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Interview with a Pirate

Dear Readers,

We have a treat for you. One of our reporters was able to secure an interview with the infamous pirate, Irish Red. Because of the interview format, the article is a bit lengthy. We hope you will read the entire piece for we anticipate interviewing a hero of the Royal Navy for contrastive purposes. As always we appreciate your time and support.

Samuel Clemens

Tattler:  So, Miss . . . uhm . . . Red, how does one normally address a pirate?

Miss Red: Mr., Mrs., or Miss, depending on one’s marital status is usual. However, I must remind you that I am not a pirate.

Tattler: Ah, my apologies. However, according to a spokesperson from His Majesty’s Royal Navy you “habitually, without authority and by violence sieze or interfere with ships and property of others on the sea.”

Miss Red: “The spokesperson is incorrect. I have letters of marque from the United States which permit me to attack and subdue any ship perceived as an enemy to that country—specifically the ships of Britain and her allies.”

Tattler:  Have you those letters of Marque with you?

Miss Red: I did not imagine I would need them for an interview. You’ll have to accept my word.

Tattler: Tattler: (aside to our readers) I doubt very much that anyone would take the word of a person reputed to be a pirate. (To Miss Red) I return to the question of correct address for persons in your profession?

Miss Red sighing heavily: In formal situations such as this interview you may address me as Miss Red.

Tattler, chuckling: Oh come now, surely your surname is not ‘Red.’

Miss Red: Believe what you like, but address me as Miss Red, please.

Tattler: As you wish. Miss Red, how did you come to Captain the ship Erie Mist.

Miss Red: My adoptive father was Captain before me. He taught me his trade, and when he passed I became Captain.

Tattler: It is unusual for ship’s captain to be a woman.

Miss Red: Unusual yes but not unheard of. In the past century there have been more than nine women who distinguished themselves as ship’s Captains. Anne Bonny and Mary Read come immediately to mind.

Tattler: I’ve heard of them, but were they not pirates?

Miss Red: That is how history has labeled them. However, history is written by men. I firmly believe these brave sailors were vilified because they were women who excelled in a profession dominated by men. The myth that women bring bad luck aboard ship is also perpetuated to suppress the wishes of women who long to captain ships.

Tattler: Those are fascinating beliefs, Miss Red, but difficult to prove.

Miss Red: I need not prove my personal beliefs. What you think of them is a different matter and of no great import to me.

Tattler: Really. Then tell us please, what is of import to you?

Miss Red: God, family, country, truth and justice.

Tattler: You do not mention love of a man and woman for each other, which is of great interest to many women.

Miss Red: I have not encountered such, and so cannot comment on it.

Tattler: Hmmm. Please recount one of your more interesting adventures for us.

Miss Red: That may take some time. And most of my ship’s encounters are rather boring.

Tattler: This interview will be presented in print, Miss Red. Our readers enjoy having as much of the story as possible.

Miss Red: One incident sticks in my memory. During the recent war between Britain and the United States, the Erie Mist came upon the Wanderer—a British ship of the line, carrying troops to New Orleans in the Louisiana territory.

The Wanderer had us outgunned by about ten guns and was much larger. Size worked to our advantage in the battle. We outmaneuvered the Wanderer and were able to land a number of shots that destroyed its main mast and started fire in its powder magazine. When the magazine finally exploded, a number of the Wanderer’s crew were killed. We took on all survivors. Their leader—I believe the man was a Lieutenant chose to fight. He was attempting to overtake the Erie Mist. He and his crewmen were defeated. Many privateers in my situation might have hung the entire lot. I gave those men the opportunity to swear allegiance to me and join my crew, or be stranded.

Tattler: Did all of them accept your offer?

Miss Red: Many of the conscripted sailors did. Those ‘regular’ sailors and all the officers elected to be stranded.

Tattler: That was generous of you, to leave your enemy alive. Did you not fear reprisals once they were rescued?”

Miss Red: The ocean is a large place. While repeated encounters with the same ship are possible when at sea, they are not common. Any reprisals would come when the Erie Mist is docked. Fighting on land is very different than on ship. There is usually some place to escape to if the fight does not go well.

Tattler: So you would turn coward and run away if you thought you were losing the battle?

Miss Red: Hardly. Seamen, regardless of rank, are highly skilled fighters and will battle to the final breath.

Tattler: How would you rate your crew?

