Two weeks had passed since the Jackdaw set out to the oceans. At the same time, the farce in front of the warehouse also continued for two whole weeks.
Unable to cope with the vast number of people lining up, Carina went on to spend around forty gold coins in exchange for what Malone called ‘a pile of rubbish.’
The only thing in the entire heap that had any value at all was probably the twelve boxes of potatoes. Even these were not going yield much in the colonies. The Gentle Breeze making a trip for those items was clearly more of a loss than gain.
No one understood what the tradeswoman intended to achieve by doing this. Even so, the black-market alliance immediately responded by issuing a statement. It said that all pirates found working with Carina would forever get the lowest price from them.
This meant that the black-market alliance was stonewalling Carina on a large scale. Malcolm’s counterattack was simple and straightforward. As soon as the statement was out, the quality of the items that the tradeswoman received worsened. Now, Carina had to inspect the loot twice when dealing with those pirate-wannabes.
Of course, those who were desperate were unaffected by this. Never having the habit of thinking ahead, they would just go wherever the money was. These, however, were never the black-market alliance’s target group anyway. Malcolm felt that he would ultimately be at an advantage, having these guys eventually wearing out and discouraging Carina to go on.
The people on the island gave the tradeswoman’s secondhand business the undesirable moniker of a ‘rubbish collection station,’ and many merchants from the black-market alliance were simply waiting for her to make a fool of herself.
During this period, Malone had also become very dispirited. Whenever he met anyone on the island he knew, they would always ask him when he was going to sell off all the Colony’s trash. Eventually, under the pressure of the constant mocking, he hid within the brothel, refusing to emerge until Carina sent a messenger to look for him.
“Set sail tonight?” chuckled Malone bitterly as he rolled out of bed and put on his clothes. “Stop joking. Are you really going to listen to those guys and transport all that stuff to Boston, New York? To whom should we sell them to? How much would the journey cost us? How much profit are we going to make?”
“I’ve already arranged for workers in advance. You’ll just need to ferry the goods to their destination, and someone over there will handle it. Then you can return to Nassau,” the messenger replied.
Just then, Carina walked into the room, catching the Gentle Breeze’s captain completely off-guard. Thank goodness his pants were already on.
Carina glared at the stark-naked prostitute and said, “Can you please excuse us?”
The girl smiled, blowing a kiss at her before picking up her garments on the bench. She sultrily walked out of the room, swaying her hips.
Carina asked the messenger she sent for Malone to guard the door. Then, she poured herself a glass of whiskey. “Can you load everything on the ship in one afternoon?”
Malone shrugged. “I have to gather the crew, buy supplies for the trip, replenish water on board, check the sails… so, I guess… it should be alright. If you insist, we can leave this place before sundown.”
“Very good. There’s no need to rush. We leave after dark.”
Malone frowned, “Leaving in such a mighty rush? Ah… you’re worried that your potatoes would start sprouting, eh?”
Sensing sarcasm in the captain’s tone, Carina leaned back and rubbed her temples wearily. “Do you know how much money we’ve lost during this period?”
“I know you may not want to hear this, but I’ve already told you earlier on that if we could actually make any money off of those guys, you wouldn’t have had to beg the captains who worked with your father to deal with you.”
“I never expected to earn any money off them. Not now, at least,” groaned Carina. “I just needed them to help me spread the word, to let all the pirates on the island know that working with me is more profitable than working with the black-market alliance.”
“I’m very sure Malcolm received your message too. That’s why he had the black-market alliance issue a statement. Now, the powerful pirate gangs on the island are even more disinclined to seek us.”
“No, on the surface, they won’t come to us.”
“What do you mean?’
“When I was tiny, my father told me stories about this place, about how brave and fearless the people are. They would chase after riches completely unrestricted by rules whatsoever. Many people thought that the pirate captains sided with the black-market alliance because of a contract with them, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, most of them couldn’t care less about what’s written on a contract. They only chose the black-market alliance because it provided them with a higher income. All they care is feeding their men, avoiding a mutiny, and securing their positions as captain.”
“That may be true, but because of this, they would surely never leave the black-market alliance to work with us,” Malone sighed. “Do you know what I’ve been hearing… what other people have been saying about us?”
The tradeswoman raised a brow.
“Those bastards think that we won’t last. They believe that the Jackdaw continues to work with us only because…” The captain paused for a moment.
“I’ve discovered a woman’s talents?”
“Something like that. Everyone here thinks that, sooner or later, Malcolm and his black-market alliance will be chased out of Nassau. Forgive me for being blunt, but under such circumstances, no one would want to work with us.”
“Right now, I’m not trying to strive for a long-term partnership with anyone,” said Carina. “I’m just providing them with a means for some extra income.”
“Extra income?” Malone couldn’t understand what the tradeswoman was saying.
“My target is not the few top-tier pirate groups. The black-market alliance has been feeding them well. To be honest, there’s not much hope working with the guys from the third and fourth categories, either. But some of the first and second category pirates are actually not bad. It’s just that they were established a little late, just like the Jackdaw. The black-market alliance lowered their prices, but I can offer them nearly 20% more, which should be pretty attractive to them–on the premise that the black-market alliance doesn’t know about the transactions between us.”
“How is that possible? Once the Gentle Breeze sets sail, everyone will know…” Malone began but suddenly stopped. Then, his eyes widened. “The rubbish that you’ve been buying for the past two weeks–you’ve actually been preparing for this?”
Carina nodded. “About five days ago, a helmsman from one of the ships contacted me in secret. He wanted to sell a bolt of cotton fabric–very high-quality stuff. They have always been rather unhappy with the price that the black-market alliance offered them, so they came looking for me. Right now, that bolt is in our warehouse. I need you to help me move it to Boston. Jim is already there and will liaise with a local merchant.”