The next two days passed in much the same manner as the first—except on day three, when I didn't see Arabella until it started to grow dark. The rain had finally lessened to a light sprinkle, though the sky was still dark with rain-laden clouds.
"And yer positive Jack will make it in time?" Arabella stood beside me as we waited under the awning of the shack. She had her arms crossed over her chest as she impatiently paced back and forth. I had been pleased to see that she had taken my advice and was now wearing a pair of trousers under her skirt.
"I have no choice but to be positive," I half-joked. To be honest, I was fairly worried for the lad. I hadn't seen hide nor hair of him since the day of the fight. "He has my dagger and I really would like it back."
She quietly laughed at that, her brow raised. "And what'll we do if he doesn't show up?"
I shrugged. "Go looking for his corpse and see if he had anything of worth on him." A small laugh left my mouth when she lightly smacked my arm.
"That's not funny!" Despite her words, she was trying to not giggle.
"And yet, there you stand, laughing," I teased.
She would have replied to me, but we both heard loud rustling coming from the bushes. There was the sound of someone cursing and then Jack stepped out into the open air, a bag draped over his shoulder and my knife in his hand. He looked up and, upon seeing us, grinned broadly; it would have been an amusing expression if I hadn't caught sight of some sort of injury on his cheek. Before I could ask him about it, however, he bowed low to the ground.
"My lady," he said, flashing Arabella a cheeky grin. Then, spotting me, he stood upright, but the grin remained plastered on his face. "Drystan. As you can see, I have arrived. An' now, let's get aboard our vessel an' sail off into the night., shall we?"
Arabella and I started to walk towards him. "Mister Sparrow! Where have ye been?" the former of us questioned. "Yer hours late!"
"And what happened to you?" I demanded, my brow raised. His sleeve was ripped and there was a dark splot on his trousers that looked suspiciously like blood.
He scratched his nose; I could tell it was a poor attempt at hiding his injury thanks to the trickle of blood rolling down his neck. "Oh, ah, a number of obstacles. Just flotsam and jetsam, really, though," he said, trying to avoid the subject. "Nothing important, really. What is important, however, is that I am here now an' we should really get onto the ship an' weigh anchor." His nose scrunched up when Arabella grabbed his wrist and pulled his hand away from his face, revealing a long, deep cut on his cheek. It stretched from the middle of his cheek down to almost the corner of his mouth.
She gasped. "Ye got into a fight!"
In reply, Jack unshouldered his bag and proudly held it up. "I've found my sack!" he declared, ignoring her statement. "An', as unbelievable as it may be to hear, given that it was in such capable hands as my own, but the map was…er, misplaced."
Arabella gave him a dry look. "Ye lost the map. How did ye lose the map? An' how did ye even find this place without it?!" Her hands were on her hips now and her tone was quite scolding.
Jack held up his hand and wiggled his index finger. "There are any number o' ways t' reach one's destination, my lady," he told her. He then gestured out towards the Barnacle. "Now, the tide's risin' an' we mustn't waste time. Come along, lassie an' Drystan!" He started to march off down the dock.
"Call me 'lassie' again, an' ye'll be drinkin' up the tide," Arabella grumbled, making me snort.
The two of us started to follow Jack, with me taking up the rear. I was about halfway down the dock when something in the corner of my eye caught my attention. Looking towards the trailhead, I was just in time to see a very well-dressed young man place his foot upon a rock.
"Halt!" he called out, making Jack and Arabella stop in their tracks. Unlike the two of them, he was tall; from where I stood, I guessed him to be close in height to me. And, judging by the fine quality of his clothes, he was the son of an aristocrat. "I am coming with you."
"Says who?" I called back, my brow raised.
"Says I," he replied.
"Sorry, chap," Jack called. "This boat is ready t' sail and her crew—meanin' me, Bell, an' Drystan here—are not accepting new hands. Now shoo." He made a shooing motion with his hands before turning to walk up the gangplank.
I kept my eye on the newcomer who clearly wasn't going to take no for an answer. "I am Fitzwilliam P. Dalton the Third," he said, beginning to walk towards us.
My brow rose; that name sounded familiar.
