The Captains Daughter
acey Raines was in high spirits as she arrived home from school and sprinted through her front door. All of that enthusiasm was squashed within moments once her mom informed her of the dreadful news.
Thirteen years old, Macey was due to graduate from eighth grade at the end of the school year. Her mop of thick hair was braided at each side, swept back, and then tied at the back of her head with a fringed band to keep it out of her face as she walked home from school with her best friends. They all sported the uniform identifying their ages - jeans with small rips and tears up and down their legs, colorful Under Armor tees, lightweight hoodies, and high top black boots. They were all going to be high school freshman in the fall and Macey was looking forward with excitement to that new chapter in her life. The fact that the girls she had shared her deepest secrets with would be there alongside of her would make this transition even more special. As they walked, their conversation was filled with their anticipation of being in the same classes and the same sports next year.
That day had started out like most others. Macey went to her first class of the day, English with Mr. Schneider, where they were going to read The Red Headed League, a Sherlock Holmes short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The class would be reading the story out loud in a Reader’s theatre format, where the teacher read the narrative, but students in the class were assigned to play the parts of people in the play. The teacher asked her to read the part of the male character, red-headed Jabez Wilson. Even though it wasn't a girl's role and she certainly didn’t fit the klutzy male character, her blaze of red hair made her a shoo-in for the part.
The class had a good laugh at that. Of course, they were not laughing at Macey, and she took it in stride even though she was already a little self-conscious about her hair color. She began to read in a halting manner.
“Macey,” said her teacher, sensing her discomfort, “If you don’t want to read the part, you don’t have to. I thought of you because I’ve heard you imitating a British cockney accent and I think you could get into the character.”
“Yes, sir,” she mumbled.
“Do you want me to ask someone else?” asked the teacher.
“No, Mr. Schneider,” she said. “I can do it.”
Her teacher's comments gave her the confidence she needed to gain control and in a few moments, she was able to concentrate on her cockney accent, which the rest of the class enjoyed a great deal. She soon found herself having fun with the assignment.
Later that morning she had a study hall in the library. She finished her math homework and saw that her friends were still busy with their assignments. Glancing around, she noticed an old book called Doubloons resting on the other end of the table. She picked it up and saw it was printed in 1938, written by a man named Charles Driscoll, and subtitled ‘The Story of Buried Treasure.’ Her tablemates were still studying so she skimmed over the first chapter of the book.
At first, she was puzzled at who would have left a rather valuable book on the table, but decided it looked interesting and began reading.
Soon she was learning about the age of Piracy in precolonial America, which took place from 1715 through about 1725. The chapter dealt with the story of Blackbeard, perhaps the most vicious of the violent, murdering brigands of those years.
Next, she read about another pirate from that era, a violent thug named Sandy Gordon who led a mutiny against Captain John Herring, the master of the war sloop Porpoise. Captain Herring, for some reason not recorded in history, brought his daughter with him on the ship. Once he took over the ship, Gordon murdered the former captain while his terrified daughter looked on.
On orders from Gordon, the pirates pitched Captain Herring over the side into the North Atlantic. Then Gordon turned his attention to the Captain’s daughter, fourteen-year-old Martha, who was forced to marry the scoundrel who had murdered her father. To make matters worse, he then locked her in a dismal cabin in the lower decks of the ship. She was allowed out of the cabin only when the ship was too far from any shore to escape.
After a while, Gordon abandoned his young wife on a gloomy, dismal island about ten miles out in the frigid Atlantic from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She was several months pregnant by then, and Gordon had his men construct a one-room cabin for her to live in while he was away at sea. He wanted to make sure no one would be able to find her.
He left her a few weapons to defend herself: a brace of pistols, a cutlass and a dagger. She didn’t know how to use them, but she kept them near.
The cabin, constructed from rocks scattered around the island, was drafty and cold, and Martha was bitterly lonely. Gordon had his men bring several chests of treasure ashore and they hid them in the cabin.
Macy, reading this chapter of early American folklore, realized that Martha was only a year older than she when all of this occurred. She shuddered at the thought of going through everything this young girl had endured. Macey found herself trying to imagine how she would have survived if she had been in Martha's place.
Macey leaned back in her library chair, staring at the book. The story of Martha troubled her since there was no satisfactory ending to the story. No information was given about what happened to her after Gordon died.
So, when she arrived home Macey told her mom about English class where she had been embarrassed about her reading and how she had been selected because of her red hair. Then she told her about the book she had found in the library and shared the legend of Martha with her mother, who listened and hugged her daughter. Mom assured her that a ship from Britain or the American Colonies would have found Martha and brought her to the mainland. Her words didn’t comfort her daughter much.
When Macey finished telling her mom all about her day, Mom got up, made them both some hot cocoa, and invited her to sit down with her at the kitchen table.
