The Sea Captain and the Lady


Vada Foster

In the year of our Lord Seventeen hundred eighteen, in the month of May.... We have been sailing the shores off the coast of the Carolinas in search of Queen Anne’s Revenge, formerly know as the French slave ship La Concorde. Its captain, a pirate by the name of Blackbeard, has been reported to be sailing in these waters. He blockaded the port of Charleston for one week and detained the passenger and crew from a ship named the Crowley, taking them prisoner. My ship, the Betsy Ann, has been hired as a privateer by the English to search for this scourge of the sea, and to bring back the daughter of the Governor of the Bahamas.

Steel blue eyes scanned the horizon as the ship slowly made its way through the sandbars that were a hazard to any vessel sailing these waters.

"Captain, ‘tis getting harder to steer through this channel. I think ‘t’would be best to turn ‘round now. I doubt the pirate would be in this area with those two ships." The first mate was a man by the name of John Henry, and he looked to his captain for confirmation.

The captain sighed. "I think you are right, Mr. Henry. Let’s turn back and head to port. I think the men will enjoy a wee bit of liberty."

"Coming about," John Henry called to the rest of the crew.

Walking slowly back to the cabin area of the ship, Charles Edwards looked back once more at the horizon, with a gut feeling that the pirate was indeed in the area.

Upon entering the cramped quarters, with a sigh the captain loosened the buttons of the blood red jacket, revealing a wide bandage that wound snugly around the chest. Using the knife that lay on the desk, the captain cut the threads that bound the cloth, and the fabric fell to the floor. She moaned with pure pleasure as her full breasts were freed. Pulling a tunic over her shoulders, she sat on the edge of her bunk and worked the thigh high boots off. She collapsed back on her bunk, her mind spinning back to the day, less than a fortnight ago, when Colleen Edwards lost her father, and assumed the identity of Charles, and set about to accomplish the task which he had accepted.

Colleen’s mother and two brothers died in the cholera epidemic of 1704 that swept through the city of Hartlepoole on the northern coast of England. She was a strapping lass of thirteen at the time, and wooed by many a swain who, in fact, were more likely attracted to the substantial money her father had amassed in his years on the sea as a privateer. Were she married, upon her father’s death, her husband stood to inherit his ships and wealth. Colleen was not interested in any of these men; she was distant and aloof with all who tried to court her. Her mother worried that she would be an old maid, but her father, if truth were told, was glad that his only daughter would not marry until she could truly give her heart with her hand. He returned from a three month voyage to find his wife and sons dead and buried, and his daughter fending off the advances of all the young men who had survived the epidemic, and a few as long in the tooth as himself. He knew he could not go out to sea and leave her without protection, but there was no family left, on his wife’s side or his own, who might take her. He was planning to leave her in a boarding school for young ladies, but Colleen begged to be allowed to go with her father to sea. He relented at last; she was like Betsy Ann in many ways, and Charles had never been able to say no to her either when it really mattered.

And so it was that Colleen joined the crew of the Betsy Ann. At first she wore the dresses and finery her mother had always insisted befitted a woman of her social class. She hated them. It was difficult to maneuver around the ship in the long skirts and petticoats, and her use on board was limited to what she could do in a dress. When they pulled into port in Barbados, Colleen went ashore and found a tailor, commissioning him to make clothes for her that were more suitable for work aboard ship. She also found a cobbler and had him make shoes that would be more comfortable and serviceable than the slippers she wore. In the several days it took to stow the cargo they were there to pick up on board, the clothes and shoes were finished. She picked up the shoes first, and then went to the tailors. She walked in the door in dresses and lace, and walked out in trousers and a tunic, leaving the finery behind. She never wanted it, and she would not don it again if she could help it.

Her duties on board ship had been few; she would mend the clothes of the men when they needed it, and wash their clothes as well when they set ashore and she could get to fresh water. She would cut the crewmen’s hair when they asked her, and was also a passing fair cook and spent quite a bit of time in the galley. Her mother had indeed schooled her in the things a wife must know, but none of that truly interested her. She loved the sea; she wanted to learn to be a sailor. When she walked up the gang plank in her new clothes, she went directly to her father and told him she wanted to learn everything there was to know about the ship. And because he could not say no to her, he taught her.

The years passed as the waves beneath the prow of the ship. She grew to womanhood without spending so much as a fortnight in the awkward stage a young girl goes through. She knew every inch of the ship like the back of her hand, and could climb up the riggings like a monkey. She grew tall, almost as tall as her father, and her body took on the curves and roundness of a beautiful woman. And it was in July of seventeen-fifteen that this young woman first met the one person who had been able to make her heart pound within her chest.

They pulled into Nassau harbor on a bright July morning. Their cargo was spices and tea from the Indies, and they were to take on a cargo of rum for the return trip. They also had papers from the Crown that were to be delivered to the Governor, and this task was given to Colleen.

The Governors mansion was the most opulent building on the island, and her steps slowed as she approached to allow her to take in the beauty of the building. Instead of going directly to the door, she walked around the house to the seaward side, knowing that the view from there should be spectacular.

There was a verandah behind the house, and on it a young woman sat with an easel before her. She patiently applied daubs of color from a palette she held in her hand to the canvas on the easel. The painting was of the sea and the surrounding hills and vegetation. Colleen approached on cat feet, loath to disturb the woman at her work, but wishing to get a closer look. She stopped several feet away and simply stared; the painting was beautiful, but even more beautiful was the lady herself. Her hair was as bright as the morning sun, and it cascaded over her shoulders in curls. Colleen could only see her in profile, but she could tell by the curve of her lips and the tilt of her nose that the face would be a vision. She took a few steps closer, and at that moment, the painter turned her head to study the tree she was painting, and caught movement out of the corner of her eye.

"You might as well stop skulking in the bushes; I saw you," she said playfully.

"I-I was not skulking, I was admiring your work. And I am not in the bushes, but in plain sight on the verandah."

The voice surprised the painter; she had thought it was a man from the glimpse she had of the clothes. She put her palette down and turned in her seat to get a better look at her unannounced visitor. Her breath caught in her throat at the woman standing before her. She was garbed as a sailor, but there the resemblance to a man ended. Her long black hair framed a face as magnificent as any she had ever seen. The eyes made the blue of the ocean seem dull by comparison, and her full lips were coral colored and shaped at the moment like the letter O. She gathered her wits about her at last, and smiled at her visitor.

"Come closer then, and get a better look. I’ll not bite you."

For her part, Colleen was smitten from the first look into that impish face. She was not sure her legs would hold her, and more certain that they would not be able to carry her closer to the vision in the peach colored dress. She willed herself to move, and at last her feet began a hesitant shuffle that brought her within a few feet of the painter. She tore her eyes off the woman and looked at the painting, because it was expected of her. But her choice would have been to do nothing for the rest of her life but look into the lovely face that looked up at her from the chair.

"Well, what do you think then?"

"I…it… I…you mean the painting? It is…masterful. I have never seen such work, truly. You are gifted." And she meant every word. For truly, she had not looked upon a painting that was more true to the subject it depicted, and yet at the same time, showed so much more than what was there. A bit of the painter herself was on the canvas, she was certain.

"Och, you are a flatterer. But thank you, kind lady. ‘Tis rude of me not to introduce myself. I am Abigail Hume. My father is Lord John Hume, Governor of this territory." Colleen bowed in acknowledgement of the status of the beautiful painter.

"I am Colleen Edwards, daughter of Charles Edwards esq., who is Captain of the Betsy Ann, hailing from Hartlepoole, my Lady."

Abigail laughed, the sound musical to Colleen’s ears. "I am not the Lady of this house, Miss Edwards. That would be my mother. I am simply…"

Breathtaking, Colleen finished in her head.

"…a would-be painter, and not really a very good one for all that," Abigail said with another laugh.

