(Originally aired 2023/04/29 - listen here)
Our fiction episode for this quarter features returning guests—not only a returning author, Catherine Lundoff, but the return of her 17th century spy and pirate duo, Celeste Girard and Jacquotte Delahaye. This is the fourth story of Celeste and Jacquotte that we’ve hosted on the Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast, which is a reminder of just how long this fiction series has been running.
Catherine Lundoff has worked her way through many roles: archaeologist, bookstore owner, author, publisher, and IT professional. As the founder and head of Queen of Swords Press, she publishes—as the website describes it—"swashbuckling tales of derring-do, bold new adventures in time and space, mysterious stories of the occult and arcane, and fantastical tales of people and lands far and near.” Or, as she sometimes puts it, “Stories that feel like Queen of Swords books.”
Her own fiction covers a whole gamut from historicals to fantasy to science fiction to erotica to horror, including a series of soon-to-be-three novels about menopausal werewolves: Silver Moon, Blood Moon, and a forthcoming title yet to be announced.
Catherine lives in Minnesota with her wife who is a bookbinder and artist, as well as with the cats that own them. The best one-stop-shop to find Catherine online is probably queenofswordspress.com, which gives you the opportunity to pick up some books while you’re at it. (I should add the truth-in-advertising disclaimer that this includes my own novella “The Language of Roses” which Queen of Swords published.)
The narrator for today’s story is yours truly. I love the chance to do some of the story narration for our fiction series, especially for stories falling in one of my favorite historical periods.
This recording is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License. You may share it in the full original form but you may not sell it, you may not transcribe it, and you may not adapt it.
“The Pirate in the Mirror”
by Catherine Lundoff
Celeste Adele Girard glanced up from the letter she was reading, her gaze moving automatically past the slow-moving waves that rocked The Lioness on a leisurely path through the Caribbean to the small huddle of pirates at the rail. Jacquotte Delahaye, their captain, was peering at something on the water through her spyglass and swearing loudly. That alone was not enough to distract Celeste. Jacquotte swore often and heartily and her men often gathered around her when they thought a fat merchant, or that greatest of gifts from the gods of the sea, a lightly guarded Spanish galleon, might be in sight.
It was not so much that the crew looked worried that captured Celeste’s attention at that moment. No, it was the flash of sunlight on Jacquotte’s red tresses, one that followed a thread of bright silver, that caught Celeste’s eye. It trapped her feelings in a net to realize that this life they led could not last forever and her heart ached at thought of giving up this wild freedom. And even more at the thought of trying again to convince the pirate captain that they must plan for a retirement that might come sooner than later.
But that was not the stuff of either her letter or of the crew’s concerns and she shook her worries about the future off with an effort. She walked across the swaying deck to the group around Jacquotte. The letter had taken two months to arrive, it could take a bit longer to address. She tucked it away in the pouch at her belt. “What is it?”
Jacquotte did not lower the spyglass, but Harcourt, the first mate, gave Celeste a worried look. “There is a ship pursuing us, Mademoiselle. The Captain believes that it may be one of Captain De Graaf’s fleet. Tigress is the one that his lover Anne Dieu le Veut, late of Tortuga, usually commands.”
Celeste’s blonde eyebrows rose. “Are we not all ‘late of Tortuga’? I thought all the pirates had been driven out. Is there something to fear from this Anne ‘God-Wills-It’ that we should be peering at her ship and swearing about it? I have never heard you speak of her before.”
Jacquotte’s thin lips twisted up in something like a smile, but wasn’t, not quite and her gaze suggested her thoughts were elsewhere. “If she is here, she has no great love for me. And De Graaf is likely to be not far behind. He would never let her ship sail so far out unescorted.” She handed the spyglass off to Harcourt and took Celeste’s arm. “Walk with me, my dear.”
