The Chronicles of Pirate Peg: Part I
One foot up high upon the prow
I sail the seven seas
My ship does creak and heave and pitch
Through every wave she cleaves.
An Essex gaff-rigged schooner
Twin-masted, swift in draft
She can hide in shallows
Where others may not pass.
She goes by her second name
I won her fair and square
In a game of wit and chance
‘Gainst Cap’n Jack O’Hare.
Once known she was “The Golden Rood”
Then became “The Spotted Cow”
Now, gather in, my beauties
And I shall tell you how.
For I’m a lady pirate
As brave as any man
Bold and wanton, salty skinned
Rope-heaving, calloused hands.
I was once a maiden fair
Soft-handed, never worked
I flounced about in silks and furs
All thoughts, save beauty, shirked.
Miss Margaret Price, I went by name
My fathers status high
But, with sons to bear his name
No glory left for I.
I was deemed to marry well
For sake of family pride
So I was groomed and fettered
And touted as a bride.
But one day my life of preening
Began to bore and grate
And, fixing destiny in my sights
I took charge of my fate.
A journey of adventure
Of wildness, oh! I craved
Setting free my spirit
Too many dull years caged.
I ran away to Plymouth
Disguised as a mere lad
Shorn hair and full of mischief
Intent on being bad.
I skipped among the merchants
The dockers and the tarts
And in the smoky taverns
Found the city’s beating heart.
A brawl in every alleyway
A deal in every door
And to soak up all the blood and ale
Sawdust on the floor.
I first laid eyes on Cap’n Jack
Down in The Pipe of Port
I was sitting in a corner
Lost in dreaming thought.
He had an air of danger
Mixed with childish revel’ry
As cheery face I’d seen thus far
In this hive of villainy.
“Hey there, boy” he boomed aloud
and sat down, uninvited
boots on the table, trimmed in sable
by a tart his pipe was lighted.
“I’m a man in need of fun
and you look a likely sort
let’s jaw and spar, and smoke some tar
if you’re of any sport”.
“Why, sir, what could you poss’bly have
to say to a boy like me”?
he did laugh, long and loud
and very heartily.
“Well, damn your eyes, you cheater
You’re a bloomin’ dame!
Now, what’s a lady doing
Playing such a game”?
I told him of my fervent wish
For a taste of life gone wild
And Cap’n Jack did listen
Then said “Now, my child”.
“I have rode a thousand waves
and plundered all the seas
in a joyful life of gainful theft
but I’ll not hear “piracy”!
“That suggests a certain violence
and I am no such sort
by my daddy and his father
a gentleman, I’m taught
“A rare Dick Turpin of the water
a polite and thoughtful snatch
drawn pistols never fired yet
when hauling in a catch”.
I listened, soaked in wonder
By Jack’s alluring tale
And I told him, there and then
With him I wished to sail.
“Well, deepen up that voice, lad
get to sucking on this pipe
if you’re to be a boy of mine
I need the roughened type”.
Your secret shall be ours alone
My boys’ll ne’er know your whoft
To see a girl among their number?
They’d think I had gone soft!
Then, eyeing me, most thoughtfully
Jack said “Now, a name
There’s nowt but bones to you at all”
So Billy Thin I then became.
And on The Golden Rood stepped I
Her ropes were cast aside
Amidst much sweat and cussing
We left Plymouth with the tide.
All senses sharpened with the wind
My britches packed with straw
I met the crew, and drank their brew
All life was there, I saw.
From the strapping Moorish helmsman
Who on a thrust The Rood was turned
To the handsome, ugly, happy, sulky
The toothless, muscled, sunburned.
And, one hoodlum of certain charm
The one-eyed Patch McGraw
A dancing sword of silent grace
‘gainst who no man could score.
Broad of shoulder, barrel chested
Kingly in his stance
Though his blood was red as mine
And his father came from France.
Born with rapier in hand
And weaned upon the dagger
A buccaneer down to the bone
With a cutlass-bouncing swagger.
“Teach me, Patch” I begged of him
“I long to know the sword”
The only reason he agreed?
Because he’d become quite bored.
Of sparring with his crewmates
None were half as fast
But I was small and nimble
And caught each thrust he cast.
“Calm now, Bill,” he warned of me
“close out the noise around
true strength lies not in mere bone
but in reasonance and sound”.
“Ev’ry man’s heart holds a secret fear
which can be heard if listened right
and to know that mans true weakness
is to never lose a fight”.
Cap’n Jack did not approve
Yelling “Thin! Leave McGraw alone”
He could sense, and didn’t like
How attached I’d grown.
He watched us, cloaked in darkness
Anxious in his creaking chair
He’d not thought this child found
Would have such deft and flair.
But my hand grew sure and deadly
The sword became my art
And Cap’n Jack grew nervous
Fear blooming in his heart.
Away the night he fretted
I knew nothing of his pain
He was thinking of his own lost child
In whose place I’d staked a claim.