Talk Like A Pirate Week, day 2: Welcome to Dead Man’s Bluff!

Today’s excerpt from The Incorrigible for Talk Like A Pirate Week comes from Chapter Eighteen.

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The pirate port of Dead Man’s Bluff was wild with life in the night. The streets that spread up from the harbour were thronged and boisterous, and in darker alleys connecting the streets it was sometimes difficult to tell the fighters from the lovers. Most houses were inns and taverns, and many of them had no walls toward the street, only the floor marking where they began it made it easier to drop in when ye needed a grog and a beer, no windows needed breakin’ when ye threw a scallywag out, and it filled the night with sounds of singin’, brawlin’, celebratin’ and boastin’.

Captain Crow and the pirates of the proud, free ship Incorrigible were striding up the widest of the streets leading into the heart of the town, the crew hollering to friends or laughing at enemies, walking two or three abreast, takin’ up the whole street.

Walking with the black-clad captain was a beautiful girl; ringlets of her golden hair framed her radiant face and her blue eyes shone brightly, reflecting her dress the colour of burning dusk. Her hand was on the captain’s arm, and maybe her fingers pressed tightly on the embroidered black coat sleeve, but there was a smile on her red lips as she walked, gazing curiously on the crowds of Dead Man’s Bluff. A sword hung from the belt around her waist, in a scabbard much more humble than the dress. The crew following her and the captain were all dressed in their finest, but she stood out like a jewelled necklace among colourful oil paintings.

The Incorrigible pirates came up to the town’s main square. To swear on’t, ‘tis not so much a square as a lot where a saloon once burned down, and there were always too many pirates sittin’ there drinkin’ for anyone to build anything new. Some landlubber, though, had moved a calabash tree into the middle of the place and it had taken root, and a superstition that had spread quickly forbade anyone to cut it down lest the whole port crumble into the seas.

“This ‘ere be Jicaro Square,” the captain told the girl.

Most of the square was in shadow, the tree a black darkness in the middle, and the night sky opened endless above it, the stars, for the moment and just here, all still. All round, fires and weer lights burned from windows and tables or were carried around on torches and in lanterns. There were pirates everywhere.

The girl glanced up at the captain, blue eyes catching brown, lips quirking up in a smile.

“Shall we promenade around it then, Captain?”

Captain Crow burst out laughing. “Aye by the powers we shall!” The Incorrigible pirates all cheered and a pleased blush rose on the girl’s cheeks.

They began circling the square, swaggering past bustling streets, hushed shadows and crowded inns. Where they passed, the heads of pirates and townspeople turned, and whispers and quarrels followed in their wake.

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