Celeste simpered like a court lady and fluttered an imaginary fan in a futile effort to make Jacquotte laugh, but she dropped all pretense at joking once they were out of earshot of the crew. “What are we to do? Is she truly that dangerous?” She murmured the question softly, brushing some dirt off Jacquotte’s jacket collar as if they spoke of nothing significant.
“Alone, we should be able to outrun her. But it would be a near thing with so little wind. Our best hope,” Jacquotte frowned at the horizon, “is that this is pure chance and she does not recognize the ship.” She glanced down and gave Celeste a long thoughtful look, ice-blue eyes glinting in the later afternoon sun. “I could put you in a boat with a couple of strong men, send you off to Maracaibo. I’m told there is a representative from the King in port; you could ask for sanctuary.”
Celeste blinked in shock. Jacquotte had never proposed sending her off ship to safety before and she herself had never asked, always supposing the pirate’s strong arm and sword enough to protect both of them at sea.
And then there were her own wits to serve in any situation that didn’t involve an actual battle. Well, where are those wits now? She schooled her features into a blank expression. Her brain whirled, contemplating, then rejecting several schemes in quick succession. A rope snapped in the wind and she glanced upward.
Jacquotte followed her gaze to the Dutch flag flapping gently in the breeze, hung in lieu of her own fiercer flag to lure in merchant prey. “I’m not sure that being taken as a merchantman is an improvement. We’ll be just as dead if her crew decides to capture us.” She glanced back down. “So perhaps you are thinking of something else? What plot is spinning in your pretty head, my little spy?”
Celeste narrowed her eyes against the glare of the setting sun, wrinkles for once, far from her mind. “I think there is no moon tonight?”
The pirate gave the horizon and the ship that followed them a considering glance. “We might be able to pile on enough sail to outrun them until nightfall. If we went quiet and dark and avoided the reefs, we might be able to evade them until I can find a good harbor to hide in.” Jacquotte’s eyes went cold and storm-gray. “Or run them aground in the dark.”
Her lover tilted her blonde head back and gave her a narrow-eyed stare. “You know her well. What is this about?”
Jacquotte grimaced. “Later. I swear it,” she added, watching Celeste’s expression shift. “Escape first.”
“Indeed. Then we must begin at once. I know so little of your past, I would not wish to miss an offered morsel.” Celeste smiled slightly and went aft to talk to the other pirates to persuade them to do as she asked with a pretty word or two.
Jacquotte watched them gather a pile of expendable items to throw overboard to lighten the ship. She turned to the sails and the helm, barking orders to put on more of the latter and shift the former into the starboard to pick up more of the wind. Pirates tumbled on to the deck from all directions, tossing things overboard, clearing the decks, climbing the rigging.
It made Jacquotte’s heart sing a little to see it. Her crew. Her ship. And she would yield neither to Anne or De Graaf. She went to consult with her helmsman.
The Tigress was getting closer. Celeste didn’t need a spyglass of her own to see that. Not within cannon range, fortunately, but gaining in a way that suggested that a pirate captain had noticed prey and was giving chase. Celeste swore softly under her breath and glanced at the quarter deck and watched Jacquotte for a moment.
The captain was tense, angry in a way that Celeste had not seen her before other battles, other pursuits. She thought this chase was personal. Celeste felt a tiny flash of jealousy that made her grimace. For the first time, another woman was the focus of Jacquotte’s attention when she was only steps away. But more than anything, her spy’s brain whirled with questions about what had happened, what had pulled these two together and then, even further apart?
She could think of only a few things that spoke to the hearts of the pirates that she knew: love, revenge, or profit. Celeste tapped her chin thoughtfully. More importantly, what would dissuade an ardent pursuer motivated by all or some of those passions?
In a moment, she was moving swiftly across the deck toward Jacquotte where she stood talking to several members of the crew on the quarterdeck. Celeste asked softly, “May I borrow the captain for a brief conference?”
