Chapter 1: The Lucinda Jane
This story takes place sometime after the conclusion of the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl”.
A/N: There is no historical accuracy to the timeline; the heyday of the Caribbean pirates took place about 100 years before Spike and Dru were sired, but once this idea popped into my head, it wouldn’t leave, so . . . suspend your disbelief and come along for the ride, me hearties. Yo Ho!
Chapter 1: The Lucinda Jane
The captain of the Lucinda Jane was worried. Nothing about this voyage was going as planned. There seemed to be a strange, wasting sickness afflicting most of the passengers that he couldn’t explain. So far, it hadn’t affected his crew, thanks be to God! A passenger would be hale and hearty one day, and pale and dead by the next morning. There had been a score of burials at sea already, and now they were running low on water. They were at least three, maybe four, days from landfall and the water wouldn’t hold out.
Putting the spyglass to his eye, he was futilely scanning the horizon again, when he heard light laughter from behind. He devoutly hoped that meant the approaching passengers were out enjoying the balmy evening air. The majority of his recent contacts with passengers had encompassed attempting to assuage their fears about the mysterious plague that seemed to have taken hold of his ship.
He turned and, recognizing the passengers, gave a slight bow.
“Lord and Lady Burroughs-Hill,” he greeted them. “I trust that you, and your cousin and ward are all in good health?”
Lord Burroughs-Hill nodded. “Aye, we are, Captain. ‘Tis a wonderful evenin’, and so warm. I’d say we’re quite enjoyin’ this voyage, aren’t we, Darla?”
“Yes, we are,” Lady Burroughs-Hill replied softly. “And I’m sure Cousin William and our foster daughter will be along as soon as they have finished dining. The nights are quite extraordinary in these latitudes, Captain. I declare, they make me want to always take my rest during the day, so I don’t miss a moment of the night!”
The captain gallantly doffed his hat as Lady Burroughs-Hill gave him a charming smile and the couple continued their perambulations.
Captain Morrow clasped his hands behind his back and looked up at the stars. The gentle creaking of the ship’s timbers and the soft breeze rustling the sails lulled him into somnolence. He started when a voice spoke near his ear, as he hadn’t heard anyone approach.
“Are you naming the stars, too?”
He turned to see Lord Burroughs-Hill’s ward standing beside him. Strange girl. Reminded him of Mr. Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Unlike many sea captains, Thomas Morrow prided himself on his literacy. He brought a book along on each voyage, and considered it a personal failure if he had not completed it upon his return to his home port. The girl was attractive enough, but decidedly tetched. His Lordship was obviously a practical man. He would be able to contract a more advantageous marriage for her amongst the wealthy planters in the islands than he could hope to arrange back home. Probably planned to set his young cousin up in business in the islands or purchase him a government post. Yes, indeed, the Caribbean was the land of opportunity!
The girl had been nattering on about something or other while his thoughts had been engaged elsewhere, when he caught a phrase that focused his attention on her.
“. . . Oi’m a black pearl, too. A pearl without price. He calls me his Black Goddess. Oi’m a goddess, daddy is an angel, but grandmama will forever be a whore . . .”
“Excuse me, Miss Drusilla, what were you saying about a black pearl?”
She swayed, moving her long fingers in the air like a Bombay snake charmer.
“It comes. The Black Pearl. Sails as black as night, as black as sin, and we shall have a lovely party. Miss Edith has been very naughty. P’rhaps I shall give her to the pirates and she will be made to walk the plank and the fishes will eat out her eyes.”
Captain Morrow was uncomfortably aware of the trickle of nervous perspiration making its way between his shoulder blades. The Black Pearl was the most notorious pirate ship in these waters. What did she know of it? How did she even know the name? The crew did not fraternize with the passengers, especially with this mysterious plague on board. She couldn’t have overheard the men talking, either. It was ill luck to mention the name of a pirate ship whilst at sea. The sailors were superstitious enough to believe that the mere mention could bring that ship down on you.
“How do you know of the Black Pearl, Miss?”
