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The Women on Whitehead Street


Bob Chassanoff


It was raining Saturday morning in southeastern England when Captain Robert Clane banged the heavy, brass knocker on the
door of Sir James Kenyon's London residence. Clane was doing exactly the kind of thing that kept him from being promoted,
bothering important people when they most valued their privacy.

After an attempted lecture about protocol from Sir James' butler Clane bullied his way inside. Sir James found him in the
dining room, Clane's raincoat dripping water on a very nice Chinese rug.

"For God's sake, Clane, what do you want? Don't you ever take a day off?" Kenyon, almost as old and gray as a twelfth
century English cathedral, pointed to a chair, directing the Royal Navy officer to sit.

The barrister looked at his butler. "Coffee, scones, and jam."

"We've fresh kippers, sir," the butler volunteered. Kenyon smiled and looked inquisitively at Clane.

"Kippers will be fine, and a three-minute egg, if you don't mind," Clane said to the butler, who bowed and turned to leave.

"Sir James, I want to know what Jason Pike is up to in the Caribbean. Why was Pip Paterson required to sign a hazardous duty
release before he and Mackenzie sailed with the prototypes of the Queen Bess guns?"

"Because they are looking for old, sunken Spanish treasure, and they have very nasty enemies who also want it. I think you
should read this letter from Samuel Meeker. He is Pike Ltd's American representative, and the letter details his concerned
observations of Mr. Pike's bellicose behavior during Meeker's recent visit to Key West. Meeker posted it from Key West, and
it came right over on a transatlantic steamer."

Jason had assembled a ship, a crew, and equipment to accomplish their task. Now they had to put it all together. The first
step was to refit the brigantine with new sails. For this purpose Jason had old, gray-bearded Nick McSwain, John Lowe's
sailmaker, aboard with hundreds of feet of new sailcloth to cut, sew, and fit for the Sweet Pea's yards.

"I've a mind to keep the sails and rigging simple," McSwain said. "Only one jib forward and just three sails each on the
fore and main masts." McSwain pointed to the main mast. "We'll take down those rotted yards and replace 'em with new spars.
A mainsail, one topgallent, and one royal will do." McSwain twisted around and pointed at the mizzen mast. "Two sails for
that one, a course and a royal, and I'll cut ya a spanker, since the boom off the mizzen seems able." McSwain stopped to
relight his briar pipe. "She won't rip along like a clipper, but this Sweet Pea will move steady and reliable, easy to sail
and maintain control for a Yankee skipper like Rhinehart and your young recruits."

"Thanks, Nick," Jason said. "I appreciate what you can do." Jason made a mental note to discuss this matter with Rhinehart.
He'd hired the German captain/carpetbagger because Rhinehart was unemployed, and Jason felt slightly responsible for his
losing the Bluebird.

The second task was provisioning the Sweet Pea. Rhinehart drew up a procurement manifest; and Harry played the role of
quartermaster and kept Key West's vendors busy sending a steady stream of supplies to the bight, where the Asbury brothers
crewed the Sweet Pea's longboats to ferry the supplies out to the ship.

"When we get out over the dive site, I don't want to be short of anything," Jason told Rhinehart and Harry. "If you two
forget something I'll make you swim home for it."

Jason personally supervised the loading of crates containing twenty-four, new Winchester repeaters and 12,000 rounds of

"Twenty-five gallons of rum?" Jason asked Harry one day.

"We will be out there all season," he said.

"Yes, and everybody will be drunk, if you have your way."

"No, not everyone." Harry smiled.

The third task was to adapt the ship for the diving equipment and the armaments. Jack Owens was below measuring bulkheads to
be ripped out to make room for the boiler, steam engine, and the shaft to the capstan. Owens was a ship's carpenter with
four apprentices and Lowe's choice for modifying the Sweet Pea. Both Pip and Mackenzie worked closely with Owens. Jason
wanted the British engineer and his naval sidekick to keep a close eye on the conversions.

