TITLE: Abel Pirates
GENRE: YA Alternate History
To combat piracy in the Caribbean, a desperate solution is instituted: force pirates to surrender by holding their kin hostage. And if they don’t? Hang their next-of-kin.
When sixteen-year-old Beatrix is named “next-of-kin” to her pirating grandfather, she seeks refuge at sea, only to discover that the price of freedom might be too high.
Beatrix was used to keeping her head down in Sheepshank, so it wasn’t until she felt Miss Black tense beside her that she looked up from the uneven cobblestones and spotted him. A man on horseback in their path of retreat.
He hardly seemed a threat—oily black curls bounced beneath his ridiculously wide-brimmed planter’s hat; an orange feather plume sagged upon his shoulder—but Miss Black considered everyone a threat. Even ruddy-cheeked fops who couldn’t keep their periwigs on straight.
“Hallo there, Miss Black,” he called with a wave. “Lost, are you? Courthouse is in the other direction!” He laughed, a high-pitched titter, and spurred his horse toward them.
Miss Black stopped Beatrix, taking her by the wrist. “Not a word,” she instructed quietly, her eyes clouded with worry.
The man was upon them before Beatrix could answer. Not that Miss Black needed an answer—Beatrix would hardly choose today, of all days, to start conversing with strangers. But ever since arriving in town and finding the streets dead, Miss Black had been on edge—more so than usual. The bank had been locked up, and wedged in the door they'd found a hastily scrawled noted: “Closed. Trial of Billy Cook, accused pirate.”
“But won’t it look suspicious if we miss the trial?” Beatrix had pointed out as Miss Black ushered her briskly toward the path out of town.
“Attend a pirate trial?” Miss Black had said with a humorless laugh. “Sometimes I think you take it lightly, just how close you are to the hangman’s noose.