*****************************Chapter Two *****************************
Arianna and Betsy had been out to sea three weeks now and those weeks had passed reasonably easy. They had already been a few miles offshore by the time Betsy had woken her that first morning out. They had watched their homeland grow smaller behind them until it had faded out of sight that same afternoon. The previous night's storm had dissipated and the weather had been clear since.
Much of their time had been spent in their cabin playing endless rounds of rummy, with walks about the deck late in the evenings to break up the monotony.
Arianna had been asked to dine with the captain, a nice man named James Taylor, twice, but had declined both times. She had learned that she was the only guest invited, on both occasions and had not wanted to imply that she would welcome his attentions by attending. For that was truly the last thing she needed. To avoid the captain, Arianna and her maid had taken all of their meals in their cabin.
Betsy had been battling with sea sickness and was having an especially rough bout this afternoon. Arianna had tried to convince the girl that the fresh air on deck would do her some good, but the girl refused to embarrass herself, fearful of losing her stomach in front of any aboard. So as it was, Arianna was by herself this afternoon leaning against the railing at the bow of the ship, watching the dolphins play in the waves the ship created.
This had become her favorite spot of late, as none of the other passengers or crewmen came here, to this small front deck. She was laughing at the dolphins happy antics when a cry rang out, "Ship sighted, port bow!"
Arianna turned her head to the left and spotted the sails, which were truly only small white dots on the horizon. All of the passengers on deck began worrying aloud, the one word Arianna could make out was 'pirates'.
Arianna's heart leapt in her throat. Pirates!! She must warn Betsy!
The captain swung himself up onto the railing of the bridge and called out, "Please do not panic, ladies and gentlemen. This ship may or may not be pirates, but if it is, it will not be the first time our crew has had to run them off. Please retire to your cabins until it is once again deemed safe to return to the deck."
Arianna's feet were frozen to the deck. There was to be a fight? Cannons could tear them apart! The ship beneath her suddenly felt tiny, like a stick tossed about on a roaring river. She looked over the rail once more, at the dolphins below, wondering if it might just be safer to jump ship and join them now, before she was torn apart by splintering wood and cannonballs.
Deciding she was made of stronger stuff than that, she lifted her head high, and made her way to the cabin below.
"Told ya she was a highborn lady." Miles said to his captain as they watched Arianna cross the deck and descend to her cabin.
"Aye, you were right." His captain answered, before picking up his spyglass and zeroing in on the ship riding the horizon.
"She flies the Jolly Roger, Miles." The captain then turned to his crew who were all awaiting orders. "Men, ready your cannons! She'll be upon us shortly."
The crew responded instantly. Arianna could hear their scrambling on the cannon deck and the main deck above her, as she entered her cabin and locked the door behind her.
Betsy was asleep on the bunk and Arianna roused her quickly.
"Betsy.. Betsy, wake up. The ship will soon be under attack! They have spotted a pirate ship!"
Betsy sat up so fast in the bunk that she hit her head on the low ceiling above it. Rubbing her offended temple, Betsy turned to her mistress, "Did you just say pirates, my lady?"
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The Duke's Daughter -Wattys2014 Collector's Dream Award Winner-Historical Fiction
The Duke of Marlborough has signed betrothal contracts on behalf of his daughter, Lady Arianna Kent. But Arianna is not the type to blindly follow her father's biddings. It is not long before Arianna has different plans for her life and as the weddi...