PART III. Barbados.
For about 300 years smugglers and pirates trolled the South American caribbean seas for treasure. Spain's mining of silver and gold was so vast that it was known as the Spanish Treasure Fleet System. These precious metals were valuable because they were used to make coins, which were the basis of most of Europe's monetary systems. The basic Spanish silver coin was the 8-reales piece or "piece of eight&1uot; which was widely used to acquire manufactured goods from other European nations. The French viewed the treasure as an irresistible target and began attacking Spain's ships as they made their way into Spanish ports. These attacks were conducted by privateers, private ships that were licensed by the French government to try to seize Spanish ships. If successful, the privateer kept a portion of the seized treasure, and the French government took the rest. New Providence was located close to the all major American and Caribbean 17th and 18th century trade routes. The island was a natural harbor, but it was difficult for large warships to enter. There were never many people on the island, although there is a lot of fresh water, timber and wild animals. During the Golden Age of Piracy, New Providence was the capital of the British Bahamas. Although an army occupied the island, local governors were accepted bribes not to prosecute pirates for their crimes.
During the long wars with Spain, New Providence was attacked numerous times, and from 1703 to 1706, the island was untenable. However, the peace with Spanish, brought inhabitants and pirates back. By the year of 1716, more than 500 pirates occupied New Providence. All of that was changed in July of 1718 when the newly appointed governor of New Providence, Woodes Rogers, declared war on piracy. When Woodes Rogers arrived with the three warships and two sloops, a few pirates fled, but most of them decided to gave up their pirate carriers and started to live honestly. In just a few days, island was entirely pledged from the pirates.
Some years afterwards two french privateers possessing letters of marque from France took refuge on the island. Their assignment was to capture a Spanish galleon and bring its spoils back to France. For this purpose, Jacques Courtevois was appointed captain of a brigantine and his first mate was Henri Devereaux .
On a summer's day in 1733 a wooden-hulled Dutch-built sailing vessel The San Pedro was bound for Spain alongside a flota of 21 merchant ships. The ships' manifests evidenced that it was loaded with an illegal store of tanned hides, spices, jewels, silver and gold. The San Pedro had just left Havana when a hurricane stirred up off the coast of the Florida Keys and wrecked all but one of the vessels. This is where the story begins.
Chapter 51. New Providence.
Captain Jacques Courtevois, an officer of the Royal Navy of France, having come to the end of his enlistment and finding himself without means, left the Admiralty's office with the freshly inked, salted and sealed letters of marque. His occupation as a privateer would raise eyebrows among his fellows. However his opportunity arose when a relative of Louis XIV of France ascended to the throne of Spain and trade disputes broke out in the West Indies between the two countries as well as Great Britain. Such disputes were well known among the captains of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Seas. Thus, privateering captains were employed to raid the Spanish vessels weighing gold and silver from South America and deliver the spoils back to their native countries. His ship was an obsolete warship with sufficient gunsand storage to crew the prizes it was expected to capture. The investors provided a skeleton crew with the assumption that the captain would acquire more experienced crewmen from the supposingly reformed pirates of New Providence.
There was little difference between a pirate and privateer, except that possession of the official letters of marquee from the French Admiralty gave permission to plunder. The spoils would be divided by the investers.
The ship provided was a 24 gunner ship, a gaff-rigged mainsail with square rig above it on the mainmast, was called the Alesia. Its task was to capture one of the Spanish galleons weighed down with treasure from South America. Upon arriving in New Providence, the captain culled his crew from among the worst sorts. One, called Gunther, a middle-aged chap with a ruddy complexion, unkempt clothes and a heavy beard, spoke the sailing-language of the royal navy asked to be first mate, but that position was already filled by Jacques' shipmate, Henri Devereaux, a boney mate compared the other sailors with hair trimmed close to the ears in the unchavalier style of the roundheads, yet he fashioned a thin goutee trimmed to the tuft on the chin which gave him an air of superiority. But Gunther possessed close ties to the crew. In fact, unknowing to the captain, he had sent members of his former crew to enlist. on the Alesia after his pirates were set down by the governor of New Providence. Thus opened the new age where piracy was outlawed and the old pirates were captured and incarcerated . Gunther slipped around the law and took his chances.
The Alesia was at sea for several months when it encountered its first prize, a dutch vessel bound for Brazil. The Dutch were active traders in the West Indies, yet had suffered the trading restraints of the British in the American colonies. Thus, skimming the Atlantic, the vessels ventured further south where a new harvest of gold nuggets lay waiting. But they had to compete with the heavily-manned Spanish galleons. The Dutch Republic was in decline after its many wars and overseas trade soon became a cornerstone of its economy. Many of its ships had battled for supremacy on the World stage. During the late 17th century, England's Royal Navy had joined France in its attack on the Republic, but were frustrated in its attempts to blockade the Dutch coast and make Holland an English protectorate rump state, failed. So here was this Dutch brigantine slighted with 14 guns pushing 8 knotts from the port of Rio de Janiero loaded with treasure. The Alesia , charted towards the Porteguese coonies, flew a french flag until it was in range of the dutch vessel and proceeded to ram the dutch. The 14 guns were no match for the Alesia, and the pirates had little resistance from the dutch crew. Nonetheless, the sound of Captain Jacques' orders as his voice reverberated across the rail caused dutch captain to panic.
"We shall give no quarter to resistance, Mr. Devereaux!"
The crew immediately surrendered.
"Mr. Devereaux. The crew?" Gunther asked.
"Release the prisoners," Devereaux shouted, "and jump ship!"
Gunther grunted, nevertheless, before he set his torch to the deck, ordered several sea chests taken to the Alesia. With the first treasure in their bellies, the french privateers left the dutch crew to lower long boats into the sea while the vessel burned.
"All those sailors in long boats on the high seas," the lad, Horace, muttered.
"Do not worry, lad. Tis the caribbean. They can chart a course to one of the 1700 islands," Deveraux said, wondering if Horace owed his allegiance to Gunther. As time wore on, Devereaux would hear the gruesome stories of capture and intrigue of the crew. He would also observe their violent tempers, revengeful hearts and reoccurring frustrations which dealt with misery using knives and fist fights, But worst of all was the implacable impatience.
