Davy Jones leaned over his pipe organ, but was in no mood to play it. Instead, he listened to his music box, twin to Tia Dalma’s, and thought about his predicament. His heart was no longer safe. When he had placed in the chest all those years ago, he had thought no one could reach it. There it would lie unbreakable by a woman’s wiles, or by the sting of a cold steel blade. When he had first placed it in the chest, he had been able to sense where it was, but that awareness had faded as the years passed, until he could no longer feel it, but could only remember where it was buried.
Hope had returned momentarily when whoever had taken it had plunged it into the ocean, because since then, awareness had been renewed along with his wrath at the thief. He had called up a storm, but when the ocean had been dried from the heart, he found that he lost his grip upon it once more. Now it was lost and just a matter of time before whoever had stolen it used it against him.
After the theft, Davy Jones had had the first mate flog the traitor Bootstrap Bill, one hundred lashes; the harshest punishment he had ever lain upon one of his crew. Then, he had Bootstrap locked in the brig, where he still languished. Now word had it Bootstrap was dying from his wounds. Davy Jones was glad. Let the traitor rot; because of him, the heart was gone.
Davy Jones didn’t want to die. He had forestalled death for such a long time; he knew that when his end came, his own judgment would subsequently be harsh. He had only felt this vulnerable once, when he had been in love. Her name was Dalma and he had met her during his last once-in-a-decade walk on land. He chose Isla Cruces because it was out-of-the-way, yet had a few people with whom the less fishy and therefore less frightening of the crew could trade.
A little way out from the island, they dropped anchor and rowed longboats into shore. Within a few mintues, the island dwellers came out to greet them. Isla Cruces had a small inland town with a mill, a church, a blacksmith, a tavern and some residences. The population was a mix of native peoples, French, Spanish, Dutch, and British settlers and a few slaves. It was a small island, and people grew some sugar and tobacco to sell, and fished, but it was hardly a thriving commercial center.
When the island dwellers saw the marine-featured crew, some fled in fear, but many of the braver and more curious stayed, particularly the women folk. Both his crew and the villagers had things to trade with each other, so a makeshift market developed right on the beach. Davy Jones himself haggled with the best of them, enjoying the interaction with the natives. As he surveyed the wares, he developed an overwhelming feeling of being watched. He turned and saw a young woman looking at him curiously, but with no outward sign of revulsion. He went back to his work, but then, after a few moments, glanced up again. She hadn’t moved. He looked at her longer this time. She stood about twenty feet away from him in the shade of a palm tree.
He didn’t want to seem rude, but he couldn’t help but stare at her. Her skin was smooth and brown, like fine, polished mahogany. Her eyes twinkled merrily and her mouth was curled up in a droll and mischievous smile. Her hair hung long and dark about her shoulders and she wore necklaces and bracelets and even anklets of shells. If Davy Jones had been able to describe her in one word at that moment, that one word would have been fresh. She was young and alive and full of promise.
A particularly tenacious child trying to sell him some worthless trinket distracted him. When he looked back up, his island beauty had disappeared and Davy Jones began to wonder if he had just imagined her. In the evening, when trading had been concluded to everyone’s satisfaction, Davy Jones and the crew walked with the natives into the town, with the destination of the one tavern, a ramshackle building called the Red Harpoon. He heard the carousing and the fiddle from outside, but before he could walk in, he noticed a flash of movement out of the corner of his eye. He looked in the direction he had seen it.
There was a house a few doors down from the Red Harpoon and across the street. A figure walked around the building carrying a jar. It was the woman from the beach. Davy Jones stopped in his tracks and so did the woman.
“Cap’n? Be you comin’?” The first mate held the door open.
“No, I…I’ll be there in a minute.” He didn’t take his eyes from the woman. She smiled at him and inclined her head slightly. Davy Jones didn’t need to be asked twice. He strode down the street and stopped in front of her. They were outside of her house, and Davy Jones pushed the door open for her so she could get in with her hands full.
“T’ank you,” she said politely, her voice sweetened with the accent of her people. “Cohme in, please.”
He followed her into her house, where she set the jar down on a table next to the door. The house was small, but clean, with one room. There was a pallet in the corner, and a table with two chairs in the middle. Simple sconces graced the walls, each of which lit her dark skin with golden light.
“My name’s Jones. David Jones, but everyone calls me Davy Jones.”
“Daveh Jowens, de Daveh Jowens? Ownah’ of de very ocean?” she said. Her teeth were very white in the darkness of her face, and the beauty of her smile made his head spin.
He bowed to her. “The very same one.”
“You be p’lite, in spite of you’ reputation, Daveh,” she said.
Davy Jones smiled slightly. “You mean for a monstrous pirate and demon-possessed scourge of the seas?”
Dalma raised an eyebrow. “You be a p’lite monstah-pirate, den?”
“I mustn’t be too ferocious; you invited me into your house.”
“I am curious, Daveh, I wan’ted to meet you. Evah syince I was a chile’, I have been tole’ de stories, de legends. An’ here you ah, in my town. Wha t’was I suppose’ to do, let you syail away widdout meeting you?”
“Well, I’m curious about you, you know.”
She puttered around in a cabinet and pulled out two clay mugs and a bottle of rum, pouring them both a draught, and then she sat at the table and gestured for him to join her.
“I was a healah among my people. Den I come here to care for my sistah, but she die’ abou’ two months back.”
Davy Jones tentacled features adopted a look of concern. “Oh, I’m sorry to hear it.”
“It was good; she was sick an’ in pain. She were so young, my sistah…Now, I jus’ am waiting to go bahck to my people.” She took a sip of her rum, and a look of sadness crossed her brow.
“What’s to stop you?”
She smiled. “No ship, Daveh. D’is a small islan’. We don’ get many ships who lan’ here. Any governor here is bein’ punished by somebody.”
“Do you want to sail away with me?” he asked, half joking, “Of course, you’d have to stay on my ship forever, but I wouldn’t mind your presence.”
She grinned. “No, but t’ank you. It is not yet my time to leave, an’ I don’ know how I woul’ do on a shyip for all time.”
