Part ONE: Girl
If you were at a certain tavern by the name of The Ragged Hat on a certain island in the Mediterranean in the mid seventeen-hundreds, you may have seen a mysterious man sitting alone in the corner of the room, carousing in drunken merriment. Hat cocked; thin long braids of black hair tied back into a pony tail with a thin, red ribbon treading down to his goatee, and of course, there was the white, dirty shirt that hung loose around his body. He had a long black cloth belt around his middle, baggy pants cut off in the middle shins, and a tattered pair of leather boots. He looked to be in his late twenties. He often was seen carrying a sack with him, and a knife in his left boot, along with a revolver in his right pocket right next to his slightly rusted sword. He was usually alone, but on occasion, he would be very involved in a conversation with a man who came to the tavern once after long periods of time. You may have also seen a girl about nineteen waiting on the tables of drunkards whistling at her, asking for more beers. She was a lovely girl for her age, and had a red bandanna tied on her head with dark, long, thick hair, dark tanned skin, blue eyes, and a head turning laugh, with a small, white smile. While working in the tavern, she wore a ragged dress and apron, but when asked, said to prefer wearing her favorite outfit of black pants that hang at her ankles, a blue cloth around her waist as a belt, and a white sailors' shirt. She would also have been found in the kitchen, cooking food under the piercing gaze of her mistress. A fat woman with a sharp tongue, and out of place frizz on the top of her head. This is their life. This is their story.
In the kitchen of The Ragged Hat, a girl about nineteen was being yelled at by what appeared to be a mad minded woman.
"Get'tup yeh lazy pile of worthless dog droppings! How dare yeh take a nap when'there's costumers ter feed! Did'yeh hear me, girl?" yelled the woman.
"Yes, Ma'am. But in my defense, you had me stay up all night cleaning this dump so I didn't get any sleep last night anyway. Plus, I only closed my eyes for two minutes." she said back to her, shaking her wooden spoon with a bored look on her face.
"I don't care how much yeh didn't sleep. Yeh should've worked faster, and now that some two minutes that costumers didn't get some here attention!"
"And do'know how many more minutes you've wasted from your precious costumers by arguing with me about my lack of sleep? I guess I'm not the only one who should get back to work then, am I?" And she smiled, as the old woman got red and stormed off after smacking her across the face. The girl lost her smile, and touched the red mark left on her face by the woman's fat hands. "Dumb, fat, Madam Sylva. I'd like to see her do the work I do." and then she slumped back to work.
"So, who's ready for a couple of rounds today, gentlemen?" the girl asked as she walked out of the back, to the bar where a group of men with hang-overs sat in the usual garb of baggy, dirt covered, tattered clothes.
"Ye... We'll take some'em beers ter go 'round her, Girl." A drunk on the right, by the name of Percy said.
"Ac'tu'ly, make me an ale please. I ne'd some lil' some'in strong'r." Another said. His name was Garter.
Percy and Garter were best friends, who were also very nice to people low on cash. They were retired pirates, and would always offer to buy drinks for those around them, and only came by the old tavern as long as they got to see their good friend, who was also the tavern woman's hard worker, who was under paid.
"Sure thing boys!" she told them, and she happily, after seeing her two, and practically only, friends turned to go back to the kitchen.
"Hey! Wait a mo'. Why's yer face awl red like?" Garter asked. The girl froze, and did not turn around. She knew that Garter and Percy, her beloved friends, who were like fathers to her, would have what they called 'a word' with Madam Sylva, her mistress. Then they'd never be allowed back again, and she didn't want that.
"It's nothing. I got slapped by a drunk by accident when he was getting up from the table earlier." She lied.
"Well 'oo is he? We'll teach 'im to say sorry to a lady!" Percy said, standing up. She turned around quickly.
"No, it's okay, it was an accident... and he already left." she answered quickly.
"Alright. But if 'e ev'r comes back, Girly..." Percy started.
"Yeh let us know." Garter finished, and in unison they made motions as if to beat someone up. She could only just shake her head at them and laugh.