Chapter 52. Second Battle. Havana, Cuba
The fatal day commenced with the citing of the San Pedro near Havana, Cuba. The Alesia had been searching the seas of the Caribbean for more than a year for its prize. Their only treasure thus far was a small chest of jewels and pieces of eight from a dutch pirate ship.
At a far distance across the thin horizon was a flota of Spanish galleons. It was general knowledge that the strongest vessels hauled the bulk of the treasure and would run rather than fight. Its speed of eight knots was slow compared to that of lighter vessels. Still, considering all of the vessels crossing the Atlantic, the crew argued that it was foolish to exchange broadsides with a Spanish galleon accompanied by a flota of ships. But a storm brewed in the skies and on sea causing the mother lode to drift far afield from the flota. Seeing its weakness, Captain Jacques decided to attack. As the floata found Cuban water, the Alesia spun into action to catch up to the weighed galleon. Meanwhile, the crew prepared to ram and sponge the cannon and hold the ladle. While the San Pedo floundered in the heavy rain storm, Jacques gave the order to file a full cannon broadside. The short keel of the San Pedro pitched and rolled in the belly of the blast.
"Prepare to board!"
However, as the Alesia got close enough to attempt boarding, the razor sharp crescent blades attached to the outer-most edges of the masts of the galleon, ripped the Alesia's sails to ribbons. The unprepared crew were met headon by the fierce blades of the experienced pirates of Gunther. With the San Pedro showing ease to the cannon and a fire smoldering in the ship's magazine, the first mate sent men into the hull of the ship. They emerged carrying but two chests of treasure on their backs, saying "There is more in the hull!"
Then, while a thunderous roar of lightning spit across the darkening skies and released a funnel of rain onto the deck of the San Pedro, the main mast fell across the deck while its heavy ropes lunged to and fro.
"Tis bad luck to leave treasure behind," Gunther murmured, but his voice went unheard as the first mate yelled: "The ship sinks. We take the two." Then, wielding his sword, Henri cleared the spaniards in his path and leapt onto the Alesia.
The crew barely escaped with their lives as the Alesia enclosed in a thick midst was steered away from the brewing storm of the hurricane. But the Alesia, encapsulated with high waves, commenced taking on water. Henri cautiously ordered that the treasure be brought on deck. Then, calculating a position from Havana to Jamaica, shouted to the helmsman. "90 degrees Southwest, Mr. Scudder and hold that course until I say otherwise!"
Captain Jacques, fixing his eyes ominously upon the boney first-mate, knew his mind. Henri's nose for accurate calculations should steer the Alesia near the shores of safety. The throat of the hurricane abated and land was cited. Jacques ordered the long boats lowered and the three sea chests boarded.
The bewitching sea storm had lured them on a journey of several hours of reckless arguments and cursing before the sun appeared once again in the vast sky and revealed the tiny vision of a distant island.
"Barbados," Captain Jacques said confidently. The crew were anxious to see the treasure. But the steady flow of water through the hull of the ship had lowered the vessel deep below the water line and its sinking was imminent. The crew took to the long boats where another struggle of sorts brought them to shore.
When the sea chests were finally opened, its contents revealed a splendid display of spanish jewelry, a mellerio shell tiara from the Spanish court, a brooch with an openwork floral spray of leaves set in half pearls and garnets, a gold mourning brooch, colonial costumes, necklaces, pieces of eight, gold nuggets, hammered silver and copper.
"Let us take our share now," Gunther insisted after his accessment of the island. His plans were to hold up in Holetown until he acquired passage to New Providence. "Working on isolated sugar cane plantations is naught me choice. Who be with me to return to New Providence?"
"Aye," the crew shouted.
"Also you, Horace?" Captain Jacques asked the young lad.
"Yes," he answered, "I do not see meself living the life of an indentured servant."
The division of treasure was made, which left one trunk three-quarters full to Jacques and Henri. The captain settled for an equal share, especially when he was also allowed the valuable tiara and brooches.
Chapter 53. Holetown.
Situated between North and South America, Barbados is an archipelago which separates the Carribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlanta Ocean . It is inhabited by numerous tribes of Caribs and Arawaks. Instead of being one of the islands used by pirates, Barbadoes was an industry of sugarcane. The native population was being overshadowed by foreigners who brought indentured labor into the warm climate to produce a sugar product traded throughout the civilized world. Originally started by the Sephardic Jews, who were expelled from the Iberian peninsula during the middle of the 17th century, Barbadoes become an important resource for sugar which drew investors to its shore. At first, Dutch traders supplied the equipment, financing, and African slaves, in addition to transporting most of the sugar to Europe however the English smallholders were eventually bought out, died, or left the island. By 1700, although white endentured servants remained part of the labor force, the Europeans had brought in a dense population of black African slaves.
Due to the increased implementation of slave codes, which created differential treatment between Africans and the white workers and ruling planter class, the island became increasingly unattractive to poor whites. Black or slave codes were implemented in 1661, 1676, 1682, and 1688. In response to these codes, several slave rebellions were attempted or planned during this time, but none succeeded. Thus, in order to continue the prosperity, planters expanded their importation of African slaves to cultivate sugar cane. Such investments caused poor white people to be moved off the island and taken to the English Leeward islands, or Jamaica. Meanwhile, Barbados generated more trade than all the other English colonies combined. The island was divided into large plantation estates and the arable land was held by some 175 planters. And, during the late 17th century, their connections with the English aristocracy had great influence on Parliament.
When the Province of South Carolina was founded in 1670, some of the surplus population left Barbados which resulted in substantive trading operations being established with the Charleston factors.
The two privateers set out to find the old settlement of Holetown. They were assisted by some local dutchmen who provided direction who told them about the irish lord who owned Mickleroy Plantation. Gilbert Mickleroy spoke English and French and would welcome the association of the lost europeans. In Holetown Henri paid a piece of 8 for the services of a carriage to transport them to the far ends of the plantation.
Being driven behind the carriage were two pack horses plowing their husky huffs into the narrowly gutted dirt roads, destined for the Mickleroy plantation. Jacques and Henri had an impatient view of the tall perennial grasses of the sugarcane waving its tendrils in the face of a slight summer's breeze. It seemed to grow like weeds across the lime soil of the lowlands and terraces, separated only by rolling hills which paralleled the coast. For miles, they saw natives working amongst the thick growth of the cane until finally, a plowed field.
"What is that?" Jacques asked the carriage driver.
