worthless life! Which of you devils was on duty last night?

= Seconds pass, only moments before a thickset, middle-aged sea dog steps forward. =

Barnaby: I was.

= The captain’s fiery gaze is not shaken by the sizeable man. He stands before her, perhaps knowing that he could overpower her; his pride is quickly broken when the wiry young woman slaps him hard across the face. He doesn’t fight back. She speaks softly. =

Alex: I run a tight ship, Mr. Barnaby, and this is unacceptable. Consider this your warning—don’t let it happen again. *shouts* The rest of you take note—I won’t run this crew on fear so long as you don’t—

= She is interrupted by the opening of the cabin door. Robyn appears, eliciting various reactions from the gathered crew. =

Alex: …dammit. To your posts, you dogs!
Crew: *warily return to posts, still looking anxiously at the new arrival*
Alex: *low and dangerous* And you! If I were any kind of pirate, I’d keelhaul you.
Robyn: *archly* Yes, but what kind of sister would that make you?
Alex: *furious—drags Robyn to the rail and forces her to lean over it* Give me one good reason not to toss you over, right now.
Robyn: *swallows, frightened for the first time* Alex… *their eyes meet* I can’t swim.
Alex: *steps back in surprise* You can’t—Bloody Hell! *swears inventively under her breath*
Robyn: Please. There’s a reason that my father gave us both half of that map.
Alex: I didn’t ask for a sister. I don’t want one.
Robyn: Well, you came looking for one anyway, and you got one. Now you’re stuck with her. With me. Papa wanted us to be together. Are you going to ignore his dying wish and just toss me over?
Alex: He never said a damn thing to me about togetherness.
Robyn: Please…

= Identical green eyes meet and Captain Hawthorne finds herself incapable of tossing an innocent—albeit, she thinks, stupid—girl to her death beneath the waves. A scowl flashes over her features and she releases her grip on the other girl. =

Alex: *narrowly* On deck, you shall address me as Captain or Captain Hawthorne. You will bunk with Mr. Dawson; you will keep out of my way. If you value your life or your maidenhead, you will leave my men to their work.
Robyn: *snarky*
Alex: What can you do?
Robyn: I cook a bit; I can wash and mend. I read, also, quite well.
Alex: Very well. Mr. Dawson will show you the scullery. *turns to go* *still angry*
Robyn: *not impressed* What about privately?
Alex: Pardon me? *looks over her shoulder*
Robyn: How shall I address you privately?
Alex: *pauses, then turns away* Privately, you shall not address me at all.
Dawson: *clears throat* If it please you, Miss Marlowe, I’ve gotten your bag from the map room. I’ll show you to my quarters, first.
Robyn: *ever the pragmatist, shrugs off Alex’s rebuff* Thank you, Mr. Dawson.

= Robyn follows Dawson to his cabin. It is a tidily kept little room with a cot on either side, a desk by the window, and a table with a washbasin. Dawson places Robyn’s sack of clothes on the bed farthest from the door. =

Dawson: Here you are, Miss.
Robyn: *smiles* If you please, Mr. Dawson, I should like to change.
Dawson: *blinks, then nods* I ought to see about the captain, all the same.

= Said captain is sitting on the deck, knife in hand, agitatedly whittling away on a chunk of wood. =

Alex: Fierce bad luck. Surely to heaven, my father didn’t mean to raise pirate daughters, living a life that’ll end either in riches or a hangman’s noose. *furrows her eyebrows* Leastways, that’s not the life he intended for the legitimate one…
Cordingly: *in passing* Whatcha workin’ on, there, Captain?
Alex: *smiles slightly* A toothpick.

=In the cabin, Robyn changes from her wool skirt and waistcoat to ones of linen dyed the same dark green. She splashes her face with cool water from the basin and brushes her hair before retying it back in her green ribbon. Her extra clothes she folds neatly in the clothespress, her hairbrush she leaves on the table by the washbasin and her extra ammunition she places under the bed, wrapped in the sack. All done, she steps out of the cabin onto the deck.
Dawson stands nearby, looking over at the captain. He seems only a little concerned by her present temperament, and even offers the younger lady a slight smile as she approaches. =

Dawson: You oughtn’t worry too much about Hawthorne, I think. *glances in the way of the knife-wielding sea-mistress; she would likely disagree, but Dawson continues, nevertheless* We’ll have you safely home before you know it.
Robyn: *furrows her brow* Mr. Dawson, I told you—
Dawson: *paying little heed* May as well be useful in the meantime, aye?
Robyn: *sighs, exasperated* Aye.

= Alex watches the men thoughtfully, a small stick of wood held neatly between her teeth; a sizable pile of shavings is at her feet. The days’ events do not settle well with her. Fear of bad spirits and anger from Barnaby’s public warning made for a morning that made Captain Hawthorne carefully consider the loyalty of her crew.

