Sir Jasper meets his captives
Tap, tap… Tap, tap, TAP
Elisabeth woke, rubbing her eyes. Where was she? Who was she? Why was she? Oh, yes… This is where she was… locked up, at sea (well almost), at the mercy of foul and evil pirates. No Mummy, no Daddy, far from home, horribly held hostage, really enjoying a bit of excitement at last.
Tapa, tapa, tapa, TAP TAP TAP! Something was knocking at the tiny window – it was Fastnet.
She managed to undo the porthole glass and let him in.
‘Can’t stop long. It’s all go with the Doc and the Prof. His magic may be a bit adrift at present, but everyone’s scurrying about, no bother. Are you both alright?’
‘Oh yes. Our pirate is really very friendly. But what is happening?’
Fastnet told her about the plans and the concern about the problem of rescuing them while they were on board the Black Leopard.
Just then they heard the key turning in the lock and Fastnet flew off as Spud came into the cabin.
‘Er, hello, me dearies,’ said Spud nervously. ‘Now don’t be fright, but there’s someone special here to see you…’
He stepped aside, and there in the doorway stood the pirate Captain – black and gold tricorne hat with purple feathers, immaculate white silk cravat, red hair hanging in ringlets to his shoulders, rich crimson damask waistcoat embroidered with silver thread, three-quarter length flared burgundy frock coat, lace cuffs showing well, dark green breeches gathered below the knee with crimson ribbons, highly polished shoes with huge gold buckles, sword slung at his side, a brace of beautifully engraved pistols hanging from the silk sash across his chest – the whole bit, and with the parrot on his wrist.
‘Cor!’ said Tom.
‘Good morning.’ said Elisabeth.
Jasper removed his hat and bowed very low to them.
‘Allow me to introduce myself – Jasper de Quincey Scabbard, Knight Baronet, at your service… (If you believe that you’ll believe anything.) I see that you are impressed by the schmutter, young man – just a few old things from the bottom of the wardrobe – one has to keep up appearances when one has guests. I understand that I have the honour to make the acquaintance of Miss and Master Trundle?’
‘How do you do?’ said Elisabeth coldly.
Tom just gulped, and held on tightly to Elisabeth’s hand.
‘Well here we are together, all aboard and nice and cosy. What do you know about ships young man?’
‘Er, well sir, I know that the pointy bit is the at the front and that the wind makes them go.’
Jasper nodded. ‘Yesss…’ he said. ‘I suppose that sums it up pretty well.’ He carefully perched the parrot on a chair back.
‘There, I think. Comfortable enough, Sir Tantamount? Mind your claws on the woodwork – that chair will be a valuable antique some day.’ He then turned to his captives. ‘I believe that you have met my feathered companion?’
‘ “The apparel oft proclaims the man.” “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of York.” Pardon?’ said the parrot.
‘He does rather show of in company I’m afraid.’ smiled Jasper. ‘But he is the only really intelligent and educated friend I have, hedged about as I am by illiterate minions. I acquired him by conquest from the Governor of Bermuda.’
‘Yes, we have met Tantamount.’ said Elisabeth. ‘May I ask how you know our name?’
‘Knowledge is the key to power, dear lady. One has to keep one’s database up to date, and before I consider laying waste to any newly conquered territory I examine whatever records there may be at the seat of government, in your case, the Town Hall – ‘Frodo his Farm, in King Edward’s time assessed at one hide and land for two ploughs, now held by Trun of the dell under my lord Buckram’, and so on. I expect you knew that you were in the Doomsday book? You did? I rather thought you might.’
‘Now, let us be clear about the situation in which you find yourselves. As long as all goes according to plan I, and my dear, gentle, band of buccaneers will take good care of you, so please be at your ease. However, I do assure you both that I am totally evil, completely ruthless, extremely efficient, and utterly without any decent feelings at all. Tadmartin, isn’t it time that these young people had one of your excellent breakfasts?’ ‘Preparing it already Cap’n.’ called Spud from his galley.
‘I have already eaten, so forgive me if I don’t join you. I have a special diet – I’m terribly prone to indigestion – the stress, you see. No one knows what I have to put up with. I don’t suppose that either of you are very familiar with my profession?’
‘I have read The Lives of the Most Notorious Pyrates.’ said Elisabeth. ‘Our Uncle Rowley has a copy in his bookshop, or did, providing it hasn’t been stolen by certain people.’
‘Really? The 1724 edition I expect – They were all very brutish and disorganised then. There is a more current version in which I feature – all lies of course, but the media these days – they will print anything.’
‘I thought that the pirates were remarkably organised.’ said Elisabeth. ‘Seeing their occupation as ‘going on the account’, having councils and votes for leadership and mock trials – I was most surprised.’
‘That was then – this is now, young lady.’ snapped Jasper
‘And did I not read somewhere that you were described as ‘The Gentleman Buccaneer’ renowned for the courteous care of his captives?’
‘Don’t believe everything you read Miss Trundle. I must say, you appear remarkably sanguine in your situation.’
‘If you are a bully sir, I shall stand up to you and care for my brother as best I can. If, on the other hand, you are an enemy with vestiges of honour left, I shall accommodate myself to this adventure with what dignity I can muster, and with rather less terror.’ ‘Good heavens!’ said Jasper. ‘What a spirited wench. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance my dear. Your parents must be very proud of you.’
‘They will certainly be worried.’
‘Yes… Well of course they will. That can’t be helped. If all goes well you will be re-united in a day or two. If only we could get a message to them. I suppose you don’t know where they are? With others perhaps? Where might that be?’
Elisabeth smiled at him and shook her head. ‘Oh, Sir Jasper, really…’
He smiled back at her. ‘Never mind, it was worth a try. ‘Now then, my dears, we must get on. Let me take you into my confidence…’
Author of Dangerous Chimes, read more about Michael Macauley over here.