'Pirates of the Caribbean' belongs to Disney.

xxx

Sparrow was strolling at a leisurely pace, the better to enjoy the soft caresses against his naked feet. "Just as I described, eh? Like walking on talcum powder!"

"You got that right!" Lysander was stepping faster, but making a lot more meanders. Those Gulf Coast currents which produced Anna Maria Island's 'baby powder' sand also tended to pulverize whatever washed ashore. This beach's wrackline was carpeted with bits and pieces of seashells, many with interesting colors and patterns. The chit had already collected a good number, stowing them inside a plastic-net onion bag.

She grinned with special enthusiasm, as she scooped up and displayed a smooth tan object. "Here's a whole one!" It was an enlonged clamshell, marked with curved crosshatched gray lines, like stretched plaid fabric.

Her older companion grinned in turn. "That's a sunray venus clam."

"I know what it is- I am 14!" the lass replied with mild annoyance.

"Of course you do." With an inner sigh, Sparrow reminded himself, again, that Lysee wasn't a whelpess anymore. She probably even understood why her folks had shooed Jack and herself from the rental cottage, with instructions to please not return before four o'clock... even provided a fistful of snack money to assure they wouldn't pop back in for a bite.

The girl obviously had ideas about how to spend it. As she slipped the clam into the pocket of her bluejean shorts, she eyed an upcoming beachside restaurant. Particularly the thatch-roofed bar extending onto the sand. "Lets get a couple pina coladas."

"That's agreeable ta me. Mind, yours'll have ta be 'virgin'."

Lysander looked sly. "You could get me a real one."

Jack blew against his mustache, feeling a twinge of sympathy for James and Mare. / This one's on her way to a wild adolescence. / And there was no doubt she'd have ample opportunity to get into trouble then. Any half-blind git could tell she was going to be an uncommonly beautiful young woman.

Which would make his own task that much harder. Being entrusted with the welfare of a pretty wench was an unusual role for Jack Sparrow, but one he fully intended to uphold. And which he believed he could best accomplish by remaining something of a fellow-rebel in Lysee's eyes, so she might possibly heed his advice about those oh-so-tempting teenage straits about to open before her; which ones could be navigated with relative ease, which would require a careful taking of soundings, and which were so treacherous they were best avoided altogether. It was going to be a tricky balance, retaining his semi-outlaw cred whilst advocating certain restrictions.

Jack regarded the now-adjacent establishment, with it's enticing rows of shiny bottles. "That risk is somewhat disproportionate to the reward, since 'tis more'en likely they'll card the both of us. I'd really rather not interrupt yer folks' afternoon with a visit from the police, requestin' identification of the scurvy miscreant who attempted ta provide alcohol to theer minor." Responding to her pout, he added, "Particularly as this'll likely be our last time together fer a while."

That hit home. The youngster gnawed her lower lip, considering, and finally shook her braids back. "I'm not really thirsty yet."

Sparrow wasn't cheered by the reminder either. Throughout the past year, the most-frequent subject of discord between Mrs. and Mr. Norrington had been whether or not they should move from Capri, for Lysander's sake. James, who'd been raised to value austerity, had become seriously concerned about the effect this monied culture was having on his daughter's character. Lysee was getting old enough to notice the indulgences her playmates received, and wonder aloud why she wasn't afforded the same. Why did she not have shoes to match every outfit, a $3,000 party dress she'd outgrow in two years, a planned coming-out gala on the French Riviera? James had insisted they must relocate to some region with more down-to-earth priorities before the child was corrupted beyond repair.

Meredith had no more desire to see Lysee become a vapid 'material girl', primarily interested in fashion and designer labels, but had insisted relocation was too harsh a remedy. Careful guidance and example-setting should suffice; being wrenched from her lifelong home and friends was liable to do her more harm than good.

Jack, following his time-honored policy of not taking sides in family disputes, had lent sympathetic ears to both disputants as needed, but maintained a neutral stance. "You must do what ya consider best fer the chit. I'll support yer decision either way."