Mr. Dawson leads Robyn down below deck to the galley. A man is in there scrubbing with distaste. He is dressed in black trousers and a white shirt open at the neck with his sleeves rolled up. A sash of indeterminate color is tied around his waist. A vest and neckcloth lie discarded on a stool. A canvas apron keeps water from splashing onto his clothes. =

Dawson: Here, McCreery. I’ve brought you an assistant. Miss Marlowe, this here’s Crash McCreery.
Robyn: How do you do, Mr. McCreery?
Crash: Generally, I’m called Crash, Miss.
Dawson: Well, she’s Miss Marlowe to you, and don’t you forget it.
Crash: *unimpressed* Duly noted, sir.
Dawson: I’ll be back for her later.
Crash: Aye, sir.
Dawson: *departs*
Crash: So you’re Robert Marlowe’s daughter and Cap’n Hawthorne’s sister, eh?
Robyn: I am.
Crash: Snuck right past Barnaby, did you?
Robyn: I did.
Crash: *nods* Not many have. *gestures* You know how to wash dishes, Miss Marlowe?
Robyn: I’ve washed a few. *smiles*
Crash: Good. Let’s get to it, then.

= Robyn and Crash wash dishes together while Crash continues to question Robyn about various and sundry things. =

Alex: *chews toothpick* *glances up as she sees Dawson approaching from the lower levels of the ship* *removes the toothpick from her mouth and smiles slightly* Helluva morning, eh, Mr. Dawson?
Dawson: *leans against the railing nest to Alex* Indeed.
Alex: You took her to the galley?
Dawson: Aye. As you ordered.
Alex: *thoughtfully gazing over the crew* I want her off my ship at the first port we come to. She’s a liability and a distraction.
Dawson: *ponders* If I may, Captain, it seems to me that having a good cook—meaning no ill to Crash, of course—a good cook may be good for morale. A fair meal may turn their minds away from Barnaby’s…incident.
Alex: I was very merciful to Barnaby. *looks over at her first mate*
Dawson: Aye, but he keeps his friends close, and…
Alex: *interrupts* And I must pay a kindness to a man who wasn’t doing his work?
Dawson: This crew is new and not beyond mutiny, Hawthorne.
Alex: *grumbles to herself*
Dawson: Ma’am?
Alex: Yes, yes, fine. We’ll keep her on a few nights, but I want her out of my hair. I have work to do.
Dawson: *pleased with himself*

= Down in the galley, Robyn and the incredibly hot and sexy Crash are getting to know each other. Not like that, you perverts. =

Crash: So it’s a pirate’s life for you?
Robyn: I think that Captain Hawthorne would like to get rid of me as soon as possible. Whether she can or not is something else entirely.
Crash: I’m told it’s bad luck to have a woman aboard the ship.
Robyn: Men make their own luck.
Crash: Aye. I believe that, Miss Marlowe.

= The day passes, fortunately, without further disruption or incident. As dusk approaches, the crew and captain file down to the mess and the galley. =

Alex: I dine with my men tonight, Dawson.
Dawson: An inspired decision, Cap’n.

= As the crewmen take their seats, mismatched dishes—mostly cast pewter—are passes around the large table, followed by a basket of hard, small rolls. Hawthorne settles herself at the head, and addresses the group amiably. “Fine sailing, lads.”
Moments later, Crash appears with a big bowl of…some kind of stew. =

Alex: *leans over to Dawson* Pray that it’s better than it looks.
Crash: Probably not, Cap’n. I made the stew.
Alex: Did you? And may I ask how Miss Marlowe was occupied this afternoon?
Crash: *grins* Aye. She made that. *gestures*
Robyn: *enters, bearing what appears to be a cake*
Alex: She made a cake? How the hell did she make a cake?
Crash: Very carefully. Took some ingenuity on her part, Cap’n. She’s like you that way.
Alex: *glares*
Crash: *hurriedly ladles some stew into Hawthorne’s bowl and moves on to Dawson and the other men*
Dawson: Isn’t that something!
Alex: Not very practical.
Dawson: But it could be just the thing to settle the men’s nerves?
Alex: A woman on board, I think, will hardly settle any of these men. *jabs a potato with her small pocketknife and eats it* *looks unimpressed, but not disgusted* A commendable job, Mr. McCreery!
Crash: *grins* Aye, thank you, Captain.
Alex: *now addressing the assembled men* And I suppose we ought to thank Miss Marlowe for our dessert, eh?
Men: *cheer*
Robyn: *flushes*

= Crash has finished ladling out stew and taken his place at the table. Robyn is the only person who remains standing. Dawson notices this and quickly rises to offer her his place. =

Dawson: Here, Miss Marlowe. You may sit in my place.
Alex: Sit down, Dawson. Miss Marlowe may have a seat when she’s earned it.
Dawson: Respectfully, Captain—
Alex: Sit.
Robyn: Thank you, Mr. Dawson, but I’m perfectly comfortable standing.
Dawson: *sits*