They looked for a moment as if they might object, but with a certain amount of grumbling, returned to other duties and left them to talk. “Why would Anne Dieu-Le-Veut pursue you at all? No, I don’t want to hear that you will tell me later. I want to know what drives her. We will need other plans if outrunning them in the dark fails.” Celeste crossed her arms and watched Jacquotte’s gaze shift down to her bosom. She bit back a small smile; going corsetless in a lad’s garb had its uses.
But this was hardly the time to be provoking that reaction in her pirate. “You do want me to help, correct? Not just hop in a row boat and go off to safety with crew that you will need if this ship is boarded?” She raised an eyebrow and dropped her arms, stepping up so that her golden-brown eyes met Jacquotte’s.
The pirate gave a wry grin. “For the shortest part: treasure and betrayal. I sailed with De Graaf for a time, years before I met you. I found Anne in Port Royal trying to figure out how to turn whore when she ran out of money after her fiancé turned out to be less appealing than his letters. I liked her spirit so I brought her aboard. We were wild and young and blood-thirsty and even then, Anne stood out. She was beautiful, fierce…and treacherous. We shared ships, crews, captured spoils, and more. I thought of her as the new family I had found here in this strange new world.”
Jacquotte paused and looked away. The sails strained in a newfound breeze and they could all feel The Lioness leap up over the waves with a will. The hands gave a small cheer while Jacquotte turned back to Celeste. “For a time, I fancied myself in love with her.” Here her face tightened. “Until we took the Santa Teresa. So much Spanish gold, chérie, you can scarcely imagine…”
Celeste shifted impatiently. “I can imagine quite a lot of gold. I take it they betrayed you?”
Jacquotte nodded. “They murdered most of my crew and would have done for me as well, but they thought I had drowned and De Graaf and Anne sailed away with the gold. By the time I floated to land and recovered enough to get a new ship of my own, they had a whole fleet and there was little I could do to avenge myself or the others.”
Celeste frowned. “Until now. You don’t want to run. You want to fight. But why does she follow you?”
“She’s hated me for surviving, for being respected in a way that she is not. Also, perhaps, a small issue with me seizing her former ship and marooning her and her crew some four years back. I imagine that she plans to finish what they failed to do before.” Jacquotte grimaced. “Yes, I want to fight. But this is not the ship to take on the Tigress. For that we need all my ships, especially if he comes to save her.”
Celeste glanced toward the cage where the messenger doves were kept. One was missing. The ship rocked starboard, clearly changing course. “You’ve already sent the bird. Is there another plan that you’re not sharing with me?” Celeste frowned.
Jacquotte bit back a smile, knowing how much she hated to be left in the dark. They could not run forever, even if they lost Anne and her crew tonight. De Graaf might be anywhere nearby with more ships. And they were not the only foes Jacquotte had in these waters.
“I need to plan for something that will bring this pursuit to an end, once and for all, leaving us alive at the end of it.”
“And, perhaps, achieve some level of revenge?” Celeste gave her an
Jacquotte gave a rare, sudden grin. “Perhaps.”
Celeste tumbled into bed next to Jacquotte well after sunset, hands raw from the ropes. The sliver of new moon was on its up and the wind with it and The Lioness was still making good speed, at least for the moment. The closer they got to the reefs near Hispaniola, the slower they would need to move and the greater the chance that the Tigress would finally catch them.
Or they would get where they were going, wherever that was. Jacquotte was keeping mum about their specific destination but Celeste had her suspicions. In any case, she was too tired to ask, so she wrapped her arms and one leg around her pirate and sank into a deep slumber.
In the end, it wasn’t the sound of guns or the scrape of rocks against the hull that woke her. It was still dark and The Lioness was motionless, barely creaking in the waves. Noises from elsewhere in the room told her that Jacquotte was already getting dressed so she rolled over and lit the candle. “What is happening?” she murmured as she rubbed sleep from her eyes. “Where are we?”
Jacquotte gave her a cheerful, bloodthirsty grin. “We’re in a defensible spot in familiar waters and closer to my ships than we were. So now we wait. If they are foolish enough to chase us into the harbor, the rocks will tear the bottom from them while we rake them with all the shot we have. If they wait outside thinking to trap us, there will be four to one odds some hours hence.”
