Mark of the Golden Dragon (Bloody Jack Adventures (Audio))

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9781593165932: Mark of the Golden Dragon (Bloody Jack Adventures (Audio))

The irrepressible Jacky Faber, condemned for life to the English penal colony in Australia for crimes against the Crown, has once again wriggled out of the grasp of British authorities. Back on her flagship, the Lorelei Lee, she eagerly heads back to England in the company of friends and her beloved Jaimy Fletcher. But when the voyage is waylaid by pirates, storms, and her own impetuous nature, Jacky is cast into a world of danger that extends from the South China Sea to the equally treacherous waters of London politics. With the help of her loyal friends, Jacky meets her enemies head on in this tale of love, courage, and redemption.

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About the Author:

L.A. Meyer received a master of fine arts from Boston University, and is currently the curator and exhibitor at the Clair de Loon Gallery in Bar Harbor, Maine. He lives in Corea, Maine. Katherine Kellgren has appeared onstage in London, New York and Frankfurt. Her recent work includes everything from the role of Laura in a regional production of The Glass Menagerie, to appearances on Comedy Central. She has recorded numerous plays and dramatizations of novels for the radio, including winners of the AudioFile Earphones Award and the Peabody Award. She is a graduate of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue

December 1807
Off the coast of Java
Onboard the Lorelei Lee

O God of Grace and Glory, we come before you this day in memory of our fallen shipmate. In your boundless compassion, console those of us who are left behind to mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on Earth until by your call we are united with those who have gone before, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eternal Father whose arm doth sometimes calm the restless wave, and whose mighty arm doth at other times whip the sea into an angry froth, please accept into your loving arms the soul of our lost mate who in your greater wisdom you saw fit to take. We commend unto your divine presence our beloved comrade . . .

Jacky Faber.

Amen.

Part I

Chapter 1
My name is Jacky Faber and I am—by the grace of God, of Neptune, and of all the lesser gods—Owner and Captain of the Lorelei Lee, possibly the most beautiful brigantine bark ever to sail the seven seas. I am once again back in command of that fine ship. I am in my lovely cabin and my bottom is pressed back in its favorite chair at the head of my fine table, and grouped about that table are many of my dearest friends.

I’ve a glass of fine wine in my fist and my dearly beloved James Emerson Fletcher sits here beside me, his hand in mine. Oh, Jaimy, finally!

I am supremely happy.

Now a drop of Nelson’s blood would not do us any harm,
No, a drop of Nelson’s blood would not do us any harm . . .

Things are getting a mite rowdy here on the Lorelei Lee as we lift our glasses and bellow out the words to the song. My ship has been sailing in company with the Cerberus and HMS Dart back up the Strait of Malacca, with Sumatra to port and the Malay Archipelago to starboard, having left Australia, and all its meager charms, far behind.

Most of those in this northerly bound fleet had been condemned to servitude in the penal colony in New South Wales, but we managed, through various mutinies, battles, and some very welcome help from God, luck, and a Chinese pirate, to wriggle free of those bonds, and for that we are eternally grateful. I am, anyway.

Were we guilty of those crimes for which we were transported to the other side of the world? Well, the Irish lads were guilty mostly of merely being Irish. My own dear Jaimy Fletcher, former Lieutenant in His Majesty’s Royal Navy and now in the eyes of that Service a vile pirate captain, was mainly guilty of merely being associated with me, false witness being brought against his good name.

My own guilt? Well, I’ll let others decide that, but I won’t stick around and wait for their decision. Oh, I suppose when I stand before the Pearly Gates, I’ll have a few things to answer for, but I’d rather have God judge me and my actions than be judged by the King’s ministers, who have not been all that kind in their treatment of my poor self. I do hope God will be more merciful than King George has proven to be.

And we’ll all hang on behind!

Earlier we enjoyed much high hilarity over the pardons granted to all of us by Captain Bligh, Governor of New South Wales. This came about because my good Higgins, in securing the head money for each of the two hundred and fifty assorted female convicts we had delivered in good health to the colony, had also managed to cop a pile of the pardon forms. Using them, we had greatly delighted in granting ourselves absolution from all those various crimes for which we had been condemned. Captain Bligh—yes, that unfortunate Captain Bligh, formerly of the infamous Bounty—had signed the cargo manifest himself, so it was an easy thing for me to fake his signature on the pardons. I am quite good at forgery . . . among other things.

And we’ll roll the golden chariot along,
Yes, we’ll roll the golden chariot along,
We’ll roll the old chariot along,
And we’ll all hang on behind.

As we sing out the song, we linger over each “roll,” making it “rrooooll” in time to the roll of the ship. Well, actually, the Lee is more wallowing than rolling, since we are essentially becalmed, which is why the captains of the Dart and Cerberus figured it was safe enough to leave their ships in the care of their junior officers and are now over here eating up my food, slugging down my wine, and eyeing me up, the dogs. I sit at the head of my table with Captain Fletcher on my right . . . and Captain Joseph Jared on my left.

So, yes, there are complications, for this Joseph Jared also has a claim on my affections—it was he who had befriended me when I was pressed into service on HMS Wolverine and who helped me in the eventual takeover of that unhappy ship and who protected me from harm in that vile French prison. Both Jaimy and Jared know how things lie between the three of us, and it makes for a bit of tension in the room.

