Six weeks; forty-two long, lonely days and nights since James had been swept
off his ship in a storm and washed onto this shore, unconscious and
half-drowned. He still wasn't sure exactly where he was, but he was grateful
that this island had a small freshwater stream and fruit growing in
abundance. There were also wild goats, but so far they had proved impossible
to catch, so James was rounding out his diet with eggs filched from the
nests on the cliff face. His clothes were worn to tatters, his face was
obscured by a beard; almost, he could forget that he was an officer of the
Royal Navy and descend into heathen savagery. But not yet.
In the absence of any of the markers of civilization, he struggled to
enforce some order and routine in his life. He rose with the sun, bathed
himself daily, and scheduled particular tasks to each day of the week.
Monday was wash day, and after rinsing his ragged clothes in the stream, he
set out to harvest the fruit that had ripened in the previous week.
As he approached the mango grove, he thought he must be hallucinating, for
he could swear he heard voices from beyond the trees. Willing himself not to
get his hopes up, he almost broke into a run, then remembered caution and
held back. If there were people there, there was no telling who or what they
were. He could be throwing himself into a far worse situation. He must take
Closer still, and he knew someone was there. He heard laughter and singing,
the voice naggingly familiar.
He forced his steps to a painfully slow pace, and crept toward the water.
And stared in confusion and dread at the sight before him.
No telling who or what, indeed! Jack Sparrow, of all the ill luck. And
apparently all the insane rumors James had tried to ignore, the sordid port
gossip he'd edited for Swann's benefit, the niggling voice that had told him
there was no smoke without fire; all of it was true. For there was Elizabeth
Turner sprawled across Sparrow's lap, dressed outlandishly in men's clothes,
her hair tumbled around her shoulders and tangled with brightly colored
flowers. She was singing a particularly vulgar drinking song, and her hand
was in Sparrow's mouth, feeding him a morsel of fruit. His tongue licked
lewdly between her fingers, and the song broke off in a gasp. James stared,
spellbound, his stomach clenching at the relaxed and unconstrained quality
that infused Elizabeth's every movement.
Discretion was clearly the better part of valor in this instance. He had no
weapon, and there was no telling what might happen if he fell into Sparrow's
hands. James turned to go back the way he had come, still unable to tear his
eyes away from Sparrow's hand curving possessively around Elizabeth's full
breast. When his head finally snapped around, his heart sank even further.
Will Turner stood before him, his sword only inches from James' throat.
Not all the rumors were true then; gossip had it that Will had been shot to
death by a Spanish soldier, but here he was, alive and well. And he was no
longer the rash puppy who'd dashed off to rescue Elizabeth. This was a man
grown into his full power, confident and assured. He was clothed only in his
breeches and his bare chest showed the wages of a pirate's life -- a healed
bullet wound below his collarbone, and several long, thin scars from sword
fights. He lacked the swaggering bravado that James associated with pirates,
but Jack Sparrow's influence could easily be read on Will's body. A
blue-inked sea serpent wound around his upper arm, a gaudy earring dangled
from his ear, and there were a few bright gewgaws braided into the damp hair
that curled around his face.
They stood there a moment, assessing one another, and James saw the instant
when Will recognized him, the puzzled expression turning to a bemused grin.
When he smiled, he was still the boy James had known, but there was a new
impertinence there, a galling insolence that the earnest blacksmith's
apprentice would never have dared.
"Jack, look what I've caught while you two have been lazing about!"
James didn't move as Sparrow entered his field of vision, holding a pistol.
He looked James up and down, and then grinned, his expression an eerie match
for Will's. "Well, well, Commodore, this is a surprise! Fancy meeting
In spite of their blustering, they seemed unsure what to do with James; in
the end, they tied him to a tree, and moved down to the water to discuss the
situation. He couldn't make out their words over the surf, but as the
conversation became more heated, they seemed to forget that he was watching,
and their unguarded movements laid the situation bare.
What they were to one another was mapped in the longitude and latitude of
their bodies. Even in disagreement, they instinctively clung to each
another: Elizabeth clutching Sparrow's hand to emphasize a point, Will
sitting indecently close to Sparrow and holding his eye in a disconcerting
way. The neck of Elizabeth's loose shirt fell open and James could not drag
his eyes away from the dark purple love mark on her collarbone. He'd never
thought to see Elizabeth Swann sunk to such depths. It was appalling. It was
beguiling. He wondered which of them had left the mark, and was shocked at
the indecent thoughts that arose in his mind.
Elizabeth and Sparrow did most of the talking; Sparrow's hands wafted
through the air hypnotically, while Elizabeth's gestures had a staccato
rhythm that suggested agitation and frustration. Will was curiously silent,
his body taut and his eyes flicking back and forth between the other two.
James stewed quietly, becoming more irate by the second. No doubt Will was
to blame for this sordid mess. Sparrow made no bones about what he was, and
Elizabeth was a foolish girl whose head had been filled with romantic
nonsense about pirates. But whatever her faults, she was a lady, gently
bred. What kind of man dragged his wife off to a pirate ship and passed her
around like a tavern doxy? Not to mention whatever there was between Will
and Sparrow. They had probably exposed Elizabeth to all sorts of things
never meant for a lady's eyes. In spite of everything, James had believed
that Will was a decent sort -- a bit reckless, in need of guidance, but
honest and upright. Clearly, he had been mistaken.
Elizabeth, her face flushed and hard, muttered something that made Sparrow
scowl. Will stopped Sparrow's retort with a look, all the while stroking
Elizabeth's back in a soothing gesture. James could see the tension drain
out of her body as she softened into Will's touch. She offered Sparrow a
conciliatory smile; he pulled her into his arms and they kissed with the
same furious passion they'd used in their debate. They came apart
reluctantly, laughing, and walked back to the tree line arm and arm with
Will trailing behind them.
James knew he should hold his tongue, but the rage and frustration he'd been
fighting for weeks, fed by this ridiculous coincidence which had placed him
in the hands of those he most wanted to avoid, could no longer be
constrained. As Will approached, James spat out, "My God, Turner, what are
you about here? I didn't give her up for you to debauch her and make her
Jack Sparrow's whore!"
The boy's impetuous temper was still there, lurking under the man's
composure. Will's sword was in his hand in an instant, his face contorted
with anger. "I'll thank you not to talk about my wife that way, sir."
Sparrow slipped between them and held up a finger. "No sense letting him
rile you, Will. Besides, you wouldn't want to kill an unarmed man, would
With visible effort, Will restrained himself and sheathed his sword. "I've
changed my mind. I'm with Jack -- why should we risk our necks to save
him? Let him rot here forever for all I care. He's lucky we don't put a
bullet in his head and save him the trouble of starving to death."