"The cane be good for three years," he answered with a bajan dialect.
"Then they replant?"
The plantation was enclosed with a fence made with the stalks of dried sugarcane plant and tied with barbed wire. They passed under an overhead enclosure with a sign post reading "Mickleroy's" Inside the enclosure were a number of roughly-hewn plank board houses having windows but no screens. Large brooms swept the yards free of weeds, snakes and other varmints.
The main house was a large sprawling structure which lent itself to a circling porch of wicker chairs, wooden couches and tables made by the Taino Indians, and a portico which led to an outdoor canopied dining area. Considering their unshaven beards and ship-wrecked clothing, they approached it carrying the trunk with a modicum of respect. They were greeted by a young olive-skinned boy about ten years of age dressed in the loose white garments of the house servants. Around his neck he wore a brazilian necklace, which Jacques recognized as hammered brass. He bowed politely and spoke in short sentences using both the english and bajan words. "I am Brandon," he said with his eyes cast downward. "My master is away."
The house had large square rooms with wide gaps in the wooden floors , bamboo ceiling fans operated by servants and no screens on the windows. All of the bedchambers had four-poster beds draped in layers of mosquito net. Its modest furnishings were the handiwork of the Arawak and Tainos.
They were seated on the porch and served glasses of a cool sweet lemonade. which parched their thirst.
"What do we do now?" Henri asked.
"We still possess the letters of marque which link us to the British Admiralty," he said cautiously. "If they find us, we shall surely hang, especially after having divided the treasure amongst Gunther's surly crew."
"Then God forbid that we should ever leave this island!"
As the afternoon wore on and the unpleasant heat subsided, weary from the struggle to escape the hurricane and its effects, they soon fell asleep. It was near dark when the master arrived. He would have been referred to as lord Mickleroy were he still in Ireland with his father, the baron of Kingsale, but in this plaintive environment of masters and servants, titles were inappropriate. Since daylight, Mickleroy had been with his oversseers in the reaches. He seemed pleased to have european visitors.
"Greetings," the irishman said as he removed a wide-brimmed cotton hat from the tangles of his reddish hair, possessing the full appearance of a ghastly white freckled skin. His suit of clothes covered his skin from head to toe to avoid the blistering effects of the sun. He wore no rings on his fingers nor native brass around his neck.
"I am Gilbert Mickleroy," he said heartily.
Jacques and Henri stood to their feet and introduced themselves. "We are frenchmen, sir, lost in your country. Our ship sank this morning somewhere between Jamaica and Holetown."
"I am sorry to hear of your misfortune," the master said sincerely, "nonetheless, as I hath been poised here amongst the natives for so many years, it is my good fortune to share good company and interests of other europeans."
"The isolation, sir, doth it trouble your disposition?"
"Yes, but I find some consolation in my books howbeit small that it is. As you will no doubt be here for some while, you are welcome to peruse my library."
"I would be interested in learning how you came to settle on this island."
Mickleroy smiled. He had owned few conversations among the native population since his father, the 24th Lord of Kingsale, sent his young son scarcely twenty years of age to Barbadoes to assume control of the sugar plantation and prepare himself to ascend to the powerful position of the 25th Lord . "When I first arrived in Barbadoes," he said, "I knew nothing of responsibility nor self-reliance. In fact, I cursed my lord father for sending me thus. However, as the struggle proceeded to thrust me into this foreign land, challenges were presented in so many strange and cumbersome ways. The Kingsale province of Ireland dates back to the 13th century with its generations of the same families providing the labor as tenants. His lordship inherited many local province, including this future plantation. I say futile because the hard-packed dirt and the hard labor to punch holes in it. The plantation is part of an old feudal system, according to the natives, supported by descendants of the first indentured servants. My function is to produce sugar cane for exportation throughout the West Indies. Tis a largely tedious operation. However, after almost ten years on this island, my work is bearing the fruit of prosperity. That is the essence of personal satisfaction, my friends. Robinson Crusoe is one of my favorite books, actually a libertine novel, and of course, the works of Descartes and Sir Francis Bacon are inspirational works. Also, I agree with the enlightened absolutism of Sir Isaac Newton. And sometimes I sit quietly on this porch memorizing the verses of my favorite poets."
"Au fait! I should be delighted to read from your library of so great a collection," Henri exclaimed.
"Then you are not an ordinary sailor, sir?"
"No sir. My family disapproved when I took to the sea with captain Jacques as his first mate. I crave adventure and the one desire of my heart is to make my fortune on the high seas." Henri paused, hesitating to provide further details.
"Ah then, you are pirates!"
"You said it, my lord, except that we possess the letters of marque from the french navy."
Jacques took command of the conversation. "Except the loss of our vessel and a goodly treasure we cannot return to France. "
"Oh, then it was a naval vessel which sank?"
"The Alesia was an old vessel refitted for privateering."
Mickleroy stared at his argonaut guests. At first, Jacques wondered how much he would reveal of their true circumstances, but as the conversation expanded, realized that Mickleroy had his own issues.
"Does that shock you, sir, that your guests are privateers?" Jacques asked.
"No sir, for I hath met many a loathesome pirate whilst on this island, all wonting for scrupples. There is an assortment of europeans and West Indians who would throw a monkey wrench into my success, had they the manpower."
As the conversation continued, a young Arawak Indian girl appeared. She had a beautiful face , pointed head and olive skin, and carried an infant in her arms, another pulling on her skirt. Mickleroy spoke the barjan dialect and signalled for her to wait in his bedroom.
"That is my woman, Mauna," he explained. She selected me for herself when I first arrived. She was among the Taino Indians brought here from South America by the Porteguese. Their community is a settlement of round houses wherein ten or fifteen men and their large families reside together in the round buildings, except for the cacique, who resides in a rectangular building. You may have observed it enroute from Holetown. Luckily, the Arawaks are friendly and happy people."
"Are those your children?" Henri asked curiously, having observed the children.
"No, those two children belong to the caciques (chief). The tribe is polygameous, especially the chief, who hath as many as 30 wives. Mauna is one of his wives. The first year of our arrangement, however, she brought me an infant which the caciques claimed was not his. I call the boy Brandon after an old servant back home. He resides with his mother in one of the smaller shed houses. But because of his gentle nature, I promised that when he comes of age, he shall serve first as a stewart, then bouteiller of the manor. His responsibility is first to serve, later to manage. Since he bears the blood of the Arawaks, he will be as they, a happy, friendly people, hierachical, and very paternal. It is best not to accept food from them, however, as they are fond of eating rats, snakes, rodents and birds. For all practical purposes, I chose my cooks from amongst the other barbadian tribes."
