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GULLIVER’S GHOST

Three treasure hunters travel from New York to Nova Scotia in a search for the treasure of a lesser-known Pirate named Gulliver. Two of them are found murdered and the only suspects the Royal Canadian Mounted Police can find are ghosts of the pirate and his descendants.

Inspector Matthew Lasalle, head of the Special Investigations Unit of the Mounties who provide much of the policing in the Atlantic province, is faced with the challenge of finding the third treasure hunter and saving his life from the mysterious assailants. At the same time, the surviving treasure hunter, Frank Mallory, can’t remember what happened to him before waking in a motel room in a Nova Scotian town.

This is a tale of intrigue, suspense and mystery that spans three hundred years from the marauding of a 16th century pirate to a modern-day hunt for victims, killers and ghosts. It’s another chiller-thriller from G. .R. Daniels, available at #AmazonBooks and other ebook sites. Read The Prologue:

­­­­­­­­­­GULLIVER’S GHOST

PROLOGUE

1718

 Southwind was two days out of the island of St. Vincent when the lookout saw the sails on the horizon.

“Ahoy, Cap’n. Ship ahoy,” came the call from the bow of the pirate vessel. It was too hot to put someone in the crow’s nest atop the main mast. Besides, that area of sea dotted by the Grenadines was an out-of-the-way region where sails were as rare as cold ale. It was unlikely to be a Royal Navy man-o-war or a French frigate so Captain Gulliver had no concerns. He had only greed and murder in his mind.

“What course?” Gulliver shouted back to the lookout. When he received his reply, Gulliver gave an intersecting course to the helmsman. He handed his cutlass to his first mate, Billy Smithers, to be sharpened on the grindstone that was being brought on deck.

The Southwind’s sails were filled by the Caribbean breeze and the sloop’s hull hissed through the water. Although the 85-foot-long ship was built as a cargo vessel, it was fast enough to run down most of the small ships that made up Gulliver’s preferred prey. It had carried the pirate and his crew across the Atlantic, to the Caribbean Sea two years before and had captured and sunk at least a dozen coastal freighters running cargo between the many Caribbean Islands.

Gulliver had kept Southwind away from islands since they ran to the Grenadines from Barbados with the British navy on his tail. The captain, with the colorful nickname ‘Cut-Throat’ was a pirate in the true sense of the word. He would attack any ship or land settlement regardless of nationality. He once had a Letter of Marque issued by the British; that designated him as a privateer who could raid and pillage the property and people of any enemy of Britain or even neutral nations. He gave up British protection when he attacked British property and citizens, unwilling to ignore any chance of plunder.  Now, Cut-Throat Gulliver and his crewmen were subject to immediate hanging when captured. His crew was becoming rebellious after being denied the luxuries of a few days ashore. Gulliver needed an easy victory to keep his dozen men happy.

The ship he was chasing turned out to be a large sloop. It flew no colours and looked as though it was heading toward open sea rather than an island port. It raised Gulliver’s suspicion; if the sloop was another pirate vessel, it might carry loot from its own thievery.

Apparently, the captain of the sloop thought Southwind was a cargo ship. He turned his vessel toward the Southwind and the two ships drew closer together with neither being the pursued or pursuer. And both captains proved stubborn.

Gulliver was a seasoned pirate and his crew were veteran sailors as well as sea wolves. Southwind mounted six canons behind gun ports that had been cut into the hull and camouflaged. Three of those canons were rolled out, loaded and, as the ships came within 20 yards of each other, pushed through the suddenly opened gun ports. Gulliver’s guns fired a broadside that startled the other captain and raked his deck with grapeshot. Three sailors died in the barrage and two others were hurt. That left only one young man on the deck along with the captain and helmsman at the wheel just in front of the stern cabin.

Southwind drew up to the side of the crippled sloop and Billy led in throwing grappling irons across the gap. The irons bit into the rails of the sloop and held the ships together as Gulliver’s crew leapt from one to the other. The fighting lasted only a few minutes and was more a killing of one pirate crew by another than a battle.  Gulliver and his men offered no quarter and simply cut down the three men left on the sloop.

When Gulliver broke open the flimsy door to the stern cabin, he was amazed by what he found. A black woman was seated behind a small desk in the captain’s cabin. She was dressed in men’s clothing – a seaman’s plaid shirt and blousy trousers in grey wool. She had her leather boots on the desk. She stared at Gulliver but there was no fear or even anxiety in her large brown eyes. In fact, she was smiling in a beguiling way.

“Who in hell are you, wench?” Gulliver’s voice was high, giving away his surprise. Her smile became even wider. He was embarrassed and it was a strange feeling.

Gulliver fought to bring his voice under control. “I asked,” he said slowly and in a deeper tone, “…who are you?” There was no answer.

Gulliver waved his bloodstained cutlass at the woman and took a step forward. He had meant to stab her as she sat, to remove that smirking smile from her face. But he was stopped by the beauty of that face. The woman’s skin was black, almost ebony and it was wondrously shaped. Her lips were red. Her nose was straight, cheekbones high and chin strong, sloping to a long, slender neck. Her body looked trim and firm. Her long fingers were on the surface of the desk.

After a few seconds spent studying the entrancing woman, Gulliver sheathed his sword. He gestured at the woman. “Follow me. You will come to my ship.” He turned and left the cabin, too confused to speak more.

Gulliver didn’t look behind him until he stood at the rail of the captured sloop ready to climb up to the deck of Southwind. When he glanced behind, he saw the woman had come out of the cabin and was striding across the deck. She looked like she, not Gulliver, was in charge of the battleground. Billy and several other crewmen watched the woman but no one moved to challenge her.

One of the observers was a former slave named Mkombo. He was overwhelmed at the sight of the black woman. She was a prize, just like the rest of the plunder that Gulliver’s men were tracking down in every corner of the captured sloop, but she acted as a victor and not as a prisoner. 

Within half an hour, Southwind was under sail again, leaving behind the blazing sloop and its crew of corpses. It had been a typical taking by Gulliver the pirate except for the black woman who now was creating a nest of her own in the hold below Southwind’s deck. No one dared to chain her or even to tell her where to go aboard the ship.

There was something about the woman that defied any attempt to control her. Where she came from, no one knew. What she would become, no one knew. Southwind sailed on, avoiding islands but heavier now with plunder. Gulliver was thinking of leaving the Caribbean altogether. He told the helmsman to set a new course and the bow swung northward. In the meantime, the presence of the beautiful black woman on Southwind was enough to keep the crew quiet.

About Sandi Ralph

I am an artist living and working in Toronto. My work can be seen at Oeno Gallery, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada House Trafalgar Square, London U.K. I am a member of Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, Open Studio, Toronto and Centre 3, Hamilton Ontario

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