|Author's note: reading "QUID PRO QUO" first before you tackle this chapter might be helpful, but it's not absolutely necessary.
"Il n'y a que la vérité qui blesse."
Nothing hurts as much as the truth.
"Clap on more sail, you dogs!" Gibbs yelled. The Black Pearl had made it through the storm with only minor damage. Will could hear the hammering of the carpenter, replacing some boards.
"I wish you'd have use for a blacksmith," he said to Jeremiah Peters. The chubby old man sat on a pile of ropes, mending a piece of torn canvas. "I feel useless."
"There, lad, one never knows when ones talents come in handy. And you're swabbin' the deck just fine."
"If I only were a sailor," Will sighed.
"I'm afraid you're not made to be a tar, Will. You're a hopeless case!"
"I learned a lot!" Will protested.
"Oh now did you? Sure you did! Right then, what's that up there, eh?"
"A - sail?"
"Yes, sure, fine, a sail, but what sort of sail?"
"A ... triangular sail?"
Peters shook his head.
"See, that's what I'm sayin'. It's the flyin' jib."
"Ah. Well, I knew that."
"Sure, sure. And the next?"
"It's a ... wait I know that, a ... thingy... sail..."
Will broke off and sighed, while Jeremiah laughed.
"You're right; I'll never be a sailor."
"But you're a good blacksmith, or so I've heard. Takes all kind to make a world, Will. Come, sit here with me, boy, and I'll show you how to mend one of them 'thingies'."
Will followed the invitation. He liked Peters, who always had a friendly word for him and knew the most hackneyed stories. If one were to believe him, the Ocean was full of mermaids and giant beasts, only waiting for unlucky seamen to cross their paths. Peters had been in the Royal Navy, just like Gibbs.
Will often wondered what had driven those men to switch sides. With Gibbs it was his drinking, which had been more of the Royal Navy's problem than his, for he was quite happy with it. Will found it hard to see Peters as a pirate. He was too old and tired to really do much about the ship, but yet Jack kept him. Will had once mentioned it to Jack, who had only shrugged.
"I collect the human jetsam the Royal Navy leaves behind. Just wait and see, one fine day your commodore will climb the riggin' of the Black Pearl."
Will had his doubts about that.
He watched with fascination how the gnarled fingers of the old man used needle and thread, making swift work. He tried to copy Peters' movements, and while the outcome wasn't perfect, his work was acceptable.
"Not bad, not bad. I think we don't have to throw you overboard yet, Will. Say, hope you don't mind me askin', but what are we're really on about? The captain's tight lipped, and I'm curious," Peters asked.
"Commodore Norrington is a friend of mine, and he's been captured by pirates and now we're out to save him. Well, that's at least my reason for being here. Jack's reason is to capture the gold of the pirates we're hunting. At least that was his reason ten minutes ago, might have changed in the meantime."
"Heard about that. Captain Logan's a bad piece of work, Will. That won't be easy."
Peters bit off a piece of yarn and spat it out. "Odd story, that. How comes you're friends with a commodore?"
"Same way I stopped being an enemy of Jack's - it just happened."
"Life's funny, eh? Look at me, all in rags and a pirate, but would you think my boy's in the Navy? And not just some sailor, he made it officer, and a commissioned one at that!"
Will was touched by Peters' obvious pride.
"I didn't know you have a son, Jeremiah."
"Eh, he's not really my son. Sort of found and kept him. But to me and my old girl, may she rest in peace, he's been like our own."
"Does he know what you're doing here?"
"Guess he does. Not sayin' he likes it, mind you. But I owe him my life. Cutler Beckett that bloody bastard wanted to hang us all, but my boy let me go. He's a great lad."
Will arched an eyebrow.
"Cutler Beckett? So your - son is an officer stationed in Port Royal? Who let you escape?"
"Aye. He's probably also out there right now lookin' for your friend. So don't worry, lad, if we don't find your man, they will."
Will starred at Peters, biting his lip.
"Maybe I've seen your son. What does he look like?" he asked hesitantly.
"Heh, you wouldn't miss him! Tall lad, red hair, quick temper. I've been told he's goin' by the name of Thomas now." He giggled. "Thomas Gillette, the dog! My old girl used to call him 'Gillette le pom-pon'."
"He'd shoot anybody callin' him by that name. You know him, Will?" Peters asked hopeful.
Will put canvas, yarn and needle aside.
"I do, Jeremiah. But I'm afraid I have bad news for you. He's the officer that has been captured by Logan along with Commodore Norrington."
"That can't be! I'd know, nobody ever mentioned that!"
