"Cuthbert Davies! If you do not return Father's medical book at once, I will toss you over the dock and let Davy Jones deal with you!" screeched Lucille Davies as she ran down the stairs of the modest two bedroom house to her father's office, where, thankfully it was not occupied at the moment.
Stopping at the bottom of the stairs and turning to look his accuser, the younger boy grinned. At the age of twelve, Cuthbert regarded his older sister as most boys do at that age, a nuisance, and retorted, "It is nearly closing, and Father won't miss it for a few hours. As for your claim about tossing me off of the dock…I highly doubt it. I am as big as you are, and you could not force me past the doorstep."
Not one to acknowledge the near accuracy of her brother's claim, Lucy rolled up the sleeves of her blouse and took a menacing step toward her brother, "Cutty, just because you are my size, does not mean you are not still a scrawny little thing." With that she grabbed him by the waist, hauled him over her shoulder and carried him to where the shop stepped out into the cold alley and landed him on the dirt, taking care to snatch the book from his grasp and shut the door promptly.
Cuthbert's shouts and banging on the door could be heard as Lucy clutched the book to her chest and made her way back into her father's medical practice, a small smile playing on her face. It was one of the smaller joys of her life to banter with Cutty. The small port city in the Carolina colony was known only for fisherman and trade ships, drawing little to no attention from pirates and only home to the King's navy stopping over for provisions to their trip to Port Royal in the Caribbean.
"I say, Lucy, that was entirely unlike how any well-bred English lady should act," came a voice; startling Lucy to where she dropped the book she was holding.
Looking upon the voice, she grinned wildly, her stomach turning completely to butterflies, "Henry! I was not expecting to see you so soon!" She rushed to him, throwing her arms about him. He chuckled and returned the gesture.
Henry smiled down at the girl, running the back of his hand across her cheek, "Lucille Davies, you grow more beautiful each time I see you."
"You make me blush," replied Lucy, ducking her head to hide the blush that took no time to sweep over her face at his compliment. Taking a moment to recover, she looked back up at him to find him grinning cheekily at her, "Why have you returned early?"
"The King requested our leave back to England," said Henry, shifting a bit uncomfortably, but recovering quickly, "I also remembered your eighteenth birthday is tomorrow, is it not?"
An even wider smile spread across her face, "It is. Would you care to join us for supper? I am sure that Father would be delighted to see you."
"Aye," he replied, chuckling, "It was my intention to come to dinner. Your father already knows of my arrival."
Before she could question him further, Cuthbert chose that moment to burst through the front door of the shop, bringing the cold February air with him, his face red from the winter wind and dirty as well. He kept his eye on Lucy and opened to his mouth to no doubt chastise her for throwing him out on the step when he spied Henry, his entire countenance changing, "Henry! You have returned early!"
Henry smiled, offering his hand to the younger boy, "Yes I have. Have you been keeping an eye on your sister for me?"
"Aye," grumbled Cuthbert, eyeing his sister with malice. The two continued to talk and gave Lucille a moment to catch her breath. Just when she thought her life was tiresome, Henry always seemed to sweep in at the right moment. As a Lieutenant Commander in the King's Navy, he had a passion for everything that was loyal to the crown. Henry stood at a modest six feet, strong in stature, with pale skin and dark clipped hair that was often kept under a powdered wig. His eyes were dark and matched his hair.
They had met at the market by chance one day during a heated argument between her and a particularly drunken gentleman. Henry had stepped in to ward off the man and ended up walking her home to ensure her safety. Her father had taken a liking to him straight away, as had her younger brother. Through letters and encounters when his ship was stationed in their city, she had grown to like him considerably.
"Do I hear Henry Lowell in here?" came the booming voice of her father. She turned in time to see him come down the stairs; spectacles perched atop his crooked nose. He shook hands with Henry heartily, starting the chatter all over again.
Doctor Davies turned to his daughter, a smile on his face, "My dearest, is our supper prepared? We should head up to dine if so."
Lucy smiled pleasantly at her father, "Yes, I believe so."
