Viola had been waiting at the docks all afternoon. The sun was setting now, turning the clouds shades of pink and orange, but still, she waited. Her maid, Katherine, had brought her a sandwich and grapes for an early supper, but Viola’s stomach ached for more. You can eat at the feast, she reminded herself. At his feast.
When it had been announced that Colonel Benedict was being assigned to Jamaica, Viola had just smiled a secret smile. They had known each other as children, but when her father was sent from England to Jamaica, she was forced to leave all that behind. Colonel Benedict’s ship had been spotted this morning, leaving the rest of the day for Viola to get ready. She checked her reflection in the water now. Her sun kissed golden hair was twisted into an elegant bun, her lilac dress adorned in lace. Viola’s skin, tanned from her stay in Jamaica, was bedecked in plum colored jewels.
Her father approached. He was a short, squat man, but his status as general earned him respect. “His ship is drawing near,” he remarked in his commanding voice.
“So it is,” Viola replied, the vessel looming very close now. The colonel’s ship was large and beautiful. It edged up to the dock, then set anchor. A gangplank was lowered.
Colonel Benedict stepped off the boat, his whole self glowing in the rosy gold sunset. He made a beeline for Viola and her father.
“General,” he nodded. “Lady Viola,” for her, a kiss on the hand. Viola suppressed a giggle.
“You may call me Clive.”
“Well then, you may call me Viola.”
The lady smiled. She had a feeling that things in Jamaica were about to get a lot more interesting.
Colonel Benedict was such a dolt! Viola’s father had thrown a big feast in honor of all of the soldiers who had arrived that evening. The colonel had been seated right next to the general and his daughter. At first, Viola had blushed at all of the compliments Clive had given her, but once she gave him one, he lost all appeal to her.
For the rest of the meal he had bragged about all of his accomplishments, medals he had won, islands he helped conquer, on and on! Viola had hardly got a word in after that. The colonel was nothing like she remembered.
She had fled to her room as soon as the meal was over. Viola was brushing her hair gently when her father knocked on her door. “Viola, dear. Colonel Benedict has something to tell you.”
She sighed. Her father opened the door wider. Clive walked in. Goodness! Even when Viola hated him he was handsome.
“After this evening, your father and I have come to a decision.”
She looked at him, not sure where this was headed.
“Viola, the colonel has asked me for your hand…”
Her eyes widened. No, no, no! “And I’ve agreed.”
Both men looked at her expectantly. “Very well,” Viola said, emotionless.
Clive looked as if he wanted to say something, but her father ushered him out, closing the door behind them. She could hear them arguing, but didn’t care enough to try to listen. Viola was getting married to the man she most despised.
Near the shore of Jamaica, a ship approached. The crew was rough and intimidating, the boat looked as if it had never been introduced to a mop in all its sailing years. The captain was cruel and blunt. That ship was a terrible place for a lady, yet its sole purpose that night was to capture one…
Late at night, Viola was startled by pounding footsteps and shouting. “Lady Viola!” Katherine, her maid, rushed into the room, red faced and panting. She only had to utter one word. “Pirates!”
The two young women sprinted very unladylike to the safe room. Viola could hear shouts and gunshots. They only made her run faster.
When they got to the hidden room under the stairs, the door was ajar. When the girls stepped closer, they saw a shadow of a man, but it was too late. The pirate jumped out and grabbed onto Viola’s arm. He swiftly touched a part of her neck, and she went limp like a ragdoll. Viola had passed out.
She woke up in a cell. The bars were rusted, the walls and floor moldy. Everything smelled like men who went without baths for months on end.
Viola’s head was pounding. She looked outside of the cell, and saw a man sitting on a stool, watching her. He had tanned skin, much like hers, and russet hair that was a bit overgrown. Viola realized that this was the same man who had kidnapped her. She glared at him, putting every ounce of hatred into the look.
He only responded with, “Did you sleep well?”
“No,” she said.
“Well, that’s too bad. You’ll be wanted on the main deck now, M’lady. The captain will explain everything.”
He then unlocked the cell and led her up the creaking stairs to the upper deck. A terrifying, smelly crew was there to greet her. A giant of a man stepped forward. He had dark skin, and an even darker beard. Viola could swear she saw eyes peak out of it.
“Welcome to the ship Prunella ye landlubber,” he snarled. Viola just raised her eyebrow.
“Your ship is called Little Plum?” she snorted.
“On account of the purple sails,” the man from the brig whispered in her ear. Viola looked up. Sure enough, the sails were a deep violet.
“I will be your cap’n for this voyage,” the giant said. “And ye have three choices: One! Write a ransom note to that handsome colonel of yers. Two! Walk th’ plank,” the crew cheered at this, Viola just shuddered. “And three. Become a lowly pirate, like meself.”