= Robyn eats her stew standing, ignoring the curious looks of the crewmen. Many of the men glance from Robyn to the captain and back again, observing the similarities in their features. Those of the crew who knew Robert Marlowe also note the girls’ resemblance to their father. =

Alex: *finishing her stew* I’ve had worse. *grins at Crash*
Crash: The lady salted it. Who knew it made a difference?
Dawson: *hides a smile*
Alex: *laughs softly* Who knew, indeed. Miss Marlowe?
Robyn: *less-than-pleasantly* Captain?
Alex: It is good to have such a fine cook on board.
Robyn: *blinks*
Alex: We may keep you on. I shall consider it.
Crash: *seems pleased at this*
Alex: …we’ll have to discuss it.
Robyn: Would you care for some cake, Captain Hawthorne?
Alex: I believe I might.

= Robyn proceeds to serve cake to all the men (and woman) at-table. Her cake earns murmurs of approval from all of the men. =

Alex: *on finishing her cake, stands* Francois, you’ll help Crash with the dishes. I need to see Miss Marlowe in the map room. Dawson, you as well.

= Robyn and Dawson follow Hawthorne to the map room. Hawthorne paces for a few moments, stares at the map, and then looks at Robyn. =

Alex: Can you make sense of this?
Robyn: Of what?
Alex: *points at the map* This.
Robyn: *peers*
Alex: I can’t read it.
Robyn: You can’t read?
Alex: I can’t read chicken scratch. Would it kill the man to print clearly?
Robyn: *studying the map* I think it says Tia Dalma.
Alex: What the hell is a Tia Dalma?
Robyn: How should I know?
Alex: *resumes pacing*
Robyn: I assume you’re allowing me to stay on, then?
Alex: *still pacing* You are putting yourself in danger, Miss Marlowe. Not only from pirates, privateers, Navy men, and the sea itself, but… There is no way to put this delicately. *stops* You, Miss Marlowe, are a woman. A delicate little female aboard a ship of men who will be at sea for months at a time, with what they think are “needs.” Savvy?
Robyn: Er…
Alex: *looks at Robyn fixedly* Dawson.
Dawson: Captain?
Alex: Move Miss Marlowe’s things into my room. I feel she will be much more comfortable there. *approaches the map; one of the course pins she moves* We will make port in Tortuga, then on to Dominica. We will buy supplies in Tortuga; pray we meet a small merchant ship between here and there. Tonight, I shall keep watch.
Robyn: Then I’m staying?
Alex: For the time being. You knew Marlowe well, and may prove useful. It is not my custom to look out for particular members of my crew such as yourself. A pirate would leave you to fend for yourself, come hell or high water.
Robyn: *looks a bit concerned*
Alex: *smiles crookedly* But I wouldn’t be much of a sister, eh?
Robyn: I thought you weren’t interested in having a sister.
Alex: *shrugs* That was before you put salt in Crash’s stew.
Robyn: *giggles in spite of herself*
Alex: Now tell me, do you know how to use those pistols, or are they just for decoration?
Robyn: I can use them.
Alex: Good. I want them on you at all times. If anyone touches you, shoot them. Do you understand?
Robyn: *nods*
Alex: Good.
Robyn: *hoping to take advantage of the captain’s goodwill* May I go ashore in Tortuga?
Alex: Absolutely not. It’ll be hard enough keeping your virtue on my ship. It would be damn near impossible in Tortuga. Unless, of course, you have a fancy to be raped by pirates?
Robyn: *gulps* No.
Alex: I thought not. Dawson, her things.
Dawson: Aye, Cap’n. *goes to fetch Robyn’s things*

= Night falls on the ship, landing with a mighty thud. Captain Hawthorne sets a chair against the door to the cabin, kicks her feet up on a barrel and sets in for the evening. To whittle a new toothpick.
Halfway through the evening, she is relieved by Dawson. The sky grows pearly with the light of morning, and night is unceremoniously shoved from the deck.
As the captain’s cabin is filled with the grey light of dawn, the sisters stir and begin to rise. Hawthorne watches her sister dress with a mix of curiosity and distaste. =

Robyn: *tightening her corset* What?
Alex: I haven’t worn girl’s clothes in ages. The thought of a corset just makes me want to take a couple of deep breaths.
Robyn: *laughs* It’s not that bad.
Alex: You can keep your tightlacing to yourself, I think. *tucks her shirt into her breeches and buttons the fly, then the cuffs; a muted red sash follows, then a pair of leather belts—one bearing her rapier* *observes* I really need a cutlass… Well! I trust you slept well?
Robyn: Yes, thank you.
Alex: Good. *adjusts her boots, then walks to the mirror to pull her hair back* I’m sure Crash—and the men—would be glad of your help with the food again today.
Robyn: *straps on her belt with the pistols* I suppose. Can I sit at the table this time?
Alex: Depends on how good breakfast is.
Robyn: *raises eyebrows*
Alex: *rolls eyes* I usually take my meals in my cabin. You may dine here with me. I feel that you ought to be kept from the crew as much as possible.
Robyn: Because I’m so very tempting…
Alex: You look like me. Of course you’re tempting.
Robyn: *chuckles*
Alex: Now get to the galley.
Robyn: Aye, Captain.