"Lucy," started Henry as Cuthbert at the Doctor began their way up the stairs to the house, "May I speak with you privately?" He nodded at her father and the two continued up the stairs, Cuthbert telling their father about how Lucy had thrown him out earlier.
"What is it you wish to speak to me about?" asked Lucy, clasping her hands in front of her so has not to play with her apron. One lesson she remembered of her mother was not to play with your hands in conversation, as it was too distracting.
Henry removed his hat and clutched it tightly, "As I said before, that your father was aware of my presence in town."
Raising an eyebrow at his nervousness, Lucy nodded her head in encouragement. He was hardly nervous, always seemingly carefree and lighthearted in most matters.
"Right," he said, taking a gulp of air, suddenly gaining confidence, "It has been strongly suggested that I am soon to be promoted to Captain. With an elevated rank comes elevated responsibility."
"Captain!" exclaimed Lucy, "That is wonderful, Henry!"
Not to be deterred, he continued onward, the slightest of smiles on his face, "Yes, it is quite wonderful. As I was saying, with elevated rank, one acquires elevated responsibility as attending meetings, balls, and such. It is a life that is full of honor and prestige and quite daunting to attend such events on one's own. That is why, Lucille Davies, I wish to ask for your hand in mine in marriage." Out of nowhere, he presented a small gold ring with an emerald sitting in the center.
Lucy gasped in surprise. She certainly hadn't been expecting a proposal. She stared dumbly at the ring before looking into Henry's expectant face and suddenly doubt crept into her mind. Was it really what she wanted? She liked Henry well enough, and was she was sure she would even love him if they were to spend more time with one another; she would have a comfortable home and affluence. Taking another moment to gather her thoughts, she brushed all thoughts aside and nodded, a smile overcoming her features, "Of course, Henry!"
"You have made me the happiest man alive, Lucy," he responded happily, placing the ring on her finger, "Of course, you will have to plan straight away for May and-"
"May?" asked Lucy, bewildered, her hands still in his, "That is a little more than three months away. So soon?" Her stomach began to turn in knots, from excitement or fear, she did not know.
Henry nodded vigorously, "Yes, of course. Our ship leaves late in the day tomorrow and we will not return for two months and a half. After a short time here, we will return to England permanently."
"Return to England permanently?" Lucy asked, still bewildered.
Annoyance flashed across Henry's face briefly, "You are acting as a parrot, my dear. Yes, we will return home to England. I thought you would be happy to rid yourself of the God forsaken New World and return home."
"I-well, yes," said Lucy, creasing her eyebrows in confusion, looking out the window, taking note of the darkened sky, "This is quite a bit of information to take in at once."
"Let us eat and celebrate with your family, then we will discuss it, perhaps tomorrow? We will take a walk about town, yes?" asked Henry, a hopeful look in his face.
Nodding in agreement, Lucy followed Henry up the stairs to where her father and brother sat, politely waiting for the newly engaged couple. Once congratulations were spoken, the four began to eat, listening to the sea tales that Henry always delighted the family with as Lucy sat in silence, contemplating her new life that would begin in such a short time.
"Lu?" asked Cuthbert as the pair lay in their room that night. It was hours after Henry had left and the oil lamp had been blown out, but Lucy laid wide-awake, thoughts racing wildly about in her head, looking at her ring in the moonlight.
Lucy shifted to her side to look to her brother, "Yes, Cutty?"
He shifted as well, propping himself up in bed. The moonlight shone in through their window and she could see the troubled look on his face, "Will you really be returning to England once you are married?"
"I suppose so," sighed Lucy as she mimicked her brother's position, "What has you troubled?"
Cuthbert sighed and shrugged, "I gather that I will miss you. Quite terribly so." His voice began to wobble at the last sentence and pain gripped at Lucy's heart. Her brother had always been an honest one, never really to hide his feelings.
She threw the covers off herself and padded over to her brother's bed, making herself comfortable beside him and placing an arm on his shoulders, "I know we will be an ocean apart. However, I am still your sister and I will write so often, you shall be sick of my letters."
