Authors: Ted Bell
ALSO BY TED BELL
Nick of Time: An Adventure Through Time
A NICK McIVER
ST. MARTIN'S GRIFFIN
This one is for Byrdie, Brownie, and Benji, three kids who exemplify all that's best about the heroic children who inhabit these pages.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
THE TIME PIRATE
. Copyright Â© 2010 by Ted Bell. All rights reserved. Printed in March 2010 in the United States of America by R. R. Donnelly & Sons Company, Harrisonburg, Virginia. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
Illustrations by Russ Kramer
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The time pirate: a Nick McIver time adventure / Ted Bell.â1st ed.
Â Â Â Â p. cm.
1. BoysâChannel IslandsâFiction. 2. World War, 1939â1945âChannel IslandsâFiction. 3. PiratesâFiction. 4. KidnappingâFiction. 5. RescuesâFiction. 6. Time travelâFiction. 7. JamaicaâFiction. 8. Caribbean AreaâFiction. I. Title.
First Edition: April 2010
10Â Â 9Â Â 8Â Â 7Â Â 6Â Â 5Â Â 4Â Â 3Â Â 2Â Â 1
Illustrations by Russ Kramer
Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers, which they dare not
dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.
Â· Greybeard Island, 1880 Â·
he godforsaken isle took its name from the thick pea-soupy fogs that persistently haunted the place.
It was aptly named Greybeard Island. Dangerous terrain and weather fueled my misery trekking across the island's rocky headland. Tired and bone cold, serious doubts about this adventure crept round the edges of the noggin: one truly nasty fall and my frozen carcass wouldn't be found till next morning.
The low-hanging sun, once a comfort, was now merely a hazy yellow wafer sliding toward the sea.
Still, I was determined to reach the old Greybeard Inn before nightfall. I am by trade a naval historian, and I'd learned that Mr. Hornby, the inn's proprietor, had a bewitching tale to tell.
Martyn Hornby was a rare bird, one of a small number of Royal Navy veterans of the Napoleonic Wars remaining
alive, the sole living survivor of the crew of the famous H.M.S.
, under the command of Captain Nicholas McIver.
McIver's small 48-gun English man-o'-war fought a courageous and pivotal naval battle against a massive French 74-gun frigate back in 1805. When I say
, I do not speak lightly. I mean I believed that
's victory had changed the course of history.
And no other historian, to my knowledge, had ever heard tell of it!
Seventy-five years ago now, in the summer of '05, a huge French frigate,
, was lurking off this very coast. She sailed under the infamous Captain William Blood, an Englishman and a traitor of the first order. Old Bill was a rogue who had betrayed our greatest hero, Admiral Lord Nelson, for a very large sum of capital offered by the French. Captain Blood's formidable services were now at the disposal of Napoleon and his Imperial French Navy. And it was only the purest of luck that put that villain at last in British gun sights.
Distracted by such thoughts, I slipped then, and nearly lost my footing on a sharply angled escarpment, at the bottom lip of which I spied a cliff, one that dropped some four hundred feet to the sea! Well, I clung to a vertical outcropping of glistening rock and paused trembling on the edge of the precipice. Once my heart slowed to a reasonable hammering, I pressed on.
Historians, I was rapidly learning, need an adventurous streak. Tracking down far-flung witnesses to history is neither for the faint of heart nor weak of limb. Far better were I one of those stout-hearted, broad-shouldered chappies one reads about in penny novels. The lads off felling trees in the trackless Yukon, scaling Alps, or shouting “Sail hot” from atop a wildly pitching masthead. Such were my musings when a
sudden thunderclap boomed behind me and lightning strikes danced on the far horizon, revealing a fork in the road. I chose the more treacherous seaward route, for I had no choice.
There was precious little width to be had on this path, and in some spots it was little more than a shaley rock-cut ledge about ten inches or a foot wide. Far below, I heard the crash of waves on jagged rocks. Dicey, to put it mildly.
The sheer face of the vertical rock wall to my right seemed to bulge, animated, as if it wished to push my body out into space. A trick of mind? I inched along, trying to ignore the rising bile of panic and the agitated sea waiting to embrace me. Not once but thrice, I considered turning back. Only to realize I had passed the point of no return.