This first week of December, I’m hosting author, David K. Bryant.
I started writing fiction after retiring from journalism and public relations. I suppose the books waited their turn during all the years I wrote articles, features, speeches and promotional material for other people. My career included running a district office for a daily newspaper, helping to introduce professional PR into the British police service and promoting a major parliamentary Bill for Margaret Thatcher’s government.
I live in Somerset, one of the nicest counties in England, and am blessed with a wonderful family. My wife Stephanie and I have been married for forty years. We are proud of our two children Matthew and Melanie, grandson Henry, son-in-law Jamie and daughter-in-law Fleur.
Tread Carefully on the Sea
The Governor of Jamaica organised a splendid 21st birthday party for his adopted daughter, Jessica. However, the best surprise for her came the following day when her admirer, Captain Michael Townsend of the Royal Navy, asked her to marry him.
Meanwhile, Captain Flint, one of the most successful buccaneers of the colonial era, decided to take the fortune he had made from twenty years of piracy and retire to a secret place where he would be out of the reach of justice.
That’s what should have happened.
But Flint was persuaded to raise yet more money through one last crime; a crime more daring and dangerous than any he had previously committed. His men would kidnap Jessica and add her ransom to their pensions.
The kidnap leads to a desperate chase across the Caribbean and all the horrors of 18th Century life at sea for Jessica and those who try to help her, while Captain Flint himself must face the threat of both the hangman and those within his own crew who plot against him.
Here is an excerpt:
Flint had made use of his time at Jamaica to stock a generous table. In its center was a bowl of ackee, otaheite apple and hog plum. Already waiting on the china were servings of crayfish curried with garlic. Side plates held hard dough bread. The drink was inevitably rum, even at this early hour. There were, however, jugs of water at intervals along the table.
Jessica bit a little piece off a breadfruit. She had been silenced by Flint but she looked straight at him to convey without words that she was still waiting for her answers.
Townsend took up her cause: “Captain Flint, you obviously have the power to do with us what you will and I don’t doubt we’ll soon find out what that is. There are, however, two issues that are going to overshadow this meeting until we have the answers: Why did you take us aboard your ship and what has become of the governor and his nephew?”
“That’s a better way of putting it,” said Flint. “It shows we can deal with matters in a civilized fashion. I’m not surprised at your initiative, Captain Townsend. I’d heard of you before all this because of the ripples you have made in these waters for some of my buccaneering counterparts. You are an educated man. Indeed, I think we went to the same school, Harrow.”
O’Hara, sitting opposite Townsend, noticed his captain wince at the mention of his school. Any reference to the past seemed to make Townsend recoil. If O’Hara had been able to use telepathy, he would have asked Flint not to open up that matter too much. But Flint was still talking: “So did Harrow teach you anything except Latin and archery?” he asked Townsend. “I’ve forgotten the Latin but perhaps we should have an archery contest at some time. Isn’t it interesting that we also followed the same career, except that you chose the Royal Navy and I chose independence?”
“And which is the richer man?” interjected the first mate Billy Bones. He grinned and the face that looked like parchment now went into deep grooves just like real parchment which had been repeatedly folded. He took the Skull and Crossbones napkin from his collar and wiped a fragment of food off his face. The grin disappeared as well.
“A good point, Billy,” said Flint.
O’Hara, however, had a response of his own: “And who is the honest man?” he asked.
Flint coughed. It was not clear whether a piece of food had stuck in his throat or something had caught in his craw. The manservant, Darby, was quick to serve him water.
“I’ll tell you all about honesty,” Flint retorted, his words coming in jerks as the water went down. He was looking again at Jessica. “I have a little story to tell on that point and it will lead me nicely to this matter of the governor and your brother, Madam.
“Like the Spanish, the French, the Dutch and the Portuguese, Britain came to this part of the world to find riches. It was very successful in doing so but it had a major problem. It was shipping around so many slaves and so much merchandise that it didn’t have sufficient military resources to protect its new-found wealth. So what did it do about the policing of its trade routes and the protection of places like Jamaica? It found it convenient to encourage the people you would call pirates. Mind you they weren’t denigrated with that vulgar name then. Oh no, the euphemism was privateers. That made them sound much more like they were on legitimate business. It was all very official. They were given Letters of Marque by the British government, which meant ‘attack whoever you like so long as it isn’t the British’.
“The English monarchy was a bit distracted by its domestic affairs and didn’t much care how those privateers went about their work. Their Majesties were euphoric that the job was being done for them. In fact, they were so grateful that a privateer of whom you will have heard, Henry Morgan, was appointed lieutenant governor of your beloved island of Jamaica. Yes, Madam, one of the previous occupants of your mansion was the kind of man I am.
“Later, of course, the King became able to look after his own affairs through the offices of men like Mr. O’Hara here, who espouse honesty. When that happened, people like me acquired a new status, that of criminal, to be hunted down by naval captains in frigates and taken to Execution Dock for hanging.”
Flint looked towards Townsend, tapped the back of his fork on his forehead and continued: “You had better hope that the King never turns against the Royal Navy in the same way that he turned against the privateers.”
CONTACT DAVID K. BRYANT
Buy link: http://amzn.to/1zs9ebu
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