"Well, the hour grows late, my friends. Brandon will take you to your rooms. I am out in the land at dawn. Should you be interested in my routine, some horses can be saddled up for you."
"Yes, I would be interested," Henri said."
"And I, also, especially in observing how you scale your profits from the crops." Jacques was thinking ahead of himself.
At dawn, the fat Barbadian sun arose over the horizon and quickly illuminated the room with shimmery white light, almost as brightas mid-day. Henri's bones were still wretchedly sore from the beating he'd taken in the hurricane, yet he remembered the treasure and leapt out of bed. The trunk lay at the foot of his bed filled to capacity with its jewels and gold nuggats. He and the captain's share had a great value in France. Except they could not return to France, nor speak of the treasure to anyone.
"Perhaps we can make passage to somewhere else," he muttered, as he climbed into his trousers and washed his face from a pitcher and bowl of clear spring water.
"Tis nought that desperate of a decision yet, mate," Jacques said, entering the room. He was dressed in loosely-fitting island trousers and wore a wide-brim hat on his head. "First, we should determine if we wish to inject ourselves into the profits of a sugar plantation."
The morning was spent at Bridgeport where cargo from Bristol was being unloaded. Mickleroy stood counting barrels and other building materials. Also, there was a family of Saltzburgers searching for a place to settle. They were part of the revenge of Count Leopold von firmian, the Catholic archbishop Anton who ejected all protestants from Austria in two weeks' time. They were the last of those families roaming Europe in search of new homes. Mickleroy found himself engaged in conversation with Peter Guber, a staunch Lutheran. Guber heard of General Oglethorpe's offer to settle in the colony of Georgia but was in Holland when Johann Martin Boltzius sailed with his congregation to the new land. Thus, when the opportunity arose to settle in the Caribbean, he sailed with several Austrian families to Barbados where they hoped to practice their religion without prejudice.
"Barbados is an island of diverse cultures," Mickleroy told him.
"For one, there is Speightstown where Englishmen settled, a port city connecting to the mother country, but which Cromwell himself was unable to capture during the rebellion of 1649. Several tribes of Indians from South America and African slaves were brought by the English. There are the Scots near Holetown claiming to be exiles of the highlanders who supported the Stuart kings. Then we have the redlegs, a term used by the English to refer to Irish laborers. Those who failed to secure land following their labor terms, left the island for Jamaica. And so it goes, shiploads of apprentices , indentured servants and African slaves come and go to this island. Tis a matter of survival."
"Yes, you may have heard that sugar cane is a lucrative business in the West Indies trade, and that is true. Nonetheless, it might be said that the climate is a harsh environment for immigrants from colder regisions, and the labor punishing. There are few who can survive year after year in this warm, moist, mosquito-fed environment. Yet is free land to the indentured servants, at the end of the term."
Gruber rubbed his nose, thinking of the white glazing snow upon the mountains of Saltzburg . "We are near the equator, sir. Although we are beset with fevers and allergies, surely, our bodies will adapt to a warmer climate."
While Henri inventoried the arriving cargo, Jacques noticed that Horace was flirting with a young french girl, Wilmette.
"Horace, is that you?" He asked.
The embarrassed boy stepped forward. His face was dirty with the growth of his first beard, and his wooley unkempt. hair "Yes, captain."
"I thought you were with the Gunther crew."
"They stole my part of the treasure and then stole the brigandine sitting in the harbor, sir," he answered while daring to sneak a glance at Willemette.
"Did you tell its captain where they were bound?"
"No sir, I dare not, there be such a thing as pirate's revenge."
"Mickleroy, still speaking with Peter Guber, overheard the conversation, and yelled. "Do you want a job, boy?"
"Come along with me. I could use a boy in the store."
The thin first mate took interest. "I would also be interested in something to do, perhaps manage the store's accounts whilst my captain decides upon another adventure."
"Splendid! My father's letters suggest the addition of accountants and overseers. What would you like to do, captain, until you decide?"
Jacques wrinkled his forehead and stroked his chin. The decision was upon him whether to make passage elsewhere and he was in no mood to return to France and be hanged by the admiralty. "How about these passengers? They hath nowhere else to go," he answered.
"Europeans are alwayswelcome at Mickleroy's", he answered. "However, there is no free land except after indenture."
Peter Gruber, appearing rather uncomfortable, but having already suffered several years abroad on the charity of others, conceded. "Despite all your disparing remarks concerning thi island and for the sake of our families and a new beginning, there are fifteen strong German men among us who would agree to the indenture."
"Then I shall assume the position of captain of the overseers and servants," Captain Jacques said quietly to Mickleroy. Then, realizing that his responsibilities, asked Horace.
"Who is this girl, Willemette?"
"A french girl the Germans took her in as an orphan."
"From henceforth, you will answer to master Devereaux, and mind you, your duties shall afford little time for pleasure!"
The vacant work houses on the plantation were occupied by its new families while Horace slept in the store. He found that the former first mate was now a master of discipline and high expectations for he worked the boy long and hard. While master Devereaux kept the books and maintained a firm hand, the overflow of plantation crops was among his responsibilities to sell and disperse among the families. Every evening he made a proper accounting to a master who counted every parcel of merchandie and piece of eight. It was a gruelling experience for a young ship's boy unaccustomed to responsibility, and would only be grateful when he had his own family to support.
Meanwhile, Horace observed the new families, watching for a moment to be alone with Willemette. Finally, after several months, when she was sent to the store for a bolt of homespun cloth, he managed to suggest that a private meeting occur in the store after master Devereaux left for his evening meal with the captain and baron Mickleroy. Willemette was about fourteen years of age and rather pretty. Horace was uncertain of his own age, but figured himself full grown, and trimmed his hair and shaved the stubble from his chin for the occasion. He had nothing to offer the girl, save a somewhat riveting and exaggerated conversation describing his adventures onboard the Alesia with the captain and its first mate. It was but the beginning of many such clandestine meetings before he finally confessed that he had learned the ways of the pirates on New Providence island and so considered himself one of them until they abandoned him after stealing his portion of the treasure.
