Meet Captain Skull
My name is Sir Charles of Riley, and I was a lad of only seven and a half years when I first remember hearing the infamous name of Captain Skull. "He is nothing more than a tyrant!" I had heard. "An eight foot tall tyrant." This is all I remember hearing about the captain from my youth – a tyrant! But later I was to realize that none of the exaggerated statements about the captain were even true. He was certainly no tyrant; and as far as his great height was concerned, he only reached that of six feet. And how should I know this, one may curiously ask? I happen to have been in the great captain's service for nearly ten years, and I lack only a few inches of reaching his presumed un-reachable height. I am proud to recall, as I am reminiscing of those former glorious days, that I was not too far from the captain in rank. I would say first mate, but that would be an awkward statement, seeing as there was another who stood with the captain and me upon the main deck of our ship.
This other man, my near ranking officer friend, who was by birth (and noticeably by his dignified mannerism) a full-blooded Frenchman, had a head full of blonde hair – of which he kept excellent care of. He elegantly wore a light blonde moustache – that he carefully trimmed every morning. He had a slim figure – of which he continually kept in shape by constant fencing exercises. And he had a set of mysteriously deep blue eyes – that could hold the darkest of secrets without fear of being revealed even to the keenest of observers. And yet this latter stated description (that is, the mentioning of his eyes), were a complete opposite of mine, of which are only a dark brown, and that could not hold a secret to save my life.
Not only are my eyes dark brown, but so also is my short hair, which I have always taken special care of – for I wore no periwig, as many of the noble lords of that day were doing. At the present time of this writing I am clean-shaven (as are my fellow-Englishmen), but of the time of which I am writing about, I did display a very, very small goatee and light moustache – as much as my youth would allow me to grow! And lastly, concerning my physique, it is slightly more muscular, I do dare say, than that of my fine French friend.
But, alas, even though these before mentioned qualities, which I took special care to hold back some extreme details of, belonged to the proud natures that I and my French ship mate shared, they were not even comparable to those exceptional qualities of Captain Skull – of whom I carefully make mention of in this telling. For though he was a man full of mysteries, his outward appearance told many things, without he having to even open his mouth. His eyes, as if he were the Frenchman’s brother, were as blue crystals – which occasionally and brilliantly caught the glimmer of the sun, and were always sparkling, as if the seven oceans were enclosed within. Their color could almost pass for aqua, though an occasional dullness would shoot through them (revealing a darker blue) whenever he had became angered: which, in all honesty, did not occur often enough to even be mentioned, for his was a nature that was the most patient and mild-mannered that ever I’d seen the likes of! These deep blue eyes, as I have just described, could have him pass for a fine Frenchman, though his looks revealed an Irish or Scottish origin. However, his hair (being very long, straight and black), could have him either being a Latin born nobleman, an American native, or a Spaniard fresh from the New World. A much asked question amongst the crew was always where he had come from. But if there were any persons living during that time that had knowledge of his origins, they were silent to approach with a satisfactory answer. I myself, and on several occasions, had heard him speak French, Spanish, English (for, of course, English is my language – the only one I could speak, and still the only one I completely know), and even once did I hear him speak German. So, in other words, he could have sprang from anywhere in the known world!
The captain always wore black, from his head to his foot, and an occasional white or silver, placed here and about, to add interest to his elaborate costumes – full of lace and plumes they were! He was a mighty man of valor, indeed, who never spoke much, and never even opened his lips unless a situation commanded him to. Sometimes I would see days go by that he would not utter a word; then, on other occasions, he would speak nearly all afternoon. But when his lips were not in motion (delivering, as if it were, words of gold), he would be in deep thought, and readily giving himself, what I considered, thorough sound advice. These silent days did not mean that he was locked up tight in his cabin; but to the contrary, he stood with us quite a bit upon the decks of our ship, while shaking or nodding his head ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to answer small questions. However, when he did speak, it was only about important matters, having no nonsense or jesting within the speech; which was very much unlike me, and especially my dandy French friend, who had always a ready, witty and sometimes comical saying for any occasion that demanded a light response.
The captain’s presence secured intelligence, braveness, shrewdness, and outright strength. He was the greatest – I do here proclaim – the greatest of all Pirates! For this was our profession; and such a one that deserved honest respect . . . . Honest respect? Piracy? Can that really be so? Verily, for half the crew, as incredible as it may seem, were noblemen. Aye – noblemen, who were banished from nearly every country in Europe. This, what I am saying, is no jest; and it had constituted from the strangest of events, for these exiled lords and nobles (I know not for what crimes – for it was something that was not asked, neither was it told), made our Spanish Galleon seem, as if it were, the grandest of any royal court, to which nobles paid homage only to themselves. Quite unique, no doubt, but unbelievably true. Captain Skull had made for himself a small, should I say – underground – reputation for being a gentleman tyrant. Always when he boarded a ship, he killed only those whom he had a necessity to kill, and spared those who had pleaded for their life; others (if they were of a robust nature), were even allowed to join his crew. Indeed, he needed man-power to run his ship. Could it truly be imagined that these noblemen were acting as mere sailors? That would have been a thought unworthy to even be mentioned onboard. Therefore, to this result, seeing as Captain Skull was a somewhat respected practicing Pirate, and because noblemen and courtly lords who had no other means of accumulating tons of gold unto their persons, they readily grasped the idea of Piracy, and had joined Captain Skull on his quest for . . . for what? . . . for what would almost seem to be revenge. But the reason for this revenge, if such were even the case, was another one of those questions that remained unanswered. But my thoughts on the subject was that he himself was a banished noble or lord who had taken on Piracy for revenge on the corrupted and pampered nations that did not treat their nobles nor their citizenry appropriately. Perhaps the greatest reason for this adopted occupation of his (which had hit my mind) could have very well laid in the fact that he desired the acquiring of much wealth. Verily, and admittedly, he had a love for treasure!
Though many people’s thoughts were very sketchy on this man’s life during his notorious career, and even though I (as was just mentioned) had tried desperately to guess at his true nature, and of his mysterious background, it certainly doesn’t mean that I never received the answers to his origins . . . for, indeed, I had. But I will ease them into my story as I plod along with not only my first meeting with him and his crew, but also along with my own adventures with them all.
Piracy is an easy profession, and it can make one rich almost overnight. So, therefore, in response to all these happenings, half the crew were sailors, who kept the ship assail, and the other half were of high bred birth, whose work only came when duty called for the use of their swords and military skills; which, I will admit, was a grand display in fencing, fighting, cannonading, and, as funny as it is to hear – robbery!
END OF CHAPTER 1
© Copyright 2016 Ted Anthony Roberts. All rights reserved.