=The captain accompanies her sister to the galley, where she is left in the trusted hands of Crash McCreery. =

Crash: *holding a sizable burlap sack, from which issues a pleasant, slightly bitter smell* We have two meals here on the Revenge. Breakfast is coffee, biscuits and ham when we’ve got it. Dinner is…whatever I can find. *grins*
Robyn: *smiles* I’ll make the coffee.

=As they work on breakfast, Crash makes friendly conversation with Robyn. =

Crash: Grew up in Nassau, did you?
Robyn: Yes.
Crash: I grew up on boats, myself. Never really got the hang of ’em, though. I’m damn useless as a sailor, begging your pardon, Miss. Couldn’t stand the thought of honest work, though.
Robyn: So you became a cook?
Crash: *grins* Aye.
Robyn: Admirable.
Crash: What about you? I expect you left a beau or two behind in Nassau.
Robyn: A beau? Hardly.
Crash: *making a mental note of this* Pretty girl like you? I’m surprised.
Robyn: *a bit warily* Indeed.
Crash: I don’t imagine your mum was very pleased about your, ah, career choice, though?
Robyn: No. She was devastated to lose my father, and would not grant me permission to join Captain Hawthorne.
Crash: Cap’n tells us we’re sailing to Dominica—you know why? Something about Marlowe’s last wishes?

= on deck =

Alex: *steering the rudder, a tiresome and rather boring job*
Cordingly: Mornin’ Captain!
Alex: Good morning, Mr. Cordingly!
Cordingly: I hear we’re headed for Tortuga!
Alex: Indeed, we are! With two days shore leave!
Cordingly: *shouting up to the crow’s nest* Hear that, Francois? Two days leave in Tortuga!
Francois (and a few others): *cheer(s)*

Robyn: I know little of the captain’s plans, Mr. McCreery.
Crash: I’d like it if you called me Crash, Miss Marlowe.
Robyn: I’m much more comfortable calling you Mr. McCreery.
Crash: Aye. As it please you. *recognizes a rebuff when it calls him “Mr. McCreery”*
Edward the Pirate: *bursts in with a gleeful smile* We’re headed for Tortuga, Crash! With two days shore leave! I could have me a different woman each night!
Crash: Oy! *gestures to Robyn*
Edward the Pirate: *flushes* I beg your pardon, Miss. I meant, er… For playing checkers.

= Two months pass much in the manner that months generally do aboard the Revenge. The crew is pleased with the improving meals; Captain Hawthorne is pleased because the crew is pleased; Robyn is pleased because she’s only had to pull her pistols on a man once; and Dawson is pleased because…well, he is a good-spirited person in general.
Fair weather is present for much of the trip, lending a clear view when the ship turns south in search of a familiar French port. As the port appears on the green horizon, the men truly heave to, raising full sails and—at the captain’s orders—promptly lowering the black flag.
The waters become smooth as the small ship eases into the docks with a creak and a groan. The men make quick work of raising and securing her sails while a few drop anchor. The gangplank is lowered, the ship is tethered, and an eager crew rushes down the dock into the city’s ready-and-willing streets. =

Robyn: Who is going to keep me here? You whole crew is taking full advantage of their shore leave.
Alex: You can’t go.
Robyn: You have business onshore and you have to take Dawson with you, or no one will take you seriously because you’re a girl.
Alex: *glowers*
Robyn: That leaves absolutely no on to make sure that I stay on board the ship. So why not just take me with you? I won’t stray from you and Dawson, I swear.
Alex: As you so charmingly put it, I run the risk of not being taken seriously because I am a girl. Whatever respect I command with Dawson at my side would be completely negated by your presence.
Robyn: But—
Alex: You can guard the boat. *smirks*
Robyn: *disbelieving* Guard the boat?
Alex: Aye. Wouldn’t want her stolen, would we?
Robyn: But… What about the food?
Alex: What?
Robyn: If I’m doing most of the cooking around here, I need decent food to cook. I need to go shopping for food.
Alex: *narrows eyes* Make a list of the things you need, and we’ll get them for you.
Robyn: I don’t know what the selection is.
Alex: *pauses to take a deep breath* How about this? Dawson and I have business we must attend to. While we are attending to said business, you will guard the ship.
Robyn: *opens her mouth to protest*
Alex: However, when the time comes for us to shop for good, we shall return to the ship and retrieve you. Fair?
Robyn: *not really pleased, but knows she is unlikely to get a better deal* Fine.
Alex: Draw up the gangplank, keep your pistols ready and we’ll be back soon.