Viola pretended to think, while really, there was no choice. She did not want to become fish food, and she would rather live with these disgusting fellows than with Colonel Benedict. “I will,” Viola waited for the crew to still. They looked at her expectantly. “Become a pirate like yerself,” she imitated the captain. The whole crew cheered viciously. The whole crew, that is, except Viola’s kidnapper. He just sighed sadly.
As soon as the cheering died down, Viola was thrust into the hands of a young woman about her age with jet black hair and cedar colored skin. The girl wore a purple bandana and trousers.
“You all seem to love that color,” Viola remarked.
“Oh yes,” the girl replied while leading Viola to a room under the main deck. Her accent was unfamiliar to Viola, yet beautiful all the same. “It’s sort of like our signature look,” she gestured to Viola’s clothes. “You’ll fit right in!”
Once in the room, the girl, who’s name Viola later learned to be Amancia, started ripping Viola’s dress. She had protested at first, but soon realized that the rips were planned and precise.
Amancia babbled on the whole time. Finally, she said, “Ah, here’s the last one.” Viola heard a great big tear before she was being led to a mirror. “There.”
Viola was no longer wearing a dress. The full hoop skirt had been ripped until it reached her knees, the crinoline taken out entirely. Viola’s petticoat was ripped until the sleeves barely passed her shoulders. All of the lace had been taken off, too nice to be ruined doing pirate work.
“Not exactly ship shape and Bristol fashion,” she muttered.
Amancia giggled, “You might say it’s ship shape and pirate fashion!”
She let Viola bask in her new found glory before pulling her aside. “You seem like a nice girl, so I’m going to give it to you straight Lady, er…”
“Right. Tomorrow morning the captain will reveal the three tasks you must complete in order to become a pirate. They’re all impossible. No one has ever passed them. Ever. This charade is just a trick, the captain will just kill you for failing.” she sighed. “I know you don’t want to do it, but the only way you’ll possibly survive this ship is to write that ransom note.”
Amancia sighed again, patted Viola on the shoulder, then led her to her cell to get some rest. Viola said nothing the whole time. The man from before sat down on the stool, watching her again, she looked down.
“Did she tell you?” he asked. Viola nodded. “And your decision?”
Viola looked at him then, her eyes determined. “I’m going to become a pirate.”
The captain had woken her up, bright and early.
“Yer first task for becoming a pirate,” he boomed, “Is to fill this bucket at least halfway with water, so we can use it to cook later.”
Viola took the bucket, along with a rope, eying it warily. Amancia and the man from the brig watched her. Amancia bit her lip, and the man shook his head.
The captain went into his cabin, and Viola lowered the bucket into the sea. It was a sunny day, and the water was calm. But as soon as she lifted it out of the ocean, the water leaked out. By the time it had come up all the way, all of the water was gone. Viola soon spotted the holes in the bottom and sides, so one couldn’t turn it and fill it that way.
Amancia and the man from the brig were whispering. “Please, Dax. I know you don’t want her to die, so help her!” The man, Dax walked over to Viola.
“I will help you, but for a price.” Viola raised her eyebrows. What could he possibly want? She had nothing on this boat.
“A kiss would suffice,” he said softly.
Amancia raised her eyebrows suggestively. Viola replied, “No. I’m not kissing you, you’re a pirate.”
Dax looked at her for a moment, then pulled something out of a pocket. It was a wooden circle, big enough to block the opening of the bucket. “All of the holes are near the bottom. You only have to fill it halfway, so if you put this in and let the holes fill the bucket up, then you’ll have your water.”
Sure enough, when Viola tried this, the bucket was more than half full.
“Thank you.” she said, meaning it.
Just then, the captain came out of the cabin, humming. He stopped in his tracks when he saw the bucket. “What the flippin’ ‘eck?” he muttered.
He took the bucket from Viola, looked inside, and growled. “Get back in yer cell!” Dax gently took Viola by her arm and led her to the brig, where she wondered what the next “impossible” task could be.
The next day, Viola could see clouds gathering. She guessed that a storm was coming. In more ways than one, she thought when she saw the captains furious face. “Yer next task,” he spit at her, “Will be to cook a supper that everyone enjoys,” the captain sneered, “includin’ me. If anyone complains during the meal, yer done for.” He walked off, chuckling.
Viola grimaced. “Wonder how I’m going to get out of this one.”
Just then, Amancia and Dax approached. “We just heard,” Amancia said.
Dax nodded. “But,” he added, “I know how you can beat this one, for a price.”
“I’m not kissing you,” Viola said bluntly.
“It was worth a shot,” Dax muttered, blushing.
“Anyway…” Amancia said, turning them back to the task at hand. “What’s your plan, Dax?”
“Lady Viola is going to make peanut butter.”
After some more discussing and planning, the three made their way to the cluttered galley.
“I really don’t see how peanut butter is going to help,” Amancia stated.