"I beg to differ, Miss Hume. I think you are an exceedingly good painter. I would think that anyone would be honored to hang one of your paintings on their wall."

"Then you shall have one to hang on your wall, as I have a cabinet full of them, but only if you will call me Abby."

Colleen could scarcely believe that she would actually give her one of her paintings, but she was not going to argue. " ‘Tis little enough payment for one of your fine paintings, Abby. But you must also call me Colleen, or Col if you prefer, which is what my father calls me."

"The bargain is struck then, Colleen. Come with me into the house and you may pick the one that strikes your fancy. I would give you this one, but it is not quite finished, and the paint will be a long time drying." Abby covered her palette with a cloth soaked with turpentine to keep the paint from drying up, and pushed it under her chair out of the sun. Colleen followed behind as the blonde curls bobbed about her head, and into the cool interior of the house.

And so it was that Colleen came to meet the Governor’s daughter, and to have a painting with her dainty signature on it suspended beside her bunk on board the Betsy Ann, where it was the last thing she saw at night and the first thing she saw in the morning. It was eight months later when another cargo brought her to the shores of Nassau, and Colleen lit out for the Governor’s mansion the moment the plank hit the dock. She flew around the side of the house, hoping to find the object of many of her dreams, both waking and sleeping, at work on another painting, but such was not the case today. Dejected, she turned and was making her way down the long driveway when she heard her name being called. Turning, she saw Abby standing in the doorway, gesturing with her hand for the sailor to come back. A smile lit up Colleen’s face, and she fairly ran back up to the house. Abby was standing there, smiling and shaking her head, hands on hips.

"Why did you not knock on the door then, Col? Were you just going to walk away without so much as a how do you do?"

Colleen blushed and lowered her eyes. Now that she was actually here again, she realized she had no real reason for her visit, and she could not think of a thing to say besides, "How do you do, Abby?"

"Very well, now that you are here. Mother is having one of her sick headaches, and Father is off being Governor. I was just about to have a bit of supper all alone, and you can relieve me of the boredom of my own company if you would kindly agree to join me."

"It would be my pure pleasure, if it is not too much trouble."

"Not a bit of trouble. Cook was just about to…oh, I’ve an idea. Let us have cook pack us a basket with some cold chicken and bread and cheese, and we can go have a bit of a picnic by the water. I’ve been trapped in this house by the rain for days, and am about to go mad for some fresh air."

The idea of being alone with Abby away from the house both terrified and pleased Colleen, who responded immediately, "Yes, that would be wonderful."

`"Splendid. Please, come and sit in the parlor while I make the arrangements." Once again Colleen followed her into her magnificent home, and she perched on the edge of a chair in the parlor, not daring to lean her not quite clean tunic against the cloth back of the chair. It seemed hours she sat there, but could only have been minutes before the little blonde returned with a large picnic basket.

"Here, let me take that heavy basket," Colleen said, extending her hand. Abby obediently handed it to her, and Colleen grunted at the weight. "Good God, have you put the entire kitchen in here?"

Abby laughed, and then put her finger to her lips and said in a conspiratorial tone, "No, but I have managed to sneak a bottle of Father’s favorite Jamaican rum in there. We shall dine and drink in style."

"If I do not collapse from carrying this to the beach," she grumbled good-naturedly.

"Oh, you are a fine strong lass. I suspect you could carry a lot more than that," she teased. "Come on, let us get out of here before Mother recovers and sends me back to my sewing."

Not needing a second warning, Colleen shouldered the basket and with a bow she said, "After you, my Lady."

"Ohh, I shall never eat another bite again," Colleen groaned. Abby had indeed brought enough food to feed the entire crew of the Betsy Ann, and the two of them had consumed it all. The bottle of rum was nearly empty as well, and Colleen’s head was pleasantly filled with warm thoughts of her companion, who was similarly sated and light-headed.

The two women lay side by side on the blanket Abby had fetched as they were leaving the house. The rum bottle was between them, an easy reach for either one. Abby was lying on her back, her eyes closed, absorbing the warmth of the sun on her skin. "This feels glorious," she said softly. "I could fall asleep and stay here forever."

Colleen was on her side facing Abby. She could not take her eyes off her face. She noticed that her cheeks were turning a rather alarming shade of pink.

"I am afraid, dear lady, that you are burning rather badly. Perhaps we should get you out of the sun."

Abby rolled on her side and opened her eyes to look into Colleens face. "Must we?" Colleen nodded; she would be content to stay here, but she truly feared for Abby’s health if they remained where they were. "There is a cave just down the beach. The sun will not reach me there. Do you need to be back on your ship soon?"

"Not until sundown. Come, let us get you under some shelter." She stood up and extended her hand to Abby, who grasped it firmly. She tugged the small woman to her feet, but was in no hurry to release her hand. Apparently Abby was content, as she made no move to take her hand away. Colleen retrieved the bottle of rum and the blanket, but left the basket to be collected on their way back. Wordlessly, Abby led the way to the cave.

"It is under water during high tide, and hard to find from the sea or the house. I found the place during one of my many long walks. I have spent hours sitting at the mouth of the cave, painting the beach and the rocks…"

"I know. I have that painting on my wall. It makes me think of you…every day." They had spread the blanket just inside the cave so they were not in total darkness and could see each other. Colleen leaned against the cave wall, and Abby rested on the blanket with her head on Colleen’s thigh. Neither woman seemed particularly bothered by the physical closeness. Since the moment Colleen took Abby’s hand and lifted her from the beach, they had been in constant contact. It felt…right. That was the word that came into Colleen’s head.

"Have you…do you ever think that you might give up the sea one day? Perhaps get married and have children?"

"Give up the sea? It seems unlikely. I am at home there as I have never been on land. Perhaps I could be persuaded to plant myself on land, if the right person asked me." She looked down at Abby, the thought running through her mind…you have but to ask, and I would be where ever you wanted me to be. Abby said nothing, keeping her own counsel. With a sigh, Colleen continued. "But marry…no; I have no desire to be a brood mare to some stallion who desires my Father’s wealth. I would as leave go down with the ship."

"My Father has all but given up on trying to get me to marry. He has brought many young men to my door, but I have not found one that I could envision myself spending a lifetime with. I will only marry for love." Abby’s sea green eyes looked up into the blue ones above her. "And the love I have found, I cannot marry." Tears leaked from her eyes to stain the sailor’s trousers.

"And is marriage so important then?" Colleen softly asked. "Is the love itself not enough?" She wiped the tears from Abby’s cheeks.

"I wish…I wish that it could be so. But my Father…I am afraid he would disown me, shun me. I do not know if I could live with that."

"If I were a bard, I would write sonnets describing the musical sound of your laughter; the depths of the light in your eyes; your lips that beg to be kissed. And every sonnet would proclaim my undying love for you. If I were a minstrel, I would set those sonnets to music, rhapsodies so sweet the angels would weep to hear them. Or...if I had your skills with the paintbrush, I would spend all my waking hours trying to capture all your beauty onto the canvas. But there are not enough hours in the day, nor would my skill be great enough to truly do you justice" She brushed one finger lightly over Abby's lips, and felt the inhalation of breath as the young blonde sighed.

"I dared not hope you might feel the same way I do," Abby said softly. "In truth, I think I loved you from the first moment you spoke to me." Abby sat up on the floor of the cave, and then turned so that she was facing Colleen, their lips only a breath apart. "If my lips beg to be kissed, it would only be your kiss they yearn for." She leaned in until their lips met, soft on soft, at first the chaste kiss of friends. Then Colleen's lips parted, and her tongue began a timid exploration of Abby’s lips, begging for entrance. Abby granted it without hesitation. Growing bolder, Colleen twined her fingers in the golden curls of Abby’s head, and pulled the smaller woman up against her body. At the first touch of Abby’s breasts against her own, Colleen could not suppress the trembling that raced up and down her body. Abby moaned softly, the sound a whisper against Colleen’s mouth."I cannot tell you how many times I have wished to be close to you like this," the brunette said as they broke apart to gasp for breath. Their hearts pounded so loudly, Colleen was certain the sound could be heard outside the cave like the drums of the natives of the island. The little blonde snuggled against her chest, her eyes closed in contentment. "I wish we could stay here forever, but the tide is coming in and we must get out of this cave while we still can."