But he had, in fact, held a definite preference in the matter. So it had been something of a wrench when after months of (occasionally heated) discussion, James and Mare worked out a compromise. They would move to England, their mutual birthplace. And to compensate Lysee for that uprooting, their new home would have facilities to keep a horse- a commodity she'd long yearned for. In exchange, the girl would have to do her share of the care-taking chores, including the yucky ones- mucking out the stalls and assisting with any medical treatments. Hopefully, this would teach her that privileges must be earned; an outlook both parents heartily approved of.

This proposition was put to Lysander, who, after some thought, had agreed to the deal. The prospect of having her own horse was appealing enough to eclipse every sacrifice. "Can we get a Friesian? And can I name it 'Pirate'?"

Sparrow had been careful to conceal his disappointment, reminding himself that he'd still see plenty of the senior Norringtons on Missions. Lysee, on the other hand...

For the thousandth time, Jack reiterated to himself what a bother it was to have a whelpess underfoot. Always pestering him to do things with her, regardless of his own schedule. Obliging him to practically smuggle paramours into his own domicile- one than one wench had looked askance at his insistence on entering via that narrow bedroom staircase. Having to constantly watch his language and deportment around the chit, least he set a sub par example. Encountering her artifacts all over his house- fuzzy pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, plastic horses, shin guards. To say nothing of the barking and shedding from that bloody dog of hers, and the kid's endless, frequently prying questions...

By the Powers, he was going to miss her!

It was now two months since that decision had been made. The parents had located and purchased a former sheep farm on the coast of East Cornwall, which they'd shown to Jack just three days ago. Forty picturesque (if rather rocky) acres on a sea-facing hillside, with a stone barn and reasonably spacious farmhouse (presently undergoing some much-needed renovation.) Mare had promised to set aside one bedroom for Jack to use when he visited, which he'd be allowed to do as often as he wished.

"This relocation isn't about you, Jack. It's always been about Lysander. If you regard it in those terms, I think you'll eventually come to accept it." (Confound that woman- he could never hide a thing from her!)

The beachside bar was now well astern, and a small parking lot was just to starboard, along with a roofed information board. Lysee stepped over to this, scrutinizing the several tacked-on pamphlets.

"This says, Anna Maria Island was named by Ponce de Leon, in honor of Queen Maria Anna of Spain." The girl's nose wrinkled with annoyance. "But yesterday that tour-bus guide said it's named for the German word for 'wind', 'cause it gets so windy here."

"Less than astonishin', luv. It's common fer a geographical moniker ta have more 'en one explanation. 'Different versions an' all are true', some would say."

Lysee frowned as they continued walking north, skirting a resting flock of royal terns. "How can they all be true?"

"Means, theer's some element of actuality in all of 'em." Jack buried hands in his swimming-trunk pockets, fingering the several coins there. "Though, in this instance, I think a third tale is truer 'en the rest. It's said that this islet was once home to a pirate gal named Anamaria. She's supposed ta be buried here, no great distance from this very spot."

Lysee showed every sign of preferring this explanation to the others. "How'd she become a pirate?"

"Hard circumstances, as was usually the case. This lass was born to a slave woman, owned by a sugar-plantation master in Cuba. Her Mum was an African lady called Carlotta; smart an' very comely, as were Ana herself. But that's not altogether advantageous when yer at somebody's disposal." Sparrow's lips thinned, as he determinedly dismissed a certain recollection.

"Ana grew ta young womanhood servin' as a house slave on that plantation. When she were approachin' fifteen, her Mum noticed Massa's eye startin' ta linger on her. That, Carlotta wouldn't tolerate." Jack decided there was no need to mention Massa was probably Ana's father. "So her Mum took a fearful risk ta get the two of 'em removed from that place. She did succeed, but paid a harsh price."

"What'd she do?"

