Caesar’s Fleet

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Excerpt: Triangle: A Memoir of Black Caesar

 

 

Collin’s Journal

La Creek, November, 1716

It has been just over a year since the storm ravaged our camp at La Creek, and since Henri disappeared with our ship. Today he returns, sayfe and healthy, with a fleet of ships including a large forty two gun frigate captained by Teach, or, Blackbeard, as he is now, well known. Teach has naymed the frigate, Queen Anne’s Revenge, implying his imagined efforts to frustrate the French and Spanish interests in the western parts of La Florida. The fleet includes Grande Maronage and four others. The twenty eight gun frigate, Grace a Dieu, captained by Israel hands, two naval sloops, Revenge, captained by Stede Bonnett, and Ranger captained by Benjamin Hornigold, and a smaller sloop, La Madiera, captained by a young rogue who calls himself Jack Rackham. They have been sayling the Caribbean for most of the year and now return to La Creek with a rich addition to the treasure cache and a great deal of trayde cargo to be stowed.

After a drunken celebration, and settling some old scores, we sat around the fire and discussed St. Augustine and the wrecked treasure fleet to the north of our camp. In the late summer of 1715, Henri had located two wrecks along the coast, at a playce they call Barra de Ays. But the waters are shallow and murky there, making it impossible to approach closer than half a league from shore. Henri believes that treasure is being salvaged from the syte where he espyed a number of armed men, early in his voyage, so he sayled on, to St. Augustine, to see if there were ships transporting treasure from the wrecks, but he saw none. He found the city to be more heavily fortified than on our first visit so he dared not enter the port. He decyded instead to sayle directly to the Bahamas to find Teach and now, after many months, they return here with a fleet of ships and three hundred sixty men to mount an attack on that Spanish bastion.

Though they allow me to sit with them at these tymes, and they name me among The Brethren, I am not truly one of them. The truth of that has become evident to me. Though I have killed men it has always been in self defense, or in defense of someone else. But I have learned by my experiences at Chateau Verettes where I was sickened by the murder and vyolence I witnessed, and by the murder of the young French officer aboard the Bechermer. By the terror of battle that I learned in Africa, where I was wounded. I am not so brave as the young boy I once was, when I served aboard the Arthur.

This past year, separated from both Henri and Teach, free from their separate tyranny, has been the best year of my adult life. Although we barely survyve from day to day in our Naufrage camp, Odulette, Maya, the children and myself have been able to live our lyves in peace. We live as simple farmers and fishermen, trayding with the local natives for the things that we need. Though we may appear as desperate fugitives, we were actually happy for that tyme. Now that the two have returned to us with brutish hoards, bringing their violence and vile natures, our peace is shattered.

I am in constant defense of Odulette’s honor and that of the other young women in the camp, whom these lecherous men pursue in a continuous state of drunken debauchery. On two occasions since their arrival I have caught one or another of these men trying to force himself upon Odulette. I killed them both and complayned to Teach, who only thought of their vile acts and resulting deaths as an opportunity to grasp their common shares.

I live in the fear that at any moment Teach, or Henri might turn on me. Teach, with his explosive temper, or Henri, with his burning hatred for all the races of Europe, and his distrust of everyone but Oguna the witch, whom he keeps safe by his syde. No one would dare approach either her, or Maya, or Abana for fear of what “Caesar” might do to them. This fear of “Black Caesar”, as he is now called, and his reputation for brutality, works well for Teach and the other captains. They use it to keep their crews under control and to speed surrender among their victims at sea.

It is ironic that these men speak constantly of their lyfe of freedom from the tyranny of government, greedy monopolies and the rules of civil culture, all the while creating their own tyranny of greed. They live in a cut-throat world of drunken ignorance and brutality, where only the strong survyve to divyde the shares of those who perish among them, in battle, from disease, starvation, or in fighting among themselves.

They have come to La Creek to refit their ships and resupply in preparation for an assault on St. Augustine. They have also come to share out the treasure they took in the Caribbean and to deposit the excess with the cache that already exists here. Though I was not with them on this last voyage, Henri has given a generous share for remayning on the island and caring for the Naufrages while guarding the treasure. There is enough now to make a new lyfe for myself, Odulette and Hope, in the colonies to the north, or perhaps even at home in England, if passage is possible.

Though I am loathe to go with these men and fearful of playcing Odulette and the children among them, I have decyded that we will sayle with them. I can no longer abyde the daily struggle for lyfe on this unforgiving island. I long too much for the lyfe I once knew. For the culture and comforts of my home. I want those things for Odulette and for Hope. I never would have left Gravesend, or that way of lyfe, if it hadn’t been for my father’s foolish whim to send me on a voyage with Doegood, aboard the Arthur.

It is my father’s dreams of fortune that have ruined my lyfe, not my own. As a result of his whim I was not present when my mother died and, as my father suggests, if I’d been present, perhaps she would live even now. Once I return to civilyzation I will wryte him and suggest a reconciliation. I will suggest that I return to the family business, and if I am allowed to return I will work tyrelessly to bring an end to the trayde in human souls that empowers the Devil’s Tryangle.

I spoke today with Henri about all these things. I asked if we could sayle with him, aboard Grande Maronage, not trusting that we would be sayfe with Teach, among his rowdy crew aboard Queen Anne’s Revenge. Henri is concerned about leaving the treasure with the Naufrages alone to protect it. I argued that they are as capable as I, but Henri told me that it was a matter of trust, not capability. I pointed out to him that the key to defending the cache is not whatever pitiful defense we could mount from this island, but effectively hyding it and keeping its existence a secret. Based on this, in syte of the entyre company, Henri had our treasure cache moved aboard the ship and put it under guard day and night.

Over the next few weeks, Henri and some of the Frenchmen of Teach’s crew built a vault of keystone over the sweet water spring, as Henri put it, “to protect and preserve our supply of water”. There is no visible entrance to the vault, it is only intended to cover the water supply. When it was completed I learned that Henri had known a secret entrance all along. In the night, Henri and I secretly moved the cache of treasure from Grande Maronage’s hold to the stone vault by a way I shall not reveal.

When it was tyme to sayle, Henri agreed that I should come also, but he would not allow Odulette, Maya, the children, or even Oguna to voyage with us. He cited the dangers they would be exposed to and his sense that Teach was on a course that would not end well for any of us. He wanted me along in case his sense turned out to be correct. He promised that Oguna had seen the end of his obligation to Teach in the near future and he would soon part ways for Africa. When he did he would share out the treasure and give me the Mary-Kate so that I could take my family wherever I choose to go. I believe he will be true to his word this tyme.

Collin Aldworth,

La Creek, 1716

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