Boston jacky, p.1
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       Boston Jacky, p.1
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           L. A. Meyer
Boston Jacky


  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Table of Contents

  Copyright

  Dedication

  PART I

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  PART II

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  PART III

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  PART IV

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  Chapter 45

  Chapter 46

  Epilogue

  Read More Bloody Jack Adventures

  About the Author

  Copyright © 2013 by L. A. Meyer

  All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.

  Harcourt is an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

  www.hmhbooks.com

  The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows:

  Meyer, L. A. (Louis A.), 1942–

  Boston Jacky: being an account of the further adventures of Jacky Faber, taking care of business / L.A. Meyer.

  p. cm.—([Bloody Jack adventures])

  Summary: The irrepressible Jacky Faber, recently arrived in Boston, finds herself at odds with the Women’s Temperance Union and local residents angry at the arrival of hundreds of Irish immigrants on a ship owned by Faber Shipping Worldwide.

  ISBN 978-0-547-97495-8

  [1. Sex role—Fiction. 2. Adventure and adventurers—Fiction. 3. Immigrants—Fiction. 4. Irish—United States—Fiction. 5. Temperance—Fiction. 6. Boston (Mass.)—History—Colonial period, ca. 1600–1775—Fiction.] I. Title.

  PZ7.M57172Bos 2013

  [Fic]—dc23

  2012041658

  eISBN 978-0-544-15659-3

  v1.0913

  And this time, just for Annetje . . .

  who has always taken care of business.

  PART I

  Chapter 1

  “Boston! Hooray!” I exult, as the tall church steeples of the city come into view.

  I’m up on the crow’s nest as lookout as we enter the harbor, and I can barely contain my excitement. The USA again! I’m free and not being chased for once, and I will see my friends soon! And, and, oh, joy!

  The schooner Margaret Todd put her nose into Massachusetts Bay this morning and headed north up the harbor with a fine wind behind her—which was very good, for it means we shall not have to row her into the dock. That is backbreaking work, and we poor sailors are glad not to have to do it.

  We slip between Lovell and Great Brewster Islands and then hard left! And so we turn, leaving Thompson to starboard, and then there’s Spectacle Island—getting close now, girl—another small turn to the right, and then into Boston Harbor. I can smell the fish markets from here and to me, after four weeks of clean, bracing salt-sea air, it smells right good. I am a city girl at heart, when not sailing, and can put up with a bit of stench when I hit the land.

  “On deck there!” I shout down. “Small lugger to starboard! Should pass us to the right, Sir, no trouble. Two barges coming down to port. Well clear!” There is traffic in this fine harbor, Boston being a bustling port and all.

  Captain S. F. Pagels looks up at me and nods. He is a thoroughgoing seaman and knows this harbor like the back of his hand.

  “Steady as she goes,” he says to his helmsman, a man as seasoned in his skill as is the Captain in his.

  Then, from the topmast, a voice is raised in song . . .

  Oh, I thought I heard the Old Man say,

  Leave her, Jacky, leave her!

  Tomorrow you will get your pay,

  And it’s time for you to leave her!

  I grin down at the rogues on deck who are giving voice to this song. The crew know I’m getting off in Boston and feel it right and proper to sing me off with this song. They and the Margaret Todd are headed up to Eden, their home port on Mount Desert Island, and they are glad to be getting back to wives and sweethearts, but not, I believe, so glad to get rid of me. They are a jolly pack of dogs, and I will hate to see them go.

  The work was hard an’ the voyage was long,

  Leave her, Jacky, leave her!

  The sea was high and the gales was strong,

  And it’s time for you to leave her!

  It’s like a tradition, an end-of-voyage song, wherein the crew get to air their grievances and get back a bit at the captain. That’s why it’s always sung only at the end of a voyage, and not during . . . and only if the captain is a decent cove, which Captain Pagels, praise be, is.

  The grub was bad an’ the wages low,

  Leave her, Jacky, leave her!

  But now once more ashore you’ll go,

  It’s time for you to leave her!

  Oh, and I am ready to leave her, count on that. True, the wages were, indeed, low, but the Maggie Todd got me from Gibraltar to here, and for that I thank her. She did take her time getting here—sailing first to Savannah to drop off her cargo of Spanish cloth, then down to Jamaica to pick up kegs of molasses. And oh, those barrels were heavy and I was not spared in the loading of them, no I was not . . .

  The winds were foul, all work and no play,

  Leave her, Jacky, leave her!

  From the Liverpool Docks up to Boston Bay,

  It’s time for you to leave her!

  And then back up to Charleston to deliver and to take on mail and then on to New York. Finally, here to Boston, dear old Beantown, oh, yes!

  We’ll make her fast an’ stow our gear,

  Leave her, Jacky, leave her!

  The girls are awaitin’ on the pier,

  And it’s time for you to leave her!