“Oi saw it . . . swooping over the waves like a big, black swan. The stars told me its name. ‘The Black Pearl’ they whispered, ‘The Black Pearl comes’, bringing terror and death.” Drusilla sighed ecstatically. “Oi think Oi shall go along with them. Oi’d like to be a pirate . . .”
She drifted away like mist, soundlessly, her feet hardly seeming to touch the deck. Captain Morrow took out a handkerchief and wiped his brow. A ration of rum would be just the thing, he decided, and repaired to his cabin posthaste.
Three more passengers had succumbed during the night. An entire keg of salt beef had spoiled beyond the eating of it. It was a foul-smelling, green, gelatinous mess, and he ordered it thrown overboard immediately. The chum would bring the sharks and he supposed he couldn’t, in good conscience, perform solemn burials at sea with ravenous sharks waiting to snap up the bodies in full view of grieving loved ones. But sanitation was becoming a problem in this heat, especially with the shortage of water.
Thank the stars, his Lordship’s retinue wasn’t like some
peers of the realm he had transported — always demanding attention, complaining about the monotony of the food, attempting to impress everyone with their own importance. Lord Angelus and his lady were model passengers—gracious, refined, kept to themselves, never demanding special food and drink. This would have been a happier voyage if all the passengers were like them. The ward was disquieting, though. One of her was more than enough.
He thought back to their conversation of the night before and shivered, in spite of the heat. She was fey . . . could
she have 'seen' the Black Pearl? No use borrowing trouble—he had enough to do without succumbing to fancies!
Spike sighed. He was interminably, bloody bored. Seemed like they’d been stuck in this windowless cabin on this floating coffin for soddin’ ever! And if he so much as ventured to voice a complaint, Angelus hastened to remind him that it was his
fault they were in this situation. They’d had to leave England while they could, exchanging a dark, dank mineshaft for an equally dark, dank, relentlessly heaving ship, “Because William the Bloody likes the attention!”
Sod Angelus, anyway. He and Darla were at it again in the adjoining cabin—couldn’t tell if they were fighting or shagging—not that one was any different from the other to Angelus. Dru seemed to be having one of her spells . . . rocking incessantly, whispering to Miss Edith, singing songs about pirates. If somethin’ interesting didn’t happen soon, he’d go out of his bloody mind! And then Angelus’d prob’ly just throw both
him and Dru overboard. Spike sighed again, glanced once more at Dru, closed his eyes and began conjugating Latin verbs.
Darkness fell rapidly this close to the tropics. One minute the sun was a blazing ball of orange, sinking into the cerulean blue water; the next minute, the Lucinda Jane was enveloped in midnight blue velvet. Captain Morrow never tired of the splendor of Caribbean sunsets. Moments like this reminded him that the sea-faring life was the only one for him.
Right on schedule, Lord Angelus and his family appeared on deck for their nightly constitutional. *The sun sets, and she appears,* Captain Morrow thought. He believed Mr. Shakespeare had written it, but he could not recall the play, offhand. But it was certainly appropriate for the lovely Lady Darla.
Her skin was like porcelain, her eyes the color of the sea, and the gentle breeze ruffled her golden hair in a very fetching manner. Lord Angelus was decidedly blessed in his acquisition of such a lovely, winsome wife. Verily, she was sweetness and light personified! He thought of his own dear Mary, dead these twenty years. He regretted that he had never brought Mary on one of his voyages. She would have loved the balmy Caribbean. And she might have been spared the chill that developed into consumption, carrying her away whilst he was far from home. Ah, well, if wishes were horses . . .
He bowed briefly to Lord and Lady Burroughs-Hill and inclined his head to Drusilla and William, who accompanied them tonight.
Drusilla glided over to him and tugged on his sleeve. He inclined his head to her, and rising on her toes, she whispered in his ear, “Pssst. It’s to be tonight! The pixies told me . . . the Black Pearl comes tonight!”
There was a feverish excitement in her mad eyes and Captain Morrow felt a frisson of superstitious fear run up his backbone and raise the hairs on his arms.
“I’ll keep that in mind, Miss Drusilla,” he replied.