Complications, complications . . .

I heave a sigh and think that if Joseph were not here right now, I’d be sitting in Jaimy’s lap, and if Jaimy were not here, I’d probably be in Joseph’s. Another heavy sigh. Just why my scrawny and much-scarred self should be such a source of covetous concern, I don’t know . . . Men, I swear . . . I right now sit with my head mostly shaved ’cept for a braided pigtail hanging at the back of my shiny skull and a rather garish tattoo of a golden dragon resting on the back of my neck under said pigtail.

My Sailing Master, Enoch Lightner, a white bandage over his sightless eyes, is seated at the foot of the table, and he sings out the next verse in his lusty baritone.

Now, another winsome girl would not do us any harm,
No, another winsome lass would not do us any harm . . .

Arthur McBride, he who is Third Mate of the Cerberus, joins him, all the while leering at me over the rim of his wineglass.

Aye, one more winsome girl would not do us any harm,
And we’ll all hang on behind!

The young Irish hound must know, given that both Jaimy and Joseph are here aboard, that he has absolutely no chance of getting into my knickers—or into my bed, for that matter—but he nevertheless gazes upon me with some heat as he sings the verse to finish up the song. I know that it was with great regret that he left his lovely and most attentive Chinese handmaidens behind him on Cheng Shih’s Divine Wind. Sorry, mate, but for you, once again, the hair shirt of the monk.

I am not the only female aboard, because Ian McConnaughey sits midtable with his wife and my dear friend Mairead, in all her red-haired beauty, beaming at his side. ’Course Arthur McBride knows better than to try to touch her. In the past, he has never had such reservations about me even though for most of our acquaintance I have been his superior officer.

Ah, yes, the Jacky Faber bed . . . It is right over there, nicely made up by my servant, Lee Chi, with the best of silks and fine cottons, and I have seen covert male glances stealing over to look at it. Don’t think I don’t see your eyes, or know your thoughts, you dogs.

My Jolly Roger flag is draped at the foot of the bed and my gold-on-green silk Chinese dragon pennant floats over the top of it. I place my right hand on Jaimy’s as we all sing out the song, but I do not place my left hand on Joseph’s, even though I sort of want to. No, after all, we can’t have a jealous male duel right here right now, and over my silly self, now, can we . . . ?

Complications, complications . . . Life used to be so simple . . .

Although we left the shores of Australia weeks ago, we continue to celebrate our deliverance from captivity. That is, some of us do, anyway—myself and my officers, and James Emerson Fletcher, Captain of the Cerberus, with his crew of recently freed Irish lads, many of whom were former crew members of my first ship, the bold, sleek, and ultimately doomed Emerald. Joseph Jared, Commander of the third ship in our fleet, HMS Dart, a neat and trim thirty-gun sloop of war, joins us in this celebration, but he is not a recently freed convict. Oh, no. He is, in fact, in charge of the Royal Navy ship that was assigned to escort the East India Company’s ship Cerberus to New South Wales and then bring her back. Therein lies a further complication because the Cerberus is no longer in the possession of the East India Company but is being held now by James Emerson Fletcher and his crew of Irish rogues.

It was what Mr. Yancy Beauregard Cantrell, renowned Mississippi gambler, used to call a “Mexican stand-off” . . . all participants involved standing with guns pointing at each -other’s heads, waiting for someone to make the first deadly move. Something had to be done.

I called a conference. When all were gathered in my cabin, I said, “Gentlemen, please, we must come to some sort of agreement. Captain Jared, you may speak first . . .”

Jared stood and said, “Most of you are escaped convicts. I am honor bound to take you back . . .”

That got him a low growl from those present, who did, after all, outnumber him in the way of armed ships.

“. . . however, I am open to suggestions.” He sat back down.

Then my good and very intelligent John Higgins, the very soul of reason, spoke up:

“I know, Mr. Jared, how deeply you hold your concept of honor as a Royal Navy officer. However . . . consider this: Your initial duty was to escort the Cerberus to New South Wales...

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Book Description Listen Live Audio, 2011. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. The irrepressible Jacky Faber, condemned for life to the English penal colony in Australia for crimes against the Crown, has once again wriggled out of the grasp of British authorities. Back on her flagship, the Lorelei Lee, she eagerly heads back to England in the company of friends and her beloved Jaimy Fletcher. But when the voyage is waylaid by pirates, storms, and her own impetuous nature, Jacky is cast into a world of danger that extends from the South China Sea to the equally treacherous waters of London politics. With the help of her loyal friends, Jacky meets her enemies head on in this tale of love, courage, and redemption. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781593165932

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Book Description Listen Live Audio, 2011. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged. Language: English . Brand New. The irrepressible Jacky Faber, condemned for life to the English penal colony in Australia for crimes against the Crown, has once again wriggled out of the grasp of British authorities. Back on her flagship, the Lorelei Lee, she eagerly heads back to England in the company of friends and her beloved Jaimy Fletcher. But when the voyage is waylaid by pirates, storms, and her own impetuous nature, Jacky is cast into a world of danger that extends from the South China Sea to the equally treacherous waters of London politics. With the help of her loyal friends, Jacky meets her enemies head on in this tale of love, courage, and redemption. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781593165932

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