= With that, the captain dons her hat and strides quickly down the gangplank to join Dawson on the dock. =

Alex: I have the suspicion, Dawson, that Mr. Barnaby and several of his compatriots will not be returning to our ship tomorrow.
Dawson: Aye, Cap’n, you may be right.
Alex: Of course I’m right! I am of the feeling that we ought to seek to fill the gaps that will be left in our crew when they take their leave. What say you, hm?
Dawson: Probably wise. I know just the place!

= And so the two set off for the town, seeking out a certain tavern of ill repute. Robyn remains on the ship, begrudgingly working to pull up the gangplank. =

Robyn: *muttering* Stupid gangplank. Stupid sister. Stupid port. I didn’t want to go to stupid Tortuga, anyway. Stupid pirates…

= Robyn wanders aimlessly around the deck. She examines the wheel and stares out at the town. A thorough inspection of the deck leads her to the conclusion that there is nothing at all of interest to her on the good ship Revenge. Having arrived at this conclusion, she sits on the rail. =

Robyn: Bored now… *sighs*

= Captain Hawthorne and her first mate enter the Faithful Bride; Dawson seems more at ease in the tavern, which is full of unsavory characters, largely pirates and prostitutes. Hawthorne leaves a hand on her waist—just above the knife at her belt. =

Alex: Where should we even begin, Dawson?

= The young woman’s eyes sweep over the rowdy, generally drunken crowd. By the bar, several ladies of the night are advertising their wares and soliciting customers. A few wink at Dawson, to his amusement and Hawthorne’s disgust. Men of all types sit at the tables, sharing drinks, conversation, and dice games. Others are gathered around the sizeable fireplace, or calling to their fellows from the balcony.
Hawthorne’s characteristic green eyes settle on a particular figure—a Mr. Jean Labelle, whom Captain Hawthorne recognizes almost immediately. His was a face that had been inked on many a wanted poster over the past few months. However, he had recently retired from pirating upon receiving a Dutch pardon and promise of title and estate in reward for his sinking of many Spanish ships. He would be well familiar with the islands south of St. Eustasius, and Hawthorne crosses to him to glean what information she can. =

Jean: *looking up, bleary-eyed from his drink* Que me voulez-vous?
Alex: What I want, M. Labelle, is information.
Jean: Information? Of what?
Alex: Does the name Tia Dalma mean anything to you?
Jean: *narrowly* Pour quoi?
Alex: *sitting* Perhaps you tell me just what the hell a Tia Dalma is, and I will tell you why.
Jean: Vous voulez l’impossible.
Alex: For a price, perhaps?

= Hawthorne drops several pieces of gold onto the table in front of the retired pirate. He is unimpressed. =

Jean: You think I do not have enough?
Alex: *furrows her eyebrows* What can I give you?
Jean: You are Marlowe’s daughter? The captain, now, of his ship?
Alex: I am.
Jean: Sans doute vous savourez les délices de l’autorité. (No doubt, you are savoring the delights of authority.)
Alex: C’est la suffite. (It is enough.)
Jean: Pauvrette! (Poor little woman!) Vives les joies et las plaisirs! (Long live joys and pleasures!)
Alex: Ecoutez, monsieur, vous brusque poison. Help me or do not; do not insult me.
Jean: Que vous etes dur! Vous navez pas de passions—vous atres? Vous nes sentez donc rien? (How harsh you are! Have you no passions, no feelings?)
Alex: …J’ai une marmot? (I have a monkey?)
Jean: Mon dieu, c’est difficile! (My God, this is difficult!) *sighs and switches to English* What have you to give me, mademoiselle, besides gold that I have no need for?
Alex: *warily* What is it that you want?
Jean: These days, I find myself longing for the simpler pleasures in life, Mlle. Hawthorne. A good meal… The soft flesh of a woman… Have you any soft flesh to offer me? *leers*
Dawson: *warningly places a hand on his sword*
Alex: …I have a sister.
Jean: *taken aback*
Dawson: Captain, you can’t mean—
Alex: *holding up a hand to silence him* If it is a good meal that M. Labelle desires, we can certainly offer him that, can we not? Surely, Dawson, you agree that my sister is a fine cook?
Dawson: Well, yes, but…
Alex: Then she shall prepare a meal for M. Labelle.
Dawson: But her—*he lowers his voice to a whisper* “soft flesh”…?
Alex: Shall remain inviolate. I barter her cooking skills only.
Dawson: *relieved*
Alex: *smirks* What sort of person do you take me for, Dawson?
Dawson: *seriously* A determined one, Captain.

= Meanwhile, after brushing her hair for one hundred strokes and airing out her stockings and tidying up the beds and everything else that she can think of to do, Robyn has discovered a small selection of books in the map room. A glance at the inside covers reveals that they belonged to her father. One is a Bible, the rest appear to be navigational texts. Already familiar with the Bible, sheer boredom prompts her to read one of the navigational texts. It is this pursuit that engages her when she hears her sister’s call.
Closing the book and leaving it on the desk, she rushes out onto the deck and to the rail to see her sister and Dawson standing on the dock accompanied by a man Robyn does not recognize. =

Alex: Lower the gangplank!