“And what of De Graaf’s ships? What if they come too?” Celeste rolled out of bed and began to put her lad’s clothes on again. They were much better for fighting than skirts, if fighting there was to be. She sincerely hoped it didn’t come to that. Spywork had its own perils, but getting skewered on a cutlass or smashed to pieces by grapeshot were not usually among them. She shuddered as she dressed and tucked her weapons into her belt.
Jacquotte was already out the door bellowing orders. The bosun handed her a cup of ale and some salt fish as she emerged on the deck, not sure what she was going to see. Behind the ship was a wall of greenery that stretched up the tall hill behind them. Celeste could hear creatures moving in the jungle that seemed so close that she could reach and touch the vines. She gnawed on her fish and sighed. Perhaps Jacquotte could be persuaded to visit Paris again after this.
The seaward view was not prepossessing. The waves dashed hard against sharp rocks lining the edge of the harbor and for a moment, Celeste could not imagine how they had sailed into it unscathed. But beyond that thin shield, was a ship twice the size of theirs, based on what the crew had to say, so she was grateful for what protection it provided.
“Of course, that’s not the only reason that we’re here.” Jacquotte had a faraway gleam in her eye. “The Santa Teresa’s gold is supposed to be buried on this island.”
Celeste took a startled breath. “And you know where?”
“An old man sold me a tale in Tortuga before we left. He may have been too far gone in drink to be reliable, but we’ll see what we can find.”
“What if Anne simply blockades us in and fires on us from there?” Celeste gestured at the rocky harbor opening.
“You worry too much, my love. We will fire back. Now, would you like to help me go look for a shiny golden distraction?” Jacquotte’s grin gleamed in the fading light. “We’ll have to go ashore in the dark since we don’t, as you point out, have much time before we’ll be in a battle of one kind or another. She’s bound to send her men ashore too.” She snapped her fingers at a pirate who started to light a torch and he blew out the flame with a muttered curse.
Celeste realized that the pirates didn’t want to make themselves an easy target. Which meant that she was about to clamber into a longboat and go ashore in the dark to stumble around the jungle with Jacquotte and her crew. She closed her eyes and thought of piles of gold. And Jacquotte’s joy when she triumphed over her enemies. She gave a hearty sigh, tucked her hair up under her hat and made ready.
In the end, it was just Jacquotte, Celeste and twelve of the more trustworthy pirates who went ashore. Harcourt and the others stayed aboard to watch for Anne, ready to fire the moment a boat was spotted in range. In the meantime, even the metal that gleamed in the moonlight was covered so as not to be a target and not a candle shone where it could be seen from harbor’s mouth.
Jacquotte closed her eyes, shutting out the boat and the rapidly approaching shore for a moment. It was just as well that none of her companions could see her face right now. She wasn’t bluffing about what the old man had told her, at least not entirely. But even if they found De Graaf’s hidden cache in the dark after fighting their way through the jungle and whoever Anne might send ashore, there might be nothing left.
The old pirate who had told her about it was far gone with drink and the pox. He had wanted his own revenge on De Graaf and his crew for their past sins and saw Jacquotte as a means to that end. Well, she’d do the old lad proud if she could. Avenging herself and the others on De Graaf and Anne had been long delayed and it dizzied her to see it within reach.
An idea half-formed, then blew away as the wind picked up and the boat scraped against the shore. She jumped out and walked the last couple yards to the shore, leaving her crew to haul the boat up and secure it. The dark mass of trees ahead of them was relatively quiet, apart from the occasional bird call. The day’s heat was fading, but it was still warm and there was a whiff of rain in the air.
Jacquotte looked around and oriented herself, letting her memories of what the old pirate had told her tumble into place before she beckoned to Celeste and the others. “That rock, the one up there between the two larger ones. That’s where we’re headed. Ready, my love? Good. Stay close.” She led them along the edge of the trees, hunting for the traces of an old trail that might still be there.
