“A ship is represented as possessing the attributes of more than one category of woman . . . one is the enchantress of whom a man can never be certain . . . All inspire romantic and consuming love . . .” --Silvia Rodgers, “Feminine Power at Sea”
Had Elizabeth any substantial knowledge of protocol on board a pirate ship, she would have realized that crew members barged into the captain’s quarters on a regular basis and there was really nothing Jack could do to stop her, short of shooting her which could very well cause him considerable grief from the other crew members. Of course, she did not know this, being raised in Royal Navy discipline, and so stepped out of Jack Sparrow’s office quarters quite bewildered. She wondered what could have made him so angry as to throw her out and decided wearily that it was simply his bad temper. She did not know him well enough to understand that, in his own brand of pride, she had embarrassed him—as if Jack Sparrow could be embarrassed. She had asked for some of his clothes, not knowing all he had was what he wore. But as I say, she did not know him well enough yet.
Elizabeth rested a moment, setting the harsh handle of her mop beside her on the deck. She flexed her hands, gazing into the distressingly dirty water of her bucket. It reeked of salt and bilge, and the fibers of her mop were stiff and vile. She shrugged, looking up at the main mast where a lithe sailor was standing on a rope to unfurl the highest yard. She shaded her damp, limp hat over her eyes and set back to work.
At least now she had a hat. She fingered the crinkled Caribe material with affection. After being forced out of Jack’s presence, she had moped rather sullenly to the gun decks, only to find the men in their messes being served. She sidled up to a mess, the crewmen clustered around truncheons and mugs of grog. She waited, not knowing what else to do. Inconspicuously, one of the pirates had jostled his neighbor aside, leaving her just enough room to squeeze through. Flushed with appreciation, she had elbowed into the spot.
She was surprised. The Navy ration was for the most part composed of sea biscuits and salted pork with occasional niceties such as barley and butter. Here, too, were the sea biscuits by the dozens—but they were accompanied by heaps of plantain. Elizabeth found they made a nice addition to the general grueling quality of sea meals. When she received her mug of grog, one sip was enough to send her coughing. She used the rest to soften up the hard tack for careful consumption and was able to skim out all the weevils save one.
Bedtime began promptly after the evening meal, and Elizabeth found herself falling into a stupor as she climbed into her hammock. She declined to draw the curtain, looking at AnaMaria who ignored her. The first watch was called, and Elizabeth never closed her eyes once. There was no point in attempting to sleep. She listened to the huffs and snores mingled with soft, contented breathing. The Black Pearl swayed gently. She thought of Will.
The second watch was called at two, and Elizabeth noted Joshamee Gibbs lumbering out of his hammock as the sailors from the first watch tumbled in. Elizabeth lay thinking no longer and got to her feet, following Gibbs silently upon deck.
At first there were the insistent protestations, the superstitious exclamations. “Ye should be resting, Mrs. Turner!” the old tar had sputtered. “ ‘S not an easy task, bein’ on watch!”
But in turn, it became increasingly easy for Mr. Gibbs to be worn down by Elizabeth’s wily conversation. Gibbs loved to expound, loved it almost as much as whiskey. Soon he was telling Elizabeth about technical aspects of gun-running, of the mysterious lights that floated over the water when he was a mate on the Unforgiven, dipping merrily into his flask and leaving most of the watching to Elizabeth. She listened intently, enjoying how it felt to be another sailor—another pirate—rather than Mrs. Elizabeth Turner, daughter of a governor, wife of a blacksmith.
“Speaking of strange lights, Mr. Gibbs,” she had said, “Jack certainly burns the midnight oil, doesn’t he?” She shrugged in the direction of the stern gallery, illuminated in the black night by a vibrant, trembling light.
Gibbs was taking yet another swig from his bottomless flask and choked as Elizabeth pointed out the light. She turned back to look at him, her eyebrows arching elegantly in surprise. Gibbs avoided her gaze guiltily. “All’s I’m sayin’ is . . .” he gazed up and down at the topsail, looking for what, Elizabeth could not say. “. . . that’s one way of sayin’ it.”