Captain Jack Sparrow sat cross-legged in the crow’s nest, elbows on knees, hands folded on top of each other, chin propped on hands, deep in thought.
He had spent years of his life trying to take back the Black Pearl from those disloyal, greedy, double-dealing, back stabbing mutineers who had stolen her in the first place, and now that he had her back, he supposed he’d have to formulate a new goal.
He had always enjoyed piracy as a life style and practiced it with a certain joie de vivre unmatched in the annals of pirate-hood. His motto could have been summed up by “If it’s not fun, why bother?”
During the years of his quest to reclaim the Black Pearl, however, piracy had changed . . . and not for the better, in his opinion. The current crop of pirates had no charm . . . no finesse. They saw the spoils as the end result and weren’t particular as to how they obtained said spoils. Murder and mayhem were what passed for piracy, today.
Captain Jack, on the other hand, did
have charm and finesse. He prided himself on his ability to plunder without leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. Not to say there wasn’t the odd accidental death, and occasionally he ran into some pompous blowhard that didn’t understand the rules of the game, and who placed a higher value on his material goods than he did on his life.
But given his druthers, he’d prefer to leave behind a trail of broken hearts than mangled corpses. He had a reputation to maintain, after all! The finesse came in convincing people to hand over their valuable cargoes without a lot of unnecessary bloodshed. And no
one was better at that than Captain Jack Sparrow. He had his ship back, his coffers were waiting to be filled—it was time to go to work.
“Do you want to play a game, Spike?”
Dru had blindfolded Miss Edith and tied the doll’s hands behind her back again, for some infraction that Spike couldn’t fathom.
“Wha’d’ya have in mind, pet?”
“We could play . . . hide and seek.”
“What shall we hide, then?”
“Ourselves, silly! Oi’ll hide and you must seek me. My brave knight must seek over the hill and dale, through dark forests and misty bogs in search of his fair princess.”
“Don’t see any forest and bogs. We’re on a boat, luv.”
“O-o-o-o-o-o-o-o”. Drusilla began to vibrate, long-fingered hands shaking.
“Right, then, Princess. You hide and I’ll search you out. What do I win when I find you?” Spike asked, his words charged with innuendo.
“A lovely surprise!” Dru was glowing, her momentary disappointment forgotten. Placing her forefinger on her lips, she whispered, “Shush. It’s a secret,” and slipped out of the door like a wraith.
Spike sighed and opened the trunk at the foot of their bunk, taking several deep breaths, filling his nose with the scent of camphor in an attempt to confuse his vampiric sense of smell. Dru always forgot about that—the minute he set foot out of the cabin, he could track her by scent, and she would be very cross if he found her too soon.
Priscilla Hightower poured a small amount of water from the day’s ration onto a square of linen and pressed it to her cheek. Not that it would do much good; the water was room temperature, and the cabin was at least eighty degrees. If she had a cool cloth, she could possibly mitigate the swelling and redness, but there was no coolness to be had.
She opened the porthole in hopes of catching a stray breeze. The porthole was large enough for a person to fit through . . . maybe it would be better if she just climbed through and disappeared into the sea.
She was only twenty and her life was already over. A grimace of pain crossed her features as she thought of her childish dreams of marriage and motherhood. In her dreams, her husband was always a strong, handsome, young man who was madly in love with her. They’d have six beautiful children, four boys and two girls, and live in a country house with plenty of room for the children to run and play. She’d sit in the garden with her needlework, fondly overseeing her offspring, and look up in loving surprise as her fine husband came home much earlier than expected.
“I couldn’t stand to be away from you a moment longer, my dearest,” he’d say, and pull her into his arms for a passionate kiss . . .
A small sob escaped as she firmly put her daydreams aside. The reality of her life was so different she could hardly bear it.
She had been married at seventeen to George Hightower, who had been 49 at the time and thrice widowed. That really wasn’t unusual for women of her station, and she was prepared to adjust. She was sure she would be able to grow fond of him in time, and she would have her children as consolation.
Her hopes were dashed when she discovered he drank heavily and was frequently unable to perform. He seemed to blame her for his difficulties, and at first confined himself to insulting and berating her. She remembered the first time he struck her. She had expected him to go down on his knees and beg her forgiveness, but he didn’t. He blamed her for “making” him do it.