Abby opened her eyes and saw that indeed the water was almost touching the blanket upon which they lay. She jumped to her feet, extending her hand to Colleen and helping her up. Colleen grasped the blanket and wrapped it in a bundle and handed it to Abby. She quickly picked up the small blonde and began to wade through the water already ankle deep. "Wait…the rum," Abby said with a smile. Perhaps they could find another spot out of the sun to pass some time before the sailor must return to her ship, and the rum was a great reducer of inhibitions. Colleen lowered her so that she could grasp the neck of the bottle, and then she made a dash for higher ground.

Unfortunately, there was to be no further drinking or kissing this day. Even as they made their way up the beach, one of Abby’s father’s servants was standing on the bluff, calling her name. "Coming!" She called in response, her face a mask of disappointment.

"Perhaps tomorrow we can manage to steal some time for each other. My father does not plan to sail until two days hence."

Abby shook her head. "My mother has asked that I accompany her tomorrow to tea with a flock of her stuffy friends. I do not think that I can beg off at this late hour."

Now it was Colleen’s face which revealed her unhappiness at having to leave the island without further contact with the woman she loved. "I will come to call when my father’s business brings us once again to your shores. I hope you will not give your heart to another while I am gone." Her tone was playful, but at the same time she knew that it was not unusual for girls to be married off by their parents with little more than a by-your-leave, and should that happen to Abby, there would be no reason to continue living.

"How could I give it to another, when it is traveling all over the world with you, bonny lass?" The servant who had called her was now making his way over the dunes toward them, and would soon be within earshot. "Perhaps you should leave from the beach instead of the house. I am not sure I want the servants letting my father know I was on the beach with a sailor. God knows what he might think."

"Until the next time, then…" She kissed her briefly on the lips, and then turned and began to run up the beach toward town. But it would be more than a year before they would meet again, and the circumstances fraught with danger for both women.

The Betsy Ann called twice at the port of Nassau in the next year, and both times Colleen immediately made her way to the Governor’s house, but on both occasions, the Governor and his family were not at home. She wrote letters for Abby, and left them with a servant, but of course, being at sea almost all the time, there was no way for the young blonde to respond. Colleen was dispirited beyond anything she had ever known as she made her way back to the ship after her last disappointment. The next day she set sail for the Colonies, never imagining the adventures that awaited her there.

Colleen seldom touched liquor; in fact, the last time had been the rum she and Abby had drunk while holed up in a cave and professing their love for each other. But when the Betsy Ann was safely moored in Carolina, Colleen accompanied her father to a waterfront inn, where she planned on getting drunk enough to drown the pain of her separation from the woman she loved.

When they entered the establishment, it was plain to see that something very out of the ordinary had occurred. The conversation level was so loud she could not make out any particular thread, but the words that occasionally pierced through the din — governor…daughter…Blackbeard - made her flesh crawl. She pushed her way past several of the sailors who were grouped around a well dressed man and woman, the latter of whom was sitting in a chair moaning and crying.

"I tell you, something must be done now!" The man bellowed, and the noise level dropped when he rapped his ivory handled cane on the table top several times. "That blackguard must not be allowed to leave these waters with my daughter!"

Charles recognized the governor from his visits to the Bahamas, and immediately made his way to where the half crazed man stood, attempting to comfort his hysterical wife. "Lord Hume, I am Charles Edwards, Captain of the Betsy Ann. My ship and all her crew are at your disposal. What is it that distresses you and your wife so?"

"Have you not been listening, man? That pirate…that…Blackbeard, has held us hostage for most of a week, and at the end of it, he stole everything of value on board ship, and kidnapped my daughter. He murdered the Captain and many of the crew, taking the rest with him and leaving one sailor to guide the ship into port here. He said he would return my daughter to me unharmed on Saturday a week, if I bring to him a thousand quid. But I fear those…animals on board that cursed vessel will not honor the promise he made. I fear for her…health; her womanhood. If they hurt her, by Christ…" His bravado faded away and he collapsed into a chair beside his wife.

Colleen was herself on the verge of collapse. She knew that there was very little the notorious pirate could do to stop his men if they took it upon themselves to have their way with Abby. But instead of collapsing, the more she thought about it the angrier she became.

"And how is it you are to deliver this ransom to him and recover your daughter?" she asked. The man looked up at the tall blue eyed woman, whose cheeks blazed with anger, and then to the Captain who stood beside her. Charles nodded to let him know Colleen was with him.

"I am to bring it to a pub in Norfolk at noon on that Saturday. He says he will deliver my daughter when he has verified the count." Colleen gritted her teeth. She knew it was not likely the man would return Abby, whether the count was true or not. In fact, Abby might already be lying on the bottom of the ocean. No; she could not afford to think like that. It would only slow her down, and speed was of the essence now.

"Father, we must pursue him before he is so far away we cannot hope to catch him. The longer she is on board that ship, the more peril she is in."

"There will be a substantial reward in this for you if you bring her safely back to me," Lord Hume said, taking heart from the knowledge that Captain Edwards and his crew would go after the man. "But if you fail, I must be prepared in Norfolk to pay the ransom, in case…" He could not finish the thought.

"Too right. You must book passage on the next ship that will take you there. If God is with us, we will hand her to you before you are forced to pay the ransom."

"I care nothing about the ransom…please, just bring my child back to us." His voice cracked, and once again the tears spilled from his eyes.

Charles’ crew quickly unloaded the cargo they carried in order to lighten the load of the ship and give her more speed. Before the sun set, they were en-route to Norfolk, in the hope of intercepting the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Just after sunset two days out from port, the lookout in the crows nest called out that he had spotted the flag of the pirate ship to starboard. Charles ordered the ship brought to bear on the larger vessel, maintaining a distance that would put them out of reach of her cannons in the event they were seen. He hoped that the fading light would give them the element of surprise, and he and several well-armed crewmen could take the dinghy and catch them by surprise.

Alas, Blackbeard himself stood at the railing relieving his bladder, and saw the little boat approaching. He called for a crewman to bring him a musket, and when the dingy was within range, he fired at the man in the red jacket, figuring he was the highest ranking person aboard the ship that pursued them. "Hah!" He crowed when he heard the unmistakable cry of someone who had been shot. "There’s more o’ those for any man who tries to board the Queen Anne’s Revenge," he called loudly enough for them to hear.

By then, the crewmen on the dinghy were rowing for all they were worth back to the Betsy Ann. The Captain was bleeding mightily from a wound to his chest, and they feared the skills of the man on board who served as both cook and medic, would not be enough to save him. Their only hope was to try to get him to land before full dark.

"Mister Henry! The Cap’ns been shot!" one of the crewmen on the small boat called out. Immediately, the entire crew was at the railing, a rope ladder over the side. Colleen scrambled halfway down the ladder and reached out to grasp her father under the arms and relay him up to the top. Two crewmen took him and laid him gently out on the deck. Colleen clambered back over the side, and brought a lantern over to see how bad the wound was. Her face lost all color when she saw the size of the hole in his chest.

"We ‘ave to get ‘im to a real doctor, lass," John Henry said, laying his hand on her shoulder. "’e ain’t got a hope if we don’t do it soon."

Colleen knew she had no choice; her father’s life would be forfeit if she did not make for shore immediately. Turning toward the pirate ship, she promised silently that she would meet him herself in Norfolk, and nothing would stop her from taking Abby off that ship. "Turn her about, Mister Henry. Make for the closest port."