"Will you visit Father and I?" asked her brother, not bothering to hide that he was crying, "He will miss you terribly, as well. Father that is. During supper, when Henry was speaking of your marriage, he had that look in his eyes, like when we talk about mum."
Lucy squeezed her brother's shoulders, "I will miss you two terribly as well. I do not want to promise that I will visit, but I do promise letters."
Cuthbert nodded and hugged his sister, burying his head into her shoulder, "I miss mum. She should be here for this, for Father and I as well."
"Aye, Cutty. I miss mum so much," agreed Lucy, resting her head atop her brother's.
Cuthbert looked up at his sister, "Do you remember that lull that mum used to sing to us?"
"Will you sing it, Lu?" he asked hopeful.
Lucy nodded and leant back against the wall, trying to remember the exact words. She took a breath and sang softly, "The water is wide, I cannot cross over and neither have I wings to fly. Give me a boat that can carry two and both shall row – my love and I."
It wasn't long before the pair had drifted off into a slumber. To Lucy, it was as if as soon as she was asleep, a loud banging from downstairs woke her with a start. Cuthbert hugged her tightly to him as they waited, wide-awake, in tense silence. It was mere moments and the banging was heard again. They heard their father's footsteps and quickly scrambled off the bed, throwing the door to the hallway open to reveal their Father heading downstairs, a pistol in his hand.
"Father?" asked Lucy, eyes fearful, holding Cuthbert close to her.
He jumped at her voice and turned to her, fear evident in his own eyes as the banging continued, "Return to your room, I will call you if needed." The pair nodded and closed the door, with only a crack left open, to allow for any noise from down the stairs to drift up into their room.
The siblings sat together on the floor as they listened for the unlatching of the door and the squeak of the door as he swung it opened. Lucy was nearly positive a gunshot would come next, and it made bile rise up in her throat as she tried to wear a brave face for her brother.
"Doc," came a gruff voice from downstairs, "Our Cap'n was shot in a fight. He be spoutin' blood e'er which way."
A different voice, slightly higher in tone chimed in, "Fix 'em up, Doc. We be payin' ye in gold."
"Pirates!" exclaimed Cuthbert, quietly, but excitedly. Lucy held a finger to her mouth to silence him, so she could listen to her father's response.
The downstairs was silent until she heard her father's soft voice, "Fine, come in, but keep the shades and front lamps low."
"What is he doing?" asked Lucy quietly, mostly to herself, "Letting pirates in our home! Pirates!"
"Lucy!' came her father's voice, "Come assist."
At the command, her eyes went wide as she looked to Cuthbert, whose excitement at the possibility of pirates changed suddenly if it meant that he'd be left alone. She hesitated too long before another, more frantic shout from her father, "Lucille Rose! Now!" That was all it took for her to spring into action, tying her brown curls back with a ribbon and throwing on her dressing gown at top speed.
"Lu," whined Cuthbert as he crawled back into his bed, "Do not leave me."
"I will be back as soon as I can," said Lucy breathlessly as she ran out the door, shutting it firmly behind her. She raced down the stairs, careful not to trip over her shift or gown as she entered the examination room, feeling it rather dirty with the three characters taking up residence instead of the nearly sterile environment she knew it to be.
Once she entered the room, all eyes turned on her and she drew her dressing gown closer about her, feeling exposed, daring not to meet anyone's eyes. She merely stood in a corner, waiting for her father's instruction. It was as though her father had taken her on as an apprentice as she assisted him with nearly every minor surgery and had learned to stitch people back together with her father's eyesight and hands not what they used to be.
"Ye be havin' a pretty lass, Doc," said one of the bulkier gentleman. Lucy jumped at what he said; thankful for the low lighting as she felt her cheeks grow heart.
Her Father regarded her briefly, flashing her a reassuring smile, "Thank you, sir. She is newly engaged, she is."
"Aye!" replied the other slapping his knee, Lucy noticing that he was missing a few fingers, "Congratulasheeuns, lass!"
Lucy nodded her thanks, looking at the man, giving him a small smile. He grinned back at her, with few teeth and the one's he did possess were gold filled. The man looked to be much older than he probably was, his skin dark and weathered, looking remarkably like leather. The only part of him that held some semblance of youth was his eyes that also held a bit of mischief.