"Macey," she began, "I have some exciting news to share with you. Your dad received a wonderful job opportunity."
"Wow, that's great. Mom. When does he start?"
"Well, honey," said Mom, "it really is good news, but I have to tell you something and I don't want you to get upset. I want you to just listen and we can talk about whatever questions you might have."
"What are you talking about? What do you mean? Why would I be upset?" Her mother's tone was beginning to cause her concern.
"Well," Mom began slowly, trying to choose her words carefully, "this new job requires that we move so you would be starting in a new school in the fall."
"What do you mean, move? Move where?" asked Macey cautiously.
Mom tried not to stumble giving her reply, "I am afraid we will be leaving California and moving to a suburb of Chicago as soon as school is out for the summer."
"What!? You can't do that to me. Not now. Not when I am going to just start high school. Not when all my friends are here. How am I supposed to make new friends? I hate Chicago. I hate cold weather. I hate that you are making me do this." And Macey stormed off to her room.
Mom sighed and busied herself cleaning up the kitchen, wishing she could make this news more appealing to her daughter. She understood it would be difficult for her to move and start over, but she wished she could help Macey see it as an adventure.
As Macey left for school the next morning she dreaded having to tell her friends the news. She just wished this year would go on and on, never ending. If she started talking, she was afraid she would just break down and cry, and what good would that do?
As Macey sauntered through the door that afternoon, Mom again had hot cocoa waiting for her and motioned for her to have a seat.
"You know," Mom said, "this is a scary time for all of us, not just you. I am just as worried about making new friends as you are. I wish we could stay here, too, but..."
"Why don't you just tell that to Dad? Tell him we don't want to move. Tell him this is a bad decision," cried Macey.
"Because we are a family, and we support each other, and this is the job your dad has always dreamed of. I want the best for him and I love him so I am not going to make him feel guilty about this. I have to trust this will work out to be a good thing for us all."
"I want to believe that, too, Mom. I really do, but it's just hard. How am I going to manage a new school where I have no friends? I love it here. I have lived here my whole life."
Mom pulled her closer and gave her a hug. "It will work out, you'll see, honey."
"I hope so, Mom, I hope so," Macey replied as she pulled away and trudged up the stairs to her room.
The school year came to a close and that last day Macey said her tearful good-byes to her teachers and some of the kids. Her best friends had already had a going away party for her the previous week and she avoided them that last afternoon. She just couldn't handle the emotional response it would generate. As she arrived home she was feeling sorry for herself.
The moving truck arrived the next morning. Dad had already left for their house in Geneva, IL to start his new job. As the packing crew received their final instructions from Mom, Macey walked out the double doors to their patio one last time. She wiped the tears from her eyes as she gazed around at all the trees and flowers that made their yard so pretty. Glancing at the pool reminded her of all the pool parties they had hosted for friends and family since she was a little girl. Her mom taught her, and many of her friends, how to swim in that pool. She would have no pool in Illinois. Her eyes wandered over to the bush where they had held a little ceremony and buried her guinea pig when she was six. She wanted the memory of this whole scene to be imprinted in her mind forever.
Their new home was nice and Macey loved her spacious new bedroom, but it wasn't California. She still hadn't really met anyone four weeks after the move. She spent a lot of time on their deck, reading and trying to keep in touch with her old friends, but she felt those relationships slipping away ever so slightly since her move.
"Macey, why don't you go for a bike ride or head over to the new school to see about signing up for one of the sport camps," suggested Mom, who was getting concerned about her lack of interest to become involved in anything regarding her new school for the fall.
When her dad came home that evening, he and Mom went out for a walk together. "I am wondering what to do about Macey," she shared. "I am worried about her unwillingness to try to adjust to the move."
"Well," said Dad, "I may have something that will help," his eyes twinkling. "My boss wants me to go to Orlando to entertain some clients and he said I could take the family..."
"Oh, Jim," interrupted Mom, "it might be just the thing to snap her out of this attitude. That is her favorite place in the whole world and we haven't been able to go for awhile."
"Just what I was thinking," he agreed.
They decided to make this a surprise trip for Macey so Mom did her packing after she was in bed or early in the morning, whenever she could sneak something into suitcases hidden in her closet. Dad took care of all the travel arrangements and reservations through his office and their trip was set for the next week-end.
Saturday arrived and Macey was awakened by her mom opening her door at 5:30 am and announcing, “Macey! Time to rise and shine, and we leave in half an hour!”
Macey tumbled out of bed, looked at her clock, and then thought her mom had lost her mind. "What are you talking about? Mom, have you lost it? Look at the time? What do you mean we are leaving in a half hour?"
"Oh, well, sorry, I thought you might be interested in coming to Disney World with us. But if you would rather go back to sleep...". Mom did not get to finish the sentence.