"Lass, I’ve got ever’thing prepared ye asked for." Colleen heard John Henry’s voice as if from far away. She raised her head from her arms, which she had rested on the side of her father’s bed. They had been fortunate to put ashore within walking distance of a doctor, and quickly roused him before transporting her father there on a litter. He was able to remove the bullet, but was not holding out much hope for the Captain’s survival. He had lost a lot of blood. The next few days would tell the tale.

"Thank you, Mister Henry. We need to make ready then. Please ask Mister Poppitt to come in here." Poppitt had been one of the sailors aboard the dinghy with the Captain, and was sick with worry over his condition. He suggested the crew take turns sitting by the Captain’s bed to relieve Colleen of the burden. She was grateful for the assistance, especially since she planned to be back at sea as soon as the wind was up.

Colleen grasped the luxurious black hair that cascaded down her back, and pulled it over her shoulder. Without hesitation, she sawed off most of the length of it, leaving just enough to be gathered up by a leather strap and hang on her neck, which is how her father wore his hair. Satisfied with the look of her hair, she removed a bolt of cloth used for making bandages from the storage chest, and wound it tightly around her chest several times. She could not completely hide her breasts, which were quite voluptuous, but she hoped that it would simply appear that she had pronounced muscles in her chest. She stitched the cloth to keep it in place, and donned her father’s dress jacket and trousers. He was broader in the shoulder than she was, but their height and girth were nearly the same, so she hoped the small misfit in the shoulders would not be noticeable. She slid her feet into his knee high boots and pulled them up. After walking around the cabin for a few minutes, she knew she could not wear those boots without some padding, so she removed them and then put on several pair of stockings. When she put them on again, she felt comfortable to walk about. She removed her father’s French cocked hat from his closet and settled it on her head. And finally, she strapped the rapier he normally wore about her waist, completing the look. At least until she had succeeded in freeing Abby, she would remain Captain Charles Edwards the second. She hoped her father would be able to resume his duties at some point in the future, so her thoughts only went as far as rescuing the woman she loved.

John Henry had lined up the four new crewmen he had hired for this voyage on deck. Colleen was not certain her father’s crew would obey her orders, and she certainly could not convince them that she had suddenly become a man. Therefore it was necessary to find men who had never crewed for her father before, and thus were not aware that his son Charles had perished as a child. Colleen walked up and back in front of the men, assessing their strengths visually. She nodded; Mister Henry had done an excellent job of selecting these men. She briefly assigned each man his duty, informing them that they would be pushing hard and sailing all night if necessary until they reached Norfolk. She did not tell them what her mission there was, merely that it was of an urgent nature, and must be completed with all speed. None of the men hesitated to comply with her wishes. To them she was the capable Captain of the Betsy Ann, and ‘his’ orders were to be obeyed without question.

Colleen was lucky if she managed two or three hours of sleep a night for the next two days. She and Mister Henry took turns at the helm, and the four crewmen likewise napped for brief periods before going back on duty. She drove them hard, but had promised them a substantial reward at the end of the voyage, and they were more than willing to work.

For her part, if she was not on deck, she was planning what she would do when they arrived at Norfolk. She had no intention of going up against Blackbeard and his crew as her father had attempted. She planned to sneak aboard ship and remove Abby while the crew slept. And if she was lucky, she would destroy the Queen Anne’s Revenge when she was through.

A sharp rap on her door roused her from a doze. She had been sewing pouches and filling them with gunpowder, and had dropped off to sleep. Quickly covering her work with some charts, she called out "Enter."

John Henry slipped into the room, a smile on his face. "We ‘ave done it, lass. The port of Norfolk is in sight, and that blackguard’s ship’s sittin’ there, pretty as ye please. And two days to spare before the ransom must be paid."

"Excellent news, Mister Henry! Come, we must prepare for docking." They went topside and directed the crew to put ashore at a private dock some distance from where the pirate ship was moored. She feared Blackbeard would recognize the ship from their previous encounter, and did not want the pirate to know that they were so close.

As soon as they were tied up, Colleen gave the crew leave to go ashore, saying they would be departing on Saturday latest. If they were able to leave earlier than that, she would leave word at the local inn for them. Exhausted from pushing so hard for the past three days, the men were eager for the rest, and she did not expect to see anything of them until time to depart again. And that was just fine for her plan. When she and John Henry were alone on board, she changed once again into her own clothes, but left her breasts bound. When she went ashore here, she would pretend to be a sailor on leave, and if she was lucky, she would find out what was going on aboard the Revenge.

Colleen spent most of the day in the Hog’s Breath Tavern with a half-empty mug of ale in front of her. When a new bunch of men would come in, she would study their clothing trying to determine if they were part of the pirate’s crew, but as evening was falling, she was beginning to think her day had been a waste. It was at that moment, she recognized the black and red colors of the pirate’s crew. Pretending to be completely drunk, she raised her mug to the nearest of Blackbeard’s crew, and slurred, "Ahoy, mate." And immediately dropped her head to the bar as if she were passed out.

The sailor laughed and gave her an elbow to the ribs that nearly unseated her. "Out of the way, ye stupid sod. We ‘ave some serious drinkin’ to do before we ‘ave to load some bleedin’ cargo."

"Sorry, mate," she mumbled, moving over to allow room for the men to crowd in at the bar. But she remained close enough to listen to the conversation. And she studied the men, assessing which of them she could more readily masquerade as. It was not easy, considering she had to keep her eyes closed most of the time, but she did finally pick out one clean shaven younger man, whose build was most like her own. When she finally knew as much as she needed to know about their plans for the evening, she lurched away from the bar and staggered across the room and out into the early evening. As soon as she was away from them, she stood upright and ran to find Mister Henry, who had been performing a similar act at another tavern in the seaport town. She sent him back to the Hog’s Breath to keep watch on the sailors while she went back to the ship to prepare for the next part of her plan.

Colleen waited near the corner of the warehouse where the pirate crew would soon be arriving to collect their cargo. She watched them pass by her hiding place until the young man she had selected to replace approached, and she stumbled into him, crying out, "Beg pardon, Sir! Please, I beg a boon of thee. I ‘ave lost me three shillings ‘ere on me way to buy some bread to feed me wee ones. Me wife’ll kill me if I come ‘ome without it, but ‘tis practically blind I am, and I cannot find ‘em. Would you be so kind as to ‘elp me search?" The young man nodded, and bent over to see if he could find the poor sod’s coins…and Colleen hit him sharply on the back of the head. She caught him before he could hit the ground, and dragged him to a place she had scouted in advance. Mister Henry helped her drag the man in, and the two of them quickly removed his clothes, and afterward, laid him on his stomach with his hands and feet bound together over his back. To ensure that he did not call out to his mates, a cloth was stuffed in his mouth, and tied behind his head. She pulled his trousers and shirt on over her own, and clamped his hat on her head. Returning to her hiding place by the entrance to the warehouse, she waited for the crew to begin marching out, each one carrying a wooden box. She fell in behind the last man with a box containing the things she would need later. As the men boarded the ship, she held the crate so that it partially blocked her face, and no one gave her a second look. Knowing that the men would by now have eaten their evening meal, she made her way to the galley, where she hid behind sacks of flour and salt, and waited for the ship to quiet down.

Several hours later she crept from her hiding place, bringing her wooden box along. She made her way past the crew’s quarters to a door that had a lock on the outside. This must certainly be where Abby was being held. She withdrew two iron picks that she had stashed in her boot, and inserted them into the lock. After several minutes of patiently working at it, she heard the soft click of the lock releasing. With a smile, she removed the lock, but before she opened the door, she hung it in such a way that it would appear to be engaged if someone simply glanced in that direction. Picking up her box, she quietly opened the door and stepped inside.

