AUTHOR’S NOTE: A post-AWE one-shot. Set at Elizabeth’s home near Lucea, Jamaica. Eight years after Will began his 10-year tour of duty as captain. Also posted at FanFiction.Net.

 

Young William Turner was always excited when a sailor showed up at the house.  Usually the sailors came bearing a letter in a bottle from his father.  Sometimes they stuck around long enough to tell William exciting tales from the sea.  And sometimes they were pirates with crates of treasures for his mother.  Today, the young tanned sailor was carrying a box.

“Are you a pirate?”  William asked excitedly.

“No, lad, just a sailor.”  The young man smiled apologetically.

“Then that’s not a box of treasure for my mother?”

“No, it’s a box for a Mr. William Turner the third.  Do you know such a man?”

“That’s me!”  William shouted, jumping up and down.  “Is it really for me?”

“It came all the way from a ship called the Flying Dutchman.  Do you know anyone on that ship?”

“My father’s the captain.”  William stated proudly, puffing out his chest.

“Then, lucky you.  This is your birthday present.”  The sailor said kindly.

“My birthday’s next week.  I’m almost seven.”  William pulled a small knife out of his pocket and began to pry the lid off the box.

“You know, I met your father.”

“Most people who meet my father are dead.”  William said matter-of-factly as he pulled straw from the box, searching for his present.

“I know it,”  The sailor said.  “I was almost dead, but he saved my life.  And then he gave me this box to bring to you.”

William shouted in delight as he pulled a leather three-cornered hat out of the straw.  He shook it off and held it up for the sailor to see.

“Look at this.  My father sent me a pirate hat.  A real pirate hat.”

“So he did.”  The sailor said with a grin.

Just then, William’s mother walked up the path and saw the sailor.  William ran up to her.

“Look, mama.  Father sent me a pirate hat for my birthday.”

Elizabeth smiled.  “Did he?  You must go write him a thank-you letter then.”

William pouted.  “Now?”

“Yes, son, now.  Hurry up and we’ll take it out to the beach before the tide goes out.”

“Alright.”  William said, running into the house, still holding the hat firmly on his head.

The sailor turned to the young mother.  “Are you Mrs. Turner?”

“Yes.”

“I’m Justin Roberts.  Your husband rescued me from the sea several weeks ago.  He asked me to bring the gift to his son, and deliver this to you.”  He handed her a corked rum bottle.

“Thank you, Mr. Roberts.  William and I appreciate it.”

“Your husband is a good man, Mrs. Turner.  I owe him my life.”

“He is a good man.”  Elizabeth paused.  “How was he?”

“He looked well, Mrs. Turner.  He seems a fine captain.  His crew seems eager to please him.  But, if one were to guess, one might say that he looks a bit lonely.”

“It’s been a long time since he’s been home.”  Elizabeth said with a touch of wistfulness in her voice.

“I wish I could do more for you, for your son, for your husband.  I pray that if I should ever die at sea, that he would take me on as a member of his crew.  It would be a great honor to serve Captain Turner of the Dutchman.”

“You’ve done more than we could ask, going out of your way to bring us word from Will.  Is there anything you need?  Perhaps a basket of food for your next journey?”

The young man smiled.  “Thank you, but it’s not necessary.  I’ll be on my way.  I just wanted to see that your son got his birthday gift on time.”

Elizabeth smiled as the young man strode away toward the docks.  She pried the cork out of the bottle and slid the letter out.

My Darling Elizabeth,

I hope this reaches you before William’s birthday.  I am hoping to send along a special gift for him as soon as I can find someone to deliver it for me.  We were lucky enough to come across a merchant ship on its way to England from the Americas on a recent trip and were able to do some trading with them.  They had some amazing articles manufactured by both the Indians and the colonists, and when I saw a leather hat, similar to Jack’s, I knew it would be a perfect gift for William.  Be sure to look for the little gift that I packed for you in the box with William’s hat.  It is made of a stone found in the Americas called Turquoise.  It reminded me of the sea near Jamaica on a clear day.  I hope you like it.

The crew was pleased to be able to do some real trading.  Most of our acquisitions come from scavenging shipwrecks, so the opportunity to trade for new goods is a luxury.  Considering that the majority of my crew is made up of former pirates, it is a bit of a laugh to see them haggling over prices.  They have all kept their word though, no stealing is permitted.  If we were to start plundering and pirating, we would easily lose sight of our real duty, and that is the one thing I will not allow to happen.  Maybe I am a bit of a stickler, but it is my soul and my eternity at stake.

Life on the Dutchman goes on much as usual.  There has been nothing of peculiarity lately.  Which leaves me little to write about.  But I hope you have much to write about… your letters are what I look forward to most.  Tell me everything.  How is William’s schooling coming along?  Has he said anything interesting lately?  How is the fishing?  Have you or William been out on the boats yet this spring?  And how big is your bougainvillea now?  Is it blossoming?  Have you heard anything from our sea-faring friends?  I hear the occasional tale of Jack Sparrow and Barbossa, but it is difficult to determine if there is any truth in them.

I did forget to mention that amongst the goods on the merchant ship was a collection of books.  Apparently, they are difficult to sell in the colonies due to the paper tax.  But the captain assured me that since we were at sea when the transaction took place, no tax applied.  He gave me a good price, and I bought ten books in all.  I thought you would appreciate that your husband still has the love for reading that you instilled in me at a young age.  There are, however, no pirate stories among the volumes.  I just hope that the books will not deteriorate too rapidly.  Whatever protection the ship has from the sea does seem to apply to our possessions as well, so I am not terribly concerned.

It is so strange how I have come to accept the strangeness of my life here on the Dutchman.  The normal act of trading and buying goods put into sharp contrast the abnormality of my existence and my duty.  Though none on my ship require sustenance, a tremendous amount of food was purchased.  And, of course, rum.  Though the merchants were well aware who we were at the outset, I believe they had forgotten by the time we had finished our negotiations.  It is easy for me to forget myself.  Just a few days ago, I cut my finger while carving, and though it was painful, it did not bleed and the cut disappeared almost instantly.  I was surprised, as I always am, until I remembered that all my blood was spilled years ago, and I have no more to bleed.  How then does one particular scar remain as red as ever?  I can only imagine that it is some part of my curse, a constant reminder of my duty.  But also a constant reminder of she who owns my heart.  And in that sense, it is a blessing.

I shall close now, my dear Elizabeth, before the letter becomes too thick for a rum bottle.  Give my birthday greetings to William.  I would have written a birthday letter to him, but I imagine that he would have skipped over it in favor of the hat.  I shall enclose a letter for him when I write to you next.  Both of you are always on my mind, and I love you both more than I can say.

Keep watching the horizon, love.  I shall be looking back, even though you cannot see me.

With all my Love, Heart, and Soul,

Will

 

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