But if it was, they couldn’t find it. Two of the pirates stepped forward with long knives and began to hack a path through the lush forest growth. Ducking and weaving under vines and around trees, they made their way upwards in the dark. It felt like hours before they stopped to catch their breath and rest just below the top.
Something caught Jacquotte’s eye and quickly resolved into the gleam of moonlight on metal from behind a rock above them. Celeste must have seen it at the same time and threw herself at her back, knocking her over and rolling her into some prickly short trees and the shelter of darkness. The pirates scattered as a shot split the quiet of the night. More followed and Jacquotte drew her own pistol, trying to see a target in the dark.
She shoved Celeste away and pointed to a clump of rocks downhill, trying to get her to a safer spot. A woman’s voice rang out from above them, “Red! Come out before I hunt you and your boys down. If you surrender now, I might not kill you all.” Her voice was cold, distant and familiar. There was nothing in her tone that suggested that she wasn’t serious.
Jacquotte heard Celeste hiss softly between her teeth and utter a soft oath. She grimaced to herself in the dark. Of course, having one plan fail didn’t mean her next one would. Celeste was going to be very angry when she learned that there was a plan that she didn’t know about. Jacquotte looked forward to the argument almost as much as its aftermath.
Putting her fingers to her lips, she gave a sharp, shrill whistle that echoed through the woods around them as the guns of Anne’s men fell silent. It was an eerie sound, like a banshee’s call in the night and Jacquotte gasped a little when she finally stopped.
Then she jumped to her feet, running toward the sound of crashing branches and shouting men. Through it all, one woman’s voice could be heard yelling orders and cursing. Jacquotte followed that sound, pulling her pistol from her belt with one hand and her long knife from its sheath with the other. There would be bloody work tonight.
Celeste stared after her lover for a few seconds, her mouth dropping open. She’d suspected a trap and had a plan for that all along. But didn’t tell her. Celeste’s eyes narrowed as she, too, scrambled to her feet. If they survived the night, she was going to have a few words with a certain pirate captain.
She darted behind a tree as a huge pirate came crashing through the dark clearing where they’d been hiding. Was he one of Jacquotte’s men or one of Anne’s? It was hard to tell in the dark and now that the shooting had begun in earnest, the air was filling with smoke.
Someone charged into the clearing and there was a clash of blades, followed by a whispered, “What found we at Arnold’s Knoll?”
“Gold and blood,” the other answered and laughed softly. “Come on. The Captain said she’d pay a sack of gold for whoever brought her that redhaired bitch’s head. Let’s go find her and claim our prize.” They lumbered back out into the trees and rocks.
Celeste bit her lip and looked around. She could follow them, but barring ill-luck, Jacquotte could avoid or kill oafs as clumsy as those. But how many of them did Anne have? And how had a simple tale of betrayal and gold lust turned into a quest for Jacquotte’s head? There was much that she hadn’t been told about tonight’s doings, but there would be time enough to deal with that later.
She moved in the direction that Jacquotte had gone, listening for the sound of her voice. Or her blade, which seemed more likely. Smoke filled the trees and men ran to and fro, the sound of steel clashing amid the crack of bullets. This was a veritable pitched battle and for a long moment, Celeste thought about fleeing back to the shore and the boat. She was an adequate shot and a decent swordswoman, but neither would be enough to protect her in this chaos.
A huge hand shot out of the mist and grabbed her shoulder with a bellow. She kicked out hard, aiming for his knees, then slammed her elbow up into his jaw, just like Jacquotte had taught her. He howled in pain, but didn’t let her go until she kicked him again. Heart racing, she twisted, striking out and pulling the knife from her belt in one motion. With a yell, she slashed out, only to have her opponent drop like a stone.
