The Lovers.

John Tanner and Mary Reede meet for the first time in Chapter 2, 'The Black Flag'.  

<Click on the image to read an extended passage from Chapter 2 of "The Ballade of Mary Reede" by Norman C.  Schell.

We were three days under sail before we reached the coast of Cuba, and sighted the Sierra Maestras, which loomed some three leagues off of our starboard Quarter. And then as a bloated violet sun sank upon its face in the western sea, we sailed goose wing on a strong following wind into the Windward Passage.  Our course thus set us upon the first step of Captain Rackham’s plan.    Chapter 9

With sailors an excess of rum is bad enough, but wine does not settle well with them in particular.  Men puking and falling asleep on the weather deck in a winey stupor were all that spared the vessel an outbreak of fist fights or worse as the day and our dire errand was discussed, that is if bellowing in the most blasphemous manner may pass as discussion.  The musicians were kept at it the while, passing from lecherous drinking songs to maudlin ballads later in the night.  Chapter 15

They started out as wild hunters in the forests of Hispaniola, French mostly, tho’ there were also Dutch and English among them, all of them an unwelcome challenge to Spanish authority on the island.  The name comes from their method of smoke drying meat that they learned from the Arawak–which is what we are here to get for provision”. 

”A really untrustworthy and unpredictable brood of rapacious thieves”, was Rackham’s assessment in passing, which I found amusing considering his trade, “happily, we will be able to smell them before we see them.”    Chapter 19

         The Musicians

    Sailing at Goose Wing

          The Buccaneers

   Queen Nanny and the Maroons

On the last night, and after the last meal that we would all together share with our kind and gracious hosts, we sat in the honored inner circle. Snowden sitting close to the girl Efua, and McGuiness fairly pressed against the Arawak woman Hadali, Mary and I together of course and Trinket seated on the right hand of Queen Nanny.

To either side were her captains, and around and behind her the grannys. There were conversations to all sides of course.  And on the edge of the gathering there was singing and dancing when Nanny began to hum, and then to rock side to side.

 She did so alone for only a few moments before the grannys around and behind her began to hum and rock, then her captains, and then from the edge of the forest we heard the Abeng horn, and then a great silence fell over the village broken only by the deep humming of the simple song.

There was the rustle of movement as mothers brought their children through the crowd so that they could clearly hear the elders and leaders of their people.

When that rustle died away there was only the song.      Chapter 21

  This novel was written as a paean of praise for honor, courage, republican liberties, and lifelong love.

                  Two men go ashore, one returns

Reede bounded lightly onto the sand.  He turned to face me, his eyes flicked to Trinket then to Snowden, next to the Kestrel, then to the sky, then to me again.   He lift the sabre, blade up in a cavalryman’s salute, and then turned smartly and strode away to meet his fate, being all willow and coiled steel.

Chapter 15