the people Horatio had expected to visit him in his jail cell, Admiral
Norrington was perhaps the last. When they'd learned that they were sailing
to the Caribbean, Horatio had idly hoped that he might meet Norrington, but
Archie had assured him that it was unlikely, for Norrington was rumored to
have become quite reclusive of late. And Horatio certainly hadn't expected
that this would be the event to draw Norrington abroad once more. Yet
even in these unfortunate circumstances, Horatio was thrilled to be face to
face with the renowned pirate hunter.
He didn't disappoint. Norrington's face was lined, but his posture was
ramrod straight, and a keen intelligence shone in his green eyes. He peered
at Horatio speculatively, with a mixture of curiosity and sympathy, as one
might observe an animal in a cage, and when he finally spoke, his voice held
a striking authority for such an elderly man. "Well, well, Lieutenant; we've
heard much of you, but I must confess, this was not how I expected to meet
"Nor I, you, sir."
"Are you guilty as charged?"
Horatio hesitated, inexplicably tempted to confess everything. "Not. .
"You were not exactly mutinous or you're not exactly guilty?" Something
inscrutable flashed across his face. "A. . .friend once told me that the
deepest circle of hell is reserved for traitors and mutineers. But perhaps
even in mutiny there may be extenuating circumstances."
Horatio remembered the horrors they'd been subjected to aboard the Renown
and shuddered. "Do you believe, sir, that those circumstances may erase the
fault? Can good ever come from wrongdoing?"
Norrington sighed, and to Horatio's surprise, smiled wryly. "It is said that
the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but we must hope that our
intentions count for something in the end, for who can claim a spotless
record?" He gripped the bars between them. "Whatever comes of this, remember
that sins of commission are always superior to those of omission. It's
better to take the chance and fail than to risk nothing and save yourself.
Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life."
"Thank you, sir."
Norrington hesitated, as if he would say more, then shook his head. "Good
luck, my boy."
"Thank you, sir," Horatio said again, as the sound of the Admiral's
footsteps faded. A full life, he thought, inexplicably heartened, a full,
long life. He smiled and sat down once more to his book.