An Officer but No Gentleman

By: M. Donice Byrd


To Nancy for all the help with No Unspoken Promises,

And to my family.



Following his companions’ lead, Charlie pulled a passing wench into his lap. What else could he do? Had his father or he known ahead of time the crew had decided he was long overdue for his first woman, he would not have gone ashore with the rowdy sailors. By their standards, to be nineteen years old and green was unacceptable. As the recently promoted second mate, he was not likely to get their respect when they thought of him as nothing more than a fledgling boy. The time had come for Charlie to prove his manhood, so he slid his hand over the wench’s round hip and gave her a pinch on her upper thigh. She gave a yelp more of surprise than pain and slapped playfully at his hand. The others at the table let out a roaring laugh of approval. Perhaps this would not be so difficult after all.

The woman fingered the high collar of Charlie’s black broadcloth coat and the white cambric stock around his neck. Her smile was definitely lusty though he suspected she cast that same smile on every tar who had extra coin in his pocket which might come her way.

“Never had me a cap’n before,” she mewed cattishly, slipping her arm around Charlie’s shoulder, bringing her breasts startlingly close to his face.

Sitting directly across from Charlie, Morty Ness slammed his tankard down on the table. A wide grin creased his fellow American’s rugged face as his amber eyes lit up under a shock of unruly flaxen hair. “That’s all right,” he bellowed, drunkenly. “He ain’t never had a woman before.”

The rowdy men took delight in Charlie’s discomfiture.

“Have ye ever seen a lad turn that shade of red before,” Hugh asked taking pleasure in rolling the R’s, emphasizing his Scottish brogue.

“He hasn’t been that close to a teat since he was suckling on his mama’s.”

“Ah, come now,” Morty said. “We all know Captain Sinclair suckled Charlie.”

Michel Dupre began choking on his ale, making Morty slap him on the back.

“Well, that explains a lot,” Hugh said between chortles.

Charlie knew his face burned red under his dark tan, but pretended he had not heard the men. “I’m not captain, yet,” he said to the Aussie wench, knowing she was not as addle-brained as she wanted him believe. Then he added for the benefit of the others, “I hope you’re not contrary to being bedded by the second mate.”

After casting a wide smile at the woman he hoped looked lustier than he felt, Charlie grinned like a fool at his companions. “This may be a night none of us will forget, by George, except you, Morty. You’re already so skunked; I doubt you remember your name, much less why we’re here.” Then, like a banty rooster, Charlie crowed to the wench, “I hope you’re ready for an experience the likes of which you’ll tell your grandchildren when you’re old and feeble. In fact, you’ll give me a second go-round free just for the sheer pleasure of it.”

“Not likely, that, you little braggart,” she scoffed tartly.

She climbed off his lap and led him by the hand to a small room upstairs. When he noticed she was content to leave the door unlocked, he slid the bolt home; distrusting his drunken shipmates not to see for themselves the act was accomplished.

Charlie turned and found the woman sitting on the edge of the bed divesting herself of her high-heeled shoes. Once the first shoe was off, she gave her foot a massaging squeeze.

“Too tight,” she explained when she noticed Charlie watching. “Get to shuckin’, sailor. I ain’t got all night.”

Charlie put a coin on the table. “This is what you usually get?”

She nodded and he placed two more on the first. A moue puckered her mouth as she eyed the money speculatively.

“I ain’t supposed to stay up here for that long while the tavern’s open. The other girls get testy if they have to cover for me for too long. Maybe you’d like to come back up after we close,” she offered hopefully, her eyes darting to the money.

Sitting down at the foot of the bed, Charlie shook his head.

“Lay on your back.”

“Good-night! Ain’t you in a hurry all the sudden? Can’t a girl a least take off her drawers first?”