Miss Red: The best on the seas or on land.

Tattler: And they are loyal?
Miss Red: Because I treat them fairly, yes. Most mutinies come about because the captain or his representatives cheat and lie to the crew as well as employ extreme cruelty for small infractions. Now I regret I must leave. I have another engagement at some distance to the north and must be on my way.

Tattler: You have been a fount of information about non-naval shipboard life and thinking. Thank you for permitting us this interview.

Irish Red is the alter ego of my heroine in Wait for Me, a novella that is part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxset Storm & Shelter, currently available for pre-order.

About Storm & Shelter: When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

A baffling question!

Your Erstwhile Correspondent has one question about the May Day Frolic at Lord and Lady Cortland’s home. Pray tell, how can these five educated, accomplished young women be so wrong about the gentleman whom they love?

Lady Fiona Chastain, that lovely raven-haired beauty who lives with her widowed mother in Bath, thinks she is in love with a gentleman whom she met only briefly. How can one assume that a lifelong relationship will ensue if one has barely spoken to the fellow? I understand good looks can be charming, but handsome wrapping can conceal a mysterious substance. And does she even know this fellow’s name?

Her friend Lady Mary has the opposite problem in that she knows the fellow she adores far too well and he seems more friend than lover. While he shows her affection, for some odd reason, he appears reluctant to wed! What can be the matter with him?

Miss Esme Harvey, as we’ve heard from her own lips, is madly in love with her groom. But is she? Really? On the eve of her wedding, she appears…disinterested? What can be the matter? Maidenly nerves?

Their friend Lady Willa Sheffield has another problem in that she’s been engaged twice and lost both gentlemen to dour circumstances. Will she love again or is she doomed to eternal spinsterhood?

Then there is Miss Millicent Weaver. She has avoided the likes of the gentleman whom she once adored. Indeed, she swears off any other man’s attentions. We know now why, but we do understand that her friend Lady Mary has appealed to the one whom Miss Weaver adores to reconsider his avoidance of her. We pray this conflict will end. Quickly too.

These young ladies need to perk up, do their best to resolve the issues that separate them from their chosen enamoratas. We must have order in society! Weddings. Happy marriages. Babies. The Kingdom must progress, won’t you agree?

Ladies Indulge in Pugilism!

1818, London

Despite the dubious legality of the noble and quintessentially English pursuit of pugilism, matches, or set-tos still happen with utmost regularity under our very noses. Why, there is word amongst the Fancy that the notable and invincible London championess, Miss Bess Abbott has a set-to for the ages scheduled at two months hence. One may recall her sponsor, the late Lord D—, who paraded her about last year. This female pugilist is also connected since childhood to the social climber with a Midas touch, Mr. A—, who has lately found matrimonial attachment with a respectable family, no doubt to the chagrin of Lord L—, whose daughter made such a sacrifice as to tie herself to the former prizefighter.

Should we exalt the athletic prowess of Miss Abbott, and call her one of our own, for her record is as yet unblemished? She may not possess the refinements of a lady, for she is not one. But her opponent in this set-to is heralded as the championess of Ireland. No one has found record of the Irish bruiser’s matches, but is that a surprise? No, I urge the dear readers to throw their support behind our own! We must give Miss Abbott her due in the ring, for such a woman has very little outside of it. I fear for her prospects should she retire from her sport.

An excerpt from the advertisements shows  the strength of character:

I, Bess Abbott, am not known for my fine features. And knowing such a mug as mine with intimacy, I pledge to remake Miss Kelly in my own image. If you have seen my nose, then you know it’s uneven features, which would be beguiling replacement seated amidst Miss Kelly’s delicate visage. Place your blunt on my fists, dear Fancy, and I promise to return your investment in a hail of blows unseen in any match yet in London.

 Excerpt

The empty apple boxes clattered as the men shifted their weight and stood, their boots heavy as they hit the ground.

The lamplighters were still some way off. Bess sighed and turned, hoping the men would see her better as the meager gaslight spilled down the thoroughfare. This usually put off any would-be brawlers. “I said, go home, lads.” Bess planted her feet and put down the bottle.

“Cor, not a beaut by any measure,” one of them said as he stalked closer.

“What’s with yer nose, pretty?” The men chuckled.

Bess took the insults without blinking. These jabs didn’t hurt, but she steadied her breathing, readying for the moment to come.

“Jeezus, Harry, look at her ears!” another said.

