Name: Kathleen S. Allen
Genre: YA historicalTitle: PIRATE'S DAUGHTER-RETITLED FROM PIRATE JENNYName: Kathleen S. Allen
Genre: YA historical
Title: THE PIRATE’S DAUGHTER-REV 1 (Previous title was PIRATE JENNY)
Boar’s Head Tavern
The smell of unwashed bodies drifted around me as I circumvented my way through the tavern crowd. The floor already sticky with spilled ale and other things I cared not to know about. Tonight the inn was crowded and the ale flowed freely.
Someone had gotten sick in the corner and again upstairs. Meg found me in the kitchen and told me to clean up the messes.
Wrinkling my nose, I scrubbed at the spot near the door. Opening it to let in a breeze and take the smell away, I paused. A shadow crossed my vision but when I looked up I saw nothing. Stepping outside to wring out the rag, I felt a shiver run through me. The night air was chilly as it was ought to be this time of year. All seemed quiet so I went back inside to rinse the rag again in the lavender water before heading upstairs.
Sweet Jesu, I thought as the bucket tipped when a woman laughed and walked drunkenly into me, the contents spilling over the slick floor and onto my boots. I leaped out of the way but it was too late. The woman laughed and fell back against one of the soldiers who clearly enjoyed it.
I wiped my hands on my apron and pushed and shoved my way through the crowd, tripping over boots as I tried to avoid the hands of the soldiers on my way through.
Several of them called my name as I passed.
“Jenny, sing for us,” one of them said. I smiled and shook my head holding up the rag.
“I have to clean up one of your messes,” I said.
“Good ole Jenny cleans up for us,” he said. “A good girl, that one.”
His comments made me pause. If I was a good girl, I should be content with my lot in life but I was not.
Standing near the kitchen, I gazed at the crowd, most of them laughing and having a great time.
I’m not like them, I thought. And yet, I so longed to be. Carefree, happy, content. Going through my days with a smile on my face like Jane, one of the village girls recently married to one of the soldiers. She saw me staring at her and waved at me. She was a year younger than me and had her own household.
It’s not fair.
Going into the kitchen and through the back door, I got fresh water from the cistern and added lavender to it. Taking it, I found I had overfilled it and it sloshed over the edge soaking my boots.
I trudged up the stairs, hauling the bucket to clean the mess at the landing. Once it was cleaned, I hauled the bucket over to the window. I meant to dump it out but a movement caught my eye and I glanced out at the full moon reflected on the blue black water. The bucket, heavy in my hand made me recall what I was doing. I dumped the contents onto the ground below. Another movement made me pause.
As I watched, the outline of a tall ship stole into the harbor gliding silently over the waves like a ghost ship carrying the dead across the river Styx.
What I wouldn’t give to sail on the open seas, adventures awaiting me at every port. For a brief moment I imagined myself standing on the deck of that ship, wind in my hair, on my way to…
A hiss made me turn.
The now empty bucket still in my hand. I gathered up the rag and plopped it into the bucket. A quick glance out the window told me the ship was no longer there. Perhaps I had imagined it. I turned back to Meg who watched me from the doorway with a scowl on her face.
“Girl? You dreaming again? Get back to work before I whip you.” Meg flew at me with her hand raised.
Before I had a chance to explain, I dropped the bucket and scurried out of her way as I ran down the stairs taking two at a time. My only thought was to get as far away from her as quickly as I could.
“Get back here, and pick this mess up!”
Meg was old and had a substantial girth so I knew she would not be able to catch me. I smiled as I rounded the corner and ran smack into Thomas, who carried a full tray of goblets filled to the brim with ale. They spilled all over him, me and the floor. I landed on my bottom, my dress soaked.
He glared at me. “Look at what you’ve done. Now fetch six goblets of ale and take them to the table by the window.”
Thomas shook himself like a dog would, sending more droplets of the nasty smelling brew all over me.
“I smell like ale,” I complained as I wrung out a handful of hair dripping with the stuff. I stood and tried to get around him but he caught my arm.
“You wouldn’t want me to tell Meg you were daydreaming again, would you?” he asked, a glint in his beady eyes.
No, I would not.
Picking up the goblets, I took them and the tray with me to the ale room.
“Don’t waste any,” Thomas said as he followed me.
I hesitated to call it a room when it was no bigger than an opening in the wall holding two barrels of ale and several bottles of wine. A bucket full of barley water sat near the ale barrel.
Conscious of Thomas watching me, I filled six more goblets halfway with the ale, then added barley water to fill them up all the way. It was Thomas’s way of keeping the costs down. It felt like cheating to me. Many times I simply forgot to add the barley water but this time since Thomas stood watch over me, I had no choice but to use the barley water. I balanced the now full goblets on a tray and headed back out to the main tavern room. Thomas went back to the kitchen
I heard them before I saw them. The men in the corner yelled for their drink.
“Bring our ale!”
I carried them to the table near the window managing to spill only a little. One of the soldiers grabbed two of the goblets drinking from one and passing the other one to the soldier next to him. Hands grabbed the others before I could set them down.
“Looks like Jenny has been tipping the ale herself,” one said. He yanked me to his lap and sniffed my hair. “Smells good, I like the new scent, Jenny, better than what my wife uses.” I jerked away as the others guffawed.
“Leave be,” I said smacking his hands which tended to roam. “Or I will tell your wife on you that you are drinking here instead of tending to your duties.”
He frowned at me. “Now, Jenny, be a good girl. I was only teasing you. Give us a song and I will forgive you.”
“Song, song, song,” they began chanting.
I put my hands over my ears and stamped my foot to make them stop but they kept on.
All six of them stood and smacked their goblets on the table splashing themselves with ale and making a horrendous noise. The rest of the room got in on the fun. Everyone shouted at once and stamped their feet or pounded the table.
“Jenny, Jenny, song, song,” they all yelled.
I shook my head and frowned at the soldiers. If Thomas hears I’ll be in trouble. I glanced towards the kitchen and Thomas came out wiping his hands on his apron. He glared at me.
I gulped and my gaze flew to the willow branch Meg kept hanging by the kitchen door. My backside had already felt the sting of that branch and many of its cousins too many times to count. I did not relish feeling its sting tonight.
“All right, all right. Be quiet the lot of you,” he said in a loud booming voice that silenced the room. “What’s this all about?”
“We want Jenny to sing,” said one of the men. “If she sings we’ll stay and order another round, maybe two,” he said watching Thomas. “Two coins for one song.” He held up the coins and then tossed them through the air to Thomas who caught them deftly.
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