two weeks becalmed on the Black Pearl, Will couldn't get off the ship
fast enough when finally they arrived in Port Royal. They'd been on short
rations and even shorter tempers for the past week: Elizabeth and Jack had
squabbled and made up more times than Will could count, Jack and Gibbs had
nearly come to blows over the last bottle of rum, and even placid Dinah had
yowled at Will and scratched his hand when he'd opened the chest where she
was nursing her kittens. He knew he'd have to meet Elizabeth and Jack at
Government House for supper, but after the bustle and noise of shipboard
life, all Will wanted was a few moments of peace.
He wandered away from the docks, so glad of the quiet that he paid no heed
to the direction he turned or to the gathering clouds. A crack of lightning,
accompanied by a sudden deluge, brought him to his senses. Will looked
around and realized that he'd unthinkingly walked to the part of town where
James had his lodgings. Hunching his back against the rain, he dashed
towards James' front door, and ran headlong into a cloaked gentleman who was
rounding the corner.
"Blast it, can't you--" James' aggrieved expression was transformed. "Will?
What on earth are you doing here?"
In no time, they were settled in James' quiet parlor, sipping tea and
catching up. The rain pattered against the window soothingly and James'
grandmother's silver tea set gleamed softly in the lamplight. When the cook
appeared with a tray piled high with raspberry tarts, buttered toast, and
sugar-dusted cakes, Will sighed happily and swore that he must have died and
gone to heaven.
The tray was nearly empty before Will recalled the package he'd put in his
pocket that morning, on the off chance that he might see James in town.
"I've got something for you," he mumbled through his sixth tart.
James arched an eyebrow suggestively and Will laughed. "Not that -- or,
rather, that too, if you've a mind to -- but first let me show you your
James unwrapped the bundle with alacrity, but when the plain brass compass
tumbled into his hand, his enthusiasm obviously waned. He was too polite to
say, "But I've got a compass already," but the thought was written all over
his face. He blinked and managed a tepid, "Thank you."
"It's more than it seems," Will explained, eager to alleviate James'
disappointment. "I won it from a French cartographer in a dice game. He said
it was the most accurate compass he'd ever used." Will rattled on, relating
to James the mechanics of it, as the Frenchman had explained them: the rice
paper to reduce friction, the weight on the needle, and the silk strings,
but he stopped abruptly when he realized James was no longer looking at the
"And you brought me this wonder, instead of keeping it aboard the Pearl?"
"We already have a compass," Will said lightly.
"Indeed." James' smile lit up his whole face. "One that doesn’t point
Will snapped the compass closed, brushing his fingers across James' wrist.
Leaning in, he whispered, "But we don't need it to point north, do we? Not
so long as it gets us where we want to go."