It was completely dark inside the cabin, so she stood for several minutes allowing her eyes to become accustomed to the dark. She heard the even sounds of someone breathing in their sleep, and she turned toward the sound. There was no question she had found what she sought; she could see the blonde curls that tumbled over the pillow on the bunk. She crept closer, and got down on her knees beside the bunk. Knowing that Abby would likely cry out before she knew who was there, she placed her hand over the sleeping woman’s mouth, and sure enough, Abby opened her mouth as if to scream before she heard a familiar voice saying, "Abby, shhh, please, do not make a sound. I have come to rescue you." The tension left Abby’s body, and as soon as it did, Colleen removed her hand. The little blonde sat up on her bed, throwing her arms around Colleen’s neck and pulling her close.

"Thank God! I knew if anybody could, you would find a way to save me from these brutes."

"We are not out of here yet, Abby. Put these clothes on," and she handed her the clothing that belonged to the cabin boy aboard the Betsy Ann, which she reckoned would fit Abby. She could not hope to get her off the ship in all her finery if there was a guard on deck, as she would expect to find on such a ship. She turned her back as the little blonde shucked off her nightgown and pulled on the short pants and shirt Colleen had provided, then added stockings and shoes. She pushed her long hair up into the cap Colleen handed her to finish off the disguise. "That should work if they do not look too closely. I will pretend to be a drunken sailor needing assistance, and you will appear to be helping me walk. That way we can hope that your breasts do not give away your gender, if they are pressed up against the side of my body." Even as she said those words, her own body shivered at the thought of those breasts pressed up against her. Abby nodded her agreement, and took hold of Colleen’s hand. She pressed her lips against her protectors softly.

"For luck," she said with a smile. Colleen kissed her back, just a bit harder.

"For luck," she agreed. She collected the wooden box containing the rest of the things she would need, and led the little blonde from the room.

They made no noise as they approached the prow of the ship, and Colleen scanned the deck for the guard. Wordlessly, she tapped Abby on the shoulder and pointed to starboard. The guard was leaning against the railing, his eyes on a sailor he had seen on the pier. It was John Henry, Colleen hoped. He was to make himself seen, but not make any moves toward the vessel, in the hope that the guard would be too preoccupied with him to notice Colleen and Abby until it was too late. Colleen stashed her wooden box behind a coil of rope, and she draped her arm over Abby’s shoulder, and gestured for Abby to wrap her arms around her middle. She held her dagger in her right hand, the blade flat against her arm and out of sight. "Go,’ she whispered, and Abby began to half-drag her "drunken shipmate" across the deck.

"’ere, wot’s this row?" The guard enquired, holding his lantern aloft to make out the two people coming toward him.

"Too much ale," Colleen mumbled. "Gotter relieve me bladder, and ‘e’s ‘elpin’ me."

"I’ll bet ‘e’s ‘elpin," the old sailor said with a snicker. He was one of the crew who frequently made use of the little cabin boy to vent some of his frustrations during those long nights at sea, and knew how "helpful" the boy could be. He turned back to the railing and once again sought the sailor on the pier, when it came to him that the clothing the cabin boy wore was not what it should have been. He started to turn back toward the duo, saying "ey, wot’s…" When a hand was clamped over his mouth, and a dagger was pushed up under his ribs. He grunted once, and collapsed. Colleen supported his body so that it did not make a lot of sound hitting the deck, and the two women dragged him to the side of the ship and covered him with a canvas sail.

"Help me get the gangplank in place," Colleen whispered, leading Abby to where it lay on the deck. Colleen picked up the guard’s lantern and waved it to indicate to John Henry that all was under control on the ship, then the two women lifted the plank out and dropped it in place. John Henry made sure it was secure on the pier, and waved to indicate they could come over. "That is Mister Henry down there," she said softly. "Get off the ship now; I will come and join you as soon as I have taken care of things here."

"I do not want to leave you," Abby said, her voice frightened.

"Please…I have to make sure they cannot come after us, and I cannot be worried about you while I am doing it. It will only be a few minutes, I promise. Go…I shall be along soon."

"I shall need some proper clothes to change into once we reach shore. Can we go fetch my things from the cabin?" Colleen really did not want to risk taking any more time than they absolutely had to, but Abby’s pleading look was her undoing.

"Alright, but we must be quick about it. And perhaps you should remove your shoes; you clump about in those rather loudly." The little blonde slipped the shoes off, and together they made their way past back to the cabin. Abby knew exactly where everything was, and had it all gathered in a matter of seconds, and they went back to the front of the ship. "Now…off with you. Do not forget the shoes! Young Gordon would be quite upset if I lost his extra pair." Abby slid her feet back into the shoes and reluctantly made her way down the plank. John Henry met her, and ushered her to a spot behind a pole from which she could see what has happening on deck, but be fairly invisible from the ship.

Colleen recovered her wooden box and withdrew from it the several cloth bundles containing gunpowder that she had sewn together. She had separated the strands of a hemp rope which had been soaked thoroughly with whale oil, and had sewn each of the ends into one of the cloth sacks, leaving a few yards of rope still intact.

She threw a rope ladder over the side of the ship beside the cannon, and lowered herself to within a foot of the water. One of the bundles was clutched between her teeth, and in her hand she held a piece of canvas which contained several large pieces of tar she had picked up on the beach. Being careful to avoid getting the sticky tar on her hands, she pressed several chunks on the side of the ship, and to the lowest one, she stuck the sack. She climbed back up the ladder, and as she came, she stuck the rope into the tar to keep it in place. When she reached the deck again, she moved farther forward and performed the same exercise two more times. After affixing the last bundle, she walked toward the front of the ship as far as the wick would allow, and there she stuck a final piece of tar with the rope imbedded in it. She removed the chimney from the dead watchman’s lantern and set the rope alight. Carrying the lantern, she ran down the gangplank, waving for John Henry to come and help her remove the plank. They pulled the heavy board onto the pier, and cut the ropes anchoring the ship to the pier. Using long poles, they pushed the ship until she began to drift away from the shore. Colleen knew from the several times they had called at this port that there was an underwater canyon not far out from shore. If the ship would drift long enough to reach that deep water before the powder blew, it would be unlikely any man aboard would live to plunder another ship. She cocked her arm back and threw the lantern onto the deck of the ship, and the flames began to spread like lava The noise might rouse some of the men perhaps, but they had been drinking fairly heavily that day, so she took a chance that none of them would know what happened even as they sank toward the bottom of the sea.

"Come. We need to get away from the pier before the powder explodes." She took Abby’s hand and began to run, with John Henry hard on their heels. They had almost reached the warehouse where the young sailor was tied up when the first explosion shattered the night. "Yes," Colleen hissed with a satisfied grin on her face. She turned back to where the ship was now almost completely engulfed in flames, and the second explosion occurred. The vessel was beginning to list to the side, taking on water, as she had hoped. She turned to John Henry, who was beaming at her as if she were the cleverest woman in the world. And in truth, in the man’s experience, she probably was. "Mister Henry, I am going to take Lord Hume’s daughter back to the Betsy Ann so she can get some rest without constant fear for her life. She will be in the Captain’s quarters, and should not be disturbed for any reason. Oh, and I would be grateful if you would untie that young lad over yonder. Make sure to tell him that his kindness to a stranger is what gave him the gift of his life this night. And if he is smart, he will use that gift wisely and stay as far away as he can from the likes of Blackbeard. If he wishes to earn an honest wage, I think we can take him on for the return journey."

"Aye, Captain. She’ll no be disturbed, nor will yerself. Ye’ve barely slept the last days and nights and must be wicked tired. I’ll take care of yon lad and stay here about, just to make sure them pirates don’t manage to come ashore."

"God bless you, Mister Henry. I could not have done this without you." She grasped his hand to shake it, and then thought better of it, and pulled him in for a hug instead. "The smartest thing my father ever did was to hire you," she said with a smile as they pulled apart. Embarrassed, he shuffled off in the direction of the captive sailor, and Colleen grasped Abby’s hand again. "Come with me, love. Mister Henry is right; I am falling down weary, and you must be as well after your ordeal. We will rest tonight and in the morning will decide what our next steps should be." Hand in hand they walked toward the Betsy Ann.