“I understand,” Davy Jones said, wrapping his tentacles around the cup and quaffing its contents. “Tell me about the island you’re from.” They spent the next couple of hours talking about everything and nothing and he found that he felt closer to her than he had felt to anyone. For her part, she seemed interested in Davy Jones’ tales of the sea and his stories. He told her about the pet octopus he had had as a child off the coast of Scotland (“I named him Cracker, bloody stupid name, but the beastie did like his crackers”) and of his crew and their stories. He also told her which myths about him were true and which were embellished. All the while, the two of them emptied a bottle of rum, becoming more and more boisterous.
“You’re a beauty, you know, Dalma.” He reached across the table and touched her hand.
“T’ank you, Daveh.” Rather than recoiling from the tentacle, she stroked it lazily.
“You make me wish I could go on land more than once in a decade,” Davy Jones sighed.
“So we only have tonigh’, den?”
“I’m afraid so, my love.”
“Den…we shoul’ make it somet’ing to las’ you until de nex’ time you cohme on shore.”
She gave him all of herself that night and her generosity overwhelmed him. When he left her in the morning, he told her that he loved her and that his offer stood.
“You would be immortal, and we could endure together forever. I would be yours and you would be mine.” He knew that his words smacked of desperation, but love was one thing he had had to give up in trade for his ownership of the ocean. Dalma had not said she loved him back, but Davy Jones would never give up on her and he told her so. Before the Flying Dutchman sailed the next day, he gave her a heart-shaped music box that matched one he had, and told her that if she ever changed her mind, she was to throw it into the ocean and it would call him back to wherever she was.
He sailed that morning and watched Isla Cruces get smaller and smaller, and with it, his prospects at happiness and companionship.
In the organ room, Davy Jones wept, inky black tears that splashed on the pitted keys. He reached out with a tentacle and wound the music box once more, hearing its sad melody tinkle out and echo into the cavernous room. He had thought with his heart gone, he wouldn’t feel anything. It was almost true; he didn’t feel anything: anything but misery.
“I think we need to talk,” Will muttered to Elizabeth as he grabbed her by the arm tighter than necessary. Elizabeth looked up at him. His gaze was bright, almost feverish and his jaw set. She stood from her chair and followed him out onto the veranda. Will stood at the railing and gazed out into the bayou, which had started to lighten with the dawn.
Elizabeth rubbed her sore eyes, exhausted. She didn’t feel like having a confrontation with her fiancé right now, but Will did not look willing to wait. She had seen his temper flare before this and didn’t feel like being on the receiving end so she complied. “What is it?” she asked as gently as she could although she felt like screaming at him.
“You kissed Jack,” he said simply. Elizabeth watched him grip the rail so hard his hands shook.
She swallowed hard. “Yes, I kissed him,” she answered. “What of it?” She saw no point in denying it. Perhaps if she attached no significance to it, neither would he.
Will spun around and faced her. “What of it? What of it? You’re my fiancée. You should be kissing no one but me.” He clenched his fists.
Elizabeth’s heart hammered in her chest, but she remained calm. “It meant nothing, Will,” she said quietly.
“Am I supposed to believe that? After what you did to—.” He broke off.
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “Did to whom?” she asked. “Did to James? Is that what you were going to say?”
Will kicked at the floorboards of the veranda and said nothing.
“You’re thinking it’s just a matter of time before I do something like that to you, aren’t you?”
“Well, if the shoe fits,” he muttered.
Elizabeth’s jaw dropped. “That is so very unfair,” she said. “I chose you over James and you’re repaying me by calling me fickle.”
“No,” said Will, still looking at the floor, “You chose Jack over Norrington. You said you chose me, but your actions have proven otherwise.”
“By one kiss? By one kiss I have proven that I love Jack more than I love you?”
Will looked up at her. “One kiss is one kiss too many, Elizabeth,” he said.
“It meant nothing,” she fired at him.
“You’d say that anyway, even if it had meant everything to you,” Will spat back.
“Well, it didn’t,” she retorted. “I did it to save you and the entire crew of the Pearl.”
“What?” Will screwed his eyebrows together in bafflement.
Elizabeth licked her lips. “It was the only way to keep him still long enough to shackle him to the mast so we could make our getaway.”
Will’s mouth opened slightly.
Elizabeth dropped her voice. “Do you really think Jack would stay and face the kraken voluntarily? This is Jack Sparrow we’re speaking of, looking out for Jack Sparrow and none other. Those fools in there: Gibbs, Cotton, Marty, even you all thought Jack made the ultimate sacrifice for the crew.” She laughed mirthlessly. “You’re all wrong about him.”
Will gaped, and then swallowed. “Even if that were the case…you still want to go to him. I can see it.” He looked hurt. “And you’re right; this must have been exactly what Norrington felt when you chose me. No wonder he wanted to kill me on Isla Cruces.”
“Don’t you dare bring that up,” she hissed. “Do you think it was easy to for me to hamstring him publicly after he sacrificed so much for me, and in fact for you too? I’ve known James since I was eight and now he may never forgive me.” She shook her head. “I never loved him, but I was fond of him and it gave me no great joy to hurt him like that.”
“Strange how it didn’t seem to pain you until now.” Will looked at her coldly.
Elizabeth sighed. She approached him and took his hand. “Please believe me, Will. I love you.”
He looked down at her. “If that’s true, abandon this mission. Let Tia Dalma, Gibbs, and Barbossa go after Jack and the Pearl and come away with me. Forget about Jack.”
Elizabeth’s mouth trembled and she looked away. “I—I can’t do that, Will.”
Will pulled away from her, disgusted. “I thought not,” he said. He turned and started back into the house, then paused at the threshold, holding onto the doorframe with both hands. “I’ll go too,” he said. He turned and looked over his shoulder at her. “But not for you. I still hold out hope for my father. That’s why I’ll go.”
“And when I see Norrington again, we’ll have a long conversation over a bottle of rum,” he cut her off, then released the doorframe and walked back into the house, leaving her gaping after him.
It took fully a week to inventory the Huntress and transfer her receipts over to Norrington. The East India Company brought new meaning to the word “accountability,” with painstaking attention to every detail of property ownership. Norrington hadn’t seen Captain Fisher since his last voyage on the ship, but didn’t spare him a thought. Norrington did worry about Beckett, however. In the seven days Norrington and, to a lesser extent, Beckett had been working out the paperwork of making the Huntress Norrington’s ship, Beckett had fallen progressively more ill.
