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|Nora Stel read my first try at Connor and Binjii, and made an excellent point that they really are not realistic pirates, so I gave them another go, I think this one is better.||
Connor and Binjii II
It was cold and damp as the young girl slunk through the back alleys of the city. She shivered as icy rain dripped down the back of her thin coat, drenching her even more. She spied the ship in port, and crouched behind a stack of wet crates, watching as the men silently loaded stolen goods onto their ship.
“Pirates!” she thought in excitement, realizing that her fortunes were about to change. If there was ever a ship that would take her on, it would be a pirate ship. Especially if they didn’t know she was a girl. She was sixteen, but a few months of illness and starvation on the streets had made her so skeletal, she appeared no older than twelve.
Straightening up, and putting a swagger in her step, walking in the manner she had seen the bandy-legged sea men walk, she made her way to the gangplank. The pirates continued loading their ship with stolen goods, but she noticed their wary glances in her direction. She saw a grizzled man with a missing index finger nod to two boys not much older than her, and they approached her, the grins on their face appearing demonic in the half-light.
Her heart began to pound, flailing around inside her chest. The boys looked to be itching for a row, and while she was tough, she knew there was no way she could best them in a fight.
“How are you this evening?” she asked, instantly cursing herself for using her refined accent. Her voice was rough and grating from the cold and her frequent illnesses, but she had a hard time shaking the accent her mother had forced her to use as a child.
The biggest boy, a tall lad with black, curling hair laughed, a smirk lingering on his full lips. He nodded to the other boy, and they began circling her like sharks, now and then taking a jab at her shoulder or arm. She flinched each time a fist contacted her skin, knowing it would leave a bruise.
“What ‘ave we got ‘ere?” he asked, his tone teasing. The boy beside him laughed.
“A little rat tryin’ to sneak aboard your da’s ship, I do believe.” The girl shook her head vehemently, and was instantly sorry as the world swam before her eyes. Perhaps the illness still clung to her, she thought as she struggled for control of her wobbling legs.
“I’m not tryin’ to be a stowaway, I was wondering if you had any work.” Both boys laughed loudly, and the bigger one slapped his leg.
“Work? For a skinny little pier rat like you? My father would sooner allow a murderer aboard. At least he could do his fair share in work.”
“What do you say we push this rat off the pier and see if it drowns, Connor?” the brown haired boy asked, his eyes glinting in anticipation. The one called Connor nodded, and the both moved forward to grab her when a sob escaped from her lips.
“Please, don’t hurt me,” she whispered, pitching forward to her knees. She wrapped her arms around herself, shaking as the coughs she had been suppressing took over her body.
She felt someone kneel down beside her, and a rough hand clapped her shoulder, nearly knocking her over.
“We wouldn’t really drown ye. Come now, don’t be a sissy and cry,” Connor told her. He reached over and snatched her hat off her head before she could stop him.
She glanced up and saw him look of surprise as her long dark hair fell over her back, hair she had been reluctant to cut even though she knew it would probably have helped her sign onto a ship as a cabin boy. Her father had loved her dark, shiny hair, and just the thought of bringing shears to it made her heart ache.
“You’re a girl!” Connor gasped, and his friend jostled for a look.
“By gods, she is! She had me fooled with that rough voice o’ hers!” he exclaimed. Connor whistled and sat back on his heels, whistling softly.
“Jarred, could you stay with her while I go get me da? He’ll decide what to do with her.” Jarred nodded and sat beside the girl while Connor dashed off to the ship.
“So, what’s your name?” Jarred finally asked, after they had sat for a few moments in tense silence, both making it a point not to look at the other. The girl was shivering so badly that her teeth chattered, but she managed to spit out the syllables.
“Binjii. My name’s Binjii,” she said, wrapping her arms tighter around herself.
Jarred watched her shake, but he kept his distance, as if afraid of catching whatever it was she had.
“I’m Jarred. That other lout’s Connor. His da owns this ship,” Jarred sounded proud, as if it was his own father who owned the gallon. “Binjii, that’s a strange name.”
She nodded, trying to get her teeth to stop clicking long enough to reply.
“My mother once met a slave from Africa who had that name. She told her it meant ‘born of twins’.” Jarred cocked his head and looked at her with shock on his face.