Bess had tried to take pride in the uneven scarring of her cauliflower ears. Male pugilists were proud of this physical sign of their profession, but somehow, Bess didn’t care for it, despite her status as a fighter being apparent in so many other ways.

“Eh,” said the one who was probably Harry. “Put a sack over ’er head.”

“You should be grateful some blokes want to have a bit o’ fun with you,” one insisted.

“Such a compliment,” another said, daring to pluck at her sleeve.

It was the sleeve that pushed her over the edge. She kicked the man closest to her and went after the one who had touched her. A quick right cross followed by a left uppercut and right kidney shot put him on the ground.

She pivoted to survey the other three. The man she’d kicked had stumbled but was on his feet. “Go home, lads,” she said, her hands still ready. She wasn’t above running, but with a group like this, it would be easy for them to overcome her if her back was turned.

They didn’t speak for a moment, still unable to understand how their chum had ended up on the ground.

“Let’s go, Mickey,” urged the one who had been kicked.

The silhouettes faded into the darkness of the streets. Bess sighed and scooped up the bottle, inspecting it for damage. Suddenly, Bess heard clapping from behind her. She spun towards the noise, her heart ticking faster just as it had begun to slow down.

“Well done,” a low voice boomed.

Searching the dark shadows of the storefronts, Bess felt the voice almost in her bones. “Show yourself,” she said.

A large man with dark skin stepped out of the shadows and into the light. He was at least two hands taller than Bess, and twice as wide. In his hand, he carried a blacksmith’s hammer.

“I’d prefer if you put down the weapon,” Bess said. Again her nerves prickled, but this time in a way she could not identify. The man was powerfully built, but likely slow on his feet. If nothing else, she could slide in a few hits and then run. The hammer swing would be slow enough to dodge, but a mistake would be fatal.

He chuckled, another low noise that sounded more like the shifting starts of an iron locomotive. She felt it in her ribs, and it made an ache bloom almost as if she had been knocked by a belly-go-firster.

He put up one of his massive paws as a show of peace. “I’d not raise a weapon to the great Bess Abbott,” he said, lowering the hammer to rest on the ground.

“You have me at a disadvantage,” she said, still not abandoning her defensive stance but no longer thinking about running. The ache in her chest eased, and she was distracted by the roping power in his bare forearms, the low light etching him in silver and gold.

The man shook his head. He had no hair, and the dark skin of his bare pate gleamed. “I don’t believe you could have a disadvantage. You’re too quick.”

She watched him a minute more, waiting for something else to happen: an insult, a shout, or even for him to slide back into the shadows. Instead he smiled at her, which made her suspicious.

“You’re my favorite fighter,” he said, leaning back against the building. His accent was strange. The lilting sounds of the West Indies came through, tempered by what sounded Northern, maybe a Manchester accent. The odd mix was pleasing to hear.

It sounded so wrong to hear, it almost struck her as a joke. She shook her head and walked over to where he stood. The hammer leaned against the wall next to him, the handle coming near to her waist. It was no ordinary tool. Suddenly, she forgot how to breathe, being this close to a man that wasn’t trying to train with her. “Then I thank you,” she said, gasping for no reason. “You a smug?”

“My foundry is up there,” he said, gesturing with his chin back toward Edgeware Road.

Bess frowned. “Isn’t that Barnsworth’s?”

“Took it over when he died. It’s been mine for a little over a year now,” the blacksmith said, shifting his weight to better look at her.

“I didn’t hear.” So many people from her childhood were passing that she could barely keep track of the old neighborhood anymore. The foundry was a landmark in everyone’s mind, a place of perpetual fire, the sound of metal on metal at all hours.

He lifted his massive shoulder and let it fall. The motion only showed how much power was poised inside of him. If he’d an inclination, there’d be plenty of money to be found in the ring.

She felt him weighing her, taking in all these odd pieces. It was only a matter of time before he ran away, having identified her for what she was. Unnatural. Strange. She braced for the impact of his judgment.

“I’ve always wanted to tell you that I like your ears,” he said. “I thought if I met you someday, on the street, I would tell you that.”

Heat flushed Bess’s face. Without thinking, her hand went to cover the telltale scarring. “It makes me ugly.” She pulled her cap down lower, covering the dirty-dishwater color of her unwomanly short hair.