"Then you are a pirate!" She declared.
"Nay, you must not refer to me as such. This is my natural home. I am a barbadian."
And so it was that Horace adapted to the blue ocean, warm breezes of the Atlantic. and the sight of the field workers wearing wide bream hats as they planted and harvested the cane while the overseers rode on horseback through the rows. Peter Guber was true to his word, for the backs of the Austrians were equal to the task and determined to survive. Willemette's foster parent was Herr Breunig, one who labored in the hot bajan sun as his wife lay ill of yellow fever. She was one of several Austrians who died from its effects within the first several months. For this reason, throughout daylight hours, she had no family to care for her and was free to sneak away to Horace. Therefore, when it was noticed by master Devereaux that Willemette was pregnant, he encouraged Horace to attend Herr Breunig and beg for her hand in marriage. Horace objected.
"Do you wish to bring shame upon yourself as well as the captain? Are we such creatures from the sea that we ignore tradition? I say not, my boy. Go at once to Herr Breunig before he realizes the girl's condition and demands retribution."
"I am not convinced that I feel love for Willemette."
"Love is only a passing thought stimulated by passion, " he reflected.
Gruber and his Lutherans were compliant with the rules of the Mickleroy plantation, laboring from sun up to sun down in the cane fields, and resting in the evenings in the shed houses homes built for field hands. Their church meeting were held in an old abandoned house near Holetown and this is where the wedding occurred. Wilmette, standing beshide Herr Breunig and wearing an ordinary home spun dress and straw hat joined hands with Horace and said the vows. If Herr Breunig suspected that the small bulge in her dress was a child, he did not show it. The couple found temporary lodgings inside of a dilipated storage shack behind the store and the next morning was lectured by master Devereaux for not having returned to the store after the wedding.
"You knew that supplies had to be delivered to Lloyd & Sons in Bridgeport," he said as he presented him with a detailed list of the inventory." Horace rushed to load the wagon and just as he finished, Devereaux nagged. "I expect you back by dark. No staying over in Bridgetown with your friends."
"There ain't no friends in Bridgeport," Horace murmured.
Capt. Jacques assumed management of the plantation, a duty which required his being absent for long periods of time. He soon became well connected with Mickleroy's factoring agents and a network of merchants on the high seas. The sugar cane was shipped from Bridgeport and Holetown throughout the West Indies, and thanks to Mr. Mason, the Charleston factor, to the American plantations and England as well. In a few short years, Mickleroy was writing to his father that the operation had doubled its exports. The baron responding with praise, ordered him back to Ireland.
Mickeroy sat in the cool of the evening with Capt. Jacques and Mr. Devereaux. Their dinner had been served on one of the long wooden tables under the limbs of a large oak tree. Overhead in the sky was a canopy of bright stars. There was the smell of sweet sugar in the atmosphere after a recent cutting of the cane.
Devereaux sat to himself quietly reading one of Voltaire's books of the French enlightenment. Since in Barbados, he had developed a keen interest in Voltaire's ideas concerning the freedom of expression and separation of church and state. In that respect, he missed being in France where he could acquire the philosopher's pamphlets. He had served as one of the witnesses to the wedding between Horace and Willmette and concluded that the ceremony was just as valid as any given in a Catholic diocese. Sometimes he visited the Lutheran meetings and read verses from the Gutenberg bible.
Capt. Jacques had wrangled all afternoon with the captain of "the voyager" on his delay in taking out to sea. A later summer storm was brewing and the birds were flying inland. But who could complain with a fresh cooling breeze passing over the island. When finally, the captain sailed, he did so reluctantly.
Mickleroy decided to discuss the contents of the baron's letter.
"I am to go home," he said, "to Ireland, and marry the daughter of Lord Blinton."
Devereaux was the first to put away his book. "I do not understand. What do you mean, sir?"
"My father, the Baron of Kingsale, hath ordered me home to Ireland. It seems that I hath alas proved myself worthy and am soon to be knighted as the 25th Lord Baron of Kingsale. My tenure of twelve years in Barbados is at its end," he said solemnly.
"Ah, then you are to be reunited with your family in your own country," Capt. Jacques said complacently, with some envy in his tone. Devereaux, perceiving his troubled spirit, stared deeply into the eyes of his friend.
"I thought that we had decided that we would never return," he said suddenly.
"No, no, I should not wish to reopen that can of worms! We are pirates, chosen or nought!"
"Nought I say," Devereaux insisted sarcastically. "As for myself, I rather like the caribbean with its torturing hot days and cool evenings."
"Horace would have sailed to New Providence were it nought for the greedy Gunther taking his treasure."
"Horace's best opportunity to stay clear of trouble is to remain on the island."
Capt. Jacques excused himself and going inside to his room dragged a sea chest from under its bed, removing several pieces of jewelry. His selection was a mellerio shell tiara and a brooch with an openwork floral spray of leaves set in half pearls and garnets. Then returning to the conversation, gave the jewelry to Mickleroy. "This is for your lady. A wedding present," he said smiling.
"But captain, so gracious of a gift!"
"Tell us about the lady Blinton."
"Tis a marriage many years hence, and I hath only seen a small cameo of the lady. She is typically Irish, with a freckled face and full cheeks. No doubt, opinionated and strong-willed as is the tendency of so many ladies in the Emerald Isles. Such would be the natural choice of a lord such as my father determined to help preserve the traditions of Kingsale."
Capt. Jacques observed Mauna waiting in the shadows ot the oak. Her belly was full of another child near its full term. Despite the fact that Mauna slept with Mickleroy, this child, as all the others save one, was declared by the caciques to be his before it was born.
As was customary, the Arawaks kept their distance from the european masters. "What about Mauna?" He asked.
"Mauna will return to the caciques and her people . As for Brandon, the Arawaks do not accept him as one of them and he hath no place in Ireland, nor does he belong with the european population, so must remain on the plantation. It is my wish that he rise to the rank of the bouteiller of the main house."
The baron took one last tour of the house, out buildings, fences and cane fields. "I shall not forget Mickleroy's nor my friends, for deep within my soul is the truth that I shall never be this happy again. Yes, and perhaps I am one of the few europeans who is truly acclimated to this climate. The thick air adds substance to my blood and strength to my bones. For this reason I almost dread returning to the sharp icy cold of Ireland. I finally understand my father's objectives in sending me thus. Although I hath no knowledge of the wife which is selected for me and prefer to reside the rest of my life on this island with my beautiful Mauna, once again, I accept his wisdom."