"'Seems it involved strikin' an accord with some unsavory gits who'd come ta trade fer goods. Ana never related that part in detail. But she did mention, somewhere along the way Carlotta acquired a deep wound to her arm, which later went septic an' had to be amputated. Even that didn't save her. Three years later, it flared up an' killed her.

"But not before Carlotta achieved her objective. Those two brave wenches made it to Tortuga- that's an island off Haiti's north coast. It was a pirate port at that time, so beyond the reach of any law that'd allow Massa ta reclaim his 'property'." Jack's lip curled with contempt.

"Carlotta had absconded with a chunk of Massa's gold, bein' determined her girl would never endure the kind of usage she'd had to. Mum purchased a one-person boat, the Jolly Mon, an' hired an old bloke to teach Anamaria how to fish. Havin' that ability would assure Ana'd always have means to keep herself fed. She did even better; 'became a successful fishmonger, sellin' her wares amongst the docks of Tortuga. That port was a real tough place- but so was Ana! 'Weren't long before even the most unruly scalawags learned not ta propose buyin' anything from her other 'en fish. It helped that she'd made some friends amongst the burlier waterfront residents."

Lysander swooped to retrieve a purple-and-orange shell fragment. "This one's from a fighting conch. Did Ana make a lot of money?"

"Wouldn't say 'a lot.' She did get by, but she had higher ambitions. While her ailing Mum was alive, Ana would talk about building a grand house fer her, as fine as the one they'd slaved in. She retained that plan even after Carlotta passed away, though it was clear she'd never accumulate sufficient funds by sellin' fish. The most feasible means available to her was ta take up piracy. Ana didn't have the least compunctions against stealin' from richer folk. She figured they owed her, on account of what they'd done to her mother."

"But those would be different rich people," Lysee pointed out.

"I'm not sayin' she was entirely correct, jus' explainin' her view. 'Twas no uncommon attitude in those days, when individuals were rigidly defined by their class ranking. Anyway, that's what motivated Ana ta seek out the acquaintanceship of a particular pirate Captain. This blighter was widely known fer his singular exploits, and also fer bein' willing to accept women as full crewmembers. Meaning; he'd allow 'em ta do the same jobs, an' receive the same shares, as the men."

"Like Calico Jack?"

"Aye, something like him. Though lots better at not gettin' caught. So this Captain established Ana was up ta crew standard, but told her it'd have to wait until he was actually in possession of a ship."

"How could he be a Captain if he didn't have a ship?"

"In his heart, he did have one. He'd formerly been the master of a beautiful black barque, before she'd been most unrighteously wrested from him by mutineers, and which he was fully resolved ta regain. Which he did, after overcoming a series of ensuing difficulties. Anamaria provided him some assistance with this, so the Captain gave her a high position on his regained vessel. She served on his crew fer half a year, learnin' all he had ta teach her. See, this Captain wasn't what you'd call a large bloke; from his earliest years he'd had ta use strategy and guile to achieve his ends, rather 'en brute strength. This was jus' the variety of pirating Ana needed ta master, and she did! Once she'd accumulated sufficient expertise ta strike out on her own, the Captain most generously awarded her a captured brig, complete with willing crew. She re-christened it the Carlotta, after her late Mum, an' spent the next couple years pursuin' a solo buccaneer career."

Lysee thoughtfully flicked a braid over her shoulder. "I don't think I've ever heard of her."

"Probably because the merchants she outfoxed weren't anxious ta advertise they'd been bested by a wench. And Ana herself didn't bother. She was never concerned about publicity; her sole objective was to acquire enough shine to retire comfortably in some out-of-the-way locale. 'Soon as she was able, she bought a substantial plot on this island's northern point an' built her long-planned mansion. Such a fine looking domicile it was! White with carved trim, three stories high, topped with a railed cupola from which she could view the sea whenever she pleased. A cellar fer storing the wine she favored, a backyard smokehouse fer curing fish, with an underground tunnel connectin' the twain, just in case. She moved into this fine dwelling with her two husbands..."