Colleen awoke the following morning, fully dressed but for her boots, lying in the captain’s bunk. Abby’s head was tucked under her chin, her arm wrapped firmly around Colleen’s middle, and her leg on top of her thigh. The young blonde was also still wearing Gordon’s clothes, and had not even managed to remove the shoes. Colleen began to stroke the soft blonde hair that spilled over her chest. With a little moan, Abby snuggled closer. Emboldened, Colleen traced her finger over Abby’s lips, and the young woman’s lips parted with a sigh. The sailor put her fingers under Abby’s chin and tilted her head up to look into her face. Abby’s eyelids fluttered and opened, and her face brightened at the sight that greeted her.

"Good morning, my Captain," she said laughing.

"Good morning, my Lady," Colleen returned, and she lowered her head to brush her lips softly over Abby’s mouth. "I have so longed to wake to your presence in my bed that I fear I shall wake to find it is all a dream."

"Is it possible for two people to share the exact same dream? Because that has been my wish as well. And now here we are. I shall pinch you and you can pinch me to see if we are truly awake." And she reached out and pinched the skin under Colleen’s rib. Colleen squirmed; she had found her ticklish spot. She grasped Abby’s hand to stop the tickling, and brought it to her mouth and kissed the palm.

"I would rather kiss than pinch to see if you are dreaming. Would that meet with your approval?" She kissed the little blonde’s wrist, and then the bend in her elbow. At last she turned to her face and began to rain kisses upon her cheeks, her nose, and finally her lips.

"Yes. Oh, yes," Abby said when Colleen pulled away again. "Your kiss is like nothing I ever hoped to experience…soft, yet firm, giving…and taking. I could kiss you forever."

"And would you also let me touch your body…kiss you all over, and, I hope, please you in ways you have not imagined?"

"Forever," she replied unhesitatingly, "Provided I am allowed the same liberties with you."

"I could not refuse you anything, my love."

Abby’s face lit up with a wicked grin. "Good. Then remove that jacket, and take off the bindings on your breasts, that I might feel the fullness of them against me." Obediently, Colleen untangled herself from Abby’s body and stood beside the bed. She unfastened the buttons of the jacket and drew it down her arms, tossing the garment onto the chair by the small desk. She took up her knife and cut the threads that held the bandage on, then slowly unwrapped the cloth. Abby could not take her eyes off Colleen as more of her skin was revealed. She licked her lips unconsciously, and Colleen smiled down at her. At last, the tall woman dropped the cloth to the floor, and stood in nothing but her trousers.

"Will that be all, my Lady?" she purred seductively. She was surprised at the sound of her own voice; never in her life had she sounded like that. But then, never before had she had reason to.

"The…trousers too, Captain. I wish to see all of you." Abby’s voice was deeper than normal, and heavy with desire. Colleen untied the cord that tied the trousers about her waist, and allowed them to drop to the floor. She stepped out and stood naked for the first time in front of anyone since her mother bathed her as a child. The look on Abby’s face told her more than words ever could, that the young blonde was pleased with what she saw.

"My Lady, I would like to gaze upon you as well. May I help you to remove your clothes?"

"Yes, please. I am not sure I could manage these strange nautical fastenings." Colleen laughed, and held out her hand to help Abby to her feet. The little blonde was trembling.

"Are you cold, my Lady?" Colleen asked softly, concern in her voice. Abby simply shook her head no. Colleen slowly unfastened the buttons of the shirt Abby wore, and peeled it back off her shoulders. "Ohh," was all she could say when she saw Abby’s breasts, and a few moments later, when speech returned, she added, "Beautiful…you are breathtaking, my Lady." Her hands grasped the ties that held up Abby’s trousers, and she swiftly loosened the knot. She worked her hands under the fabric, and pushed the trousers over her hips and they dropped to the floor. Abby was still wearing Gordon’s shoes, but they fit loosely and were easily removed with the trousers. Now it was Colleen whose face shone with desire as she viewed the curves and valleys before her.

Colleen closed the scant distance between them, her eyes closing and a moan escaping her lips at the first touch of Abby’s breasts against her own. She dipped her head and met Abby’s lips, and at the same time wrapping her arms around her small frame and pulling her fully against her body.

"Oh, God…" Abby groaned when they broke apart to gasp in some much needed air. "I want…oh I want to feel you against me, inside me…everywhere. I do not have the words to say what I feel, but my body is responding to your touch like the strings of a violin in the hands of a master."

"I want to please you, my Lady. Do you trust me? I have an idea that I may hurt you a bit, but I hope that the small pain will be worth it." Living aboard ship almost all her life, she had heard the sailors speak of their encounters with women. She liked to lie in the dinghy at night and watch the stars, and she could hear her shipmates talk. Their words were crude; they did not realize the Captain’s daughter could hear. For the most part, it was clear they did not give a fig about pleasuring the women they bedded. It was all about what the women could do for them. And she knew that there was pain for a woman when she was deflowered, but all the men made it seem as if the women were well pleased when the flower was plucked. One or two of the more considerate men spoke of ways to arouse and please women, with their hands and mouths, and Colleen listened. She even tried some of the things on herself, and was surprised to feel an explosion that was pleasant beyond anything she had felt before. She hoped to employ the techniques her shipmates had described to give that same pleasant feeling to Abby.

"I trust you with my life, my body…everything I am or ever hope to be."

Colleen picked up the smaller woman and cradled her in her arms for a moment before gently laying her on the bed. She crawled onto the bed and slowly moved up Abby’s body, allowing her breasts to trail up the soft flesh of her torso until they were touching those of the woman beneath her. Both women’s nipples were immediately hard as pebbles. She used her knee to part Abby’s legs, and settled her thigh between the smaller woman’s, feeling the heat and wetness that emanated from her center.

Abby gasped when she felt Colleen’s leg against her mound. She lightly trailed her fingers down Colleen’s sides, marveling at the contrast between soft skin and taut muscles. Her hands stopped at Colleen’s thighs, and without even realizing she was doing it, she pulled the taller woman even closer to her body. Colleen kissed her mouth, her tongue gently begging entrance, and Abby complied. The tall brunette traced the contours of Abby’s lips with her tongue before beginning to explore her mouth. Tentatively, Abby touched her tongue to the taller woman’s tongue, growing bolder as Colleen responded with a moan deep in her throat. Abby sucked the tip of Colleen’s tongue into her mouth, and the sailor thought she would die from the sheer joy of the feeling.

"Oh, Abby," she gasped, "I want… God, I do not have words for this either. I feel that my heart will burst out of my chest from pure happiness." She took Abby’s hand, and placed it on her breast. "Feel how my heart hammers against my chest." Abby smiled; she could indeed feel the steady beat of her love’s heart. She also felt the lushness of her breast, and her fingers began to knead the soft flesh. She pinched the nipple between her fingers until Colleen could take no more of the tender assault, and grasped her hand. "You make me insane with wanting you, Abby. But please, let me love you first. I want to fill you, taste you. And then you can do as you like with me. My body screams with the desire to make love to you…"

"Yes…make love to me. But know that I am suffering the same agonies as you, and bear with me if I give in to temptation. You are a powerful and beautiful woman, my Captain. I cannot resist you."