Later that day at the tavern, the girl was on her five minute break talking with Garter and Percy who were still there keeping her company.
"It's yer birthday t'day in'it? Nineteen?" Percy asked her. She nodded.
"I almost thought you forgot!" She laughed.
"Aw! Yeh hurt my feelings, Girly! We'd nev'r ferget yeh!" Garter said, and he pretended to whimper like a puppy patting at his chest over his heart.
"We got yer a lil' some'in. It should be arivin' soon." Percy said.
"Oh boys! You didn't have to get me anything! You know that." She said, but her eyes were bright just the same.
"Oh, 'elo Chester. 'Ere yeh are. Got the present for our here Girly?" Garter asked a man who just sat down next to them. It was Chester. The girl had met with him a few times before. He was Garter's little brother. He wasn't a retired pirate yet so he was constantly on the move.
"Yes I do. And yeh know, the Loon isn't the same since yeh left." He said, motioning to Garter and Percy.
"Aw Chester, yeh say that ev'ry time we see yeh! Now 'nough's 'nough! Girl's waited all day for this 'ere present!" Percy answered him, and Chester nodded, and brought up his arm after reaching for something he had under the table. When thee girl saw what he held she smiled.
"Oh! It's a little kitten! Careful you don't take too much from the scruff of the neck." She said. Garter, Percy, and Chester had gotten her a little black cat with bright blue eyes like her own.
"Happy birthday." Chester said, and that was followed by a few 'happy birthday's' from Percy and Garter.
"'Is name's Shadow. 'E's a ship's cat, so don't be worried if the rascal likes to be near the wat'r." Garter said. The girl was now cradling the little cat in her arms as it pawed at loose hair.
"Thanks you guys! This is the best nineteenth birthday I've ever had!" She joked.
"Oh, 'at's too bad, yeh had oth'rs and we wasn't invited." Garter said, and the three men and she laughed. She stopped laughing when she saw a man with a goatee, long braided black hair, a tilted hat, and a sailors garb on came in. He looked similar to the other men who came in, but she'd never seen him there before, and she'd been working at the old tavern since she could remember.
"Do any of you know who that is?" She asked her friends. They all turned and said they'd never seen him before.
"Oh well. My break's over. Thanks again for the present– I mean, Shadow. I have to go see to some other tables." She immediately headed over to the stranger's table. He had sat down in a dark corner of the room. He put his feet onto the table, and pretended to be sleeping, but she knew that he was scanning the room for somebody.
"Excuse me sir, but I haven't ever seen you here before. Would you like a drink?" she asked him. He stayed still as if pretending to still be asleep.
"Hey, I know you're awake. You're not that drunk. You're looking for someone. I know because that's what my mistress does to me every now and then to watch me."
"Shh. If you'll leave me alone, I'll take some rum." He said to her.
"Alright. Coming right up." She said, and hurried back to the kitchen to get the strange, yet good looking man, his drink.
"So? Who's 'e?" Garter asked when she headed back towards them. "Poor fellow looks like 'e's try'n get a lil' bit 'o rest."
"I still don't know his name, but he's not sleeping. He's looking for somebody. See, under his hat you can see that his eyes are still a little bit open, and their scanning the room. He just doesn't want to be disturbed while he's doing so. Just a guess, though." She told them.
"Well, 'at's a good'a guess as any." Percy said, and he stretched and rubbed his small stomach.
"Hey, I jus' now realized, we ain't yet sang yeh birthday song. Can yeh remember it? I think it's been 'bout a year since we las' sang it." Percy said, and he winked.
"I sure do, but can you keep up with me?" The girl answered back and the three men laughed. Then Garter started to sing.
Happy Birt'day to ye
Yo ho, Yo ho
How old will ye be?
The girl answered back in a sweet tune to him.
I'll not be one-hundred
I'll not be ten
I'll not be six, or seven or five
Yo ho, Yo ho, Yo ho
Then all three men started to sing the chorus again.
