So I accepted his offer of an ale, and he bought his own, pulled up a stool, which scraped on the flag-stones as he sat down.
You remember Emmett Scott’s expression? That of a man sucking a lemon. At that moment, talking to me, the hated Edward Kenway, you’d have to say he looked even more pained. I felt completely at home in the tavern, as it was an environment in which I could lose myself, but it didn’t suit him at all. Every now and then he would glance over one shoulder, then the next, like he was frightened of being attacked suddenly from behind.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a chance to talk,” he said. I made a short, scoffing laugh in reply.
“Your appearance at the wedding put paid to that, did it not?”
Of course the booze had loosened my tongue, made me brave. That and the fact that in the war to win his daughter I had won. Her heart, after all, belonged to me and there was no greater evidence of her devotion to me than the fact that she had given up so much to be with me. Even he must have seen that.
“We’re both the men of the world, Edward,” he said simply, and you could see he was trying to make himself seem in charge. But I saw through him. I saw what he really was: a frightened, nasty man, browbeaten in business, who kicked downwards, who probably beat his servants and his wife, who assumed the likes of me ought to be bowing and scraping to him, like my mother and father had done (and I had a twinge of rage to remember it) at the wedding.
“How about we do a deal like men of business?”
I took a long slug of my ale and held his eyes. “What did you have in mind, father-in-law of mine?”
His face hardened. “You walk out on her. You throw her out. Whatever you want. You set her free. Send her back to me.”
“And if I do?”
“I’ll make you a rich man.”
I drained the rest of my ale. He nodded towards it with questioning eyes and I said yes, waited while he fetched another one, then drank it down, almost in one go. The room was beginning to spin.
“Well, you know what you can do with your offer, don’t you?”
“Edward,” he said, leaning forward, “you and I both know you can’t provide for my daughter. You and I both know you sit here in despair because you can’t provide for my daughter. You love her, I know that, because I was once like you, a man of no qualities.”
I looked at him with my teeth clenched. “No qualities?”
“Oh, it’s true,” he spat, sitting back. “You’re a sheep-farmer, boy.”
“What happened to ‘Edward’? I thought you were talking to me like an equal.”
“An equal? There will never be a day when you will be equal to me and you know it.”
“You’re wrong. I have plans.”
“I’ve heard about your plans. Privateering. Becoming a man of substance on the high seas. You don’t have it in you, Edward Kenway.”
“You don’t have the moral fibre. I am offering you a way out of the hole you have dug for yourself, boy; I suggest you think about it very hard.”
I sank the rest of my ale. “How about I think about it over another drink?”
“As you wish.”
A fresh tankard materialized on the table in front of me and I set to making it a thing of history, my mind reeling at the same time. He was right. This was the most devastating thing about the whole conversation. Emmett Scott was right. I loved Caroline yet could not provide for her, and if I was truly a dutiful husband, then I would accept his offer.
“She doesn’t want me to go away,” I said.
“And you want to?”
“I want for her to support my plans.”
“She never will.”
“I can but hope.”
“If she loves you as she says, she never will.”
Even in my drunken state I could not fault his logic. I knew he was right. He knew he was right.
“You have made enemies, Edward Kenway. Many enemies. Some of them powerful. Why do you think those enemies haven’t taken their revenge on you?”
“They’re frightened?” There was a drunken arrogance in my voice.
He scoffed. “Of course they’re not frightened. They leave you alone because of Caroline.”
“Then if I was to accept your offer, there would be nothing to stop my enemies from attacking me?”
“Nothing but my protection.”
I wasn’t sure about that.
I sank another ale. He sank deeper into despondency. He was still there at the end of the night, his very presence reminding me how far my choices had shrunk.
When I tried to stand to leave, my legs almost gave way and I had to grab the side of the table just to remain on my feet. Caroline’s father, a disgusted look on his face, came to help me and before I knew it he was taking me home, though not because he wanted to see me safe but because he wanted to see to it that Caroline saw me in my drunken state, and indeed she did, as I rolled in, laughing. Emmett Scott puffed up, and told her, “This tosspot is a ruined man, Caroline. Unfit for life on land, much less at sea. If he goes to the West Indies, it’s you who will suffer.”
“Father . . . Father.”
She was sobbing, so upset, and then as I lay on the bed I saw his boots move off and he was gone.
“That old muckworm,” I managed. “He’s wrong about me.”
“I hope it so,” she replied.
I let my drunken imagination carry me away. “You believe me, don’t you? Can you not see me, standing out there on the deck of a ship that is sliding into port? There I am, a man of quality . . . With a thousand doubloons spilling from my pockets like drops of rain. I can see it.”
When I looked at her she was shaking her head. She couldn’t see it.
When I sobered up the next day, neither could I.
It was only a matter of time I suppose. My lack of prospects became like another person in the marriage. I reviewed my options: Emmett Scott offering me money in return for having his daughter back. My dreams of sailing away.
Both of them involved breaking Caroline’s heart.
The next day I went back to see Emmett Scott, returning to Hawkins Lane, where I knocked on the door to request an audience. Who should answer but Rose.
“Master Kenway,” she said, surprised, and going slightly red. There was a moment of awkwardness, then I was being asked to wait, and shortly after that was being led to Emmett Scott’s study, a room dominated by a desk in its centre, wood panelling giving it a dark, serious atmosphere. He stood in front of his desk, and in the gloom, with his dark hair, his cadaverous look and dark, hollowed-out cheeks, he looked like a crow.