For months after Commodore Norrington sailed on a year's leave home to
England, the Turners saw nothing of Jack Sparrow.
"Do you suppose," Elizabeth asked one morning over breakfast, "That he made
good his threat to follow James?"
Will laughed. "Bite your tongue, woman" he replied in mock horror and
Elizabeth giggled. "Only think of the mischief he'd get up to!"
"Terrible," she replied. "James is staying with his cousins the Wrenthams,
you know. I am certain Jack would somehow gain an invitation to the house."
She thought a moment. "Wrentham's third son is a gamester and a wastrel, I
hear - Jack would find it easy enough to become his new best friend. Oh,
Will! Can you imagine the Earl's face on being introduced to Jack Sparrow?"
"Never mind the Earl," Will cried. "Think of poor James!"
Will and Elizabeth found this idea so funny that they amused themselves for
some weeks with ever more improbable tales of Jack's adventures in England.
Will was of the opinion that Jack would visit the Admiralty and nick the
First Lord's snuff box. Elizabeth suggested he might lay claim to a vacant
peerage - imagining his address to the House of Lords convulsed them for an
entire evening. But his presentation at Court was their pièce de résistance.
They took great and detailed glee in speculating on Jack's conversations
with Royalty and the probable consequences. By degrees, as Jack's absence
lengthened, they almost came to believe that he had indeed gone to England.
One afternoon as Elizabeth was returning from a day spent visiting friends,
she found herself met at the front door by her tearful and agitated maid.
"Oh madam," Estrella cried, wringing her hands. "He would come in and
I've not been able to budge him."
"Good heavens, what can you mean?" Elizabeth exclaimed, alarmed. "What has
happened? Who would come in?"
"It's that Jack Sparrow," Estrella said, sniffling into her apron. "He's
been in the parlour for hours and he will not leave, no matter what I
say. And he's drinking - he's been at the master's rum."
"Has he?" Elizabeth replied, raising one eyebrow.
"Indeed he has, madam," the maid nodded. "And there's worse." She lowered
her voice. "He pinched me."
Seeing that Estrella was truly shocked by Jack's misbehavior, Elizabeth
managed - just barely - to keep her face straight as she tried to soothe the
maid's ruffled sensibilities.
"Well, that was very bad of Captain Sparrow," she said, "and I shall make
him understand that he is never to it again. Do you wish him to apologize to
you? Or would you rather put the incident, um, behind you, so to
speak?" Elizabeth bit her lip and struggled not burst out laughing at
Estrella's horrified expression.
"Miss Elizabeth!" When Estrella reverted to her nursery name, Elizabeth knew
she was in her maid's black books. "I declare, Miss Elizabeth, you are as
wicked as he is. And him a pirate and all. It's a scandal, that's what it
is. And no, I do not want that… that scoundrel to apologize to
me. If he never speaks to me again, it will be too soon."
"Then he will not," Elizabeth said. "You have my word. Come, Estrella, calm
yourself. Now that I am come home, you need not fear that Captain Sparrow
will offer you any further insult. I will go to him now and see what's to be
done. Please send to the smithy to let Mister Turner know we have a guest.
And bring the tea tray as soon as may be."
The maid went back to the kitchen and Elizabeth hurried to the parlour. She
paused outside the door and listened. There was a tuneless drone emanating
from the room and she heard the squeak of a drawn cork. Lifting the latch
she eased the door open and peered in.
Jack lay on the sofa with his back to the door, his booted heels propped on
one arm and his head upon the other. He was drinking from a bottle of rum
and attempting to sing between sips. Neither tune nor words were
distinguishable. He was very drunk.
Elizabeth stepped into the parlour and the rustle of her skirts stopped the
"song" in mid-note.
"Begone, wench," Jack growled blurrily, without looking around. "I'm stayin'
right here until I see the Turners and there ain't a thing you can do about
it. So, if you don't want to be goosed again, then best leave me the hell
"Pirate manners, Jack?" Elizabeth said, dryly.
Jack's head whipped around so quickly that he overbalanced and fell off the
sofa, landing with a thud and a muffled oath.
"Elizabeth," he said, trying unsuccessfully to get to his feet. "About
bloody time you got home." He gave up the attempt to stand and took another
drink. "Thought you was that whey-faced, whinging, pain in the arse, come to
preach at me."