Happy Birt'day to ye
Yo ho, Yo ho
How old will ye be?
The girl started to sing her reply back to them.
I'll not be eight
I'll not be four
I'll not be ninety
But if you must know, I'll be nineteen!
Then together, they all sang the final verse.
Nineteen Ye be
Yo ho, Yo ho
But still not even close, to me!
They all laughed when the song was sung, and then the girl remembered the drink for the man. She hurried to the kitchen to go get it, with Shadow the cat at her heels. She got the drink and ran back to the man who was still pretending to be asleep.
"Here, sorry it took so long. He's your rum." She said and set it down on the table.
"Thanks. Now leave me be. Here's a coin." he said, and he flipped a coin in the air where she caught it.
"Thank you, sir." She said, and she walked back to the merriment of her friends.
"Hey, boys, not to cut our conversation short, but I really should get back to work. I don't want another all-nighter again just to have the Hag yell at me in the morning for closing my eyes for a minute."
"Alright, Girly. I should be head'n off now anyway. Happy birthday." Chester told her, and he stood up, stretched, and then walked out of the tavern and back to his ship at the private docks, only known by a very small number of people.
"Aw well, hope yeh enjoy Shadow there. We should be head'n off ourselves for today. See yeh tomar'a." Percy said, and he patted Garter on the back, and they got up and left. The girl headed back to work, after enjoying the day at work with her friends.
She got to the kitchens and slumped onto a big bag of potatoes on the floor like it was an arm chair. Shadow jumped up onto her lap, and curled up in a ball. The girl sighed and started to stroke the cat. But soon she bolted up right, and the cat jumped off her lap, hissing indignantly. There was a pop of a gun in the tavern, and the sound of angry fighting men. The stench of beer drifted into the kitchen. Normally a fight would be very common in the tavern, but most of the time, no guns were involved. She ran out the door and into the room with the fighting.
Men were wrestling each other, cursing, and yelling in pain. They were throwing furniture, bashing chairs against walls, chucking mugs at the walls, only from missing their original targets. Then her eyes darted over to the stranger's table in the corner. He had a knife gritted in his teeth, and his eyes glistened. He smirked at the man in front of him. With one hand, he tried to grab a book with a cover that had holes in its outer cloth. With the other, he was waving a gun. Presumably the one that had fired just moments ago.
"It's mine, Finn. I don't have time to explain this to you yet again!" The man yelled, dropping his knife. Then with a 'Ha', he punched the man in the stomach with his gun hand. Finn staggered backward, letting go of the book.
"Thank you kindly for returning what is rightfully mine." The stranger said to the fallen man, picking up his fallen knife, and put it in his left boot. He ran away toward the door while tucking the book inside his shirt.
"After that man! He has gold!" The fallen man gasped, and many men darted from their fighting and ran after the stranger to find gold they were so desperate for. The girl, in all of the shock ran to the kitchen, and out the back door where she waited in an alley for the stranger to come running by in the dark night.
He came by, and the girl quickly put out her foot to trip him. Then she grabbed the back of his shirt and yanked him to her in the alley. She noticed a tattoo on the back of his neck, but couldn't quite see it in the light.
"Shut up, and follow me. There's a mob after you. They think you have gold. That Finn fellow told them so." She told him, and without a word he followed her as she led him by the front of his shirt and dragged him along. She pulled him into her room that had a door to the kitchen on the other end.
"Welcome to the closet, also known to be my room." she sighed, rolling her eyes at the thought.
"Not that I'm not flattered, but aren't you a lil' young for this, girl? What are you? Fifteen?" he asked her questioningly.
"No! I'm nineteen!– I mean," She shook her head. That didn't come out right. "I'm not in here to be your woman of the night, thank you! Those men would have killed you looking for gold from their greed, and then would have killed or beat something else in anger, when they found you had no gold. I wouldn't want a first time customer to die. Bad business." She told him.
"Oh, I see. Well then, I best be off." he said, and he turned to go out the door.
