|"Fais ce qui dois, advienne que pourra."
Do what you must, no matter what comes.
Captain James Norrington used to refer to the Joyful Molly as a "fine ship". Lt. Thomas Gillette called her a "good girl". The people of Port Royal said she was an embarrassment, and they were probably right.
The Molly, an unrated frigate, was a refitted old merchantman, and the smallest Navy vessel stationed in Port Royal. For a while, she had been the only ship of the Royal Navy there, the only one to make it through the hurricane that had destroyed the fleet led by then-commodore Norrington during the hunt for Captain Jack Sparrow. She had arrived back in Port Royal badly damaged, manned only with a handful of survivors and held together by the sheer stubbornness of Lt. Thomas Gillette, who had gained the sobriquet "the unsinkable" with that achievement.
Considering that debacle, some said that James Norrington did well not to complain about being demoted to captain and serving on a rum barrel with sails. In any case Norrington preferred commanding a rum barrel with sails to not being in the Royal Navy at all, and if that was fine with him, then it was also fine for Thomas Gillette.
The Molly was only one day's sailing from Port Royal in a fair breeze, and Captain Norrington sat over some papers, looking for the crew list. One couldn't have swung a cat in his cabin, and the adjoined bedchamber was smaller than Gillette's cabin had been back on the Interceptor. Not that Norrington ever complained about these facts, but Gillette considered the size and state of the captain's quarters a personal insult to James Norrington, and for every complaint Norrington never made, Gillette voiced four after a couple of ales at the tavern.
Right now he stood in front of Norrington's small table and waited for his orders.
"Mr. Gillette, I expect men and ship to look clean tomorrow. I don't want us arriving in Port Royal and being fired upon for pirates," Norrington said, still going through the documents on top of his writing slope.
"No, Sir. I mean, yes, Sir."
It was a gratuitous order. None of the men would have dared to look anything but impeccable, and they would scrub the Molly thoroughly, for they knew their captain and his quirks. Norrington had instilled aboard the Joyful Molly the same discipline he had been used to on every other ship under his command, rum barrel with sails or not, and Lt. Gillette made sure the men followed the rules that the captain had set.
For Gillette, Norrington's word came next to that of God Almighty. Behind his back, the men cracked jokes about 'Norrington's Manchester', referring to both his hair colour and his talent to 'smell a rat', just like a Manchester terrier. Gillette had a quick temper, and they knew he wouldn't hesitate to discipline them if they didn't obey the captain's orders. But as he was also fair and often turned a blind eye when it came to matters of drinking and gambling as long as the safety of the ship was not compromised, he was still well-liked and respected.
"Furthermore, I expect you to spend your shore leave on shore this time, not on the ship, Mr. Gillette."
"Aye. I know a lovely young lady who is waiting for me."
"Don't we all, Mr. Gillette, don't we all."
Norrington thought that this ritual upon arriving home was rather pathetic. He knew all too well that nobody specific was waiting for Gillette with exception of some Jenny, Emma or Catherine at the tavern, and Gillette in turn was well aware that Norrington dreaded being in port. To Norrington, 'shore leave' meant just another array of musical evenings, dinners or soirees organised by his wife, forcing him to socialise with those she considered to be 'someone' in Port Royal. Had it been up to James Norrington, he'd have spent his time on the Joyful Molly, reading or playing Nine Men's Morris with Gillette.
The captain had found the crew list in the meantime and was lost in study, so Gillette used the opportunity to watch him. Many of the men listed in the document could have told their captain that Lt. Gillette spent an awful lot of time watching him. Nobody would have dared to speak out loud about it, though. The men were bold, but not suicidal.
James Norrington had returned from the island where Jack Sparrow had marooned him and Will Turner dirty, dressed in rags and several stone lighter. His new slenderness suited him, unlike the melancholy he had also brought back with him as a souvenir. Gillette watched Norrington's long fingers sorting the papers. From time to time, he lifted a hand to push a strand of hair behind his ear. Gillette found this gesture strangely endearing, mainly because that unmanageable strand of brown hair was the only untidiness he could ever spot on Norrington.
Another thing Gillette admired about James Norrington was his countenance. No matter what the circumstances, he always had an air of stern authority. Provocations and insults seemed to pearl off of him like water off a duck's back, and his sarcasm was feared. Gillette, on the other hand, had great difficulty keeping his temper in check. It was not unusual for him to yell or throw objects, and more than once, he'd been drawn into brawling.
Norrington finally noticed that Gillette was still there and looked up for the first time during their conversation. After a glance at Gillette's face, he arched an eyebrow at the officer.
"Has there been any incident I should know about, Mr. Gillette?"
The lieutenant looked a little sheepish, touched his cheek and winced.
"Razor, Sir. This morning. Rough seas."
Norrington returned his attention to the papers on his desk, shaking his head.
"You should be more careful, Mr. Gillette. It's very difficult to wear a wig if one's ears are missing."
"I'll try not to cut off anything of importance, Sir. But it would be handy if there was a safety razor. Maybe with a disposable blade," Gillette said, the latter part more to himself than to the captain.
"And it would also be very handy if ships could fly. I do know what I would find very handy right now, though: if you'd return to your duties, Mr. Gillette," Norrington replied, without looking up. "Please return at 2 bells of the first dog watch - sharp."
* * *
Ragetti's random notes: "Gillette, fetch them irons" is, hands down, the most clever product placement in movie history, and deserves a corny punch line in this story. No more razor jokes from now on, my word on it.
Also a first and last word on wigs: very expensive. Very likely kept on the shelf while at sea, only worn on official occasions.
|CHAPTER 1: The Joyful Molly
by Molly Joyful