The Adventures of Ratha James Part Three
“Are you excited to be back?” Maddie chirped unaware that her friend was no longer listening. “Amalee! I asked if you were excited to be coming back?”
“Yes,” Ratha sighed, “It’s been too long Maddie. We’ve been gone too long.”
The sun was high and the rain gone when Ratha stepped out of the long ship and nearly flung herself into the arms of her closest and most beloved friend other than Madeline. In seconds Maddie was there and for a moment it was like it had been before: the three of them wild with freedom and privilege, running untamed through their fathers’ lands in Ireland, best friends, all but sisters. Tall, willowy Amalee James with her unusual dark coloring, a laughing Maddie Kingston, shapely even then, and the cunning and far-sighted Joona O’ Donald, already known as the future St. Clare amongst her friends, they had grown up together. Born within months of one another and their fathers’ land bordering each other, the girl’s had been thrown together young, sent off to play in the woods and the friendship they had formed had stuck, becoming unbreakable with age.
“I thought you’d never arrive!” St. Clare exclaimed as she pulled away from her friends, holding them at arm’s length to inspect them properly. Amalee needed sleep, but she doubted she would rest well on English soil; there was nothing to be done about that. Madeline looked well, thinner than she remembered, and darker. Both of her friends had been bronzed by the sun, – Ratha resembled a Spaniard with her dark hair and sun-kissed face! Their skin would never be the porcelain it was in their youth but it didn’t hinder their beauty in the least. “I feared you would be taken before you reached me.”
“The Captain would never allow us to be taken!” exclaimed a young girl as she stepped boldly from the little boat and reached back to help the others. She was fairly new to the crew but her fervor and belief in Ratha’s ability to protect her shone in every facet of her expressive face. Amalee faded in an instant and once again Captain Ratha James stood surveying her crew of forty women, the oldest in her early fifties, the youngest only eight. Forty pairs of eyes turned to her expectantly, excitedly. These women were her crew, her friends, her family and her responsibility. She protected them, sheltered and harbored them and they trusted her with their lives, she would not let that knowledge slip from her just because her feet were once again on English soil.
She stepped away from Joona and Maddie, planting her arms on her hips as she moved to stand before them all. “Listen up, your lives and mine depend on this. You are currently standing on the shoreline of the St. Clare family holdings. This,” she said pointing to Joona, “is Lady St. Clare and this is her home. While you are here you will abide by the rules she and I set to you or you will be punished however I see fit. For those of you who plan to depart, you will give your names and intended destinations to Ulsa, if you plan on not returning to us inform her. We will leave in two weeks from this day. If you have not returned and I receive no word of distress then I will leave you. Do not miss the tide.”
Immediately twenty or so women lined up to give their information to Ulsa, the ship’s head cook and scribe. Ratha surveyed them, they would all return to her, she was almost positive. She had known most of the women in this group for years, they would never desert her but if they did she knew it would only be because they had found something better. But even then, most still returned to tell their captain of such good fortune and she wished them well. For safety, she required them to travel in pairs or trios; no one was allowed to travel anywhere alone, and Ratha meant anywhere.
And just in case you missed them, here are part one and part two of this epic pirate tale!