From the Readers Gazette
History will tell my tale,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
I’ll be more famous than Jonah’s Whale,
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Captain Flint sings that ditty in my book “Tread Carefully on the Sea”. And, thanks to author Robert Louis Stevenson, the fictional Captain Flint’s notoriety (rather than fame) has indeed been kept alive through the centuries. Yet the poor buccaneer got no chance in Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island to take part in the drama. All the many references to him were retrospective as Flint was dead by the time that great adventure yarn began.
Was that fair to the man who buried the Treasure on the Island?
Ironically, while Stevenson gives us no description of Treasure Island’s boy narrator Jim Hawkins (not even his age), we hear a lot about the deceased Flint.
Here are the major references to Captain Flint’s deeds and character in Treasure Island:
(Note: Despite all the mentions of Flint in Treasure Island, not once is his first name given. The only clue is the initial “J” on the map at the front of the book.)
TREASURE ISLAND, CHAPTER 3
Billy Bones says: I was first mate, I was, old Flint’s first mate and I’m the on’y one as knows the place (where the treasure is buried). He gave it (the map) to me in Savannah, when he lay a-dying…”
TREASURE ISLAND, CHAPTER 6
Squire Trelawney says: “He was the bloodthirstiest buccaneer that sailed. Blackbeard was a child to Flint. The Spaniards were so prodigiously afraid of him, that, I tell you, sir, I was sometimes proud he was an Englishman.”
TREASURE ISLAND, CHAPTER 11
Long John Silver says: “…the old Walrus, Flint’s old ship, as I’ve seen a-muck with the red blood and fit to sink with gold.” Long John goes on to say: “They was the roughest crew afloat, was Flint’s; the devil himself would have been feared to go to sea with them…lambs wasn’t the word for Flint’s old buccaneers.”
TREASURE ISLAND, CHAPTER 15
Ben Gunn says: “I were in Flint’s ship when he buried the treasure; he and six along – six strong seamen. They were ashore nigh on a week, and us standing off and on in the old Walrus. One fine day up went the signal, and here come Flint by himself in a little boat, and his head done up in a blue scarf. The sun was getting up, and mortal white he looked around the cut-water. But there he was, you mind, and the six all dead – dead and buried. How he done it, not a man aboard us could make out. It was battle, murder, and sudden death, leastways – him against six. Billy Bones was the mate; Long John he was quartermaster, and they asked him where the treasure was. ‘Ah,’ says he, ‘you can go ashore, if you like, and stay,’ he says; ‘but as for the ship, she’ll beat up for more, by thunder!’
TREASURE ISLAND, CHAPTER 19
Ben Gunn says: “…the old stockade, as was made years and years ago by Flint. Ah, he was the man to have a headpiece, was Flint! Barring rum, his match were never seen.”
TREASURE ISLAND, CHAPTER 31
Long John Silver, on finding a pirate’s body laid out like a marker towards the treasure burial site, says: “…by thunder! if it don’t make me cold inside to think of Flint. This is one of his jokes, and no mistake. Him and these six was here alone; he killed ‘em, every man; and this one he hauled here and laid down by compass, shiver my timbers!”
One of the pirates says: “…but if ever sperrit walked, it would be Flint’s. Dear heart, but he died bad, did Flint. “Ay, that he did,” observed another; “now he raged, and now he hollered for the rum, and now he sang. ‘Fifteen men’ were his only song, mates; and I tell you true, I never rightly liked to hear it since. It was main hot, and the windy was open, and I hear that old song comin’ out as clear as clear – and the death-haul on the man a’ready.”
TREASURE ISLAND, CHAPTER 32
“He were an ugly devil,” cried a third pirate with a shudder; “that blue in the face, too!”
“That was how the rum took him,” added Merry. “Blue! Well, I reckon he was blue. That’s a true word.”
“Fetch aft the rum, Darby!”…”They was his last words,” moaned Morgan, “his last words above board.”
Well let me correct you, Morgan. Those were not his last words. Captain Flint speaks loud and clear in my book, “Tread Carefully on the Sea”.
From the time I read Treasure Island as a child, it seemed to me wrong that this powerful figure, Captain Flint, was only recorded posthumously. To me, Flint deserved a story of his own. There was only one way to accomplish that – write a prequel to Treasure Island. It not only gave the opportunity to piece together Flint’s story and character. There were a lot of unanswered questions arising from Treasure Island, such as:
Why and how did Flint come back alone after taking six men to bury the treasure?
How did Billy Bones come by Flint’s map where X marked the spot?
How did Long John Silver lose his leg and Blind Pew his “deadlights” in the same broadside? There’s some explanation in Treasure Island about Silver’s mishap but remember that Silver was an inveterate liar and what he reveals to a young mutineer about his past just does not stand up to scrutiny of the dates and events mentioned.
Who were the fifteen men on a dead man’s chest (in the recurring Treasure Island song Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum)?