As his carriage passed the Arawak village, he caught a long glimpse of Mauna as she stood near the house of the caciques holding fast to her youngest, a healthy olive-skinned boy with brown eyes and dark black hair. He worried if the child in esse belonged to him, for if it did, it would be abandoned. He took that fear with him all the way to the West Sea.
Chapter 57. The Leeward. Charleston. 1781. Capt. Ruffin.
The servants of Harriett quickly dispatched her trunks to the Charleston harbor, The Leeward, a brigantine which Monsieur Givens had engaged for all the gold soveigns in his purse. It was impossible to transport all of her furnishings and treasured possessions from the Mickleroy mansion, and Sir Hume persuaded her to leave everything save a pair of queene ann chairs and an oil painting of Kingsale, the ancient irish Mickleroy estate.
"I mean no disrespect, baroness, however, considering that we are in eminent danger of capture, I fail to understand why you should care to be reminded of a failed marriage," Monsieur Givens mused.
"Who will remember me for anything save an exiled colonist of the English plantations except for this reminder of the peerage? Leastwise, I deserve that much from Gilbert."
When she arrived at the pier other passengers had the same idea and there were about 35 persons disputing with the captain. "No more furniture!" he ordered.
"Leave it, leave it!" Monsieur Givens said as he walked past uncrated furniture, mirrors and candelabras. "The hour gof our redemption is at hand, my friends."
Captain Ruffin ordered the plank removed and as the sails lifted the little brigantine into the Atlantic ocean, sighed relief that he had escaped without having been fired upon. His plans were to do trade in the shippiing lanes of the West Indies for the next several years. The captain would suffer another inconvenience at Strathnaver when it dropped anchor for Sir Robert Hume and waited an hour for that gentleman to assemble himself and say his farewell to Martha Bean.
The voyage rendered nausea and vomiting especially near the unpredictably rough sea of Cuba. The baroness, feeling weazy and feeling pity for herself, came onto deck . As they passed out of site of that island, the blue water of the caribbean seemed to blend into the cloudless sky.
"All clear ahead," a sailor shouted. Despite the beauty before her eyes, her spirits went unlifted as she sulked about Colonel Pendarvis. The handsome officer had given so much emphasis to his future in the british navy that he cast her aside at the very moment of her need. Did he not realize what a great compliment it was that she truly loved him and was willing to go to England? But only the arrogant Pendarvis could crush her pride, "your wealth is spent and your husband's peerage hath no value." Gilbert had spoken fondly of Barbados, as though he had left something there which he could not retrieve. Yet she viewed her exile as punishment. All of those feelings were confirmed as soon as she had a glimpse of the Bridgetown harbor and its dismal landscape.
"Is this it?" She asked Monsieur Givens.
Givens, distrought over his loss of Greenfield and his inability to join his daughters in Marseilles, frowned.
"We hath lost everything, my lady."
"Tis the price of being on the wrong side," Sir Hume said woefully.
"The soldiers hath doubtless come home to the devastated Charleston. Thankfully, Strathnaver was spared and Martha shall have a reunion with her husband."
"You speak of Mrs. Bean on such personal terms!"
"She is a dear friend who comforted me in my time of need."
"And the one who crushed your loyalty to the crown."
"We are castaways so far as King George III is concerned!" He retorted.
Horace and several servants awaited The Leeward as it crossed the shipping lanes and dropped anchor. During the vessels last moments in Charleston, Mr. Mason had managed to ship a cargo of milled pine wood to the West Indies. Despite the recent war in the American colonies, Mickleroys plantation was at the height of its prosperity. Over the years Horace had served well and during his middle years was manager of the store. Not taking Devereaux's place. No one could do that, for the elderly gentleman maintained his accounts in the finest detail. And Captain Jacques' screwd manipulation of its overseers had expanded the profits beyond imagination. Throughout the years, the captain had maintained an active correspondence with the baron in Ireland, and after his second marriage as well. Since news of the baron's death, Mickleroy's had acquired several more thousand acres of fertile land. The privateers had acquiesed agreeably to their circumstances.
Horace saluted Captain Ruffin and noted a slew of fancy-dressed passengers. "British," no doubt," he murmured to himself. Then he learned that the baroness Mickleroy was onboard with her friends.
"The war in the colonies is ended," Capt. Ruffin told him, "These are loyalists, traiters, if you must, who scarcely escaped the wrath of the patriots."
"Are they all to go to Mickleroy's?"
"Yes. The baronness is come to claim her plantation!"
Horace scratched his head. He had long since regarded his masters as the owners. "Gosh, fifthy years or more hath passed since the baron left us!"
"Take heed my friend, for the baroness, not accepting her world turned upside down, is given to delusions and high spirits."
"I will render the respect which she deserves and feel certain that my masters will do the same. But first, I must pack the cargo onto the wagons and send them forth but with a message to master Devereaux to send carriages and wagons to properly transport this party to the plantation."
Horace rushed to relay the message to Monsieur Devereaux. "The baroness is come!"
Devereaux was slow to put down his feather pen and blot the recent entry into the store accounts. "Did you get the lead glass?"
"Yes," Horace said excitedly, "but the baroness is come to claim her plantation! Those were the words of Captain Ruffin."
"How many in her party."
"Thirty five including servants."
"We shall endeavor to do what we must to make the lady comfortable. Tell Brandon to prepare the empty rooms surrounding the court yard and locate several shed houses for the servants."
"They possess a great many trunks and possessions."
"What else did the captain tell you?"
"That the war in the American colonies is ended and the harbor is free of the british . His instructions from Mr. Mason are return to Charleston with the cane."
Devereaux seemed pleased. The next several days would be spent cutting cane in the east field.
Meanwhile, the baroness was delivered to Mickleroy's with her entourage of fashionable ladies and gentlemen. She was disappointed at the sight of a compound of houses set in the middle of flat terrain of breadfruit and guajava trees fenced off from the cane fields by a tall wooden fence. The main house, surrounded by a dirt court yard and canopied taables had been added upon but its ugly wooden planks cut from local trees. Such utilitarian improvements were not pleasing to the eye. The ladies were inconvenienced by rooms unfriendly to the size of their gowns and the lack of screens on the windows. They were greeted by an olive-skinned servant dressed in a white cotton shirt which fell loose to the ankles. Soft-spoken and polite, Brandon kept his eyes to the floor.
