He was as silent as if he had had his tongue cut out, which, for all that she knew, he had. Determined to show no hurry, she bid him to wait just inside the cabin door while she wrote the letter.
HMS Princess's Fortune
3rd of August
MASTER Saul GERERRE
c/o the agents of
The Abbey of Lamego
It seems unlikely that this letter will reach you ahead of my arrival, but since this is the last address at which I knew your agents to be available, I will at least make a venture of sending it ahead on a fast packet.
I expect you will be surprised to hear from me after so much time, perhaps even more surprised to find me still living.
I have attained my majority since we last parted company and consider that if we meet again, it should be with the standing of equals.
Since we parted company, I have made my way independently in the world. Some months ago, a disagreement with agents of the Crown,
the details of which would not be expected to hold your interest, resulted in their insistence that I take up residence at Newgate Prison.
While officers of the Court were conveying myself and other individuals to this place, they were abruptly and forcefully interrupted by a party of men who earnestly desired that I accompany them.
I had hoped to find that you had engaged them but found this was not
Despite some initial reluctance on my part, I was presently brought to a place some miles from London and introduced to several gentlemen and a lady who claimed acquaintance with you.
One was presented to me as a Lady Mary Monmoth, who I recognized from my time
under your care in your company, but the others, one Mr. David Draven and Mr. Anthony Merrick, both presented to me as civilians, but with the carriage and demeanor of military men,
were unknown to me. They addressed me by name, to my surprise, since I have, of late conducted all my affairs under several aliases, and thought the name of Miss Jane Erso long forgotten by anyone living
They questioned me at great length about my father, inquiring most Insistently about his employment and whereabouts. When I expressed my belief that he was deceased these ten years, they indicated that they had some recent knowledge to the contrary.
They presumed evenfurther upon our former connection, seeming most anxious for news of your current activities and company, clearly disbelieving me when I assured them that I had had no contact with you since
You found your responsibilities irksome with regards to
my status as your ward became inconvenient to
we parted company some three years ago
From their accents I might have assumed them loyal subjects of the British Crown, excepting their unexpected liberation of myself from the custody of His Majesty's officers. Instead, I found them to be agents of your former compatriots in the Alliance.
Mr. Draven disclosed to me their certain belief that my father is presently living and in the service of a clandestine venture, funded by the British Crown, but executed by one Doctor William Tarkin, somewhere in the Spanish territories of Florida, in the Americas.
When I attempted to make plain that it was of equal interest to me whether my father were alive or dead, on the Spanish Main or in Hell, they pointed out that I was now most significantly in their debt.
Also in their company was a young man, introduced to me as an officer.
His manners are cool and correct, but his accent betrayed him as a Spaniard. Presenting himself as another Alliance agent, he outlined the nature of this Doctor Tarkin's venture as an attempt to develop an indigo plantation in violation of Spanish and Portuguese treaty.
I politely indicated that, while fond enough of the color blue, I had no fixed attachment to the origins of my dye-stuff, having already resigned myself to a life in cheap prison cloth.
This attempt at levity was unappreciated. Lady Monmoth, whom I now remembered as an ally of yours in an action against the expansion of the vile trade in the Azores, made it clear that they sought your help to gain further intelligence with regards to this "construction" in the jungles of the Americas and my father's connection to it. I formed an impression that, while they were most eager for your assistance, they parted with you on very bad terms, and now feared a violent refusal without the action of an intermediary.
I cannot help but wonder sir, how it was they came to so distrust you and you they?
They have not fully shared sources and intentions with me,
and I confess I trust none of them further than the length of my arm, but they firmly propose that I aid in finding you and provide them with introductions. They suppose, for reasons I cannot fathom, that I hold some key to your good graces.
You will understand sir, why it is not in my current interest to disabuse them of this notion.
The "Spanish captain" -
who I profess to think may truly be neither of those things - accompanies me, whether as my protector or jailer is unknown to me. We are also attended by one of my "rescuers", a truly terrifying person - a toweringly tall gentlemen of uncertain heritage, with the accent of British gentleman and the aspect of a murderer. I saw him snap the neck of one of my would-be jailers with his bare hands, and from this expected him to be one of your former associates. After spending time in his company, however, I find that his allegiance seems to be solely and specifically to Captain Andor. Whether as his freeborn servant, chattel slave, bastard half-brother, or fellow assassin, remains unclear.
We are traveling to Lisbon on some intelligence that you are still based there.
I have bought my dear liberty with this venture sir, and hope you will oblige me and at least consent to meet with this "Captain Andor" and his large companion, to hear their proposals.
Having deserted a young woman, barely more than a child, trusted to your care, who rendered you the duty owed a parent.
Is it true, as they say sir, that you have intelligence from my father?
Are his whereabouts known to you? Can it be true that you knew that he was alive and in the service of Crown agents all these years and yet did not tell me?
She stared at the paper, for several moments, then methodically tore it onto shreds. Taking a fresh sheet, she wiped the pen, dipped it again in the ink pot and wrote:
Expected Arrival at English Wharf in Lisbon aboard the Princess's Fortune sometime between August 13 -17.
SIR, I would speak with you.
She folded the paper, sealed it, and handed it to the grey-cloaked, grey-faced man who waited. He nodded and departed without a word, out of the cabin, and down the gangway to the wharf. She wiped the pen and laid it aside on the table. Wrapping the brown short cape around herself, she walked out onto the quarter deck and to the rail. The Portuguese agent had already disappeared into the dusky shadows of the warehouses.
When she turned back she saw Captain Andor standing with his back against the cabin doorway she had just quit. Silent as a cat.
"Will it reach him?" He asked, carelessly, as if the answer were of little concern to him.
"Perhaps " she said, with a shrug. "We will find out when we reach Lisbon."
He nodded, and walked back up to the front of the ship where his tall companion was keeping watch.
What will be my fate if he is not there? Jen wondered.
How long have you been told to allot me for this search before you cut my throat with one of the knives you keep in your jacket and your boot? Or will you pass that task on to Master Kay?
She wrapped the brown wool more firmly around her and pressed a hand against the front pinning of her gown, finding reassurance in the thin sharp steel slid between the boning of her stays. He had surely noticed by now that he had only one knife in the sleeve of that good-quality-but-strategically-worn blue greatcoat, not the two that had been there formerly. But, if he had, he had clearly not thought it worth mentioning.
They sailed with the tide the next day.
Looking for the notorious pirate who had once called her his daughter, and now, to her fury, seemed to hold her life in his hand again.