This left Elizabeth even more baffled until she considered the covert way Gibbs was humming to himself. “You don’t mean—“she stopped herself; this was really beyond her realm. Then again, she had noticed AnaMaria’s hammock curiously empty when she’d gone up for the watch . . .
“What I mean’s the truth, young missy,” said Gibbs in his stern voice that brooked no disagreement, “an’ I’m not expecting a married woman such as yerself to be shocked.” He looked at her gravely, his dark, bushy eyebrows becoming one steel grey line on his furrowed forehead.
The two bells then rang, signifying the end of the watch—and this particular conversation. Elizabeth accompanied Gibbs down to the gun decks, where they parted company. Elizabeth discreetly cast her eyes about the dark hammocks and was nearly certain that AnaMaria’s was unoccupied. She was unable to consider the situation further because she quickly fell into an undisturbed sleep until eight bells rang again, and she was called awake by the smell of cooking rice.
That had been a good ten hours previously, and Elizabeth had since enjoyed dinner on board the Black Pearl. She had discovered upon waking a bundled, dirty hat placed near her hammock, probably retrieved from the slopschest. She was overwhelmed with gratitude for the simple kindness of the gesture. The hat was serviceable and had become indispensable the long hot morning as she scrubbed the decks as Jack had instructed. Curious, she thought, she had seen no sign of Jack all day . . .
“See ye’ve found yerself a hat there, Mrs. Turner.” Elizabeth looked up to the ruddy face of Gibbs coming her direction down the quarter deck.
She touched her hat, shifting it to a smart angle. “Aye aye, sir,” she said, not a note of patronization in her voice.
“Ahoy!” shouted Moises from the cross tree between the sails. Elizabeth turned, peering up at him. She marveled at his lungs. “Coast off the larboard bow. Comin’ up at some twenty miles!”
“Good. Adjust your course, AnaMaria, some forty degrees off starboard.”
Elizabeth whipped around. Jack was standing imposingly on her quarter deck, having appeared more or less out of thin air. He had just given an order to AnaMaria at the helm, but he was peering rather interestedly at Elizabeth. She was flushed with the memory of the first time he had seen her, gazing down at her with that cryptic infinity in his eyes.
“Aye, Cap’n,” said AnaMaria, giving the wheel a good turn. Jack continued to look at Elizabeth. Elizabeth stared back, glancing at Gibbs who was frozen in silence nearby.
At the point when Elizabeth felt she could no longer endure his unprovoked staring, Jack said loudly, “Mrs. Turner.”
Elizabeth eyed AnaMaria, who was interested only in the wheel, out of real concentration or no. “Yes?” she replied, setting down her mop again.
“Now that I see that you are up t’ the duties befittin’ you—” she grimaced, “—I have another task for you.”
She hazarded another glance at his inscrutable eyes. “What is that?”
Jack stepped aside with one broad, swooping clatter of his boots, revealing the small figure of a boy behind him. Elizabeth recognized him as the boy assistant to the harbormaster, a cherubic child of maybe nine years old. His black eyes peered into hers with fear. “This child,” said Jack, “took’t into his head t’join up with a buccaneer crew.”
“He stowed away, you mean?” Elizabeth asked.
“That’s correct, Mrs. Turner. Very good. ‘Course, the Black Pearl ‘s no place for children. He’ll be in your charge until we reach Tortuga.”
Elizabeth gasped. “In m-my charge? Tortuga! You don’t really mean to leave a boy in Tortuga, do you?”
Jack peered boredly at his fingernails and said, “Better t’let him stay here, then, Mrs. Turner? Or do ye enjoy the example you’ve set?”
She glared at him, curling her lip in anger. He glanced at her for a brief moment, then at the boy. He gave her the tiniest of bows, then turned and headed up the deck in his drink-inspired dance. Elizabeth looked at the boy, who raised a cautious eyebrow at her. She examined his faintly dirty white suit and hat. “What is your name?” she asked him, enunciating clearly.
