My name is Jim, Jim Bloodsilver, but I was born James Grandsilver to Harold Grandsilver, a silversmith, and Annebelle Grandsilver. At an early age I was apprenticed to my father as a silversmith, so I could "Learn an honest trade through and through". However, I knew that my destiny was not a smith shop, but out on the deep blue sea. My first taste of the sea came at age eight, when I tried to run away from home by stowing aboard a merchant ship. The captain caught me and sent me straight back home to my parents. I received a whipping and no supper that night and the allure of the sea was pushed to the back of my mind for years to come.My destiny, however, could not be held off forever, and I soon found myself called to the sea once again. This time I was twelve, and could not resist any longer. I signed up as a cabin boy on a merchant ship and prepared to turn my back on the place I once called home. However, the day the ship was to set sail, my father came running and shouting. I turned and stopped, and handed me a compass and told me, "I always knew your destiny would be on the sea. I myself was a seaman, but I turned to our family business. Your grandfather spent his time on the sea, and my grandfather as well. This compass has been in our family for I don't know how many generations. Take care of it, and come home safely." I opened up the compass, and it was and still is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. It was made with a black wood, with gold inlay like rays of sunshine. The pearl face looked like a full moon, and the gold and silver arrow finished it off perfectly. I knew with this by my side, nothing bad would ever happen. I stuttered my thanks, embraced my father, and strode up the gangplank. I thought that I would be home within a year. I should have known things would not end like that.
I spent much of my time among the crew. Captain Smith was a kindly man, but he did have his moments of temper. His First Mate, Jebediah Rethell, was the complete opposite. Normally a dark and surly guy, he had his moments of extreme emotion. The cook, Franklin, spent most of his time speaking instead of cooking, but if you insulted his cooking, you would get the bad bits for weeks to come. The boatswain, Thomas Meyer, was a funny guy and always had a joke ready for any occasion. Andrew, Benjamin, and Charles were three triplets on the ship, it was often said that they switched duties without anyone knowing. Greer was the most received of the crew, and no one knew much about him. These were the men who I spent my first year of sailing with. However I should have known it wouldn't always be smooth sailing.My first encounter with the EITC was during my first year at sea. We were hailed by a black ship and before I knew it, they had pulled up beside us and boarded us. They claimed to be looking for "stolen and/or pirated goods". They then claimed about half of our cargo as "pirated goods", but promised to "look the other way" if the Captain paid them a hefty sum. The Captain paid the price and the EITC scum sailed onwards toward the horizon. Later that night, as I passed the Captain's cabin, I heard sobbing. I cracked the door and I saw the Captain slumped over his table sobbing. It was the only time I ever saw him cry.
After my first year came to an end, the ship and her crew were docked at Port Royal, spending their new paychecks, when a man walked into the tavern. As far as stature went, he was not much bigger than most men, nor any smaller. However, he commanded all of the attention in the room, and probably more. I recognized this man instantly, even though I had only seen one portrait of him before in my entire life. Admiral Hawk of the Royal Navy. He had come to Port Royal to catch a couple of EITC men who were abusing their power. Lo and behold, it was the same men who had stolen our goods months before! Of course, they had sold the goods long ago, but Hawk promised that he would reimburse us for our goods. And as quickly as he had come, he left, with his prisoners in tow. At that moment, I had never heard the Captain with so good words for any man. We left with our pockets empty, but our hearts (and bellies) full.
Despite Hawk's promise, the Captain never got reimbursed. However, this was no fault of Hawk's. Only later did we learn that someone in the upper workings of the Navy had pulled some strings, not only to let the EITC crooks get away scot free, but also to disgrace Admiral Hawk. They claimed that Hawk had "arrested two men of a honest trading vessel belonging to the Empire's most successful company." However, Hawk, being such a public hero, could not be shoved out of the Navy altogether. He was demoted to Captain, and flung to the far reaches of the world, where, they hoped, he would slowly fade into obscurity.
Not even a week after we had set sail after our respite, did another tragedy occur. Captain Smith came down with a terrible illness, even today we still dont know what it was. Whatever it was, it caused the captain great pain, so much so that he was unable to command. This left Rethell in command, which, in itself was not a bad thing, but the captain's illness was not good for our morale. Just when we thought it could get no worse, the most terrible thing a sailor could imagine happened. Pirates. They appeared over the horizon, just a little after noon. Our crew watched in terror as they ran up their Jolly Roger, a red flag with a black skeleton seared on, like coal dust over blood. We looked at Rethell, waiting for our orders to man our posts, grab our weapons, and be ready to fight. But none of this happened. Only one word came out of his mouth. Surrender.
