|"Pour avoir trop convoité, on laisse tout échapper."
All coveted, all lost.
"Try at least to pretend that you're entertained, Mr. Groves. I'm doing my best to distract poor Mrs. Norrington from her great sorrow."
Groves, who was bored out of his skull and had a hard time keeping his eyes open, startled and snapped to attention.
"Yes, my lord. My apologies. I'm - very entertained."
Lord Cutler Beckett sighed. If it hadn't been for the importance of obtaining that compass, he'd by now sorely regretted his plan. What a dreary evening - no James Norrington to glare at him across the room, no Gillette railing. He could only hope Norrington would tell Logan all he knew quickly, then the two officers could return. Well, Gillette returning was the main point, he could do without Norrington. Groves was a good officer and capable replacement for Gillette but, unfortunately, he was not amusing in the least.
"You must be worried for your friend, Mr. Groves."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Mr. Gillette. He's a friend of yours, so I understand?"
"Ehr - yes. Yes, yes, we are, I suppose. Friends, I mean."
"Very good. Then you can certainly tell me a little bit about our fine lieutenant."
Groves didn't feel on par with the cunning lord, and the prospect of an interrogation by Cutler Beckett was not a pleasant one for him. And it was an interrogation rather than an attempt at small talk, that was obvious.
"There is really not much to tell, my lord. We both just serve here. Have a drink or two once in a while. Those things."
"Ah, I see, I see. I take it you're acquainted with his family?"
"Me? No, my lord. As far as I know, he doesn't have a family."
Cutler Beckett began to get impatient.
"Good grief, Mr. Groves, despite his behaviour, I doubt Mr. Gillette hatched from a dragon's egg. He must have come from somewhere, and if it was an orphanage! I'm merely asking because his family has to be informed, you see?"
Groves, who was far brighter than Cutler Beckett gave him credit for, saw indeed. Lord Cutler Beckett wouldn't have asked him these questions at a soiree if he could perfectly well have ordered somebody else to ask them while on duty. The bastard was curious about Thomas Gillette, that was all there was.
"Yes, my lord, he certainly had a family at one point, but none that I know of. He's from Scotland, I think. But he never talked about his family."
"Scotland? How interesting, that explains the accent. I wonder if he owns a kilt. Very well then, thank you for your time, Mr. Groves. I'm sure Mrs. Heath would be delighted if you'd take the time to ask her lovely daughter Diane for a dance. With Mr. Gillette temporarily absent, the poor lady feels a little neglected, I'm afraid."
"Yes, my lord. Certainly my lord," Groves replied, looking like one condemned to hang from the gallows. But he obeyed and headed for Miss Heath, not without making a beeline for the punch bowl first, though. For some tasks, a man needed support.
"May I have a moment of your time, my lord?"
Alan Mercer had waited for Groves to leave before approaching his lord. His face was the usual mask of indifference, but there was something in his eyes that Lord Cutler Beckett had never seen there before: fear. Cutler Beckett had an eerie feeling, so he tried to make light of the matter.
"Ah, Mr. Mercer. I'm very pleased to see you decided to join our merry company. And as we're already talking about merry things: is there any news?"
Mercer looked uncomfortable.
"Yes, my lord. I have news. Unfortunately not of the pleasant kind. The Joyful Molly has been captured by the Black Pearl."
"The - Black Pearl?"
"Yes, my lord."
Cutler Beckett needed a moment to allow this information to sink in. Just what in the devil's name had Jack Sparrow to do with this matter? It couldn't be a coincidence that, of all the ships sailing the Caribbean sea, the Black Pearl had attacked the Molly!
"What about - the men?"
Mercer knew what Cutler Beckett wanted to know, but he feared that the answer might cost him his head, so he felt entitled at least to some amusement beforehand, and decided to keep his lordship on tenterhooks.
"Captain Logan and his men were marooned on an island, where they were found by some gentlemen who work for us, my lord. Captain Sparrow obviously split his crew, one half sailing off with the Black Pearl, the other, under his command, taking over the Joyful Molly. You might be interested to hear that he was in company of a very much alive Will Turner and Miss Swann."
"So that's where she hides. I can't say that I'm surprised. What about our two brave officers?"
That was the question Mercer had been dreading. He put on his most worried face and lowered his voice to a compassionate whisper.
"I'm afraid they're both dead, my lord. It looks like Captain Logan hasn't followed through with my instructions in every aspect. As a consequence, both Mr. Norrington and Mr. Gillette were badly injured. They attempted to flee near the Cayman Islands and drowned."
Lord Cutler Beckett stared down at the glass of wine in his hand. Dead - both of them? He should have felt disappointment over the failed plan, be angry about the throwback and make a new plan to catch up with Will Turner. After all, he had been right and the man was alive.
But to his great surprise, he only felt loss, an emotion he had thought not to exist in his life. Drowned - a suitable end for an officer of the Royal Navy. While he stood here, holding pointless conversations, the remains of Thomas Gillette were floating somewhere at the bottom of the ocean, algae in his hair. James Norrington, no doubt, would be rotting somewhere close by.
"This is most unfortunate. Mr. Mercer, but we have to find Mr. Turner. Alive. I assume Mr. Logan is back aboard his ship?"
"Yes, my lord. The Banshee is on her way to Tortuga. Shall I entrust him with the search?"
"Find somebody else, there are enough pirates out there, some even wearing the King's colours. I want Logan dead. Logan and his crew, all of them. I want to see them hanging here in Port Royal. Not one may escape. No, wait a moment, no hanging for Logan. String him up in the gibbet. I want his death to be long and painful, and I want to enjoy it. God knows we're not having enough entertainment here. Maybe we should hang Miss Heath next to him, I'm sure Mr. Groves would appreciate it."
Mercer was relieved that Cutler Beckett hadn't asked for his head on a plate, but the lord's merriment was obviously forced. For the next few minutes, Cutler Beckett was lost in thoughts, then he closed his eyes and steepled his fingers.
"Boule, boule su l'keyere
Boule, boule par terre.
Y n'a nuz homme en Angleterre
It didn't happen often, but at times, Cutler Beckett managed to surprise even Alan Mercer.
"I beg your pardon, my lord?"
"I know, I know. Shakespeare would be more fitting for this occasion, but alas... Mr. Mercer, I want you to take all the King's men and head for the Cayman Islands. You'll leave first thing in the morning."
"The Cayman Islands? Yes, my lord, but - what am I supposed to do there?"
Cutler Beckett took a swig of the excellent French wine, then held the glass into the light of a candle to enjoy its dark red colour.
"What a stupid question, Mr. Mercer. I want you to look for Mr. Gillette."
* * *
Ragetti's random notes: "Boule, boule" means translated something along the lines of "Boule, Boule on the bench. Boule, Boule on the ground. There's no man in England who can restore him." In other words: it's the French equivalent to
"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again."
I always thought that was one hell of a scary nursery rhyme. But Lord Cutler Beckett, no doubt, enjoyed it greatly as a boy.
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|CHAPTER 21: Lost And Gone
by Molly Joyful