Celeste squinted at her blade in astonishment. There wasn’t that much blood on it, was there? A motion caught her eye and she dropped into a defensive stance for the attack that was sure to come. A long-jawed, pale face topped with black hair bound in a scarf above burning dark brown eyes stared at her across the pirate’s body. “Come with me if you want to see the dawn.” The woman’s voice was raspy, commanding…familiar. Celeste hesitated and a bullet blew past her, embedding itself in a nearby tree. Her rescuer turned and vanished into the smoky darkness and Celeste followed a moment later.
The path ahead was a blur of men running and blades clashing right up to the moment that her escort came to an abrupt halt. “Here now, pretty. Where would you be taking my lady?” Jacquotte’s voice had a dangerous singsong croon to it that Celeste had only heard before when she was far gone in the heat of battle and she shivered.
Anne hissed softly, Jacquotte’s blade at her throat—she’d gotten a cutlass from somewhere, Celeste noted dispassionately—and Jacquotte’s pistol at her head. “I can call them off,” she began, her voice barely audible where Celeste stood.
Jacquotte laughed. “There’s my Annie! Always one to think you could stop the wind, once it started blowing. I couldn’t stop my own men now. They’ll fight until there’s a winner or there’s gold. Speaking of which, it’s time you told me where the treasure is.”
Celeste stepped closer and gasped at the sight of the two of them standing face to face in the moonlight. She blinked and the resemblance that had suggested they could be sisters settled into two hard-faced women, glaring at each other over drawn weapons while a battle raged around them. Celeste took the pistol from Anne’s hand and checked to make sure that was ready to fire.
“And don’t think to lead me on a merry chase in hopes that De Graaf will turn up. He’s as likely to be drinking and whoring in Maracaibo as he is to remember your grudges and where you’ve taken one of his ships. Tell me what I want to know or I’ll put you in our hold and leave you there until he sobers up enough to ransom you. Do you care to wager on that?”
“You could just shoot her.” Celeste murmured, suiting her actions to her words and firing at a pirate who was running toward them with a fearsome grimace. When she looked back at the women, they were both watching her, Jacquotte amused and Anne calculating.
“Yes, Red, you could just do that. But you want that gold more than you want my blood.” Anne gave Jacquotte a feral grin. “Come on then. Up the hill and I’ll show you where we buried it.” They turned and began walking.
So easy…Celeste bit back the thought before it crossed her lips. There was a game being played here, one that began on the sea and that might not end here. She knew that she could wait where she was to see what transpired. But her curiosity would never allow it. With a sigh, she scrambled after them.
Jacquotte stifled a flash of murderous rage. Betrayal, murder, theft and yet, somehow, the only person not to blame for that was Anne herself. Her litany of blamelessness was a low hum that got louder as they got further from the battle behind them.
“If you don’t stop whining, I’ll take your ear off,” she growled as Anne stumbled to a halt on a flat rock ledge. “Now, unless you chiseled into the stone itself, I don’t think this is the place.”
Jacquotte watched as Celeste walked cautiously past them to examine the stone wall in front of them. It appeared to be solid rock until she pulled back some of the shrubs and revealed a dark hole in the stone. A cave entrance, it had to be. Her heart raced and she reined in her imagination from picturing what that much gold could buy them. Far too soon for that.
“I think I found something.” Celeste leaned over, then slipped down into the dark space with a cry. Jacquotte winced but she looked back at them from the cave mouth a moment later as Anne laughed mockingly. Celeste’s eyes widened, visible even in the dim light. “Get down, Jacquotte!’
Jacquotte didn’t hesitate, throwing Anne to the ground and landing on top of her. The other pirate twisted hard and broke free just as a cannonball smashed into the rocks above their heads. Anne laughed again, the sound wild and echoing, as she scrambled to her feet, kicking away Jacquotte’s grasping hands as she ran to the edge of the cliff and the trail down.
Jacquotte cursed loudly and crawled over to the dark hole where Celeste had vanished. From below, she could hear a soft murmur of: “No snakes, please God. No snakes.” wafting up from below despite the noise and chaos around her.