= Robyn hurries to do so, and manages it after some struggle. Hawthorne and Dawson escort their guest on board the ship and the captain makes introductions. =

Alex: Miss Marlowe, this is Jean Labelle. Labelle, my sister, Miss Marlowe.
Robyn: *extends her hand in greeting* Hello.
Jean: *lifts her hand to his lips* Enchanté, mademoiselle.
Alex: *rolls her eyes* Miss Marlowe, I’ve offered your services to M. Labelle for the evening in exchange for information about this Tia Dalma.
Robyn: *blinks* I beg your pardon?
Alex: Your cooking services. My God, is everyone convinced I’ve taken to running a bawdy house?
Jean, Dawson and Robyn: *wisely don’t answer this question, rather inclined to believe that it was somewhat rhetorical*
Alex: It is necessary for me to work out the specifics of the bargain with M. Labelle, now. I should have done so at the tavern, but he refused to deal with me until he had seen you. *to Labelle* I trust you find her satisfactory?
Jean: *smirks* In all respects.
Alex: Good. Miss Marlowe, Dawson will take you to the market for whatever you might need.
Robyn: I see.
Alex: And while you are there, I presume you’ll be able to purchase such items as are necessary for our journey, two months from here.

= Cut to a scene several hours later in which the captain, Mr. Dawson, Miss Marlowe and, naturally, Monsieur Labelle are heartily—and gratefully—enjoying the results of the latter young woman’s labors. A spread as suits the briberous circumstances is on the table of the map room (the map having secured a place on the wall behind Hawthorne), including a pair of chickens roasted beautifully, a bit of bread, an assortment of fruit and boiled potatoes.
Hawthorne and the others of her crew finished quickly, and now all three sit watching as Labelle devours a great quantity of food… Much as he has been doing for the past twenty minutes. All conversational topics having been exhausted, Hawthorne picks her teeth with a small chicken bone, much to her sister’s displeasure.
At last, the Frenchman seems to have had his fill and leans back, bits of various foods clinging to his vest. =

Alex: *looks at Labelle expectantly*
Robyn: *anxious*
Dawson: *full*
Alex: …well?
Jean: *looking at Robyn* Never have I tasted anything so…delicious. *winks*
Robyn: *uncomfortable*
Alex: If you continue to leer at my sister, the only thing you’ll taste will be my steel.
Jean: *recognizes the threat in her flashing green eyes* Aye.
Alex: Now, as much as I’m sure we all enjoyed this meal, you and I made a bargain, Labelle. I have upheld my end of it; it is time for you to make good as well.
Jean: *sighs, defeated* Very well. You wish to know about Tia Dalma. She lives in a shack up the river—
Alex: Wait—this Tia Dalma is a person? A woman?
Jean: Aye. A beautiful woman. She once took up with Jack Sparrow, and they say Davy Jones himself fell madly in love with her and cut out his own heart to ease the pain of it.
Robyn: *horrified*
Alex and Dawson: *bored*
Alex: You know as well as I do that the Dead Man’s Chest is a myth, Labelle. Get to the point.
Jean: Tia Dalma is a sort of mystic, they say. Whatever your path is, she’ll set you on it. If she likes you, she might even help you out.
Alex: *confused* Why would our father give us a map leading to a fortune-teller?
Jean: *shrugs*
Alex: *considers this for a moment*
Dawson: Well! It was lovely having you for supper, Mr. Labelle, but I fancy you ought to be departin’ now.
Jean: *eyeing the two women* But, monsieur, there is one for me and one for you!
Robyn: *taken aback*
Dawson: Off ya go!

= Monsieur Labelle is escorted less-than-kindly from the ship and the gangplank promptly drawn up upon his departure. =

Robyn: May I ask what the purpose of that was?
Alex: To get information about Tia Dalma.
Robyn: The fortune-teller?
Alex: Well, I didn’t know she was a fortune-teller, did I? I didn’t even know she was a person…
Dawson: *has just re-entered and heard this last fragment of conversation* I think I’ve heard of this woman, actually. I didn’t know her name, but when Labelle mentioned Jack Sparrow, it struck a chord in my memory.
Alex: Oh really?
Dawson: Whatever she is, Cap’n, I’m told she sees true.
Robyn: But why would Papa send us to her?
Dawson: Perhaps she has some knowledge that you need?
Alex: *considering* Perhaps… *furrows her eyebrows* Well, of course she has information that we need; he wouldn’t send us to her otherwise.
Robyn: *suddenly feels that this was rather obvious* Of course.
Alex: Well, all the same, our course is set. Tonight I have to see about replacing the crewmen we shall undoubtedly have lost in Barnaby and whichever of his fellows also chooses to desert us. If you need me, I’ll be… *pauses* …about.
Dawson: Aye, sir.
Alex: *lifts an eyebrow*
Dawson: Er. Ms. Captain. Ma’am.

