Curse of the Blue Tattoo
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|Author||Louis A. Meyer|
|Cover artist||Cliff Nielsen|
|Genre||Young Adult's, Historical novel|
|Publisher||Harcourt Children's Books|
|June 1, 2004|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.M57172 Bl 2004|
|Preceded by||Bloody Jack|
|Followed by||Under the Jolly Roger|
The Curse of the Blue Tattoo is a historical novel by L.A. Meyer. It continues the story of orphaned London girl, Jacky Faber, in the early 19th century. The story began in Bloody Jack, and continues in Under the Jolly Roger, In the Belly of the Bloodhound, Mississippi Jack, My Bonny Light Horseman, Rapture of the Deep, The Wake of the Lorelei Lee, and The Mark of the Golden Dragon.
After being found out as a girl at the end of the first book, Jacky is sent to the Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls in Boston. It is hoped that she will be trained in the ways of high society.
Explanation of the novel's title
Curse of the Blue Tattoo refers to the tattoo that Jacky received while a ship's boy. The tattoo is of a blue anchor on her right hipbone. Throughout the novel, it is confused with a pitchfork and gives her a bit of trouble.
Jacky Faber has just gotten off from being on the Seven Seas fighting notorious pirates and other goons on the 'Dolphin.' At the end of the first book, she is found out to be a girl and since ship codes say that a girl is not to work on a ship or be on one, she is delivered to the Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls in Boston by the uptight Professor Tilden. She is forced to leave her sea dad, Liam Delaney, and her ships boys including the boy she loves, James Emerson Fletcher.
When they get to the school, Jacky is introduced to Mistress Miranda Pimm. She is seen as a very strict and unforgiving lady, soon lashing at Jacky for her wild and outrageous clothing style such as the gold hoop earring that she and Jaimy exchanged. Mistress Pimm can't get any satisfaction or respect so she has her cronie assistant Dobbs come and take off her unsuitable jewelry by force. After their initial meeting, Jacky is sent to meet the other girls.
She finds them very different but takes up with one Amy Trevelyne, a bit of an outcast amongst the girls. Amy is from around the Boston/New York area and has a brother that is a renowned womanizer. She is instantly an enemy of the spoiled Clarissa Worthington Howe. She is the leader of all the popular girls in the school and soon Jacky cannot take this different attitude displayed by Clarissa and fights her, each leaving considerable bruises and marks on the other.
She takes a horse riding class, an art class, an embroidery class, a class in French and an etiquette class. On Sunday mornings, the girls go to a church off in a desolate area of the school-grounds inhabited by one Reverend Mather. Rather than the preacher that the Deacon was for Jacky aboard the 'Dolphin', Mather is a bit of an unusual man and Jacky soon finds out why.
While Amy and Jacky are walking through the graveyard by the church between classes, Jacky spots a man looking through the window of an old shed at the two girls. Jacky is creeped out and as they noticed an unmarked grave, they leave in a hurry.
After Jacky is engaged in a fight with Clarissa, Mistress Pimm whips them both on their legs, and Clarrisa is shocked that she is actually getting punished. Jacky is right about Mather as she finds him to be more than a typical "fire-and-brimstone" preacher. And she thinks he has something to do with the unmarked grave, so she intends to find out.
After deciding to skip class and roam the streets of Boston, Jacky winds up in the port playing her pennywhistle. Some sailors hear her, and they and she begin to dance. However, her shipman's dancing doesn't pass muster in the streets of Boston, and when a lisping constable comes across her showing her knees to men, she is imprisoned for lewd and lascivious acts. Jacky meets the "lady of the night" prostitute Mam'selle Claudelle de Bour-bon of the New Orleans Bour-bons.
She finds Mam'selle to be a bit crazy (her sexual orientation is questionable) but she takes up with Jacky calling her delicate names like 'Precious' and others. Soon after time in jail, Jacky is seen before the feared Judge Thwackham. All is going well, for her lawyer is an excellent one. But when the constable produces her shiv, which is a knife, as evidence to her impropriety, it seems all is lost. Jacky falls to her knees in quite a display of innocent weeping, in which she, quite luckily, mentions the name of Miss Pimm. The judge and his jury are delighted that they have finally got one of "Pimm's girls" in their court, as they have fussy wives and daughters that are very proud of the fact that this has never happened. They are so tickled that they let Jacky off with suspended punishment, confident that the horrified Pimm will do enough.
Jacky's lawyer, Ezra, returns Jacky back to the school and before Mistress. Instead of whipping Jacky, she expels Jacky from the school but keeps her to work for the cooks and maids. This horrifies and embarrasses her terribly, but it works out well, because she finally meets some nice girls; the serving maids. They grow a great friendship. But before this happens, Jacky must visit Mather to discuss her behavior in Boston. Jacky is shocked when he lashes out, calling her a whore and a minion of Satan. Mather is about to whip Jacky, but she fights back, telling him he has no right, and finally running out on a shocked Mather after warning him she has a lawyer.