"Two husbands?"

"That's right. See, in that time an' region it were no rarity fer a man of means ta take more 'en one wife, if he fancied. Anamaria saw no reason why she, a woman of means, shouldn't claim the same privilege. Especially since she had a pair of fetching young crewmen who were agreeable to the arrangement. One was Nard, a sprightly Dutch lad she'd rescued from a merchant freighter where'd he been servin' as cabin boy, verra much without his consent. The other was Jarell, a strapping black adonis she'd recruited on Martinique."

"What's a 'donis'?"

"'Adonis', luv. Eponymous chap in Greek mythology, noted fer his outstanding handsomeness."

"I remember now!"

"So those three settled into theer admirable lodgings, doin' only as much fishin' an' gardenin' as they were inclined to. Ana birthed four healthy whelps, an' though 'twere no trick ta deduce who'd sired which, all four were well-cherished by both her men. I've every reason ta believe the lot of 'em were happy together." Jack paused in his narrative, his jaw tightening.

Lysee knew what that meant. "But something bad happened."

"I'm sorry to confirm it did. One hazard of bein' a pirate is that yer certain ta make enemies. Anamaria was no exception. When she took Nard off that pestilential freighter, she allowed the lad ta wreck some minor vengeance on his captain's person. 'Twas most unfortunate she'd no idea how deeply the rotter resented it, nor how persistently he held a grudge. Even long years after, he'd never abandoned the hunt- somehow or other he discovered where Ana and his former cabin boy were ensconced. I can only assume he spied out theer holdings an' laid in plans. 'Waited 'til a cloud-darkened night- in March, as it happened- when theer'd be no moon or stars ta reveal the approach of intruders. It were an hour past midnight when he an' several of his crew sneaked close an' attacked."

"What'd they do?"

Mindful of Lysee's wide-eyed dismay, Jack didn't linger over the account. "'Tis a cruel telling, chit. Ana had thought to install really stout doors, so they couldn't break in. So those feculent curs set the house ablaze on four sides at once an' waited by the entrances, poised ta shoot anyone who tried ta run out. But it didn't come off as expected. Ana an' Jarell grabbed up every gun in the house an' commenced firing out the second-floor windows, while Nard bundled the four whelps down to the basement an' through that smokehouse tunnel I mentioned. The assailants were too preoccupied with their gunfight ta notice the five emerging an' slippin' away. Nard got the kids to a banana grove a safe distance off, at the property's edge. He secreted them under a stack of big leaves, ordered the eldest ta keep everyone still an' quiet, then climbed the grove's watch platform to see what ensued.

"The mansion's lowest floor was an inferno by then. Ana and Jarell couldn't reach the basement so they had to retreat upwards. Nard saw them emerge inside the little cupola, where they had a final long kiss. Then, the two locked arms, ran to the roof's edge together, and jumped. Fell with nary a sound, according to Nard. Must've decided it was preferable ta waiting fer the burning house to collapse under 'em." Jack's eyes clenched shut, as if to block the mental image. "I like ta think, Ana's last thoughts were satisfaction that she'd given all ta save her offspring, jus' as her own Mum had done fer her.

Nard was heartsick, but theer was naught he could do 'cept fulfill his duty to the survivors. He climbed back down to the kids, tied the youngest to his back with a shawl he'd grabbed, and herded the others to the island's eastern shore. They spent the rest of that night trudging south along the beach. Just as day was breaking, they reached the dock area- same place the Cortez Bridge is now. Then they finally had a stroke of luck, for berthed there was a magnificent black barque..."

"Ana's captain!"