Who was the “one man of her crew alive what put to sea with seventy-five” in the same song?
Maddeningly, there’s a paucity of dates in Treasure Island. In the very first sentence, the first person storyteller Jim Hawkins says: “I take up my pen in the year of grace 17–.” Why, oh why, esteemed Mr. Stevenson, did you not give us the full year?
Flint’s treasure map is more instructive. The margins contain the information that the map was drawn in August 1750 and handed to Flint’s first mate Billy Bones on July 20th, 1754.
So, armed with Stevenson’s statements, I set about answering the questions, working around the dates and, most importantly, writing the biography for which Captain Flint had waited more than 250 years.
To be true to Stevenson’s references, Flint had to be bloodthirsty, an alcoholic, and he died from ill health in a tavern in Savannah. He also had to be cunning and resourceful. He took six men ashore with him and overcame the lot of them.
To me this added up to more than your average roughneck pirate. So I built for him a personality as an educated, witty sophisticate with intimidating black eyes and a number of complexities. In my story he kills two men with no compunction at all, and he’s happier in the company of those he takes prisoner than that of his own crew. He trusts no one except those whose loyalty he can be totally sure of – and only Billy Bones and Israel Hands meet that criterion.
The death in Savannah was a real challenge. From Stevenson’s book, Flint died in an alcoholic haze. That was too mundane for my purposes so I had him as a long-sufferer, and in denial, of consumption, but I added the biggest twist of my story to the death scene. Cindy Vallar was kind enough to say it was “inventive and unusual”.
So rest in peace Captain Flint. You may not be more famous than Jonah’s Whale but history has now told your tale.
David K. Bryant
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Read about “Tread Carefully on the Sea” in Frome Life magazine (page 50) at http://flickread.com/edit…/PensordFreeLibrary/5493e55721cd1/
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Pirates and Privateers
The History of Maritime Piracy
Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
After reading Treasure Island, Bryant always wondered about Captain Flint, a pirate who appears only in the reminiscences of other pirates in Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale. Who was he? How did Long John Silver lose his leg, or Old Pew become blind? Why did Billy Bones have Flint’s treasure map? These questions led to this novel, Tread Carefully on the Sea – a swashbuckling adventure in which readers learn the answers to these questions.Long ago in Jamaica, on the evening of 23 August 1749 to be precise, mischief is afoot. Governor Edward Tremayne throws a party to celebrate his adopted daughter’s twenty-first birthday. Except Jessica fails to attend. Long John Silver and other pirates, including two turncoats within the governor’s household, have spirited away her and her maid, Libby. Tremayne has until the next morning to deliver the ransom payment – alone – or he’ll not see the captives alive ever again.Captain Michael Townsend of HMS Ambitious has been courting Jessica, although he’s reluctant to entrust his heart to her. His wife and son died during his absence, and he’s long blamed himself for their deaths. Accompanying him to the party is Lieutenant Patrick O’Hara, a former boxer who has stood by his captain’s side through thick and thin. Before they arrive at the governor’s mansion, pirates waylay them. Although they initially escape, they end up running straight into Silver and end up as prisoners again.The best laid plans never go as planned. Tremayne appears with the ransom on time, but a burglary at the local gunsmith’s arsenal brings that man and his sons to the same tavern at the same time. Believing the governor is up to some trickery, Silver and his men abscond with the treasure and their four captives. The kidnapping should have been a simple affair, but with matters gone awry, the pirates and the prisoners end up on the deck of the Walrus, and Captain Flint is none too pleased to see his men or the prisoners. Yet this most infamous and dangerous of pirates treats the unexpected arrivals as his guests, and even Jessica’s cheekiness amuses him . . . for a time. He’s also delighted to see Townsend, an old school mate from his childhood.But looks are deceiving and time is running out. Jessica, Michael, Libby, and Patrick know they must escape. But how? They’re in the middle of the ocean aboard a pirate ship where the scoundrels greatly outnumber them. There’s also a growing undercurrent of discontent flittering through the crew, instigated by Flint’s second mate. If the four captives are still aboard when the mutiny begins, they know exactly what awaits each one of them. The miraculous appearance of the Ambitiousprovides them with a chance, a slim and risky one – if they can convince one of the pirates to help them.Fans of Stevenson’s novel will delight in meeting Silver, Pew, Bones, and many other characters earlier in their lives, before tragedies befall Silver and Pew. The only flaws – minor ones to be sure – are the occasional and unnecessary repetition of information already revealed, and the manner in which part of the hunt for Flint unfolds five years after the kidnapping since much of that distances readers from the story, rather than allowing them to “be present” as that event unfolds. In spite of these, Bryant spins a most piratical and compelling prequel to Treasure Island. If you’ve not yet read that book, I heartily endorse the advice at the end of the preview of Tread Carefully on the Sea:
The crisis was over. Those fifteen pirates were on their way to another story. It’s one you should read if you enjoy great adventures.