She goes to see Ezra one day and talks about Mather. Ezra says that one year ago, a girl by the name of Janey Porter who worked for Mather was found hung in her bedroom from a bedpost (Jacky finds it impossible but Ezra tells her otherwise) and that she died while pregnant. Ephriam Fyffe, Janey's love interest, also explains that Janey Porter was pregnant but it was not his child, though he said he would have raised it as his own. He says that many found her death surprising, as she was generally a cheerful girl. Jacky is convinced Janey did not die from suicide and consults with her friend, Ephriam Fyffe. He confirms that Janey was a very happy girl until the last month of her life, even through the most of her pregnancy. This gives Jacky more to investigate and she finds the Reverend walks the graveyard by night, recalling the events as if he was talking to the spirit of Janey. Jacky sees this a state of mental paranoia and conviction.
She is convinced the Reverend Mather killed Janey Porter. She has Amy sneak out and watch the Reverend for herself before they go and tell Ezra and Ephriam about it. Ezra sees it possible now to press charges against the minister. During the time of being a maid, Jacky writes letters back and forth to Jaimy even though a couple were intercepted by Mistress Pimm. She runs with the Mam'selle and a drunk artist by the nickname of Gully, he plays a violin named Lady Lenore and they perform in Boston's taverns. She tries and haunts the paranoid Mather by imitating the voice of the ghost of Janey Porter. It succeeds and causes Mather to lose sleep. She meets back up with Davy from the 'Dolphin' but only for a brief time and she meets Randall Trevelyne, Amy's womanizing brother. A bit of a friendship ensues and a brief, harmless relationship too. Randall soon has to leave Boston though, leaving Jacky alone after Mam'selle leaves back for New Orleans. Gully strikes Jacky after an act goes wrong, in response Jacky hands him to a navy press-gang and holds on to the lady lenore until they meet again.
Amy turns against Jacky for a little while when Jacky gets drunk and disgraces her home. Jacky leaves Amy's home without anyone knowing and sets off for New York. She plans to sing and dance along the away to earn money for her journey. The dog follows her. At Amy's behest, Amy's father hires two men to find and bring back Jacky but they sell her to Reverend Mather instead and take her to him at the church.
Mather is convinced Jacky is a spirit of Janey, back to haunt Mather or try to. Mather tells his dead grandfather, a Puritan minister before him, that Janey shall be dead and that the punishment he did the first time was not enough. As Mather is carrying Jacky up the stairs inside the church, she kicks over a lamp without him noticing. It starts a fire; which Mather still does not notice. Mather ties Jacky down, spread-eagle, to the posts of Janey's old bed. Ephraim bursts in to rescue her and the Reverend runs away up to the steeple. Ephraim and Jacky escape. Outside, with the "sisterhood" and other friends they watch the church burn, hear the Reverend screaming and watch the bell fall. Jacky realizes that sparks from the church have caused the stable and school to burn. Everyone is galvanized into saving the horses and the schoolgirls and putting out the fire. The horses and girls are saved; but, the buildings continue to burn. Mistress Pimm is seen on the top floor silhouetted by the light of the flames from the church. Jacky enlists help to get to the top floor to rescue her and gets up there to find Pimm trying to save her precious needlework. She saves Mistress Pimm in spite of Pimm's protestations. Constable Wiggins tries to catch Jacky, but Jacky gets on her riding school horse, Gretchen, and they ride out of Boston. Jacky sells her horse and gets aboard another ship to London.
Characters in "Curse of the Blue Tattoo"
- Mary 'Jacky' Faber: The protagonist of the story. She came from a fairly well-off family who died in an epidemic. Homeless and penniless, she joined Rooster Charlie's gang, and lived under a bridge for several years, begging and thieving for mere survival. After Charlie is killed, she enlisted with the crew of the H.M.S. Dolphin, under the ruse of being a boy. When she was revealed to be a girl, she was sent to a boarding school in Boston.
- James 'Jaimy' Emerson Fletcher: A former ship's boy, now a midshipman and Jacky's true love. They write several letters to one another.
- Mistress Miranda Pimm: The stern headmistress of the Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls. She takes a disliking for Jacky but deals with her ways nonetheless. She develops a slow liking as the book progresses. Jacky saves the Mistress from the fire that engulfs the school.
- Reverend Richard Mather: The Puritan minister that preaches for the school. A silent man; very demented. A year before Jacky came to the school, he murdered a young girl by the name of Janey Porter because he believed her to be a witch. He thinks the same of Jacky, and attempts to kill her.
- Ephraim Fyffe: A young man who was engaged to marry Janey Porter before she died. He helps Jacky investigate the Reverend and the murder.
- Amy Trevelyne: A plump, likeable Puritan girl that takes up with Jacky instantly.
- Clarissa Worthington Howe: A rude, snobbish girl from a rich Southern family. A stereotypical Southern belle, she and Jacky hate each other at first sight.
- Davy: A friend of Jacky's from the 'Dolphin' days.
- Randall Trevelyne: Amy's womanizing older brother. Jacky develops a relationship with Randall.
- Mam'selle Claudelle de Bourbon: A Cajun prostitute from New Orleans. She befriends Jacky; calling her "Precious." .
- Gulliver "Gully" McFarland: A thieving drunkard who plays a fine violin called the Lady Lenore. In Jacky's freetime, they perform in the taverns of Boston.
- Ezra Pickering: Jacky's trustworthy and charismatic lawyer. Jacky, Amy and Ephraim aid him in the investigation of the reverend.
- Judge Thwackham: A snobbish and brutal judge who tries Jacky for lewd behavior.
- Constable John Wiggins: Lisping lawman who runs the Boston city jail and dislikes Jacky.
- Dobbs: Mistress Pimm's crabby handyman.