Elizabeth shook her head. "That's no way to speak of my maid, Jack," she
replied. "You've been beastly to her, haven't you?"
"Buggeration." Jack scowled and swigged more rum. "Not you, too, Bess.
Prosing on like some damned Methodist. Makes a man feel unwelcome."
"Oh, for heaven's sake." Elizabeth went over and took him by the arm. "Get
up, you idiot."
Jack surged to his feet, surprising both himself and Elizabeth, who lost her
grip on his arm, tripped and half-fell onto the sofa. Jack flailed both arms
for a second, lost his balance and sprawled backwards across her lap.
"Isn't this cozy, then?" he said, grinning up at her. "Drink?" He offered
her the bottle.
"Let me up," Elizabeth exclaimed, pushing ineffectually at his shoulder.
"Jack, you fool, get off of me!"
He ignored her, wriggling round until his backside rested on the sofa, his
feet were once again on its arm, and his head and shoulders rested on
"Better?" he asked, drinking yet again.
"Not much," she grumbled. "Must you be so difficult?"
"Yes," he replied simply.
Elizabeth gave up the struggle and began to laugh.
"That's the spirit, love," Jack grinned. "Have some rum."
She paid no attention to the bottle once again waving before her face.
"Where have you been all these months, Jack? We thought you must have gone
Suddenly morose, Jack frowned. "As I should have done, curse it," he said.
There was silence for a few moments, then he added, "Damn it to hell, I
Elizabeth felt a stab of pity; he looked almost lost. "We miss him, too,"
she said softly.
Jack looked out the window. "I have no idea who you're talking about," he
"Of course you don't," she smiled and Jack scowled. "It's not so very long
until he's back, you know," she ventured, after another silence.
"Seven months and thirteen days. Not," Jack said, glaring at her, "that I'm
counting. Are you sure you won't have some of this rum? It's quite good,
really. Will's taste in rum is improving."
"How gratifying," Will said, from the doorway.
"At last," Jack cried. "C'mere, whelp, where I can see you. M'not sitting up
again - too dangerous."
As he crossed the room, Will exchanged a look with his wife that told her he
had overheard their conversation. They smiled over Jack's head.
"Well, you old pirate," Will said, shaking the hand that Jack held out.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"Besides lyin' with my head in Bess's lap and drinking your rum?" Jack
"Yes, besides the obvious," Will laughed, sitting on the floor next to the
sofa and accepting the bottle.
"Oh, just the usual," Jack said. "Raid, pillage, plunder - nothing
"I find that hard to believe," Will replied, passing the bottle back to the
pirate. "Nothing happened out of the ordinary? That's not like you, Jack."
Jack considered this for a moment, lubricating his memory with still more
rum. "Now that you mention it," he said at last, "there was that time in
Cartagena, when Gibbs thought he saw…"
As he lost himself in the telling of his tale, Jack's expression lightened
and his gestures became broader and more flamboyant. Toward the end, the
story became somewhat hard to follow, due to excessive application of rum.
Will and Elizabeth listened, with exclamations of astonishment or
encouragement at appropriate intervals, until he reached his peroration.
"And so it was that we all got safe aboard the Pearl. We cut the
cables and were well down the harbour by the time…." Jack's voice trailed
off. Silence fell, broken presently by a soft snore. Will took the nearly
empty bottle from Jack and corked it, winking at Elizabeth as he did so.
They sat awhile longer, until they were sure Jack was soundly asleep. Then
Elizabeth eased herself off the sofa, lowering his head to the cushions. He
did not stir.
"I'll go get him a blanket," she whispered. Will nodded.
She returned with the blanket and a feather pillow. Will pulled off Jack's
boots and put the pillow beneath his head as Elizabeth covered him up.
"Should we wake him when dinner is ready?" she asked Will as they closed the
parlour door behind them.
"He wouldn't thank us for it," Will chuckled. "I'll leave a jug of water
next to the sofa if he's not awake by the time we go to bed. Food would be
wasted on him, but he'll be thirsty."
"I suppose you're right," she nodded. "Poor Jack."
"He'll be fine."
In the morning, they found the blanket folded atop the pillow, the water jug
empty, and the rum (and Jack) long gone. And that - so they thought - was
Three days later, as Will worked on a pair of large and elaborate strap
hinges, Jack appeared at his elbow.
