**Author's Note: Warning… rant coming… Just recently, I received the following review: Sorry, I read the whole story and it was so bloody Mary-Suish I wanted to vomit. Sorry but it's the truth!  This presented me with the following quandaries… one, if it was so Mary Sue-ish it made you want to vomit, why, pray tell, did you read the whole thing?  And moreover, I'd be really quite obligated if someone explained to me what a Mary Sue is, because the impression I'm getting is that she's pretty much any female character whom a given reader grows tired of.  No offense to anyone who takes the "Mary Sue" label seriously, but as soon as there's a true standard definition, I'd love to hear it. 

I have heard that Mary Sue's a charming girl who is an idealized but unrealistic version of her author.  Well, I've got news for you.  Every great fiction writer, from commercial to literary, will tell you that characters (if they're three-dimensional) always contain part of their author.  Amelia, however, isn't very much like me except in the fact that I like to consider myself intelligent.  Similarities end there.  Do some research, and you'll see that an uncommon number of women in that century were downtrodden by men and by the expectations around them.  Self-education was far more common than you might believe, and so was abuse.  Aside from that, I must admit, the biggest pleasure of this story was not Amelia for me—it was writing Jack.

Where, might you ask, is this review?

I deleted it because the reviewer, anonymous save for the name "Alex", left me no helpful comments at all, no ideas on how to change or improve what I had already done, and that, readers, is what I call UNCONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. 

Like it or leave it, kids and folks.

If you're still with me, enjoy the epilogue.  I appreciate all of you more than you can know, and my faithful readers (and the few new ones I've picked up in the past few days) are wonderful.  I hope you've enjoyed my tale, vomit-inducing or no.  I have enjoyed writing it.


Months later

            She walked through the darkening streets, casting a worried eye to the setting sun.  It wasn't like him to miss a sunset, no matter what mischief he was up to, and so his absence could likely mean only one thing.

            Clutching the small leather pouch, its contents clinking and shifting, Amelia turned corners and crossed alleys reflexively, knowing exactly where she was heading.  Exasperation warred with amusement as she trod up the steps to the gaol.  Her demeanor changed the second she walked into the squat, sturdy building; her eyes went wide and worried, glistening with unshed tears, and she pressed a hand to her throat in mock breathlessness.

            Jack needed a damned good excuse, she judged as she saw him sitting behind the barred doors, hands crossed behind his head as he whistled a tune carelessly.  She spared him only the smallest glance, but that was more than enough time for him to tip Amelia a wink.

            Biting the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling, she registered that the gaoler was addressing her.

            "Somethin' you were needin', ma'am?"  He had the tired, worn look about him that suggested a life of submission to the British soldiers with little or no thanks.  The law in the islands always bled up to red.

            "You found him!" she gushed, propelling herself forward and clutching the thin man's arm.  "Oh, thank heavens, sir, you've no idea how worried we've been!"

            "Worried?" the man repeated, bushy graying brows drawing together. 

            "Yes!"  She looked over her shoulder at Jack, the only prisoner in the building.  He would have to pick trouble when there was none else going on.  "You know," she said, affecting a confidential tone but not bothering to lower her voice, "We—that is, his family—we don't let him out very often.  He's really quite disturbed."  She said this last in a whisper loud enough to carry all the way to Jack, who cleared his throat but managed to keep his mouth shut.  A miracle if ever there were one, in her opinion. 

She kept her eyes on the watery blue ones of the jailer and extended her hands toward him pleadingly.  "Surely you'll release him to me, sir?  He's really no harm to anyone, and we'll keep a closer watch on him." 

The gaoler sighed heavily, crossing his arms over his chest.  "Ma'am, he tried to seal arms from a soldier.  An officer's sword, actually.  I don't know as that's so harmless."

Shooting a sharp glance over her shoulder, Amelia widened her eyes at Jack warningly.  "Whyever would he do such a thing?" she said sweetly, rolling her eyes back to the gaoler, who grunted.

            "Says he's a pirate," he said laconically, stretching to look at Jack around Amelia.  "Reckon he looks a mite like one, too."

            "But his sword was so pretty," Jack spoke up liltingly, his first words since she'd entered.  He kept his eyes wide and guileless as she turned once again to glare at him, but the evil gleam was there.

            Irritated that he'd nearly made her laugh, Amelia smiled sweetly at the gaoler.  "Surely, sir, a smart man such as yourself sees that can't possibly be true.  He's clearly mad; look at his hair."

