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Bring It Close - the third Sea Witch Voyage is set during October 1718 - the month when ghosts walk and the dead return...
Jesamiah Acorne, Captain of the Sea Witch, has accepted a government-granted amnesty against his misdeeds of piracy, but old enemies do not forget the past. In particular Edward Teach - better known as Blackbeard - has a bone to pick with Acorne. Following an indiscretion with an old flame, Jesamiah finds his fiancée, the midwife and white witch Tiola Oldstagh, has gone to North Carolina to help with an imminent and difficult birth. The problem; that is where Blackbeard now resides.
He must not discover that Tiola is Jesamiah's woman, she will have to hide her identity and her gift of Craft from the black-hearted pirate who has sold his soul to the devil. With Sea Witch damaged and himself wounded by Blackbeard, Jesamiah has to take stock of his situation at his old home in Virginia - but trouble follows him like a ship's wake and he is arrested for acts of piracy on the High Seas.
Too much trouble has come too close! How is Jesamiah Acorne to clear his name, overturn a sentence of hanging, keep Tiola safe, put an end to Blackbeard and deal with being haunted by the ghost of his father? Bring It Close moves from the Bahamas to North Carolina and Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia at a swashbuckling pace. There is intrigue, misunderstanding, romance and adventure all wrapped up in a delightful blend of mystical fantasy set during the period of Samhain - Halloween.
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(Scroll down for the English translation)
“Ti stavamo cercando, Acorne,” disse l’uomo con l’orecchino.
“E mi avete pure beccato, o no?” strascicò Jesamiah. Aveva abbandonato il suo usuale accento colto, e si abbandonò alla parlata chiusa di un comune mozzo. Era un ottimo imitatore, aveva un talento naturale nell’imparare accenti e cadenze tonali. Sapeva anche quando comportarsi da gentiluomo e quando da sempliciotto.
Vuotò il suo boccale, sollevandolo poi per fischiare all’indirizzo di Nan-Non-Dice-No, una sgualdrina piena come un galeone spagnolo, i cui fascini la tenevano tanto occupata quanto la sedia di un barbiere.
Ancheggiò verso Jesamiah, la parte superiore del suo corpo era parzialmente esposta e i suoi abbondanti seni dondolarono accanto al volto di lui mentre la donna si chinava a versargli dell’altro rum.
“E per i tuoi amici?” chiese, con un cenno del volto nella loro direzione.
“Non sono amici miei,” rispose Jesamiah, sollevando il boccale per assaggiare il liquore appena versatogli.
L’uomo con l’orecchino mosse il capo in uno scatto, indicando a Nan di andarsene. Lei sospirò sprezzante, allontanandosi, lasciandosi indietro la sua risata profonda e rimbombante, non appena un altro uomo attirò la sua attenzione pizzicandole l’ampio didietro.
“Ma per dire meglio, Acorne, è che è Teach quello che ti sta cercando.”
Con una mezza alzata di spalle, Jesamiah finse noncuranza; “Non è che mi sto nascondendo, Gibbens. Sono qui ancorato al porto di Nassau da diverse settimane.” Da agosto, in effetti, se si escludeva la sua breve gita a Hispaniola – un’esperienza che Jesamiah stava cercando di lasciarsi alle spalle e dimenticare. E da lì, il rum.
“Aye, abbiamo sentito che hai firmato l’amnistia e ci hai lasciato le palle in mano a Governatore Rogers.” Gibbens ringhiò, accompagnando le parole a un gesto crudo ed esplicito sulle sue parti basse.
“Mollato la pirateria?” Barba Rossa – Rufus – sbuffò mentre raggruppava un grumo di saliva e tabacco nella sua bocca per poi lanciarlo sul pavimento. “Ti sei rammollito, eh? Hai il barile a secco, eh? Hai perso le palle, eh?” Aggiunse poi, con malizia, “A Edward Teach non ce ne fregava niente delle favole di pace del governo, né di uno stramaledetto perdono.” Conficcò il pugnale nel piano del tavolo di legno, dove vibrò, tanto minaccioso quanto l’uomo che lo brandiva.
Non è ciò che ho sentito, pensò Jesamiah, senza però dire nulla. Non aveva alcuna intenzione di avvicinarsi a Edward Teach, meglio noto come Barbanera – sebbene Cuore Nero sarebbe stato altrettanto appropriato. Persino la feccia e i miscredenti che giravano nei Caraibi in cerca di bottino facile evitavano quel feroce pirata che era Barbanera.
Oltretutto, Jesamiah non era più un pirata. Proprio come aveva detto Gibbens, aveva firmato con il suo nome nel libro rilegato in pelle di Governatore Rogers e aveva accettato il perdono reale di Sua Maestà Re Giorgio. Ed era precisamente quello il motivo per cui non aveva niente di meglio da fare che starsene seduto in quella taverna a bere rum: la pirateria, saccheggiare, razziare, niente di tutto questo faceva più parte di lui, non più. Ora, Jesamiah Acorne, capitano della Sea Witch, aveva una donna che stava per sposare, una fortuna sostanziosa che avrebbe finalmente potuto cominciare a godersi, se solo avesse saputo come spenderla, e la dubbiosa reputazione di chi stava diventando un uomo ozioso.
