A fiery missive had exploded right in the middle of the cabin’s wall, blasting a blackened hole into the wood and allowing the ocean winds to whistle through as Lizzie and Alice cowered back from its splintery force. Small flames cluing to the charred wood, but they were no match for the wild night winds and were soon extinguished.
“We were nearly killed by cannon fire!” Alice said indignantly.
“I think it was some other kind of missive,” Lizzie said examining the hole and the complete lack of cannonball.
Some shattered glass around the opening gave her a clue. She peeked out at the deck of the Bonny Read to see a doughty tar preparing another flaming bomb He stuck a bit of cloth into the neck of a bottle and lit it the strip, hefting it in his blackened hand while he looked at the Demeter for a likely target. Lizzie held her breath, her tender heart concerned lest the pirate inadvertently set himself on fire. At last he seemed to see something suitable as a target and hurled the bottle across the decks toward the stern. Another explosion rocked the ship and it gave a groan as if it were in pain.
Or perhaps it was just the moans of the crew, many of whom were feeling the worst of the battle. The pirates fought ruthlessly and without scruples. Bellamy’s men were no gentlemen, but Lizzie could not help but side with the men who were not rapscallions of the sea and in thrall to the daunting pirate queen.
“Where have they gone?” Alice asked, looking over at Lizzie who was still lost in her thoughts. Startled, she wondered for a moment whom it was that her cousin meant, but recovered herself quickly. Where were Bellamy and Black Ethel?
As if in response to their queries, the clash of swords returned to their ears as the fearsome pair fought their way back across the deck toward the cabin where the young women waited. The air around them almost seemed to swirl with the force of their battle. Perhaps it was the smoke from the cannon-fire and flaming torches that gave the wind an almost visible presence, or perhaps it was the swift slashing of the blades of the two combatants. It was hard to be sure, but Lizzie and Alice watched in awe as the fight wore on and the steel clashed over and over again.
“Chin up, Bellamy!” Black Ethel laughed with glee, a little hoarse from the fight, but still grinning widely. “You can always become one of us. Haven’t you always wanted to be on the pirate side? You got more than a little buccaneer in you, Bellamy.”
“Nevew!” Bellamy cried once more. “You awe a cheat and a cwiminal.”
The dread pirate queen then looked at Alice and Lizzie who were peeking out from the blasted hole in the wall and laughed even louder. “At least I don’t kidnap young women for nefarious purposes. I never took you for a white slaver, Bellamy.”
Lizzie and Alice both glared at Bellamy. Was this the fate that awaited them?! Oh, the horror of it! Bad enough to be spirited away from her father’s funeral, but to find at the end of the journey a fate worse than death -- it was too much.
“No!” Bellamy shouted as he parried another of her seemingly endless thrusts. “Theiw fate is something faw diffewent, you see -- "
But before he could finish his sentence, Black Ethel struck once more, the shaft of her sword striking Bellamy’s ribcage.