  Hmmm . . . There is a girl awaitin’, but she ain’t on the pier, and she ain’t up here in the foretop, neither. Oh no, she’s right down below on the deck, and I know her eyes are filling with tears. This was the way of it:

  I had shipped on this bark at Gibraltar in my sailor-boy disguise, something I have done before and generally gotten away with. I figured things would go easier on me that way and, too, I would be paid seaman’s wages, which was good since I was dead broke. If I had announced I was a girl, they would not have taken me on as a member of the crew, and with no money to pay my fare, I’d still be standing on that dock in southern Spain.

  The trip over was a good one—all us coves sitting around the potbellied stove, swapping tales and singing songs—all cozy in this winter crossing, when we weren’t up on deck freezing our toes off, that is. The crew was mostly older men—middle-aged and well-seasoned sailors—and then me in my seaman’s togs. There was, however, a complication. Captain Pagels had his wife and daughter along, and therein lay the problem, for the daughter, Griselda
, took an immediate shine to young Jack the Sailor.

  Why did she like me? I dunno . . . But then, why shouldn’t she? She was at the starry-eyed stage of her life when all was potential, shiny and new, and nothing was old and dull . . . so she did not necessarily dream of the heavily whiskered men of her father’s crews. And here’s downy-cheeked Jack the Sailor, no threat at all to her maidenly virtue, a virtue I sensed early on she was right willing to give up to young Jack. Down in the fo’c’s’le, we had many a fine story and song. I got not a few ribald gibes concerning the Captain’s lovely daughter, but I bore up under it, blushing and looking away.

  So I very carefully gave her a shipboard romance, since there seemed no way to avoid it . . . and it was a very innocent romance you may be sure. She was but fifteen and quite pretty and, I gotta say, for a kid, she was quite amorous.

  So what was the harm in that? None, as I see it. She’ll always remember this cruise most fondly, as memories seem to glow more golden as the years pass. Ah, yes, but what of the parting that must now come, and what to do about a young girl’s tears?

  This morning, before we entered the harbor, she came to me by the base of the third mast, well out of sight of her father, who stood on his quarterdeck, preparing to con his ship down the channel. I took her shoulders in my hands, looked deep into her brimming blue eyes, and spouted out the most awful, high-sounding nonsense . . .

  “Oh, Griselda, it grieves me to the depths of my poor soul, but I must go now and leave you, love. I know that it is the best thing to do for I am but a poor, penniless sailor and you are the fine daughter of a rich merchant captain. While I will always be poor and penniless, you shall go out in society and become a fine lady. You will be admired by all and you shall marry a great man. And I . . . I will remain married to my true mistress . . .”

  At this point I put my hand on my breast and look out across the water and conclude with a heavy sigh . . .

  “. . . the sea.”

  Yes, I had a hard time keeping a straight face, but I do think I let her down as easy as I could. She snuffled and buried her face in my front, and we remained that way till I was called away to the foretop.

  Now I thought I heard the Old Man say,

  Leave her, Jacky, leave her!

  One more good heave and then belay,

  And it’s time for you to leave her!

  And it is, indeed, time for me to leave her, so off the Margaret Todd I bounce. On my way down, right by the gangway, amidst all the cheers and catcalls, one grizzled old cove, Thaddeus Smathers, by name, grabs my arm. He winks broadly at me and whispers into my ear, “Ye didn’t fool me for a minute, no ye didn’t, Jacky Faber! Good sailin’ to ye, lass!” I gulp and press on. One more soulful glance back at Griselda, standing bereft at the rail, and I am off.

  So I rambled back into Boston town, and here I am again, stepping onto the old familiar ground.

  I mean to go to the Pig and Whistle, see Maudie, take rooms, order up a bath, and generally freshen up before going to visit my other friends. And I need to check out the lay of the land. After all, there are some around here who feel quite strongly that I should be serving out my life sentence in the penal colony in Botany Bay, Australia. So I must be careful.

  Ah, dear old Boston, I think as I walk up State Street. Poor Jack the Sailor, home at last, clad in sturdy sailor gear with seabag on my shoulder, and soaking in all the old familiar sights. There’s Ezra Pickering’s office, and there’s the façade of Faber Shipping Worldwide. Oh, how it gladdens my heart to see it, the sign above its doorway all gilt and gold and black and deep maroon and the Blue Anchor flag flapping merrily above.

  But no, I do not stop. I press on and round the corner, my dry throat ready for a mug of the Pig’s good strong ale, and . . . and then I am shocked to my core.

  The Pig is dead.

  The dear old Pig and Whistle is closed. Heavy boards are nailed over its windows and door, and its sign bearing the happy fat pig playing on his pennywhistle and dancing a merry jig is faded and peeling, and it hangs lopsided by a single hinge, twisting sadly in the breeze.

  As I stand disconsolate, I hear what sounds like a parade coming down the street . . . There is the beating of drums and the shouting of a chant.

  “Suffrage, now! Votes for women, now! Equality, now! Now! Now!”

  Then, from around a corner comes a crowd of women, formed in a column of three rows across, all dressed in black, looking very grim, and most bearing banners of some sort—all of which echo the chant: Suffrage, now! Votes for women, now! Equality, now! Now! Now!