"I don't care if you're Pope Fitzdalton P. William the Seventh," Jack grumbled. "I don't know what you're doin' here or how you even found us, but we're very busy sailors with very important things t' do. So if you'll excuse us…" Wearing a mocking smile, he pressed his hands together and gave Fitzwilliam a small bow, which was also mocking in nature. Then, turning on his heel, he continued up the gangplank.
"I discovered you thanks to this." Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a folded piece of cloth. I groaned and lightly smacked my forehead; it was the map Arabella had drawn for us. He unfolded it and, clearing his throat, started to read, "Meet Arabella and Drystan at this spot at dusk, commandeer boat, find Sword of Cortes, eliminate Captain Torniquet—"
"Torrents," I muttered under my breath.
"—Acquire the perfect hat, become captain, rule entire Caribbean, live happily ever after," he finished.
Arabella gave Jack a long look, her cheeks bright red in embarrassment. "Jack…"
Fitzwilliam chuckled, his brow rising as he stepped onto the dock, clasping his hands behind his back. "I suppose I haven't arrived too late for the 'hat' part," he said, coming closer.
I drew my sword and held its tip level with his throat. "Yes, yes, he has his life planned out, but so what? As you read, you're not part of it," I told him. Unconsciously, I stood a bit straighter so that I was at my full height. Inwardly, I smirked; I was a good two inches taller than him.
"Actually, I rather wish to become part of it—or, rather, to join you three and leave this island," he replied. He didn't seem at all disturbed by the fact that there was a sword mere inches from his throat.
"Why?" Arabella and I chorused. I glanced over my shoulder, seeing the lass walking towards us; I lowered my sword, but kept it drawn just in case. "Yer obviously wealthy an' don't have the need we do for treasure. A man in yer position can do anythin' he wants—ye don't have to sneak away from your family for adventure. At least, not the way I do, ye know." She threw a small glare at Jack, clearly annoyed with him for having caused this situation to happen. "What with me bein' a 'lassie' an' all."
"Au contraire, my lady," Fitzwilliam said, giving her a proper, gentlemanly bow. "As the eldest son of the Earl of Dalton, I am bound to the same sort of family rules you are—perhaps even more so. We came from England less than a month ago, when my father decided to explain his holdings into the New World. Since then, I have been forced to do nothing but attend balls and cotillions of other English families."
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, that sounds so very dreadful," I grumbled. Attending the balls of the aristocracy could be quite boring at times, yes, but the hors d'oeuvres were usually worth the boredom.
My words seemed to annoy Fitzwilliam a bit. "You have no idea," he retorted, some annoyance to his voice.
"Actually, I do," I said, but he ignored me.
"Regardless," he continued, "I am expected to pick from one of those fine English ladies my future wife and I must do such within the year. And, because of this, I am forbidden from entering the naval service or pursing any career other than what my father chooses for me." His nose scrunched up ever so slightly. "Which is, namely, continuing the family Dalton which, in turn, means chaperoned walks with stupid rich girls, dinners with—"
I snorted loudly, interrupting him. It was one thing to complain about living a nobleman's life, but to complain and insult the women who would be forced to court him? "Those 'stupid rich girls' don't want to be on those chaperoned walks just as much as you do," I told him, "nor are they stupid. In many cases, they're just as well educated as you 'stupid' rich men, if not more so."
He tensed slightly at my words and I could see the annoyance on his face. "I wouldn't expect a common sailor such as yourself to know just how truly tedious the life of a nobleman is," he said, doing his best to keep his voice calm. "Therefore, I do not hold your words in contempt."
My brow rose. I so badly wanted to introduce myself with my proper title (at least, the male version of my title), but I resisted. Something told me this brat would be joining us, no matter what happened and I wanted to mess with his mind by displaying bits of accurate knowledge in regards to nobility at random. So, instead, I sheathed my sword and said, "Nobleman, commoner—hell, you could be a god for all I care—but it doesn't matter. You don't get to insult women just because you don't like being put into boring situations with them."
"Oh, look! You've gone an' made my first an' best mate angry at you," Jack chirped. His voice was getting closer, so I figured he was walking over to us. "Now it's even more obvious how bad o' an idea it is for you t' come with us. The high seas are no place for a wellborn fop such as yourself. So run along now, Fitzy. Buh-bye."
I frowned slightly as Arabella suddenly turned me around and, grabbing the shoulder of my vest, pulled me down to be more level with her and Jack. "Oh, come on, lads. He might be useful," she whispered to us. "He can afford supplies when we've run out. An' don't ye think it'd be handy t' have another pair of strong arms aboard?"