By the middle of June they were ready for the short cruise east to Big Pine Key, where the metamorphosis of the Sweet Pea
from an innocent cargo brig to a salvage vessel, armed and ready to defend herself, would be completed. "Your mainsails and
topgallents are set. That'll get us to Big Pine. I'll finish the royals, staysails, and jib, by the time Owens is done with
the rest of the ship," McSwain told Jason and Rhinehart.

Rhinehart nodded. "The ship and crew are ready when you are," he told Jason and they made preparations to sail for Big Pine
Key on the outgoing morning tide.

A bright orangy-pinkish sun was low in the east and promised a clear day, when they assembled on the quarterdeck. "Are we
ready, captain?" Jason asked Rhinehart.

"Yes, commodore. Lets have anchors aweigh," Rhinehart ordered. Jason had given himself the rank of commodore.

"So, we're finally on our way," Addie said standing against the stern rail.

"This should be a grand adventure," Sarah commented lightheartedly.

Jason was standing next to Rhinehart at the ship's steering wheel and turned to look at Sarah. She was the last person on
board that should expect this trip to be easy and pleasant excitement. "Sarah, let's just hope our menfolk don't have too
much fighting to do," Addie said.

Sarah turned to face Addie. "My man already did his part. Now it is our turn for vengeance. And the experience will be a
magnificent pleasure."

Addie nodded and looked down at the slight waves lapping against the stern and rudder of the Sweet Pea. "I don't think that
will be the case." Jason turned away. He already knew the futility of trying to dispute an issue with Sarah Dumont.

There was a brisk breeze from the west but the Sweet Pea, with McSwain's limited sails set, only made about three knots. The
square rigger was loaded down. Lumber and armor were below in the holds, and the main deck was crowded with crates
containing cannons, a boiler, the steam engine, a smoke stack in sections, a steel drive shaft and collar, and Addie's

Two days later they dropped several anchors in Big Pine's inlet off the straits. Jack Owens and Nick McSwain went to work on
the ship. The ladies went ashore while Harry and Jason took weapons to reconnoiter the island and found it safe. Then Jason
ordered an evening conference in Harry's small farmhouse.

"I bet no one will come in, or they'll wait outside and draw lots. The loser has to come in first," Sarah said, sitting next
to Addie on the couch. Addie smiled. She liked when Sarah picked on Jason's 'take command attitude', as she called it.

John Rhinehart came in first, followed by Pip and Mackenzie, who spread diagrams and drawings on the dining room table.
Crawford Wales sat next to Addie and Sarah on the sofa, and Harry was standing in the doorway.

"Thank you all for attending," Jason said.

"Why?" Sarah asked. "You'd have had any of us shot who refused."

"Probably," Jason admitted. "Let's get right to business. "And the bar is open, too. Pip, our first priority is to mount
your cannons fore and aft. What can we expect of these guns? Please feel free to describe them in all candor because we'll
all be risking our necks on their performance."

"Oh, of course, sir." Pip stood and offered a diagram around the group. "This is Pike Foundries new naval gun. We have
brought two with us and 500 rounds of ammunition. The cannon is brass with a two-meter rifled barrel, threaded breech turn
block loader mechanism; and these," Pip pointed at the drawing, "are tubes containing heavy springs and also filled with a
light oil, held in place by rubber seals. The tubes are parallel and attached to the barrel, which means a recoilless
action. When we mount this gun from a stationary turret, every time it is fired, the barrel will automatically recycle, the
mechanism absorbing the shock of the internal combustion explosion, and remain aimed on the target."

"That's completely absurd," Rhinehart said. "The English always think they can invent something to defy the basic laws of
the physical universe. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and you certainly can't take up the force of a
gunpowder explosion with a couple of little springs in oil. Umph--PooH--Pah!", he finished with a snorting exhortation that
was wonderfully German, and thoroughly contemptuous.

"Our guns will fire an eighty-five millimeter projectile up to fifteen hundred meters at a rate of five to seven rounds a
minute," Pip boasted. "And, the Germans and the French are

working hard to perfect the same kind of recoilless ordnance technology. We just did it first," Pip said proudly.

"Indeed," Mackenzie added. "By the Queen's honor, Captain Rhinehart, I'm willing to offer you a wager. I can start at dawn
tomorrow to assemble one of these guns on the Sweet Pea's main deck, and by sunset I'll repeatedly shoot any target you
choose, within one of your American miles."

