Going on a Journey-Starting Something New-Letting Go of Expectations-Faith
Jack sighted black sails before noon the next day, and shortly after their
simple luncheon, Gibbs landed one of the boats on the shore.
Even before he reported to Jack, Gibbs took Elizabeth aside, saying, "Found
a letter for you at the Faithful Bride, Miss Elizabeth."
Gibbs knew full well what any letter for Elizabeth meant, but he kept it to
himself, strolling off to talk to Jack and Will, and not incidentally,
giving her some privacy in which to read about her son. Later, she would
share the news with Will, but the first read, with the faint doubts and
recriminations it inevitably stirred up, was always done alone.
The letter was a relic from another world. Sarah Caxton wrote in a tiny and
educated hand and the paper was smooth and scented with a hint of lavender.
Her words were kind and full of affection for William, telling of his first
birthday, his toddling steps, and his first words. But there was something
else. Sarah, who had never fallen pregnant in either of her marriages, was
now expecting her own child. She wrote of returning to England with her
husband after the child was born, and vaguely suggested that perhaps some
other arrangement might need to be made for William.
Folded into the letter was a silky brown curl, so like Will's it brought
tears to Elizabeth's eyes. There was an ache in her heart she had never
imagined when she left William behind. She had thought only to be done with
him, and to return to the liberty she'd found at sea; she had not realized
that she would leave a part of herself behind.
Elizabeth wondered if the price she'd paid for her freedom was too dear, but
then she tried to imagine herself living Sarah's life: sewing and managing
the servants and rocking the baby. Left behind on shore while Will and Jack
sailed away. It was quite impossible.
And yet, something would have to be done. She flinched away from that
thought and from the inevitable guilt that accompanied her every thought of
the boy. With a bitter laugh, she realized why it was so familiar -- she
felt the same pang when she thought of her father.
James required little in the way of preparation to leave the island. There
had been no packing to be done, no belongings to gather. Elizabeth had
thrown his rags into the fire, and he had no need for the crude tools he'd
fashioned during his exile. As much to occupy himself as to ingratiate
himself to them, James had helped Sparrow and Will pack the few items they'd
brought with them to the island, and then helped the crew load barrels of
fresh water onto the longboat. Now there was nothing to do but row out to
the Black Pearl and weigh anchor.
James kept close to the boat, waiting impatiently for the others to get on
with it. Until he was on the blasted ship, he wouldn't believe that they
really were going to take him. He kept expecting Sparrow to give him one of
those sly looks and say, "Fooled you, didn't we?"
There appeared to have been some sort of disagreement; Elizabeth, who'd been
in a fine mood that morning, singing and joking over their breakfast, was
now in a bleak-faced consultation with Will, who looked equally dour.
Moody bitch, James thought, startling himself with his vehemence. Seeing
Elizabeth like this, in some ways so like the child he'd watched blossom
into a young lady, and in others entirely unlike the girl he'd thought he'd
known, had brought him up short with the realization that he was no longer
so much in love with her as he had been.
Once, the depth of his feelings had covered the anger he felt towards her
for not loving him; for the reckless, headstrong behavior that had cost so
many good men their lives; for her cavalier treatment of her father. But the
love had worn thin and threadbare and could no longer clothe his rage. She
had been the kindest to him of all of them, and yet he resented her the
While Will was occupied with Elizabeth, Jack took the opportunity to give
Gibbs the lay of the land. Strictly speaking, the quartermaster should have
been in on this conference, but Jack was half hoping that Gibbs would
protest this daft plan, and give him some excuse to go back on his word.
This would be more easily done if Will wasn't there to hold him to his
To Jack's surprise, Gibbs just nodded sagely, as if he were impressed with
the way Jack had contrived to wrangle the situation to their benefit. "'Tain't
such a bad thing to have the Commodore owin' us a favor, now is it? 'Sides,
I knew Norrington when he was a lieutenant. He's not such a bad sort, for a
Jack winced at this. Did every man on his crew have a history with
Although Gibbs approved of the plan, he balked at Jack's suggested route,
which was designed to get them to Port Royal as quickly as possible, and be
done with the whole bloody mess. Gibbs had sighted two Spanish privateers on
his return from Tortuga, and rumor had it that the Spanish had been offering
rewards to anyone able to provide the whereabouts of Jack Sparrow and the
"A little caution wouldn't go amiss, Cap'n."
"Never fear, Gibbs, they'll not catch the Pearl."
Gibbs refused to take the hint. "Running with the wind abeam'll slow her
down. I say we go north around Havana. Might take longer, but we'll have the
wind at our backs and open seas."
"Open seas that are filthy with the Guarda. Six of one and half a
dozen of the other, if you ask me, and the southerly route gets us shot of
the Commodore all that much sooner." With a decisive nod, Jack ended the
conversation and ordered the crew to the boat.
The Black Pearl loomed over the boat, blocking the sun. Sparrow had
restored her to all her former glory; the black sails snapped in the wind,
and the expanse of dark hull gleamed. She was no longer a ghost ship, but
the shadowy bulk of her was still disquieting. There was something almost
human about the carved figurehead, and James could have sworn she was
watching him jealously as they approached the ship.
Someone on the ship tossed down a rope ladder and the pirates began to swarm
up it. When James would have climbed it in turn, Sparrow stopped him with a
hand to his arm. "Hold up, mate."
James blanched and forced himself to breathe deeply, all the while cursing
himself for a fool. What misguided notion had prompted him to think that
these cutthroats would come to his aid? He eyed the pistol at Will's waist,
and wondered if he could provoke Will to shoot him by attacking Sparrow.
Better dead than pushed over the side and forced to swim back to that damned
"If you sail on my ship, you sail under my rules, savvy?" There was a
taunting note to Sparrow's voice, as if he were well aware of what James had
feared. "Before you set foot in the Pearl, you'll swear not to
interfere with my ship nor any venture we undertake while you're onboard."
Choosing his words carefully, James said, "For the time I am on your ship, I
give you my parole, Captain Sparrow, and my word as a gentleman."
Sparrow gave a mocking laugh. "In that case, Commodore, welcome aboard the