"Out? What d'ye mean we're out?"
"I mean there's no ink left aboard this ship, man." Jack snorted. "What do
you want from me, blood t'dip your quill in?"
Gibbs only glowered in reply, turned away.
Jack found him prone at the exact center of the Pearl's deck, the pen
in hand and a bowl of some dark liquid next to him. The swell gave the ship
a slight tendency to yaw in these conditions, and Gibbs had chosen his
location to minimize the sway.
"What daft business are you about, Joshamee?"
"We're low on lamp oil as well. I thought I'd use the natural light, up here
"I can see that." Jack dropped to his heels beside his quartermaster.
"What's so blazedly urgent that you must write it now?"
Gibbs ducked his head, circled the parchment with a protective arm. "Nuthin'.
Jes' a letter."
"I see you found some ink?" Jack reached for the bowl, raising it to his
face for a sniff.
The Captain's nose wrinkled, and dipping a fingertip in the thickening dark
stuff, he tasted, then spat. "Your own blood, then?"
"An' a bit o'lampblack," Joshamee failed to meet Jack's eyes. "T'weren't
dark enough, at first. Now it works a treat."
"Gibbs." Jack waited for the other man's full attention. Finally, he was
"The Lady here," Jack patted the Black Pearl's deck, his voice stern
and heavy, "She's seen enough dark majicks for her span of years. I'll not
be havin' you doing any evil, man. I'll put you off, and I mayn't wait until
Gibbs' eyes flew wide. "Oh, no no, Captain! I swear to ye, on me mother's
sainted soul in heaven. This is nobbut good, here, 'tis."
"Allow me to read what you've writ, then." Jack held out a tar-stained hand
for the parchment.
Still, the quartermaster refrained from handing it over. "M'hand's not a
pretty one, an' I doubt me ye can decipher it," he stalled.
Jack merely threw him a skeptical glance, and shoved his hand closer to the
missive. Gibbs uncurled enough to allow a view of the scrabbly lettering on
the page. "Watch out for smudgin' it. The ink's slow t'dry, this kind."
Jack carefully touched only the edges of the parchment, and slid it over out
of their shadows, to better view it in the low, slanting light of the
approaching sunset. Gibbs' hand was a difficult read. After gazing at
it for a minute or two, he slid it back to the older sailor.
"The date's wrong, Josh. Today's the eleventh, not the tenth."
"I know. But she won't. It's the first time I've missed it, in 35 years." He
lifted a hand to rub at his face, and was unconscious of the blackish-red
smudge he left across his own brow.
July 10th, 1728
My Dearest Darling Jenny-bird,
Once again, my heart is filled with thoughts of what might have been, on
this, the anniversary of the day I bid ye be my wyfe...