After three years of marriage, there were still no children for consolation, and the beatings had escalated. He was drinking more frequently and she couldn’t see any way out. She was trapped in a marriage with a volatile, brutal man, and the thought of sinking into the embrace of the cool, welcoming sea was very seductive.
Priscilla started as she heard sounds approaching the cabin. There was no time now! George was returning and had someone with him! She flattened herself against the wall, behind where the door would open. If he didn’t see her as soon as he entered the cabin, maybe she could slip out the door while his back was still toward her.
She held her breath and listened intently, poised to run if the opportunity presented.
The stumbling gait halted and she heard him fumble with his key. It took several tries before he managed to unlock the door. Her heart was pounding so hard, she thought it might burst. The key finally turned in the lock and the door swung open.
George stumbled into the cabin and turned to the open door; she couldn’t see what was happening, but from the direction of his voice, he was addressing someone in the hall.
“Well, come in, man, come in. Don’t just stand there. I promised you a sample of the best brandywine you’ve ever tasted, and you shall have it.”
The instant the other man cleared the doorway, she slipped out from behind the door and into the passage. She caught a brief glimpse of a slender, attractive, young man with soft, curly, fair hair. Glancing behind her, their eyes met. He had the bluest eyes she had ever seen. His eyes took in the darkening bruise on her cheek and he gave an almost imperceptible nod, before closing the door. Breathing a sigh of relief, Priscilla hurried down the passageway.
“Com’ere,” the man beckoned him over to the bunk, bending over to reach beneath it and nearly falling flat on his face in the process. He dragged a large wooden box out from under the bed. “What’s your name, lad?”
“William. William LeSanguine,” Spike answered.
“Name sounds French, but you’re not.” The man continued, “Norman ancestry? Mine’s Hightower. George Hightower.”
Spike felt a frisson of atavistic fear at the man’s words, but couldn’t identify the origin. Certainly not the man, himself. Maybe it was connected to the name, but he just couldn’t place it.
“Never was one for heights, m’self,” he commented.
“Heights? Oh, my name. Ha! Help me with this box, now.”
Spike shuddered, and pushed away the brief image of a golden haired girl, leaping to her death from a high tower, as he slipped his fingers under the lip of the lid and ripped out the nails battening down the lid in one fluid motion. A dozen bottles, carefully packed in straw, were nestled in the box and George reverently lifted one out, smacking his lips in anticipation.
Spike was very, very drunk. He giggled at the twin images of George Hightower on the bed.
After having drunk quite a bit of the excellent brandywine, George had put his hand on Spike’s knee, sliding it up his thigh, leaning in for an attempted kiss. With lightning speed, Spike shifted into game face and buried his fangs in the man’s throat. The cumulative amount of the brandy Spike had drunk, and the amount present in George’s blood had hit him like a sledgehammer.
Still had his wits about him, though. Couldn’t leave this
body, with visible puncture wounds on the neck, lying around. Spike giggled again and reached for one of the Georges. *Whoops! Wrong one!*
Finally connecting with the actual body, he slung it over his shoulder and staggered to his feet. Stumbling to the porthole, he began to shove the body through, feet first. He had a bad moment when the shoulders stuck, but grabbing both wrists in his left hand, he pulled back on the arms, while pushing out on the head with his right.
With a pop!
sound like that of a champagne cork, the body finally gave way, and seconds later, Spike heard a satisfying splash
. He staggered back to the bunk and, after a final giggle, passed out.
The black sails of the Pearl made her nearly indistinguishable from the velvet darkness of the Caribbean night. She was upon the Lucinda Jane before they had an inkling she was there. The sailor in the crow’s nest made a half turn, spyglass to his eye, to see the Pearl looming up beside them.
“It’s the Pearl, Cap’n,” he yelled, blowing a blast on the tin whistle hanging from a cord around his neck.
All hands rushed on deck to see the Black Pearl come around to glide up to them broadside.