  I stand astounded, for whom should I see in the third row, second rank, holding a sign and looking very resolute, but . . .

  Amy? Amy Trevelyne?

  “Amy!” I call out and wave, unable to suppress my joy at seeing my dear friend yet again.

  Shocked, she looks over to see this merry sailor boy clad in white canvas trousers, middy top, and sailor cap, with seabag on shoulder and open-mouthed smile on face. She drops her sign and gasps, “JACKY?”

  Chapter 2

  The shock of discovering the Pig abandoned and in great disrepair is quickly replaced with the joy of seeing my dear friend Amy Trevelyne. Once I have settled her down to a degree—“Now, now, Amy, calm thyself . . .” “But Jacky . . . (gasp!) . . . I never expected to see you again in this life and now here you are . . .” “’Tis true, Sister, every inch of me . . . y’see, I do have a way of popping back up—like a cork or maybe a bad dream. So shush, now, dry your tears, for we must go see Ezra. The Pig is in trouble.” We then hie ourselves down to Ezra Pickering’s law office. He’s my dear friend and also my lawyer, who tries to bail my butt out of jail any time it finds itself in one, which is fairly often. And, of course, he’s also Clerk of Faber Shipping Worldwide, Incorporated.

  After heartfelt greetings—“Ezra, how good to see you! And Chloe, too, dear girl, come give us a hug!”—I go into a side room and wriggle back into female garb. Then we get down to business. “What happened to the Pig and where is Maudie?”

  After being informed that the Pig and Whistle is nearing foreclosure and that Maudie and her man, Bob, have taken very mean quarters down on South Street, I head for the door, saying, “Ezra, I leave Amy in your care! Meet me at the Union Oyster House for lunch!”

  While seeming to be very pleased to have Amy in his care, Ezra still blurts out, “But, Jacky, we have much to discuss!”

  “I know, Ezra, but that can wait a few minutes! Bring Chloe, too! I won’t be long! Cheers!” and I am out and pounding down the street.

  “So that’s the way of it, Jacky,” says Maudie, all disconsolate. “What with me getting on in years and poor Bob with his rheumatism, well, we just couldn’t handle it. And we couldn’t hire help, business bein’ so bad and all.” Her man, Bob, sitting in a rocking chair with a throw over his legs, nods grimly in agreement.

  “So now it looks like the bank is gonna take the place,” he says. “And there’s naught we can do about it.”

  Their rooms are, indeed, mean, there being only a kitchen and bedroom, with a single window facing out on the brick wall of the building next door. The interior walls are peeling and in need of paint. We sit at the kitchen table, sipping the tea Maudie has managed to serve.

  “Why is business so bad?” I ask. The Pig always did have a bit of a problem being not right on the docks. Thirsty sailors had to walk a mite to get to it, something they were loath to do, their having great thirsts that needed immediate quenching, but I get the feeling there’s more to it than that. Yes, there were those great days when Gully MacFarland and I packed the place with our musical act—MacFarland and Faber, the Toast of Two Continents, Singing and Playing for You Songs both Sad and Gay! On Fiddle and Squeezebox and Flageolet! But now Gully is far away at sea and I myself have gone missing for a while. Most recently I was a convict on the way to and from Botany Bay, and then I was involved in Lord Wellesley’s Peninsular Campaign against Napoleon’s forces in Portugal and
Spain. Still, even with Gully and me out of the picture, the Pig used to do enough business to scrape by.

  “Times have changed in Boston, dearie,” says Maudie with a sigh. “Used to be different sorts of people got along with each other, but now it ain’t like that at all.”

  I’m a bit mystified by that, but I don’t pursue it as I rise to go.

  “I’ve got to meet some people, Maudie,” I say, standing. “But I’ll be back. Let me leave you with this promise: The Pig shall dance again, and I mean that.”

  As I let myself out the door, I hear Maudie call after me, “It’s the gangs, they’re the ones what done it. Beware, Jacky.”

  The gangs?

  Ten minutes later, I slip into a booth at the Union Oyster House, sliding in next to Chloe and across from Amy and Ezra. A plate of fat oysters on a bed of ice is brought as I settle in, along with glasses of chilled white wine all around. Amy still beams unreservedly at me, and I am gratified to see that she holds hands with Ezra. I give Chloe Cantrell a squeeze of her own hand and then pile into the oysters. I am told that some excellent lobsters are being prepared, and for that I am glad—the fare on the Margaret Todd was not all that fine.

  The questions from Amy fly at me quick and fast. “Where . . . ? What . . . ? How did you get here? How . . . ?”

  I squeeze a slice of lemon over one particularly plump fellow, lift him up, and drop him down the Faber neck. A few more follow, and some bites of good crunchy bread, and then I answer, “Later, Sister, at Dovecote, in our beloved hayloft, for there is much to tell. But right now, I need a report on the state of Faber Shipping Worldwide from its esteemed Clerk of the Corporation.”

 
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