If you enjoy pirates (as I do!), then this is a banner week for you. Jack posted his pirate excerpt on Wednesday, and I’m posting one today from “Pirates and Prejudice.” To give you a brief background on the story and this scene, Darcy is mistaken for an escaped pirate, Lockerly, and arrested, but when it is discovered he is not him, he is persuaded to assume the pirate’s identity to try to lure him to the authorities. He gathers a crew of men and ends up out at sea. When he is faced with rescuing some passengers from a merchant ship, he must confess to his crew that he is not truly a pirate, but… Captain Smith. Despite abhorring any sort of disguise, he does not want the crew to know who he really is. Elizabeth happens to be on this ship, and he continues his disguise. She does not recognize him because of his longer hair and beard, his manner of dress, talking, etc. And he rather enjoys that she does not know who he is. In this scene, the passengers have to get from the shipwrecked merchant ship to Darcy’s ship – by way of swinging across on a rope. It is a scene most people seemed to enjoy, hope you do, too!
Elizabeth joined the captain, who now stood at the base of the wooden plank. She cast a sly glance up at him. “Pray, tell me how is it that I am not going to fall?”
Captain Smith swallowed and looked intently at her. He answered slowly and softly, “I’ll be holdin’ ye.”
Elizabeth felt her cheeks warm, and her mouth went dry. “You will be…” Her voice trailed off. She was at a loss to explain the myriad of feelings that surged through her, the strongest of which was something she had never felt before. At least not before encountering Captain Smith.
As she looked up into his face, he slowly nodded. His dark eyes sparkled, while at the same time exuding a beguiling intensity. She unwittingly trembled.
“No need to fear, Miss Bennet. Do ye think ye ken prove to the ladies that there is nothin’ to worry ’bout?”
Despite the tremor that passed through her, Elizabeth nodded and said, “Yes, Captain Smith. I believe I can!”
Captain Smith took her arm as they made their way up the steep wooden plank. The strength of his grip reassured her, and she found herself inexplicably looking forward to being held tightly in his embrace.
Two crewmen stood on the yardarm waiting for them. One held the long rope that Bellows had come across on, and the other held a smaller rope.
As they stepped onto the narrow yardarm, Elizabeth suddenly realized just how precarious their footing was. She looked down at her father and cousin, and then over to the ladies who were watching intently. Not wishing to give them any sense of alarm, she smiled and waved.
The captain helped her over to the edge of the yardarm closest to the Devil’s Seamaiden, steadying her with his hands. She was struck again with how soft and smooth… and strong they were! Someone who regularly swings on a rope from one ship to another certainly would not have such smooth hands!
Her thoughts were interrupted when the captain looked down at her and whispered, “Miss Bennet, we are goin’ to be tied together with this short rope. I’ll hold ye with one arm an’ onto the long rope above this knot up here wi’ me other hand. When we’re in the air, I’ll secure my feet against the rope above the knot down below.” He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Ye’ll be safe, Miss Bennet. I’ll make sure o’ it.”
Elizabeth tilted her head up at him and silently mouthed, “Thank you.”
The crewman with the short rope wrapped it around them snugly. As he cinched it tight and knotted it, the two stood as close as any two people could be. Elizabeth felt her heart pound as she considered she had never been so close to a man before. She felt weak and precariously close to collapsing in a heap at his feet, despite being tied together at their waists. To prevent herself from falling, she quickly reached up and wrapped her arms about his neck, holding on tightly.
The captain responded with a deep moan and quickly brought his one arm around her. She felt him draw her in even closer than she had believed possible. A sensation of euphoria swept over her, and she found herself readily resting her head against his chest. She could hear his thundering heartbeat and wondered if it was beating more vigorously than hers.
“Now hold on tight, Miss Bennet.” His lips brushed the hair by her ear as he huskily whispered these words. She felt her legs begin to tremble and suspected he felt it as well, as he gripped her even more firmly.
“Are ye ready?” he whispered softly; his breath seemed to warm her to her innermost being.
“Yes,” she said, as she lifted her head to look up at him. She saw his dark eyes looking down at her, a single brow raised.
“Ye are not afraid?”
“On the contrary, I believe I shall enjoy this immeasurably!”
He inhaled deeply and whispered, “As will I.”
As he was about to step off, she asked with a nervous laugh, “You have done this before, have you not?”
“Never!” he said, and the next thing she knew, she was lifted off the ground, and they were swinging through the air. She held on tightly, wanting desperately to keep her head snuggled up against his chest, while at the same time wishing to look up, down, and out to see what was happening.
She finally turned her head and opened her eyes, just as they came over the Devil’s Seamaiden’s bow. She felt the rope lower, and the next thing she knew, they had come to a stop. The captain landed squarely on his feet, but he continued to hold her up in his arms. He finally relaxed his grip around her waist slightly, allowing her feet to touch the deck.
Despite standing solidly on the deck, she felt as though she were still flying through the air. Countless other feelings assaulted her, none of which made any sense to her.
The crew rushed over and began untying the rope that bound them together. Elizabeth knew not where to look, as she felt that if she looked up at the captain, he would see the storm of emotions she felt.
Once untied, she released her hands and quickly stepped away. She turned her head back towards the merchant ship to give an encouraging smile and a wave, but more to turn away from the captain.
She walked to the railing of the ship and looked out. Her hands braced the ship’s railing, and she felt unsteady and confused. But more surprising than that, she inexplicably felt bereft of the captain’s arms about her.
She smiled and waved again at the other passengers, a wave of melancholy overwhelming her that soon she and the captain would go their separate ways. It made no sense to her that she would find herself attracted to a man such as Captain Smith. She could not even say that he was handsome, as his beard covered the lower part of his face and the bruise she inflicted upon him distorted one side of it.
“Are you feeling all right, Miss Bennet?” The captain was standing at her side.
“Yes!” she answered abruptly. “I am quite well.” Looking down at her hands, she noticed they were shaking. She clasped them tightly together. To herself she had sounded breathless, and so she took in a deep breath and let it out in a light laugh. “Rest assured, Captain Smith, I was not alarmed in the least.”
The captain nodded. “I’m glad to hear that.” He rocked back and forth on his heels, as if waiting for something. He finally said, “You did quite admirably. Hopefully you have assured the other ladies that they will be safe.”
Elizabeth nodded and murmured to the affirmative. She could not bring herself to look at him. She had enjoyed her time on the island with him a little too much and enjoyed their rendezvous through the air a great deal too much.
Pirates and Prejudice is available in paperback and ebook at most online stores.
And I conclude with this picture of me and Pirate Lockerly.
(Or is it Captain Smith, a.k.a. Fitzwilliam Darcy?)
Taken at a Pirates Exhibit I attended in 2013, when
Pirates and Prejudice was released.