He stared at her for awhile, and for a few brief, terrified seconds she wondered if he spoke English. He must, she thought. The harbormaster would have been certain that he did. At last the boy looked down at his bare feet, covered with the slime Elizabeth had been using to slush the decks. “Thomas, missus,” he said timidly. “My name is Thomas.”
She smiled at him. She was not yet a mother, nor had she been around many children. Her own mother . . . Well, there was no use dwelling on the past. She gazed tenderly at young Thomas and said, “My name is Elizabeth Turner.”
“Yes, I know,” said Thomas very dejectedly.
“You’ve seen me in town, I think.”
“Why did you come aboard? A pirate ship is no place for a child.”
“Please, ma’am,” said Thomas, throwing out a hand Elizabeth now could see was bleeding, “I just thought . . .”
When he didn’t finish, Elizabeth seized his hand to take a better look. He pulled away half-heartedly. “Did he hurt you?” she thundered. “Did Jack hurt you?”
Thomas looked shocked. “No . . .”
Elizabeth swallowed, coloring in embarrassment. “Come along,” she said, thrusting her mop back into its pail. “We’ll go below decks to get your hand examined.” And something to drink, she thought, gazing at his dry, cracked lips, the skin flaking off as his tongue swam over them. As she and Thomas descended, they passed by AnaMaria at the helm. She shouted something at the boy in a language Elizabeth thought resembled some kind of pidgin Spanish. The boy responded quickly and quietly, and Elizabeth watched them with bewilderment. AnaMaria ignored her completely, and Elizabeth’s pride was too great to allow her to ask what was said.
On the spar deck, Elizabeth bandaged Thomas’ hand with some linen from the slopschest. She found that he had gained his injuries by fleeing the dock on a boat little more than a plank of wood. He would not say exactly what had prompted his escape but hinted, between mouthfuls of stale but not salty water, that it was due to the mistreatment of the harbormaster. She certainly did not intend to fall in love in eight years with her charge as she had done with Will, but she smiled to herself at the similarities. Perhaps that was why Jack had made her take the boy in the first place. How would Jack know about that? She shook her head. He probably assumed because she was a woman she would know everything about children. Dear Mr. Sparrow, she thought coldly, how wrong you sometimes are.
She put Thomas to sleep in her hammock with strict instructions that when he woke he was to report to her and assist her with holystoning the deck (he grimaced). As she climbed back up to the waist, her eyes slits against the Caribbean sun traversing the sky towards the west, she glanced at the helm for AnaMaria: she was now willing to sacrifice her pride to know what the Creole woman had said to the boy. But AnaMaria was no longer there; Angus Duncan, the perwigged old buffoon, was now watching the wheel under the supervision of Gibbs.
Elizabeth scanned the deck and then the rigging for AnaMaria. There was really no telling where to find her, Elizabeth had learned; not only was she often at the wheel with more skill than anyone but Jack, but she was also light and quick enough to be a top gallant sailor. Eventually Elizabeth found her. Hanging on the bowsprit, standing next to Jack at the prow of the Pearl. He was looking through a spyglass to what she could faintly make out as an island—well, really, a cauldron of volcanic rock--in the distance. AnaMaria stood, detached, holding her hat on her head against the ruffling wind. But when Jack beckoned her to look through the spyglass, Elizabeth noticed—with a suspicion she could not explain—that AnaMaria placed a dark hand across the small of his back. Completely unnecessary.
She considered what Gibbs had hinted. Could they really be—well—lovers? “Oh, it’s no concern of yours!” she muttered to herself angrily. In response, Cotton’s parrot squawked, seemingly at her, “Any port in a storm! Any port in a storm!” as it flew from the mizzen mast and almost knocked into the side of her head. As she threw up her hands to ward it off, Cotton strode past, smiling at her apologetically.