“Can you reach my hand, chérie? Reach up and I will pull you out.”
“I think I’m better off down here.” Another cannonball whistling by overhead drowned out her next words. Celeste shouted up a moment later, “Come down here! It’s safer and likely to be more profitable.”
At the word “profitable,” Jacquotte slid into the opening, bracing herself for a sharp drop into the darkness below. “I’m coming down!” To her surprise, it was only a few feet.
She blinked until she could see Celeste outlined in the moonlight. “What have you found?’
“Not what you hoped, but enough to be useful, I think.” She guided Jacquotte to a couple of small chests tucked against a rock wall, well out of sight if one was looking down into the cave. As the noise escalated outside, she shot at the lock with the spare pistol that she pulled from Jacquotte’s belt.
The chest fell apart with a clang, spilling a few bags of coins, some jewelry and other valuables. Jacquotte grinned. “Not the full treasure by any means, but enough to buy us all a few comforts for our old age.” She glanced up. “Those of us who last that long.”
“I have an idea.” Celeste grabbed a bag of coins and scrambled back to the cave entrance. Jacquotte gave her a leg up and she stood up on the ledge with a mighty yell, “This bag of gold to the man who captures Captain Anne Dieu le Veut alive before Captain De Graaf blows us to bits! She is our ticket off this island if you stop her!”
The men on the mountain below bayed like a hunting pack. Celeste grabbed Jacquotte’s arm and tugged her up and out of the cave, and they ran off the ledge together. They darted down the slope in a wild rush, tumbling out into a sea of men and smoke and the occasional body, all yelling over the cannon fire, many of them still fighting each other, others looking wildly for Anne. Jacquotte grabbed a few of them and led them down the slope, heading towards the harbor, Celeste at her side.
Three days later, The Lioness sailed out of the harbor and they watched the Tigress make for the open sea. Celeste and Jacquotte watched her sail off, the latter with a distant thoughtful look on her face. “She’s not half the pirate that you are.” Celeste said finally, giving her a nudge with her shoulder as they leaned on the rail.
“I’m not half the pirate captain I was,” Jacquotte grimaced. “We’re fifteen men down, between the dead and wounded, and the rest barely fit to sail. If it wasn’t for my other ships, we’d be in irons in Anne’s hold. To have two plans fail is hardly a thing to be proud of.” She sighed heavily. “I don’t think there’s enough of the gold left to buy me a governorship like Sir Henry, but perhaps a small estate? We could settle down, raise sheep and chickens.”
Celeste laughed. “What did we know about sheep and chickens? An inn on the coast, gossip and news, smuggling on the side, some spywork when we feel like it—that’s the life for us. But not before we’re done with this one. She’ll be back, especially since we have the treasure now, and we’ll need a plan to deal with her then.”
Jacquotte squinted at the horizon, then glanced at her. “For now, let’s go home. I want to hear more about this inn of yours.” She leaned down to kiss Celeste and something crackled. The spy gave an odd frown and reached into the pouch in her shirt.
She held out a letter with a sigh. “I’m afraid I’ll have to tell you about it when I return from Paris. It’s a summons from the Cardinal. He says that the King’s life is in danger and I need to honor my oath to protect him.”
The pirate groaned and handed the letter back. “And I still have your letter of marque and sail under the French flag. Upon occasion. To Paris, then, with a stop at Saint Martin to refuel and bring on more hands. We may hope that your cunning fox of a Cardinal has more plans up his sleeve for saving the King than recalling you.”
Celeste nodded and kissed her. “I’ve been wanting to show you Paris. We had to leave so quickly last time. For now, let’s go talk about inns and smuggling.” They both laughed as Jacquotte gestured at the pilot to sail eastward.
This quarter’s fiction episode presents “The Pirate in the Mirror” by Catherine Lundoff, narrated by Heather Rose Jones.
Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online
Links to Heather Online
Links to Catherine Lundoff Online