At first it was a discreet cough behind a lace handkerchief, but by Sunday, he sent Mercer out to meet with Norrington as, apparently, he could not rise from his bed. Norrington, concerned, followed Mercer back to Beckett’s mansion adjacent to the East India Company headquarters. They walked the miles of polished parquet floors, past stern marble busts and oil paintings. The place seemed already to have a shroud of silence draped around it, as if the house prematurely accepted its master’s demise.
The steward posted outside the door to Beckett’s chamber opened the door for Mercer and he went in. Norrington waited in the hallway for a minute, then Mercer came to the door and jerked his head sharply, indicating Beckett’s approval for Norrington’s entrance. Norrington walked by him into the darkened room. The curtains were drawn and the windows shut, rendering the room close and stiffling hot.
Beckett seemed even more diminutive than usual in the massive canopy bed, the down comforter pulled up to his unshaven chin. Huge, dark shadows had collected under his cold and calculating eyes. He had taken off his wig and his short, dark hair was plastered to his brow. Norrington approached him. “How do you feel, milord?” he asked quietly.
“I feel…” Beckett’s pale lips formed the words and then trailed off, his eyelids fluttering. Norrington grabbed a gilt chair and pulled it up to the bed.
“What brought this on?” he asked, sitting.
Beckett’s eyes opened once more and he looked at Norrington. “She did,” he answered clearly, then stared back at the ceiling again, “with her powers. I dream of her, you know. I wronged her once; I knew it then and I know it now and she seeks her revenge. I’m just surprised it took her this long to take it, spiteful witch.”
Beckett stared at the ceiling, then closed his eyes slowly. Suddenly, he opened them and turned his head in Norrington’s direction.
“I can trust you, can’t I?” Beckett asked, searching Norrington’s face.
Beckett stared at the ceiling once more. “No one else has come to see me, you know. No one but you and Mister Mercer. But I pay him well. If someone were to pay him better, Mercer would visit him instead.” Beckett laughed weakly.
Norrington said nothing.
“If I die…” Beckett shook his head.
“Don’t say that, milord. You’ll recover.”
Beckett ignored him. “If I die, someone will fill my place like water filling a hole in the sand. But it can’t be you.” He glanced at Norrington once more. “You’re not ruthless enough.”
They were both silent.
“Is there aught that you need, milord?” Norrington asked.
Beckett shook his head. “I regret nothing,” he said in answer, then clenched his jaw. His eyelids fluttered once more and then closed as he fell asleep. Norrington stood quietly and left the room. The moment he was out Beckett’s house, he breathed in deep, glad of the fresh air. The sun had started to set, but Norrington had one more call to make.
He walked in the direction of the Governor’s mansion. On the day he had returned to Port Royal, he had finally cleaned up after a year of looking like a common scoundrel. The beard had gone, and the ragged uniform had been carefully put away. It was rife with ticks and other fauna, but Norrington could not bear to part with it. So he had it washed by the inn’s chambermaid and he folded it up and put it at the bottom of a chest, along with old orders and documents from the Fort.
Because the Navy had, at one point, given him up for dead, Murtogg and Mullroy had carefully packed up his office and stored all the crates of his effects in a storage room below the armory. It had felt strange to pay a call to the fort in civilian clothes. Everyone treated him as if they did not know exactly how he should be treated, and Norrington had heard several extremely different variations on what had happened to him. Murtogg and Mullroy seemed to be the only ones who were actually happy to see him, and they gladly showed him to his things.
“Now, sir, you should know that Lord Beckett confiscated some of your belongings. Like your sword, but I guess you got that back,” Murtogg said.
“Well, Mister Murtogg, he imagined it was his prerogative, I suppose,” Norrington said absently as he looked at the crates. “You needn’t worry about any mischief on milord’s part.” He stroked the hilt of the sword, which he now wore on his left hip.
“I don’t think there’s much else missing, sir,” Mullroy put in, “but it weren’t like we could stop Lord Beckett. The senior officers divvied up your uniforms, too.”
“Well, it’s not as if I’ll use them again,” Norrington said, a little sadly, “Thank you, gentlemen, for securing these things.”
They both smiled. “Well, we’re just glad to see you alive, sir, even though Jack—ouch!“ Murtogg started, but Mullroy stepped on his foot and glared at him out of the corner of his eye.
“It’s no trouble, sir,” Mullroy said. “Would you like us to find a cart to bring it to your ship?”
“Yes, I’d appreciate it.”
They nodded to him and then went back up the stairs, whispering loudly.
“I can’t believe you said that.”
“I was just trying to make him feel better, wasn’t I?”
Norrington smirked. They weren’t the brightest marines in the fort, but they were loyal.
Later, on board the ship, he looked through his things and found everything he could remember accounting for. In fact, it seemed the sword had been the only thing Beckett had taken. The contents of the crates were mostly old orders, papers, letters, and, most precious, charts, his charts, not the Navy’s charts. They had taken him his entire naval career to acquire and they covered territory from the Spanish Main to the Azores to the coast of India and Norrington was surprised that they had not been taken. It was almost as if Beckett had known all along that Norrington would come back and end up working for him.
It was into one of these crates that Norrington placed his last uniform, looking nostalgically at the tattered braid and tarnished buttons. That life was over now, and it was time to face the future. He closed the chest and pushed it against the wall of his new cabin.
Now he walked up the Governor’s driveway. He supposed he should have ridden there, it would have been more dignified, but it hadn’t occurred to him until now, plus like most men of the sea, his relationship with horses was tenuous at best. At least he finally looked respectable with a new suit, new shoes, new wig, and new tricorne hat. He knocked on the door and a manservant in livery opened it.
“Captain Norrington,” the man greeted him, bowing.
Norrington raised an eyebrow although he really shouldn’t have been surprised that by now the Governor and his household knew of his new position. “Is the Governor in?” he asked.
“One moment, if you please, Captain.” The servant shut the door.
He reappeared a minute later. “The Governor will see you now, sir. This way please.”