It was dark by the time they reached the crag of land Elizabeth learned was Tortuga. Most of the rock was black as the sea around them, but a small trickle of lights began on the coast and became a swirl of activity further in. As they neared the docks, the smell of tar, wet canvas, rotting fish, and some kind of spice tingled in Elizabeth’s nostrils. She was among most of the crew as they assembled on deck to dock. Jack remained at the prow of the Pearluntil they reached the dock, when he mysteriously slipped away.
Elizabeth’d had misgivings about Tortuga. The idea of a good deal of scoundrels drunk and marauding did not inspire her with confidence. She did not want to purchase the fabric for the gown Jack had ordered her to make. Thomas, she noticed, had had the good sense not to come above deck. She did not feel in the least that it would be a good idea to leave him in Tortuga. Jack probably has some notion to put him the care of one of his . . . lady friends, she thought with an anger and bitterness that hardly made sense to her.
As they docked, she watched with some surprise as the entirety of the crew lined up and, under the supervision of Gibbs, began to file down the gangplank toward the town. Cotton’s parrot muttered something obscene as the mute tar descended toward the maze of taverns, brothels, and who knew what else. Gibbs himself had taken charge of the water tanks, to be refilled with fresh water (if there was any to be found on that rock).
Elizabeth removed her hat in anger and moved away from the bow. As she walked, she caught the end of a conversation she was certainly not meant to hear. She came into it as a female voice was cursing loudly in Spanish—AnaMaria and no other.
“Speak the King’s English, will ye, woman?” It was Jack’s voice, half exasperated and half teasing, if Elizabeth had learned anything about his intonation.
“You promised me a boat, Jack.” Her voice was measured, cutting. “It’s the next thing we’ll do, you said.”
Jack cleared his throat. “Certain things have, ah, intervened—”
“I did’t expect to be back here so soon, back in this . . .” she sought her word angrily, “ . . . shit hole!” Elizabeth winced at the colorful language.
Perhaps Jack did too, though Elizabeth was certain he’d said worse in his own time. “All ri’, ye don’t ha’ t’ go ashore.”
“Neither do you!” Her voice took on a strange pleading note. “Why must you?”
Jack’s voice was light and amused. “Why is it so imperative that I not go, AnaMa—?”
He was interrupted by a loud cracking sound. Elizabeth wasn’t entirely certain what it was until Jack let out a tiny, defeated, “Ouch.” She’d slapped him! Well, someone had to.
With that, the conversation ended abruptly, and AnaMaria came storming from the poop deck. Elizabeth dodged out of her way, watching her face of thunder with definite misgivings. Once she had disappeared below decks, Jack came stumbling into view as well, his characteristic weaving walk more pronounced than usual. On his way to the gangway, he noted Elizabeth standing with her arms folded resolutely across her chest. He looked at her with the same kind of wide-eyed confusion he had displayed when wrenching himself awake in the Governor’s Mansion. She waited quite seriously for him to ask her, “Now, who are you exactly?”
“Mrs. Turner, not going ashore either?”
She inhaled deeply, finding herself being distracted by his fists which kept clenching and unclenching at his sides. How drunk was he?
“No,” she said, fully expecting a rebuke. She had made up her mind that Thomas was not going to be left off like a prisoner in irons in any place Jack decided to dump him. She had made up her mind that if AnaMaria was going to stand up to Jack, so could she. She had made up her mind that she did not wish to be in Tortuga for—she got a queer sense of it as she shivered in the warm tropical air, gazing into Jack’s seemingly pitless black eyes—that anything, anything, could happen there.
Jack lifted one dark eyebrow, shook his head slightly at her, then turned and muttered, “In tha’ case . . .”
The shock that he was not arguing with her, that he was actually leaving her, overrode any rationality Elizabeth possessed at that moment. She strode after him. “Why are you going? Shouldn’t the captain stay on board to . . . to . . . to make certain the ship doesn’t get spirited away . . .?” She found herself gesticulating wildly, her voice high and fluty against the sound of subtle lapping waves.
Jack stopped and turned sharply. He stood very close to her, close enough that she could hear the jingling of his beads and baubles as they swung through his hair. “Look, ‘Lizabeth,” he said. “Everyone in Tortuga is either too drunk or too stupid t’steal any ship—much less the Black Pearl.”