Era anche annoiato.
“Ci devi qualcosa, Acorne,” disse Rufus. “E Teach vuole che paghi il debito.”
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Or in English...
Tuesday, 1st October 1718
Jesamiah Acorne, four and twenty years old, Captain f the Sea Witch, sat with his hands cradled around an almost empty tankard of rum, staring blankly at the drips of candle-wax that had hardened into intricate patterns down the sides of a green glass bottle. The candle itself was smoking and leaning to one side as if drunk. As drunk as Jesamiah.
For maybe ten seconds he did not notice the two grim-faced, shabby ruffians sit down on the bench opposite him. One of them reached forward and snuffed out the guttering flame, pushed the bottle aside. Jesamiah looked up, stared at them as vacantly as he had been staring at the congealed rivers of wax.
One of the men, the one wearing a battered three-corner felt hat and a gold hoop earring that dangled from his left earlobe, leant his arms on the table, linking his tar and gunpowder-grimed fingers together. The other, a red-haired man with a beard like a weather-worn, abandoned bird’s nest, eased a dagger from the sheath on his belt and began cleaning his split and broken nails with its tip.
“We’ve been lookin’ fer you, Acorne,” the man with the earring said.
“Found me then, ain’t yer,” Jesamiah drawled. He dropped his usual educated accent and spoke in the clipped speech of a common foremast jack. He was a good mimic, had a natural talent to pick up languages and tonal cadences. Also knew when to play the simpleton or a gentleman.
He drained his tankard, held it high and whistled for Never-Say-No Nan, a wench built like a Spanish galleon and whose charms kept her as busy as a barber’s chair.
She ambled over to Jesamiah, the top half of her partially exposed and extremely ample bosoms wobbling close to his face as she poured more rum.
“What about your friends?” she asked, nodding in their direction.
“Ain’t no friends of mine,” Jesamiah answered lifting his tankard to sample the replenished liquor.
The man with the earring jerked his head, indicating Nan was to be gone. She sniffed haughtily and swept away, her deep-rumbled laughter drifting behind as another man gained her attention by pinching her broad backside.
“Or to be more accurate, Acorne, Teach ‘as been lookin’ for yer.”
Half shrugging, Jesamiah made a fair pretence at nonchalance; “I ain’t exactly been ‘iding, Gibbens. I’ve been openly anchored ‘ere in Nassau ‘arbour for several weeks.” Since August in fact, apart from a brief excursion to Hispaniola – which Jesamiah was attempting to set behind him and forget about. Hence the rum.
“Aye, we ‘eard as ‘ow thee’ve signed for amnesty and put yer piece into Governor Rogers’ ‘and,” Gibbens sneered, making an accompanying crude and explicit gesture near his crotch.
“Given up piracy?” Red Beard – Rufus – scoffed as he hoiked tobacco spittle into his mouth and gobbed it to the floor, “Gone soft ‘ave thee? Barrel run dry, ‘as it? Lost yer balls, eh?” Added with malice, “Edward Teach weren’t interested in fairy-tale government amnesties, nor ‘ollow pardons.” He drove his dagger into the wooden table where it quivered as menacing as the man who owned it.
That’s not what I’ve heard, Jesamiah thought but said nothing. He had no intention of going anywhere near Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, though Black Heart would be as appropriate. Even the scum and miscreants who roamed the seas of the Caribbean in search of easy loot and plunder avoided the brute of a pirate who was Blackbeard.
Aside, Jesamiah was no longer a pirate. As Gibbens had said, he had signed his name in Governor Rogers’ leather-bound book and accepted His Majesty King George’s royal pardon. Which was why he had nothing better to do than sit here in this tavern drinking rum. Piracy, plundering, pillaging, none of that was for him, not now. Now, Jesamiah Acorne, Captain of the Sea Witch, had a woman he was about to marry, a substantial fortune that he could start using if only he knew what to spend it on, and the dubious reputation of becoming a respectable man of leisure.
He was also bored.
“You owe him, Acorne,” Rufus said. “Teach wants the debt paid.”
Originally published 1st December 2012
Carole passed away in 2016, and is very much missed by many of us in the literary world, both professionally and personally. Back in 2012 I invited her to contribute an article for my guest blog about her passion for dollshouses (a passion I share, although not on the same scale as Carole). She was thrilled to oblige, and here, as a tribute, and because that old blog is now closed and I did not wish to delete Carole's words, or my memory of her wonderful support and friendship, is that post again
After fourteen years in publishing, Carole started her own literary agency which merged to become Blake Friedmann in 1983. Carole’s clients included Elizabeth Chadwick, Barbara Erskine and Julian Stockwin - among many others. However, I did not invite Carole to my Guest Blog to talk on literary matters, (although books do get mentioned!) but something far more exciting - especially to those of us who are fascinated by the miniature world... over to you Carole....
DOLLSHOUSES by Carole Blake
|The Georgian House|
‘Woodworm’, my mother said. Even at eight I disbelieved her.
Fifty years later my father confessed she had hated dusting it and had given it to the church fete.
