The port was trickling with few people as the merchant ship lowered its sails. Life flowed off the deck beside me, goods being dropped off at the port. It was an important place in my stops of adventure, a settlement positioned on the crest of Cape Cod Bay. I say this because of what happened there, and how it changed my life forever.
The bag on my shoulder contained my only belongings; a few pieces of clothing, a pouch full of shillings and other forms of currency from docks The Britannia had stopped at, and Eric’s letter to me. My coat flapped in the afternoon winds as I took a step onto the docks of Provincetown. I had retired from the Royal Navy, my 25th year on this earth sparking a need to see the world for what it really was. I was now a mere commoner, my service over.
I asked one of the shop owners about a place to drink and look for rest, and was given directions to the town's tavern, so I made my trek there. Cobble streets marked my path, carriages and carts moving alongside me. The sun fell lower in the sky, most shops closing up as the vendors went home to eat with their families.
The town was very different compared to Hittisleigh in England. Provincetown was cleaner, for starters. Even the few stray dogs I had seen around were healthier than Scotch during his life. Flickering flames illuminated the streets and buildings in an orange glow, the wick and embers kept safe in their glass lamps high upon black poles of metal. The evening sun dipped lower as time passed, Provincetown shifting from a pearl-white spectacle into dark alleys and shifty characters roaming around.
I noticed the tavern from a few buildings away, its familiar music dancing through the air and drunken sailors flowing in and out the door. Outside, clearly reached his limit of drinks, sat an elderly man mumbling about his past glory. He rambled about cannon fire and sword fights, strange tales of vanishing ships and undead crew. I laughed and left him to his stories, and entered the tavern doors.
The ballads of music intensified, engulfing me as I entered. Sailors and young men filled the building, looking to relax and have a good time. A corner of the crowd caught my attention: men throwing daggers at a board and betting on their accuracy. Naturally, I was drawn to that corner. Gambling was my one and only vice, and it beckoned me like a moth to flame. It wasn’t long until the crowd of people within the tavern watched in awe at my talents and skill. One after another, men would step up and challenge me. Not long after, they’d leave the tavern with empty pockets and a sour expression on their faces.
One poor soul couldn’t even hold the dagger properly, his feeble hands shaking in anticipation. His voice was hoarse and high, a shrill pierce through the tavern’s joyful ruckus. “Good evening sir,” his shaken voice matched the twitching of his hands. As they shook more, his speech broke with it. “I go by Mr. Williams, but my friends call me Palgrave.” He outstretched his hand in an attempt to greet me. “What do they call you?”
I smirked, took his hand and shook it. Then my hand snatched the dagger from his clumsy grasp and whipped it towards the target, the tempered steel making a soft whistle as it flew through the air and penetrated the wooden board. “Samuel Bellamy.” My voice came out strong and hearty, easily heard throughout the tavern. There were glances of admiration and also fear. The tales of my service in the English Navy must have fluttered to America based on the way these sailors looked at me.
“Well Mr. Bellamy, I have a proposition for you,” Palgrave began to ramble on about looking for a crew without a purpose to aid him in finding adventure. I continued to throw daggers while giving him only a portion of my attention. “You see, I’ve reached the age where want to actually live my life. I want to find a treasure lost to most and become renowned for-.”
I scoffed, my attention now fully on him as the final dagger left my hand and pierced the board right next to the others. “You speak of piracy. Are you sure that’s the life you want?” I looked into his eyes, curious to see what I could find out about his determination. “It’s bloody, and reckless, and probably damn well get you killed.” He took a gulp of air, then sent his head into a feverish nod. Suddenly, through the crowds of sailors and wenches, a door had swung open to reveal the kitchen and a young woman working within. She was washing the dishes, her bronze hair tied back with the occasional curl falling around her face. Freckles dotted her nose and cheeks, and her eyes were a deep blue like the ocean waves at night. The door closed and all other sounds around me were cut out.
I began walking towards that door, an urge I had never felt before pushing me to see that girl again. A hand grabbed my shoulder and yanked me back to reality and where I was. The burly hand belonged to the large man that had sat close to the door of the tavern. Scrawling ink traveled along his biceps like waves crashing against a shore. His eyes pierced my thoughts in a way I had not seen in a long time. “Commoners aren’t allowed behind the bar, ‘les you want to start something?” His voice reminded me of thunder before a harsh storm.
“I’m looking for the name of that stunning beauty in the kitchen,” I returned, my voice easily weaker in comparison to his. “Do you know her?”
His laugh boomed over the crowd, at which point they had dulled their noise and music to watch this event unfold in front of them. “Know her?” His eyes bore into me, and the grin on his face was replaced by a gnarl of teeth. “She’s my daughter.” His size grew as it dawned in my mind how much of a fool I had made of myself. What kind of man would want his daughter to know a sailor that throws daggers and gambles? “Now I think it’s best you leave my tavern, and keep a safe distance away from her. Understand, boy?” His large arms unfolded from in front of his chest and an index finger was firmly shoved at my chest, pushing me hard enough to make me take a step backwards.
“Yes sir, I understand,” I returned to the table where I had placed my coat and hat, adorned them, and then walked back to the gentleman at the door. “Good evening, and goodnight.” I bowed my head as I passed, not sure what else I could do in the situation. If I fought the man, I certainly wouldn’t get to meet the beautiful girl I saw. So I merely walked away, not resorting to violence. The door swung shut behind me and the music went back to its booming ways, my presence not missed.
Outside, the elderly man was fast asleep on the ground. His stories had been replaced with snoring and a soft whistling from his nose. I tilted my head up, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. After letting it all out, I opened my eyes and looked up at the night sky. After ten years of sailing, I knew each constellation off by heart. Turning slightly to the right, I saw the dragon rearing its head up in the sky. I could spot Orion and the two bears within the stars, each there for a purpose. They mesmerized me every night, especially tonight. I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts, I didn’t hear her walk up to me.