Colleen smiled as she put Abby’s hands together and grasped them in one of her strong hands. "Perhaps this will keep your hands from mischief…" But she failed to realize that as she raised up to take hold of Abby’s hands, her breasts were brought within reach of the blonde’s mouth. And Abby was quick to take advantage of the situation. Her tongue made a circle around Colleen’s nipple, and then she drew it into her mouth. "Oh, dear God…" Colleen rasped. She shuddered and pressed her breast into Abby’s mouth, and the smaller woman took it hungrily. With great restraint, Colleen pulled away from her lover, sliding down so that her breasts were no longer a temptation to the woman who desired them so. Colleen placed a trail of kisses down Abby’s neck and shoulders, and when she reached her breasts she snaked out her tongue and licked between them. She cupped both breasts in her hands, licking each one in turn until the skin around the nipple was drawn up into a tiny mass of bumps. And then she pulled first one nipple, and then the other, into her mouth, sucking and taking tiny nips with her teeth. Abby bucked underneath her, grinding her mound against Colleen’s, striving for contact. The Captain reluctantly let go of the succulent nipples and continued to move down the exquisite body of her lover. She could smell Abby’s arousal, and it made her insane to touch her there. But she knew she had to be gentle to avoid causing injury to her inexperienced lover.

Colleen moved lower still, her tongue tracing the line that joined Abby’s thigh with her body. She licked down the inside of her thigh, pushing her legs farther apart to give her full access to her lush body. She could see the pearls of moisture clinging to her coral colored lips, and after licking her way back up Abby’s other thigh, she paused at last before her center. "May I kiss you here?" She begged softly. Abby sighed.

"I think I shall die if you do not, Captain." That was all Colleen needed to know. With a sigh, she reached out her tongue to part the folds of her lover’s center, and was rewarded with a shuddering moan, as Abby ground herself into her. Colleen had no idea of exactly what it was she was supposed to do once she got here…her shipmates had not shared that much detail for her to overhear. But it seemed she did not need to know; Abby was showing by her motions and little sighs what felt good to her.

The muscles of Colleen’s stomach clenched and her own womanhood throbbed as her tongue explored the glorious treasure her lover offered her. She brought her finger to the moist folds and teased it toward Abby’s opening. She inserted it inside the depths that beckoned her, only to the middle of her finger, and then made as if to withdraw it. Abby’s hand found her own, and held it in place. "Please, I want to have you inside me… You will not hurt me. I need…Ohh." At her urging, Colleen once again inserted the finger until it met some resistance, whereupon she pushed as gently as she could until she felt the resistance tear. At that same moment, she renewed her licking of the taut bundle of nerves that peeked out of the folds of skin, and as she hoped, Abby seemed to feel the pleasure of that and not the pain of the rupturing of her maidenhead.

Colleen dropped off the narrow bed onto her knees beside it, and drew her lover to the edge of the bed, draping Abby’s legs over her shoulders. She put her arms underneath Abby’s thighs and pulled the small woman even closer. She filled her lover with a second finger and heard the moan that signaled it was a welcome feeling. Her tongue continued to worship the nub which fairly quivered at the attention.

Suddenly, Abby’s head began to thrash from side to side, her fingers spasmodically clenching at the blankets. She thrust herself into Colleen as if her very life depended on the contact, and with her heels planted on Colleen’s back, she pushed herself up until Colleen had to stretch to maintain the contact. From her own experiments on herself, she knew that what was needed now was speed, and she redoubled her efforts both with her fingers and her mouth. The little blonde moaned, saying "oh oh oh oh" as if it were a mantra, the last ‘Oh’ very nearly a scream as she toppled over the edge into an ecstasy she never thought she would know. When she could take no more, she collapsed back onto the bed, tears leaking unknown and unbidden from her eyes.

Colleen crawled up on the bed, kissing the tears from her cheeks as she softly asked, "Are you well, my Lady? Have I hurt you after all?"

"No, not a bit…please believe me, I have never in my life felt anything so wonderful as what you just did. I have no idea why I am crying, but it is not from pain." Abby pulled her lover against her body, craving the contact, and a shudder rippled through her as she seemed to feel once again the explosion that had rocked her moments before. "I want to give you those feelings as well, my Captain. Truly, it must be one of the greatest gifts one can give to someone they love."

"I am yours to do with as you will, but you need not do anything to please me. Loving you has been the greatest pleasure I could imagine."

"And I want to feel that pleasure as well." Abby grasped Colleen’s shoulders and gently shifted her off her body and onto her back. She rolled on top of her tall lover until she could feel the length of their bodies touching. As Colleen had done, she used her leg to part her lover’s legs, and settled her body into the welcoming V. Their damp mounds touched, and Colleen groaned. Abby kissed her lips, and Colleen’s mouth opened slightly in welcome. Abby deepened the kiss, hearing the growls of pleasure coming from her lover. Instinct guided her hands and mouth as she moved down Colleen’s body, kissing her shoulders, her neck, and the soft swells of her breasts. Her tongue painted a trail of gooseflesh over the quivering skin of her belly. Her hands were busy kneading the mounds of her breasts and pinching the nipples until Colleen once again thought she could not take another moment. She groaned and thrust her mound against Abby’s, silently begging for her to take the next step. Abby responded by moving up the muscular body and taking her nipple into her mouth. Her tongue teased the tip until it was as a pebble in her mouth, and then she moved to the other breast, achieving the same result.

"Please…" Colleen begged at last. Her body was quivering as if she were freezing cold, and she knew that if she did not soon feel the hands and mouth of her lover on her sex, she would go mad. "I need you…touch me…or I shall scream, and wake the whole town."

Abby chuckled, and rose up to look into her lover’s face. Her hand trailed down the long body underneath her until it reached the damp mound. She parted the lips with her finger and insinuated the digit inside. Immediately, the walls of Colleen’s center closed about the finger, holding it inside, grasping as if it would never release its prisoner. "Is this what you wanted to feel?" Abby purred. Colleen nodded her head. "And this?" Abby said, inserting yet another finger.

"God, yes! How you excite me, Abby…"

"I have barely begun, Colleen. I intend to drive you mad with desire before I allow you to experience the little death you visited upon me." Abby once again slid down her lover’s body, never stopping the motion of her fingers within the damp cave that held them. She stopped with her mouth just above the thatch of dark hair, and inhaled the musky scent. Her mouth watered at the thought of tasting what waited for her just a few inches away. Without warning, she withdrew her fingers from inside her lover, and used both hands to gently prize open the lips she longed to kiss. She lowered her head and licked from the lowest part of the opening to the top, and then back down again. Her fingers held the lips open as far as they would go, and she thrust her tongue into the opening previously occupied with her fingers, and licked the inside of the walls. She pushed as much of her tongue inside as she could possibly manage, and then withdrew all but the tip before pushing it in yet again. Colleen’s body bucked underneath her, and a sound almost not human began to build in her chest.

"Please…please…please," she begged. Without losing the rhythm she had established with her tongue, Abby withdrew it and quickly inserted two fingers again. She sucked the swollen nub that had enlarged to twice its size into her mouth, and flicked it with her tongue. It seemed only a moment had passed before Colleen thrust hard against her mouth and called out her name. But Abby did not stop until her lover put her hands under her arms and pulled her up her body to rest on her chest. She could feel the hammering of her heart against her cheek, and wrapped her arms around Colleen’s neck until her heartbeat and breathing slowed to a normal pace.

"Were you pleased, my Captain?" she inquired. Colleen could only sigh and crush her tightly against her chest.

"Could you not tell? It was the most glorious thing I ever felt."

"I felt no resistance when my fingers entered you. Has someone before me shared a bed with you?" She realized she was jealous of whoever it might have been who had knowledge of her lover’s body.

Colleen laughed. "No, ‘twas naught but my own hands that did the deed. I knew I would never marry; it is not in my nature to love a man. But I yearned to feel what my shipmates told me they had seen in the faces of the women they had loved when the little death was upon them."

"And were you able to bring yourself to that place? Was it more pleasurable than what I have done?"

"It is like saying that if one has been caught in a summer shower, one knows what it feels like to be in the heart of a hurricane. I have experienced the awesome power of a hurricane. Believe me, the small pleasures I have given myself in the past are but a mist…you have given me the hurricane."

Abby snuggled into Colleen’s shoulder, their arms and legs entwined. Soon both women were asleep, their faces still bearing the smiles they could not seem to wipe off.