Norrington removed his hat and followed him in. He had missed this way of life terribly, and for the first time, felt as if he was back in the place he was supposed to be. Something seemed amiss; like Beckett’s house, the Governor’s house was also quiet. No Elizabeth to liven it, Norrington thought. He sighed. He hadn’t thought of her in some time, much to his relief.
The servant led him to the veranda at the back of the house, where the governor sat, sipping rum and watching the sunset.
“Captain Norrington, sir,” the servant announced him. Governor Swann stood and turned, smiling broadly at Norrington. He clasped Norrington’s hand warmly and pumped it up and down.
“You can’t imagine my relief, Captain,” he said. “We heard many strange things; at first that you were dead, and then that you were alive, but had resigned your commission, and then that you were in Tortuga, of all places.” He shook his head in bewilderment. “But here you stand, and in fine form. And a captain, no less. You must be pleased.” The Governor sat and gestured for Norrington to do the same.
Norrington smiled. “I’m afraid the pleasure’s bittersweet,” he said. The servant poured him a glass of rum, and then bowed to the two of them and retreated back into the house. The moment that he disappeared, Governor Swann turned serious.
“Now, I must know: in your adventures, have you seen my daughter? Is she well?”
Norrington sipped his rum and calculated how best to answer. “She was well when last I saw her.”
“Well, where is she? What is she doing?”
Norrington sighed. He did not want to tell Governor Swann the truth, and yet he felt an obligation and fondness for the man that ensured that he would, regardless of how uncomfortable it would make both of them. He took another drink of rum. “She dresses in a gentleman’s attire and has engaged in the sweet trade.” He said it without judgment, pity, or ridicule, as if he were commenting upon the color of the sky.
Governor Swann looked dismayed and shook his finger at Norrington. “It’s all that damned blacksmith’s fault.”
“Blacksmith’s apprentice,” Norrington corrected him.
“You know who I mean, that damned Turner boy. He’s to blame for her becoming a pirate.”
“I don’t think Elizabeth would thank you for that. If you want to blame anyone, perhaps it should be Sparrow. Even William Turner was an honest lad before Sparrow showed up.”
Governor Swann sighed again. “You’re right of course. But I always say a man has a responsibility to choose his own destiny, as well as the company he keeps.”
“And what of a woman?”
“Well, that’s a different matter. Women are more mercurial creatures, more subject to flights of fancy. So they cannot help themselves. This is exactly why they go from being subject to will of their fathers to that of their husbands. Although, I would not have her choose such a husband as Turner.” He looked apologetically at Norrington who took his meaning.
“She made her choice long ago, perhaps longer ago than you and I imagine.” Norrington smiled sadly and looked down at the flagstones on the balcony. “No, I never stood a chance, really.” After a moment’s silence, he looked up again. “In any case, when I saw them last, she was with both Turner and Sparrow.”
“And that was in Tortuga.”
“No, that was off the Isla Cruces.” Norrington thought for a moment. “As a matter of personal interest, Governor, how did you hear that I was in Tortuga? I mentioned it to no one upon my return, although I suppose I wasn’t inconspicuous while I was there.”
The Governor scowled. “Cutler Beckett, Lord Beckett, if you please, told me,” he said. “He’s a manipulative, cunning, and ruthless little man, Captain, and you’d do well to rid yourself of him.” He nodded firmly at Norrington as if trying to make his own advice stick, then downed the rest of his rum and poured another.
“Yes, I have heard that said of him,” Norrington said wearily. “Nonetheless, he is my master now and I his man.”
“Strange, isn’t it, how he ensures that men become beholden to him who otherwise might not be.” Governor Swann looked out to sea once more. “Even I find myself in that position, and if I breach loyalty with him, Elizabeth shall be caught and hanged. At first it was a trumped up charge, just as yours was, for conspiring to set Jack Sparrow free, but now, with this latest intelligence…” The Governor shook his head sadly. “I’m not sure for how much longer even my influence can protect her.”
“But if you’re on Beckett’s side, he has no cause to pursue Elizabeth. So you needn’t fret.”
Governor Swann looked at Norrington sharply. “But I do fret, Captain. I’m her father, I can do naught but fret, it seems. As long as she’s out at sea and Beckett keeps me in his pocket, Elizabeth is safe from him at least. And yet, as you’ve said, when she’s at sea, she’s at the mercy of Jack Sparrow and William Turner, and she’s a pirate, dressing in a man’s apparel, and doing heaven knows what else, compounding the charges against her if she ever does return home.” He took another drink. “The truth is, Elizabeth is safe nowhere.”
“Perhaps she doesn’t want to be safe,” Norrington said.
“She’s never known what she’s wanted.”
They were both silent for a moment, thinking over the truth of that statement.
“Is it true that Beckett is dying?” the Governor asked.
“He’s quite ill, but dying? Only Providence can say.”
The Governor looked down. “It’s wicked to pray for another man’s death,” he said, “but when I think of Elizabeth, Beckett’s death seems a blessing.”
“That’s understandable,” Norrington said. “But let’s say for the sake of argument Lord Beckett did die and Elizabeth were to return. Let’s even say that she turned Will Turner aside. Even if she were to stay in Port Royal, her reputation would be ruined and I’m afraid no one respectable would have her.”
Governor Swann scowled at him, but Norrington pressed on. “I understand that this is difficult to hear, sir. But you must be realistic about Elizabeth. My only point is that William Turner is the best choice for her given the circumstances, and that even if she were free to return to Port Royal, she probably would not choose to.”
“I always thought you were the best choice for her,” Governor Swann said quietly.
Norrington smiled slightly. “That’s kind of you sir, and there was a time at which I agreed with you.”
“Would you take her now?”
Norrington winced. “No,” he finally said, “but her tattered reputation is not the reason why, or I should say it’s only part of the reason why.”
“I realize that this is unforgivably blunt, Captain, but do you still love my daughter?”
Norrington looked at Governor Swann. “Elizabeth will always have a place in my heart, sir, but I don’t love her. I bear her no ill will and I wish her well in her chosen life.” He could not keep the faintest edge of bitterness out of his last words.
The Governor nodded. “I understand.”
“Moreover, she does seem happy, happier than she ever was here among decent society.” Norrington gestured at the stone columns of the veranda, and then drained his glass.