"Where is your master?" Harriett asked.
"My master awaits you outside, under the canopy."
She was greeted by a thin man, shorter than herself, dressed in a plain cotton shirt without cravat or waistcoat. His gray hair was not covered with a wig and his beard was neatly trimmed around the chin. "Tis the clothes of the island which best serves this climate, my lady. " She glared at him . "I am Monsieur Devereaux."
"May I present my daughter, the baroness Mickleroy," Sir Hume said, stepping forward.
Devereaux bowed politely. The woman before him possessed the beauty of the aristocratic age. Her blonde hair with grayish strands was set in a pompadour and partially covered with a felt hat of crimson-colored plumes. Her dress overlaid a full corset of petticoats . He recognized the treasure from the captain's treasure chest, a jewel pinned to her dress, a brooch set in half pearls and garnets. "My lady, the baron's old room hath been prepared for you. It contains the bed he brought from Ireland stamped in his coat-of-arms and a small library of books. and journals Your husband was a lover of Voltaire and was generous in sharing his literature. Were it not for the baron, I would not be enlightened on so many subjects!"
Mrs. McGillevray was next presented along with her two pretty daughters, Ann and Jean. Her husband was with Lord Cornwallis in Yorktown when he surrendered, and his whereabouts were unknown. The urgency of the exile from Charleston compelled Captain Ruffin to sail quickly and so people like Mrs. McGillevray had to act quickly, a decision which would burden her mind with doubts concerning herself. The two girls would be observed by the two unmarried sons of Horace and Wilmette, however such admiration was scorned by Horace. "Stay away from the big house," he warned. "Your place is nought amongst aristocrats." "Then what is our class?" "Pirates, we are pirates!"
The remainder of the party were middle-aged families who'd suffered the loss of their fortunes under the domination of Colonel Pendarvis. Yet their devotees of the old ways and loyalties towards the king, had caused them to hold fast to their politics, even unto the end. Such ideals caused a general concensus that somehow they would be rescued and transported back to England. But the isolation of a dowdy country plantation surrounded by the laboring classes imprinted an attitude of hopelessness. The baroness also suffered the disappointment of a diminished rank and lack of socialization amongst the peerage. Her own self-importance seemed to fade into the country environment. Her friends were crowded into the main house as plans formulated to enlarge the structure.
Later that evening Capt. Jacques walked up from the cane fields where he had been occupied all afternoon. He wore portions of the french naval costume of a sailor, except for a faded officer's hat and a pair of mud-worn hip boots. More than a generation had passed since the baron's departure from the island, yet the two men had maintained a sprightly correspondence until he received word of the baron's death. His fondness for the baron caused him to think of Harriett as having the same gentility as the baron and was eager to meet her. She proved disappointing for his eyes only saw a stubborn and selfish woman. "My lady," he said, also observing the brooch which he'd given to Gilbert as a wedding gift to his first wife.
The conversation centered around the accomplishments of the late baron. But as the evening passed and the temperature and humidity remained steady, the baronness, laced in a tight corset and wearng several petticoats, began to feel faint. She left her place at the table to retire to her room when suddenly she fainted. The captain swooped her up in his arms to laid her limp body upon the baron's 4-poster bed. Then, instructed her ladies maid. "Undress the baroness and remove her corset and pettitcoats. You must bathe her in cool water."
A few moments later Brandon entered the room carrying a pail of water from the well. "Remove all of her clothes and sponge her skin until she is cooled down," the captain ordered, "the lady is feverish."
Then he took Brandon outside and whispered further instructions. Brandon was sent to the store for a homespun cotton gown and waited outside the door until he was called into the room. The captain stood over the naked body of the baroness while she was sponged. "We must get the fever down," he insisted. "And the baroness is to wear no corsets or tight clothing. This is nought a climate for middle-aged european ladies!"
When finally her temperature was down, he instructed that a sheet be pulled over her naked body while she slept. "When she awakes, this gown must be worn. Remember, no restrictive clothing."
When she awoke, the first encounter which the baroness had with Captain Jacques was unpleasant. He entered the room after she had dressed in the little cotton gown.
"How dare you, sir," she accused.
"You were laced too tightly to breathe."
"How dare you insult me thus!"
"Baroness, you are on an island in the West Indies. The average temperature is 85 degrees fahrenheit. Corsets and petticoats cutt off the air to the body. Had your fever lasted, you might have died. We hath no surgeons nor physics save medicinal herbs used by the indians. My advice to you is to stay as healthy as possible, without impediments."
"And so you come and go in my room as though I am your servant."
"Madam, I hath no intention of meddling in your affairs, however, am responsible for the health and well-being of all my guests."
The time during which Harriett Mickleroy dwelt in Barbados was shrouded with the frustration of losing the past. She was continuously nagged by the dreams of being the wife of the baron however when the old gentleman chose to return to Ireland rather than be in her company, she felt as though those dreams had escaped her. Yet, because she was the baroness her importance blossomed as she assumed a leadership role in Charleston society. News of the baron's death brought little consolation and her selfishness found temporary solace in her affair with Chauncey Bean. When the british occupied Charleston and her friends begged for solutions to their inconveniences, while entertaining english troops, she became the mistress of Colonel Pendarvis. But it was actually the baron who saved the day when he deeded her his plantations in Barbadoes. Almost as though he knew that the status quo must come to an end. Did he acquire those ideas from Voltaire who wrote pamphlets about religious freedom? Voltaire, a pre-curser to the obstructionist Thomas Paine of Philadelphia? Discussions of the rights of man and his freedom to choose were bandied about Charleston like a new religion until there arose an army against her king.
Monsieur Givens, who had been corresponding with Eleanor in Marseilles, received the bad news that Greenfield plantation had been torched by the british and that more than years had since passed since her husband commenced its reconstruction. "It will never return to its former glory," he told Sir Hume.
Life was boring on the island, a landscape of planters and cane-cutters. All that was left of a world fostered only in her imagination were her uncorseted and unwigged friends, dressed in plain cotton gowns and trousers. Conversation generally occurred in the evening fanning oneself under the canopy in the yard. Monsieur Devereaux had a habit of quoting the baron on his personal beliefs. He often fell asleep in his chair, the narrowly tipped beard bending to his fallen chin, and snored.
