Miss Clarissa Worthington Howe
The House of the Rising Sun
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
My dearest Jacky,
It is my fondest hope that this letter finds you in the highest of spirits and in the very pink of condition, you sweet little thing, you.
You are surprised by my return address up there above? Well, dear, I felt it was a perfect place for me to go—my daddy will never find me here. Thank you for introducing me to Mademoiselle Claudelle de Bourbon on my previous visit here, for through her I find I have entry to a very sporting class of people. Mam’selle is well and great fun, of course, and sends her love and affection. And do not worry, I shall not again fall into dependence on those substances she is so eager to provide—no, I am older and far wiser now.
Is your Mr. Fletcher here by my side? Oh, you silly thing, don’t you know that was an elaborate little joke? It was just a game. You do realize I had to pay you back for my loss of Randall, don’t you? So now we’re all even—Polly Von can have both Randall and my part in your little play. That was amusing, but time for me to move on.
And the very idea of me, Clarissa Worthington Howe, being married to a very junior British naval officer—oh my dear, it just could not be. Oh, I mean he was most pleasant company on our way down to New York. We had many fine promenades on the deck as night fell, but I did find him a bit gloomy. I suspect he is still mooning over the loss of his pwetty widdle Jacky Faber. Oh well, he’ll get over that. But oh! Oh! Oh! If you could have just seen the look on your face when our ship pulled away from the dock and you came running down to find James looking out to sea and me with my arm around his waist. Joy! I must say my timing was perfect! It was as perfect as that scene you staged back at Dovecote when I pulled up in my coach to find you and Randall rolling around on the grass, Randall above and you below, with your skirts up around your waist. Turnabout is fair play, right, Jacky?
Anyway, dear, thank you for introducing me to New Orleans, as the place suits me. I have taken rooms here at the Rising Sun, as it seems to be the center of all activity in this city, and I have found employment as a singer. I did have to post a bond with Madame Babineau, considering my past behavior here at the Rising Sun, silly stuff that I can scarcely recall. Anyway, I gave her a check in the amount of $500, written on the account of FaberShipping Worldwide, and she seemed pleased. You have probably noticed that one of your cunning little packets of checks is missing. Is it not the most wondrous thing, Jacky? I write out the amount and sign your name . . . I will try to be careful with it.
Thank you also for teaching me to play upon the guitar. With my good soprano voice and my beauty, of course, I am quite the hit. Could I be becoming you? Heaven forbid . . . but, possibly . . . a well-bred, cultured, and beautiful version of you, maybe. You have shown me the way, Jacky, and I thank you for it . . . and for the loan of your guitar. I’m sure you’ll find another one soon.
As for my beauty, my fame is spreading. I am performing in several theatrical productions and do not lack for money nor notice. As a matter of fact, I am to be escorted to a grand ball tonight by a General Jackson—do you know him? He is friends with the Lafitte brothers, both of whom send their regards in hopes of seeing you again very soon. They were most emphatic on that.
And while we’re on the subject of my beauty, if I were you, I would not go looking for the painting that Spanish boy did of you, as I have borrowed it, also. It has been beautifully framed and now hangs over the bar at the Rising Sun and is admired by all. The Lafitte brothers and I, together with Andrew, were just minutes ago standing in front of it, and all toasted you most warmly—the resemblance is simply amazing. I swear Mam’selle kneels in prayer before it every day. I cannot imagine why it upset your Mr. Fletcher so. After all, we have always known of your . . . exhibitionist tendencies.
Mr. Fletcher . . . Oh, yes, you will probably want to know about him. We parted at New York and he took ship for England, while I continued on to New Orleans. I believe he will try to regain his commission in the Royal Navy, and I say good luck to him. Actually, I think he still loves you, poor man. I did, of course, intercept a letter to you that he had placed at the Pig, wherein he suggested a meeting of reconciliation between the two of you. Silly boy. I just could not allow that to happen. I enclose that letter with this one so that you might enjoy.
Your piratical friend Flaco Jimenez was in New Orleans last week. I believe he came because he had heard I was here, and he showed me an excellent time. The Lafittes do not know all of the low dives in this town, but Flaco is familiar with all of them. He asks after you, of course, but has invited me to go a-roving with him. He might even give me my own ship. I must say the offer is most enticing and I might do it someday . . . The dread Pirate Howe—it has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
The night is very pleasantly warm and the air is heavily laden with the perfume of tropical flowers, and, oh, I do believe Andrew is here to escort me to the ball.
Till later, Jacky. Keep well. I do love you, you know, in my own way. I used to think you were something nasty stuck to the bottom of my shoe, but I have changed my mind on that. Since you have come into my life, you have been ever so much fun.
Clarissa Worthington Howe
In the late summer of the year eighteen hundred and nine, we were just back from a fine Caribbean cruise on the Nancy B. Alsop, my lovely little two-mastedGloucester schooner—sixty-five feet in length, thirty feet in the beam—a fore-and-aft rig, and as sweet a sailor as ever did cleave an ocean wave. We angled in on a light, fair breeze toward our usual dockage on Boston’s crowded waterfront. As we headed in, I noticed that the Morning Star, the larger of Faber Shipping’s two dories, was not moored in her usual spot. Solomon Freeman probably had her out on the bay, hauling traps, but the Evening Star was tied to the floating dock.
I noticed also that the mighty British frigate HMSShannon was moored alongside Broad Wharf. Well, fine. I am done with all that—the British Navy, BritishIntelligence, young British officers, be they navy, or cavalry dragoons, or whatever.
And that is for certain, as sure as my name is Jacky Faber. Though born in England, I sail under American colors, and my company, Faber Shipping Worldwide, is based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. I am a free woman of nineteen years, and I owe no allegiance to any man, having vowed to live single all my life. My business thrives, and my many employees are happy with their lot, as I am with mine. I prosper and I am content.
After seeing the Nancy B. properly tied up, with her crew and passengers sent off to wives and sweethearts and other pursuits, I am headed back to the offices of Faber Shi...