“But piracy is surely not what’s best for her,” Governor Swann protested.
“Perhaps not by our standards.” Norrington realized then that Governor Swann had always had blinders on where it concerned his daughter and he would never take them off.
Governor Swann sighed. “I always thought she’d grow out of it,” he said, “that she’d automatically turn into a lady and realize her proper place when she became an adult.”
They were both silent for a moment.
“You’ll stay for dinner, won’t you?” Governor Swann suddenly asked.
Norrington looked at him. “I’d be delighted,” he answered.
They went on to talk of other things and Norrington was relieved. Norrington carefully skirted the issue of the heart. Regardless of the reason, Governor Swann would not thank him for endangering Elizabeth. At the end of the evening, Norrington thanked Governor Swann for an enjoyable evening.
“I’d be delighted if you’d call on me again sometime, Captain,” the Governor said, at the end of the evening after he had shown Norrington to the door.. As Norrington walked down the driveway, back toward the inn where he was staying, he couldn’t help but pity Governor Swann. Elizabeth had only been Norrington’s fiancée for a short while, but she would always be Governor Swann’s daughter. And when she put herself in worrisome and disreputable situations, it was a pitiable thing to have to be the one to worry about her.
Tia Dalma was tired of having people in her house, particularly the bickering crew of the Black Pearl. In the evening of the seventh day after Pintel and Ragetti had departed, she took a walk back through the darkened woods behind the bayou. She was barefoot as always and carried no light. She knew this land like she knew her name and every tree and orchid was like a relative to her.
Fireflies glowed in green sparks between the cypress trees. She would miss her home terribly when she left for this voyage to Hell, yet that would simply make the home journey so much the sweeter. She walked further back among the trees until she reached a small, perfectly round and clear pool of water. It was always there, regardless of the rain and weather, and seemingly bottomless.
Now it reflected back the circle of trees above it, black silhouettes with the last slivers of indigo sky peeking through. She kneeled on the ground in front of the pool. The moon was almost new so the night would be pitch black. While the moon was waning, it was the perfect time for the dark and destructive magic against Beckett. By now he would be in his darkest hour and it would be up to Norrington to save him.
Beckett. The very thought of his name brought bile to the back of her throat, and yet with these new developments, she was glad she had stayed her hand so many years ago. Beckett had thought it was because she lacked the courage, but he would have bit his tongue if he had known the measure of her resolve. She hoped he was in agony. She had blocked most of the incident from her memory, but now needed to dredge it up in order to maintain the grasp she had on his life’s force. She closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. It had all started with Barbossa, she recalled.
She absently ran her long-nailed fingers over the surface of the water, starting ripples that quickly spread to the edge of the pool. When she trailed her hand one way, the water was warm, and the other way, cold. She pulled her hand out of the pool quickly and spoke an incantation. She opened her eyes. The surface rippled and a glow started in the center of the pool, and then spread out to cover the surface. A shimmery image floated out of the depths of the pool, which slowly became a coherent picture.
It was of her at a younger age, as she gathered water from the river that served the small town on Isla Cruces. It was a week after her tryst with Davy Jones. She finished filling her pot and sloshed out of the river with the cool water sluicing down her legs. She put the pot on her shoulder and started walking down the hill to her house. Suddenly, she saw something through the trees that made her do a double take: a ship with black sails anchored offshore. It was strange that two ships in the same number of weeks would make the voyage to the remote Isla Cruces.
She looked back to the small dirt path and continued walking down the grade. She came out into the town and noticed a gang of pirates entering the Red Harpoon. One broke off and came to her. He was a rakish-looking man clad in blue, with a scar under his eye and a hat with a black ostrich quill. A monkey sat on his shoulder, sniffing the breeze. The man stopped a few feet in front of her and appraised her brazenly with his calculating eyes.
“Yer a fine one, aren’t ye?” he said, his voice low and full of suggestion.
“I not for de buyin,’” she replied tartly.
The man looked pointedly at her legs. Embarrassed, Tia Dalma realized that she had left her skirt tucked high from gathering the water. She rolled her eyes and with one hand, untucked her skirts once more and let them fall about her ankles.
“Well, then, what are ye for, missy?”
“For now, I for carrying watah.” She stepped around him and continued on to her house. The man followed her, keeping about five paces behind. Outside her house, she set the water down, so she could open the door.
“Where’s your husband?” the man called to her.
Tia Dalma opened the door and set the water inside, then came back out and faced him. “I behlong to no mahn,” she said.
“Ah,” said the man, “and what does the authority on this tiny sandbar of an island have to say about that, I wonder?”
“I don’ talk to him,” she said. “I mine my business an’ he mine his owen.” She hoped the impertinent stranger would take the hint and go away. He didn’t.
“How long have ye lived unmolested like this, missy?” the man asked, surprised, and yet didn’t wait for an answer. “I’d wager it hasn’t been long. In fact, if I were you, I’d expect a visit from him or someone like him very shortly, and I’d watch my step carefully.”
“I cahn take cyare of myself.”
He laughed. “I’m sure you can, Miss…”
“Lovely name. It suits you, it does. I’m Hector Barbossa, Miss Dalma, captain of the Black Pearl.” He bowed to her and as he did, the monkey bolted from his shoulder and into Tia Dalma’s house. “Jack!” said Barbossa, “Come here, you little devil.” He looked at Tia Dalma. “You or I, my dear.”
Tia Dalma looked at Barbossa incredulously. She turned and went back into the house. “Jack,” she called. She dropped her voice low and made soft crooning noises, then stooped and held her arm out. The monkey had run under the table and now peered out, its bright eyes shining in the dim light. “Jack, come to Auntie Dalma,” she said in her native tongue.
“Careful, Miss Dalma, he’s skittish around—“
Jack slowly came out of his hiding place and crawled up her arm and onto her shoulder, where he sat and played with her long dark hair.
“I’ll be thrice-damned,” said Barbossa in awe. “He usually doesn’t let anyone but me do that.”
Tia Dalma smiled and came back toward him. “Go,” she said to Jack. “Go bahck to you’ fahthah.” The monkey refused to budge. Tia Dalma slowly reached out her arm and put her hand on Barbossa’s shoulder. “Go,” she said again. This time Jack raced across her arm and back to his rightful master.