I dont know who was more surprised, us at hearing Rethell's order for surrender, or the pirates, at having such easy prey. As we waited, I kneeled down and prayed for salvation, that they would not harm us, that they might let us be. As I prayed, I watched them throw hooks, catch us, and board us. They had us stand in a line, and watch as our precious cargo was stolen. Once they had taken all they wanted, only then did their Captain come aboard. I can never forget that name, one that has been seared into my mind ever since,"I am Douglas Dutthre. If any of you so much as moves a muscle, I'll kill you."
No one moved, no one dared breath. I thought we might be safe, we might be able to just go, go home with our lives, our ship...
I felt a small movement beside me. It was Benjamin, I had felt his hand twitch. I cast a sideways glance at him, and I saw his gaze had become twisted. I wondered what was wrong with him when I realised.
He was going to sneeze.
I prayed he could hold it. Just wait until they left. I saw some of them already crossing back over to their ship. If only he could hold it.
A gun went off.
I felt him drop to the ground.
I couldn't help myself. I gasped.
Another gun went off.
I felt something whiz past my ear.
Suddenly, I took it all in.
Dutthre was standing, with two smoking pistols in his hand. Benjamin was on the ground, gasping for air, desperatly trying to hold on to his life. And I felt something wet on my shoulder.
The bullet hadn't whizzed by my ear, it had whizzed THROUGH my ear. And now, I was left with the bloody wound.
As quickly as the pirates had arrived, the clambered back on their ship, eager to go looking for soem new victims, I supposed. However, Captain Dutthre didn't leave so quickly. He walked, no, he bounded over to the dying Benjamin, cocked his pistol back one more time, and whispered "I'm sorry".
A bang, then, silence.
And it was over. The pirates left, and we sailed on. Minus one sailor.
Benjamin's murder hit everyone hard, but especially his brothers, Andrew and Charles. They acted like they were Ok, but they came prone to fits of frustration, anger, and even crying. Especially Charles. He acted as if the world could end any second. But, as it does, life went on. And I went on as well, carrying a secret in my heart. No one else had heard the Pirate Captain's last statement but me, or so I believed. Dutthre has whispered that he was sorry? What did he want, forgiveness? But even this too sunk to the back of my mind, as we were about to make our greatest journey yet.
We came to our port destination, once again with empty pockets. The owner of the boat, a Mr. Sneed, was not happy with Captain Smith. Twice he had come to port with nothing to show. Mr. Sneed was not pleased to say the least, but he was willing to give Captain Smith one last chance. I listened through a crack in the door as Smith and Sneed discussed the travel plans. I heard little, but I did catch the word "Singapore". Suddenly, my vision was clouded with ideas of an exotic land, filled with new and beautiful things, not to mention-
"SINGAPORE?! And in that little time! That requires-"
"Yes, yes. It requires you to sail around Cape Horn, both ways.
Suddenly, I realised why Sneed was giving Smith another chance. He needed someone lucky-or foolhardy- enough to make it around Cape Horn. And from the sound of things, it seemed like we had little time. I hoped that this voyage wasnt going to be our last...Cape Horn is not something to be taken lightly. Even the most experienced and talented sailors feared going around the Horn. The storms made the waters rough, and storms were frequent. So, a preffered route was to go around Africa and past India. It took twice as long, but some considered it worth it not to be caught at the Horn. Smith didnt have a choice. It was the Horn or bust.
The Captain waited until we were in the open ocean before he told us our destination, or the route to be taken. There was no turning back, we had to face these challenges head on, or die trying.
We arrived at the Horn four days early, which was both good and bad. It was good for Sneed's business, but bad for us. The change in weather in seemed instantaneous. One moment, it seemed bright and sunny, the next, we were fighting for our life against a never ending storm. The wind pushed us along at blinding speed, but it also tested our masts and sails, as well as our bodies. We were wet, cold, miserable, and wet. However, it seemed that our troubles might end soon, and everything might end well. Alas, it was not to be...
The last thing I heard before I was hit was the crack of the mast and the words "MAN OVERBOARD!". I felt something hit me and when I came to I was surrounded by swirling water and the broken rigging whipping in the wind. My first thought went to the water was that I had fallen overboard, and would drown. But then I realised that something was wrong. The Wind? I came back to reality in full and realised that, although I had been hit, I had not gone overboard. I thanked God for my fortune, but then realised something else was wrong. If I had not gone overboard, who had. I scanned the water and saw Andrew swimming desperatly for the broken rigging. He seemed he might make it. But above the howling wind, I heard Captain Smith and Rethell yelling."Sir!" Rethell yelled, "The broken mast is causing the ship to list. If we dont cut the rigging, we might-" "Sink. I know!" Smith howled back. Smith picked up an axe, and started hacking away on the rigging which remained unbroken, trying to cut the ship free. Upon seeing this, Rethell and a couple other crew members, grabbed their own axes and began helping the captain free the ship.