"I'll take that bet, English." Rhinehart smiled confidently.

"What do these little bore cannons shoot, laddie? Feather pillows," Harry challenged with a grin.

Lieutenant Mackenzie decided to field the question. He reached down into a satchel and picked up a projectile. "This is what
the gun shoots, sergeant major." Mackenzie tossed a shell to Harry. Harry caught the artillery round, but he dropped his
glass of rum. Everyone else in the room almost had a heart attack.

"Quite all right, sir," Mackenzie said to Jason. "I have the fulminate primer here. They screw into each round when we have
finished transportation to the final magazine site. The new shells are very stable and safe."

Jason walked over to Harry and relieved him of the artillery shell. The projectile was about thirteen inches long, with five
inches of solid lead shot and eight inches of gunpowder inside a thin brass shell.

"What else?" Jason asked Mackenzie and he handed over another round.

"Grapeshot, sir. She's filled with a minimum of one hundred and fifty 5.5 millimeter lead pellets." The front of this round
was brass, but thin and ribbed with a lead bead along the seams. Inside, if you shook the round, you could hear the small
caliber shot.

"Pip, tomorrow, you and Mackenzie set up a gun on the forecastle. Start at dawn and use the Asbury boys to help," Jason
ordered. "I'll come aboard before sunset; we'll be interested in observing a demonstration."

The next morning Jason woke Addie very early, just after sunrise, and they walked west, through the pine grove, to the sandy
beach on the Gulf of Mexico. She smiled, loosed and dropped her sailor's ducks, pulled the cotton blouse over her head, and
walked into the surf. Jason also left his clothes on the sand and followed Addie. It was just like the first time. They made
love in the gulf's gentle surf.

"I want to ask you if everything is going to be all right," Addie said. "But I know I can't."

"That's right. I'll do the best I can, Addie. That is all I can promise."

"That's all any soldier can promise," she said sadly, lying in his arms as the warm water caressed them.

That afternoon the gun tests went well and Rhinehart grudgingly paid Mackenzie ten dollars. Pip's prototype was all he
claimed it to be.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Addie worked with the carpenters and designed the modifications of the captain's stateroom, so it could
also serve a dual purpose as an infirmary. They had Jack Owens fit the inside walls with cabinets to hold all their medical

In addition, there was a small gallery off this cabin, a balcony looking out aft, just under the quarterdeck's stern rail.
Jason came to value this spot. He could hear his officers make decisions above him on the quarterdeck and also keep track of
what went on in the cabin behind, through the large windows looking out on the open sea astern. The gallery also offered
Jason the opportunity for occasional seclusion to be with his own private thoughts, concerns, and trepidations.

There were heavy iron mountings for carronades set in the stern cabin's window sill. When Mackenzie first saw the mounts, he
guessed they were for stern chasers and went searching. The Scot found the cannons under the floorboards in the closet. "And
there's two dozen rounds of two-inch shot here, sir. If we clean these guns up, sew up powder charges in cloth pouches, and
prepare fulminate fuses, they should be quite serviceable," Mackenzie said, very pleased.

"This is the last century's technology," Pip commented contemptuously.

"You're a snob, Pip," Jason said. "This is equal to what we will be up against in a couple of weeks. These stern chasers are
not modern artillery, but they deal death as effectively as a broadsword. Besides, Sam Meeker certainly would consider it
wasteful not to use any weaponry that came with a leased ship, no matter how old it is." To the Scot, Jason said, "Make it
so, Mr. Mackenzie."

"Yes sir, of course," he said happily, like any silly fool who thought preparation for a battle was like dressing for a
picnic in Hyde Park. Nick McSwain was tasked to sew small

cotton sacks for the powder charges, while Pip made the fuses. The Asbury lads cleaned the rust off the carronades and the
solid iron shot.