"Mr. Lovett, at yer service," said the afore mention man, taking off his hat to reveal stringy, oily hair and bowing low.
The other man, looking remarkably younger, but still standing great in stature, yet equally unhygienic bowed his head as well, "John Grey, ma'am. Friends be callin' me Johnny."
"Lucille Davies," she felt inclined to introduce herself as well, "Friends call me Lucy." The pair revealed their teeth yet again.
"If you hens are finished with your chatter," hissed the third man, the Captain, "Let's remove this bullet, aye?"
"Aye, Cap'n," relented the men, looking away. Lucy looked at the Captain and it took all of her being not to gasp. In her father's practice sat Nathaniel Hughes, one of the most feared and notorious pirates of the time period. There was much news in the small Carolina colony regarding pirates, but when there was, Captain Hughes of the Blackheart was usually the main topic.
His appearance surprised her; she expected an old, well-seasoned sailor, but was met instead with a younger man, perhaps in the mid of his twenties. His jaw was set in a strong line, covered with the beginnings of a beard. Brown hair waved and curled below his jaw and unlike his companions, his skin had not turned to leather from exposure.
Her Father finished preparing his tools and turned to the group, "Okay then, please remove your coat and shirt, sir." If he showed any sign of who he was dealing with, Lucy couldn't help but be impressed that her father was keeping amazingly calm.
"With the lass present?" asked Nathaniel, flicking his calculating gaze over to her for a moment.
Frowning, Lucy was about to respond when her Father stepped in, "Yes, Lucy has helped me with many a procedure. She has dealt with such situations with the utmost maturity."
"Very well, then," responded the Captain, removing his coat to reveal a blood soaked shirt, which was quickly shed. Blood flowed down his torso and Lucy looked away for a moment to gather herself.
"Lucy," said her father handing her a washcloth and wielding one himself, "Help me clean him up."
The cloth smelt of alcohol and Lucy pressed it against the side of Nathaniel's stomach speaking quietly, "This may sting a bit."
After soaking through four cloths, Lucy and her father had cleaned enough blood away to locate the source of the bleeding. She wrapped the blood-soaked cloths into a larger one to be disposed of and looked upon their patient. A hole was clearly visible on his ribcage, while a deep gash was present on the right side of his torso.
"God spared you," spoke the Doctor as examined the bullet hole, "Your coat was thick enough to stop the progression of the bullet and will easily be extracted. You also were nicked and will only require stitches. Now, Luce, please retrieve a bottle of whiskey and a leather strap."
Lucy hurried back up the stairs to her father's study where she knew he kept a supply of liquor. Cuthbert poked his head outside of the bedroom and asked excitedly, "Who is it Lucy? Who is the pirate?"
"Cutty, go back to sleep," reprimanded Lucy as she grabbed a leather strap from the kitchen, used for sharpening knives, "I promise I will tell you when I return to bed." She could hear him grumble as he begrudgingly shut the door on her way back down the stairs.
Filling a glass halfway with whiskey, she handed it to Nathaniel who drank the entire glass in one go, grimacing as he set it on a nearby table. Next, Lucy handed him the strap to put in his mouth so as to prevent screaming when her father extracted the bullet.
Doc Davies prepared the long set of thin prongs that would aid him in removing the bullet, "Sir, I can assure you that this will be painful." Nathaniel took a deep breath and nodded, lying back on the table and trying to relax as much as possible.
In the last moment, Lucy grabbed his hand in hers and the action surprised him enough to look at her. She marveled at his olive colored eyes and the question they held in them. At that moment, her father dug the prongs into his skin and pain overtook the questioning look as he let out a startled cry, his hand tightening painfully around her own. She placed her other hand atop his as her father worked as fast as possible.
Chancing a look at his face, Lucy found that the veins in Nathaniel's forehead and neck were beginning to pop out due to his clenching of teeth. His companions looked on with grimaces on their face.
