Well, hello again! I had promised my cast from LEGACY a vacation, but they seemed anxious to get back to work. I, however, am between getting my taxes and a root canal done, so it could be… ah… sporadic. We shall see!
Meantime, I hope you enjoy this next attempt in the series –
A breeze tickled through soaring palm trees on the high hills just inland of Bridgewater, some four miles northeast of Port Royal. The early morning sun sparkled on a narrow, spring-fed stream that flowed past a freshly landscaped house, and then tumbled down, by easy fits and starts, to the sea.
Elizabeth Turner knelt next to a stolen offshoot of the spring that flowed into a small, muddy pool circled by stones that now centered the herb garden outside her father's most far-flung guest house. She looked critically at her work for a minute, picked up another rock and rubbed the back of her hand across her nose. As she stretched her back and turned her glance out towards the sea, she stared thoughtfully, blissfully unaware of the coppery streak of mud she had transferred to her cheek. When she heard footsteps behind her she started almost guiltily, turning to look at her husband.
Will Turner dropped to one knee next to her and shook his head with a laugh, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiping off the smudge. "Can't leave you alone for a moment, can I." She giggled as he kissed her nose, smiling, and gave him a muddy hug in return.
"Do you really want to?"
"Never." He kissed her properly, and she sighed into his shoulder afterwards. Waiting a moment, he looked out over her head to the sea before asking. "See anything?"
She pulled away and turned to look with him. "No, nothing." Her eyes met his, the chestnut meeting chocolate in the early light. "Do you suppose they're ever coming back?"
He laughed quietly as he pushed an errant strand of hair back from her face with a soft smile. "It's only been three months, darling. They said they'd need at least that long to get my father's ship 'up to standards'. Lord knows what the two of them have in mind for the Esperance." There was no mistaking the pride in his voice as he spoke of his father, the new captain of the governor's merchant ship.
"I know. I just expected – " She shrugged as she placed the rock she still held firmly in the bank of the pool and sighed with annoyance at herself.
"Expected what? That they'd miss solid ground and stability as much as we miss open seas and adventure?" Will splashed a bit of water at her as he spoke, and Elizabeth laughed as she shifted to stand up. She made a regal flourish with her hand.
"Exactly. They should come and go at my bidding."
"I see. Just as I do, eh?"
Will's jaw dropped at her serious expression, which she held as long as humanly possible before laughing. Then he lunged for her as she executed a narrow escape, following as she ran with delighted laughter along the stone path around the pool and over a footbridge that crossed the stream and trailed into the untamed forest beyond. Three minutes later a triumphant laugh made it clear that Will had made his capture.
It was a bit longer than that before they reappeared on the path, walking with their arms happily around each others waists. Still, as soon as they reached the small bridge with its clean sightlines, they found themselves looking back out beyond the coast below. Far out to sea Will thought he could see specks that might eventually become tall ships, and he looked back at Elizabeth with a shrug.
"It's still early. And really, it has only just been three months."
Elizabeth smiled and looked down. "You really need to stop doing that."
"Reading my mind."
He raised one eyebrow in playful menace and leaned in to whisper softly. "Never." They kissed again as she giggled, before he pulled back a bit to look sincerely into her eyes. "Do you really think we're going to be able to finish the garden before your father comes?"
"Oh, I think so." She looked around thoughtfully. "At least, if we actually keep working." Breaking away from him with an affectionate smile and taking another stone from the pile, she settled it into the side of the pool and eyed it carefully. "Did father tell you when he'd arrive?"
Will grabbed a shovel and threw more of the dirt from the newly dug pool into a wooden barrow. "The note just said 'supper'. It seemed a little distracted, frankly."
"Hmm. Knowing father, it'll be close, but I think -"
The wind shifted abruptly, making the trees sing. With a sudden odd feeling they both stopped what they were doing and looked back out to sea. After a moment they frowned at each other thoughtfully, and returned to their work without another word.
Governor Weatherby Swann dabbed his lips genteelly with his napkin and sighed with content. "The meal was excellent, Estrella." Elizabeth's maid and now housekeeper gave a quiet smile and bobbed a nod.
"Can I get you anything else, then?"
Elizabeth smiled. "Thank you, Estrella, but I believe Will can pour the sherry. Shall we take it outside? The garden has a lovely breeze."
Will was about to agree with her when the governor interrupted. "Actually, I was hoping to take a bit of a walk this afternoon… if you two would care to join me?" Elizabeth glanced over at Will, unable to keep the surprise out of her eyes. Her father was never terribly enthusiastic about the outdoors – but then, so much had changed in the last few months.
"Certainly, father. That sounds lovely." She stood from the table, and both men hurried to stand. "Let me get a shawl-"
"Perhaps, my dear, you should change into something more suitable?"
This time Will blinked in surprise. "More suitable? You mean – trousers?"
The governor looked self-conscious for only a moment. "Well, ever since you told me of the stream path that goes all the way down to Bridgewater, I've been intrigued. It sounds quite the bracing walk." The young couple looked at him in mild shock.
"Indeed, it is… it's a bit of a hike, sir. Not exactly a walk."