For decades I harboured the wish for one. My 1730s country cottage was far too small. Later, my large Victorian London house was huge, but no single room was quite large enough. I sold it, bought a modern penthouse and though with many fewer rooms, each room was larger than the corresponding room in the previous house. A dollshouse was now a possibility!
After a year of research, I bought a huge kit for a six foot high, five floor, thirteen room (plus four wide halls) house. I wanted a long-term project to customise myself, and feel proud of at the end. Had I over-extended myself? Quite possibly.
Tiles (real terracotta, 1:12 scale, width, length, thickness) are easy to glue down. Grouting though: that’s another story. Mix the mini-pot of grouting, cover all tiles, wipe off with a damp cloth leaving grouting just between tiles? It doesn’t work like that. With such minuscule spaces, ALL the grouting comes off with the damp cloth. I did it again. And again… the air was un-festively blue. But when I finally accomplished it, I was inordinately proud. And still am. If you enter my sitting room and fail to praise the terracotta tiles you’ll never be invited again!
(Helen: all aspiring authors take note of this important strategy...)
I realised that building it would be a long term project, but I planned to accumulate furnishings etc while doing so. It’s become – not quite an obsession – but certainly a passion, trading up as I accumulate more knowledge and experience.
Then the buildings collection started to grow …
|The Georgian house open|
I went to Birmingham for two days of a dollshouse collectors fair. Saw a kit for a shop: I could buy and build that and store items there until my house is built. I bought it, built it, am now buying specific items for the shop… which rather defeats the original purpose.
Anything that should have doors, drawers, shelves, handles, will have the correct things in or on. My kitchen dresser has cutlery in the drawers, of course.
Bookcases (in rooms, as well as to line each side of the halls on all floors) will only have real books that open. I’m trading up all the time. At the beginning I bought books that now I see have bindings that are too clunky.
Having discovered someone in Tyne & Wear who makes exquisite miniature replicas of antiquarian books (some with 100 readable pages), I bid for all he offers on e-Bay. You would have to kill me to reveal my source for these.
The finished Georgian House I bought has taught me a lot about what to do with the house I am building. I had idiotically omitted to buy enough wallpaper for the house doors/room walls that would open out. I have to repaper the rooms that I had already completed.
|Decanter Label (port)|
I hadn’t – at the beginning – got my eye in to scale. The shelves I carpentered and added to the walls of the kitchen, pantry and laundry room I now see are too high. I must take them down and add them at a height that my ‘family’ could reach.
The basement that is almost complete
(kitchen, pantry, wide hall, laundry
room, gardener’s room, downstairs loo) must be taken apart and redone. Better.
|Some of the Cranberry Glass collection|
Early on I decided not to have people. I’ve never seen dolls (even the very expensive, handmade dolls) that looked realistic. I didn’t like dolls when I was a child, and I don’t like them now. So my family have ‘gone out’.
Each room will be as though they have just left it: I’m aiming for a lived-in look. I was inspired here by the Dennis Severs house in London – visit it if you can.
|Egg cracked open|
The internet fuels the fervour of my miniature shopping, but I should be more circumspect. Occasionally I purchase unwisely. I blame publishing parties and alcohol. But that which is bought on the internet, can be sold on the internet.
|Decanters in a tantalus|
Aiming for perfection, i.e. realism. I’m sure I won’t make it, but there will be a lot of fun on the way.
I’m preparing my Christmas tree right now …
|The Utility Room|
I keep a list in the computer of all the miniatures websites I discover.
E-bay is another good source of items.
|... and its size!|
~ ~ ~
a feature of my Guest Blog was for guests to select their guests so...
Carole's Dinner Guests
a feature of my Guest Blog was for guests to select their guests so...
Carole's Dinner Guests
Mostly historical, because how else could I resolve the burning questions that are left after reading their biographies?
Richard III : a member of the Richard III Society for decades (and therefore very pro him), I’m fascinated by the eternal questions about him and his two nephews.
Eleanor of Aquitaine : such an intriguing woman. Seeing her interact with the others could only be interesting.
William Marshal : have been in love with him – and in awe of him - ever since I first read the ms of Elizabeth Chadwick’s THE GREATEST KNIGHT. Would have to watch the body language between him and Eleanor …
Alain Fournier (author of LE GRAND MEAULNES, one of my favourite novels ever). So many questions to ask him about how he came upon the story.
Hildegard von Bingen : I wouldn’t agree with her views on religion, but oh to meet the composer of that ethereal music.
Giotto : Because I cried the first time I entered the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua and saw his frescoes.
David Munrow : the inspired and driven early music pioneer. Fascinated by his life and to find out why he killed himself.
George Clooney : Just because.
and other lovely items....
Helen: I wonder if Carole has now had the great pleasure of meeting any of these people who are with her on the 'other side'. I do hope so.~ ~ ~
Blake Friedmann website
Carole, you are very much missed, but I don't think 'rest in peace' is fitting for you, because you were always so energetic and engrossed in the next 'project' ... I think 'resting' will be very much not on your agenda!
Maybe - 'keep bustling' is more appropriate?