His grandiose manner inflamed her anger. “It’s still very irresponsible behavior, Mr. Sparrow!”
He shut his eyes as if in pain. “Captain, Captain!”
“And another thing—”
“All ri’—“ he interrupted in the kind of taut voice that told her he had near lost patience with her— “we’ll leave it a’ this. What is your preferred food o’ choice?”
She stared at him. He couldn’t be in earnest, could he? He smiled at her, the light of the swinging lantern above them reflecting on his teeth. His smile was jittery, cajoling, almost gentle. She sputtered without thinking, “Chocolate.”
“Then choc’late you shall have in the morning!” he announced loudly, throwing up both arms at her in a salute.
“An’ what shall you have, a headache?”
Elizabeth whipped around to see AnaMaria standing behind her, giving a devastatingly sullen look to Sparrow. Jack began traipsing down the gangway with a cheerful, “Per’aps!” When he reached the dock, he gave them a full bow, doffing his hat. “Good night. Per’aps you two can get t’know each other better . . .”
Gibbs, who had been supervising the departure of all the pirates, was about to make his own way into town. “Aw,” he cut in, “’tis very bad luck to leave two women aboard—”
“Shut UP, Mr. Gibbs,” Jack snarled, “thank you.” Gibbs flicked his eyes to the ground in embarrassment, considered, and began walking off toward Tortuga proper. Jack followed, and by the time Elizabeth had lost sight of them, they were arm in arm. She sighed in disgust, turned, and swept up the deck.
After an hour of watching the lights on the island fade in and out, Elizabeth wondered if maybe she would not have been so unhappy in Tortuga. Surely she was capable of maintaining her senses in the most trying circumstances? She gazed over the railing with wistful regret, and it was such moments that her love for Will came to her in full. Memories of hundreds of separate incidents piled up in her mind, a film over her heart. The last time he had told her he loved her. The first time he had told her.
The boy Thomas emerged, somewhat sheepishly from the gun deck and came plodding along toward Elizabeth, dissipating her daydreams. “If you please, Mrs. Turner,” said the boy, removing his hat with a woeful expression, “I’m hungry now . . .” He spoke to her, but she noticed his eyes trailing to AnaMaria, who was seated quite comfortably on the forecastle, gazing quietly at the town through a haze of tobacco smoke. While Elizabeth had been sitting motionless, AnaMaria’s initiative had been to drag up something she called the boucan from below decks, a sort of grill. She had spent the hour most productively in grilling meat over it. The scent tingled in Elizabeth’s nostrils; she realized that, amid her impassioned longings for Will, her own stomach was growling forcibly. Her mind raced—Jack had said they would be going ashore for provisions—even the make-shift pirate cook had left the galley. She realized there might not be anything aboard other than hard tack—and whatever AnaMaria was cooking.
She sighed, hoping this would suit the boy, and said, “We’ll go to our mess and get some biscuits—”
AnaMaria hollered something in the Spanish pidgin to the boy. His melancholic expression changed immediately, and Elizabeth’s turned sour. “What was that?” she asked in a thin voice to AnaMaria.
Thomas tugged at her sleeve. “Please, missus,” he said, “but she says we can come share her meal.” Elizabeth shook her head, tempted to repeat Jack’s admonition to speak the King’s English. Instead, she swallowed her pride and followed when AnaMaria beckoned them, the smoke of her pipe following her like a ghostly shadow. The meat was good, a far cry from Port Royal’s roasted pheasant, but then it was ten times better than the salted pork on which she had been subsisting. She regarded their host warily, not forgetting that AnaMaria had little reason to befriend her at the moment. Still, she enjoyed her first true buccaneer meal.
Thomas must have been well-satisfied with it, as he fell into a companionable silence, licking his dark fingers and gulping the swigs of fresh water Elizabeth had found in a barrel. Between the fragrant, peppery smoke of the boucan and the harsh but perfumed smoke of AnaMaria’s pipe, Elizabeth’s eyes watered sufficiently that a mug of grog was almost palatable.