= And so Capt. Hawthorne spends her evening moving from tavern to tavern, inquiring of innkeeps and bar maids whether any of the town’s unsavory lot are looking to sign aboard.
Meanwhile, Robyn and Dawson are left to their own devices on board the ship. After cleaning the dishes, Robyn follows Dawson about as he does a perfunctory inspection of the ship. Being the softhearted man that he is, particularly where the pretty daughters of Robert Marlowe are concerned, he shows Robyn how to tie a few knots with a spare piece of rope. Like her sister, she is a quick study, and Dawson cannot help but wonder if she’ll make a pirate yet. =

Robyn: Mr. Dawson?
Dawson: Aye?
Robyn: Is there anywhere ashore that I could…bathe?
Dawson: What?
Robyn: We’ve been at sea for months, and I should dearly like a bath.
Dawson: Well, I… Er… Outside the city, there’s a pool with fresh water. I imagine you could bathe there.
Robyn: *eyes lighting up* Will you take me?
Dawson: What?!
Robyn: Well, I can’t very well go alone. I’ve no idea where it is!
Dawson: Captain wouldn’t like it…
Robyn: Well, I shan’t tell her. *flutters lashes becomingly* Please?
Dawson: Oh, all right! *glad that Capt. Hawthorne doesn’t use feminine tactics of persuasion, else she would get her way all the time and convince him to let her do far more foolish things than she does already*

= Mr. Dawson and his young charge steal their way through the rather rowdy streets—it’s nearly midnight, and Tortuga’s nightlife is really taking off.

Hawthorne is talking to a small group of ragtag, though able-bodied, young men, cleverly making herself out to be a cabin boy, seeking sailors for a Mr. Dawson’s crew. They seem interested and four of them sign their names or an ‘X’ on the ship’s roster.
“Report at six o’clock sharp morning after next,” she commands. A smile crosses her lips. “I’ll introduce you to the captain, then. =

Davenport: Tell me about the pay.
Alex: Each man takes a share of the loot after the captain and officers—who take two shares and a share and a half, respectively.
Davenport: Aye? Fair, very fair.
Alex: Indeed. *watches as Davenport signs his name*

= Miss Marlowe and Dawson arrive at the aforementioned pool of water relatively unscathed, though perhaps the young woman’s sensibilities are a bit offended by the raucous behavior of the inhabitants of the French port.
Dawson politely turns his back as the young lady strips down to her cotton shift and enters the water. She washes with some soap that Dawson procured for her. She scrubs at her hair and limbs, delighted to be clean for the first time since running away from home. As she floats on the water, she considers the drastic turn that her life has taken since that night. A cook for pirates, she thinks with amusement. Her mother would be horrified. Robyn, though, is delighted by her new freedom. She splashes around a bit to express her pleasure. =

Dawson: Miss?
Robyn: Sorry. I was just…splashing.
Dawson: *will not think about Robert Marlowe’s daughter splashing about in a pool in only her shift*
Robyn: I’m nearly finished…
Dawson: Aye, Miss.

= Alex ducks under a glass bottle, which flies over her head and shatters against a nearby wall. She is making her way back to the ship, pleased to have acquired five new crewmen—particularly that young Davenport fellow, who seems very useful and is good-looking, besides. As she picks her way carefully through the streets, she considers how best to reveal to the new men that not only is she the captain, but she’s also… a she. =

Alex: Perhaps I could wait until we were already cast off? No… No, I must win their respect, or I’ll have trouble. A good deal of it, I imagine.

= The presence of Robyn Marlowe does not at all ease matters, and Captain Hawthorne must also consider her safety, as well as the reaction of her new crewmen to not one woman on board, but two. =

Alex: …damn.

