Day after blistering day a 'ship of the damned' flying the black flag followed in our wake. When the wind eased, we would gain a league, when the wind freshened, they would gain it back.
We knew those following were spawn of the Devil, from glimpses through our captain’s powerful telescope at night. When the moon was full, you could see the Pirates from Hell were a collection of bones, held together by ungodly power.
They wanted us for our cargo of my two sisters and our four cousins, all young women. We were headed for the British naval base in Jamaica, where our fathers were stationed. My father was a Vice Admiral in command of a frigate squadron operating from Florida to Venezuela.
I was a newly appointed midshipman assigned to one of those 32 gun frigates in my father’s command. On the way here from Bermuda we sailed in concert with an American frigate, a huge 44 gun beast that could easily defeat a English 4th rate ship. Oh where was that ship now? I suppose anchored in the harbor at Key West, the American naval base.
Our captain became more and more desperate as time went on. He knew what would become of us if we were captured by normal pirates, but these children of the damned would make that seem like a minor form of abuse.
The captain called me over.
“Mister Chaney, if you are captured wearing that uniform, you won’t last five minutes. Go below and change.”
I protested all I had were uniforms. At this point my oldest cousin Martha came up to me and said, “You and I are of a size; come with me and try on one of my gowns. We’ll brush out your hair, and rouge your cheeks and lips.”
“Listen to the girl,” the captain said, “I may have no choice but to beach her near a native village.”
I followed my cousin below to her cabin, where she pulled clothing from a trunk.
“Strip,and put these on,”she ordered, handing me frilly long-legged undergarments. “Once those are on, I’ll pick a gown for you, hurry!”
In the distance a cannon fired, and a few seconds later a splash was heard nearby.
The captain shouted, “I’m steering for a small island up ahead, you have ten minutes.”
Martha drew the gown over my head, and quickly applied rouge to my lips and cheeks.
“Topside now,” I shouted. “Brace yourselves.”
We returned to the deck in time for a tremendous crash as the brig struck the reef surrounding the island, spilling us over the side into the surf. The last thing I remembered was Martha screaming a warning and looking up at the falling rigging, then darkness.
I woke up surrounded by faces covered in paint, an odd smelling smoke was making me choke. A tall native wearing a full head dress was chanting the same words over and over.
I was assisted by several native women to sit up, then to my feet. My sisters and cousins looked on worriedly from across the lean-to. My sisters started to giggle.
'Why are they doing that?' I asked myself. My balance seemed wrong, my breasts pulling me forward. MY BREASTS! WHAT BREASTS?
Putting my now delicate hand inside my gown, that’s just what I now felt. Down again I fell, passing out.
When I came to, Martha tried to explain.
“When we washed ashore, you weren’t breathing. A native picked you up and ran for the Witch Doctor’s house. He gave you something to drink, and started chanting over you, blowing that terrible smelling smoke into your mouth filling your lungs. Soon, you were breathing again, but changes started to happen to your body. When you woke, the changes were finished.”
“You are now a lovely looking girl, there are seven of us now, all in our teens.”
Apparently none of the crew survived the wreck, but the pirate ship was dropping anchor just outside the ring of coral that doomed our small brig. No doubt as soon as darkness fell it would soon be launching a boat to come ashore.
One of the natives came and got us, explaining in pidgin English that we must hide, and to follow him.
The native woman were used to hiding in the jungle and waiting for the pirates to leave. They had already gone, we were the last women to save from the ghostly pirates.
We grabbed what little clothing washed ashore, and followed him across a small valley planted with cabbage, to a series of caves.
There was running water, and twists and turns that would hide us from our pursuers. He told us to be quiet and stay away from the entrance. He’d be back with food as soon as he could.
I now had time to investigate my new body. I rubbed my hands everywhere, to the accompaniment of laughing from both my cousins and my sisters.
“Let us know if you find something there sweetie, we may get desperate.”
To my horror, there was only a vertical slit, my manhood was gone forever.
My older sister Anne explained, “The witch doctor saw how you were dressed, assumed you were a girl like us, and cast a spell to revive a girl. It’s better than being dead you know."
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, finally, a native came for us, leading us to the beach. There lay a frigate flying the beloved Union Jack!
My father had found us!
Can you imagine the confusion of the ship’s captain finding seven sun-bronzed teen-aged girls not six girls and a young midshipman.
Once aboard, suitable clothes were found for us, and good English food was served. We decided not to tell more than was necessary, until we saw the Admiral.
Two weeks later as we sailed into Jamaica’s harbor, we could see father standing on the Quay waiting for the gangplank to be run across. The seven young ladies ran to him with hugs and tears. I could tell he was searching for me in the crowd. Martha whispered into his ear that all will be explained, as soon as we were alone.
I sat back and let Anne and Martha tell the story. Every so often I ‘d stand and pivot displaying my shapely body. The Admiral had no other choice. He finally accepted having three healthy daughters, saying “ Now I’ll have three sons-in-law.”
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