The night passed quickly, as the stars veered overhead. AnaMaria said little, only a few words of the pidgin language to the boy and monosyllabic requests and responses to Elizabeth. Soon enough, Thomas fell asleep right on deck, the sounds of the waves in his head, Elizabeth imagined.
How quiet and peaceful the Tortuga port seemed. Elizabeth was certain in the town, things were much rowdier. She studied the other woman, whose hat was rakishly tipped to one side, who lounged like a man beside the grill, her boots lithe and lanky in the moonlight. Elizabeth wondered if AnaMaria was thinking about Jack. She confessed she was curious as to what in Tortuga was enrapturing the good captain. Yes, so she could imagine what—and who—was enrapturing him. But if that were true, what did AnaMaria think about it? Tactfully, she began, “Tortuga must be a den of thieves.”
AnaMaria looked up at her and slowly removed the pipe from between her teeth. She continued staring at Elizabeth as if she’d staid something grossly insulting. Elizabeth looked down at her hands, quirking her eyebrow in the knowledge that even after a long day’s work in the hot sun, her hands were still an aristocrat’s hands—white, ladylike. “Well, I—”
“Aye, you could say that,” muttered AnaMaria, replacing her pipe and arching her dark eyebrows. She considered for a moment. “Certain ‘ssumptions are made should a . . . woman show ‘erself there.” She gazed at Elizabeth, her dark eyes clear. There was no mistaking what she meant. Elizabeth began to nod. “ ‘S why I didn’t much fancy going. I ‘ave been many things in my time, but never that.”
She tossed her pipe from her mouth and got to her feet. Above them, the wind licked and dusted the limp top gallant sails. Elizabeth was heartily ashamed, not only that AnaMaria felt the need to exonerate her virtue, but that she, Elizabeth, had felt cause to doubt it. AnaMaria was no whore—she was no shrinking thing, and she wore her own rough virtue proudly like a bandana, even on a ship of men. AnaMaria walked steadily the length of the ship toward the stern quarter, and Elizabeth, wishing to apologize, put down the last bones she had been peeling flesh from and got to her feet. It was difficult to do, because of the bruises and pinched blisters that had developed on her feet in the last day or two.
Limping, she recalled the conversation earlier, in which Jack had seemed determined to have AnaMaria in Tortuga with him. She sidestepped the apology and instead caught up with AnaMaria, saying, “Jack seemed well convinced you would be stopping off in Tortuga.”
“Aye, well, Jack can convince himself of just about anything,” was the bitter reply as AnaMaria bent to pull the line for the mizzen mast through the halyard with a sharp twist. The moonlight scudded across her face, and Elizabeth saw for the first time that her steady brow was creased, concerned. “Steals a woman’s boat,” she said. “What’s rightfully hers. ‘Twas her livelihood. And can convince ‘imself there weren’t no harm in’t.” Her gaze was cool and stung like daggers. Elizabeth remembered the sound of the slap she’d heard earlier. Surely she must have misunderstood Gibbs. Jack had stolen AnaMaria’s boat—what woman would feel anything affectionate toward a man who had stolen from her?
Amid these reflections, Elizabeth had not noticed that AnaMaria had dashed to the door of Jack’s cabin. As the Creole woman began tugging at the double doors, Elizabeth asked, “What are you doing?”
“Goin’ to take a look at the maps, ‘is all,” said AnaMaria curtly, wrenching open one of the doors and taking a step inside. Elizabeth wasn’t certain why—after all, Jack hadn’t allowed her to see the maps either—but she felt vitally annoyed that AnaMaria wanted to see them, for whatever purpose. “Crew ‘as a right to know where we’re goin’.”
Elizabeth couldn’t argue with the logic of this, but was so incensed by the fact AnaMaria had begun tramping through the empty cabin, she forgot her surprise that Jack had told no one about London, and blurted, “You could just ask me.”