= Robyn hops out of the water and considers what to do now with her shift soaked through—did she bring one to change into? Yes, she did! She changes quickly into the dry shift and puts her clothes on. Dawson leads her carefully though the city and back to the ship. Once on board, Robyn heads for the quarters she shares with Captain Hawthorne and goes to bed. Dawson places himself in front of the door as a guard, quickly falling asleep.
Hawthorne returns to the ship in the wee hours of morning and smiles fondly at the sleeping Dawson. She wakes him gently and sends him to sleep in his own quarters. A quick glance inside the room assures the captain that her sister is sleeping soundly. Hawthorne locks the door and settles down for bed.
Having kept late hours the evening before, all three aboard the ship sleep through sunrise. Robyn and Dawson wake first and habit sends Robyn down to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. As a way of thanking Dawson for letting her bathe the night before, she takes his coffee to him on the deck.
The day passes uneventfully, Captain Hawthorne taking stock of the ship’s current holdings, noting the additional crewmen on the roster and generally making sure that the ship is in good condition for the two months’ journey ahead of her. Fortunately, she has gone from disdaining her sister’s presence to being grateful of a capable cook and another female.
The matter remains, however, of getting the new crewmen to look past the substantial feminine presence aboard the Revenge, particularly the captain’s own gender. Concerned about this problem, she speaks to Dawson, who only suggests that she be straightforward, firm, and as unwavering as a man might be when informing new recruits of any rules they might not be particularly keen on—even if said rule is merely obedience to the captain.
Some of the captain’s time is spent telling Robyn about the rigging, which way is “port” and which is “starboard,” and tells her some of their father’s life at sea. Robyn, in turn, is a quick learner and is certainly glad of Hawthorne’s tolerance, perhaps even growing fondness towards her.
Night falls as Hawthorne is making a final examination of the fresh water supply, rather wishing she were better at arithmetic. Pronouncing everything to be shipshape, Hawthorne, Dawson, and Robyn dine together and go to bed early in anticipation of rising at dawn the following morning.
Hawthorne dresses with rather more care than she is wont to do in the morning, asking for her sister’s opinion several times. Robyn is in her customary green, with her pistols at her sides.
At six o’clock sharp, all of the men stand on the deck, many of them still feeling the aftereffects of their time in Tortuga. As planned, Robyn stays in the cabin while Hawthorne and Dawson address the men. =

Alex: Ahem. *clears her throat* Good morning, gentlemen.
Usual Crew: *rather groggily* Mornin’ Captain.
Handful of Newbies: *slightly confused* Captain?
Alex: *going on* I hope you all had a lovely time in Tortuga! We’ve got a few new hands, as you can see, so I hope you’ll give them a right good welcome.

=A few other men clap the new crewmembers on the back. =

Newbie 1: W—*blinks* You’re the captain?
Alex: *coolly* If that’s a problem, you are welcome to leave now, and I’ll strike your name from the record.

= The man who questioned her role glances around at the other men. They do not seem to have any qualms about the female leader—they listen quite attentively as she continues: =

Alex: Well, you think it over. Gentlemen, we’re on our way to Dominica. With luck, we’ll be there inside of forty days—the winds blowing southwest may slow us down, but you’re all—*looks at crew* capable sailors! So! Without further ado, we’ll—ah—cast off!
Dawson: *shouts* You heard ‘er! Get to it!
Alex: *in passing to Robyn* Good God, that was… awkward.
Robyn: Haven’t you done that before?
Dawson: Nice work getting things rolling there, Captain…
Alex: *scowls at Dawson*
Dawson: *very briefly lays a hand on Alex’s back* Well, there’s a first time for everything, Captain.
Alex: *rolls eyes*
Robyn: Well, I’m for the galley.
Alex: …coffee?
Robyn: *smiles* Naturally.

= The journey to Tia Dalma’s island is a fair one; the new crewmembers seem to take well enough to Hawthorne’s command. While this should offer her some relief, the captain seems only to become more anxious as they near the island. Skeptical by nature, Alex has doubts about what the mystic will really be able to tell them.
When they finally reach the mouth of the river, Hawthorne, Robyn, Mr. Dawson, Davenport and Cordingly are in the longboat. Alex glances warily at the gloomy surroundings of the swamp, while Robyn appears almost awed. The boat stops at the dock entrance to a cabin, and only Hawthorne, her sister and her first mate enter the shack. The woman who sits at a table is not the old woman that Hawthorne expected. She is young and there is a sort of fierce beauty in her. This is not a woman who submits to the authority of men, and Hawthorne respects this. =

Tia Dalma: *smiling* Welcome to ya, daughters o’ Robert Marlowe. Come in.
Alex: *guarded* You’re Tia Dalma?
TD: Aye. *gets up and moves to stand in front of Alex, looking carefully into her face* You’re Alexandra Hawt’orne. *turns* Which means you are Robyn Marlowe. Tell me girls, what can I do for ya?
Alex: I’m… Not sure.
TD: *tilts her head inquiringly*
Alex: Our father is dad. The only thing he left us was the map that led us here. We were hoping you would have some answers.
TD: Were ya now?
Robyn: Why did Papa send us to you?
TD: Ah. It were some years ago, I met Robert Marlowe. He done me a service and I promised him a gift in return. He say he don’t wanna gift for himself, and he tell me why. He say he knows it be him fate to die at sea, and he worry for him daughter and what will become of her. *smiles tenderly at Robyn* You. I tell him he have two daughters, and if he send ‘em to me after he die, I’ll set dem on de path.
Alex: And what is our path?
TD: Well, firstly, your father isn’t dead.
Robyn: How…?
TD: He belong now to de crew o’ Davy Jones.
Alex and Dawson: *horrified*
TD: Is it your wish to save your father?
Robyn and Alex: Aye.
TD: And would ya travel to de ends o’ de eart’ to do it?
Robyn: Aye.
Alex: Aye.
TD: Well den, lucky for you I know a captain who be goin’ to dat very place.
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