"None other! He'd happened to've arrived the previous eve, intendin' ta restock supplies an' pay a visit to his former shipmate. You can imagine his disconcertment when that sorrowful little group appeared at his gangplank, all in nightdress, footsore an' beggin' fer sanctuary. Of course he granted it! 'Set his crew ta feedin' an' tending the kids, whilst Nard related the whole egregious tale. The Captain was roused to fearful wrath at Ana and Jarell's murders, and even more over the deliberate attempt to do the same to the children. Theer's nothing more unforgivable than that, Lysee. Not in this world or the next!"

Jack was glowering into the middle distance. Lysander called that his 'black-ice glare', and fervently hoped he'd never, ever have occasion to direct it at her. "So he made them pay for it."

"You can wager yer farm that he did! Nard'd recognized the attacker's voices, they bein' his former jailkeepers, so knew exactly who to look for. The Captain sent some of his sharper crew into the dockside facilities with descriptions- didn't take 'em long to establish where the perpetrators were holed up. That night, the Captain and another select group of his men went ashore, all loaded with hardware. By sunrise, they'd seen to it that not one of those bas... those murderers would ever repeat the offense." Jack's clipped tone warned Lysee, he'd said as much about it as he ever would.

For a few minutes, both strollers were silent. A mottled brown shorebird flew by, it's long black bill almost touching the wave crests. A whimbrel. Jack had a brief thought pertaining to a long-ago ship with that name.

"With that obligation fulfilled and the whelps stowed safely aboard ship, Nard led the Captain. and those crew who'd known Ana, back to the destroyed homestead. The beautiful house had been reduced to a heap of blackened timbers, but Nard was sure he knew where Ana and Jarell had fallen. A brief search uncovered the charred skeletons, still in theer natural arrangements. The two had landed too near the flames fer the marauders to desecrate their bodies.

"There was no difficulty distinguishing the bones, what with Jarell's bein' so much larger. The pirates removed his to the trampled vegetable garden fer internment. Nard thought that apt, since the man had always been a lubber at heart. Ana's remains presented more of a quandary; she'd been a seafarer, but also loved her hard-won bit of land. After some debate it was decided she should have a grave between the two, right by the shore.

"Nard was still in possession of her favorite red shawl- the one he'd wrapped her youngest in when they'd fled. Her former shipmates gathered Ana's bones into this, wrapped it close an' carried it to the beach in solemn procession. They dug a deep hole jus' below the high-tide mark an' laid her to rest there. At Nard's request, the Captain recited a few phrases he'd learned during his brief dalliance as a cleric. They stood watch until the waves came upshore to erase all traces of diggin', so no survivin' enemies of hers would have any chance to desecrate the grave."

Jack and Lysee halted to let a fast-stepping convoy of sandpipers scurry past. "And that was supposed to be near here?"

"Right along this stretch, chit. There'll be nothing left of her bones by now; the waves have long since ground 'em into sand. Perhaps the very patch we're standin' on." To Jack's great approval, Lysander regarded the pale substrate not with disgust, but new interest. Sparrow softly quoted, "'Nothing of her that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange.'"

"I think maybe she'd like that. Being a part of such a nice beach."

"It could be said she's still beautiful." The former pirate smiled wistfully. "But even so, her Captain didn't think that were quite enough. Ana deserved some type of permanent marker. So he sought out the relevant cartographer an' paid him a substantial fee to label this 'Anamaria Island' on all the maps. The blighter didn't get the spelling quite right, but 'tis pronounced the same."

Lysee briefly eyed a passing squadron of brown pelicans- stately, despite their ungainly shapes. "What happened to Nard and her children?"

"None of 'em had any inclination to remain; the memories were too traumatic. So the Captain transported them to Montserrat Island, where he had the acquaintanceship of an aging Vicar who could provide 'em with a plot of fertile land. And agreeable neighbors. They might never live in a grand house again, but neither would they starve.