“Your mother named you after a slave?” he asked, mixed fascination and repulsion in his voice. Binjii was used to such a reaction about her unusual name and she merely shrugged.
“I had a twin brother so I guess the name seemed appropriate to my mother.” Jarred nodded, not asking what had happened to that brother and then jumped to his feet as Connor came back down the gangplank, leading a man who was obviously his father, except his curls were gray instead of black, and his face was heavily lined from hours in the sun and salty sea air.
He knelt down in front of Binjii and looked her in the eyes. She looked back into his green eyes without flinching, her last shreds of pride gone.
“What do you think we should do with her, lads?” he asked of Jarred and Connor, a smirk on his face. Connor shrugged, his devilish grin growing wider.
“I say we bring her aboard and give her ‘round to the men. With some food in her to add some meat to her bones, she wouldn’t be too bad of company.” Both Connor and the Captain laughed loudly.
Binjii’s eyes grew wide; it seemed she had escaped a brothel just to become a pirate’s prostitute.
“Or I could give her to ye, Connor. Yer just about old enough to take a woman.” The captain looked at her thoughtfully, but Connor shook his head and spat on the dock.
“Nay, I don’t want her. She’s too skinny. Give her to Jarred; he has less luck with the whores than I do!” Connor laughed loudly, and slapped Jarred’s arm. Jarred gazed at him with a mild expression of annoyance, and didn’t reply.
it’s settled. Lass, ye may come aboard our ship, but you belong to Jarred. He
will be your master, and ye’ll do as he tells you in
every way, with no protests. Do ye accept these terms?”
Seeing she did not have much of a choice in the matter, either be one man’s lover or be at the mercy of an entire ship of sex-deprived pirates, Binjii agreed quickly.
“The men would never agree with bringing a woman aboard that they cannot all enjoy,” Connor finally said. His father nodded in agreement.
“Aye, but she is not a woman, she’s a girl. They’ll leave her alone, most of the men like a chit with some breasts and hips. Tha lass has neither!” Binjii’s face burned red, and she was glad it was dark so the pirates couldn’t see her flaming cheeks
“She’s sick though, Da. Ye should hear her cough,” Connor said, looking at his father. The captain shrugged.
“I’m sure ‘tis naught but a cold, and if it proves to be otherwise, we’ll sell her in the first brothel we come across in our next port.” The captain turned and went back to the ship, with Connor close at his heels.
Jarred looked at Binjii, and she could tell by the way he was shifting that he was as awkward as she.
“I’m not like the others…I won’t hurt ye, or rape ye,” he finally said. Binjii nodded stiffly, and allowed him to lead her aboard the ship.
Connor turned at Jarred’s words, and shook his curls, tousling them even worse than before.
“Ya, he’s lyin’ to ye, Binj. When I said Jarred had bad luck with the whores, it’s not because he don’t like them…” Connor was prevented from finishing his sentence by a sharp jab in the gut from Jarred, which nearly sent him overboard. He punched Jarred back, and both tettered dangerously on the edge of the gangplank before reclaiming their balance. Binjii looked around for an escape route, now her plan of joining a pirate ship seemed ridiculous, and she longed to be away from them. However, Connor reached out and grabbed her wrist before she could out of his reach, and she was too weak to do anything but allow him to drag her aboard.
The captain ignored their squabbling as they climbed aboard the ship. He began shouting instructions to his men, ignoring their inquires about the girl. Binjii subconsciously shrank against Jarred, hating the way the filthy men’s eyes roved over her. Hadn’t they had expired their lust in the brothels that lined the alleys of this foul city?
“Once we’re clear o’ this port, ye’ll get yeh answers! Now get to it!” he ordered, bringing the ship to life.
“Come on, I’ll show ye to my cabin, ye’ll sleep there,” Jarred said roughly, leading her through a cramped maze of ropes and canvas that littered the slick decks. He led her below, into a dank corridor, which he called an alley.
“’Ere, tis no palace, but it’s me home.” Jarred threw open the door of the cabin, revealing a medium sized bed, a table, and a chair. Shelves lined the wall above the head of the bed, and she noticed many of the things on it had been lashed down, to prevent them from being tossed about during rough seas.
