Mississippi Jack

Mississippi Jack  
Author(s) Louis A. Meyer
Cover artist Cliff Nielsen
Country United States of America
Language English
Genre(s) Young Adult's, Historical novel
Publisher Harcourt Children's Books
Publication date September 1, 2007
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 624 pp
Preceded by In the Belly of the Bloodhound
Followed by My Bonny Light Horseman

Mississippi Jack is the fifth book in the critically acclaimed Bloody Jack book series. The Boody Jack series begins with Bloody Jack, Curse of the Blue Tattoo, Under the Jolly Roger, In the Belly of the Bloodhound, and continues with My Bonny Light Horseman, Rapture of the Deep, and The Wake of the Lorelei Lee. It continues what happens after Jacky and her schoolmates return to Boston after being on a slave ship for months.


Plot summary

The story follows Jacky Faber as she is captured by British forces to be taken back to England for her past crimes. Captain Rutherford is able to keep her aboard his ship, HMS Juno, before a Colonel Swithin comes aboard to bargain for her freedom. He gives Rutherford and his crew money he received from the Lawson Peabody school and takes Jacky away. Higgins and Jacky meet up with Jim Tanner, her coxswain, and they go to hide out in the American Wilderness. Well, while doing so, the three run into Katy Deere, who was a serving girl at the Lawson Peabody School. Katy has a goal; to kill her uncle. However, as soon as they get to the farm where he lives, Katy learns he is dead.

Jacky, Higgins, Tanner, and Katy travel for miles exploring the U.S. frontier till they wind up in a small town on the Allegheny River. They meet and trick Mike Fink out of his boat and set off down the Allegheny River, having turned the boat into a casino showboat. Unknown to her, Jaimy is following her just days behind, but he is not alone. After being robbed, beaten, and left for dead by a pair of bandits, Jaimy is rescued by 14-year-old Clementine Jukes, who believes he is God-sent. They run away together from Clementine's abusive father in search of Jacky; Clementine is unaware of the fact that Jacky is a female and betrothed to Jaimy.

They almost catch up to Jacky in Pittsburgh with the help of Mike Fink, who wishes to kill Jacky for stealing his boat, but Jaimy and Mike land in jail for a few weeks while Clementine finds work aboard Jacky's boat. Clementine does not tell her about how Jaimy and she traveled alone together for several hundred miles, and Jaimy does not know that Clementine is going away with Jacky.

They allow several people aboard as guests on the showboat. The first is Yancy Cantrell, a master at cards and widow, and his daughter. Cantrell and his daughter have a money-making scam by making slavemasters believe Chloe is a slave (Chloe is black like her mother before her) and then when Cantrell leaves his daughter; his daughter escapes and meet back up with her father. Jacky and the crew fall for this trick and Jacky nearly kills Yancy for it. He is one of the few that are following Jacky all the way to New Orleans, which is the primary destination of 'The Belle Of The Golden West', Jacky's showboat/casino.

Also aboard are Crow Jane and the Hawkes boys, Nathaniel and Matthew 'Matty'. Crow Jane is hired as the cook and the Hawkes boys are bodyguards. Clementine is Crow Jane's assistant and develops a relationship with Jim Tanner. While stopping at a town for two days on the way down the river, the whole crew goes off to spend their money. The day they leave, the Hawkes brothers return with their new wives, Honeysuckle Rose and Tupelo Honey, whom Jacky reluctantly let on board.

The Very Reverend Clawson comes aboard and does an act in Jacky's show, which is a song-and-dance, a revival led by Clawson, and a medicine show that advertises her Elixir. He is also heading to New Orleans.

While on their cruise, one of the passengers forewarns them about a group of bloodthirsty bandits that resort at Cave-in-Rock on the outskirts of town.

The last person aboard the ship is a slave, Solomon, on the run from his slavemaster and the authorities.

The crew sail past the Cave-in-Rock, running into a "gentleman" sailor who knows the American rivers like the back of his hand. His name is Frederick Fortescue and he is actually a fraud. The trick is to lure the showboat into Cave-in-Rock so the bandits can kill the crew but Jacky catches onto the scene, having Fortescue imprisoned and later thrown overboard after they kill the bandits.

Another group of people taken aboard are the Injuns, Lightfoot and Chee-a-quat. While they are on the way to New Orleans, they help out the crew along the way and Jacky gets to meet up with the two Indians' tribes that live in a massive town of tepees. Unbeknownst to Jacky who goes to meet with the Indians, they are secretly killing people in America for the British. Jacky gets to meet Tecumseh and takes up with some of the Indians. But while venturing with Tepeki, an Indian girl, Jacky Faber runs into Captain Lord Allen, a womanizing British captain of high rank. Lightfoot has Allen taken from Jacky's presence and soon, Jacky meets Flashby and Moseley who know instantly who she is. With the revelation of Jacky's past to the Indians, they soon turn against her and have the British take her away. Flashby and Moseley torture Jacky during an interrogation aboard their ship but Allen detests them intensely and has them go back to the Indians. Jacky charms Allen with wine and the past, convinces Allen to untie her and steals his gun. Soon, Higgins and the crew come to rescue Jacky.