Macey set a personal record for showering and getting dressed, and the limo driver pulled into their driveway a few minutes later. He drove them to O’Hare Airport, Chicago’s gigantic aviation hub.
On the plane, Macey plied her parents with question after question: “Where are we staying again? What’s it like? Is there a pool?”
Mom, as excited as her daughter, explained, “We are staying on the Disney property, a place called Port Orleans French Quarter. Our room looks out on the waterway, not far from the boat dock. You can hop on a boat and go straight to Disney Springs. The French Quarter has a great food court. As a matter of fact, I am looking forward to my first beignet, those spectacular doughnuts they make on site drenched in powdered sugar. But there is also a terrific pool area, and my favorite, a great hot tub.” Macey smiled at her mom's description.
Four hours later, they landed in Orlando. They followed the signs to catch the Magical Express Bus to Walt Disney World, and their resort. To Macey’s surprise, they didn’t even have to pick up their luggage. “Come on, Macey,” grinned Dad. “Disney will pick up our luggage and take it right to our room for us.”
Nor did they have to wait long before boarding their bus and setting off for the resort. The bus even had entertainment: a couple of classic Disney cartoons and a Disney trivia quiz, which they passed with flying colors. Unseen by Macey, Mom gave Dad a little lift of her eyebrow, indicating pleasure that their daughter was actually laughing again. He smiled in return.
Two hours after that, they had settled into their room at the The French Quarter. After some brief unpacking, the family went their various ways. Daddy went to the Magnolia Golf Course, where he was going to meet some clients for a sales/golf/dinner extravaganza. That, Mom explained, was why they were able to come to Florida: Dad was going to entertain clients.
Typical, thought Macey. Business always came first for Dad. She and Mom probably wouldn’t see a whole lot of him. Macey felt bad at first that Daddy wasn’t able to be with them every day, but she loved Disney and there was so much to do that she figured she and Mom would be fine on their own for most of the time. Besides, he would join them a few times during their stay.
They decided to start their visit to EPCOT with a visit to the American Pavilion, located opposite the main entrance. As they walked through Future World they decided to take the launch across the lake. Arriving at the American Experience pavilion, they noticed that it was not too crowded and the show was due to start in a few moments.
The show began in a rotunda inside the main entrance. An adult vocal group came out and entertained the assembled audience with arrangements of American folk and popular songs. They were dressed in period costumes and sang in perfect harmony, with no musical accompaniment. All must have been impressed with their performance because the crowd rewarded the singers with a standing ovation and a rousing round of applause.
When the songs were over, the visitors left to go into the auditorium for the presentation. Macey took the opportunity to speak to one of the singers. The woman had remained a few minutes at the end of the concert and Macey noticed that she was quite tall, maybe even a little intimidating, as she approached her.
“That was fantastic,” Macey raved. “I was in choir in school, and hope to be in the performance choir once I get in high school next year. You guys were wonderful.” As they spoke, Macey had a hard time trying not to stare at the woman's eyes. They were unusually light and almost golden in color.
“Thank you,” the singer said, delighted by the greeting from an enthusiastic teenager. “Why don't you and your mom meet me after the movie presentation? I’d enjoy showing you some of our backstage and a few additional exhibits.”
“Thank you,” said Mom. “We’d be honored to take advantage of your gracious offer.” The singer smiled and told them where she would meet them.
The presentation was very moving and filled Macey and her mom with pride in their American heritage. In particular the Civil War story and its songs, such as Two Brothers, touched her deeply:
Two brothers on their way, Two brothers on their way. One wore blue and one wore gray, As they marched along their way. The fife and the drum began to play, All on a beautiful morning.
The saddest of the American wars affected Mom, a southerner by birth, and she and Macey had tears in their eyes as she watched the movie.
As they left the auditorium, they found the singer who had been kind to them. She had removed her hat and her long, almost white, hair trailed down her back. She shook hands with them and introduced herself as Mara. Mom asked, "So where are you from, Mara?"
Mara responded rather mysteriously, "Oh, many places," and quickly changed the subject.
The tour lasted about an hour, and the remarkable Disney Animatronic characters of Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain were worth visiting in themselves.
After finishing their tour, Mara took them to outside to a Disney snack kiosk where they enjoyed ice cream bars in the shape of the Mickey Mouse logo.
“Have you taken any American History, Macey?” asked Mara.
“This is a great place to learn about the history, isn’t it?” Mom smiled at Macey. “Tell Mara what you’ve been reading, Macey,” she said, embracing her daughter’s shoulders.
Macey went into a brief description about her discovery of the book, Doubloons, and the pirates who terrorized the east coast. Mara's eyes twinkled as she listened with some curiosity.