AnaMaria ceased rifling through Jack’s things and peered at Elizabeth. Her hands balled into fists and flew to her hips as she laughed disbelievingly. Elizabeth noticed for the first time the shiny flintlock pistol in her belt. “Oh, indeed?”
Elizabeth decided it was best to tell her the truth. She stood to her fullest height, which was taller than AnaMaria, and said without a trace of fear or remorse, “We’re going to London.” She played with the edge of the table, betraying her unease. “At least Jack and I.” She glanced up at AnaMaria, whose arms were now crossed over her chest, her chin jutting out defensively. “We’re . . . putting on a scam. Duping my uncle to give me my inheritance so I can send out a ship to search for Will.” Her wedding ring weighed heavily against her palm.
AnaMaria took this revelation more level-headedly than Elizabeth expected. “And what did you promise him?” True, she was fingering her pistol and gazing at Elizabeth with eyes full of savageness and murder, but at least the question was asked.
Elizabeth cleared her throat. “A letter of marque.”
AnaMaria smiled, if not sweetly. “No wonder.” Elizabeth waited, expecting either a sarcastic laugh or a bullet through the heart. But she got neither, as AnaMaria stared at her, unblinking, her expression inscrutable. Finally Elizabeth had to look away from eyes that intense. It reminded her too much of Will’s severest moments.
Instead her eyes fell to the maps Jack had left upon the table in his cabin. Since she had seen Jack adding to them, she had imagined them rough and not especially noteworthy in form and content. Her eyes bulged when she bent closer to examine them, heedless of AnaMaria. The map of the Jamaica coastline, the sketch of Port Royal, the detailed map of Tortuga and the sea lanes—she saw each curve measured out accurately, with notes in clear, plain English—as well as bits of Latin here or there. Not only was it neat and accurate, the sketches were also detailed and beautiful, mermaids with green and blue fin-tails flocking about the coast of Tortuga, grinning. “Where did Jack come by these maps?”
She saw AnaMaria had taken a seat in the horsehair sofa, nonchalant. “Probably made ‘em hisself.”
“But they’re the work of a cartographer!” Elizabeth blurted. She cut herself off when she saw the cold look AnaMaria gave her. She knew that plain sailing was intricate work involving position, speed, direction and time and required mastery of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, geography, astronomy, meteorology, and physics. “He is many things, then, isn’t he?” she said lamely.
“Aye, many things,” said AnaMaria sharply, getting to her feet, “and a hell o’ a lot of trouble.” Elizabeth inhaled. She wasn’t sure whether that was a complaint, warning, or threat.
She swallowed, uncertain what she wanted to say. As a child, she had imagined the freedom associated with being an outlaw of the coast, imagined how it might be to stomp up to a fellow pirate and demand something. Instead the intricacies of unspoken etiquette—far-removed from the Code, she admitted—made her reluctant to demand of AnaMaria the puzzling question gnawing at her: was she Jack’s lover?
“You wonder how I can let him go.” AnaMaria anticipated her question brilliantly. The woman spoke honestly, and it was the speech of an equal—neither pitying nor harsh. “You wonder how I can watch him go there, into that place filled with . . . those women.” Elizabeth opened her mouth in surprise. Was AnaMaria jealous? Was . . . was Elizabeth? “Jack is wanted,” AnaMaria said. “He knows he’s wanted, he thrives on it.” Elizabeth nodded. “But he don’t know what it is to be needed. You can’t ever need Jack Sparrow.” She stuffed her pistol back into her belt with finality. Elizabeth felt herself on level, if shaking ground, with the woman who had once tried to hand her to the enemy. “B’cause, Mrs. Turner, he will never need you.”
The cold chill AnaMaria left in her wake made Elizabeth shiver. She peered at Jack’s cabin, not for a moment thinking she could understand the enormity of what AnaMaria had just told her. She had no memory later of going above decks and falling asleep in the open air as she’d done only once before—she was painfully aware that night had been on the rum-runners’ island. That was where she awoke the next morning. But the last thing she remembered were AnaMaria’s words and seeing Jack’s empty bed.