Jacky maintains the role as the captain of her 'Belle of the Golden West' and has Moseley and Flashby walk the plank. While she has Allen journey with them to New Orleans, Jaimy soon catches up with them after escaping Mike Fink and their jail term. He meets up with Jacky but catches her cheating so he intends to return back to Britain.

Jacky finds out the puzzling connection between Clementine and Jacky; angering her deeply. When all is calm, Jacky and the crew sail into Baton Rouge where Captain Allen and his crew decide to get off at instead of New Orleans. Jacky bids them a personal farewell and as they go looking for some supplies, Jacky and the crew run into another enemy: slave hunters. The feared Beam family of Louisiana imprison Jacky, Solomon and Chloe Cantrell because they claim Jacky is Abolitionist and loves the black race. Yancy tries to fight for her but ends up being wounded in the process.

The Beam family takes the three to their farm where they shackle Solomon and Chloe to their barn and plan to hang Jacky. Jacky rants on about being pregnant and at first, the family of strictly men (Ma Beam must have died before this story happened) plan on hanging but then say they plan on keeping Jacky till she has her baby. Pa Beam, being a Bible-thumping yet hypocritical man of God, goes to pray in the nearby woods. When he comes out, he claims the Lord has told him to tar-and-feather Jacky so they do just that. But soon they find out Jacky is lying about being pregnant. Lightfoot, Chee-a-Quat, the Hawkes boys and Katy Deere come to save Jacky. Katy mortally wounds a son of Pa Beam - Ezekiel, and Lightfoot then bluntly kills him. The group are only able to kill three of the Beam family before they can carry Jacky, Solomon and Chloe to the safety of the 'Belle of the Golden West.'Jacky is covered in tar so Crow Jane has to soak her in water, cut her hair very short and peel the tar off with knives and alcohol.

Things back at the ship have taken a turn for the worse, Yancy Cantrell's wound from being shot by one of the Beams turns out to be a mortal wound and he soon dies from it. After Lightfoot and Chee-a-Quat come back saying they've killed all of the Beam family and burned their house with the bodies in each bed, they bury Cantrell; the Reverend Clawson preaching the funeral.

Katy Deere then soon decides to leave the group, going out on her own. Jacky is saddened by this but allows Katy to leave. Later that night, a horrible storm passes through and knocks Jacky off the showboat into the waters below. Within a day or so, Jacky winds up in the port of New Orleans, at long last. Without a clue on how her crew is or how to navigate New Orleans, she goes looking for the House of the Rising Sun, a brothel and a casino that the ever-so mysterious Mam'selle.

Jacky stays with Mam'selle Claudelle de Bourbon, whom she had met in Boston and who practices "the oldest profession", until she finds Jaimy. Jacky is almost murdered simultaneously by Mike Fink because she stole his boat, British Lieutenant Flashby (a minor character from the second book), because he wants the prize money for Jacky's head, and the pirate brothers Lafitte because Jacky stole quite a bit of loot from them during her time as a privateer.

She manages to escape them all and buys a small ship so that, with the help of her newly-reunited crew, she can get to Jaimy, who is in Jamaica. She finds him there, all is forgiven, and Jaimy sets off for China for a year or so because he is once again in the Royal Navy. Though some of her crew choose to marry and become pioneers, and others choose to marry and run a floating tavern docked at New Orleans, Jacky and the remainder of her crew leave for Boston after setting Jaimy off in Kingston, Jamaica.

