Bonny Bee has conceived of a plan to help Olivia Lynton escape from her uncle Zebedee Thrashwick during the annual talent show at the Peregrine Inn. The only problem is she needs her pirate friends to execute the plan. Her staff has mixed reactions.
That night Bonny Bee gathered the staff and guests after dinner and broke the news that Bartholomew Longscar, Lars Ravensbeak, Sebastian Sharkchum, and Ivan Whitefin would soon be joining them. Emmaline, who would never dispute Bonny Bee’s authority in public, stood silent and stoic in the kitchen doorway—for a while. Adelaide, hearing Ivan’s name mentioned, swooned and fell into Lucien’s lap. Wallace, on the other hand, was delighted that Sebastian, the “best storyteller on the seven seas,” would soon be arriving, and then suggested they should hide the chessboard so Lars, a notorious sore loser, could not invite anyone to play.
Elizabeth, observing the chaos, asked, “You’ve had dealings with these men before?”
Standing near the fireplace, Fitz stood and raised his hands to quiet the room. “Our guests deserve an explanation, so they can clear out before the crew arrives, if they deem the action necessary,” he said.
“Hurry, Fitz,” Lucien said, “while Adie is still out, or you won’t get a word in edgewise.”
As if preparing for a public address, Fitz straightened his coat. “Bartholomew Longscar was Calico Jack’s first mate. He’s been pursuing Bonny Bee ever since Jack’s timely death, so I’ll thank all of you to make sure she’s never alone with him.”
“Hear, hear,” Lucien said.
“Ivan is tame enough,” Fitz said. “His one flaw is he’s always fancied himself a singer.”
“That doesn’t seem to be much of a flaw,” Elizabeth said.
“He’s tone deaf,” Emmaline said. “Doesn’t know one note from another.”
“It’s the reason he turned to piracy,” Fitz said. “Always wanted to play Rinaldo—”
“The opera or the role?” Ruggles asked.
“Both,” Fitz said. “But he could never find anyone willing to cast him.”
“Is it any wonder?” Emmaline asked.
“So, one night during a rehearsal,” Fitz said, “Ivan sneaked through the back door of the theatre on Drury Lane and—”
“That’s enough, Fitz,” Bonny Bee said. “We agreed not to discuss the incident again.”
Fitz nodded. “Suffice it to say, Ivan sings whenever he’s here, and it can be tiresome.”
“And Sebastian?” Ruggles asked.
“The only docile one in the group,” Bonny Bee said. “A poet of some repute.”
Intrigued, the guests decided to stay.
Two days later the pirates swaggered in at sundown.
Lars rushed to Fitz and embraced him. “I see they’ve made an honest man out of you, Fitz old boy.”
Lips puckered, Ivan hurried to Adelaide, swept her up in his arms and tilted her backward. Prepared for his bad behavior, she turned her face away so his chapped lips and scraggly beard only brushed her cheek.
“Come now, Adie, my love, give us a little squnch.”
“Not on your life, Ivan Whitefin. A kiss here, a squnch there, and you’ll be in my kitchen from morning till night begging me to sing duets with you. I won’t have it. I won’t.”
Sebastian headed for Elizabeth, seated by the fire with a stack of books.
“What have we here? A solitary lass with only books for company. Come with me, my lovely. While we dance, I’ll whisper a sonnet in your ear. Lucien, a tune, if you will be so kind.”
Lucien, who knew Sebastian was the gentlest of the pirates and that a dance would do Elizabeth good, obliged with a lovely waltz of his own composing. Bartholomew entered last. He looked around the room, but failed to see the one face he most longed to see.
He called out in a booming voice. “Bonny Bee, your Bart is here. Jack lies cold in his grave. There’s no impediment to our happiness. Come, my lotus blossom, and we will dance the night away.”
When Bartholomew took note that Bonny Bee’s door was closed, he marched toward her room and was trying the door handle when Fitz called out.
“That’s far enough, Longscar,” he said. “Bonny Bee never accepts gentlemen callers into her private parlor. She most certainly will not allow the likes of a scurvy old seadog like you.”
Bartholomew’s hand lingered over the doorknob only a moment before he lowered it to his side. He had known Fitz in his pirate days and now knew better than to resist his will. He turned to face the assembly.
“Then lay on the feast, Adelaide, my dear, and I’ll entertain all of you with tales of foreign ports and how I stole a ruby from the Duchess of—”
“No more, Longscar,” Fitz said. “We can’t have you terrifying the ladies.”
Bonny Bee emerged from her room. Bartholomew grabbed Fitz’s arm to steady himself. Ivan removed his hat and bowed low. Eyes to the ground, Lars went down on one knee. Sebastian, as if sleepwalking, let go of Elizabeth, walked straight toward Bonny Bee, took her hand, kissed it, and wiped a tear from his eye.
“Mrs. Rackham, since last I saw you, I have brandished my sword, run for my life, shinnied up a palm tree, tumbled from the crow’s nest—”
Bonny Bee gasped. “You were not badly hurt, I trust.”
He shook his head. “Caught my boot in the rigging. And through all my trials, I thought, If only I can return to the Peregrine Inn and behold the charming Mrs. Rackham, I—”
When he couldn’t go on, Bonny Bee took his hand. “Will you favor me with a dance, Mr. Sharkchum? Lucien, a tune if you will.”
The guests and staff cleared the floor and watched, breathless, as Bonny Bee placed Sebastian’s grimy hand on her waist and took his other hand in hers.