The serious work of adapting the Sweet Pea was done by Jack Owens and his crew. The first job he chose to undertake was
bolting the square plates of British armor along the ship's waterline. The plates were cast to fit around the Sweet Pea's
unique iron bracing, and Owens was impressed at the exact fit of the plates. Some of the plates were cast as triangles and
wedges to fit with the oblique hull bracing. Jason also had Owens cut hatches from the fo'c'sle through the holds to the
stern cabins. Owens protested for the obvious seagoing reasons, but Jason had his own perceptions of what he would need to
defend the Sweet Pea if she were boarded.

Meanwhile, Harry and Rhinehart worked with the Asbury brothers to fix an eight-by-eight cargo boom to the main mast. Pip had
them attach two collars seated higher up the main mast to support the boom, connected by strong, intertwined steel cables.
They had to rig an elaborate pulley system and make use of all their manpower to move the boiler and steam engine to the
forward hold.

The steam engine was a single cylinder/piston mechanism that turned a large wheel. The wheel turned a shaft that would
connect to a ninety-degree joint to the main deck capstan. Jason handed the Babcock & Wilcox Boiler's operations manual to
Pip. "You are responsible for teaching Harry how to work this contraption properly. If he blows up the ship, you better make

point to get yourself killed in the explosion," Jason said to Pip.

"Thank you, sir," Pip said. "Working for Pike Ltd. has always been an honor, and there is no sacrifice I'm not willing to
make for you and the firm." Pip bowed.

Addie was standing there and laughed. "I see what you like about the English. 'They are a terribly bloody loyal lot'," she
said comically imitating Pip's accent.

"Sir," Pip explained dryly. "The inclined water tube design perfected by Stephen Wilcox effectively prevents an internal
steam pressure explosion. This boiler is quite safe and not

complicated to operate."

"Well, I'm happy to here that," Harry said.

The armor plate installation along the main deck gunnels was the last job, and Sergeant Craig easily motivated his marines
to drill holes and attach the plates with nuts and bolts. He made it quite clear that a thin layer of English steel was the
difference between life and death.

When Owens finished the stern cabin, Addie and Jason moved in and she hung drapes over the windows. Most of the crew camped
ashore, but Addie and Jason stayed aboard with an armed guard on deck and plenty of lanterns.

They made love one night and afterward rested in each others arms. The stern of the Sweet Pea was facing out into the
straits and a cool breeze occasionally gusted and ruffled the sheets about them. Jason was thinking about Wade Estes and the
woman that betrayed him, the mysterious Marion Drake. Finally, his curiosity got the best of him. "What do you know about
Marion Drake?"

"Jase, don't ask about another woman when you're in bed with me. Did I do something wrong?" Surprise growing on her face in
the pale moonlight.

"Marion was a witness to John Asbury's abduction. Lillie Watlington, possibly the most valuable observer on Key West, put me
onto Marion. I interrogated her, and she confirmed she was an eyewitness that Asbury was kidnaped while following Wade Estes
from Harrington House to the Lucky Spot. Her testimony is why Harry and I went to the Lucky Spot for retribution. Addie, it
was Marion Drake that told me who killed John Asbury."

Addie nodded and said, "Sarah said Marion was lively and robust before the war. She's a melancholy and delicate woman now."
Addie shook her head. "Estes did her wrong a long time ago."

"Ah! The plot thickens," Jason observed. "Why do you pronounce her name, 'Marion' with an 'O' rather than `Marian', with an
'A'?" Jason asked, hoping this was finally the end of his curiosity about this amazingly attractive, but completely
enigmatic woman.

"Marion spells her name with an 'O', because she is from the Carolinas and named after Francis Marion-the Swamp Fox-a
Revolutionary War hero," Addie explained.

"Before the war, before Wade married Lorena Harrington, he courted Marion Drake. This was twenty years ago, 1856 and 57.
Then, suddenly they broke up and Marion dropped out of sight for a while. The gossip was that she got pregnant and had a
miscarriage. Then Wade started to see Lorena. Judge Harrington was well-connected and could help Wade get started in a
prosperous and successful law practice. A smart move by Estes, some said at the time."

"A woman scorned has a memory that lasts forever," Jason said.

"Why didn't you confront Wade Estes after you burned the Lucky Spot?" Addie asked."