But please read this one first. (12)
If you have read Treasure Island, Bryant provides satisfying and astounding answers to all the questions one might have about Flint and his treasure. The manipulations of Flint and his second mate are truly piratical, and Silver’s habit of playing both sides of the fence shows just how he’s able to wend his way through the slippery world of scoundrels. And the final meeting between Flint and Townsend is inventive and unusual.Review Copyrighted ©2015 Cindy Vallar
From Southern Writers magazine, Jan-Feb 2015 edition.
Captain Flint, one of the most successful buccaneers of the colonial era, comes out of retirement to commit one last crime more daring than ever: kidnap the daughter of the Governor of Jamaica. This leads to a desperate chase across the Caribbean and the horrors of 18th Century life at sea for Jessica and those who try to help her.
From The Caribbean Daily, December 14, 2014
The real pirates of the Caribbean flourished in the 18th century as merchant ships were easy game. Pirates were the muggers of the sea lanes and life was fragile – with violence and disease never far away.
A new novel, Tread Carefully on the Sea by David K. Bryant, relies on the historical background of this era, and takes readers on a voyage from Jamaica to the “New World” of the American colonies.
The novel begins in 18th century Jamaica with the kidnapping of Jessica Trelawny, the Governor of Jamaica’s niece, on her 21st birthday, and results in a sea chase across the Caribbean Sea. She hates the conformity of 18th century society, and puts her rebellious nature to work against the pirates.
Jessica’s maid Libby becomes a prisoner simply because she is with her mistress at the time of the kidnap. She plays a major role in the fight-back against the pirates.
Captain Flint is a lonely man. His education, intelligence and wit leave him isolated among the pirate crew who sail with him. He feels more affinity with the hostages who are brought aboard his ship, but becomes trapped by the need to escape the consequences of the kidnapping and the challenge to his leadership from one of his officers.
Other central characters include Patrick O’Hara who began his life in the squalor of the Irish famine, and by a fluke becomes an officer in the Royal Navy – and the historic figures of Queen Nanny, a national hero of Jamaica, who led a runaway slave revolt against the British, and the real-life governor Edward Trelawny.
The Walrus, a huge black galleon stolen by Flint from a Spanish captain, has a pivotal role in the narrative and a heart-rending demise.
Amid the conspiracy, murder, disease and a devastating storm, there is the chance for all the main characters to reveal the better or worse sides of their natures.
“I’ve written an escapist yarn in the tradition of high adventure but in much more user-friendly language than the old classics,” says author David K. Bryant.
“It’s exciting, involving, a bit tear-jerking and is pure adventure and romance.”
David lives in Somerset, England with his wife Stephanie, they have been married for 40 years, and have two children.
Bryant started writing fiction after retiring from journalism and public relations. He states the books waited their turn during all the years of writing articles, features, speeches and promotional material for other people. His career included running a district office for a daily newspaper, helping introduce PR to the British police service, and promoting a major Parliamentary Bill for Margaret Thatcher’s government.
– See more at: http://www.travel2thecaribbeanblog.com/2014/12/tread-carefully-on-sea-novel.html#sthash.9U0VC6ra.dpufMonday,
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From the Frome Times, December 1, 2014
Frome retiree publishes first novel
LOCAL man, David K Bryant, has released his first full-length novel, titled ‘Tread Carefully on the Sea’ at the age of 68.
David said, “The book was conceived as a prequel to ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, but I think it has grown beyond that into a strong tale of adventure and love set against the exotic backcloth of the Caribbean and the New World. Its readers should see something of themselves in all its characters as they suffer their travails and make their decisions.”
David’s story takes the reader into the world of Captain Flint and the crew of his pirate ship, the Walrus. Flint abducts the Governor of Jamaica’s adopted daughter, Jessica, but the ransom handover is botched.
Jessica and her Royal Navy paramour, Captain Michael Townsend, are then taken on a drama-packed voyage across the Caribbean. There is disease, heartbreak, bare-knuckles boxing and all-out adventure while Flint risks his life to avert a possible mutiny and the hangman. Bryant says the characters’ believability is what raises the bar of this tale.
He said, “This is an escapist yarn in the tradition of high adventure but in much more user-friendly language than the old classics. It’s exciting, involving, a bit tear-jerking and is pure adventure and romance. What’s more it’s a book for all ages. There’s violence, essentially in a story like this, but it’s not gruesome and I don’t think there’s anything in the story that parents wouldn’t want their kids to read.”
David K Bryant is no stranger to adventure in his own life, having worked as both a journalist on a daily newspaper and in high-level public relations positions for several organisations.
He twice worked on behalf of late prime minister Margaret Thatcher: first by promoting a major piece of legislation for her government and then handling the police-media communication following the bombing of the Grand Hotel, Brighton, during the Conservative Party conference in 1984.
David and his wife Stephanie have been married for 40 years.
‘Tread Carefully on the Sea’ is available as an ebook or paperback.
For more details, email: firstname.lastname@example.org