"Nard was one to count his blessings. He settled in, soon married a native gal. Nowhere near as pretty as Ana, but willin' ta help him raise the kids. The Captain tried to stop by every couple of years, to check how they were doin'... didn't always manage to keep on schedule. He did establish that all four whelps, upon comin' of age, developed theer Mum's adventurous nature an' dispersed to sea. Not long after the youngest left, Nard caught his death from a fever, after which his widow returned to her ancestral family. The old Vicar soon 'went to his reward' ez well, so nobody remained to relay any messages the kids may've left for the Captain."

"So he never found out what happened to them?"

"Not with certainty. But fer the rest of his life he kept encountering sailing folk about the Caribbean who bore resemblance to Ana, so he was confident her bloodline survived. Probably has to this day! In any event, her name still graces this bonnie island. A worthy monument to a valiant lass, I'd say."

His listener agreed. "I'd like having an island named after me!"

/ Aye, Lysander Anne. Personalitywise, you've more similarity ta Anamaria that you probably imagine. /

Ahead, the pale shoreline now curved sharply to the right. They were approaching the island's northern tip, and the concrete barrier marking the end of the public beach. Lysee tilted her her head as they neared it. From here, they could retrace their steps back along the west shore, or leave the sands for the paved residential area. The latter course would take they by an above-average ice cream shop, as they both knew.

The chit looked to Jack. "Would you mind getting cones at 'Two Scoops' instead of pina coladas?"

"I wouldn't mind at all, luv."

So they made a hard turn to starboard. Lysee bent to collect a final, pinkish shell piece, as she added it to the bag she appraised the content. "I've got more than enough now, to make a mosaic frame for a wall mirror. That can be my anniversary present for Mom and Dad."

"I'm confident they'll appreciate that." / The lass has a knack fer spotting possibilities in whatever materials she finds to hand. That's another useful trait fer an Operative. / Once Lysee was past her rebellious stage, and her father's carefully implanted duty-sense emerged, she'd very probably elect to follow in her parents' professional footsteps. And be good at it, Jack didn't doubt. Working for Murphy's People would entitle her to certain privileges...

It wasn't Sparrow's usual habit to plan far into the future, but this was an exception. A couple dips in the Fountain would make the age difference between himself and Lysee a moot point. And if they happened to take their treatments at the same time... It made Jack purr within, imagining them both fresh from the water. He had every reason to expect that in adulthood, Lysander Anne would possess every quality he could reasonably want in a woman. It might be that, once their ages equalized, he would discover in her that nebulous something he'd been searching for without knowing it...

But he had to remind himself not to count on it. / Could be she'll've found a 'significant other' by then. Or the illusion of bein' blood-relatives might be too established ta shake... or she may think I'm jus' not her type. Can't assume anything, this far out of that port. /

Still, the possibilities were there.

Sparrow shrugged within. A million factors could come into play between then and now; he'd simply have to see how they played out. Given the right incentive, he could be an astonishingly patient man.

The sand gave way to sidewalk. Jack and Lysee sat on the curb to tug on their carried shoes. As they started down the road towards 'Two Scoops', the maracaesque rattling from her onion bag reminded Lysee of something.

"You said, someday you'd teach me how to do flamenco dancing."

"And I mean to..." Sparrow's brow quirked. "What, here an' now?"

"Why not? The sidewalk's hard enough."

He shrugged again. "I suppose we can give it a try. The first lesson is heel- and toe-taps. Mind you, it's vital ta always keep yer knees a bit bent..."

Within minutes, they were both practicing as they proceeded down the street, too absorbed in their rhythmic stomping to care how it looked to anyone else. Jack raised one arm to demonstrate a proper Gitano pirouette. Lysee did the same, more times and faster, laughing with delight between twirling red braids. Overhead, a black-headed gull echoed the sound, entertained by the spectacle.

Jack found himself grinning with equal enjoyment. /'Tis true as it ever was, that not all treasure's silver and gold. Sometimes it's copper! /

xxx

FINIS

xxx

'Nothing of him that doth fade / But doth suffer a sea-change / Into something rich and strange' is from The Tempest by William Shakespeare.