            "You've a point there," the man conceded, much to Amelia's glee.  He stood slowly, drawing the large ring of keys from a nail above the table.  When he hesitated, eyeing Jack warily, Amelia pressed the leather pouch she held into his hand.  His eyes wide, he quickened his pace toward the door, unlocking it and stepping back.

            Jack stood and exited the cell, pausing to grab the gaoler's cheeks in his hands and giving him a large, noisy kiss on the forehead.  "It's a lovely man y'are," he said soberly.  Looking at Amelia, he blinked widely.  "Do we get to see the ponies?" he said vacantly, latching onto her arm with a grip that made her wince.

            They broke into a half-run the second they were out of the gaol, Amelia laughing breathlessly and Jack grinning like a madman.  At a safe distance, they slowed and he spun her around so she fitted perfectly into his arms.

            "Shrew," he said bitingly, looking down at her.  "No need to pick on a man's vanity, love, when ye know he's sensitive about his locks."  So saying, he tugged a thick, beaded piece of hair in his fingers.

            "I'll pick on whatever I like if it gets you out," she retorted.  "And while you were busy trying to lift a sword off of the local lobsterback, I found some things out." 

            "Industrious lass that y'are," he pointed out, taking her hand and resuming their walk. 

            "Anamaria's not here," she said simply.  The island that had seen their battle with Daniel Carrington and Philip had changed little since they'd left it, and Peter Yancey had been wonderful company for Amelia the better part of the evening. 

            "I'm sorry, love," Jack said, his eyes already searching the horizon as they neared the docks.  He knew she'd hoped for Anamaria to take up with Yancey and make an honest living, but some things never changed.

            "She's on a trip for him," Amelia said.  "Sailing 'round the world to find rare books for Yancey."  That got his attention, his dark eyes narrow with envy as he looked at her.  "And likely doing a bit of thieving here and there."  She reached into the pocket of the cloak she wore and tossed him something.  "There now.  A gift returned."  She'd already read Taming of the Shrew to tatters. 

            "Robinson Crusoe," he read aloud, raising an eyebrow at her.  "What's it about, love?"

            It was her turn to smile, a bit of his wickedness long since having bled into her nature.  "'Tis about a man who's stranded on an island.  Pity he didn't have any rum-runners to help him out."  With an arch look, she stepped off the dock into the boat waiting for them.

            Ignoring the jab, he eyed the skyline of the town and looked down at her in the boat.  "Love?  How long, precisely, do you think it will take yon gaoler to realize you handed him a pouch full of scrap?"

            She rolled her eyes to the sky as though thinking and shrugged.  "Probably any time now."

            Laughing, he hopped in after her, making the boat rock so wildly she shrieked, then hunkered down face-to-face with her, his wicked eyes suddenly sober, the devilish mouth soft.  "I love you, you know."

            Her breath caught, just a bit, and she barely managed to keep her composure.  "Yes," she said.  "I know." 

            And by the time they were back on the Pearl, secure in the captain's cabin and warm in the captain's bed, a gaoler was trying desperately to explain to British soldiers how, precisely, he'd let the Caribbean's most dastardly pirate slip through his fingers.


    /                   |     |\                                           _____

  /                     |     |  \                                         /          \                                      /\

/                       |     |   )                                      /                                                /   )

                        |     | /                                       (                                                 |  /

                        |     |  ____        _____               \___                                         |/

  __                  |     |/         \      /          \              /                __   __                    |

  \                     |     |            |    |______|             /               /     \/    \          ____ |

    \                   |     |            |    |                        (               /       |      \       /         \|

     \_________/     |            |     \_____              \______/         |       \___\____/\___/

Appendix—Fun facts and attributions

I'm a research fiend, and so there are a few attributions I'd like to make.  Also, fun fact—I only actually saw Pirates of the Caribbean once, and so it's wonderful to hear that I actually did things right.  To my faithful reviewers, the ones who never failed to point out where I was wrong and praise where I was right—you are each and every one of you awesome.  You know who you are—if I tried to name each of you, I'd more likely than not miss someone, and that would be upsetting to me.

All my slang came from the site of The Georgia Refugees.  I'd put the link in, but it never appears, but I HIGHLY suggest looking them up… the slang alone is well worth it.

As follows is the full text of the Donne poem I used, usually simply titled "Song."

Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me, where all past years are,
Or who cleft the Devil's foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be'est born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear
No where
Lives a woman true, and fair.

If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.