The day was already half done by the time we reached the docks. As Samuel and I watched the harbor moving ever closer, finding our time on the ship drawing slowly to a close, I could not help but wish I could have spent only a bit more time with the Commodore than I had. He had not even approached us again to say anything more. Despite that, I still thought about him, my mind running rampant with thoughts as to why someone like Elizabeth Swann could refuse him.
What in the world had she been thinking to go back on her pledge of marriage? What had been going through her mind when those first thoughts of trepidation had first entered her pretty little head? Was there something more in him that only I seemed to notice and she seemed to overlook?
It intrigued me….he intrigued me. It was not his uniform, or the way he wore his hair, but just him. What was it about this man that made my mind wander so much? It was so strange….did he hold some sort of bewitching spell over me that a slave woman could have cast?
After all, in quite some time I had not even thought of Samuel's hidden curls. His hair, which had so been the focus of endless summer days were only a fleeting thought as my mind wandered endlessly over the Commodore.
Why had these infernal thoughts invaded my mind!
He had not even attempted to initiate any sort of conversation since I had left him overhead, his gaze forever locked on that horizon which seemed to him more interesting than a mere woman was. I had stolen many glances at him, every time Samuel had turned his back or was otherwise engaged with an officer. I was not so stupid as to arouse any suspicion that I had begun to have feelings for another man, which was not true, of course.
How I had longed to just climb those stairs and request a sitting with him, where I could learn his life story and fully understand the life he now led. I had seen a hint of loneliness in his eyes when he had looked back at me, and I wanted to know the reason why. But, both he and I knew better. After all, we hardly knew each other, and were not even on a first name basis, and would never be…unless he were to become my husband or a relation of mine.
"Romola…" I heard Samuel say as I heard the heavy splash of water, which indicated the anchor had been dropped. They were to go in no farther, a jollyboat was to take us the rest of the way. I snapped to attention, realizing that I had completely ignored anything that Samuel could have possibly said. I looked towards him, smiling sheepishly. "Come directly to my home, I have a gift for you." I turned my eyes to face him then, my eyebrows lifting slightly in a mix of amusement and interest.
"Really?" I asked. "What in the world do you have to give me that I don't already have?" His quiet laugh was his response.
"Now you'll just have to wait and find out, won't you?" he said in return. "Will you come?" he asked again. I nodded, receiving a small smirk in return.
"Good, I am sure you will love it…" He said, looking towards the docks. I leaned over, noticing as the men climbed down the hull of the ship, towards the boat that would lead us away. "I suppose we should say our farewells to the Commodore." Samuel continued dryly. He turned then, leaning casually against the railing of the ship. "He is coming this way."
The moment he uttered those words, an icy cold swept through my body, almost as if I had fallen into a vat of frozen water. I had not expected to hear him say his goodbyes. He had been much different today than when I had first met him, only the night before. Trying my best to hide the trepidation I now felt, I turned, painting my most happy smile onto my face. He was, in fact, coming this way, and he wore nothing of pleasure or amusement on his face as he looked back at me. He was merely doing his duty out of respect; we were no longer at a party where he was obligated to show smiles.
"It was a pleasure to have you along today, Major….Ma'am." the Commodore said, nodding slightly in my direction as he said the final word. "I hope to see you well in two weeks and prepared for the journey?"
Samuel nodded. "Of course, and my wife as well." He answered. I noticed as Commodore Norrington's eyes turned up slightly in a questioning look. I could almost see the question in his eyes. 'Why was this man so eager to marry this woman? Was there something more in this equation than just two people? A child perhaps?'
"Ah! I'm happy to hear that you will be joining us as well, Miss Polignac." I heard the Commodore say, as he shook his head of the doubts and questions that were most certainly burning within them. "I knew my ship could not disappoint. I will be glad to welcome you aboard, when the time comes of course." I nodded.
"I thank you for your hospitality in advance then, Commodore." I answered. "And I also am grateful for you welcoming me aboard the Dauntless today. It has been a very entertaining day for me. I've learned much." He smiled, his eyes narrowing slightly as the sun brightened from behind some clouds.
"I'm glad…I'm glad…" he answered. Reaching out for my hand, I gladly took it. He brought it gently to his lips in a silent goodbye. "I will see you in two weeks then." He said. Turning to Samuel, he nodded.
"Give your sister my warmest greetings." The Commodore said. "I was happy to have met her before we set out. With her on board, this will be a most interesting voyage indeed." Samuel nodded.
"I will be sure to pass on the word." Samuel answered.
"Sir!" Left tenant Gillete called. "The jollyboat is ready to set out!" Commodore Norrington turned to his officer, nodding. Then, his attentions once again returned to us. As his gaze fleetingly met my own, I could see the hint of loneliness once again as he saw us making ready to leave.
Gillete approached me, muttering some words as to how he was going to lower me onto the boat, given the skirts I now wore, but I did not hear a word he said. I was far to interested in finding a reason for the Commodore's sad looks that no one else ever seemed to notice.
"Did you see him?" I heard Meg, Samuel's sister, say as she walked from the parlor to greet us. I could tell from the shining excitement in her eyes that she had become smitten with the young Commodore, her hands fluttering to her chest as she looked somewhat eagerly between us both in hopes of a favorable answer.