"I don't have a good, firm reason for not killing Wade except that he stood by me on the Bluebird. That was a long time
ago." Jason smiled sadly at Addie. "But, with Samson Pool dead and Charley Dardy in jail, Wade and the general don't present
a current threat. We're already at sea for the salvage operation, and now I'm concerned with Jack Carney. Wish I'd known the
first time I confronted Carney that he wasn't going to run away like a good thief should."

"Hindsight is a cheap and useless luxury," Addie said.

And now Jason also understood Marion Drake. He wished he could have known her before the war, before Estes ruined her.

Soon enough the Sweet Pea was ready. They lifted the anchors and let the receding tide carry them slowly out to sea. Nick
McSwain supervised the unfurling of his sails, and they caught the wind hungrily. The Sweet Pea plodded along at a steady,
if not speedy, five knots.

"See," Rhinehart said, "The ship is old, but she sails well. You didn't waste your money on McSwain's sails, Commodore

"Or those English cannons either," Jason reminded, and Rhinehart nodded, but perhaps with a hint of sour apprehension.

The next night, July 3rd, Addie, Jason, and Harry were back in the house on Whitehead Street. The Sweet Pea was moored in
the shadows of, under the protection of, Fort Taylor's guns. Crawford Wales gave his marines liberty, but put another squad
aboard to baby-sit the Sweet Pea; because Jason was taking no chances that some foul enemy would burn up his custom-fitted
salvage brig tonight, the night before his wedding day.

For Harry and Jason, July 4th, 1875-the 99th year of American Liberty-started out as a day of leisure spent entertaining
guests on the wide, wrap-around porch with frequent pails of beer and a few choice Havana cigars. Rob Stevens came by in the
morning and desperately wanted a tour of the 'new' Sweet Pea, but Jason was having none of that.

"Mr. Pike, I don't need to remind you I've been supportive and the epitome of discretion concerning delicate affairs,"
Stevens said and noticed Jason's apathetic expression. "Perhaps I will need to remind you of how cooperative I've been." Rob
Stevens took up most of Jason's morning.

Just after eleven, Crawford Wales, with Laura Gentry on his arm, came over with Sergeant Craig. The Asbury family arrived at
the same time. When Jason noticed Maria leading a mule pulling a wagon down Whitehead Street, he realized Addie had arranged
for Maria to cater a sumptuous luncheon.

On the porch Rhinehart saw Maria approaching, and said, "I'll be honest with you, gentlemen, all my ancestors were skinny.
German food is dull and bare of spice and flavor. I can't resist Maria's cooking." Jason smiled as his captain nodded
approvingly, and belched unceremoniously. Warm beer usually had this effect on a large food and beverage processing system,
such as Rhinehart carried within his ample girth.

Jason twisted around in his chair to face an obviously inebriated Pip. "Did Sarah give you the ring?" he asked.

"I have it right here, sir," Pip said, indicating a vest pocket. Pip was to be Jason's best man.

"Don't get drunk and forget it," Jason said.

"Oh! Sir, I'm an Englishman. Even if we get drunk, we never forget such responsibilities. 'This blessed Plot, this Earth,
this Realm, this England', has a reputation for producing men who know how to meet a commitment." And Pip loudly passed some
English gas for the poor colonials to endure. And for once, unluckily, there was no brisk breeze off the straits.

"Why don't you go upstairs and take a nap, Pip," Jason suggested, motioning to Mackenzie to guide Pip inside.

Then Judge James Locke came to call. Jason had to be polite to the judge, at least a little bit. "I wasn't invited to your
wedding this evening, and I'm a deacon at Saint Paul's."

"Judge, we assumed you would attend, whether you were invited or not. So I told Addie to save the cost of a stamp."

"Oh, of course." The judge gave Jason a questioning glance. "How did your work on the ship go? Why don't you change the name
for God's sake?"

"I like the name. And she's in fine shape. Don't ask for a tour. No one sees the Sweet Pea, unless they sail on her

"No, thanks anyway for the offer. I'm not much of a sailor."

"Did you get rid of Charley Dardy, to Mobile?" Jason asked.

"Andrew Case's sloop is due to transport Dardy to Mobile next week."

Jason's demeanor grew grim. "Did you ask for navy transport?"