Tia Dalma took her hand away and smiled.
“So ye can smile,” Barbossa said, “an’ it’s a pretty one at that.”
Tia Dalma sighed. “You shoul’ go,” she said.
“Very well,” Barbossa replied indifferently, “But consider what I told ye before.” With that, he turned and left.
Tia Dalma watched him go, then shut the door and leaned against it. There was some truth to what Barbossa had said, and she was surprised that no one had molested her since her sister had died. These Europeans did not seem to understand that a woman could be her own person, regardless of whether she had a man or not.
Her lesson came sooner than she had hoped. That night, as she mended a skirt by candlelight, a knock came at her door, three sharp, business-like raps. She set her work aside and went to answer it, but before she could, the door opened and a man stepped in, uninvited. He was well-dressed, well-shod and bewigged. Although he was only a couple of inches taller than Tia Dalma herself, two larger men flanked him.
He looked at Tia Dalma with cold eyes and a sarcastic smile. “Do you know who I am?” he asked.
“De Lieutenahn’ Governor of de islan’,” she answered.
“And for your purposes, the Governor of the island,” he corrected her. “Cutler Beckett. The Governor of Isla Cruces is rarely here, and when he is, he is drunk.” He looked around her one-room house, then back at her again. He looked her up and down. “You don’t look like a whore,” he said.
She smiled, matching his sarcasm. “T’ank you, I’m sure,” she said.
He ignored her quip and walked around her. One of his men closed the door, but after that, neither of them moved. “And yet you live with no man, nor any family. Are you a widow, then?”
“No. I am jus’ owened by no mahn. Dat’s a t’ing of de Europeahns an’ de English,” she answered.
“Well,” he said, coming back around her, “Unfortunately for you, this island, like so many others in the Spanish Main, is under British control. As such, those such as yourself who inhabit this island are thus subject to her laws and customs.” He stopped in front of her. She folded her arms and looked up at him, unimpressed. “I’ve been watching you for some time now and you’ve been seen entertaining not one, but two men in your home, neither of whom are apparently your husband, nor your father, nor any family to you, during the last two weeks. Would you care to explain that particular intelligence?”
“I t’ink you shoul’ fine somet’ing bettah to do dan spy on people,” she said.
Beckett smirked. “I’m a reasonable man,” he said. “I don’t ban prostitution here, nor have I on any island under my control. However, I do expect a tax from those who choose to engage in it. That’s not something anyone is exempt from, be he a baker, a blacksmith, or a brothel-owner.” He circled her once more and stopped behind her, dropping his voice to a whisper. “If you lack sufficient funds,” he said, running his hands slowly up her bare arms, “I am willing to accept it in trade.”
She twisted out of his grasp angrily. “I’m not your womahn,” she said, “an’ I am tired of explaining dat I live on my owen because I wan’ to.” She glanced at his two men who stood, impassive as stone statues.
Beckett’s smirk never faltered. “Everything on this island belongs to me,” he said. “Now, if you were smart, you’d charge those men for the service with which you provide them, and be a prostitute in fact, instead of just in name.”
“Wha t’I do or don’ do wid dose men is no business of yours,” she said.
“Of course not,” he said condescendingly. There was a silence as they glared at each other. Beckett spoke first. “I’ll return,” he warned her, “for what is due me. And I hope for your sake, you learn some sense by then.” With that, he left, his two men following.
As soon as they were clear of the threshold, Tia Dalma slammed the door hard enough to knock a clay dish off the table and shatter it on the floor. She knelt by the broken crockery and picked it up with shaking hands. Tears of hot anger leaked out her eyes and she brushed them away. How dare this man threaten her in her own home? Suddenly, it seemed an awfully large coincidence that Beckett should darken her doorstep in the same day as Barbossa’s warning.
She stood slowly and placed the broken dish on the table. She stood stock-still and listened. She heard the footsteps of the three men fade away. When they had disappeared, she could hear the drunken carousing at the Red Harpoon. She slowly opened her door and walked down the dirt road toward the inn. As she came in the door, all music and conversation stopped and the patrons turned and gawked at her. She ignored them, pulled her shoulders back and walked in as if she owned the place. Gradually, the music and conversation started once more.
Barbossa played at dice with some of his crew in the center of the room. She didn’t want to embarrass him in front of them, but she needed to speak to him urgently. She sidled up behind him and put her hand on his shoulder. She leaned down and smiled at him, then whispered in his ear, “I have a bowen to pick wid you, Captahn.” She squeezed his shoulder hard, never allowing her smile to falter, and then stood and walked out, swaying her hips as she did so, and ever confident that he would follow her.
He did. She led him around the corner and into the alley, which was luckily empty. When he stopped in front of her, she kicked him in the shin.
“What the devil is wrong with you, woman?” he hissed, reaching down and rubbing his leg.
“You tol’ Beckaht about me,” she said, “Thought you’ gyet in good wid de Governor, pointing out a willing womahn.” She folded her arms and nodded at him, fuming.
Barbossa straightened up and looked at her seriously. “Well, Miss Dalma, it sounds to me as if you’ve got it all figured out,” he said sadly.
Tia Dalma opened her mouth and then closed it again. Barbossa raised an eyebrow. “Cat got yer tongue, missy?”
“You…din’ say anyt’ing to him aftah you tol’ me…” she trailed off.
“I was tryin’ to warn you,” he said. He leaned against the wall. “And the fact that he called on you in the same day is an unfortunate coincidence, nothing more, but I thank you heartily for your suspicions of me.” He dropped his sarcastic tone. “I’ve known a thousand men like this Beckett. They’re easy men to predict. They’re ‘gentlemen’ and yet their motives are anything but honorable.” He spread his hands and smiled. “It’s why I’m a pirate. The rules of society, his rules are, shall we say, not to my likin’. I like to make them up as I go.”
“De ruwells of my people ah not so binding,” she said. “We cahn marry or no, have babies wid dis mahn or dat. De village is de family; it is not center’ on de mahn.”
“Why do you stay here then?” Barbossa asked.
“I don’ have a ship, like you,” she said.
“Then perhaps I shall kidnap you and take you away one day, Miss Dalma,” Barbossa said, leering at her.
