Amazon Author Page (Universal Link) viewAuthor.at/HelenHollick
Newsletter Subscription: http://tinyletter.com/HelenHollickSign up now and get a free i-book token for When the Mermaid Sings!
Throughout childhood, Jesamiah Mereno has suffered the bullying of his elder half-brother. Then, not quite fifteen years old and on the day they bury their father, Jesamiah hits back. In consequence, he flees his home, changes his name to Jesamiah Acorne and joins the crew of his father’s seafaring friend Captain Malachias Taylor, aboard the privateer Mermaid.
He makes enemies, sees the ghost of his father, wonders who is the Cornish girl he hears in his mind, and tries to avoid the beguiling lure of a mermaid.
An early tale of the young Jesamiah Acorne, set in the years before he becomes Captain of the Sea Witch.
published in e-book format only.
As ordered, Jesamiah had been crouched low beside the forward gunwale, shrouded by the torn canvas of an old sail. It had been hot and airless, giving only a limited view of the deck – the not knowing exactly what was happening adding to the fear building in his guts and bladder. Tom Markham had noticed his pale, green-tinged complexion.
"You alright?" he had asked, nudging Jesamiah with his elbow to gain his attention.
"I… I think so," had come the hesitant response as Jesamiah switched from fiddling with his earring to tugging at what he was hoping to regard as his lucky blue ribbon. "Although I’m not sure my belly agrees."
Tom had laughed. "Your first proper fight. You’ve done well in the practice bouts with Taylor, me and the other lads, but the real thing takes us all like you’re feeling. You’ll be fine once we get started. The blood-rush takes over."
"It’s my own blood-spill I’m bothered about," Jesamiah had answered with a grimace, his right hand tightening around the pistol he was holding, his left clutching a small, round buckler.
"There’s only one certainty in life, lad: death. Best to look the Grim Reaper in the eye and meet him in a fair fight. Go out screaming your lungs out because you’re aiming to kill him before he kills you."
It proved to be good advice.
When the signal came and the concealing canvas was thrown aside, the hidden men lurched upward in one bellowing mass. Even had he wanted to, there was no way Jesamiah could have remained behind. Lifted as a wave lifts a ship, he was swept along in the furore to pound his pistol butt and buckler on the rail, to scream and shout the death chant, to leap across to the Spaniard’s deck, his voice already hoarse from yelling.
He aimed, shot a man before a bullet finished him first. Reversed the pistol, sidestepped and used it like a club to fell another man running at him open-mouthed, dagger raised… He hastily tucked the pistol into his belt, drew his own dagger and slashed at another man – unaware of what he was doing, just doing it.
He protected his left side with the buckler, raised it as a boarding axe slewed down towards him, his arm jarring with the impact, but it was a wrong move by the axe-wielding Spaniard. With his opponent’s left side exposed, Jesamiah thrust his dagger into the man, up and under his ribs.
"Always under and up," Malachias had instructed, "never in and down, or your blade will do little damage, merely skim across the ribs."
Once, he thought he heard a girl scream, a warning. Had he not turned that fraction of an inch towards the sound it would have been his throat cut by a dagger blade, not his arm.
~ I am Tiola, ~ he thought he heard her whisper. ~ I am here to watch over you. ~ Then he forgot all about her – concentrated on staying alive.