The house was silent except for the creak of the rocking chair and
the ticking of the parlor clock. Estrella was long abed, and the baby
snored on Elizabeth's chest, his sweaty head leaving a damp spot on her
bodice. It was nearly midnight and still there was no sign of Will.
Elizabeth sighed and William stirred. "Shhhh. . .Daddy will be home soon,"
she said, more to reassure herself than the child.
Will had left town that morning to meet a customer at his estate. The man
was building a new house for his bride, and wanted to discuss the hardware
he would need. It would be a large order; if the negotiations had gone into
the evening, perhaps Will had decided to stay the night, rather than
returning to town so late. There was no need to wait up for him, Elizabeth
told herself. But she was restless without him, and the baby was sleeping
fitfully, so she sat up, fretting over nothing.
Despite her worry, she was dozing when the clock chimed midnight. She
jumped, startling the baby, and he began fussing. As the last chime
sounded, there was a heavy knock at the door.
Settling the crying baby on her hip, Elizabeth took a candle and went to
investigate. She didn't like to open the door at this hour, but it might be
someone bringing news of Will. She peered out the front window, unable to
recognize the figure standing in the shadows. The knocking continued
relentlessly, rattling Elizabeth's already frazzled nerves. Gathering up
her courage, she clutched the baby tightly and pulled the latch.
As soon as the latch was free, a gust of wind pushed in the door, nearly
knocking her down, and blowing in dead leaves and the smell of the sea. The
candle guttered, then flared brightly, revealing an oddly familiar face,
worn by years and care. She gasped and said, "You must be-"
"William Turner, Senior, ma'am." His voice gurgled wetly and Elizabeth
wondered if he were ill. He cleared his throat, and went on in a more
normal tone. "I'm told m'boy looks just like me." He grinned wryly.
Elizabeth stood staring, wondering where he had come from and what he was
doing here at this time of night. Thunder boomed in the distance and
recalled her to herself. She could hardly leave Will's father standing on
the doorstep. "Come in out of this wind," she said automatically. She
ushered him into the foyer and reached for his threadbare coat. There was
an awkward pause in which he refused to divest himself of it. He must be
shamed by his poor clothes, Elizabeth thought, and rushed to fill the
silence. "As you've probably guessed, I'm Elizabeth Turner, your
daughter-in-law. And this is your namesake, William Turner, III."
Turner beamed beatifically at this, and Elizabeth's suspicions waned. "That
was kindly done of you. He's a likely lad, ain't he?" Turner held out his
tar-stained hands and, to Elizabeth's astonishment, the baby unwound his
hands from Elizabeth's hair and let his grandfather take him. Turner dug
through his pocket, and produced a large scallop shell. With one last
halfhearted sniffle, William quieted, gnawing on the shell.
"Where are my manners? Please come in and sit down. I'll put the kettle on
for tea." As she assembled the tea things, she called over her shoulder,
"Have you traveled far?"
"Aye, a fair piece. I had hoped to see my Will tonight."
"I expected him hours ago. I'm afraid he may have stayed the night, but I'm
sure he'll return in the morning."
A wistful look passed across Turner's face, then he resumed the nonsense
song he was singing to William as he bounced him on his knee. Elizabeth
served Turner some tea and cake, her nose wrinkling involuntarily at the
strong scent of mildew that emanated from him.
"Tell me about Will," he said, poking at the cake with his fork. "What sort
of man is he?"
"I thought he was a pirate." Elizabeth chuckled. "And he is. At least. .
.he has it in him to be a pirate. Jack says he comes by it honestly. But
mostly, he's a blacksmith. He's a good husband and a good father. You'll
be proud of him."
Turner's voice was soft. "Aye, I am." He swirled the tea in his cup
reflectively, then spoke with more cheer. "Broke the curse, didn't he? He
and Jack gave Barbossa what he had comin' to him. And I hear you had a hand
in that as well. Will's not the only pirate in the family!" His laughter
was a wheezing, consumptive sound, and Elizabeth wondered again if he were
Unable to contain her curiosity, she asked, "We heard what Barbossa did to
you. We feared that you had perished when the curse was broken. How did
you manage to free yourself?"
The baby's head was nodding, and Turner took a moment to position him in the
crook of his arm. "Nothin' lasts forever. Not even iron chains." His eyes
grew vacant and flat, and Elizabeth shuddered. "I don't suppose you've
anything stronger than tea, do you, missy?"
Elizabeth laughed and fetched the rum from the cupboard. "We keep it on
hand for Jack's visits."
Turner sniffed his drink, and smacked his lips appreciatively. "Did Jack
ever tell you how we met?"
He proved to be as good a storyteller as Jack, and he regaled her with one
tale after another of his adventures at sea. He looked like Will, but there
was something of Jack in the flourish he gave at the end of a story.
Elizabeth felt completely at ease with him. The baby slept peacefully in
his arms, and, engrossed in his reminiscing, Turner barely touched the rum
As the sky outside the tiny parlor window grew lighter, Turner seemed
increasingly agitated. He watched every minute tick by on the clock,
keeping time with his twitching foot. Finally he lost the thread of his
story completely, as streaks of pink and gold shot across the sky. Just
then, Elizabeth heard the latch lifting. "That must be Will!" she
exclaimed, rushing to greet him.
Will's brow furrowed in confusion to see her awake at this hour and still
dressed. They talked over one another, Will explaining how his horse had
thrown a shoe, and Elizabeth telling of his father's arrival. Finally
hearing what Elizabeth was saying, Will stopped short. "What? My father?"
"Yes!" she said impatiently. "He's in the parlor. We've been talking all
night, and he's so eager to see you." She tugged on his arm. "Hurry!"
They stumbled together down the dark hall into the parlor, and Elizabeth
cried out in surprise. The dawn light shone in on Little William, who was
stretched out on the sofa, the scallop shell still clasped in his hand.
There was no sign of Turner, although he couldn't have left the room without
passing them. A long strand of seaweed clung to the sofa where he'd had
been sitting, and when Elizabeth picked up the baby, he was soaked through