“Where am I to sleep?” she asked, as Jarred flung himself down in a chair, which creaked, threatening to break under his weight. He removed a knife from is pocket and switching it open, began to clean under his nails.
“In me bed,” he answered, as if it were the most obvious thing. He looked up and caught the expression on her face and sighed mightily.
“Look, lass, I ain’t going to attack you.” Jarred rolled his eyes towards the ceiling, as the men overhead thumped about. All at once, the ship began to move. Binjii faltered and fell back onto the bed with the first sudden movement of the vessel on the ocean. Jarred laughed and reached out, grasping her small hand in his, pulling her into a sitting position.
“You’ve never shared a bed with anyone before?” he asked. Binjii nodded a yes; she had shared a bed for many years with her twin brother before he died.
“My twin and I shared a bed, but he was my brother and that was different!” she proclaimed, fighting her natural tendencies to use a fine accent.
“Then consider me your brother, lass. I swear to ye, I have no interest in ye. I give ye my word as a pirate” Binjii looked at him and snorted.
“Your word as a pirate is all I have to go on?” she scoffed. Jarred’s face grew red, and his eyes narrowed in anger.
“Pirates do not go back on their words, chit. Those that do dare to break an accord meet a watery end.”
Binjii nodded, and looked around the bare cabin.
“So what do we do now?” she asked. Jarred looked at her, and shrugged.
“We wait. The captain will tell the men about ye, and if they decide to let ye stay aboard the ship. Ye’d better hope they do. The brothels in Africa are far worse than the ones in England.”
Binjii shuttered slightly; the very thought of being a whore made her heart race with fear.
“Do you think they’ll allow me to stay?” she asked anxiously.
“Dunno, can’t say. The men are mostly good, but a lot of them believe as Connor does, that women are bad luck aboard a ship.” Jarred cleaned his nails more vigoursly, as if thinking. “Some of them do have kids, though. They might not care.”
“Couldn’t your captain simply order them to allow me to stay?”
“Not on this ship. Here, the crew is as part of the decision making as the captain is. It’s how we’ve stayed together for so long, when other ships have had mutinies and gone through captain after captain. The captain ‘as been leadin’ this ship for nearly fifteen years.” Once again, a slight note of pride filled Jarred’s voice, and swelled his chest.
There was suddenly a loud knock on the closed door, and Binjii jumped in fear. She blushed at her cowardice, but Jarred was already shouting for the person to come in, and hadn’t seemed to notice.
The captain pushed his way into the room, making it feel suddenly very small and claustrophobic. Binjii leapt to her feet, guessing that the captain would want respect from her. He looked at her with a somewhat mild expression on his weather-beaten face and she saw Connor glaring at her over his father’s shoulders.
“Well, chit, ye be in luck. The men have decided to allow ye to stay aboard, just so long as ye keep out of their way. Like I said before, ye belong to Jarred. He’ll be yer master, and ye’ll be obedient. Or else I’ll leave ye on deck with the men. Believe me, no one will help you,” he added ominously. “Do ye agree to these terms?”
Binjii nodded silently, and the captain produced a piece of parchment so old and faded, Binjii wondered if it wasn’t some priceless artifact left over from an early civilization.
“This be our code, and your contract. Even though ye be a chit, I will sign you on as a sailor, and you will be given the same share of treasure as the rest of the men. Provided ye earn yer keep. ‘Ere, Jarred. Give me that knife of yers.” Jarred tossed the captain the dirty knife he had been using under his fingernails, and before Binjii could protest, the captain had seized her hand and sliced her index finger. She winced as blood oozed from the wound. The captain tossed the contract onto the table and roughly shoved her towards it.
“Sign yer name below Jarred’s. Ye can write yer name, can’t ye?” he asked, as if she were a complete moron.
“I can. But why does it have to be in blood?” she asked, unable to keep a slight whine from her voice. The captain cuffed her hard over the back of the head, and she almost pitched forward onto the table.
“Just sign it, or we’ll toss ye overboard for the sharks and eels to enjoy!” he snarled. Binjii hurridly scraped her finger across the page, leaving a bloody, smeary Binjii.
Without waiting for the bright red blood to dry, the captain rolled the parchment up and stuffed it into the pocket of his coat.
“Well, chit. Welcome aboard.”
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