Monday, September 15, 2008

A History Mystery: Day Two / Part Two

The Personal Journals of Morgan Victoria Beauchamp

Saturday, October 25

Dearest Papa,

I should probably write this next entry to Mama. I’m not sure how much of my romantic musings you want to be party to, even though both of you have moved beyond this earthly existence. It gives me no small pleasure to think you can actually read or hear my thoughts. I can only hope you aren’t too shocked or dismayed. No, in fact I think you might be applauding.

The tedious task of the midterms is done. Until finals, I’m through with those details. Always a relief. I’m treating myself tonight with a visit to CafĂ© du Monde. You know how I adore their beignets. About as much as they adore clinging to my thighs…

The air is fresh off the river tonight and with the approach of Halloween, I can’t help but fall back to my romantic musings of my favorite pirate. No, no resting on my laurels, and waiting for my critics to rip my work apart, as I’m sure you’d approve. The sighting of my mysterious stranger last night has made it hard to concentrate on my chores today, but as I accomplished them all, I’m indulging in a little day dreaming tonight and he is in the starring role of Jean Baptiste Morgane.

Feeling a need to connect with my pirate, I read the journal from The Gilded Lady again this evening and I have in my bag the journal I found in my office. Mattias claims no responsibility for it, but there it was, tucked between some dry old tomes. Why can’t historians put more personality into their works? Why must history be so dull? Just the facts, ma’am. Pfft. People lived, loved, fought and experienced every emotion we do in the current day. Why can’t those emotions be part of the histories? I’m getting side tracked again.

The journal I found is notated as the Personal Memoirs of JBM. Jean Baptiste Morgane. The year even fits, 1761. It works for me. However, the writing is very difficult to read. Old French, which I can read when clearly printed, is the base, but there are touches of other languages included. Code or island dialect? A bastardized mix of English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese? And with tight script and the ravages of time, I can’t tell. I’ve struggled with the journal ever since finding it last year. Still, I’m reluctant to take it to our language department. It feels secretive and as if I’ve been entrusted with the secrets tucked inside. Am I delusional? And yet, I’m certain it is the key to understanding what happened to my favorite pirate.

As to my aforementioned romantic musings, after seeing the modern day mystery pirate at the bar, last night I had fevered dreams. I could clearly feel the rise and fall of the sea as I stood on the deck of a ship. Illuminated by lanterns, he swaggered toward me and I noticed my hands were bound. I was his prisoner? But where and how did he capture me? I remember the feel of his regard, as palpable as a touch, his dark eyes flickering with some deep amusement, the black velvet of the night pressing against my skin as if he himself enfolded me in his embrace. For the longest time, we stared at each other, his gaze direct and possessive, mine as defiant as I could make it. Difficult under the circumstances, as I’m positive I wanted him to ravish me most thoroughly.

I woke in a sweat, my heart pounding and lips hungry for the kiss I’d been denied, the sheets tangled about me. A cool shower didn’t help. This probably accounted for my need to touch base with the logs and journals again. All day I’ve felt him nearby, and as the shadows of night deepen, the feeling grows. I swear, I’m convinced that if I were to turn in my chair I’d see him. Yes, I surely must be delusional. No man has ever followed me. I’m pushing forty, am I so desperate for a man now that I’m dreaming up my own personal stalker? And a pirate from the eighteenth century no less. LOL. At least my delusions are entertaining. Maybe I should stop drinking coffee so late at night.

So, to refocus on my next project. I will dig into this journal and I will unravel the mystery of my pirate. I know this journal is crucial. I just wish I knew for certain its origin. At some point I’ll authenticate it, but I think on Monday I’ll go in early and scan it. That should help with puzzling out the language. Good thing I’m good with codes, but this time I’m too impatient. I want to read it as plainly as my students read their text books. Who was this man? What were his greatest concerns? History already tells us of his Jamaican mistress and there are stories told of her anger when he took another to his bed. Did she kill him, as his first mate believes? Was he the cause of her strange death? A homicide / suicide? Or did he return to his ship to ride out the hurricane that dispatched his ship and crew?

Diving expeditions on the site of the wreck have turned up few bones. Most likely most of the crew was scattered or their remains were buried deep over the centuries. Certainly no treasure was found. Strangely enough, the ships logs were fairly well preserved, wrapped as they were in waxed cloth and locked in an airtight casket. Another twenty years, or a good hurricane in the right spot, and the sea water would have finished disintegrating the casket and the logs would have been lost to the ages. I’ve been fortunate to study them thoroughly these past fifteen years.

The one portrait believed to be of him shows a man of dark hair, and dark eyes with a completely wicked twinkle deep inside. The more I think about it, the more the man from last night reminds me of that portrait. I so wish I’d seen more than just a few seconds of him. I want to study him to my heart’s content and make a side by side comparison. But in a city of half a million people, with numbers increased by tourism and business conventions, how am I supposed to find a man when I know nothing about him? I doubt I’d find him in the throngs of the crowds swelling the French Quarter in search of a Halloween party this coming week. Should he decide to dress in costume, the search would be futile.

So, tonight I’ll let myself dream of salty breezes and a man’s long fingers playing in my hair. My overactive imagination cannot be contained. I ache to feel the soft touch of his warm breath against my temple, his body warm and hard against my back, trapping me against the railing. In my dream, the ship would sail itself, no crew needed. We could make love under tropical skies both day and night and live off fresh fish and fruit. What was the Caribbean like three hundred years ago? Deserted islands as far as the eye could see where lovers could run off and play at being Adam and Eve. Sounds like heaven to me.

Oh Lord, maybe I should just jump Mattias and get it over with. No sex for too long does funny things to the mind. I certainly wouldn’t be the first to have an affair with my assistant and I know he’d approve. As close as his hand had been to sneaking under my skirt last night, I have no doubt he’d happily apply himself to that project. No one else has offered lately.

The hour grows late and I should go home, all the better to dream of my dark pirate. Besides, Ruth, Dagmar, Mattias and others scold me about the dangers of being out here by myself in the middle of the night. I just need to order my beignets to go for breakfast in the morning. Since I came to Tulane I’ve never been accosted. Probably has something to do with the size of my thighs or my gypsy eyes as you used to call them. Too bad there’s no Gypsy in our blood.

Good night, dear journal. I’m off to dream of sailing the Spanish Main and plundering treasure ships. Maybe this time my pirate will plunder me. A girl can hope.

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