"I guess that's my fault, I've only ever been worried for Norrington, Jeremiah. Gillette is not really a friend of mine, you see?"
Peters faltered. Will thought he could see him age at least ten years within seconds, and though Gillette's misfortune was not his fault, he felt oddly guilty about the whole matter.
"The world only ever cares for the commodores, I guess. So Logan's got my boy, aye? Hope he'll sell his skin at a good price. He's a tough one, you know? Should have seen him when he was still a lad. Not afraid of anybody or anythin'."
"He's certainly a good man," Will said. To his great surprise, he actually believed it.
"Will, you're not goin' to leave him behind, are you? I mean, I know the chances are slim and everythin', and Logan's an evil dog, but please, if there's a chance to get my boy out..."
"I promise," Will said. "If there's a chance, I'll seize it."
"Thank you, Will. You never know what it might be good for, they say you meet everybody twice."
"I think you shouldn't..." Will began, but then he was interrupted by the cry of the look-out, high up from the crow's nest.
"Ship ahead! Ship ahead!"
Will jumped up and ran to Jack, who was already looking through the telescope. Elizabeth stood next to him, shading her eyes against the sun.
"Jack! A ship!" he cried.
"You're not sayin'," Jack murmured, squinting his eyes. "It's not just a ship, Will my boy. It's a frigate of the Royal Navy."
He passed the telescope to Will, who was so excited that his hands trembled. It took him two attempts to look through the glass, then he jumped in the air like a child upon receiving a gift.
"It's the Joyful Molly! Jack, we've found her! It's the Molly!"
Jack took the telescope back and yelled his commands.
"Clap on all sails! Clear the decks for action!"
He then turned to Elizabeth.
"Off the deck with you. Can't use any womenfolk loiterin' around here when we're fightin'."
She huffed and protested.
"You can't send me off like a little girl!"
"Course I can. Could you hold that glass for a minute without droppin' it, Will my boy? Thank you."
Without further discussions, Jack threw the protestin' Elizabeth over his shoulder, carried her back to his cabin like a sack of flour and threw her on his cot.
"Now you'll stay right here, keep your hands off my rum and wait till I return. No yellin', no escapes through the window, nothin'. Savvy?"
Elizabeth threw a cushion after him.
"How dare you!"
"Now, now, my little moray. I admit I don't know if we'll manage to win that battle if you're not there to pelt Longneck Logan with cushions, but we'll try our best, I promise. Cross my heart."
"You Scottish bastard!"
"Irish, luv. Irish."
She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.
"Irish, Scottish, English - you're all the same bastards to me!"
"I dare you standin' on a table in a tavern in Glasgow and repeat that, Beth my girl," Jack grinned. Then he hurried out, locking the door behind him.
* * *
"My apologies for interruptin' our conversation, Will. Elizabeth is a bit difficult at times. Now you be a good boy and help with the guns, we need every man down there."
"But - but you can't fire at the Molly!" Will protested. "You might kill James!"
"And I might kill you if you don't do as you're told immediately, Will my lad."
Jack grasped Will by the arm.
"Now just for once listen to me, William: try to be less obvious. Some things are sometimes frowned upon even on a pirate ship, savvy?"
"What do you mean?" Will asked, trying to free his arm. Jack's fingers dug painfully in his flesh.
"I mean that I'm well aware what you and Norrington the man have been doin' on that bloody island. My fault I guess, we should have just thrown you overboard. Should have seen that comin', two men alone on an island for months, and one of them you, with those eyes. But you must learn to shut up when needed and keep your calm. What good would it do if we saved your wig there only to see the two of you hangin' from the gallows because you didn't know how to be discreet?"
Will's heart skipped a beat. Jack knew, good grief! Had he really been that obvious?
"Jack, it's not..."
"Will, not every man on this ship shares my views on that matter. Do you want your own men to shoot you in the back? Maybe in two hundred years from now, people won't care anymore, though I doubt it, as mankind is stupid by default. But right here and now, there's no way for blacksmiths and commodores to live happily ever after, at least not in public! The Black Pearl is a ship, Will, not a bloody Molly House!"
Jack let go of Will.
"Go help with the cannons," he repeated his order.
There was no reply. Will just gave Jack a very confused and hurt look, then turned and left.
"Joyful Molly - that's one aptly named ship if I've ever seen one," Jack muttered to himself.
* * *
Ragetti's random notes: "Joyful Molly" is a wordplay. The ship was, of course, named after some joyful girl called "Molly", but "Molly" was also an 18th century term for a gay man. A "Molly House" was a place where Mollies would meet. My website is an 18th century gay bar, hah!
|CHAPTER 14: Old Tar
by Molly Joyful