He lifted his dark eyebrows, the whites of his eyes near glowing. “It makes you powerful,” he said, picking up the heavy blacksmith’s hammer with ease.

“I never got your name,” Bess said, reaching out with her hand before she thought better of it.

“Come by the shop and I’ll tell you,” he said before he slung the hammer over his shoulder and sauntered away.

Bess stared at his receding figure before remembering the empty bottle in her hand. The glass was warm from where she clutched it. Talking to the blacksmith had been so distracting she had almost forgotten if she was coming or going.

Turning to finally head down to Tuck’s, Bess kept looking back at him, this blacksmith who liked her ears.

About  the Book

Can London’s lady champion fight for love?

As London’s undefeated women’s boxer, Bess Abbott has the scars-both inside and out-to prove it. But when one of her boxing students, Violet, needs protection, Bess Abbott’s rock hard heart cracks open. And when a handsome blacksmith comes along, giving her compliments and treating her, well, like a woman, Bess doesn’t know what to do. She’s on the ropes in the face of love.

Os Worley was a child when he became an accidental stow-away. He grew up not knowing the family or the island that inflected his accent. His only memory of his mother is a head bent, hands working a stitch, a voice humming a melody. Now that he has his own foundry, and his own apprentice, he’s come to London to find the woman attached to this memory. His heart is already tempered and quenched, focused on his goal-but a lady boxer threatens to recast his love in her own image.

As Os and Bess face off, will they toe the line or retreat to their corners?

Buy Links:

A Lady’s Revenge https://books2read.com/u/38EojZ

The Boxer and the Blacksmith https://books2read.com/u/3JXDEJ

About the Author

Edie Cay writes Feminist Regency Romance. Her debut, A LADY’S REVENGE won the Golden Leaf Best First Book in 2020. The next in her series, THE BOXER AND THE BLACKSMITH won the Hearts Through History Legends Award as an unpublished manuscript in 2019. She obtained dual BAs in Creative Writing and in Music, and her MFA in Creative Writing from University of Alaska Anchorage. She is a member of RWA, The Beau Monde, the Historical Novel Society, and a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers. Follow her on social media for pictures of the latest baking project with her toddler @authorEdieCay.

Links:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorEdieCay

            Instagram: www.instagram.com/authorEdieCay

            Website: www.scarabskinbooks.com , www.paperlanternwriters.com

            Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/gOrfZP

 

Where does that woman get her information?

Sam Clemens shoved the offending article across his desk and then tugged it back, once more scanning the pages. He was the proprietor and editor of the Teatime Tattler, London’s–nay, the ton‘s–premiere scandal sheet. If anyone published tales such as those within these covers, it should be him. And yet, this person had scooped him. Him! With all his contacts, all his reporters sniffing out stories, all the correspondents (anonymous and named) who sent him letters unasked when something of interest happened in their vicinity, all the readers who waited impatiently for the two editions he published each week!

“How does she do it?” he asked Arthur, the boy who responsible for keeping him supplied with coffee, cigars, and ink, and for running his copy to the presses.

Arthur shook his head. “Must know folks,” he offered.

She must. “The Hicklestones? I knew the earl had married a neighbour, but I had no idea about her daughter. Why didn’t I know that? And that little tidbit about where Viscount Charmly first met the Dowager Duchess of Fambrough! Mind you, I don’t know that I believe it! Still, it’s true the old duke met his wife in Italy somewhere, and no-one knows anything about her people.”

He glared at the offending book. “Who failed to let me know that the Marquis of Gamford was back in the country, and reuniting with his child bride, now all grown up? Why weren’t we first with the story that she was living retired in the country? And if her name was linked in gossip with a local man, are the happy couple, in fact, happy?”

Sam made a note to send someone to Somerset to find out.

“Then there are the Millchurches.” Another sigh. He had actually covered the story of the attempted murder, the treachery, and the arrests. But the story behind the story had happened without him finding out, as did the rather nasty story of the Baron Collinwood, his cousin, and the vicar’s missing daughter.