"No. Wyatt Scott volunteered Case's sloop."

"And the timing?" Jason asked, starting to get mad. Case's sloop was supposed to be looking after the Sweet Pea next week.

"Scott said that Case's ship would be available." Jason took the judge around back to join the others, and excused himself
to go see Scott.

Jason spotted Wyatt Scott standing just outside his office. "Let's have a talk, commander." He grasped the navy officer's
arm just above the elbow, and when Scott tried to break away, Jason squeezed tighter. Scott gritted his teeth as Jason
shoved him into his office.

Scott moved behind his desk, but remained on his feet.

"I want you to cut new orders for Andrew Case," Jason said sternly. "His ship is to be assigned exclusively to the Marquesas
and be at my command. Judge Locke will transport his prisoner privately, with deputy marshals as guards. I have a more
urgent need of naval assistance."

"I don't see it that way," Scott said. "Getting Charley Dardy to Mobile for trial is an important priority."

"Write the new order, commander," Jason said severely.

"No! Damn you . . ." Scott balled his hands into fists, and leaned forward, planting them on his desk to show Yankee
resolution, topped off with a nice splashing of New England

vanity. His face was a cold mask of solid determination.

The man just thought too much of himself, Jason decided, and stepped forward to punch him. It was a light jab to Scott's
lower cheek and jawline. Scott looked at Jason, quite shocked by the unexpected violence, sat down, and raised a hand to his
face. He would have only a small bruise on his jaw, but Jason directed the jab to mash the inside of his lip up into his
teeth, shred-ding a nice-sized area of the inside of his mouth. There was not much to see from the outside, but Scott would
remember the injury for the next several weeks, every time he ran his tongue around his mouth.

"I don't believe you did that," Scott managed to say.

"You're lucky I left your face on the front of your head. Now, write the order for Case, commander, and a second copy for
me," Jason yelled. "And no more of this bullshit. If you try to work at cross-purposes against me again, I'll advise
Washington that you need to be relieved of this command." Anger exploded from Jason's whole being. "And, I promise you, your
career will never recover from the disgrace."

Scott was pale as he scribbled the order and Jason pocketed the paper. When he was done with Scott, Jason found Chief Petty
Officer Lewis waiting for him outside. "A gang of the lads from the Detroit want to sail with you tomorrow. Craig's men told
me you could use some experienced sailors. And I want to come too."

"Why?" Jason asked.

"We want revenge, sir." The chief stood at attention. "I and my men will stand by you and your ship, come whatever."

Jason wondered how much of his exchange with Scott, Lewis must have overheard. "All right, Mr. Lewis. Give Commander Scott
an hour to himself. Then make him aware your group needs a leave of absence to serve with my expedition. If he objects, and
I doubt he will, send a messenger to tell me. Otherwise, coordinate to come aboard at dawn tomorrow, with the marines."

"Aye, sir." Lewis saluted, and Jason returned the military gesture all too automatically.

Jason walked home and saw that Harry had put out several bottles of brandy flavored with peach, pear, and apple for the
guests to sip. "The lassies are all very nervous. A little bit of the juice from the grape will calm them down." Harry
smiled too carefully, and Jason guessed what he was up to. But Jason didn't mind. He intended to marry Addie, even if he had
to carry her down the aisle.

The gentlemen, of the wedding party, had to wear black suits and the ladies dressed in yellow, silk gowns. Addie's dress was
white, of course, and ornate with lace trim and a long flowing train, which Jason hoped no one would trip over.

As unpopular as carpetbaggers were supposed to be, there were still a hundred-plus people gathered at their wedding in Saint
Paul's Episcopal Church. Addie said that Sarah and Salina invited everyone they knew.

"At least everyone we thought you might not shoot," Sarah corrected, looking at Jason as they entered the church. And then
she belched.

Jason was standing on the podium, with Pip at his side, in front of a very stern Reverend Cramden Fisher. The organist was
playing the wedding march, and everyone was looking at Addie and Harry, as they started the slow cadence along the aisle.