“An’ you wan’ de same t’ing dat Beckaht wan’,” she said, not unkindly.
Barbossa reached out and took her hand gently. “Then it shall be on your terms,” he said. Then he bent and kissed her hand softly, as if she were a lady, before leering at her once more, “Although I shall always live in hope that you’d give me more.” His smile faded and he turned businesslike. “My ship will return to this island in two weeks. Perhaps I shall have the continued pleasure of your company then and perhaps then, you will be ready to leave.”
“Maybe so,” she answered. She smiled at him and he let her go, then bowed and went back into the inn.
The scene faded in the pool and changed as Tia Dalma watched it. Now it was two weeks later and there were black sails on the horizon once more. Tia Dalma traded her skills as a healer and midwife for chickens, eggs, candles, and other items she needed to survive and found that she had looked forward to Barbossa’s return, although her anticipation was somehow marred by the slight pang of guilt she felt as she thought of Davy Jones. He truly expected her to join him and she knew he carried a torch for her.
She went from the beach back to her house and opened the door to find Beckett sitting casually and waiting for her, along with the two men. She turned to leave, but the men moved behind her quickly, closed the door and grabbed her, pinning her arms behind her back. She struggled against them, but they may as well have been made of iron for all the good her efforts did. Beckett stood and approached her and she stared at him defiantly.
He smiled indulgently at her. “You know,” he said, running his hand up her side, “I’ve never really liked overly compliant women. They really take the enjoyment out of the pursuit.” He leaned into her and when he got close enough, Tia Dalma spat in his face.
He wiped it off without a word, and then backhanded her. She knew it was coming, and although it stung and made her eyes water, it had been worth it. He didn’t appear angry, however, and his casual brutality worried her a little. She arranged her features into a look of confusion and licked the blood off of her lip. “I am sorry,” she said, “I t’ought dat’s what you meant.”
Just then, there was a knock at the door. “Miss Dalma, are you in?” came a familiar voice.
“Yes, I am. Jus’ gyive me a mohmen,’” she called back before Beckett’s men could shush her. She looked at Beckett expectantly. “Don’ you t’ink you shoul’ let me go?” she said quietly.
Beckett frowned at her and then jerked his head at the two men. They let go of her and pushed her toward the door. She stumbled but didn’t fall, and opened the door for Barbossa.
“Captahn,” she said, smiling.
“Miss Dalma, I—“ he broke off when he saw the three men in her house. “I apologize; I didn’t realize that you had company.”
“Dey were jus’ leaving,” she said sternly as the men walked out the door, past Barbossa. “An don’ come bahck.”
Beckett stopped outside, with his back to her, and then he turned slowly. “Those are frightfully bold words with your pirate friend standing next to you. However, I’m quite certain that you won’t be so confident once he’s left.” Beckett smiled coldly.
“Yer not threatenin’ the lady, are you?” Barbossa’s tone was casual, but his hand caressed the hilt of his cutlass.
Beckett narrowed his eyes at Barbossa. “I’m just stating a fact,” he said. His eyes shifted to Tia Dalma and then back to Barbossa once more. “See that you get your money’s worth, pirate.” Then he put on his hat, turned, and left. By then Tia Dalma’s lip had stopped bleeding. She tongued it absently.
“Problem, Miss Dalma?”
“Wid him?” She jerked her chin in Beckett’s direction. “He don’ worry me.”
Barbossa didn’t look convinced. “Perhaps you’d reconsider not bein’ kidnapped,” he said.
Tia Dalma sighed. “I cannot leave,” she said, although this time she was certain Barbossa was right. She just wished there were some way she could at least get word to Davy Jones of where she’d be, short of tossing the heart-shaped trinket into the ocean and summoning the Flying Dutchman.
“Why can ye not leave?” Barbossa asked.
Tia Dalma glared at him and went for bravado once more. “If I leave, Beckaht wins,” she said—a half-truth.
“Then ye best start lockin’ yer door,” he said, “It might stall him long enough for you to get away. But I doubt it.”
“I also don’ wan’ to owe you anyt’ing,” she said.
Barbossa hit the doorjamb with his fist in frustration. “Dammit, woman!” he yelled. Tia Dalma jumped. “You’d owe me nothing. I thought I made it clear that I expect nothing of you.”
“Den why ah you helping me?”
Barbossa looked away, uncomfortable. “Because I’m fond of ye, Miss Dalma,” he said quietly. “I don’t wish harm to befall ye. Is that so terrible?”
“No,” Tia Dalma said, touched.
Barbossa looked back at her. “But I can do nothin’ to change yer mind?”
Tia Dalma hovered indecisively. Her position on the island was quickly becoming perilous. And yet, without a way to tell Davy Jones, she was reluctant to leave. She finally shook her head.
Barbossa sighed. “I’ll be at the Red Harpoon all night. If you do change yer mind, come see me.” He smiled at her sadly, turned, and walked back up the road.
Tia Dalma watched him go, and then closed the door. She set the bolt, which was not something she was used to. On her island, no one even had such a thing, but here on Isla Cruces, its purpose was suddenly and chillingly clear.
She knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep. Not because she feared Beckett (although she began to suspect that antagonizing him had been a bad idea), but because she wrestled with indecision. Barbossa or Davy Jones? Black sails or white? The Black Pearl or the Flying Dutchman? Davy Jones claimed to love her and Barbossa had never said the same, but Barbossa was reliable and his ship was just offshore, nor did he require any sort of commitment. But it still seemed a betrayal to Davy Jones. Her mind swung back and forth like a pendulum. She sat, but then stood, pacing. She lit a candle and set it on the table in front of her, staring into its flame.
The candle burned low. Outside, the moon was full and bright, and she went to the window and looked out at it. It looked like a pregnant woman’s belly, full of mystery and promise. Tia Dalma walked away from the window. The full moon was an auspicious time for conducting magic, and although she never relied on magic or been particularly good at it, she decided she needed it now.
Her mother, a formidable magic practitioner herself, had given Tia Dalma a compass when she had left home. “It tells you what you want most in the world,” she had said, “and it shows you the direction in which that thing can be found.” The compass had come from her mother’s lover, a navy sailor who took her as a port wife. Her mother had then enchanted it so it was useless for conventional navigation, but handy for magic.