"Ship pullin’ into the dock, Captain. She’s flyin’ a Bahamian flag," Gordon called as he came running up the gangplank.

"Thank you, Gordon. Go tell the Captain of yon vessel that Captain Charles Edwards the second will be calling within the hour to speak with his esteemed passenger."

"Aye, Captain." He turned and sped off again on his mission.

Colleen went below deck to where Abby was busy patching some of the crew’s tattered clothing. She figured her skills should be put to use while waiting for her father to arrive. In fact, she almost dreaded his coming. The two days she and Colleen had spent together alone aboard the Betsy Ann had been the happiest of her life, and she was loath to see them end.

"Your father will be in port shortly," Colleen said softly. She could tell by the silences and the look on her face that Abby was not looking forward to being restored to her family.

"So soon?" Abby sighed. She rose from her chair and straightened her skirts. "I supposed there is nothing for it but to return with him to the Bahamas, though God himself knows I would rather spend the rest of my days with you."

Colleen smiled and put her fingers under Abby’s chin, raising her face so that she could just see the tears gleaming in the corners of her eyes. She kissed her lightly on the lips and said, "I have a plan, my love. Perhaps you need not return with your father, if he agrees to my proposal. Follow my lead when we speak with him." Abby’s face lit up at the prospect of remaining with her love.

"Anything…just tell me what you want me to do."

Lord Hume paced nervously on the deck of the ship, awaiting the arrival of the Captain of the Betsy Ann. He dared not hope that the man had been successful in his quest, for if he allowed himself to believe only to find that he had failed, he was not certain his heart could survive it. He truly adored his only daughter, and was nearly at his wits end over this entire business. He vowed that he would never allow her out of his sight again until she married, to prevent a recurrence. At the sound of footsteps on the wooden pier, he turned to see a tall man wearing the uniform of a Captain, but certainly not the gentleman he had met in Charlotte. Beside him, her arm draped over his, walked his daughter, head high and a smile on her face. "Tell my wife to come up on deck," he asked a crewman, and with a bow the man withdrew to do his bidding. Lord Hume almost ran down the gangplank to greet her, but such a display was not seemly to one of his station. Instead he simply stood, his face wreathed in smiles, as Abby came aboard.

"Oh, Father!" she cried, launching herself into his arms. He pulled her close, and she smelled the faint tobacco scent that clung to his clothes. Much as she wanted to remain with Colleen, she was truly happy to see him.

"Thank God you’re all right! Did they harm you, child?"

"No, Father. I have no doubt they would have, if Captain Edwards had not rescued me when…he did." It was then that Lord Hume turned his attention to the man in the red coat and French cocked hat standing a discreet distance away.

"I met Captain Edwards in Charlotte, and this is most certainly not him," he said suspiciously.

"You are correct, my Lord. I am his son, Charles Edwards the second. I was attending to other business in Charlotte when you met with my father."

"And where is your father, then? I believe I owe him a reward for the safe return of my daughter." It was at that moment that Lady Hume arrived on deck, and with a shriek, she clasped her daughter to her, sobbing, and the two women sat down, hugging and crying. Lord Hume glanced back at the handsome Captain, waiting for an explanation.

"Alas, my father was wounded while attempting to remove A… er, your daughter from the ship. I had to put ashore and leave him in the care of a doctor. My sister is with him. I believe you met her in Charlotte…"

"That is it! I knew your face was familiar. You look just like her. I remember those piercing eyes."

"Our features are…very similar, my Lord. We take after our mother, God rest her soul." "I am truly saddened to hear your father was hurt. Did they offer any hope for his survival?"

"Very little, I am afraid, but while there is any hope at all, I shall cling to it. And I must return now that this unfortunate business is at an end, and see how he fares."

"Then it is you who have saved my daughter from those cutthroats, and it is you who will be rewarded. The ransom I was prepared to pay will be yours." Colleen shook her head no, and the man looked at her in confusion. "I will gladly pay anything more you ask for, only tell me what it is."

"I want no reward, unless you will call it a dowry. For I would ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage, if you would agree, my Lord. I love her with all my heart, and would spend the rest of my days making her happy, if you would grant me the honor of marrying her."

Abby heard the words, and separating herself from her mother’s arms, she rushed to her father’s side. "Oh, Father, please say yes. The Captain has won my heart with his kind and gentle ways, and I know that our lives would be filled with joy if we could be wed. Please, give us your blessing, Father."

Lord Hume was stunned. He had almost given up hope of his daughter ever marrying; she had shown no interest whatsoever in any of the men he had introduced her to. And she was twenty-three already, surely almost past the age when any man would have her. Lady Hume took her husband’s arm and pulled him aside, whispering something in his ear. With a nod he turned back to Colleen. "I agree, Captain. When we return to Nassau, we will begin to make the arrangements for the wedding…"

"With all due respect, my Lord, I would ask that we be wed here and now. The Captain of this vessel can perform the ceremony. I would have her with me as my bride when I return for my father. The uncertainty of the sea makes it difficult to know when I could come to Nassau for the wedding, and I am impatient to enjoy the…wonders of marriage that you and your wife share. I beg you, Sir, please allow us to marry now." Abby stood next to Colleen and grasped her hand, twining their fingers together. She smiled brightly at her lover, and then to her father, pleading with her eyes for his agreement.

Lord and Lady Hume conversed quietly for several moments, then his Lordship turned back to Colleen. "Sir, I have no idea how you have managed it, but you certainly seem to have captured her heart. I cannot refuse my daughter something that she so obviously desires. We shall draw up the marriage contract today, and you may be wed tomorrow. Is that soon enough for you, young Captain?"

"My Lord, you have made me the happiest man alive. I promise, you will not regret your decision."

"I am certain I will not, provided you and my daughter give me many grandsons!" He clapped Colleen heartily on the back, and fortunately did not appear to notice the blush that colored her cheeks.

"er, yes, my Lord. We will certainly try." And she winked at Abby, who blushed shyly.

Abby smiled at her father and said, brightly, "Indeed, Father. If we do not have children, it will not be for lack of trying." She squeezed Colleen’s fingers tightly.

And so it was, that on the first day of June, I married Lady Abigail Hume. We departed the following day for Charlotte, our crew enlarged by one, that being the lad I had whacked in the head for his kindness. I was surprised when Abby identified him as one of the crew of the Crowley, and Tom (for that was his name) confided that one of the men aboard the Revenge fancied him, and captured him for his own pleasure. I was glad yet again that I had selected him to trade clothes with, for it would have been a shame to send him to the bottom with Blackbeard’s cutthroats.

Upon arrival in Charlotte we made our way to the home of the healer where I had left my father. I was surprised to find him not only alive, but quite eager to be out of the confinement of his sick bed. His eyes widened as he took in the look of myself in his finest uniform, and with a lovely blonde on my arm as well! I hastened to tell him what had transpired since he was shot, including my wedding to young Lady Hume. I was not sure what I expected from him, but it was certainly not what I got. He clapped me on the shoulder and congratulated me on a fine match! Seems he had long suspected that my leanings were not those of the average woman, and the way I sighed over Abby during our long voyages left little doubt that she was the one who held my heart hostage.

We languished a fortnight in Charlotte while my father built up his strength, and then set sail for Hartlepoole. I was relieved to give the command back to my father and remove the bindings from my breasts. Young Tom (who decided to throw in his lot with us for the nonce) was taken aback when he found that I was a woman, but he soon became a good friend to me, and confided that he himself also had an attraction to his own gender. I kept his secret, for which he was grateful enough to agree to remain with me and Abby at my ancestral home in England, working beside me to build up our land and livestock.

For her part, Abby became rather well known for her paintings, and her work hung on walls from York to London. We employed a ladies maid who found herself in a family way with no husband to care for her when her health began to fail late in the pregnancy. Alas, she died upon the birth of her son, and we kept him for our own. Abby’s father got his wish!

The End

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