Swann picked up his walking stick from the bin near the door. "Exactly why Elizabeth should dress appropriately. I hardly think she would be willing to stay behind." He looked at his daughter expectantly. "Do hurry, dear. We'll want the light. Will and I can look over the improvements while we wait."
Elizabeth closed her mouth, looked from Will to her father and shook her head. "I'll be down before you know it." Pausing, she turned back to her husband. "That is, if you think I should change." Will's eyes smiled lovingly at her. Independent as she was when they were alone, she was always careful to make it clear to people - especially of her father's society - that she was now her husband's wife. The blacksmith had to smile whenever she did it. As if Elizabeth Swann had no mind of her own.
"I think it's an excellent idea." Stepping closer, his expression earnest, he added quietly, "Perhaps the blue?"
Elizabeth broke into a bright, girlish smile, nodded, and vanished upstairs. Will watched after her until the governor tapped his walking stick lightly on the floor. Shaking his head, the young man nodded to his father-in-law and walked with him to the door.
They stepped outside into the soft afternoon air. Up here on the hill, the breeze kissed the palms like an overanxious suitor as Will proudly showed off their current project.
"I must say, Will, that this is more than I expected. When you said you two wanted to 'earn your keep' by fixing up the old place, I didn't think it could look like this." The younger man nodded with quiet pride.
"Thank you, sir. It's nice to have the work appreciated."
"No, thank you." He put his hand on Will's shoulder. "But I do hope you and Elizabeth have taken the time for a proper honeymoon?" An indignant laugh made them turn to see Elizabeth, wearing a loose pale blue shirt and darker slate trousers, topped with a matching waistcoat vest.
"Really, father. I'm afraid three months just isn't enough time to produce a grandchild. Even for me."
Will looked a bit embarrassed but Swann just shook his head. "Honestly, Elizabeth. Your talent for commentary…" She gave him a smug grin and he raised an eyebrow at her. Not to be outdone by his only daughter, he turned to Will and said with a sigh, "You know, son, I did my best with her."
Will, who could see his expression, nodded sympathetically. "Believe me, I understand." They both turned as she made an indignant noise, and she saw the teasing expressions on their faces.
"The two of you. One worse than the other. I suppose I should have a child, just to get an ally around here."
Ignoring her outburst with a smile, Swann continued. "As much as I would like to have a grandchild – eventually – I was actually hoping that after your awful ordeal the both of you would make sure you had a proper rest."
Will glanced at Elizabeth, who was still staring at them with narrowed eyes, and grinned mischievously. "Oh, really, sir. Marrying your daughter wasn't that awful an ordeal."
"You know, there are still a few rocks left, Will Turner."
Governor Swann glanced away as they kissed, then cleared his throat. "Shall we?"
Following the stream down the forested hill was like being in another world. The slanting afternoon sun lit the canopy of trees with a golden green glow, and the fingers of light that poked through touched down on sparkling miniature waterfalls adorned with pendant ferns. Contrary to their concern, Elizabeth's father showed himself to be in excellent shape, not even tiring as they made their way down. In fact, he seemed almost anxious. When they reached the bridge that gave the place its name, they ambled down to the banks of the widening stream to sit on a fallen log. Only then did Swann take off his hat and fan himself with it.
"Excellent! Most invigorating."
Will was about to speak when they abruptly heard a voice, singing drunkenly from under the bridge. Frowning, they turned to see a boat floating there, a man in it lying on his back with his hat resting over his eyes. The man sat up slowly, stretched, and looked at them with curious affection.
"Well, what have we here. An elegant scene of familial bliss."
"Jack! How did you get here?"
The pirate pushed toward shore and managed to get out of the boat without falling into the water, although it appeared to look like a distinct possibility. "A fine greeting for an old friend, mate." Will thumped him on the back as he laughed. "Ah, Lizzie." He kept hold of her hands and looked her up and down after she hugged him. "Yer not in a family way, are you? I could be out of practice. I've not delivered a child into the world in..." He looked up thoughtfully, counting.
She rolled her eyes. "Why is everyone so convinced I should be –"
But Jack had already looked back to Will. "Not happening, eh? You're not really a eunuch, are you?"
Moving away from the protesting couple, Sparrow walked slowly towards Swann. "Hello, guv." They stared at each other seriously for a long moment before Jack carefully extended his hand and Swann shook it. "I wasn't expecting the children to be here." An overtone of warning was in his voice, and his dark eyes flashed. The governor seemed unperturbed.
"Yes, well. I thought they might enjoy seeing you again. And it's no secret that you would have gotten in touch with them anyway."
The pirate stepped closer, and the governor pulled his head back slightly in defense. "They're not part of any deal, savvy?"
Swann blinked and tried not to breathe. "'Savvy', Captain Sparrow, I assure you. I assume you can stay ashore long enough to attend to our business?"
"Business?" Will was looking concerned as he watched the two interact.
"Just a little conversation I need to have with the guv here. Nothing to worry about." His tone was light, but there was a definite lack of confidence in his expression. Governor Swann smiled broadly, slapping his hands together.
"Well, then. Let's walk back up to the house, shall we?"