Tia Dalma went to a drawer and removed it, and then set it down on the table between the yellow light of the candle and the blue light of the moon, so one half was lit by light made by man, and one by light made by the gods. The candlelight was Barbossa: flesh, warmth, and reality; the blue Davy Jones: immortality, mystery, and myth.
“Show me what it is that I want,” she murmured in her own speech. The needle swung lazily back and forth between the gold and the blue, before it settled ever so slightly to the left of the midline, pointing to the side that represented Barbossa and the Pearl. She sighed in relief. It was as she had hoped, although it still left her with the problem of Davy Jones, and telling him her whereabouts. She stared into the flame of the candle as if the fire itself could give her an answer.
She heard the sound of someone trying the door, but rather than escaping, she froze. Then the door crashed in, blowing out the candle flame and leaving only the pale, blue light of the moon. She looked up to see Beckett and his two henchmen silhouetted in the doorway. They didn’t give her a chance to bolt around them, or to depart in any other way. They said nothing, but stepped in and grabbed her, each by one arm. She stepped hard on the right one’s instep and he cuffed her in the back of the head, making spots dance in front of her eyes.
The one on the left stepped behind her and covered her mouth with his hand. She bit him until the metallic taste of his blood touched her tongue. He grunted, dispelling her speculation that Beckett’s men were ever silent. He twisted her arm with his other hand until pain shot up into her shoulder and she stopped biting him.
Beckett had so far said nothing. He simply watched her struggle, a faint smirk playing about his face, half in the blue light of the moon and half in complete darkness. She still looked at him defiantly. “I’d appreciate it if you were a bit more congenial with my men,” he said, as if commenting on the weather. “Although a heartfelt apology to them later might amuse them even more.” The implication dawned on Tia Dalma with revulsion, which Beckett saw. His smile widened. “I trust then that I don’t have to explain my meaning to you? Good.” He looked at his men, one and then the other. “Face down,” he ordered them, “I don’t want her to spit on me again.”
Back in the bayou, Tia Dalma angrily splashed the water, distorting the image and making it fade. That was something she only needed to experience once, and even that had been once too many. The pond settled once again, in the same scene but later. The door crashed in once again and this time it was Barbossa, cutlass bare in his hand. With a savage cry, he gutted the left hand guard. The right one cursed and let go of Tia Dalma where he held her down over the table, and went for his dagger. Before he could draw it, however, Barbossa’s blade was in his belly as well.
As soon as she was free, Tia Dalma stood and brought her head back sharply, satisfied to hear the crack of Beckett’s aristocratic nose breaking. She turned quickly, pushing her skirts down with shaking hands. Barbossa drew his blade back, set to open Beckett from throat to groin. “NO!!” Tia Dalma screamed.
Both Beckett and Barbossa looked at her in surprise, then back at each other. Blood poured out of Beckett’s nose and onto his fine white shirt. “My apologies, Miss Dalma,” Barbossa said, breathing hard. He tossed the cutlass, catching it deftly by the blade and offered it to her, hilt first. He jerked his head at Beckett, who pulled his breeches back up without a word.
Tia Dalma shook her head. “Not righ’ now,” she said. “It is not de opportune momen.’”
“Are you mad, woman?” Barbossa asked.
Tia Dalma licked her lips without answering Barbossa. She went over to the second guard, who was prone on the floor. She took out his dagger and walked shakily over to Beckett. He just looked at her coldly, as if daring her to plunge the blade into his heart. “It appears you lack the courage of your own convictions,” Beckett said, taunting her.
Tia Dalma ignored him. She put the blade to Beckett’s throat, feeling it scratch on the stubble there. The moonlight poured through the window still; it hit the blade and created a bright reflection on Beckett’s skin. His pulse made the blade jump with every beat of his evil heart and it took all Tia Dalma’s willpower not to press just a little bit harder and end it. Seconds passed. Beckett swallowed, and Tia Dalma was bitterly happy to see a tiny bit of fear in his eyes.
She dragged the point of the dagger down until it rested on his collar. With both hands, she cut off a swatch of the blood-soaked fabric and put it in her pocket, then backed away and dropped the dagger. “I’m not going to kill you tonigh,’” she said, “You do deserve to die, Cutlah Beckaht. An’ when you t’ink de worl’ is yours, dat’s when I’ll kill you.” She turned to Barbossa, who sheathed his cutlass. “Now, please kidnap me,” she said. Head held high, she gathered up a few things of value, including Davy Jones’ heart-shaped music box, and walked out of her house with Barbossa in her wake.
Once out of sight of the house, her legs gave out and everything went black. Barbossa scooped her up and carried her to a waiting longboat. He laid her gently down, pushing her hair out of her face. The scene shimmered again, and in the bayou, Tia Dalma looked away from the pool for a moment. Her hatred of Beckett had not diminished even slightly in the years since that night. She put her hand in her pocket and drew forth the poppet that Elizabeth no doubt thought she’d been joking about.
It was dressed in the bloody rag of Beckett’s shirt and had pins in the arms, legs and the stomach. She held the poppet in one hand and with the other, pulled one more pin out of her pocket. She aimed it over the poppet’s heart. It would be so easy to drive the pin home and end the memories and the nightmares. Her hand shook, the point of the pin hovering a millimeter over the bloody doll. Then rational thought took over once more and she remembered the mission. She sighed deeply and put both the poppet and the pin back in her pocket.
She looked in the pool once more, which had cleared again. This time, she was in Barbossa’s cabin, seated under the windows. Barbossa came over and covered her with a blanket, then sat beside her. “Welcome to me ship, Miss Dalma,” he said, smiling gently. She tried to return his smile and come up with a joke, but it turned into a whimper, which turned into full-throated sobs. Barbossa put his arm around her and rocked her back and forth as she cried.
To his credit, Barbossa never mentioned anything about warning her, never said that he told her so. He just held her as she wept. The scene shimmered for the last time and the pool went dark. Tia Dalma wiped her eyes, and stood slowly. It was past midnight, but if she was lucky, she could go back to her house and catch a few winks of sleep. She yawned and headed back to her house, her mind filled with images from the past.