This is it then, the final chapter sob. I want to thank everyone who took the trouble to review - I appreciate it so very much. Also thanks to those who just read the story, to be on the favourites and alert lists of so many people, plus having 2306 hits on affnet is an incredible compliment.
It is, however, not the end of my stories as I had thought it would be. I am co-writing a story with Hils, entitled Two Gentlemen of Tortuga, so put her on your author alert list if you haven't already done so (mad fools – her stories are wonderful!), and I have two other Jack stories in the pipeline. But it may be a couple of months before I even think about posting up a new story.
I'll stop waffling now… ;)…
Joshua Sparrow looked around the dining room of his parents' house, smiling to himself at the eclectic mix of Tortolan well-to-do's, business assosciates of his father's, and pirates. He moved to the trestle table where the former quartermaster of the Black Pearl, Pete Symmonds, was dispensing drinks to the party-goers.
'Good turn out,' Josh grinned, holding out his mug for a re-fill of rum.
'Aye, though gawd only knows how ya got ter be so popular!' Pete teased with a wink.
'It's th'infamous Sparrow charm that does it,' he quipped, raising his mug in salute.
'Fer th'ladies, maybe…'
'Captain?' came Erin Connelly's voice from behind Josh. 'Captain, my arse! Ya nearly sank th'bleedin' dory th'other day!'
'That was not my fault!' Joshua protested indignantly. 'If you an' Muiris hadn't been larkin' around…'
'Ah, it's never yer fault,' Erin sniped, bobbing her tongue out to him.
'They're at it again,' Jenny sighed, watching as her son and Erin stood face to face, gesticulating wildly.
'Good job Joshua's betrothed ter Sive's Aisling an' not ter Erin,' Jack chuckled, leaning on his walking cane. 'Come on, let's take some air, eh?'
'Good idea,' she smiled, linking her arm through his, nodding at their guests as they made their way through the crowd and eventually out to the arbour in the garden.
'First time I ever saw my son was in here,' Jack smiled, remembering back some eighteen years. 'An' now he's about ter become captain of my ship.' He slowly sat down, years of a hard life finally taking their toll on his body.
'Just like you always said he would,' Jenny replied, sitting beside him and resting her head on his shoulder.
'He's his father's son, that's fer sure, whereas Daisy is definitely her mother,' he grinned, mentally picturing the apple of his eye, their fourteen year old daughter, Daisy.
'Matthew and Sam are neither of us and both of us,' she chuckled. People always assumed that their middle two children were twins as they were so alike in appearance and with only ten months between them, it was an easy mistake to make.
'Another Captain Sparrow at th'helm of th'Pearl,' Jack smiled, staring out at the grand old ship anchored just off the outcrop.
'Another Captain Sparrow to be the scourge of the Navy!' Jenny chuckled. 'Although Shay did a good enough job as a stand-in.'
'Aye, that he did,' Jack agreed. 'Couldn't have picked anybody better.'
'Peas in a pod, that's why. At least he's got his own ship now.'
'Th'Pearl was always his ship,' Jack protested. 'I never interfered.'
'I'm not saying you did,' Jenny soothed, kissing his cheek. 'But I think there was always an element of terror that he would sink or destroy her in some way. That he was still answerable to you.'
'I suppose so,' her husband conceded with a shrug. 'I'm surprised he didn't consider retirin' though. Gawd knows, he's made enough ter be comfortable on, even with havin' eight bloody children! There again, it would mean spendin' more time with Patience, so I can't blame him…' Jack quipped, grinning wickedly.
'I'll tell her you said that!' Jenny laughed.
'Papa? Mama?' Daisy peered around the arbour and smiled. 'I've brought you a drink.' She handed each of them a pewter beaker of rum and kissed her father on the cheek. 'It's a lovely 'Josh's becoming a captain' party,' she smiled.
'It is, an' it's a good chance ter show off my beautiful daughter,' Jack boasted, stroking her face.
'Daddy!' she blushed, fidgeting. 'I'll leave you two in peace.'
'We won't be long,' her mother assured her. 'Just make sure Josh and Erin don't come to blows…'
'Uncle Shay has dealt with them – for now,' she laughed, turning on her heels and making her way back over the small footbridge to the house.
'I love my sons, but she is th'best present yer ever gave me,' Jack smiled. 'Apart from yourself, that is. D'you ever wonder what yer life would have been like if I hadn't stolen you away?'
Jenny paused for a moment, deep in thought, before shaking her head. 'No, actually, I never have. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if you and Shay hadn't turned up when you did after I killed Crompton, but I have no regrets about my life with you.'
'Good, because it's a little too late fer second thoughts.'
'Yes,' she chuckled. 'About twenty years too late.'
'To no regrets,' Jack said, holding his beaker up.
'No regrets,' Jenny echoed, joining the toast.