'Pirates of the Caribbean' belongs to Disney


10. A Happy Landing

The rescue boat dropped off her passengers on the same dock the hapless Nigel D had been aiming for. The senior Norringtons bestowed hearty thank-yous on the crew, with assurances they'd soon make arrangements to retrieve their car from the Coast Guard station. Jack promised to buy the lot of them a drink sometime, while Lysee offered to make a mosaic trivet for their station kitchen. "Anybody can use another one of those!"

Finally the black and yellow craft sped off, and the four civilians began the hike up to their farm. It wasn't much more than a kilometer's walk, along hedgerow-lined rural roads. But it was mostly uphill so James insisted on shouldering his kid's honorably-frayed backpack.

Mother and daughter soon moved to the fore, Mare's arm affectionately circling Lysee's shoulders. ("Did you wear that pendant the whole time?" "Not the whole time.") They were soon chatting about all the artworks Lysee had seen.

James gave the other returnee a tap on the arm, signaling him to fall back. Jack, who'd been expecting this, braced himself as the women moved out of hearing range. "Callin' me on the carpet, Commodore?"

"Halfway onto it. I'll never entirely approve of the way you handled this, Sparrow. You took some real risks, and not just with your own welfare. You two could've fallen prey to any number of mishaps! Using the back roads can be dangerous, hostels aren't the safest places to stay..."

"Now James, surely yer aware that movie's fiction!"

"Yes, but less-controlled environments are more hazardous by nature. Particularly for a young woman. I do concur, Lysee was undoubtedly much safer with you along. But I hope you didn't give her any idea she should make a habit of taking such chances."

Jack arched a brow. "She might have to, if she makes Operative."

"That will be different. She'll be an adult, with a much better sense of her own limitations. And she'll be provided with guidance and equipment."

"Lots of Missions still involve risk. Isn't that why we got inta the profession?"

"Also to be of service to others," Norrington reminded stolidly.

"Aye, that too. Havin' grown up under your influence, I don't imagine the chit'll be lackin' in such predilections."

James' expression softened as his gaze turned aft, towards his enthusiastically chatting offspring. Lysander Anne didn't need outlandish hair-color to stand out; that kid's spirit illuminated her like a sparkler's corona. "I don't imagine so either. And I can perceive Lysee had an enjoyable time. It's been years since I've seen her look this happy."

Sparrow gave an inner sigh of relief- apparently all the reprimands had been attended to. "I did me best! The lass took on a cargo of interestin' experiences, right up to an' includin' the finish. I wager ye'll find her a bit more appreciative an' responsible now. Ez well as more fully informed."

Norrington's face suggested a long-borne burden had been lifted away. "I have long suspected that, of us three, you were the best equipped to explain our 'special situation' in a manner she could believe. We do owe you thanks for that."

"I'd consider a fatted calf ta be an adequate expression of gratitude."

James grinned. "How would you feel about pork roast and raspberry pie?"

Jack's eyes danced. "That'll do nicely!"

"You won't have to wait much longer- here's our driveway."

The foursome had barely started up that pebbly incline when, with a barrage of barks, Royal barreled down to meet them. Lysee shrieked happily as the creature jumped all over her, as vigorously as a ten-year-old dog could manage. Jack reminded himself, he must see about arranging another Fountain treatment for the beastie.

They were halfway up the drive when a squawking back-and-white form rushed down from a tree to bound into Lysee's arms. As the girl bestowed cuddling and endearments, Georgette regarded Jack over the girl's shoulder with the most affectionate expression she'd ever granted him. Sparrow's mouth quirked. "Guess my friend's friend is my friend," he muttered. It was a relief to finally bury that rusty old hatchet.

As they neared the buildings, Pirate and Granuaile trotted up to the barnside fence, neighing excitedly. Lysee hurried over, depositing Georgette on the mounting block before embracing both equine muzzles. "I really missed you guys!"

Even Jules seemed to be extending welcome; he was on the barn roof, green-and-gold tail spread in his best fandance display. Georgette, entranced by the shimmering feathers, craned her neck to stare. The tableau reminded Sparrow of some half-recalled song lyric about 'peacocks and monkeys'...

"I should go in now, to get the roast ready. Would you like me to drop your pack in the guest room?" offered Mare.

"That'd be most hospitable of you, darlin'." As Jack handed over his grape-colored luggage, the lyric sprang to mind.

/ 'Let peacocks and monkeys in purple adornings, Show her the way to my bridal chamber.' That might be a nice gesture ta include, when the time comes... if it ever does, / he reminded himself. But it did seem more probable, after all the two of them had recently shared.

The girl unhooked a halter from the barn door, hopped into the pasture and bridled Pirate. Using a fence rail to mount, she put heels to the horse and galloped uphill towards the knoll. Sparrow and James stepped over to the fence to watch. Georgette joined them, curling her tail around a vertical post.

"Lysee's never shown any penchant for bareback riding before. Is this your doing?" inquired her dad.

Sparrow shrugged. "Could be. Could also be, she wants ta perfect another skill which might come up on a Mission. That gal's going ta make a superb Operative some years down the line." Jack's fond gaze hinted at what else he hoped she might become. Just outside his line of sight, Norrington gave him a very searching look.

After some seconds, the recipient felt it. "Is anythin' wrong, Commodore?"

James pressed his lips, the way he did when giving careful consideration to some matter. "No. I guess nothing's wrong. Well... I should take her knapsack up to her room." Norrington strode into the house with no backward glance. Jack shrugged again- he'd ponder that remark later.

The former buccaneer leaned against the fence's top rail, grinning to see that mounted figure now posed dramatically atop the pasture knoll, horse and human manes flapping in the breeze. Georgette chittered approval, Granuaile whinnied in concurrence, Jules called a loud avian call.

Jack's smile widened further. "We're all in accord, mates. 'Long may you run', lass!"




'Let peacocks and monkeys in purple adornings, Show her the way to my bridal chamber' is an excerpt from 'Night of My Nights', from the musical Kismet, lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest, music by Alexander Borodin.