"No you don't. I just saved your life, you owe me." She said, and she yanked him back around facing her.
"I didn't asked to be saved now, did I?" He asked, and he bowed slightly to her. "Now, if I may be off now..."
"No. I want to know your name and why you're here. I know the name of every man and pirate on this island except you."
"Maverick Jones. I am here on confidential business." he answered.
"No. I want your pirate name, and really why you're here." She told him, and she put her hands on her hips.
"To you, it's Maverick Jones, Maverick, or Jones; nothing else, if you would be so kind. I'm here 'cause this is one of the most pirate populated island in the Mediterranean. Some of the bravest men can be found on this island in yer tavern. I need a few willing to do a little favor for me, let's call it. May I now go?" he asked.
"Would you be willing to take anyone who were willing to go on your crew? It is a crew you're looking for isn't it?" The girl asked with interest.
"As a matter of fact, I am looking for recruits for my ship, and aye, I'll consider taking anyone who is willing." he said, and he eyed her.
"I know three people that will join. Two men named Percy and Garter, they come here every day, and me. I'd like to join your crew. I've always wanted an excuse to leave this retched place. I hate my mistress. I know a lot about pirates, and have always wanted to be one, to have a life on the sea." She said with a hint of pleading in her voice.
"What's you're name?" Maverick Jones asked her, standing up to his full height, looking down on her.
"Girl. Well, everyone calls me 'Girl' because I have no real name. My parents died before they could give me a name, and I was dumped on this back doorstep, forever to live in this closet." Girl said to him in disgustful tone, playing the scene in her mind.
"Girl? Well, I wouldn't have picked that to be my name. So, you want to join my crew, and you don't even know what we're doing yet. Also, I said I'd consider those willing to join. I only will take those who are willing, and have good strengths that are needed to be a pirate." Maverick told her.
"You want to see talent do you? I can cook with anything in every bad situation I've lived through. I pick pocket when I need extra change, or if I really want something. I usually only do this from rude costumers that come in here, however. I'm pretty good at knife throwing, and I'm okay at swordsmanship. I used to own one, before the old Hag took it from me, and sold it." Girl told him.
"Ah, well, unless you can prove it to me in the next..." he started, but before he could finish, Girl held up his book he'd taken from the man in the tavern earlier.
"This is yours isn't it?" She asked, and she tossed it to him.
"How'd you...? Never mind. That's a pretty good trick, but I need to see if you have what it takes to be a real pirate or not. Are you prepared for anything, and everything?" he asked, and Girl stared right into his face, without the slightest hint of fault in her expression or voice.
"I have always been prepared for anything that has ever walked through those doors, and will be prepared for anything outside of them." she said. Then quick as a whip, Maverick Jones grabbed his sword, and swung at her, at a safe distance so as not to hit her directly. She blocked it with a small knife she pulled out of her belt, the two blades just inches away from her face, with no sign of worry in her expression.
"As I said, I'm prepared for anything you can dish out. I was trained by the best." She said as her opponent sheathed his sword. She raised one eyebrow as if for a challenge when she spoke. Percy and Garter are the best. She thought to herself.
"Welcome aboard the Sea Heart." Maverick told her with a smile, and he shook her hand. She smiled her delicate smile back to him. "Now to you, I am Captain Maverick Jones."
"Don't forget about the other recruits I'll have for you tomorrow. They taught me all I know, so you have no need to test them on any talents needed for piracy. Sleep in my bed tonight, and if I find anything missing in the morning, I'll know you took it. I'll be in that corner sleeping. Good night Mr. Jones." She said to him, and she smiled, and went off to make herself a suitable place to sleep in the corner of the room. Maverick Jones just stood where he was standing for a while, but then gathered his senses and went to sleep on the bed. He was stunned that he had just let a young girl get recruited onto his ship, his crew, and his life, in such a fast manner. Normally he wouldn't have allowed women on his crew, but this one was different. There was just something about her that was more special than any other women he had ever met.