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An Exclusive Taste from the Beginning of Little Jane, book II


CHAPTER 1: A Startling Scheme

Rocking in her mother's old, creaky rocking chair in her parents' bedroom above the Spyglass Tavern, Little Jane stared at the glowing yellow square of morning light falling over the quilt on their bed. Their empty bed.

Where were Captains Bonnie Mary Bright and Long John Silver the Second? Where indeed. Dust specks drifted in the stream of sunlight from the window, illuminating the three empty shoes still sitting on the tatami mat by the door, patiently awaiting their owners' return. What would you have me do? Little Jane thought in anguish as she remembered the everything that had occurred the night before on Smuggler's Bay.

Smuggler's Bay was the name of the tiny island she and her parents, the infamous pirates, Captains Long John Silver the Second and Bonnie Mary Bright, lived. The rooms above the Spyglass Tavern had always been their home when not on their ship, the Pieces of the Eight.

But in the past few days everything had gone horribly, horribly wrong for Little Jane and her family. First the bosun of the Pieces of Eight, Ned Ronk, engineered a series of accidents that crippled the ship and pinned the blame on Little Jane. Eventually her parents discovered Ned Ronk was working for the pirate-hunting ship,the Panacea, and all along, but by then it was too late. The Panacea had already sunk the Pieces of Eight and made off with all her crew, Little Jane's parents included. Only Little Jane and Ishiro the cook were spared.

And now Little Jane had taken the risky step of asking the magistrate, Sir Almost-Doctor Alistair Florence Virgil Villienne, sole representative of the British crown on the island and supposed enemy of all thing piratical, for help. Though long forbidden to go anywhere near the magistrate's mansion by her parents, Little Jane had ascended the mountain specifically to seek him out. It was a desperate gamble, but Little Jane could think of no one else with the medical skills needed to help her friend, Ishiro. His health had taken a distinct turn for the worse after the battle on the Pieces and she was worried he might die.

However, Little Jane had not passed through the magistrate's gates undisturbed. Her presence there aroused the ire of the two nastiest people in Smuggler's Bay, the insanely well-bred, implacably evil, twelve-year old twins, Charity and Felicity. After narrowly avoiding exposure to hazardous waste at their horrid hands, Little Jane managed to find Magistrate Villienne at last, peacefully working on explosive chemicals in his greenhouse laboratory. Unfortunately, the distraction of Little Jane's unexpected appearance caused him to explode the greenhouse, with himself inside. By exceeding good fortune Villienne emerged from the disaster reasonably unharmed and surprisingly willing to help Ishiro.

Late in the night Little Jane returned to the Spyglass Inn with Harley, an old hand from the Pieces of Eight currently working as Villienne's butler, to await the magistrate's arrival, hoping against hope that he might have some potion or salve to aid Ishiro with his heart trouble.

And here she was, still waiting, wondering if she'd made a grave error in trusting him.

A sound from downstairs interrupted her reverie. Villienne was here. Here, on the pirates' turf. She could hear him talking to Jonesy, the bartender. Sucking in her fear and tucking in her shirt-tail, Little Jane went down to greet him.

The suspicious group downstairs gave Villienne a wide berth, keeping their eyes closely trained on him, as if he would break out a pistol at any moment. It was all rather ridiculous considering Villienne's slender, unprepossessing figure and the fact that his hair still stood straight up from his head, a lingering result of the explosion in the lab. He couldn't have look more unmagisterial. At least his temporary deafness had faded a little. Now he was only speaking at half-shouting volume, a considerable improvement over the night before.