There were other stories in the book, too, but they did not concern him. “I don’t care about the Enright stables, though there might be a story in the way Durridge cheated. Have to look into that. But they’re not ton, Arthur. No-one can say they are. Same with that agent who purchased a wife in Scotland while he was out of mind with fever, and the retired naval commander who discovered the mystery behind the girl in charge of the ruined bookshop.” He flipped through the book one more time. He might have covered the story of the woman torn from her lover and forced into marriage to a devil; after all, she had been a gentlewoman. But her relationship with the local miller put her below his notice. And the other two stories didn’t trespass on his territory at all, the one about a nun who was actually the wife of her sworn enemy being set in Scotland in medieval times, and the other some kind of futuristic fantasy about a farmer’s wife in far away New Zealand, where only sealers, whalers, missionaries, and tattooed natives lived. Even if,  seventy years from now, New Zealand did have colonial settlers, they were unlikely to be visited by angels. Unemployed wanderers, certainly.

He shook off the unproductive thought. “Arthur, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I am writing to this Mrs. Jude Knight to offer her a job. Clearly, her sources are better than mine.”

***

Sam has been reading Chasing the Tale, Jude Knight’s latest book. It’s a collection of eleven short stories, perfect for reading when you’re too tired for something longer, or want something to finish while you have a short wait. Get it now for 99c before the price goes up to $2.99.

May Day Frolic at Courtland Manor

Your erstwhile correspondent has disturbing news of the May Day Frolic doings at Courtland Manor last week. It seems not only did the bride, Miss Esme Harvey, never appear in the chapel at the appointed hour of her wedding, but that another young lady, her friend Lady Willa Sheffield, also disappeared from the same event later that afternoon!

We shudder to think of the reasons. Were they both lured away by some nefarious person? Were are they colluding together to escape the frolic? Miss Esme to escape her wedding and Lady Willa to confuse us or deter us from finding Miss Harvey? Did they—oh, my dear reader—run away with gentlemen? Men whom we do not know? Or worse, have they been kidnapped?

We did have it on good authority that Miss Harvey was a bride very enamored of her groom, the Marquess of Northington. Had her affections changed? Had his? So radically in such a short period between engagement and wedding date? And why?

We understand less about motives for the disappearance of Lady Willa Sheffield, the daughter of the Earl and Countess De Courcy. We grieve for that lady who has already endured much grief personally. Her two previous fiancés died tragically young and unexpectedly. And now we wonder if there has there been another gentleman who has interested her? Is there another love affair brewing? The vicar of the church where Miss Harvey was to be wed and a new friend of Lady Willa tells us that no love affair led her to disappear. But what then occurred? What do we not know?

And how will we possibly find these two young ladies who have disappeared into thin air? Your dedicated correspondent desperately wants to know if you have any clues to these two ladies disappearances. Do write to me here at the Tattler should you have any information.  Miss Harvey’s parents, the Viscount and Viscountess Courtland, and Lady Willa’s, the Earl and his Countess, have sent out many to find them. But at this time, we have no indications of where or why the two ladies have vanished.

Please help us! Haste is of the utmost importance.

 About the Book

LADY WILLA’S DIVINELY WICKED VICAR, Book 4,

FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FROLIC

She believed she destroyed any man who loved her.

Lady Willa Sheffield had beauty, education, charm, a handsome dowry…and a curse for killing any man who proposed. When she falls for a man who has favor with someone who answers all prayers, she questions if she’s right.

He would move Heaven and Earth to marry her.

Reverend Charles Compton has everything a lady could require: wit, ethics, good family and stable position. But no money and no title. And for a lady who is an earl’s daughter to wed well, she needs a man of some gravitas. But a vicar of a small parish—with rousing political ideas and little income—must move Heaven and earth to make a good future.

Who can doubt the determination or the inventiveness of a man in love?

AMAZON Affiliate:  https://amzn.to/3qbv8gH

About the Author

Cerise DeLand loves to write about dashing heroes and the sassy women they adore. Whether she’s penning historical romances or contemporaries, she’s praised for her poetic elegance and accuracy of detail.

An award-winning author of more than 60 novels, she’s been published since 1990 by Pocket Books, St. Martin’s Press, Kensington and independent presses. Her books have been monthly selections of the Doubleday Book Club, Rhapsody Book Club and the Mystery Guild. Plus she’s won countless 4, 4.5 and 5 star rave reviews from Romantic Times, Affair de Coeur, Publishers Weekly and more.

To research, she’ll dive into the oldest texts and dustiest library shelves. She’ll also travel abroad, trusty notebook and pen in hand, to visit the chateaux and country homes she loves to people with her own imaginary characters.

And at home every day? She loves to cook, hates to dust, lives to travel and go to Jazz class once a week!

Four Weddings and a Frolic Series

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