"Aha!" exclaimed her father as he retracted the prongs to reveal the bullet. Lucy felt Nathaniel relax and his grip on her hand loosen completely. She withdrew her hand, flexing it, hoping he didn't crush any bones.
"Lucy," said her father, once he had placed the instruments down, "I will seal this wound, and will you please stitch the poor man's gash?"
Blanching, Lucy swallowed, unsure of what else to say but, "Aye." Normally, she would have willingly volunteered for such a task as she had somewhat perfected the form of suturing. However, Nathaniel Hughes made her incredibly nervous with his calculating green eyes and toned form. She felt his gaze on her, but refused to meet it.
She gathered the necessary supplies and found a smaller stool to sit on so as to be as level as possible. Threading the needle, she took a breath, trying to keep her hands from trembling so much.
"With all due respect, Doctor," spoke Nathaniel, his voice deep, "I think I would prefer someone whose hands do not shake considerably."
Lucy frowned at him and waved off her father's questioning, "No need, I will do it." Sending a glare toward the man, who merely raised an amused eyebrow in concern, she wiped the cut with an alcohol soaked rag, finding pleasure in hearing one of the most notorious pirates hiss in protest when she pressed into the wound harder than necessary. With a confidence she had not had before, she began suturing, concentrating on keeping the stitches even and close together.
Once she was finished and her father had finished sealing the bullet wound, she found a large bandage and began wrapping it around Nathaniel's middle, speaking with authority, "The sutures will need time to heal. You can remove them in a fortnight. However, you will need to watch your…activity…after that as the area will be prone to reopening, thus leaving cause for infection." She tucked the rest of the bandage in, stepping as far away from the man as possible without seeming prudish.
"Aye," said Nathaniel, stepping down from the table, throwing on the now blood-dried shirt and overcoat, "My sincerest gratitude to you Doc, and to you Miss Davies." She took note that he towered over the other two men by several inches, leaving no doubt why he was the Captain of the Blackheart and feared by many. His presence alone was intimidating.
"What debt is to be owed?" he asked, beckoning the one called Johnny forward who took a coin purse out of his pocket.
Her father shook his head and waved them away, "No debt. This was for no charge."
Nathaniel showed brief surprise and Johnny put away the coin purse. He stuck out his hand for the doctor to shake, with his other hand pulled out a sac from his pocket, "I thank you again, Doctor. I am in your debt. If you are in need, please let me know.
"Ms. Davies," he said, turning to Lucy, who could feel a blush creeping on her face, "As a token of my gratitude and a congratulations on your recent engagement, please take this as a gift. Men, let us take our leave." He bestowed a smile upon the Doctor and his daughter before exiting, leaving them in silence.
Her father strode over to her at once, curious to see what she had, "What did Mr. Hughes give you?"
"So you knew who he was?" asked Lucy, incredulously, "You were so calm."
Nodding, the Doc smiled, "He is a good lad. Now, what did he give you."
The pair looked upon the gift. It was a small, trailing point, silver dagger. The handle was carved intricately and inlaid with a dark wood. Ironically, a black heart gem was place in the handle, reflected on both sides. Along the spine of the blade, the words Cor Cordis were carved.
"What does cor cordis mean, Father?" asked Lucy, marveling at the splendor of the blade.
A small smile overtook her father as he gingerly took the blade from her hands, "My dear, it means heart of hearts, pertaining to love."
Lucy could not help but lie awake that night after so much excitement. She had returned to bed shortly after to find that Cuthbert had finally drifted off to sleep. For that, she was grateful, as she wanted to be left to her own thoughts.
The deviant that was Nathaniel Hughes intrigued her as did part of his crew. While they weren't the most well read, their manners were fairly polite. She supposed Nathaniel surprised her the most as his speech was flawless and that of someone who had been schooled extensively.
She giggled quietly to herself; here she was thinking all pirates were buffoons. Taking the dagger out of the sheath again, she let the moonlight reflect on the words Cor Cordis, once again thinking over the incredibly generous gift that had been given to her.
Lucy supposed that the excitement of saving the life of the famous Captain of the Blackheart was probably the most she would experience for the rest of her natural born life.