The battle had lasted for several weeks. Many lives had been lost, some young and naive, others older and more experienced. The outcome was in the hand of the British- the Fortress of Louisbourg was now under their control, and the tables in the war had turned in their favor.
Anthony Barker, freshly promoted with the ranking of Captain of the British Navy at the end of the fight, sat on his bed at the Crown and Rose Inn, unable to sleep despite the fact that he only had one or two hours of sleep a night while at battle. In his hands was an unfinished letter, addressed to his mother in London, who he always had trouble communicating with, ever since he announced that he had joined the Royal Navy and was being sent ot the colonies. In the light of the dying candle, he could make out the dim silhouettes of the desk, chair and bookshelf in the room.
Maybe a walk outside will make me tired, Anthony thought to himself as he stood and placed the letter onto the desk. He left the room, quietly making his way down the hallway and past the occupied rooms where his fellow comrades were snoring and muttering in their sleep.
Anthony slipped down to the lower level of the inn, nodding to the portly innkeeper as he set his tricorn hat over his head of red hair, neatly tied back in a low horsetail. The owner returned the nod and went back to sweeping the pub as the captain left.
He found himself at the harbor, the quiet business a great contract to the bustling, noisy daytime. As he walked along the edge of the lapping sea, he smiled at the idea that he now had his own vessel to command.
Just like you, father, he thought. Just you wait and see- I'll make you proud.
He became aware of jeering taunts coming from the next street over, and Anthony rolled his eyes with a low groan. Ever since arriving in the colonies three years prior, he had to deal with the colonists in all shape of emotions. He disliked dealing with unpredictable drunks the most.
"Damn those intoxicated colonists," he grumbled as he picked up his pace, not caring in the least bit why they were drunk, but anxious to see who they were bothering this time. He rounded the corner just in time to see a stumbling man grab a woman and push her against the wall, his comrade laughing and urging him on.
The only sound that the captain could hear was the blood boiling in his ear as he stormed over to where the woman was being harassed and grabbed her assaulter, spinning him around and landing a solid punch on the jaw.
"A gentleman never forces a lady," he growled at the knocked out man, hoping his words sunk in though his unconscious state of mind before he turned to the woman. He had completely forgotten about the second drunk, who pulled out a knife and attacked Anthony, managing to get in a deep cut on his face.
Anthony grunted in pain and stumbled back a couple of steps, his hand to his face to staunch the bleeding. Through eyes welled with tears of pain, he saw the woman grab a nearby piece of wood and sneak up behind the intoxicated man, knocking him unconscious with one swing.
"You are injured." She spoke slowly and clearly, making it evident that English wasn't her first language.
"Are you alright?" Anthony in turn asked her, removing his scarlet jacket to keep the blood from ruining it.
"Yes," she answered, moving closer to him. "Let me see."
He did as ordered, wincing as the summer breeze touched his wound and made it sting. She examined it under the pale moonlight, her hand holding Anthony's face still. Finally, she seemed to reach a verdict.
"It will need to be sewn up," she said, pulling away from Anthony. "Is your house near?"
"I have a ship," he mumbled through clenched teeth. "Here- it's just around the corner."
He draped his coat around her shoulders and they began to walk towards the harbor.
"Why are you out this late?" Anthony asked, curious as to what her tale was.
"I have to visit the city at night," she finally spoke. "Otherwise, I am run off."
"Why?" questioned the man, nodding towards his vessel, The Wolf of the Sea. He boarded first and offered a hand to the woman, who gave him a funny look as she boarded without any help. The question lingered in the air as they entered the captain's cabin and she immediately located the small medical chest. Anthony sat down on the bed and accepted the rag offered to help clot the wound.
Anthony knew better than to push for answers. As she threaded a needle, he looked closer at her in the dim lighting of the two lanterns that she'd lit. She wore her long black hair in two braids and she wore a deerskin dress with decorative beading. Her skin was dark, not tanned, but with rich red undertones.
"What's your name?" he found himself asking.
"You would not be able to pronounce it," she answered with a soft snort. Anthony only raised an eyebrow, and so she caved. "Karonhiokohe."
"Pardon?" he blinked, not certain if she was joking.
"My name is Karonhiokohe," she repeated herself. "It means 'she goes and gets the sky'."
As Anthony silently analyzed the foreign name, Karonhiokohe began to stitch up his facial wound. Her callused fingers worked deftly, giving the British captain the feeling that the native woman had done this many times before.
"I hope the captain does not mind us being here," Karonhiokohe said, pulling the thread taut to angle the next line of neat stitches.
Anthony snorted out one side of his mouth before replying, "Oh, I don't mind at all. If my crew has a problem with it, I'll have words with them."
She stared at him as though really seeing him for the first time before returning to her work.
"What is your name?" Karonhiokohe asked as she tied off the row of neat stitches.
Anthony carefully opened his mouth, not wanting to rip all of her hard work.
"Captain Anthony Barker, at your service," he answered with a small smile.
"Anthony," she repeated. "What does it mean?"
"I'm afraid I don't know," he answered. "It was my grandfather's name."
She smiled and sat next to him.
"What is your favorite memory of your grandfather?" she asked, pausing in between words, as though searching for the right words.
Anthony smiled too, though carefully.
"He raised horses as a hobby," he began. "Every year, my little sister and I would spend a few months out of the summer helping him care for his horses and playing hide and seek in the barns…" He trailed off, a sad glint in his eyes. "Her name was Johanna. She was the sweetest, happiest person that I ever knew."
"What happened?" Karonhiokohe asked quietly.
Anthony sighed heavily and looked away, the pain of the memory haunting him still.
"I was supposed to be watching her," he said in a quiet voice. "I was talking to someone and she somehow or other wandered outside and made her way out to the middle of the street. The carriage driver didn't even stop..."
"I am sorry," Karonhiokohe said. "It is always painful when someone we love leaves us."
Anthony heard the sorrow in Karonhiokohe's voice, and he glanced back at her. She was looking away, her eyes filled with sadness.
"The only thing we can do is look forward," she continued, fingering one of her braids.
He smiled at her words, pulling a stitch the wrong way. The sudden pain made him wince and bite the inside of his cheek to keep from yelping. Cool fingers turned his head so that soft brown eyes could carefully examine him once more.
"You should not do that again," Karonhiokohe spoke at last, the faintest traces of a smile twitching at the corners of her mouth.
"What can I say? Apperantly, the ladies love a man with scars," he pointed out with a smaller smile. He was shocked to hear Karonhiokohe giggle. He blinked his eyes as he quickly decided that he enjoyed the sound.
"You must have many in this case," she chuckled, dropping her hands into her lap and looking away, biting her lip as she took in the handsome redcoat from out of the corners of her eyes.
Anthony shrugged. "I've seen my own fair share of violence," he said with a humorless chuckle. "It comes with being in the royal navy."
"Have you traveled much?" Karonhiokohe asked eagerly, her eyes lighting up as Anthony began to tell her stories of his travels.