  • Jacky Faber- The main protagonist of the entire series; now sixteen years old and proclaimed a pirate by King George, Jacky takes up the American Wilderness and starts a casino showboat business.
  • James 'Jaimy' Emerson Fletcher- Jacky's lover for the entire book series; throughout the series, he's always been one step behind Jacky. On grounds of their distant relationship, Jaimy has an affair with country girl, Clementine Jukes.
  • Master Higgins- Jacky's devoted butler and right-hand man throughout Jacky's adventure through America.
  • Mike Fink- An American keelboat legend and feared by the Yankee townfolk, Mike Fink knows the rivers like the back of his hand and being victim to Jacky's wit, he loses his keelboat to her and vows to kill her.
  • Clementine Jukes- The daughter of an alcoholic, murderous farmer; Clementine saves Jaimy from death and sails with Jaimy in pursuit of Jacky before she learns Jacky is another woman and Clementine takes up a position on Jacky's showboat.
  • Yancy Cantrell- The sharp card-dealing Creole gentleman, Cantrell's widowed and raises a daughter that serves a purpose in an Abolitionist scam of his. Cantrell serves a primary role in the book as he is one of the many guests that take the entire route to New Orleans aboard Jacky's casino-boat.
  • Captain Lord Richard Allen- A womanizing young captain of King George's fleet who is in charge of a deal with the American Indians to kill for scalps and money. Jacky begins an affair with Allen as soon as they come to terms.
  • Jim Tanner- Another right-hand man of Jacky's; Tanner is always given secondhand jobs and it's obvious he does not appreciate some of the assignments he is given but after Clementine's split from Jaimy, she takes up perfectly with Tanner.
  • Lieutenant Flashby- An antagonist of the book, Flashby is part of Allen's partnership with the Indians and secretly knows who Jacky Faber truly is and he has Allen kidnap her and take her aboard their ship but when Higgins and the 'Belle of the Golden West' crew go to save Jacky from going to be executed in Britain, Jacky captures Flashby and his cohort Moseley and have the walk the plank separately.
  • Crow Jane- Jacky's showboat cook and personal bodyguard.
  • The Hawkes Boys ('Thaniel and Matty)- Some hoodlums Crow Jane used to run with that hired as Jacky's bodyguards.
  • Mam'selle Claudelle de Bourbon- A prostitute from New Orleans, Jacky resorts with her once she reaches New Orleans.
  • Lightfoot, Tepeki, Chee-a-Quat, and the Indian tribe- An Indian tribe Jacky befriends before being exposed by Flashby; even though Lightfoot and Chee-a-Quat are evidently angered and shocked, they come back to rescue her from the British.
  • Solomon- A negro slave that Jacky and the crew up with and save from slave masters. Solomon is proven to be very intelligent with a guitar and is the reason Jacky is tarred and feathered in New Orleans for by the feared Beam family.
  • Katy Deere- Another dear friend of Jacky's, in the beginning she is a vital character in helping start Jacky's 'Belle of the Golden West' but since business picked up for everybody, she faded into the position of one of Jacky's many assistants.
  • Chloe Cantrell- The colored daughter of Yancy Cantrell and a motherless child, Chloe is usually mute but cunning and is found out to be good with a harpsichord.
  • Reverend Clawson- A Christian preacher that leads a revival as part of Jacky's routine show.

He is one of the many guests that go with Jacky the whole route to New Orleans.

  • Daniel Prescott- A boy who fell victim to the Cave-in-Rock bandits. He travels with Jacky the whole way to New Orleans.
  • The Beam Family- A Bible-thumping group of hypocritical racists that has Jacky arrested and punished (tar and feather) for helping Solomon escape to freedom.
  • Mr. McCoy and Mr. Beatty- Two highwaymen that nearly kill Jaimy.
  • Captain Rutherford- The ruthless captain in charge of arresting Jacky and sending her back to King George in the beginning.
  • The Lawson Peabody School Girls- Jacky's allies that try to help free her from Captain Rutherford and the British.
  • Ezra Pickering- A trusted attorney of Jacky's that seldom writes to her to tells her the status of everybody from Mistress Pimm's to the School girls.

References to actual events

Jacky begins to market her own patent medicine consisting of an alcoholic tincture of opium (better known as laudanum) and Kentucky bourbon, which she markets during medicine shows. Most patent medicines of the time were made up with similar ingredients and similar lavish claims for their efficacy. Use of these compounds was widespread and unregulated.

The crew encounter a secret Abolitionist running a slave-selling scam in which the "slave" is sold, and then escapes to be sold again and again. Similar plots were sometimes used to trick runaways into cooperating with a sale which would turn out to be final. After the import of foreign slaves was forbidden, the demand for slaves became very high and numerous types of deceit and slave-stealing became common. Jacky's crew encounters a family of rogues who make their living trying to repossess escaped slaves in the fashion of Patty Cannon.

Jacky herself attempts to pass for quadroon or octoroon as a disguise at one point, in an inversion of the usual trick, which was to pass people who were an eighth or a quarter African heritage as white. Several times, Jacky reflects on the diversity of her crew, which includes Native Americans, Africans and African-Americans, American Appalachians, British such as herself and her butler (or First Mate) Higgins, and so on. This reflects the reality of pirate crews of the day, which often contained escaped black slaves.

References to famous characters

  • The Lafitte brothers were real pirates, and as Meyer has a subsidiary character note as Jacky's crew approaches New Orleans, Jean Lafitte made most of his money as a fence of stolen goods and a source of illegally imported slaves.
  • Near the end of the book, an adopted white Shawnee called Lightfoot, a rifleman who always travels with his native Shawnee "brother," reveals his white surname to be "Bumpus" in an obvious tribute to James Fenimore Cooper's Natty Bumppo.

External links

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