"What're those?" he asked.
"Grape vines," Will replied, continuing to ply his hammer.
"Commissioned for a wine cellar," Will explained. "And they must be finished
"Ah," Jack said. "Well, then, don't let me stop you. I'll just sit over here
and watch, shall I?"
Will nodded and smiled and went on working. Or tried to.
During the course of the morning Jack pestered the donkey until the normally
placid creature attempted to kick him, offered rum to the apprentices (Will
caught him before they'd had more than a mouthful), put a hole in the
smaller hand-bellows, misplaced Will's favorite swage, moved all the chisels
and punches out of their accustomed order, tipped over a quenching barrel
(the water and not - Will thanked his lucky stars - the oil), and burnt the
handles off two hammers by dropping them into the forge.
"I tell you, Elizabeth," Will fumed, over supper, "it was like having an
over-sized toddler running loose in the smithy. In the end, I bribed him to
be still by promising to go down to the Pearl with him for the
afternoon, if only he'd stay quiet long enough for me to finish those hinges
for old man Winslow."
"Did it work?" she asked.
"Yes, thank heaven," Will replied. "If it had not, I swear, I would have
shackled him to the wall. I told him so, too."
"Poor Jack," Elizabeth said.
"Ha!" said Will
The next week passed quietly, but then, late one evening, as the Turners sat
in the parlour after dinner - Will reading aloud to Elizabeth as she sewed -
there came a tap at the window. Before they could do more than look up, Jack
had undone the catch with his knife and opened the sash.
"Good evening, youngsters," Jack said, as he climbed into the room.
"The door…?" Will asked.
"Was locked," Jack grinned. "Why knock and put you to the trouble of going
out in the hall to open up, eh? Much easier this way, if you ask me." He sat
on the sofa next to Elizabeth and crossed his ankles. "So, what are we
"It's not that we are not pleased to see you Jack," Elizabeth said, "but it
is rather late and I was wondering why…"
"No room at the inn," Jack replied.
"I beg your pardon?"
"When I tried to bespeak a room at the inn, they didn't have a single one
unoccupied," Jack said. "Naturally, I came here next."
"Naturally," said Will, trying not to laugh.
"But what about the Pearl?" Elizabeth asked.
"Sent her off to Black River on an errand," Jack said. He took up her hand
and kissed it. "Surely, dear Mrs. Turner - sweet, kind, lovely Mrs.
Turner - you don't mean to turn me out to sleep in a ditch." This was
accompanied such a look of cajolery that Elizabeth began to snicker.
"As if you would. Oh, very well, you rogue," she said, rising. "I will go
make up the bed in the spare room and get one of Will's nightshirts for
A short time later, the Turners climbed into their own bed and Will blew out
the candle. They lay for a moment in the silent house, listening to the
breeze rustling the bushes in the garden below their window. Will rolled
over and put his arm around Elizabeth's waist and she wound hers about his
neck. He grinned down at her in the moonlight.
"Well, dear Mrs. Turner - sweet, kind, lovely Mrs. Turner," he said,
between kisses, "what do you say to a little…"
"Jack!" Elizabeth cried.
"Huh?" Startled, Will raised his head to look at her. Elizabeth's eyes were
opened wide. Will followed her gaze and jumped as he caught sight of Jack
standing beside the bed, his borrowed nightshirt glowing like a ghost in the
moonlight. "Jack! What the devil…?"
"There's a mouse," Jack said.
"A mouse. He's gnawing in the wall next to my bed," Jack explained. "I can't
sleep in there."
Jack drooped. "Making a dreadful racket, he is." He sighed. "You can't hear
him from in here, can you?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "Jack, you mustn't…" she began.
"Nice, big bed, this," Jack said, wistfully. "Lots of room."
Elizabeth's eyes flew to Will's face.
"Looks soft, too," Jack went on.
"And no mice," he added.
Will had begun to grin and Elizabeth's eyes were dancing. She nodded. Will
turned back the covers and Elizabeth held out her hand. Jack's face lit up
as he scrambled up to lie between them.
"But only for tonight, mind," Will said, sternly.
"Of course, love," Jack nodded vigorously. "Just for tonight."
Seven months and some days later, the Turners ordered a larger bed, their
old one - large enough for three as it undoubtedly was - having suddenly
become somewhat overcrowded.