Addie stopped halfway down the aisle to talk to a friend in the audience. Leaning over to the side, she said, "See, I'm
really doing it; I told you I was gonna marry him." Then she stumbled on her dress, almost fell, but Harry held her arm and
had to pull Addie upright, and continue to guide her along the aisle.

"Are you chewing something?" Reverend Fisher asked Jason, who had a small chaw of tobacco in his left cheek, because Harry
had said it would calm his nerves. "Get rid of that," Fisher ordered, as if the chaw was a tiny, but very evil demon that
had invaded his church. This tyrannical theologian caused Jason to ruin a perfectly good handkerchief.

The soloist was a chubby, wrinkled woman who appeared to be about ninety years old, and her singing voice was cracked and
screechy. She sang Amazing Grace like nails on a chalkboard and everyone on the podium shivered from the sound. Jason gave
Reverend Fisher a penetrating stare and he, in turn, nervously glanced at Harry. Jason nodded. From the choice of the hymn
she tried to sing, he knew Harry was behind this farce.

Addie was standing between him and Harry; Fisher was in front of them, looking embarrassed. Addie gave Jason a silly smile
and swayed back and forth. There was no breeze in the hot, stuffy church.

Then Sarah, standing on Harry's left, started to hiccup and the other bridesmaids got the giggles. Laura Gentry lost all
control, and just plain laughed out loud. The poor reverend looked terribly distraught. He tried to go through the ceremony
too quickly, stumbling over his words.

All in all the marriage service was quite amusing. Afterwards, Harry confessed, "I hate a somber or dull wedding and that is
all Cramden Fisher delivers, if you leave him on his own."

Salina Samuels was not pleased with the drunken state of the girls. She stared at Jason and he met her eye to eye,
sure-footed, with his passed-out bride hanging on his shoulder. "Harry did it," Jason blurted.

Salina shook her head back and forth. "Jason, you should not have permitted this."

"Take Addie and Sarah inside; cold baths and strong coffee will make them presentable in time for your dinner buffet," Jason

The gathering was jovial, a typically lavish affair, as only Salina could organize with Jason's funding. The dinner buffet
was very pleasant, and Jason kept Addie at his side as they circulated amongst the guests. In addition he financed another
party, food and drink, at the East Martello for Craig's marines and Lewis' sailors. Jason wanted to keep his borrowed crew
happy. After the affair broke up, Crawford Wales helped Laura Gentry to get home. "Come in and make love to me, Crawford,"
she said, drunk and horny, and promptly passed out. Crawford picked her up, carried Laura to bed, and kissed her gently.
Then he slept on the settee in Laura's front room.

Early the next morning, Laura got up and washed her face. "Did you make love to me last night?" she asked, after she woke
Crawford. He groaned and tried to rub the sleep from his eyes. Crawford had also had plenty to drink.

"No, of course not. I'm a gentleman. I just stayed to . . . well, to be with you. I love you, Laura. I tried to tell you . .

She fell on top of him and kissed him. "Well, what's wrong with right now? We have an hour until dawn."

The sun was just breaking the bluish-orangy horizon and the sky was clear except for an occasional fluffy, whitish-gray cast
cumulus cloud. Maria came to see Jase and Addie off, before the Sweet Pea sailed. She brought Harry a case of her guava and
cheese pastries.

"Vaya con Dios," Maria said, tears on her cheeks, and making the sign of the cross. Jason climbed in the stern of the
longboat to join Addie. She waved at Maria, as the Asbury lads rowed them out to the Sweet Pea.

"Oh-h-h," Addie said. "I have a terrible headache. I'm going back to calling Harry 'Pappy', because he did this. I remember
being in the church, but did we get married? Who tried to sing?"

The Asbury brothers laughed. "You were very beautiful and very drunk, Miss Addie," Miles said. "Best wedding I ever went to,
first one I enjoyed." Miles and Nolan both laughed. Jason decided the Asbury boys were already Harry's disciples.

Rhinehart seemed sober along with Mackenzie, Sam Lewis, and enough of his men to sail the brig, so Jason told them to get
underway and took Addie below, and back to bed.

Chapters - Prologue - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 -11- 12 - Epilogue

U.S. Federal Copyright 'TXU 603-893

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