"Brandon, please take Monsieur Devereaux to his bed," Harriett would instruct.
"Yes, mistress," Brandon said quietly and he gently performed his task.
Harriett directed her attention to Captain Jacques. "Do the Arawaks marry?" She asked, after studying Brandon was well past the age for nuptials.
"Brandon will not marry," the captain answered. "He is a breed." She appeared surprised. "Have you not noticed his blue eyes?"
"It did not seem important," she said.
Harriett puzzled over the captain's attitude and later that evening read from one of the baron's journals. It was her first interest in the young life of Gilbert Mickleroy.
"March 3, 1734.
"I no sooner arrived in Barbados when I was taken to the plantation ( referred to as Mickleroy's) and greeted by a young Arawak Indian girl with brown eyes, long brown hair and olive skin. I did not realize it at the time, but she had chosen me to be her lover. For that evening, she entered my room, undressed me and climbed into bed. The experience was one that even my wildest dreams could not imagine, as her lovely body pressed against me and gave me my manhood."
"March 4, 1730.
"Mickleroy's, as the natives refer to the plantation, is like nothing that I hath ever known. The climate blows a mild and humid breeze across the flat fields most of the day, so unlike the bitter cold winds of the West Sea. And overheard is the round yellow ball of the sun glaring down upon us causing a thirsty sweat, whilst our bodies move methodically in its shadows. The indentured servants labor in the fields from the first moment that it rises in the sky until it drops percipitiously into the horizon. Yet there is something about this equatic latitude and parallel which awakens my mind and spirit to the awareness of my own presence in the universe. If I am to find my identity, as my father proposes, then surely the surround of this panorama will also find me."
"April 1731. "Mauna presented me with a baby boy. In appearance, he is Arawak in every detail, except his eyes are blue, like mine. As Mauna explained, she was one of the wives of the caciques who accepted no children save his own. Therefore, as Brandon is mine, I found a wet nurse to raise the boy. Meanwhile, Mauna continues to come to my bed and for that I am very grateful, for her loving kindess brings me pleasure. Nevertheless, I know that one day I should return to Ireland and leave my beautiful Mauna behind. Oh were that the Irish lasses had the goodness of the Arawak!"
Harriett replaced the journal on the shelf in its proper seqence. The knowledge that Gilbert had sired Brandon and that was the reason for his beiing an outcast, angered her. Perhaps the captain's abruptness with her was justified.
May 1732. "I love my son, Brandon. He is unspoiled and a child of the kindest nature and joyful heart. Every year Mauna gives birth to another child. As the Arawak women each have an average of fifteen children, their village spills over into the cane."
September 1733. "This morning I went hunting the wild boar who root the fields and run the fence. As was my habit, two indians accompanied me into the thick wood to ferret out the beasts. My aim hath improved somewhat and it only require two shots before one of the black hogs fell to the ground. I rushed to the site and while he snorted and struggled for his last breath dragged him from the bush. The gruelling death no longer sickened me, and I worked quickly to skin and gut the animal. When I returned, the news of a shipwreck was delivered from Holetown. By the time that I washed the blood off my hands from preparing the meat and changed my shirt, a carriage drew into the yard carrying two pirates. Their faces and arms were tanned and they wore the trousers of the French Navy. Before they introduced themselves, their muscled arms untied a sea chest from the top of the carriage and dropped it to the ground. I am Captain Jacques Courtevois, the taller one said in English as he made a slight bow from the waist. The smaller, thin pirate presented himself as Henri Devereaux. That evening while the boar was spitted over the fire, the pirates told me their unfortunate story. "
October 1736. "I have spent almost ten years among the bajan, and fortunately, during the last several years in the company of the frenchmen. But now my father hath bade me to come home to Ireland. It is time for me to marry and assume my title as baronete of Kingsale. My heart is tortured with the thought of leaving my beloved Mauna and this island of contentment. The lady chosen is of staunch irish blood, much like my own mother. Oh freedom, so soon robbed by tradition and duty!"
"What happened to Mauna?" She asked the captain.
"She died in child birth one year after the baron left us."
"Will you show me her grave?"
"Why this sudden interest in Mauna?"
"I simply wish to know if such a person existed."
Her words stirred up the memory of seeing Mauna for the first time. A young energetic girl who lived in the shadow of the baron, aware of the taboo against the europeans, yet drawn like a magnet to the young irishman. When she was not inside the main house, she always seemed to be hiding somewhere, observing his movements. And the magnet encircled the thrust of his existence, energizing and fulfilling, pushing him deeper into the throes of love. "They were born for each other," he told her.
"A time long past," she said dismissively, "for my husband alas returned to his responsibilities in Ireland."
"It is not a real grave, just a burying place of the Arawaks."
"I only wish to know if she existed. You can show me a pile of dirt or a clump of rocks, I only wish to see the place and then I will know for myself."
"My only hesitancy is the fact that the road is nought fit for the carriage and you will have to walk through the corn field."
The round houses of the Arawaks seemed to be buried in a mesh of sugar cane stalks. The road to the village had long since been integrated into a landscape of crops and its significence deseminated by decades of progress. "That is the house of the caciques," he said pointing to the oblong structure. "Not the same as before, as another generation hath emerged since Mauna died. He stopped beside a plot of ground outlined with rocks and planted over with white daises. "This is Mauna and the child," he said.
"Did she succumb while giving birth to that last child?"
"Yes, it was a baby boy. As it belonged to the baron, the caciques denied the mid-wife, and she bled to death."
Harriett compared the passionate love which her husband bore for Mauna and the duty which he rendered to his Irish wife. When he came to her in Charleston, Gilbert appeared to be heart-sick. Now she understood. It was Mauna that he wanted.
"Did he know?"
"No, baroness, not until several years had passed and then I received a sad letter from him. It was so unlike Gilbert, that I tore it up."
Harriett experiencing a flush of emotion, and picking one of the daisies, said: "This girl probably gave my husband the only true happiness that he had ever known. And even though that I did not realize it, I married the only man who would ever love me!" She paused momentarily and wiped tears from her eyes. "I wish that I had known him then, instead of later, when he was young and vigorous, and capable of so much love!"