Removing his hat before he answered, Samuel laid it carelessly across a couch, dropping languidly beside it as he watched me take my own seat, facing him. Of course, Meg glared at him with eager eyes, her face brightening as she noticed her brother begin to speak.
"Of course I did, Meg. What did you think? A ship cannot be moved without its Captain…or Commodore in this case." Samuel answered. He reached up, undoing the cravat, which had been tightly wound about his neck. One button of his shirt he undid as well, just barely revealing the light skin of his chest. I looked away, a bit embarrassed at the mere sight of his skin. He was not usually so relaxed in my presence…
"Really!" I heard Meg say. She plopped down next to her brother, looking fleetingly in my direction with a smile. "Did he say anything to you about me?" she asked. I watched with a bemused smile as Samuel responded.
"Of course, he said to pass on a greeting from him to you. He will be glad to have you onboard the Dauntless. It will be refreshing company for him." Samuel answered. I could see Meg's blue eyes light up in a mix of embarrassment and happiness as she heard the news. She had decided to wear a light gown this day, the sleeves almost transparent, revealing her thin ivory colored arms. How delicate she seemed…
"I'm glad to hear he hasn't forgotten about me." She answered.
"Well," Samuel said, a bit put off that his sister had taken a fancy to nothing more than a Naval officer. "He did not remember to say anything until it was almost time to leave, Meg. I would not get your hopes up, unless Miss Polignac has heard something more that he neglected to tell me. After all, she did spend most of the afternoon with him."
Meg's eyes, which had only rested on me fleetingly as she eagerly sought out the answers she was looking for, now shot to me, a mix of surprise and jealousy written upon her expression.
"Did he say anything?" She asked. I shook my head no. Though she tried to speak to me with a hint of warmth, I could sense the cool way she spoke to me. I widened my eyes in surprise wondering why she had decided to speak to me in this manner, but after several seconds of thought, I realized the reason. Though she was a young creature, no more than twenty, I could see the threatening look in her gaze as she looked back at me. For some reason or another, she had found me a threat for the Commodore's affections…even though I was to marry another man.
"Nothing at all, Meg." I answered, trying to put her mind to rest. "I really did not spend much time with him. Perhaps half an hour….if that. He spent much of his time absorbed with the business of running the ship." I noticed as some tension eased slightly within her body.
"Oh." She answered. "Good." Getting up, she simply left the room, choosing not to say any goodbye. Samuel and I remained silent for quite some time, contemplating.
"Please do not be offended by her manner. I know she can be cold sometimes, but she really does not mind you as a future sister." Samuel said after some moments of silence. I nodded.
"I take no offense at all. It is merely her way." I answered. I looked down, pretending to straighten a wrinkle upon my gown. I could still smell the salt air upon the fabric. It seemed to have filled almost everything I wore with its sweet scent.
"I am glad." He answered. I noticed as he rose, going towards his writing desk and pulling out a key from his red coat. I watched as he slowly placed it within the lock, turning it gently until it clicked. "Now," he said, opening the dresser and pulling out a silver jewel encrusted case. "that my sister has left, I think I would like to give you this."
Approaching me, he pulled a chair close by mine, taking a seat and laying the small box upon my lap. I regarded it with a slightly curious look on my face, before looking up to meet his gaze. Gesturing me to open the box, I did.
"What is it?" I asked, somewhat confused. It was a bracelet, a simple silver coin embedded within the gold of the metal, which would surround my wrist. Lifting it towards the light, which flooded the room, I began to examine it, finding that pagan gods decorated the front of the coin, with words written in a language which I could never read surrounding its face.
"It is a Pagan god." I heard Samuel say as I regarded the piece of jewelry with a confused expression on my face. "My uncle, the Governor, found it one day when he was walking with my cousin along the beach in Port Royale, the day our engagement was announced. When word finally reached him that we were to be married, he took it as a sign. Elizabeth suggested we put it into a bracelet for you to wear. She can be quite clever when it comes to these things." Samuel said. I looked at it for a bit, hesitating as to whether I should put it on.
"Try it on." He said, as he reached out to take it. Gently, he placed it on my wrist, amusement showing up in his face as he noticed the slightly bemused expression I wore on my own. "You know that my Uncle thought of you when he saw it?" Samuel continued. "He held you as a babe and knew that you would marry well. For some reason when he found this coin, it made him think of that day…"
I smiled. "Thank you." I said. Though I did not want to tell him, I found it to be a foul piece of jewelry. Always, I knew myself shying away and finding faults in everything that seemed attached to Elizabeth Swann. I had never met her, but she had always left a sour taste in my mouth every time when someone spoke of her beauty and her eligibility.
Perhaps it was because she was fair and I was darker. Perhaps it was her carefree attitude. Perhaps it was the fact that she had grown to be a beautiful woman and I nothing more than passing in a man's eye. Maybe I just did not like her. But either way, she had given me another reason to hate her when she had gone on an adventure that I knew I could never experience. After all, I had been the more restrained of the two, a reflection of what she never wanted to be.
But, when I thought twice about having jealous thoughts about that, I found myself laughing. After all, what use could a woman like me ever be to a pirate when Miss Elizabeth Swann was a much more suitable prize?