"Si tu m'aime, suive-moi."
If you love me, follow me.

"Will, my lad, you should take a break or the spy-glass might stick to your eyeball permanently."

Jack slapped Will amicably on the back, catching the telescope elegantly when the young man stumbled and dropped it. Gibbs rolled his eyes.

Will was tired, grumpy and worried. Not a sail of the Joyful Molly in sight, and with every hour that passed, James Norrington's chances of survival shrunk - if he ever had any such chances in the first place, that was. Thanks to the ever-helpful Ragetti, Will was now well informed about Captain Logan's reputation. Even if Will believed Jack's assurances that half of Ragetti's tales were sailor's yarn- and he really wanted to believe them! this left him with enough grisly tales to scare the living daylights out of him.

"We're goin' to have foul weather," Gibbs stated, pointing up at the sky with its yellowish clouds. "Go an' give a hand to Marty, Will. This is goin' to be quite a ride for us and the ol' girl."

Jack lovingly patted the railing of the Black Pearl. She was rolling under their feet, the sea had decided to give them a shake. Will wasn't afraid of the storm; if there was one thing he could be sure of where Jack was concerned then it was his capability of commanding a ship.

Jack yelled his commands, sending the crew hurrying to prepare for the storm.

"The Joyful Molly must be somewhere close by, if we haven't been lied at, which is very likely, considering that it was one of your friends who gave us the information."

"Will, trust me, we'll find the girl. And the man. Men. All of them."

"I'm beginning to doubt that."

"I know I ask a lot of you, but try to think logically, lad. Logan makes no prisoners. He doesn't need another ship. He has a parrot, so he doesn't need a commodore. What does this tell us?"

Jack looked at Will expectantly, but he only got the usual confused look and sighed.

"It's not about the ship and not about the commodore, but about something else, Will."


"Means Logan wants somethin' the commodore knows or owns, savvy?"

"But what could Ja- Norrington possibly have or know that could be of any use to a pirate?"

"Again you don't look at the matter from the right angle. The question you have to ask yourself is: what could James the man possibly have or know that could be of any use to someone who would pay a pirate to get it for him?"

Will paled.

"Oh my God - Cutler Beckett? Me? The compass?"

He grabbed Jack by the lapels of his coat and shook him.

"Do you think it's him? Cutler Beckett? Do you think he did this? Do you? I'll kill him! I'll cut him in two! I'll tear him to pieces! I - I -"

Jack freed himself of Will's grip and straightened out his coat.

"Yes, you will do terrible, terrible things to him, but let's start with the beginnin', eh? Have you already considered what you're going to do if we should find the Molly?"

"Well - we take her back, of course! Free Norrington and his - git. Then we return home and do - well - something. About Cutler Beckett, that is."

"So you're going to sail the Joyful Molly home, manned with nobody but you, Norrington and his second? That's my boy! That's the spirit! Three men for a battle ship!"

Jack had a point there, Will had to admit.

"There's Elizabeth..." he began, but Jack interrupted him with a sweeping gesture of his hand.

"Who will not join you. If there's any crow's nest she has to sit in, it will be mine. Ours. The Pearl's, I mean. That leaves you with two officers. I'm sorry to disappoint you, Will, but that won't work. Looks like ol'Norrington will have to send out his Manchester to press-gang some crew members."

"He would never do that!" Will protested.

Jack and Gibbs both laughed.

"Sure he would. You've spent too much time in that smithy of yours, Will! Just ask the formidable Mr. Gibbs here, he can tell you all about it!"

Gibbs nodded.

"The captain's right, Will. How did you think they'd get their ships manned?"

"But... how can that be done?"

"Oh, very easy," Gibbs explained. "Let me tell you how the Navy works, lad. First word goes out that they're lookin' for men. Of course there will be volunteers and men who've already served under the captain, but never enough. So the captain tells his lieutenants how many men he needs and then he sends them on shore. They catch what they can get and that's it."

"James would never do that!"

Jack and Gibbs exchanged an exasperated look.

"Will my boy - he does. Every captain does it. That's the way the Navy works. Now I'm not sayin' it's nice, and I'm sayin' it might be wrong though it's fine by the law, but what can you do? You have ships, you have wars, you need men. Look at that man of yours, Groves do you think he joined the Navy by free will?"

"He didn't?" Will asked with a small voice.

Gibbs shook his head.

"No. I remember that well, was my last year servin' in the Navy. We've ran into pirates and the ship was badly damaged, we lost many, many men. Poor bastards - only one lieutenant left, and then Gillette, few weeks shy of his exams. In the next port, Norrington sent them out to find replacements, and I tell you, I've never seen one like Gillette. Quite the terrier he was, even back then, sniffed out all the hidin' places! He dragged in all Norrington asked for, and then some, that young one! And good men, Will, not the drunkards or the cowards! Groves was still wet behind his ears, but after a bit of wailin' he settled in and got quite fond of the life as a soldier. And look at him, quite a career he's made! Guess he'll be the one who finds the crews, I guess, what with Gillette being number one now."

Will was devastated.

"But you can't just go and catch people and make them work for you against their will!"

Jack laughed without mirth.

"Of course you can. It's called slavery, my lad, and the British Empire wouldn't be what it is today without it. Once you meet our esteemed James Norrington again, you can discuss that interestin' moral dilemma with him. But first we have to make it through that storm. Go with Mr. Gibbs now, Will."

Will stared for a moment out on the sea. Then he nodded.

"I really seem to be the simpleton everybody thinks me to be."

"No, Will. You've got a good head on your shoulders, suppose you're just blissfully ignorant at times."

"But all this aside, Jack - I don't understand why they took Gillette as well. He knows nothing about me or the compass."

"He also doesn't know anythin' about my correctional actions against members of my crew who don't follow my orders."

Will understood the hint and hurried to do as he was told. At least this would take his mind of Norrington's fate for a while.

Jack made his way to the helm and Anamaria, who stood behind the steering wheel.

"He's not the brightest pebble on the beach that boy, now is he?" she asked, frowning in Will's direction.

"Will is a good man," Jack said, putting his hand on the weather-beaten steering wheel. "And sometimes, ignorance is a blessin', mate."

* * *

Ragetti's random notes: yes, men were pressed into serving in the Royal Navy. There was no other way of manning ships during war time. Cruel? Yes, very often. Unheard of? Tons of countries, including mine, would draft men if there was a crisis, and we're talking about the 21st century here. Then there was slave trade. It's a fantasy movie, and I don't expect a history-documentation, but please be aware of these facts before enrolling in the fan club of the East India Trading Company, even if Disney didn't feel like emphasising that unimportant little detail in the movies.

Also - and I know I sound like a broken record here (for old schoolers) or like a chipped CD: THE ROYAL NAVY WAS NOT THE SAME AS THE EAST INDIA (TRADING) COMPANY. Lord Cutler Beckett didn't come aboard a man-of-war in Port Royal and cheerfully explained "HAY GUYS UR IN TH EITC NOW!" and handed out friggin' ugly IKEA uniforms to everybody. George knows how to dress, he'd chosen a more flattering combination. Mauve and ecru, maybe...

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Dramatis Personae
The Stories
CHAPTER 12: The Ways Of The Navy
by Molly Joyful