A young orphan named Adeline Carey longs for adventures on the sea, and disguises herself as a boy in order to join the crew of Captain John Hart's ship, the Bella Donna del Mare. Will a pirate's life really be all she hoped it would be, or will she become disenchanted with the romanticised ideals of piracy?
It was a warm summer evening, and the sea had decided to be quiet and calm. Many boats had taken the opportunity to set sail that day, and the inhabitants of the small island of Tortuga could see the ships making their way towards the port. It was not an unusual occurrence, and so the people took no notice as, in quick succession, the ships docked and their crews went into the town in search of alcohol and female company after varying amounts of time at sea.
A small figure stepped off of one boat with unsteady legs. Dressed in the attire of a peasant man, anyone would mistake this creature as a young boy. However the elegant brown eyes and curved red lips told a very different story, of which the owner of said fair features was unaware. In reality, it was a seventeen year old girl named Adeline Carey. In a nervous attempt to appear more masculine, she put her small, quivering hands into the pockets of the trousers that she had taken from her brother. The theft had been the easiest part of her transition into being a boy; the act of cutting her beautiful dark hair to her shoulders had caused many tears and was definitely the worst part of the preparations. Why, you ask, was Adeline trying to disguise her sex? The answer is simple really; she couldn’t become a pirate as a female, for reasons which she did not know. She had tried to join a crew before, but in vain, and so made the decision to adopt a disguise like a Shakespearean maiden.
Adeline made her way through the dirty streets of Tortuga with wide eyes and a thundering heart. She cautiously entered a public house, and was accosted by the terrible noise. There were shouts and jeers and all kinds of hilarity from the drunken men and their female companions. The stench of the place made Adeline hold her breath as she looked around. In one corner of the room was a collection of rough looking men in a line, and Adeline took this to be the men wishing to join a pirate crew. She took her place at the end of the queue, and waited patiently like the good English girl that she was. After what seemed like the longest time she had ever had to wait for something, it was finally her turn. She went up to the table, and the young man looked up at her. He had twinkling blue eyes and dark hair cut very fashionably to his chin.
“May I help you?” He asked smoothly, not raising his voice in competition with the noise. Adeline took a deep breath.
“I heard that a Captain Hart was recruiting a crew for his ship. I am interested in putting my name down.” She said nonchalantly, trying not to let her voice slip into its higher register. The man regarded her for a moment.
“What’s your name, son?” He asked. Adeline’s heart jumped to her throat in excitement. Her disguise had worked!
“And how old are you?”
“14.” She had thought that would be a plausible age for a boy of her height and under developed voice.
“Are you skilled in any military skills, such as sword fighting?” The man asked, his head looking down at his paper.
“I can wield a sword confidently.” She said, being truthful for the first time in this whole interview. The man looked at her for a moment, sizing her up. If she had been dressed like a woman she would have slapped a man for looking at her in such a way.
“Forgive me, but I have been told I have to ask everyone this: are you a female?” He asked her. She laughed and smiled nonchalantly.
“Good.” He said. “Because you know that it is strictly prohibited.”
“Of course it is. Agirlhas no place on a ship.” She said to him, playing it up a bit.
“Mmmhmm...” He said, writing something else down. He then looked up at her and smiled handsomely. “Well young Mr. Carey, I have all of the information I need. Please come to the docks at 5 a.m. sharp tomorrow, along with the other men, to start your adventure.” He said. Adeline smiled.
“Thank you, sir.” She said, forgetting herself for a moment. The man raised an eyebrow and smiled, surprised and amused by her.
“My pleasure.” He said. Adeline turned and left the tavern, excited and anticipating the new life the next day would bring her.