"You seem to be man enough for the job," Jack stated. It was hard to tell if he meant it as a compliment or as sarcasm.
"Thanks…I think?" Arabella murmured.
Fitzwilliam cleared his throat, making all three of us look back at him. "It matters not," he said. "I am coming with you."
"No. You're. Not." Jack had his hands on his hips as he glared up at the fop.
A silence that was both awkward and tense fell upon the four of us. The only sounds that could be heard were the waves, the rain, and the creaking of the Barnacle as she rocked from side to side.
"I challenge you to a duel, then," Fitzy finally stated. "I win, you let me come with you. I lose, I leave and tell no one what I've seen or anything of your plans."
"I accept," I grumbled, reaching for my sword.
He held up his hand and wiggled his finger scoldingly at me. "My challenge was to Jack, not you."
A mocking smile came to Jack's lips. "Oh, Fitzy, I would just love to," he began, "but, as it happens, I've yet t' acquire the sword I really want. No sword, no duel, an' certainly no boarding the ship for you. So sorry, mate."
Arabella perked with mischief. "Oh, that's no problem! There's a chest with some old rapiers below deck. Just a tick!"
Jack quietly groaned as Arabella ran off. "I'd like t' use Drystan here as my second," he stated.
"Very well," Fitzy said, seeming more amused than anything. "Though, I'm surprised your second—Tristan, you said his name was?"
"Emil Drystan," I corrected.
"I shall be sure to remember that," he said. "I'm surprised you're not loaning him your sword to use."
I crossed my arms over my chest, sighing. "Code duello states that the weapons used by the dueling gentleman are of equal kinds—in this case, rapiers. My sword, however, is a cutlass and, therefore, prohibited."
Fitzy's brows furrowed somewhat. "You…know of the code duello?"
Before I could answer, however, Arabella returned. "Here ye go, Jack!" she chirped, tossing him the sword.
He caught it, still grumbling. "Thanks…" I winced as he drew the sword; the sound alone spoke of how poor a weapon it was as there was no oil in its scabbard, leaving it to grow rusty. "Let's do this on the beach…not enough room here on the dock."
The four of us walked off the dock and the two lads went out onto the beach while Arabella and I stood under the awning once again. We watched as Fitzy drew his sword before saluting Jack in the proper fashion. Jack, however, made a sound of discontent.
And then the duel started. Though…It wasn't much of a duel, if I'm honest. Fitzy's form was perfect and the movement of his sword was as smooth as silk. Jack, on the other hand, had been taught to fight in the pirate fashion. As such, he was energetically moving around, lunging forward before jumping backwards and then leaping onto a rock or driftwood in order to escape Fitzy's blade.
"This is going t' be a massacre, isn't it?" Arabella sighed.
Crossing my arms, I leaned against the wall of the shack. "It certainly looks like it. From what I can tell, Jack knows how to fight—just not good enough to go against someone who's had years of strict tutelage from a sword master."
"…Did ye have a sword master?"
"No. My father taught me." I winced when I saw Jack throw himself backwards and tumbling out of the way of a blow. "And it's over."
"How do ye—Oh."
Fitzy had the point of his sword to Jack's neck. I can only imagine he told him to yield, given that Jack wasn't howling in pain, nor was he dead. He held his hand out to help Jack up, but the latter simply swatted his hand away before jumping to his feet. The pair came back over to us, a smug smirk on Fitzy's lips and a defeated frown on Jack's.
"Well, then I suppose we're a team now," Arabella said, holding her hand out towards Fitzy.
He stared at her hand in a mixture of uncertainty and confusion; I could tell he was used to kissing the backs of women's hands, not shaking them. After a few seconds, however, he reached out and took her hand.
A broad grin suddenly spread across Jack's face and he clapped his hand over top theirs. "To adventure!" Jack toasted. He seemed to have changed his tune rather quickly…
Not wanting to be left out, I clapped my hand over the underside of theirs. "To adventure," I grinned.
"To adventure!" Arabella chirped.
"Yes, to adventure," Fitzy said, his voice far more serious than ours.
Putting his free hand on his hip, Jack then proclaimed, "An', o' course, t' treasure an' freedom!"