“They say the Pearl’s crewed by dead men, Cap’n. They look human, right enough, but when the moon is full you see ‘em for what they are!”
“ ‘Struth” said another, “Seen ‘em m’self, I did, ‘bout six years back. Only thing t’do with the crew o’ the Pearl is gie ‘em what they want. T’will take it anyway.”
Grappling hooks thudded over the side of the Lucinda Jane, and her crew braced to meet the pirates in combat. The crew of the Pearl clambered up the ropes, vaulting onto the deck, cutlasses drawn, and just stood there, making no move to attack.
One pirate stepped forward. Sweeping off his large, leather hat, he made a deep bow. “I’m Captain Jack Sparrow. Captain of the Black Pearl. I’m sure you’ve heard of me?”
The British crew of the Lucinda Jane stared in amazement at the apparition before them. The pirate captain had nearly waist-length dark hair, twisted and braided into bunches with beads and shells woven in. He wore a beard, which was also beaded and braided. Kohl was smudged around his eyes and a gold tooth glinted in the light.
Robert, the twelve year old cabin boy, stared in open-mouthed shock. Jack lightly tapped him on the chin with two be-ringed fingers.
“Close your mouth, boy, you look like a sea bass.”
Robert snapped his mouth shut and then opened it immediately to ask, “What’s wrong with your hair?”
Jack raised an eyebrow and replied, “I don’t know. What do you
think’s wrong with it? I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with it.” He picked up a lock from the side and held it close to his eyes. “Hasn’t turned white. 'S not glowing. It looks fine to me.”
Robert narrowed his eyes and asked, “D’ya mean it’s supposed
to look like that?”
“Well . . . yeah.” Jack bent his knees and hunkered down in front of Robert. “Many years ago, I was about to be hanged in Jamaica. The noose was around my neck and the hangman was tightening the knots.”
Robert’s eyes were as big as saucers as he hung on Jack’s every word.
,” Jack clapped his hands together, making Robert jump. “. . . from out of nowhere, a man swept by on a rope, severed the rope around my neck above the noose, and grabbing my shirt, swept me along with him. Of course the cloth ripped, I fell into the sea, hit my head on a rock and damn near drowned. The man pulled me out of the sea and I noticed he wore his hair like I now wear mine. He said it saved his
life in a situation very similar to mine, when he
was rescued by his hair, so ever since then I wear my hair in tribute to Cap’n Bob Marley.”
Jack stood up. “And now, gentlemen, if you’ll kindly direct us to your cargo hold, we’ll complete our business and be on our way.”
“Certainly,” said Captain Morrow, and guided the crew of the Black Pearl to the cargo hold.
Captain Morrow opened the hatch, and swept his arm out in an encompassing gesture, “Help yourselves, gentlemen.”
Captain Jack Sparrow cupped his left elbow in his right hand and touched his left forefinger to his lips. “And what is
your cargo, Captain Morrow?”
Captain Morrow bent over the hatch and shone his lantern inside. “Bricks,” he replied.
“Bricks?” repeated Captain Jack. “Bricks?
Why on earth are you carrying bricks?”
“Well, sir,” Captain Morrow explained, “The Lucinda Jane is a passenger ship, not a merchant. The only ‘cargo’ we carry is people. The bricks are for ballast, and they come in handy when folks want to build houses where they’re going.”
Captain Jack raised his eyes skyward. “Oh . . . bloody hell! Not that I’m in any way impugning your word, Captain, but would you mind if I had a look for myself?”
Captain Morrow smiled. “Not at all. No offense taken. Be my guest,” and, handing Jack the lantern, he stepped back to wait.
Jack climbed down the ladder and shone the light around the entire hold. Bricks. He randomly selected a brick and smashed it in case the clay outside was covering gold or silver bars. No, clay all the way through. He hefted several more randomly, but they were much too light to contain hidden metal. They were exactly what the captain said they were—clay bricks.
Captain Jack turned and was ready to start up the ladder, when a woman threw herself into his arms.
“Surprise!” she exclaimed.
“And who are you?” asked Captain Jack.
“Oi’m a pirate!” Drusilla stated succinctly.