“Because it’s sticky,” Viola said. “The captain, or anyone for that matter, won’t be able to complain if his mouth is sealed shut by peanut butter.”
Amancia grinned. “You’re a genius, Dax!”
The trio got to work. All of the meat, beans, and unrecognizable food was slathered, stuffed, and basted in peanut butter. It probably wasn’t going to be delicious, but no one would be able to say so. When the meal was finally ready, the food was carried to the mess room and placed on the table.
The whole crew was seated, even the captain. Viola, Amancia, and Dax sat at the end of the table. Viola could not believe how raucous and rude the pirates were being, but once they started eating, things quieted down. She could see all the faces of the pirates. Some were confused at why their mouths weren’t opening, others were mad that it prevented them from yelling like they were a few minutes ago. The captain was aghast, and looked as if he was about to explode.
“You said if anyone complained, I would be done, but I don’t hear anything. Not even from you.” She then walked regally out of the room, escorting herself to her cell. “I do hope the next task will be impossible, those are the best kinds,” Viola joked to Dax when he came into the brig to guard her that night.
“Your welcome,” he snorted.
“Thank you,” she managed to yawn right before she fell asleep.
They were not sailing when Viola woke up. She could hear shouted orders as supplies were brought in from the port they had stopped at. Dax opened her cell without a word, and escorted her to the main deck. The captain was grinning, his eyes shining. Viola gulped.
“Time for yer third task,” he told her cheerily.
“Yes,” Viola replied, her stomach churning. Last night she had been so confident, but it had all shattered when she saw the captain’s apparent joy. The task must be hard if he was so happy.
Amancia walked up, preoccupied with braiding her dark hair. “Has he told you what it is yet?” she whispered to Viola, who shook her head.
“Yer third and final task,” the captain boomed, “Is to steal from that ship.” He pointed with a gnarled finger at a magnificent boat. Viola squinted, trying to figure out why she recognized it. Then she gasped. “That’s Colonel Benedict’s ship!”
The captain chortled. “Is it? I wouldn’t know. Now get goin’!” He roared.
Viola made her way to the docks sullenly. She had all but given up when Dax and Amancia caught up with her. “Don’t give up hope now!” Amancia cried.
“I have a plan,” Dax added. “But it comes with a-”
“I am not kissing you!” Viola shouted, then sighed. “Out with it then.”
“First, take these.” Dax handed her some plums and a canteen.
“But what am I going to do with these?” Viola asked. Dax shushed her, then told her his plan.
Viola walked gracefully to the colonel’s vessel. She started up the gangplank, but a soldier stopped her. “Just what do you think you’re doing?” He questioned. He looked tired, and he kept licking his lips, as if very much parched. Viola handed him the canteen, then walked on as he drank thirstily.
She had made it to the deck, when a rough hand turned her around. The hand’s owner started leading Viola off the ship, but she took one look at the man, gave him the plums, then left as he filled his empty stomach. The poor soldier looked as if he hadn’t eaten in a week.
Viola skulked into the colonel’s cabin. She rummaged around until she found what she was looking for, a small chest of gold coins. She pocketed it, but just as she was making her leave, a voice stopped her. “Kidnapped by pirates, now?” she turned around. Colonel Benedict emerged from the shadows. “More like joined them.” he shook his head. “You could have married me, Viola. You still can! All you have to do is put the chest back, and leave the pirates behind.”
Viola hugged the chest to her chest. “A few years ago, I might have said yes. But you’ve changed, Clive. I would rather become a filthy pirate than marry you!”
Colonel Benedict lunged at Viola, who stepped out of the way. He growled and threw himself towards her, but Viola ducked under the Colonel and evaded him. She then planted a kiss on his cheek, just as Dax had instructed. She detested it, but the kiss worked. Colonel Benedict stood, stunned, as Viola ran out of the cabin. Coming to his senses, the man called for his crew to stop her. Viola dashed past the hungry man, making it to the gangplank. She glided around the parched soldier, sprinting to her vessel.
Just as Dax had said, they wouldn’t stop her because of the kindness she showed them. She had made it off the boat in one piece because of her generosity.
When Viola made it to the pirate ship, they immediately shoved off. The captain was glaring daggers at her, but the rest of the crew was cheering. Amancia hugged her, whispering, “I knew you could do it!”
After a few pats on the back, some so strong Viola nearly fell over, she made her way over to Dax. He was leaning against the wall, staring at her. When she stared back, he looked away. Dax’s russet hair fell in his face.
“Thank you,” Viola said. “For everything.” Dax just shrugged. “You know, you proved me wrong,” she continued.
“I thought all pirates were rotten fellows, but you-” she struggled to find the words. She didn’t have to. Dax leaned in, his lips pressed against hers. The kiss was breathtakingly lovely, just like him. When Viola stepped back she smiled and said, “Maybe being a pirate isn’t going to be so bad after all.”