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Allegiance - Chapter 6

by The Stowaway


In the Windward Passage, aboard the 24-gun brig Lazarus

"My apologies for the inconvenience we have caused you, Captain. I trust you understand that with times as they are, it is necessary to stop and inspect all vessels."

"Not at all, not at all, Lieutenantů Witherspoon, is it? I perfectly understand. In fact, I was rather hoping we'd encounter some of you Navy chaps before too long. Please tell your Commodore I shall come across to present my bona fides directly. Will you have a glass of wine before you go? No? Ah well, some other time perhaps. Gibbs, see the Lieutenant to his boat."

Gibbs returned to the quarterdeck to find the Captain peering through his glass at the huge warship hove to a cable's length to windward. "Well, old friend, what do you think?" the Captain asked him, grinning.

"That you're daft, Jack," Gibbs replied, shaking his head. "I hope this plan o' yourn works. It did give me a turn, having that young Navy sprat going over the Lazarus the way he did."

The Captain laughed. "Not losing your nerve, are you, Josh?" He clapped his grizzled quartermaster on the shoulder. "You'll see. All will be well. Now then, lower the boat. I must go pay a courtesy call on yonder Commodore." He took a folded parchment from the breast of his coat and tapped it against his knuckles. "Time to see if this is worth what I paid for it, eh?"

************

"Captain Sparrow to see you, sir."

The Commodore frowned irritably. This Sparrow was a privateer, and a damned well-armed one, according to Witherspoon's report. He disliked privateers on principle - most of them were merely pirates in disguise. Best to get it over with, he thought. Norrington glanced at the midshipman waiting in the doorway and nodded. "Show him in."

When Sparrow was announced, Norrington rose and surveyed his visitor. He saw a trim figure, not above average height, neatly dressed in a plain dark-green coat of excellent cut, buff breeches and boots. An unusual face, golden-skinned, with high cheekbones and sharp features, was set off by a small goatee and mustaches; his dark hair was drawn back in a queue tied with a red riband. Gold glinted in the lobes of his ears.

Norrington nodded. "Captain Sparrow," he said.

Sparrow swept off his hat and made a rather elegant leg. "Captain Jack Sparrow, at your service, Commodore," he replied, smiling broadly. Half the man's teeth were gold.

"Please, be seated." Norrington waved him to a chair and resumed his own. Sparrow sat and crossed his legs, balancing his hat on his knee, and leaned back, quite at his ease. Norrington saw, with faint disgust, that his dark eyes were ringed with kohl.

"So, Captain Sparrow," he said, folding his hands before him on the desk, "Lieutenant Witherspoon tells me that you are a privateer, come to hunt pirates in the Caribbean."

"I am," Sparrow replied, grinning. "Can't let you Navy men have all the fun, eh?"

Norrington's lips thinned. "You have authorization, I presume?"

"To be sure, I do," Sparrow replied, reaching into his coat. "My letters of marque, signed by His Excellency the Governor of Bermuda." He handed the document to Norrington, who examined it carefully. All appeared to be in order; signed, countersigned and with all seals affixed in their proper places. He sighed and handed it back.

"You've been a privateer before, Captain?"

"Not strictly speaking, no. I've been out East for some years, where such matters are arranged somewhat differently."

"I see," Norrington said. "In that case, allow me to mention some points that I wish you to keep in mind. Your letters of marque authorize you to hunt pirates, and, by extension, smugglers; in this pursuit you are a free agent, under no command but your own." Sparrow grinned and Norrington held up his hand. "As you are independent, you may expect no help from the British Navy in your endeavours. If you find that you have over-reached yourself, you must suffer the consequences unaided. You understand me, Captain Sparrow?"

"I do, Commodore Norrington."

"Furthermore," Norrington continued, "And I cannot stress this strongly enough - your authorization does not entitle you to hinder Naval operations or interfere with them in any way. The Navy is the upholder of the law in the Caribbean and as such takes precedence under all conditions. I trust I make myself clear?"

"Perfectly clear, Commodore," Sparrow nodded, looking amused.

"Very well then," Norrington said. "I wish you luck in your enterprise. If I may ask, what are your immediate plans?"

"You may ask," Sparrow smiled. "And, what's more, I will answer." He chuckled at the annoyance on Norrington's face. "Port Royal is my destination; I shall re-supply and attend to some minor repairs before beginning my cruise. If you would be so good as to provide me with a harbour pass I would be much obliged."

Norrington picked up his pen and wrote quickly. Sanding the paper, he passed it to Sparrow, who read it before tucking it into his breast pocket with a nod of thanks.

Norrington rose. "Now, if that is all Captain Sparrow, I shall bid you good day. You are no doubt anxious to continue your voyage."  He held out his hand.

Standing, Sparrow took the proffered hand. "It has been a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Commodore. I look forward to many such meetings in future. Good day to you, sir." He swept another bow and left with a smile.

Commodore Norrington stared after him for a moment. Good heavens but he was an impertinent dog. Time would tell if he was all swagger and no substance, but Norrington had a feeling that this would not be the last he would hear of Captain Jack Sparrow.
 

 

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